As America began to expand, first with the lands gained from the Louisiana Purchase and later with the Mexican War, the question of whether new states admitted to the union would be slave or free.
Under the Constitution of the United States, the federal government had no authority to interfere with slavery within the states. Northern opponents of slavery could hope only to prevent it from spreading. They tried to do this in 1818, when Missouri sought admission to the Union with a constitution permitting slavery. After a couple years of controversy a solution was found in the Missouri Compromise. This compromise admitted Missouri to the Union as a slave state and admitted Maine as a free state to keep the balance in the Senate. It also provided the slavery would be excluded from the still unorganized part of the Louisiana Purchase. A line was drawn from Missouri’s southern boundary and slavery would not be allowed in the territory north of that line with the exception of Missouri.
During the Mexican War, conflict started about what would happen with the new territories that the US expected to gain upon victory. David Wilmot proposed the Wilmot Proviso in 1846 which would ban slavery in the new lands. However, this was shot down to much debate. The Compromise of 1850 was created by Henry Clay and others to deal with the balance between slave and free states, northern and southern interests. One of the provisions was the fugitive slave act that was discussed in number one above. Another issue that further increased tensions was the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. It... [continues]
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