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The southern press. [volume] (Washington [D.C.]) 1850-1852, June 25, 1850, Image 2

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CALIFORNIA AND NEW MEXICO
HPEECH OF
Hon. H. MARSHALL, of Kentucky,
Is HocKfc or HepHEKBKTATneN, Aran., 3, 1^50.
Mr. MARSHALL said:
M". Chairman: At the commencement
of this session, occasion called forth an expression
of my regard for the Union. I
embrace the first opportunity which has
since otfared, to declare tha' attachment and
unaffected loyaltv to the noble system of
tree government under which we live, is the
common sentiment of the district I represent
Indeed, a desire to preserve our free institutions
for the benefit of posterity, must be
the darling wish of every patriot, no matter
under what latitude his deatinv is ra?t Thl?
belief inspires nie with hope and confidence,
that the clouds* which now lower over us
will roll away, and that the constellation of
the American Union will still shine among
the nations. If wr can but recur to that
spirit of mutual concession in which they
acted who conceived and established the
Constitution, we may meet this crisis without
(ear, and discharge our responsibility
without reproach. So far as I am concerned
1 shall be willing to bear and forbear, to
cl- im nothing that is not right, and to yield
to the circumstances which surround us, until
1 conceive demands upon me to be positively
wrong, in order to restore quiet to the
country, and to enable Congress to proceed
with other important and necessary legis-1
lation.
1 will say, in the commencement, I never
allow myself to dwell on the idea o( disunion
as a remedy, except as one sometinres rejects
upon the folly of suicide. It is the
remedy only of absolute desperation under a
sense of intolerable evil. Should the {tower
of this Government be prostituted to serve
the purposes of fanaticism, should a manifest
disregard of chartered rights appear in
its action, it would become the duty of the
oppressed to throw it off, by a resort to the
remedy of revolution. Whenever the con- i
struction of the Constitution is so p'ain a de-|
parture irom its literal meaning, anil its true
spirit, as to indicate beyond doubt that it is
retained as a mere index of power?not as
a bond of good faith among triends and
equals?the destruction of the Constitution
would be a less evil than submission to unfeeling
and unjust tyranny. 1 appreciate
the blessings of freedom and of regulated
right.
Domestic slavery is our apple of discord.
It need not be concealed tlirt so wide a difference
of opinion exists, as to the propriety
of domestic slavery under this Government,
us that the conflict of sentiment disturbs the
repose and endangers the security of the
Union- But it is not, as some seem to suppose,
the resolutions of popular assemblies,
the abstract notions of deelaimers, or even
legislative resolves, which may give rise to
this national disquietude. Men may think,
write, speak, as they please. It is action
Irom which the danger will spring; and in
advance of that action comes, very properly,
the vo'ce of warning, inviting a contemplation
of probable consequences.
At the adontinn r.f 111# Pit afihitlnn ??'"
ly all the States employed slave labor?
^ome derived large profits from their connection
with the slave trade. IVIany of the private
fortunes which established family consequence,
were founded upon the profits
deduced from this "inhuman traflic." The
iniquity of slavery had not alarmed the consciences
of men intent on the pursuit of gain.
The men of 1787, though fresh from the
war for liberty, and posssessing at least equal
purity with those of succeeding generations,
did not shrink from making the compact of
the Constitution with slavery, as a recognised
clement of political power in this Government,
ncr to clothe it both with protection
and privilege, in consideration of certain conceded
equivalents which they enjoyed during
their day, and from .which their descendants
reap profit even at this day.?
Since that period, many of the SUte.s,
having rid themselves of slaves, the passing
generation has been educated to abhor
the system, as not only the degradation
of an unfortunate race, and a disgraceful
deprivation of the negro of his inalienable
right to freedom, but also as a sin in the
sight of Heaven. The common mind, uneducated
in the written political obligations
ol the Constitution, is diverted from the
course it would otherwise have taken, by
the constant appeals of ambitious demagogues,
who inflame popular passion, from
motives ofself-aggrandizementand would lead
into all the labyrinths of error, for the mere
sake of public notoriety. The progress of
Abolition?for this sentiment which now
comes clothed with the title of "Free-soilism,"
is, at best, but political abolitioncism,
within the past fifteen years, has been prodigious.
Look back to the debates in this
Hall in 1835-36-37, and you will see that,
on the. presentation of abolition petitions,
northern Representatives claimed the especial
privilege of battling against the fierce
onslaught of this fanaticism wherever its banner
was displayed. They assured the South
that the movement was but the result of inconsiderate
folly, which, having no other
employment, was engaged in this mischief,
hut that no serious danger need be apprehended
from it. 1 do not doubt that those
gentlemen were sincere I do not doubt
the sincerity of gentlemen who now declare
there is no danger, and that our constitutional
rights shall be preserved.
