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The Death Of Compromise In 19th Century America

1130 words - 5 pages

Beginning with its use to resolve many issues involving the framing of the Constitution, compromise was an important part of early American politics. However, as the nineteenth century progressed the ability to compromise began to decrease, culminating in the complete inability to do so by 1860. This was almost entirely due to growing sectional differences at the time as the North was rapidly becoming the antagonist of Southern society, being very unwilling to compromise on the issue of slavery. This can most obviously be seen in the political arena, with slavery becoming the forefront issue of American politics. Parties at this time began to settle along regional lines, and perhaps more importantly, Northern politicians grew unwilling to accept any middle ground on the issue of slavery. Politics, were however, only one side the issue, as all of Northern society seemed to experience this uncompromising spirit, with the politics of the time merely being the result of the moral and social differences between the North and South. Basically, the ability to compromise in American politics was lost due to the uncompromising spirit of Northern society, morality, and subsequently, politics, particularly on the issue of slavery.
During the 1800’s the issue of slavery had taken a hold of American society. Northerners grew ever more concerned about it, and the South ever more worried of, and arrogant towards, the North. Abraham Lincoln had addressed the issue, noting that some may view the, “difficulty in regard of slavery” as something confined to Northern politics. However, he asks, “Does not this question make a disturbance outside of political circles… Is it not this same mighty deep-seated power that somehow operates on the minds of men, exciting and stirring them up in every avenue of society”. (Document F) Here, Lincoln takes note of how the issue of slavery has become overwhelmingly important to Northern society. Taking note of Lincoln’s remarks, it becomes quite evident that slavery was not merely a political issue, but was in fact ingrained in American society, thus when accounting for the South’s opinion on the issue, it appears quite impossible for America to compromise on the issue. For example, a Georgian newspaper proclaims, “Free society! We sicken at the name… All northern, and especially New England, states are devoid of society fitted for well-bred southern gentlemen.” (Document G) This shows Southern society as somewhat disgusted by the North, seemingly viewing Northerners as inferior by referring to themselves as being “well-bred”. In conclusion, it can be established that Northern and Southern society have become antagonistic towards each other, with each being disgusted by the other’s view on slavery.
In the North, it began to seem morally impossible to reconcile with the South. Take for example the creation of the American Anti-Slavery Society, the main abolitionist movement of the North. It boldly declared, “That all those laws...

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