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Slavery or the holding of persons as property within said Ter- Which was rejected-Yeas, 23; Nays, 33. ritory.
After various other amendments had been offere:l and Upon these amendments—the one affirming the Pro- voted upon-all relating to the power of the Territorial Slavery, and the other the Anti-Slavery position, in oppo- Legislature over Slavery-Mr. Douglas moved to strike out sition to the right of the people of the Territories to de- i all relating to African Slavery, so that the Territorial Lecide the Slavery question for themselves-Mr. Douglas said: į gislature should have the same power over that question "The position that I have ever taken has been, that this,
as over all other rightful subjects of legislation consistent and all och r questions relating to the domestic aifairs and with the Constitution—which amendment was rejecter. domestic policy of the Territories, ought to be left to the deci. After the rejection of this amendment, the discussion was sion of the people themselves; and that we ought to be con- renewed with great ability and depth of feeling in respect tent with wliatever way they may decide the question, because to the powers which the Territorial Legislature should exthey have a much deeper interest in these matters than we ercise upon the subject of Slavery. Various propositionis have, and know much better what institutions suit them than We, who have never been there, can decide for them. I would
were made, and amendments offered and rejected-all I'te therefore have much preferred that that portion of the bill lating to this one controverted point—when Mr. Norris, of should have remained as it was reported from the Commi'tee New-ifampshire, renewed the motion of Mr. Douglas, to on Territories, with no provision on the subject of Slavery, strike out the restriction on the Territorial Legislature in the one way or the other. And I do hope yet that that clause respect to African Slavery. On the 31st of July tliis will be stricken oui. lam satisfied, sir, that it gives nostrenyih amendment was adopted by a vote of 32 to 19-restoring to the bill. that it ought not to be there, because it is a riolution of princi: this section of the bisl to the form in which it was reported ple-a violation of that principle upon which we have all from the Committee on Territories on the 25th of March, rested our detense of the course we have taken on this ques. and conferring on the Territorial Legislature power over tion. I do not see how those of us who have taken the posi: "all rightful subjects of legislation consistent with the tion we have taken-that of non-intervention--and have argued Constitution of the United States," uithout excepting in favor of the right of the people to legislate for themselves on this question, can support such a provision without aban
African Sluvery. doning all the arguments which we used in the Presidential
Thus terminated this great struggle in the affirmance of campaign in the year 1818, and the principles set forih by the the principle, as the basis of the Compromise Measures of honorable Senator from Michigan (Mr. Cass) in that letter 1550, so far as they related to the organiz:ition of the Terwhich is known as the Nicholson Leiter. We are required ritories, that the people of the Territories should decide to abandon that plaiform ; we are required to abandon those the Slavery question for themselves through the action doctrine--and for whai? In order to say that the people of the of their Territorial Legislature. Territories shall not hare such institutions as they shall deem
This controverted question having been definitely setaulapteil to their condition and their wants. I do not see, sir,
tled, the Senate proceeded on the same day to consider the how such a provision can be acceptable either to the people other portions of the bill, and after striking out all except ut the North or the South."
those provisions which provided for the organization of the Upon the question of how many inhabitants a Territory
Territory of Utah, ordered the bill to be engrossed for a should contain before it should be formed into a political third reading, and on the next day--August 1, 1850—the community with the rights of self-government, Mr. Doug- bill was read a third time, and passed. las said :
On the 14th of August the bill for the organization of the “The Senator from Mississippi puts the question to me as to Territory of New-Mexico was taken up, and amended so what number of people there must be in a Territory before as to conform fully to the provisions of the Utah Act in rethis right to govern themselves accrues. Without determining spect to the power of the Territorial Legislature over "all the precise number, I will assume that the right ought to rightful subjects of legislation consistent with the Constiaccrue to the people at the moment they have enough to con- tution," without excepting African Slavery, and was orstitute a government; and, sir, the
bill assumes that there are dered to be engrossed for a third reading without a divipeople enough there to require a government, and enough to sion; and on the next day the bill was passed-Yeas, 27; authorize the people to govern themselves.
Your bill concedes that a representative government is necessary
Nays, 10. a government founded upon the principles of popular sove
These two bills were sent to the House of Representareignty and the right of a people to enact their own laws; and tives, and passed that body without any alteration in refor
this reason you give them a Legislature composed of two spect to the power of the Territorial Legislatures over the branches, like the Legislatures of the different States and subject of slavery, and were approved by President FillTerritories of the Union. legislate on all rightful subjects of legislation, except more, September 9, 1850. negroes. Why except negroes? Why except African Sla.
