Missouri Compromise

Topics: American Civil War, Slavery in the United States, Abraham Lincoln Pages: 1 (274 words) Published: February 17, 2014
The Missouri Compromise was passed in 1820 between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the United States Congress, involving primarily the regulation of slavery in the western territories. It prohibited slavery in the former Louisiana Territory north of the parallel 36°30′ north except within the boundaries of the proposed state of Missouri. The 1820 passage of Missouri Compromise took place during the presidency of James Monroe.

The Missouri Compromise was implicitly repealed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act, submitted to Congress by Stephen A. Douglas in January 1854. The Act opened Kansas Territory and Nebraska Territory to slavery and future admission of slave states by allowing white male settlers in those territories to determine through "popular sovereignty" whether they would allow slavery within each territory. Thus, the Kansas-Nebraska Act effectively undermined the prohibition on slavery in territory north of 36°30′ latitude which had been established by the Missouri Compromise. This change was viewed by Free Soilers and many abolitionist Northerners as an aggressive, expansionist maneuver by the slave-owning South, and led to the creation of the Republican Party.

In what Republicans would label its "obiter dictum", the Supreme Court declared that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional in Dred Scott v. Sandford. Among its arguments, the Taney Court held that the Fifth Amendment barred any law that would deprive a slaveholder of his property, such as his slaves, upon the incidence of migration into free territory. This was the second time in United States history that the Supreme Court had found an act of Congress to be unconstitutional. (The first time was 54 years earlier in Marbury v. Madison). The decision would prove to be an indirect catalyst for the American Civil War.
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