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And still the debate went on, | passed-Yeas 150; Nays 56-(all hardly interrupted by the death Southern); and then the Utah bill (July 10th) of Gen. Taylor, and the was in like manner passed-Yeas 97; accession of Vice-President Fillmore Nays 85-(mainly Northern Free to the Presidency. Repeated efforts Soil). The bills providing more to cut off from California all her effectually for the recovery of fugiterritory south of 36° 30'; to send tive Slaves, and abolishing the Slaveback her constitution to a new con- trade in the District, were likewise vention of her people, etc., etc., were passed by decided majorities; and made by Southern ultras, but defeat- the Senate" concurred in the House ed; and finally " the bill to admit amendment, whereby two of its meaCalifornia passed the Senate by 34 sures had been welded togetherYeas to 18 Nays-all Southern- Yeas 31; Nays 10 (Northern Free and the bill organizing the Territo- Soil). So all the measures originally ries of New Mexico and Utah, as included in Mr. Clay's proposition proposed, likewise passed two days of compromise became laws of the thereafter: Yeas 27; Nays 10. The land. other measures embraced in the proposition of compromise were in like manner successively carried with little serious opposition.
The propelling force, whereby these acts were pushed through Congress, in defiance of the original convictions of a majority of its members, or at least the lubricating oil wherewith the ways were rendered passable, was contained in that article of the bill proposing to the State of Texas the establishment of her Northern boundary, which reads:
"Fourth. The United States, in consider
of Texas the sum of ten millions of dollars,
ation of said establishment of boundaries, cession of claims to territory, and relinquishment of claims, will pay to the State in a stock bearing five per cent. interest, and redeemable at the end of fourteen years; the interest payable half-yearly, at the Treasury of the United States."
By this article, the public debt of Texas, previously worth in market but some twenty to thirty per cent. of its face, was suddenly raised nearly or quite to par, to the entire satisfaction of its holders-many of them members of Congress, or their very intimate friends. Corruption, thinly
21 September 7th.
22 September 9th.
POLITICAL COMPROMISES-THEIR ABUSE.
disguised, haunted the purlieus and stalked through the halls of the Capitol; and numbers, hitherto in needy circumstances, suddenly found themselves rich. The great majority, of course, were impervious to such influences; but the controlling and controllable minority were not. This was probably the first instance in which measures of vital consequence to the country were carried or defeated in Congress under the direct spur of pecuniary interest.
Political compromises, though they have been rendered unsavory by abuse, are a necessary incident of mixed or balanced governments that is, of all but simple, unchecked despotisms. Wherever liberty exists, there diversities of judgment will be developed; and, unless one will dominates over all others, a practical mean between widely differing convictions must sometimes be sought. If, for example, a legislature is composed of two distinct bodies or houses, and they differ, as they occasionally will, with regard to the propriety or the amount of an appropriation required for a certain purpose, and neither is disposed to give way, a partial concession on either hand is often the most feasible mode of practical adjustment. Where the object contemplated is novel, or non-essential to the general efficiency of the public service-such as the construction of a new railroad, canal, or other public work--the repugnance of either house should suffice entirely to defeat, or, at least, to postpone it; for neither branch has a right to exact from the other conformity with its views on a disputed point as the price of its own concurrence in mea
sures essential to the existence of the Government. The attempt, therefore, of the Senate of FebruaryMarch, 1849, to dictate to the House, "You shall consent to such an organization of the territories as we prescribe, or we will defeat the Civil Appropriation bill, and thus derange, if not arrest, the most vital machinery of the Government," was utterly unjustifiable. Yet this should not blind us to the fact that differences of opinion are at times developed on questions of decided moment, where the rights of each party are equal, and where an ultimate concurrence in one common line of action is essential. Without some deference to adverse convictions, no confederation of the insurgent colonies was attainable-no Union of the States could have been effected. And where the Executive is, by according him the veto, clothed with a limited power over the making of laws, it is inevitable that some deference to his views, his convictions, should be evinced by those who fashion and mature those laws. Under this aspect, compromise in government is sometimes indispensable and laudable.
But what is known in State legislation as log-rolling is quite another matter. A. has a bill, which he is intent on passing, but which has no intrinsic worth that commends it to his fellow-members. But B., C., D., and the residue of the alphabet, have each his "little bill;" not, perhaps, specially obnoxious or objectionable, but such as could not be passed on its naked merits. All alike must fail, unless carried by that reciprocity of support suggested by their common need and peril. An understand
ing is effected between their several | backers, so that A. votes for the bills of B., C., D., etc., as the indispensable means of securing the passage of his own darling; and thus a whole litter of bills become laws, whereof no single one was demanded by the public interest, or could have passed without the aid of others as unworthy as itself. Such is substantially the process whereby our statute-books are loaded with acts which subserve no end but to fill the pockets of the few, at the expense of the rights or the interests of the many.
therefor. But why Texas should be paid Ten Millions of dollars for relinquishing her pretensions to territory never possessed by, nor belonging to, her-territory which had been first acquired from Mexico by the forces and then bought of her by the money of the Union-is not obvious; and why this payment, if made at all, should be a make-weight in a bargain covering a variety of arrangements with which it had no proper connection, is still less explicable. And when, on the back of this, was piled an act to provide new facilities for slave-catching in the Free States, ostensibly balanced by another which required the slave-traders of Washington to remove their jails and auction-rooms across the Potomac to that dull old dwarf of a city which had re
It was entirely proper that Congress should provide at once for the temporary government of all the territories newly acquired from Mexico; and there was no radical objection to doing this in one bill, if that should seem advisable. As the estab-cently been retroceded to Virginia, as lishment of a definite boundary be- if on purpose to facilitate this arrangetween New Mexico and Texas was ment, the net product was a corrupt essential to the tranquillity and monstrosity in legislation and morals security of the Territory, that object which even the great name of Henry might fairly be contemplated in the Clay should not shield from lasting act providing a civil government | opprobrium.
