Page images

to the Union and the constitution, and, hav- of the free soil delegates consequently withdrew ing become satisfied that both the whig and from the convention, and subsequently sepademocratic parties were completely under the rated themselves from the whig party. A simicontrol of the slaveholders, established in 1840 lar schism had already taken place in the demthe “liberty party," and at a national conven- ocratic national convention of the same year, tion held at Albany nominated James G. Birney the “barnburners," as the free soil democrats for president and Thomas Earle for vice-presi- were termed, having seceded partly on antident. Their entire vote at the election of that slavery and partly on personal grounds. An year was 7,609. At the next presidential elec- agreement was soon made between these setion in 1844 Mr. Birney was again nominated ceding whigs and democrats and the liberty for president, with Thomas Morris for vice-pres- party to unite their forces in opposition to ident, and received 62,300 votes. These figures, the extension of slavery; and a convention however, imperfectly represented the numbers was accordingly held at Buffalo, Aug. 9, 1848, of the opponents of slavery, most of whom which was attended by delegates from all the still maintained their connection with the two free states and from Delaware, Maryland, Virgreat parties, on whose action they had so pow. ginia, and the District of Columbia. A free erful an influence, that while the Texas question soil or free democratic party was formed, and was still pending 14 northern states protested, Martin Van Buren was nominated for presithrough their legislatures, in some cases by dent and Charles Francis Adams for vice-presunanimous vote of all parties, against any en- ident. A platform was adopted, declaring that largement of the area of slavery; and in 1846, the new party was formed to maintain the during the Mexican war, a bill being before rights of free labor against the aggressions of congress authorizing the president to use the the slave power, and to secure free soil to a sum of $2,000,000 in negotiating a peace, Mr. free people ; that slavery, in the several states David Wilmot, a democratic representative of this Union which recognize its existence, defrom Pennsylvania, moved to add thereto the pends upon the state laws alone, which cannot proviso, “ That there shall be neither slavery be repealed or modified by the general governnor involuntary servitude in any territory on ment, and for which laws that government is the continent of America, which shall hereafter not responsible; we therefore propose no inbe acquired by or annexed to the United States terference by congress with slavery within the by virtue of this appropriation, or in any other limits of any state; that the only safe means of manner whatsoever, except for crime of which preventing an extension of slavery into territhe party shall have been duly convicted." tory now free is to prohibit its extension in all This proviso was adopted in the house by a such territory by an act of congress; that we large majority, nearly all the members from the accept the issue which the slave power has free states voting for it, but failed in the senate forced upon us, and to their demand for more from want of time. At the next session, 1846- slave states and more slave territory, our 7, a similar bill appropriating $3,000,000 had calm but final answer is, no more slave states the Wilmot proviso affixed to it by a vote of and no more slave territory." Van Buren and 115 to 106; but it was rejected by the senate Adams received at the presidental election, in by a vote of 31 to 21, and the bill being sent back Nov. 1848, a popular vote of 291,263, but seto the house the proviso was abandoned by a cured no electoral vote. The democratic canvote of 102 to 97. On the termination of the didates, Cass and Butler, received 127 electoral war, the practical question involved in the votes ; and the whig candidates, Taylor and Wilmot proviso, whether the introduction of Fillmore, received 163 electoral votes, and slavery should be allowed or prohibited in the were consequently elected.-President Taylor territories newly acquired from Mexico, be- was inaugurated on Monday, March 5, 1849, and came of prominent interest. In the whig na- appointed as his cabinet John M. Clayton, sectional convention, held at Philadelphia in 1846, retary of state; William M. Meredith, of the by which Gen. Taylor was nominated, there treasury; George W. Crawford, of war; Wilwere several delegates from the northern states liam B. Preston, of the navy; Thomas Ewing, representing what were called “ free soil" of the interior (an office created by congress two opinions, that is, opinions hostile to the exten- days before, March 3, 1849); Jacob Collamer, sion of slavery, by whom after the nomination postmaster-general; and Reverdy Johnson, atof candidates the following resolution was of- torney-general. One of the earliest and most fered as an amendment to the platform of difficult of the questions which pressed on the principles adopted by the convention : “Re- new administration arose out of the acquisition solved, that while all power is denied to con- of California and New Mexico. In Feb. 1848, gress under the constitution to control or in gold began to be found in California in large any way interfere with the institution of sla- quantities, and the news of its discovery crevery within the several states of the Union, it ated such an excitement in the United States nevertheless has the power, and it is the duty that in a short time thousands of emigrants of congress, to prohibit the introduction or ex- were on their way thither by land and water, istence of slavery in any territory now possess- and their numbers were soon sufficient to coned, or which may hereafter be acquired, by the stitute a state. They held a convention at United States.” This was rejected, and several Monterey, and on Sept. 1, 1849, adopted a con

