We must next have recourse to the act organizing the territory of Wisconsin. The twelfth section of this act provides, “ that the inhabitants of the said territory shall be entitled to, and enjoy, all and singular the rights, privileges, and advantages granted and secured to the people of the territory of the United States northwest of the river Ohio, by the articles of the compact contained in the ordinance for the government of the said territory, passed on the 13th day of July, 1787; and shall be subject to all the conditions and restrictions and prohibitions in said articles of compact imposed upon the people of the said territory.”

It will be seen that there is an essential difference in the language of the two sections. The twelfth section of the act organizing the territory of Iowa secures the rights, privileges, and immunities secured to the territory of Wisconsin and its inhabitants, including the ordinance of 1787; but it does not expressly impose the conditions, restrictions, and prohibitions contained in that ordinance. Now, I suppose the exclusion of slavery from the northwest territory by the ordinance is to be referred rather to the class of restrictions and prohibitions than to that of privileges and immunities. Under such a construction of the act, slavery would not have been excluded from Iowa by the twelfth section of the act establishing a government for that territory, nor would it be excluded from Oregon by that portion of this bill which secures to the inhabitants “ the rights, privileges, and immunities heretofore granted and secured to the territory of Iowa and its inhabitants.”

I know there is a difference of opinion in respect to the true construction of the twelfth section of the act organizing a government for the territory of Iowa. The Senator from Maryland, whose legal opinions are entitled to great weight, is of opinion that the slavery restrictions contained in the twelfth section of the act organizing a territorial government for Wisconsin, from which territory Iowa

1 Mr. Johnson.


was taken, are embraced in the twelfth section of the act establishing a government for the latter. The Senators, from North Carolina and Georgia' consider the conditions, prohibitions, and restrictions, imposed by the ordinance of 1787, on the one hand, and the rights, privileges, and advantages, secured on the other, as distinct, substantive propositions, of which the latter only are embraced in the twelfth section of the last-named act. And although I will not undertake to decide between them, I confess this seems to me the most reasonable construction. Practically, this question was of no importance as to lowa, as slavery was excluded from that territory, which was a part of Louisiana, by the Missouri compromise.

Let us now look at the next provision of this section, which I consider the most important. It declares that the laws now existing in Oregon shall continue to be valid and operative, &c.

One of these laws contains a prohibition of slavery. I will read it; it is article one, section four, of the organic laws of Oregon:

“ There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in said territory, otherwise than for the punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall be duly convicted.”

This prohibition is adopted by the section I am considering; and the exclusion of slavery will, for the time, be as complete as though it were expressly prohibited by an adoption of the amendment offered by the Senator from New Hampshire, and subsequently withdrawn by him. That amendment subjected the territory of Oregon to the restrictions and prohibitions of the ordinance of 1787. It would have been a perpetual exclusion of slavery; and in this respect it differs from the twelfth section as it stands. For instance : under this section the inhabitants of Oregon might rescind or repeal the law prohibiting slavery; this act of repeal would go into immediate effect, and slaves could be introduced into the territory. The sixth section, however, provides that all laws passed by the governor and legislative assembly shall be submitted to Congress, and if disapproved, shall be void and of no effect. If such an act of repeal should be passed, it would bring the question again before Congress for its approval or disapproval. Such an act is certainly very unlikely to be passed by the legislative authority of the territory. Still, the positive prohibition contained in the ordinance of 1787 is preferable as making a final disposition of the question; and it is in accordance with the whole legislation of the country in respect to territories situated like this. I shall, therefore, at a proper time, unless some other Senator does so, offer an amendment to that effect.

1 Mr. Badger and Mr. Berrien.

I regret exceedingly, Mr. President, to have taxed the patience of the Senate so long; but I believed I was performing a duty to high principles, and to the State I have, in part, the honor to represent; and no consideration could induce me to shrink from the performance of it.

Before I conclude, I desire to state some positions which I took last winter, in discussing what was termed the three million bill. I thought then, and I think still, that they constitute the only practical and reasonable basis for the settlement of this question. They were these:

1. All external interference with slavery in the States is a violation of the compromises of the Constitution, and dangerous to the harmony and perpetuity of the Federal Union.

2. If territory is acquired by the United States, it should, in respect to slavery, be received as it is found. If slavery exists therein at the time of the acquisition, it should not be the subject of legislation by Congress. On the other hand, if slavery does not exist therein at the time of the acquisition, its introduction ought to be prohibited while the territory continues to be governed as such.

3. All legislation by Congress, in respect to slavery in the territory belonging to the United States, ceases to be


operative when the inhabitants are permitted to form a state government; and the admission of a state into the Union carries with it, by force of the sovereignty such admission confers, the right to dispose of the whole question of slavery at its discretion, without external interference.

These positions were in substantial accordance, as I supposed, with the declared opinions of the legislature of New York; and they have been recently reaffirmed, so far as the exclusion of slavery from the territory in which it does not now exist is concerned.

I believe this to be the only just, equal, and reasonable basis on which this question can be amicably settled. • Such a result may be hopeless. Extreme views on both sides may defeat all adjustment of it on friendly terms. If so, I shall have the consolation of reflecting, that, while my own opinions lie between those extremes, while they have been advanced, as I trust, in language no one can deem offensive, they have been maintained with a steadiness which ought always to accompany settled convictions of right and duty.

Mr. President, I conclude by saying for New York, as I think I am authorized to say by her legislative resolutions, that, while she will adhere steadfastly to all the compromises of the Constitution, and while she will resist all interference with slavery in the States as unauthorized and disorganizing, she will never consent to its extension to territory in which it does not now exist, and especially where it is now prohibited. On the contrary, she will, in every constitutional mode, oppose all such extension, as of evil tendency in government, wrong in itself, and repugnant to the humanity and civilization of the age.


The following speech was delivered by Mr. Dix on the 26th July, 1848. The bill under discussion embraced the whole subject of

organizing governments for the territories acquired from Mexico; but the only material point of disagreement in the Senate was the question of permitting slavery to be established in those territories. The Southern Senators insisted that citizens of the United States had the right, under the Constitution, to carry into those territories whatever was recognized as property in the States from which they emigrated. The free States denied this doctrine, and insisted that, slavery having been abolished in Mexico, it could only be restored by positive enactment. But to remove all doubt on this point, it was contended that the acts organizing governments in these territories should contain an absolute prohibition of slavery in order to save the government from the reproach of reëstablishing it where it had long been abolished by the fundamental law.

MR. PRESIDENT: It is with great reluctance that I throw myself on the indulgence of the Senate a second time in this discussion. But since I spoke, positions have been taken in the debate, and assertions made, which I cannot pass by without comment; and especially am I unwilling to be silent when the whole subject is presented to us under a new phase by the report of the committee of eight, and brings up a train of considerations having an important bearing upon the question.

Before I proceed to notice, as I shall very briefly, the provisions of the bill reported by the committee, I desire to say something on other topics which have been introduced into the discussion.

The Northern States have been repeatedly charged in this debate, and on many previous occasions, with aggression, and violations of the constitutional compact, in their action on

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