-- Dilemmas of Compromise --

Wednesday January 16, 1861

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Senate Kills Crittenden Compromise

The Senate on this day refused to consider Crittenden's proposal, effectively killing the most likely plan for resolving the secession crisis. The vote showed that the entire Republican Party membership opposed consideration of the Crittenden Compromise. Six southern Democrats refused to vote. Had these southern Democrats voted, there would have been a majority to take up the proposal. Had the senators from those states which had already seceded remained in Congress and supported the measure, the majority to consider the plan would have been even larger. In effect, the Republican Party and a group of pro-secessionist senators defeated consideration of the Crittenden Compromise. The Republican Party's rejection of the Crittenden Compromise can therefore be considered one of the major reason's for the Compromise's failure.

The Senate's action on January 16, though critical, was just one of a series of defeats the Compromise encountered. In key votes on December 22 and December 24, 1860, the Crittenden Compromise failed to receive support in the Senate's Committee of Thirteen, and on December 31, the Committee reported to the Senate that it had not been able to agree on a plan of adjustment. On the last day of the session, March 4, the Crittenden Compromise finally came before the Senate and was defeated 19-20.

The Crittenden Compromise fared no better in the House, where the Committee of Thirty-Three centered its attention on other plans. When the Crittenden proposal was taken up by the House on February 27, it was rejected.

Bibliography: Rhodes, History, 3: 313; Potter, Lincoln and His Party, pp. 170-87, 302; Nevins, Emergence of Lincoln 2: 397-410; Stampp, And the War Came, pp. 136-41.

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