Newspaper Page Text
is the true interpretation of that instrument.
The Missouri restriction then stands out before the country as the first act iu which the Cou gress of the United States, forgetful of the spe cific limitation upon its powers, made itself a party to that groat abolition policy which was than agitating the British mind, and when, un der the Influence of an excited popular fanati cism, it sought to sustain that policy by inflict ing au immedicable wound upon the Constitu tion of the country. From the adoption of the interdict contain^ in the act of March, 1820, to the present hour, the,people of the south?perhaps it would be more appropriate in me to say, the people of Virginia?have never ceased to regard it as an exercise of legislative authority not warranted by the language or spirit of the Constitution ; as assuming to prescribe for the people and States north of 36? SO' what, upon every sound ? and just principle, they should be left to deter mine for themselves; as a violation of the rights guarantied to the inhabitants of that Territory by the treaty of 1803; and as un kindly and ungenerouslv combining with the hostile spirit of Great Britain, and arraying the moral power and influence of this govern ment to war against an institution, iu refer ence to which the Constitution has given Con gress no power to act, except in a few speci fied cases, and those only for its protection and preservation. The sentiment felt by Virginia, as one of the States of this Union, at this extra ordinary assumption of power, may be seen in the resolutions of her General Assembly; in the recorded votes of her senators and repre sentatives in Congress; in the indignant tone of her public press; and in the solemn decla rations of her most eminent and illustrious sons, to all of which I look back with the high est approbation and pleasure. " Missouri question, by a geographical line of division," said Mr. Jefferson, "is the most por tentous one that I have ever contemplated." " That the proposed restriction as to Territories which are to be admitted into the Union," said Mr Monroe, -'if uot in direct violation of the Consti tution, is repugnant to its principles." " I must own," said Mr. Madison, "that I have always leaned to the belief that the restriction was not within the true scope of the Constitu tion." And, sir, who can look back to the exercise of this power, with the lights which subsequent events have cast upon it, that must not concur with these eminent men, that it has been as unfortunate in its results as it was unconstitu tional in principle? When I say that the act of Congress, excluding bv its provisions one half of the States of this Union from the bene fits of the full enjoyment of a common inheri tance, purchased by the blood or the money of all, ana assuming to legislate upon a question of pure domestic 'policy, is unconstitutional, what do I mean ? Is it that the act is in vio lation of any express prohibition touching that subject, and contained in that instrument? Certainly not; for as the Constitution is itseli silent as to any future acquisitions of territory, it of course lays down no rule as to the terms upon which that territory, if acquired, shall be governed, or its benefits partitioned among the States. The acquisition of territory was, bv Mr. Jefferson, regarded as an act beyond the Constitution. It is one of those events which, in the career of a great government, will some times arise, unforeseen by ita founders, and which, overriding all th ? scruples of technical minds, will commend itself by its absolute benefits or political necessity. Such have been the acqui sitions of Louisiana, Florida, Texas, Califor nia. and New Mexico, and upon such principles have they been defended. And yet, in the ab sence of any express grant to acquire territory, we have gone on, under the impulse of our high and irresistible destiny, to rival in extent the empire of Rome. In less than half a century we have spread our dominions from ocean to ocean, until we now comprehend with in our limits more than three millions of square * miles. This right to add provinces ar.-l republics to oar original area has been since vindicated by the highest law tribunal, as an incident to the war and treaty making power. Be it so. H the right to acquire territory be an implication from any of the granted powers, it is of the very essence of all snch implications that thej shall carry with them nothing repugnant tc any of the express rights secured by that in strument, still less shall they be repugnant tc the great object for which it was framed. Equality, perfect equality amongst the States, and amongst all the people composing the United States, is the great cardinal and funda mental principle of our system ; and every act which impairs that equality, is in violation of its ordinances and repugnant to its spirit Be sides, there is not an express power conferred by the Constitution touchiug the subject of sla very that is not one for its protection. It is, in truth, the only property expressly recognised and protected by that instrument. As my friend from North Carolina said, a few days ago, it is emphatically a pro-slavery Constitu tion ; and it is because it is such that jt haa been made the object of such ceaseless and vin dicative assaults by the abolition orators and presses throughout the couutry. No subjeel was more fully considered by the federal con vention than this subject of slavery. I here quote from a document emanating from the general assembly of Virginia in 1841); u Its existence and its influence upon the futun destiny of such portions of the confederacy a: were likely to retain it ax a permanent portion o their policy, were discussed with the fullest an< most mature deliberation. The opposing interesti of north and south were brought out in full array and after weeks of consideration and debate by tlx wise and illustrious men who composed tbat as sembly, after great and mutual concessions made on ail Mdes for th? public good, their labors on tbii subject resulted? "?1st. In the distinct recognition of its validity in all the Slates where the people of these States choose to retain it. "?2d. In a solemn guaranty in the Constitution to enforce the rights of the owners of slaves in all the States of the Union in*o which they might make their escape ; and ?