Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

man, greatly increased. I found him sociable, affable, and in the highest degree entertaining and instructive in social intercourse. His power as a debater, seemed to me unequaled in the Senate. He was industrious, energetic, bold and skillful in the management of the concerns of his party.

"He was the acknowledged leader of the Democratic party in the Senate, and, to confess the truth, seemed to me to bear the honors which encircled him with sufficient meekness. Such was the palmy state of his reputation and popularity on the day he reported to the Senate his celebrated Kansas and Nebraska bill.

"On examining that bill, it struck me that it was deficient in one material respect: it did not in terms repeal the restrictive provision in regard to slavery embodied in the Missouri Compromise.

"This, to me, was a deficiency that I thought it imperatively necessary to supply. I accordingly offered an amendment to that effect.

"My amendment seemed to take the Senate by surprise, and no one appeared more startled than Judge Douglas himself. He immediately came to my seat and courteously remonstrated against my amendment, suggesting that the bill which he had introduced was almost in the words of the territorial acts for the organization of Utah and New Mexico; that they being a part of the compromise measures of 1850, he had hoped that I, a known and zealous friend of the wise and patriotic adjustment which had then taken place, would not be inclined to do any thing to call that adjustment in question or weaken it before the country. I replied that it was precisely because I had been, and was, a firm and zealous friend of the compromise of 1850, that I felt bound to persist in the movement which I had originated; that I was well satisfied that the Missouri restriction, if not expressly repealed, would continue to operate in the Territory to which it had been applied, thus negativing the great and salutary principle of non

intervention which constituted the most prominent and essential feature of the plan of settlement of 1850. We talked for some time amicably, and separated. Some days afterwards, Judge Douglas came to my lodgings, whilst I was confined by physical indisposition, and urged me to get up and take a ride with him in his carriage.

"I accepted his invitation and rode out with him. During our short excursion we talked on the subject of my proposed amendment, and Judge Douglas, to my high gratification, proposed to me that I should allow him to take charge of the amendment and engraft it on his territorial bill. I accepted the proposition at once; whereupon a most interesting interchange occurred between us. On this occasion, Judge Douglas spoke to me in substance thus:

"I have become perfectly satisfied that it is my duty, as a fair-minded national statesman, to co-operate with you as proposed in securing the Repeal of the Missouri Compromise restriction.

"It is due to the South; it is due to the Constitution, heretofore palpably infracted; it is due to that character for consistency which I have heretofore labored to maintain. The Repeal, if we can effect it, will produce much stir and commotion in the free States of the Union for a season. I shall be assailed by demagogues and fanatics there without stint or moderation. Every opprobrious epithet will be applied to me. I shall be, probably, hung in effigy in many places. It is more than probable that I may become permanently odious among those whose friendship and esteem I have heretofore possessed. This proceeding may end my political career. But acting under the sense of duty which animates me, I am prepared to make the sacrifice. I will do it.'

"He spoke in the most earnest and touching manner, and I confess that I was deeply affected. I said to him in reply:

"Sir, I once recognized you as a demagogue, a mere party manager, selfish and intriguing. I now find you a warm-hearted and sterling patriot.

"Go forward in the pathway of duty as you propose, and though all the world desert you, I will never.'

"The subsequent course of this extraordinary personage is now before the country. His great speeches on this subject, in the Senate and elsewhere, have since been made. As a true national statesman-as an inflexible and untiring advocate and defender of the Constitution of his country-as an enlightened, fair-minded, and high-souled patriot, he has fearlessly battled for principle; he has, with singular consistency, pursued the course which he promised to pursue when we talked together in Washington, neither turning to the right nor to the left. Though sometimes reviled and ridiculed by those most benefited by his labors, he has never been heard to complain. Persecuted by the leading men of the party he has so long served and sustained, he has demeaned himself, on all occasions, with moderation and dignity; he has been ever earnest in the performance of duty, energetic in combatting and overcoming the obstacles which have so strangely beset his pathway, and always ready to meet and overcome such adversaries as have ventured to encounter him. He has been faithful to his pledge; he has been true to the South and to the Union, and I intend to be faithful to my own pledge. I am sincerely grateful for his public services.

"I feel the highest admiration for all his noble qualities and high achievements, and I regard his reputation as part of the moral treasures of the Nation itself. And now, in conclusion, permit me say that the Southern people can not enter into unholy alliance for the destruction of Judge Douglas, if they are true to themselves, for he has made more sacrifice to sustain Southern institutions than any man now living. Southern men may, and doubtless have, met the enemies of the South in the Councils of the Nation, and sustained, by their votes and speeches,

her inalienable rights under the Constitution of our common country; Northern men may have voted that those rights should not be wrested from us; but it has remained for Judge Douglas alone, Northern man as he is, to throw himself 'into the deadly imminent breech,' and like the steadfast and everlasting rock of the ocean, to withstand the fierce tide of fanaticism, and drive back those angry billows which threatened to engulf his country's happiness.

"I have the honor to be very respectfully and cordially your friend and fellow-citizen,

"ARCHIBALD DIXON."

To one who knows any thing of the history of those times, it is easy to comprehend why Mr. Dixon gladly accepted Judge Douglas' proposition to "take charge of his amendment and engraft it on his bill." He knew, as did Douglas, that while Southern Whigs, as well as Democrats, would be in favor of the amendment, Northern Whigs would be solidly against it, for they were, even then, fast drifting to Abolitionism; but if the Northern Democracy would give it their support, with the aid of the South, it was bound to succeed. Being only anxious for the success of the measure, which he had offered on principle and not for any self-advancement, he was glad to place it in the hands of so able a champion as Judge Douglas, who supported it with all the fire of his genius, the energy of his enthusiasm, and the courage of his convictions, from the moment he undertook to right what he saw to be a great wrong; and who, as the leader of the Democratic party, was in a position to do so far more successfully than any one else could have done.

That Judge Douglas was influenced solely by a conviction of right, Mr. Dixon never doubted for an instant, and preserved for him always that respect which one

honest man feels for another whom he believes to be

equally so.

It is unquestionable that this conviction on the part of Douglas was forced upon him by the clear and able presentment to his mind, by Mr. Dixon, of the injustice, unfairness and inconsistency of the Missouri Compromise under all the circumstances, as well as the unconstitutionality of the Act itself.

Judge Douglas had accepted the theory of the "sacredness" of that Compromise at second hand, as did the Northern people generally, without knowing the facts in the case. When, however, he investigated them for himself, he changed his whole views, and did not hesi tate to proclaim them boldly and unreservedly. Here are his conclusions in his own language. In a debate with Mr. Seward of March 3, 1854-he says:

"I stated that the North in the House of Representatives voted against admitting Missouri into the Union under the Act of 1820, and caused the defeat of that measure; and he (Seward) said that they voted against it on the ground of the free-negro clause in her constitution, and not upon the ground of slavery, Now, I have shown by the evidence that it was upon the ground of slavery, as well as upon the other ground; and that a majority of the North required not only that Missouri should comply with the compact of 1820, so-called, but that she should go further, and give up the whole consideration which the Senator says the South received from the North for the Missouri Compromise. The compact, he says, was that, in consideration of slavery being permitted in Missouri, it should be prohibited in the Territories. After having procured the prohibition in the Territories, the North, by a majority of her votes, refused to admit Missouri as a slave-holding State, and, in violation of the alleged compact, required her to prohibit slavery as a further condition of her admission. This repudiation of the alleged compact by the North is recorded by yeas and nays, 61 to 33, and entered upon

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »