The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 33, July 1929 - April, 1930 Page: 92
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
The essential points in the controversy over slavery expansion
are well known; but in order to focus attention upon the phase
of the question here under discussion, it is desirable to cite them
again. As stated by the supporters of the Wilmot Proviso and
the opponents of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, it was the question
whether the plantation system of agriculture and negro slave
labor should be allowed to take possession of the vast western
plains, shut out the white home-owning small farmer and the
white free laborer, and, by the creation of new slave states, so
far increase the political strength of the "slave power" that it
would be able to dominate the whole nation in its own interest.
As stated by the pro-slavery men, it was the question whether
an important and essential southern interest, guaranteed by the
federal compact, should be stigmatized by the general govern-
ment itself and excluded from the territories owned in common
by all the states, with the inevitable consequence of so weaken-
ing the southern people politically that they would soon no
longer be able to defend themselves against hostile and ruinous
legislation. This brief explanation does not cover all the ground,
but it may suffice for the present purpose. Each party to the
controversy considered itself on the defensive and, therefore, to
each the issue seemed of vital importance. Neither was willing to
Disregarding the stock arguments-constitutional, economic,
social, and what not-advanced by either group, let us examine
afresh the real problem involved. Would slavery, if legally per-
mitted to do so, have taken possession of the territories or of any
considerable portion of them? There is no question but that our
own generation must, if the fears of the anti-expansionists were
well founded, sympathize with the opposition to slavery exten-
sion. But were their apprehensions well founded? A number of
eminent historians, while admitting that slavery could not have
flourished on the high arid lands of New Mexico, have either
ignored the question with respect to Kansas or have tacitly seemed
to assume that the upper plains region would have become a
slave section but for the uprising of the people of the free states.
They have pointed to various projects for annexations or pro-
tectorates to the south of the United States as further evidence
of a dangerous program for the extension of the slave power.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 33, July 1929 - April, 1930, periodical, 1930; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101090/m1/106/: accessed January 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.