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FREEDOM NATIONAL-SLAVERY SECTIONAL.
HON. JOHN J. PERRY, OF MAINE,
Comparative Nationality and Sectionalism of the Republican and
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, MAY 1, 1856,
In Committee of the Whole on the State of the Union.
Mr. PERRY. Mr. Chairman, in the discussions | avert the most threatening dangers, and which
Prior to the meeting of the Thirty-third Con-
Slavery agitation, thus reopened in its most
"But notwithstanding differences of opinion and senti-
sense of repose and security to the public mind through-home. Only seven members from the free States,
out the Confederacy. That this repose is to suffer no
out of the whole number who voted for this meas-
General Pierce accepted the nomination upon
"The Democratic party will resist all attempts at re-
may be made.”
The President, at the opening of Congress,
The last Congress had been in session only a
lectual giants for its leaders, scarcely has a name | declaration? If there is, then the whole country in any State, North or South. The once glorious old Democratic party has been stabbed in the house of its friends; and, after retreating before the surging waves of popular indignation, can now only be found around the shades of the Presidential mansion, or in little squads about our custom-houses, post-offices, and such other places as are dispensed Executive favors, in the shape of "loaves and fishes." As a national party, it has no longer an existence. The causes, to which a brief allusion has been made, have created the necessity for another party. That party has been inaugurated; and as its principles are but the revival of the doctrines of the immortal Jefferson and the Republican fathers, it is perfectly natural and proper for it to assume the time-honored name of "Republican."
has been laboring under a delusion ever since our Government was formed. But, to be more specific, it is not to be denied that the great leading idea of the Republican party is the nonextension of Slavery; in other words, opposition to its extension into free territory. This is no new dogma. The heroes of the Revolution, the patriots of the early times, who shaped and fashioned our political institutions, entertained the same views, and incorporated them into their political action. They believed chattel Slavery to be a great moral, social, and political evil. So believing, they adopted every practicable mode in their power to to prevent its spread; at the same time looking forward to the day which should witness the fruition of their earnest hopes-its total abolition. To place this matter beyond all doubt or cavil, I will refer to a few well-authenticated historical facts, in proof of the position here assumed.
As I announced in the commencement of these remarks, I shall now attempt to show that the Republican party is a national party; that it stands upon a platform of principles eminently rational; and that no national man, North or South, East or West, can, with any show of consistency, refuse to stand upon it.
The Republican party, through its delegates at Pittsburgh, on the 22d of February last, adopted an address, containing a "declaration of its principles and purposes," which has been published to the world, and which is briefly summed up as follows:
Now, let me candidly ask if there is anything actional in the sentiments contained in the above
George Washington, in a letter to Robert Morris, dated Mount Vernon, April 12, 1786, said:
"I can only say tha there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do to see a plan adopted for the abolition of it, [Slavery;] but there is only one proper and effectual mode in which it can be accomplished, and that is by legislative authority; and this, so far as my suffrage will go, shall never he wanting."9 Sparks's Washington, 158.
In a letter to John F. Mercer, September, 9, 1786, he expressed the same sentiment:
• We declare, in the first place, our fixed and unaltered devoou to the Constitution of the Ui ed States-to the ends for which it was established, and to the means which it provided for their attainment. We accept the sol mn protestation of the people of the United States, that they ordai ed iia order to form a more perf. ct Union, establish justic insur⚫ domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence romote the general welfare. and secure the 11-ssin s of liberty to themselves and their posterity."lition We believe that the powers which it confers upon the Government of the United States are ample for the accomplishment of these objects; and that if these powers are exercised in the spirit of the Constitution itself, they cannot lead to any other resuit. We respect those great ti this which the Consti uti dee ars to be inviolab.e-freedom of speech and of the press, the free exercise of religious belf and the right of the people peaceabl, to assemble •nio petition the Govs rament fra redress of grievances. We woul preserve these great safeguards of ci il freeom, the habeas corpus, the right of trial by jry, and the right of personal 'ibery, unless deprived thereof for crime by due process of law. We de lare our purpos: to obey. in all things, th requirements of the Constitution, and of all laws enacted i pursuance thereof. We cherish a profound reverence for the wise and patriotic men by whom it was framed, and a lively sense of the blessings it has country throughout conferred upon our and upon mankind the world. In every crisis of difficulty and of d nger we shall invoke its spirit and proclaim the supremacy of its authority.
