Page images
[ocr errors]

33D CONG....2D SESS.

Execution of United States Laws-Debate.

Revolution, and the feelings which have united, and still unite, me to my northern brethren. İ shall not suffer this exhibition of bad faith, of unkindness, and of want of generosity, to influence me, if I can possibly avoid it, for I know it is not the feeling of the great North or the great West. Mr. WADE. Mr. President, it was not my desire or wish to stir up any ill feeling, although the Senator from Georgia accuses me of it. I have none but the kindest feelings for all concerned in this controversy; but as I understand it so must I state it. I think we have gone far enough on this subject to be plain with each other. There is no use in attempting any longer to plaster over this wound. I tell you, sir, there must be good feeling and forbearance on both sides, if you intend to escape a rupture. We stand here accused of being the aggressors, and I have asked in what we have aggressed. I have undertaken to state a little of the history of the past connected with former excitements on this subject. It is said, however, that my memory is at fault. If so, my excuse is to be found in the fact that we have been unwillingly driven into this discussion without being allowed a single moment to prepare for it.

from the disasters which were threatened at the time? Threatened by whom? Not by the North. For what purpose did any of your eminent and distinguished men go to Nashville? What did you proclaim you would do there? Was it to invite a general convention of all the people of the States to take into consideration any of the great interests of the whole country, or did you meet there to devise ways and means whereby you could break the bonds of this Union, and march out of the Confederacy? I will ask the Senator from eorgia whether he has not frequently known southern conventions to meet for the purpose of deliberating upon subjects not at all pertaining to the general administration of the Governmentconventions of southern men meeting together to consult how best they could depreciate the interests of the North and build up their own? Has not the Senator himself presided in such conventions? And what would he think now of a convention assembling in the northern States to take into consideration matters pertaining to themselves, to build up their commerce, to build up interests in opposition and in derogation to those of the South? Men standing obnoxious to the charge of getting up such southern conventions, continually come here and tell us that we are aggressors. This is strange doctrine. What have we ever done except to bear and forbear, and when threats of dissolution have been thundered forth continually, not by us―

Mr. DAWSON. If the speech of the Senator from Ohio is to go out with these references to myself, it becomes necessary that the country should understand this subject. I do not know the object of the Senator, or what he intends to effect by his own statements.

Mr. WADE. I am barely replying to the Sen


Mr. DAWSON. But you appealed to me, and asked me if I had not presided over southern conventions calculated in their character to impair the rights of the North. I answer, never, sir, in my tife; and it is the first time in any place, or on any occasion, that I have heard such a charge made. There have been southern and southwestern conventions called for the purpose of regulating the internal trade, and carrying on our internal improvements, at which gentlemen from your own State, from Indiana, and other free States, were present; and the idea of disunion, or doing an act of injustice to the North, or violating any constitutional right, never entered into the mind of a single individual in those conventions. Their debates were all published, and not even the newspapers of the day made such an insinuation.

i repeat, again, that I presume this discussion is for the purpose of irritation; that the object of the Senator is to inflame one section against the other. I can see no other purpose; but the Senator's references to history and past transactions ought to have been better adjusted, so that insinuations might not be made against gentlemen who have always been for this Union, and who have always been patriotic.

In presiding over the conventions which have been alluded to I set forth my views. Let them be obtained to-day and read, and if there is anything but Union feeling, but patriotism, but just appreciation of the rights of every section of this country to be found in them, I will submit. If If there ever was a resolution presented calculated to impair the affection of one section of the country towards another, I will yield the point. But, sir, 1 do deprecate this off-hand manner of speaking, which is calculated to bring into the discussion the names of individuals who do not desire to enter into it. I say it is wrong. I have endeavored to restrain my feelings about it; but, I say, if it is the determination of this class of politicians to bring this country into confusion, to create excitement, to produce the dissolution of the Union, let them come out and state so manfully; let them not avoid the point at issue. I am a lover of this Union; but I, for one, seek to have no alliance with a class of men, or of politicians, who do not desire to associate with me in preserving this Union.

Sir, my whole life is well understood; my whole course has been that of a Union man, and I trust that of a patriot. I have stood by this Union almost as long as any man ought to stand. 1 have a sacred regard for the memories of the NEW SERIES.-No. 15.


I have already told you that I did not know such a bill was pending until it was called up this morning. I have only alluded to those things in regard to which it is said my memory is at fault, in reply to the assertion that the North are aggressors. I say we are not aggressors. I say there has been an undeviating, unfailing purpose constantly to extend the institution of slavery. I tell you, sir, that last winter's legislation is, above all other things, an aggression which cannot and will not be tolerated. I should be false to you of the South, and false to the North, if I stood here to cry "peace, peace,' when I know there is no peace. I tell you you must retrace your steps, you must put us statu quo ante bellum before you talk of peace. That is one of the points which must be settled before there will be cordiality, before there can be peace. Do you suppose that we whose political equality on the floors of Congress is hewed down and destroyed by your institution of slavery, will look complacently on your endeavor to spread your institution over a region as large as the old thirteen States from which it was solemnly excluded by a sacred guarantee? Who talks to us of aggression in the face of an act like that? Sir, I tell you you have gone as far as the people will bear. I do not say so by way of threat, because I am not in the habit of making threats. I am only replying to the threats of others as well as I can. I am speaking only of a state of things which all of you must know. No man can fail to understand the feelings of the North on this subject.


