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ners and persuasive arguments of the Northern agent. The South really had but little interest in the slavery question as applied to this territory. It had more land than it could occupy; and Southerners probably never conceived the possibility of their needing land or votes north of the Ohio River. The chief motive of the Southern members in voting unanimously for the Ordinance was doubtless to relieve the financial embarrassment of the government, and to bring the public lands into the market at the highest price.* It must also be borne in mind that there was then, and for the next five years, more antislavery sentiment in the South than ever existed there before or since. Mr. Jefferson, Patrick Henry, George Mason, George Wythe, St. George Tucker, and other prominent men of Virginia, were theoretically pronounced abolitionists. In these years there were State abolition societies in Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware, which held regular meetings, and developed more radical opinions as to the rights of man, and the civil and social equality of the negro, than Phillips or Garrison ever uttered. There were ten of these abolition societies in the Southern States during that period. Slavery had not then become a political and sectional issue.
The first public development of a change of policy on the matter of an ordinance was on the 9th of July, when the subject was referred to a new committee.. Can there be any doubt that the character of the new Ordinance had been discussed in the negotiations for the purchase, and that the members of that committee were chosen by design, and with a definite understanding of what they were to do? Colonel Carrington of Virginia was made chairman. Lee of Virginia was also put on the committee. We have seen that they were Dr. Cutler's
* The remarks of Mr. Randolph of Virginia, in February, 1803, on the question of voting land to the Ohio School Fund, illustrate this point. “He believed,” he said, “ that the appropriation, while it protected the interests of literature, would enhance the value of property. Can we suppose that emigration will not be promoted by it, and that the value of lands will not be enhanced by the emigrant obtaining the fullest education for his children ? and is it not better to receive two dollars an acre with an appropriation for schools, than seventy-five cents an acre without such appropriation ? Indubitably it is. Gentlemen who are not operated upon by this principle, and a desire to establish a liberal provision for schools, will vote against the bill.” – Annals of Cong., 7th Cong., 2d sess, p. 586.
intimate friends and advisers. Mr. Dane was his neighbor and representative, but there were reasons, as we shall presently see, why he was not made chairman. Mr. Smith of New York was one of the members to whom Dr. Cutler brought letters of introduction, and with whom he was intimate. Mr. Kean of South Carolina was probably a member of the Southern circle, with whom Dr. Cutler spent much of his time, whose views were known, and who would aid in carrying the three extreme Southern States. A majority of the members were composed of Southerners, in order to ward off the impression that it was a Northern measure. This committee took Dr. Cutler into their counsels, and, as his journal states, furnished him with a copy of the Ordinance which had been prepared, and asked him to make remarks and propose amendments, which he did. He delivered the draft with his remarks and amendments to the committee on the afternoon of July 10, and left New York that evening for a brief visit to Philadelphia, for the purpose of visiting Dr. Franklin, Dr. Rush, and other scientific correspondents of his, - he being a member of the American Philosophical Society of Philadelphia. He had a desire also to look in upon the Convention for the formation of the Constitution, there in session.*
He returned to New York on the evening of the 18th of July, and on the morning of the 19th called upon members of Congress. He then was shown the Ordinance which had passed on the 13th, and of which he had heard nothing during his absence. He says: “ The amendments I proposed have all been made except one, and that is better qualified. It is that we should not be subject to continental taxation until we were entitled to a full representation in Congress. This could not be
* The narrative he gives in his journal of his visit to Dr. Franklin is the most charming personal description of that eminent man which is extan :: Mr. Sparks has printed it in his Life of Dr. Franklin, Vol. I. p. 519. Dr. Cutler's account of his visits to Dr. Rush, to the botanical garden of William Bartram, and to the studio of Charles Wilson Peale, the painter, are exceedingly interesting, and have never been printed. Dr. Rush informed him that they were endeavoring to raise a fund to establish a botanical garden in that city, and that he (Dr. Cutler) was the only person who had been named to take the superintendency, and give botanical lectures to the students in the University.
+ The Ordinance was first publicly printed in the "Pennsylvania Herald” on the 25th of July.
fully obtained, for it was considered in Congress as offering a premium on emigration.”
On the 11th of July, the day after Dr. Cutler presented his amendments and views in writing, the committee reported the Ordinance to Congress, and it took its first reading. In this stage it had no antislavery clause, though one seems to have been agreed upon in committee. The next day, the 12th, this clause was offered by Mr. Dane, and without objection accepted as an amendment. Several minor amendments were also made, which Mr. Force in his paper specifies, and on the 13th the Ordinance, as amended, was passed in Congress by a unanimous vote, eight States only being represented.
