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Crittenden Compromise

slave, fugitive and slavery

CRITTENDEN COMPROMISE, the last desperate effort of the Southern Union party to avert secession and war, by perma nently crystallizing the free and slave commu nities as they stood; dividing the boundaries on the line of the Missouri Compromise and engag ing the Federal power to uphold slavery to the full, where it existed. In the session of Con gress after Lincoln's election, the Constitutional Union party (q.v.) having broken down, John J. Crittenden of Kentucky, a leading Unionist senator, introduced a proposition for a consti tutional amendment, in substance as follows: (1) Slavery to be abolished in all national ter ritory north of 36 30' and recognized and pro tected south of it, the people to decide the status on its becoming a State; (2) not to be abolished in forts or other Federal territory in slave States; (3) nor in the District of Columbia while it existed in Maryland and Virginia, nor at all without consent of the inhabitants and compensation, nor slaveholders forbidden to bring their slaves thither; (4) the interstate slave-trade never to be prohibited; (5) the United States to pay for all fugitive slaves res cued by violence and sue the county of rescue, which could sue the individuals; (6) no future amendment ever to affect these provisions, nor Art. I, 2, 3, nor Art. IV, 2, 3 of the

Constitution; nor to give Congress power to abolish slavery in a slave State. Four resolu tions were appended, declaring the Fugitive Slave Act constitutional, urging the repeal of the State personal-liberty laws, promising the modification of two specially obnoxious features of the Fugitive Slave Law and the rigorous suppression of the outside slave-trade. The legislatures of Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and New Jersey instructed their delegates to the Peace Conference of 1861 to support it. In Congress, Crittenden continued to press it during the session. It was lost in the House 14 Jan. 1861, 113 to 80; in the Senate 2 March. 20 to 19.