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The Constitution in CongressDescent into the Maelstrom, 1829-1861$
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David P. Currie

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780226129167

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226131160.001.0001

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Mr. Wilmot's Proviso

Mr. Wilmot's Proviso

(p.133) 7 Mr. Wilmot's Proviso
The Constitution in Congress
University of Chicago Press

By the time the Thirtieth Congress in the United States first met in December 1847, the question of slavery in the territories, which Senator Cass had dismissed as premature, was becoming increasingly urgent. Mexico could satisfy legitimate demands for reparations only by ceding territory. California and New Mexico, broadly defined, were already in U.S. hands and ought to remain there. Military governments had been set up in the provinces in accordance with the laws of war. Without waiting for a peace treaty, Congress established territorial governments in New Mexico and California. When Congress met in December 1848, Senator Douglas was ready with a new proposal—the entire area acquired from Mexico should be admitted as a state under the name of California. The people of California should be permitted to form their own government and make their own decisions about slavery; there was no need for Congress to descend again.

Keywords:   military governments, laws of war, territorial government, slavery, New Mexico

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