Rut, Mr. Chairman, the progress of this
fanaticism has not in the slightest degree
been checked. If petitions for the abolition
of slavery in this District have ceased to
incumber the files of this House, it is only
because the acquisition of territory has
opened a new field for the temporary exercise
ot this mania. The fever has not
abated?the determination of the leaders of
the Abolition party remains unchanged. In
very department ui opinion and interest,
this spirit is at woik. It is not mere runinad
philanthropy. In the pulpit, clothed in
the pure vestments of religiou, :.t proclaims
the sin of slaverp, and calls upon the followers
of the true God to make war upon
it as an auxiliary of the devil. In the workshop,
it insidiously whispers into the ear o
labor that toil is profitless, because competing
with that of slavery. It invites the hard}
laborer to nuke war upon slavery, if h<
would open the field of profit for the energie
of his arm. In the factory, it po'mts th<
confined operative to greeu shades and coo
breezes, which shelter the form and fan th<
rbeeks of a master who is depicted as revel
ling in luxurious indolence. It steals int<
the hovel of want, and arouses the jealous}
of poverty against wealth, attributed to th<
system of slavery. In politics, it teachei
disaffection to the Constitution, because o
assumed injustice of slave representation it
|hi$ H-H, and wouhj in^ce the freem^ o|
4
the North to believe that he is on a scale
I of iul'ei lority as a votfcr. Thus, by turns,
| in the garb of philanthropy, religion, democracy,
whiggery?anything, everything?
this mischievous spirit plays the recruiting
officer, to obtain an army of followers for
the purpose of acquiring ftoirer. Wc have
j seen it bargaining for place, and availing
itself of the close balance of parties in the
; legislature, corruptly trading for political
| position. Now a sedate moralist, again a
! religious fanatic, or a political demagogue,
! it is attempting to outrun thfe established
' order of things, and to overleap every
barrier which the Constitution interposes to
j its progress.
j This is the spirit which is busy iu this
i i... i i . . / . > ' >...
kiiiw, in i'vciv ueparimcm oi laoor, politics, |
and religion, preparing sentiment, and try- |
ing, through governmental instrumentality,
to find vent for that sentiment in action,
even at the cost of the best political combination
of the earth. Its t.cad is that of
the Vaudal. When its usurpations shall be
complete, its triumph will be celebrated i
upon the ruins of the Constitution. The
hardy breeds of the north of Kuropc, who
overran Italy,- wrecked all of art and civilization
then existing. Vandal cupidity and
barbarian ambition were never aatis'":ed,
until they stood uj>on the ruins of Government,
and trod under foot all public hw and
private right.
I repeat, that I place every reliance iu
the sincerity of many gcntlcnieu from the
free States, who think there is no danger
from the operations of this Abolition feeling;
but I ask those gentlemen to point to the
man of 1835?6, who dared to oppose the
agitations of that time, now left to serve
the country? The voice of the past guides
me to fancy the realizations of the future.
These gentlemen are not the generals who
marshal the forces, nor the ^tacticians who
choose the positions of the Abolitiouists?it
fully occupies their time to keep their own
persons out of the fire of the batteries. This
Abolition spirit, sir, is a living, active, mischievous
element. When we behold the
fruits of its past exertions, and the evidence
of its present intentions, let us beware of
I non-action. The voice of nntrint'iKm I
us, by every duty we owe to the Constitution,
the country, and the world, to act now,
before it is too late, and so to act as to avoid
the possibility of any future issue between
us?so to act as to settle this distracting
controversy about slavery, at once, delini- |
tively, and forever.
The position to which wc are invited, and
which we arc assured to-day will prove
safe through the future, will only smother
the flame lor an instant, to r break forth
hereafter with increased heat and intensity.
Adopt it, ?nd my belief is the excitement
will increase. The anti-slavery
fever will guide the spirit of your elections
through future years. It will do more. In
the true spirit of that fanaticism which pretends
to look above earthly compacts, it has
solemnly sworn to observe, to a Divine command
for guidance, it will spurn the protection
afforded to property bv law, and will
wallow in all the excesses of the vilest agrarianism.
I have the most abiding reluctance
to see this scheme of non-action prevail. I
honestly believe that one of the effects to flow
from it, will be a permanent sectional division
among our people?1 do not mean a dissolution
of the Union, but an alienation of
feeling and of friendship?and as another
consequence, the elevation to public honors
of the most tabid, the most offensive, and the
most ultra and unscrupulous of those public
men who now T^ship openly at the altars of
Abolitionism anu Agrarianism. I have no exaggerated
apprehension of the designs of this
school of politicians. We have heard during
this discussion, fr in some of the leading
spirits of that party, now members of this
House, the views they entertain?the policy
they pursue?the motives which actuate
them to its adoption. Let us recur to them
tor a moment.
Speaking of Northern feeling, one of these
[Mr. Horace Mann] remarks:
"But release u* from our obligation*, tear off
from tlie bond with your own lianas the signatures
which bind our consciences and repress our feelings,
destroy those compensations wnieh the world
and posterity would derive from the Union, and J
well may you tremble for the result. ? ?
"Thousands will start up at the North, who will
think it as much a duly and an honor to assist the
slaves in any contest with their masters, as to assiat
Greek's, or Poles, or Hungarians, in resisting
their tyrants. ? ?? ??
"Perhaps n dissolution of thin Union is the
means foreordained by God for the extension of
slavery; and did I not foresee its doom, before any
very long period shall have elapsed, without the
unspeakable horrors of civil and servile war, I
cannot say to what conclusions the above considerations
would lead my own mind."
I will not multiply authority from this source.
It will suffice that this speaker denominates
the slaveholders as a man-stcaler?the slave
as "stolen goods;" and closes with the dec-|
laration, "Better disunion?better civil and
servile war?better anything that God in bis
ftrovidence shall send, than an extension of
lurnan slavery."
Another of these men [Mr. Thaddfa'9
Stevens] says:
"Slaveholders form an untitled aristocracy,with
numerous dependants. ? * There is no sound
connecting link between the aristocrat and the
slave. True, there is a class of human beings between
them ; but they are the most worthless and
miserable of mankind. * The poor white
laborer is the scorn of the slave himself. ? *
The white people who work with their hands, are
ranked witn the other laborers?the slaves. They
are excluded from the society of the rich. Their
ns?Mvcuucs, ii unywnm, nrc wiin mc coioreu popu
kit ion. They feci that they arc degraded and
i despised and their minds and conduct generally
, conforms to their condition.