* 3d. In according to the slave population a rep sentative weight in the federal council." It thus became a fundamental element in the structure of the now government. Political power was claimed and accorded to our then existing and thereafter increasing slave popu lation. Under the operation of this feature in the Constitution, we have at this time twenty members of the House of Representatives, anil on a recent occasion enjoyed the advantage of twenty votes in the college for the election of a President and Vice President of the United States. Entering into the constitution, of the legislative and executive departments of the government, it is an agent in every law and in every act of the government In the language of an eminent judge of the federal court of the State of Pennsylvania. " Slavery is the corner-stone of the Constitution The fouudations ol the government are laid am rest on the rights of property in slaves, and th? whole structure must fall by disturbing the corner stone. ?Opinion of Judge Baldwin in the ease oj Johnson vs. Tompkins, 1 Jiald.p. 597. Such being the case, what riglit has the gov ernment of the United States, which is but the creature and agent of the State, formed for the purpose of carrying into effect the joint will of all the States as expressed in that compact? what right can be implied in such an agency to stigmatize by its interdicts an institution which enters' so largely into the structure of the gov ernment, to war against it as an evil, or to ex hibit it before the world as an object of national reproach ? You must first destroy that Consti tution which you have sworn to support; you must first raze to its foundations the work of Washington and Madhon, and reconstruct one upon its ruins, of other materials, before you can reach auy such conclusions. I do not question the right of any State to carry out within its limits any State policy, no matter how harsh or destructive of the institution of slavery; with the people of the States, that right resides in all its amplitude and power. But J may well ask, what right can be im plied in Congress to legislate out of a Territory belonging to the 1'uiU-d States a great element of the Constitution it*elf? Where doea it de rive the authority to treat that matter ot constitutional interdict which the Constitution itself protects, and which an eminent northern judge, administering the law in a northern State, has told us with truth, was " the corner stone of the Constitution " itself? Does any man suppose that those illustrious men who framed that instrument, and who so zealously I guarded every exercise of power on this deli cate subject, would have ever consented to the grant of any such power to the federal govern ment and have armed it, by i .plication, with the authority to assault what tbev had been so careful to protect ? Sir, I hold that Congress has no sucu power. If the ri^ht to acquire territory implies the rieht to legislate for that territory, the right of legislation is not abso lute, but can only exist in subordination to the rights which are expressly secured, and to those principles which are expressly engrafted upon the Constitution itself. The fratners of our Constitution acted upon the subject of slavery very much in the same spirit in which our Divine legislator acted upon it in his day. lie gave no commit-ion to his apostles to attempt its overthrow, but left it to the temporal authorities to act upon as a ques tion wholly within their control. So in like manner did the frame r* of our government leave it wholly as a subject of State and local authority, well foreseeing that no more danger ous element of agitation covld be engrafted upon our federal system than the right to de termine a policy upon which there existed so wide and irreconcilable a diversity of opinion. The wisdom of those great men was never more strikingly displayed than in their action upon this subject. . Whilst upon this subject of implied powers, I will quote an extract from the speech of that same distinguished jurist to whom I have just referred. It is well known that Henry Bald win, in 1820, at that time a representative in Congress from the Pittsburg district, was one of the few northern statesmeu who, rising su perior to sectional influences and to the e^an escent clamor of the day, sought a higher and nobler fame by making a sacrifice of himself, if need be, to arrest a meditated assault upon the Constitution of his country. His conduct at that time is worthy of the attention of north ern representatives now. With the first inti mation of his purpose to vote for the admission of Missouri as a slave State into the I nion, a blaze of excitement sprung up against him in his district, fanned by the same influences which are now so zealously at work. He was denounced in the most opnrobious term9, and shared the fate of other northern statesmen at this time; he also was burnt in effigy. But unawed by these ebullitions of popular fury, and realizing that beautiful conception of a firm patriot, which the great lyric poet of Rome has transmitted to us from antiquity? "Justum et tenacem propositi virum, Non civium ardor prava jubentiutn, Non vultus instantis tyranni Mente quatit sohda"'? he stood faithful to his conviction. The excite ment of the moment passed away. Reason resumed its throne in the popular mind. That instinctive love for the principles of our consti tutional system which no fanaticism or passion can long obscure, became triumphant; and he was at tlie succeeding election returned, with out even an opponent, to the House. Nor did ihe just appreciation of his manly and patriotic independence stop there; but after being re-? peatedly honored, by the confidence of his eon- | stituents, he was elevated to the bench of the | Supreme Court of the United States, where he continued to the period of his death to adorn that venerable tribunal by his learning and abilities, and to consolidate the Union of these States by his sound, national, and conservative opinions upon all the questions of constitu tional law tnat came before him, pome of which were quoted, a few days ago, by the gentleman frem Tennessee, [Mr. Smith.] Mr. Baldwin, in his celebrated speech ou the Missouri question in 1820, with great force and truth says: "Can there bo a more dangerous principle vrhicb thus leads you to inquire not what the Con , stitutioii authorizes, but what Congress have done- ? ' Not to make that instrument, but our own legisla tion, the test, the evidence, the boundary of our 1 power? You begin by implying a power from the Constitution, by a doubtful, far-stretched con struction, that becomes as supreme and less lim ited than an express one; from that you imply another, equally supreme with the first implica tion, equally necessary and proper, that begets another. Tnus you go on, indeliniteiy, adding im plication to implication, construction to construc tion?each new implied power the centre of a new system, the gerin of new ones, like wire grass, taking root, at every joint, each root prolitic of scions, each pointing to the original stalk, forming a part of the original system.' * * # ? * * " We have heard of the Archimedes of logic ; it was a saying of this mathematician, 'give we a place where to stand and I will move the world.' Make but a beginning, give but a fulcrum on which implied powers can operate, you shake and de stroy the Constitution. Against this principle, in all its effects, I ever have and will contend; whether it emanates from the Hartford convention, aiming at political power, or under the more im 1 |iosing and and seducing garb of humanity, both ! having a common object." **#??? '?The legislature of New Jersey have, in their ' instructions to their delegates here, declared that !