Page images
PDF
EPUB

dallion-one side deeply scarred with the passions of youth and manhood ; the other a lasting yet mellower lesson of magnanimity and forgiveness.

But Andrew Jackson was Amos Kendall's idol. Canning did not worship Pitt, Choate did not follow Webster, Thurlow Weed did not champion William H. Seward, Hamilton did not support Washington, the young Whigs did not idolize Henry Clay, with a deeper devotion. And well might Kendall be true to Jackson ; for Jackson was true to him. He came to Washington a poor editor in 1829. General Jackson saw his worth, utilized and rewarded it. It was Mr. Kendall's association with Jackson, his knowledge of the patriotism and courage of the President, and especially his horror of secession, that confirmed the original love of country of the New-Englandborn and Kentucky-reared journalist; and it was this example, strengthened by Mr. Kendall's knowledge of the designs of Calhoun and the Nullifiers, which excited him to those magnificent protests against the Rebellion in 1860, and his final and indignant appeal (January 21, 1864), all of which he published in the Washington Evening Star. The following extract from this last paper is pertinent just now:

“It has seemed to be amazing that any Northern man, and especially any Democrat, can entertain the least sympathy for the perjured leaders of this inexcusable and bloody rebellion. They are rebels not only to their country and to mankind, but doubly rebels to the Democratic party, which they betrayed and abandoned. Sympathy with them by any loyal man is a crime; but by a Democrat it is not only a crime, but a degradation. With what utter contempt must he be looked upon by those proud men? But let us not confound with the arch-conspirators the mass of the Southern people who have been reduced or driven into rebellion."

XIX.

LATER STATESMEN.—THE GREAT DEBATE OF 1854 ON THE RE

PEAL OF THE MISSOURI COMPROMISE. SPECIMENS OF THE ORATORY OF S. A. DOUGLAS, BEN WADE, EDWARD EVERETT, SAM HOUSTON, TRUMAN SMITH, CHARLES SUMNER, GEORGE E. BADGER, W. H. SEWARD, LEWIS CASS, L. D. CAMPBELL, A. H. STEPHENS.

I WAS too young to witness the debate on Foote's resolution in the Senate between Hayne and Webster in 1830, and the almost equally interesting discussion on the Force bill in 1833– described in No. XVII. of these “Anecdotes ;" but I was present as an officer of the United States House of Representatives in 1854, when the Kansas-Nebraska bill was passed, which obliterated the Missouri Compromise and established the following principle, on the motion of Senator Douglas, of Illinois: That “the true intent and meaning of this act is not to legislate slavery into any Territory or State, nor to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United States."

Far more important in its consequences than the Force bill, it is not my purpose to examine into the motives which prompted this measure, but to refer to some of the actors in the memorable scenes in both Houses before the final passage of the bill in the Senate on the night of March 3, 1854. Justice, indeed, requires that I should say, what history will approve when the time comes for impartial analysis and judgment, that from this principle Senator Douglas never swerved down to the hour of his death, in Chicago, June 3, 1861.

There were some extraordinary passages in that great debate, and I have thought it might not be out of place to revive a few, simply to show the temper of the times and the charac

cy.

ter of the leading minds. Douglas was in the prime of life, having just passed his forty-first year, and was the leader of an enthusiastic party which longed to make him President. Though my preference was for Buchanan, and I enjoyed the full confidence of President Pierce, a candidate for re-election, my relations with Douglas were those of daily intercourse and intima

Three years my senior, our companionship was almost like the companionship of boys. He was generous, sincere, and candid-ready to run any risk to serve a friend, as unsuspecting as man could be, and never afraid to express his opinions. Instinctively a statesman, he was also instinctively a gentleman; and though he thought and spoke much on public affairs, he could throw off his cares with singular ease. There was nothing unnatural or affected in Douglas. He was a real man throughout, and rarely allowed a political difference to degenerate into personal alienation. Impetuous and rash sometimes, his anger bore fire like the flint, and soon grew cold. He was not an ornamental orator, but his magnetism was more successful than poetry, and his masculine fervor more effective than ordinary logic.

