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THE WHIGS ON THE COMPROMISE PLATFORM.
The Whig National Convention met in Baltimore two weeks later than its rival, and a caucus of the Southern delegates, held the night before its organization, unanimously resolved to insist on making the wisdom and finality of the Compromise of 1850 a plank in the Whig platform to be constructed by the Convention. They agreed upon a full draft of what they believed the Whig platform should be; which, on being presented to the friends of Mr. Webster, was accepted by them, and thus had a majority of the Convention pledged to it in advance of any general consultation on the subject.
On the first ballot for a Presidential candidate, Mr. Fillmore had 133 votes, Gen. Scott 131, Mr. Webster 29. On the next, Gen. Scott had 133, and Mr. Fillmore but 131. These proportions were nearly preserved through three or four days - Gen. Scott gaining slightly and unsteadily on Mr. Fillmore-till, on the fiftieth ballot, Gen. WINFIELD SCOTT received 142, and on the fifty-second 148. On the next, he was nominated; having 159 votes to 112 for Mr. Fillmore and 21 for Mr. Webster. WILLIAM A. GRAHAM, of North Carolina, was, on the second ballot, nominated for Vice-President.
The Southern platform had already been imposed on the Conventionthe Slavery plank by a vote of 164 Yeas to 117 Nays. It is as follows:
Eighth, That the series of acts of the XXXIst Congress known as the Compromise Measures of 1850-the act known as the Fugitive Slave law included-are received and acquiesced in by the Whig party of the United States as a settlement, in principle and substance, of the dangerous and exciting questions which they embrace; and, so far as they are concerned, we will maintain them, and insist on their strict enforcement, until time and experience shall demon
strate the necessity of further legislation to guard against the evasion of the laws on the the other-not impairing their present effione hand, and the abuse of their powers on ciency; and we deprecate all further agitation of the question thus settled, as dangerefforts to continue or renew such agitation, ous to our peace, and will discountenance all whenever, wherever, or however, the attempt may be made; and we will maintain this system as essential to the nationality of the Whig party, and the integrity of the Union."
Gen. Scott made haste to plant himself unequivocally and thoroughly on the platform thus erected, which was in undoubted accordance with his own feelings and convictions. But his success in the canvass was by no means commensurate with the expectations of his friends. Many of the anti-Slavery Whigs, by whose efforts he had been nominated, supported him coldly because of the platform; while the intense pro-Slavery section of the party did not support him at all-distrusting, not him, but the influences which, they apprehended, might guide his councils.
The "Free Soil Democracy," who yet maintained a National organization on the basis of open and thorough hostility to Slavery Extension and all pro-Slavery compromises, held their nominating Convention at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, on the 11th of August; presented JOHN P. HALE, of New
Hampshire, for President, and GEORGE W. JULIAN, of Indiana, for Vice-President; and, though they carried no State, they polled a far stronger vote than they would or could have done but for the Whig platform aforesaid; and they made their gain wholly at the expense of Gen. Scott, When the polls were closed and the result made manifest, it appeared that he had carried only the States of Massachusetts, Vermont, Kentucky, and Tennessee-four in all, choosing 42 Electors; while Gen. Pierce had carried twenty-seven States, choosing 254 Electors. Never before was there such an overwhelming defeat of a party that had hoped for success. Even little Delaware had, for the first time -save only in the reëlection of Monroe-voted for a 'Democratic' Presi
dent. But quite a number of States had been carried for Gen. Pierce by very close votes; so that the popular preponderance of his party was by no means so great as the electoral result would seem to indicate. In all the States except South Carolina (where the Electors are not chosen by the people, but where there was no serious opposition to Pierce and King) the popular vote summed up as follows: For Pierce, 1,601,274; for Scott, 1,386,580; for Hale, 155,825; Pierce over Scott, 214,694; over Scott and Hale together, 58,896. And, whatever else the Election might have meant, there was no doubt that the popular verdict was against Slavery agitation,' and in favor of maintaining the Compromise of 1850.20
THE NEBRASKA-KANSAS STRUGGLE.
FRANKLIN PIERCE was inaugurated The Tariff had ceased to be a theme President on the 4th of March, 1853. of partisan or sectional strife. The Never were the visible omens more immense yield of gold by California auspicious of coming years of politi- during the four preceding years had cal calm and National prosperity. stimulated Enterprise and quickened Though a considerable Public Debt the energies of Labor, and its volume had been incurred for the prosecution showed as yet no signs of diminution. and close of the Mexican War, yet And, though the Fugitive Slave law the Finances were healthy and the was still denounced, and occasionally Public Credit unimpaired. Industry resisted, by Abolitionists in the Free and Trade were signally prosperous. States, while Disunionists still plot
20 On the day before that of the choice of Presidential Electors by the people, the writer met an old friend whom he had not before seen for years, but whom he had formerly known as an ardent and active Whig. Speaking to him of the morrow's contest, in the undoubting confidence of a political compatriot, he was met at first by blank reserve, and then a frank assertion: 'I shall not vote this year as I formerly
did.' 'What does that mean?' 'Why, I have been down South since I last saw you, and I don't think Slavery so bad as I once did. No question of Slavery had ever been broached between us; and there was now no Slavery issue between the great National parties; yet an instinct stronger than logic had taught him that, if he would uphold and maintain Slavery, he must vote the Democratic ticket.
