Missouri Compromise – Definition and Facts

After the War of 1812, the United States began to grow rapidly with new technology and immigration; this prompted many people to migrate into the western territories of the United States. One area that was being settled was where present-day Missouri is located, which is part of the land acquired from the Louisiana Purchase. In 1819, Missouri applied for statehood, but their application would have negative consequences on the United States. Missouri’s application for statehood would reignite racial tensions in the United States, which would lead to the creation of the Missouri Compromise.

As Missouri was growing, slaves were prominent in Missouri, which caused Missouri to be associated with the slave states (the South). When Missouri applied for statehood, they applied to join as a slave owning state. If Missouri became a state, Missouri would have power in the government to vote on decisions that went through Congress. Missouri’s addition as a state, threatened to upset the delicate balance between slave states and free states. Slave states would hold the power in Congress because there would be eleven non-slave states (the North) and twelve slave states; the slave states would have more representatives in Congress. The slave states supported Missouri’s addition as a state because they, feared that if they became outnumbered in Congressional representation that they would lack the power to protect their interests in property and trade. With Missouri in Congress, the slave states would outnumber the non-slave states, which would allow them to protect trade and slavery.

Before the Missouri Compromise, a solution was proposed by James Tallmadge, a representative from New York. Tallmadge proposed to, ban slavery within the boundaries of the new state, and Tallmadge, advocated gradual emancipation for the thousands of chattels already living there. This amendment sparked tensions between slave states and non-slave states because slave states believed that the government did not have the authority. Many saw Tallmadge’s amendment as an, indication of northern reluctance to see the extension of southern political advantage by inflated representation. The slave states and the non-slave states assumed different perspectives on the amendment; slave states disagreed, while non-slave states agreed with the amendment.

Since it would cause slavery to be abolished in Missouri, slave states saw the amendment as, protesting the imbalance of representation. as well as the unveiled threat on the institution so critical to the plantation economy. The slave states wanted to protect themselves from being outnumbered in Congress and their economy because their economy heavily relied on slavery. The non-slave states supported the amendment because they believed, slavery posed a threat to the farm-and-industry economic model. Similar to slave states, non-slave states desired to protect their economy from slavery, and they feared being outnumbered in Congress. An important issue that was discussed among the states during this time was the power Congress had on slavery. Slave states thought Congress did not have the power while non-slave states thought Congress did have power. If Congress did have authority over the issue, then the new states would have fewer rights than the original ones. This caused many to take different perspectives on the abolishment of slavery. Tallmadge’s amendment was approved by the House of Representatives, but it was denied in Congress. Despite the efforts of the non-slave states, Tallmadge’s amendment was not passed; this caused the production of a new solution that would solve the current problem in the United States.

During the time Missouri was applying for statehood, the territory of Maine was applying for statehood as well. Unlike Missouri, Maine, which was to be a free state, was being blocked from joining the Union by southern senators. While Missouri was applying for statehood and being rejected by non-slave owning states, Maine was applying for statehood and being rejected by slave owning states. Both slave owning and non-slave owning states wanted to have the majority of votes in Congress, so that they could enact the changes they wanted to on slavery. The slave owning states desired to maintain slavery and increase the benefits of having slaves because their economy relied heavily on slaves; the non-slave owning states desired to abolish slavery because slavery was not helping their economy and was useless. If either territory was annexed as a state, then the voting balance of Congress would be disrupted. Eventually, a balance was agreed upon with a new solution that would satisfy both the slave states and non-slave states.

A new solution was formulated in 1820 that would solve the problem of annexing Missouri and Maine. A new statesman, Jesse B. Thomas suggested a proposal that would eventually be called the Missouri Compromise. The Missouri Compromise is a two-part compromise that satisfies both sides of the issue. The first part of the Compromise makes it that, Missouri would be admitted to the union as a slave state, but would be balanced by the admission of Maine, a free state, that had long wanted to be separated from Massachusetts. By annexing both territories, one side does not have the majority of votes in Congress, which means a balance has been met. This part of the Missouri Compromise maintains the status quo and postpones the inevitable conflict on slavery. Before the Missouri Compromise, the Congress was divided into two sides of eleven each; however, the Missouri Compromise allowed for both sides to gain a new state, so it was now even with twelve on both sides. The second part of the Missouri Compromise makes it that, no territory north of Missouri’s southern border (the 36° 30′ parallel) be allowed to enter the Union as a slave state. With the second part of the Missouri Compromise, no new territories are permitted to be slave states, which stops the spread of slavery into new territories of the United States.

Although the Missouri Compromise was formulated Jesse B. Thomas, Henry Clay was the one who pushed for the acceptance of the Missouri Compromise. Henry Clay, was Speaker of the House during the debates over the Missouri Compromise and was deeply engaged in moving the legislation forward. With the help of Henry Clay, the Missouri Compromise was able to be passed through the House of Representatives and Congress. The Missouri Compromise was only a temporary solution to the problem and created greater tension between slave states and non-slave states. With the Missouri Compromise, the North was able to see, that Southerners not only did not intend for slavery to end, they wanted to expand its presence, which angered the North. Similarly, the South creates their own ideas on the North regarding slavery. With the Missouri Compromise, the belief grew that Northerners were using slavery as a smokescreen behind which they could resurrect the Federalist Party and strengthen the central government at the expense of states’ rights. The South views a hidden agenda that the North is attempting to make a reality, which angers the South. In addition to the hidden agenda, the South was angered that, the principle that Congress could make laws regarding slavery, was established. A firm belief of the South was that Congress had no authority over laws that would affect slavery, which caused tension to increase in the South. The Missouri Compromise’s temporary solution to the problem of slavery allowed for greater tension to build up between the North and South.

The Missouri Compromise was able to postpone the issue of slavery for about twenty-five years. The North and South were tolerable with each other, but when the Mexican War in 1846-48 brought more land under the United States’ control, the nettlesome issue flared up again.

Did you like this example?

Cite this page

Missouri Compromise - Definition and Facts. (2019, Nov 13). Retrieved October 19, 2021 , from

A professional writer will make a clear, mistake-free paper for you!

Our verified experts write
your 100% original paper on this topic.

Get Writing Help

Stuck on ideas? Struggling with a concept?

A professional writer will make a clear, mistake-free paper for you!

Get help with your assigment
Leave your email and we will send a sample to you.
Go to my inbox
Didn't find the paper that you were looking for?
We can create an original paper just for you!
Get Professional Help