In 1852, when the two great political parties-Whig and very? If the inhabitants are competent to govern themselves Democratic-into which the country was then divided, asupon all other subjects, and in reference to all other descrip: sembled in National Convention at Baltimore for the purtions of property-if they are competent to make laws and pose of nominating candidates for the Presidency and determine the relations between husband and wife, and pa: Vice-Presidency, each Convention adopted and affirmed rent and child, and municipal laws affecting the rights and the principles embodied in the Compromise Measures of property of citizens generally, they are competent also 10 make laws to govern themselves in relation to Slavery and 1854 as rules of action by which they would be governed in negroes.”
all future cases in the organization of Territorial governWith reference to the protection of property in slaves, ments and the admission of new States. Mr. Douglas said :
On the 4th of January, 1554, the Committee on Territo“I have a word to say to the honorable Senator from Mis the organization of the Territory of Nebraska, reported
ries, of the Senate, to which had been referred a bill for sissippi (Mr. Davis). He insists that I am not in favor of pro: the bill back, with an amendment, in the form of a substitecting property, and that his amendment is offered for the purpose of protecting property under the Constitution. Now, tute for the entire bill, which, with some modifications, is sir, I ask you what authority he has for assuming that? Do I now known on the statute book as the “Kansas-Nebraska not desire to protect property, because I wish to allow the Act,” accompanied by a Report explaining the principles people to pass such laws as they deem proper respecting upon which it was proposed to organize those Territories, their rights to property without any exception? He might
as follows: just as well say that I am opposed to protecting property in merchandise, in steamboats, in cattle, in real estate, as to say "The principal amendments which your Committee deem it that I am opposed to protecting property of any other their duty to commend to the favorable action of the Senate, in description ; for I desire to put them all on an equality, and a special report, are those in which the principles established allow the people to make their own laws in respect to the by the Compromise Measures of 1850, so far as they are appli: whole of them."
cable to territorial organizations, are proposed to be afiirmed Mr. Cass said (referring to the amendments offered by new Territory. The wisdom of those measures is attested,
and carried into practical operation within the limits of the Mr. Davis and Mr. Chase):
not less by their salutary and beneficial effects in allaying sec. “Now, with respect to the amendments. I shall vote tional agitation and restoring peace and harmony to an irriagainst them both ; and then I shall vote in favor of striking tated and distracted people, than by the cordial and almost out the restriction in the bill upon the power of the Territorial universal approbation with which they have been received and governments. I shall do so upon this ground. I was opposed, sanctioned by the whole country, as the honorable Senator from Kentucky has declared he was, “In the judgment of your Committee, those measures were to the insertion of this prohibition by the Committee. I con intended to have a far more comprehensive and enduring sider it inexpedient and unconstitutional. I have already effect than the mere adjustment of the difficulties arising out stated my belief that the rightful power of internal legislation of the recent acquisition of Mexican territory. They were de: in the Territories belongs to the people.”
signed to establish certain great principles, which would not After further discussion the vote was taken by yeas and time to come, avoid the perils of a similar agitation, by with
only furnish adequate remedies for existing evils, but, in all nays on the amendment of Mr. Chase, and decided in the drawing the question of Slavery from the Halls of Congress negative: Yeas, 25; Nays, 30. The question recurring on and the political arena, and commtiting it to the arbitrament of the amendment of Mr. Davis, of Mississippi, it was also those who were immediately interested in and alone responsirejected: Yeas, 25; Nays, 30. Whereupon Mr. Seward ble for its consequences. With a view of conforming their offered the following amendment:
action to the setiled policy of the Government, sanctioned by
the approving voice of the American people, your Committee “ Neither Slavery nor involuntary servitude, otherwise have deemed it their duty to incorporate and perpetuate, in th an by conviction for crime, shall ever be allowed in either their territorial bill, the principles and spirit of those of said Territories of Utah and New Mexico."