VOL. XV.-49

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

stitution with a clause prohibiting slavery. on the subject, but leaves the rendition of fugiWhen congress assembled in December, the tives from justice and labor to the individual question of slavery gave rise to excited de- states. Nevertheless the great body of the bates, in which several of the southern mem- people North and South acquiesced in the combers threatened secession and civil war in case promise as a final settlement of a dangerous the institution was excluded from the newly question ; and the fugitive slave law, thioagh acquired territories. Much agitation existed resisted in a few instances by mobs, was practhroughout the country, especially in the states tically enforced by the authorities in all the on the gulf of Mexico, where the disunion free states where fugitives were arrested. party possessed considerable popular strength. While the compromise bills were yet before An address to the people of the South, signed congress, President Taylor died after a few by most of the southern members of congress, days' illness, July 9, 1850, and was succeeded was published, which was far from conciliatorý by the vice-president, Millard Fillmore, who in its tone; the legislatures of South Carolina on July 15 reconstructed the cabinet as fol. and Mississippi issued a call for a southern lows : Daniel Webster, secretary of state; congress to frame a government for a “United Thomas Corwin, of the treasury; Charles M. States South ;' and a disunion convention of Conrad, of war; Alexander H. H, Stuart, of delegates from the southern states actually as- the interior; William A. Graham, of the navy; sembled at Nashville. In the North the agita- Nathan K. Hall, postmaster-general; and John tion was directed not against the Union, but for J. Crittenden, attorney-general. The comits preservation, and great meetings were held promise bills were signed by Mr. Fillmore in all the principal cities to protest against any Sept. 9, and the whole weight of his adminisfurther interference with slavery. President tration was given to their support, and espeTaylor, in a message to congress, Jan. 21, 1850, cially to the enforcement of the fugitive slave stated that he had himself advised the people law. During the remainder of his term the of California to form a constitution, and he events of most importance were the invasion urged congress to receive and favorably con- of Cuba, in Aug. 1851, by a band of “fillibus. sider their application for admission into the ters” from New Orleans, led by Gen. Lopez, Union. This, however, continued to be op- who was speedily defeated, captured, and ereposed by the South, and a parliamentary strug- cuted with many of his followers; the visit of gle ensued, the most violent and protracted in Louis Kossuth to the United States in Dec. American history. The extreme slavery party, 1851; a dispute with England on the subject led by Mr. Calhoun, demanded not only the of the fisheries in 1852, which was settled by rejection of California, but, among other con mutual concessions; and lastly the negotiation cessions, an amendment of the constitution that of a treaty with Japan by Commodore Perry, should equalize the political power of the free in command of an American fleet, by which and slave states. The question was still further the commerce of that empire was thrown open complicated by the application of New Mexico to the world.—On the approach of the presifor admission, and by a claim brought forward dential election of 1852 it became evident that by Texas to a western line of boundary which notwithstanding the apparent acquiescence of would include a large portion of New Mexico. the great mass of the people in the compromise Finally a compromise was proposed by Henry measures of 1850, the question of slavery was Clay in the senate as a final settlement of the still a source of political agitation. The demowhole question of slavery, and after a long crats of the South were divided into “Union discussion the result aimed at by Mr. Clay was men” and “southern rights men," the latter attained by separate acts, which provided for: maintaining the right of a state to secede from 1, the admission of California as a free state; the Union whenever its rights were violated 2, territorial governments for New Mexico and by the general government. On the other Utah without excluding slavery, but leaving its hand, the whigs of the South were mostly exclusion or admission to the local population; Union men and satisfied with the compromise 3, the settlement of the Texas boundary ques- measures, while a majority of the whigs of the tion; 4, the abolition of the slave trade in the North were opposed to the fugitive slave law, District of Columbia; 5, the enactment of a though not offering resistance to its esecu. stringent law for the arrest and return of fugi- tion, and were still desirous of preventing the tive slaves. Ten of the southern senators, in- extension of slavery by national legislation. cluding Messrs. Mason and Hunter of Virginia, The democratic national convention met at Soulé of Louisiana, and Jefferson Davis of Mis- Baltimore, June 1, 1852, and, after balloting sissippi, published a final protest against the for 4 days, on the 49th ballot nominated for admission of California after the vote was president Gen. Franklin Pierce of New Hamptaken; and the free soil party at the North de- shire, who had commanded a brigade in the nounced the concessions to Texas and the re- Mexican war, and was known to hold opinions fusal to prohibit slavery in New Mexico and satisfactory to the South on the subject of slsUtah as unjust and unwise, and proclaimed the very. Lewis Cass and James Buchanan were fugitive slave law as immoral and cruel, and the leading candidates in the previous ballotunconstitutional on the ground that the con- ings; and William L. Marcy and Stephen A. stitution gives congress no power to legislate Douglas also received considerable support.


