The Missouri compromise refers to an agreement passed in 1820 as a solution to the differences in government over slavery (Forbes 19). Before the agreement was passed, numerous member of the United States Congress disagreed on the way to incorporate both western and southern states in the government without creating a problem. Some factions were in support of slavery while others opposed it completely.
All the territories in the west did not allow slavery to be conducted there apart for Missouri, which was a newly proposed state (Forbes 30). People belong to the white American community felt that expanding the colonies was a crucial step towards the growth of America. The western colonies were predominantly occupied by white people, while Native Americans made up a small fraction of the population (Forbes 39).
Slavery was a widespread trade in the southern colonies and helped them to have a stable economy. Studies have established that the white Americans in the south had tried to introduce trade to their western counterparts without any meaningful success.
The reason for this is that the whites in the west did not consider slavery as something that could help the region to grow. The positions held by the two regions over the role of slavery in the growth of America played a crucial role in building the federal government. This happened during the 1787 constitutional convention (Forbes 57).
The convention aimed to build a federal government that would serve all Americans with equality. At the time, the country had eleven states that prohibited slavery and eleven others that supported the trade. However, everything took a turn in 1819, when a newly proposed state called Missouri requested to be part of the United States. The controversy that arose was because Missouri supported the slave trade, thus meaning the balance shifted against states that prohibited the trade (Forbes 69).
This issue resulted in a very bitter debate in the congress, as everyone wanted to the advantage to their side. States that supported slavery argued about the need to uphold the principle of conformity with rules and making judgments without discrimination. After a lengthy debate without finding a solution, a congressman called Henry Clay came up with a solution identified as the Missouri compromise (Forbes 86).
Clay proposed that Missouri be admitted as a slave state. However, because there was a need to create a balance and meet the interest of every participant, Clay requested the congress to admit Maine as a free state. Maine was a state that had for a long time sought to be separated from Massachusetts and given its own government (Forbes 100). Clay also proposed that slavery be prohibited in the southern boundaries of Missouri.
Everyone agreed to this and the two states were administered. However, the conditions of the Missouri compromise had been in place for just three decades before the congress changed them. In the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act, the congress voted to change a clause that restricted states bordering Missouri from supporting slavery (Forbes 119). The changes made gave all states the independence to choose for themselves whether they would support the trade or not.
Democracy and equality are some of the issues that have attracted the most controversy. The United States of America has come a long way in its fight to achieve democracy. The role of slavery in this journey cannot be ignored, as it helped people to take their stand and defend everything they considered right and justified. The Missouri compromise is a clear manifestation of the power of democracy and the need to protect the sovereignty of people under any jurisdiction.
Forbes, Robert. Missouri Compromise and its Aftermath: Slavery and the Meaning of America. New Jersey: University of North Carolina Press, 2009. Print.