« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
2N THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, APRIL 3, 10, 11, & 21, 1848.
On the Joint Resolutions tendering the Congratulations of the American People to the French People.
Mr. BAYLY said his principal purpose in rising was to exhibit, in all its deformity, the character of the amendment which had been offered by the gentleman from Massachusetts, [Mr. As HMUN;] but before he did so, he desired to stubmit to the House a few remarks in vindication of the motion which he had had the honor to make. On all occasions of this sort, when they were attempting to institute a national action; when they were instituting a proceeding which would attract the attention of other nations of the civilized world, he thought their proceedings ought to be marked by deliberation. He thought the world should see that their action had not been the result of a momentary impulse, but of calm and deliberate consideration; and therefore it was that he thought that in a movement of this sort the House ought aot to act on the resolution until it at least had undergone the scrutiny of the Committee of Foreign Affairs. It should not seem to be at the instance of any single member not holding an official position here, not standing at the head of the committee, nor even of a member of the committee having in charge our foreign relations. It seemed to him that it should come before the House in a still more imposing form—from a select committee, to be composed of one member from every State in the Union, which was the form of committee usually adopted when new questions were presented involving momentous considerations. He thought, therefore, that there was a marked propriety in committing these resolutions to such a committee, so that they should not blush to see them submitted to the scrutiny of the statesmen of the world. In the political body (the Legislature of Virginia) in which he had his earliest lessons, it was the invariable practice, when subjects were presented not connected with its ordinary legislation, to raise a select committee for their consideration. # But he had another object in moving to commit these resolutions and the amendment. He wished to arrest an effort which was made to seize this occasion, which ought to be one of national rejoicing, and turn itinto one of domestic discord. He was not surprised at the movement, however; he expected it. Having been an attentive observer of the proceedings of this House, he had never seen an occa
sion which ought to have been one of harmony and unanimity on which he had not heard the raven, discordant voice of evil omen of the gentleman from Ohio, boding fraternal discord and strife. Having uniformly before made such exhibitions, of course he looked for it now from the gentleman from Ohio and his coadjutors, two of whom, the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. As HMUN] and the gentleman from Ohio, [Mr. ScHENck, were leading members of the Whig party. What was the character of the pending resolutions, and of the amendments? Why, they were there as freemen, rejoicing, as they ought to rejoice, without reference to party or local feelings, at the commencement of a revolutionary movement the tendency of which was to liberate France and establish a free government of her people. On an occasion such as that, the gentleman from Ohio and his coadjutors stepped forward, as is their
custom, and sought to change an occasion of na
tional rejoicing into a national bickering; and this, which ought to be a day of unanimity, to a day of discord. But that was not the worst. When they were here rejoicing that the palace of the despot had crumbled into dust, the gentleman comes here and tries to make the temple of our liberties totter to its ruin. When they were rejoicing at a movement which their own bright example had originated, the gentleman comes forward and makes a motion the tendency of which is to destroy that Government whose eminent success has encouraged the spread of liberty throughout the world. He does more: he comes here and introduces a resolution which is a libel on an institution of half the States of this Union, and he declares a principle which stamps hypocrisy on every patriot and statesman of the Revolution. He comes to this Hall and denounces negro slavery as inconsistent with the cardinal principle of republican liberty; and he does that while sitting under a Constitution formed by States every one of which, with one exception, was at the time of its formation a slaveholding State, and half of which continue to be so to this day. He comes here and tells us that Patrick Henry, whose eloquence he complimented, who did more than any other man to rouse the American people to the revolutionary struggle, and to prepare them for its coming glories—the man who proclaimed the sentiment, “Give me liberty, or give me death !”