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of the Senate. Sir, no one appreciates the patriotism of that honorable Senator better than myself; and I sincerely wish the confidence in the Executive, which this determination implies, could, consistently with his views of duty, be carried a little farther, — that, while giving to the government all the men and money asked for, he could also vote for such an organization of the army as is deemed necessary to a vigorous prosecution of the war; for means and men avail little without the energy moral and physical of an efficient organization. For myself, I perceive nothing objectionable in the measure proposed. On the contrary, I can readily conceive it to be essential to the successful prosecution of our military operations in Mexico. I believe it to be necessary to a proper organization of the army; and I sustain it with cheerfulness, as a measure which is deemed necessary by the administration to sustain the honor of the country and to insure the success of its arms.


MARCH 1,1847.

On the 8th of August, 1846, the President of the United States sent a message to Congress, asking an appropriation of two millions of dollars to provide for any expenditure which might be necessary for the purpose of settling our difficulties with the Republic of Mexico, with which we were at war. It was well understood that the object was to secure a cession of territory from that republic. A bill making the appropriation was introduced into the House of Representatives on the same day. Mr. Wilmot, of Pennsylvania, offered an amendment, which was adopted, asserting as an express and fundamental condition of the acquisition of territory from Mexico by virtue of any treaty to be negotiated with that republic, that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude should exist in any part of said territory except for crime. This amendment was known as the Wilmot proviso. The bill passed the House on the day it was introduced, and was sent to the Senate late at night. The following day was Sunday. On Monday morning, the day Congress adjourned, the bill was taken up in the Senate, but no vote was taken, Mr. Davis of Massachusetts having spoken against it until the hour of adjournment.

In 1847, a similar bill was introduced into Congress, making an appropriation of three, instead of two millions. On this bill Mr. Dix delivered the speech which follows.

It may be proper to state, with a view to a more correct understanding of the issue presented by the Wilmot proviso, that its advocates sustained it on the distinct ground that, as slavery had been abolished throughout the Mexican republic, the acquisition of territory without prohibiting slavery would, on the theory asserted by the Southern States, lead to its restoration where it had ceased to exist, and make the United States responsible for its extension to districts in which universal freedom had been established by the fundamental law.

Mr. President: I intended to address the Senate on the general subject of the war; but being always more ready to listen than to speak, I have given way to others who were desirous of presenting their views. And I have done so with pleasure, because I knew that they were much more capable than myself of enlightening the judgment of the Senate on the questions before it. I have thought the occasion an appropriate one for recurring to the principles on which our government was founded; of reviewing its progress; of entering into a critical survey of our position as a nation, for the purpose of estimating intelligently our responsibilities to ourselves and others; of seeing wherein our strength consists; and of determining by what course of policy the permanent interests of the country are most likely to be promoted. If I do not mistake prevailing indications, an opportunity may be afforded hereafter for such a review, and one fully as appropriate as the present. I pass by all these grave considerations. I rise for the purpose of saying a few words in respect to the position taken by the non-slaveholding States concerning the acquisition of territory, and the admission of future States into the Union, — a position taken by resolutions passed by the legislatures of nine of these States. This question is presented by the bill passed by the House, and now awaiting the action of the Senate. It has been largely discussed on both sides. New York is one of the States by which resolutions relating to the question have been adopted. Her course, as well as that of other States, has been the subject of censure here. As one of her representatives on this floor, I wish to say something in her vindication, and in reference to the vote I may be called on to give, probably at too late an hour for discussion. And, in the first place, I desire to state what I understand to be the rights of the original parties to the Constitution, in respect to the subject of slavery within their own limits.

The Constitution of the United States recognized the existence of slavery in the thirteen original States, which were parties to that compact. The recognition was not in direct terms, but by force of certain stipulations designed to provide for exigencies which were the consequences of its existence. These stipulations are binding upon all the members of the Union, — as well those which were so originally, as those which have since been admitted into it. Whatever opinions may be entertained with regard to the political or social influences of slavery, the obligation of those who live under the protection of the Constitution to carry out in good faith all its stipulations is too plain to admit of doubt or controversy. It is a solemn obligation, therefore, to leave the States in which slavery exists, unmolested and free to deal with it according to their own interests and conceptions of duty.

Such I understand to be the rights and obligations of the States which were the original parties to the federal compact; and they belong equally to those who have since become parties to it.

I pass to the consideration of admitting new States into the Union, with slavery. Whether an organized State, formed from territory not belonging to the United States, or, in other words, whether a foreign State, shall be admitted into the Union at all, is a problem which may be determined (waiving all questions of constitutional power) upon general considerations of expediency, without regard to the particular conditions on which it is proposed to be received. The admission of Texas is the only case of this kind which has occurred since the adoption of the Constitution. Slavery existed in that republic at the time of the admission, and we did not require that it should be abolished. It is true, the compromise line adopted on the adjustment of the Missouri question was fixed as one of the conditions of the admission. Slavery was prohibited north of 86Q 30' north latitude. But it is equally true, I believe, that there was no settlement then, if there is now, in that part of Texas which lies north of the parallel of latitude referred to. There was no slavery to be abolished. It was an uninhabited wilderness. I believe it to be true, also, that Texas, notwithstanding the fundamental condition on which she was admitted into the Union, — that slavery should not exist above 86° SCK, — has extended to her whole territory, without reservation, the provisions of her constitution in respect to slavery; one of which is, that "the Legislature shall have no power to pass laws for the emancipation of slaves, without the consent of their owners; nor without paying their owners, previous to such emancipation, a full equivalent, in money, for the slaves so emancipated."

The reasonings which prevailed with some of those who voted for the admission of Texas, without further restriction, are all founded on the single fact that slavery existed in that republic. We took it as we found it. The same reasonings, applied to the acquisition of foreign territory in which slavery does not exist, demand that it shall be received as we find it, and that we shall so maintain it as long as it continues to be territory. If it shall at any time thereafter be organized into a State, and admitted into the Union, it is entitled to come in with all the political rights of the original States, and, therefore, free to determine for itself what its forms of organization, political or social, shall be, provided they are not inconsistent with the obligations of the fundamental compact between the States, or with any stipulation or compromise in respect to the territory from which it is formed. If slavery exists when a State comes into the Union, it may be subsequently abolished in such form as the constitution or laws of the State prescribe for expressing the sovereign will or assent. On the other hand, if slavery does not exist when a State comes into the Union, it may be subsequently established by the act of the State, without violating any provision of the federal Constitution. This freedom of action is inseparable from the sovereignty of the State, and there is no authority to control it by federal laws.

I have thus stated what I understand to be the conceded

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