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Expansion of Slavery in the Territories

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Why were the politicians of the North and South able to compromise about slavery expansion in 1850 but not in 1860?

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Solution Summary

This solution offers the background of the disagreement between the North and South over the issue of slavery in the territories. It covers the Missouri compromise, the Compromise of 1850, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and the break down of the relationship between the North and South.

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Why were the politicians of the North and South able to compromise about slavery expansion in 1850 but not in 1860?
<br>Let me start off by providing a little bit of background so that my explanation might be a little clearer to you. The issue of slavery expansion into the territories had been a heated topic as early as 1819. Each time the U.S. gained new territory arguments developed between free and slave states as to whether this territory should enter the Union as a free or slave state. By 1819 the number of free states equaled the number of slave states, which meant each side had equal representation in the Senate. The Southern slave states in particular felt threatened because their population was not as large as the Northern free states thus they had lost some power in the House of Representatives. So the slave states were desperate to keep the balance of power in the Senate for they feared if they did not then the free states would pass hostile legislation and outlaw slavery.
<br>In 1819 the Missouri Territory applied for admission into the Union as a slave state. Missouri's admission would have upset the balance of 11 free and 11 slave sates and given the South control of the Senate. New York Representative James Tallmadge proposed that Congress abolish slavery in Missouri. This proposal set off a bitter sectional debate as to whether Congress had the right to prohibit slavery in a territory or a state. Henry Clay was able to work out the Missouri Compromise in that Maine would enter the Union as a free state and Missouri would enter as a slave state. Also all other ...

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