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The Missouri Compromise of 1820

Lesson Plans by Richard Cleggett

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The Missouri Compromise of 1820 Lesson Plans

Student Activities for The Missouri Compromise of 1820 Include:

Students will be able to explain and analyze the Missouri Compromise of 1820. In addition, students will be able to connect the compromise to the debate of slavery and what effect it had on the institution of slavery itself. By analyzing and explaining this compromise, students will gain a broader understanding of how early America attempted to deal with the difficult questions surrounding slavery, how the stage would be set for future negotiations on the issue, and how slavery played a role in the eventual Civil War.


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The Missouri Compromise of 1820 Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Timeline of Events Leading up to Missouri Compromise

The Missouri Compromise of 1820 - Timeline
The Missouri Compromise of 1820 - Timeline

Example

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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.


Extended Activity

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.


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Proponents and Opponents

The Missouri Compromise of 1820 - Proponents and Opponents
The Missouri Compromise of 1820 - Proponents and Opponents

Example

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As with any new piece of legislation, there were supporters and people who opposed the Missouri Compromise. Have students research those who supported the compromise, as well as what it called for, and those who opposed it and why. Students will be able to analyze and synthesize what points in the compromise were debated on, agreed on, and also what points were heavily debated. This will also give further insight as to why the compromise was so highly debated and why it was eventually agreed upon.

Using a T-Chart storyboard, students will compare and contrast the viewpoints from both the proponents of the compromise as well as the opponents. In addition, it will give students a deeper understanding of political debate and compromise, as well as a better understanding of how early American politicians viewed and debated the issue of slavery.



Extended Activity

Have students create a grid storyboard on proponents and opponents of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. This will allow students to compare and contrast the arguments made both for and against the Missouri Compromise, as well as the Kansas-Nebraska Act. In addition, students will also gain a better understanding of the evolution of arguments made for and against slavery, as well as how/why it should or should not be expanded into new territory.


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Missouri Compromise - Who Got What Graphic Organizer

The Missouri Compromise of 1820 - Who Got What
The Missouri Compromise of 1820 - Who Got What

Example

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The Missouri Compromise was indeed a compromise; both sides got something out of the bargain, but neither side got everything they wanted.

Using a grid storyboard, students will outline and define the major points of the Missouri Compromise and how it satisfied both the North and the South. By analyzing and explaining each point of what the compromise called for, students will be able to explain and analyze its attempt to solve the question of slavery and its expansion. This activity will also solidify students’ understanding of what made up the compromise, as well as how it addressed the problems and concerns of both free and slave states.



Extended Activity

Have students compare and contrast the Missouri Compromise with that of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. This act negated the Missouri Compromise, so students will be able to compare and contrast both acts. Furthermore, it will allow students to connect the two acts, in particular how both pieces of legislature attempted to solve the question of slavery as well as its extension into newly acquired U.S. territories.


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Short and Long Term Effects of the Missouri Compromise Spider Map

The Missouri Compromise of 1820 - Major Effects
The Missouri Compromise of 1820 - Major Effects

Example

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The Missouri Compromise of 1820 was an important piece of legislation that affected settlement and views on state and federal rights. Beyond the immediate problems solved or postponed, the Missouri Compromise influenced future legislation and debate over slavery.

In this activity, students will use a spider web to branch out other acts, compromises, and court cases that ultimately resulted from the Missouri Compromise of 1820. This will allow students to centralize the compromise, and see what long and short-term effects it had on the nation and question of slavery. Additional topics that are not included in the example below are the Lincoln-Douglas debates or thematic ideas like popular sovereignty.


Extended Activity

Have students create a spider map on one topic included in their spider map of the Missouri Compromise. Students should utilize the same idea (what events, legislation, etc.) that stemmed from their centralized idea. This will give deeper understanding to just how instrumental the Missouri Compromise, as well as their selected topic, had on big ideas like the extension of slavery, and slavery as an institution itself.


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The Missouri Compromise of 1820

The Louisiana Purchase nearly doubled the size of early America. This land acquisition provided space for settlers and huge economic opportunities in agriculture and raw materials. The new land also caused a great deal of debate among Congress about what would be permitted in any new states joining the Union, particularly the institution of slavery.

The Missouri Compromise of 1820 was instrumental for several different reasons. The compromise itself settled, for a time being, the dispute on where slavery should and could exist in the recently acquired Louisiana Territory. It called for slavery not to exist above the 36° 30’ latitudinal line. The exception to this was Missouri, which entered the Union in 1820 as a slave state under the compromise. In addition to Missouri, Maine also entered the Union as a free state (which was previously part of Massachusetts) to balance the number of free and slave states in the nation. This was meant to bring an equality to the slave and free states, along with balance in Congress.

Other issues were soon raised. Many questioned the ability of Congress to determine where slave and free states should exist. Some argued that newly created states should have the freedom to choose how their state would enter the Union. On the other side of the scale, politicians and citizens alike argued that slavery should not be allowed to expand with new territory altogether. Regardless of this, the Missouri Compromise of 1820 would remain law until it was negated in 1854 by the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Still, the compromise itself is instrumental in understanding the evolving and highly-debated topic of the nature of slavery in the United States, including its expansion, balance of free and slave states, and the overall institution itself.


Essential Questions for The Missouri Compromise of 1820

  1. What events led to the Missouri Compromise of 1820?
  2. What major figures were involved in the creation and ratification of the compromise?
  3. How does the Missouri Compromise of 1820 highlight the growing divide between the slave power and free states?
  4. How did the Missouri Compromise balance free and slave states, namely in terms of congressional representation?
  5. How does the compromise help set the stage for future debates and negotiations in regards to the expansion and preservation of slavery?
  6. Why can we consider the Missouri Compromise a success? A failure?

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•   (English) The Missouri Compromise of 1820   •   (Español) El Compromiso de Missouri de 1820   •   (Français) Le compromis du Missouri de 1820   •   (Deutsch) Der Missouri-Kompromiss von 1820   •   (Italiana) Il Compromesso del Missouri del 1820   •   (Nederlands) De Missouri Compromis van 1820   •   (Português) O Compromisso de Missouri de 1820   •   (עברית) הפשרה מיזורי של 1820   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) وتسوية ميزوري 1820   •   (हिन्दी) 1820 के मिसौरी समझौता   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Миссури Компромисс 1820 г.   •   (Dansk) Den Missouri kompromiset 1820   •   (Svenska) Missouri kompromiss 1820   •   (Suomi) Missourin kompromissi 1820   •   (Norsk) Missouri Kompromiss 1820   •   (Türkçe) Missouri'nin 1820'deki uzlaşması   •   (Polski) Kompromis Missouri z 1820 r   •   (Româna) Compromisul Missouri din 1820   •   (Ceština) Missouri kompromisu 1820   •   (Slovenský) Missouri kompromis z roku 1820   •   (Magyar) A Missouri kiegyezés 1820   •   (Hrvatski) Kompromis u Missouriju iz 1820   •   (български) Мисурийският компромис от 1820 г.   •   (Lietuvos) Misūris kompromisas 1820   •   (Slovenščina) Missourijski sporazum iz leta 1820   •   (Latvijas) Misūri Kompromisa of 1820   •   (eesti) Missouri kompromiss 1820