In 1849, successful general and Mexican-American War hero Winfield Scott was elected President of the United States, defeating a divided Nationalist Party. As a member of the Continental Party, "Grand Old Man of the Army" Scott hoped to continue the modernization of the nation and support local industries. However, his domestic policies were soon overshadowed by the growing concern over the acquired Mexican territory. 529,000 sq. miles had been added to the nation, and the pressing issue was whether to add them as free states or slave states. The slave states already outnumbed the free states by 1, and it was feared if the new territories became slave states, then the power of the southern, slavery faction in politics would grow too strong to stop.
Scott, after years of being a general, was quite authoriative, and was an opponent of the spread of slavery, which brought him in conflict with parts of the Continental Party. The Scott Proviso, a bill preventing the spread of slavery into the Mexican territories, was shot down in Congress twice. Scott continued to fall out of favor with the Continentals as he tried to increase executive authority over Congress in order to get the Proviso to pass. Congress attempted to fight back by attempting to compromise with the president, with the proposed Colorado Compromise dividing the territories into equal halves of free states and slave states. Scott rejected the compromise, believing none of the states should be opened to slavery.