Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

servience to the Slave Power was assured by the mere legalization of lifelong bondage and unrequited labor on its narrow but fertile intervales, and in its mines of precious ore.

The XXXVIth Congress assembled at Washington Monday, December 5, 1859. The Senate was still strongly Democratic, though the Republican minority therein had grown gradually, until it numbered twenty-four. Indiana, Minnesota, California, and Oregon, were still represented by Democrats, as were in part Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois; but the strong anti-Lecompton wave of 1858 had swept into the House delegations from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota, decidedly hostile to the Administration; and these, with unanimous Republican delegations from all the New England States, left no clear majority for any party. On the first ballot for Speaker, Thomas S. Bocock, Dem., of Virginia, received eighty-six votes; John Sherman, Rep., of Ohio, sixty-six; Galusha A. Grow, Rep., of Pennsylvania, fortythree twenty-two were divided between three "Americans" or Southern Whigs, and thirteen were scattered mainly upon anti-Lecompton Democrats: whole number cast, 230; necessary for a choice, 116.

Mr. Burnett, of Kentucky, now moved that the House adjourn till to-morrow, which was negativedYeas 100; Nays 130: whereupon Mr. John B. Clark,' of Missouri, rose, and, amid a shower of objections and interruptions, proposed the following preämble and resolution:

"Whereas, certain members of this House, now in nomination for Speaker, did indorse and recommend the book hereinafter mentioned,

"Resolved, That the doctrines and sentiments of a certain book called 'The Impending Crisis of the South-How to meet it,' purporting to have been written by one Hinton R. Helper, are insurrectionary and hostile to the domestic peace and tranquillity

of the country; and that no member of this House who has indorsed and recommended

it, or the compend from it, is fit to be Speak

er of this House."

The book thus advertised was written by a young North Carolinian of the poorer middle class, who, having migrated to California, and spent some time in the Northern States, had imbibed ideas respecting Slavery which it was not safe to express in his native State. Those ideas he had embodied in his "Impending Crisis," which was, in substance, a vehement appeal to the poor whites of the South against persistence in servility to the slaveholders, backed by ample statistics, proving Slavery specially injurious and degrading to them, as well as baleful and blighting to the entire South. This book, being deemed effective as an antiSlavery argument, whether in the North or in the South, had been recommended to general attention, in a circular signed by two thirds, at least, of the Republican members of the last Congress, including, of course, many of those returned to the present. Messrs. Sherman and Grow, between whom the Republican vote for Speaker was divided, were both among the signers of this circular. Hereupon, Mr. Clark proceeded to make, amid interruptions and questions of order, such a speech as a slaveholder might be expected to make on such a theme; urging

Since known as an active and bitter Rebel.

HELPER'S IMPENDING CRISIS IN THE HOUSE.

305

that no man who had recommended | closed, Mr. John A. Gilmer, of N. C., such a book as Helper's ought to be moved a substitute, condemning all chosen Speaker, and insisting on dis- attempts at renewing Slavery agitacussing the contents and bearings of tion; whereupon Mr. Washburne, of that book at leisure; whilst several Ill., moved that the whole subject be Republican members, instead of re- laid on the table, which was defeated prehending this discreditable inter- by a tie vote: Yeas 116; Nays 116: ruption of the proper business of the and the debate went on, simultaHouse, and demanding that the Clerk neously with that on John Brown should proceed to call the roll for and his doings in the Senate. A another attempt to elect a Speaker, second ballot for Speaker was not obrose to deprecate, and explain, and tained until the close of the third apologize, and insist that, if they had day's proceedings, when Mr. Shersigned a recommendation of any such man received 107 votes; Mr. Bocock book, it was in total ignorance of its 88; Mr. Gilmer 22; and there were contents, which they utterly con- 14 scattering. And still the two demned and repudiated. Thus, amid Houses continued to debate John great confusion, Mr. Clark carried Brown and Helper, by way of disthe point he was aiming at; and the couraging Slavery agitation, interHouse, after one more refusal-Yeas spersed with readings of the choicest 113; Nays 115-consented to adjourn and spiciest extracts from Helper, at a little past two o'clock, without and occasional ballots for Speakertaking a second ballot for Speaker. Mr. Sherman's vote rising to 112, while 116 were necessary for a choice. The total vote was diminished, after a few days, as members paired off and left Washington; but Mr. Sherman continued to lack from three to five of an election; until finally, after eight weeks had been thus spent, he peremptorily declined; and Mr. William Pennington-ex-Governor of New Jersey, and now, for the first time, a member of the House-was presented in his stead. Mr. Bocock was also withdrawn, and the entire pro-Slavery strength concentrated, so far as possible, on Mr. Wm. N. H. Smith, "American," of N. C. The next (fortieth) ballot gave Pennington 115; Smith 113; John G. Davis, anti-Lecompton Dem., of Ind., 2; and there were 4 scattering: necessary to a choice 118. Finally, on the forty-fourth ballot,' Mr. Smith's name

