The The Missouri Compromise of 1820 shook the

The U.S. Congress, the Legislative Branch of the federal government has two bodies; the Senate and House of Representatives whose main responsibility revolves around providing check and maintaining balance. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 shook the Congress as it tries to balance the power between the slaveholding states and Free states.It all began when the jubilant President Thomas Jefferson bought 828,000 acres of land from Napoleon of France for only a little more than $11 million in 1803 known as the Louisiana purchase.  The excitement did not last long when the question of statehood came up, that is slave versus Free states; for the lands that have been acquired. There was a balance of 11 slave and 11 Free states until Missouri petitioned for entrance into the Union as a slave state in 1818. This disturbed the equal representation in Senate followed by a commotion in Congress.James Tallmadge, Jr., Representative of New York suggested two amendments to the Missouri statehood bill on Feb. 13, 1819. The first prohibited bringing in more slaves into Missouri; the second required gradual liberation for the slaves already living there. The House passed his amendments, but the Senate vetoed it. When Maine applied for statehood, Henry Clay of Kentucky, the Speaker of the House decreed that if Maine were to be admitted, Missouri will have to be entered in too. In February 1820, Senator Jesse B. Thomas of Illinois proposed an amendment that will accept Maine as a Free State and Missouri as slave state but will only allow slavery below the parallel 36 degrees, 30 minutes latitude that runs along the southern border of Missouri in the vast Louisiana Purchase territory, and prohibiting slavery above that line. With Henry Clay’s convincing, the proposal known as Missouri Compromise passed the Senate on March 2, 1820, and the House on February 26, 1821. From then, admittance to the Union will be of two states preserving the balance that is one slave and one free.After 25 years, territorial settlement evolved again in 1850 when California got admitted by itself as a free state, upsetting the balance 16-15 in exchange for a guarantee that no limitations on slavery would be placed on Utah or New Mexico. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 rescinded the 36-30 dividing line for slavery in the Louisiana Purchase area. .  In 1857, the U.S. Supreme Court as part of the decision in the Dred Scott case deemed the Missouri Compromise unlawful as Congress had no right to ban slavery in territories. The Missouri Compromise instigated questions of political power, dominance and the future of slavery. The admission of Missouri as a slave state was as much as an issue as the pressure to block the extension of slavery. Concomitant with the Missouri Compromise, for fear that the Free states will become sanctuaries for runaway slaves; the Fugitive Slave Act was enacted by Congress in 1793 which required citizens of all states to return any runaway slaves to their masters and enforced penalties on anyone aiding a slave. Most Northerners refuses to comply and passed the “Personal Liberty Laws” that protected free blacks and gave them the right for jury trial.  Thousands of slaves had moved into Free states via systems like the Underground Railroad. Congress enacted a revised Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 with even harsher retributions for interfering in a slave’s capture and placing the control of cases in the federal commissioners. Defenseless, the slaves fled to Canada. Met with even more resistance and opposition, some Northern states passed measures to bypass the laws.  These were followed by riots and revolts. 1860, approximately only 330 slaves returned to their Southern masters. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was seen as ineffective that some Congressmen resolved to repeal the Fugitive Slave Act. On June 28, 1864, after the Civil War, both of the Fugitive Slave Acts were officially revoked by Congress.Both the Missouri Compromise and the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 brought the issue of slavery in the face of the nation. Proposals that were submitted advocated the beginning of a new political delineation. The attitudes toward slavery were complex weighing in political career and morality. Heavy conflict between the states kept the nation divided. Over time, negotiations over slavery and its expansion were no longer possible ending up in a Civil War.  It can be said that together, these legislations that try to break our nation’s unity are the same ones that paved the way for the abolition of slavery and slaveholders and America’s escalation to universal freedom.



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