"I am opposed to the diffusion of slavery, because,
confining it within its present limits, will
1 bring the States themselves to its gradual abolition.
Connne il, and like the cancer that is tending to
the heart, it must be eradicated, or it will eat out
the vitals. The sooner the patient is convinced of
this, the sooner he will procure the healing operation.
"Confine this malady (slavery) within it# presI
ent limits?surround it by a cordon of freemen,
j that it cannot spread?und in less than twentyfive
years every slaveholding State in this Union
I will nave on its statute books a law for the gradual
[ and final extinction of slavery."
Tlie speaker denounces slavery because it
tends to render the people among whom it is
: planted 44 arrogant, insolent, intolerant, and
i tyrannicaland44 will look upon any "North!
eru man, enlightened by a Northern educa[
tion, who would directly or indirectly, by
commission or omissiou, by basely voting
?j or cowardly, skulking, permit it to spread
sj one root over God's free earth, is a traitor
to liberty, and recreant to his God."
I I will not multiply these extracts now,
t.1 though I may append a lew from other
- sources, of like character, to the printed edi >!
tion of my remarks. 1 shall not stop to comr'
ment on the ignorance of the social condii
j tion of the laborers ami poor in the slave
< I States these Representatives exhibit; hut it is
f j lair to observe that the same strain of epithet,
II and a like representation of the existing couf
dition of aociet) in thf sieve States, peiy^d
BW??? . I "I I ?
; itig ,11 these speeches lor Northern consuinp|
rion?serve to swell the tide of prejudice
against one section of this Union in the
bottoms of the other. "Manstcalers ! thieves!
aristocrats! arrogant, insolent tyrants! abhorred
of God! unworthy of association
1 with mora), virtuous men on earth !" These
| are the terms indulged?terms utterly unfit;
! for tliiN presence?better suited to a fish-market.
I shall not descend to recriminate. 1
did not collate these precious passages for j
such purpose ; but to prove to tbe committee 1
and the country, and especially to the con-'
siderale and moderate men of the free States, j
that they can give no assurance of safely .
j under tin: policy of non-action, and indeed .
I that u'<* ran fi.nl litlle rn1i:?ncn for the safctv
i " v~" "" w ? - ---- --- J
I of slave property under the. very u:gis ol the
Constitution, wliilc such doctrines educate
the. public njjnd, or wound the public car.
The putffc of these remarks is in the
avowals of motive, inducing the adoption of
the policy these Representatives advocate.
What arc these avowals ? " Xon-erte)iilion,
no more slave territory, no more slave
States." Why? Not only because slavery is
an evil,"a 11 iniquity," but because they intend
to compel the owner to admit thai it is an evil,
by producing an intolerable state of su ffering \
in the slareholding States. They design,
by confining the institution of slavery to an
area which the natural expansion of populatiou
will soon cover, to compel the master
to cry out against the system of slavery as a
curse, which blights the prosperity of his business,
and endangers the security of his
home. Yes, sir; wc are informed, in this
explicit language, that the anti-slavery party
would now lay the foundation of a national
policy, by which it is intended to confine the
white and black races at the South together,
until the slaveholder shall come as an almoner
before the National Government, praying
to be relieved of the burden of this species
of property. All this is to be done,
too, by the energies of a Government organised
under a Constitution expressly guaranteeing
protection to this class of property?
done by men who acknowledge their inability,
under the Constitution, to interfere
with slavery in the States! Can you be
surprised, with such atrocious declarations
rincrinir in our ears, that we insist upon some
immediate settlement of this matter ? Would
you expect a sensible man to remain passive
while the lives of his family were threatened
when the incendiary brandishes the torch
before his. eyes, and boasts of an intention
to commit arson, though it involves murder !
These men argue, that while the Constitution
protects slavery in the State*, they
may so act upon it out of the State* as to
destroy its value in the States, and that, the
surrender of it by the owner, w ill then be
the act of the owner, while the effort of the
Abolitionists will be free from the stain of
violated obligation. I'recious ethics! I
know of but one apt illustration of the principle
asserted. In the annals of the " Count
of Monte-Christo," a story is told of a
French banker, who ventured into the catacombs
of Rome, under the pledge of some
banditti inhabiting that labyrinth, that no
violence should be offered to his person.
After he was fully committed, and could not
extricate himself, they furnished him a drop
of water to quench his burning thirst, for
one half of his money, and gave him a bird
to appease bis gnawing hunger for the balance
ofwhatjhc was worth. Thes.* punctilious
moralists contended that their pledge was
fulfilled, and that the surrender of the
Frenchman's property was his voluntary act,
and no robbery of theirs. The policy of
our constitutional brethren, thrown into the
shape of a bill, would read by its title some-.
j what after this fashion : " A bill to compel j
the slaveholding States to pass laws for the
gradual abolition of slavery, and further to '
destroy the security and value of slave pro- j
pcrty in the States, according to the mor.t1
modern interpretation of the Constitution." j
J am aware that the reply to thes? obs?r-'
vations will be, that the sentiments upon i
which 1 have commented are not the opin- i
ions of the mass of the North, and the per- j
sons whom 1 have denominated leaders, are j
extremists and agitators. 1 know they are |
extremists; but ullraists have led revolu- j
tions since the world had a history. The !
mass of men follow the lead of the daring j
spirit, whether his energy be exhibited in the ;
cabinet or the field. It is because these
leaders arc extremists and agitators, talented
and accomplished for their work, that 1 am '
the more desirous that moderate, conscrva- ;
tive gentlemen from the North shall join
me and other conservatives Irom the South
and West, to silence agitation by a settlement
at once of the suujcr.t, which gives
play to their faculty for.mischief. There is
but one sound and safe policy under all the
circumstances. It is to clos.' the volume of
legislation upon the subject of domestic slnI
very, by an act covering all the territory
under our jurisdiction, based upon mutual
: concessions, discarding all mere abstractions,
and drafted in a spirit of fraternity, to teach j
the minority that the majority wield power,
j with magnanimity?to prove to the So: th ,
j that their rights and feelings are not merely '
I recognized but guarded by the North?to j
I prove also that an American Congress will j
never "do evil that good in iv come out |
of it."
