IntroductionSlavery was one of the most concerning issues back in the late 1800`s. Rivalry emerged between nations that wanted full dominance of both slavery and slave exploitation. The United States was one of the nations that were deeply involved in the same to the point that rivalry and conflict evolved between the Southern and the Northern sides. In the quest to maintain balance and peace between the two sides, the Missouri Compromise was passed in 1820, as a legislation terming Maine to be a free state and Missouri a slave trade. This approach was arrived at to ensure that there was a balance of power between the Northern and the Southern states. In relation to that, slavery was banned and prohibited in the Louisiana territory. Earlier, before the passing of the legislation, the Congress had no power to stop the slavery that was being practiced widely completely. Holistically, the Missouri Compromise contributed significantly in fighting against slavery and remained a significant act that brought about change that caused peace and balance of power in the United States.
The passing of the Compromise was not holistically embraced by everyone. Some people opposed while others supported the same and each was done with various issues being raised. A significant number of those who opposed it was from the southern side, citing facts that its passing gave a perception that the Congress was more superior in the sense that it could make regulations to ban slavery. Some people from the northern side claimed that the Compromise facilitated the continuation of slavery. Despite the criticism, the legislation contributed to preserving unity between the states that practiced slavery and those that did not, for thirty years. It is notable that the Compromise ensured that no region dominated, exploited or manipulated the other under all grounds. It is good to note that the reason as to why the northern side opposed the Compromise was because there was a notion that the population would radically increase on the Southern side making them enlarge their territories. This factor would then mean that the Southern side would be more powerful than the Northern side. The Southern side defended the passing of the legislation because they believed that it would increase their representation in the Senate and thus the Northern side would be less powerful.
Drawing back from the happenings that occurred in the late 1800`s, James Tallmadge who was a representative based in New York raised a motion in 1819 with the aim of completely stopping slavery. However, John Taylor who was also from New York raised a motion against it regarding the territory of Arkansas which proved it was challenging to end the slave trade. The disagreement between the same lasted from Dec 1819 all the way until the consideration of the compromise which happened in March 1820. It is good to note that Tallmadge advocated for freedom of slaves as well as the prohibition of slavery in Missouri. In his amendment, he indicated that slaves were to be set free once they attained the age of 25 years. The North controlled and dominated the House, and this made it difficult for the amendment to be passed since they were the majority. Tallmadge`s motion was later implemented by Henry Clay who was a Senator with a goal of seeing Maine as a free state. The Compromise ensured that the total of 24 states was equally divided into two, to ensure that 12 states comprised of the free ones and the other 12 consisted of those who practiced slavery.
During the same era, when the debate had heated, much questions and misunderstandings came up, especially after Louisiana was purchased, increasing the territories of the United States. While some saw it as an advantage, others only saw the shortcomings that were tied to the same. There was increased tension by those residing in the North on the fact that the South continued to engage in Slavery. The presence of slaves in the South heavily benefited them because they were engaged mainly in farming of cotton in the region. Slaves were used to operating the machines that processed cotton since they offered unskilled labor meaning that anyone would work. The South preferred slaves working for them because they had the assurance that continuous labor would be provided. Also, they enjoyed various economic benefits that were in line with slavery and feared that the same would diminish if slavery would be stopped. Although the South believed that they did the slaves a favor by keeping them and giving them food, the North disagreed with every facet tied to the facet of slavery. Because of this, the North even introduced an article called The Liberator, sending a message of incitement to the slaves encouraging them to revolt. Later, the North still initiated moves in the quests to bring down slavery.
The main cause of conflict, misunderstanding, and tension was the territorial imbalance which implied that either the North or the South would gain superiority in one way or another. In the zeal to stop slavery, Theodore Weld wrote about how slaves were being mistreated by their masters. He claimed that they were mercilessly beaten, their eyes plucked out and their bodies calibrated with a hot iron. Some were mutilated, ears cut off and others thrown in the fire to burn. These words incited those campaigning against slavery to press on with mobilizing the slaves. The Southerners believed that as long as the slaves were well fed, they could be subjected to any form of physical torture. The writer of The Liberator, Garrison, which was an inciting article to end the slave trade, claimed that the Southern people were immoral and the slaves had the right to do anything to get away from them. On a human aspect, Garrison tries to raise the issue that the blacks who were the slaves, were equal to the whites. That they were also subject to happiness, liberty, and rights in life. It was believed that the article by Garrison triggered Nat Turner to form a rebellion movement comprising of slaves who ended up killing more than fifty whites in the South.
Since the tension had widely increased, the South resorted to increasing harshness on the slaves to ensure that they fully submitted. They were neither allowed to read or right, and this was strongly affirmed by Fredrick Douglas who gave the Independence Day Speech. Although the main goal was to exploit and make use of the labor offered by the slaves, the South was also fearful that the slaves would rebel against them. They raised the fact that the massive production of cotton which boosted the United States` economy, was facilitated by the labor offered by the slaves. Therefore, putting an end to slavery would mean that the economy would deteriorate and this became a firm reason as to why the South continued keeping slaves. The main challenge was that Congress made all the rules and regulations regarding territorial boundaries. Both the North and the South believed that they had valid reasons as to why slavery would or would not continue. While the North thought about equality and consideration of liberty and human rights, the South believed that the labor offered by slaves helped greatly in growing the economy of the United States. The conflict loosened as the South realized that they were focusing much on prevention from possible attacks than what the slaves were offering.
Although the Compromise was later revoked after the introduction of Kansas-Nebraska Act which aimed at banning slavery in all the places where the Compromise had allowed, it played a significant role in the journey to holly do away with slavery. It is good to note that the Compromise was implemented and used for thirty-four years. Because of the weight that it carried and the difference it brought, it was mostly perceived as a constitution. Although some people firmly believed that it was the main cause of the Civil War that later followed, the majority claimed that it delayed the war and its impact. Thomas Jefferson predicted civil war because of the happenings that were being observed. The Compromise was also seen as the reason as to why the North was so aggressive and highly against slavery which then made the South resent and this gave rise to the Civil War. Even with the fact that it brought a solution of peace and equality between the North and the South, the Compromise became a great contributor of the disagreement, differences, conflict, and rivalry between the two especially in the issue regarding slavery.
In a nutshell, the main reason for having the Missouri Compromise was to create a balance and peace between the North and the South. This approach was arrived at by ensuring that the slave-states equaled the non-slave trades. When Missouri was added as a slave state, it increased the number of states that the South had while having Maine added as a non-slave state to the North created a balance between the two. In a prediction given by Thomas Jefferson, he claimed that the division that had been created as a result of the Compromise would later lead to Civil war. However, according to the stands and diverse perspectives, some believed that the Compromise provided an amicable solution to the resounding differencing of slavery between the North and the South. While the Compromise was later seen as a key trigger of the Civil War, it also became a fundamental pave maker in the journey that then gave liberty to millions of slaves in the United States.
Burgan, Michael. The Missouri Compromise. Capstone, 2006.
Coens, Thomas. "The Missouri Compromise and Its Aftermath: Slavery & the Meaning of America." (2007): 707-710.
Van Atta, John R. Wolf by the Ears: The Missouri Crisis, 1819-1821. JHU Press, 2015.
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