Now, while they are struggling to recover the ground lost by the dereliction of northern men at the last session of Congress, while they are struggling to place themselves back in the condition in which they stood before that enactment, when they are very sensitive upon the subject, is it wise, prudent, or proper for you to come in here with a bill which threatens to deprive the States of their power to vindicate their own citizens from your aggressions, and which carries with it, as I said before, an implication that the States are not to be trusted in the administration of the Constitution of the United States? Let me inform you again that your time is ill-chosen. We of the free States, in order to escape annihilation, are compelled to stand up for our rights. For myself I need no prompting on this subject. I claim to feel as ninety-nine hundredths of my constituents feel upon it; and, therefore, in opposing this bill I do no more than they would require at my hands if they were here. My own sense of propriety compels me to tell you the truth. Have you not witnessed the uprising of the North, where the people, snapping the bonds of party like a pipe stem, have come up and united together on the slavery question, to roll back, if it may be, the tide of battle which went so disastrously against them at the last session; and now upon the heels of that, is brought forward a proposition more invidious, more calculated to wake them up to a sense of their position than even your Nebraska bill itself. When such a state of things is presented do you suppose that the men of the North,


the representatives of those who are struggling in this great cause, are to stand forth here like sucking doves to beg of you to stay your hands? No, sir; I am not made of that kind of stuff. This is an aggression on our rights, and I am not afraid to tell you so. I blame no man of the South for it, for I have not seen as yet the finger of the South in it. I say it is distasteful to the North; it is in contravention of the rights of the States; and it will be met in the same spirit in which the North met the Nebraska bill. It would have been better for those who wish for peace and harmony between sections, if they had not brought in this most unnecessary and most exciting bill.

What necessity is there for it? The Senator from Maine [Mr. FESSENDEN] commented upon that subject. He has asked you to tell us why, now, after waiting for more than half a century without discovering any occasion for such a law as is here proposed, you should at this particular time, at the heel of the session, crowded with legitimate business, introduce this exciting topic? When I stand up to vindicate, as well as I may, the rights of my State which I think are assailed; when on a sudden, having been given no time for preparation, I make the best defense I can, I am accused of being an agitator. Sir, if so, I glory in the name. I will ever meet your aggressions with what I have of spirit; I will make what opposition I can, knowing full well that I am only doing what my constituents expect and require at my hands, and if I failed to do it, they would justly consider me as recreant to my duty.

Mr. President, the accusation is not true that I stand here for the purpose of arguing this question in order to agitate and irritate gentlemen. I have no such wish. I have no other desire than to ask gentlemen to reflect and see if they do not believe the bill is fraught with more evil than good to the institutions of the country. The Senator from Louisiana, in his closing remarks, paid a beautiful tribute to the Union of these States. 1 agree fully with him on that point. I admit all the advantages of the Union; but nevertheless, I cannot fail to see that here is a sectional controversy, a determination on the one side to carry slavery over the whole of this continent, which, if persisted in, will be met and met firmly, and no invocation to the beauties and glories of this Union will save us from that collision to which this attempt must necessarily lead. I have no fears that there will be a dissolution of the Union; but when we are threatened by southern gentlemen with dissolution, I must say to them, as a northern man, that I have great confidence in the ability of the North to take care of themselves. While I am no advocate for disunion, I must say, in reply to those who threaten its dissolution, that even if that disastrous result should come, the free North will survive the shock. I have no fears but that each section may take care of itself, and least of all have I any fear for the section to which I belong.

I say, then, to gentlemen, argue anything else, say anything else, but do not threaten dissolution, because it has no terrors for me. If this great people cannot find it to be their common interest to keep together, I know full well they will not remain united. The very moment a majority of the North and South shall find that it is incompatible with their interest to be united, they will separate, and nothing can prevent it. Let me assure gentlemen that nothing will lead to such a result sooner than the introduction, at times like this, of bills of this description, without any regard to the feelings or principles of the free North. Here it is proposed, by the power of the Federal courts, to go into the free States, override their jurisdiction, take from them a man who has to be adjudged by them, carry him off from his home, to be tried before your Federal tribunals. Do you believe you can execute it against the settled convictions of the North? The Senator from Connecticut said, if I understood him aright, that this was necessary because the feelings of the whole North had risen up in opposition to the Nebraska bill. Mr TOUCEY. Do you refer to me? Mr. WADE. Yes, sir.

Mr. TOUCEY. I said no such thing. Mr. WADE. Then why is there necessity for your bill? If there is no such thing in existence; if the people are all loyal, and willing to execute

Execution of United States Laws-Debate.


any falsity, but having the same meaning as a
man has when he says
contrary to the facts of
the case. In using such language you make no
imputation at all.


Mr. MASON. I rise to a question of order. The PRESIDING OFFICER. This question must be decided without debate.

33D CONG....2D SESS.

the decrees of your laws, I ask again, where is the necessity for your bill?

Mr. TOUCEY. The necessity of the billMr. BUTLER. Will my friend from Connecticut allow me, [Mr. TOUCEY. Certainly.] and I am sure the Senator from Ohio will.

Mr. WADE. Yes, sir.

Mr. BUTLER. I shall not even be betrayed or provoked into this debate; but, sir, it is a debt of justice to my honorable friend from Connecticut, upon whom the gentleman from Ohio has poured out his wrathful and scornful indignation, without any regard to justice; without any regard to the truth

Mr. SUMNER. I call the Senator to order.
Mr. WADE. Never mind.

Mr. BUTLER. I say, sir, without any regard to the truth of the transaction, as far as I can understand its recorded history. Now let the gentleman call me to order.

Mr. BRIGHT. I hope the gentleman will state his point of order.

[ocr errors]

Mr. BUTLER. Sir, I had not finished my


Mr. SUMNER. The point of order I state is that the Senator from South Carolina has charged & Senator on this floor with want of truth. Mr. BRIGHT. He has not charged half that is true.

Mr. MASON. The rule requires the point of order to be in writing. Let the Senator from Massachusetts put it in writing.

Mr. RUSK. Put it down.

Mr. BUTLER. I do not want anything of that kind.

Mr. BRIGHT. Let him put his charge down | in writing.

Several Senators addressed the Chair. Mr. MASON. Let us get through with this point of order before anything else is done.

The PRESIDING OFFICER, (Mr. WELLER in the chair.) The Chair will entertain the point of order if it be reduced to writing, but not otherwise.

Mr. WADE. I hope the Senator from South Carolina will be permitted to go on. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Senators will suspend until the point of order is decided. Mr. MASON. Let it be reduced to writing. Mr. BUTLER. The gentleman from Ohio has a much higher perception of his own dignity and what is due to himself, than has his

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from South Carolina is out of order. No remarks can be indulged in until the point of order is decided, and it must be reduced to writing.

Mr. BUTLER. I would have explained that I meant no personal

Mr. WADE. Go on, and explain. Mr. BUTLER. No, sir, let the question of order be put in writing and decided, since it is insisted on.

Mr. MASON. Let it be reduced to writing. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The following point of order is made in writing by the Senator from Massachusetts: "The Senator from South Carolina charged the Senator from Ohio with a want of truth."

Mr. BUTLER. I did not so charge him. Mr. MASON. I understand the rules to be that the words must be written down. Let him write down the words of the Senator from South Carolina.

Mr. RUSK. The writing which the Senator has sent up is no point of order under the rule. Mr. BAYARD. I presume it all arises from a misconception

Mr. RUSK. Will the Senator allow me? The rule requires that when a Senator is called to order the words must be written down in full, not an ad captandum abtract.

Mr. BAYARD. I think I had the floor. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The rule is that the words must be reduced to writing.

Mr. BADGER. They must be reduced to writing before anybody has the floor.

Mr. BAYARD. The words put down are not the words which were used by the Senator from South Carolina, and no man except one under extreme bias could have so understood him. The words used by the Senator from South Carolina, I think were "contrary to truth," not imputing

Several SENATORS. Let the words be written. Mr. SUMNER. [Having obtained the precise words from Mr. D. F. Murphy, one of the shorthand writers for the Globe, who then occupied the reporters' chair.] The language employed was as follows: "It is a debt of justice to my honorable friend from Connecticut, upon whom the gentleman from Ohio has poured out his wrathful and scornful indignation, without any regard to justice, without any regard to the truth. These words I object to as contrary to order.


Mr. DAWSON. The Senator from South Carolina immediately followed that by the expression "as shown by the record," or something of that


The PRESIDING OFFICER. The language sent to the Chair by the Senator from Massachusetts was used by the Senator from South Carolina, but with additional words, which showed upon their face that all that he said was only an impeachment of the memory of the Senator from Ohio. The Chair did not understand it to be an impeachment of his veracity.

Mr. SUMNER and Mr. CHASE. Let us hear the other words.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. They were "as shown by the record," or "as shown by the history of the transaction," or something similar. The Chair undertakes, then, to decide that the whole language which escaped the Senator from South Carolina was not out of order, because it was simply an impeachment of the memory of the Senator from Ohio, and not an impeachment of his veracity.

Mr. BUTLER. I did not even intend to impeach his memory, but simply to impeach his want of information. The Senator from Massachusetts, sir, has put his hand in too soon. I believe my courtesy towards the gentleman from Ohio is generally rather cordial, and I do not believe I would ever allow myself to violate, I will not say the beautiful proprieties which should characterize the conduct of men occupying the relations of gentlemen. I know, sir, under what sanctions I speak when I speak here as a gentleman at least, and I had not the least idea of throwing an impeachment on his personal veracity.

I said that I owed a debt of justice to my honorable friend from Connecticut. I must stand here and perform my duty as chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, of which my honorable friend from Connecticut is a member. It has been said by the Senator from Ohio that this measure could be borne if it had originated with and been advocated by southern men; but that, when it came from a northern man, it was one of those things that was to be treated with scorn and contempt. Now, what is the situation of my honorable friend from Connecticut? Did this originate with him? Is it the truth? Let the Senator from Massachusetts call me to order again. The fact is, Mr. President, that this matter came before the committee by a regular reference. It was referred to them upon petitions, resolutions, and remonstrances I may say, from many of the district attorneys, marshals, and I may add, judges of the Federal courts of the United States, and they came from the free States. The subject was fairly referred to the committee, and it devolved upon my friend from Connecticut, indifferently, without regard to sections, to make the report as he did by the direction of the committee. I believe I was the only one-but we ought not to mention what takes place in committee, and I shall not do so. My friend is and has been acting upon the authority of the committee, and not on his own mere motion, as my honorable friend from Missouri [Mr. GEYER] can bear testimony. I said that I rose to do justice to that honorable gentleman, [Mr. ToUCEY.] Why, sir, if I can state what took place in the committee, but I believe I


Mr. BRODHEAD. You can state it.
Mr. BUTLER. Can I?

Mr. BRODHEAD. Certainly.


Mr. JONES, of Tennessee. State it all. Mr. BUTLER. Since it is to be disclosed, I will state that I told the committee, substantially: "Gentlemen, I am the chairman of this committee; but when it is said that a constitutional law of Congress cannot be enforced in the State courts, and that an individual discharging the duties of an officer under the authority of the Constitution and laws of the United States is to be made a victim by the decision of an irresponsible multitude, in the form of a court, what am I to think? Are you asking for a law against public opinion? I say, gentlemen, this has gone further than you think." Now, I will say, sir, that my friend from Connecticut then remarked: As long as we are in this Confederacy-and he hoped it might continue-he was for preserving the constitutional legislation of Congress; not as a northern man, not as a southern man, but as a jurist, a statesman, and a gentleman, as he is, and a patriot, as I firmly believe. He did not originate it. The fact is, there were petitions poured in upon that committee, and I believe I was the only one who said nothing upon the subject. The committee authorized my friend from Connecticut to report the bill; and, allow me to say, he stands here in this temple of the Constitution maintaining his rights upon the altar of the Constitution of his country, not as a northern or a southern man, but as the organ of the Judiciary Committee of this body, desiring to preserve the Constitution of the United States.


Mr. WADE. Mr. President, I hope I shall not be considered responsible for the interruptions which have taken place. I said nothing derogatory that I know of to the Senator from Connecticut, any more than is to be found in the fact that he, as a northern man, was, so far as I could see, (and that is all I accused him of,) responsible for this bill. I did not know who stood behind him, nor did I say who stood behind him. I said I had seen nobody's finger in it except that of the Senator from Connecticut. Now we have had some other disclosures. I suppose the Senator from Connecticut does not pretend that there is anything derogatory to him in a bill which he has deliberately reported. I have not stood here to impugn his motives, but I have stood here to deplore the fact that such a bill should come before us from a northern man, as I understand to be the fact.

[blocks in formation]

Mr. WADE. I give way.

Mr. RUSK. I ask the honorable Senator if the bill does not come from the Committee on the Judiciary?

Mr. WADE. I suppose it does. I am so informed.

