Jefferson's view about the Missouri Compromise - Assignment Example

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The Missouri Compromise of 1820 was part of an ongoing attempt to divide the United States into two areas: one that was pro-slavery (the Southern territories) and one that was anti-slavery (the Northern territories). The Missouri Compromise was so called because it involved the…
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Jeffersons view about the Missouri Compromise
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Jeffersons View about the Missouri Compromise of 1820 The Missouri Compromise of 1820 was part of an ongoing attempt to divide the United s intotwo areas: one that was pro-slavery (the Southern territories) and one that was anti-slavery (the Northern territories). The Missouri Compromise was so called because it involved the admittance of the (proposed) Missouri state as one that was pro-slavery – it was accepted into the Union. Thomas Jefferson is famed for his disparaging remarks about the Missouri Compromise, describing it as a fire bell in the night (McPherson & Hogue, 2009, p67), suggesting that the division of Missouri County (as formed by the Compromise Line) would eventually lead to the destruction of the Union.
It is interesting to consider the view of Jefferson with the benefit of hindsight. The admission of Missouri as a slave state would have meant that the number of slave states within the Union would outnumber the free states by one, hence the compromise of allowing Maine to enter the Union as a free state. By the start of the Civil War, 25 states supported the federal government and 11 states were part of the Confederacy, and by the end of the Civil War the Union had prevaled. In a sense, Jefferson was right to have misgivings because the Union as it was in 1820 was destroyed, and the Missouri Compromise was one of the triggers for the start of the Civil War (McPherson & Hogue, 2009, p19). The Missouri Compromise is said to have exposed slavery as a contentious issue, and of course the Civil War was a response to slavery. However, Jefferson was not completely wrong. He also described the Missouri Compromise as the knell of the Union, where knell is taken to mean a solomn announcement of death. The Union as it was then died, perhaps, but the Civil War did end in a Union victory and thus the Missouri Compromise can be said to have strengthened the Union infinitely.
The Missouri Compromise was not the only source of growing tensions in the US. In the 1840s, the American-Mexican war took place in response to the Mexican designs for the state of Texas (one of the states supporting slavery in the Confederacy). It was the American victory (and subsequent permanent acquisition of the state of Texas, amongst others) that led to the next Compromise with regard to slavery, that of 1850 (McPherson & Hogue, 2009, p88). The Compromise of 1850 was a bill defining the status of the newly aquired states within the United States, something that diffused the immediate political problems but did not, evidently, remove the need for the Civil War. We can say that the results of the American-Mexican war were perhaps instrumental in the tensions leading to the Civil War.
McPherson, J. M., & Hogue, J. K. (2009). Ordeal by Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction. McGraw-Hill. Read More
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