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never occur at all, and which it will be quite time enough to discuss when it does. * * *
"It is perhaps necessary that I should explain what I said a moment ago. I merely meant that, instead of reporting a specific bill or bills, it was quite possible that the committee may propose amendments to, or recommend the passage of bills now before the Senate."
The probable course of the committee, as suggested by Mr. Cass, was the one favored by the distinguished chairman of that committee. It was not his intention then, and not until after his report was written, to report a bill that would include the admission of California or governments for the Territories. Whoever will turn to the report of the select committee will see that it recommends the passage of the bill reported from the Committee on Territories for that purpose, and that the bill reported from the same committee, establishing territorial governments for New Mexico and Utah, making proposals to Texas for the settlement of her boundaries, should be added by the Senate to the California Bill, and all passed as one measure. In the report no mention is made of any bill agreed upon by the committee, except one to abolish the slave-trade in the District of Columbia.
How Mr. Clay came to change his determination in this respect may possibly be explained by stating the substance of a conversation between him and Mr. Douglas. Mr. Clay made his report on Wednesday, the 8th of May. On Tuesday, the 7th, Mr. Clay and Mr. Douglas met in the Senate Chamber, and, after an exchange of friendly greetings and some conversation on indifferent subjects, Mr. Douglas inquired of Mr. Clay when he would report his Compromise Bill. Mr. Clay said that he should present an elaborate report upon all the subjects before the committee, in which would be recommended that the Senate should unite the two bills, California and Territorial, which Mr. Douglas had previously reported from the Committee on Territories, and pass them in one act; but he should report no bill on those subjects from his committee. Mr. Douglas asked why Mr. Clay did not himself unite the two bills and report them from the select committee as their bill; to which Mr. Clay promptly answered, that such a course would not be just or fair toward Mr. Douglas, the author of those bills, particularly after having had all the labor, and having prepared
them in a form so perfect that he (Mr. Clay) could not change them in any particular for the better; hence, continued Mr. Clay, as a matter of justice toward Mr. Douglas, he intended to recommend to the Senate to take up the bills as they stood, and, after uniting them, pass them without change.
Mr. Douglas at once stated that he had no such pride in the mere authorship of the measures as to induce him to desire that the select committee, out of regard to him, should omit adopting that course which would or might possibly best accomplish the great object in view. Moreover, there was another reason, which he regarded as of the very highest importance, why the select committee should report to the Senate the bills united into one. It was his opinion they could never pass the two houses of Congress as a joint measure, because the union of them would unite the Opposition to the several measures without uniting their respective friends; the bill for the admission of California, as a separate measure, would receive all the votes from the North, and enough from the South to secure its passage; while the Territorial Bills, if not connected with the California Bill, could receive nearly all the Southern votes, with a sufficient number from the North to secure their passage through both houses of Congress. For this reason, he urged that, if the bills were to be united at all, they should be united by the select committee, and in that form reported to the Senate as the action of that committee. If that course were adopted by the select committee, the Senate would have the several measures before them in two forms
-one as separate measures, and the other as a joint measure, and thus all the chances of success would be secured; for, in the event of the defeat of the joint measure, the friends of the Compromise could fall back upon the bills separately. If united in the Senate, and then defeated, all would be defeated.
Mr. Clay acknowledged the full force of this reasoning, but repeated that to take the bills of Mr. Douglas and report them as the great Compromise Bill, prepared by the select committee, would be unjust to their author, who was entitled to all the honor of preparing them.
Mr. Douglas then said: "I respectfully ask you, Mr. Clay, what right have you, to whom the country looks for so much, and as an eminent statesman having charge of a great measure for the pacification of a distracted country, to sacrifice to any
extent the chances of success on a mere punctilio as to whom the credit may belong of having first written the bills? I, sir, waive all claim and personal consideration in this matter, and insist that the committee shall pursue that course which they may deem best calculated to accomplish the great end we all have in view, without regard to any interest merely personal to me."
Mr. Clay (extending his hand to Mr. Douglas). "You are the most generous man living. I will unite the bills and report them; but justice shall nevertheless be done to you as the real author of the measures."
The next morning Mr. Clay presented his report, and also reported the bill subsequently known as the "Omnibus Bill," being a bill consisting of Mr. Douglas's two bills attached together by a wafer. Extracts from subsequent debates will be found in this volume, and will show, to the satisfaction of all, who was the author of the compromise acts of 1850 relating to territorial questions. True to his promise, Mr. Clay subsequently bore honorable testimony to the ability, fairness, and patriotism displayed by Mr. Douglas throughout that long and memorable session.
The only change made by the select committee in the Territorial Bill was to insert in the sections defining the powers of the Territorial Legislature the words "nor in respect to African slavery." The effect of this amendment was to deny to the Legislature of the Territories the privilege or authority to legislate upon the subject of African slavery.