Mr. RUSK. Does he not know that it came from the Committee on the Judiciary? Is not that manifest on the records of the Senate

Mr. WADE. I can say that I have no doubt of it, and I have not denied it.

Mr. RUSK. Well, then, it is very easy to admit it.

Mr. WADE. I have been speaking of its advocates. No man has heard me say where the bill originated. I said I saw no man's finger and no man advocating it, when I spoke before, except northern men; and at that time the remark was strictly true; for nobody had advocated it but the Senator from Illinois and the Senator from Connecticut.

Mr. SEWARD. Will the Senator from Ohio excuse me for a moment, in order that I may make a statement which I think is necessary to make this matter understood?

Mr. WADE. With pleasure, sir.

Mr. SEWARD. Although it is undoubtedly true that this bill was brought in on a report from a committee, it is also true that there are no papers with the bill, and it is indorsed on the back of the bill, "no papers."

Mr. DOUGLAS. What necessity is there for

[ocr errors]

33D CONG....2D SESS.

stating that? Is not the Senator from Ohio able to get authority to sustain his own statements? Mr. RUSK. On the face of the bill this appears: "In the Senate of the United States, February 17, 1855, Mr. ToucEY, from the Committee on the Judiciary, reported the following bill; which was read, and passed to a second reading." That appears on the face of the bill, which is on file in every Senator's desk.

Execution of United States Laws-Debate.

States under which they live, impliedly accusing
them of a want of loyalty to the Constitution of
the United States; and therefore, if I may believe
what the honorable Senator from South Carolina
now says, they, on their own motion, have stepped
in here to vindicate what they conceive to be the
rights of the South.

Mr. TOUCEY. Mr. President, perhaps I ought to reply to the statement of the Senator from New York. This subject was first committed to the Senator from Georgia, who is absent, [Mr. TOOMBS,] with the papers, and the papers are supposed to be in his possession. After his absence, it was put into my hands, and I have reported this bill by the direction of the committee, and it has my full and hearty concurrence.

Mr. GEYER. In reference to the remark of the Senator from New York, I beg leave to say that it is not customary to report back, with public bills, the petitions and resolutions on which they are based, and which were referred to the committee reporting the bill. When such matters are referred to them, they may report a public bill, and it is stated on its face that it is supported by the authority of the committee, but it is not usual in such cases to submit reports and papers. When a private bill is reported, the evidence on which it is based, is always reported with it. In regard to public bills, the case is different.

Mr. WADE. Mr. President, this only shows what I was contending for before. I now learn, if I understand the gentleman aright, that this bill originated with the Senator from Georgia, [Mr. TOOMBS.]

Mr. BUTLER.. Not at all. You are wrong every way.

Mr. WADE. What did the Senator from Connecticut say on that subject?

Mr. BUTLER. The Senator from Connecticut said what was the fact, that when these papers were sent to the Committee on the Judiciary from a very high source, I may be allowed to sayfrom those persons concerned in the enforcement of the public laws, they were referred to the Senator from Georgia, [Mr. TooMBS,] and not to the Senator from Connecticut, [Mr. TOUCEY,] to draw up a bill. Mr. PETTIT. The Senator from Georgia is absent.

[ocr errors]

Mr. BUTLER. The absence of the Senator from Georgia was the only reason why we referred it to the Senator from Connecticut.

Mr. WADE. I understand they referred it to the Senator from Georgia, and in his absence the Senator from Connecticut took the authority upon himself.

Mr. BUTLER. No such thing.

[ocr errors]

Mr. WADE. At any rate he went with willingness into the matter.

Mr. BUTLER. I referred it to him myself, and I asked him to take charge of the bill, and|| report it. Mr. WADE. Certainly, sir. I had very little doubt that the inception of this measure was in a southern latitude.

Mr. BUTLER. It was not so, sir. I stand here to contradict that, and the gentleman from Massachusetts may now call me to order if he pleases. It did not originate in a southern lati-, tude.

Mr. President, before I was interrupted I had said pretty much all that I proposed to say, and more than I originally intended to say when I rose, because my object in again addressing the Senate was principally to set the Senator from Illinois right in his idea that the result of the late election in Ohio had been brought about by the party called Know-Nothings. I certainly think I have shown that he is entirely mistaken in that. I have pointed him to the fact that in those places where foreigners most abound, as in Cincinnati and in Cleveland, the anti-Nebraska majority was the largest. He then is utterly mistaken in the idea that this great revolution was brought about by any such thing as Know-Nothingism. I am willing that he shall flatter himself that such is the fact; but, sooner or later, he will wake up to understand that the whole free North have risen with the determination that they will undo what was done against their will, against their protestations, and against all they could do to prevent the passage of that bill by their representatives here. Glory to the name of the great State of Ohio. Not a Nebraska man from that State will obscure the doors and the Hall of the House of Representatives in the next Congress. Not a man on whose skirts there is the least smoke of the unholy fire, not a man suspected of the least leaning to that bill will be there to represent her. No matter whether he was Whig, Democrat, Free-Soiler, or Know-Nothing, if he wavered upon that point, if he stopped to doubt over it, if he hesitated at all, that doubt, that hesitation, was political death, from which there was and will be no resurrection.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator is out of order now; the Senator from Ohio is entitled to the floor.

Mr. WADE. If it did not originate in a southern latitude my first suspicion is true, that it ginated with northern men. [Laughter.] There it is, just as I insinuated before; northern men are responsible for this. Now, let me ask, is it not rather surprising that they should have entered upon a measure which southern honor discards? Is not this the very thing of which I accused them? Sir, I doubt whether there is any southern man who is imbued with their high principles of State rights, who would advise the introduction of a bill of this kind, for, most assuredly, as I understand the bill, it outrages every principle they profess to hold dear. It seems, however, that it has devolved on northern men to stand here and abet their peculiar interest by the passage of this bill, discarding the courts of the

Mr. DOUGLAS here addressed the Senate, but his speech, retained for revision, could not be obtained in time for insertion here. It will be found in a subsequent part of this volume.

