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If you were a congressman in 1819, how would you have solved the issue of Missouri’s application for statehood? 

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I believe that the Missouri Compromise was a rather brilliant idea given the circumstances at the time, so I hope I would have solved the issue of Missouri’s statehood just the way Congress did at the time.  Let us look at the other choices and why they are less attractive.

First, Congress could have rejected Missouri’s application and made it continue as a territory.  I do not think this would be a good solution because it would deny the people of Missouri their rights as Americans.  It would, for example, have denied them representation in Congress and a vote in the Electoral College.  It is not right for Americans to be without these things.

Second, Congress could have either voted Missouri in as a slave state or a free state without doing anything else.  This might seem more moral.  It was definitely morally wrong to have slaves and it would have been more moral to prohibit slavery in the new state.  The problem is that this could have destroyed the United States.  It could have made the South split away from the North over this issue.  That would have been a bad result.

I think that the Missouri Compromise was the best possible compromise at the time.  It allowed the slave and free states to continue to have equal numbers in the Senate.  It drew a line that determined which territories would become free states and which would become slave states.  This made sure there would not be any more conflict over the issue of slavery in the Louisiana Purchase.  Because it was a good deal, it lasted until the Mexican-American War caused problems by increasing the territory of the US.

So, what this question comes down to is whether you think you would have voted to keep the Union together or to try to end slavery.  Do you think it would have been better for the US to split apart with the North being free and the South slave?  Or do you think it was better to compromise in order to keep the Union together?

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