- Congress has a 'general power over tiie subject i of slaveryand that, too, under that clause of the Constitution relative to migration, See., which has ' l>een abandoned in this discussion as not autliori ! zing this restriction. What security, what pledge 1 can be given, that these doctrines will not be ad vocatedWithin these walls ? It requires but one 1 election to procure such a change as will make 1 the question not restriction, but emancipation. Once begin to legislate on this subject, like all constructive powers they will be progressive; implied powers never retrograde; once break through the Constitution, and resort to abstract principles for rules of construction and the bound aries which separate the powers of government, there is no safety or security; foundations are broken up ; the common bond which unites us is dissolved, when the Constitution ceases to be a law for us, when our own laws are no pledge of security- Be assured, sir, we cannot stand many such shocks as this; that this government can never continue if this doctrine of construction is once established. The precedent once made, the series of legislation once begun on the subject of slavery in an old State or an organized Territory, you will not slop short of universal emancipation. The greatest danger in a federative government is from the growth of power, the effects ol consoli dation by the gradual extinction of State rights | and sovereignty, emphatically so when the apology 1 for their assumption is the cause of humanity. The action of Congress in 1820, in assum I iug to exclude slavery from the territory north i of 30? 30', was not only objectionable as an [ exercise of power not warranted by the Con stitution, and subversive of that principle of equality amongst the States which is the vital I and fundamental feature of our system, but it i was further objectionable as the unquestiona ble source from which has sprung all those r abolition and freeso" movements which have since so much diaturlied the peace of this na tion. And is it matter of surprise that such consequences should have followed such an act? There stood recorded upon your statute book the actual exercise of a power by Congress to prescribe by its edict the internal j>olicy of an extensive Territory ; and in that edict to treat slavery as an evil so morally offensive as to justify even the exclusion of a Sjatc from the Union, if infected by its leprosy. W us it a matter of surprise, when such a power was asserted and exercised, that the same power should lje invoked to abolish a like evil in the District of Columbia, and in all the forts, arse nals, dock yards and other public grounds of the United States, and to prohibit the exporta tion of slaves from one slave State to another? Was it surprising, with such a precedent before us, that the spirit of abolitienism should have combined with the spirit of faction, not to say treason, and as early as the *th of August, 1846, and before our armies had crossed the Rio Grande, have sought to cast a firebrand into our national councils, and to paralyze the arm of our national power, by proclaiming, in advance, that all territories acquired from Mex ico should come to us saddled by this insulting interdict? Sir, I repeat, and no man who looks back to the history of the country will question the fact, that/rom the day this power was assumed by Congress, a false impression was diffused of the powers and responsibilities of this government in relation to the subject of slavery, and a stern and fanatical impulse im parted to the public sentiment of the north against the south. Do you ask the evidence of this? It is to be traced in the action of their State legislatures throwing impediments in the way of the recovery of our fugitive slaves, a ?trikiug instance oi which was exhibited by lh? gentleman from Mississippi, [Mr. Bak&s dai.e ;] in the current of their judicial de cisions; in their organized abolition societies, and in their pertinacious agitation of the sub ject of slavery in Congress. Believing from this precedent that the general policy of slavery ' as an institution was within the control of Con- i press, and that this government stood responsi ble before God and man for its continuance nud extension, it is not surprising that in their false conceptions of the powers and responsibilities of the Government, they should have so zeal ously pursued that policy which so long con vulsed the country with internal strife. Sir, notwithstanding the opinion entertained by the south of the injustice and unconsti tutionality of the Missouri restriction, it is one among the many illustrations of their deep at tachment to the Union, and of the self-sacri ticing spirit in which they have met every ques tion bearing upon the preservation of the peace and harmony of the I nion, that no effort has been made upon its part to disturb it; but on the contrary, * fixed and settled opinion has been cultivated in the south t" respect it as a permanent line of division between the slave boliliiig qnd non-slaveholding States. This can be ttn from the resolutions of the southern legislature*?from the opiuions of her most eminent public men, extending through a pe riod of twenty years. But, sir, two important events have occurred in our history in which southern stutesmeq, commanding the full con fidence of that section of the Union, and occu pying prominent and official relations to the question, have, by their acts, shown, beyond all question, the sentiment and determination of the south on that subject. The first to which 1 allude are the instructions given by Mr. Cal houn, in 1*44. when Secretary of State under a southern President, directing our minister to Texas to extend the Missouri line through that republic to the Kio Grande, as it has been since fixed; and the second, the approval by Mr. Polk, in 1848, of the bill for the organiza tion of the Oregon Territory. The gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr.Chandler] hasquoted so much of that message of President Polk as expressed his desire to sustain the Missouri line, but he omitted to quote that portion which gave full notice to the country, thnt if that line was not extended to the Pacific, it must thereafter be considered an open question. 1 will sup ply that omission : , , " It *m upon this consideration that, at the close of your lam session. I Rave my sanction to the principle of the Missouri compromise, by ap proving hiiJ signing the'bill to establish the terri torial government of Oregon. From u sincere de sire to preserve the harmony of the Union, and in deference to the nets of my predecessors, I felt constrained to yield my acquiescence to the extent to which they had gone in compromising this.deli cate and dany- rous question. Hut if Congress shall Note re true the dtctMon bt/ irh tch the Missouri com promts* teas effected, anrl shall propose to extend the restriction over the whole Territrry, south as well as north of the parallel ofW 30', it trill erase to he a compromise, and must be regarded a* an original question.'' The north having by its course in 1820?yes sir, I say by its course?having forced this geo graphical line upon the country, and the south having manifested the most unequivocal pur pose, by her subsequent conduct, to acquieace in and abide Wy it in all future acquisitions of territory, why is it that it was not extended to the Pacific? By whom was it repudiated in 1850? Sir, I will not consume the time of this com mittee by a reference to the journals of Con gress to establish facts not denied, and which in every variety of form have already been so fully laid before the country; but this I mar assert, that from the period of the acquisition of these large territories, which were the fruits of the Mexican war, down to the final disposi tion