For n.y own part, I wish to act with fair- ;
ncss, executing honestly the obligations we j
owe to each other, that wc may bind with '
firmer ties than ever the Union of these'
States. 1 am no propagandist of slavery
because I consider it a moral, social, and,
political blessing. I heartily wish it had;
never existed on the continent; but as aj
system of labor, one half the States have;
become accustomed to it?the avails of
industry are invested in this nronertv : it is
I ... ? ? - I? I J , I
| intertwined with private rights so as to be
inseparable from them; it existed among1
the States at the birth of the Government;!
it is guaranteed by the fundamental law as
tn element of political power; and it will
exist, by the fiat of necessity, to the close of
the Government. Any legislative action
by Congress, adopted with the view to im|
pair the value of slave property in the hands
of the owner, or to interfere with his right
of enjoyment, proximately or remotely, is as
clearly a violation of his constitutional rights,
as if you should send an army with banners
into the State to wrest the slave from his
master, or should directly proclaim, like
France, a decree of universal emancipation.
I When the doctrine is asserted, that slavery
goes wherever the flag of the Union
floats, until it is prohibited by law, northern
I sentiment is shoe ed at its latitudinism; but
I when the doctrne is asserted that Congress
shall prevent slavery from extending wheresoever
the flag of the Union floats, the same
class of sentimentalists stand by the declaration.
Can it be seriously insisted that this
| Government mav make w?r ap jpstjtu
tiuD, recognized by the Constitution, and
; protected wherever it exists Could it have
been the design of the statesmen who framed
the plan of government, that legislation
might be used as an instrument to hlot out
anything the Constitution expressly recognizes
and agrees to protect, and in which the
investment of capital was invited i
1 care nothing for an equilibrium between
the slavehoiding Stales Such a condition
was not fixed by the Constitution, and is not
of its essence. It is, moreover, imposible, I
and if good faith prevails, unnecessary.? i
Power exerted bv the bee States to compel |
the slavehoiding -States to feel inferiority, |
ami to deprive thorn of any just right?used'
to mark with the stain ot national reproba- j
tion a class of property held by the minority,!
by virtue of a right over which Congress hrs
_" . . < ii-i.i i ii i
no control, alio winch me owner iioius, in
tlie opinion of fifteen States, without any I
violation of etiquette to man or ton against
God?I protest against most solemnly.?
l'bc exertion of any such power, w ithout the
consent of the minority, will justly ajieuate
the affections of the people from a Govern-1
ment, whose conduct is in open hostility to
their interests.
When we regard th; practical blessings
of the Union, the rapid growth of our country,
the unparalleled increase of our commercial
and national power, and the prospect
of a future, through whose vista the
enlightened statemen can already perceive
a grandeur which will place the United
States first among the powers of the earth,
the wonder increases, that any section of the
country should be willing to peril, even for
a moment, the prospect of our common glory,
by an attempt to enforce a mere sentiment
of more than questionable philanthropy.?
The free States of this Union have retrospect
to gratity the pride of any people?a
prospect promising increased prosperity and
power. By the exertion of energy, their
people have assumed public and private
wealth?have diffused the blessings of education,
broadcast, among the million?have
connected the natural channels of trade by
artificial improvements, and checkered their
magi ificent country with stupendous works
of arf.
Tie rapid swell of numbers, under the
provisions of the Constitution, regulating
our political relations, has transferred the
reigns of empire to their grasp, except so far
as the organic law has reserved rights to the
States and the people, or regulates their exercise.
Moderate ambition should surely
be content with such a measure of past success,
and such a promise of future splendor.
Can it be that the free sons of the North intend
to mar this great "partnership of freedom
and glory," by an unhallowed attempt to trample
upon the rights of their brethren ? Why
interfere with the condition and institutions
of your neighbors ? Why read homilies to
us, your political equals, upon the moral
iniquity of domestic slavery ? Why cheat
yourselves with the delusion that Providence
has called you to a special mi?iioa .'or its ex
tirpation t Why seek to act as it we nail
no voice in the disposition of our common
domain ? Look back on the history of the
pad, and imitate the example of the slaveholding
country. "When the war of the
Revolution closed, Virginia transferred
to the common treasury tor the payment
of the public debt, and for the common
benefit, a domain richer than a dozen European
principalities. She agreed t) mark
it by the peculiarity of your own system of
labor. Will you now deny to her a fair
participation in the acquisitions of our common
blood and treasure ? When Louisiana
was acquired, slavery existed over its entire
surface. Remember the language of the
Noith. It was then marked by no assumption
of arrogance?no determination to rule
all, according to her own view. Mr. Taylor,
of New York, the gentleman who moved
the restrictive clause, (since known by the
name of Wilmot Proviso,) held this just and
emphatic language:
"We have no desire to restrict the emigration
from the South, or to deny to it nu eoual participation
of territorial benefits. * * The jtowers of
sovereignty over the territory ought to bo exercised,
not 011 the principles of Massachusetts or
Virginia, but upon those of the VniUd States."