THE SOUTH SUSTAINS THE COMPROMISE OF 1850. 211 status of negroes. The Compromise | ry S. Foote for Governor-Mr. Foote, had taken no money from their pock- as Mr. Davis's colleague, though he ets; it had imposed upon them no demurred to Mr. Clay's programme. pecuniary burdens; it had exposed at the outset, having supported the them to no personal and palpable Compromise to the extent of his abildangers: it had rather repelled the ity. The election occurred early in gaunt specter of Civil War and Dis- November, 1851; when the "Union" union (habitually conjured up when party won a complete triumph-the Slavery had a point to carry), and vote being the largest ever yet polled, increased the facilities for making and Mr. Foote elected by over 1,0001 money, while opening a boundless majority. The rest of the "Union" vista of National greatness, security, State ticket, with a strongly "Union" and internal harmony. Especially Legislature, succeeded by still larger by the trading class, and the great majorities. Alabama, likewise, chose majority of the dwellers in seaboard a "Union" Legislature, and a “Unicities, was this view cherished with on" majority of Congressmen. Louiintense, intolerant vehemence. siana, this year, elected a "Whig" Auditor and Legislature — meaning much the same thing. And even South Carolina-having been summoned by her chieftains (Mr. Calhoun being now dead) to elect a Convention, whereby her course in the exigency should be determined— gave a "Coöperation" majority of over 7,000 on the popular vote, electing 114 "Coöperationists" to 54 unqualified "Secessionists." In other words, she voted not to attempt Secession without the concurrence and support of her Southern sistersthis being the shape wherein she could, with least sacrifice of pride or consistency, indicate her disposition not to rush madly upon the perils of Disunion and Civil War. Thus the triumph of the Compromise in the Slave States was complete; for it was felt to be preposterous to make the issue in any other States if it could not be upheld in these.
In the North, likewise, the acquiescence in the Compromise was general and decisive; though here, too,
The Compromise had been violently opposed alike from the South and from the North-of course, on opposite grounds. The "Fire-Eaters," or disciples of Mr. Calhoun, regarded it as surrendering the substance of all that was in dispute the newly acquired territories-to the North, while amusing the South with a mere shadow of triumph in the waiver of any positive, peremptory exclusion of Slavery therefrom. They resolved not to submit to it, but to rouse their section at first to theoretical, ultimately to forcible, resistance. To this end, a direct issue was made against the Compromise in Mississippi-next to South Carolina, the most intensely Pro-Slavery State in the Union-by nominating a "State Rights" ticket, headed by Jefferson Davis for Governor-Mr. Davis having opposed the Compromise in the Senate with determined pertinacity. His adversaries accepted the challenge, and nominated a "Union" ticket in opposition, headed by Hen
1 Foote, 28,738; Davis, 27,729.
17,796. These totals are obtained by adding up the votes for delegates in the several "parishes."
some of its cardinal provisions provoked strenuous opposition. The new Fugitive Slave Law proved especially obnoxious, both in principle and practice, to a large and earnest minority. It had been originally drafted by Senator Mason, of Virginia-a man conspicuously charged with that pro-Slavery venom which has since made him a leading Rebel-and who had already signalized himself by his efforts to render the maintenance of the Union impossible on any other terms than those of the most utter and abject devotion, on the part of the North, to the most extreme Pro-Slavery aspirations and policy of the South. He opposed, as we have seen, Mr. Clay's programme of compromise, as entirely too favorable to the North; he had been among the foremost of the Southern ultras in defeating that programme in its primitive shape; and he had stubbornly resisted the admission of California as a Free State, unless and until paid for by concessions on the part of the North. Yet his draft of a Fugitive Slave Law was adopted by the great Compromise Committee, and ultimately rushed through the two Houses with little consideration and less scrutiny. When it was reached in its order in the lower, Judge James Thompson obtained the floor-doubtless by prearrangement with Speaker Cobb-and spoke in favor of the measure as just and necessary, closing his remarks by a demand of the Previous Question. This was sustained by a majority; and the bill-with all its imperfections on its head, and without affording any opportunity for amendment
3 Democrat, of Erie, Pa. September, 12th. Samuel A. Eliot, Massachusetts, John L.
was ordered to a third reading by 109 Yeas to 75 Nays-every member from a Slave State who voted at all, voting Yea, with 28 Democrats and 3 Whigs from Free States. From the Free States 33, from the Slave States 15 members were absent, or withheld their votes; and, as the vote in the Senate stood 27 for to 12 against it, with 21 absent, it is noteworthy that it passed either House by the votes of a decided minority of the members thereof. Still, it is hardly probable that, had every member been present and voted, it would have been defeated.
This measure, so inconsiderately adopted, was specially objectionable to the humaner instincts of the Free States in these particulars :
1. It directed and provided for the surrender to the claimant of each alleged fugitive from Slavery without allowing such alleged fugitive a trial by jury; though the Federal Constitution expressly provides that
"In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be
So that, while any person, of whom damages are claimed to the amount of twenty dollars, is entitled to a trial of the issue by jury, he whose liberty, or whose wife and children, are in jeopardy, is especially denied that right by this act. He may be entirely and unimpeachably white— for this act knows nothing of color; he may be the Governor of a State, the Bishop of a great Church; he may be General-in-Chief of the armies of the Union, engaged in a momentous war; but, if any one chooses Taylor, Ohio, Edward W. McGaughey, Indiana. 6 Amendments-Article VII.