Senate passes Missouri Compromise

Senate passes Missouri Compromise

The Senate passes the Missouri Compromise, an attempt to deal with the dangerously divisive issue of extending slavery into the western territories.

From colonial days to the Civil War, slavery and western expansion both played fundamental but inherently incompatible roles in the American republic. As the nation expanded westward, the Congress adopted relatively liberal procedures by which western territories could organize and join the union as full-fledged states. Southern slaveholders, eager to replicate their plantation system in the West, wanted to keep the new territories open to slavery. Abolitionists, concentrated primarily in the industrial North, wanted the West to be exclusively a free labor region and hoped that slavery would gradually die out if confined to the South. Both factions realized their future congressional influence would depend on the number of new “slave” and “free” states admitted into the union.

READ MORE: How Slavery Became the Economic Engine of the South

Consequently, the West became the first political battleground over the slavery issue. In 1818, the Territory of Missouri applied to Congress for admission as a slave state. Early in 1819, a New York congressman introduced an amendment to the proposed Missouri constitution that would ban importation of newly enslaved people and require gradual emancipation of existing enslaved people. Southern congressmen reacted with outrage, inspiring a nationwide debate on the future of slavery in the nation.

Over the next year, the congressional debate grew increasingly bitter, and southerners began to threaten secession and civil war. To avoid this disastrous possibility, key congressmen hammered together an agreement that became known as the Missouri Compromise. In exchange for admitting Missouri without restrictions on slavery, the Compromise called for bringing in Maine as a free state. The Compromise also dictated that slavery would be prohibited in all future western states carved out of the Louisiana Territory that were higher in latitude than the northern border of Arkansas Territory.

Although the Missouri Compromise temporarily eased the inherent tensions between western expansion and slavery, the divisive issue was far from resolved. Whether or not to allow slavery in the states of Texas, Kansas and Nebraska caused the same difficulties several decades later, leading the nation toward civil war.

READ MORE: America's History of Slavery Began Long Before Jamestown

In 1819, the slaveholding territory of Missouri applied for admission to the Union. Northern states opposed it, feeling that Southern slaveholding states held too much power already. The Constitution allowed states to count each slave as three-fifths of a person for purposes of determining population, and therefore, the number of Congressional representatives the state was entitled to. This had given the South an advantage in Congress.

Slavery had already been creeping into the Northwest Territory (the area between the Ohio River and the Great Lakes), even though the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 prohibited slavery there. Southerners migrating into that region took their slaves with them under the guise of indentured servitude, which was legal in the area. Northerners, most of whom favored "free states" in which slavery was prohibited, feared slavery would become de facto in the states carved from the Northwest Territory. The admission of Missouri, which came from lands obtained through the Louisiana Purchase and lay outside the Old Northwest, added to their fears of the expansion of slavery.

Representative Jame Tallmadge, Jr., of New York offered two amendments to the Missouri statehood bill on Feb. 13, 1819. The first prohibited any further importation of slaves into Missouri the second required gradual emancipation for the slaves already there. The House passed his amendments, along strictly regional voting lines, but the Senate, where representation of free and slaveholding states were balanced, rejected it.

Congressional debates on the issue raged for a year until the District of Maine, originally part of Massachusetts, sought statehood. Henry Clay of Kentucky, the Speaker of the House, maintained that if Maine were to be admitted, then Missouri should be, too. From this came the notion that states be admitted in pairs, one slave and one free. Senator Jesse B. Thomas of Illinois proposed an amendment allowing slavery below the parallel 36 degrees, 30 minutes in the vast Louisiana Purchase territory, but prohibiting it above that line. That parallel was chosen because it ran approximately along the southern border of Missouri.

Missouri Compromise

In 1812, the "Lower Louisiana" was admitted to the Union as a state, "Upper Louisiana" was organized into the Missouri Territory. By 1818, Missouri had reached the point that its citizens petitioned for admission themselves. Since the institution of slavery had been an established element in Missouri since French colonial times, this would have created a situation where the U.S. Senate would have a majority of Southern slaveholding states. That prospect was extremely unwelcome in the North. In addition to the economic question of slavery, there was a moral issue. Many in the north felt that the federal government should not allow slavery in its new territories and should move along a path to eventually destroy it. The House of Representatives put forward an amendment to the admission of Missouri that would prohibit the introduction of slaves into Missouri and freeing the children of slaves at the age of 25. Passed by the House in February, 1819, the Tallmadge Amendment was defended in the Senate by Rufus King of New York, who argued that the Constitution allowed the federal government to determine the conditions under which states would be admitted, and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 provided the precedent for restricting or forbidding slavery. Southern opposition in the Senate, however, doomed the Tallmadge Amendment to defeat. The Senate passed the bill admitting Missouri without the amendment, but it was rejected by the House, pushing the controversy into 1820. Later in the year, Maine held a convention and requested admission as a "free" state. The Great Compromiser, Henry Clay, proposed the following elements of a sectional compromise:

  • That Missouri be admitted to the Union as a slave state (as the population of the territory apparently desired).
  • That slavery was to be prohibited from the new American territories in the Louisiana Purchase north of 36?30’ north latitude (the southern boundary of Missouri). States to the south of the line (the new Arkansas Territory) would decide the slavery issue for themselves.
  • That Maine (formerly part of Massachusetts) be admitted to the Union as a free state.

Missouri Senate passes contentious utility bill after two members stage shouting match

The Missouri Senate has passed a sweeping bill by a 26-5 margin that would change the way regulated utilities negotiate rates with the state.

The key components of the measure allow investor-owned utilities to invest more than $1 billion in infrastructure upgrades while limiting their rate hikes to customers.

A compromise was reached on the bill’s language after a 27-hour filibuster last week. Before the bill even came up for a final vote Thursday, Senators began arguing after two members who had initially agreed to the compromise let on during floor debate Wednesday that they were unhappy with the final product.

The bickering Thursday began when Republican Senator Denny Hoskins of Warrensburg started asking his colleagues who had backed away from the compromise why they had done so.

When Democratic Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal of University City refused to engage him, Hoskins moved on to a vocal opponent of utility legislation in recent years, Republican Senator Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph, who he chastised for breaking the compromise agreement.

“You are only as good as your word,” said Hoskins. “And when you break your word and go against something you had agreed to, I don’t even know what to say.”

Schaaf responded by claiming the bill’s sponsor had threatened to use a technical maneuver to sideline his objections and force a vote if he didn’t agree to the compromise.

“You don’t go and say, ‘Well, we have the votes to sit you down and force a super bad thing down your throat’, and expect that to be called a compromise,” said Schaaf. “It’s not. That’s extortion. That’s where you go, and you hold a gun to someone’s head and say, ‘Give me all your money or I will shoot you’.”

According to Schaaf and several other Senators, Republican Ed Emery of Lamar, the bill’s sponsor, said during the filibuster negotiations that he would use the technical maneuver to force a vote on the bill, even though it was discovered later that he may not have had the necessary votes to ensure the measure would pass during such a vote.

Republican Senator Jeanie Riddle of Mokane asked the presiding president overseeing the floor debate to instruct Schaaf to stop using the term “gun to the head” in light of the Wednesday shootings at a Florida high school, but she was gaveled for speaking out of turn.

After Schaaf and Hoskins finished their hotly contested exchange, Republican Senator Bob Dixon of Springfield spoke for several minutes about how he was troubled by the hostility and combative nature of negotiations and debate over the bill. He urged his colleagues to be civil and respect the voting public.

“I would hope that we can move on,” said Dixon. “And if we can’t have respect for one another, lets, at the very least, respect one another’s constituents.”

Like several other Senators, including Schaaf, Dixon expressed displeasure with a tactic thought to have been used by Senator Emery.

After Dixon finished speaking, Republican Gary Romine of Farmington, another vocal opponent of the bill, suggested the Senate move on to other bills and allow the House to tackle the utility legislation.

Interestingly, the measure approved by the Senate hours later is exactly the same legislation a House committee discussed in a hearing on Wednesday evening.

