In the United States, when seccession loomed over the Union, the Senate appointed a Committee of Thirteen to make a last ditch attempt to prevent the South from splitting away. This committee, lead by John Crittenden of Kentucky, was responsible for proposing a compromise which would satisfy both sides. The compromise formed from this effort, known as the Crittenden Compromise, was expected to do just that. The proposal involved adding several amendments to the Consitution to satisfy all parties involved.

The first amendment proposed was a flash back to the Missouri Compromise. This compromise had established that slavery was prohibited above the 36°30' line, whereas the right to own slaves was guaranteed below it. Needless to say, this did not appeal to those with a strong opinion on either side of the issue of slavery. The Southerners felt this limited their territory and that they should be allowed to practice their "peculiar institution" wherever they pleased. The abolitionists among the Northerners wanted freedom to be universal; below and above the 36°30' line. The text of the compromise read:
"In all the territory of the United States now held, or hereafter acquired, situated north of 36 degrees 30 minutes, slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, is prohibited while such territory shall remain under territorial government. In all the territory south of said line of latitude, slavery of the African race is hereby recognized as existing, and shall not be interfered with by Congress, but shall be protected as property by all the departments of the territorial government during its continuance. And when any territory, north or south of said line, within such boundaries as Congress may prescribe, shall contain the population requisite for a member of Congress according to the then Federal ratio of representation of the people of the United States, it shall, if its form of government be Republican, be admitted into the Union, on an equal footing with the original States, with or without slavery, as the constitution of such new State may provide."
The next amendment was proposed as a support to the existing Fugitive Slave Laws. This amendment would prevent the state governments from passing laws that would hinder owners in recovering their runaway 'property'. The compromise dictated that "all State laws which conflict with the Fugitive Slave Acts of Congress... are null and void by the plain provisions of the Constitution of the United States." This was an act which ran counter to the view of those who felt the states should have their own power to make laws, even angering some southerners who believed in limiting the power of the central government.

Also regarding the Fugitive Slave Law, another act of the compromise was to amend the law itself. The fee of the commissoners in cases deciding if a slave was or was not the property of the claimant was to be made "equal in amount in the cases decided by him, whether his decision be in favor of or against the claimant." This was a change from the original phrasing of the Fugitive Slave Law, which dictated that the fee be higher if the case was decided in favor of the claimant. Another change this act would have made was that the right of the claimant to summon to his aid good citizens who have a duty to assist him was to be amended to "expressly limit the authority and duty to cases in which there shall be resistance or danger of resistance or rescue." In general, this act was in the favor of Northerners.

The next act in favor of abolitionists regarded the African Slave Trade. This congressional resolution required that "the laws for the suppression of the African slave trade, and especially those prohibiting the importation of slaves in the United States, ought to be made effectual, and ought to be thoroughly executed". This meant that no more slaves could have been brought from Africa to the United States, or vice versa, not that the latter was a common circumstance.

A policy that the inner state slave trade could not be interfered with was also included in this compromise. This meant that "Congress shall have no power to prohibit or hinder the transportation of slaves from one State to another, or to a Territory, in which slaves are by law permitted to be held". A noticeable lack in this resolution regards the transport of slaves across states and territories where slavery is not permitted. However, the new amendments concerning the Fugitive Slave Law kept this from being a major issue. Thus, this act was more in favor of the Southerners when put into perspective, although it would not compensate them for the loss of the African slave trade.

The last act of the Crittenden compromise would require Congress to agree never to destroy these amendments. No new amendments could be written negating or altering these agreements, regardless of the situation. This meant that regardless of the presence of an abolitionist majority in Congress and the Senate, slavery would still not have been abolished had the Crittenden Compromise passed.

Overall, it is not hard to see why the Crittenden Compromise did not appeal to the Senate. The Republicans saw it as a total negation of their party platform, and thus the entire Republican party voted against the compromise when it was put before the Senate. Six of the southern Democrats refused to vote on the matter, as did those who belonged to states which had already seceded and were not taking part in the vote. Because of this, the compromise was defeated in the Senate. Also, when put before the aforementioned Senate Committee of Thirteen, the compromise failed to gain support. The members could not agree on the proper editing needed to give the compromise support in the Senate. Thus, the Compromise was defeated finally in the Senate, and then again in the House. Only one final effort was made to try to restore the Union after the Crittenden compromise. This was the "Peace Convention", the members of which were invited to meet with President Buchanan. Unfortunately, delegates did not arrive from the seceded states. The compromise they eventually proposed was remarkably similar to the Crittenden Compromise, and failed just as quickly. This was the last attempt to keep the peace between North and South.

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