Crittenden Compromise

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Crittenden Compromise was an unsuccessful proposal put forward by United States Senator John J. Crittenden (1787–1863) of Kentucky in an attempt to prevent the outbreak of the American Civil War. The proposal, introduced to the United States Congress on December 18, 1860, consisted of six constitutional amendments and four congressional resolutions.

Background[edit | edit source]

The Crittenden Compromise was proposed after the 1860 Presidential Election, in which Abraham Lincoln, who opposed the expansion of slavery into the territories, was elected president. The proposal was a last-ditch effort to resolve the secession crisis by addressing the concerns that led the states of the Deep South to contemplate secession.

Provisions[edit | edit source]

The compromise proposed to reestablish the Missouri Compromise line and extend it westward to the Pacific Ocean, with slavery prohibited north of the line and guaranteed south of the line. It also included a provision that it could not be amended without the approval of the states.

Reception and Impact[edit | edit source]

The Crittenden Compromise was supported by many Southern politicians, but it was rejected by Lincoln and the Republicans, leading to its ultimate failure in Congress. The rejection of the compromise is often cited as a contributing factor to the start of the American Civil War.

Legacy[edit | edit source]

Despite its failure, the Crittenden Compromise remains a significant event in American history as it represents the last major political effort to resolve the issues that led to the Civil War through legislative compromise.


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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD