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SPEECH OF THE HON. CHARLES SUMNER, OF MASS.,
MR. PRESIDENT: I approach this discussion with awe. The mighty question, with untold issues, which it involves, oppresses me. Like a portentous cloud, surcharged with irresistible storm and ruin, it seems to fill the whole heavens, making me painfully conscious how unequal I am to the occasion-how unequal, also, is all that I can say, to all that I feel.
In delivering my sentiments here to-day, I shall It is with regard to this territory that you are now speak frankly-according to my convictions, with- called to exercise the grandest function of the lawout concealment or reserve. But if anything fell giver, by establishing those rules of polity which from the Senator from Illinois, [Mr. DOUGLAS,] in will determine its future character. As the twig is opening this discussion, which might seem to chal- bent, the tree inclines; and the influences impressed lenge a personal contest, I desire to say that I shall upon the early days of an empire-like those upon not enter upon it. Let not a word or a tone pass a child-are of inconceivable importance to its future my lips to direct attention for a moment from the weal or woe. The bill now before us proposes to transcendent theme, by the side of which Senators organize and equip two new Territorial establishand Presidents are but dwarfs. I would not forget ments, with governors, secretaries, legislative coun those amenities which belong to this place, and are cils, legislators, judges, marshals, and the whole maso well calculated to temper the antagonism of de- chinery of civil society. Such a measure, at any bate; nor can I cease to remember and to feel that, time, would deserve the most careful attention. But, amid all diversities of opinion, we are the repre- at the present moment, it justly excites a peculiar sentatives of thirty-one sister-Republics, knit togeth-interest, from the effort made-on pretences unsus er by indissoluble ties, und constituting that Plural Unit which we all embrace by the endearing name of country.
tained by facts-in violation of solemn covenant, and of the early principles of our fathers-to open this immense region to Slavery.
According to existing law, this Territory is now guarded against Slavery by a positive prohibition, embodied in the Act of Congress, approved March 1820, preparatory to the admission of Missouri into the Union as a sister-State, and in the following explicit words:—
The question presented for your consideration is not surpassed in grandeur by any which has occurred in our national history since the Declaration of Independence. In every aspect it assumes gigantic pro-6, portions, whether we simply consider the extent of territory it concerns, or the public faith or national policy which it affects, or that higher question—that "Question of Questions-as far above others as Liberty is above the common things of life-which it opens anew for judgment.
It concerns an immense region, larger than the original thirteen States, vying in extent with all the existing Free States, stretching over prairie, field, and forest-interlaced by silver streams, skirted by protecting mountains, and constituting the heart of the North American continent-only a little smaller, let me add, than the three great European countries combined-Italy, Spain, and France-each of which, in succession, has dominated over the world. This territory has already been likened, on this floor, to the Garden of God. The similitude is found, not merely in its present pure and virgin character, but in its actual geographical situation, occupying central spaces on this hemisphere, which, in their general relations, may well compare with that early Asiatic home. We are told that
"Southward through Eden went a river large;" so here we have a stream which is larger than the Euphrates. And here, too, amid all the smiling products of Nature, lavished by the hand of God, is
"SEC. 8. Be it further enacted, That in all that Territory ceded by France to the United States, under the name of Louis iana, which lies north of thirty-six degrees and thirty min utes of north latitude, not included within the limits of the State contemplated by this act, SLAVERY AND INVOLUNTARY SERVITUDE, otherwise than as the punishment of crimes, SHALL BE, AND IS HEREBY, FOR EVER PROHIBITED.
It is now proposed to set aside this prohibition but there seems to be a singular indecision as to the way in which the deed shall be done. From the time of its first introduction, in the report of the Committee on Territories, the proposition has assumed different shapes; and it promises to assume as many as Proteus; now, one thing in form, and now, another; now like a river, and then like a flame; but, in every fo m and shape, identical in substance; with but one end and aim-its be all and end-all-the overthrow of the Prohibition of Slavery.
