The Digression of the Missouri Compromise

The Missouri Compromise, also referred to the Compromise of 1820, was the official legislation from Congress that divided the North and South. Conflict between the North and South was inevitable due to the growing issue of slavery in the United States, yet the act was put in place in order to keep the balance of slave and free states intact. The Missouri Compromise instated Maine as a free state in turn for Missouri as a slave state. From that point in time forward, the only states that could have slavery legally needed to be under the thirty-six degree thirty minute parallel line of latitude. The line officially divided the nation into the Northern free states and the Southern slave states. The Missouri Compromise, along with many other factors, heavily contributed to the start of the Civil War. The United States was changed forever after the events that unfolded in the Civil War: African Americans were freed and the nation’s unity would remain unstable for many decades. Many historians may argue that the Civil War was inevitable even without the Missouri Compromise; however, the division between the North and South would not have created the factions that would battle in the war without the act. The Missouri Compromise caused a growth in tensions between the North and the South despite the balance between slave and free states. Slavery in the western hemisphere dates back to Colonial America just as colonists were establishing the 13 colonies. As the decades went on, the immorality that followed slavery grew enough to cause a civil war in the United States. Tensions between the North and South sprouted as far back as President Thomas Jefferson’s purchase of the Louisiana Territory: “In 1803 President Thomas Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory from France.” The Louisiana Purchase did not become prominent in history until the end of the War of 1812. After the United States attained victory over the British for the second time, westward expansion became popular for white supremacists. After annexations of land in the Oregon Territory, Texas, and California, the concept of expansionism into western land became popular among citizens of the United States. Manifest Destiny promoted westward expansion by making the latter Americans’ destiny in order to broaden the land of their nation. With the Northwest Ordinance prohibiting slavery above the Ohio River, the idea of free African American men became the center of discussion in terms of westward expansion. Soon enough, territories in western land began to apply for statehood. One of the most significant issues of statehood was whether the state would become a slave state or a free state. The federal government believed the unity of the nation solely depended on the balance between the North and the South. When Missouri applied to be admitted into the Union as a slave state, it would disrupt the balance that Congress attempted to maintain. Finally, through the various debates, the Missouri Compromise of 1820 was passed by Congress. The outcome of the Missouri Compromise was said the slow down the approach to the Civil War; however, the war was destined to occur even if the act was repealed. The most notable issues that occurred after the Missouri Compromise happened in politics. The act became consequential to many people in the nation––especially to Congress. The border the Missouri Compromise created ultimately led to the violent Sumner-Brooks Affair in the United States Senate chamber. When Senator Charles Sumner spoke grimly of Senator Andrew Butler because of his involvement in the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Congressman Preston Brooks took the speech personally. After the session of Congress, Brooks went on to savagely beat Sumner with a cane in an empty Senate chamber. This violent event was a result of the complications the Missouri Compromise created, and it would go on to change America forever: “This beating demonstrated the passion sparked by the debate over slavery, which eventually contributed to the start of the Civil War.” The Sumner-Brooks Affair was a result of the wavering tension among the nation as a whole. The nation was officially divided in two sections as a result of the Missouri Compromise. In addition, the Kansas-Nebraska Act was instituted in order to address the issues that followed the Missouri Compromise and to introduce the idea of popular sovereignty. The Kansas-Nebraska Act was deemed undesirable by many throughout the nation, becoming the leading factor to the violence that happened in Congress. Not only did Northerners and Southerners feel offended by enslavement and freedom, but they also felt maltreated by Congress. Local leaders and citizens noticed that Congress had been making laws and acts that seemed unconstitutional to the power of states. Congress did not have the right to decide whether Missouri was a slave or free state; it is the duty and obligation of the citizens of the state to decide the status of the state. As the power of statehood and the federal government was put in question, tensions between the North and South continued to grow. The Missouri Compromise fractured the nature of American politics. Violence even reached in Congress––the portion of the government aiming to lessen nationwide conflict––proving that the Missouri Compromise led to controversies in the political system. Both Northerners and Southerners lost faith in the political system after discovering that the Missouri Compromise was