That bill contains a provision that was added to the Senate version just before it’s final passage.

The “emergency clause” as it was referred to in the Senate, allows the Public Service Commission to cut utility rates through an accelerated process in order to recover and pass on to customers millions of dollars being funneled to the utilities after Congress reduced the corporate tax rate from 35%-21% in January.

Ameren Missouri customers will see a drop in their rates within 90 days, reflecting a total of more than $100 million annually that the company would have otherwise realized from the corporate tax cut.

Among the contentious provisions in the utility bill is a complex mechanism known as Plant In Service Accounting (PISA) which allows the utility to go back in time when accounting for costs.

Two other provisions are opposed by watchdog groups such as St. Louis based Consumers Council.

One, called “decoupling”, discontinues the practice of charging customers based on their utility usage. The other offers a 40% discount to some of the largest utility users, typically industrial plants.

The bill allows the utilities to spend large sums to upgrade their power grids, while it also caps rate hikes to consumers at 2.85% per year.

The legislation, if passed by the full General Assembly and signed by the governor, would apply to investor-owned utilities in the state, namely Ameren Missouri, Kansas City Power & Light and Empire District, as well as St. Louis based natural gas provider Spire Inc.

23c. The Missouri Compromise

Henry Clay was first elected to the Senate in 1807, before his 30th birthday. This was against the rules set up in the Constitution that stipulated 30 as the youngest age for a Senator.

Most white Americans agreed that western expansion was crucial to the health of the nation. But what should be done about slavery in the West?

The contradictions inherent in the expansion of white male voting rights can also be seen in problems raised by western migration. The new western states were at the forefront of more inclusive voting rights for white men, but their development simultaneously devastated the rights of Native American communities. Native American rights rarely became a controversial public issue. This was not the case for slavery, however, as northern and southern whites differed sharply about its proper role in the west.

The incorporation of new western territories into the United States made slavery an explicit concern of national politics. Balancing the interests of slave and free states had played a role from the very start of designing the federal government at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. The crucial compromise there that sacrificed the rights of African Americans in favor of a stronger union among the states exploded once more in 1819 when Missouri petitioned to join the United States as a slave state.

The South Carolina State Arsenal, nicknamed the "Old Citadel," was constructed after Denmark Vesey's slave uprising in Charleston, South Carolina.

In 1819, the nation contained eleven free and eleven slave states creating a balance in the U.S. senate. Missouri's entrance threatened to throw this parity in favor of slave interests. The debate in Congress over the admission of Missouri was extraordinarily bitter after Congressman James Tallmadge from New York proposed that slavery be prohibited in the new state.

The debate was especially sticky because defenders of slavery relied on a central principle of fairness. How could the Congress deny a new state the right to decide for itself whether or not to allow slavery? If Congress controlled the decision, then the new states would have fewer rights than the original ones.

Henry Clay , a leading congressman, played a crucial role in brokering a two-part solution known as the Missouri Compromise . First, Missouri would be admitted to the union as a slave state, but would be balanced by the admission of Maine , a free state, that had long wanted to be separated from Massachusetts. Second, slavery was to be excluded from all new states in the Louisiana Purchase north of the southern boundary of Missouri. People on both sides of the controversy saw the compromise as deeply flawed. Nevertheless, it lasted for over thirty years until the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 determined that new states north of the boundary deserved to be able to exercise their sovereignty in favor of slavery if they so choose.

Democracy and self-determination could clearly be mobilized to extend an unjust institution that contradicted a fundamental American commitment to equality. The Missouri crisis probed an enormously problematic area of American politics that would explode in a civil war. As Thomas Jefferson observed about the Missouri crisis, "This momentous question, like a fire-bell in the night, awakened and filled me with terror."

In an attempt to keep a legislative balance between the pro- and anti- slavery factions, the Missouri Compromise delineated which states would be free and which would not.

African Americans obviously opposed slavery and news of some congressional opposition to its expansion circulated widely within slave communities. Denmark Vesey , a free black living in Charleston, South Carolina, made the most dramatic use of the white disagreement about the future of slavery in the west. Vesey quoted the Bible as well as congressional debates over the Missouri issue to denounce slavery from the pulpit of the African Methodist Episcopal church where he was a lay minister. Along with a key ally named Gullah Jack , Vesey organized a slave rebellion in 1822 that planned to capture the Charleston arsenal and seize the city long enough for its black population to escape to the free black republic of Haiti.

The rebellion was betrayed just days before its planned starting date and resulted in the execution of thirty-five organizers as well as the destruction of the black church where Vesey preached. Slaveholders were clearly on the defensive with antislavery sentiment building in the north and undeniable opposition among African Americans in the south. As one white Charlestonian complained, "By the Missouri question, our slaves thought, there was a charter of liberties granted them by Congress."

African Americans knew that they could not rely upon whites to end slavery, but they also recognized that the increasing divide between north and south and their battle over western expansion could open opportunities for blacks to exploit. The most explosive of these future black actions would be Nat Turner's Virginia slave revolt in 1831.


The Era of Good Feelings, closely associated with the administration of President James Monroe (1817–1825), was characterized by the dissolution of national political identities. [8] [9] With the Federalists discredited by the Hartford Convention against the War of 1812, they were in decline nationally, and the "amalgamated" or hybridized Republicans adopted key Federalist economic programs and institutions, further erasing party identities and consolidating their victory. [10] [11]

The economic nationalism of the Era of Good Feelings authorized the Tariff of 1816 and incorporated the Second Bank of the United States, which portended an abandonment of the Jeffersonian political formula for strict construction of the Constitution, a limited central government, and commitments to the primacy of Southern agrarian interests. [12] [13] The end of opposition parties also meant the end of party discipline and the means to suppress internecine factional animosities. Rather than produce political harmony, as President James Monroe had hoped, amalgamation had led to intense rivalries among Jeffersonian Republicans. [14]

It was amid that period's "good feelings" during which Republican Party discipline was in abeyance that the Tallmadge Amendment surfaced. [15]

The immense Louisiana Purchase territories had been acquired through federal executive action, followed by Republican legislative authorization in 1803 under President Thomas Jefferson. [16]

Prior to its purchase in 1803, the governments of Spain and France had sanctioned slavery in the region. Enslaved African Americans accounted for twenty to thirty percent of the non-Native American population in and around the main settlements of St. Louis and Ste. Genevieve. In 1804, Congress limited the further introduction of enslaved men and women to those introduced by actual settlers.

In addition, in appointing the officials from the Indiana Territory to Upper Louisiana (as Missouri was known until 1812), Congress heightened concerns that it intended to extend some sort of prohibition on slavery's growth across the river. White Missourians objected to these restrictions, and in 1805, Congress withdrew them. The final version of the 1805 territorial ordinance omitted all references to slavery. Under the 1805 ordinance, slavery existed legally in Missouri (which included all of the Louisiana Purchase outside of Louisiana) by force of local law and territorial statute, rather than by territorial ordinance, as was the case in other territories where slavery was permitted.

