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In The Senate Of The United States, March 7, 1850.
The Vice-president. The resolutions submitted by the Senator from Kentucky were made the special order of the day at 12 o'clock. The Senator from Wisconsin (Mr. Walker) has the floor.
Mr. Walker. Mr. President, this vast audience has not assembled to hear me; and there is but one man, in my opinion, who can assemble such an audience. They expect to hear him, and I feel it to be my duty, as it is my pleasure, to give the floor, therefore, to the Senator from Massachusetts. I understand it is immaterial to him upon which of these questions he speaks, and therefore I will not move to postpone the special order.
Mr. Webster. I beg to express my obligations to my friend from Wisconsin (Mr. Walker), as well as to my friend from New York (Mr. Seward), for their courtesy in allowing me to addraes the Senate this morning.
Mr. President, T wish to speak to-day, not as a Massachusetts man, nor as a Northern man, but as an American, and a member of the Senate of the United States. It is fortunate that*there is a Senate of the United States; a body, not yet moved from its propriety, not lost to a just sense of its own dignity, and its own high responsibilities, and a body to which the country looks, with confidence, for wise, moderate, patriotic, and healing counsels. It is not to be denied that we live in the midst of strong agitations, and are surrounded by very considerable dangers to our institutions and government. The imprisoned winds are let loose. The East, the North, and the stormy South, combine to throw the whole ocean into commotion, to toss its billows to the skies, and disclose its profoundest depths. I do not affect to regard myself, Mr. President, as holding, or as fit to hold, the helm in this combat with the political elements; but I have a duty to perform, and I mean to perform it with fidelity, not without a sense of existing dangers, but not without hope. I have a part to act, not for my own security or safety, for I am loqking out for no fragment upon which to float away from the wreck, if wreck there must be, but for the good of the whole, and the preservation of all; and there is that which will keep me to my duty during this struggle, whether the sun and the stars shall appear, or shall not appear, for many days. I speak to-day for the preservation of the Union. "Hear me for my cause." I speak, to-day, out of a solicitous and anxious heart, for the restoration t<*the country of that quiet and that harmony which make the blessings of this Union so rich and so dear to us all. These are the topics that I propose to myself to discuss; these are the motives, and i'.ie sole motives, that influence me in the wish to communicate my opinions to the Senate and the country;
and if I can do anything, however little, for the promotion of these ends, I shall have accomplished all that I expect.
Mr. President, it may not be amiss to recur very briefly to the events which, equally sudden and extraordinary, have brought the political condition of the country to what it now is. In May, 1846, the United States declared war against Mexico. Our armies, then on the frontiers, entered the provinces of that republic, met and defeated all her troops, penetrated her mountain passes, and occupied her capital. The marine force of the United States took possession of her forts and her towns, on the Atlantic and on the Pacific. . In less than two years, a treaty was negotiated, by which Mexico ceded to the United States a vast territory, extending seven or eight hundred miles along the shores of the Pacific, and reaching back over the mountains, and across the desert, until it joins the frontier of the State of Texas. It so happened, in the distracted and feeble state of the Mexican Government, that, before the declaration of war' by the United States against Mexico had become known in California, the people of California, under the lead of American officers, overthrew the existing provincial government of California, the Mexican authorities, and run up an independent flag. When the news arrived at San Francisco that war had been declared by the United States against Mexico, this independent flag was pulled down, and the stars and stripes of this Union hoisted in its stead,. So, sir, before the war was over, the forces of the United States, military and naval, had possession of San Francisco and Upper California, and a great rush of emigrants from various parts of the world took place into California in 1846 and 1847. But now, behold another wonder.
In January of 1848, the Mormons, or some of them, made a discovery of an extraordinarily rich mine of gold, or, rather, of a very great quantity of gold, hardly fit to be called a mine, for it was spread near the surface, on the lower part of the South, or American, branch of the Sacramento. They seem to have attempted to conceal their discovery for some time; but soon another discovery, perhaps of greater importance, was made of gold, in another part of the American branch of the Sacramento, and near Sutter's Fort, as it is called. The fame of these discoveries spread far and wide. They inflamed more and more the spirit of emigration towards California, which had already been excited; and persons crowded in hundreds, and flocked towards the Bay of San Francisco. This, as I have said, took place in the winter and spring of 1848. The digging commenced in the spring of that year, and from that time to this the work of searching for gold has been prosecuted with a success not heretofore known in the history of this globe. We all know, sir, how incredulous the American public was at the accounts which reached us, at first, of these discoveries; but we all know, now, that these accounts received, and continue to receive, daily confirmation, and down to the present moment I suppose the assurances are as strong, after the experience of these several months, of mines of gold apparently inexhaustible in the regions near San Francisco, in California, as they were at any period of the earlier dates of the accounts. It so happened, sir, that, although after the return of peace, it became a very important subject for legislative consideration and legislative decision, to provide a proper territorial government for California, yet differences of opinion in the counsels of the Government prevented the establishment of any such territorial government, at the last session of Congress. Under this state of things, the inhabitants of San Francisco and California, then amounting to a great number of people, in the summer of last year, thought it to be their duty to establish a local government. Under the proclamation of General Riley, the people chose delegates to a Convention; that Convention met at Monterey. They formed a constitution for the State of California, and it was adopted by the people of California in their primary assemblages. Desirous of immediate connection with the United States, its Senators were appointed and Representatives chosen, who have come hither, bringing with them the authentic Constitution of the State of California; and they now present themselves, asking, in behalf of their State, that it may be admitted into this Union as one of the United States. This constitution, sir, contains an express prohibition against slavery, or involuntary servitude, in the State of California. It is said, and I suppose truly, that of the members who composed that Convention some sixteen were natives of} and had been residents in, the slaveholding States, about twenty-two were from the non-slaveholding States, and the remaining ten members