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The American Colonization Society was not confined to prominent statesmen, and many of its rank-and-file members used violence throughout the 1830s as a response to the Garrisonian attacks on their cause. Yet they were not the only members of the mobs. Many anxious white northerners were alarmed and offended by the prospect of racial assimilation that the abolitionists represented to them. Garrison and his followers wanted to end slavery but not to deport all blacks to another country so as to avoid any race mixing (a perennial fear of Americans throughout the nineteenth century and well into the late twentieth, too).

Kentucky representative Henry Clay had to facilitate a second and less artful compromise at the last minute: Missouri's state constitution included a proviso that excluded free blacks and mulattoes from the state. This was a violation of Article IV, Section 2 of the federal Constitution, since citizens of any state could not be denied privileges and immunities of citizens in all other states, and free blacks and mulattoes were considered citizens by several states. To get around this wrinkle, the Missouri legislature agreed to adopt a pledge that they would never interpret the clause to defy the Constitution; but they also denied that the legislature had any power to bind the people of the state, who would effectively enforce the provision anyway.

Sectional animosities compounded to a point where all it took was a spark to ignite the entire powder keg. Radical abolitionist John Brown provided the match, and it was enough to send the country over the edge toward Civil War. Missouri During the Revolutionary era, politicians led by southern slaveholder Thomas Jefferson banned slavery in the future settlement of the Old Northwest region. Then in 1793, Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin. Suddenly southern plantation agriculture in cotton became spectacularly profitable, and planters began coveting more land for expansion of the slave system in the west.

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