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Although the Missouri Compromise and Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 are two legislations that tried to keep slavery thriving in Southern states; even more so, it stirred the spirit of “freedom for all” in the American people. The U.S. Congress, the Legislative Branch of the federal government constitutes the Senate and House of Representatives whose main responsibility is to check and maintain balance. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 shook the Congress and created a conflict among the Southern and Northern states. When President Thomas Jefferson bought 828,000 acres of land from Napoleon of France for a little more than $11 million in 1803 known as the Louisiana purchase, it was to benefit the American people. However a huge commotion began when the issue of the type of statehood for these lands came up, that is slave vs Free states. The balance of 11 slave and 11 Free states was shaken when Missouri,a slave state petitioned for statehood in 1818. James Tallmadge, Jr., New York Representative suggested two amendments to the Missouri statehood bill on Feb. 13, 1819. The first prohibited bringing in more slaves into Missouri; the second required gradual liberation for the slaves already living there. The Senate vetoed his amendments. When Maine applied for statehood, Henry Clay of Kentucky, the Speaker of the House decreed that if Maine were to be admitted, Missouri will have to be entered in too. Deliberation continued.In February 1820, Senator Jesse Thomas of Illinois proposed an amendment later known as the Missouri Compromise, that will accept Maine as a Free State and Missouri as slave state but will only allow slavery below the parallel 36 degrees, 30 minutes latitude that runs along Missouri’s southern border and prohibiting slavery above that line. With Henry Clay’s persuasion, the proposal passed the Senate on March 2, 1820, and the House on February 26, 1821. From then, to preserve the balance, admittance to the Union will be of two states at a time; that is one slave and one free.Territorial conflicts evolved after 25 years when in 1850 California managed to get in by itself as a free state, upsetting the balance 16-15 in exchange for a guarantee that no limitations on slavery would be placed on Utah or New Mexico. This was followed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 rescinding the 36-30 dividing line for slavery. In 1857, the U.S. Supreme Court, as part of the decision in the Dred Scott case deemed the Missouri Compromise unlawful emphasizing that Congress had no right to ban slavery in territories. The Missouri Compromise instigated questions of political power, dominance and the future of slavery. Concomitant with the Missouri Compromise, for fear that the Free states will become sanctuaries for runaway slaves; the Fugitive Slave Act was enacted by Congress in 1793 which required citizens of all states to return any runaway slaves to their masters and enforced penalties on anyone aiding a slave. Most Northerners refuses to comply and passed the “Personal Liberty Laws” that protected free blacks giving them the right for jury trial.  This brought about the Underground railroad System that thousands of slaves used to move into Free states. Congress enacted a revised Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 with even harsher retributions for interfering in a slave’s capture and placing the control of cases in the federal commissioners. Met with even more resistance and opposition, some Northern states passed measures to bypass the laws.  These were followed by riots and revolts. By 1860, approximately only 330 slaves returned to their Southern masters. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was seen as ineffective that some Congressmen resolved to repeal the Fugitive Slave Act. On June 28, 1864, after the Civil War, both of the Fugitive Slave Acts were officially revoked by Congress.Both the Missouri Compromise and the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 brought the issue of slavery in the face of the nation. Proposals advocated the beginning of new political delineations. Differentiated attitudes toward slavery arose with political career and morality on the line. Over time, negotiations over the future of slavery reached its peak and were no longer possible culminating in Civil War.  Together, these two legislations that try to break our nation’s unity are the same ones that paved the way for the abolition of bondage and America living up to being the land of the free .

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