Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION – American history in VOA Special English. In eighteen fifty, the United States Congress debated a proposal for an important compromise. The compromise dealt mostly with the national dispute over slavery. That dispute threatened to split the northern and southern parts of the country. There was a danger of civil war. Many leaders supported the compromise. But President Zachary Taylor did not. This week in our series, Leo Scully and Larry West complete our story of the Compromise of Eighteen Fifty.
Taylor did not think there was a crisis. He did not believe the dispute over slavery was as serious as others did. He had his own plan to settle one part of the dispute. He would make the new territory of California a free state. Slavery there would be banned. Taylor's plan did not, however, settle other parts of the dispute. It said nothing about laws on escaped slaves. It said nothing about slavery in the nation's capital, the District of Columbia. It said nothing about the border dispute between Texas and New Mexico. The congressional compromise was an attempt to settle all these problems. Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky, who had written the compromise, questioned the president's limited proposal. Clay said: "Now what is the plan of the president? Here are five problems, five wounds that are bleeding and threatening the life of the republic. What is the president's plan? Is it to heal all these wounds? No such thing. It is to heal one of the five and to leave the other four to bleed more than ever." While the debate continued in Washington, the situation in Texas and New Mexico got worse. Texas claimed a large part of New Mexico, including the capital, Santa Fe. Early in eighteen fifty, Texas sent a representative to Santa Fe to take control of the government. The United States military commander in New Mexico advised the people not to recognize the man. The governor of Texas was furious. He decided to send state soldiers to enforce Texas's claims in New Mexico. He said if trouble broke out, the United States government would be to blame.
President Taylor rejected Texas's claims. He told his secretary of war to send an order to the military commander in New Mexico. The commander was to use force to oppose any attempt by Texas to seize the territory. The secretary of war said he would not send such an order. He believed that if fighting began, southerners would hurry to the aid of Texas. And that, he thought, might be the start of a southern struggle against the federal government. In a short time, the North and South would be at war. When the secretary of war refused to sign the order, President Taylor answered sharply. "Then I will sign the order myself!" Taylor had been a general before becoming president. He said he would take command of the army himself to enforce the law. And he said he was willing to hang anyone who rebelled against the Union. President Taylor began writing a message to Congress on the situation. He never finished it. On the afternoon of July fourth, eighteen fifty, Taylor attended an outdoor independence day ceremony. The ceremony was held at the place where a monument to America's first president, George Washington, was being built. The day was very hot, and Taylor stood for a long time in the burning sun. That night, he became sick with pains in his stomach. Doctors were called to the White House. But none of their treatments worked. Five days later, President Taylor died. Vice President Millard Fillmore was sworn-in as president.
Fillmore was from New York state. His family was poor. His early education came not from school teachers, but from whatever books he could find. Later, Fillmore was able to study law. He became a successful lawyer. He also served in the United States Congress for eight years. The Whig Party chose him as its vice presidential candidate in the election of eighteen forty-eight. He served as vice president for about a year and a half before the death of President Taylor. Fillmore had disagreed with Taylor over the congressional compromise on slavery and the western territories. Unlike Taylor, Fillmore truly believed that the nation was facing a crisis. And he truly believed the compromise would help save the Union. Now, as president, Fillmore offered his complete support to the bill. Its chances of passing looked better than ever. Fillmore asked the old cabinet to resign. He named his own cabinet members. All were strong supporters of the union. All supported the compromise. Congress debated the compromise throughout the summer of eighteen fifty. There were several proposals in the bill. Supporters decided not to vote on the proposals as one piece of legislation. They saw a better chance of success by trying to pass each proposal separately. Their idea worked. By the end of September, both the Senate and House of Representatives had approved all parts of the eighteen fifty compromise.
President Fillmore signed them into law. One part of the compromise permitted California to enter the Union as a free state. One established territorial governments in New Mexico and Utah. One settled the dispute between Texas and New Mexico. Another ended the slave trade in the District of Columbia. Many happy celebrations took place when citizens heard that President Fillmore had signed the eighteen fifty compromise. Many people believed the problem of slavery had been solved. They believed the Union had been saved. Others, however, believed the problem had only been postponed. They hoped the delay would give reasonable men of the North and South time to find a permanent answer to the issue of slavery. Time was running out. It was true that the eighteen fifty compromise had ended a national crisis. But both northern and southern extremists remained bitter. Those opposed to slavery believed the compromise law on runaway slaves violated the constitution.
The new law said negroes accused of being runaway slaves could not have a jury trial. It said government officials could send negroes to whoever claimed to own them. It said negroes could not appeal such a decision. Those who supported slavery had a different idea of the compromise. They did not care about the constitutional rights of negroes. They considered the compromise a simple law for the return of valuable property. No law approved by Congress, and signed by the president, could change these beliefs. The issue of slavery was linked to the issue of secession. Did states have the right to leave the Union? If southern states rejected all compromises on slavery, did they have the right to secede? The signing of the eighteen fifty compromise cooled the debate for a time. But disagreement on the issues was deep. It would continue to build over the next ten years. Those were difficult years for America's presidents. Next week, we will tell how the situation affected the administration of President Millard Fillmore.
1.break out 爆发；突然发生
Armed conflict may break out at any moment.
2.hurry to 赶往；匆忙赶到
I hurry to the cinema.
3.by the end of 到......为止；在......尽头
By the end of the holiday, I had spent all my money.
4.run out 耗尽；用光
They have run out of ideas.