After presenting and reviewing certain provisions of the of Congress, and became the law of the land by the ap. bill, the Committee conclude as follows:
proval of the President, May 30, 1854. “From these provisions it is apparent that the Compromise
In 1856, the Democratic party, assembled in National Measures of 1850 allirm and rest upon the following propo- Convention at Cincinnati, declared by a unanimous vote sitions :
of the delegates from every State in the Union, that " First.-That all questions pertaining to Slavery in the Territories, and in the new States to be formed therefrom, are “The American Democracy recognize and adopt the printo be lefi to the decision of the people residing therein, by ciples contained in the organic laws establishing the Territheir appropriate representatives to be chosen by them for tories of Kansas and Nebraska as embodying the only sound that purpose.
and safe solution of the `Slavery question,' upon which the "Second.—That all cases involving title to slaves and ques- great national idea of the people of this whole country can tions of personal freedom, are referred to the adjudication of repose in its determined conservatism of the Union-nonthe local tribunals, with the right of appeal to the Supreme interference by Congress with Slavery in State and Territory, Court of the United States.
or in the District of Columbia ; *** Third.-That the provision of the Constitution of the “That this was the basis of the Compromises of 1850, conUnited States in respect to fugitives from service, is 10 be car firmed by both the Democratic and Whis parties in National ried into faithful execution in all the organized Territories, the Conventions-ratified by the people in the election of 1852– same as in the States. The substitute for the bill which your and rightly applied to the organization of the Territories in Committee have prepared, and which is commended to the 1854; That by the uniform application of this Democratic favorable action of the Senate, proposes to carry these pro- principle to the organization of Territories and to the admis. positions and principles into practical operation, in the precise síon of new States, with or without domestic Slavery as they language of the Compromise Measures of 1850."'"
may elect, the equal rights of all will be preserved intact-che
original compacts of the Constitution maintained inviolateBy reference to that section of the “ Kansas-Nebraska ---and the perpetuity and expansion of this Union insured to Act” as it now stands on the statute book, which pre- its utmost capacity of embracing in peace and harmony any scribed and defined the power of the Territorial Legisla-future American State that may be constituted or annexed ture, it will be seen that it is, " in the precise language of with a Republican form of government." the Compromise Measures of 1850." extending the legis- In accepting the nomination of this Convention, Mr. lative power of the Territory " to all rightful subjects of Buchanan, in a letter dated June 16, 1856, said: legislation consistent with the Constitution," without ex- “The agitation on the question of domestic Slavery has too cepting African Slavery.
long distracted and divided the people of this Union, and It having been suggested, with some plausibility, during alienated their affections from each other. This agitation has the discussion of the bill, that the act of Congress of
assumed many forms since its commencement, but it now March 6, 1820, prohibiting Slavery north of the parallel from its present character, I think we may safely anticipate
seems to be directed chiefly to the Territories; and judging of 36' 30' would deprive the people of the Territory of the that it is rapidly approaching a 'finality. The recent legis. power of regulating the Slavery question to suit themselves lation of Congress respecting domestic slavery, derived, as it while they should remain in a Territorial condition, and be has been, from the original and pure fountain of legitimate fore they should have the requisite population to entitle political power, the will of the majority, promises, ere long, them to admission into the Union as a State, an amend-o allay the dangerous excitement. This legislation is founded ment was prepared by the Chairman of the Committee, accordance with them has simply declared that the people of a
upon principles as ancient as free government itself, and in and incorporated into the bill to remove this obstacle to the Territory, like those of a State, shall decide for themselves free exercise of the principle of popular sovereignty in the whether Slavery shall or shall not exist within their limits.” Territory, while it remained in a Territorial condition, by
This exposition of the history of these measures shows repealing the said act of Congress, and declaring the conclusively that the authors of the Compromise Measures true intent and meaning of all the friends of the bill in of 1850, and of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, as well these words:
as the members of the Continental Congress of 1774, and “That the Constitution and all laws of the United States the founders of our system of government subsequent to which are not locally inapplicable, shall have the same force the Revolution, regarded the people of the Territories and an i effect within the Territory as elsewhere within the United Colonies as political communities which were entitled to a States, except the eighth section of the act preparatory to the admission of Missouri into the Union, approved March 6, 1820, 1 free and exclusive power of legislation in their Provincial which being inconsistent with the principle cf non-interven: Legislatures, where their representation could alone be tion by Congress with Slavery in the States and Territories, as preserved, in all cases of taxation and internal polity. recognized by the legislation of 1856, commonly cailed the This right pertains to the people collectively as a law
Compromise Measures,' is hereby declared inoperative and abiding and peaceful community, and not to the isolated void-it being the true intent and meaning of this act not to legis- individuals who may wander upon the public domain in late Slavery into any Territory or State, nor to excluule it there;) violation of law. It can only be exercised where there are from, but to leare the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way, sulject only inhabitants sufficient to constitute a government, and cato the Constitution oj the United States.