of the question in 1850, the south were ever ready and willing to have adjusted this sectional controversy by an extension of the line to the Pacific; but every proposition sub mitted by it to that effect was repeatedly voted down by the north. The propositions submitted in the Senate, by Mr. Douglas, on the 16th of January, 1848, by Davis, of Mississippi, by King, of Alabama, and by Foote, of Mississippi, in 1850, and in the House of Representatives, by Mr. Burt, of South Carolina, have all been, in minute de tail, laid before the country. Mr. Clayton, of Delaware, has recently furnished us with ano ther important item of evidence on this subject; which, as it has not been before adverted to in this body, and is very conclusive on the same point, I will quote. Addressing Mr. Atcuison, president of the Senate, who was a member of the committee raised in 184H, of which Mr. Clayton was chairman, he says: "Now, sir, I nm compelled, in justice to both sections of the Union, to relate in your presence, you having been a member of the committee and knowing the truth of the facts which I am about to state, what occurred in that committee. As soon as we assembled, a proposition was made by a member from the south to extend the Missouri compromise line to the Pacific. You. sir, remem ber it well. The vote upoh it stood four northern members against it, and four southern members for it. The pro|>osition was renewed in every form in w hich we could conceive it would be pro per; but our northern friends rejected it >as often as it was proposed. We discuss*.d ft; we entreat ed them to adopt it. We did not pretend that it was a constitutional measure; but it had been held by many as a compact between the north and the south, and in such an emergency as that then existing it had been justified by the people as a measure of peace. We argued the question to show our northern friends thejustice, not the con stitutionality, of extending such a line to the Pa cific. I remember well that f obtained a state ment from the land office which showed the effect of it; and 1 thought it ought to satisfy northern gentlemen. From that statement it appeared that, if the line were extended to the PiiciHc* the free labor of the north would have theexclusive occu pation of one million six hundred thousand square miles of land in the Territories outside of the States, and the south but two hundred and sixty two thousand, in which, observe, slavery could only be tolerated in case the people residing there should allow it." These appeals for the extension of thin line to the Pacific were in vain. I have before me, also, extracts from the speeches of Calhoun, Butler, Davis, of Mississippi, and Soule, and others, known and distinguished champions of the south, expressing their readiness to com promise the difficulty in the mode above indi 1 catcd. But to no purpose; the north stood in exorable against all their appeals. The fact, then, may be regarded as un questionable, that, whilst the extension of the Missouri line was presented by the south in every possible form as the basis of a settlement, from 1847 to 1850, it was as invariably rejected by the north : thus, in the admonitory language of Mr. Polk, leaving it an open and original question between these two great divisions of the confederacy. Sir, I will waste no time in controverting the idea of a supposed compact, resting upon honor and good faith, allcdged to have been made in 1820. There was nothing in the then subject matter of legislation, nothing in the circum stances or history of the transaction, upon which the idea of a compact can for an instant be predicated. It was simply a parliamentary movement, in which the opponents of a meas ure, having failed to defeat it, place upon it an amendment which, however objectionable in itself, was not so fatally so, as to drive its friends 1 together from its support. Missouri bud a right to come into the Union M a State. All oppoaitiou to her admission wu factious and unconstitutional. Ex malrjicio no* oritur con tractu*. The idea of baaing a compact upon the consent to admit a State into tba I won, which had the right to demand admission, free from all degrading conditions upon her sover eignty, is a position which no public jurist can maintain. Upon this point of rignt, I need quote no higher authority at the north than the opinion of John Quincr Adams, expressed in debate in the House ol Representatives upon the admission of Arkansas as a State.?See Register of Debates, col. 12, p. 4681. "Mr. Chairman, I cannot, consistently with my sense of my obligations as a citizen of the United States, and bound by oath to support tbeir Con stitution, I cannot object to the admission of ArLan sat into the Union as a slave Stale; 1 cannot pro pose or agree to make it a condition o f her admission that a convention of her people shall expunge this article from h?r constitution. She is entitled to ad mission as a slave State, as Louisiana, and Mis sissippi, and Alabama, and Missouri have been admitted, by virtue of that article in the treaty for the acquisition ot Louisiana which secures to the inhabitants of the ceded territories all the rights, privileges, and immunities of the original citizens of the United States, and stipulates for their ad mission, conformably to that principle, into the Union. Louisinna was purchased as a country wherein slavery was the established law of the land. As Cougress have not power in time of peace to abolish slavery in the original States of the Union, they are equally destitute of the power in those parts of the territory ceded by France to the United States by the name of Louisiana, where slavery existed at the time of the acquisition. Slavery is in this Wnion ?'**v.fObject of internal legislation in the States, an.r (u peace is cogniza ble by Congress only, as it is tacitly tolerated and protected where it exists by the Constitution of the United States, and as it mingles in their inter course with other nations. Arkansas, then-lore, comes, and has the right to come, into the Union with her slaves and her slave laws. It is written in the bond, and, however I may lament that-it ever was so written, I must faithfully perform its obligations." In 1850, Mr. Clay said in the Senate: " I do not know whether anything has excited more surprise in my mild as to the rapidity with which Important transactions are obliterated, and pass out of memory, than has the knowledge of the fuct that I was everywhere considered the au thor of the line of 30? 