|Date(s):||December 18, 1860|
|Location(s):||Washington City, District of Columbia|
|Tag(s):||African-Americans, Slavery, Migration/Transportation, Law|
|Course:||“Civil War and Reconstruction,” Juniata College|
|Rating:||4 (3 votes)|
Prior to the Secession of the Confederate States, many people in the United States wanted a compromise in order to prevent secession and the Civil War that would follow. James McPherson noted that in order for the Senate to filter through the proposed compromises they formed the “Committee of Thirteen” which included William H. Seward, Stephen Douglas, Benjamin Wade, and John J. Crittenden. Crittenden himself came up with a compromise with various proposed amendments to the Constitution in order to attempt to save the Union and prevent the War Between the States.
The proposed Crittenden Compromise would have re-established the 36 ?30’ line that was established in the Missouri Compromise which meant that any territory “now held, or here-after acquired” north of this line would prohibit slavery and that any territory south of this line would be guaranteed slavery. It also said that Congress could not prohibit slavery in areas of its jurisdiction within slave states. It went further to say that slavery could not be abolished in D.C. as long as slavery still existed in Virginia and Maryland or without the consent of its inhabitants or without the compensation of the slave owners. Congress was also not permitted to prohibit the transportation of slaves to another state or territory in which slavery was permitted. The compromise would have also upheld the fugitive slave law, and further if the slaves were not recovered because of violence or intimidation the government would be required to compensate the slave-owner for the fugitive slave. It also said that the proposed amendments and sections of the Constitution which recognized slavery could not be amended in the future and that Congress could not “abolish or interfere with slavery in any of the States by whose laws it is, or may be, allowed or permitted.”
It can be seen that this “compromise” favored the South’s desires. The compromise was accepted by many because it would possibly prevent secession and war. McPherson noted that it was even accepted by some Republican businessmen because of their fear of the effect on Wall Street by secession. Historians Bruce Catton and McPherson said that the compromise was highly debated until Lincoln refused it by saying “entertain no proposition for a compromise in regard to the extension of slavery.” The compromise failed in a seven to six vote among the “Committee of Thirteen” and opposed twenty-five to twenty-three in the Senate. These numbers could have been severely changed had fourteen Senators from states that had seceded or were going to secede voted. This shows how close the US came to acknowledging slavery forever. This compromise may have prevented secession and the war for some time, but the problems and separation of the United States would not have been resolved as they are today.