Which State Was Admitted as a Free State in 1820?
When studying American history, it is important to understand the historical context of slavery and how it shaped the country’s government and society. One significant moment in this history is the admittance of free states, which helped balance the power in Congress and contributed to the eventual abolition of slavery. In 1820, one state was admitted as a free state – Maine. However, this event did not occur in isolation, but rather as a result of political debates and compromises that would impact the future of slavery and American politics. This article will explore the history of Maine’s admittance as a free state, as well as the Missouri Compromise, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the birth of Indiana as a free state, and Missouri’s complicated relationship with slavery.
The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854
The Kansas-Nebraska Act was a controversial piece of legislation that permitted the expansion of slavery in territories that were previously designated as free states or territories. This act, proposed by Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, was fiercely debated in Congress and ultimately led to violence in the Kansas territory, where pro-slavery and anti-slavery settlers clashed over the territory’s future status as either a free or slave state.
The Kansas-Nebraska Act had a significant impact on the larger issue of slavery in America, as it overturned the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which had prohibited slavery in states north of the 36-30 parallel. This led to increased sectional tensions between the North and South, as the North became increasingly alarmed over the expansion of slave power in territories that had previously been considered free.
The Missouri Compromise
The Missouri Compromise was a crucial piece of legislation passed in 1820 that helped balance power in Congress and preserve a tense truce between the North and South over the issue of slavery. The compromise allowed Maine to be admitted as a free state, while Missouri was designated as a slave state, maintaining the balance of free and slave states in Congress. Additionally, the Missouri Compromise prohibited slavery in all states north of the 36-30 parallel, with the exception of Missouri.
While the Missouri Compromise seemed to be a satisfactory solution to the slavery question at the time, it ultimately failed to prevent further political conflict and violence over the issue. The Compromise was abolished by the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which allowed the settlers of new territories to decide for themselves whether to permit or prohibit slavery. This led to a surge of violence and conflict in territories like Kansas as settlers fought to decide the territory’s future status as either a free or slave state.
Admission of Maine
The admission of Maine as a free state in 1820 was closely tied to the Missouri Compromise, which helped maintain a balance of power between free and slave states in Congress. At the time, Maine was a part of Massachusetts and was split off as a separate state as part of a political compromise that allowed Missouri to be admitted as a slave state. This event had significant political implications, as it helped maintain a fragile truce between the North and South over the issue of slavery in America.
The admission of Maine as a free state also set the stage for future debates over slavery in America. It demonstrated the North’s commitment to stopping the spread of slavery and maintaining a balance of power in Congress. The struggle over the admission of Maine as a free state foreshadowed future battles over new states like California and Kansas, which were also hotly contested in terms of their future status as either free or slave states.
The Birth of Free State Indiana
Indiana was admitted as a free state in 1816, becoming the 19th state in the Union. Its admittance as a free state was a significant milestone in the movement to abolish slavery in America. Indiana played a key role in the Underground Railroad, which helped escaped slaves flee to freedom in the North. The state was also home to prominent abolitionists like Levi Coffin, who was known as the “President of the Underground Railroad.”
Indiana’s admittance as a free state was the result of a long struggle by abolitionists and anti-slavery advocates who fought to end the practice of human bondage in America. It was a major victory for the anti-slavery movement and helped set the stage for the eventual abolition of slavery in the United States.
The Legacy of the Missouri Compromise
The Missouri Compromise played a significant role in shaping American history and politics. It helped balance power in Congress and preserve a fragile truce between the North and South over the issue of slavery. The compromise also resulted in the admission of free state Illinois, which helped further shift the balance of power in Congress away from the slave states.
However, the Missouri Compromise ultimately failed to prevent further conflict and violence over the issue of slavery. The Compromise was overturned by the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which resulted in a surge of violence and conflict in new territories like Kansas, where settlers fought to determine the territory’s future status as either free or slave.
From a Border State to a Free State
Missouri’s history with slavery is complicated. The state was originally part of the Louisiana Purchase and was admitted as a slave state as part of the Missouri Compromise in 1820. However, during the Civil War, Missouri remained loyal to the Union and became a symbol of the fight against slavery. The state was the site of several key battles and skirmishes during the war and suffered significant losses as a result.
After the Civil War, Missouri gradually transitioned from a slave state to a free state. This transition was the result of the Emancipation Proclamation, the 13th Amendment, and the efforts of abolitionists and anti-slavery advocates who fought to bring an end to human bondage in America.
Understanding the history of free states in America is crucial to understanding the broader context of the struggle against slavery and the fight for civil rights and racial justice. Events like the admission of Maine, the birth of free state Indiana, and the Missouri Compromise shaped the balance of power in Congress and played a critical role in the eventual abolition of slavery in the United States.
However, this history is still being written today. The ongoing debates over racial justice and equality remind us that the struggle to overcome the legacy of slavery and discrimination in America is far from over. By learning from the past and engaging with the issues of today, we can continue to move forward towards a more just and equitable future for all people.