30', which was established upon the occasion of the admission of Missouri Into the Union." That the compromise of 1821, of which Mr. Clay waj the chief agent, Bhould have been con founded with the proceedings of 1820, is not a more striking illustration of historical inaccu racy than is the idea that the act of 1820 was considered at the time of its adoption as a com pact at all. No such character then attached to it. If so, why the agitation of 1821 ? Why the necessity for a second' compact for the ad mission of Missouri in 1821 ? Let me ask those gentlemen upon this floor, who profess to be the peculiar guardians of Mr. Clay's fame, if they are not, by their ^positions, robbing hiip of one of the brightest jewels in his immortal name, and proving that the act which first es tablished his reputation as a great national pacificator was a gross imposture upon the Eublic credulity? What merit could accrue to im from his compromise of this vexed ques tion in 1821, if, as you allege, the admission of Missouri was settled by a compact on the 6th of March, 1820? Sir, I am prepared to admit that the Missouri line had acquired, at least in the southern pub lic miud, something of the character and sanc tity of a compact?not from any of the incidents of 1820, or even of 1821, but from a slow and gradual acquiescence in it, since its adoption, under the belief that it would make a conve nient and acceptable line of demarkation be tween the slaveholding and non-slaveholding States, and that it would be respected in all fu ture acquisitions of territory, as the basis of soch division. In this reapect, it has for many years past been regarded and respected. Under this view it was, un?p the annexation of Texas, extended in 1845 to the Kio Grande, and, so regarding it, we demanded its further extension in 1848 to the Pacific ; and when so repeatedly denied by the north, it is not surprising that ex citement followed that refusal in the south. Sir, in this aspect, the only aspect in which the Missouri line can maintain the character of a compact, it has been faithfully adhered to by the south, and openly repudiated by the north. But, sir, if, in opposition to the views which I have presented, the act of March, 1850, could be regarded in the light of a compact, its force and validity as such has been cancelled and an nulled, not only by the refusal of the north to extend it to the Pacific, but by the more solemn and deliberate adoption, as applicable to the Territories, of the principles of the act of 1850. And briefly, sir, what was that legislation? It was no ordinary event in the history of the country. We were acting upon the fundamen tal and organic laws which were to call into being political communities extending over near one hundred thousand square miles. The magnitude of the subject and the excited feel ing of the country had awakened the most searching and profound spirit of inquiry. Hos tile interests were arrayed upon the questions involved, for a period of four years. Time was given for the most ample discussion and con sideration of the subject. Two elections for meml>ers of this House, four for members of the State legislatures, and one presidential elec tion had occurred during its pendency for de cision. All that partisan and sectional zeal could urge, all that an enlightened and com prehensive policy could suggest, was freely spread bcfon.' the country. We had the most ample experience in the past to guide and in struct us. We had the example of non-inter vention illustrated in the practice of the foun ders of the republic, with its peace, tranquillity, and contentment; we had the geographical ex pedient of 1820, with all its strife, agitation, and bitterness; we had the Clayton recommen dation, with its doubt, difficulties, and unce? tainties; and we had the Wilmot proviso, with its red flag of war, inviting to insurrection and disunion. All these and many more were be fore us. The popular mind was thoroughly awakened and informed. A decision made under such circumstances, could not fail to embody an enlightened and popular judgment, and to leavo a permanent impression upon the future policy of the country. It was destined to close up the past and to open a new era of congressional action for the luture; and so it proved. The struggle was long and arduous, but truth and right were ultimately triumphant So overpowering was the current of public sen timent, that both of the two great political par ties of the country made its policy the platform of their party organizations, and vied in the manifestations of zeal in its support. Both of the distinguished candidates for the presidency, although in different degrees of emphasis and cordiality, became committed to its policy. The more prompt, cordial, and em phn'ic endorsement of those measures by the present Chief Magistrate, combined with the greater confidence reposed for the execution of a |>oliey in that party, which contributed most to its triumph in the halls of Congress, led to the success of General Pierce, ilis success was a renewed triumph of that policy. Sir, taking all the circumstances of the election of 1852 into consideration, the resolutions adopt ed by the two great political parties of tne country, the incidents, progress, and issue of that memorable canvass, there never has been expressed by this nation so emphatic, so au thoritative, so conclusive a judgment on any question of national policy, as has been ex pressed upon the adjustment of 1H50. It has become, in fact and in truth,the act of the peo ple, and of the whole people; recognised, sanctioned, and approved by over two millions of votes cast at the polls. Now, sir, what was that policy which was thus so Bignally ratified by tne popular voice, "so far as the subject of territorial government was concerhed? Look at the act of 1850. ^ It guarantied to the people of Utah and New Mexico the right to adopt such regulations up on the subject of domestic slavery as they might believe newt to tboir iuterest. tit wu a return to the principle ?f non-intervention whic h had marked the eariier history of the govern in' nt. It was a repudiation of the geo graphical expedient upon which the storms of abolition had driven th<? country in 1820. It waa an abnegation by Congress of it* right to prescribe the internal and domestic policy of a Territory. It was the broad, clear, and dis tinct recognition of the right of the people to judge ana determine for themselves what insti tutions were best calculated to promote their own happiness and prosperity; and, sir, was this not such a result as might have been ex pected from the American people iu the mid ale of the nineteenth century, when guided to their conclusions by the virtuous and enlight ened statesman who led at that eventful crisis of their country's history ? Sir, 1 am well aware that there is a techni cal plausibility in the argument that the law of 1850 applies only to the Territories of Ctah and New Mexico, and does not, by its terms, include Nebraska. But is this not too narrow and sectional a view of the results of that memorable contest ? Did the south expect to derive, practically, any benefit from her support of this principle in 1850? Was it not alone for the principle of constitutional law estab lished by that act that she so zealously strug gled? l)oes not that principle apply with equal force to Nebraska as to New Mexico? Is it not the same government' acting over both ? Does any man suppose that this prob lem of territorial self-government, solved by the terrible agitations of 1850, ratified with un precedented unanimity ity the American peo ple in 1852, proclaimed from the eastern por tico of the Capitol amidst the shouts of exult ing freemen on the 4th of March, 1853, and clothed with practical power in the avowed sentiments of every department of thu govern ment, was designed to be restricted to the mere occasion which revealed it to the public mind? that it was to have no force or application be yond the Territories then being organized? Was this the sentiment of the country ? Was this the verdict of the people ? Was this i