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30 Efforts to Settle the Sla Very Question

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30. EFFORTS TO SETTLE THE SLA VERY QUESTION. In all co-operative ef forts of the North and South to settle disputes over slavery the preservation of both slavery and the Union were objects of primary consid eration. The roots of such efforts are found in the compromises of the Constitutional Con vention of 1787. The most important agree ments then made provided that (1) three-fifths of the slaves should be counted in determining the number of congressmen a State should have and the amount of direct taxes it should pay and that (2) the African slave trade should continue for 20 years. These compromises are significant partly because the "more perfect union') could probably not have been formed without them and partly because the "Fathers" thus gave the stamp of approval to compromis ing disputes over slavery, for the sake of the Union. By the aid of the three-fifths advan tage the South, in 1790, had but three less con gressmen than the North. But each succeeding census showed a constantly growing majority in the North's favor so that by 1820 this majority amounted to 43. But the South had already begun to look for the protection of her interests in the preservation of an equilibrium in the United States Senate, where population is not so directly represented.

Of the original 13 States seven were North ern and six Southern. During the administra tions of Washington and Adams, Vermont, Kentucky and Tennessee were admitted and es tablished an equilibrium between the two sec tions in the Senate. The admission of Ohio (1802) and Louisiana (1812) preserved this situation. The addition of Indiana (1816), Mississippi (1817), Illinois (1818), and Ala bama (1819) still kept Pp the balance. But the application of Missouri for permission to form a State constitution in 1819 threatened to break the plan of alternate admissions. Besides, slavery seemed to be making a flank movement into territory which might be looked upon as geographically belonging to the North, since nearly the entire eastern line of Missouri faced the free State of Illinois. The South's need of Missouri was indeed great, for but two more possible slave States remained to be carved out of Territories. Congressman Talmadge of New York introduced an amendment to the bill permitting Missouri to form a constitution, which precipitated the first great quarrel over slavery between the two sections, and which threatened the existence of the Union. This amendment, called the °Missouri Limitation,* provided that no more slaves should be taken into Missouri and that slave children born within the State should be free at 25 years of age. The House of Represenatives passed the

amended bill, after warm debates, but the Sen ate struck out the amendment and then passed the bill. The House refused to accept the change and the measure was lost for the time being. In the next session the contest was renewed, but was given a new turn by the Sen ate linking the bill for the admission of Maine, which the House had already passed, to the bill authorizing the people of Missouri to form a State constitution. The Senate passed this bill with the proviso that slavery should be prohib ited in the territory north of 36° 40', but twice the House rejected the bill in this form. A committee of both houses, however, agreed upon the following compromise: (1) The separation and passage of the Maine and Missouri bills; (2) the prohibition of slavery in the remainder of the territory of the Louisiana Purchase north of 36° 30'. Both houses accepted the compromise and President Monroe signed the bill (1820).

But the quarrel which the people hoped had been settled was suddenly renewed in a more violent way than before. The constitution pre sented by Missouri to Congress looked toward the exclusion of both mulattoes and free ne groes from the State. The fiery debates, the resolutions from State legislatures on both sides of the question which had already been pre sented to Congress, and the widespread discus sion in the newspapers, led patriotic men to fear a dissolution of the Union. Therefore, Henry Clay at once took the lead in trying to settle the new dispute. Although the House rejected the report of the committee of 13, Clay did not give up, but by his persuasive eloquence, and by personal appeals to members, he finally induced the House to pass a bill to admit Mis souri as a State on the condition that her legis lature give a pledge that the State would never pass a law excluding the citizens of any other State. Missouri gave the pledge and was ad mitted (1821). Three important consequences followed from the Missouri contest: (1) The conviction that danger to the Union could force a compromise; (2) that Congress accepted the South's contention against placing unusual re strictions upon a State as it enters the Union; (3) that Congress had the power to prohibit slavery in the Territories. The remote effect of thus devoting the northern part of the Louis iana Purchase to free labor was far-reaching.

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