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"First, That all questions pertaining to Slavery in the Territories, and the new
States to be formed therefrom, are to be left to the decision of the people residing therein, by their appropriate representatives, to be chosen by them for that purpose."
The bill thus reported was soon after, on Mr. Douglas's motion, recommitted, and on the 23d reported again by
him from his Committee on Territo
ries, with material alterations. For, meantime, Mr. Archibald Dixon,' of Kentucky, had given due notice that, whenever this bill should come up, he would offer the following amendment: "SEO. 22. And be it further enacted, That so much of the 8th section of an act approved March 6, 1820, entitled An Act to au'thorize the people of the Missouri Territory 'to form a constitution and State govern'ment, 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,' as declares 'That, in all 'that territory ceded by France to the Uni'ted States, under the name of Louisiana, 'which lies north of 36 degrees 30 minutes 'north latitude, Slavery and involuntary ser'vitude, otherwise than in the punishment 'of crimes whereof the party shall have 'been duly convicted, shall be forever pro'hibited,' shall not be so construed as to apply to the Territory contemplated by this act, or to any other Territory of the United States; but that the citizens of the several States or Territories shall be at liberty to take and hold their slaves within any of the
Territories or States to be formed there
from, as if the said act, entitled as aforesaid, and approved as aforesaid, had never been passed.'
This blunt proposition that the Missouri Compromise, in so far as its stipulations favored the consecration of the Territories to Free Labor, be utterly repudiated, now that so much of it as strengthened Slavery had taken full and vigorous effect, was received with more surprise than satisfaction by the engineers of the original measure. The Union, then the Democratic organ at Washington, promptly denounced it as a Whig
6 January 16th, 1854.
device to divide and disorganize the Democratic party. It received no hearty welcome from any quarter— certainly none from Mr. Douglas, or any supporter of his Presidential aspirations. It had evidently been exorganize these territories, so expressly pected by them that his proposal to hibition of bondage contained in the contemplated and covered by the inMissouri act, in blank silence on the subject of Slavery, would be deemed if not to Southern interests. Yet, in a concession to Southern prejudices, the presence of this bolder, stronger, larger, and more practical concession, that of Mr. Douglas dwindled by contrast into insignificance.
Mr. Douglas, thus outbid, resolved to start afresh. On the 23d aforesaid, he reported from his Committee a bill so different from its predecessor as hardly to resemble it, save that it contemplated the same region. Instead of one Territory, to be called Nebraska, and stretching from the parallel of 36° 30' north latitude on the south to that of 43° 30' on the north, and from the western boundary of Missouri and Iowa on the east to the crests of the Rocky Mountains on the west, he now proposed to create two Territories, one to be composed of so much of said region as was directly west of the State of Missouri, to be known as KANSAS; the other to comprise the residue, and be known as NEBRASKA. (The south line of Kansas was moved northward from latitude 36° 30' to latitude 37°, in order to make it conform to the boundary between the lands of the Cherokees and those of the Osages.) And, with reference to Slavery, the new bill contained these provisions:
'Elected as a Whig-afterward a Democrat.
MR. DOUGLAS MODIFIES HIS NEBRASKA BILL. 229
"SEC. 21. And be it further enacted, That, in order to avoid all misconstruction, it is hereby declared to be the true intent and meaning of this act, so far as the question of Slavery is concerned, to carry into practical operation the following propositions and principles, established by the Compromise measures of one thousand eight hundred and fifty, to wit:
"First. That all questions pertaining to Slavery in the Territories, and in the new States to be formed therefrom, are to be left to the decision of the people residing therein, through their appropriate representatives.
Second. That all cases involving title 'to slaves,' and 'questions of personal freedom,' are referred to the adjudication of the local tribunals, with the right of appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States.
