Essay about Missouri Compromise of 1820

2681 WordsDec 14, 201311 Pages
The Missouri Compromise of 1820 In November of 1818, Missouri petitioned Congress for statehood and ignited a controversy over slavery and a balance of power in the Senate that would span two sessions of Congress and threaten the dissolution of the Union and a civil war. Prior to the Missouri question, the Union had eleven Free states and eleven slave states, each with two Senators. The Missouri Territory, carved out of land acquired in the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, covered an expanse of land just north of the Ohio River and just west of the Mississippi (these rivers joined in the southeastern corner of the territory). According to the terms of the Ordinance of 1787, which prohibited slavery in the Northwest Territory, the Missouri…show more content…
It was suggested that each state’s contribution be determined by the size of their population, slaves included, something the South vehemently opposed. Southerner’s believed that only their white population should be taken into account, and that by counting their slave population, they would be unfairly taxed. This issue pitted the North against the South and resulted in a threat from South Carolina to secede from the Union. In 1786-87, the Jay-Gardoqui Treaty negotiations, under the Articles of Confederation, created a firestorm that threatened to dissolve the Union. John Jay, Secretary for Foreign Affairs, was trying to negotiate a treaty with Spain over navigation of the Mississippi River when he suggested, “that America surrender the right of free navigation on the lower Mississippi for twenty-five or thirty years in return for commercial concessions” (Glover 4). The treaty was never ratified because nine affirmative votes were needed and only seven were obtained, all from Northern states. The South feared the Northern majority, believing that it was willing to, at some point in the future, “inflict grave injury on the South” (Glover 5). The sectional divide was growing and would be solidified at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. During the Constitutional Convention of 1787, slavery and sectionalism converged resulting in a number of compromises written into the Constitution that would later play an integral role in the Missouri
Open Document