Free Soil Debate

California Statehood threatened the balance of power

  • Mass population migration to California in search of gold
  • Need for government was large as it became a wild and lawless place
  • Drafted a state Constitution in 1849

o   Asked to be admitted as a free state

  • What to do???


There were other issues dividing North and South

  • Texas dispute with government over northwestern border
  • New Mexico and Utah organizing to become territories …and eventually states…probably free
  • Abolitionists gaining support to ban slavery in Washington DC


Southerners demanded the federal government enforce the weak Fugitive Slave Law of 1793

  • runaway slaves must be returned to their masters
  • no government aid was provided for this
  • South believed its property and honor were at stake
  • North insisted federal government should not help enforce slavery