"Third. That the provisions of the Constitution and laws of the United States, in respect to fugitives from service, are to be carried into faithful execution in all the
'organized Territories,' the same as in the
Proceeding to that section which provides for the election of a delegate to Congress from Kansas, instead of the original stipulation
"That the Constitution, and all laws of the United States which are not locally inapplicable, shall have the same force and effect within the said Territory as elsewhere in the United States"
The following important reservation was now added:
"Except the section of the act preparatory to the admission of Missouri into the Union, approved March 6, 1820, which was superseded by the principles of the Legislation of 1850, commonly called the Compromise measures, and is declared inoperative."
The section which authorized Nebraska to send a delegate was amended in precisely the same manner.
Mr. Douglas called up his new bill for consideration next morning; when not only Messrs. Chase and Sumner, but Mr. Norris, of New Hampshire, Gen. Cass, and other Democrats, desired that time be given to consider the grave changes which
8 January 24, 1854.
should have an opportunity of understanding "I think it due to the Senate that they precisely the bearings and the effect of the
amendment which has been recently incorporated into the bill, as originally reported the amendment which alludes to Slavery by the Committee-I mean that portion of within the Territories to be organized-Nebraska and Kansas. So far as I am individually concerned, I am perfectly satisfied with the amendment reported by the Senator from Illinois, and which has been incorporated into the bill. If I understand it, it reaches a point which I am most anxious to attain that is to say, it virtually repeals the act of 1820, commonly called the Missouri Compromise act, declaring that Slavery should not exist north of the line of 36° 30'
"I here take occasion to remark, merely with a view of placing myself right before the Senate, that I think my position in relation to this matter has been somewhat misunderstood.
"I have been charged, through one of the leading journals of this city, with having proposed the amendment which I notified the Senate I intended to offer, with a view to embarrass the Democratic party. It was said that I was a Whig from Kentucky, and that the amendment proposed by me should be looked upon with suspicion
by the opposite party. Sir, I merely wish I know no Whiggery, and I know no Deto remark that, upon the question of Slavery, mocracy. I am a pro-Slavery man. I am from a slaveholding State; I represent a slaveholding constituency; and I am here to maintain the rights of that people whenever they are presented before the Senate.
"The amendment which I notified the Senate that I should offer at the proper time, has been incorporated by the Senator ported to the Senate. The bill, as now amended, meets my views, and I have no objection to it. I shall, at the proper time,
from Illinois into the bill which he has re
as far as I am able to do so, aid and assist the Senator from Illinois, and others who
9 The Union.
are anxious to carry through this proposi- | tion, with the feeble abilities I may be able to bring to bear upon it. I think it due to myself to make this explanation, because I do not wish it to be understood that, upon a question like this, I have, or could have, any motive except that which should influence a man anxious to secure what he believes to be a great principle—that is, Congressional non-interference in all the Territories, so far as this great question of Slavery is concerned.
"I never did believe in the propriety of passing the Missouri Compromise. I thought it was the result of necessity. I never thought that the great Senator from Kentucky (Mr. Clay), when he advocated that measure, did so because his judgment approved it, but because it was the result of a combination of circumstances which drove
him to the position he assumed; and I have never thought that that measure received the sanction either of his heart or of his head.
"The amendment, then, which I gave notice that I would propose-and which I intended to have proposed, if it had not been rendered wholly unnecessary by the amendment reported by the Senator from Illinois, from the Committee on Territories, of which he is the honored Chairman-I intended to offer, under the firm conviction that I was carrying out the principles set
tled in the Compromise acts of 1850; and which leave the whole question of Slavery with the people, and without any Congressional interference. For, over the subject of Slavery, either in the States or Territories of the United States, I have always believed, and have always contended, that Congress had no power whatever, and that, consequently, the act of 1820, commonly known as the Missouri Compromise act, is unconstitutional; and, at the proper time, I shall endeavor to satisfy the Senate and the country of the truth of these propositions."
To which Mr. Douglas responded
"As this discussion has begun, I feel it to be my duty to say a word in explanation. I am glad to hear the Senator from Kentucky say that the bill, as it now stands, accomplishes all that he desired to accomplish by his amendment, because his amend ment seemed to myself, and to some with whom I have consulted, to mean more than what he now explains it to mean, and what I am glad he did not intend it should
"We supposed that it not only wiped out
the legislation which Congress has heretofore adopted, excluding Slavery, but that it
affirmatively legislated Slavery into the Territories. The object of the Committee was neither to legislate Slavery in or out of the Territories; neither to introduce nor exclude it; but to remove whatever obstacle Congress had put there, and apply the doctrine of Congressional non-intervention, in accordance with the principles of the Compromise measures of 1850, and allow the people to do as they pleased upon this, as well as all other matters affecting their interests.
"The explanation of the honorable Senator from Kentucky shows that his meaning was not what many supposed it to be, who judged simply from the phraseology of the amendment. I deem this explanation due to the Senator and to myself."
Messrs. Webster, Clay, and Calhoun had all passed from the earth since the inception of Mr. Clay's Compromise in 1850. Not one of them lived to hear that that Compromise had lifted the interdict of Slavery from the whole region solemnly guaranteed to Free Labor forever by the Compromise of 1820. Webster, certainly, never dreamed of such a thing, when he vehemently denounced, as insane, malignant folly, the attempt to fasten a like hibition on the bill organizing New Mexico-as an effort to debar slaveholding on snowy crags and arid deserts where no slave could be subsisted-as a superserviceable attempt to "reenact the laws of God," as if their Author were unequal to the task He had undertaken.
In the accord of Messrs. Douglas and Dixon, an undertone of discord may be detected. Mr. Dixon repudiates the restrictive provision of the Compromise of 1820 as void ab initio, for want of constitutional power to enact it. Congress could not lawfully exclude Slavery from the Federal domain-therefore, did not, to any purpose. Mr. Clay consented to that Restriction because he must, not because he would-(as if this
DOUGLAS AND DIXON ON THE COMPROMISES.
were not always the case in com- | could be legally held to service-into promises each party conceding said Territory; the act of planting Slasomething he would gladly retain, very in fact there, being one which in order to secure something else legislation might facilitate and invite, that is otherwise beyond his reach.) but which individual action must initiBut that Mr. Clay deliberately bar- ate and achieve. And he did not now gained to secure what he greatly contend that the legislation of 1850 desired (the admission of Missouri), had even removed the obstacle to knowing that the stipulated consid- such establishment, but only that the eration was utterly beyond the power action he proposed was "in accordof Congress, therefore a blank nul- ance with the principles of the Comlity-that, Mr. Dixon did not assert, promise measures of 1850❞—that is nor would any true friend of the to say, it applied to Kansas and Negreat Kentuckian's memory insinu- braska-Territories secured, upon due ate it. Whatever Mr. Dixon's be- consideration, to Free Labor, by salief on the subject, it is certain that cred agreement in 1820-a principle Mr. Clay deemed the Missouri Com- which Congress had, under very dif promise a valid contract, and that ferent circumstances, applied to New he never dreamed that it was either Mexico-a most unlike and peculiar unauthorized by the Constitution or region-in 1850. superseded by the Compromise of 1850. No champion, no adversary, of this latter arrangement ever suggested, whether as an argument for, or an objection to, this scheme, that one of its effects or incidents would be the repeal of the Missouri Restriction, and a consequent opening to Slavery of the region stretching westward and north-westward from Missouri.
Mr. Douglas, it will be seen, indorses none of Mr. Dixon's assumptions. He had misunderstood Mr. Dixon's original proposition, supposing that it intended to "legislate Slavery into the Territory." He could mean by this nothing more nor other than that he misunderstood Mr. Dixon's as a proposition to legislate Slave law-that is, law under which slaves
Mr. Dixon, it will be remarked, had not yet attained to the ultimate orthodoxy of the South with respect to the rights of slaveholders in the Territories. He only held that Congress had no right to exclude them with their human chattels.' That it was bound to recognize and protect their property in slaves, and that the people of the Territories could have no right, prior to their organization as a State, to exclude or inhibit Slavery, were dogmas as yet confined to the more ardent devotees of Calhounism, and so far from being accepted, that they were scarcely comprehended by the great body of the supporters of the Compromise.