What Dr. Cutler, Mr. Dane, Colonel Carrington, or any other member of the committee contributed to the Ordinance, the public records of the time are silent concerning. Mr. Dane doubtless wrote the draft, and performed the clerical duties of the committee. Its style, however, which is smooth, compact, and elegant, is not the style of Mr. Dane, which was loose, ragged, and inelegant.“ He had no graces of style," says his biographer, “either native or borrowed; neither did he ever seek for any.” * Some other hand than Mr. Dane's must have been concerned in its formation and revision. Mr. Dane assumed, however, the responsibility, under an entire misapprehension of the sentiments of Congress, of withholding the antislavery clause till the second reading. What would the Ordinance have been for the purpose for which it was intended without that clause? In the letter he wrote to Rufus King, July 16, three days after the passage, he says: “When I drew the Ordinance, which passed, a few words excepted, as I originally formed it, I had no idea the States would agree to the sixth article prohibiting slavery, as only Massachusetts of the Eastern States was present, and therefore omitted it in the draft; but, finding the House favorably disposed on the subject, after we had completed the other parts, I moved the article, which was agreed to without opposition.” This statement shows how little he had entered into the work which had been done by another Massachusetts man to prepare Congress for this action.
The fact seems to be that the Massachusetts members never
*C. T. Thayer, in History of Beverly, p. 143.
engaged with much zeal in any plan for settling the Northwestern Territory. They saw it would draw away the capital of their own State and thousands of its most enterprising citizens, as it did. No part of the State would suffer so much as Mr. Dane's own Essex District, where the shareholders of the Ohio Company chiefly resided. Massachusetts had an immense unoccupied territory in the Province of Maine on the market, and Maine was a part of her own jurisdiction. Dr. Cutler made use of this fact in his negotiations with Congress, threatening, in case they did not give him the terms he desired, that the company would buy lands of Massachusetts. The Massachusetts members could not openly oppose the Western movement, because it was popular with their constituents, who had what was then called “ the Ohio fever." Dr. Cutler did not have much confidence in the professed sympathy of his State delegation, and did not take them into his full confidence. He says in his journal: “Holton, I think, may be trusted; Dane must be carefully watched, notwithstanding his professions.” Of Southern members he speaks thus: “Grayson, R. H. Lee, and Carrington are certainly my warm advocates. Lee tells me he has a speech, an hour long, prepared in my behalf, which he will deliver when he has an opportunity.”
Mr. Dane in his letter to Rufus King seemed to be wholly unconscious of the fact that the Ordinance was a matchless specimen of legislation and jurisprudence. He rather spoke of it in apologetic terms, as a piece of patchwork hastily put together. He says: “With pleasure I communicate to you what we are doing in Congress, not so much from the consciousness that what we do is well done, as from a desire that you may be acquainted with our proceedings.
We have been employed about several objects, - the principal of which has been the Government enclosed [meaning the Ordinance] and the Ohio purchase. The former you will see is completed, and the latter will probably be completed to-morrow. We tried one day to patch up -'s ideas [the name is illegible] of Western government, started new ideas, and committed the whole to Carrington, Dane, R. H. Lee, Smith, and Kean. We met several times, and at last agreed on some principles, - at least Lee, Smith, and myself. We found ourselves rather
pressed. The Ohio Company appeared to purchase a large tract of Federal lands, — about six or seven millions of acres [which is an overstatement of the quantity], and we wanted to abolish the old system, and get a better one for the government, and we finally found it necessary to adopt the best system we could get. All agreed finally to the enclosed plan except A. Yates."*
If the Ordinance had been his own sole production, he would doubtless have been more conscious of its merits, and spoken of it in more affectionate and complimentary terms.
The Ordinance of 1787 and the Ohio purchase were parts of one and the same transaction. The purchase would not have been made without the Ordinance, and the Ordinance could not have been enacted except as an essential condition of the purchase. Both were before Congress and under consideration at the same time, and Colonel Carrington was the chairman of the committees which reported and carried through both measures. The dates of their passage were separated by an interval of only two weeks. The Ordinance has hitherto been treated as an isolated piece of legislation, and as such it has been a marvel and an enigma. When considered together, every fact in the origin and passage of the Ordinance is explained, and is found to be connected with the agency of Dr. Manasseh Cutler. He was the person of the most varied accomplishments, the widest learning, the largest personal influence, and the one most active and deeply interested in the subject-matter of the Ordinance of all who had a part in its formation. He was then forty-five years of age, and in the prime of his manhood and mental culture. Mr. Dane was eleven years younger, and only five years before had commenced the practice of law. At the age of twenty-one years he was at work on his father's farm, and had not commenced his preparation for college. Four years after graduating he spent as a school teacher. He had written nothing at that time which was in print. Later in life, he had the reputation of an author; but his “General Abridgment and Digest of American Law" appeared from 1823 to 1829, thirty-six to forty-two years later. He entered Congress in 1785, retired
* New York Tribune, February 28, 1855.