an attempt at a compromise which would prevent the secession of the Southern
states from the United States of America in 1860. The Crittenden Compromise
ultimately failed, however, as the secession of those Southern states and the
Civil War followed shortly after the Compromise’s proposal.
The Crittenden Compromise was
named after the Senator who proposed it, John J. Crittenden. The Crittenden
Compromise was an attempt to make many concessions to the South, such that the
Southern states would not have grounds for secession anymore. As such, the
Crittenden Compromise codified and would have made permanent a number of
important elements of America at the time.
For example, the Crittenden
Compromise included six different Constitutional Amendments and four proposed
resolutions to be passed by Congress. These would make slavery a permanent
institution ratified in the Constitution. Furthermore, the Crittenden
Compromise would make permanent the dividing line set out in the Missouri
Compromise, such that slavery would always be legal south of the 36 parallel north and would be illegal north of
The Crittenden Compromise would
also have prevented Congress from interfering with slavery in any significant
fashion, whether through interstate trade or through future Amendments and
proclamation. The Crittenden Compromise would have enforced fugitive slave
laws, thus assuring southern slave owners that runaway slaves would be returned
to them instead of being set free in the northern, abolitionist states.
Ultimately, the Crittenden
Compromise failed due to a number of factors, one of the most important of
which was the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln immediately dismissed the
terms of the Crittenden Compromise which was seen as contributing to the
secession of the South and the Civil War.