How different, Mr. Chairman, is this language
frotn that held the other day by a
Rprcsentative from Massachusetts, [Mr.
Ashmun,] who said:
" If you claim this right ns a money right, we i
will not grant it. If you claim it as a point of
honor, and will join us in a resolution saying
slavery is not there and never will be, then, to save
your feelings, we will not pass the proviso."
Far better, sir, adhere to the spirit which
admits the equality of the States, and announces
the just doctrine, that neither Massachusetts
nor Virginia possess the right to
impress their peculiarities of sentiment, or of
their system of labor exclusively upon the
common domain.
This irritating question was supposed to
be settled by the Missouri Compromise, which
divided the territory between the two classes
of Stotes. 1 know the slave States yielded
much in that settlement. They voluntarily
yielded the right, clearly possessed, to carry
slave property into any part of the territory
of the United States, and agreed, for the
sake of peace and harmony, to a partition,
which confined slavery south of the line of
36 deg. 30 min. of north latitude. The j
spirit of that compromise was an eomtable
airi&ion of the territory?one part to be governed
by the, principles of Massachusetts,
and the other by the principles of Virginia,
if the people "who formed the States chose
to adopt those principles. It is fashionable
to denounce the Missouri Compromise nowa-days,
and to say the South ought not to
have agreed to it. I think otherwise. It
was a compromise?a mutual concession to
satisfy a difficulty between people of the
same I neage, having common interests?it
w as an honest compromise, and as sound an
adjustment of a distracting controversy, as
modern wisdom will, by any possibility, dcI
vise. I am willing to adhere to it, and in
its true spirit to carry it forward to the Pa
i citie. 1 am willing even to detlect the line,
| when it reaches the eastern boundary of
California, and run it by that boundary to
the South, thus yielding to a state of the case
which has been produced in that country by
the neglect of Congress to institute government,
and ha3 induced the people to assume
the right of empire. I will o nscnt to yield
to free labor the coast of the Pacific, the
i Asiatic commerce, and the entire territory
i north of 3G dejjr. 30 min. All I ask in return
is, the institution of territorial government
south of that line, accompanied by the
guarantee that slavery shall exist if the people,
| in forming the State to be hereafter erected,
fo desire?in the meantime to be open tc
j immigrants from all quarters.
I do not know enough of the valleys of
| the Rio Grande, the Colorado and the Gila,
, to ?ay whether j'.ave labor could be r??d^d
! profitable in any of tliem?nor do I care. U
i is not oil this account I desire the settlement,
' but because it will aiford evidence that gentlemen
from the North are willing to meet
i on terms of equality?to nw and take?and
j not ready to assert the policy that an interdic|
tion of slavery is the sine </ua non to an admisj
sion into the Union. It will prove to the |>eople
of the slaveliulding States, that this Government
has not vet obeyed the impulse of
those who would pervert its powers to their injury,
and the destruction of their property.
I say I am willing to carry forward the Missouri
Compromise in its true spirit. I believe
it is our duty to do so, and that tbe North is
bound, in honor, to agree to it. It is true,
tin' Vlisioiiri Cninnrnmise was but a law. and
as such is not per ae binding on subsequent
legislation. It was not intended to supply a
caauH omiaaua of the Constitution, and was
understood at the time as an agreement between
the people of this country, North and
South, that the power of the General Government
over the institution of slavery in theterritories,
should be regulated by the latitude
in which the territory was situated.
The compact was just as binding as any
power, short of an absolute amendment of
the Constitution, can make it.
The resolutions of Texas annexation carried
the terms of the Missouri Compromise
through a State about to enter the Union.
The destiny of Oregon was expressly settled
upon the same basis, by the last President of
the United States. Why was the South content
with these results when they were proclaimed
? Because the spirit of that compromise
was understood to be the basis of
each settlement. It cannot be said its terms
only extended to the country embraced by
the boundary of Louisiana, for neither Texas
nor Oregon were embraced by Louisiana.
On the part of the slave States, the contract
is executed, the consideration has been accepted
by the free States, and according to
every idea I have of fair dealing, their part
of the stipulation should now be perform-d.
It is not the amount of territory about which
I am solicitous, nor yet the mere point of
honor. I entertain invincible repugnance to
the assertion of the inadmissible principle in
this Government, that Congress may, by
law, bring the energies of the Government
to bear in a hostile manner upon that which
is recognized as property in the States, and
thnt th/? mniAritv mnir Kv !?w_ HYrliifl#* th?
...... ...? J""V _'""J 1 ~J. ?
minority from a fair participation in the acquisitions
of the country.
Gentlemen from the free States have accustomed
themselves to say, that they will ]
not consent, under any circumstances, that
slavery shall extend an inch beyond its present
area. If this is meant merely to express
intense antipathy to slavery, I have no
observation to make in regard to it; but it
cannot escape the most cursory reflection,
that in many cases, readily supposed, the irreversibleness
of this sentiment would present
a perfect paradox in morals. I trust the
day will never arrive when the dogma shall
find practical assertion by general legislative
act. In its broadest sense, it must be understood
as placing slave property under the
ban of the empire, for it amount , practically,
to the same thing as the Wilmot proviso,
applied through the present and the future.
It is not my purpose to consume time by
the discussion of the correctness of any abstract
sentiment; 1 want to deal with the case
in hand, trusting that the present emergency
being provided for, the future yill furnish
no occasion for a continuation of the discussion.