William R. King of Alabama was nominated of the slavery question can be looked for exfor vice-president. A platform was adopted cept in the practical recognition of the truth by the convention declaring resistance to all that slavery is sectional and freedom national; attempts at renewing in congress or out of it by the total separation of the general governthe agitation of the slavery question, under ment from slavery, and the exercise of its legitwhatever shape or color the attempt may be imate and constitutional influence on the side made;" and also a determination to " abide by of freedom; and by leaving to the states the and adhere to a faithful execution of the acts whole subject of slavery and the extradition of known as the compromise measures settled by fugitives from justice. At the election, Nov. the last congress, the act reclaiming fugitives 5, 1852, the democratic candidates, Pierce and from service or labor included.” The whig King, received the votes of 27 states, casting national convention met at Baltimore, June 16, 254 electoral votes. Scott and Graham reand on the 534 ballot nominated for president ceived the votes of Vermont, Massachusetts, Gen. Winfield Scott. The other candidates for Kentucky, and Tennessee, with 42 electoral the nomination were Millard Fillmore and Dan- votes. The popular vote for Pierce and King iel Webster, the former receiving the votes of was 1,587,256, for Scott and Graham 1,384,577, most of the southern delegates nearly to the and for Hale and Julian 157,296. President close, while Scott and Webster were chiefly Pierce was inaugurated March 4, 1853, and supported by the northern delegates. William appointed as his cabinet William L. Marcy, R. Graham was nominated for vice-president. secretary of state; James Guthrie, of the treasThe platform adopted by the convention de- ury; Jefferson Davis, of war; James C. Dobclared that “the series of acts of the 32d con- bin, of the navy ; Robert McClelland, of the gress, the act known as the fugitive slave law interior; James Campbell, postmaster-general; included, are received and acquiesced in by the and Caleb Cushing, attorney-general. Mr. Buwhig party of the United States as a settlement chanan was sent as minister to England and in principle and substance of the dangerous Mr. Soulé to Spain. One of the first questions and exciting questions which they embrace; that occupied the administration was a boun

