Senate Amendment - Louisiana Purchase, "Free Status"

In February of 1820, the U.S. Senate passed an amendment which would prohibit slavery in the newly purchased Louisiana territory.  An exception, however, was made for Missouri (which would enter the Union as a "slave" state).

A further exception addressed the "fugitive slave laws," then in effect.

This page, of the Senate record, reflects both the language of the amendment and the vote:

That in all that territory ceded by France to the United States, under the name of Louisiana, which lies north of thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes north latitude, excepting only such part thereof as is included within the limits of the State contemplated by this act, slavery and involuntary servitude, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall be and is hereby forever prohibited: Provided always, That any person escaping into the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed in any State or Territory of the United States, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed, and conveyed to the person claiming his or her labor or service, as aforesaid.

The amendment passed by a vote of 34 to 10.

Click on the image to expand its view.


Media Credits

Image, Library of Congress

History of Congress
Senate Proceedings

February 17, 1820
Pages 427-428


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