pable of performing its various functions and duties-a To which was added, on motion of Mr. Badger, the fol. Whether the number shall be fixed at ten, fifteen or
fact to be ascertained and determined by Congress. lowing:
twenty thousand inhabitants does not affect the principle. “ Providerl, That nothing herein contained shall be con. The principle, under our political system, is that every strued to revive or put in force any law or regulation which distinct political Community, loyal to the Constitutions may have existed prior to the act of the sixth of March, 1820, and the Union, is entitled to all the rights, privileges, either protecting, establishing, of abolishing slavery."
and immunities of self-government in respect to their In this form, and with this distinct understanding of its local concerns and internal polity, subject only to tho "wue intent and meaning,” the bill passed the two houses Constitution of the United States.
SPEECH OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN, OF ILLINOIS,
Delivered at the Cooper Institute, Monday, Feb. 27, 1860.
MR. PRESIDENT AND FELLOW-CITIZENS OF NEW-YORK: In 1737, still before the Constitution, but while the The facts with which I shall deal this evening are mainly Convention was in session framing it, and while the old and familiar; nor is there anything new in the gene- Northwestern Territory still was the only Territory ral use I shall make of them. If there shall be any owned by the United States--the same question of pronovelty, it will be in the mode of presenting the facts, hibiting Slavery in the Territory again came before the and the inferences and observations following that Congress of the Confederation; and three more of the presentation.
"thirty-nine" who afterward signed the Constitution, In his speech, last autumn, at Columbus, Ohio, as were in that Congress, and voted on the question. They reported in “The New York Times," Senator Douglas were William Blount, William Few and Abraham Bald. said :
win; and they all voted for the prohibition-thus show “Our fathers, when they framed the Government un ing that, in their understanding, no line dividing local der which we live, understood this question just as well, from federal authority, nor anything else, properly and even better than we do now."
forbids the Federal Government to control as to Slavery I fully indorse this, and I adopt it as a text for this in federal territory. This time the prohibition became discourse. I so adopt it because it furnishes a precise a law, being part of what is now well known as the and an agreed starting point for a discussion between Ordinance of '87. Republicans and that wing of Democracy headed by The question of federal control of Slavery in the TerSenator Douglas. It simply leaves the inquiry : “What ritories, seems not to have been directly before the was the understanding those fathers had of the question Convention which framed the original Constitution; and mentioned ?"
hence it is not recorded that the “ thirty-nine," or any What is the frame of Government under which we of them, while engaged on that instrument, expressed live?
any opinion on that precise question. The answer must be : “ The Constitution of the United In 1789, by the first Congress which sat under the States"
That Constitution consists of the original, Constitution, an act was passed to enforce the Ordinance framed in 1787 (and under which the present Govern- of '87, including the prohibition of Slavery in the Northment first went into operation), and twelve subsequen:ly western Territory. The bill for this act was reported by framed amendments, the first ten of which were framed one of the "thirty-nine,” Thomas Fitzsimmons, then a in 1789.
member of the House of Representatives from PennsylWho were our fathers that framed the Constitution ? vania. It went through all its stages without a word of I suppose the "thirty-nine” who signed the original opposition, and finally passed both branches without instrument may be fairly called our fathers who framed yeas and nays, which is equivalent to a unanimous that part of the present Government. It is almost passage. In this Congress there were sixteen of the exactly true to say they framed it, and it is altogether thirty-nine”' fathers who framed the original Constitutrue to say they fairly represented the opinion and sen- tion. They were John Langdon, Nicholas Gilman, Wm. timent of the whole nation at that time. Their names, S. Johnson, Roger Sherman, Robert Morris, Thomas being familiar to nearly all, and accessible to quite all, Fitzsimmons, William Few, Abraham Baldwin, Rufus need not now be repeated.
King, William Patterson, George Clymer, Richard BasI take these “thirty-nine," for the present, as being sett, George Read, Pierce Butler, Daniel Carroll, James "our fathers who framed the Government under which Madison. we live."
