The Missouri Compromise
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The Missouri Compromise was a legislative response to disagreements between pro-slavery and anti-slavery sections in the United States. Congress wanted to balance the number of free and slave states. This balance was always a concern dating back to the Constitutional Convention in 1787. By 1818 Missouri had a large enough population to allow for them to request admittance into the Union. Many of Missouri’s settlers were from the south and wanted Missouri to be a slave state. When Missouri wanted to join the United States and become a slave state, the issue of balance was in the spotlight once again.
The Missouri Compromise the States
In 1819, the United States consisted of twenty-two states. They were equally balanced with eleven slave states and eleven free states. When Missouri applied for admittance it would mean that the balance would shift and the majority of states would be slave states.
Congressman Henry Clay helped provide a solution by proposing the Missouri Compromise. According to the compromise:
- Missouri would gain its statehood and would become a slave state.
- Maine would separate from Massachusetts and be added as a free state.
- Slavery would also be illegal in the Louisiana Territory south of the Missouri border.
The Missouri Compromise was passed on March 3, 1820. The Missouri Compromise was in place for over thirty years until the passing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act.
The Missouri Compromise and Henry Clay
Henry Clay was later called on to write the Second Missouri Compromise because Missouri’s state legislature was trying to exclude free blacks. The Second Missouri Comprise was passed on March 2, 1821. It said that Missouri would not be granted statehood until it agreed that they could not exclude free blacks from the privileges of US citizens. On August 10, 1821, Missouri became the twenty-fourth sate. After adding Maine and Missouri, no other states were added.