泰勒认为不会出现危机，他不相信有关奴隶制的争论会像其他人想象的那样严重 。他自己有办法来解决部分争端，他想使加利福尼亚州的新领地成为一个自由州，禁止奴隶制在那里出现 。然而，泰勒的计划并没有解决争端的其他部分 。它没有提到有关逃亡奴隶的法律，没有提到首都哥伦比亚特区的奴隶制问题，没有提到德克萨斯州和新墨西哥州之间的边境争端 。而国会的折衷法案试图解决所有这些问题 。肯塔基州参议员亨利·克莱曾撰写过折衷法案，他质疑总统提出的有限的提议 。克莱说：“现在，总统计划怎么做？这有五个问题，五处伤口在流血，它们威胁着共和国的生命 。总统的计划是什么？它能治愈这些伤口吗？根本不行，这只是为了治愈五处伤口中的一个，而让其他四处失血更多 。”在华盛顿继续辩论的同时，德克萨斯州和新墨西哥州的情况变得更加糟糕 。德克萨斯州声称占据新墨西哥州的一大片领地，其中包括首都圣达菲 。1850年初，得克萨斯州派一名代表前往圣达菲接管政府 。美国驻新墨西哥州的军事指挥官建议人们不要认可此人 。德克萨斯州州长非常愤怒，他决定派遣州士兵到新墨西哥州执行德克萨斯州提出的要求 。他说，如果出现问题，美国政府将受到谴责 。
总统泰勒拒绝了德克萨斯州的要求，他告诉作战部长向新墨西哥州的军事指挥官发出命令，指挥官要用武力反对德克萨斯州夺取该地区领土的任何企图 。战争部长表示他不会下达这样的命令 。他相信，如果爆发战争，南方人会迅速向德克萨斯州求助 。他认为，这可能成为南方反对联邦政府的斗争的开始 。在短时间内，南北双方将处于交战状态 。当作战部长拒绝签署命令时，总统泰勒作出了尖锐的回答，他说“那我自己来签署这项命令！”泰勒在当选总统前曾是一名将军，他说他将亲自指挥军队进行执法，他要把那些反对联邦的人统统绞死 。总统泰勒就目前的局势开始向国会起草国情咨文，但他没有完成这项工作 。1850年7月4日下午，泰勒参加了一个在户外举行的独立日纪念仪式，仪式在美国第一任总统乔治·华盛顿的纪念碑建造地举行 。那天天气炎热，泰勒在烈日下站了很久 。当天晚上，他出现胃痛 。医生们赶到白宫，但使用各种方法都医治无效 。五天后，总统泰勒去世，副总统米勒德·菲尔莫尔宣誓就任总统 。
菲尔莫尔来自纽约州，出身贫瘠 。他的早期教育不是来自学校老师，而是源自他能找到的所有书籍 。后来，菲尔莫尔学习了法律，成为一名成功的律师 。他还曾在美国国会任职八年 。1848年，辉格党在选举中挑选他作为副总统候选人 。总统泰勒去世前，他担任副总统职务已有约一年半的时间 。菲尔莫尔在国会对奴隶制和西部领土的折衷法案问题上与泰勒意见不相一致，与泰勒观点不同的是，菲尔莫尔确实认为国家正面临危机 。他相信折衷法案将有助于拯救联邦 。现在，菲尔莫尔以总统的身份全力支持这项法案，使其通过的几率大增 。菲尔莫尔要求原有内阁成员辞职，并任命了自己的内阁成员 。所有人都是联邦坚定的支持者，他们都支持折衷法案 。1850年的夏天，国会一直都在辩论折衷法案的事宜 。议案中包含几项建议，支持者们决定不把所有提议作为一项法案进行投票 。他们认为分别通过每一项提案，成功的机会更大 。他们的想法奏效了 。到9月底，参议院和众议院都批准了1850年折衷法案中的所有内容 。
总统菲尔莫尔签署后，其作为法律生效 。折衷法案中的几部分内容，包括允许加利福尼亚州以自由州的身份加入联邦，在新墨西哥州和犹他州建立省政府，解决德克萨斯州和新墨西哥州之间的争端，以及结束哥伦比亚特区的奴隶贸易 。当公民们听说总统菲尔莫尔签署了1850年折衷法案时，举行了很多欢庆活动 。许多人认为奴隶制问题已经得到解决，联邦获救了 。然而，其他人则认为这个问题只是被延缓了 。他们希望推迟一段时间能够让南北双方那些理性人士找到解决奴隶制问题的永久性答案，时间已所剩不多 。1850年的折衷法案确实结束了一场国家危机，但是南北方的极端分子仍然愤愤不平 。那些反对奴隶制的人认为，有关逃跑奴隶的折衷法案违反了宪法 。
新法律规定，被指控为逃亡奴隶的黑人不能接受陪审团审判，政府官员可以把黑人送到声称拥有他们的人手中，黑人不能对这样的决定提起上诉 。支持奴隶制的人对折衷法案持有不同的看法 。他们不关心黑人的宪法权利，而是认为折衷法案是一项归还贵重财产的简单法律 。国会通过并由总统签署的任何法律都不能改变这些看法 。奴隶制问题与分裂问题有关，各州有权脱离联邦吗？如果南方各州拒绝在奴隶制问题上做出的所有妥协，他们有权脱离联邦吗？1850年折衷法案的签署使争论平息了一段时间，但人们在这些问题上的分歧却很深，这种分歧将在未来十年继续积长 。对美国总统来说，这将是艰难的十年 。下周，我们将讲述这种形势如何影响总统米勒德·菲尔莫尔的主政 。