Crittenden Compromise and Crittenden Proposal
Amendments Proposed in Congress by Senator John J. Crittenden, December 18, 1860
[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.]
Whereas, serious and alarming dissensions have arisen between the Northern
and Southern States, concerning the rights and security of the rights of the slaveholding States, and especially their rights
in the common territory of the United States; and whereas it is eminently desirable and proper that these dissensions, which
now threaten the very existence of this Union, should be permanently quieted and settled by constitutional provisions, which
shall do equal justice to all sections, and thereby restore to the people that peace and good will which ought to prevail
between all the citizens of the United States: Therefore,
Resolved by the Senate and House of
Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of both Houses concurring), That the following
articles be, and are hereby, proposed and submitted as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of said
Constitution, when ratified by conventions of three-fourths of the several States:
In all the territory of the United States now held, or hereafter acquired,
situated north of latitude 36° 30', slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, is prohibited while
such territory shall remain under territorial government. In all the territory south of said line of latitude, slavery of
the African race is hereby recognized as existing, and shall not be interfered with by Congress, but shall be protected as
property by all the departments of the territorial government during its continuance. And when any Territory, north or south
of said line, within such boundaries as Congress may prescribe, shall contain the population requisite for a member of Congress
according to the then Federal ratio of representation of the people of the United States, it shall, if its form of government
be republican, be admitted into the Union, on an equal footing with the original States, with or without slavery, as the constitution
of such new State may provide.
Congress shall have no power to abolish slavery in places under its exclusive
jurisdiction, and situate within the limits of States that permit the holding of slaves.
Congress shall have no power to abolish slavery within the District of Columbia,
so long as it exists in the adjoining States of Virginia and Maryland, or either, nor without the consent of the inhabitants,
nor without just compensation first made to such owners of slaves as do not consent to such abolishment. Nor shall Congress
at any time prohibit officers of the Federal Government, or members of Congress, whose duties require them to be in said District,
from bringing with them their slaves, and holding them as such, during the time their duties may require them to remain there,
and afterward taking them from the District.
Congress shall have no power to prohibit or hinder the transportation of slaves
from one State to another, or to a Territory in which slaves are by law permitted to be held, whether that transportation
be by land, navigable rivers, or by the sea.
That in addition to the provisions of the third paragraph of the second
section of the fourth article of the Constitution of the United States, Congress
shall have power to provide by law, and it shall be its duty so to provide, that the United States shall pay to the owner
who shall apply for it, the full value of his fugitive slave in all cases when the marshal or other officer whose duty it
was to arrest said fugitive was prevented from so doing by violence or intimidation, or when, after
arrest, said fugitive was rescued by force, the owner thereby prevented and obstructed in the pursuit of his remedy for the
recovery of his fugitive slave under the said clause of the Constitution and the laws made in pursuance thereof. And in all
such cases, when the United States shall pay for such fugitive, they shall have the right, in their own name, to sue the county in which said violence, intimidation, or rescue was committed, and to recover from
it, with interest and damages, the amount paid by them for said fugitive slave. And the said county, after it has paid said
amount to the United States may, for its indemnity, sue and recover from the wrongdoers or rescuers by whom the owner was
prevented from the recovery of his fugitive slave, in like manner as the owner himself might have sued and recovered.
No future amendment of the Constitution shall affect the five preceding articles;
nor the third paragraph of the second section of the first article of the Constitution, nor the third paragraph of the second
section of the fourth article of said Constitution and no amendment shall
be made to the Constitution which shall authorize or give to Congress any power to abolish or interfere with slavery in any
of the States by whose laws it is, or may be allowed or permitted.
And whereas, also, besides these causes of dissension embraced in the foregoing
amendments proposed to the Constitution of the United States, there are others which come within the jurisdiction of Congress,
as far as its power will extend, to remove all just cause for the popular discontent and agitation which now disturb the peace
of the country, and threaten the stability of its institutions: Therefore,
1. Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States
of America in Congress assembled That the laws now in force for the recovery of fugitive slaves are in strict pursuance of
the plain and mandatory provisions of the Constitution, and have been sanctioned as valid and constitutional by the judgment
of the Supreme Court of the United States, that the slaveholding States are entitled to the faithful observance and execution
of those laws, and that they ought not to be repealed, or so modified or changed as to impair their efficiency; and that laws
ought to be made for the punishment of those who attempt by rescue of the slave, or other illegal means, to hinder or defeat
the clue execution of said laws,
2. That all State laws which conflict with the fugitive slave acts of Congress,
or any other constitutional acts of Congress, or which, in their operation, impede, hinder, or delay the free course and due
execution of any of said acts, are null and void by the plain provisions of the Constitution of the United States; yet those
State laws, void as they are, have given color to practice, and led to consequences which have obstructed the due administration
and execution of acts of Congress, and especially the acts for the delivery of fugitive slaves, and have thereby contributed
much to the discord and commotion now prevailing. Congress, therefore, in the present perilous juncture, does not deem it
improper respectfully and earnestly to recommend the repeal of those laws to the several States which have enacted them, or
such legislative corrections or explanations of them as may prevent their being used or perverted to such mischievous purposes.
3. That the act of the 18th of September, 1850, commonly called the fugitive slave law, ought to be so amended as to make the fee of the commissioner, mentioned in the eighth section of the act equal in
amount, in the cases decided by claimant. And to avoid misconstruction, the last clause of the fifth section of said act which authorizes the person holding a warrant for the arrest or detention of a fugitive
slave, to summon to his aid the posse comitatus, and which declares it to be the duty of all good citizens to assist hen in
its execution, ought to be so amended as to expressly limit the authority and duty to cases in which there shall be resistance
or danger of resistance or rescue.
4, That the laws for the suppression of the African slave-trade and especially
those prohibiting the importation of slaves in the United States, ought to be made effectual, and ought to be thoroughly executed;
and all further enactments necessary to those ends ought to be promptly made.
(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: 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.
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 below…
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.
Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney: Slavery, Secession,
and the President's War Powers, by James F. Simon (Simon & Schuster). Publishers Weekly: This surprisingly taut and gripping book by NYU law professor Simon
(What Kind of Nation) examines the limits of presidential prerogative during the Civil War. Lincoln and Supreme Court Chief
Justice Roger Taney saw eye to eye on certain matters; both, for example, disliked slavery. But beginning in 1857, when Lincoln criticized Taney's decision in the Dred Scott case, the pair
began to spar. They diverged further once Lincoln became president when Taney insisted that
secession was constitutional and preferable to bloodshed, and blamed the Civil War on Lincoln.
In 1861, Taney argued that Lincoln's suspension of habeas
corpus was illegal. This holding was, Simon argues, "a clarion call for the president to respect the civil liberties of American
citizens." Continued below...
In an 1862
group of cases, Taney joined a minority opinion that Lincoln lacked the authority to order the seizure of Southern
ships. Had Taney had the chance, suggests Simon, he would have declared the Emancipation Proclamation unconstitutional; he
and Lincoln agreed that the Constitution left slavery up to individual states, but Lincoln
argued that the president's war powers trumped states' rights. Simon's focus on Lincoln and Taney makes for a dramatic, charged
narrative—and the focus on presidential war powers makes this historical study extremely timely.
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. Continued below...
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.
Sources: Ford, Paul Leicester, The Federalist : A commentary on the Constitution of the United States by
Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay edited with notes, illustrative documents and a copious index by Paul Leicester
Ford. New York : Henry Holt and Company, 1898; Yale Law School, The Avalon Project.