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cast the seeds of intelligence, and the spire, "losing itself in air, as if guiding the thoughts of man to heaven." Sir, I speak of free labor everywhere, — in the South as well as the North. Even on the hypothesis of an equality in the claims of free and slave labor, (which I do not admit,) the argument in favor of taking this territory as we find it appears to me unanswerable.
Mr. President, I would not have voted to connect the proviso in the bill passed by the House, and now awaiting the action of the Senate, with any measure for the prosecution of the war. My State would not have desired it. The resolutions of the legislature are in favor of all proper measures for the prosecution of the war. From the commencement of the war, my honorable colleague and myself have sustained all measures recommended by the administration for carrying it on; and, as a member of the Committee on Military Affairs, I have had some share in maturing them. I have voted for the pecuniary means asked for, the number and description of troops which were deemed necessary for the purpose, and a commanding general for the armies in Mexico, with a rank in some degree commensurate with the numerical force to be combined, and moved in combination. I have opposed all propositions to clog military bills with extraneous matter, thus postponing our action upon them at a critical period in the campaign. The bill under consideration is of a different character. It is a proposition to purchase territory. My friend, the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations,1 with his characteristic frankness and directness of purpose,— qualities as honorable in a legislator as they are in a man, —■ has gone so far as to indicate the extent of the acquisition which, in his opinion, we ought to expect, — California and New Mexico. The object, then, is not in doubt. It is avowedly to acquire foreign territory. Under these circumstances, is it not appropriate to know on what terms foreign territory shall become territory of the United States, when on these terms may depend the propriety of applying the public treasure to make the purchase] The legislature of New York so considered it. The questions of time and circumstances were fully discussed before the adoption of the resolutions. The proposition under discussion is not a measure for the prosecution of the war. It was not deemed an indispensable peace measure; for when the pecuniary claims are all on our side, an appropriation of money necessarily contemplates objects beyond that of making peace. I say this in justice 'to the New York legislature, as well as its Representatives in Congress, who were, with a single exception, unanimous in favor of the proviso. If it shall fail to receive the sanction of the Senate now, it must again arise on any proposition to acquire new territory, and arise in a form in which a decision cannot be avoided. It will be sustained with greater unanimity; for those who now hesitate on the point of time, or from a natural desire to postpone the settlement of embarrassing issues, will be found in its favor.
1 Mr. Sevier.
Whatever doubt may have been entertained heretofore with regard to the necessity of making the declaration contained in the proviso, I think there can be none now. It is distinctly assumed that there is no power under the Constitution to prohibit slavery in the territories. While it is contended that there is power under the Constitution to acquire slave territory, and to introduce slave States into the Union, it is denied that there is any authority to restrain or prohibit slavery in free territory. We have gone on and introduced into the Union all the slave territory on this continent; and when we reach free territory, we are told that the extension of the provisions of the Constitution to it renders it, ipso facto, by virtue of the compromises of the Constitution, open to slavery. According to this construction, the extension of our Constitution and laws to any portion of the Mexican territory, either by conquest or peaceful acquisition, overturns the local law, overturns the provision of the constitution of Mexico, which declares slavery to be forever prohibited. Mr. President, is this the true interpretation of the Constitution under which we live? Is it armed with full power to bring slave territory into the Union, but void of all power to bring in free territory and maintain it free? Is this the government, to use the language of Jefferson, our fathers fought for 1 The construction referred to would establish as a fundamental provision of the acquisition of new territory that it shall be open to slavery, even though free when acquired. Sir, I have not time, at this late period of the session, to discuss this question with the deliberation and care its importance demands. But a future occasion may come, and I will not shrink from the discussion.
I have heard with great regret the dissolution of the* Union spoken of in connection with this measure. I can hardly think those who so connect the two subjects are aware of the position in which they place themselves. It is virtually declaring, that, unless we will consent to bring free territory into the Union, and leave it open to the extension of slavery, the Union shall be dissolved. Our Southern friends have heretofore stood upon the ground of defence; of maintaining slavery within their own limits against interference from without. The ground of extension is now taken, and of extending slavery upon free territory. I cannot believe this position will be sustained by the Southern States. It is new ground, and it is taken with avowals which are calculated to spread surprise and alarm throughout the non-slaveholding States.
The course of the non-slaveholding States under these new developments will, I doubt not, be steady and firm. No State will stand by the Union with a more inflexible determination to maintain it than New York, — none will adhere more tenaciously to all the obligations of the Constitution. And yet, sir, none could hope for a higher career of prosperity if the States were to be dissevered. In eighteen years her entire debt, under the provisions of her new constitution, will be paid, and she will be left with an annual surplus income of at least three millions of dollars from her internal improvements, after defraying all the expenses of her government. Standing, as she does, on the line of commercial intercourse between the Atlantic and the great lakes, with the rich and productive States bordering on them, the addition of the custom-house to her internal channels of communication would make her the wealthiest community, in proportion to her population, within the pale of civilization. She would be an empire in herself. But she scorns to enter into an estimate of these advantages. She will not "calculate the value of the Union." She prefers to stand, as she does, on the same footing with the smallest of the States, herself the most populous and powerful, rather than to stand foremost and preeminent in the field of disunion. In whatever manner this question shall be decided, she will be found on the side of the Union, not to resist dismemberment by force, — for disunion is better than intestine war, — but to contribute by her influence and her counsels to uphold the fabric of the federative system.
Mr. President, I regret to hear either disunion or civil war spoken of in connection with this measure. But, I repeat, the former is to be preferred to the latter. In wars waged with foreign countries, deplorable as they always are, there are some moral fruits which atone, in a slight degree, for their accompanying evils. There is the sense of national honor, — the parent of high achievement; the sentiment of patriotic devotion to the country, which shrinks from no labor or sacrifice in the public cause; and the feeling of mutual sympathy and dependence, which pervades and unites all classes in the hour of adversity and peril. Far as they are overbalanced by the domestic bereavement and the public evil which war always brings in its train, they serve to purify the thoughts of something of their selfishness by turning them away from the sordid channels in which they are too apt to run. But civil war has no ameliorations. It is pure, unmixed demoralization. It dissolves all national and domestic ties. It renders selfishness more odious, by wedding it to hatred and cruelty. The after-generation, which reaps the bitter harvest of intestine war, is scarcely less to be commiserated than that by whose hands the poisonous seed is sown. Less, far less than these, would be the evils of disunion.
But, sir, we shall have neither. The interests, the feelings, the good sense of the country, all revolt at internal dissension in every form. If this question shall be decided against the non-slaveholding States, if their voice shall be unheeded, New York will not, for that reason, listen to any suicidal project of dismemberment. No, sir; no. By no agency of hers shall the fraternal bonds which unite her to her sisters be rent asunder. Their destiny, whatever it may be, shall be also hers. Be it for evil or for good, she will cling to them to the last. But I say for her and in her name, — I believe I do not misunderstand her resolutions, — that she can never consent to become a party to the extension of slavery to free territory on this continent. If it is to be extended to new areas, — areas now consecrated to free labor, — the work must be done by other hands than hers; and she must leave it to time and to the order of Providence to determine what shall be the legitimate fruits of measures which she believes to be wrong, and to which she can never yield her assent.