In the Senate, also, Slavery agitation was commenced from the Democratic side, even before that body had been fairly organized, by a resolve, introduced by Mr. Mason, of Virginia, calling for the most elaborate inquiry into the recent tragedy at Harper's Ferry, and requiring the Select Committee thereon to report “what legislation may, in their opinion, be necessary for the future preservation of the peace of the country," etc.; and hereupon the Senate plunged into a discussion, which lasted several days.

Mr. Clark, in like manner, resumed his dissertation on Helper immediately on the assembling of the House next morning, having all manner of documents read from the Clerk's desk; and spinning out his remarks to the utmost length. When he had

8" American."

9 February 1, 1860.

having been withdrawn, the vote was declared: for Pennington 117; John A. McClernand, Dem., 85; John A. Gilmer, Amer., 16; and there were 15 scattering. Mr. Henry Winter Davis, of Md., who had hitherto voted with the Americans, now cast his vote for Pennington, and elected him-he him he having the exact number necessary to a choice. John W. Forney, anti-Lecompton Dem., was soon after elected Clerk by a close vote.

The majority in the Senate was not merely Democratic of the Lecompton or extreme pro-Slavery caste; it was especially hostile to Senator Douglas, and determined to punish him for his powerful opposition to the Lecompton bill, by reading him out of the party. To this end, Mr. Jefferson Davis submitted 10 an elaborate series of resolves, whereof the following is the most material:

"4. Resolved, That neither Congress nor a Territorial Legislature, whether by direct legislation or legislation of an indirect and unfriendly nature, possess the power to annul or impair the constitutional right of any citizen of the United States to take his slave property into the common Territories; but it is the duty of the Federal Government there to afford for that, as for other species of property, the needful protection; and, if experience should at any time prove that the Judiciary does not possess power to insure adequate protection, it will then become the duty of Congress to supply such deficiency."

These resolutions he modified, "after a conference with friends," and submitted afresh," presenting the material proposition in this shape :

"4. Resolved, That neither Congress nor a Territorial Legislature, whether by direct

[blocks in formation]

legislation or legislation of an indirect and unfriendly character, possesses power to annul or impair the constitutional right of any citizen of the United States to take his slave property into the common Territories, and ritorial condition remains." there hold and enjoy the same while the ter

The discussion of the series consumed a large share of the time and attention of the Senate during the entire session. It ultimately transpired that they were the work of a 'Lecompton' or regular Democratic caucus, and that their ulterior object was the reading of Mr. Douglas, and other tenacious champions of 'Popular Sovereignty,' out of the Democratic party. At length," the Senate came to a vote on the first of the series, which was as follows:

"1. Resolved, That, in the adoption of the Federal Constitution, the States adopting the same acted severally as free and independ ent sovereignties, delegating a portion of their powers to be exercised by the Federal Government for the increased security of each against dangers, domestic as well as foreign; and that any intermeddling by any one or more States, or by a combination of their citizens, with the domestic institutions of the others, on any pretext whatever, political, moral, or religious, with a view to their disturbance or subversion, is in violation of the Constitution, insulting to the States so interfered with, endangers their domestic peace and tranquillity-objects for which the Constitution was formed—and, by necessary consequence, tends to weaken and destroy the Union itself."

This resolve was aimed directly at the Republicans, and was passed by a strict party vote—that is, by the votes of all others in the affirmative, against the Republicans in the negative: Yeas 36; Nays 19."