At first it proposed simply to declare, that the States formed out of this Terrtory should be admitted into the Union, "with or without Slavery," and did not directly assume to touch this prohibition. For some reason this was not satisfactory, and then it was precipitately proposed to declare, that the
prohibition in the Missouri act "was superseded by | abolish Freedom. The term Abolitionist, which is the principles of the legislation of 1850, commonly ⚫ called the Compromise Measures, and is hereby declared inoperative." But this would not do; and it is now proposed to declare, that the Prohibition, "being inconsistent with the principles of non-intervention, by Congress, with Slavery in the States and Territories, as recognised by the legislation of 1850, commonly called the Compromise Measures, is hereby declared inoperative and void."
All this is to be done on pretences founded upon the Slavery enactments of 1850. Now, sir, I am not here to speak in behalf of those measures, or to lean in any way upon their support. Relating to different subject-matters, contained in different acts, which prevailed successively, at different times, and by different votes-some persons voting for one measure, and some voting for another, and very few voting for all-they cannot be regarded as a unit, embodying conditions of compact, or compromise, if you please, adopted equally by all parties, and, therefore, obligatory on all parties. But since this broken series of measures has been adduced as an apology for the proposition now before us, I desire to say, that, such as they are, they cannot, by any effort of interpretation, by any distorting wand of power, by any perverse alchemy, be transmuted into a repeal of that original prohibition of Slavery.
so often applied in reproach, justly belongs, on this occasion, to him who would overthrow this wellestablished landmark. He is, indeed, no Abolitionist of Slavery; let him be called, sir, an Abolitionist of Freedom. For myself, whether with many or few, my place is taken. Even if alone, my feeble arm shall not be wanting as a bar against this outrage.
On two distinct grounds, "both strong against the deed," I arraign this proposition-first, in the name of Public Faith, as an infraction of the solemn obligations assumed beyond recall by the South on the admission of Missouri into the Union as a Slave State; secondly, I arraign it in the name of Freedom, as an unjustifiable departure from the original AntiSlavery policy of our fathers. These two heads I propose to consider in their order, glancing under the latter at the objections to the prohibition of Slavery in the Territories.
And here, sir, before I approach the argument indulge me with a few preliminary words on the character of this proposition. Slavery is the forcible subjection of one human being, in person, labor, or property, to the will of another. In this simple statement is involved its whole injustice. There is no offence against religion, against morals, against humanity, which may not stalk, in the license of this On this head there are several points to which I institution, "unwhipt of justice." For the husband would merely call attention, and then pass on. First: and wife there is no marriage; fo: the mother there The Slavery enactments of 1850 did not pretend, in is no assurance that her infant child will not be rav terms, to touch, much less to change, the condition ished from her breast; for all who bear the name of of the Louisiana Territory, which was already fixed Slave, there is nothing that they can call their own. by Congressional enactment, but simply acted upon Without a father, without a mother, almost without newly-acquired Territories," the condition of which a God, he has nothing but a master. It would be was not already fixed by Congressional enactment. contrary to that Rule of Right, which is ordained by The two transactions related to different subject-God, if such a system, though mitigated often by a matters. Secondly: The enactments do not directly touch the subject of Slavery, during the territorial existence of Utah and New Mexico: but they provide prospectively, that, when admitted as States, they shall be received "with or without Slavery.' Here certainly can be no overthrow of an act of Congress which directly concerns a Territory during its Territorial existence. Thirdly: During all the discussion of these measures in Congress, and afterwards before the people, and through the publicized world, a slavedealer is a by-word and a repress at the North and the South alike, no person was heard to intimate that the prohibition of Slavery in the Missouri Act was in any way disturbed. And, fourthly: The acts themselves contain a formal provision, that "nothing herein contained shall be construed to impair or qualify anything" in a certain article of the resolutions annexing Texas, wherein it is expressly declared, that in territory north of the Missouri Compromise line, "Slavery, or involuntary servitude, except for crime, shall be prohibited."
