And yet still, because of the huge importance of cotton, the South remains the wealthiest part of the nation. Both North and South are jealous of political power. Each wants to dominate the government in Washington. But as long as Congress is evenly divided between slave states and free states, there is some stability. Then, in 1820, Missouri asks to enter the Union as a slave state. Northerners are alarmed. If Missouri becomes a state, the North will be outvoted in Congress. What can be done? Finally, a solution is found. Maine is carved from Massachusetts and made into a state, a free state. That keeps the balance of free and slave states . At the same time, the territories north of Missouri's southern border are to remain free. That action is called the Missouri Compromise. It keeps North and South talking to each other, but just barely. In 1845 slaveowner James Hammond writes this to an abolitionist. He says : "I repudiate, as ridiculously absurd, that much lauded dogma of Mr. Jefferson that ''all men are born equal.'' No society has ever yet existed without a natural variety of classes. Slavery is truly the cornerstone and foundation of every well-designed and durable republican edifice."
Meanwhile, Mr. Hammond and his planter friends are falling out of step with the European world. There, in the first half of the nineteenth century, most nations outlaw slavery . The Europeans begin to criticize the United States for allowing it. There are also white Northerners who are increasingly speaking out against slavery . By 1840 there are said to be about 2,000 abolitionist societies in the North . While some talk of gradually freeing the slaves and even paying the owners the cash value of their slaves, most abolitionists don't think anyone should be paid for owning anyone else. They want to end slaverybamjust like thatand too bad for the slave owners. William Lloyd Garrison, a white man from Massachusetts, is the founder of the American Anti-Slavery Society and the publisher of the leading abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator . He says , "I do not wish to think, or speak, or write with moderation. No! Tell a man whose house is on fire, to give a moderate alarm, but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnestI will not retreat a single inchand I WILL BE HEARD ."