A compromise, in the most open or general sense, is an agreement made on a given issue in which the parties involved in the issue agree to certain terms which neither one might find absolutely optimal, but which are ultimately likely to be best for two differing parties.
For example, a compromise might arise when two political parties are standing off against one another within a political system and cannot agree on whether or not a given piece of legislation should pass into law. They might compromise on changing the legislation, such that both parties are mollified, if not entirely happy with the compromise in question.
Compromising is one of the most important elements of modern politics and indeed of any kind of argumentation or debate. Compromising in politics and negotiations has thus led to the formation of many famous documents and pieces of legislation which bear the title of “Compromise” to indicate that both parties agreed to the terms set forth in the document.
There have been many famous instances of compromising in the legal or political sense throughout history, particularly in American history. Some of these compromises are still ultimately considered less than ideal, but at the time they were likely the best option available. For example, the Three Fifths Compromise was a compromise which was put into place in 1787 into the Constitution, as the North and South of America could not agree on exactly how slaves should be counted for purposes of representation.
This agreement thus involved the differing sides compromising on the issue, although again, when viewed from the perspective of today this compromise is still considered wholly inadequate for how it dehumanizes slaves and effectively legitimizes slavery.