Compromise in the Pre-Civil War Era APUSH DBQ

Topics: Slavery in the United States, American Civil War, Compromise of 1850 Pages: 6 (2127 words) Published: February 18, 2014
Ever since declaring its independence from Britain, America has developed on the foundation of compromise. Upon the drafting of the Constitution, the Founding Fathers were succumbed to compromise in order to incorporate the needs of the different parts of the nation. During the early eighteenth century, Americans achieved reconciliation of political disputes, predominately between the North and the South, through compromise. By 1860 this was no longer feasible and the nation was faced with disheartening threats to its unity. Sectionalism in the Union was further increased. Tariffs were commonly accepted by one part of the nation and debated by the other. The economy of the North and South was becoming increasingly divergent- the North was industrializing while the South continued to rely on slavery for agriculture. Tensions surrounding slavery became politically and socially difficult to deal with. While the North began to see the immorality of slavery, the South retained the institution, especially with the cash crop cotton, when the southern part of the nation relied even more heavily on slavery. As the North and the South debated on which states would be free and which would allow slavery, their relationship became more and more strained.

In the early eighteenth century, Americans achieved reconciliation of political disputes through compromise. In 1819, Missouri admitted to become a slave state. This threatened to upset the balance of free and slave states. To contain peace, Congress passed the Missouri Compromise in 1820 which admitted Maine as a free state, Missouri as a slave state, and prohibited slavery north of the 36°30 latitude line. In 1832, a protectionist tariff was passed, lowering the preceding Tariff of 1828. The South disliked the “Tariff of Abominations” because they were obligated to pay an increased amount on products yet they had no industry. The Tariff of 1832 still did not appease the South. Under the influence of John Calhoun who supported nullification, South Carolina nullified the Tariff of 1832, refusing to obey the law. Jackson was personally afflicted that a state would do such a thing as to disobey a law signed by the president. He asked Congress to allow him the use of military force against South Carolina to enforce the law. In a speech to the Senate on February 12, 1833, Senator Henry Clay addresses the idea of succession initiated by the Nullification Crisis [Document A]. Clay declared that succession is impractical and that “it is impossible that South Carolina ever desired for a moment to become a separate and independent state”. As a nationalist, it is innate that Clay would act to keep peace within the nation. The tone of Clay’s speech is peaceful as he attempts to remove tensions caused by South Carolina and suppress ideas of succession from the Union. The Compromise Tariff was passed in 1833 and composed by “The Great Compromiser”, Henry Clay. The tariff lowered the tax gradually by 10% to satisfy the South. It was signed by Jackson and accepted by South Carolina so that force against South Carolina was no longer necessary. In the Resolution of the Pinckney Committee in the House of Representatives on May 18, 1836, the Gag Rule was presented in which “all petitions, memorials, resolutions, propositions, or papers” relating to slavery or its abolition, was banned [Document C]. The Gag Rule was introduced by Calhoun and as a southerner and pro-slaveryite, it is natural that he would not want any conversation broached that threatened the institution. The resolution is from the point of view of the South and its tone is, in a way, peaceful as it attempts to preserve order and peace because of the splitting of Congress and the nation caused by slavery. With the help of John Quincy Adams, the Gag Resolutions were later repealed for its violation of the first amendment- the right to petition the government. Back at it again, “The Great Compromiser” reduced tensions when California...
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