This shows that, in their understanding, no line What is the question which, according to the text, dividing local from federal authority, nor anything in those fathers understood just as well, and even better the Constitution, properly forbade Congress to prohibit than we do now?
Slavery in the federal territory ; else both their fidelity It is this : Does the proper division of local from to correct principle, and their oath to support the Con. federal authority, or anything in the Constitution, forbid stitution, would have constrained them to oppose the our Federal Government to control as to Slavery in our prohibition. Federal Territories ?
Again, George Washington, another of the "thirtyUpon this, Douglas holds the affirmative, and Republi- nine," was then President of the United States, and, as cans the negative. This affirmative and denial form an such, approved and signed the bill, thus completing its issue ; and this issue--this question—is precisely what validity as a law, and thus showing that, in his underthe text declares our fathers understood better than we. standing, no line 'dividing local from federal authority,
Let us now inquire whether the "thirty-nine," or any nor anything in the Constitution, forbade the Federal of them, ever acted upon this question; and if they did, Government, to control as to Slavery in federal terrihow they acted upon it-how they expressed that bet- tory. ter understanding.
so great while after the adoption of the original In 1784—three years, before the Constitution—the Constitution, North Carolina ceded to the Federal United States then owning the Northwestern Territory, Government' the country now constituting the State of and no other—the Congress of the Confederation had Tennessee ; and a few years later Georgia ceded that before them the question of prohibiting Slavery in that which now constitutes the States of Mississippi and AlaTerritory; and four of the "thirty-nine," who afterward | bama. In both deeds of cession it was made a condition framed the Constitution were in that Congress, and i by the ceding States that the Federal Government voted on that question. Of these, Roger Sherman, should not prohibit Slavery in the ceded country. Thomas Mimin, and Hugh Williamson voted for the Besides this, Slavery was then actually in the ceded prohibition--thus showing that, in their understanding, country. Únder these circumstances, Congress, on no line dividing local from federal authority, nor anything taking charge of these countries, did not absolutely else, properly forbade the Federal Government to con- prohibit Slavery within them. But they did interfere trol as to Slavery in Federal Territory. The other of the with it-take control of it-even there, to a certain four --James McHenry-voted against the prohibition, extent. In 1793, Congress organized the Territory of showing that, for some cause, he thought it improper to Mississippi. In the act of organization they prohibited vote for it,
the bringing of Slaves into the Territory, from any place
VIEWS OF “THE FATHERS” ON SLAVERY PROHIBITION.
without the United States, by fine, and giving freedom from federal authority, or some provision or principle of to slaves so brought. This act passed both branches of the Constitucion, stood in the way; or they may, without Congress without yeas and nays. In that Congress any such question, have voted against the prohibition, on were three of the "thirty-nine" who framed the original what appeared to them to be sufficient grounds of expeConstitution. They were John Langdon, George Read | diency. No one who has sworn to support the Constituand Abraham Baldwin. They all, probably, voted for tion, can conscientiously vote for what he understands to it. Certainly they would have placed their opposition be an unconstitutional measure, however expedient be to it upon record, if, in their understanding, any line may think it; but one may and ought to vote against a dividing local from federal authority, or anything in the measure which he deems constitutional, if, at the same Constitution, properly forbade the Federal Government time, he deems it inexpedient. It, therefore, would be to control as to Slavery in federal territory.
unsafe to set down even the two who voted against the Iu 1803, the Federal Government purchased the Louisi- prohibition, as having done so be ause, in their underana country. Our former territorial acquisitions came standing, any proper division of local from federal aufrom certain of our own States; but this Louisiana thority, or anything in the Constitution forbade the country was acquired from a foreign nation. In 1804, Federal Government to control as to Slavery in federal Congress gave a Territorial organization to that part of territory. it which now constitutes the State of Louisiana. New The remaining sixteen of the "thirty-nine," so far as I Orleans, lying within that part, was an old and compara- bave discovered, have left no record of their understandtively large city. There were other considerable iowns ing upon the direct question of the control of Slavery in and settlements, and Slavery was extensively and the federal territories. But there is much reason to be. thoroughly intermingled with the people. Congress did | lieve that their understanding upon that question would nut, in the Territorial Act, prohibit Slavery; but they not have appeared different from that of their twentydid interfere with it take control of it-in a more marked three compeers, had it been manifested at all. and extensive way than they did in the case of Mississippi. For the purpose of adhering rigidly to the text, I have The substance of the provision therein inade, in relation purposely omitted whatever understanding may have to slaves, was :
been manifested, by any person, however distinguished, First. That no slave should be imported into the Ter- other than the thirty-nine fathers who framed the original ritory from foreign parts.
