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HON. J. P. BENJAMIN, OF LA.,
SENATE OF UNITED STATES ON THURSDAY, MARCH 11, 1858.
Mr. BENJAMIN. Mr. President, after the very able and eloquent discourse of the Senator from Missouri, [Mr. POLK,] if I had regard simply to my own reputation in giving utterance to the thoughts which I have conceived upon the subject now before us, I should better consult its interests by seeking another occasion for addressing the Senate; but I am admonished by the increasing impatience of the Senate, by the desire, not only in this Chamber, but in the public at large, to arrive at an early vote on this subject, that all personal considerations must be made to give way, and that each of us must do his duty as promptly as he can.
Mr. President, the issue to which the American people have been looking forward for some years past, with almost instinctive apprehension, is now before us. The urgent, the imperative necessity for its decision is upon us. Again is a slaveholding State demanding admis sion into the Union, and again is that admission opposed by a large majority of the Senators and Representatives of the non-slaveholding States of the Confederacy. I am aware that every effort is being made to conceal the true motive for this hostility. Pretexts about the irregu larity of the territorial government, charges of fraud and deception, vehement asseverations of a disregard of the popular will in the forma tion of the State constitution every pretext, every cause, every motive, that the ingenuity of their ablest and most practiced debaters can suggest, have been brought forward as the grounds of this hostility. But, sir, as the discussion has progressed, as the excitement of debate has overcome the cold teachings of prudence, various Senators have made admissions; the truth, which had been concealed behind a cloud, has become apparent to us all, and it is now boldly avowed that Kansas shall never be admitted as a slaveholding State into the Confederacy, not even, to use the words of the Senator from Maine, [Mr. FESSENDEN,] if the whole people of the Territory should establish a constitution recognising that institution.
Opinions thus maturely formed, thus openly avowed, are not to be affected by any argument that I can hope to offer. But, sir, as long as the Constitution of my country endures, as long as I have a constitu tional duty to perform upon this floor, I feel myself under the most sacred of all obligations to protest against the doctrines thus asserted,
Checked May 1913