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“DELICATE QUESTIONS” MADE CLEAR. 139
see what it was. Mr. Mason asked—“I wish to know whether the amendment now proposed as a substitute is reported from the committee ?” Mr. Douglas answered, “It is.” Mr. Douglas said also, in answer to other inquiries, that both Territories were included in one bill, and that the boundaries were specified in each case. The substitute was then ordered to be printed. One of the amendments introduced into the substitute, and intended by Mr. Douglas to make certain delicate questions more clear and specific, was comprehended in these pregnant words: “That the Constitution, and all the 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, except the eighth section of the act preparatory to the admission of Missouri into the Union, approved March 6, 1820, which was superseded by the principles of the legislation of 1850, commonly called the compromise measures, and is declared inoperative and void; it being the true intent and meaning of this act not to legislate slavery into any State or Terri. tory, 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.”” On the 26th of January, the Union newspaper announced that the Democratic party was entirely pledged to the policy embodied in Mr. Douglas's substitute, and that the Administration was firm in its resolution to carry it out; and a fortnight later declared, that those Democratic members of Congress who, supporting the policy of Mr. Douglas's bill, were discarded by their constituents, would be taken care of by the President in making distribution of the public patronage.
* The history of this amendment will appear in the eighteenth chapter of this volume.
THE APPEAL OF THE INDEPENDENT DEMOCRATS-EFFECT OF THE APPEAL. UPON THE PUBLIC SENTIMENT OF THE NORTH.
IT was the belief of the Independent Democrats in Congress, that under the bill introduced by Mr. Douglas on the 4th
of January, it was designed that slavery should be allowed in Nebraska. The substitute offered by the same Senator on the 23d of January—dividing Nebraska into two Territories, with a view, probably, to devote one of them to slavery and the other to freedom—ripened that belief into certainty. Forwarned, as they felt, they had already prepared an appeal to the people of the United States, advising them of the danger, and urging them to interpose without delay to prevent it.
“As Senators and Representatives in the Congress of the United States,” said the signers of this celebrated paper,” “it is our duty to warn our constituents, whenever imminent danger menaces the freedom of our institutions or the permanency of the Union.
“Such danger, as we firmly believe, now impends, and we earnestly solicit your prompt attention to it.
“At the last session of Congress a bill for the organization of the Territory of Nebraska passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelming majority. That bill was based on the principle of excluding slavery from the new Territory. It was not taken up for consideration in the Senate, and consequently failed to become a law.
*This paper was written by Mr. Chase, in part from a draft prepared by Mr. Giddings.
APPEAL OF INDEPENDENT DEMOCRATS. 141
“At the present session a new Nebraska Bill has been reported by the Senate Committee on Territories, which, should it unhappily receive the sanction of Congress, will open all the unorganized Territories of the Union to the ingress of slavery. “We arraign this bill as a gross violation of a sacred pledge; as a criminal betrayal of precious rights; as part and parcel of an atrocious plot to exclude from a vast unoccupied region immigrants from the Old World and free laborers from our own States, and convert it into a dreary region of despotism, inhabited by masters and slaves. “Take your maps, fellow-citizens, we entreat you, and see what country it is which this bill gratuitously and recklessly proposes to open to slavery. “From the southwestern corner of Missouri pursue the parallel of 36°30' north latitude westerly across the Arkansas, across the North Fork of the Canadian to the northeastern angle of Texas; then follow the northern boundary of Texas to the western limit of New Mexico; then proceed along that western line to its northern termination; then again turn westwardly, and follow the northern line of New Mexico to the crest of the Rocky Mountains; then ascend northwardly along the crest of that mountain-range to the line which separates the United States from the British possessions in North America, on the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude; then pursue your course eastwardly along that line to the White-Earth River, which falls into the Missouri from the north; descend that river to its confluence with the Missouri; descend the Missouri, along the western border of Minnesota, of Iowa, of Missouri, to the point where it ceases to be a boundary-line, and enters the State to which it gives its name then continue your southward course along the western limit of that State to the point from