Crittenden Compromise

Crittenden Compromise

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The Crittenden Compromise was an unsuccessful proposal introduced by Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

 Senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 John J. Crittenden
John J. Crittenden
John Jordan Crittenden was a politician from the U.S. state of Kentucky. He represented the state in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate and twice served as United States Attorney General in the administrations of William Henry Harrison and Millard Fillmore...

 on December 18, 1860. It aimed to resolve the U.S. secession crisis of 1860–1861 by addressing the grievances that led the slave states of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 to contemplate secession
Secession
Secession is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or especially a political entity. Threats of secession also can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals.-Secession theory:...

 from the United States.

Background


The compromise proposed six constitutional
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

 amendments and four Congressional resolutions. Crittenden introduced the package on December 18. It was table
Table (parliamentary procedure)
In parliamentary procedure, a motion to table has two different and contradictory meanings:*In the United States, table usually means the motion to lay on the table or motion to postpone consideration; a proposal to suspend consideration of a pending motion...

d on December 31.

It guaranteed the permanent existence of slavery in the slave states and addressed Southern demands in regard to fugitive slaves and slavery in the District of Columbia. It proposed extending the Missouri Compromise
Missouri Compromise
The Missouri Compromise was an agreement passed in 1820 between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the United States Congress, involving primarily the regulation of slavery in the western territories. It prohibited slavery in the former Louisiana Territory north of the parallel 36°30'...

 line to the west, with: slavery prohibited north of the 36° 30′ parallel and guaranteed south of it. The compromise included a clause that it could not be repealed or amended.

The compromise was popular among Southern members of the Senate, but it was generally unacceptable to the Republicans, who opposed the expansion of slavery beyond the states where it already existed into the territories. The opposition of their party's leader, President-elect Abraham Lincoln, was crucial. Republicans said the compromise "would amount to a perpetual covenant of war against every people, tribe, and state owning a foot of land between here and Tierra del Fuego
Tierra del Fuego
Tierra del Fuego is an archipelago off the southernmost tip of the South American mainland, across the Strait of Magellan. The archipelago consists of a main island Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego divided between Chile and Argentina with an area of , and a group of smaller islands including Cape...

." The only territories south of the line were parts of New Mexico Territory
New Mexico Territory
thumb|right|240px|Proposed boundaries for State of New Mexico, 1850The Territory of New Mexico was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from September 9, 1850, until January 6, 1912, when the final extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of...

 and Indian Territory
Indian Territory
The Indian Territory, also known as the Indian Territories and the Indian Country, was land set aside within the United States for the settlement of American Indians...

. There was considerable agreement on both sides that slavery would never flourish in New Mexico. The South refused the House Republicans' proposal, approved by committee on December 29, to admit New Mexico as a state immediately. However, not all opposition to the Crittenden Compromise also opposed further territorial expansion of the United States. The New York Times referred to "the whole future growth of the Republic" and "all the Territory that can ever belong to the United States, — the whole of Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 and Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

".
Both the House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 and the Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 rejected Crittenden's proposal. It was part of a series of efforts in the session of Congress that sat from December 1860 to March 1861 to provide the Southern states with sufficient reassurances to forestall their secession from the union.

The proposals were also discussed in February 1861 at the peace conference
Peace conference of 1861
The Peace Conference of 1861 was a meeting of more than 100 of the leading politicians of the antebellum United States held in Washington, D.C., in February 1861 that was meant to prevent what ultimately became the Civil War. The success of President Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party in the...

, the final formal effort to avert the start of war.

Amendments to the Constitution

  1. Slavery would be prohibited in any territory of the United States "now held, or hereafter acquired," north of latitude 36 degrees, 30 minutes
    Parallel 36°30' north
    The parallel 36° 30′ north is a circle of latitude that is 36 and one-half degrees north of the Equator of the Earth. This parallel of latitude is particularly significant in the History of the United States as the line of the Missouri Compromise, which was used to divide the prosepctiveslave and...

     line. In territories south of this line, slavery of the African race was "hereby recognized" and could not be interfered with by Congress. Furthermore, property in African slaves was to be "protected by all the departments of the territorial government during its continuance." States would be admitted to the Union from any territory with or without slavery as their constitutions provided.
  2. Congress was forbidden to abolish slavery in places under its jurisdiction within a slave state such as a military post.
  3. Congress could not abolish slavery in the District of Columbia so long as it existed in the adjoining states of Virginia and Maryland and without the consent of the District's inhabitants. Compensation would be given to owners who refused consent to abolition.
  4. Congress could not prohibit or interfere with the interstate slave trade.
  5. Congress would provide full compensation to owners of rescued fugitive slaves. Congress was empowered to sue the county in which obstruction to the fugitive slave laws took place to recover payment; the county, in turn, could sue "the wrong doers or rescuers" who prevented the return of the fugitive.
  6. No future amendment of the Constitution could change these amendments or authorize or empower Congress to interfere with slavery within any slave state.

Congressional resolutions

  1. That fugitive slave laws
    Fugitive slave laws
    The fugitive slave laws were laws passed by the United States Congress in 1793 and 1850 to provide for the return of slaves who escaped from one state into another state or territory.-Pre-colonial and Colonial eras:...

     were constitutional and should be faithfully observed and executed.
  2. That all state laws which impeded the operation of fugitive slave laws, the so-called "Personal liberty laws
    Personal liberty laws
    .....The personal liberty laws were a series of laws passed by several U.S. states in the North in respone to the Fugitive Slave Acts of 1793 and 1850.-Origins:...

    ," were unconstitutional and should be repealed.
  3. That the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850
    Fugitive Slave Law of 1850
    The Fugitive Slave Law or Fugitive Slave Act was passed by the United States Congress on September 18, 1850, as part of the Compromise of 1850 between Southern slave holding interests and Northern Free-Soilers. This was one of the most controversial acts of the 1850 compromise and heightened...

     should be modified (and rendered less objectionable to the North) by equalizing the fee schedule for returning or releasing alleged fugitives and limiting the powers of marshals to summon citizens to aid in their capture.
  4. That laws for the suppression of the African slave trade
    African slave trade
    Systems of servitude and slavery were common in many parts of Africa, as they were in much of the ancient world. In some African societies, the enslaved people were also indentured servants and fully integrated; in others, they were treated much worse...

    should be effectively and thoroughly executed.