Why is the Missouri Compromise considered a cause of the Civil War?

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The Missouri Compromise is considered a cause of the Civil War for several reasons.  First, it postponed a resolution regarding the slavery issue when it was issued in 1821. If there would have been a definite decision regarding slavery and its spread in the early 1800s, it may have prevented the Civil War from occurring.  Additionally, while the Missouri Compromise did keep things somewhat quiet regarding the spread of slavery in the Louisiana Purchase for many years, it said nothing about the expansion of slavery in other areas to which we eventually expanded.  This led to significant and often heated debate about the spread of slavery to these areas. Third, it also allowed the slavery question to linger leading to a buildup of strong feelings on each side as time passed.  Finally, in the Dred Scott case, the Supreme Court ruled that the Missouri Compromise was illegal because the federal government could not regulate personal property, which is what the slaves were considered.  This court case angered the North and thrilled the South, helping to widen the gap between both of these regions.  The Missouri Compromise, while having good intentions, actually helped propel the country closer to war as time passed.

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