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his imperfectly reported remarks (May 11, 1848), at the time of the passing of the bill admitting Wisconsin into the Union as a State. He was careful to scrutinize particular claims, to satisfy which he was asked to vote for an appropriation, as in the case of the proposition to pay the Texas volunteers for lost horses (May 4, 1848). All his acts show a purpose to do his duty to the country, no less than to his immediate constituents, without fear or favor.
After the session closed, Mr. Lincoln made a visit to New England, where he delivered some effective campaign speeches, which were enthusiastically received by his large audiences, as appears from the reports in the journals of those days, and as will be remembered by many. His time, however, was chiefly given, during the Congressional recess, to the canvass in the West, where, through the personal strength of Mr. Cass as a North-western man, the contest was more severe and exciting than in any other part of the country. The final triumph of Gen. Taylor, over all the odds against him, did much to counterbalance, in Mr. Lincoln's mind, the disheartening defeat of four years previous. As before stated, he had declined to be a candidate for re-election to Congress, yet he had the satisfaction of aiding to secure, in his own district, a majority of 1,500 for the Whig Presidential candidates.
Mr. Lincoln again took his seat in the House in December, on the re-assembling of the thirtieth Congress for its second session. Coming between the Presidential election, which had effected a political revolution, and the inauguration of the new Government, this session was generally a quiet one, passing away without any very important measure of general legislation being acted upon. A calm had followed the recent storms. There were, indeed, certain movements in regard to slavery and the slave-trade in the District of Columbia, which produced some temporary excitement, but resulted in no serious commotion. On the 21st of December, Mr. Gott, a representative from New York, introduced a resolution, accompanied by a strong preamble, instructing the Committee on the District of Columbia to report a bill prohibiting the slave-trade in the District. The language used was as follows:
WHEREAS, The traffic now prosecuted in this metropolis of the Republic in human beings, as chattels, is contrary to natural justice and the fundamental principles of our political system, and is notoriously a reproach to our country throughout Christendom, and a serious hinderance to the progress of republican liberty among the nations of the earth; therefore,
Resolved, That the Committee for the District of Columbia be instructed to report a bill, as soon as practicable, prohibiting the slave-trade in said District.
Mr. Haralson, of Georgia, moved to lay the same on the table, and the yeas and nays were taken on his motion. Mr. Lincoln, Joseph R. Ingersoll, Richard W. Thompson, and George G. Dunn, were nearly or quite the only Northern Whigs who voted in the affirmative. The motion was lost, and the resolution, under pressure of the previous question, was adopted, ninety-eight to eighty-eight, Mr. Lincoln voting in the negative. A motion to re-consider this vote came up for action on the 27th of the same month. A motion to lay on the table the motion to re-consider having been lost (yeas 58, nays 107, Mr. Lincoln voting in the negative), the subject was postponed until the 10th of January. At that date, Mr. Lincoln read a substitute which he proposed to offer for the resolution, in case of a re-consideration. This substitute contained the form of a bill enacting that no person not already within the District should be held in slavery therein, and providing for the gradual emancipation of the slaves already within the District, with compensation to the owners, if a majority of the legal voters of the District should assent to the act, at an election to be holden for the purpose. It made an exception of the right of citizens of the slaveholding States, coming to the District on public business, "be attended into and out of said District, and while there, by the necessary servants of themselves and their families." These were the chief provisions of the measure contemplated by Mr. Lincoln, which compared favorably with the act prohibiting the slavetrade in the District, included among the Compromise measures of 1850. After rehearsing the details of the bill, according to the report in the Congressional Globe
Mr. Lincoln then said, that he was authorized to say, that
of about fifteen of the leading citizens of the District of Columbia to whom this proposition had been submitted, there was no one but who approved of the adoption of such a proposition. He did not wish to be misunderstood. He did not know whether or not they would vote for this bill on the first Monday of April; but he repeated, that out of fifteen persons to whom it had been submitted, he had authority to say that every one of them desired that some proposition like this should pass.
A motion to lay on the table the proposition to re-consider was again lost, and by a much larger majority than before, and the resolution was re-considered, 119 to 81. Mr. Smith, of Indiana, then moved the following substitute :
Resolved, That the Committee on the District of Columbia be instructed to report, as soon as practicable, a bill so amending the present law in this District, as effectually to prevent the bringing of slaves into the District, either for sale here, or to be sold and carried to any place beyond the District.
Mr. Meade, of Virginia, offered the following as an amendment to Mr. Smith's amendment:
And that the said committee is hereby instructed to report a bill more effectually to enable owners to recover their slaves escaping from one State into another.
Here, it is observable, are two of the propositions which were ultimately embraced in the great Compromise "settlement" of 1850, and these several amendments, proposed by Mr. Lincoln and others, may be termed the springs in Congress from which flowed a portion of that celebrated series of
The Speaker (Mr. Winthrop) ruled Mr. Meade's amendment out of order, and without any decisive action thereon, the House adjourned, leaving the resolution and amendments to disappear among the files of unfinished business on the Speaker's table.
An unsuccessful attempt had previously been made by Mr. Palfrey, of Massachusetts, a Free-Soil member who refused to vote for Mr. Winthrop for Speaker, to introduce a bill "to repeal all acts, or parts of acts, of Congress establishing or maintaining slavery or the slave-trade in the District of Colum
bia." Mr. Holmes, of South Carolina, having objected, the yeas and nays were taken on granting the leave asked, and the negative prevailed by thirteen majority. The Northern Whigs in general, excepting Messrs. Vinton and Dunn, and many Northern Democrats, including John Wentworth, David Wilmot, and J. J. Faran, of Ohio, voted in the affirmative. Mr. Lincoln's name is recorded among the nays. So sweeping and unqualified a measure he had ever been opposed to, as he avowed himself to be in 1858, and he never hesitated, from a fear of popular misapprehension, to vote in strict accordance with his own convictions.
On the 31st of January, Mr. Edwards, from the Committee on the District of Columbia, reported a bill, suitably guarded in its terms, prohibiting the slave-trade in the District. On a motion to lay this on the table, Mr. Lincoln voted in the negative, with the friends of that measure, who were a majority. This bill, however, passed over among the unfinished business of the session.
In regard to the grant of public lands to the new States, to aid in the construction of railroads and canals, Mr. Lincoln favored the interests of his own constituents, under such reasonable restrictions as the proper carrying out of the purpose of these grants required. This policy had been strongly opposed by Mr. Vinton, while one of the bills of this sort was pending. In the brief remarks which Mr. Lincoln offered in reply, there are some points (Congressional Globe, page 533) worth quoting here:
In relation to the fact assumed, that, after awhile, the new States, having got hold of the public lands to a certain extent, would turn round and compel Congress to relinquish all claim to them, he had a word to say, by way of recurring to the history of the past. When was the time to come (he asked) when the States in which the public lands were situated would compose a majority of the representation in Congress, or any thing like it. A majority of Representatives would very soon reside West of the mountains, he admitted; but would they all come from States in which the public lands were situated? They certainly would not; for, as these Western States grew strong in Congress, the public lands passed away from them, and they got on the other side