Crittenden Compromise History
Crittenden Compromise: The 6 Amendments
The Crittenden Compromise was proposed on December 18, 1860, by Kentucky Senator John J. Crittenden to resolve the U.S. secession crisis of 1860–1861.
The compromise consisted of a preamble, six proposed constitutional amendments,
and four proposed Congressional resolutions. The compromise was popular among Southern delegates in the Senate. Abraham
Lincoln immediately rejected it, because he was elected on a platform that opposed the expansion of slavery. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate rejected it in 1861. The rejection paved the way for the American Civil War.
The compromise guaranteed the permanent
existence of slavery in the slave states and addressed Southern demands in regard to fugitive slaves and slavery in the District of Columbia. But the heart of the compromise was the permanent reestablishment of the
Missouri Compromise line: slavery would be prohibited north of the 36° 30′ parallel
and guaranteed south of it. The compromise, furthermore, included a clause that it could not be repealed or amended.
The Crittenden proposal consisted of the following six amendments to the Constitution:
Crittenden also offered the following four resolutions:
- Slavery would be prohibited in all territory of the United States "now held,
or hereafter acquired," north of latitude 36 degrees 30 minutes. In territory south of this line, slavery was "hereby recognized"
and could not be interfered with by Congress. Further, property in slaves was to be "protected by all the departments of the
territorial government during its continuance." States would be admitted to the Union from any territory with or without slavery
as their constitutions provided.
- Congress was forbidden to abolish slavery in places under its jurisdiction
within a slave state, such as a military post.
- Congress could not abolish slavery in the District of Columbia so long as
it existed in the adjoining states of Virginia and Maryland, and without the consent of the District's inhabitants. Compensation
would be given to owners who refused consent to abolition.
- Congress could not prohibit or interfere with the interstate slave trade.
- Congress would provide full compensation to owners of rescued fugitive slaves.
Congress was empowered to sue the county in which obstruction to the fugitive slave laws took place to recover payment; the
county, in turn, could sue "the wrong doers or rescuers" who prevented the return of the fugitive.
- No future amendment of the Constitution could change these amendments, or
authorize or empower Congress to interfere with slavery within any slave state.
- That fugitive slave laws were constitutional and should be faithfully observed
- That all state laws which impeded the operation of fugitive slave laws, the
so-called "Personal Liberty laws," were unconstitutional and should be repealed.
- That the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 should be modified (and rendered less objectionable to the North) by equalizing the fee schedule for returning or
releasing alleged fugitives, and limiting the powers of marshals to summon citizens to aid in their capture.
- That laws for the suppression of the African slave trade should be
effectively and thoroughly executed.
(Sources listed at bottom of page.)
Recommended Reading: Lincoln
and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America
(Simon & Schuster) (February 5, 2008) (Hardcover). Description: In 1858, Abraham Lincoln was known as a successful Illinois
lawyer who had achieved some prominence in state politics as a leader in the new Republican Party. Two years later, he was
elected president and was on his way to becoming the greatest chief executive in American history. What carried this one-term
congressman from obscurity to fame was the campaign he mounted for the United States Senate against the country's most formidable
politician, Stephen A. Douglas, in the summer and fall of 1858. Lincoln challenged Douglas
directly in one of his greatest speeches -- "A house divided against itself cannot stand" -- and confronted Douglas on the
questions of slavery and the inviolability of the Union in seven fierce debates. As this
brilliant narrative by the prize-winning Lincoln scholar Allen Guelzo dramatizes, Lincoln would emerge a predominant national figure, the leader of his
party, the man who would bear the burden of the national confrontation. Continued below...
the great issue between Lincoln and Douglas was slavery. Douglas was the champion of "popular sovereignty," of letting states and territories decide
for themselves whether to legalize slavery. Lincoln drew a
moral line, arguing that slavery was a violation both of natural law and of the principles expressed in the Declaration of
Independence. No majority could ever make slavery right, he argued. Lincoln lost that Senate
race to Douglas, though he came close to toppling the "Little Giant," whom almost everyone
thought was unbeatable. Guelzo's Lincoln and Douglas brings alive their debates and this whole year of campaigns and underscores
their centrality in the greatest conflict in American history. The encounters between Lincoln and Douglas engage a key question
in American political life: What is democracy's purpose? Is it to satisfy the desires of the majority? Or is it to achieve
a just and moral public order? These were the real questions in 1858 that led to the Civil War. They remain questions for
Recommended Reading: The Impending Crisis, 1848-1861 (Paperback), by David M. Potter. Review: Professor Potter treats an incredibly complicated and misinterpreted
time period with unparalleled objectivity and insight. Potter masterfully explains the climatic events that led to Southern
secession – a greatly divided nation – and the Civil War: the social, political and ideological conflicts;
culture; American expansionism, sectionalism and popular sovereignty; economic and tariff systems; and slavery. In other words, Potter places under the microscope the root causes and origins of the Civil War.
He conveys the subjects in easy to understand language to edify the reader's understanding (it's
not like reading some dry old history book). Delving beyond surface meanings
and interpretations, this book analyzes not only the history, but the historiography of the time period as well. Continued
rejects the historian's tendency to review the period with all the benefits of hindsight. He simply traces the events, allowing
the reader a step-by-step walk through time, the various views, and contemplates the interpretations of contemporaries and
other historians. Potter then moves forward with his analysis. The Impending Crisis is the absolute gold-standard of historical
writing… This simply is the book by which, not only other antebellum era books, but all history books should be judged.
Recommended Reading: American Slavery, American Freedom. Description: "If it is possible to understand the American paradox, the marriage of slavery and freedom, Virginia is surely the place to begin," writes Edmund S. Morgan in American Slavery, American Freedom,
a study of the tragic contradiction at the core of America.
