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Compromise of 1850: Primary Documents in American History

The Compromise of 1850 was a series of acts that dealt with issues related to slavery and territorial expansion. This guide contains Library of Congress digital materials, external websites, and a print bibliography.


P.F. Rothermel, artist; R. Whitechurch, engraver. The United States Senate, A.D. 1850. 1855. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

The Compromise of 1850 consists of five laws passed in September of 1850 that dealt with the issue of slavery and territorial expansion. In 1849 California requested permission to enter the Union as a free state, potentially upsetting the balance between the free and slave states in the U.S. Senate. Senator Henry Clay introduced a series of resolutions on January 29, 1850, in an attempt to seek a compromise and avert a crisis between North and South. As part of the Compromise of 1850, the Fugitive Slave Act was amended and the slave trade in Washington, D.C., was abolished. Furthermore, California entered the Union as a free state and a territorial government was created in Utah. In addition, an act was passed settling a boundary dispute between Texas and New Mexico that also established a territorial government in New Mexico.

This resource guide compiles links to digital materials related to the Compromise of 1850 that are available on the Library of Congress website. The guide also provides links to external websites and a selected print bibliography.

Compromise of 1850: Acts