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The American Civil War 1861-1865 and the Reconstruction period that followed were the bloodiest chapters of American history to date Brother fought brother as the population was split along sectional lines The issue of slavery divided the nations people and the political parties that represented them in Washington The tension which snapped the uneasy truce between north and south began building over slavery and statehood debates in California In 1848 settlers discovered gold at Sutters Mill starting a mass migration By 1849 California had enough citizens to apply for statehood However the debate over whether the large western state would or would not allow slavery delayed its admittance Delegates from the south threatened to secede if California was admitted as a free state Meanwhile tempers also flared in New Mexico and Texas over border disputes and abolitionists fought pro-slavery advocates over the issue of slave trading within the District of Columbia Southern political leaders mostly Democrats proposed a convention in Nashville to discuss secession In 1850 Henry Clay proposed the Compromise of 1850 to Congress The Compromise contained the following provisions California would enter the union as free state New Mexico territory would be divided into New Mexico and Utah and offered popular sovereignty Texas must yield disputed territory to New Mexico in return for federal assumption of its state debt Trading but not possession of slaves would be banned from the District of Columbia Fugitive slave laws would be enhanced Zachary Taylor who was president at the time was prepared to veto the bills but died suddenly His successor Millard Fillmore allowed the provisions to pass one at a time with the help of Stephen Douglas The Nashville Convention met soon afterwards and denounced the plan but took no decisive action This uneasy truce would last for only four years In 1854 the Kansas-Nebraska Act makes further compromise practically impossible It granted popular sovereignty to both states
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