It is unknown if Congress purposely omitted any reference to slavery or Article VI in the 1805 territorial ordinance. Nonetheless, over the next fifteen years, some restrictionists – including Amos Stoddard - claimed that this omission was deliberate, intended to allow the United States government to prohibit slavery in Missouri if circumstances proved more favorable in the future. [17]

In 1812, Louisiana, a major cotton producer and the first to be carved from the Louisiana Purchase, had entered the Union as a slave state. Predictably, Missourians were adamant that slave labor should not be molested by the federal government. [18] In the years after the War of 1812, the region, now known as Missouri Territory, experienced rapid settlement, led by slaveholding planters. [19]

Agriculturally, the land in the lower reaches of the Missouri River, from which that new state would be formed, had no prospects as a major cotton producer. Suited for diversified farming, the only crop regarded as promising for slave labor was hemp culture. On that basis, southern planters immigrated with their chattel to Missouri, and the slave population rose from 3,101 in 1810 to 10,000 in 1820. Out of the total population of 67,000, slaves represented about 15%. [20]

By 1819, the population of Missouri Territory was approaching the threshold that would qualify it for statehood. An enabling act was provided to Congress empowering territorial residents to select convention delegates and draft a state constitution. [21] The admission of Missouri Territory as a slave state was expected to be more-or-less routine. [22] [23]

When the Missouri statehood bill was opened for debate in the House of Representatives on February 13, 1819, early exchanges on the floor proceeded without serious incident. [24] In the course of the proceedings, however, Representative James Tallmadge Jr. of New York "tossed a bombshell into the Era of Good Feelings" with the following amendments: [25]

Provided, that the further introduction of slavery or involuntary servitude be prohibited, except for the punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been fully convicted and that all children born within the said State after the admission thereof into the Union, shall be free at the age of twenty-five years. [26]

A political outsider, the 41-year-old Tallmadge conceived his amendment based on a personal aversion to slavery. He had played a leading role in accelerating the emancipation of the remaining slaves in New York in 1817 and had campaigned against Illinois's Black Codes. Though ostensibly free-soil, the new state had a constitution that permitted indentured servitude and a limited form of slavery. [27] [28] As a New York Republican, Tallmadge maintained an uneasy association with Governor DeWitt Clinton, a former Republican who depended on support from ex-Federalists. Clinton's faction was hostile to Tallmadge for his spirited defense of General Andrew Jackson's contentious invasion of Florida. [29] [30]

After proposing the amendment, Tallmadge fell ill, and Representative John W. Taylor, a fellow New York Republican, stepped in to fill the void. Taylor also had antislavery credentials since in February 1819, he had proposed a similar slave restriction for Arkansas Territory in the House, which was defeated 89–87. [31] In a speech before the House during the debate on the Tallmadge Amendment, Taylor was highly critical of southern lawmakers, who frequently voiced their dismay that slavery was entrenched and necessary to their existence, and he warned that Missouri's fate would "decide the destiny of millions" in future states in the American West. [32]

The controversy on the amendment and the future of slavery in the nation created much dissension among Jeffersonian Republicans and polarized the party. [33] [34] Northern Jeffersonian Republicans formed a coalition across factional lines with remnants of the Federalists. Southern Jeffersonians united in almost unanimous opposition. The ensuing debates pitted the northern "restrictionists", antislavery legislators who wished to bar slavery from the Louisiana Territory and all future states and territories, and southern "anti-restrictionists", proslavery legislators who rejected any interference by Congress that inhibited slavery expansion. [35] The sectional "rupture" over slavery among Jeffersonian Republicans, first exposed in the Missouri Crisis, had its roots in the Revolutionary generation. [36]

Five Representatives in Maine were opposed to spreading slavery into new territories. Dr. Brian Purnell, a professor of Africana Studies and US history at Bowdoin College, writes in Portland Magazine, "Martin Kinsley, Joshua Cushman, Ezekiel Whitman, Enoch Lincoln, and James Parker—wanted to prohibit slavery's spread into new territories. In 1820, they voted against the Missouri Compromise and against Maine's independence. In their defense, they wrote that, if the North, and the nation, embarked upon this Compromise—and ignored what experiences proved, namely that southern slaveholders were determined to dominate the nation through ironclad unity and perpetual pressure to demand more land, and more slaves—then these five Mainers declared Americans "shall deserve to be considered a besotted and stupid race, fit, only, to be led blindfold and worthy, only, to be treated with sovereign contempt". [37]

Jeffersonian Republicanism and slavery Edit

The Missouri crisis marked a rupture in the Republican Ascendency, the national association of Jeffersonian Democratic-Republicans that had dominated federal politics since the War of 1812. [39]

The Founding Fathers had inserted both principled and expedient elements in the establishing documents. The Declaration of Independence in 1776 had been grounded on the claim that liberty established a moral ideal that made universal equality a common right. [40] The Revolutionary generation had formed a government of limited powers in 1787 to embody the principles in the Declaration but "burdened with the one legacy that defied the principles of 1776", human bondage. [41] In a pragmatic commitment to form the Union, the federal apparatus would forego any authority to interfere directly with the institution of slavery if it existed under local control by the states. The acknowledgment of state sovereignty provided for the participation of the states that were the most committed to slave labor. With that understanding, slaveholders had co-operated in authorizing the Northwest Ordinance in 1787 and outlawing the trans-Atlantic slave trade in 1808. [42] The Founders sanctioned slavery but did so with the implicit understanding that the slave states would take steps to relinquish the institution as opportunities arose. [43]

Southern states, after the American Revolutionary War, had regarded slavery as an institution in decline except for Georgia and South Carolina. That was manifest in the shift towards diversified farming in the Upper South the gradual emancipation of slaves in New England and more significantly in Mid-Atlantic States. In the 1790s, with the introduction of the cotton gin, to 1815, with the vast increase in demand for cotton internationally, slave-based agriculture underwent an immense revival that spread the institution westward to the Mississippi River. Antislavery elements in the South vacillated, as did their hopes for the imminent demise of human bondage. [44]

However rancorous the disputes were by southerners themselves over the virtues of a slave-based society, they united against external challenges to their institution. They believed that free states were not to meddle in the affairs of slave states. Southern leaders, virtually all of whom identified as Jeffersonian Republicans, denied that northerners had any business encroaching on matters related to slavery. Northern attacks on the institution were condemned as incitements to riot by slave populations, which was deemed to be a dire threat to white southerners' security. [45] [46]

Northern Jeffersonian Republicans embraced the Jeffersonian antislavery legacy during the Missouri debates and explicitly cited the Declaration of Independence as an argument against expanding the institution. Southern leaders, seeking to defend slavery, renounced the document's universal egalitarian applications and its declaration that "all men are created equal." [47]

"Federal ratio" in House Edit

Article 1, Section 2, of the US Constitution supplemented legislative representation in states whose residents owned slaves. Known as the Three-Fifths Clause, or the "federal ratio", three-fifths of the slave population was numerically added to the free population. That sum was used for each state to calculate congressional districts and the number of delegates to the Electoral College. The federal ratio produced a significant number of legislative victories for the South in the years before the Missouri Crisis and raised the South's influence in party caucuses, the appointment of judges, and the distribution of patronage. It is unlikely that the ratio before 1820 was decisive in affecting legislation on slavery. Indeed, with the rising northern representation in the House, the southern share of the membership had declined since the 1790s. [48] [49]

Hostility to the federal ratio had historically been the object of the Federalists, which were now nationally ineffectual, who attributed their collective decline on the "Virginia Dynasty". They expressed their dissatisfaction in partisan terms, rather than in moral condemnation of slavery, and the pro-De Witt Clinton-Federalist faction carried on the tradition by posing as antirestrictionists to advance their fortunes in New York politics. [50] [51]

Senator Rufus King of New York, a Clinton associate, was the last Federalist icon still active on the national stage, a fact that was irksome to southern Republicans. [52] A signatory to the US Constitution, he had strongly opposed the federal ratio in 1787. In the 15th Congress debates in 1819, he revived his critique as a complaint that New England and the Mid-Atlantic States suffered unduly from the federal ratio and declared himself 'degraded' (politically inferior) to the slaveholders. Federalists both in the North and the South preferred to mute antislavery rhetoric, but during the 1820 debates in the 16th Congress, King and other Federalists would expand their old critique to include moral considerations of slavery. [53] [54]

Republican James Tallmadge Jr. and the Missouri restrictionists deplored the federal ratio because it had translated into political supremacy for the South. They had no agenda to remove it from the Constitution but only to prevent its further application west of the Mississippi River. [55] [56]

As determined as southern Republicans were to secure Missouri statehood with slavery, the federal clause ratio to provide the margin of victory in the 15th Congress. Blocked by northern Republicans, largely on egalitarian grounds, with sectional support from Federalists, the statehood bill died in the Senate, where the federal ratio had no relevance. The balance of power between the sections and the maintenance of Southern pre-eminence on matters related to slavery resided in the Senate. [57] [58]

