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Petition from the citizens of Philadelphia praying for Congress to stand firm on the "Union, the Constitution, and the Enforcement of Law," February 5, 1861

This petition is one of several from Philadelphia that Senator Benjamin Wade of Ohio presented to Congress in February 1861, as Congress debated the Crittenden Compromise before Abraham Lincoln’s March 4 inauguration. The signers, though of differing political parties, all opposed Crittenden’s proposals. They urged Congress not to alter the Constitution.

We, the undersigned, Citizens of Philadelphia, without distinction of Party, do earnestly request you to stand firm for the Union, the Constitution as it is, and the enforcement of all the Laws.

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration

Petition from the citizens of Philadelphia praying for Congress to stand firm on the "Union, the Constitution, and the Enforcement of Law," February 5, 1861 We, the undersigned, Citizens of Philadelphia, without distinction of Party, do earnestly request you to stand firm for the Union, the Constitution as it is, and the enforcement of all the Laws.

Last Chance for Compromise

As the volatile issue of slavery’s expansion grew increasingly divisive, Congress struggled with legislation to preserve the Union. In 1860 Kentucky Senator John Crittenden proposed a return to ideas of the Missouri Compromise, suggesting a fixed boundary between free and slaveholding territories to extend to the Pacific. In 1861 Ohio Representative Thomas Corwin proposed a constitutional amendment prohibiting federal interference with slavery in the states. Congress rejected Crittenden’s Compromise, and the states did not ratify the Corwin amendment. Congress was not able to prevent Southern secession and war.