What was the significance of the Missouri Compromise? 

The Missouri Compromise was significant because it maintained the balance between free and slave interests in the United States. It was the first time that Congress dictated where slavery would be allowed. It failed to rectify differences concerning slavery that would eventually be settled by the Civil War.

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Throughout the early-nineteenth century in the United States, there were many attempts to maintain the delicate balance of slave states and free states in the country. At the time, there were eleven free states and eleven slave states, which meant that one faction did not become dominant over the other....

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Throughout the early-nineteenth century in the United States, there were many attempts to maintain the delicate balance of slave states and free states in the country. At the time, there were eleven free states and eleven slave states, which meant that one faction did not become dominant over the other. By 1819, the territory of Missouri had gained enough population to petition for statehood. There were many that wanted it to be a slave state and others that wanted it to be a free state. Those in favor of slavery argued that the federal government had no authority to outlaw slavery in a new state. They felt that the issue should be decided by the state itself. Opponents of the expansion of slavery argued that slavery should not be expanded into the Louisiana territory on the basis that it would give an unfair advantage to the South, which used its slave population to determine congressional representation. Overall, it seemed as though pro-slave interests in Missouri would have their way if the territory became a state. This created a deadlock in the Senate.

A compromise was struck in 1820. Maine, which had been a part of Massachusetts, petitioned for statehood as a free state. The Senate, which was split in half between pro-slave and anti-slave interests, linked the statehoods of Maine and Missouri. By admitting both states, one with slaves and one without, the balance would be maintained. A proviso was added to this that would ban any further expansion of slavery in the Louisiana Territory north of latitude 36° 30'. This compromise limited slavery but did nothing to abolish it where it already existed. It did, however, put off the issue of rectifying differences that would eventually be settled by the Civil War 45 years later.

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