Mr. GILLETTE. Mr. President, I regret the necessity of trespassing upon the patience of the Senate at this late hour of the session; but since Connecticut has been made to lead off in this new conflict for the defense of slavery by my colleague, who reported the bill before us, I feel myself called upon to represent what I think to be her true sentiments, and vindicate her good name from dishonor. I am free to say, sir, that no other State in this Union more deeply abhors the fugitive act of 1850 than Connecticut; and to no other State could this bill, being intended as a sequel to that act, be more distasteful and odious.

[blocks in formation]


Now, Mr. President, I believe this to be true, literally, historically, humiliatingly true. And in proof of this, I would first call the attention of the Senate to the action of the Federal Government in relation to the District in which we are assembled. Let us begin here. This Government has enacted laws over the National District which are a violation of every principle of freedom and justice, for the existence of which my constituents are held equally responsible with those of the Senator from Louisiana, and which involve every State in this Union in a fearful responsibility-laws which are the sublimation of injustice, barbarity, and despotism, and which, according to Jefferson, impose a bondage one hour of which is fraught with more misery than ages of that which he rose in rebellion to oppose."



By the enactment and authority of the United States, one portion of the people of this District hold another portion as property, as chattels, to be worked without wages, to be scourged without remedy, and sold without redress.

Laws are in force here, by the enactment and authority of the United States, which authorize and permit some hundreds of children, annually born in this District, to be snatched, "while yet the seal of Heaven is fresh upon them," out of that condition of natural liberty which our fathers truly asserted to be the birth-right of every human being, and doomed to life-long slavery; children which, from their very helplessness, cannot be supposed guilty of any crime, nor for the alleged reason that their mothers (not to speak of their fathers) are criminal. According to the Constitution, the children of the blackest culprits even cannot be attainted. What, then, can be said of the infliction of the severest punishment upon the innocent children of innocent mothers, even the doom of slavery for life? Said Governor Giles, of Virginia:


Yet the Government of the United States dooms innocent men, women, and children to a punishment of the highest order.

Sir, it affords me no pleasure to appear before the Senate on any question which may not be agreeable to some Senators. It would be less un- By the authority of the United States a part congenial to my taste and feelings, either to sit in of the population of this District are doomed to silence, or confine myself exclusively to such sub- the profoundest ignorance, absolutely stultified, jects as commend themselves to the favorable con- || and then, if the poor darkened wretch, the eyes sideration of all. But when propositions are thrust of whose mind have been thus put out, and the upon our attention which I cannot approve; or chambers of whose soul have been filled with darkwhen injustice stalks before us in its most appall-ness, should violate a certain law which he was ing forms, trampling humanity in the dust, I have thus forbidden to read and understand, he is conno option but to oppose them at whatever hazard, demned to have his right hand cut off, to be hung and can only say, in self-justification, with a great in the usual manner, to be beheaded and quarstatesman and orator of antiquity, when about to tered, and have each fragment of his mangled urge an unpopular measure before an Athenian body hung up in the most conspicuous places in assembly, that "while I am not so perverse as the District. And although, as I am informed, to study to give offense where no good purpose and am happy to believe, this Draconic enactment can be answered by it, my opinion is, that every has not been executed here for many years, I do honest speaker should prefer the interests of the not understand how a court could evade the inflic ori-State to the admiration and applause of his tion of it, upon a conviction of either of the crimes hearers." of which it is the penalty, without a renunciation of the lower law dogma.

In the discursiveness of this debate, the Senator from Louisiana [Mr. BENJAMIN] has charged the North with aggressiveness upon the South. He represented the South as the aggrieved and outraged party, always suffering in her rights from the encroachments of the North, and always acting in defense of her peculiar institution from the assaults of freedom. Such was the burden of much of his eloquent speech. Now, sir, I be lieve this to be as contrary to the whole history of this Government, as opposed to our own observation. The Senator from Ohio [Mr. WADE] has called our attention to some facts of recent date to show the fallacy of the idea which the Senator

By another law in force here, by the enactment and authority of the United States, if any person of the proscribed class breaks into a shop, storehouse, or warehouse, not contiguous to, or used with any mansion-house, and steal from thence any goods to the value of five shillings, such offender, on conviction, shall suffer death without benefit of clergy. Yes, sir, death for stealing the value of five shillings, when slavery itself is the master-theft of earth, teaching theft as its first, rudimental, and practical lesson-plundering not simply five shillings from the pocket of a man, but clutching the man himself, body, soul, packet,


"Slavery must be admitted to be a punishment of the highest order, and it ought to be applied only to crimes of the highest order."

Execution of United States Laws-Debate.

port its white poor, to sustain the schools for the
education of its white children, and for all the
other municipal expenses of the District, while,
at the same time, they are precluded from any
participation in the benefits of what they are thus
compelled to pay, being left alone and unaided by
their chivalrous exactors to feed their own poor,
to sustain their own schools, and bear all their
other burdens as best they can. Language, sir,
is too poor to characterize such extortion.

By the authority of the United States, there
appeared in this city a few days since, under the
meridian sun, a human shape on horseback, drag-
ging a woman by a rope around her body through
its muddy streets. With unblushing face, and
head erect, gloating over his victim with a spider-
like exultation, this gallant son of "the chivalry,"
ascended the hill on which we are assembled, with
his human prey, and passed by under the very
shadow of the Capitol over which at that moment
your national flag was proudly floating as the
ensign of freedom. Oh, "the model Republic!"
"The model Republic!" The great slavemonger,
the great slave-market, the great slavery-propa-
ganda of the nineteenth century, around whose
Capitol men are bought and sold like oxen, and
woman is hunted and led, as savages hunt and lead
buffaloes by the lasso!

By another law in force here, by the enactment and authority of the United States, any person of the proscribed class, who shall give false testimony against any other person of his own class, shall have one ear cut off on the day of his or her conviction, and receive thirty-nine stripes on his or her bare back; and the next day the other ear shall be cropped, and the like number of stripes given the offender.

Mr. RUSK. Then I understand the Senator did not see it himself?

It is note-worthy, in passing, that the number of lashes generally meted out to the slaves by slave-law, is thirty-nine. Why this precise number should be designated it is not easy to understand, unless it was suggested by the "forty stripes save one," which St. Paul tells us he received five times from the Jews, and adopted in the hope of canonizing the so-called "Patriarchal institution" into the higher sanctity of apostolic saintship.

Mr. GILLETTE. I never pretended that I myself saw it.

Mr. DAWSON. As chairman of the Committee on the District of Columbia, I will only take occasion here to say to the Senator from Connecticut, that those laws are not in force in this District any more than the old laws of the State of Connecticut against witchcraft, and the laws made at New Haven against violating the Sab. bath. No such laws, I believe, were ever passed by Congress. Even if they were, they are no more in force, than the Blue Laws of the Senator's own State. What is the object of the course of the Senator, but to excite prejudices against the District of Columbia, and against the character of our country and its institutions? I submit to the Senator himself whether it would not be well to from such a course of remark.


Mr. RUSK. I am glad of that, for I believe the Senator would have chivalry enough to stop such a thing if he should see it; and I would help him in doing so.

Mr. GILLETTE. I am glad to have escaped such a spectacle.

Mr. BUTLER, (to Mr. GILLETTE.) What would you have done if you had seen it?

Mr. GILLETTE. I would have called the

refrain frILLETTE. I have in my hand (holding attention of the Senator from South Carolina to

up the book) these laws of which I have made an
abstract. I have the code here entitled "the Black
Code of the District of Columbia." The gentle-
man can look at it.

the scene, as a specimen of his "patriarchal insti-
tution," as it exists in the Federal District, and
under the authority and laws of this Federal Gov-
ernment. I mentioned it by way of illustration of
the subject in hand.

Mr. BUTLER. I know what I would have done.

Mr. GILLETTE. Now, Mr. President, it is pertinent to inquire, by what authority did the Congress of the United States, acting under a Constitution ordained, among other purposes, "to establish justice"-aye, sir, to establish justiceand "secure the blessings of liberty," enact the consummate injustice of earth, and the outrage upon liberty, of striking down thousands of persons in this District to the degradation of chattelhood? In what article, section, or clause of the Constitution is the tremendous power given to this Government to make a man a slave, to snatch from him the crown and jewels of his immortal nature, and load him with chains? We look in vain for any power therein given to Congress to chattelize a part of the people, and throw them, despoiled and helpless, into the hands of another class, to be used as property, "to all intents, constructions, and purposes whatsoever," in the language of slave law.

33D CONG....2D Sess.

shillings, all, and devoting them upon its execrable altar. Death for stealing five shillings, notwithstanding the Constitution forbids the infliction of cruel and unusual punishments!

By another law in force here, by the enactment and authority of the United States, if a person belonging to a certain class, whether man or woman, presumes to strike a person of another class, whether in self-defense against a drunken ruffian or an adulterous villain, or under any provocation whatever, on conviction by the oath of the person struck, he or she she shall be maimed by having an ear cut off, "cropt," as the law has


By another law in force here, by the enactment and authority of the United States, if a person belonging to a certain class goes out into the woods and shoots a hog, and refuses to return on the demand of a person of another class, it is lawful to shoot, kill, and destroy such person.

By another law in force here, by the enactment and authority of the United States, any colored person, free or bond, coming into the national District, is liable to be seized and imprisoned as a fugitive from slavery; and if unable, in that help

forlorn to pay all fees and rewards given by law for apprehending runaways, is liable to be sold into slavery for life to the highest bidder; and to crown the atrocity, the price of blood-"the money or tobacco," as the law reads-shall go into the pockets of the marshal himself the judge in the case-as imprisonment fees, except what may be needed to pay for the arrest of the victim-thus holding out a bribe to the marshal to adjudge him to slavery. Under this law several persons, according to the reports of the marshals, not having been claimed as slaves, and therefore presumed to be free, have been sold into slavery for life. Thus the Government sells its own citizens into slavery, as cannibals sometimes eat their own children.

Mr. RUSK. I wish to ask the honorable Senator where that code was printed. The book looks like a very small one to contain a code of laws.

Mr. GILLETTE. It was published in New

Mr. RUSK. Just where I expected. [Laugh-

Mr. GILLETTE. These laws are found in the statutes of Maryland; I have seen them there myself, they were enacted into United States laws by Congress in 1790, and they have never been repealed.

Mr. RUSK. New York is very kind to print the statutes of Maryland.


By the connivance, if not by the positive enactment of Congress, a traffic is here carried on in human beings. Advertisements of sales flare in the newspapers of the District with cold-blooded effrontery; and men, women, and children are bought and sold here, around this Capitol, as brute beasts. I am aware that, by one of the famous compromises of 1850, the bringing of slaves for sale into the District is forbidden, under penalty of the forfeiture of such imported slaves; but I have been unable to learn that any efficient steps have been taken to execute the law; and it is believed that, by concealment and fraud, the traffic is still carried on here to some extent, though the great slave barracoon used by the brokers in human flesh residing in the capital, is just across the Potomac. Soon after arriving in this city last May, I noticed in the organ of the Administration an advertisement of a whole family, consisting of five or six members, to be sold at auction, in front of the City Hall; and during the present session of Congress I have seen persons advertised for sale in the fairseeming Intelligencer, "without restriction," in violation of a provision of the compromise of 1850.

By the authority of the United States, if a person of the proscribed class shall fly any kite or kites within the limits of the Corporation of Georgetown, he shall be fined, or flogged, at the discretion of the Mayor.

By the authority of the United States, the free colored inhabitants of this city are taxed annually from fifteen to twenty thousand dollars, to sup-country.

Mr. GILLETTE. Mr. President-
Mr. JONES, of Tennessee. The Senator will
allow me, I am sure, before he proceeds, to vin-
dicate the truth of history.

Mr. GILLETTE. Certainly.
Mr. JONES, of Tennessee. The "Black
Code" from which the Senator has been quoting,
and on which he has made his speech, is a New
York work, "by Worthington G. Snethen, Coun.
selor-at-Law; Published for the A. and F. Anti-
Slavery Society, by William Harned, 61 John
street. That is the title page of the book. I
merely wish the authority for the Senator's state-
ments to go out with his speech.

Mr. GILLETTE. I ask the Senator from
Tennessee whether in his State the authority of
an author is discredited, from the fact that his
work is not issued by a publishing house in Ten-
nessee? Does he question the validity of the
United States laws because they are published in
Boston, and not in Tennessee?