The abolition of domestic Slavery is the GREATEST OBJECT of desire in these Colonies, where it was unhap pily introduced in their i fant sta e. But, previous to the enfranchisement of t slaves, it is necessary to exclude further importations from Africa. Yet our repeated artempts to effect this by prohibitions, and by imposing duties which might amount to prohibition, have been hitherto defeated by his Majesty's negative; thus preferring the immediate advantage of a few African corsairs to the
Mr. Jefferson further declared his own senti
"In the next place, w declare our ardent and unsha-lasting interests of the American States, and the rights of human nature, deeply wounded by this infamous prac ken attachment to this Union of American States which tice."-American Archives, 4th Series, vol. 1. p. 696. the Const tution created and has thus far preserved. We rivere it as the purchase of the blood of our forefathers, as the condition of our national renown, and as the guar-ments in his Notes on Virginia, when he said: dian and garantee of that liberty which the Constitution was designed to secure. We will defend and protec it against all its enem es. We will recognise no geographicai divisions, no local interes's, no narrow or sectional prejudices. in our endeavors to preserve the union of these States against foreign aggression and domestic strife. What we claim for ourselves we claim for all. The rights, privileges, and liberties, which we demand as our inheritance, we concede as their inheritance to all the citizens of this Republic."
"I never mean, unless some particular circumstances should compel me to it, to possess another slave by purchase. it being among my first wishes to see some plan adopted by which Slavery in this country may be abol ished by law."—Ibid.
And in a letter to St. John Sinclair he further said:
There are in Pennsylvania laws for the gradual abo of Slavery, which neither Virginia nor Maryland have at present, but which nothing is more certain than they must have, and at a period not remote.”
Thomas Jefferson, in an able article on the rights of the American Colonies, by him prepared and laid before the Virginia Convention which assembled in August, 1774, for the purpose of appointing delegates to the proposed Congress, remarks as follows:
"Nobody wishes more ardently than I to see an aboli tion not only of the trade, but of the condition of Slavery and certainly nobody will be more willing to encounter any sacrifice for that object."
In the same work he further said·
"The whole commerce between master and slave is a continual exercise of the most unremitting despotism on the one part and degrading submission on the othe * With what execration should the state man be loaded, who, permitting one half of the citizens thus to trample on the rights of the other, transforms those
* * *
anto despots and these into enemies, destroys the morals of the one part, and the amor patrice of the other! Can the liberties of a nation be th ught secure, when we have removed their onls firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not violated but by his wrath? INDEED, I TREMBLE FOR MY COUNTRY WHEN I REFLECT GOD IS JUST, AND HIS JUSTICE CANNOT SLEEP FOREVER.”
In the Convention which framed the Constitution, Mr. Madison declared he "thought it wrong to admit into the Constitution the idea that there could be property in man."-Madison Papers, 1429.
Mr. Ellsworth, of Connecticut, said "Slavery in time will not be a speck in our country."-3 Madison Papers, 1392.
Mr. Williamson said "that both in practice and opinion he was against Slavery."-3 Madison Papers, 1428.
Similar views were expressed by other members. In the Conventions of the States, called to ratify the Constitution, similar opinions were exI will pressed by the leading men in the same. only refer to a few of them.
Nor were these views and anticipations confined to the free States. In the ratification Convention of Virginia, Mr. Johnson said:
Gouverneur Morris said he "never would concur in upholding domestic Slavery; it was a nefarious institution; it was the curse of Heaven 3 Madison on the States where it prevailed.". Papers, 1263. Mr. Gerry thought the Convention "had noth-after, the abolition of Slavery was a favorite topic with many of our ablest statesmen, who entertained with reing to do with the conduct of the States as to spect all the schemes which wisdom or ingenuity could slaves, but ought to be careful not to give any suggest for its accomplishment." sanction to it."-3 Madison Papers, 1394.
"I thought, till very lately, that it was known to every body, that during the Revolution, and for many years
The founders of the Government not only left their testimony as individuals upon the question of Slavery, but their well-known opinions were incorporated into the Constitution and legislation of the country.