.. and we deprecate all further agitation dary dispute with Mexico concerning a tract of the question thus settled, as dangerous to of land between New Mexico and Chihuahua, our peace, and will discountenance all efforts which finally by negotiation and purchase beto continue or renew such agitation, whenever, came a part of the United States under the wherever, or however the attempt may be name of Arizona._ In 1853, under the direcmade.” Mr. Webster and his especial friends tion of Jefferson Davis, secretary of war, vadid not cordially acquiesce in the nomination rious expeditions were sent out to explore the of Gen. Scott, and attempts were made in va- routes proposed for a railroad from the Misrious places to bring Mr. Webster forward as sissippi to the Pacific. Congress assembled in an independent candidate for the presidency, Dec. 1853, and in the following January Mr. chiefly by whigs who considered Gen. Scott Douglas, chairman of the senate committee on and his intimate political friends as lukewarm territories, introduced a bill for the organizain their support of the compromises; but the tion of two new territories, Kansas and Nedeath of Mr. Webster, Oct. 24, 1852, before the braska, in the region west of Missouri and election, rendered these demonstrations use- north of lat. 36° 30'. By this bill the Missouri less. The national convention of the free soil compromise act of 1820 was repealed, and party was held at Pittsburg, Aug. 11, all the slavery allowed to enter where it had been free states being represented, together with formally and for ever excluded.

The measure Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Kentucky. was warmly supported by the administration John P. Hale was nominated for president and and by the leaders of the democratic party, and George W. Julian for vice-president. A plat- was strenuously opposed in debates of unpreform was adopted declaring that the acts of cedented length and interest by Chase and congress known as the compromise measures Wade of Ohio, Everett and Sumner of Massaof 1850, by making the admission of a sovereign chusetts, Seward of New York, Fessenden of state contingent upon the adoption of other Maine, Houston of Texas, and Bell of Tennesmeasures demanded by the special interest of see, in the senate, where it finally passed by a slavery; by their omission to guarantee free- vote of 37 to 14. In the house it was opposed dom in the free territories; by their attempt among others by Thomas H. Benton of Misto impose unconstitutional limitations on the souri, who, for 30 years a senator, had now power of congress and the people to admit become a representative; but it passed by a new states; and by their invasion of the sov- vote of 113 to 100, and the bill became a law ereignty of the states and the liberties of the on the last day of May. This bill roused great people through the enactment of an unjust, excitement and indignation in the free states, oppressive, and unconstitutional fugitive slave where it was denounced as a flagrant breach of law, are proved to be inconsistent with all the faith, and its enactment greatly increased the principles and maxims of democracy, and strength of the anti-slavery party. Much diswholly inadequate to the settlement of the satisfaction also was caused in those states by a questions of which they are claimed to be an conference at Ostend between the U.S. ministers adjustment. That no permanent settlement to England, France, and Spain, in the circular issued by which it was proposed to buy Cuba state rights and the Union, and assenting genfrom Spain for $120,000,000, or, if necessary to erally to the doctrines of the Ostend circular. prevent emancipation in the isla to take it The candidates for the nomination for president force. The attempt to obtain Cuba was regard- were Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Steed at the North as prompted, like the repeal of phen A. Douglas, and Lewis Cass. On the the Missouri compromise, chiefly by a desire to 17th ballot Mr. Buchanan was unanimously extend and strengthen the slaveholding influ- nominated, and John C. Breckinridge of Kenence in the United States. So also were the tucky was also unanimously chosen candidate fillibuster expeditions against Nicaragua led by for the vice-presidency. The republican naWilliain Walker, whose envoy, Vijil, at Wash- tional convention met at Philadelphia, June 17, ington was formally recognized by the president and adopted a platform declaring that the in 1856. (See WALKER, WILLIAM.) As, by the maintenance of the principles promulgated in terms of the Kansas and Nebraska act, the peo- the declaration of independence and embodied ple of those territories were to be left free to de- in the federal constitution is essential to the termine for themselves whether or not slavery preservation of our republican institutions, and should be tolerated there, a struggle soon be that the federal constitution, the rights of the gan in Kansas, to which chiefly emigration was states, and the union of the states shall be pre. directed, between the anti-slavery and pro-sla- served;" and that “the constitution confers very parties, which, after many acts of violence upon congress sovereign power over the terriand a long period of confusion amounting al- tories of the United States for their governmost to civil war, terminated in the adoption ment, and in the exercise of this power it is by the people of Kansas of a state constitu- the right and the duty of congress to prohibit tion excluding slavery. (See KANSAs.) In the in the territories those twin relics of barbarism, course of the debates on the Kansas question polygamy and slavery." John 0. Fremont Mr. Sumner of Massachusetts made in the sen- was nominated for president by 359 votes, ate, May 20, 1856, a speech containing a vehe- against 196 for John McLean; and William L. ment attack on South Carolina and some of her Dayton was nominated for vice-president