FIRST EFFORTS TO ORGANIZE NEBRASKA.
ted in secret, and more openly prepared in Southern Commercial Conventions (having for their ostensible object the establishment of a general exchange of the great Southern staples directly from their own harbors with the principal European marts, instead of circuitously by way of New York and other Northern Atlantic ports), there was still a goodly majority at the South, with a still larger at the North and Northwest, in favor of maintaining the Union, and preserving the greatest practicable measure of cordiality and fraternity between the Free and the Slave States, substantially on the basis of the Compromise of 1850.
The region lying directly westward and northwestward of the State of Missouri, and stretching thence to the Rocky Mountains, was vaguely known as the "Platte Country" (from the chief river intersecting it), and its eastern frontier was mainly covered by Indian reservations, on which whites were forbidden to settle, down to a period so late as 1850. Two great lines of travel and trade stretched across it—one of them tending southwestward, and crossing the Arkansas on its way to Santa Fé and other villages and settlements in New Mexico; the other leading up the Platte, North Platte, and Sweetwater, to and through the South Pass of the Rocky Mountains, where it divides-one trail one trail leading thence northwestward to the Columbia and to Oregon; the other southwestward to Salt Lake, the Humboldt, and California. The western boundary of Missouri was originally a line drawn due north
1 December 13, 1852.
as well as south from the point where the Kansas or Kaw river enters the Missouri; but in 1836 a considerable section lying west of this line, and between it and the Missouri, was quietly detached from the unorganized territory aforesaid and added to the State of Missouri, forming in due time the fertile and populous counties of Platte, Buchanan, Andrew, Holt, Nodaway, and Atchison, which contained in 1860 70,505 inhabitants, of whom 6,699 were slaves. This conversion of Free into Slave territory, in palpable violation of the Missouri Compromise, was effected so dexterously and quietly as to attract little or no public attention.
At the first session of the XXXIId Congress (1851-2) petitions were presented for a territorial organization of the region westward of Missouri and Iowa; but no action was had thereon until the next session, when Mr. Willard P. Hall, of Missouri, submitted' to the House a bill organizing the Territory of Platte, comprising this region. This bill being referred to the Committee on Territories, Mr. William A. Richardson, of Illinois, from said Committee, reported a bill organizing the Territory of Nebraska (covering the same district); which bill, being sent to the Committee of the Whole and considered therein, encountered a formidable and unexpected Southern opposition, and was reported from said Committee with a recommendation that it be rejected. An attempt by Mr. John Letcher, of Virginia, to lay it on the table, was defeated by a call of the Yeas and Nays; when it was engrossed, read a third time, and passed: Yeas 98; Nays 43.
The bill now went to the Senate, with ample notice that a pro-Slavery cabal had been secretly formed to resist the organization of a new Territory on soil consecrated to Free Labor, as this had solemnly been, until a counterpoise could be found or devised, through the partition of Texas or otherwise. It reached the Senate on the 11th, and was sent to the Committee on Territories, from which Mr. Stephen A. Douglas reported it on the 17th without amendment. On the 2d of March (being the last day but one of the session), he moved that it be taken up; which was resisted and beaten: Yeas 20; Nays 25 the Nays nearly all from the South. He tried again next day, when Mr. Solon Borland, of Arkansas, moved that it do lie on the table, which prevailed: Yeas 23; Nays 17-as before. So the South defeated any organization at this time of a territory west of Missouri. No Senators from Slave States but those from Missouri sustained the bill; and Mr. Atchison, of that State, in supporting a motion to take up the bill, to which Mr. Rusk, of Texas, had objected, said:
"I must ask the indulgence of the Senate to say one word in relation to this matter. Perhaps there is not a State in the Union more deeply interested in this question than the State of Missouri. If not the largest, I will say the best portion of that Territoryperhaps the only portion of it that in half a century will become a State-lies immediately west of the State of Missouri. It is only a question of time, whether we will organize the Territory at this session of Congress, or whether we will do it at the next session; and, for my own part, I acknowledge now that, as the Senator from Illinois well knows, when I came to this city, at the beginning of the last session, I was perhaps as much opposed to the proposition as the Senator from Texas now is. The Senator from
Iowa [Mr. A. C. Dodge] knows it; and it was for reasons I will not not now mention or suggest. But, Sir, I have, from reflection and investigation in my own mind, and from the opinions of others- my constituents, whose opinions I am bound to respectcome to the conclusion that now is the time for the organization of this Territory. It is the most propitious time. The treaties with the various Indian tribes, the titles to whose possessions must be extinguished, can better be made now than at any future time; for, as the question is agitated, and as it is understood, white men, speculators, will interpose and interfere, and the longer it is postponed the more we will have to fear from them, and the more difficult it will be to extinguish the Indian title in that country, and the harder the terms to be imposed. Therefore, Mr. President, for this reason, without going into detail, I am willing now that the question should be taken, whether we will proceed to the consideration of this bill or not."
