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Happily for the country, and happily for the peace and harmony of the Union which he had so long and so nobly served, and upon every page of whose history for half a century his name and deeds will ever stand as bright as the brightest and as pure as the purest, HENRY CLAY had come forth from his retirement, had quit the peaceful shades of Ashland, once more to mingle in the strife of contending sections, and once more by his magic voice to quell the storm, and guide the hostile factions into one common path of peace and safety. At that time the Senate was in its zenith. It numbered among its members men whose names were historical-Webster, Phelps, Calhoun, Benton, Berrien, King (we name only those who are no longer living), each was in himself a host, whose loss can best be appreciated by stating that a Sumner now represents Massachusetts, and an Iverson holds the seat of Berrien. The list of senators of that session will compare, in all the elements of true greatness, with that of the same number of men in any country in any age. The House of Representatives failed for several weeks in organizing. At last, by the adoption of the plurality rule, on the 22d of December, Mr. Cobb was elected speaker. A portion of the North would not vote for Mr.Winthrop because he was not sufficiently ultra as an anti-slavery man, and a portion of the South refused to vote for Mr. Cobb because he was not ultra enough on the other extreme.

The President's message was received a few days later, and the country were advised for the first time as to the views of the administration upon the Territorial question. The President recommended to the favorable consideration of Congress the action taken by the people of California for admission into the Union. He also recommended that Congress should abstain from any action with respect to the Territory of New Mexico, as the people there would, at no distant period, present themselves for admission into the Union. This message was not calculated to quiet the storm. The administration was charged with having instigated the proceedings in California, and resolutions calling for information were introduced into both houses. These, after warm discussion, were adopted.

The questions at issue were soon brought before the Senate in a variety of forms. On the 14th of January, Mr. Houston submitted a series of resolutions covering most of the subjects. On the 16th Mr. Benton introduced a bill proposing to Texas a

reduction of her limits, and to pay her fifteen millions of dollars. On the same day Mr. Foote introduced a bill establishing territorial governments for California, Deseret, New Mexico, and to enable the people of San Jacinto (a new state to be formed out of Texas) to form a state government. And Mr. Butler, from the Committee on the Judiciary, reported a Fugitive Slave Bill. On the 8th of January the resolutions of the State of Vermont upon the subject of slavery were presented, and the motion to print them was objected to. In December a resolution tendering the apostle of temperance, Father Mathew, the privilege of the floor, was introduced, was debated-the debate turning exclusively upon the anti-slavery views of that gentle


On the 29th of January Mr. Clay submitted his famous series of resolutions proposing a plan of settlement of all the distracting questions. They were promptly discussed.

On February 5th and 6th Mr. Clay addressed the Senate. upon the subjects embraced in his resolutions. On the 13th of the same month the President communicated to the Senate the Constitution of the State of California. Mr. Benton suggested its reference to a select committee. Mr. Foote suggested that it be referred to a select committee of fifteen, to be instructed to consider all the questions relating to slavery in the territories, etc. Mr. Douglas moved to refer it to the Committee on Territories, of which he was chairman.

On February 25th Mr. Foote offered his resolution to refer all the pending resolutions, etc., upon the subject of the Territories, Texas Boundary, California, etc., to a select committee of thirteen. He stated that it was his wish that this committee should be constituted as follows: Mr. Clay, Chairman; three Northern Whigs, three Northern Democrats, three Southern Whigs, and three Southern Democrats. On the 28th of February Mr. Bell submitted a series of resolutions embracing a plan of compromise.

In the mean time, from the first day the Senate had proceeded to legislative business, Mr. Hale had from time to time presented petitions praying the prohibition of slavery in the Territories, others praying its abolition in the District of Columbia, others remonstrating against the admission of slave states, etc., etc. The presentation of these petitions frequently led to very exciting discussions, sometimes consuming the entire day's sit

ting. They were generally stopped by an objection to their reception, and then by an affirmative vote upon laying the motion to receive on the table. The debates on all these propositions embraced all the questions involved in the complicated series. On the 7th of February Mr. Hale presented a memorial praying the dissolution of the Union. A debate upon its reception took place, in which Mr. Douglas defined his position upon the subject of the duty of Congress to receive petitions generally, and particularly upon the reception of petitions relating to slavery. The debate on this question was continued several hours on several successive days. Mr. Douglas's remarks will be found elsewhere in this volume.

