Prior to the 1820’s, the people of the United States had been struggling to find a way to solve their sectional tensions brought on by slavery in the south. The south had always had an economy based on agriculture that could not strive without their uses of slavery. They did not plan on ending slavery anytime soon, especially since it was really all they had to support themselves. They were against establishing an industrial based economy like the north had began to do in the 1820-1830’s.
The real cause of the sectional tensions between the North and the South during the 1820’s-1860’s was not slavery itself, but how it affected each society so differently, and it was very challenging to find a compromise to suit both sides. Taking a step back, the political compromises that were created during 1820-1861 were not effective towards reducing sectional tensions across the nation. Starting in 1819, there was an equal balance of slave and free states in the United States. Until Missouri wanted to be admitted into the Union as a slave state, leaving the slave states at 12 and the free states at 11.
If only Missouri was admitted into the United States, it would move slavery farther more into the Northern section of the United States, which is what Northern reformers were afraid of. The debate on adding Missouri as a slave state continued to inspire violent petitions in the North. Until later that year, Henry Clay submitted the Missouri compromise, which stated that Missouri would be added as a slave state along with Maine as a free state, to keep the ratio of free and slave states equal. The Northern boundary of slavery was set at 36? 30?
and this compromise would keep the argument over slavery settled for a few years. One day in the Supreme Court, a case was brought in called the Dred Scott v. Stanford. Dred Scott and his master had lived in the Wisconsin free territory of the United states, which is why Dred Scott was trying to gain his freedom. The Supreme Court began with the ruling that Americans of African descent, whether free or slave, were not American citizens and could not sue in federal court. The Court also ruled that Congress lacked power to ban slavery in the U. S. territories. And lastly, the Court declared that the rights of slave-owners were constitutionally protected by the Fifth Amendment because slaves were bought by owners, labeling them as property. In the North, antislavery supporters were outraged by the outcome of the Dred Scott case, strengthening the newly submitted Republican Party and helping ignite the violence between slave-owners and abolitionists on the frontier. The Missouri Compromise was declared unconstitutional under the laws made in the Dred Scott v. Stanford Supreme Court Case in 1857.
The case gave Northerners a reason to fear Southern slave power. It left the nation indecisive on the actions it should take to replenish the nation of what it needs to settle the sectional tensions in which were causing our country to fall apart. With the increased sectional tensions left untouched after the Missouri Compromise, California wants in as a free state. Again, Henry Clay suggests an idea to keep from the occurrence of another uprising like the one after the Missouri Compromise. The Compromise of 1850 had something to offer for the North and the South.
The Compromise would allow California to become a free state, as a benefit for the North. It would also ban the selling of slaves in Washington D. C. , another benefit to the North. To make the south happy, it strengthened fugitive slave laws and settled the organizational details of the territories gained in the war with Mexico. New Mexico and Utah would be decided by popular sovereignty. The Fugitive Slave law became an issue in the North because they did not want to support any form of slavery no matter what. The nation did not want to settle.
Each side thought that the advantages for the opposing side in the Compromise of 1850 were better than their own advantages. They were not willing to compromise. Northerners felt that this Compromise should strictly be about the territories, not about slave laws, and that is what led to the failure of the Compromise of 1850. Neither side was willing to settle for what the compromise had to offer. It sparked more sectional tensions across the nation than ever before. Starting with a new debate, the next step that the United States needed to take was to choose a way newly added states would be decided as slave or free.
When Kansas and Nebraska asked to join as states, the decision was to allow the two states to decide for themselves whether they wanted to allow slavery or not, although these territories were above the 36? 30? line. By the early 1850s, settlers wanted to move into the free area which is now known as Nebraska. The southern states’ representatives in Congress were in no hurry to permit a Nebraska territory because the land lay north of the 36°30′ parallel, which is where slavery had been outlawed by the Missouri Compromise of 1820.
The Kansas- Nebraska Act was possibly the most important event leading up to the civil war and was proposed by Stephan Douglas. He proposed that Nebraska should be made into a territory and to win support from the south he proposed the issue of another southern state, which would be Kansas. He would be able to build a transcontinental railroad that would be able to go through Chicago. The Kansas- Nebraska Act allowed each territory to decide the issue of slavery on the basis of popular sovereignty. Kansas with slavery would go against the Missouri Compromise, which had sewed the Union together for more than 30 years.
The Missouri compromise was eventually repealed by the Kansas- Nebraska Act and even though the opposition was of the majority, the bill passed in May of 1854. Territory north of the 36°30′ line was now open to popular sovereignty, which set off the North. Also, every compromise has an effect politically, especially the Kansas- Nebraska Act. This act split the Whig party since every Northern Whig opposed the bill and almost every southern Whig voted for it. With the issue of slaver on everybody mind, the two new separate parties could never agree.
The southern Whigs had become the Democratic Party and the Northern Whigs became the Republican Party, with Abraham Lincoln as a big influence. The Kansas- Nebraska Act had a very negative effect on the sectional tensions for it split the Whig party into the northern Republicans and the Southern Democrats. It also made the people of the north and south angrier than ever before. This would be the last compromise that they didn’t completely retaliate against each other during, due to their sectional tensions. Even after all of their attempts of compromise, none of them gave each section enough for them to settle with.
It only caused the nation to grow further and further apart and it only increased their sectional tensions to a point where something needed to be done before the union fell apart completely and a Civil War would begin. Unfortunately, Lincoln decided that he could not risk this Union crumbling, and was forced to go to war with what are now known as the Confederates. The political compromises did anything but reduce the sectional tensions during the years of 1820-1861 because in the end, they caused our nation to disband, and a Civil War to begin.