ruled unconstitutional. Without a Congress to lead the nation back to unity, a civil war was more certain to happen than before.Social unrest occurred as a result of the disputable Missouri Compromise. The Kansas-Nebraska Act was a direct result of the Missouri Compromise. Not only did it establish popular sovereignty to states, but it also repealed the Missouri Compromise. Up until the vote to make Kansas a slave or free state, tension in society had been growing due to the Missouri Compromise. The nation’s unity was damaged by the ignorance of the distinct lifestyles of the North and the South:Despite the disagreement over its constitution the Senate admitted Missouri as a state. But the House did not. Lawmakers continued fighting. Southerners threatened to leave the Union. To them slavery was important to their way of life. They valued it more than keeping the country together. It seemed like the nation was falling apart.Northerners and Southerners had drifted apart into two distinct societies with different traits. While the Northerners did not depend on slavery based on white supremacy beliefs, Southerners saw slavery as part of their culture. It was essential to Southerners for slavery to exist because slaves proved to be vital to white men on plantations. With the inability to understand the lifestyle in each region, especially after the isolation between the two societies, the Missouri Compromise ensured that Northerners and Southerners were bound to battle. Some of the first known violent conflicts between them were known as “Bleeding Kansas.” These vicious confrontations between pro-slavery and anti-slavery advocates created social imbalance which would continue to increase until the Civil War. The Missouri Compromise led to the “Bleeding Kansas” crisis by creating social imbalance despite the balance between slave and free states. Even though the Missouri Compromise addressed the status that Missouri uphold, it failed to address the growing complications between the North and the South. No solution was presented by Congress that would lessen the tensions between the North and the South; instead, Congress merely withheld the problem and allowed tensions between the two societies to escalate. “Bleeding Kansas” was an outcome of the Missouri Compromise in that it was a confrontation between Northern society and Southern society. If the Missouri Compromise was able to provide a solution to the growing tension between the two societies, the Civil War could have been avoided or at least reduce the violence seen in the war. The social unrest the Missouri Compromise failed to address resulted in a fallout the progressed into a nationwide war. The Missouri Compromise mimicked the British method of taxing the American colonists. The British taxation acts stole Americans’ rights to choose whether or not to pay taxes to Britain. Great Britain only posed a solution for the money issues in the motherland disregarding the impact it would have on the colonists. It was Britain’s responsibility to reduce the chance of conflict between the two nation similar to the responsibility that Congress had to reduce to chance of national war. To a similar extent, the Boston Tea Party revolt to the Tea Act was similar to the “Bleeding Kansas” crisis. The Boston Tea Party was an American rebellion against the British Tea Acts. Colonial activists disguised themselves to look like Mohawk Indians and dropped 342 containers of tea into the Boston Harbor. The Boston Tea Party does not hold significance in what the colonists did, but it was why they dumped the tea that held importance to American history. The colonists dumped the tea because they did not approve of Britain’s method of solving their debt predicament. The colonists were presented an escape plan rather than a solution. Great Britain attempted to escape their state of debt by imposing taxes on the colonies instead of creating a solution that would find approval by the colonists and the citizens in Britain. Likewise, the Missouri Compromise was an escape plan presented by Congress. Congress aimed to delay the approach towards a civil war, and in doing so, they entirely ignored the growing tension between the North and the South. As a result, the federal government’s plan to delay conflict between the North and South led to the “Bleeding Kansas” crisis, which was shortly followed by the first battle of the Civil War. Both Congress’ and Parliament’s ignorance of the real problem led to rising conflict between societies. The inevitability of the Civil War was just an excuse Congress used in order to avoid solving the real issue. The Missouri Compromise held significance in American history because it led to major lifestyle changes in the United States. In the long term, the Civil War was caused by a series of political and social clashes. At the beginning of all the attempts to moderate conflict between the North and South was the Missouri Compromise. After the Missouri Compromise, the series of new acts and laws––each trying to reduce conflict––only broadened the tension started by the act. The Civil War changed the course of history forever as North and South relationships still hold damaged to present day. Historians may argue that the Missouri Compromise slowed down the road to the Civil War; however, the Missouri Compromise merely avoided presenting any solution to the country’s unity. The Missouri Compromise had many fatal flaws that fractured the balance of the United States forever.

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