California demands admission as a State;
she has sent to the Capitol two members, as
her quota in the popular representation.
Without authority from Congress, she
for Tied a constitution. "Dressed in her
robes of freedom, gorgeously inlaid with
gold," the 11 young Queen of the Pacific"
has assumed the sceptre of sovereignty; her
constitution is submitted for cur examination;
her legislature forms laws, and her
Governor already enforces them; she claims
the right of empire within a boundary in
which she yields to this Government the
right of eminent domain; her position presents
to our consideration a single alternative?we
must confirm what she has done,
and admit her into the fami y of American
States, or we must, by force of arms, if
necessary, disrobe her of that gorgeous
mantle which has been bai'cd with yenuine
Eastern adoration, and remand her to her
former condition of military pupilage. Calionf
itlnd tr\ a />inl nrAirom mant '
1UII1IU ???> CiiklVlvu *v n vi* II VHIUIVUV
the men who rushed from the United States
to her sites of commerce, and her placers of
gold, understood the great right ot selfgovernment,
and asserted it. Their right
to form a State constitution, at a proper
time, to suit themselves, is an admitted
right which nobody contests. If any -fault
has been committed, the censure rests here,
not there. Under the treaty, it was the
duty of Congress to give to that people at
least a territorial government; but the same
Representative? who are now clamorous for
the admission of California, because they
see the prohibition of slavery ingrafted by
her people into the State constitution, refused
to perform this duty last year without
the restrictive clause.
While much remains undone that should
have been done before a State, government j
was instituted?while Congress would have
i been better prepared to decide with wisdom
on the boundaries suitable for the State, had
the counfry been tiist sectioned, its exact
area determined, the relation of mountain,
and streams to each other, and to th? coasts
precisely fixed, as well as some idea of the
j centres of future population obtained?still,
| the failure of preparation in these important
nartiml.irs is not the fault of Califnriiians.
j I should like very much to have known the
1 proportion of public lands to those under
private grant at the date of the treaty. I
should prefer to know the proportion of McxI
icans who remained in the country, electing
: to remain as Mexiian citizens, and not as
; citizens of the United States. I should desire
to know what proportion of land in that
j country is arable, and what proportion uninhabitable,
before l east my vote on the quesj
tion of California boundary. It may be,
that wc are not entitled to one foot of arable
j land in California, and I entertain a strong
I persuasion such will turn out to be the fact,
j The treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, contains
many features of striking peculiarity. It
j openly eschews the great principle of allegiance
and protection?it enables the Mexican
to remain in the ceded country, and to continue
a Mexican subject, or citizen. It enables
the Mexican, who owned land in the
country at the date of the treaty, to remain
beyond the jurisdiction?an absentee?and
to pass his lands by contract to another alien
and absentee. Knowing, as I do, the tenacity
with which Mexicans bold on to real
eitate. I fear tb? etfect of tiii? condition of
m
! thing*. But aboveall, by ooo-?W>ctk>a
one yeer, the Mexicans who were hi the
country became entitled to the inchoate rights
of citizenlhip. We may, by adopting the
State,and legalizing what has been done,be
introducing at a single bound, into equal
privileges with ourselves, in this Government,
the peous of some Mexican rancbo,
whose only claim to this dear privilege was
their insensibility and recklessness of obliga- .
tion to any flag or sovereign. I do not wish
to cheapen the title of "American citizen."
All these |?oints, and more, should in the
first place have been ascertained and settled.
Nevertheless, us I am not an advocate of a
second war in California, and do not desire !
to add to existing irritation by any unbecoming
punctilio about the order of her coin- e
ing, especially failing to perceive any constitutional
objection to her admission, my
in Itor titinrt ? simrL' inu>v. >
avMWM "w> "ww** ~r? - vM,h,w xImvu |
tion, to wit: u What shall be done with the i
remaining territory ?"
I am not to be understood as halting, because
slavery has been prohibited by the
constitution ol California. That constitutes
no objection ; fur 1 have a conviction that it
is the will of her people, instigated by no
improper influence, except, probably, a (ear
of the failure of her application in the absence
of such provision. What compromise
shall be made ? I hare remarked, that 1
prefer an equitable partition of the territory
in the spirit of the Missouri case, but for
the sake of peace and harmony, I will mc?t
on another basis, to wit:* the admission
of California, and the institution of territorial
governments over the whole remaining
country, under our Hag, giving protection to
property and persons under such governments,
silenee on the subject of slavery, and
a guaiantee that, when State cousti utionsare
formed, the people may choose their own institutions,
and whether slavery be permitted
[or excluded, the admission into the Union of
the State or States to be formed from such
territory. Why do the Representatives
from any extreme of the Union shrink with
timid shyness from the adoption of these conciliatory
propositions? We cannot have
peace, and harmony, and administrative energy,
until something is effected upon this
subject. Why not adopt one or another of
the bases suggested?
I have heard the remark frequently on
I this floor, especially from this side of the
| House, that the plan of the Administration
is, to admit California and there to halt?
leaving New Mexico under her present government?and
that advocacy of territorial
government in New Mexico is opposition to
the views of the Pesident. I have no authority
to speak for the Administration, and
I merely declare my own opinion when I
say, that the proposition as stated is not correct,
and the conclusion deduced from it is
not a proper conclusion. I do not believe
the President is opposed to the institution of
territorial governments in the territories, or
that he desires the existing condition of
affairs to continue in New Mexico, if we
can institute civil government there without
sacrificing the publ:c peace by an unworthy
quarrel over the matter of slavery. On the
coutiary, from my knowledge of the character
of the President, 1 believe an adjustment
would be to him a source of unalloyed satisfaction,
ahd if the legislative department can
progress to the full discharge of its duty,
without a sacrifice of the Union, it would
realize his hopes and meet his hearty co-operation.
