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GENERAL PIERCE's ADMINISTRATION.
MARCH 4, 1853—MARCH 4, 1857.
AT the election of General FRANKLIN PIERCE, the Democratic candidate, there was not a very extensive sectional feeling. Both the successful and the unsuccessful candidate, General Scott, had supporters in both the Northern and the Southern sections of the country. The Abolition or sectional party threw about 150,000 votes for their candidate. Both the Democratic and the Whig national nominating conventions endorsed the Compromise Measures of 1850.
Still it must be admitted, that in the Northern States there was considerable opposition to one portion of the Compromise Measures, namely, the Fugitive Slave Law; just as there had been to the law of 1793, and just as there would have been to any law that would be effectual in carrying out the provision of the Constitution on this subject. Men were clamorous for its repeal, though they would retain other portions of the Compromise Measures which never could have been carried through Congress, except they had been connected with the fugitive slave law. So strong was the opposition to that law, that communities by mobs or connivance, and State Legislatures by personal liberty bills, practically repealed it, and thus violated not only the Compromise of 1850, but also the Constitution. So strong was this opposition to that law in Boston, that Faneuil Hall was closed against DANIEL WEBSTER, because he had advocated the Compromise Measures. It was on that occasion that he said, “Massachusetts must conquer her prejudices.” Northern men were talking about a “higher law,” which absolved them from obligation to carry out the provisions of the Constitution. They showed as much opposition to the Compromise of 1850, as Northern men of the preceding generation did to the Missouri Compromise of 1820. There was only wanting an occasion to call forth a general sectional excitement. That occasion was forthcoming. On the 3d of March, 1854, the bill to organize the Territories of Kansas and Nebraska, was passed in the Senate by a vote of 37 to 14, by which the slavery restriction, passed by the Missouri Compromise, was removed, and the people in those territories were thus permitted to form their own institutions, without the interference of Congress. The intent and meaning of the Bill was, that “Congress should neither legislate slavery into the territories nor out of them.” On the introduction of the bill by Mr. Douglas, the chairman of the Committee on Territories, and before he could have an opportunity for discussing it, and thus showing to the country what were its merits, an “Appeal,” in opposition to it, was addressed to the people of the United States. This Appeal bore date Jan. 19, 1854, and was signed by Senators CHASE of Ohio, and SUMNER of Massachusetts, and by members of the House, Edward WADE and J. R. GIDDINGs of Ohio, GERRITT SMITH of New York, and ALEXANDER DE WITT of Massachusetts. The following is a portion of that appeal:
“SHALL SLAVERY BE PERMITTED IN NEBRASKA '''
“FELLow-CITIZENs:—As Senators and Representatives in the Congress of the United States, it is our duty to warn our constituents () whenever imminent danger menaces the freedom of our institutions and the permanency of our Union. [Were the people of the United States their constituents?]
“Such danger, as we firmly believe, now impends, and we earnestly solicit your prompt attention to it. * * *
“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 emigrants 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. “We appeal to the people. We warn you that the dearest interests of freedom and the Union are in imminent peril. Demagogues may tell you, that the safety of the Union can be maintained only by submitting to the demands of slavery. We tell you that the safety of the Union can only be insured by the full recognition of the just claims of freedom and man. The Union was formed to establish justice and secure the blessings of liberty. When it fails to accomplish these ends, it will be worthless; and when it becomes worthless, it cannot long endure. “We implore Christians and Christian ministers to interpose. Their Divine religion requires them to behold in every man a brother, and to labor for the advancement and regeneration of the human race. * * * “Let all protest, earnestly and emphatically, by correspondence and through the press, by memorials and resolutions of public meetings and legislative bodies, and in whatever mode may seem expedient, against this enormous crime.” Thus addressed, the people of the Northern States promptly responded to the call, in the very modes pointed out in this proclamation, as the “appeal” was styled in Congress. They were combustible, and this “appeal” supplied the torch. Forthwith, the Northern regions of the Union were in a blaze of excitement. The pen, the press, the pulpit, the political forum, and the halls of legislation, were put in requisition to resist the passage of the bill. As an exponent of the general feeling, the “protest” of the clergymen of New England may be taken. The object of the protest may be found in the circular which was “simultaneously sent to every clergyman in New England,” and which was signed by CHARLEs Low ELL, LYMAN BEECHER, BARON STowe, SEBASTIAN STREETER, committee of clergymen of Boston, and was dated Feb. 22, 1854. “It is hoped,” that circular declares, “that every one of you will append your names to it, and thus furnish to the nation and the age the sublime and influential spectacle of the great Christian body of the Worth () united as one man in favor of freedom and of solemn plighted faith.” *
it would be contrary to the “original settled policy of the United
“If you have already, either as a private Christian or as a clergyman, signed any similar document, please to sign this also, as it is earnestly desired to embrace in this movement the clerical voice of New England.
“It is respectfully submitted, whether the present is not a crisis of sufficient magnitude and imminence of danger to the liberties and integrity of our nation, to warrant and even demand the services of the clergy of all denominations, in arousing the masses of the people to its comprehension, through the press, and even the pulpit.”
“To the Honorable the Senate and IIouse of Representatives in Congress assembled: “The undersigned, clergymen of different denominations in New England, hereby in the name of Almighty God, and in His presence, do solemnly protest against what is known as the Nebraska Bill, or any repeal or modification of the existing legal prohibition of slavery in that part of the national domain which it is proposed to organize into the territories of Nebraska and Kansas. We protest against it as a great moral wrong, as a breach of faith, eminently unjust to the moral principles of the community, and subversive of all confidence in national engagements; as a measure full of danger to the peace, and even the existence, of our beloved Union, and exposing us to the righteous judgments of the Almighty; and your protestants, as in duty bound, will ever pray.—Boston, Massachusetts, March 1, 1854.” My limits do not allow me to quote the remarks made in the Senate respecting the “appeal” and the “protest.” The ground taken in the “appeal” in opposition to the bill for the repeal of the slavery restriction north of 36°30' was, first, that
States,” as proved by the ordinance of 1787, to permit slavery in the territories; and secondly, that it would be a violation of a “sacred pedge,” or compact made in 1820, in the Missouri Compromise.
Mr. Douglas denied that it was the “original settled policy” of the United States to prohibit slavery in the territories, inasmuch as slavery was permitted and protected in the territory of Tennessee; and in the legislation respecting Mississippi, the ordinance of 1787 was adopted, with the exception of the anti-slavery clause. “That the repeal was a gross violation of a sacred pledge,” has been extensively denied both before and since its accomplishment. The following are some of the grounds of the repeal, in the words of another: 1. “The South was not bound by that compact or compromise, because it was made without the least consideration; that is, because she received nothing for what she conceded. For Missouri, as our adversaries now admit, had a perfect right to admission without any stipulation on the part of the South; she had a perfect right to admission, says the Supreme Court of the United States, without any such terms or conditions, under and by the Federal Constitution alone. If she had to pay for this right, it was because the dominant party at the North then took their stand against the Constitution of the country, and nothing less, it was believed, would save the Union from shipwreck, dissolution, and ruin. The line of 36° 30' was then obtained, or rather extorted, without a “valuable consideration.” Here is what is called a nudum pactum, a contract that is void, and it imposed no sort of obligation either in law or in conscience. 2. “The South was not bound by the Compromise of 1820, because it was not fulfilled by the North.” The facts on this point are to be found in the preceding pages. 3. “The South was not bound by the Compromise of 1820, because it was unconstitutional,” as has since been decided by the Supreme Court of the United States. Moreover, some Northern statesmen declared they did not esteem it binding as a compact, inasmuch as there were no competent parties to it. Mr. Douglas, after having spoken of what he deemed the impropriety of said “appeal” in the circumstances of its presentation, uses the following language: “I do not like, I never did like, the system of legislation on our part, by which a geographical line, in violation of the laws of nature, and climate,