But I do not dwell on these things. These pretences have been already amply refuted by Senators who have preceded me. It is clear, beyond all contradiction, that the prohibition of Slavery in this territory has not been superseded or in any way annulled by the Slavery Acts of 1850. The proposition before you is, therefore, original in its character, without sanction from any former legislation; and it must, accordingly, be judged by its merits, as an original proposition.
Here let it be remembered that the friends of Freedom are not open to any charge of aggression. They are now standing on the defensive, guarding the early intrenchments thrown up by our fathers. No proposition to abolish Slavery anywhere is now before you; but, on the contrary, a proposition to
patriarchal kindness, and by a plausible physical comfort, could be otherwise than pernicious in its influences. It is confessed, that the master suffers not less than the slave. And this is not all. The whole social fabric is disorganized; labor loses its dignity; industry sickens; education finds no schools, and all the land of Slavery is impoverished. And now, sir, when the conscience of mankind is at last aroused to these things, when, throughout the civil
proach, we, as a nation, are about to open a new market to the traffickers in flesh, that haunt the shambles of the South. Such an act, at this time, is removed from all reach of that palliation often vouchsafed to Slavery. This wrong, we are speciously told, by those who seek to defend it, is not our original sin. It was entailed upon us, so we are instructed, by our ancestors; and the responsibility is often, with exultation, thrown upon the mother country. Now, without stopping to inquire into the value of this apology, which is never adduced in behalf of other abuses, and which availed nothing against that kingly power, imposed by the mother country, and which our fathers overthrew, it is sufficient, for the present purpose, to know, that it is now proposed to make Slavery our own original act. Here is a fresh case of actual transgression, which we cannot cast upon the shoulders of any progeni tors, nor upon any mother country, distant in time or place. The Congress of the United States, the people of the United States, at this day, in this vaunted period of light, will be responsible for it, so that it shall be said hereafter, so long as the dismal history of Slavery is read, that, in the year of Christ 1854, a new and deliberate act was passed, by which a vast territory was opened to its inroads.
To the delusive suggestion of the able Senator from North Carolina, [Mr. BADGER,] that by the overthrow of this prohibition, the number of slaves will not be increased, that there will be simply a beneficent diffusion of Slavery, and not its extension, I reply at once, that this argument, if of any value— if not mere words, and nothing else would equally justify and require the overthrow of the prohibition of Slavery in the free States, and, indeed, everywhere throughout the world. All the dikes, which, in different countries, from time to time, with the march of civilization, have been painfully set up against the inroads of this evil, must be removed, and every land opened anew to its destructive flood. It is clear, beyond dispute, that by the overthrow of this prohibition, Slavery will be quickened, and slaves themselves will be multiplied, while new room and verge" will be secured for the gloomy operations of slave law, under which free labor wili droop, and a vast territory will be smitten with sterility. Sir, a blade of grass would not grow where the horse of Attila had trod; nor can any true prosperity spring up in the foot-prints of the slave.
