In this answer, Mark points out that when California was admitted to the Union as a free state, that changed the balance between free and slave states, leading to the Compromise of 1850.

Why indeed, then, didn't they just split it into two or three states, and declare the southern part slave and the northern part free? It's certainly big enough in area to comprise several states. (Or was it that the population wasn't large enough?)

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    i believe its because their was little to no slavery in California to begin with, which is why it joined as one large free state(still with a relatively small pop) territories that had the option of going slave or free, or splitting in half, were areas that already had both slave owners as well as areas without. the total pop of california in 1850 was also about 90k and 60k was needed to become a state so it was impossible to split it into 3 states.
    – Himarm
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 17:53

1 Answer 1


California could not be broken up at the time as it only contained about 90,000 residents and the minimum resident requirement to become a state was at the time 60,000. so to split it up into 3 states you would have to wait till you have 180,000 residents with 60,000 in distinct areas to facilitate a split.

  • however, it probably wouldn't have been split anyways, because i believe the overwhelming majority in cali were antislave/nonslave owners.
    – Himarm
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 20:19
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    To expand, most of the population was in the San Francisco area as part of the gold rush, and that was also where the population growth was taking place. The southern part (the part that might have been split off as a slave state) was thinly populated, mostly by formerly-Mexican farmers with no history of slavery.
    – Mark
    Commented Jan 10, 2015 at 0:28

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