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Black History and Blacks in U.S. History
A Nation Divided

The Compromise of 1850

Black History and Blacks in U.S. History
Black History and Blacks in U.S. History

The Compromise of 1850
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Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   high interest, readability grades 4 to 5
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   4.81

     challenging words:    sovereignty, secede, fined, tuberculosis, slavery, significant, runaway, civil, solution, settled, defend, clearly, caption, longer, jail, court
     content words:    Henry Clay, Great Compromiser, Missouri Compromise, Senator John C., South Carolina, Millard Fillmore, Stephen Douglass, Mexican War, African Americans, Fugitive Slave Act

The Compromise of 1850
By Cathy Pearl

1     Caption: Henry Clay, "the Great Compromiser," introduces the Compromise of 1850 in his last significant act as a senator.
2     Every few years there was a new problem between the Slave states and the Free states. Each time, it looked like the country would split into two. This happened again in 1850. But like all the times before this one, a compromise saved the country.
3     In 1850, there were the same number of Slave states and Free states. That year, California wanted to become a state. That would mean there were more Free states than Slave states. Slave states would be outnumbered in the Senate. Again, they threatened to secede or leave the Union.
4     Henry Clay begged the North and South to find a way to compromise. He had worked out the Missouri Compromise. Now he was called on to find another compromise. Clay was seventy-three years old. He was sick and weak. Still, he tried to find an answer.
5     Senator John C. Calhoun was from South Carolina. He was dying from tuberculosis. He was not interested in a compromise. He wanted slavery to be allowed in all the Western territories. If it wasn't, he thought all Slave states should leave the Union.
6     The debate kept going. In the middle of it, Calhoun died. During that time the president also died. The new president was Millard Fillmore. He agreed with the plan that Henry Clay had worked out.
7     Henry Clay gave more than seventy speeches. He wanted people to agree to his compromise. Finally, he became too sick to fight anymore. Stephen Douglass took over for him. Douglass helped to get the plan passed.
8     The Compromise of 1850 had five parts. First, California was allowed to become a Free state. Second, it decided what to do with the lands that had been won in the Mexican War. This land was split into territories. The voters in the territories would decide whether or not slavery would be allowed there. This is called popular sovereignty.

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