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tutional law, his course as a Senator from Maryland | the Maine bill, embodying the Missouri Comprowas calculated to produce a profound impression. mise. Upon this, action was at once had, the ComIn a speech which drew to this chamber an admiring promise was rejected, and the bill left in its original throng for two days, and which at the time was condition. This was done by large votes. fondly compared with the best examples of Greece the prohibition of Slavery was thrown out by 159 and Rome, he first authoritatively proposed and de- yeas to 18 nays, both the North and the South univeloped the Missouri Compromise. His masterly ting against it. The Senate, on receiving the bill effort was mainly directed against the restriction back from the House, insisted on their amendments. upon Missouri, but it began and ended with the The House, in turn, insisted on their disagreement. idea of compromise. "Notwithstanding," he says, According to parliamentary usage, a Committee of "occasional appearances of rather an unfavorable Conference between the two Houses was appointed. description, I have long since persuaded myself that Mr. THOMAS, of Illinois, Mr. PINKNEY, of Marythe Missouri question, as it is called, might be laid land, and Mr. JAMES BARBOUR, of Virginia, comto rest, with innocence and safety, by some concilia- posed this important committee on the part of the tory Compromise at least, by which, as is our duty, Senate; and Mr. HOLMES, of Maine, Mr. TAYLOR, we might reconcile the extremes of conflicting views of New York, Mr. LowNDES, of South Carolina, and feelings, without any sacrifice of constitutional Mr. PARKER, of Massachusetts, and Mr. KINSEY, principles." And he closed with the hope that the of New Jersey, on the part of the House. restriction on Missouri would not be passed, but that the whole question "might be disposed of in a manner satisfactory to all, by a prospective prohibition of Slavery in the Territory to the north and west of
Meanwhile, the House had voted on the original Missouri bill. An amendment, peremptorily inter dicting all Slavery in the new State, was adopted by 94 yeas to 86 nays; and thus the bill passed the House, and was sent to the Senate, March 1st. Thus, after an exasperated and protracted discussion, the two Houses were at a dead-lock. The double-headed Missouri Compromise was the ulti matum of the Senate. The restriction of Slavery in Missouri-involving, of course, its prohibition in the unorganized Territories-was the ultimatum of the House.
At this stage, on the 2d of March, the Committee of Conference made their report, which was urged at once upon the House by Mr. LoWNDES, the distinguished Representative from South Carolina, and one of her most precious sons, who objected to a motion to print, on the ground" that it would imply a determination in the House to delay a decision of the subject to-day, which he had hoped the House was fully prepared for." The question then came, on striking out the restriction in the Missouri bill. The report in the National Intelligencer says:—
This authoritative proposition of Compromise, from the most powerful advocate of the unconditional admission of Missouri, was made in the Senate on the 21st of January. From various indications, it seems to have found prompt favor in that body. Finally, on the 17th of February, the union of Maine and Missouri in one bill prevailed there, by 23 yeas to 21 nays. On the next day, Mr. Thomas, of Illinois, who had always voted with the South against any restriction upon Missouri, introduced the famous clause prohibiting Slavery north of 36 deg. 30 min., which now constitutes the eighth section of the Missouri act. An effort was made to include the Arkansas Territory within this prohibition; but the South united against this extension of the area of Freedom, and it was defeated by 24 nays to 20 yeas. The prohibition, as moved by Mr. Thomas, then prevailed. by 34 yeas to only 10 nays. Among those in the affirmative were both the Senators from each of the slave States, Louisi-promise recommended by the Committee of Conference, "Mr. LOWNDES spoke briefly in support of the Com ana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Delaware, Maryland, and urged with great earnestness the propriety of a decis and Alabama, and also one of the Senators from ion which would restore tranquillity to the country, which each of the slave States, Mississippi and North Caro-eration, of wisdom, and of virtue. was demanded by every consideration of discretion, of modlina, including in the honorable list the familiar names of William Pinkney, James Brown, and William Rufus King.
"Mr. MERCER, of Virginia, followed on the same side with great earnestness, and had spoken about half an hour, when he was compelled by indisposition to resume his seat."