Mr. Mason, of Virginia, said "Slavery discourages arts and manufactures. The poor despise labor when performed by slaves. They produce the most pernicious effects on manners. Every master of slaves is born a petty tyrant. They bring To go back to the Declaration of Independthe judgment of Heaven on a country."-3 Mad-ence, we find Washington, and Jefferson, and ison Papers, 1391. Franklin, and Sherman, and Pinckney, and their illustrious compatriots, solemnly subscribing their names to these "self-evident truths, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Maker with inherent and inal
Mr. Sherman, of Connecticut, said "he was opposed to a tax on slaves, because it impliedienable rights; that among these are life, LIBERTY, and the pursuit of happiness." they were property."--3 Madison Papers, 1396.
James Wilson, of Pennsylvania, had been a leading member of the Convention; and in the ratification Convention of his State, when speaking of the clause relating to the power of Congress over the slave trade after twenty years, he said:
"They tell us that they see a progressive danger of bringing about emancipation. The principle has begun since the Revolution. Let us do what we will, it will come round. Slavery has been the foundation of much of that impiety and dissipation which have been so much disseminated among our country men. If it were totally abolished, it would do much good.”—3 Elliot's Debates, 6, 48.
But I will not consume further time to prove this point, but will only add an extract from a speech delivered by Mr. Leigh in the Convention of Virginia, in 1832, which fully corroborates the truth of this position. He said:
“I consider this clause as laying the foundation for banishing Slavery out of this country; and though the period is more distant than I could wish, it will produce the same kind, gradual change as was produced in Penn sylvania." * *The new States which are to be formed will be under the control of Congress in this particular, and Slavery will never be introduced among them."-2 Elliot's Debates, 452.
In another place, speaking of this clause, he said:
"It presents us with the pleasing prospect that the rights of mankind will be acknowledged and established throughout the Union. If there was no other lovely feature in the Constitution but this one, it would diffuse a beauty over its whole countenance. Yet the lapse of a few years, and Congress will have power to exterminate Slavery from within our borders."-2 Elliot's Debates, 484. In the ratification Convention of Massachusetts, General Heath said:
The Constitution itself is a great chart of Liberty. Nowhere in it can be found the word "slave," or "slaves," so careful were its founders to give no implied sanction to the traffic in human beings. In its very commencement, in its preamble, it declares
“The migration, or importation, &c., is confined to the States now existing only; new States cannot claim it. Congress, by their ordinance for creating new States, some time since declared that the new States shall be re
publican, and that there shall be no Slavery in them."
2 Elliot's Debates, 115
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"The PEOPLE of the United States, in order to form a * * * "promore perfect Union, establish justice," mote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty, * "do ordain and establish this Constitution." In the same instrument it is declared"No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."--Amendment, Art. 5.
There is another provision contained in the Constitution, which for the last ten years has been the subject of warm discussion, both in and out of Congress. I mean that provision which gives Congress "power to dispose of, and make all needful rules and regulations respecting, the territory or other property belonging to the United States." In this connection, I do not propose to go into a discussion of the question, whether Congress has constitutional power to interdict Slavery in the Territories of the United States; but shall here content myself with showing how understood it the framers of the Constitution themselves.
On the 1st of March, 1784, Congress voted to accept of a cession from the State of Virginia of what was subsequently known as the Northwest Territory. On the same day, Mr. Jefferson, from a committee consisting of himself, Mr. Chase of Maryland, and Mr. Howell of Rhode Island, reported a plan for the Government. This plan embraced all the Western Territory, and all ter
ritory ceded or to be ceded by individual States to the United States. (See Journals of Congress, April 23, 1784.) One of the provisions of said plan is as follows:
"That after the year 1800 of the Christian era, there shall be neither Slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the said States, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted to have been ersonally guilty."-4 Jour. Cong. Confederation, 371.
