The Missouri Compromise and Its Aftermath
Slavery and the Meaning of America
Robert Pierce Forbes
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.