This bill, as thus amended, is the first legislative embodiment of the Missouri Compact or Compro- In conformity with this report, this disturbing mise, the essential conditions of which were, the ad- question was at once put at rest. Maine and Mismission of Missouri as a State, without any restric- souri were each admitted into the Union as indepention of Slavery, and the prohibition of Slavery in all dent States. The restriction of Slavery in Missouri the remaining Territory of Louisiana north of 36 was abandoned by a vote in the House of 90 yeas deg. 30 min. This bill, thus composed, containing to 87 nays; and the prohibition of Slavery in an these two propositions-this double measure-finally Territories north of 36 deg. 30 min., exclusive of passed the Senate by a test vote of 24 yeas to 20 Missouri, was substituted by a vote of 134 yeas to nays. The yeas embraced every Southern Senator, 42 nays. Among the distinguished Southern names except Nathaniel Macon, of North Carolina, and in the affirmative are Louis M'Lane, of Delaware, William Smith, of South Carolina. The nays em- Samuel Smith, of Maryland, William Lowndes, of braced every Northern Senator, except the two South Carolina, and Charles Fenton Mercer, of Senators from Illinois, and one Senator from Rhode Virginia. The title of the Missouri bill was amend Island, and one from New Hampshire. And this, ed in conformity with this prohibition, by adding sir, is the record of the first stage in the adoption of the words, "and to prohibit Slavery in certain Ter the Missouri Compromise. First openly announced ritories." The bills then passed both Houses withand vindicated on the floor of the Senate, by a dis-out a division; and, on the morning of the 3d tinguished Southern statesman, it was forced on the March, 1820, the National Intelligencer contained North by an almost unanimous Southern vote. an exulting article, entitled, "The Question Settled."
While things had thus culminated in the Senate, discussion was still proceeding in the other House on the original Missouri bill. This was for a moment arrested by the reception from the Senate of
Another paper, published in Baltimore, immediately after the passage of the Compromise, vindicated it as a perpetual compact, which could not be dis
turbed. The language is so clear and strong that I will read it, although it has been already quoted by my friend from Ohio [Mr. CHASE]:
"It is true the Compromise is supported only by the letter of the law, repealable by the authority which enacted it; but the clrcumstances of the case give this law a MORAL FORCE equal to that of a positive provision of the Constitution; and we do not hazard anything by saying that the Constitution exists in its observance. Both parties have sacrificed much to conciliation. We wish to see the COMPACT kept in good faith, and we trust that a kind Providence will open the way to relieve us of an evil which every good citizen deprecates as the supreme curse of the country."-Niles's Register.
The distinguished leaders in this settlement were all from the South. As early as February, 1819, LOUIS M'LANE, of Delaware, had urged it upon Congress, "by some compact binding upon all subsequent legislatures.' It was in 1820 brought forward and upheld in the Senate by WILLIAM PINKNEY of Maryland, and passed in that body by the vote of every Southern Senator except two, against the vote of every Northern Senator except four. The Committee of Conference, through which it finally prevailed, was filled, on the part of the Senate, with inflexible partisans of the South, such as might fitly represent the sentiments of its President, pro tem., JOHN GAILLARD, a Senator from South Carolina; on the part of the House, it was nominated by HENRY CLAY, the Speaker, and Representative from Kentucky, This committee, thus constituted, drawing its double life from the South, was unanimous in favor of the Compromise. A private letter from Mr. PINKNEY, written at the time, and preserved by his distinguished biographer, shows that the report made by the committee came from him:
"The bill for the admission of Missouri into the Union (without restriction as to Slavery) may be considered as past. That bill was sent back again this morning from the House, with the restriction as to Slavery. The Senate voted to amend it by striking out the restriction (27 to 15), and pro
posed, as another amendment, what I have all along been the advocate of, a restriction upon the vacant territory to the north and west, as to Slavery. To-night the House of Representatives have agreed to both of these amendments, in opposition to their former votes, and this affair is settled. To-morrow we shall (of course) recede from our amendments as to Maine (our object being effected), and both States will be admitted. This happy result has been accomplished by the Conference, of which I was a member on the part of the Senate, and of which I proposed the report which has been made."
And now the South refuses to perform the pari
heresies in the Lord's Prayer-and I believe it is
As the Compromise took its life from the South, so the South, in the judgment of its own statesmen at the time, and according to unquestionable facts, was the conquering party. It gained at once its darling object, the admission of Missouri as a Slave State; and subsequently the admission of Arkansas, also as a Slave State. From the crushed and hum bled North, it received more than the full consider ation stipulated in its favor. On the side of the North the contract has been more than executed.
for the sake of the Union, I would be the last to disturb it."-
Even this distinguished Senator recognised it as an
I appeal to Senators about me, not to disturb is. I appeal to the Senators from Virginia, to keep inviolate the compact made in their behalf by James Barbour and Charles Fenton Mercer. I appeal to the Senators from South Carolina, to guard the work of John Gaillard and William Lowndes. I appeal to the Senators from Maryland, to uphold the Compromise which elicited the constant support of Samuel Smith, and was first triumphantly pressed by the unsurpassed eloquence of Pinkney. I appeal to the Senators from Delaware, to maintain the landmark of Freedom in the Territory of Louisiana, early espoused by Louis McLane. I appeal to the Senators from Kentucky, not to repudiate the pledges of Henry Clay. I appeal to the Senators from Alabama, not to break the agreement sanctioned by the earliest votes in the Senate of their late most cher ished fellow-citizen, William Rufus King.
