What Was the Wilmot Proviso?

America won new territories after winning the war with Mexico in 1848. The addition of these new territories lead to conflict regarding the question of slavery in the newly acquired area. The question of slavery was the primary point of contention during the Sectional Crisis of the mid-1800s prior to the Civil War. President Polk wanted Congress to approve $2 million worth of reparations to Mexico in exchange for the land acquired from the war in order to establish an honorable peace. Certain members of Congress sought to ensure free territories with no slavery in the new areas as part of the approval of the funds. Congressman David Wilmot was the author of the Wilmot Proviso to the appropriations bill put forward by Polk. The Wilmot Proviso declared that none of the new territories should have slaves, nor should any other new territories acquired in the future. Southern Democrats in the Senate defeated this proviso, but it highlighted the ongoing sectional struggles during this time in American History.

Sectional Crisis: The Wilmot Proviso

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Last updated: 03/26/2018


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