Compromise Of 1850 Essay

1012 words - 5 pages

Compromise of 1850By the 1850's the Constitution had become a source of sectional discord and tension due to the different interpretations taken by the North and South. The North's interpretation was that slavery was immoral and not protected under the Constitution. The South, on the other hand, interpreted the Constitution as recognizing slavery where it existed. In addition, the acquisition of new land brought into question the expansion of slavery and the balance of power between the free states and slave states. The interpretations that both sides vindicated were irreconcilable; slavery was a necessity to the Southern way of life, and Northerners shared different views; effective ...view middle of the document...

" However in Document E, Garrison, an extreme abolitionist whose motto was "No Union with Slaveholders." argued that the Constitution "never intended to give any protection or countenance to the slave system". Thus the question arises, "Does the Constitution protect slavery as an institution?"Since the framers of the Constitution did not explicitly condone or embrace slavery, the decision was left to Congress, the President, and the courts to supplement and implement any judgment concerning the issue. Although slavery was not mentioned in the Constitution, the context of it essentially supports slavery - many of the signers of the Constitution were slave owners. However, Northerners such as Emerson, (Document D) who addressed the Fugitive Slave Law, argued that slavery was immoral and foresaw the ending of the Union. Southerners, on the other hand, saw slavery as their natural right and regarded the three-fifths clause as evidence that slaves did not hold the rights of citizenship.Southerners were aided in their argument by the Supreme Court decision Dred Scott (1857), which ruled that African Americans had no civil rights, and that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional. Although the decision was made on the basis of the interpretation of the Constitution, it also reflected the susceptibility of the court to be influenced by personal views and politics - several of the justices were slave owners. Even though the court decision settled the question of slavery expansion and strengthened the South's position, it ironically fueled the Republican movement after the defeat of the Lecompton constitution and the admittance of Kansas as a free state.Aided by the anti-slavery sentiment in the North, which had the majority of the electoral votes, the Republican party, led by Abraham Lincoln, was able to win the Election of 1860. With virtually no support in the South and only 40 percent of the popular vote, the election of Lincoln was a terrible political defeat for the southerners; he had been elected to office on the...

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