Our Nation was founded on compromise, such as the Connecticut Compromise which helped forge the constitution. We learn to compromise at a ripe young age. We learn we can’t have everything we want and it becomes clear that we have to make sacrifices so we can achieve our goals. Sometimes though, we don’t want to sacrifice anything; we don’t want to settle. This is what happened with the North and South in the mid-nineteenth century in American History.
It wasn’t always that way though, in the earlier parts of the century, politicians were alive and buzzing with compromise. However, mid- century, compromise no longer seemed possible because of territorial expansion, the formation of sectional political parties, and a series of inflammatory events that pushed the nation towards crisis. The impossibility of compromise in 1860 led to the secession of South Carolina and the beginning of the Civil war. This series of events led to the collapse of the union.
Territorial expansion of the United States west ward made political compromise increasingly more difficult because of the creation and destruction of the South’s hope for the expansion of slavery. There was little hope for the expansion of slavery after the Missouri Compromise of 1 820 because of the division of the remaining US territory. Most of the area of Use’s unrecognized territory in the Louisiana Purchase was above the 36th parallel and was made free area. When the US won the Mexican American war and annexed Texas and the Mexican cession the hope for slavery came back alive.
With the terms of the Missouri Compromise all that land could be made into slave states. Free Toilers and abolitionists, groups almost completely based in he North, held an extreme stance against the institution of and the spread of slavery, as seen in Document 2 whose author sought to portray the Anti- Slavery Convention’s position against slavery. This kind of radical opposition made it so compromise was nearly impossible to achieve. The polar opposite nature of the sides of the debate over slavery made a happy agreement something of myth.
The North’s refusal to allow the spread of slavery and the South’s dedication to it made it impossible for them to settle on an agreement that suited either. With both calling for the extreme, one side must be chosen, but that couldn’t be done with national parties fighting for votes. The political debate over slavery and the formation of sectional political parties crushed the chance of compromise by further popularizing the North and South. In the beginning of the century, congress enacted the gag rule. This made it so that any bill on the issue of slavery would simply be put aside (Doc 3).
This occurred because of the flood of proposals for anti-slavery legislation coming for the abolitionists at the time. This gag rule, however, did to last, as the debate over slavery grew and grew until it was all the nation could talk about. Abraham Lincoln stated in his speech at Alton, Illinois on October 1 5th, 1 858 that the debate over slavery was not just a politician’s concern, but the concern of the people, in an effort to get people to understand the people’s voice behind legislation dealing with slavery (Doc 6).
In the earlier parts of the century, compromise was a strong position for many people. They realized that compromise was essential to the survival of the union without armed conflict. One of these people was Daniel Webster, who, in his speech to the Senate on March 7th, 1850, spoke of the need for the Northern people to comply with the Fugitive Slave Act of 1 850, with the purpose of convincing people that compromise was needed for peace (Doc 4).
Henry Clay also realized that compromise was essential, and, in his speech to the senate on February 12th, 1 833, spoke about the impracticality at a state’s attempt to become a separate and independent entity (Doc 1). He did this after the crisis of South Carolina’s attempt to nullify executive law and undermine the federal government of the US, and he did it in attempt to get people to realize that compromise is the only option because a separation would be impossible.
The formation of the Republican Party, however, marked the end of the era of compromise. The Republican Party held only the interests Of the North and sought only to gain votes from them and win the election of 1860. This made compromise impossible as there was no longer a nation party trying to fight for both sides to win. It eliminated the element of neutrality in the presidential election. It’s seen with the results of the election f 1 860 that the nation has clearly divided and peaceful compromise will not be possible anymore (Doc 7).
Not a single Southern state voted for the republican candidate but he won the election anyway. This is where compromise cannot be achieved. The South’s voice in politics had been silenced and the time for war had corner, not without some events to throw wood on the fire however. Inflammatory events also led to the death of compromise and the dissolution of the union by contributing to the distrust felt between the North and the South and the popularization of the publics opinion in each side.
A serious event was the Nat Turner rebellion, which made Southerners feel as though their lives were now being threatened by abolitionists, and not just their political viewpoints. Bleeding Kansas and “Bleeding Sumner were also both very important as they showed the downfall of the compromise of a popular sovereignty decision for slavery. John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry was another example of a violent act which led to the Southern idea that abolitionists were trying to kill people in the South. All these events, and more led to the destruction of compromise and the collapse of the union.