1 do not know the opinions of cabinet
ministers?nor do I care what they may
be. i only speak from documentary evidence
in reach of all, as to the views of the
President. Injustice is done to the President
in the attempt to construe his message into
an advocacy of non-action, as the preferable
policy wider all circumstances. In advising
Congress to abstain from the introduction
of topics likely to produce geographical
discriminations and sectional parties, General
Taylor acted upon the supposition that
California and New Mexico would both
apply directly for admission as States; and
I it was believed the silent operation of popular
power might avoid the necessity of congressional
action in the matter. Put the
hope of General Taylor has not been realized
?New Mexico lias not applied for admission
as a State.
On the 31st December last, bv a vote of
101 to 83, this House refused to lay on the
table the resolution of an honorable mem!
ber from Ohio, directing the Committee on
Territories to report a bill for the provision
of territorial governments, with the prohibition
of slavery attached thereto. On the 21st
of January, 1850, the President communicated
a message containing the departmental
reports touching California, and availed
himself of the opportunity to review the
reason for his original suggestion of delay in
congressional action, and also to add another
suggestion why the delay should be contin- !
ued in regard to New Mexico. The votj
on the rrso'utionof the gentleman from Ohio '
had fortified the apprehensions of the President,
that "excitement would prevail to an I
undue extent.The Texas claim is, in this J
message, for the first time brought forwarJ, I
I and the President, with due regard to the ,
I feelings of Texas, suggests that, until Congress
has devised a mode of adjusting that 1
interference, the institution of a territorial |
government, embracing the interference and
superadding to existing causes of disquietude 1
; any oppression of Texas might not be politic. '
j The President, even in this message, sha- ,
| dows forth again the idea which induces his i
I recommendation, and it is this, that Congress
I is in a temper and state of feeling whic.h
: unfit this body for the temperate, proper, and
| complete discharge of its duty in regard to I
I the territories; but nowhere docs the Presi;
dent intimate that he prcjer* non-action per
I *e, as a national policy. On the 10th of
I February,tins House, after some interchange
jof opinion, decided, by a vote of 104 to 50
j to lay the resolutions of the gentleman from
: Ohio on the table.
The question, then, before us is this: Cannot
the representatives of the States and the
Ceople adjust this matter on some definitive
'cic \i-Kn-li cKnll nmnnnt tn a full rlisrhnrtrp I
of duty, and silence those agitations that so
lead to "geographical discriminations" in
legislation? A oasis for an adjustment of
the Texas boundary has been suggested at
the other end of this Capitol, which thus far
has elicited no objection. I will not 3gree
to disintegrate Texas without her consent,
and I advocate her claim to the extent of '
boundary claimed (not occupied) at the
j commencement of the war. 1 am not much j
! inclined to buy from her; yet, on a general
settlement and a'full footing up of the ac- |
count, I would interpose no objection to the ,
money item in favor ot Texas, lor the sake (
of peace and national quiet. We should, at
last, pay the money to our own people, and J
no economy in a matter of money can justify (
; ttye hasaj-d pf di?uj?ion, ^'
I
f
I act upon the convictions of duty. I Relieve
that obligations of no ordinary diameter
demand the institution of civil government
in New Mexico and Deaeret, without
further delay. A failure to perforin our
duty, will proclaim the extreme peril ol our
institution*, from the existence of a radical
division of sentiment about slavery among
the people of the States. Ingenuity and
sell-interest will soon d-vise t e means of
making up the issue between us, and once
made, the dest/uction of the tiovernment
will be materially forwarded, and may not
be avoided.
But we owe the discharge of litis duty to consistency.
We spend hundreds of thousands of'
dollars annually to provide civil government in the
territories of Oregon and Mihneouia?why shall
We fail to institute the same government in New
M/'vicn anil t Is il onlv koo-i..?
is prohibited in Oregon and h&iimesota ? New
Mexico has a commerce fcr more valuable than
ihat of Minnesota?a population surpuMsin" thai
of Minnesota in numbers?more defenceless far
more requiring the aid of Oovernment, uud the
protection of the strong arm of the Union. I cannot
listen to the plea that she has a better government
now than formerly- I have conversed with
the intelligent delegate deputed hv that people to
bring here the representation of Iter grievances.
What sort of a government has New Mexico?
Sir, a government emanating front Executive authority
only, and carried out by a military chief
ucting under Executive order. Are the rights and
remedies of creditor and debtor regulated by law ?
Arc the persona of citizens secure? If the commandant
of a post shall order the collection of
debts to be suspended, as to a given individual in
community, his order will be obeyed; if he shall
order a.citizen to be tied to a cannon for breach of
military regulation, it will be done. This may be
better than the New Mexicans were accustomed
to before the treaty of cession, and tVom the barbarity
of some of their officers to the Santa Fe
prisoners from Texas, I think it probable it is an
improvement upon ancient customs; but, Mr.
Chairman, it is not the government an American
citizen has a right to expect, nor does it comport
with my ideas of the enjoyment of regulated civil
liberty. _
I confess, I do not appreciate that philosophy
which would convince me that to-day the inhabitant
of New Mexico has no need of a territorial
trovermnent established by law, because the be
nign teaching of a regular soldiery is an improvement
on his former condition, but that to-morrow
I shall trust the same New Mexican to frame a
State constitution, republican in its character, and
shall embrace him as an eoual in privilege, and
counsel as to the policy of our glorious Union.