"Balance of power" in Senate Edit

Northern majorities in the House did not translate into political dominance. The fulcrum for proslavery forces resided in the Senate, where constitutional compromise in 1787 had provided for two senators per state, regardless of its population. The South, with its smaller free population than the North, benefited from that arrangement. Since 1815, sectional parity in the Senate had been achieved through paired admissions, which left the North and the South, during the application of Missouri Territory, at 11 states each. [59]

The South, voting as a bloc on measures that challenged slaveholding interests and augmented by defections from free states with southern sympathies, was able to tally majorities. The Senate stood as the bulwark and source of the Slave Power, which required admission of slave states to the Union to preserve its national primacy. [60] [61]

Missouri statehood, with the Tallmadge Amendment approved, would have set a trajectory towards a free state west of the Mississippi and a decline in southern political authority. The question as to whether the Congress was allowed to restrain the growth of slavery in Missouri took on great importance in slave states. The moral dimensions of the expansion of human bondage would be raised by northern Republicans on constitutional grounds. [62] [63]

Constitutional arguments Edit

The Tallmadge Amendment was "the first serious challenge to the extension of slavery" and raised questions concerning the interpretation of the republic's founding documents. [64]

Jeffersonian Republicans justified Tallmadge's restrictions on the grounds that Congress possessed the authority to impose territorial statutes that would remain in force after statehood was established. Representative John W. Taylor pointed to Indiana and Illinois, where their free state status conformed to antislavery provisions of the Northwest Ordinance. [65]

Further, antislavery legislators invoked Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution, which requires states to provide a republican form of government. As the Louisiana Territory was not part of the United States in 1787, they argued that introducing slavery into Missouri would thwart the egalitarian intent of the Founders. [66] [67]

Proslavery Republicans countered that the Constitution had long been interpreted as having relinquished any claim to restricting slavery in the states. The free inhabitants of Missouri in the territorial phase or during statehood had the right to establish or disestablish slavery without interference from the federal government. As to the Northwest Ordinance, southerners denied that it could serve as a lawful antecedent for the territories of the Louisiana Purchase, as the ordinance had been issued under the Articles of Confederation, rather than the US Constitution. [68]

As a legal precedent, they offered the treaty acquiring the Louisiana lands in 1803, a document that included a provision, Article 3, which extended the rights of US citizens to all inhabitants of the new territory, including the protection of property in slaves. [68] When slaveholders embraced Jeffersonian constitutional strictures on a limited central government, they were reminded that Jefferson, as president in 1803, had deviated from those precepts by wielding federal executive power to double the size of the United States, including the lands under consideration for Missouri statehood. In doing so, he set a constitutional precedent that would serve to rationalize Tallmadge's federally-imposed slavery restrictions. [69]

The 15th Congress had debates that focused on constitutional questions but largely avoided the moral dimensions raised by the topic of slavery. That the unmentionable subject had been raised publicly was deeply offensive to southern representatives and violated the long-time sectional understanding between legislators from free states and slave states. [70]

Missouri statehood confronted southern Jeffersonians with the prospect of applying the egalitarian principles espoused by the Revolutionary generation. That would require halting the spread of slavery westward and confine the institution to where it already existed. Faced with a population of 1.5 million slaves and the lucrative production of cotton, the South would abandon hopes for containment. Slaveholders in the 16th Congress, in an effort to come to grips with that paradox, resorted to a theory that called for extending slavery geographically so as to encourage its decline, which they called "diffusion". [71] [72]

On February 16, 1819, the House Committee of the Whole voted to link Tallmadge's provisions with the Missouri statehood legislation by 79–67. [73] [74] After the committee vote, debates resumed over the merits of each of Tallmadge's provisions in the enabling act. The debates in the House's 2nd session in 1819 lasted only three days. They have been characterized as "rancorous", "fiery", "bitter", "blistering", "furious" and "bloodthirsty". [75]

You have kindled a fire which all the waters of the ocean cannot put out, which seas of blood can only extinguish.

If a dissolution of the Union must take place, let it be so! If civil war, which gentlemen so much threaten, must come, I can only say, let it come!

Representatives from the North outnumbered those from the South in House membership 105 to 81. When each of the restrictionist provisions was put to the vote, they passed along sectional lines: 87 to 76 for prohibition on further slave migration into Missouri and 82 to 78 for emancipating the offspring of slaves at 25. [76] [77]

House vote on restricting slavery in Missouri
Faction Yea Nay Abs. Total
Northern Federalists 22 3 3 28
Northern Republicans 64 7 7 77
North total 86 10 9 105
South total 1 66 13 80
House total 87 76 22 185

The enabling bill was passed to the Senate, and both parts of it were rejected: 22–16 against the restriction of new slaves in Missouri (supported by five northerners, two of whom were the proslavery legislators from the free state of Illinois) and 31–7 against the gradual emancipation for slave children born after statehood. [78] House antislavery restrictionists refused to concur with the Senate proslavery anti-restrictionists, and Missouri statehood would devolve upon the 16th Congress in December 1819. [79] [80]

The Missouri Compromise debates stirred suspicions by slavery interests that the underlying purpose of the Tallmadge Amendments had little to do with opposition to the expansion of slavery. The accusation was first leveled in the House by the Republican anti-restrictionist John Holmes from the District of Maine. He suggested that Senator Rufus King's "warm" support for the Tallmadge Amendment concealed a conspiracy to organize a new antislavery party in the North, which would be composed of old Federalists in combination with disaffected antislavery Republicans. The fact that King in the Senate and Tallmadge and Tyler in the House, all New Yorkers, were among the vanguard for restriction on slavery in Missouri lent credibility to those charges. When King was re-elected to the US Senate in January 1820, during the 16th Congress debates and with bipartisan support, suspicions deepened and persisted throughout the crisis. [81] [82] Southern Jeffersonian Republican leadership, including President Monroe and ex-President Thomas Jefferson, considered it as an article of faith that Federalists, given the chance, would destabilize the Union as to restore monarchical rule in North America and "consolidate" political control over the people by expanding the functions of the federal government. Jefferson, at first unperturbed by the Missouri question, soon became convinced that a northern conspiracy was afoot, with Federalists and crypto-Federalists posing as Republicans and using Missouri statehood as a pretext. [83]

The disarray of the Republican ascendancy brought about by amalgamation made fears abound in Southerners that a Free State Party might take shape if Congress failed to reach an understanding over Missouri and slavery and possibly threaten southern pre-eminence. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts surmised that the political configuration for just such a sectional party already existed. [84] [85] That the Federalists were anxious to regain a measure of political participation in national politics was indisputable. There was no basis, however, for the charge that Federalists had directed Tallmadge in his antislavery measures, and there was nothing to indicate that a New York-based King-Clinton alliance sought to erect an antislavery party on the ruins of the Republican Party. The allegations by Southern interests for slavery of a "plot" or that of "consolidation" as a threat to the Union misapprehended the forces at work in the Missouri crisis. The core of the opposition to slavery in the Louisiana Purchase was informed by Jeffersonian egalitarian principles, not a Federalist resurgence. [86] [87]

To balance the number of slave states and free states, the northern region of Massachusetts, the District of Maine, ultimately gained admission into the United States as a free state to become the separate state of Maine. That occurred only as a result of a compromise involving slavery in Missouri and in the federal territories of the American West. [88]

The admission of another slave state would increase southern power when northern politicians had already begun to regret the Constitution's Three-Fifths Compromise. Although more than 60 percent of white Americans lived in the North, northern representatives held only a slim majority of congressional seats by 1818. The additional political representation allotted to the South as a result of the Three-Fifths Compromise gave southerners more seats in the House of Representatives than they would have had if the number was based on the free population alone. Moreover, since each state had two Senate seats, Missouri's admission as a slave state would result in more southern than northern senators. [89] A bill to enable the people of the Missouri Territory to draft a constitution and form a government preliminary to admission into the Union came before the House of Representatives in Committee of the Whole, on February 13, 1819. James Tallmadge of New York offered the Tallmadge Amendment, which forbade further introduction of slaves into Missouri and mandated that all children of slave parents born in the state after its admission to be free at the age of 25. The committee adopted the measure and incorporated it into the bill as finally passed on February 17, 1819, by the House. The Senate refused to concur with the amendment, and the whole measure was lost. [90] [91]