Sir, Congress may now set aside this obligation,
Thus again the Compromise takes its life from the South. Proposed in the committee by Mr. PINKNEY, it was urged on the House of Representatives, with great earnestness, by Mr. LOWNDES, of South Carolina, and Mr. MERCER, of Virginia; and here again is the most persuasive voice of the South. When passed by Congress, it next came before the President, James Monroe, of Virginia, for his approval, who did not sign it till after the unanimous opinion of his Cabinet, in writing, composed of John Quincy Adams, William H. Craw-repudiate this plighted faith, annul this compact; ford, Smith Thompson, John C. Calhoun, and and some of you, forgetful of the majesty of honest William Wirt-a majority of whom were Southern dealing, in order to support Slavery, may consider men-that the prohibition of Slavery in the Terri- it advantageous to use this power. To all such let tories was constitutional. Thus yet again theme commend a familiar story: An eminent leader Compromise takes its life from the South. in antiquity, Themistocles, once announced to the Athenian Assembly, that he had a scheme to propose, highly beneficial to the state, but which could not be expounded to the many. Aristides, surnamed the Just, was appointed to receive the secret, and to report upon it. His brief and memorable judg ment was, that, while nothing could be more advantageous to Athens, nothing could be more unjust; and the Athenian multitude, responding at once, rejected the proposition. It appears that it was proposed to burn the combined Greek fleet, which
then rested in the security of peace in a neighboring | self-evident," says our country, speaking by the voice sea, and thus confirm the naval supremacy of Athens. A similar proposition is now brought before the American Senate. You are asked to destroy a safeguard of Freedom, consecrated by solemn compact, under which the country is now reposing in the security of peace, and thus confirm the supremacy of Slavery. To this institution and its partisans it may seem to be advantageous; but nothing can be more unjust. Let the judgment of the Athenian multitude be yours.
of JEFFERSON, "that all men are created equal; that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." And again, in the Congress of the Confederation, he brought forward, as early as 1784, a resolution to exclude Slavery from all the Territory "ceded or to be ceded" by the States of the Federal Government, including the whole territory now covered by Tennessee, Mississippi, and AlabaLost at first by a single vote only, this measure was substantially renewed at a subsequent day, by a son of Massachusetts, and in 1787 was finally confirmed in the Ordinance of the Northwestern Territory, by a unanimous vote of the States.
This is what I have to say on this head. I now pass to the second branch of the argument.
II. Mr. President, it is not only as an infraction of solemn compact, embodied in ancient law, that I arraign this bill. I arraign it also as a flagrant and extravagant departure from the original Anti-Slavery policy of our fathers.
And here, sir, bear with me in a brief recital of admitted facts. At the period of the Declaration of Independence there were upwards of half a million colored persons held in Slavery throughout the United Colonies. These unhappy people were originally stolen from Africa, or were the children of those who had been stolen, and, though distributed throughout the whole country, were to be found in largest number in the Southern States. But the spirit of Freedom then prevailed in the land. The fathers of the Republic, leaders in the war of Independence, were struck with the inconsistency of an appeal for their own liberties, while holding in boudage their fellow-men, "guilty of a skin not colored like their own." The same conviction animated the hearts of the people, whether at the North or South. At a town meeting, at Danbury, Connecticut, held on the 12th December, 1778, the following Declaration was made:
"It is with singular pleasure we note the second article of the Association, in which it is agreed to import no more Negro Slaves, as we cannot but think it a palpable absurdity so loudly to complain of attempts to enslave us, while we are actually enslaving others."-American Archives, Fourth Series, vol. i., p. 1038.
The South responded in similar strains. meeting in Darien, Georgia, in 1775, the following important resolution was put forth :
"To show the world that we are not influenced by any contracted or interested motives, but by a general philanthropy for all mankind, of whatever climate, language, or complexion, we hereby declare our disapprobation and abhorrence of the unnatural practice of Slavery (in however the uncultivated state of the country, or other specious ar
guments, may plead for it)-a practice founded in injustice
and cruelty, and highly dangerous to our liberties as well as lives, debasing part of our fellow-creatures below men, and corrupting the virtue and morals of the rest, and laying the basis of that liberty we contend for, and which we pray the Almighty to continue to the latest po terity, upon a very wrong foundation. We, therefore, resolve at all times to use our utmost endeavors for the manumission of our Slaves in this Colony, upon the most safe and equitable footing for the masters and themselves."-American Archives, Fourth
Series, vol. i., p. 1135.