The amended bill, thus reported by Mr. Douglas, was debated at
"Is it not hard," asked Mr. Badger, of North Carolina, during the debate on the Kansas-Nebraska bill, "if I should choose to emigrate to Kansas, that I should be forbidden to take my old mammy [slave-nurse] along with me?""The Senator entirely mistakes our position," | her after taking her there."
responded Mr. Wade, of Ohio. "We have not the least objection, and would oppose no obstacle, to the Senator's migrating to Kansas, and taking his 'old mammy' along with him. We only insist that he shall not be empowered to sell
length, and ably, by Messrs. Douglas | mont; Smith, of Connecticut; Fish and
and several others in favor, and by Messrs. Chase, Seward, Sumner, Wade, and others, in opposition. But the disparity in numbers between its supporters and its opponents was too great -nearly three for to one against it it— to allow much interest to attach to the successive discussions and divisions, save as they serve to cast light on the real character of the measure, especially with respect to Slavery. A few of these will here be noted. Mr. Chase, having attempted to strike out so much of the clause last quoted as declares the Restriction of 1820 "superseded" by the Compromise of 1850, and been beaten by 30 Nays to 13 Yeas, Mr. Douglas" himself moved that said clause be stricken out, and replaced by the following:
"Which being inconsistent with the principle of Non-Intervention by Congress with Slavery in the States and Territories, as rec
ognized by the legislation of 1850 (commonly called the Compromise measures), is hereby declared inoperative and void; it being the true intent and meaning of this act not to legislate Slavery into any Territory or State, nor to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United States."
This, of course, prevailed: Yeas 35; Nays 10: whereupon Mr. Chase moved" to add thereto as follows:
"Under which, the people of the Territory, through their appropriate representatives, may, if they see fit, prohibit the existence of Slavery therein."
This touchstone of the true nature and intent of the measure was most decisively voted down; the Yeas and Nays being as follows:
YEAS-Fessenden and Hamlin, of Maine; Sumner, of Massachusetts; Foot, of Ver
10 February 6th. 11 February 15th. 12 March 2d.
13 Gen. Cass, the inventor of "Popular Sove
Seward, of New York; Chase and Wade, of Ohio; Dodge (Henry), of Wisconsin-10.
NAYS-Norris and Williams, of New Hampshire; Toucey, of Connecticut; Brodware; Stuart, 13 of Michigan; Pettit, of Indihead, of Pennsylvania; Clayton, of Delaana; Douglas and Shields, of Illinois; Dodge (A. C.) and Jones, of Iowa; Walker, of Wisconsin; Hunter and Mason, of Virginia; Pratt, of Maryland; Badger, of North Carolina; Butler and Evans, of South Carolina; Clay, of Alabama; Adams and Brown, of Dawson, of Georgia; Fitzpatrick and C. C. Mississippi; Benjamin and Slidell, of Louisiana; Morton, of Florida; Houston and Rusk, of Texas; Dixon, of Kentucky; Bell and Jones, of Tennessee; Atchison, of Missouri; Sebastian and Johnson, of Arkansas; Gwin and Weller, of California—36.
So the Senate decisively voted that the people of the new Territories, formed by this act from the region shielded from Slavery by the Compromise of 1820, should not have the right, under this organization, to prohibit Slavery, should they see fit.
On motion of Mr. Badger, of North Carolina, it was further (Yeas 35, Nays 6)
"Provided, That nothing herein shall be construed to revive or put in force any law or regulation which may have existed prior to the act of 6th of March, 1820, either protecting, establishing, prohibiting, or abolishing Slavery."
On motion of Mr. Clayton, of Delaware, it was further provided that immigrants from foreign countries who had merely declared their intention to become naturalized citizens should not be voters in these Territories. On this proposition, the Yeas were 23 (all from Slave States); the Nays 21 (all from Free States).
Mr. Chase now moved an amendment fixing a day of election, appointing commissioners to lay off Counties, etc., etc., and enabling the
reignty," who was in his seat and voted just before, did not respond to the call of his name on this occasion.