Westward Movement and MO Compromise

By Katie Malcolm and James Boehme

Westward Expansion and the Missouri Compromise

Between 1800 and 1820 westward expansion exacerbated differences between the regions in the United States. Just as westward expansion led to differences between the regions, the Missouri compromise also intensified regional differences. In this flyer we will highlight some of the key sights that show the increasing regional differences brought by westward expansion and the Missouri compromise.
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Stop 1: Prophetstown, Indiana

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Prophetstown was the holy city founded by the Shawnee chief Tecumseh and his brother, Tenskwatawa. William Henry Harrison's attack on the Western Confederacy's Prophetstown in 1811 exacerbated regional tensions by highlighting the diverging interests of the western and eastern United States. Because of their proximity to Native Americans in the Indiana territory, US citizens who lived on the western frontier saw the Western Confederation as a great threat. Furthermore, because Britain traded with the Ohio River Valley Indians, which, western Republicans pointed out, violated the Treaty of Paris and Jay's Treaty, westerners generally viewed Britain as a threat to American economy. By contrast, Eastern congressmen viewed the both the Western Confederacy and British trade with Ohio River Valley Indians as a much lesser threat to American interests, because the consequences of these effects less directly affected Easterners than they affected Westerners. Therefore, the United States had expanded so far West that western interests differed from eastern interests.

Step 2: Lexington, Kentucky

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Lexington, Kentucky was the hometown of Henry Clay, a prominent leader of the Republican "War Hawks" from the West and South. Henry Clay and the War Hawks represented the exacerbation of regional differences brought by westward expansion because they highlighted the development of political parties based on regions. The Republican "War Hawks" supported the War of 1812 because western frontiersmen viewed British trade with the Ohio River Valley Indians as a threat to the American economy and southern farmers wanted to capture valuable territory in Florida. Thus, the Republican support for the war was based largely on western and southern regional interests. Because these interest differed from those of the North and East, the Republican "War Hawks" gained little support from these regions.

Stop 3: Franklin, New Hampshire

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Franklin, New Hampshire was the birthplace of Daniel Webster, noted Federalist and opponent of the War of 1812. Daniel Webster and the Federalists represent the exacerbation of regional differences brought by westward expansion because they highlight the increased regional separation between political parties. Because the eastern and northern Federalists' regional interests differed from Republicans', Federalists strongly opposed the War of 1812. Furthermore, because people from the North and East were affected less by British trade with Native Americans, they saw Britain as much less of a threat to the American economy. Additionally, people from the North and East would gain little from the acquisition of British territory. Thus, westward expansion led to the exacerbation of regional differences because it created diverging regional interests between political parties.

Stop 4: Jefferson City, Missouri

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Jefferson City, the capital of Missouri, would not have existed without the Missouri Compromise. The Missouri Compromise, which focused on Missouri's entrance to the Union, exacerbated regional tensions by underscoring the opposing view points the North and South retained about slavery. This caused debate between northerners, who generally opposed slavery, and southern farmers, who relied heavily on slavery, about the admittance of Missouri to the Union as a slave state. This debate highlighted the already present tensions between the two regions. As a resolution to this debate, the 36°30′ N line was created, with slave states below it and free states above it. While this worked as a temporary solution, it created a barrier which divided the two regions and continued to intensify the regional differences between the North and South. With the decision to create the Missouri Compromise, not only did these states exacerbate their differences, but they also created a more distinct barrier between the two regions.

STOP 5: NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK

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New York was the home of James Tallmadge Jr. who proposed the Tallmadge Amendment be added to the bill requesting Missouri's entrance to the Union. The Tallmadge Amendment would grant the gradual emancipation of slaves in Missouri, causing it to become a free state over time. This caused a lot of conflict between the North and the South because it would upset the balance of free and slave states. Because of the recent industrialization, the population of the North exceeded that of the South, causing them to have more representation in the House of Representation. This increase in representation in the House of Representatives caused the North to have the majority vote in the House of Representatives, so, because of this, the South needed at least equal representation in Congress in order to ensure that slavery would not be outlawed. This amendment, while having to do with westward expansion, created conflict between the North and the South.

Stop 6: Boston, Massachusetts

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Maine, originally part of Massachusetts, was a major component of the Missouri Compromise. In an effort to keep the congressional balance of power between the free and slave states equal, as it was before the proposition of Missouri's statehood, Massachusetts separated part of its territory in order to create the new free state of Maine. While this was a good solution in order to bring Missouri into the nation and keep the balance of power equal, it created a strict divide between the Northern and Southern regions. By creating Maine, they simply continued to let the conflict fester until it would eventually reach a head during the civil war.