Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Clayton Compromise 4: The Vote in the Senate

As we saw in the last post, the Clayton Compromise bill was a very odd duck. As a technical matter it left the slavery question open in all three territories – Oregon, California and New Mexico. However, as a practical matter it virtually guaranteed that slavery would remain barred from Oregon and that that territory would ultimately enter the Union as a free state. The future of California and New Mexico was more obscure, with the outcome presumably to be decided by the United States Supreme Court.

Surprisingly, the Clayton Compromise bill passed the Senate “at seven minutes before 8:00 a.m., (Thursday morning [July 27, 1848],) after a continuous session of twenty-one hours.” Equally surprising was the size of the margin of victory – 33 ayes to 22 nays. Before trying to sort out the vote, here is the roll call:


David R. Atchison (D, MO)
Charles G. Atherton (D, NH)
Thomas Hart Benton (D, MO)
John M. Berrien (W, GA)
Solon Borland (D, AR)
Sidney Breese (D, IL)
Jesse D. Bright (D, IN)
Andrew Butler (D, SC)
John C. Calhoun (D, SC)
John M. Clayton (W, DE)
Jefferson Davis (D, MS)
Daniel S. Dickinson (D, NY)
Stephen A. Douglas (D, IL)
Solomon W. Downs (D, LA)
Henry S. Foote (D, MS)
Edward A. Hannegan (D, IN)
Samuel Houston (D, TX)
Robert M.T. Hunter (D, VA)
Reverdy Johnson (W, MD)
Henry Johnson (W, LA)
Herschel V. Johnson (D, GA)
William R. D. King (D, AL)
Dixon H. Lewis (D, AL)
Willie P. Mangum (W, NC)
James M. Mason (W, VA)
Samuel S. Phelps (W, VT)
Thomas J. Rusk (D, TX)
William K. Sebastian (D, AR)
Presley Spruance (W, DE)
Daniel Sturgeon (D, PA)
Hopkins L. Turney (D, TN)
James D. Wescott, Jr. (D, FL)
David L. Yulee (D, FL)

Nays (22)

William Allen (D, OH)
George E. Badger (W, NC)
Roger S. Baldwin (W, CT)
John Bell (W, TN)
James W. Bradbury (D, ME)
John H. Clarke (W, RI)
Thomas Corwin (W, OH)
John Davis (W, MA)
William L. Dayton (W, NJ)
John A. Dix (D, NY)
Henry Dodge (D, WI)
Alpheus Felch (D, MI)
Thomas Fitzgerald (D, MI)
Albert C. Greene (W, RI)
John P. Hale (D, NH)
Hannibal Hamlin (D, ME)
Thomas Metcalfe (W, KY)
Jacob W. Miller (W, NJ)
John M. Niles (D, CT)
Joseph R. Underwood (W, KY)
William Upham (W, VT)
Isaac P. Walker (D, WI)

And here is the breakdown by party and section. In the chart below New England includes ME, NH, VT, MA, RI and CT. Mid-Atlantic includes NY, NJ and PA. West includes all other non-slave states. Cotton includes the seven original states of the Confederacy. And Border/Mid includes all other slaveholding states, including those that did not secede (DE, MD, KY and MO).

Dems Whigs Total

Free States 7-10 1-8 8-18

New England 1-4 1-5 2-9

Mid-Atlantic 2-1 0-1 2-2

West 4-5 0-2 4-7

Slave States 18-0 7-4 25-4

Border/Mid 6-0 5-4 11-4

Cotton 12-0 2-0 14-0

Total 25-10 8-12 33-22

Pictured at the top are Charles G. Atherton and Samuel S. Phelps, the only New England Democratic and Whig Senators, respectively, to vote in favor of the Clayton Compromise bill.

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