which you set out. You have now made the circuit of the proposed Territory of Nebraska. You have traversed the vast distance of more than three thousand miles. You have traced the outline of an area of four hundred and eighty-five thousand square miles; more than twelve times as great as that of Ohio. “This immense region, occupying the very heart of the North American Continent, and larger, by thirty-three thousand square miles, than all the existing free States—including California; this immense region, well watered and fertile, through which the middle and northern routes from the Atlantic to the Pacific must pass, this immense region, embracing all the unorganized territory of the nation, except the comparatively insignificant district of Indian Territory north of Red River and between Arkansas and Texas, and now for more than thirty years regarded by the common consent of the American people as consecrated to freedom by statute and by compact—this immense region the bill now before the Senate, without reason and without excuse, but in flagrant disregard of sound policy and sacred faith, purposes to open to slavery. “We beg your attention, fellow-citizens, to a few historical facts: “The original settled policy of the United States, clearly indicated by the Jefferson proviso of 1784 and the Ordinance of 1787, was non-extension of slavery. “In 1803, Louisiana was acquired by purchase from France. At that time there were some twenty-five or thirty thousand slaves in the Territory; most of them within what is now the State of Louisiana; a few only, farther north, on the west bank of the Mississippi. Congress, instead of providing for the abolition of slavery in this new Territory, permitted its continuance. In 1812 the State of Louisiana was organized and admitted into the Union with slavery. “In 1818, six years later, the inhabitants of the Territory of Missouri applied to Congress for authority to form a State constitution, and for admission into the Union. There were, at that time, in the whole territory acquired from France, outside of the State of Louisiana, not three thousand slaves. “There was no apology, in the circumstances of the country, for the continuance of slavery. The original national policy was against it, and not less the plain language of the treaty under which the territory had been acquired from France. “It was proposed, therefore, to incorporate in the bill authorizing the formation of a State government, a provision requiring that the constitution of the new State should contain an article providing for the abolition of existing slavery, and prohibiting the further introduction of slaves. “This provision was vehemently and pertinaciously opposed,
APPEAL OF INDEPENDENT DEMOCRATS. 143
but finally prevailed in the House of Representatives by a decided vote. In the Senate it was rejected, and—in consequence of the disagreement between the two Houses—the bill was lost. “At the next session of Congress, the controversy was renewed with increased violence. It was terminated at length by a compromise. Missouri was allowed to come into the Union with slavery; but a section was inserted in the act authorizing her admission, excluding slavery forever from all the territory acquired from France, not included in the new State, lying north of 36° 30'. We quote the prohibitory section: “‘SECTION 8. Be it further enacted, That in all that territory ceded by France to the United States, under the name of Louisiana, which lies north of 36° and 30' of north latitude, not included within the limits of the State contemplated by this act, slavery and involuntary servitude, otherwise than as the punishment of crimes, shall be and is hereby forever prohibited.” “The question of the constitutionality of this prohibition was submitted by President Monroe to his cabinet. John Quincy Adams was then Secretary of State; John C. Calhoun was Secretary of War; William H. Crawford was Secretary of the Treasury; and William Wirt was Attorney-General. Each of these eminent gentlemen—three of them being from the slave States—gave a written opinion, affirming its constitutionality, and thereupon the act received the sanction of the President himself, also from a slave State. “Nothing is more certain in history than the fact that Missouri could not have been admitted as a slave State had not certain members from the free States been reconciled to the measure by the incorporation of this prohibition into the act of admission. Nothing is more certain than that this prohibition has been regarded and accepted by the whole country as a solemn compact against the extension of slavery into any part of the territory acquired from France lying north of 36° 30', and not included in the new State of Missouri. The same act—let it be ever remembered—which authorized the formation of a constitution by the State, without a clause forbidding slavery, consecrated, beyond question and beyond honest recall, the whole remainder of the Territory to freedom and free institutions forever. For more than thirty years—during more than