ue opiuion of the lamented and illustrious Clay? Is it the opinion of Cass, Douglas, and those other eminent public men who acted in every step of the development of that policy, and so materially aided in bringing it to its glorious results? Principles very plain in themselves, are sometimes very slow and difficult of appli cation. For years they often lie buried be neath the rubbish of personal .interests or of of sectional prejudices. It often requires some stirring incident, some tumult of the popular mind, some mighty collision of human pas sions to reveal them to the world, or to give to them their just application; but when once recognised and acted upon in the affairs ot government, they stand thenceforth recorded upon the pa^e of human progress, and enter permanently into the thoughts and opinions ot men. Its antagonistic error sinks before it as mist before the rising sun. ? The right freely to discuss the conduct and motives of public agents would seem to be ii very plain and unquestionable right. And yet it required the revolution of 1800 to establish it ? firmly in the practice of this government. The right of a sovereign State to be admitted into this Union upon an equal footing with all the other States, has become a received and ad mitted axiom of our system. And yet it re quired the agitations of 1820 to place it beyond dispute. So the right of the people of a Ter ritory to frame for themselves a policy best adapted to their circumstances and condition would seem to be a very plain proposition, and yet it required the tumult and excitement of years before it became finally recognised in 1850. Sir, such principles, resting as they do upon the foundations upon which our own lib erties and rights of self-government are found ed, once brought into action, take no step back wards. As soon, sir, would I expect to see this glorious empire of confederated States re turn to its colonial dependence upon Great Britain, as to see the repudiated principle of congressional intervention and dictation again revived to disturb the peace and harmony of this people. It has liau its day. It has per formed its function of evil; an era of light and progress has risen upon the country, and it has sunK amongst the exploded follies and delu sions of the past. I will uow proceed very brielly to consider the bill which has been sent to us from the Senate. Sir, objections have been urged against this bill with much zeal and ability by gentlemen both from the north and from the south?by representatives from slaveholding and non-slave hoIdingStates?a very striking fact to show that there is nothing very sectional in the measure, and that its aims and purposes, at least, are catholic and national, if they be not as wise and expedient as we claim them to be. By several gentlemen from the north it has been de nounced as a bill to extend slavery into Ne braska ; by others from the south, it has been assailed as a bill to exclude slavery from that Territory. It is quite certain that both these conclusions cannot be right; and, as is not un common in cases of such wide disagreement, the truth will be found to lie between these ex treme opinions. The bill, sir, neither estab lishes nor excludes slavery from that Territory, but leaves it an open question, to be deter mined by those who are to be affected by what ever of good or evil there is in the institution. I have already noticed the most prominent objections to this measure which have been pressed from the north; I will now examine such as have been urged from the south. 1 he high source from which they emanate, and the wide circulation given to their opinions, make some reply proper. The able and acute gentleman from the State of Maryland, [Mr. Fkankun,] following the train of thought suggested by my distin guished colleague, [Mr. MlLUJON,] but pushing his conclusions far beyond those of the latter gentleman, contends that, while the fourteenth section of the bill repeals the prohibition con tained in the act,of the 6th of March, 1820, and so far seeks to accomplish a result which he conceded to be sound, yet that it falls far short | of the full measure of justice, inasmuch as it expressly declines to revise and re-establish the status and condition of slavery which ex isted in that territory at the date of its cession from Franee. Sir, it is well known lhat the territory em braced within the proposed limits of Kansas and, Nebraska has been placed under several distinct territorial governments since its ces sion from France, and prior to the year 1820; and without undertaking to discuss what the precise condition of the local law of slavery might be under that state of facts, and espe cially within limits where the actual relation of master and slave has never existed, still I am wholly at .a loss to percoivo how this can justify a southern man, such as I know the entleman from Maryland to be, not merely in is location but in his feelings, in casting his vote against the bill. Admit that he cannot accomplish all that he desires, is that a suffi cient reason why ho should reject the good which this bill unquestionably contains? It is certain that our choice must be made between this bill and the law as it now stands, and as it has stood since 1820; between this bill and the Missouri prohibition; between a law which opens the Territory to slavery if the people so desire it, and one which forever excludes it, whether the people wish it or not. Between two such propositions ran he, as a southern man, hesitate which to choose? I will go fur ther, and ask him whether, as a lover of his country, as a friend to the peace and tranquil lity of the Union, can he hesitate cnc moment i in his choice? i Sir, we of the south believe that the powers 1 of the federal government were perverted from their legitimate purposes in the passage of the i Missouri prohibition. Yet we are not to close i our eyes to the fact, that the south was not without its participation in that result. It is true, the south acted upon that occasion*under the pressure df a high and urgent public ne cessity ; it is true, she was forced to yield to the impending storm of fanaticism which raged wildly and fearfully through the land; it is trne, that the alternative before her were, the exclusion of Missouri from the confederacy, with its probably fatal consequences to the Union, or her admission on terms destructive of her equality and sovereignty as a State, or her admission with the not less unconstitutional interdict of slavery north of 3<>0 30'. Between these alternatives she was forced, in her then positiou, to choose. Mr. Calhoun, in 1847, thought she erred in surrendering, for mere temporary purposes, high principles of the Constitution. Others may think differently: but she nevertheless did yield, and the Record painfully exhibits the fact. I advert to these events with no pleasure, but to show the real position in which the question now presents itself before us. The law has been in force for thirty-four years, and important arrangements have been made to conform to it Now, sir, how does the question stand ? A proposition comes from northern statesmen, made in a spirit of fraternal kindness, to recti fy the wrong which their predecessors, in a moment of sectional excitement, forced upon the sonth and the country. They