Senator Holmes justifying vote for the Missouri Compromise, 1820


John Holmes (1773-1843) was a state senator of Massachusetts who became a resident of Maine upon statehood and was in favor of Maine becoming independent from Massachusetts. He wrote this letter to his constituents in Maine, which was printed and distributed nationally. Holmes sent it to leading men across the country including to Thomas Jefferson who later sent Holmes a response.

Holmes justified his actions in voting for the Missouri Compromise, which stipulated that Maine could become a free state of the Union if Missouri could become a slave state.

Many people in Maine, while in favor of becoming a state, did not like their statehood being tied to Missouri's, and Holmes used this letter to explain his reasoning for voting for the compromise. After Maine became a state, Holmes was elected as one of its senators in 1820.


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