The Repeal of the Missouri Compromise

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In 1854, Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois threw himself behind a legislative scheme that would enlist the support of a reluctant South. Douglas was a short, heavy-chested figure that radiated energy and breezy optimism of the self-made man. He longed to break North-South deadlock and stretch a line of settlements across the continent. He had also invested heavily in Chicago real estate and in railway stock and was eager to have the Windy City become …

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…or down in the territories. What he failed to see is that his fellow people in the North did feel deeply on this moral issue. They viewed the repeal of the Missouri Compromise as an intolerable breach of faith, and they would thus fight to the end any future southern demands for slave territory. As Abraham Lincoln said, the North wanted to give pioneers in the West, a clean bed, with no snakes in it.