The Compromise of 1850 includes five laws that the U.S. Congress passed in September 1850 to resolve the issue of slavery in the territory acquired during the Mexican war. The major factor that led to its passage was California’s request to enter the Union as a free state. The Compromise was drafted by Senator Henry Clay as an omnibus bill and then broken into separate bills by Senator Stephen Douglas. As a result of the Compromise, California was admitted as a free state, territorial government was created in Utah and New Mexico, and slave trade (though not slaveholding) was prohibited in Washington D.C. Moreover, the Compromise favored New Mexico in the boundary dispute with Texas and reinforced the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793.

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The Mexican War was the armed conflict between the United States and Mexico in 1846-1848. The war arose out of annexation of Texas by the United States in 1945 and the ensuing dispute over the borders of this territory. Apart from Texas, the U.S. President James K. Polk was also interested in the territories of New Mexico and California, but Mexico refused to negotiate the purchase. The American troops were ordered by Polk to occupy the disputed territory, which provoked a response on the Mexican side, followed by large U.S. victories. As a result of the war, the parties signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, according to which Mexico ceded about one third of its territory to the US for $15 million.

The Missouri Compromise was the U.S. statute which regulated the slavery status of several western states. It was drafted by Senator Henry Clay and passed in 1820. In the preceding year, Missouri requested to be admitted to the Union as a slave state, which increased the tension between slave and free states. The Compromise granted the request of Missouri, while also making Maine a free state and drawing a boundary between slave and free states in the former Louisiana territory. The Compromise was negated by the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854.

The Fugitive Slave Act was one of the laws included in the Compromise of 1850. It was intended to strengthen the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, which required that runaway slaves should be returned to their owners. As the original law was often circumvented in free states, the revised law ensured its enforcement by introducing penalty for the citizens and officials who aided escaped slaves. Moreover, the Act denied runaway slaves a jury trial and the right to testify on their behalf. The Fugitive Slave Act was actively contested by abolitionists and was eventually repealed in 1864.