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“I expected them to share the fate which inevitably awaited the original motion, so soon as the floor could have been obtained, viz., to be laid upon the table. My design in presenting them was to place before Congress and the people, what, in my opinion, was the true issue upon this great and vital question; and to point out the course of policy by which it should be met by the Southern States. “But extreme counsels did not prevail. There were members present who well considered that although the provocation was great, and the number voting for such a firebrand motion was deplorably large, yet it was but little more than the one-fourth of the House, and decidedly less than one-half of the members from the Free States; so that, even if left to the Free State vote alone, the motion would have been rejected. But the motion itself, and the manner in which it was supported, was most reprehensible; necessarily leading to disorder in the House, the destruction of its harmony and capacity for useful legislation, tending to a sectional segregation of the members, the alienation of feeling between the North and the South, and alarm to all the slaveholding States. The evil required a remedy, but not the remedy of breaking up the Union; but one which might prevent the like in future, while administering a rebuke upon the past. That remedy was found in adopting a proposition to be offered to the House, which, if agreed to, would close the door against any discussion upon abolition petitions in future, and assimilate the proceedings of the House in that particular to those of the Senate. This proposition was put into the hands of Mr. PATTON, of Virginia, to be offered as an amendment to the rules at the opening of the House the next morning. It was in these words: “‘Resolved, That all petitions, memorials, and papers, touching the abolition of slavery, or the buying, selling, or transferring of slaves in any State, District, or Territory of the United States, be laid on the table, without being debated, printed, read, or referred, and that no further action whatever shall be had thereon.” “Accordingly, at the opening of the House, Mr. PATTON asked leave to submit the resolution, which was read for information. Mr. ADAMs objected to the grant of leave. Mr. PATTON then moved a suspension of the rules, which motion required two-thirds to sustain it; and, unless obtained, this salutary remedy for an alarming evil (which was already in force in the Senate) could not be offered. It was a test motion, and on which the opponents of abolition agitation in the House required all their strength; for, unless two to one, they were defeated. Happily, the two to one were ready, and on taking the yeas and nays, demanded by an abolition member, (to keep his friends to the track, and to hold the free State anti-abolitionists to their responsibility at home,) the result stood 135 yeas to 60 nays; the full two-thirds and fifteen over.”—BENTON's Thirty Years’ View, vol. ii., p. 150.


1. Resolved, That, in the adoption of the Federal Constitution, the States adopting the same acted, severally, as free, independent, and sovereign States; and that each for itself, by its own voluntary assent, entered the Union with the view to its increased security against all dangers, domestic as well as foreign, and the more perfect and secure enjoyment of its advantages— natural, political, and social. 2. Resolved, That, in delegating a portion of their powers to be exercised by the Federal Government, the States retained, severally, the exclusive and sole right over their own domestic institutions and police, to the full extent to which those powers were not thus delegated, and are alone responsible for them ; ind that any intermeddling of any one or more States, or a ombination of their citizens, with the domestic institutions and Nolice of the others, on any ground, political, moral, or religious, r under any pretext whatever, with the view to their altera, ion or subversion, is not warranted by the Constitution, tending 2 endanger the domestic peace and tranquillity of the States hterfered with, subversive of the objects for which the Constiution was formed, and, by necessary consequence, tending to reaken and destroy the Union itself. . 3. Resolved, That this Government was instituted and dopted by the several States of this Union as a common agent, u order to carry into effect the powers which they had dele

