Menu
Image 1 of
Zoom In
Zoom Out
Fullscreen

S.J. Res. 50, proposing certain amendments to the U.S. Constitution (Crittenden's Compromise), December 18, 1860

Senator John Crittenden, from the border state of Kentucky, sought to find some acceptable compromise on the slavery issue. He proposed constitutional limits on Congress’s ability to abolish slavery, and extension of the 36’30”-parallel boundary between free and slave territories as set by the 1820 Missouri Compromise. Congress did not pass his plan.

…those dissensions which now threaten the very existence of this Union, should be permanently quieted and settled by Constitutional provisions which shall do equal justice to all sections… .

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

S.J. Res. 50, proposing certain amendments to the U.S. Constitution (Crittenden's Compromise), December 18, 1860 …those dissensions which now threaten the very existence of this Union, should be permanently quieted and settled by Constitutional provisions which shall do equal justice to all sections… .

Last Chance for Compromise

As the volatile issue of slavery’s expansion grew increasingly divisive, Congress struggled with legislation to preserve the Union. In 1860 Kentucky Senator John Crittenden proposed a return to ideas of the Missouri Compromise, suggesting a fixed boundary between free and slaveholding territories to extend to the Pacific. In 1861 Ohio Representative Thomas Corwin proposed a constitutional amendment prohibiting federal interference with slavery in the states. Congress rejected Crittenden’s Compromise, and the states did not ratify the Corwin amendment. Congress was not able to prevent Southern secession and war.