—he has offered a proposition which says that that man, during that period and afterwards, until he went to his grave, lived in the violation of cardinal republican principles. He has proposed a resolution which is a libel on the character of the man whose victorious sword carried us triumphantly through our revolution, and whose great moderation, justice, and prudence did so much to establish our own glorious and free institutions. His amendment virtually brands Washington a hypocrite. And what occasion does he select to do all this I could have sat by unmoved on an ordinary occasion and seen this apple of discord thrown in among us, but on an occasion like this, when we ought to be rejoicing together, and congratulating each other like a band of brothers, I have not been able to sit by and see this demon of mischief obtrude himself to mar our joy without such feelings as I have not language to give utterance to. - Mr. B. had not intended to say a word on the subject of the abolition of slavery in France, for he agreed with the gentleman from Tennessee that it was a question for France, and for France alone, to decide. He freely admitted that it was a subject with which we have nothing to do. He believed that any intermeddling on his part with that question would be quite as improper as this eternal intermeddling by the gentleman from Ohio and his associates with it here. But, though he had no desire to intermeddle with the abolition of slavery in the French colonies, he did not rejoice at the hasty and precipitate decree which the Provisional Government had issued. Mr. C. J. INGERSOLL begged leave to state, that if he were not mistaken, the suggestion came from M. Arago, but it was subsequently withdrawn, its pernicious influence on France having been soon discovered. The decree had been withdrawn. Mr. BAYLY was very glad to hear the explanation of the gentleman from Pennsylvania, but he confessed he had not understood it as that gentleman did; he, however, deferred to that gentleman’s more accurate information. But he would say to the gentleman from Ohio that there was no instance on record of the abolition of slavery preciptately, and without preparation for freedom, that had not been followed by scenes of wo. With all her fanaticism, even Great Britain did not emancipate her slaves without providing an apprenticeship of a number of years to prepare them for it. No State of this Union that had emancipated her slaves had done it otherwise than gradually. Mr. GIDDINGS inquired how gradual the pros cess was in Massachusetts? . Mr. BAYLY replied that slavery never existed in Massachusetts, except to a very inconsiderable extent. He knew her court, in a manner which no other court in the country attempted to imitate, decided that the Đeclaration of Independence emancipated the slaves. e The gentleman was informed by some one near him that he was in error; and that it was the bill of rights by which they were declared to be emancipated.]
I mean the bill of rights; but there were similar bills of rights in most of the other States at that
time, and yet no other State undertook to say that its bill of rights abolished slavery. Mr. GIDDINGS would like to know how gradual was the step towards the abolition of slavery by the provisions of the ordinance of 1787? Mr. BAYLY said he could answer the gentleman very easily. A gentleman from North Carolina near him who had suggested there were no slaves there, was mistaken; there were. But the ordinance of 1787 never was regarded as emancipating any of them. There were at that time no inhabitants there except a few Canadian and French settlers, who held slaves under the operation of that ordinance; and, what was more, he could tell the gentleman that the descendants of those slaves were held as slaves to this hour. Let the gentleman look into the history of his own State, and he would find that the ordinance of 1787, as far as slavery was concerned, was treated practically as a nullity. It never had had any legal force in the Northwestern Territory. Mr. GIDDINGS said the gentleman was wholly mistaken. Mr. BAYLY said he was not mistaken : he spoke from the book. . That House very well knew that he was not in the habit of speaking of what he knew nothing about, or of making assertions without knowing that they were well founded. But he would give the professed philanthropist from Ohio the only instance—a horrible instance it was—where this process of universal emancipation was done at a blow; it was the well-known case of St. Domingo. Then the thing had been effected by the busy intermeddling of visionary fanatics, just as it was now sought to be done here by the gentleman from Ohio and his associates. There was then a band of fanatics in London who met in the Old Jewry, and who passed resolutions very similar to the amendment which it was now sought to foist on the pending resolution. It was then proposed to aid these negroes with men and money in a struggle for their freedom; they furnished Ogé with a ship, the arms, and money, to accomplish this purpose; and similar resolutions were at the same time adopted in France, by an association exactly of the character of that to which the gentleman and his abolition friends belonged among us. These fanatical visionaries set the revolt of the blacks in St. Domingo in motion; their machinations succeeded in exciting a servile insurrection, in the course of which every white man and woman and child in the island was massacred, with the exception of a small remnant, who fled to the shipping in the harbor, and barely escaped with their lives. Whole hecatombs of dead bodies were piled up in the streets, amid burning, murder, and pillage. Nay, so great was the fury of the blacks that their rage and revenge could not glut themselves with the butchery of every white person, (and they found no difficulty in drawing that line of distinction which the gentleman thought so great a mystery--it was no problem to the negroes,) but they afterwards turned upon the mulattoes and exterminated them. They seemed to hate every human creature that had white blood in his veins with a bitterness that had no parallel unless in the breast of the mem. ber from Ohio; and this feeling was encouraged in them by just such addresses and resolutions as that gentleman is constantly introducing here.