Timeline of Events Leading up to Missouri Compromise
Lesson Plan Reference
Grade Level 9-12
Difficulty Level 2 (Reinforcing / Developing)
Type of Assignment Individual or Group
In this activity, students will create a timeline of major events that preceded the Missouri Compromise of 1820. By analyzing and understanding what events led to the compromise, students will be able to explain how the U.S. government created it, as well as why the compromise was necessary. Teachers may pre-select events to be discussed, or students may choose their own. By examining the evolution of the slave question in early America, students will also be able to better put the Missouri Compromise in a more holistic historical context.
Example Timeline: Major Events Leading to the Missouri Compromise of 1820
|Independence is Achieved||The United States wins its independence from Great Britain after eight years of fighting. It is a tremendous victory, as the U.S. and Great Britain sign the Treaty of Paris of 1783. However, the question of slavery is left essentially unresolved.|
|Louisiana Purchase||Under president Thomas Jefferson, the U.S. purchases the Louisiana territory from France for $15 million dollars. Effectively, the land acquisition doubles the size of the United States. In addition, questions of slavery's expansion also come to light.|
|Slave Trade Set to End||Also under Jefferson, law is passed that the slave trade is to end. The resolve is first put forth upon winning independence, and Jefferson extends, and solidifies, the decision by ending the transfer and sale of slaves in the United States forever. The underground slave trade market still thrives, however.|
|War of 1812 Ends||War with Great Britain ends with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent in 1815. Although there is no clear winner in the Treaty, the U.S. declares it a victory as they solidify their control of the Northwest territory in the Ohio River Valley. In addition, slavery is banned in the territory.|
|Debate Heats up on Slave and Free State Balance||As settlers head west, the debate over expanding slavery into newly added states heats up. Some argue that states should be allowed to expand their slave economies, while others fear increased slave state control in Congress. A compromise is needed to settle the debate.|
|Missouri Compromise Passes||After much debate, the Missouri Compromise of 1820 passes Congress. The compromise calls for the initiation of Missouri as a slave state, and Maine as a free state to maintain the slave and free state balance in Congress. Furthermore, slavery is banned above the dividing line, while it remained legalized below it.|
Have students create a timeline beginning with the Missouri Compromise and ending with the Civil War. Students should concentrate on major legislative attempts to solve the question of slavery, including the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Fugitive Slave Law, and Compromise of 1850. This will allow students to better understand how instrumental the compromise was in ultimately delaying the Civil War and how the U.S. attempted to solve the slave question.