Alone in the company of nations does our country assume this hateful championship. In despotic Russia, the serfdom which constitutes the "peculiar institution" of that great empire, is never allowed to travel with the imperial flag, according to the American pretension, into provinces newly acquired by the common blood and treasure, but is carefully restricted by positive prohibition, in harmony with the general conscience, within its ancient confines; and this prohibition-the Wilmot Proviso of Russia -is rigorously enforced on every side, in all the provinces, as in Besarabia on the south, and Poland on the west, so that, in fact, no Russian nobleman has been able to move into these important territories with his slaves. Thus Russia speaks for Freedom, and disowns the slaveholding dogma of our country. Far away in the East, at "the gateways of the city," in effeminate India, slavery has been condemned; in Constantinople, the queenly seat of the most powerful Mahomedan empire, where barbarism still mingles with civilization, the Ottoman Sultan has fastened upon it the stigma of disapprobation; the Barbary States of Africa, occupying the same parallels of latitude with the slave States of our Union, and resembling them in the nature of their boundaries, their productions, their climate, and the "peculiar institution," which sought shelter in both, have been changed into Abolitionists. Algiers, seated near the line of 36 deg. 30 min., has been dedicated to Freedom. Morocco, by its untutored ruler, has expressed its desire, stamped in the formal terms of a treaty, that the very name of slavery may perish from the minds of men; and only recently, from the Dey of Tunis has proceeded that noble act, by which, "In honor of God, and to distinguish man from the brute creation"-I quote his own words-nearly the same spaces of latitude, and resembling he decreed its total abolition throughout his dominions. Let Christian America be willing to be taught by these examples. God forbid that our Republic "heir of all the ages, foremost in the files of time" -should adopt anew the barbarism which they have renounced
As the effort now making is extraordinary in character, so no assumption seems too extraordinary to be wielded in its support. The primal truth of the equality of men, as proclaimed in our Declaration of Independence, has been assailed, and this great charter of our country discredited. Sir, you and I will soon pass away, but that will continue to stand, above impeachment or question. The Declaration of Independence was a Declaration of Rights, and the language employed, though general in its character, must obviously be restrained within the design and sphere of a Declaration of Rights, involving no such absurdity as was attributed to it yesterday by the Senator from Indiana, [Mr. PETTIT.] Sir, it is a palpable fact that men are not born equal in physical strength or in mental capacities, in beauty of form or health of body. These mortal cloaks of flesh differ, as do these worldly garments. Diversity or inequality in these respects is the law of creation. But, as God is no respecter of persons, and as all are equal in his sight, whether Dives or Lazarus, master or slave, so are all equal in natural inborn rights; and, pardon me, if I say, it is a vain sophism to adduce in argument against this vital axiom of Liberty, the physical or mental inequalities by which men are characterized, or the unhappy degradation to which, in violation of a common brotherhood, they are doomed. To deny the Declaration of Independence is to rush on the bosses of the shield of the Almighty, which, in all respects, the present measure seems to do.
But it is suggested that slaves will not be carried into Nebraska in large numbers, and that, therefore, the question is of small practical moment. My dis tinguished colleague, [Mr. EVERETT,] in his eloquens speech, hearkened this suggestion, and allowed him self, while upholding the prohibition, to disparage its importance in a manner, from which I feel con strained kindly, but most strenuously, to dissent Sir, the census shows that it is of vital consequence. There is Missouri at this moment, with Illinois on the east and Nebraska on the west, all covering
each other in soil, climate, and productions. Mark, now, the contrast! By the potent efficacy of the Ordinance of the Northwestern Territory, Illinois is now a free State, while Missouri has 87,422 slaves; and the simple question which challenges an answer is, whether Nebraska shall be preserved in the con dition of Illinois, or surrendered to that of Missouri? Surely this can not be treated lightly.
But for myself, I am unwilling to measure the exigency of the prohibition by the number of per sons, whether many or few, whom it may protect Human rights, whether in a solitary individual or a vast multitude, are entitled to an equal and unhesitating support. In this spirit, the flag of our country only recently became the impenetrable panoply of a homeless wanderer, who claimed its protection in a distant sea; and in this spirit, I am constrained to declare that there is no place accessible to human avarice, or human lust, or human force, whether in the lowest valley, or on the loftiest mountain-top, whether on the broad flower-spangled prairies, or the snowy crests of the Rocky Mountains, where the prohibition of Slavery, like the commandments of the Decalogue, should not go.
But leaving these things behind, I press at onos to the argument.
