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  • Speech on Reception of Abolition Petitions

     |  Roots of the Slavery Crisis

    Speech on Reception of Abolition Petitions Speech on Reception of Abolition Petitions 1 John C. Calhoun (1782-1850) The number of slaves in America had grown from 700,000 in 1790 to over two million in 1830. Northern opposition to slavery was growing in the 1820s and 1830s, as it became clear that hopes for a withering away of slavery were unrealistic. This elicited a similarly strong response from slavery's foremost advocates. In 1836, the House of Representatives passed a "gag rule" that tabled abolition discussions. Here, Senator John C. Calhoun champions a similar resolution in the Senate. His argument became the linchpin of what came to be called the "positive good" school of thought regarding slavery, one all but absent from the debates of the two previous ...
  • Speech on the Oregon Bill

     |  Roots of the Slavery Crisis

    Speech on the Oregon Bill Speech on the Oregon Bill 1 John C. Calhoun Even worse than political errors such as the Northwest Ordinance, Calhoun argues here, are theoretical errors, chief of which is the equality principle of the Declaration of Independence. June 27, 1848 ...I turn now to my friends of the South, and ask: What are you prepared to do? If neither the barriers of the constitution nor the high sense of right and justice should prove sufficient to protect you, are you prepared to sink down into a state of acknowledged inferiority; to be stripped of your dignity of equals among equals, and be deprived of your equality of rights in this federal partnership of States? If so, you are woefully degenerated from your sires, and will well ...
  • Letter to Henri Gregoire

     |  Roots of the Slavery Crisis

    Letter to Henri Gregoire Letter to Henri Gregoire 1 Thomas Jefferson The Constitution specified that Congress could not prohibit the importation of slaves until 1808. President Jefferson signed the bill to bring about this prohibition in March 1807 and it went into effect on January 1, 1808. Writing here a year later, he maintains hopes for an end to slavery itself. February 25, 1809 Sir: I have received the favor of your letter of August 17th, and with it the volume you were so kind as to send me on the "Literature of Negroes." Be assured that no person living wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a complete refutation of the doubts I have myself entertained and expressed on the grade of understanding allotted to them by nature, and ...
  • Letter to John Holmes

     |  Roots of the Slavery Crisis

    Letter to John Holmes Letter to John Holmes 1 Thomas Jefferson Awakened to the looming crisis over slavery by the Missouri Compromise, Jefferson foresees in this letter that the Compromise was far from the final word on the matter. April 22, 1820 I thank you, dear Sir, for the copy you have been so kind as to send me of the letter to your constituents on the Missouri question. It is a perfect justification to them. I had for a long time ceased to read newspapers, or pay any attention to public affairs, confident they were in good hands, and content to be a passenger in our bark to the shore from which I am not distant. But this momentous question, like a fire bell in the night, awakened and filled me with terror. I considered it at once as the ...
  • The Missouri Compromise

     |  Roots of the Slavery Crisis

    The Missouri Compromise The Missouri Compromise 1 The sectional struggle over slavery came to a head in 1820. With eleven free states and eleven slave states, if Missouri entered the Union as a slave state, the balance of power would shift toward the South. After several months of debate, a compromise emerged: Maine would enter the Union as a free state, Missouri as a slave state. Additionally, slavery was prohibited in the territory of the Louisiana Purchase north of Missouri's southern border. March 6, 1820 An Act to authorize the people of the Missouri territory to form a constitution and state government, and for the admission of such state into the Union on an equal footing with the original states, and to prohibit slavery in certain territories ...
  • The Wilmot Proviso

     |  Roots of the Slavery Crisis

    The Wilmot Proviso The Wilmot Proviso 1 Early on in the Mexican-American War, America gained control over a vast swath of new territory extending from the Great Plains to the Pacific Ocean. In 1846, Congressman David Wilmot proposed a ban on slavery across the region, angering those who advocated on behalf of slavery's westward expansion. August 8, 1846 Provided, That, as an express and fundamental condition to the acquisition of any territory from the Republic of Mexico by the United States, by virtue of any treaty which may be negotiated between them, and to the use by the Executive of the moneys herein appropriated, neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall ever exist in any part of said territory, except for crime, whereof the party shall ...
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