Territories were in this article of the Ordinance spoken of as States, because it was contemplated to erect the Territories into States. Under the Articles of Confederation, a majority of the thirteen States was necessary to an affirmative decision of any question. On the 19th of April a vote was taken on this proviso. The vote stood for the proviso-six States, viz: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania. Against it--three States, víz: Virginia, Maryland, and South Carolina. Delaware and Georgia were not represented. New Jersey, by Mr. Dick, voted ay; but her vote, only one delegate being present, could not be counted. North Carolina was divided---Mr. Williamson voting ay, and Mr. Speight no. From Virginia, Mr. Jefferson voted ay, and Messrs. Hardy and Mercer no. Of the twentythree delegates present, sixteen voted for, and seven against-thus this proviso was defeated by a minority vote. The people were for it, and the States for it; but it failed by a provision which enabled the minority to control the majority.
In the same year, Mr. Rufus King, of Massachusetts, moved the proviso in the following
That there shall be neither Slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the States described in the resolves of Congress of the 23d of April, 1784, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been personally guilty; and that this regulation shall be ple of the Constitutions between the thirteen original States, and such of the States described in the said resolve of the 23d of April, 1784."-4 Jour. Cong. Confed., 481.
an compact, remain a
But I will not stop here, but proceed to prove that the views of the Republican party on the constitutional right of Congress to prohibit Slavery in the Territories are sustained by the legislation of Congress from the meeting of the First Congress up to 1848, and that such legislation has received the sanction of every President, with a single exception, beginning with General Washington, up to, and including, President Polk. To maintain this proposition, I shall introduce facts direct from the records of the Government:
1. The Ordinance of 1787 was recognised by chapter one, first session of First Congress. There seems to have been no objection to it. Mr. Madison's name appears on the Journal of the proceedings the same day it passed. He was no doubt present, and concurred in the measure. The act was signed by General Washington.
dent to establish therein a Government similar to
2. On the 7th of April, 1798, an act was passed authorizing the establishment of a Government in Mississippi Territory. It authorized the Presithat in the Territory northwest of the Ohio river, excepting the Jefferson proviso of 1787. It then prohibited the importation of slaves from any place without the limits of the United States. This act passed about ten years before Congress was authorized by the Constitution to prohibit bringing slaves into the States which were originally parties to the Federal compact. This act passed under the Administration of the elder
3. At the first session of the Sixth Congress, chapter forty-one, laws of 1800, an act was passed creating a Territorial Government for Indiana, out of the Northwest Territory-reaffirming the Ordinance of 1787-and was signed by President Adams.
4. On the 26th of March, 1804, an act was passed, dividing Louisiana into two Territories, and providing that all that part of the Territory south of the thirty-third parallel of latitude, now the southern boundary of Arkansas, should be This was committed by a vote of two to one, erected into the Territory of Orleans. In this act and resulted in the celebrated Ordinance of 1787, there are three provisions in respect to Slavery which expressly prohibited Slavery and involuntary in the Territory: 1. The importation from any servitude, except for crime, throughout the whole ter-place without the limits of the United States was ritory [then belonging to the United States] FOR- prohibited; 2. The importation from any place EVER. This proviso received the votes of every within the United States, of slaves imported since delegate (with a single exception from New York) the 1st of May, 1798, was prohibited; 3. The in the Convention. The First Congress under the importation of slaves, except by a "citizen of the Constitution ratified the Ordinance of 1787. In the United States removing into said Territory for Convention which framed the Constitution there actual settlement, and being at the time of such were twenty men who, were also members of the removal bona fide owner of such slaves," was First Congress under the Federal Constitution. prohibited. This is one of the strongest cases on This proves very clearly that they understood record to show the control of Congress over Slathat Congress had power, under the Constitution | very in the Territories. It was a direct prohibiwhich they themselves had made, to prohibit tion of the domestic slave trade. This act was Slavery in the Territories. signed by President Jefferson.
5. On the 11th of January, 1805, an act was passed establishing the Territory of Michigan, reaffirming the Ordinance of 1787.
Thus history vindicates the fact, that the patriots of the Revolution, the members of the old State Confederation, the members of the Convention which framed the Constitution, and the 6. On the 3d of February, 1809, a similar members of the First Congress after the adoption | Government was established for the Territory of of the Constitution, entertained the same senti- | Illinois, recognising the same Ordinance. These ments upon the questions of Slavery extension two last acts were under the Administration of and restriction that are now advocated by the Republican party.
7. On the 4th of June, 1812, an act was passed