John Quincy Adams's Presidency

Start Free Trial

In "Reflections on the Missouri Question," why did John Quincy Adams believe southerners continued to defend slavery?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

John Quincy Adams relates a few possible reasons for the Southern defense of the institution of slavery. The surface reason is purely political, and can be argued rationally; but the true reason is much uglier and harder to defend.

The surface reason is states' rights: The Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution declares that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Paraphrased, this means that the federal government cannot use any powers the Constitution does not explicitly grant it; conversely, the state governments can use any powers that the Constitution does not explicitly prohibit them from using. The government in this case is attempting to limit the expansion of slavery in US territory by introducing conditions for admittance to the Union, namely that slavery be discontinued and that existing slaves be given their freedom. The Southern states argue that the...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 813 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Already a member? Log in here.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on