As with most compromises, the purpose of the Missouri Compromise was to maintain peace, and it has managed to do exactly that for 30 years before the conflict about slavery in North America finally escalated.
All About Numbers
In 1819, just 5 years after the country managed to become Independent, a bitter debate ensued when Missouri filed an application to be joined to the Union as a slave state. At that time, the Union consisted of 22 states, of which 11 allowed slavery and in the other 11 it was considered illegal. The Northern states did not want the Southern, slaveholding states to gain too much power in Congress, especially as they would be in the majority once Missouri joins as a slave state. Missouri was obtained through the Louisiana Purchase, just outside of the old Northwest Territory and they were afraid that allowing slavery in Missouri may influence other states carved from this territory to also become slave states. Bitter debate ensued and continued for months until the Missouri Compromise was made.
As Maine also applied to become a state at around the same time as Missouri, it was in the end decided that the two would be admitted together, to maintain the balance between the senators: Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a slave state. It was also decided that slavery would be outlawed in the rest of Louisiana, above the 36th parallel (around Missouri’s southern border.) For the next 30 years after the Missouri Compromise, states were always added to the Union in this way to maintain balance: one slave state and one free state at the same time.
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