Constitution; and, for the same reason, I have also omitSecond. That no slave should be carried into it who led whatever understanding may have been manifested had been imported into the United States since the first by any of the “thirty-nine” even, on any other phase of day of May, 1798.
the general question of Slavery. If we should look into Third. That no slave shall be carried into it except by their acts and declarations on those other phases, as the the owner, and for his own use as a settler; the penalty foreign slave-trade, and the morality and policy of in all the cases being a fine upon the violator of the law, Slavery generally, it would appear to us that on the di. and freedom to the slave.
rect question of federal control of Slavery in federal This act also was passed without yeas and nays. In territories, the sixteen, if they had acted at all, would the Congress which passed it, there were two of the probably have acted just as the twenty-three did. "thirty-nine." They were Abraham Baldwin and Jona- Among that sixteen were several of the most noted antithan Daylon. As stated in the case of Mississippi, it is slavery men of those times—as Dr. Franklin, Alexander probable they both voted for it. They would not have Hamilton, and Gouverneur Morris-while there was not allowed it to pass without recording their opposition to one now known to have been otherwise, unless it may be it, if, in their understanding, it violated either the line John Rutledge, of South Carolina. proper dividing local from federal authority or any pro- The sum of the whole is, that of our "thirty-nine" vision of the Constitution.
fathers who framed the original Constitution, twenty: In 1819–20, came and passed the Missouri question. one-a clear majority of the whole-certainly understood Many votes were taken, by yeas and nays, in both that no proper division of local from federal authority branches of Congress, upon the various phases of the nor any part of the Constitution, forbade the Federal general question. Two of the " thirty-nine"--Rufus King Government to control Slavery in the federal ter.itories, and Charles Pinckney-were members of that Congress. while all the rest probably had the same understanding. Mr. King steadily voted for Slavery prohibition and Such, unquestionably, was the understanding of our against all compromises, while Mr. Pinckney as steadily fathers who framed the original Constitution; and the voted against Slavery prohibition and against all compro- text affirms that they understood the question better mises. By this Mr. King showed that, in his understand than we. ing, no line dividing local from federal authority, nor But, so far, I have been considering the understanding anything in the Constitution, was violated by Congress of the question manifested by the framers of the original prohibiting Slavery in federal territory; while Mr. Pinck- Constitution. In and by the original instrument, a mode ney, by his votes, showed that in his understanding there was provided for amending it; and, as I have already was sufficient reason for opposing such prohibition in stated, the present frame of Government under which that case.
we live consists of that original, and twelve amendatory The cases I have mentioned are the only acts of the articles framed and adopted since. Those who now insist "thirty-nine," or of any of them, upon the direct issue, that federal control of Slavery in federal territories vio. which I have been able to discover.
lates the Constitution, point us to the provisions which To enumerate the persons who thus acted, as being four they suppose it thus violates; and, as I understand, they in 1784, three in 1787, seventeen in 1789, three in 1793, all fix upon provisions in these amendatory articles, and two in 1804, and two in 1819–20—there would be thirty- not in the original instrument. The Supreme Court, in one of them. But this would be counting John Langdon, the Dred Scott case, plant themselves upon the fiftb Roger Sherman, William Few, Rufus King, and George amendment, which provides that “no person shall be de Read, each twice, and Abraham Baldwin four times. The prived of property without due process of law;" while true number of those of the thirty-nine" whom I have Senator Douglas and his peculiar adherents plant themshown to have acted upon the question, which, by the selves upon the tenth amendment, providing that the text they understood better than we, is twenty-three, powers not granted by the Constitution, are reserved to leaving sixteen not shown to have acted upon it in any the States respectively, and to the people.”
Now, it so happens that these amendments were framed Here, then, we have twenty-three out of our “ thirty by the first Congress which sat under the Constitutionnine" fathers who framed the Governinent under which the identical Congress which passed the act alieady menwe live, who have, upon their official responsibility and tioned, enforcing the prohibition of Slavery in the norththeir corporal oaths, acted upon the very question which western Territory. Not only was it the same Congress, the text affirms they understood just as well, and even but they were the identical, same individual men, who, betier than we do now;" and twenty-one of them-a at the same session, and at the same time within the sesclear majority of the whole “thirty-nine"-so acting up- sion, had under consideration, and in progress toward on it as to make them guilty of gross political impropriety, maturity, these Constitutional amendments, and this act and willful perjury, if, in their understanding, any proper prohibiting Slavery in all the Territory the nation then division between local and federal authority, or anything owned. The Constitutional amendments were introduced in the Constitution they had made themselves, and sworn before, and passed after the act enforcing the Ordinance, to support, forbade the Federal Government to control as of '87, so that during the whole pendency of the act to to Slavery in the federal territories. Thus the twenty- enforce the ordinance, the Constitutional amendments one acted ; and, as actions speak louder than words, so were also pending actions under such responsibility speak still louder.
l'hat Congress, consisting in all of seventy-six memTwo of the twenty-three voted against Congressional bers, including sixteen of the framers of the original Conprobibition of Slavery in the federal Territories in the institution, as before stated, were preëininently our fathers stances in which they acted upon the question. But for who framed that part of the Government under which we what reason they so voted is not known. They may have live, which is now claimed as forbidding the Federal done so because they thought a proper division of local Governinent to control Slavery in the Federal Territories
It is not a little presumptuous in any one at this day to licans." In all your contentions with one another, each afirm that the two things which that Congress deliber- of you deems an unconditional condemnation of “Black ately framed, and carried to maturity at the same time, Republicanism” as the first thing to be attended to. Inure absolutely inconsistent with each other? And does deed such condemnation of us seems to be an indispensa. not such affirmation become impudently absurd when ble prerequisite-license, so to speak, among you to be ad coupled with the other affirmation, froin the same mouth, titted or permitted to speak at all. that those who did the two things alleged to be inconsis- Now, can you, or not, be prevailed upon to pause and to tent understood whether they really were inconsistent consider whether this is quite just to us, or even to your better than we-better than he who affirms that they are selves? inconsistent ?
Bring forward your charges and specifications, and then It is surely safe to assume that the "thirty-nine" be patient long enough to hear us deny or justify. framers of the original Constitution, and the seventy-six You say we are sectional. We deny it. That makes an members of the Congress which framed the amnendinents issue: and the burden of proof is upon you. thereto, taken together, do certainly include those who duce your proof; and what is it? Why, that our party may be fairly called “our fathers who framed the Gov. has no existence in your section-gets no votes in your ernment under which we live." And so assuming, I section. The fact is substantially true; but does it prove dely any man to show that any one of them ever, in his the issue ? If it does, then in case we should, without whole life, declared that, in his understanding, any change of principle, begin to get votes in your section, we proper division of local from federal authority, or any should thereby cease to be sectional. You cannot escape part of the Constitution, forbade the Federal Govern this conclusion; and yet, are you willing to abide by it? ment to control as to Slavery in the federal territories. If you are, you will probably soon find that we have I go a step further. I defy any one to show that any ceased to be sectional, for we shall get votes in your secliving man in the whole world ever did, prior to the be- tion this very year. You will then begin to discover, as ginning of the present century (and I might almost say the truth plainly is, that your proof does not touch the prior to the beginning of the last half of the present cen. issue. The fact that we get no votes in your section is a tury) declare that, in his understanding, any proper fact of your making, and not of ours. And if there be division of local from federal authority, or any part of fault in that fact, that fault is primarily yours, and rethe Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to mains so until you show that we repel you by some wrong control as to Slavery in the federal territories. To those principle or practice. If we do repel you by any wrong who now so declare, I give, not only " our fathers who principle or practice, the fault is ours; but this brings you framed the Governmeat under which we live." but with to where you ought to have started—to a discussion of the them ail other living men within the century in which it right or wrong of our principle. If our principle, put in Was framed, among whom to search, and they shall not be practice, would wrong your section for the benefit of ours, able to find the evidence of a single man agreeing with or for any other object, then our principle, and we with it, thein,
are sectional, and are justly opposed and denounced as Now, and here, let me guard a little against being mis such. Meet us, then, on the question of whether our prinanderstood. I do not mean to say we are bound to follow ciple, put in practice, would wrong your section; and so implicitly in whatever our fathers did. To do so, would be meet it as if it were possible that something may be said 10 discard all the lights of current experience to reject on our side. Do you accept the challenge? No? Then .all progress-all improvement. What I do say is, that if you really believe that the principle which our fathers who We would supplant the opinions and policy of our fathers framed the Government under which we live thought so in any case, we should do so upon evidence so conclusive, clearly right as to adopt it, and indorse it again and and argument so clear, that even their great authority, again, upon their official oaths, is, in fact, so clearly fairly considered ard weighed, cannot stand; and most wrong as to demand your condemnation without a mosurely not in a case whereof we ourselves déclare they ment's consideration. understood the question better than we.