Mr. Benton having moved to amend Mr. Douglas's motion to refer the President's message and the California Constitution to the Committee on Territories, by adding that said committee be instructed to report a bill for the admission of California, disconnected with any other subject of legislation, and this amendment having opened up on that motion a debate upon the general subject of slavery and the propriety of passing a compromise in one omnibus bill, Mr. Douglas, on the 22d of January, moved to take up from the table the memorial of the people of Deseret asking a state or territorial government, and refer it to his committee. An animated debate took place -the South generally urging the reference to the JudiciaryCommittee. The motion, however, was agreed to-yeas 30, nays 20. He then moved to refer the bill introduced by Mr. Foote to the same committee, and this motion was also agreed to-yeas 25, nays 22. The committee now had the entire subject before them. The debates on the general subject continued. On the 4th of March, Mr. Calhoun, who had been in failing health for some time, appeared in the Senate, and his last great speech was read to a crowded chamber by Mr. Mason. Three days later, on March 7th, Webster made his famous speech, and the spectre of the Wilmot Proviso was banished. From that day forth it lost its terrors, and a better feeling prevailed. There were no longer any fears of its adoption, and the attention was then directed to some broad, national, and just principle which should be adopted as a final rule in all like cases. On March 14th and 15th Mr. Douglas addressed the Senate upon the subject of the admission of California-a speech which, for argument and power, will

compare favorably with any delivered in Congress upon that question.

On March 25th, Mr. Douglas, from the Committee on Territories, reported bills as follows:

"A bill for the admission of the State of California into the Union;"

"A bill to establish the territorial governments of Utah and New Mexico, and for other purposes;" which bills were read, ordered to a second reading, and ordered to be printed.

In addition to all the resolutions and propositions before the Senate, the three leading questions of the compromise were now before the body in the shape of bills ready for legislative action. The struggle in the Senate for the select committee of thirteen was animated and protracted. For a long time it hung in doubtful balance. The friends of that measure desired to pass all the subjects embraced in one bill. To this there were many objections. Mr. Benton was particularly strenuous in his opposition to any proposition having for its object the connection of the admission of California with any other subject. He declared it an indignity to couple her admission with any other measure. At every stage of the motion to raise the committee of thirteen, he presented his motion to except from the matters referred to said committee the question of the ad-mission of California. When his amendments were voted down in one form he proposed them in another. Mr. Douglas was one of those who had doubted the expediency of uniting the several measures in one bill. But, having succeeded in getting the matters before the Senate in separate bills, and as nothing could be done with either bill as long as a majority of the Senate desired a report from a select committee, he urged the friends of the California Bill to allow the committee to be raised, to abandon a struggle which could result only in a delay of action. Pending these measures, on the 31st of March Mr. Calhoun's death took place. It was not until the 18th of April that the Senate came to a vote upon the motion to raise the select committee of thirteen, and before that time the several memorable scenes between Foote and Benton took place. The vote on raising the committee was, yeas 30, nays 18. On the 19th of April the Senate proceeded to ballot for the members of the committee, and the following senators were elected:

Mr. Clay, chairman; Messrs. Cass, Dickinson, Bright, Webster, Phelps, Cooper, King, Mason, Downs, Mangum, Bell, Berrien.

As soon as the committee was raised, Mr. Douglas persistently presented his motion to take up the bill for the admission of California. On the day the committee was elected he made the motion making that bill the special order. He was sustained by Mr. Clay; but a committee of six senators having been appointed to accompany the remains of Mr. Calhoun to South Carolina, Mr. Clay said that he "wished some understanding on the subject of taking up this California Bill with the senator from Illinois and the Senate." He then stated that the committee of six were about leaving the city, and he wished some understanding that the bill, during the absence of these six members, should not be pressed to a vote. Mr. Douglas promptly responded that he would not feel authorized to ask a vote in the absence of the committee on a duty like that. His only object was to have the bill considered, and, when the Senate had arrived at the point for a test vote, he would defer that vote until the committee should return. this Mr. Clay said:


"Mr. Clay. That is exactly in conformity with the liberal, manly course of the senator, and, with that understanding, I hope the bill will be taken up."

Mr. Clay gave notice on that same day that he would, while the bill was under consideration, move to add to it provisions for territorial governments and for the adjustment of the Texas Boundary; and, in explanation, stated that the amendments he proposed to offer were "the bills reported by the senator from Illinois, and which have already been printed." Mr. Benton gave notice that he would resist all such amendments; and on the 22d, his resolution "that the said committee (of thirteen) be instructed to report separately upon each different subject referred to it, and that the said committee tack no two bills of different natures together, nor join in the same bill any two or more subjects which are in their nature foreign, incoherent, or incongruous to each other," was taken up and debated. In the course of that debate, Mr. Cass, a member of the committee, said:

"Now, sir, I think it quite possible, yea, even probable, that the committee will not report any bill at all. The senator (Mr. Benton), then, is presupposing a state of things which may

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