Compromise of 1850
- Gordon S. Barker
Geographic expansion following the annexation of Texas and victory in the Mexican-American War accentuated differences between Americans on the issue of slavery and sowed seeds of division between North and South. Just as the territory of Missouri's application for statehood precipitated a crisis that was resolved by the Missouri Compromise of 1820—which prohibited slavery north of latitude 36°30′ and maintained the balance between free and slave states with the admission of Maine (as a free state) and Missouri (as a slave state) to the Union—so the Mexican Cession and California's request to be admitted to the Union forced Americans to revisit the question of slavery.
In the North the rapid population growth a rising tide of antislavery sentiment and the enactment of personal liberty laws designed to impede the return of fugitive slaves precipitated increasing anxiety among slaveholders about the balance of power between free and slave states President ...
A version of this article originally appeared in The Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619–1895.