I. And now, sir, in the name of that Public Faith, which is the very ligament of civil society, and which the great Roman orator tells us it is detestable to break even with an enemy, I arraign this scheme, and hold up to the judgment of all who hear me. There is an ear ly Italian story of an experienced citizen, who, when his nephew told him he had been studying at the uni versity of Bologna, the science of right, said in reply, "You have spent your time to little purpose. L would have been better had you learned the science of might, for that is worth two of the other:" and
the bystanders of that day all agreed that the veteran a vehement debate of three days. On a division of poke the truth. I begin, sir, by assuming that the question, the first part, prohibiting the further honorable Senators will not act in this spirit-that introduction of slaves, was adopted by 87 yeas to 76 they will not substitute might for right-that they nays; the second part, providing for the emanciwill not wantonly and flagitiously discard any obliga-pation of children, was adopted by 82 yeas to 78 tion, pledge, or covenant, because they chance to possess the power; but that, as honest men, desirous to do right, they will confront this question.
Sir, the proposition before you involves not merely the repeal of an existing law, but the infraction of solemn obligations originally proposed and assumed by the South, after a protracted and embittered contest, as a covenant of peace-with regard to certain specified territory therein described, namely: "All that Territory ceded by France to the United States, under the name of Louisiana;" according to which, in consideration of the admission into the Union of Missouri as a slave State, slavery was for ever prohibited in all the remaining part of this Territory which lies north of 36 deg. 30 min. This arrangement, between different sections of the Union-the Slave States of the first part and the Free States of the second part-though usually known as the Missouri Compromise, was at the time styled a COMPACT. In its stipulations for Slavery, it was justly repugnant to the conscience of the North, and ought never to have been made; but it has on that side been performed. And now the unperformed outstanding obligations to Freedom, originally proposed and assumed by the South, are resisted.
Years have passed since these obligations were embodied in the legislation of Congress, and accepted by the country. Meanwhile, the statesmen by whom they were framed and vindicated, have, one by one, dropped from this earthly sphere. Their living voices can not now be heard, to plead for the preservation of that Public Faith to which they were pledged. But this extraordinary lapse of time, with the complete fruition by one party of all the benefits belonging to it, under the compact, gives to the transaction an added and most sacred strength. Prescription steps in with new bonds, to confirm the original work; to the end that while men are mortal, controversies shall not be immortal. Death, with inexorable scythe, has mowed down the authors of this compact; but, with conservative hour-glass, it has counted out a succession of years, which now defile before us, like so many sentinels, to guard the sacred landmark of Freedom. A simple statement of facts, derived from the journals of Congress and contemporary records, will show the origin and nature of this compact, the influence by which it was established, and the obligations which it imposed.
As early as 1818, at the first session of the fifteenth Congress, a bill was reported to the House of Representatives, authorizing the people of the Missouri Territory to form a Constitution and State Government, for the admission of such State into the Union; but, at that session, no final action was had thereon. At the next session, in February, 1819, the bill was again brought forward, when an eminent Representative of New York, whose life has been spared till this last summer, Mr. JAMES TALLMADGE, moved a clause prohibiting any further introduction of slaves into the proposed State, and securing freedom to the children born within the State after its admission into the Union, on attaining twenty-five years of age. This important proposition, which assumed a power not only to prohibit the ingress of Slavery into the State itself, but also to abolish it there, was passed in the affirmative, after
nays. Other propositions to thwart the operation of these amendments were voted down, and on the 17th of February the bill was read a third time, and passed with these important restrictions.
In the Senate, after debate, the provision for the emancipation of children was struck out by 31 yeas to 7 nays; the other provision, against the further introduction of Slavery, was struck out by 22 yeas to 16 nays. Thus emasculated, the bill was returned to the House, which, on March 2d, by a vote of 78 nays to 76 yeas, refused its concurrence, The Senate adhered to their amendments, and the House, by 78 yeas to 66 nays, adhered to their disagreement; and so at this session the Missouri bill was lost; and here was a temporary triumph of Freedom.