Mr. JONES, of Tennessee. Not at all; but with me, the fact that anything on the subject of slavery comes from an Abolition source, is enough to make me regard it as questionable. If it is published by an anti-slavery society, it is pretty sure to be a slander on the South, and on the

Mr. GILLETTE. The honorable Senator, I think, has given the very profoundest reason he can for his disbelief, with a characteristic courtesy. Mr. MALLORY. I trust the Senator from Connecticut will be suffered to go on, and not be interrupted. The statements which he has been making can certainly do no harm in the country; if wrong, they can be corrected.


Mr. RUSK. I feel great interest though, if the Senator will allow me to say a word, to know the name of that thing, in the shape of a man, who was seen dragging a woman with a rope tied around her body. As a matter of curiosity, I should like

also the time when it occurred.

Mr. GILLETTE. In reply to the Senator from Texas, I will say, that I am not informed as to the name of the "thing." It passed this Capitol about one o'clock, p. m.

Mr. JONES, of Tennessee. When? To-day?
Mr. GILLETTE. On Monday of last week.
Mr. RUSK. Did the Senator see it?
Mr. GILLETTE. No, sir; but I have the
testimony of several persons who did see it.
Mr. RUSK. Will the Senator name who they


Mr. GILLETTE. If essential, I could name the persons. They were ladies at the boarding house where I lodge. One of them, the wife of a Senator, two others, the wife and daughter of a Representative, and a fourth, the sister of another Representative.

Such legislation is no less a violation of the Constitution than an outrage upon humanity. It is an arrant usurpation of power, such as few, if any, eastern despots could safely commit. By the Constitution, Congress has no more power to make a slave than a lord; no more authority to rob a man of his liberty than of his life; no more warrant to legalize slavery than piracy. The Constitution forbids the granting of any title of nobility-does it then authorize the granting of a title of ignobility, even the ignominy of slavery, and invest one man, with whip and spurs, to ride another man whithersoever he listeth, by the grace of this Government? We find no warrant in the Constitution for thus dividing society into distinct castes more odious than any to be found in the Old World, into slaves and slaveholders, menials and masters, bondsmen and freemen, vassals and tyrants, victims and victimizers.

It can hardly be necessary for me to say, that

33D CONG....2D Sess.

Execution of United States Laws-Debate.

those who rose in favor of taking the question by
yeas and nays.) There are only five Senators
rising-not a sufficient number, in the opinion of
the Chair. The yeas and nays are not ordered.
Senators, you who are in favor-

Mr. COOPER, Mr. SUMNER, and others.
Count the other side.

the Constitution, based, as it is, on the great principle of the national declaration, the exact equality of all men by nature in political rights, so far from countenancing "the wild and guilty fantasy that man can hold property in man," nowhere recognizes the principle of slavery in any such sense as to authorize, support, and countenance it; but on the contrary, if faithfully executed, slavery could not exist another hour anywhere under its exclusive jurisdiction. Instead of its shield, it would prove its sword; instead of its refuge, its hot avenger. The Constitution, while its declared objects, in part, are "to establish justice," and "secure the blessings of liberty," expressly provides that "no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;" that "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated;" and that "the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it." Slavery, as it is well understood, deprives persons of life, liberty, and property, not by due process of law, but by the summary process of force; it annuls the right of people to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures, by breaking open the very sanctuary of private rights, searching, and seizing, not only property, but persons, and dragging them forth as booty, to be worked, whipped, and sold in the human-flesh markets. It suspends, in effect, the writ of habeas corpus, the great bulwark of liberty, in relation to persons not guilty of invasion or rebellion, but "guilty of a skin not colored like our own," and not even of that, in many cases, but of a "pure white" complexion-the negro Anglo-Saxonized.


should tell him of am implied obligation to do no such thing, inasmuch as the grantor has a similar swamp of vastly greater size on his remaining lands, and there are many such on the surrounding farms, all of which would appear the more unsightly and repulsive by the contrast, and the whole neighborhood be exposed to a partially purified and healthful atmosphere. The utter baselessness of such a pretension is obvious. Is it any the less preposterous to say, that inasmuch as Maryland had slavery when she ceded the The motion to adjourn was not agreed to. District to the United States, there was an implied Mr. GILLETTE. I am very sorry, Mr. obligation on the part of the latter, never, without President, to tax the patience of the Senate, but her consent, to abate the nuisance within the Disat the same time I am not responsible for the trict, to drain the pestiferous marsh, because her introduction of this subject into the Senate, and own slavery might appear all the more odious therefore I shall proceed with what I have to say. from the contrast with liberty here, and not only The Constitution expressly prohibits the pas-herself, but all slavedom would be in danger from sage of any bill of attainder, yet slavery defiantly freedom. attaints persons of African descent to such a degree that the purest anglo-Saxon blood of the "first families" has but little power to bleach out the taint and work an absolution. The experiment has been in progress in this country for more than two hundred years, under the cunning and conservative, principle, partus sequitur ventrem; and still it is found that it requires not less than fifteen-sixteenths of the purest Caucasian blood to remove the attainder and restore the attainted to the rights and dignity of manhood. In the early history of the country three-fourths parts of white blood entitled the slave to freedom, and be became,

The PRESIDING OFFICER. It is too late now to ask for a division. The Chair decided that the yeas and nays were not ordered, and no division was asked for at the time.

virtue thereof, a white man; but owing since to the rapid fading of the slave's complexion, it has been thought necessary and profitable, practically, to dispense with color altogether as an index of slavery, and make it depend-not on paternal, no, no-but on maternal descent. Such is the fact in this District. Persons are held here in slavery, at this moment, as white as the whitest Senator on this floor.

Mr. THOMPSON, of Kentucky. Will the Senator from Connecticut allow me to make a motion to adjourn?

Mr. BUTLER. Let him go on. Mr. THOMPSON, of Kentucky. I do not see any end to this talk.

The PRESIDING OFFICER, (Mr. WELLER.) Does the Senator from Connecticut yield the floor? Mr. GILLETTE. Yes, sir.

