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Compromise as folk art.

By DANIEL WALKER HOWE [American Heritage] – On February 13, 1819, 35-year-old Congressman William Cobb unfolded his six-foot frame from his chair in the chamber of the Old Brick Capitol building in Washington, D.C., and locked his gray eyes on James Tallmadge Jr. of New York. There was little love lost between the grandson of Georgia’s most famous patriarch and the accomplished city lawyer. They had tangled on issues before, Cobb eloquently if savagely attacking Andrew Jackson over his campaign in Florida against the Seminoles; Tallmadge had defended the general with equal vigor.

At the moment, Congress was in the midst of discussing Missouri statehood, by now a normal expectation whenever a frontier territory attained the qualifying number of white settlers. Suddenly Tallmadge had electrified the proceedings by introducing a controversial proposal: statehood should only be granted, he insisted, if the further importation of slaves was prohibited. In addition, emancipation would come to all children born to slaves when they reached 25. Cobb and other Southern congressmen were outraged.

Continued at American Heritage | More Chronicle & Notices.

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