Meanwhile, the same controversy was renewed on the bill pending at the same time for the orgarization of the Territory of Arkansas, then known as the southern part of the Territory of Missouri. The restrictions already adopted in the Missouri bill were moved by Mr. TAYLOR, of New York, subsequently Speaker; but after at least six close votes, on the yeas and nays, in one of which the House was equally divided, 88 yeas to 88 nays, they were lost. Another proposition by Mr. TAYLOR, simpler in form, that Slavery should not hereafter be introduced into this Territory, was lost by 90 nays to 86 yeas; and the Arkansas bill on February 25th was read the third time and passed. In the Senate, Mr. BURRILL, of Rhode Island, moved, as an amendment, the prohibition of the further introduction of Slavery into this Territory, which was lost by 19 nays to 14 yeas. And thus, without any provision for Freedom, Arkansas was organized as a Territory; and here was a triumph of Slavery.
At this same session, Alabama was admitted as a Slave State, without any restriction or objection.
It was in the discussion on the Arkansas bill, at this session, that we find the earliest suggestions of a Compromise. Defeated in his efforts to prohibit Slavery in the territory, Mr. Taylor stated that “he thought it important that some line should be designated beyond which Slavery should not be permitted." He suggested its prohibition hereafter in all territories of the United States north of 36 deg. 30 min. north latitude. This proposition, though withdrawn after debate, was at once welcomed by Mr. Livermore, of New Hampshire, "as made in the true spirit of compromise.' It was opposed by Mr. Rhea, of Tennessee, on behalf of Slavery, who avowed himself against every restriction; and also by Mr. Ogle, of Pennsylvania, on behalf of Freedom, who was "against any Compromise by which Slavery, in any of the Territories, should be recognised or sanctioned by Congress." In this spirit it was opposed and supported by others, among whom was General Harrison, afterwards President of the United States, who "assented to the expediency of establishing some such line of discrimination;" but proposed a line due west from the mouth of the Des Moines, thus constituting the northern and not the southern boundary of Missouri, the partition line between Freedom and Slavery.
But this idea of Compromise, though suggested by Taylor, was thus early adopted and vindicated in this very debate, by an eminent character, Mr. LOUIS MCLANE, of Delaware, who has since held
high office in the country, and enjoyed no common measure of public confidence. Of all the leading actors in these early scenes, he and Mr. MERCER alone are yet spared. On this occasion he said:
"The fixing of a line on the west of the Mississippi, north of which Slavery should not be tolerated, had always been with him a favorite policy, and he hoped the day was not dis tant when, upon the principles of fair compromise, it might constitutionally be effected. The present attempt he regarded as premature."
After opposing the restriction on Missouri, he concluded by declaring:
Delaware followed, both also unanimously. Ohio asserted the same principle; so did also Indiana. The latter State, not content with providing for the future, severely censured one of its Senators, for his vote to organize Arkansas without the prohibition of Slavery. The resolutions of New York were reinforced by the recommendation of DE WITT CLIN
Amidst these excitements, Congress came together in December, 1819, taking possession of these Halls of the Capitol for the first time since their desolation by the British. On the day after "At the same time, I do not mean to abandon the policy the receipt of the President's Message, two several to which I alluded in the commencement of my remarks. I think it but fair that both sections of the Union should be committees of the House were constituted, one to accoinmodated on this subject, with regard to which so consider the application of Maine, and the other of much feeling has been manifested. The same great motives Missouri, to enter the Union as separate and indeof policy which reconciled and harmonized the jarring and pendent States. With only the delay of a single discordant elements of our system originally, and which enabled the framers of our happy Constitution to compro- day, the bill for the admission of Missouri was renise the different interests which then prevailed on this ported to the House without the restriction of Slaand other subjects, if properly cherished by us, will enable very; but, as if shrinking from the immediate disus to achieve similar objects. If we meet upon principles of cussion of the great question it involved, afterwards, reciprocity, we cannot fail to do justice to all. It has alon the motion of Mr. MERCER, of Virginia, its conready been arowed, by gentlemen on this floor from the South and the West, that they will agree upon a line which shall divide sideration was postponed for several weeks; all the slaveholding from the non-slaveholding States. It is this which, be it observed, is in open contrast with the proposition I am anxious to effect; but I wish to effect it by manner in which the present discussion has been some compact which shall be binding upon all parties and all subsequent Legislatures; which cannot be changed, and will precipitated upon Congress. Meanwhile, the Maine not fluctuate with the diversity of feeling and of sentiment bill, when reported to the House, was promptly to which this empire, in its march, must be destined. There acted upon, and sent to the Senate. is a vast and immense tract of country west of the Mississippi, yet to be settled, and intimately connected with the Northern section of the Union, upon which this Compromise
can be effected."
