Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Crittenden-Johnson Resolution

The Crittenden-Johnson Resolution (also called the Crittenden Resolution) was passed by the United States congress on July 25, 1861 after the start of the American Civil War, which began on April 12, 1861.

It should not be confused with the Crittenden Compromise, passed after slave states began seceding from the Union as a stopgap to prevent the South from leaving the Union.

Table of contents
1 Why it was passed; historical context
2 What the resolution was about
3 Final comments
4 External links and references

Why it was passed; historical context

During the war, President Abraham Lincoln was worried that the slave states of Missouri, Kentucky, and Maryland in the crucial upper south might leave the Union to join the Confederate States of America. If Maryland was lost, Washington, D.C would be entirely surrounded by Confederate territory. Both Missouri and Kentucky were slave states of questionable loyalty to the Union that bordered on important Union territory; Lincoln was born in Kentucky and losing his home state would seen as a political failure.

Delaware (the other slave state that remained in the Union) had so few slaves that its fealty was never in question.

What the resolution was about

Specifically, the resolution stated that the war was being waged for the reunion of the states, and not to abolish the south's "peculiar institution" of slavery. The resolution required the Union Government to take no actions against institution of slavery. It was named for Senators John J. Crittenden of Kentucky and Andrew Johnson of Tennesee (who was later to become President).

The war was fought not for "overthrowing or interfering with the rights or established institutions of those States," but to "defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution and to preserve the Union." The war would end when the seceding states returned to the Union, slavery intact.

Final comments

The crucial states of Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri remained in the Union. After the bloody and questionable Union victory at the Battle of Antietam, Lincoln promulgated the Emancipation Proclamation, which was passed primarily as a diplomatic initiative to keep England from recognizing the Confederacy, and now it was about slavery.

However, in getting the seceding states to return to the Union, the resolution must be regarded a spectacular failure. The war dragged on four bloody years, and the seceding states returned — at the point of a gun, slavery abolished.

External links and references

Can anyone find the text of the resolution online? The original writer couldn't find it.