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LETTER TO GENERAL DIX. 159
be taken for the connection of New York with London by extending the existing lines of telegraph to the Pacific, by way of the coast and Behring's Straits through Northern Asia to St. Petersburg—thus forming connections with the lines to the cities of Western Europe. “This great work has since been completed to the Pacific by the indomitable energy of Hiram Sibley, a private citizen of New York, aided by the simple promise of employment and compensation by the Government. On the other side of the Pacific, the Russian telegraph-line from St. Petersburg, constructed by the imperial Government, approaches if it has not already reached, the Pacific; and American enterprise is earnestly enlisted in the task—now certain to be accomplished—of completing the wonderful work which the Cincinnati physician suggested more than thirteen years ago. “Steam moves more slowly than lightning. . The progress of the railroad has been necessarily slower than that of the telegraph. When the surveys and explorations for a route had been partially reported, the subject of the railroad was in brought before Congress; and I had some connection with it—now, however, of a less *. though still significant character. Solicitous for the progress of the work, I submitted a resolution in January, 1854, instructing the Committee on Roads and Canals to inquire into and report upon the construction of a railroad from some point on the western lines of the Western States to some point on the eastern line of California. “On the motion of Mr. Gwynn the reference to the Committee on Roads and Canals was stricken out and the whole subject referred to a select committee of nine Senators, from which committee I was excluded—because I then held about the same relations to thq Democratic party on the subject of slavery as the War Democrats now host on the question of the rebellion. “Mr. Gwynn's committee reported a bill which, after much discussion and sundry amendments passed the Senate in 1855, but failing to receive the sanction of the House, did not become a law. “Nothing further of importance was done in relation to the Pacific Railroad during the next seven years. The attention of the country was absorbed by other questions; and it remained for the Thirty-seventh Congress to give a grand proof of the stability of the republic and the worth of democratic-republican institutions, by taking up this great measure, in the midst of our terrible civil war, and framing it into a law. The Thirty-seventh Con will be forever memorable in history as the author of many acts of legislation of transcendant importance and far-reaching consequences. Among these great acts the Pacific Railroad Bill will remain as one of the most illustrious monuments of the wisdom and courof its members. “I shall not attempt any discussion of its importance to our industry, our commerce, or our Union... I have elsewhere said something on these themes; but now the road is its own most eloquent advocate. I rejoice in the belief that under your charge and that of the eminent citizens associated with you, it will go steadily forward to completion; and vindicate, by perfect success, the most sanguine hopes and predictions of its advo. cates and promoters.”
PAET'r ACTION IS EELATIOx To THE SEEBAsKA EILL–DIFFICTLTI CF CBTAINING EIGNATTEES TO THE APPEAL OF THE INDEPENDENT DEMOCRATS-ATTEMPT TO CHANGE THE CCRRENT OF PUBLIC SENTDMENT THEOCGH ENOW-NOTHINGISM-FAILCEE OF THAT ATTEMPT-ME. CHASE RETTEES FROM THE SENATE–THE STRTGGLE IX EAXEAE-BPIEF ACCOUNT OF THE EARLIER EVENTS IN THAT ETECGGLE-STATE OF PAETIES IN OBLIO-OEGANIZATION OF THE EEPUBLICAx PARTI-xOx IxATION OF ME. CELASE FOR GOVEExOE-HIs EPEECH OF ACCEPTANCE-CAN WASS OF THE STATE and HIs Election.
WHis the Kansas-Nebraska Bill first appeared in the Senate, there was great uncertainty among the Whig Senators and Representatives as to the course they ought to pursue. Nearly the whole of the Southern Whig members of both Houses went over to the support of the Administration upon this question; in the Senate there was but one exception, and in the House of Representatives there were but seven who finally voted against the bill. The dissolution of the Whig party—largely accomplished by the action of its National Convention of 1852 —and inevitable under the excitement growing out of the Nebraska act, did not seem so clear to Northern Whigs in Congress as to warrant them in an utter abandonment of its fortunes, and although most of them approved the appeal of the Independent Democrats—which it was intended by its authors should be signed by all the members of Congress opposed to the repeal of the Missouri prohibition—they refused to give it the sanction of their names. Even Mr. Seward declined to sign it. It was
PARTY ACTION UPON NEBRASKA BILL. *161
found impossible to obtain the signatures desired; and it was then proposed to issue it with the names only of the Ohio Senators and the Ohio Representatives who opposed the bill. But even this was impracticable. Finding any thing like unanimity unattainable, the paper was signed by the Independent Democrats alone. The people took the alarm, and their potential voice was soon heard in Congress. The alliance of the Administration Senators and Representatives with substantially the whole body of the Southern Whigs, secured, it is true, the passage of the bill—but the Senators and Representatives who voted against it, represented a majority of the people of the free States. It was no longer doubtful upon what ground the reorganization of parties would take place. It must necessarily find its only bond of union in opposition to the extension of slavery.