Mr. THOMPSON, of Kentucky. It is evident to my mind that this is to come to nothing, but that we are to have an interminable discussion on subjects which nobody wishes to hear or cares anything about. I wish to go home now, and come back to-morrow to attend to the appropriation bills and other measures properly appertaining to the business and interests of the nation, and let the Senator from Connecticut make his speech on some leisure occasion when we have nothing else to attend to. I do not wish to listen to him now; I wish to adjourn, so that I may get some rest, for I did not come here to-day prepared to sit so many hours.

Mr. CLAY. I trust the motion will not prevail. I want the Senator from Connecticut to deliver himself of the one idea which he brought here with him, before he goes away.

Mr. THOMPSON, of Kentucky. Does the Senator from Alabama expect to get a vote?

Mr. CLAY. Yes, sir. Let us unkennel the whole pack to-night.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Does the Senator from Kentucky move that the Senate adjourn? Mr. THOMPSON, of Kentucky. Yes, sir; if the Senator from Connecticut will allow me to do so?

Mr. GILLETTE. Certainly; I yield the floor for that purpose.

Several SENATORS. No adjournment now. Mr. SEWARD. Let us have the yeas and nays. Mr. THOMPSON, of Kentucky. As the Senate do not appear to favor my motion, I withdrawing it; but I will not remain here to listen to this worse than useless discussion. Other Senators can stay if they choose.

Mr. SEWARD. I move that the Senate adjourn.

Mr. BUTLER. I hope we shall not adjourn.
It is very early; only half

after six o'clock.
Mr. SEWARD and other SENATORS asked for
the yeas and nays.
The PRESIDING OFFICER, (after counting ||

I am aware that, in years past, when the free States, through their Legislatures and otherwise, have invoked Congress to abolish slavery in the Federal District, it has been the policy of its defenders to take refuge behind the States which ceded the District, and cast the responsibility upon them, but, in my opinion without any shadow of a reason. Let us examine this subterfuge for a moment. The slave laws of the District, no one will deny, were enacted by the Congress of the United States, approved by the President of the United States, and they are enforced by the authority of the United States, in a District over which Congress has "exclusive jurisdiction in all cases whatsoever" by the Constitution of the United States. Because Maryland may have had such laws at the time of the cession of that part of the District now remaining to the United States, so far from making that State responsible for their existence here, it only shows that Congress copied those laws from her statutes, and adopted them as its own. Supposing, if it were possible, Congress had derived those laws from the customs of some barbarous tribes, would that act have inculpated those barbarians, and exonerated Congress and the United States from the responsibility of their enactment and existence here? No man could entertain so preposterous an idea for a moment.

By the constitutional provision anticipating the cession of the District, the jurisdiction of the United States is unconditional and complete, without anything implied or understood. Neither Maryland nor any other State asked to exercise coördinate jurisdiction over the District, and dictate its legislation. Had such a demand been made, the answer would have been found in the Constitution, vesting in Congress the right to "exercise exclusive legislation, in all cases whatsoever, over such District;" thus inhibiting Congress from becom

a party to any such stipulation. Says Madison, in the forty-third number of the Federalist: "The indispensable necessity of complete authority at the seat of Government carries its own evidence with it."

The absurdity of the pretense of an implied obligation to Maryland, or to any other State, to maintain slavery in the Federal District, according to the pleasure of such State, may be thus exposed: Supposing a landholder should make an absolute conveyance of a farm with an unsightly and pestilential marsh upon it, and when the owner proposed to drain and reclaim it, his neighbors

Congress is responsible to all the States, and to the people of the States, for its legislation here, and not to Maryland solely, else the National is subordinate to a State authority, and is incompetent to fulfill its great design. Congress has the same authority to abolish slavery in the Federal district, that Maryland, or other slave State, has to abolish it within her limits, and to assume that the only legislative power in the District is incompetent to do away the evil here, is tantamount to saying that it cannot repeal the laws of its own enacting, within its own exclusive jurisdiction, which is contemptibly absurd. If a lunatic Congress should frantically assume to legalize robbery in the District, could not a subsequent Congress, restored to reason, blot out the barbarous enactment, and make restitution to the victims? Clearly then Congress, having enacted laws by which men are held in slavery in this District, can hasten to their relief, knock off their chains, and restore to them their plundered rights, their long-lost manhood.

The Jeffersonian Ordinance of 1787, abolishing and prohibiting slavery within the Northwestern Territory, was ratified by the unanimous vote of the first Congress under the Constitution. Supposing some member from Virginia had arisen there and objected, on the ground that, inasmuch as Virginia had ceded that Territory to the United States, there was a tacit and implied understanding that Congress would not abolish slavery therein, without the consent of Virginia-he would have been challenged to produce the proof, and, failing, would have been justly regarded as more zealous for slavery than wise for freedom.

But, Mr. President, I deem it unnecessary to pursue the argument further on this point, since the power of Congress over slavery in the District has been admitted by the highest authorities in the country; and, in 1850, conceded by Congress itself, by the passing of a law prohibiting the importation of slaves into the District, for sale. If Congress can abolish the slave-market here, can it not strike another blow at the root of the complicated wrong, and abolish slavery itself? If it can forbid the traffic in men, can it not forbid the enslavement of men, by repealing the laws of its own enacting, which make men slaves? If Congress is competent to declare every slave brought into the District for sale, free, is it not competent also to declare every slave already in the District free? Thus, sir, the whole question has been conceded and settled incontrovertibly.

The maintenance of slavery in the Federal district, by the authority of the United States, exerts a conservative influence over the institution in the States, by clothing it with the countenance and sanction of the nation. The District of Columbia is thus made the citadel of American slavery, its munition of defense; or as the late Mr. Calhoun once said, "the very key of slavery." Its existence here under the attendant circumstances, involves the whole nation in all its responsibility and infamy, from which Connecticut and other free States have repeatedly and earnestly implored Congress to relieve them, and cast from their shoulders the ignominious load. Petitions for this object now lie on your table, sir; and but a few days ago, the sovereign State of Michigan, through her noble Legislature, spoke to us in relation to this and other kindred abuses, in a voice so clear and thrilling, that none but squatter-sovereigns, clamorous for "popular sovereignty," can disobey.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »