Siteseen Logo

Missouri Compromise

James Monroe

Missouri Compromise: James Monroe was the 5th American President who served in office from March 4, 1817 to March 4, 1825. One of the important events during his presidency was the Missouri Compromise.

Definition and Summary of the Missouri Compromise

Summary and definition: The Missouri Compromise of 1820 was a settlement reached between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in Congress and their opposing views on the extension of slavery into new territories.

The legislation, which became known as the Missouri Compromise, admitted Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a non-slave state at the same time, retaining the balance between slave and free states.

The Missouri Compromise of 1820 for kids: Background History
It was a time of great change and movement in the United States. The movement west was at its height in 1817. During the years 1816--19, four states were admitted to the Union. The states were Indiana (1816), Mississippi (1817), Illinois (1818) and Alabama (1819). The request then came in 1819 from the state of Missouri to also be admitted to the union quickly followed in 1820 by the people of Maine who asked Congress to admit them as the state of Maine.

Missouri Compromise of 1820 for kids: Objections to the admission of Missouri
The Missouri Compromise became necessary because many Northerners opposed the admission of Missouri because the settlers of the proposed state were slaveholders. This would mean that Missouri would be another slave state in the union. People in the North were totally against the admission of any more slave states. Every state, north of Maryland, had either put an end to slavery or adopted a plan by which slavery would gradually be abolished.

Missouri Compromise of 1820 for kids: The Northwest Ordinance
Slavery had been excluded from the Northwest by the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 included a clause that stated that after the year 1800 there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of new states in the areas covering the Lakes to the Ohio and from the Mississippi to Pennsylvania. Slavery had therefore ceased to be a vital institution north of Maryland and Kentucky.

Missouri Compromise of 1820 for kids: Louisiana
Louisiana had been admitted as a slave state in 1812, but its admission had been provided for in the treaty for the purchase of Louisiana from France.
The Louisiana Territory was broken into smaller administration areas, and the territories passed slavery laws similar to those in the southern states.

Missouri Compromise of 1820: The Southerners Viewpoint
The Southerners felt equally as strongly as the Northerners on the issue of slavery. They asserted that their slaves were their property, and that they had a perfect right to take their property with them and settle on new lands belonging to the nation. The Southerners asserted that because they had founded a slave state, it was only right that the state should be admitted to the Union.

What was the Purpose of the Missouri Compromise?
Congress was faced with the question of
the extension of slavery into new territories. The opposing sides were never going to agree on the issue of slavery. The Senate was equally divided between the Slave states and the Free states. However, the majority of the House of Representatives were from the free states. And this number was increasing. If the free states were to also obtain a majority in the Senate the Southerners would lose all control of the government. The Southerners would therefore not consent to the admission of Maine as a free state unless at the same time Missouri was admitted as a slave state. The purpose of the Missouri Compromise was to keep a balance between the number of slave states and the number of free states in the Union.

Who Proposed the Missouri Compromise of 1820?
The idea of the Missouri Compromise
, which proposed to limit slavery above the southern border of Missouri, is credited to Senator Jesse B. Thomas of Illinois (1806-1850) but was strongly supported by Henry Clay (1777 1852).

What were the Terms of the Missouri Compromise?
The terms of the Missouri Compromise of 1820 were:

  • Maine and Missouri were both admitted to the union

  • Missouri was admitted as a slave state

  • Maine was admitted as a non-slave state

  • The Missouri Compromise specified that all of the Louisiana purchase north of the southern boundary of Missouri, with the single exception of the state of Missouri, should be free soil forever

  • Congress also passed an amendment that drew an imaginary line across the former Louisiana Territory, establishing a boundary between free and slave regions that remained the law of the land until it was negated by the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act

  • The negation of the act was one of the Causes of the Civil War

Why was the Missouri Compromise Important?
The Missouri Compromise of 1820 was important because it delayed the inevitable conflict over slavery for 25 years which erupted in the
American Civil war (1861-1865) - refer to Map of Slave states and Free states.

The Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act
The terms of the Missouri Compromise of 1820 were contravened in
the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which through the doctrine of Popular Sovereignty, effectively allowing the settlers in two new territories of Kansas and Nebraska the right to say whether they should be a free state or a slave state. The opponents of the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act formed the Republican Party. The Kansas-Nebraska Act and the doctrine of Popular Sovereignty and slavery divided the country and pointed the nation towards civil war.

US American History
1801-1828: Evolution Era

ⓒ 2017 Siteseen Limited

First Published

Cookies Policy


Updated 2018-01-01

Publisher Siteseen Limited

Privacy Statement