Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Summer 2012


Great Plains Quarterly 32:3 (Summer 2012).


Copyright © 2012 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska.


In this revision of his 1996 publication, Mark Stegmaier has polished up an already comprehensive history of the Compromise of 1850 as it unfolded from the perspective of Texas and New Mexico. Whereas most histories have focused on the compromise from the standpoint of the national question about slavery, this work illuminates the significance of the part that fixed the boundary between Texas and New Mexico. Stegmaier argues that the boundary dispute acted as the linchpin for the entire block of compromises the 31st Congress passed in 1850. More so than any other issue-including statehood for California, the new fugitive slave laws, and the slave trade in the capital-the clash between Texas state authorities and those of the federal government over Texas's claim to all territory east of the Rio Grande could very well have led to armed conflict and potential civil war.