The soul of Virginia, during this period, found also fervid utterance through JEFFERSON, who, by his precious and immortal words, has enrolled himself among the earliest Abolitionists of the country. In his address to the Virginia Convention of 1774, he openly avowed, while vindicating the rights of British America, that "the abolition of domestic Slavery is the greatest object of desire in these Colonies, where it was unhappily introduced in their infant state." And then again, in the Declaration of Independence, he embodied sentiments which, when practically applied, will give freedom to every Slave throughout the land. "We hold these truths to be!
Thus early and distinctly do we discern the AntiSlavery character of the founders of our Republic, and their determination to place the National Government, within the sphere of its jurisdiction, openly, actively, and perpetually, on the side of Freedom.
The Federal Constitution was adopted in 1788. And here we discern the same spirit. The emphatic words of the Declaration of Independence, which onr country took upon its lips as baptismal vows, when it claimed its place among the nations of the earth, were not forgotten. The preamble to the Constitution renews them, when it declares its object to be, among other things, "to establish justice, to promote the general welfare, and to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and posterity." Thus, according to undeniable words, the Constitution was ordained, not to establish, secure, or sanction Slavery-not to promote the special interest of slaveholders-not to make Slavery national in any way, form, or manner-not to foster this great wrong, but to "establish justice," "promote the general welfare," and "secure the blessings of Liberty." The discreditable words Slave and Slavery were not allowed to find a place in this instrument, while a clause was snbsequently added by way of amendment, and, therefore, according to the rules of interpretation, particularly revealing the sentiments of the founders, which is calculated, like the Declaration of Indeto all within the sphere of its influence. It was spependence, if practically applied, to carry Freedom cifically declared that "no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;" that is, without due presentment, indictment, or other judicial proceeding. Here is an express guard of personal Liberty, and an express interdict upon its invasion anywhere within the national ju
It is evident, from the debates on the National Constitution, that Slavery, like the slave-trade, was regarded as temporary; and it seems to have been supposed by many that they would both disappear together. Nor do any words employed in our day denounce it with an indignation more burning than those which glowed on the lips of the Fathers. Early in the Convention, Gouverneur Morris, of Pennsylvania, broke forth in the language of an Abolitionist: "He never would concur in upholding domestic Slavery. It was a nefarious institution. It was the curse of Heaven." In another mood, and with mild, juridical phrase, Mr. Madison "thought it wrong to admit in the Constitution the idea of property in man." And WASHINGTON, in letters written near this period-which completely describe the aims of an Abolitionist-avowed that "it was among his first wishes to see some plan adopted by which Slavery may be abolished by law," and that to this end "his suffrage should not be wanting."
In this spirit was the National Constitution adopt
ed. In this spirit the National Government was first | practical and humane, was embodied-who knew
The memorial of FRANKLIN, with other memori-
Entering upon his high duties, WASHINGTON himself an Abolitionist, was surrounded by men who, by their lives and declared opinions, were pledged to warfare with Slavery. There was JOHN ADAMS, the Vice-President, who had early announced that consenting to Slavery is a sacrilegious breach of trust." There was ALEXANDER HAMILTON, who, as a member of the Abolition Society of New York, had only recently united in a solemn petition for those who, "though free by the laws of God, are held in slavery by the laws of the State." There was, also, another character of spotless purity and commanding influence, JOHN JAY, President of the Ab- This resolution, declaring the principle of nonolition Society of New York, until by the nomination intervention by Congress with Slavery in the States, of WASHINGTON he became Chief-Justice of the was adopted by the same Congress which had solUnited States. In his sight Slavery was an "ini- emnly affirmed the prohibition of Slavery in all the quity"-"a sin of crimson dye," against which min- existing territory of the Union. And it is on these isters of the Gospel should testify, and which the double acts, at the first organization of the GoveruGovernment should seek in every way to abolish.ment, and the recorded sentiments of the founders, "Were I in the Legislature," he wrote, "I would that I take my stand, and challenge all question. present a bill for the purpose with great care, and I At this time there was, strictly, no dividing line would never cease moving it till it became a law or in the country between Anti-Slavery and Pro-Slavery. I ceased to be a member. Till America comes into The Anti-Slavery interest was thoroughly national, this measure, her prayers to Heaven will be impi- pervading alike all parts of the Union, and having By such men was WASHINGTON surrounded, its source in the common sentiment of the entire while from his own Virginia came the voice of PAT- people. The Pro-Slavery interest was strictly local, RICK HENRY, amid confessions that he was a master personal, and pecuniary, and had its source simply in of slaves, crying, "I will not, I cannot justify it. the individual relations of slaveholders. It contemHowever culpable my conduct, I will so far pay my plated Slavery only as a domestic institution-not devoir to Virtue as to own the excellence and recti- as a political element-and merely stipulated for its tude of her precepts and lament my want of conform-security where it actually existed within the States. ity to them." Such words as these, fitly coming Sir, the original policy of the country is clear and from our leaders, belong to the true glories of the unmistakeable. Compendiously expressed, it was country: non-intervention by Congress with Slavery in the States, and its prohibition in all the national domain, In this way the discordant feelings on this subject were reconciled. Slave-masters were left at home. in their respective States, to hug Slavery, under the protection of local laws, without any interference from Congress, while all opposed to it were exempted from any responsibility for it in the national domain. This, sir, is the common ground on which our political fabric was reared; and I do not hesitate to say that it is the only ground on which it can stand in permanent peace.