If California has framed a constitution prematurely,
and without consultation with Congress as
to the proper time, because we have not discharged
our duty to her people, when I atn officially
informed that New Mexico is expected to do tho
same thing?these people to wnom anarchy or
military rule is an improvement?I feel that there
is no longer a plea for delay in the performance of
our duty. But again : I must express my extreme
disinclination to the continuance of a government
over nny part of the American people,
in which an officer of the regular army plays the
governor, and the power of the State is maintained
by military authority. It is a precedent only
justifiable in a case of extreme necessity?a precedent
to be dispensed with as soon as possible,
not to be prolonged indefinitely?a satrapal power
uncongenial to the spirit of American institutions
?at war with every notion of just government in
a republican system, to which I have been educated-?dangerous
in its example to the rfghts of the
citizen, and the liberty of tne States.
And why shall we not perform our duty, our
whole duty, to these infant provinces?
Tell me not it is the plan of the Administration
to delay. I have already commented upon the
views of the President. According to my construction,
he says to us, by implication as forcible
as language can convey, that our duty is apparent
to him, if we have the patriotism to discharge
it?at all events, it is apparent to me. My
action ns a legislator is the consequence of my
own judgment. I pursue the true spirit of the
declaration of the Executive, that the independence
of the representative is indispensable to the
preservation of our system of self-government,
and that he owes no responsibility to any human
power but his own constituents.
I acknowledge the astuteness of those who have
rallied upon what they are now pleased to term
" the plan of the Administration." Sir, the Executive
who heads this Administration, holds the
doctrine (if I understand the principle upon which,
above all others, he came into power) that plans
are to be devised here?in tne legislature?and
merely to be executed by the department of which
the President is the chief. Justice to the President
will not authorize the declaration that this Administratis,
is committed to any plan. It will subscribe
cheerfully to whatever constitutional and
considerate plan the wisdom of Congress may devise.
The motive inducing the adoption of the
nrinrinl* of " non-action " are so clearly displayed
in a tatter of the gentleman from New York,
[Mr. Dler] to his constituents, as not to require
any power of analysis for their comprehension.
The policy surrenders no view of the "Free-Soil"
party. Proceeding upon an expectation that the
territories will voluntarily exclude slavery, it reserves
the power to interdict it by express legislation,
should the territories fail to do so. It applies
the fhble of the faggots to this case, introducing
one State at a time, carved out of parts of
the public domain, under the practical assertion
of a principle, the immediate application of which
the whole domain would be so obnoxious to the
slaveholding States as to be intolerable. By refusing
to act at^all, it throws the onus of all agitation
apparently upon the slave States. It finally
uttempts to clothe itself with the name of an
" Administration plan," and to bring to its aid
the popularity and name of the President of the
United Stales.
Mr. Chairman, I know no party or section, in
the adjustment of this delicate and difficult subject.
In my reflection, I find that the geographical extremes
of the country are most excited, and least
likely to listen to terms of conciliation and accommodation.
I have tried to embrace the whole
country, and to know no guide but the common
good. If you will accept the counsel of the borders
where" the different systems of labor come
into contact, this controversy will be settled in a
day. If its adjustment rested solely upon the
voice of the rallies of the Ohio and Mississippi,
it would not last a week. No speakers seem to
have realized the fact, that in this Government
there is a region where cotton and sugar do not
grow, and where mattufhclures and navigaiton are
not the only employments of industry. There is
such a region, and its united voice will he heard. It
is a region that the hand of Omnipotence has
marked for the heurt of a splendid empire. Already
the great granary of the continent, directly it will
be tne centre of political power, as well as of the
military strength of the Union?I mean the rallies
of the Ohio and Mississippi. The interests
of that people are identical, no matter whether
they five in a free State or n slave Slate ; and they
cannot be induced to sacrifice their welfare or their
friendship for the triumph of any extreme doctrine
about slavery. The farmers of the West sec
cajiilal industriously engaged in contriving the
ways and means of commerce between them and
the Atlantic. They recognize the fact, that tliay
tied the slave who produces cotton in the South,
and the operative who manufactures it in the
North.
The South Atlantic States struggle to rracli the
Valley of the Ohio with their railways, and diOrectly
hio and Indiana will transport hogs, and
cattle, and flour, by railroad to Charleston and
Savannah, or distribute them to Mobile, Pcnsacola,
and through the cotton-growing States. On
the other hand, Kentucky, and Tennessee,?and
Missouri, will use the ways of Ohio, Pennsylvania,
and Virginia, to reach the Atlantic with their
tobacco, hentp, nnd stock. The stnples of these
a-, ti.o Tiii.u are competitors in
the markets of the Union. They are rf-iends and
brethren. Will the free West pursue a policy
which can only serve to annoy tnc South, and to
alienate the friendship of the Southern people?
Will the corn-grower on White River, or the
Wabash, vote to produce a state of case which
may cut off his own market? Will he pursue a
mere sentiment?an idealism, never to be rendered
practical?when he sees that it deprives his
neighbor of rights esteemed dear, and produces
discord where all should be harmony ? I should
he willing to leave this question to my neighbors;
[ believe they would do us justicr. I expect it at
[he hands of their representatives.
Mr. Chairman, before I conclude these observations,
I desire to say a few words in "reply to
the frequent expression which has been given
upon this floor, to the idea of ufiitjff military
means to keep the States in union. The Union
was not founded on the principle of forct; it enntot
We preserved by such application. It rests
upon mutual interest, and exists alone by the observance
of the rights and feelings of every section
fore* 'ball n*c<*#ary to nudu
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