The Missouri Compromise and Its Aftermath: Slavery and the Meaning of America

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Univ of North Carolina Press, Jan 5, 2009 - History - 384 pages
Robert Pierce Forbes goes behind the scenes of the crucial Missouri Compromise, the most important sectional crisis before the Civil War, to reveal the high-level deal-making, diplomacy, and deception that defused the crisis, including the central, unexpected role of President James Monroe. Although Missouri was allowed to join the union with slavery, the compromise in fact closed off nearly all remaining federal territories to slavery.

When Congressman James Tallmadge of New York proposed barring slavery from the new state of Missouri, he sparked the most candid discussion of slavery ever held in Congress. The southern response quenched the surge of nationalism and confidence following the War of 1812 and inaugurated a new politics of racism and reaction. The South's rigidity on slavery made it an alluring electoral target for master political strategist Martin Van Buren, who emerged as the key architect of a new Democratic Party explicitly designed to mobilize southern unity and neutralize antislavery sentiment. Forbes's analysis reveals a surprising national consensus against slavery a generation before the Civil War, which was fractured by the controversy over Missouri.



 

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"Robert Pierce Forbes has written an important book offering the first systematic reinterpretation of the Missouri Compromise and its aftermath in more than a generation. Forbes’s work is revisionist history in the best sense of the term, challenging hoary historiographical maxims with new evidence, new points of view, and new interpretive sophistication. Forbes's sweeping re-examination of the Missouri controversy and its larger meaning for the future of the republic holds that the issue of slavery controlled and directed early national and Jacksonian politics even when such control and direction were not immediately visible.... Forbes’s book is a brilliant and an essential reconsideration of an important episode in American history. It is a work of thorough scholarship and penetrating insights."
Lacy K. Ford, American Historical Review
 

Contents

Introduction
1
1 MONROE TAKES CHARGE
14
2 MISSOURI
33
3 COMPROMISE
69
4 SILENCE
121
5 DISCORD
141
6 BENEFICENCE
179
7 DEMOCRACY
210
8 FORCE
238
KANSAS
274
Notes
293
Acknowledgments
349
Index
351
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About the author (2009)

Robert Pierce Forbes is assistant professor of history at the University of Connecticut. He is coauthor of Francis Kernan, Esq.: The Life and Times of a Nineteenth-Century Politician from Upstate New York.

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