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What was Henry Clay's Compromise of 1850?

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Henry Clay's Compromise of 1850 was an effort led by Henry Clay to keep the United States together. It finally passed after much debate and many failures to win a majority vote. Among other stipulations, it nullified the Missouri Compromise, allowed California into the nation as a free state and banned any slavery restrictions by the federal government in Utah and New Mexico.

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Neither side was completely satisfied in this compromise, and it did not ultimately succeed in keeping the nation from splitting apart. The Compromise of 1850 paid Texas $10 million in exchange for losing the border dispute with New Mexico, and it banned slave trade in the nation's capital city of Washington, D.C., though owning slaves was legal there. One of the greatest victories for the South and defeats for the North was the inclusion of the Fugitive Slave Act as part of the Compromise. The Fugitive Slave Act stated that warrants were to be issued for runaway slaves and that Northerners had to return runaway slaves to their owners. The Northerners protested mightily at being required to do something they felt was so wrong, and they ultimately refused to do so. The Underground Railroad became even more active. Henry Clay really believed he was helping to keep the nation intact and died before he was proved wrong.

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