Friday, February 04, 2011

Black History Part III

With the future looking so bright for these slaves, what went wrong? The Constitution and Declaration of Independence documented equality of men and the God-given right of freedom. Congress had forbidden slave trade and passed the Northwest Ordinance prohibiting slavery in the territory. Slavery appeared to be on the way out.

By 1820 most of the Founders had died and a new party was in charge of Congress. When Missouri wanted to join the union, dispute arose as to whether it would be a slave or free state. Some had assumed there would be no more slave states. Others wanted to keep the number of states on each side of the slavery issue equal.

Even though Rufus King - signer of the Constitution, NY Senator, US Senator, vice presidential candidate and presidential candidate – claimed the Constitution empowered Congress to prohibit slavery in Missouri and make prohibition a prerequisite for admission to the Union, Congress passed the Missouri Compromise.

The passage of this bill was the first time after the signing of the Declaration and the Constitution that slavery was promoted by congressional policy.

To those who had thought that slavery was not to be expanded, this “Compromise” - which was really not a compromise – was a defeat. It began the unraveling of a constitution that had steered the country in the direction of elimination of slavery.

In one generation, the party in power in Congress had changed and the country took a devastating turn.

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