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Chapter 34: the compromise of 1850.—Mr. Webster. The discovery of gold mines in California contemporaneously with the cession of that territory from Mexico brought an unexpected turn in political history. During the years 1848– 1849 emigrants by tens of thousands, largely enterprising young men from the free States, thronged to the Pacific coast in search of the precious metal. Slaveholders, slow in thought and action, could not keep abreast of this wonderful movement, combining thrift,
xtension of slavery and the increase of slave representation in Congress; had asserted for himself precedence of others in the support of the principle of the Wilmot Proviso, and had even voted for its application to the territories acquired from Mexico, whose fate was again in question.
Lodge's Life of Webster, pp. 292, 321; Wilson's Rise and Fall of the Slave Power, vol.
II. p. 241; G. T. Curtis's Life of Webster, vol.
II. p. 307, note. He now announced that he should vote against the ins