Before his great closing speech on the evening of the 3d of March, 1854, many exciting scenes had taken place in the Senate and the House. On the 3d of the previous February he opened the debate, and stated his position as follows:

“Now, I ask the friends and the opponents of this measure to look at it as it is. Is not the question involved the simple one whether the people of the Territories shall be allowed to do as they please upon the question of slavery, subject only to the limitations of the Constitution ? That is all the bill provides; and it does so in clear, explicit, and unequivocal terms. I know there are some men, Whigs and Democrats, who, not willing to repudiate the Baltimore platform of their own party, would be willing to vote for this principle, provided they could do so in such equivocal terms that they could deny that it

means what it was intended to mean in certain localities. I do not wish to deal in equivocal language. If the principle is right, let it be avowed and maintained. If it is wrong, let it be repudiated. Let all this quibbling about the Missouri Compromise, about the territory acquired from France, about the act of 1820, be cast behind you; for the simple question is, will you allow the people to legislate for themselves upon the subject of slavery? Why should you not ?"

But no Senator in the opposition took the bull by the horns like Benjamin F. Wade, of Ohio. Never shall I forget the impression produced when he broke forth in these daring words:

“Immigration does not go into slave States. Immigration cannot abide there. But is there any constitutional difficulty upon this subject ? Senators from the South say they can go into this Territory and take their property with them. Now why should they be let in there with what they call their property ? Am I obliged, as a member of the Government of the United States, to acknowledge your title to a slave? No, sir, never. Before I would do it, I would expatriate myself; for I am a believer in the Declaration of Independence. I believe that it was a declaration from Almighty God, that all men are created free and equal, and have the same inherent rights. But, thank God, the Government of the United States, to which I belong, does not anywhere compel any man to acknowledge the title of any person to a slave.

If you own him, you own him by virtue of positive law in your own States, with which I have nothing to do, and with which I never have had anything to do. Sir, I hear the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. Butler] talking to the Senator from Kentucky (Mr. Dixon), and I wish it to go forth that the gentleman from South Carolina says, Why should not the free laborer work with the slave? is he not his equal ? Is that the opinion of the chairman of the committee?" - If a bombshell had broken through the roof of the Senate

[ocr errors]

Chamber, it would not have created more amazement; but Wade was not intimidated by the black looks around him.

And when Dixon of Kentucky rose to ask a question, the bold Ohio Senator met his glance with one as proud and defiant as his own. What follows is taken from the official report:

Mr. Dixon. “Will the Senator allow me to ask a question?" MR. WADE. “Yes, sir; and your associate, too [Mr. Butler]."

Mr. Dixon. “ The Senator, if I understood him, said he was a believer in the Declaration of Independence, and in the doctrines of God, which declare that all men are equal. Does the Senator mean that the slave is equal to those free laborers that he speaks of in the North ?"

MR. WADE. “Go on."
MR. Dixon. I desire him to answer that question."

MR. WADE. "Certainly, certainly. The slave, in my judgment, is equal to anybody else, but is degraded by the nefarious acts and selfishness of the master, who compels him, by open force and without right, to serve him aloné.

That, sir, is my doctrine. When you speak of equality before the law, or equality before the Almighty God, I do not suppose you (addressing himself to Mr. Dixon] stand one whit higher than the meanest slave you have. That is my judgment, and probably it is the judgment that you will understand in the last day, though you will not understand it before.”

Mr. Dixon. “Will the Senator allow me to ask another question ?"

MR. WADE. “Yes, sir; as many as you please.”

MR. Dixon. “Does the Senator consider the free negroes in his State as equal to the free white people?”

MR. WADE. “Yes. - Why not equal? Do they not all have their life from Almighty God? Do not they hold it of his tenure? When you speak of wealth, riches, and influence-if that is what you mean-they are generally poor, without influence, perhaps despised among us as well as with you; but that does

« PreviousContinue »