Free Soil or Slave? The Dilemma of the West

Review Questions

The practice of allowing residents of territories to decide whether their land should be slave or free was called ________.

  1. the democratic process
  2. the Wilmot Proviso
  3. popular sovereignty
  4. the Free Soil solution



Which of the following was not a provision of the Compromise of 1850?

  1. California was admitted as a free state.
  2. Slavery was abolished in Washington, DC.
  3. A stronger fugitive slave law was passed.
  4. Residents of New Mexico and Utah were to decide for themselves whether their territories would be slave or free.



Describe the events leading up to the formation of the Free-Soil Party.


At the party’s national convention in 1848, the majority of Democrats voted for a candidate who supported popular sovereignty. A faction of the party was dismayed by this outcome; they opposed popular sovereignty and wanted to restrict the expansion of slavery in order to protect the value of white workers’ labor. They united with antislavery Whigs and former members of the Liberty Party to form a new political party—the Free-Soil Party—which had one goal, to oppose the extension of slavery into the territories.