The First Proposals of The Committee of Thirty-Three

Wednesday, December 12, 1860

The House Committee of Thirty-Three proposed ideas, most involving slavery, in hopes of keeping the southern states from seceding.

It was generally accepted that the states were threatening to leave in fear that Lincoln would limit or even end slavery altogether.

Nearly two dozen propositions were put forward. Virginia proposed stricter enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law, which would compensate the slave owner if their slave was not returned to them.

Another proposal was the extension of the “Missouri Compromise” line at 36 degrees and 30 minutes. Slavery was to be allowed south of it, but not north of it when that land was controlled by territories. When the territories became states, the people could then vote “slave” or “free.”

Also it was proposed that the President and Vice-President should each come from opposite sides of this 36 degrees, 30 minutes line – so as to foster an idea of impartiality.

The first proposals by the committee, which formed over a week prior, seemed to anger as many people as they pleased. Most were suggested Constitutional amendments allowing the spread of slavery while still limiting it here and there. Overall, most Southern states did not take kindly to these proposals.1


The Louisiana legislature set the date of January 23, 1861 for their own secession convention to be held.

  1. Richmond Daily Dispatch, December 14, 1860. []
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One thought on “The First Proposals of The Committee of Thirty-Three

  1. I always wondered what editorials of the time said about the Missouri Compromise. It’s often mentioned in passing, but I have never seen primary sources talking about it.

    I just found out I will likely be student teaching in sixth grade social studies in March! I don’t think we do the Civil War… but hopefully I can do some fun stuff with the kids.

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