Morgan finds the key to this central paradox in the people and politics of the state that was both the birthplace of the revolution
and the largest slaveholding state in the country. With a new introduction. Winner of the Francis Parkman Prize and the Albert
J. Beveridge Award. Continued below...
About the Author:
Edmund S. Morgan is Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University
and the author of Benjamin Franklin. Morgan was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2000.
Recommended Reading: Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States) (Hardcover: 952 pages). Description: Published in 1988 to universal acclaim, this single-volume treatment of the Civil
War quickly became recognized as the new standard in its field. James M. McPherson, who
won the Pulitzer Prize for this book, impressively combines a brisk writing style with an admirable thoroughness.
James McPherson's fast-paced narrative fully integrates the political, social, and military events that crowded the two decades
from the outbreak of one war in Mexico to the ending of another at Appomattox. Packed with drama and analytical insight, the book vividly
recounts the momentous episodes that preceded the Civil War including the Dred Scott decision, the Lincoln-Douglas debates,
and John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry. It flows into a masterful chronicle of the war itself--the battles, the strategic
maneuvering by each side, the politics, and the personalities. Particularly notable are McPherson's new views on such matters
as Manifest Destiny, Popular Sovereignty, Sectionalism, and slavery expansion issues in the 1850s, the origins of the
Republican Party, the causes of secession, internal dissent and anti-war opposition in the North and the South, and the reasons
for the Union's victory.
The book's title refers to the sentiments that informed both
the Northern and Southern views of the conflict. The South seceded in the name of that freedom of self-determination and self-government
for which their fathers had fought in 1776, while the North stood fast in defense of the Union founded by those fathers as the bulwark
of American liberty. Eventually, the North had to grapple with the underlying cause of the war, slavery, and adopt a policy
of emancipation as a second war aim. This "new birth of freedom," as Lincoln called it, constitutes
the proudest legacy of America's bloodiest
conflict. This authoritative volume makes sense of that vast and confusing "second American Revolution" we call the Civil
War, a war that transformed a nation and expanded our heritage of liberty. . Perhaps more than any other book, this one belongs on the bookshelf of every Civil War buff
What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation
of America, 1815-1848 (Oxford History of the
United States) (Hardcover: 928 pages).
Review: The newest volume in the renowned Oxford History of the United States-- A brilliant portrait of an
era that saw dramatic transformations in American life The Oxford History of the United States is by far the most respected multi-volume history of our nation.
The series includes two Pulitzer Prize winners, two New York Times bestsellers, and winners of the Bancroft and Parkman Prizes.
Now, in What Hath God Wrought, historian Daniel Walker Howe illuminates the period from the battle of New
Orleans to the end of the Mexican-American War, an era when the United
States expanded to the Pacific and won control over the richest part of the North American
continent. Continued below…
narrative portrays revolutionary improvements in transportation and communications that accelerated the extension of the American
empire. Railroads, canals, newspapers, and the telegraph dramatically lowered travel times and spurred the spread of information.
These innovations prompted the emergence of mass political parties and stimulated America's economic development from
an overwhelmingly rural country to a diversified economy in which commerce and industry took their place alongside agriculture.
In his story, the author weaves together political and military events with social, economic, and cultural history. He examines
the rise of Andrew Jackson and his Democratic party, but contends that John Quincy Adams and other Whigs--advocates of public
education and economic integration, defenders of the rights of Indians, women, and African-Americans--were the true prophets
of America's future. He reveals the power
of religion to shape many aspects of American life during this period, including slavery and antislavery, women's rights and
other reform movements, politics, education, and literature. Howe's story of American expansion -- Manifest Destiny -- culminates
in the bitterly controversial but brilliantly executed war waged against Mexico
to gain California and Texas for the United States. By 1848, America
had been transformed. What Hath God Wrought provides a monumental narrative of this formative period in United States history.
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (944 pages) (Simon
& Schuster). Description: The life and times of
Abraham Lincoln have been analyzed and dissected in countless books. Do we need another Lincoln
biography? In Team of Rivals, esteemed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin proves that we do. Though she can't help but cover some
familiar territory, her perspective is focused enough to offer fresh insights into Lincoln's
leadership style and his deep understanding of human behavior and motivation. Goodwin makes the case for Lincoln's political genius by examining his relationships with three men he selected for
his cabinet, all of whom were opponents for the Republican nomination in 1860: William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, and Edward
Bates. Continued below...
all accomplished, nationally known, and presidential, originally disdained Lincoln for his backwoods upbringing and lack of
experience, and were shocked and humiliated at losing to this relatively obscure Illinois lawyer. Yet Lincoln
not only convinced them to join his administration--Seward as secretary of state, Chase as secretary of the treasury, and
Bates as attorney general--he ultimately gained their admiration and respect as well. How he soothed egos, turned rivals into
allies, and dealt with many challenges to his leadership, all for the sake of the greater good, is largely what Goodwin's
fine book is about. Had he not possessed the wisdom and confidence to select and work with the best people, she argues, he
could not have led the nation through one of its darkest periods. Ten years in the making, this engaging work reveals why
"Lincoln's road to success was longer, more tortuous, and far less likely" than the other men,
and why, when opportunity beckoned, Lincoln was "the best
prepared to answer the call." This multiple biography further provides valuable background and insights into the contributions
and talents of Seward, Chase, and Bates. Lincoln may have been "the indispensable ingredient
of the Civil War," but these three men were invaluable to Lincoln
and they played key roles in keeping the nation intact.
Sources: Congressional Globe, 36th Cong., 1st. Sess., p. 114; Rhodes,
History, 3: 150n-51n; The Avalon Project at Yale Law School (The Lillian Goldman Law Library).