The Missouri Compromise and Its Aftermath and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Sell yours for a Gift Card
We'll buy it for $2.00
Learn More
Trade in now
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Missouri Compromise and Its Aftermath: Slavery and the Meaning of America Hardcover – May 14, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0807831052 ISBN-10: 0807831050 Edition: Third Edition

10 New from $87.07 12 Used from $30.25
Amazon Price New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$87.07 $30.25
Unknown Binding
"Please retry"

Get Up to 80% Back When You Sell Us Your Books

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; Third Edition edition (May 14, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807831050
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807831052
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,571,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Will certainly become a focus for debate for future generations of antebellum scholars.--Arkansas Historical Quarterly

Lively and engaging . . . [Forbes] succeeds in rendering the debates the narrates vivid and dramatic.--Register of the Kentucky Historical Review

[An] impressively researched book. . . . Sure to inform future discussions of the politics of slavery, and its timely message speaks to Americans today.--Missouri Historical Review

This is an important book that only begins to untangle the shifting political alliances, issues, and ideologies that sustained debates over slavery during the 1820s.--Journal of the Early Republic

Forbes's account of the sectional conflict from the time of the Missouri crisis is well written and thoroughly researched and will repay a reader's careful and thoughtful consideration.--Journal of American History

Certain to become essential reading on the era of good feelings and the origins of the second-party system. . . . Extremely rich and complex. . . . Important and intriguing.--Journal of Interdisciplinary History

A compelling case study of the centrality of slavery to early national America.--Journal of Southern History

Part of a welcome rise in scholarly attention . . . that historians of the early Republic have until now been more inclined to acknowledge than to study. . . . Forbes has helped to call our attention squarely onto the Missouri crisis, and has offered a bracing interpretation of its course and significance.--H-Net

Forbes's analysis of the Missouri Compromise . . . is the best history of that landmark political decision for several decades.--International History Review

An important book offering the first systematic reinterpretation of the Missouri Compromise and its aftermath in more than a generation. . . . A brilliant and an essential reconsideration of an important episode in American history. It is a work of thorough scholarship and penetrating insights.--American Historical Review

[Forbes's] ability to question the depths of a proslavery 'consensus' before 1819 is intriguing.--The Virginia Quarterly Review

[An] exemplary study. . . . A resolutely intelligent book, provocative in its thesis, broad in its reach, patient in its execution, and sober in its judgments.--Political Science Quarterly


The Missouri Compromise and Its Aftermath is a splendid work. Forbes's research is thorough and imaginative and reveals a full mastery of American political history. Without question, this book will become the standard source for any discussion of the Missouri debates, their origins, and their aftermath.--Ira Berlin, University of Maryland|As no other historian has, Forbes demonstrates the full significance of the Missouri Controversy and Compromise by placing it at the center of a dramatic shift in regime and consciousness, away from the founders' vision of slavery as a moral evil and towards a Jacksonian perspective that predicated the survival of America on a refusal to discuss or confront the anomaly of slavery in a free society. The book represents a major contribution to the history of antebellum American political culture, with thought-provoking implications for political life today.--Iver Bernstein, Washington University in St. Louis|A profound study.--Daniel Walker Howe, in What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in History

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See all 10 customer reviews
I read this book a little over a year ago and found it fascinating.
Brad Lundell
If you're only marginally interested it might be a little hard to read, but if you're a student of American history, this book is for you.
Jon-Jay Tilsen
The book has enough meat in it to satisfy the most discerning scholar and a facile style to satisfy the general reader.
Barrie W. Bracken

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By greg taylor VINE VOICE on February 17, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Robert Pierce Forbes' book is a masterwork in American history. His book reinterprets the Missouri Compromise as the watershed event in the first eighty or ninety years of this country's history. As I read him, Forbes is asserting that this country was created with a fundamental contradiction that was so deeply ingrained that our political institutions eventually failed in dealing with it. And then the war came. I am talking, of course, about the contradiction between the universal rights enshrined in our founding documents (and thus in our self-image) and the presence of slavery through out much of the land. We believed that we had created the universal republic and what we had really created was a white republic. We were able to live with the contradiction because most people believed that slavery had been imposed on us by Britain and that it would eventually die off. As time went on two paths began to emerge. The northern states moved slowly toward making slavery illegal (which was very different from making their free black inhabitants full citizens) and the southern states moved toward being (in various ways) slave-based economies. In Forbes' reading of the historical record, the debates that erupted around the Missouri compromise exposed just how deep those differences ran.

The spark was the Tallmadge amendment which would have prevented any more slaves being brought into Missouri after statehood and would have emancipated any Missouri born slaves at age 25. Forbes' telling of the resulting debates and the behind the scenes maneuvering that led to the two compromises is masterful and insightful. He develops several themes in this discussion. One is that James Monroe was much more effective a President than has been realized.
Read more ›
7 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
21 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Barrie W. Bracken on May 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Robert P. Forbes is no stranger to students of the antebellum era. His previous articles have been noted for their clear readable style and scholarship. Dr. Forbes states the book took a long time to come into being as a finished work. The result shows a well thought out examination and interpretation which makes the wait worthwhile. His colleagues, experts in the field of antebellum history, state they "learned a great deal from the work." The real value of this work is in its examination not only of the well known history of the Missouri Compromise itself --the formulation and passage of the legislation--but the even more important aspects of the effect of this compromise and the devastating result of its being revoked. The book has enough meat in it to satisfy the most discerning scholar and a facile style to satisfy the general reader. This is a volume that belongs in the library of every student of history, of politics, social movement, and ultimtely the disolution of the Union. Congratulations to Robert Forbes for a great gift to us.
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Brad Lundell on October 16, 2013
Format: Paperback
I read this book a little over a year ago and found it fascinating. Forbes provides the reader with a very well-researched and well-documented journey through the politics of the Early American Republic up to the dawn of the Civil War. The 40-year trek from the Missouri Compromise until the election of Lincoln and the firing on Fort Sumter was filled not only with compelling personalities, but also a split in the country around a set of fundamental issues. Sound familiar? One cannot truly compare today's political issues with the horrors of slavery, but there is a similarity in the stridency of the various political camps then to now that makes me wonder what the ultimate solution to our current problems will be. I highly recommend this book. I have spent all of my adult life involved in legislative politics and policy and Forbes' work provides a comprehensive case study of the challenges inherent in addressing major policy change. Let's hope the manner in which our current problems is solved doesn't reach the level of the Civil War.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Leonard J. Wilson on October 29, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sometime between 1776 and 1861 the unity of the United States, together with their shared interests and their willingness to consider other points of view, effectively ended. At some point, civil war became inevitable. Slavery was the issue, but how, when, and why did the states, their representatives in Washington, and the people themselves determine that their sectional views on slavery were more important than the Union? From prior readings, I had come to suspect that the Missouri Compromise in 1820 was the watershed in the fragmentation of the Union. Robert Pierce Forbes recent book, The Missouri Compromise and its Aftermath, seems to support my suspicion.

Missouri was the first new state whose status as free or slave was not effectively predetermined by its prior status as territory (1) ceded by a free state (Vermont, Maine), (2) ceded by a slave state (Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi), (3) where slavery was forbidden under the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois), or (4) where slavery was firmly rooted under prior French rule (Louisiana). Thus, the Missouri Statehood Bill was the first occasion for congressional debate on the free/slave status of a new state.

That debate commenced when Rep. James Tallmadge (NY) introduced an amendment providing "that the further introduction of slavery ... be prohibited ... and that all children of slaves born within the state shall be free at the age of twenty-five." It was not at all clear that the Constitution empowered congress to impose conditions on applicants for statehood other than that their constitutions be consistent with the US Constitution.

Therein lies the problem: The US Constitution (pre-13th Amendment) was not consistent with itself.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.