During the following session (1819–1820), the House passed a similar bill with an amendment, introduced on January 26, 1820, by John W. Taylor of New York, allowing Missouri into the union as a slave state. The question had been complicated by the admission in December of Alabama, a slave state, which made the number of slave and free states equal. In addition, there was a bill in passage through the House (January 3, 1820) to admit Maine as a free state. [92]

The Senate decided to connect the two measures. It passed a bill for the admission of Maine with an amendment enabling the people of Missouri to form a state constitution. Before the bill was returned to the House, a second amendment was adopted, on the motion of Jesse B. Thomas of Illinois, to exclude slavery from the Louisiana Territory north of 36°30 north, the southern boundary of Missouri, except within the limits of the proposed state of Missouri. [93]

The vote in the Senate was 24-20 for the compromise. The amendment and the bill passed in the Senate on February 17 and February 18, 1820. The House then approved the Senate compromise amendment, 90–87, with all of the opposition coming from representatives from the free states. [93] The House then approved the whole bill 134–42 with opposition from the southern states. [93]

Second Missouri Compromise Edit

The two houses were at odds on the issue of the legality of slavery but also on the parliamentary question of the inclusion of Maine and Missouri in the same bill. The committee recommended the enactment of two laws, one for the admission of Maine and the other an enabling act for Missouri. It also recommended having no restrictions on slavery but keeping the Thomas Amendment. Both houses agreed, and the measures were passed on March 5, 1820, and signed by President James Monroe on March 6.

The question of the final admission of Missouri came up during the session of 1820–1821. The struggle was revived over a clause in Missouri's new constitution, written in 1820, which required the exclusion of "free negroes and mulattoes" from the state. The influence of Kentucky Senator Henry Clay, known as "The Great Compromiser", an act of admission was finally passed if the exclusionary clause of the Missouri constitution should "never be construed to authorize the passage of any law" impairing the privileges and immunities of any U.S. citizen. That deliberately ambiguous provision is sometimes known as the Second Missouri Compromise. [94]

For decades afterward, Americans hailed the 1820 agreement as an essential compromise, almost on the sacred level of the Constitution itself. [95] Although the Civil War broke out in 1861, historians often say that the Compromise helped postpone the war. [96]

The disputes involved the competition between the southern and northern states for power in Congress and control over future territories. There were also the same factions emerging, as the Democratic-Republican Party began to lose its coherence. In an April 22 letter to John Holmes, Thomas Jefferson wrote that the division of the country created by the Compromise Line would eventually lead to the destruction of the Union: [97]

. but this momentous question, like a fire bell in the night, awakened and filled me with terror. I considered it at once as the knell of the Union. it is hushed indeed for the moment. but this is a reprieve only, not a final sentence. A geographical line, coinciding with a marked principle, moral and political, once conceived and held up to the angry passions of men, will never be obliterated and every new irritation will mark it deeper and deeper. [98] [99]

The debate over the admission of Missouri also raised the issue of sectional balance, as the country was equally divided between slave states and free states, with eleven each. To admit Missouri as a slave state would tip the balance in the Senate, which is made up of two senators per state, in favor of the slave states. That made northern states want Maine admitted as a free state. Maine was admitted in 1820, [100] and Missouri in 1821, [101] but no further states were added until 1836, when Arkansas was admitted. [102]

From the constitutional standpoint, the Missouri Compromise was important as the example of congressional exclusion of slavery from US territory acquired since the Northwest Ordinance. Nevertheless, the Compromise was deeply disappointing to blacks in both the North and the South, as it stopped the Southern progression of gradual emancipation at Missouri's southern border, and it legitimized slavery as a southern institution. [103]

The provisions of the Missouri Compromise forbidding slavery in the former Louisiana Territory north of the parallel 36°30′ north were effectively repealed by Stephen A. Douglas's Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854. The repeal of the Compromise caused outrage in the North and sparked the return to politics of Abraham Lincoln, [104] who criticized slavery and excoriated Douglas's act in his "Peoria Speech" (October 16, 1854). [105]

Senate Chronology

1787: On July 16 , Framers of the Constitution created a bicameral legislature in which the Senate represents all states equally, while the House represents states in proportion to their respective populations.

1789: On March 4, the Senate convened for the first time at New York City's Federal Hall. On April 6, it achieved its first quorum and proceeded to elect a doorkeeper, secretary, and chaplain.

1790: On December 6, Congress began a ten-year residence in Philadelphia, pending construction of a national capital in Washington, DC.

1794: On February 28, the Senate declared void the election of Albert Gallatin of Pennsylvania, the first contested election in Senate history. The Pennsylvania state legislature elected Gallatin to the United States Senate and he took the oath of office on December 2, 1793, but a petition filed with the Senate on that day alleged that Gallatin failed to satisfy the Constitutional citizenship requirement. On February 28, 1794, the Senate determined that Gallatin did not meet the citizenship requirement and declared his election void.

1795: In December of 1795 the Senate opened its legislative sessions to the public. The previous year, the Senate held its first public session to determine whether to seat Albert Gallatin, senator-elect from Pennsylvania, and voted to end the practice of holding legislative sessions behind closed doors.

1795: On December 15, John Rutledge became the first Supreme Court nominee to be rejected by the Senate.

1797: On March 25, the President exercised his right, for the first time, to call an "extraordinary session" of Congress.

1797: William Blount of Tennessee became the first senator to be expelled on July 8.

1798: The Senate convened its first impeachment trial&mdashof former Senator William Blount&mdashon December 17.

1800: The Senate took up residence in the north wing of the unfinished Capitol in Washington, D.C. on November 17, and achieved its first quorum in the new national capital on November 21.

1802: On January 5, the Senate permitted admission of stenographers and note takers to the chamber floor.

1804: On March 12, the Senate convicted Federal Judge John Pickering and removed him from office, the first conviction following an impeachment trial.

1805: Vice President Aaron Burr delivered his farewell address to the Senate on March 2, while under indictment for the murder of Alexander Hamilton in a duel.

1807: On November 4, the Senate created a 3-member committee to audit and control the contingent expenses of the Senate, as proposed by Senator John Quincy Adams.

1814: Secretary of the Senate Samuel A. Otis died on April 22, having served as secretary for twenty-five years without missing a day on the job.

1814: During the War of 1812, British troops set fire to the Capitol building on August 24.

1816: The Senate established its system of permanent (standing) committees.

1818: The Senate swore in a 28-year-old member on November 16, violating the Constitution's requirement that senators be at least 30 years old. John H. Eaton (R-TN) still holds the record for the youngest senator.

1819: On December 6, the Senate occupied its newly reconstructed chamber that will serve as its home until 1859.

1820: On March 5, the Senate agreed to the "Missouri Compromise."

1824: The first issue of Register of Debates in Congress appeared on December 6, providing the first consistent coverage of Senate debates.

1824: On December 9, the Senate received the Marquis de Lafayette, who was given a seat of honor to the right of the presiding officer.

1825: On March 9, the Senate defeated a treaty with Colombia on suppression of the African slave trade.

1826: Funeral services for Senator John Gaillard of South Carolina were held in the Senate Chamber, with burial at Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C., representing the first public payment of funeral expenses for a senator who died in office.

1827: On December 17, the Senate directed its secretary to "cause seats to be prepared for the accommodation of the Reporters of the proceedings of the Senate." Reporters recording the proceedings for the Register of Debates in Congress had complained that their inability to hear distinctly resulted in numerous errors producing "great anxiety among those whose interests seemed likely to be affected."

1829: The Senate appointed its first page on December 7&ndashnine-year-old Grafton Hanson, the grandson of Senate Sergeant at Arms Mountjoy Bayly.

1833: On March 19, the Senate returned to an earlier practice of electing committees by ballot of all members.

1834: On March 28, the Senate "censured" President Andrew Jackson for usurping congressional power. When Jackson's allies regained control of the Senate in 1837, they "expunged" the censure resolution.

1834: For the first time, on June 24, the Senate rejected a cabinet nomination&mdashthat of Roger Taney to be treasury secretary.

1835: On December 7, the Senate for the first time organized its committee system on the principle that the majority party should chair the major committees and control a majority of the seats on most panels.

1836: The Senate reserved one-third of its chamber's circular gallery on February 17 for the exclusive use of women.

1836: On March 15, the Senate confirmed Roger B. Taney as Chief Justice of the United States.

1841: The Senate conducted its first continuous filibuster on March 5, over the issue of dismissal of the printers of the Senate. The filibuster continued until March 11. The first extended filibuster, debating the establishment of a national bank, began on June 21 and lasted fourteen days.

1841: On July 8, the Senate amended Rule 47, removing reporters from the floor of the Senate chamber and placing them in the eastern gallery, then after known as the "press gallery."

1845: David Levy Yulee (D-FL) became the first Jewish senator to serve in the U.S. Senate on July 1.

1846: Members began to sit together in the Senate chamber according to party affiliation.

1846: The Senate began to make committee assignments based on recommendations of its political party caucuses rather than separate balloting of the full Senate.

1847: On December 3, the Senate chamber was lit with gas for the first time, providing "light enough to write by and read the finest print in any part of the chamber."

1848: The Senate arrested New York Herald correspondent John Nugent on March 26, in a futile effort to get him to reveal who leaked the still-secret treaty ending the war with Mexico. After several weeks of confinement in the Committee on Territories room, with evening trips to the Sergeant-at-Arm's home for dinner and a night's sleep, Nugent was set free on April 28.

1850: Senator Daniel Webster delivered one of the most notable speeches in Senate history on March 7. His classic three-hour oration set forth a defense of the Union and called on northerners to respect slavery in the South. Moderates in all sections praised his remarks, while northern abolitionists charged he had sold his soul to the devil.

1853: The Senate readopted Rule 34 on December 12, specifying for the first time the number of members specifically assigned to each committee.

1855: The Senate allowed its major committees to hire clerical staff.

1856: Senator Charles Sumner delivered his "Crime Against Kansas" speech on May 19, prompting the violent attack on his person by Representative Preston Brooks on May 22.

1859: The Senate occupied its current chamber for the first time on January 4.

1859: On September 16, Senator David Broderick became the first and only sitting senator to die in a duel.

1861: Jefferson Davis delivered his farewell address to the Senate on January 21 before leaving the chamber to become president of the Confederacy.

1864: On January 25, the Senate adopted a rule requiring senators and the Secretary of the Senate to take a loyalty oath.

1866: The Senate passed legislation on July 25, regulating election of senators by state legislatures.

1867: On March 6, in a move toward greater institutional efficiency, the Senate created a Committee on Appropriations , so that legislative committees would no longer be responsible for appropriating as well as authorizing funds.

1867: The Senate approved the Alaska purchase treaty on April 9.

1868: The Andrew Johnson impeachment trial began on March 30, and ended on May 16 when the Senate acquitted President Johnson by a one-vote margin.

1870: On February 23, Hiram Revels of Mississippi presented his credentials. He was sworn into office on February 25, becoming the first African American senator.

1871: In response to a growing number of contested elections, on March 10 the Senate created a Committee on Privileges and Elections to handle these contentious and often complex disputes. Four days later, the Senate sent to the committee pending cases from Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas.

1871: The Senate established its own library on August 1, independent of the Library of Congress, and appointed its first librarian, George S. Wagner.

1873: The first Congressional Record was published on March 4.

1875: On March 4, seven years after the Senate acquitted him in an impeachment trial, Andrew Johnson became the first former president to serve as a senator .

1876: The Senate acquitted Secretary of War William Belknap on August 1. Belknap is the only cabinet officer ever impeached.

1877: To allow all members of each party to sit together in the chamber, on March 5 the Senate began the practice of moving desks according to party division rather than keeping an equal number of desks on each side of the center aisle.

1879: On February 14, Blanche K. Bruce became the first African American to preside over the Senate.

1880: The Senate adopted the "Anthony Rule" on February 5, allowing senators to speak no more than five minutes on certain measures before voting. This was the Senate's first effort to add a cloture provision to its rules.

1881: On January 14, the Senate agreed to "cause a telephone to be placed at some convenient point, for the use of the Senate, in connection with the general telephone system of the city of Washington."

1884: For the first time, the Senate provided all members with clerical staff.

1884: On July 5, the Senate directed the Sergeant at Arms and the Architect of the Capitol to rent suitable rooms outside the Capitol for committees and subcommittees&ndashthey decided on the Maltby Building.

1886: Presidential Succession Act of January 19 removed the President Pro Tempore from the presidential line of succession (until 1947 ).

1888: On February 22, the tradition of the reading of George Washington's farewell address began. It became an annual event beginning in 1893.

1895: Assistant Doorkeeper Isaac Bassett died on December 18. Bassett began his Senate service in 1831 as a page and after 1860 became widely identified as keeper of the Senate's historical lore.

1900: On April 6, the Senate revised Rule I to allow for appointment of a presiding officer by the president pro tempore or another senator in the event of the vice president's death.

1903: The Senate Democratic Conference began keeping minutes of its closed-door meetings on March 16.

1904: On April 28, Congress authorized construction of a fireproof Senate office building.

1906: On February 17, novelist David Graham Phillips' "Treason of the Senate" series began publication in Cosmopolitan magazine. This investigative series detailed the relationship between senators and corporate interests, and was one factor leading to the direct election reform of the Progressive era.

1906: Congress authorized funds on February 26 for construction of a "subway" connecting the Capitol and Senate office building.

1906: On noon of July 31 the cornerstone was laid for what is now known as the Russell Senate Office Building.

1907: Charles Curtis of Kansas became the first Native American senator. Curtis was part Kaw Indian, his mother was the granddaughter of Kansa-Kaw Chief, White Plume.

1909: The Senate opened its first permanent office building, which in 1972 was named in honor of Senator Richard B. Russell (D-GA).

1912: On April 22, the Senate Commerce Committee held subcommittee hearings to investigate the Titanic disaster. The committee issued its report on May 28.

1913: On March 5, John W. Kern became the first officially designated Democratic floor leader.

1913: The Constitution was amended (Seventeenth Amendment) to provide for direct popular election of senators, ending the system of election by individual state legislatures.

1914: The Senate adopted a rule on March 9 forbidding smoking on the floor of the Senate because Senator Ben Tillman, recovering from a stroke, found the smoke irritating.

1917: President Woodrow Wilson delivered his "Peace Without Victory" speech in the Senate Chamber on January 22. He returned two years later to deliver the Treaty of Versailles to the Senate.

1917: The Senate adopted a rule (cloture) to limit filibusters.

1918: On November 5, Jeannette Rankin became the first woman of a major party to run (unsuccessfully) for a Senate seat. Rankin was currently serving as a member of the House of Representatives.

1920: On March 1, Public Law 66-190 became the first statute to be printed on paper instead of parchment.

1920: On November 2, Warren G. Harding became the first incumbent senator to be elected president of the United States.

1922: On October 3, Rebecca Felton of Georgia was appointed to fill a vacant Senate seat, becoming the first female senator. She took the oath of office on November 21, and served just 24 more hours before relinquishing the seat to duly elected senator Walter George.

1923: On October 22, the Committee on Public Lands and Surveys began a series of hearings to investigate the leasing of government oil reserves in Wyoming to oil men and developers. This became known as the "Teapot Dome" investigation.