, his representatives, for which two days afterward principal competitors being Abraham Lincoln, he was assailed in the senate chamber by Pres- N. P. Banks, Charles Sumner, and David Wilton S. Brooks of that state, and so much in- mot. After an animated canvass, the election jured that he was not able to resume his du- resulted in the choice of Buchanan and Breckties in the senate during that and the suc- inridge by 174 electoral votes against 114 for ceeding session. This event increased still fur- Fremont and 8 for Fillmore. The popular vote ther the anti-slavery feeling at the North, and for Buchanan was 1,838,169, for Fremont when the canvass for president began in 1856, 1,341,264, and for Fillmore 874,534. Fillmore an anti-slavery party appeared in the field of received the vote of Maryland, Buchanan the far more formidable dimensions than any pre- votes of all the other slave states and of New vious organization of the kind. This party Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, and Calassumed the name of republican, and absorb- ifornia, and Fremont those of the 11 remained the entire free soil party, the greater part ing free states.-President Buchanan appointed of the whig party, and considerable accessions as his cabinet Lewis Cass, secretary of state; from the democratic party. The first deci- Howell Cobb, of the treasury; John B. Floyd, sive exhibition of its strength was the election of war; Isaac Toucey, of the navy;

Jacob in the congress of 1855–6 of N. P. Banks, a Thompson, of the interior; Aaron V. Brown, former democrat, as speaker of the house of postmaster-general;

and Jeremiah S. Black, representatives. The whig party about this attorney-general. With the exception of a reperiod disappeared from the field, that por- bellion of the Mormons in Utah in 1857-18, tion of it opposed to anti-slavery measures which was suppressed without bloodshed, of having been merged, especially in the South the admission into the Union of Minnesota in in an organization at firs popularly known as 1858 and of Oregon in 1859, and of an unthe “Know-Nothing party," and then as the successful attempt to purchase Cuba, the chief American party from its opposition to foreign interest of Mr. Buchanan's administration cen. influence, and particularly to Roman Catholic tred around the slavery controversy, which influence, in our political affairs. This party still continued in Kansas, in the halls of conheld a national convention at Philadelphia in gress, and in the legislatures of the free Feb. 1856, and, after adopting a platform vir- states. Several of the latter bodies, under the tually recognizing the principles of the Kansas- influence of a public opinion which had been Nebraska act and approving the fugitive slave gradually growing in opposition to the jus• law, nominated Millard Fillmore for president. tice and constitutionality of the fugitire slave Thé democratic national convention met at law, passed acts designed to impede its oper: Cincinnati, June 2, and reaffirmed the Balti- ation, and to secure to alleged fugitives the more platform of 1852, with the addition of right to trial by jury and to the legal assistance resolutions condemning the principles of the usually given to those charged with criminal American party, recognizing the Kansas-Ne- offences. These acts were commonly called braska act as the only safe solution of the sla- personal liberty laws, and thongh they have very question, affirming the duty of upholding never in any case been put in practical opera

[ocr errors]


