Formation of the Various States Research Paper

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New states lying north of said parallel would be admitted as non-slave while those lying south would be slave.

The importance of the Missouri Compromise cannot be over-stated. It impacted the boundaries of several other states other than Missouri and led to some of the most hotly contested political debates in United States history.

Interestingly, the boundary established through the Missouri Compromise, that is, the 36?30' parallel, had actually been in use as a boundary line since early colonial days and the Missouri Compromise served to continue its use. The boundary between original thirteen colony members, Virginia and North Carolina, is the 36?30' parallel and the boundary between two of the earlier states admitted to the Union, Kentucky and Tennessee is also the 36?30' parallel.

Map depicting 36?30' parallel

The admission of Texas as a statehood was affected by the Missouri Compromise. Unlike any other state, Texas enjoyed status as an independent nation prior to its admission as a state. As an independent nation Texas was much larger in physical size than it was at the time of its admission as a state. Because Texas was a slave state and its original border extended far north of the arbitrary line established for the recognition of slavery the non-slaves states would not ratify Texas' admission as a state with those borders. In order to secure admission as a state Texas agreed to narrow its northern border to the 36?30' parallel.

The admission of Texas as a state precipitated an entirely new line of debate. The government of Mexico was not happy with Texas' becoming a part of the United States. A brief war between the neighboring United States and Mexico ensued and, when the dust settled, the United States became the beneficiary of substantial new holdings in the southwest that would provide room for the formation of several new states. Unfortunately, the politicians in the South realized that the 36?30' parallel would soon allow for the admission of far more non-slave states and that the balance of power would be drastically skewed. Political expediency dictated that the 36?30' parallel standard be abandoned and the idea of popular sovereignty came into play.

The issue of popular sovereignty led to the dispute that became known as "Bleeding Kansas."

Proponents of slavery in the South wanted the residents of Kansas to have the right to determine whether Kansas should be admitted as a slave or non-slave state. A small portion of Kansas lying north of the 36?30' parallel was occupied by residents adamant in their support of slavery and this support resulted in bitter debate that several times led to bloodshed. As a form of compromise, Congress enacted the Kansas-Nebraska Act that pushed the southern boundary north to the 37th degree to allow slavery to be practiced south of that line.

The new use of the 37? As a boundary had ramifications in the formation of several other states. The newly recognized boundary was used as the basis for determining the admission of all future states in regard to the slavery issue until slavery was ultimately abolished and it also led to the eventual uniform shaping of the remaining western territories. Using the latitude and longitude numbers used in determining the borders of Kansas, the borders of the eventual states of Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota were established that created states of near equal size.

The same approach with some minor alterations was used to shape the size of the states immediately west of the states formed as a result of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The far western states of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Montana are nearly equal in size and shape and reflect a concerted effort by Congress to encourage uniformity so as to minimize political debate.

The development of state boundaries throughout United States history is far more complicated than is presented herein but the limitations of space prevent a more in-depth review. Suffice it to say, that factors other than the coincidental existence of rivers and mountains have contributed to the establishment of these borders. Beginning with the granting of charters by the British, Dutch and Spanish governments and ending with the acts of a Congress determined to create equality among emerging states, the process of establishing state boundaries has been a mix of considerations.

Bibliography

Dixon, Archibald. The True History of the Missouri Compromise and its Repeal. BiblioBazaar, 2009.

Eastern Michigan University. Bleeding Kansas. http://edit.emich.edu/index.php?title=Bleeding_Kansas (accessed December 4, 2010).

Marshall, Peter C. Envisioning America: English Plan for the Colonization of North America, 1580-1640. Bedford / St. Martin's, 1995.

Mcgreevy, Patrick. Stairway to Empire: Lockport, the Erie Canal, and the Shaping of America. State University of New York Press, 2009.

Stein, Mark. How the States Got Their Shapes. Smithsonian, 2008.

Waldstreicher, David. Slavery's Constitution. Hill & Wang, 2010.

Williams, Frederick D. The Northwest Ordinance: Essays on Its Formulation, Provisions, and Legacy. Michigan State University, 1989.

Winders, Richard Bruce. Crisis in the Southwest: The United States, Mexico, and the Struggle over Texas. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.

Stein, Mark. How the States Got Their Shapes. Smithsonian, 2008.

Marshall, Peter C. Envisioning America: English Plan for the Colonization of North America, 1580-1640. Bedford / St. Martin's, 1995.

Waldstreicher, David. Slavery's Constitution. Hill & Wang, 2010.

Williams, Frederick D. The Northwest Ordinance: Essays on Its Formulation, Provisions, and Legacy. Michigan State University, 1989.

Mcgreevy, Patrick. Stairway to Empire: Lockport, the Erie Canal, and the Shaping of America. State University of New York Press, 2009.

Dixon, Archibald. The True History of the Missouri Compromise and its Repeal. BiblioBazaar, 2009.

Winders, Richard Bruce. Crisis in the Southwest: The United States, Mexico, and the Struggle over Texas. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.…

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