Pearce, Polk, Powell, Pugh, Rice, Sebastian, Slidell, Thomson, of N. J., Toombs, Wigfall, and Yulee-36.

NAYS-Messrs. Bingham, Chandler, Clark, Collamer, Dixon, Doolittle, Fessenden, Foot, Foster, Grimes, Hale, Hamlin, Harlan, King, Simmons, Sumner, Ten Eyck, Wade, and Wilson-19.

"POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY" IN THE SENATE.

"2. Resolved, That negro Slavery, as it exists in fifteen States of this Union, composes an important portion of their domestic institutions, inherited from their ancestors, and existing at the adoption of the Constitution, by which it is recognized as constituting an important element in the apportionment of powers among the States, and that no change of opinion or feeling on the part of the non-slaveholding States of the Union, in relation to this institution, can justify them or their citizens in open or covert attacks thereon, with a view to its overthrow; and that all such attacks are in manifest violation of the mutual and solemn pledge to protect and defend each other, given by the States respectively on entering into the constitutional compact which formed the Union, and are a manifest breach of faith, and a violation of the most solemn obligations."

This was adopted: Yeas 36; Nays 20; the division being identical with the foregoing, save that Mr. Trumbull, of Illinois, was now present, adding one to the Republican vote.

While the above resolve was under consideration, Mr. Harlan, of Iowa, moved to add to it as follows:

"But the free discussion of the morality and expediency of Slavery should never be interfered with by the laws of any State, or of the United States; and the freedom of speech and of the press, on this and every other subject of domestic and national policy, should be maintained inviolate in all the

States."

This was rejected: Yeas 20; Nays 36 (as upon the adoption of the second resolve, with the order reversed). "3. Resolved, That the Union of these States rests on the equality of rights and

14 YEAS-Messrs. Thomson (John R.,) of New Jersey, Bigler, of Pennsylvania, Rice, of Minnesota, Bright, of Indiana, Gwin and Latham, of California, Lane, of Oregon-in all, seven from Free States; with Messrs. Kennedy and Pearce, of Maryland, Hunter and Mason, of Virginia, .Bragg and Clingman, of North Carolina, Chesnut and Hammond, of South Carolina, Iverson and Toombs, of Georgia, C. C. Clay and Fitzpatrick, of Alabama, Brown and Davis, of Mississippi, Benjamin and Slidell, of Louisiana, Mallory and Yulee, of Florida, Hemphill and Wigfall, of Texas, Crittenden and Powell, of Kentucky, A. Johnson and Nicholson, of Tennessee, Green

307

privileges among its members; and that it is especially the duty of the Senate, which represents the States in their sovereign capacity, to resist all attempts to discriminate either in relation to persons or property in the Territories, which are the common possessions of the United States, so as to give advantages to the citizens of one State which are not equally assured to those of every other State."

This was also adopted-Yeas 36; Nays 18: the Yeas, as upon the first vote; as also the Nays, except that Messrs. Grimes and King did not vote.

The next was the touchstone-its

passage by a party_vote the object of the movement. It reads:

"4. Resolved, That neither Congress nor a Territorial Legislature, whether by direct legislation or legislation of an indirect and unfriendly character, possesses power to annul or impair the constitutional right of any citizen of the United States to take his slave property into the common Territories, and there hold and enjoy the same while the territorial condition remains."

This important resolve the sentence and death-knell of "Popular Sovereignty"-was passed by the decisive majority of thirty-five Yeas to twenty-one Nays "-every Democratic Senator present but Mr. Pugh, of Ohio, voting for it; though Messrs. Latham, of California, Fitch, of Indiana, Rice, of Minnesota, and perhaps one or two others, had been known in other days as friends of Mr. Douglas, and champions of his doctrine. Mr. Douglas himself was absent through

and Polk, of Missouri, R. W. Johnson and Sebastian, of Arkansas-28 from Slave States alone every Slave State but Delaware being fully represented, and casting its full vote for this proposition. Total 35.

