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These opposing views set the terms of conflict for the next decade.When 80,000 Forty-Niners poured into California after the discovery of gold there in 1848, they organized a state government and petitioned Congress for admission to the Union as the 31st state.
"'A house divided against itself cannot stand,'" he declared.
"I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free." By preventing the further expansion of slavery, Lincoln hoped to "place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction." Lincoln lost the senatorial election in 1858.
These measures postponed but did not prevent a final showdown.
The fugitive slave law angered many northerners who were compelled to watch black people—some of whom had lived in their communities for years—returned in chains to slavery.
But they intended to prevent its further expansion as the first step toward bringing it eventually to an end.
The United States, said Lincoln at the beginning of his famous campaign against Douglas in 1858 for election to the Senate, was a house divided between slavery and freedom.
In 1850 the nation seemed held together by a thread, with war between free and slave states an alarming possibility. The Compromise of 1850 averted a violent confrontation.
This series of laws admitted California as a free state, divided the remainder of the Mexican cession into the territories of New Mexico and Utah, and left to their residents the question whether or not they would have slavery.
The controversy in Congress grew so heated that Senator Henry S.
Foote of Mississippi flourished a loaded revolver during a debate, and his colleague Jefferson Davis challenged an Illinois congressman to a duel.