August 10, 2017

Today in History: Choosing Missouri over Principle (1821)

John RobsonArchive

The admission of Missouri as the Union’s 24th state on Aug. 10, 1821, looks like a triumph for practical politics.

Statesmen, patriots, and sages banded together to shelve principles, ignore whether slavery was right or wrong, and admit Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a free one while drawing a line west from its southern border to determine whether territories would be admitted as free or slave states in the future.

For 30 years it seemed to dodge the fundamental issue whether slaves were people or things. But then it exploded into bloody civil war and a century of resentment and oppression.

It would have been more practical in the long run to be principled.

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