The Missouri Compromise: Political Tensions between the North and South

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The Missouri Compromise was a response to the advancing of political tensions between the North and South territories. Whether Missouri would become a slave state, congress wanted an equal number of slaves and Free states. With the population continuously growing in the state by 1818 Missouri was able to request admittance into the Union. To keep tensions from rising any more than they already had, Congress decided on a two-part compromise. Granting Missouri’s request was the first part and admitting Maine as a slave state was the second. To keep both states happy and tensions from boiling over Congress also passed an amendment that drew an imaginary line across what is now the Louisiana, forming a boundary between free and slave regions.

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The Compromise also suggested that each states contribution would be determined by a few factors such as; size of their population, and the number of slaves included. Something the south was against, Southerner’s firmly believed that only their race mattered and was the only one that should be accounted for. They also felt that if their slaves were counted they would be taxed unfairly. The South was also extremely agricultural it was a part of how they made a living. The North being extremely industrial had a high no tolerance attitude toward slavery. They viewed it as being morally wrong, dehumanizing and unnecessary. The balance between the free and enslaved states would be destroyed.

James Tallmadge, Jr., a representative from New York proposed two amendments to the Missouri State bill which took place on Feb.13, 1819. The first stopped all importation of slaves to Missouri. The second enforced an emancipation for the slaves already there. The House passed the amendments, along with strict regional voting lines, but the senate where representations of free and slave holding states were had other plans. The Senate rejected it without hesitation. ( There had been Congressional debates on the issue and it raged on for a year. Until finally the District of Maine, which had been originally apart of Massachusetts decided to request statehood. Kentucky native, Henry Clay the speaker of the house said that if Maine were to be admitted, then Missouri should be too. From this point states would be admitted in groups of two, one slave and one free. Senator Jesse B. Thomas from Illinois proposed an amendment allowing slaves bellow parallel 36 degrees, 30 minutes into the Louisiana Purchase territory. Prohibiting anyone entering above that line. The Parallel line was chosen because it ran along the Southern border of Missouri.

The Civil War ripped across the nation from 1861 to 1865 was the conclusion of the fiery uncontrollable diversification between the North and South. During this time, it was currently 11 slaves’ states and 11 free states. Congress knew the admission of a new state during this time would upset the balance they were so desperately trying to keep. Not only was slavery morally wrong as stated before, it also was an economic, social, and political issue which strongly completely divided the citizens of the nation. There was also another diverse issue that led up to the Civil War it was addressed through the Constitution which was not resolved and led to the debate between Federal and State’s rights. With the 1848 acquisition by the United States of land in the west end of the Mexican War, Southerners felt extremely threatened. Slavery had not been allowed in the Old Mexican territories and there was very little conviction for slavery there. Southerners feared that the new lands would come into the nation as free territory, so a Compromise came into place where California would be admitted as free state.

The Missouri Compromise was repealed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. The Southern majority had ruled that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional, and that Congress had no power to stop slavery in the territories on March 6, 1857. Three of the Southern justices also believed that African Americans who were once slaves or whose ancestors were slaves did not have the rights of a Federal Citizen. They also had no standing in court. For the time in the United States History, the Missouri Compromise seemed to be best logical explaining numbers between the state’s balances. For several years it worked just fine unfazed. No one had any idea of how quickly things would change or grow within the nation. The Missouri Compromise failed because it didn’t ease or weaken the tensions caused by slavery. It was supposed to be a law that was passed to keep the balance and it did for a short period of time. There was even an amendment that had an imaginary line drawn parallel through the Louisiana Territory just to divide the land. The Missouri Compromise is a huge part of American History that played a huge role in the Good Feelings Era. That Era was time when America stood for something other than itself. It was an Era of unity, understanding, and new-found purpose after the War of 1812.

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The Missouri Compromise: Political Tensions Between the North and South. (2019, Nov 13). Retrieved February 7, 2023 , from

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