Missouri Compromise

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Related to Missouri Compromise: Dred Scott Decision, Compromise of 1850

Missouri Compromise,

1820–21, measures passed by the U.S. Congress to end the first of a series of crises concerning the extension of slavery.

By 1818, Missouri Territory had gained sufficient population to warrant its admission into the Union as a state. Its settlers came largely from the South, and it was expected that Missouri would be a slave state. To a statehood bill brought before the House of Representatives, James Tallmadge of New York proposed an amendment that would forbid importation of slaves and would bring about the ultimate emancipation of all slaves born in Missouri. This amendment passed the House (Feb., 1819), but not the Senate. The bitterness of the debates sharply emphasized the sectional division of the United States.

In Jan., 1820, a bill to admit Maine as a state passed the House. The admission of Alabama as a slave state in 1819 had brought the slave states and free states to equal representation in the Senate, and it was seen that by pairing Maine (certain to be a free state) and Missouri, this equality would be maintained. The two bills were joined as one in the Senate, with the clause forbidding slavery in Missouri replaced by a measure prohibiting slavery in the remainder of the Louisiana Purchase north of 36°30'N lat. (the southern boundary of Missouri). The House rejected this compromise bill, but after a conference committee of members of both houses was appointed, the bills were treated separately, and in Mar., 1820, Maine was made a state and Missouri was authorized to adopt a constitution having no restrictions on slavery.

A provision in the Missouri constitution barring the immigration of free blacks to the state was objectionable to many Northern Congressmen, and necessitated another congressional compromise. Not until the Missouri legislature pledged that nothing in its constitution would be interpreted to abridge the rights of citizens of the United States was the charter approved and Missouri admitted to the Union (Aug., 1821). Henry ClayClay, Henry,
1777–1852, American statesman, b. Hanover co., Va. Early Career

His father died when he was four years old, and Clay's formal schooling was limited to three years.
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, as speaker of the House, did much to secure passage of the compromise—so much, in fact, that he is generally regarded as its author, even though Senator Jesse B. Thomas of Illinois was far more responsible for the first bill. The 36°30' proviso held until 1854, when the Kansas-Nebraska ActKansas-Nebraska Act,
bill that became law on May 30, 1854, by which the U.S. Congress established the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. By 1854 the organization of the vast Platte and Kansas river countries W of Iowa and Missouri was overdue.
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 repealed the Missouri Compromise.


See studies by G. Moore (1953, repr. 1967) and R. H. Brown (1964).

Missouri Compromise


an agreement concluded between members of the US Congress in 1820 under which Missouri was admitted to the Union as a slave state and Maine as a free state. As a result of the compromise the slaveholding area expanded: slavery was prohibited only north of 36°30’ N lat. and west of the Mississippi River. It was subsequently decided that two states at a time would be admitted to the Union, one free and the other slave. The agreement was a concession by the bourgeois-farming North to the slaveholding South. The compromise was repealed in 1854 after the adoption of the Kansas-Nebraska Act.


Moore, G. Missouri Controversy, 1819–1821 Gloucester, Mass., 1967.
References in periodicals archive ?
Indeed, Polk found himself, like Monroe, acting as a crucial intermediary on the slavery question, forced to take a stance (in favor of the Missouri Compromise line) on an issue that was not really his concern; indeed, his most-preferred position was to take no position on the status of slavery in the newly acquired territories.
there are new political issues which could be fought out using some of the same strategies and devices that were used by those political actors involved in the Missouri Compromise.
With the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, Congress opened the West to slavery, for the first time providing the option of slavery to all territories, North as well as South of the old Missouri Compromise line.
One compromise after another--from the Missouri Compromise of 1820 to the Compromise of 1850--had patched over the differences between slave and free states since the ratification of the Constitution in 1789.
Things changed after 1850, when Stephen Douglas of Illinois pushed through the Compromise of 1850, claiming that it superseded the 1820 Missouri Compromise.
Monroe left the public impression that he was a bystander to the Missouri Compromise.
Lee, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Andersonville Prison, and the Missouri Compromise.
The 97 pages tell of owners changing, and travels with owners into Illinois and Wisconsin, where Congress prohibited slavery under the rules of the Missouri Compromise, which became the basis for Dred Scott's later plea for freedom.
Discussing the play's historical background, she digresses briefly into an account of the Fugitive Slave Act, the Missouri Compromise and the ramifications of the Mexican-American War and the late Industrial Revolution.
It declared the Missouri Compromise dead, and the North exploded into anger while the South rejoiced.
In 1820, the Missouri Compromise had cooled tempers between North and South by admitting Missouri to the nation as a slave state while banning slavery in a huge chunk of the land gained from France in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.

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