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Congress admitted Maine to the Union as a separate free state in 1820 to balance the admission of Missouri, a slave state. The balance of free and slaveholding states established by the Missouri Compromise did not last however. Another compromise on the extension of slavery in 1850 eventually failed, and the nation headed toward civil war.

Sec. 2. Be it enacted . . . , That the inhabitants of that portion of the Missouri Territory . . . are hereby, authorized to form for themselves a Constitution and State Government, . . . and the said State, when formed, shall be admitted into the Union, upon an equal footing with the original states, in all respects whatsoever.

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration

Amendment to the bill for the admission of the State of Maine into the Union allowing for the admission of the State of Missouri, January 6, 1820 Sec. 2. Be it enacted . . . , That the inhabitants of that portion of the Missouri Territory . . . are hereby, authorized to form for themselves a Constitution and State Government, . . . and the said State, when formed, shall be admitted into the Union, upon an equal footing with the original states, in all respects whatsoever.

The Missouri Compromise

When Missouri, which allowed slavery, applied for statehood in 1819, Congress struggled for a way to maintain the Union despite strongly opposing pro- and antislavery constituencies. After heated debate, Congress adopted the Missouri Compromise, which admitted Maine as a free state to balance Missouri and prohibited slavery north of the 36º 30’ latitude in the Louisiana Territory.