propose to repeal that restriction, to remove that obnoxi ous interdict, and to leave the question of the future exclusion or introduction of slavery to be determined by the Constitution and by the wishes of the people inhabiting that Territory. And yet the gentleman from Maryland is not satished with this proposal, but would have them, by an ait of Congress, to revive and re enact the status of slavery which existed at the date of the cession. Can we, in candor and justice, expect this under the circumstances ? Ought we to ask it? For one, sir I unhesitat ingly say no. Unquestionably the true principle of con gressional nou-intervention?such as it was un derstood and practised by the earlier statesmen of this country?is, that every acquisition of new territory, whether tolerating or prohibiting slavery, should bo received and recognised as such, and allowed so to continue until modified or changed by the organic and fundamental law of the people resident therein. And yet a pro position as plain as we hold this to be may, by the legislation of near half a century, become so complicated as to render it impracticable to restore a Territory precisely to the condition in which wc received it. In human affairs wis-, dom consists in the nearest approximation to right which is attainable under the circum stances of our situation. This may be regard ed as the aspect in which these Territories now stand before us for our legislation, and such the character and effect of the present bill. - But cui bonof for what purpose? ask onr friends at the north, to expose themselves to inevitable destruction by encountering the hot passions of an excited people in re-enacting the local laws of slavery in that Territory, when, if onr construction of the Constitution be a sound one, that instrument itself will af ford us, under this bill, the most ample and perfect protection. No one questions that the effect of this bill is to leave to the Constitution its free and un restricted operation in that Territory. Then, if the doctrine uniformly maintained by the south be a sound oue, and I hold it to be so, that the citizens of every State in the Union have equal rights in the Territories; and that all property, recognised as such by the Consti tution, will be protected there by that instru ment, does not the southern emigrant stand up on ground as high and impregnable, under this bill, as if the local laws of the Territory were in fact revived and re-enacted? ? Sir, we all remember the proposition- sub mitted in 1848, by the select committee, of which Mr. Clayton was chairman, and of which Mr. Calhoun and the president of the Senate, Mr. Atchison, were members, and in which they concurred for the organization of the Territories of California and New Mexico, ^hat bill extended the Constitution over thoBc Territories, and, without repealing the Mexican law prohibiting slavery, it left it to the Su preme Court of the Lnited States to/decide whether that Constitution did not, proprio vipore, repeal those laws, and protect the rights ol the slaveholder. This bill received an almost united southern vote, under the confident de claration of opinion, that the Supreme Court could not do otherwise than decide in favor of that right under the Constitution. The north, with almost euual unanimity, declined the ar bitrament of that high tribunal. If the south was safe in the position which she then as sumed with, tlie difficulty growing out of the intervention of the Mexican anti-slavery laws, how much better is her condition under this bill, which removes every impediment to the free and unrestricted enjoyment of our rights under the Constitution. But it is contended by the gentleman from Maryland that slavery can alone exist by vir tue of positive local law; that the relation of master and slave is not recognised beyond such local limits; and that whilst the Constitution affords to slavery protection, where locally es tablished within the United States, it affords none where not so locally established. I do not concur with that gentleman in any of these legal propositions, lie can undoubtedly find judicial decisions in support- of the doctrine which he maintains, that slavery exists alone by virtue of positive statute law. But there are other decisions, of equal or greater weight, holding the opposite opinion: and his doctrine is contradicted certainly by the whole history of that institution upon this continent. Slavery existed in all the colonies before any laws were passed to authorize it. The supreme court of Louisiana has, with great historical accuracy, announced the true state of I facts on this point: " Slavery existed in the colonies before any legislative act of the mother country authorizing their introduction, except the charter of the African company, .and before any colonial act had passed declar ing its existence." And so, in like manner, the supreme court of Virginia has said : " The slavery of the African has existed from the time of bringing them into the colony?in many States, by express enactments, in others by custom. In Virginia, it is certain, that slavery existed long before any local laws were passed to authorize it. Nor is the position less unsound that slavery will not be recognised beyond the limits of the local government which has established it. Cases will doubtless be found, and very many of them, where slaves brought within the lim its of States whose laws forbid slavery have been adjudged free; but I might safely defv the production of a single case in this couutry, where a slave taken to a State or Territory whose laws did not positively forbid slavery has been absolved from the obligations of m>t. vitnde. The very reverse is the case, and I hold the principle upon that point to be proper iy declared py the supremo court of the State of Lou.siania: "It may bo laid down as a legal axiom, that in all governments, in which the municipal regulations are not- absolutely opposed to slavery, persons reduced to that state may ho held in it.". r?Sir/-.8,?Ves nr<\ r00*?*1 M property in the Constitution and laws of tl e United States, on the high seas and on land ; in your foreign di plomacy and jn your domestic legislation ; in )our navigation laws, your execution laws, and your laws for the collection of taxes. Un tier 'hese latter laws, slaves have been pur chase! ol your officers and held as property, and the proceeds of sale paid into your national treasury. Sir, with such a system of jurispru dence, and with nolocal law forbidding ulaverr i southern emigrant would be timid and dis-' trustful indeed, who declined to take his slaves to Kansas or Nebraska under this bill, if its ioiI and climate afforded any inducement to !uch emigration. Do the soil and climate of Kansas and Ne braska afford any inducement to the employ ment of Blave labor there ? I do not profees to have any precise or accurate information on the subject, nor has its aptitude or inaptitude for slavery entered into my consideration of this question. Still my impressions are very decided that Kansas affords but little induce ment for the employment of this kind of labor, and Nebraska none at all. The history of this country for the last century shows that the pro gress of this institution is steadily towards the south. The New England States, New York. Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, at onetime all tolerated slavery. In Illinois and Indiana slaves were held, diminishing every decade, until they finally disappeared in 1840. No vestige of that institution is now to be seen in any of those States. It is absurd to attribute this result to any predominant sentiment of hu manity or philanthropy. Ti ne disclosed the fact that slave labor was not profitable in those States, and it was discontinued. Look further at the results exhibited by the censu* returns. The whole population of tho northern tier of slave States?Delaware, Maryland, District of Columbia, Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri?in 1830, was 2,603,389.. In 1840 it was 2,995,143, and in 1850 it was 3,832,430. In these same States the slave population, by the census of 1830, was 771,756; in 1840, it was 786,521; and in 1850 it was 879,859?showing that, while the population of those border States during the twenty years between 1830 and 1850 had increased 1,229,041, the number of slaves had increased only 108,103, and exhibiting the striking fact that, whilst the slave popula tion has remained nearly stationary, the whito Itopulation has increased more than a mil ion. This has resulted from no deficiency of births, nor from any want of those cojt forts which stimulate the natural increase of human population, but from the greater attractions which tbe soil, climate, and productions of the more southern States hold out for that kind of labor, and to its greater security there, and free dom from the annoyance of abolition emissa ries. If Missouri, which is m the same latitude with Virginia, seems to be an exception to this rule, it is so in apnearance only. That State was settled before I? lorida or Texas were added to our Republic, when slave labor was cheap, and when no other portion of our territory was open to the southern emigrant, possessing the same advantages for purely agricultural pur suits. But, sir, it may be that slavery will seek its expansion in Kansas and Nebraska; and if,so, who here has the right to complain ? It will be their own act?the act of the people of these Territories?and they surely are competent to determine for themselves whether their social and political condition will be most advanced by its toleration or exclusion. They will not be without the most ample experience to guide them to a proper conclusion ; and it is rank arrogance and folly for this government to seek to control them upon a point upon which their own interests and instincts can far more safely instruct them, than they can be by the gratui tous Advice of those who will never partake of the good or evil of their institutions. Sir, much obloquy has been cast upon the distinguished senator from Illinois for his agency in bringing forward this great measure. For one, I tane this occasion to say that I honor him for it; and when the passion and excitement of the hour have passed away, the country will do justice to the purity of his mo tives, and to the wisdom and sagacity of his act. Distinguished as he has been throughout his whole public career for enlarged, liberal, and comprehensive views, this act places him upon the highest pedestal of national statesmanship. The principles of this bill belong neither to the north nor to the south, but to the whole country. They are promulgated with no view to advance the interests of any one section, but to promote the peace and tranquillity of all. They embody the vital spirit of the Constitution; they reflect the recorded wisdom of tbe sages of the revo lution. They are the principles of justice, of equality, of free government, of popular sov ereignty, of perpetual union ; every departure from which has filled the country with commo tion, and left behind it the scars of fraternal strife. BafTaloes^~>As no item of news, we give an ac count, as told to us by Col. Vaughan, of tne number of buffaloes killed annually within tbe bounds of his agency, where the American fur company are | operating and tradjng with the Indians. He says he has taken some pains to ascertain, and from the best information he can get he estimates the number will not fall tar short of four hundred thousand. He says not less than 100,000 robes have been shipped by the two companies trading within his agency within the last year. One hun dred and fifty thousand are destroyed, and a num ber of the hides were used by the Indians to make their lodges. They are compelled to make them ve/y secure to preseve tbom from the severe winter. Large numbers of the buffalo freeze or starve to death in winter, in the snow-banks which for months are found in drifts of from five to ten feet in depth, and numbers of them are drowned in crossing the Missouri river in large herds, by crowding upon one another. [iS<. Joseph's (Mo.) Gazette. Lexington. BY OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES. Slowly the mist o'er the meadow was creeping, Bright on the dewy buds glistened the sun, When from his couch, where his children were ^ sleeping, Rose the bold rebel and shouldered his gun. Waving her golden veil Over the silent dale, Blithe looked the morning on cottage and spire, llushed was his parting sigh, While from his noble eye Flashed the last sparkle Of liberty's fire. On the smooth green where the fresh leaf is spring ing, Calmly the first-born of glory have met; Hnrk ! the death rollery around them is ringing! Look! with their life-blood the young grass is wet! Faint is the feeble breath, Murmuring low in death, "Tell to our sons how their fathers have died;" Nerveless the iron hand, Raised for its native land, Lies by the weapon that gleams at its side. Ovor the hill-sides the wild knell is tolling, From their far hamlets the yeomanry come; As through the storm-clouds the thnnder-burst rolling, Circles the beat of the mustering drum; Fast on the soldier's path Darken the waves of wrath, Long have they gathered and loud shall they fall; Red glares the musket's (lash, Sharp rings the rifle's crash, Blazing aud clanging from thicket and wall. ^ Gaily the plume of the horseman was dancing, Never to shadow his cold brow again; Proudly at morning tbe war-steed was prancing, Reeking and panting he droops on the rein; Pale ia the Tip of scorn, Voiceless the trumpet born, Torn is the silken-fringed red cross on high; Many a belted breast Low on the turf shall rest, Ere tbe dark huntera the heft] have past by. Snow-girdled crags where the hoarse wind is raving, Rocks where the wear)' floods murmur and waiJ, Wilds where the fern by the furrow ia waving, Reeled with tbe echoes that rode on the gale; Far as tbe tempest thrilla Over tbe darkened hills, Far as tbe auashine streams over the plain, Roused by tbe tyrant bead, Woke all tbe mighty land, Girded for battle Iron mountain to main. Itrern be the graves where her martyrs are lying' Shroudless and tomblesa they aunk to their rest, While o'er their ashes tbe atarry fold flying, Wraps the proud eagle they roused from bis nest. Borne on her northern nine, Ixmg o'er tbe foaming brine Spread her broad banner to storm and to ana; II rare a keep her ever free, Wide as o'er land and sea hloats the fair emblem her heroes have won. ?MUVI', IM|acr . and Iteatif huiaaa, ia every branch. West aids 1Mb MMt, nest to K Jan 94?1m > Washington City.