A vain attempt was made to turn the current of public sentiment into other channels through the instrumentality of the “American” or “Know-Nothing” organization. This was a secret society based chiefly upon opposition to the Roman Catholic Church, though a large part of its leadership was much more intensely pro-slavery than anti-Catholic. The novelty of its methods of action, and a measure of real hostility to supposed inimical foreign influences in our politics—joined with other motives—made it for a time a very powerful political instrument. During the brief period of its existence, it received into its lodges a considerable majority of the members of both the Whig and Democratic parties, and was a stepping-stone for many voters into the anti-Nebraska, and subsequently the Republican organization. But its character as a secret political society, bound by oaths to promote certain political purposes, made it thoroughly distasteful to the sober judgment of the people; nor were its professed objects such as to command a permanent support. Its first National Convention was broken up by a division upon the slavery question, and it promptly and utterly disappeared from political contests. The Whig party, although it made a struggle in some States at the fall elections of 1854, also disappeared, the great majority of its members going into the Know-Nothing, and afterward into the Republican organization; and some, of intense pro-slavery sentiments, joined themselves to the Democracy.
Meantime Mr. Chase had been superseded in the Senate' by Mr. George E. Pugh, Democrat, who was chosen his successor in a Legislature unaffected by the anti-Nebraska agitation. His term of service closed with the expiration of the Thirty-third Congress, March 3, 1855; and he carried with him, in his retirement, the cordial respect and hearty personal good-will of all his fellow-senators. Though he had supported his antislavery convictions with an unflinching firmness, he had done so with so much dignity and courtliness of manner, and so entire a freedom from all personal imputation or impeachment of pro-slavery Senators and pro-slavery people, that he left behind him no enemy in the Senate. Many years afterward when in the midst of the war, Pierre Soulé—who had been a Senator from Louisiana during a part of Mr. Chase's term, and a well-known “fire-eater”—was a political prisoner in Fort Lafayette, he appealed to Mr. Chase to procure his enlargement upon parole, and recalled their former personal friendship. Mr. Chase could make no impression, however, upon the stern Secretary of War, in the effort he made to procure Mr. Soulé's release.
The struggle for the possession of Kansas began even before the passage of the Nebraska act, and after that event grew to be, in time, a local civil war. The antislavery party in the North organized emigrant aid societies; the pro-slavery party in the South, particularly in Missouri, on the borders of Kansas, organized “Social Bands,” “Blue Lodges,” and “Sons of the South.” The former sent bona-fide settlers; the latter were not so scrupulous. Many hundred of these from Missouri went over into the Territory, and established a sort of squatter empire there as early as July and August, 1854. But though
"Mr. Chase during his senatorial service supported also, of course, many measures of less permanent and enduring interest; among these, the homestead law— the devotion of a portion of the public lands to the support of the indigent insane— the abolition of the franking privilege—the improvement of navigation on inland seas and rivers—the abolition of cruel and unusual punishments in the navy—cheap postage. In the Senate as everywhere else, he continued those habits of labor and attention which forgot nothing, anticipated all duties, and accomplished as much as any one in his peculiar situation could have done in the same circumstances. He constantly opposed all extra allowances, all extravagant appropriations, all unnecessary expenditures of whatever kind. His name is rarely found wanting in the call of the votes of the Senate, and was never absent when the subject of it was of real importance.
EVENTS IN KANSAS, 163
there was a good deal of threatening oratory, and some actual demonstrations of hostility against the free-State men, no blood was shed till a later period. Andrew H. Reeder, of Pennsylvania—said to be a sound national Democrat, who would as soon buy a slave as a horse— was appointed territorial Governor. Accompanied by his Secretary of State—Woodson—Governor Reeder arrived at Fort Leavenworth in the early part of October, and established there his official residence. He declared his firm purpose to maintain law and order; the purity of the ballot-box and freedom of speech. In February he caused a census to be taken of the inhabitants of the Territory. The total population was found to be 8,501, of whom 2,905 were voters and about 250 slaves. He then—in the early part of March—ordered an election for delegates to the first territorial Legislature, to be held on the 30th of that month. There was a great deal of voting done in Kansas that day; almost wholly by Missourians, however, who invaded the Territory by thousands; took armed possession of the polls, and elected of course whomsoever they wished. The Legislature, elected in this way, met on the 2d of July, and proceeded to pass laws for the local government. One of these was of an extraordinary character. It enacted, among other things, “that if any free person shall assert or maintain, by speaking or writing, that persons have not the right to hold slaves in this Territory; or shall introduce into this Territory, print, publish, write, circulate, or cause to be introduced into this Territory, written, printed, published, or circulated in this Territory, any book, paper, magazine, pamphlet, or circular, containing any denial of the right to hold slaves in this Territory —such person shall be deemed guilty of felony and punished by imprisonment at hard labor for a term of not less than two years!” Governor Reeder systematically vetoed the acts of this Legislature, and refused to recognize their validity when reenacted over his veto; and the Legislature, in its turn, petitioned the President for his removal—a prayer with which, in due season, the President complied. Wilson Shannon, of Ohio, was appointed in Governor Reeder's place. Governor Shannon recognized this Legislature as a legal body, whose laws were valid and binding upon the people of the Territory, and