tion, their existence soon became a subject of ment of the laws." The republican national complaint on the part of the South against the convention assembled at Chicago on May 16, northern states. A constitution for Kansas and nominated for president Abraham Linframed at Lecompton in 1857 was laid before coln of Illinois. His principal competitors for congress in the session of 1857–8, and was the nomination were W. H. Seward, Simon strongly opposed by the republicans on the Cameron, Edward Bates, and S. P. Chase. ground that it had been fraudulently concocted Hannibal Hamlin of Maine was nominated for by the pro-slavery party there, that it did not vice-president, the other candidates being Casrepresent the wishes of the people of Kansas, sius M. Clay, N. P. Banks, A. H. Reeder, and and that some of its provisions were cunningly John Hickman. The platform adopted by the framed for the purpose of forcing slavery into convention declared that “the maintenance of the new state in spite of the opposition of the the principles promulgated in the declaration inhabitants. A powerful section of the demo- of independence and embodied in the federal cratic party, headed by Stephen A. Douglas, constitution is essential to the preservation of sided with the republicans in this matter; but our republican institutions, and that the constithe so called “ Lecompton bill,” after a parlia- tution, the Union, and the rights of the states mentary struggle of extraordinary intensity must and shall be preserved;" and " that the and duration, was passed by congress by the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the votes of the democratic majority, led in the states, and especially of the right of each state house by Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia, to order and control its own domestic instituand in the senate by Jefferson Davis of Missis- tions according to its own judgment exclusively, sippi, John M. Mason of Virginia, and John is essential to that balance of power on which Slidell of Louisiana. The president lent all his the perfection and endurance of our political influence to the measure, on the ground that it fabric depends." The platform also denounced would pacify the country, and would not pre- John Brown's invasion of Virginia as lawvent Kansas from becoming a free state if the less and unjustifiable, declared that “the new people desired to exclude slavery. This con- dogma that the constitution, of its own force, test, however, resulted in a schism in the dem- carries slavery into any or all of the territories ocratic party, and eventually in its division into of the United States, is a dangerous political two bodies, one of which looked upon Mr. heresy," and denied "the authority of congress, Douglas as its leader, while the other support- of a territorial legislature, or of any individuals ed for the presidency John C. Breckinridge of to givo legal existence to slavery in any terri. Kentucky. An attempt to excite the slaves to tory of the United States.” The result of the insurrection, made at Harper's Ferry in Oct. presidential election of Nov. 1860, was that Mr. 1859, by John Brown of Kansas, for which he Lincoln received the electoral votes of all the was hanged by the authorities of Virginia, free states (except three votes in New Jersey, Dec. 2, created a profound sensation throughout which were given to Mr. Douglas), to the numthe country, and caused especial excitement at ber of 180, and was elected. Mr. Bell received the South, where it was looked upon by many the votes of Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee, as indicative of a settled purpose at the North to 39; Mr. Douglas the 9 votes of Missouri, which destroy slavery. (See Harper's Ferry.)—The added to 3 from New Jersey gave him a total democratic national convention met at Charles- of 12 votes; and the remaining southern states ton, April 23, 1860, and after a stormy session of cast their 72 electoral votes for Breckinridge. 10 days the southern delegates withdrew on the The popular vote for Lincoln was 1,857,610, refusal of the northern delegates to agree to a for Douglas about 1,365,976, for Breckinridge platform conceding to their fullest extent the 847,952, and for Bell 590,631. On Nov. 10, claims of the slaveholders to carry slavery into when this result was known, the legislature of the territories. The convention reassembled South Carolina ordered the election of a convenat Baltimore, June 18, but could not agree, and tion to consider the question of secession. The another secession took place, embracing most convention assembled Dec. 17, and on Dec. 20 of the southern delegates. The convention, adopted a secession ordinance, declaring that however, continued in session, and nominated "the union now subsisting between South Carfor president Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, olina and other states, under the name of the and for vice-president Herschel V. Johnson of United States of America, is hereby dissolved." Georgia. . The seceders also met in convention A declaration of the reasons for secession was on June 28, and nominated for president John issued by the convention, in which it was said: C. Breckinridge of Kentucky, and for vice-pres-“We assert that 14 of the states have deliberident Joseph Lane of Oregon. The constitu- ately refused for years past to fulfil their contional union party," composed mainly of the stitutional obligations, and we refer to their American party, held its national convention at own statutes for proof. . . . . . In many of Baltimore May 9, and nominated for president these states the fugitive is discharged from the John Bell of Tennessee, and for vice-president service of labor claimed, and in none of them Edward Everett of Massachusetts. This party has the state government complied with the declared that it recognized “no political prin- stipulations made in the constitution. . ciple other than the constitution of the coun- Thus the constitutional compact has been detry, the union of the states, and the enforce- liberately broken and disregarded by the non

[ocr errors]


« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »