Prior to the Civil War, were there any plans to eventually admit Arizona and New Mexico as slave states?

  • 2
    That's a history what-if question, we don't do that here.
    – Jos
    Jul 18, 2022 at 2:14
  • 2
    Not necessarily. The Territory of New Mexico existed pre Civil War, whether there were plans or not to admit the territory to the union as slave states isn't hypothetical.
    – Semaphore
    Jul 18, 2022 at 3:51
  • 5
    Please document your preliminary research; what is wrong with the answer in Wikipedia?. Mea Culpa, M. Seifert is correct, I provided the wrong link. I've change the reference to the correct one. Thank you M.Seifert
    – MCW
    Jul 18, 2022 at 7:04
  • 1
    I cannot support a re-open vote without addressing the reasons for closure.
    – MCW
    Feb 5, 2023 at 11:47

1 Answer 1


In December 1860, a House committee proposed immediately admitting New Mexico as a slave state. From The Impending Crisis, by David Potter & Don Fehrenbacher (1976):

[The Committee of Thirty-Three] offered an alternative concession—the immediate admission of New Mexico, presumably as a slave state. This was a new version of the familiar scheme for by-passing the territorial issue, advances in this instance by Maryland's Henry Winter Davis with a specific purpose in mind. ... Davis explained to Charles Francis Adams that the New Mexico proposal was designed to please the border states and split them from the deep South, whose representatives would no doubt propose it. ... [T]he committee accepted the New Mexico measure, 13 to 11, with Republicans 9 to 6 in favor and southerners 5 to 2 against.

Here, then, were some curious developments. ... [A] majority of Republicans on a House committee were endorsing the admission of a slave to the Union, with the tacit understanding that it would be a slave state and with the knowledge that its boundary would extend well north of 36°30'. And most southerners, in turn, refused to accept this seemingly generous offer as a substitute for the Missouri formula. The anomaly is not inexplicable, however. Admitting New Mexico, unlike authorizing slavery in a federal territory, would have little symbolic value for the South, and it would offer no security for the institution in any territory subsequently acquired. Furthermore, there was considerable agreement on both sides that slavery would never flourish in New Mexico. ... Thus Republicans were actually yielding less, and slaveholders stood to gain less, than it appeared on the surface.

By the point that the House committee passed this resolution on December 29, however, South Carolina had already seceded, and three other states would do so in the two weeks following. Wikipedia notes that several Southern representatives on the committee had already left Washington for their home states by that time.

  • It is pretty hard to see how slavery would have been utilized in New Mexico, given the climate that is wildly different from anything east of the Mississippi in the South.
    – Jon Custer
    Jul 18, 2022 at 20:47

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