1925: Senate Republicans officially designated their floor leader for the first time&ndashCharles Curtis (R-KS)&ndashon March 5.

1925: Harlan Fiske Stone became the first Supreme Court nominee to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

1926: Smith W. Brookhart (R-IA) became the first previously seated senator to be unseated following a recount of election ballots.

1927: In McGrain v. Daugherty, the U.S. Supreme Court firmly established the general power of congressional committees to compel testimony from witnesses.

1927: On December 5, Democratic Leader Joseph T. Robinson (D-AR) started the tradition of party floor leaders sitting at the front-row, center-aisle desk in the Senate chamber.

1928: Octaviano Larrazolo (R-NM) became the first Hispanic senator on December 7.

1929: The first radio broadcast from the Senate chamber occurred on March 4, in connection with the vice presidential inauguration ceremony.

1932: On January 12, Hattie Ophelia Wyatt Caraway (D-AR) became the first woman elected to the Senate. Reelected twice, she served until 1945.

1933: On March 9, the Senate passed the Emergency Banking Act after only several hours of debate.

1935: On July 1, the Senate established the office of the Senate Parliamentarian and promoted journal clerk Charles Watkins to the new position. He continued as journal clerk for two more years, serving in both positions. Watkins remained parliamentarian until his retirement in 1964.

1935: Senator Huey P. Long (D-LA) was assassinated in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on September 10.

1937: On March 25, 1937, the Senate agreed to transfer its historical records to the newly opened National Archives. Previously, Senate clerks had kept official records in the Capitol's attic and basement store rooms where they became victim to vermin, moisture, and souvenir hunters.

1937: On August 13, Vice President John Nance Garner announced a policy of priority recognition to the majority leader and and then the minority leader in the Senate chamber.

1939: The Senate passed a resolution providing that "the Chaplain shall open each day's session of the Senate with prayer."

1939: Columbia Pictures released Frank Capra's film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington . Forty-five senators attended a world premiere of the film on October 17, held at Washington's Constitution Hall.

1941: On March 1, a Senate resolution created The Truman Committee, the Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program.

1941: On December 26, Congress held a joint meeting in the Senate chamber for an address by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

1943: On October 19, Hattie Caraway (D-AR) became the first woman to preside over the Senate.

1945: President Harry S. Truman addressed the Senate on the United Nations charter on July 2.

1946: President Harry S. Truman signed the Legislative Reorganization Act, which reformed the committee system, sweeping away obsolete committees, eliminating redundancy in committee work, and establishing an effective congressional staff system.

1947: Implementing aspects of the Reorganization Act, each member and committee hired professional staff for the first time.

1947: On January 2, the Senate established the Committee on Armed Services.

1947: On March 18, 1947, the Senate Rules Committee gave press gallery accreditation to Louis R. Lautier, making him the first African-American reporter to sit in that gallery in seventy years.

1948: Margaret Chase Smith (R-ME) became the first woman elected to both houses of Congress.

1948: On November 2, Russell Long of Louisiana became the first senator to win a seat previously occupied by both his father (Huey Long) and mother (Rose Long).

1949: A major remodeling project began in the Senate chamber.

1950: On February 9, in a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) first raised charges that Communists had infiltrated federal government agencies.

1950: On June 1, Senator Margaret Chase Smith (R-ME) delivered her "Declaration of Conscience" speech, attacking&ndashwithout naming&ndashSenator Joseph McCarthy for his anti-communist tactics, referring to them as "vilification" and "smear."

1953: William Knowland became the youngest Majority Leader in Senate history, at age 45. Lyndon Baines Johnson became the youngest Democratic leader in Senate history, also at age 45.

1954: On April 22, the Senate began a 55-day series of "Army-McCarthy" hearings . Television transformed the hearings into a national spectacle.

1954: On November 2, Hazel Hempel Abel (R-Nebraska) became the first woman senator to succeed another woman (Eva Bowring).

1954: The Senate "condemned" Senator Joseph McCarthy on December 2.

1955: On January 21, the Senate paid tribute to seven employees, each with more than fifty years of service, including Charles Watkins (Parliamentarian and journal clerk since 1904), Paul Johnson (restaurant head waiter since 1900), Arthur Cook (assistant Architect of the Capitol, 1897), Charles Alden (assistant superintendent of the Senate office buildings, 1900), Lillian Taylor (architectural clerk, 1901), James Preston (Senate registration clerk, 1897), and James Murphy (chief reporter of debates since 1896).

1956: The Senate Republican Policy Committee commenced weekly luncheon meetings on January 17.

1957: On August 28-29, Senator J. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina delivered the longest speech in Senate history. Filibustering against the 1957 Civil Rights Act, Thurmond spoke for a record-breaking 24 hours 18 minutes.

1957: Five senators were chosen as "most outstanding" by a special Senate committee, chaired by Senator John Kennedy. When special portraits were commissioned for the Senate Reception Room, they became known as the "Famous Five."

1958: The Senate opened its second office building, which in 1972 was named in honor of Senator Everett Dirksen (R-IL).

1959: The Senate unveiled portraits of the Famous Five in the Senate Reception Room: John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Robert La Follette, Sr., and Robert A. Taft, Sr.

1959: Hiram L. Fong (R-HI) became the first senator of Chinese-American ancestry on July 29.

1964: On June 10, the Senate ended a lengthy filibuster, allowing for passage of the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964.

1965: The Select Committee on Standards and Conduct was created on July 9, forerunner of the current Select Committee on Ethics.

1968: Senator Robert F. Kennedy died from the effects of an assassin's bullet on June 6, while campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination.

1968: On September 6, Senator Margaret Chase Smith of Maine missed her first roll call vote in thirteen years. Since 1955 she had cast 2,941 consecutive roll call votes. The missed vote was due to the Senator's hospitalization in New York.

1971: Paulette Desell and Ellen McConnel, both sixteen years old, became the Senate's first female pages.

1972: Supreme Court decides Gravel vs. U.S. , providing immunity from prosecution for Senator Mike Gravel who read the secret "Pentagon Papers" into the public record. Decision based on the Constitution's "Speech and Debate Clause."

1973: The Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities (the Watergate Committee) opened public hearings.

1974: Television records Vice President Nelson Rockefeller being sworn into office in the Senate Chamber.

1974: The Senate Budget Committee was established.

1974: The Senate provided that the "Daniel Webster Desk" be assigned to the senior senator from New Hampshire.

1975: The Senate voted to open committee meetings to the public.

1975: Senate revised cloture rule to allow three-fifths of the senators voting to end debate rather than two-thirds.

1975: Senator Mike Mansfield of Montana set the record for longest-serving Majority Leader, having held that post for sixteen years.

1975: Senate opened all committee meetings to the public.

1976: The Old Senate Chamber is restored and reopened for the National Bicentennial.

1977: The [Frank] Church Committee investigation of the CIA led to creation of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

1977: Senate Select Committee on Ethics is established, which adopted the "Code of Official Conduct for Members, Officers, and Employees of the United States Senate."

1978: Senate debates on the Panama Canal Treaty broadcasted over National Public Radio.

1978: Senate began requiring public financial disclosure by all members, candidates, officers, and certain employees.

1980: Senator Robert C. Byrd began a series of hour-long lectures to the Senate on the institution's history and traditions. By 1989, he had delivered more than one hundred addresses.

1981: First change in majority party control in twenty-six years.

1982: The Senate opened its third office building, named in honor of Senator Philip A. Hart of Michigan.

1983: Terrorists explode a bomb at 11:00 p.m. on the second floor of the U.S. Capitol, outside the Senate chamber, causing $250,000 in damage.

1985: Jo-Anne Coe became the first female Secretary of the Senate.

1986: Regular television coverage (C-Span 2) of Senate floor proceedings began.

1987: The Senate participates in a joint committee to investigate the Iran-Contra affair.

1987: The Senate established the Office of Senate Security, to replace the Office of Classified National Security Information.