Here was a distinct intimation,' from a leading propagandist of Slavery, that he was aware of a Southern conspiracy to prevent the organization, westward of the Missouri, of a new Territory which must necessarily be Free; but he had no faith in its success, and was anxious, for urgent local reasons, to have the organization proceed. But he was overborne, and the bill defeated.
The XXXIIId Congress met December 5, 1853. There was an overwhelming Democratic majority in either branch. Linn Boyd, of Kentucky, was chosen Speaker of the House. President Pierce, as he in his Inaugural had been most emphatic in his commendation of the Compromise of 1850, and in insisting that "the rights of the South" should be upheld, and "that the laws to enforce them be respected and obeyed, not with reluctance encouraged by abstract opinions as to their propriety in a different state of society, but cheerfully, and according to the de
'December 15, 1852.
MR. DOUGLAS ON NEBRASKA.
cisions of the tribunal to which their exposition belongs," so now, in his first Annual Message, he reiterated these recommendations, and added:
"Notwithstanding differences of opinion and sentiment which then existed in relation to details and specific provisions, the acquiescence of distinguished citizens, whose devotion to the Union can never be doubted, has given renewed vigor to our institutions, and restored a sense of repose and security to the public mind throughout the confederacy. That this repose is to suffer no shock during my official term, if I have power to avert it, those who placed me here may be as
Mr. Augustus C. Dodge, of Iowa, submitted to the Senate a bill "to organize the Territory of Nebraska," embracing (as before) the region lying westward of Missouri and Iowa, which was referred to the Committee on Territories; from which Mr. Douglas, of Illinois, reported it with amendments. Still, no word in this bill proposed to repeal or meddle with the interdict on Slavery in this region laid by the Missouri Compromise of 1820. On the contrary, Mr. Douglas's Report accompanying the bill, while it raised the question of the original validity of the Missouri Restriction aforesaid, contained no hint that said Restriction had been removed by the legislation of 1850. The material portion of that Report is as follows:
"A question has arisen in regard to the right to hold slaves in the Territory of Nebraska, when the Indian laws shall be withdrawn, and the country thrown open to emigration and settlement. By the 8th section of an act to authorize the people of Missouri Territory to form a Constitution and State Government, and for the admission of such State into the Union on an equal footing with the original States, and to prohibit Slavery in certain territories,' approved March 6, 1820, it was provided; That in all that territory ceded by France to the United States under the name of Louisiana, which
'Dec. 14, 1853.
lies north of 36 degrees 30 minutes north lati
tude, not included within the limits of the
State contemplated by this act, Slavery and involuntary servitude, otherwise than in punishment of crimes whereof the parties shall have been duly convicted, shall be, and are hereby, prohibited: Provided always, That any person escaping into the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed in any State or Territory of the United States, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed, and conveyed to the persons claiming his or her labor or service as aforesaid.'
"Under this section, as in the case of the Mexican law in New Mexico and Utah, it is a disputed point whether Slavery is prohibited in the Nebraska country by valid enactment. The decision of this question involves laws prescribing and regulating the domestic the constitutional power of Congress to pass institutions of the various Territories of the Union. In the opinion of those eminent statesmen who hold that Congress is invest
ed with no rightful authority to legislate upon the subject of Slavery in the territories, the 8th section of the act preparatory to the admission of Missouri is null and
void; while the prevailing sentiment in large portions of the Union sustains the doctrine that the Constitution of the United States secures to every citizen an inalienable right to move into any of the Territories with his property, of whatever kind and description, and to hold and enjoy the same under the sanction of law. Your Committee do not feel themselves called upon to enter upon the discussion of these controverted questions. They involve the same grave issues which produced the agitation, the sectional strife, and the fearful struggle, of dent to refrain from deciding the matters in 1850. As Congress deemed it wise and prucontroversy then, either by affirming or repealing the Mexican laws, or by an act declaratory of the true intent of the Constitution, and the extent of the protection afforded by it to Slave property in the Territories, so your Committee are not prepared to recommend a departure from the course pursued on that memorable occasion, either by affirming or repealing the 8th section of the Missouri act, or by any act declaratory of the meaning of the Constitution in respect to the legal points in dispute."
This would seem conclusive; yet it is but fair to add the following, from near the close of the Report:
"From these provisions, it is apparent that the Compromise measures of 1850 affirm, and rest upon, the following propositions:
* January 4, 1854.