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"Mr. Bell: I do not know what object can be accomplished by this debate. The morning of the 4th of March is breaking, and only five or six hours of the present Congress remain. The honorable Senator from Illinois, however, having moved the consideration of this bill, I shall take great pleasure in hearing from him what he proposes.


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I know the Senator from Illinois sufficiently well to know that when he moots a proposition of this description it has a meaning in it, a pregnant meaning; and he does not merely mean to fill up the space, and pass the time until the present session of Congress has passed away. What he does is pregnant with significance; and if the honorable Senator from Illinois is disposed to tell us his meaning, I am perfectly willing to hear him. I should like to know of that Senator upon what grounds he proposes, upon what principles of honesty and honor and good faith, national or private, he proposes to establish the Territory of Nebraska.

"Mr. President, who now pleads for the rights of the Indian? Who stands by the red man? I have not heard any one of those, who seem on other occasions to have such a superbundant flow of the milk of human kindness-such deep and profound sensibilities awakened whenever the condition of the black is alluded to-say one word when it is proposed to strip the red man of his whole country, and not leave him one spot over which he can still roam, and feel, or even fancy, that he has a country. Not one is found to raise his voice against this proposition for a general spoliation of Indian rights. This sentiment of humanity, how wayward-how capricious! It is not more stable than fashion, in the objects on which it exhausts or wastes itself. The negro was introduced into America to save the Indian from the hardships of servitude. The Indian is now to be robbed of his sole remaining country to form new States, which

are destined to be free States, that the negro may be eventually rescued from slavery.""

Mr. Douglas stated the object of the bill to be "to form a line of territorial governments extending from the Mississippi valley to the Pacific ocean, so that we can have continuous settlements from the one to the other.""

He also read a clause of the bill to show that no rights of the Indians would be impaired by it, "so long as such rights shall remain unextinguished by treaty between the United States and such Indians.

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In the small hours of the morning of the 4th of March, the bill was again tabled by 23 to 17. The same Northern votes, pretty much, against the tabling, the same Southern ones for it; Mr. Fish of New York, Davis of Massachusetts, Truman Smith of Connecticut, and Brodhead of Pennsylvania, voting with the Southerners to table it. And so it ended for that session. The few speeches made are yet very significant of the motives all round, and the reader can form his own judgment of them. The bill itself was silent as to the Act of 1820, and if we judge from the dialogue between Mr. Howe and Mr. Giddings, this silence was interpreted by either side to suit their respective views. To the one it meant that the Legislation of 1820 was rendered a nullity by that of 1850-to the other it was expressive only of the fact that the Act of 1820 still existed in full force, and required no declaration of that existence.

1 Cong. Globe, Vol. 26, p. 1116.




1853-54-Repeal of the Missouri Compromise-Offered by Archibald Dixon, and accepted by Stephen A. Douglas and the Democratic party-Embodied in the Kansas-Nebraska bill.

For years past, there have been continually recurring doubts and questionings as to the true authorship and origin of this Repeal, as well as the motives underlying it. "Plot," "intrigue," "scheming of political leaders," and even harsher epithets, have been freely applied to it as a measure, and its authors have been denounced as traitors to party and country.

There have been many misapprehensions as to the nature and character of the Missouri Compromise itself, but its Repeal has perhaps been more thoroughly misunderstood, and the origin and motives of that Repeal more thoroughly misapprehended and misrepresented than those of any other public measure of like importance.

Perhaps no more striking illustration of this misapprehension could be furnished than the following from the pen of George Ticknor Curtis, author of the "Constitutional History of the United States." Speaking of the Repeal of the Missouri Compromise, he says:

"At what time Mr. Douglas changed his views on this subject can not be determined; but when it became necessary, during the subsequent administration of President Pierce (1853-7), to provide territorial governments for the regions ceded by Mexico to the United States by the treaty of Guadaloupe Hidalgo, Mr. Douglas conceived the project of repealing the Missouri Compromise, and persuaded President Pierce to sign it."

1 See Vol. 2, p. 260, of that work.

Kankas and Nebraska "regions ceded by Mexico!" "Regions ceded by Mexico," in 1848, subject to the Act of 1820!

Where could Mr. Curtis have studied history? And by what rule of legal arithmetic could he have worked out this problem? Could such an anachronism, such a gross historical blunder, have proceeded from ignorance? With so able and distinguished a writer such a theory is inconceivable, and yet what motive could such a man have had to garble facts in such a way?

As we have seen, the "regions ceded by Mexico" had all been provided with either State or territorial governments in 1850; and the Nebraska Territory, for which alone government was to be provided during President Pierce's administration, was, as every child knew, a part of the Louisiana Territory purchased from France in 1803.

Mr. Curtis' statements as to Douglas and Pierce are quite as contrary to the evidence of the record-and again the question arises, did this inaccuracy of statement proceed from ignorance? Did he get his history from second-hand sources, laying aside his own reasoning powers, and accepting blindly all assertions, illogical and conflicting though they might be?1

However this may be, as the years go by, these mistaken conceptions crystallize into historical statements, and numerous authors of various histories repeat the misstatements until they may, in time, if not corrected, pass for historical truth.

Having been in a position to know its origin, its author, and its most profound motives better perhaps than any one else could do, the writer proposes, in the interest of the truth of history, to give the facts regard

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1 Other writers are inaccurate to the last degree-even so accomplished a historian as Percy Greg" giving, in his "History of the United States," no adequate account of this important measure, of its motives, its true meaning, or its plain and definite purpose.—AUTHOR.

ing this Repeal, including some personal features not hitherto made public.

I will state that from the time of our marriage in October, 1853, I acted as amanuensis for my husband, Hon. Archibald Dixon, and continued, through the years after, to do pretty much all of his writing either from his dictation, or copying articles for the press. So that I was as intimately acquainted with his sentiments, his ideas and feelings as it was possible for another person to be.

When the attempt to organize the Territory of Nebraska, in March, 1853, was made, Mr. Dixon was not in the City of Washington. In September of 1852, he had had an almost fatal attack of cholera; losing his wife, to whom he was most tenderly devoted, of the same dread disease. A severe attack of pleurisy followed, and when he went to Washington in December of 1852, he was in such a state of health as almost to disable him from taking part in any legislation. His wonderful will-power, alone, sustained him, and early in the month of February, his physician, Dr. Hall, ordered him to go South to recuperate. He returned to Kentucky by way of Charleston, South Carolina, not going further South, as the warm, moist air seemed to increase the lung trouble under which he was laboring. He was sufficiently improved to return to Washington in December, 1853, though his health was still exceedingly delicate. It was during this session that he offered the Repeal of the celebrated Missouri Compromise Act.

The failure of the bill to organize Nebraska, the previous session, had not lessened the interest felt in its passage, for or against; and on the first day of the session Mr. Dodge, of Iowa, a Democrat, gave notice of his purpose to introduce a "bill to organize a territorial government for the Territory of Nebraska ;" and on December 14th, it was read and referred to the Committee on Territories, of which Stephen A. Douglas was Chairman.

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