The Missouri Compromise in Relation to Lucy Delaney

From the Darkness Cometh the Light or Struggles for Freedom is an autobiography written by Lucy Delaney in 1882. Delaney, a slave, recounts her life with a focus on her pursuit for freedom. When her court case began in 1844, a mind of abolition was already strong in the minds of a lot of Americans. Established in 1820, the Missouri Compromise made it even easier for slaves to gain access to their freedom through the courts and helped to establish a mind of abolition. Because a lot of controversy surrounded the Missouri Compromise, a lot of people who support the gradual emancipation mission emerged.

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While the Missouri Compromise was not the beginning of the emancipation movement in Missouri, momentum for the cause picked up after it was implemented. It and the laws from Illinois, where her mother was unrightfully kidnapped from, allowed Lucy Delaney a substantial court case for her freedom. Following her court case articles emerged discussing how both the people and the government were in support of abolition, the Liberty Party was finding a foothold in politics. The Missouri Compromise helped to give support to the anti-slavery movement.

In From the Darkness Cometh the Light or Struggles for Freedom Lucy Delaney, a freed slave, tells the story of how she attained her freedom, and reveals some reasons why she would have been able to do this. During the journey of attaining her daughter’s freedom, Lucy’s mother found favor with Judge Bates, who was a just man, opposed to slavery. Judge Bates had even been involved in discussions involving the Missouri Compromise. When the question of the repeal of the Missouri Compromise was agitated, he earnestly opposed it, and thus became identified with the ‘free labor’ party in Missouri. (Delaney pg. 38). Here Lucy writes an explanation about why her mother chose to approach him, and by his acceptance of the case, establishes the link between the Missouri Compromise and the ever growing acceptance of the anti-slavery movement.

Of course, people with similar values and attitudes as Judge Bates existed before the induction of Missouri into the union. Yet, there is evidence that more and more emerged and got involved in politics. Not only was Judge Bates in favor of Delaney’s argument, but so was Judge Mullanphy, who ruled in favor of Bates’ case. The idea that slavery was not what was best for the United States had seeped into the minds of the population in St. Louis, and the Missouri Compromise made it even more mainstream. With a law to back up their ideals the people were given a voice that could be seen as legitimate in the region.

In 1858 an article was printed in the New York Times magazine, titled THE WEST: The Emancipation Wuestion in MissouriGrowth of the WestBusiness&c. Written by an unknown author this is one of the many abolition movement topics the article covers is how St. Louis elected an Emancipation government. In opposing the passage of the resolution, B. Gratz Brown made a very able speech, full of official statistics, comparing the growth in wealth, population, and power of Illinois and Iowa, with that of Missouri, thus making a clear, convincing and powerful argument in favor of emancipation. This is where the article discusses how a speaker so eloquently showed how a free Missouri could be just as successful as its surrounding free states. It shows how the emancipation movement is spreading throughout Missouri, even when many people were still against it, the government itself was welcoming idea of black saves securing their freedom. Something that had started before Lucy Delaney’s case, but was obviously becoming more widespread after.

Missouri was still a fairly new addition to the U.S. Union but was already making waves. With larger cities like Kansas City and St. Louis were accepting governments that were anti-slavery. The birth of Missouri as a state helped support its French background with a different view on slavery than a lot of other states at the time. After multiple slaves making their appeals to freedom through the courts in Missouri and the Liberty Party’s influence the state was starting to be publicized as one widely in favor of abolition. The word was being spread throughout the country of the Middle South state accepting the idea of freeing the slaves held within its borders.

The Liberty Party published a document outlining what they stood for, and what their values were in 1843, titled 1843 Platform of the Liberty Party. Discussed in the document is how the party was created by the people and how they believed that slavery was unconstitutional. That the Liberty party, placing itself upon this broad principle, will demand the absolute and unqualified divorce of the general government from slavery, and also the restoration of equality of rights among men in every state where the party exists, or may exist. Here the party states clearly how they not only are against slavery but believe in the equality of mankind.

The Liberty Party had significant political influence in America and can be used as an example of how the minds of the people were influencing the minds of the government. A political party that had been mostly established by citizens had gained momentum even with the anti-slavery policies. This is just one of many examples for those opposed to the horrendous act of slavery a way to organize themselves. They were coming in as a populous, court based, and political force. After the Missouri Compromise and court cases similar to Lucy Delaney’s more and more slaves were able to gain freedom, and gain support from white Americans.

Lucy Delaney’s court case success shows how the state of mind in Missouri was shifting. In 1820 The Missouri Compromise was created as a document allowing Missouri to enter the union under certain criteria. One of the main things that this created was a gradual emancipation state. .contemplated by this act, slavery and involuntary servitude, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes, whereof the parties shall have been duly convicted, shall be, and is hereby, forever prohibited: The Missouri Territory had originally been under the control of the French, who didn’t see the slaves quite in the same dichotomy as the costal colonies had. Even under the more flexible view towards slavery, many territories didn’t abide by those laws. This meant that the doors the Missouri Compromise opened wider, may not have been new, but were now being enforced and supported legally.

The Missouri Compromise was widely controversial because it was obvious that it was forcing an end to slavery, without the vote of the people. People had been angry that something they saw as their right was being slowly eaten away. That idea, while never disappearing, would die out and be replaced by a much more encouraging one. That black citizens deserved the basic freedoms that whites in the country did. With that old idea gaining new traction people like Judge Bates appeared from the shadows. People who voted against repealing that amendment, those who valued life, not color.

Lucy Delaney’s successful quest for freedom is one of many powerful examples of the abolition movement. The courts began to recognize what the French had previously tried to implement, and what the Missouri Compromise validated. So, the idea spread from pamphlets and small groups to a larger scale, politically and judicially. St. Louis even adopted a party in favor of emancipation. There were other political parties too, even outside of that region, like the Liberty Party. The Liberty Party that stood against slavery and for the people. While just one speck in the huge machine of liberation, the Lucy Delaney court case has a lot to say about the anti-slavery movement. The Missouri Compromise was by far a huge stepping stone in the rough path of abolition across the raging river of slavery dichotomies that plagued the United States.

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The Missouri Compromise in Relation to Lucy Delaney. (2019, Nov 13). Retrieved January 30, 2023 , from

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