Essay on Slavery in America and the Bleeding Kansas Crisis

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The United States is known for compromises between the North and the South. Until 1861, the U.S. tried to make peace between the two regions especially in the question of slavery. Sectional tension between the North and the South was reduced for a short period of time because of certain political compromises, like the Missouri Compromise, but the actions of the federal government increased sectional tensions too because of the failure of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Dred Scott Case.
Sectional tension between the North and the South was reduced for a short period of time because of the Missouri Compromise which addressed Missouri as a state and solved the state addition conflict. Sectionalism was growing in the United States because pro-slavery and anti-slavery became more of a conflict between the North and the South. Before the year of 1819, there was an even split of slave and free states in the U.S. This balance kept the conflicts between the regions to a minimum because the federal government did not have to address the situation of expansion of slavery. The problem was ignored until Missouri wanted to enter the Union as a state in 1819. Representative James Tallmadge of New York proposed an amendment, the Tallmadge Amendment, to the House of Representatives that would limit slavery in Missouri. This amendment prohibited further introduction of slaves, made the children of the slaves free, and freed all slaves by the age 25. The Tallmadge Amendment was barely passed in the House of Representatives, but was shut down by the Senate. The opponents of the amendment questioned if Congress had the right to control slavery in the states. Also, the admission of an anti-slavery state would threaten the balance of power between the slave states and free states. The addition would not only upset the South as a whole, but southern congressmen as well. Congress would have a larger chance of prohibiting the expansion of slavery with this addition. Members of Congress argued if Missouri could enter as a slave state or not. The northerners argued that Congress had the power to abolish slavery in new states. Southerners disagreed and stated that the new states had the same freedom to choose just like the original 13 states. To solve this problem Henry Clay produced the second of the great “thirty year compromises”. The Compromise of 1820, also known as the Missouri Compromise, proposed three factors. The first allowed Missouri to enter as a slave state. The second helped balance this addition by separating a part of Massachusetts and creating a free state called Maine. The third created an invisible line that split the future states in the Louisiana Territory. The Missouri Compromise line was parallel to 36°30’. North of this line would be a free state and south of the line would be a slave state. Missouri was over most of the line, but the state was made an exception. Even though it was passed, the Missouri Compromise was criticized immensely. People still questioned Congress’ ability in controlling slavery in the states. Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to John Holmes about the compromise. Jefferson was opposed to slavery, but did not agree with the involvement of the federal government. Jefferson told Holmes that he does not regularly pay attention to public affairs anymore, but said that the Missouri Compromise “…like a fireball in the night, awakened him and filled him with terror.” Jefferson foreshadowed the conflict to arise and become much bigger. The line was not helping the issue, but just prevented it from enlarging for a short amount of time. Jefferson was right. The Missouri Compromise was pushing the conflicts of slavery back and holding off the problems for a later time, but the prevention of further conflict dwindled sectional tension. The Missouri Compromise reduced sectional tension by temporarily solving the state addition conflict. Maine was created as a free state because Missouri entered the Union as a slave…