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THE MISSOURI COMPROMISE.
Both sides were the more eager because the number of free and of slave states was then (1819) equal,' each section having eleven.
243. The Missouri Compromise.- When, therefore, Missouri took steps to gain admission as a slave state, the South urged the measure with all its might, and the North fought against it with equal determination. After nearly two years of angry debate, Henry Clayof Kentucky succeeded in persuading Congress to make a compromise. It was this : Missouri was to be allowed to enter the Union as a slave state, but on the express condition that in all future cases the states formed out of the territory west and northwest of Missouri — that is, north of the parallel of 36 degrees and 30 minutes on the map - should come in free.4 Congress passed this law in 1820, under the name of the Missouri Compromise. Meantime, Maine had been admitted; so that, when Missouri entered the Union (1821), the balance between the free and the slave states was still kept, — each section had exactly twelve.
Many people now believed that the debate about the extension of slavery was settled “forever.” But facts proved that in this case “forever" meant something less than twenty-five years;' then, as we shall see, the question was to come up again, and in a more dangerous form than before.
i This, of course, was after the admission of Alabama, in 1819. See Table,
2 Henry Clay was born in Virginia in 1777; died at Washington, 1852. He studied law, and in 1797 removed to Lexington, Kentucky. In 1799, when the people of Kentucky were about adopting a state constitution, Clay urged them (but without success) to abolish slavery. He entered Congress in 1806, and continued in public life from that time until his death. He was a man of remarkable personal influence, a “ peacemaker" by temperament, and the greatest orator the Southwest ever possessed. Although ardently attached to his adopted state of Kentucky, yet he declared in 1850 that he owed his first allegiance to the Union, and a subordinate allegiance to his state. See Carl Schurz's admirable " Life of Henry Clay" in the "American Statesmen Series.”
8 It was called a compromise because, as will be seen, each side promised to give up something to the other for the sake of making a peaceful settlement of the dispute.
4 See Map on "Territorial Growth of the United States."
6 John Randolph of Virginia called the Northern men who voted for the Compromise" Doughfaces,” because he thought they had no more character than a piece of dough.
244. Desire to reach the West; the “ National Road.” Next to the extension of slavery, one of the greatest questions of this period was how to reach the West. To-day, we find it difficult to understand this. To get West, we simply step into an express train, and steam whirls us to our destination at the rate of forty miles an hour. If mountains block the way, the train either climbs over them or goes through them. In President Monroe's time the railroad did not exist, and, although the steamboat did, that could only go where some navigable river or lake opened the way. Look on the map of the United States, and you will see that the Alleghany Mountains shut out the East from the West. As the steamboat could not cross those rough walls of rock, Congress determined to build a road over them. Such a national road had already been begun on the banks of the Potomac, at Cumberland, Maryland. It was now gradually extended across the forest-covered mountains to Wheeling, on the Ohio River, where it would connect with steamboats running to Cincinnati, or even to New Orleans.
But that was not enough. There were millions of acres of fertile lands in Ohio and the country beyond it, that emigrants wished to reach more directly than the steamboat would help them to do. For this reason it was proposed to extend the National Road from Wheeling through to the Mississippi. President Monroe earnestly favored this and similar enterprises, but did not think that he had lawful power under the Constitution to spend the people's money for such purposes. Indirectly, however, he used every effort to help it forward. The road was gradually built farther and farther west It was the first great work of the kind undertaken by the
1 That is, until the question of the Wilmot Proviso came up in 1846, followed by that of the Compromise of 1850 and that of the admission of Kansas in 1854.
United States, costing, in the end, over six million dollars. stretched across the country for hundreds of miles, — broad, solid, smooth, - a true national highway." ?
245. Traffic on the National Road; Emigrant Wagons. -The traffic over it was immense. Gayly painted stage-coaches ran through the more thickly settled parts. Beyond, toward the west, there was a constant stream of huge canvas-covered emigrant wagons, often so close together that the leaders of the teams could touch the wagon ahead of them with their noses. To see that procession of emigrant families going forward day after day gave one an idea of how fast the people were settling that wild western country, which is now covered with cultivated farms and thriving towns.
It was the beginning of that great march toward the setting sun which was to keep steadily advancing until the Pacific said “ Halt!” - that is, until we had taken possession of the whole breadth of the continent.
246. The " Monroe Doctrine"; " America for Americans." — While the National Road was being pushed westward, Mexico and several South American countries had declared themselves republics, independent of Spain. The Czar of Russia and the European kings looked with a jealous eye on all republics. They were suspected of having promised to help the king of Spain to force the new American nations to bow their heads again under the old despotic yoke which they had just thrown off. But President Monroe cried, Hands off ! In his message to Congress (1823) he declared that, while the United States was resolved not to meddle with the affairs of the nations of the Old World, we were equally determined that they should not meddle with the affairs of the New. That declaration is called the “Monroe Doctrine." 2 It means that we consider that “ America is for
1 The National Road eventually reached Illinois. 2 President Monroe, in his message of December 2, 1823, says, speaking of the