The NAYS were-Messrs. Fessenden and Hamlin, of Maine, Clark and Hale, of New Hampshire, Sumner and Wilson, of Massachusetts, Simmons, of Rhode Island, Dixon and Foster, of Connecticut, Collamer and Foot, of Vermont, King, of New York, Ten Eyck, of New Jersey, Pugh and Wade, of Ohio, Trumbull, of Illinois, Brigham and Chandler, of Michigan, Doolittle, of Wisconsin, Grimes and Harlan, of Iowa-21.

out, by reason of sickness. The negative vote on this grave propositioned to assert the duty of Congress to provide

was made up of the twenty Republicans aforesaid, and Mr. Pugh. Neither Mr. Crittenden, nor either of the Maryland Senators, had the courage to oppose a proposition whereby Mr. Jefferson Davis and his confederates were permitted to brand, by an imposing vote of the Senate, not only the Republicans, but the Douglas or anti-Lecompton Democrats alsocomposing an immense majority of the people of the Free States-in effect, as unfaithful to their Constitutional obligations, and making war on the guaranteed rights of the South.

Mr. Clingman, of North Carolina, proposed the following:

"Resolved, That the existing condition of the Territories of the United States does not require the intervention of Congress for the protection of property in slaves."

To this, Mr. Collamer, of Vermont, moved to alter the amendment, so as to make it read:

"Resolved, That the existing condition of the Territories of the United States does not, and, in our opinion, never will, require," etc.

This was rejected-Yeas 16; Nays 33. Then Mr. Clingman's amend

ment was adopted: Yeas 26; Nays

23.15

"5. Resolved, That, if experience should at any time prove that the Judicial and Executive authority do not possess means to insure adequate protection to constitutional rights in a Territory, and if the territorial government should fail or refuse to provide the necessary remedies for that purpose, it will be the duty of Congress to supply such deficiency."

"Provided, That it is not hereby intenda system of laws for the maintenance of Slavery."

This was rejected-Yeas 12; Nays 31-only Messrs. Clark, Clingman, Dixon, Foot, Foster, Hale, Hamlin, Latham, Pugh, Ten Eyck, Trumbull, and Wilson, voting in the affirmative.

The original resolution was then adopted; as follows: Yeas 35; Nays 2-Messrs. Hamlin and Trumbull: the Yeas being as upon the adoption of the first resolve, with the subtraction of Messrs. Brown and Thomson, and the addition of Mr. Ten Eyck.

"6. Resolved, That the inhabitants of a Territory of the United States, when they rightfully form a Constitution to be admitted as a State into the Union, may then, for the first time, like the people of a State when forming a new Constitution, decide for themselves whether Slavery, as a domestic institution, shall be maintained or prohibshall be admitted into the Union, with or ited within their jurisdiction; and 'they without Slavery, as their constitution may prescribe at the time of their admission.'"

This was also adopted, as follows: Yeas 33- same as on the first resolve, less Brown, Mallory, and Pugh; Nays 12-Bingham, Chandler, Dixon, Foot, Foster, Hale, Pugh, Simmons, Ten Eyck, Trumbull, Wade, and Wilson.

"7. Resolved, That the provision of the Constitution for the rendition of fugitives from service or labor, without the adoption of which the Union could not have been formed, and the laws of 1793 and 1850, which were enacted to secure its execution, and the main features of which, being similar, bear the impress of nearly seventy years

Mr. Clingman proposed to amend of sanction by the highest judicial authority, this, as follows:

15 YEAS-Messrs. Bigler, Bingham, Bragg, Chandler, Clark, Clingman, Collamer, Crittenden, Dixon, Doolittle, Foot, Grimes, Hale, Hamlin, Harlan, Johnson, of Tennessee, Kennedy, Latham, Polk, Pugh, Simmons, Ten Eyck, Toombs, Trumbull, Wade, and Wilson-26.

should be honestly and faithfully observed and maintained by all who enjoy the bene

NAYS-Messrs. Benjamin, Bright, Brown, Chesnut, Clay, Davis, Fitzpatrick, Green, Hammond, Hunter, Iverson, Lane, Mallory, Mason, Nicholson, Pearce, Powell, Rice, Saulsbury, Sebastian, Slidell, Wigfall, and Yulee-23. [All from Slave States but Bright, Lane, and Rice.]

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »