Изображения страниц

"Mr. Douglas : The members of the Legislature were elected on the same day, and the same influences which secured the electoral vote to Gen. Taylor gave the Whigs a majority in the Legislature, and that majority elected the gentleman (Mr. Seward) a member of this body. He, too, therefore, is now enjoying the substantial results of that system of double-dealing and deception which was practiced upon the people of New York, with the view of placing Gen. Taylor in the Presidential chair, and himself in the Senate of the United States. Under these circumstances, I submit whether it would not have been more becoming in that Senator to have vindicated himself against the injurious inferences that are likely to be drawn from these facts than to have attempted to fix odium and prejudice upon the Northern Democracy, by representing them as the faithful ally of the slave power? It looks as if this unfounded charge against the Democratic party was got up for the purpose of diverting public attention from his own conduct. He may have peculiar reasons for wishing to avoid too rigid a scrutiny into the terms of the alliance between him and the administration, and especially the means by which both were elected to power, and the mode in which patronage and spoils have been distributed."1 Of California :

"The question is already settled, so far as slavery is concerned. The country is now free by law and in factit is free according to those laws of nature and of God, to which the Senator from Massachusetts alluded, and must forever remain free. It will be free under any bill you may pass, or without any bill at all. It would have been free under all or either of the bills that have ever been proposed-under a territorial bill with or without the prohibition; under the Clayton bill, or the State bill, or even under the no bill at all recommended by the administration, which is the worst of all, because it con1 Cong. Globe, Vol. 21, p. 367.


tains all the elements of mischief, without one of the advantages of either of the other propositions. I can not conceive that there is a man in the Senate who believes that the result would not be precisely the same, so far as it relates to slavery under each, either, or neither of these various propositions. Why, then, can we not settle the question? For the most difficult of all reasons-pride of opinion is involved. It requires but little moral courage to act firmly and resolutely in the support of previously-expressed opinions. Pride of character, self-love, the strongest passions of the human heart, all impel a man forward and onward. But, when he is called upon to review his former opinions, to confess and abandon his errors, to sacrifice his pride to his conscience, it requires the exercise of the highest qualities of our nature-the exertion of a moral courage which elevates a man almost above humanity itself. A brilliant example of this may be found in the recent speech of the distinguished Senator from Massachusetts, always excepting that portion relating to the Northern Democracy. This pride of opinion is all that stands in the way of a speedy, harmonious, and satisfactory adjustment of this vexed question.


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

But I assert it as an incontrovertible axiom in political science, that all men are entitled to a government of some kind. If any one of the crowned heads of Europe chooses to withdraw for a time his authority and protection from any one of his provinces or dependencies, the very act of such withdrawal authorizes his subjects, thus deprived of government, to institute one for themselves, to continue in operation until he shall resume his authority, and again extend his protection to them. If this principle is acknowledged in all arbitrary and despotic governments, who is prepared to resist its application to a country whose institutions are all predicated upon the maxim that the people are the legitimate source of all political power?

"Mr. President, it was my desire to have said some

thing of the resolutions introduced by the distinguished and venerable Senator from Kentucky (Mr. Clay); but I find I have trespassed to long upon your kindness. I can not do less, however, in justice to my own feelings, than to declare that this nation owes him a debt of gratitude for his services to the cause of the Union on this occasion. I care not whether you agree with him in all that he has proposed and said, you can not doubt the purity of the motives, and the self-sacrificing spirit which prompted him to exhibit the matchless moral courage of standing undaunted between the two great hostile factions, and rebuking the violence and excesses of each, and pointing out their respective errors, in a spirit of kindness, moderation and firmness, which made them conscious that he was right; and all this with an impartiality so exact, that you could not have told to which section of the Union he belonged. He set the ball in motion which is to restore peace and harmony to the Union. He was the pioneer in the glorious cause, and set a noble example, which many others are nobly imitating. The tide has already been checked and turned back. The excitement is subsiding, and reason resuming its supremacy. The question is rapidly settling itsself, in spite of the efforts of the extremes at both ends of the Union to keep up the agitation. The people of the whole country, North and South, are beginning to see that there is nothing in this controversy, which seriously affects the interests, invades the rights, or impugns the honor of any section or State of the Confederacy. They will not consent that this question shall be kept open for the benefit of politicians, who are endeavoring to organize parties on geographical lines. The people will not sanction any such movement. They know its tendencies and its danger. The Union will not be put in peril; California will be admitted; governments for the Territories must be established; and thus the controversy will end, and I trust forever." 1

1 Cong. Globe, Vol. 21, pages 372-5.

On the 31st of March, Mr. Calhoun passed away from the scenes in which he had borne such an active part for so many years.1

Many tributes were paid to the virtues and talents of this great man, but none more just than that of his great contemporary, Daniel Webster.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"Mr. Webster: Mr. President, he had the basis, the indispensable basis, of all high character; and that was unspotted integrity-unimpeached honor and character. If he had aspirations, they were high and honorable and noble. There was nothing groveling, or low, or meanly selfish, that came near the head or the heart of Mr. Calhoun. We shall hereafter, I am sure, indulge in a grateful recollection that we have lived in his age; that we have been his contemporaries; that we have seen him and heard him and known him. We shall delight to speak of him to those who are rising up to fill our places. And, when the time shall come that we ourselves shall go, one after another, in succession, to our graves, we shall carry with us a deep sense of his genius and character, his honor and integrity, his amiable deportment in private life, and the purity of his exalted patriotism.'

1 Con. Globe, p. 6220.

[ocr errors]

2 Cong. Globe, p. 625.


1850-Petition to arm slaves presented by Mr. Seward-Rejected by Senate-Identity of position of Clay and Douglas on Non-Intervention-Douglas author of the bills known as the " Compromise of 1850," advocated by Mr. Clay, and commonly attributed to him -Mr. Clay's arraignment of the President-Mr. Bell's defense of him-Death of President Taylor.

The first of April had come and gone, and yet nothing had been effected towards giving government to the newly acquired Mexican territories. The Northern extremists would listen to nothing short of an absolute prohibition of slavery in them by Congress. The Southern extremists would agree to nothing less than a guarantee of protection for their slave property by Congress, should they choose to carry it into these territories. Whilst the moderate men of both parties, Whigs and Democrats alike, contended that it was best to leave the whole matter to the decision of the people of the Territories themselves, and to the Supreme Court for adjudication.

But neither Mr. Clay's resolution, nor the President's proposition, nor yet Mr. Bell's resolutions, could carry a majority in the Senate; and still graver apprehensions were felt as to the House.

Human nature, as usual, had the best of it-crimination and recrimination without end. It is a singular thing, however, that, in all these discussions, every Northern man who alluded to the subject at all, entirely ignored the fact that the three New England States had entered into a "bargain”—(General Washington's own word)-with the two Southern ones, by which the slave trade was permitted for twenty years; through which continuance the number of slaves had so greatly increased as to render their removal almost an impossibility, and

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »