Compromise of 1850 (McPherson, 2001)

James M. McPherson, Ordeal by Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction, 3rd ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001), 75.
Whatever the ambiguities and ironies of the Compromise, it did avert a grave crisis in 1850 – or at least postponed it. Most Americans – even those who disliked the Compromise – breathed a sigh of relief. Moderates in both parties and in both sections took their cue from President Fillmore, who announced that the Compromise was “a final and irrevocable settlement” of sectional differences. Acceptance of the compromise was more hearty in the South than in the North. Most Southerners, especially Whigs, regarded it as a Southern victory. “We of the South had a new lease for slave property,” wrote a North Carolina Whig. “It was more secure than it had been for the last quarter of a century.”

These sentiments blunted the fire-eaters’ drive to keep disunionism alive. In four lower-South-states – South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi – Unionist coalitions of Whigs and moderate Democrats defeated efforts by Southern Rights Democrats to win control of the state governments and to call secession conventions. The Georgia Unionists in December 1850 adopted resolutions that furnished a platform for the South during the next decade. It was a platform of conditional Unionist. Although Georgia did “not wholly approve” of the Compromise, she would “abide by it as a permanent adjustment of this sectional controversy.”
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