« ZurückWeiter »
Mr. Thomas, of Illinois, proposed in the Senate to amend the bill, by striking out the restrictive clause, to pass the bill for the admission of Maine, and to prohibit slavery in all of the territory north of 36° 30', that the Northern members might in this way allow Missouri to come into the Union without restriction, upon the same footing as the other States. His proposal was acceded to, and the amendment was passed in the Senate, March 2, 1820, by a vote of 22 in favor, and 15 against it. In the IIouse the amendment passed by a vote of 134 in favor, and 42 against it. Still Missouri did not obtain admittance into the Union. At the next session of Congress, for the third time Missouri presented herself for admission into the Union. Maine had been admitted, and her representatives were on the floor of Congress. Slavery was prohibited north of 36°30'. But strange to say, the compromise was not carried out by the Northern members, with some honorable exceptions ! On the question in the House, Shall Missouri be admitted on the compromise of 1820? the vote stood, Feb. 13, 1821, 88 against admission, 67 in favor of admission. From Maine, 5 against, 2 in favor; from New Hampshire 6, all against; from Massachusetts 13, all against; from Rhode Island 1, and in favor; from Connecticut, 6 against, and 1 in favor; from Wermont 6, all against; from New York, 17 against, and 7 in favor; from New Jersey, 1 against, and 3 in favor; from Peñn--sylvania, 22 against, and 1 in favor; from Ohio 6, all against; from Indiana 1, and against; from Illinois 1, and against. Thus the North rejected the compromise which had been made March 2, 1820, nearly a year before. Were the Northern States faithful to the compromise? Candor must admit, as the above votes show, that they were not. They had got their share, and it was the lion’s share. Maine had been admitted into the Union. Slavery had been prohibited by a stretch of power, north of 36° 30', upon the compromise by which Missouri was to be admitted, but they still refused to admit her into the Union. One of their number, Mr.
CLARK of New York, who had voted against the compromise, did say: “I consider myself bound by the pledge. I cannot for a moment consent, as a member of this House, to observe a punic faith even with Missouri.” Others did not faithfully keep good faith, but punic faith. After the Northern members had thus refused to carry out the compromise, Mr. BrowN, of Kentucky, proposed to repeal the act prohibiting slavery north of 36° 30'. But they would not consent; they would keep the consideration, but would not carry out the compromise by which they obtained the consideration. The Southern States regarded the compromise of 1820 as an agreement between their members and the Northern members, and they looked to the latter, with upbraiding or imploring eyes, to carry it out by the admission of Missouri. Yet still the latter refused. Proofs on both points are abundant. Hear Mr. CHARLEs PINCRNEY's testimony. He was, it will be recollected, a leading member of the Convention that formed the Constitution, and was at the pi time a member of Congress from South Carolina who voted for the compromise. “I feel authorized to express this fear (of the dissolution of the Union) by the fact, that gentlemen in opposition now the veil, and expressly declare that it is their intention if possible, this question to the next Congress, to leave to possible, unfettered by any act of ours, the power to decla. far the true interests of the Union may then make it nec to produce anew, and struggle for the imposition of the restriction on slavery, which has, during the three last sessions, shaken the Union to the very foundations. They openly avow that they do not consider themselves bound by the compact of the last gear, confining the restriction to the north of 36° 30', but aver $f they have the strength to do so, their intention to leave the newt Congress free to decide it as they please.” o Months had passed away, between the time when the compromise bill had been passed and the succeeding session, and yet at this session the North still refused to admit Missouril What was the real motive for this apparently treacherous conduct on the part of the North It was the desire to retain political power. This was the temptation to the political sin
of still refusing to admit Missouri upon the same footing as the original States. What was the pretext for this delay and this shirking the responsibility ? It was that Missouri had, in her constitution, made provision to exclude free negroes and mulattoes from the State. It was but a pretext, because other States have been admitted without resistance or objection, in whose constitutions there were similar provisions; and Massachusetts had placed similar provisions on her statute book as early as 1788, just ter the ratification of the Constitution. Missouri was finally admitted February 28, 1821. Petitions for the admission of Missouri were presented March 16, 1818. A bill was introduced into the House to enable Missouri to form a State government, February 13, 1819. The restriction was moved February 17, 1819. It thus took more than three years from the first-mentioned date, and more than two years from the second date, to procure the admission of Missouri. She was finally admitted upon a vote of 86 in favor and 82 against. Of the Northern States, New Hampshire cast no vote in favor; Massachusetts, two votes; Connecticut, one vote; Vermont, no vote in favor; New York, seven; New Jersey, two; Pennsylvania, four votes. Not a single Northern State –7 gave its vote in favor of the admission of Missouri. Of the Northern votes cast in favor of the admission of Missouri upon the final vote, some were due to the sense of constitutional right which Missouri had to admission upon the original footing of other States, expressed in the early part of the debates; others were due to the compromise, to which they remained faithful; others still were due to political considerations of a patriotic or party character. “For a while,” says Benton, in his “Thirty Years' View,” “this formidable Missouri question threatened the total overthrow of all political parties or principles, and the substitution of geographical parties, discriminated by a slave line, and of course destroying the first and proper action of the Federal Government, and leading eventually to a separation of the States. It was a Federal movement, accruing to the benefit of that party, and at first was overwhelming, sweeping all the Northern Democracy into its current, and giving the supremacy to its adversaries. When this effect was perceived, the Northern Democracy became alarmed, and only wanted a turn in the popular feeling at home, to take the first opportunity to get rid of the question by admitting the State, and reëstablishing party lines upon the basis of political principles. This was the decided feeling when I arrived at Washington, and many of the old Northern Democracy took early opportunity to declare themselves to me to that effect, and showed that they were ready to vote for the admission of the State in any form that would answer the purpose, and save themselves from going so far as to lose their own State, and give the ascendant to their political adversaries.” But patriotic considerations also operated upon another class of minds to induce them to vote for the admission of Missouri. The whole country was agitated and threatened with disunion. By voting to admit, the agitation would cease, and the danger of disunion be removed. Members of Congress from Northern States, who voted for the admission of Missouri, were influenced: 1, by a regard for the constitutional right of Missouri to come into the Union upon the same footing as the original States; or 2, by a regard for the Democratic party; or 3, by a regard for the peace and union of the country; or 4, by a regard to the compromise. There was at least one, Mr. CLARK, of New York, who was influenced by the last consideration, though he did not vote for the compromise. How many are to be classed with him it is difficult to say. It is remarkable that every man belonging to New England, in the Lower House, who voted to admit Missouri, was ostracized from the confidence of the public, by the intolerant or unforgiving spirit which prevailed. It was said of Mr. SHAw, one of them, that he was killed by the negroes, and that Mr. Dwight, of the same State, was killed by the Indians, (in the Georgia case.) I have seen no proof that New England was ever reconciled to the admission of Missour'
1. Mr. MoWRoE was the last of the Virginia dynasty. When he went out of office in 1825, the Government under the Constitution had been in operation thirty-six years, during which period a Virginian had been at the head of the Government
thirty-two years. Washington, JEFFERson, MADison, and MonRoE, were each worthy of the place. But there grew up, natu|rally, in the breasts of Northern men, a bitter jealousy of the * South, and especially of Virginia, whose sons had for so long a
time occupied the Presidential chair. These men had been elected to office by controlling Southern votes, aided, indeed, in each case, by votes of the North, and in one case, by all the electoral votes of the North. At six successive elections, Northern men had brought forward their Presidential candidates only to suffer defeat and mortification. As a consequence, there grew up a strong desire to lessen the influence of the slaveholding States, and to prevent the increase of their number. The Northern States were under the influence of a great political temptation to do a great political wrong to Missouri and the slave States. The people of the North, generally, were prepared to enter into the feelings of their political leaders, in opposing the increase of the political power of the South ; and, in their desire to extend to all men the enjoyment of their natural rights, they were ready to overlook the constitutional rights of Missouri. 2. In order to show the true state of the case, in the estimation of enlightened statesmen, I quote the following extract from a speech of John QUINCY ADAMs, delivered in Congress, 1835, in favor of the admission of Arkansas, whose constitution was offered for acceptance; it being of the same character as that of Missouri, both of them permitting slavery: “Mr. Chairman,—I cannot, consistently with my sense of obligation as a citizen of the United States, and bound by oath to support their Constitution, I cannot object to the admission of Arkansas into the Union as a slave State. I cannot propose or agree to make it a condition of her admission into the Union, that a convention of her people shall expunge this article from the Constitution. She is entitled to admission as a slave State.” The argument against the admission of Missouri, from the Declaration of Independence, that “all men are created equal,” is irrelevant. The argument from the power of Congress to make “needful rules and regulations in respect to the Territory and other prop