Some of you delight to flaunt in our faces the warning di any man, at this day, sincerely believes that a against sectional parties given by Washington in his proper division of local from federal authority, or any Farewell Address. Less than eight years before Washpart of the Constitution, forbids the Federal Government ington gave that warning he had, as President of the iu control as to Slavery in the federal territories, he is United States, approved and signed an act of Congress enright to say so, and to enforce his position by all truthful forcing the prohibition of Slavery in the northwestern Terrievidence and fair arguinent which he can. But he has no tory, which act embodied the policy of the Government right to mislead others, who have less access to history upon that subject, up to and at the very moment he and less leisure to study it, into the false belief that “our penned that warning; and about one year after he penned fathers, who framed the Government under which we it he wrote Lafayette, that he considered that prohibition live," were of the same opinion-thus substituting false. a wise measure, expressing in the same connection his hood and deception for truthful evidence and fair argu- hope that we should sometime have a confederacy of free
If any man at this day sincerely believes “our States. fathers, who framed the Government under which we Bearing this in mind, and seeing that sectionalism has live,” used and applied principles, in other cases, which since arisen upon this same subject, is that warning a ought to have led them to understand that a proper weapon in your hands against us, or, in our hands, against division of local from federal authority or some part of the you? Could Washington himself speak, would he cast the Constitution, forbids the federal government to control blame of that sectionalism upon us, who'sustain his policy, as to Slavery in the Federal Territories, he is right to say or upon you, who repudiate it? We respect that warning
But he should, at the same time, brave the responsi- of Washington, and we commend it to you, together with bility of declaring that, in his opinion, he understands his example pointing to the right application of it. their principles better than they did themselves ; and But you say you are conservative--eminently conservaespecially should he not shirk that responsibility by as- tive-while we are revolutionary, destructive, or some serting that they " understood the question just as well, thing of the sort. What is conservatism? Is it not ad. and even better, than we do now."
herence to the old and tried, against the new and untried ! But enough. Let all who believe that “our fathers, We stick to, contend for, the identical old policy on the who framed the Government under which we live, under point in controversy which was adopted by our fathers stood the question just as well, and even better, than we who framed the Government under which we live; while do now,'' speak as they spoke, and act as they acted upon you, with one accord, reject, and scout, and spit upon that it. This is all Republicans ask-all Republicans desire old policy, and insist upon substituting something new. in relation to Slavery. As those fathers marked it. so let True, you disagree among yourselves as to what that subit be again marked, as an evil not to be extended, but to be stitute shall be. You have considerable variety of new tolerated and protected only because of and so far as its propositions and plans, but you are unanimous in rejecting actual presence among us makes that toleration and pro- and denouncing the old policy of the fathers. Some of tection a necessity. Let all the guaranties those fathers you are for reviving the foreign slave-trade; some for a congave it, be not grudgingly, but fully and fairly, main gressional slave-code for the Territories ; some for Contained. For this Republicans contend, and with this, so gress forbidding the Territories to prohibit Slavery within far as I know or believe, they will be content.
their limits; some for maintaining Slavery in the Territa And now, if they would listen, as I suppose they will ries through the judiciary; some for the “gur-reat pur-rinnot, I would address a few words to the southern peo- ciple" that “if one man would enslave another, no third ple.
person should object," fantastically called "Popular SoI would say to them: You consider yourselves a reason- ! vereignty;" but never a man among you in favor of fedeable and a just people; and I consider that in the general ral prohibition of Slavery in Federal Territories, according qualities of reason and justice you are not inferior to any to the practice of our fathers who framed the Government other people. Still, when you speak of us Republicans, under which we live. Not one of all your various plans .you do so only to denounce us as reptiles, or, at the best, can show a precedent or an advocate in the century withas no better than outlaws. You will grant á hearing to in which our Government originated. Consider, then, ipirates or murderers, but nothing like it to “Black Bepub- whether your claim of conservatism for yourselves, and