1987: C. Abbott Saffold became the first female Democratic Party Secretary.

1989: The Senate convened in the Old Senate Chamber on April 6, 1989, to celebrate its 200th birthday.

1991: Martha Pope became the first female Senate Sergeant at Arms . In 1994, Pope became secretary of the Senate, the first woman to serve in both positions.

1993: On January 5, Carol Moseley-Braun of Illinois became the first African-American female to serve in the U.S. Senate.

1993: The Supreme Court ruled in Walter Nixon v. United States that the Senate's power to try impeachments is not subject to judicial review.

1995: Senate Republicans adopted a rule limiting the party's committee chairmen to a six-year term.

1995: Senator Nancy Kassebaum became first woman to chair a major standing committee. (Senator Hattie Caraway chaired the Committee on Enrolling Bills in 1933.)

1995: Senate Republicans adopted a term limit on committee chairships, limiting committee chairs and ranking members to a six-year term.

1995: The Senate launched its first home page on the World Wide Web&

1995: Elizabeth Letchworth became the first female Republican Party Secretary.

1996: Senate employees gained collective bargaining rights under the 1995 Congressional Accountability Act.

1997: The Senate's membership, for the first time, included nine women.

1998: Senator John Glenn returned to space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery .

1999: The Senate held an impeachment trial of President William Clinton. Trial began on January 14, and the Senate voted on articles of impeachment, ending the trial with acquittal, on February 12.

1999: The Senate Commission on Art created the Senate Leadership Portrait Collection to honor presidents pro tempore and majority and minority leaders. Interest in memorializing Senate leaders had been sparked by the Leader's Lecture Series, in which former leaders share their insights with current and past members of the Senate. Senator Howard Baker was the honored guest at the leader's lecture in 1998 when he spoke about his years as majority leader. A portrait of Baker, painted by Herbert Elmer Abrams, was donated to the Senate by the Everett M. Dirksen Congressional Center in 2000, and became the first portrait acquired for the new series.

1999: On November 10, a Senate session was staffed entirely by women for the first time.

2000: The Senate approved the addition of two new portraits, to join the Famous Five in the Senate Reception Room, creating The Famous Seven.

2000: On November 7, Hillary Rodham Clinton became the first "First Lady of the United States" to be elected to the Senate.

2001: Following the 2000 election, the Senate was divided evenly&ndash50/50&ndashbetween the two parties, Republicans and Democrats. From January 3 to January 20, the Democrats held the majority, thanks to the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Al Gore. When Dick Cheney became Vice President on January 20, 2001, the Republicans regained majority status and held it until June 6, 2001, when Senator James Jeffords' switch from Republican to independent status returned the majority to the Democrats.

2001: Four more women became senators on January 3, bringing the total to a record-setting thirteen.

2001: Alfonso E. Lenhart became the first African American to serve as Senate Sergeant at Arms.

2001: A terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon forced a temporary evacuation of the U.S. Capitol and Senate office buildings.

2001: On October 17, two days after a letter containing anthrax was opened in the office of Senator Tom Daschle, Senate leadership closed the Hart Senate Office Building. The building remained closed for remediation for three months, displacing fifty senators and hundreds of staff. The building reopened on January 22, 2002.

2002: On September 6, the United States Senate and the House of Representatives met in a commemorative joint session in New York City's Federal Hall. A tribute to the heroes and victims of September 11, 2001, the meeting also marked the return of Congress to the location of its first home. The first U.S. Congress met in an earlier Federal Hall from March 4, 1789 to August 12, 1790, before moving to Philadelphia for ten years while building its permanent home in Washington, D.C.

2002: On October 25, Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, along with his wife, daughter and three staff members, died in a plane crash while on the campaign trail.

2002: On November 7, Senator Edward Kennedy marked his 40th anniversary as a U.S. senator. For the first time, the Senate included three forty-year incumbents (also Strom Thurmond and Robert Byrd).

2002: On December 2, Senator Frank Murkowski resigned to become Governor of Alaska. On December 20, Governor Murkowski appointed his daughter, Lisa Murkowski, to fill the vacancy caused by his own resignation. They became the first father-daughter combination to serve in the Senate.

2002: Senator Strom Thurmond celebrated his 100th birthday on December 5, setting a new record as the only sitting senator to reach the century mark. Thurmond died seven months later.

2002: Following Senator Trent Lott's resignation as Republican leader on December 20, Senator William Frist of Tennessee was elected Republican leader by telephone conference call on December 23.

2004: Portraits of Senators Robert Wagner of New York and Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan were added to the Senate Reception Room, joining the " Famous Five."

2005: On January 3, Barack Obama (D-IL) became the fifth African American to serve in the U.S. Senate, and Ken Salazar (D-CO) and Mel Martinez (R-FL) brought the number of Hispanic Americans to five.

2005: On May 24, a newly commissioned portrait of former Majority Leader George J. Mitchell was unveiled and added to the Senate Leadership Portrait Collection established in 1999.

2005: A newly commissioned portrait of Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith was unveiled in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber on October 18.

2006: On January 18, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) took the oath of office, having been appointed to a vacant seat, and became the sixth Hispanic American known to have served in the U.S. Senate.

2006: On July 25, a newly commissioned portrait of former Majority Leader Robert J. Dole was unveiled and added to the Senate Leadership Portrait Collection established in 1999.

2007: On September 25, a newly commissioned portrait of Senator Robert C. Byrd , former majority leader of the Senate, was unveiled and added to the Senate Leadership Portrait Collection established in 1999.

2008: On April 22, a newly commissioned portrait of Senator Tom Daschle , former majority leader of the Senate, was unveiled and added to the Senate Leadership Portrait Collection established in 1999.

2008: On November 4, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois was elected as the 44th president of the United States, along with Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware as vice president. To date, fifteen senators had also served as president . Only twice before has a sitting senator been elected president&ndashWarren G. Harding in 1920 and John F. Kennedy in 1960.

The Missouri Compromise Becomes Law

The Missouri Compromise, after much debate, passed the Senate on March 2, 1820, and the House on February 26, 1821.

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Though the compromise measure quelled the immediate divisiveness engendered by the Missouri question, it intensified the larger regional conflict between North and South. It served notice to the North that Southerners not only did not intend for slavery to end, they wanted to expand its presence. In the South, the belief grew that Northerners were using slavery as a smokescreen behind which they could resurrect the Federalist Party and strengthen the central government at the expense of states’ rights.

For nearly 30 years, the compromise worked, with two states being admitted together, one slave, one free. Then, in 1850, California was admitted as a stand-alone free state, upsetting the balance 16&ndash15, in exchange for a Congressional guarantee no restrictions on slavery would be placed on the territories of Utah or New Mexico and passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, which required citizens of all states to return any runaway slaves to their masters. In 1857, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Congress had no right to prohibit slavery in territories, as part of the decision in the Dred Scott case. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 repealed the 36-30 dividing line for slavery in the Louisiana Purchase area.


In an effort to preserve the balance of power in Congress between slave and free states, the Missouri Compromise was passed in 1820 admitting Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a free state. Furthermore, with the exception of Missouri, this law prohibited slavery in the Louisiana Territory north of the 36° 30´ latitude line. In 1854, the Missouri Compromise was repealed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Three years later the Missouri Compromise was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott decision, which ruled that Congress did not have the authority to prohibit slavery in the territories.

Further readings

Benton, Thomas Hart. 2003. Historical and Legal Examination of that Part of the Decision of the Supreme Court ofthe United States in the Dred Scott Case…. Buffalo, N.Y.: W.S. Hein.

Finkelman, Paul. 1997. Dred Scott v. Sandford: A Brief History with Documents. Boston: Bedford Books.

O'Fallon, James M. 1998. "Under Construction: The Constitution and the Missouri Controversy." Oregon Law Review 77 (summer): 381–403.

Whitman, Sylvia. 2002. "Henry Clay & Daniel Webster: Two Pillars of the Union." Cobblestone 23 (January): 34–39.

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