The suggestions of Compromise were at this time vain; each party was determined. The North, by the prevailing voice of its representatives, claimed all for Freedom; the South, by its potential command of the Senate, claimed all for Slavery.
The report of this debate aroused the country. For the first time in our history, Freedom, after an animated struggle, hand to hand, has been kept in check by Slavery. The original policy of our Fathers in the restriction of Slavery was suspended, and this giant wrong threatened to stalk into all the broad national domain. Men at the North were humbled and amazed. The imperious demands of Slavery seemed incredible. Meanwhile, the whole subject was adjourned from Congress to the people. Through the press and at public meetings, an earnest voice was raised against the admission of Missouri into the Union without the restriction of Slavery. Judges left the bench and clergymen the pulpit, to swell the indignant protest which arose from good men, without distinction of party or of pursuit. The movement was not confined to a few persons, nor to a few States. A public meeting, at Trenton, in New Jersey, was followed by others in New York and Philadelphia, and finally at Worcester, Salem, and Boston, where committees were organized to rally the country. The citizens of Baltimore convened at the court-house, with the Mayor in the chair, resolved that the future admission of slaves into the States hereafter formed west of the Mississippi, ought to be prohibited by Congress. Villages, towns, and cities, by memorial, petition, and prayer, called upon Congress to maintain the great principle of the prohibition of Slavery. The same principle was also commended by the resolutions of State Legislatures; and Pennsylvania, inspired by the teachings of Franklin and the convictions of the respectable denomination of Friends, unanimously asserted at once the right and duty of Congress to prohibit Slavery west of the Mississippi, and solemnly called appealed to her sister States, "to refuse to covenant with crime." New Jersey and
In the interval between the report of the Missouri bill and its consideration by the House, a committee was constituted, on motion of Mr. TAYLOR, of New York, to inquire into the expediency of prohibiting the introduction of Slavery into the Territories west of the Mississippi. This committee, at the end of a fortnight, was discharged from further consideration of the subject, which, it was understood, would enter into the postponed debate on the Missouri bill. This early effort to interdict Slavery in the Territories by a special law is worthy of notice, on account of some of the expressions of opinion which it drew forth. In the course of his remarks, Mr. Taylor declared, that
"He presumed there were no members, he knew of none, who doubted the constitutional power of Congress to impose such a restriction on the Territorics."
A generous voice from Virgina recognised at once the right and duty of Congress. This was from Charles Fenton Mercer, who declared, that—
"When the question proposed should come fairly before the House, he should support the proposition. He should record his vote against suffering the dark cloud of inhu manity, which now darkened his country, from rolling on beyond the peaceful shores of the Mississippi."
At length, on the 26th January, 1820, the House resolved itself into Committee of the Whole on the Missouri bill, and proceeded with its discussion, day by day, till the 28th of February, when it was reported back with amendments. But, meanwhile, the same question was presented to the Senate, where a conclusion was reached earlier than in the House. A clause for the admission of Missouri was tacked to the Maine bill. To this an amendment was moved by Mr. Roberts, of Pennsylvania, prohibiting the further introduction of Slavery into the State, which, after a fortnight's debate, was defeated by 27 nays to 16 yeas.
The debate in the Senate was of unusual interest and splendor. It was especially illustrated by an effort of transcendent power from that great lawyer and orator, William Pinkney. Recently returned from a succession of missions to foreign courts, and at this time the acknowledged chief of the American bar, particularly skilled in questions of consti