Election of 1848
- Democrats and Whigs split over whether to limit expansion of slavery
- Free-Soil Party emerged in support of Wilmot Proviso
o Martin Van Buren candidate
o Free soil, free speech, free labor, free men
o Main goal to keep slavery out of western territories
- Whigs and Democrats had avoided slavery question
o Free-soilers forced them to take stand
o Both chose popular sovereignty
- Voters in territory…NOT Congress…would decide slavery
- Wide appeal
- True democracy!!
o Allowed to focus on each candidate – NOT slavery
- Whigs nominated Zachary Taylor
o Mexican War General
o Did not reveal political opinions…but people made assumptions
o Slave holder from Louisiana- assumed he supported slavery
- Democrats nominated Lewis Cass of Michigan
o Opposed Wilmot Proviso
o Supported popular sovereignty
- Taylor won by slim majority in North and South
o Van Buren drew 10% of vote away from Cass causing him to lose
o Free-Soil now on public radar
Zachary Taylor’s presidency was consumed by the conflict over the newly acquired Mexican Territory and the proposed “Compromise”
- Taylor refused to support the provisions of compromise.
Taylor suddenly died while in office in 1850 which made his Vice President, Millard Fillmore, the new President.
- Fillmore signed the compromise into law that was engineered by Whig leaders Henry Clay and Daniel Webster along with the Democrat Stephen A. Douglas.
- This became known as the Compromise of 1850 which was meant to solve the territorial expansion conflict and preserve the Union– at least it did so temporarily.