gated by the Constitution for their mutual security and prosperity, and that, in fulfilment of this high and sacred trust, this Government is bound so to exercise its powers, as not to interfere with the stability and security of the domestic institutions of the States that compose the Union; and that it is the solemn duty of the Government to resist, to the extent of its constitutional power, all attempts by one portion of the Union to use it as an instrument to attack the domestic institutions of another, or to weaken or destroy such institutions. 4. Resolved, That domestic slavery, as it exists in the Southern and Western States of this Union, composes an important part of their domestic institutions, inherited from their ancestors, and existing at the adoption of the Constitution, by which it is recognized as constituting an important element in the apportionment of powers among the States, and that no change of opinion or feeling on the part of the other States of the Union in relation to it, can justify them or their citizens in open and systematic attacks thereon, with the view to its overthrow ; and that all such attacks are in manifest violation of the mutual and solemn pledge to protect and defend each other, given by the States respectively, on entering into the Constitutional compact which formed the Union, and as such are a manifest breach of faith, and a violation of the most solemn obligations. 5. Resolved, That the interference by the citizens of any of the States, with the view to the abolition of slavery in this District, is endangering the rights and security of the people of the District, and that any act or measure of Congress designed to abolish slavery in this District, would be a violation of the faith implied in the cessions by the States of Virginia and Maryland, a just cause of alarm to the people of the slaveholding States, and have a direct and inevitable tendency to disturb and endanger the Union. 6. And Resolved, That any attempt of Congress to abolish slavery in any Territory of the United States in which it exists, would create serious alarm and just apprehension in the States sustaining that domestic institution; would be a violation of good faith towards the inhabitants of any such Territory who have been permitted to settle with, and hold slaves therein, because the people of any such Territory have not asked for the

abolition of slavery therein, and because, when any such Terri-
tory shall be admitted into the Union as a State, the people
thereof will be entitled to decide that question exclusively for
The final vote upon the adoption of these resolutions, was:
BUCHANAN, CALHous, CLAY of Alabama, CLAY of Ky., CRIT-
TIVEs, RoANE, Robinson, SEVIER, SMITH of Connecticut, STRANGE,
NAYs—Messrs. CLAYTON, of Delaware, DAVIs, KNIGHT, MO-
KEAN, of Pennsylvania, PRENTIss, RoBBINs, SMITH, of Indiana,
SwiFT, and WEBSTER—9.
Massachusetts, Vermont, and IRhode Island were the only
States that voted in the negative.


1. At the period of which this chapter treats, the sentiments of the people in the several Northern States had undergone a great change on the subject of slavery, since the formation of the Federal Constitution, and especially since the Declaration of Independence. While the people of those States possessed slaves, they could form an estimate of the advantages and disadvantages, the rectitude or the impropriety of slavery, from their own observation of its practical workings. Before the American Revolution, some of the best Christians in the Northern section owned slaves, as now some of the best Christians at the South do. Slavery was sanctioned by the British Government, and by the Colonial Legislatures; by statesmen and by clergymen. The relations of “superiors, inferiors, and equals,” and the correlative duties of masters and servants were recognized, not only in catechisms, but in the public instructions of the sanctuary. In 1749, the celebrated WHITEFIELD thus wrote: “One negro has been given me; some more I propose to purchase this week.” “This confirms me in the opinion that Georgia never can be a flourishing province, without negroes are allowed.”

But at this period in Vermont, and in Massachusetts, where it had ceased to exist for nearly sixty years or for two generations, and in other Northern States, there were those who believed that they understood the subject of slavery better than . those in the Southern States who had seen its practical workings. 2. There were at the time several classes of abolitionists, who urged Congress to emancipate the slaves in the District of Columbia : a. Those who were under the influence of a generous, yet unreflecting philanthropy, and who, from their disregard of constitutional rights and obligations, were characterized as having “hearts larger than their heads.” b. Those who believed that the Constitution authorized the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, and who felt disposed to use all constitutionl means to abolish slavery throughout the land. c. Those who would free the slaves on the ground of natural rights as stated in the Declaration of Independence, which they placed on a level with the Constitution, or above it. Such declared that the “Federal Constitution has neither any moral nor political right/to tolerate slavery in any of the States belonging to the Federal Union, for a single day.” d. Those who, from a real or a pretended regard for the right of petition, signed petitions to vindicate that right; while they professed to care very little about the object petitioned for. e. Those who wished to promote political agitation for party purposes. f. Those who hated slavery and slaveholders; and who, by memorials and petitions, could vent their wrath in the language of vituperation. Petitioning was the fashion of the times in some of the States. JoHN QUINCY ADAMs, the champion of the North, declared on one occasion in Congress, that he had before him 350 petitions on which were from 34,000 to 35,000 names. 3. In opposition to these petitions and memorials, it was said in Congress and elsewhere: a. That they were an abuse of the right granted by the Con

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