It is beyond question, sir, that our Constitution was framed by the lovers of Human Rights; that it was animated by their divine spirit; that the institution of Slavery was regarded by them with aversion, so that, though covertly alluded to, it was not named in the instrument; that, according to the debates in the Convention, they refused to give it any "sanction," and looked forward to the certain day when this evil and shame would be obliterated from the land. But the original policy of the Gov
"While we such precedents can boast at home, Keep thy Fabricius and thy Cato, Rome!" The earliest Congress under the Constitution adopted the ordinance of Freedom for the Northwestern Territory, and thus ratified the prohibition of Slavery in all the existing Territories of the Union. Among those who sanctioned this act were men fresh from the labors of the Convention, and therefore familiar with its policy. But there is another voice which bears testimony in the same direction. Among the petitions presented to the first Congress, was one from the Abolition Society of Pennsylvania, signed by BENJAMIN FEANKLIN, as President. This venerable votary of Freedom, who, throughout a long life, had splendidly served his country, at home and abroad-whose name, signed to the Declaration of Independence, gave added importance even to that great instrument, and then again, signed to the Constitution of the United States, filled it with the charm of wisdom-in whom, more than in any other man, the true spirit of American Institutions, at once
"That Congress have no authority to interfere in the emancipation of slaves, or in the treatment of them within any of the States; it remaining with the several States to provide any regulations therein, which humanity and true policy may require."
ernment did not long prevail. The generous senti- |
particular territory acquired from France, has been accepted as final down to the present session of Congress; but now, Sir, here in 1854, Freedom is suddenly summoned to surrender even her hard-won moiety of this territory. Here are the three stages: at the first, all is consecrated to Freedom: at the second, only half; while at the third, all is to be opened to Slavery. Thus is the original policy of the Government absolutely reversed. Slavery, which, at the beginning, was a sectional institution, with no foothold anywhere on the national territory, is now exalted as a national institution, and all our broad domain is threatened by its blighting shadow.
Our Republic has grown in population and
The extent to which the original policy of the
Here are provisions, determining the main features in the Government-the distribution of powers in the Executive, the Legislative, and Judicial departments, and the manner in which they shall be respectively constituted-securing to the Presi dent, with the consent of the Senate, the appointment of the Governor, the Secretary, and the Judges, and to the people the election of the Legislatureordaining the qualifications of voters, the salaries of the public officers, and the daily compensation of the members of the Legislature. Surely, if Congress may establish these provisions, without any interference with the rights of territorial sovereignty, it may also prohibit Slavery.
These facts epare us to comprehend the true character of the change with regard to the Territories. In 1787, all the existing national domain was promptly and unanimously dedicated to Freedom, without opposition or criticism. The interdict of Slavery then covered every inch of soil belonging to the National Government. Louisiana, an immense region beyond the bounds of the original States, was afterwards acquired, and, in 1820, after a vehement struggle, which shook the whole land, discomfited Freedom was compelled, by a dividing line, to a partition with Slavery. This arrangement, which, in its very terms, was exclusively applicable to a
invalidating a large portion of the legislation of the country, from the adoption of the Constitution down to the present day. This power was asserted before the Constitution. It was not denied or prohibited by the Constitution itself. It has been exercised from the first existence of the Government, and has been recognized by the three departments of the Government-the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judicial. Precedents of every kind are thick in its support. Indeed, the very bill now before us assumes a control of the Territory clearly inconsistent with those principles of sovereignty which are said to be violated by a Congressional prohibition of Slavery.