On May 13th Mr. Clay addressed the Senate in support of the bill. On the 15th, Mr. Douglas, with a view of saving time, by ascertaining at once the sense of the Senate as to whether the questions involved in controversy should be considered upon the Omnibus Bill or upon the separate bills, moved, as a test question on that point, to lay Mr. Clay's bill on the table. The motion was rejected-yeas 24, nays 28. The Senate having thus decided to consider the general bill in preference to the separate measures, the former thenceforth, and until its fate was accomplished, occupied the consideration of the Senate to the exclusion of the bills of the Committee on Territories.
Mr. Jefferson Davis moved to amend the bill so as to restrain the Legislature from interfering "with those rights of
property growing out of the institution of African slavery as it exists in any of the states of the Union."
This amendment provoked considerable discussion. It was originally proposed on the 15th of May; on the next day it was modified so as to leave in the section the prohibition of any legislation in respect to African slavery, but declaring that nothing in the bill should be construed as preventing the Territorial Legislature from passing such laws or providing such remedies as may protect the owners of African slaves in said Territory in the enjoyment of their property, etc. On the 22d of May, at the suggestion of Mr. Pratt, Mr. Davis farther modified his proposed amendment so as to declare that the Territorial Legislature shall not pass any law "to introduce or exclude African slavery;" providing also that nothing in the act contained should prevent the Territorial Legislature from "passing such laws as may be necessary for the protection of the rights of property of any kind which may have been, or may be hereafter, lawfully introduced into said Territory."
On the 3d of June the amendment was warmly debated; but, as the question involved was renewed some weeks later, the extracts from the speeches made upon the question of the power of the Territorial Legislature to legislate upon the subject of African slavery, both at this as well as the later period of the debate, will be found grouped together on a subsequent page. On the 5th of June, the amendment of Mr. Davis, which prohibited the Legislature from introducing or excluding slavery, but authorized them to pass laws to protect slave property there, was rejected-yeas 25, nays 30. The bill stood as reported by the committee of thirteen, including the words "nor in respect to African slavery."
Mr. Berrien moved to amend by making the clause read, "But no law shall be passed interfering with the primary disposition of the soil, nor establishing or prohibiting African slavery." And that amendment was agreed to-yeas 30, nays 27.
Mr. Douglas then moved to strike out the words "nor establishing or prohibiting African slavery." And the motion. was rejected-yeas 21, nays 33, as follows:
Yeas-Bradbury, Cass, Chase, Clarke, Clay, Cooper, Corwin, Dickinson, Dodge of Iowa, Douglas, Felch, Greene, Hamlin, Jones, Miller, Norris, Seward, Shields, Sturgeon, Underwood, and Upham.
Nays-Atchison, Badger, Baldwin, Bell, Benton, Berrien, Borland, Bright, Butler, Clemens, Davis of Mississippi, Dawson, Dodge of Wisconsin, Downs, Foote, Hale, Houston, Hunter, King, Mangum, Mason, Morton, Pearce, Pratt, Rusk, Sebastian, Soulé, Spruance, Turney, Walker, Webster, Whitcomb, Yulee.
So the bill stood with the prohibition on the powers of the Territorial Legislature.
In the mean time the Wilmot Proviso, in every imaginable shape, was offered as an amendment to the bill, and always voted down. If every motion to insert it be not mentioned, the reader will not understand by the omission that it was not submitted on every possible occasion by its advocates and friends. Mr. Douglas, for reasons stated on a subsequent page, voted for these amendments whenever offered.
The debate progressed. On the 14th of June, Mr. Turney, of Tennessee, moved to strike out all that part of the bill relating to the Texas Boundary. Lost-yeas 24, nays 27, the senators from Texas voting in the negative. On the 15th of June Mr. Soulé moved to insert the following clause in that part of the bill relating to Utah:
"And when the said Territory, or any portion of the same, shall be admitted as a state, it shall be received into the Union with or without slavery, as their Constitution may prescribe at the time of their admission."
This amendment was debated for three days, and on the 17th it was adopted by the following vote:
Yeas-Atchison, Badger, Bell, Benton, Berrien, Bright, Butler, Cass, Clay, Clemens, Cooper, Davis of Mississippi, Dawson, Dodge of Iowa, Douglas, Downs, Foote, Houston, Hunter, Jones, King, Mason, Morton, Norris, Pearce, Pratt, Rusk, Sebastian, Shields, Soulé, Spruance, Sturgeon, Turney, Underwood, Wales, Webster, Whitcomb, Yulee-38.
Nays Baldwin of Connecticut, Chase of Ohio, Clarke of Rhode Island, Davis of Massachusetts, Dayton of New Jersey, Dodge of Wisconsin, Greene of Rhode Island, Hale of New Hampshire, Miller of New Jersey, Smith of Connecticut, Upham of Vermont, Walker of Wisconsin-12.
Pending this amendment, Mr. Douglas stated why a provision of that kind had not originally been placed in the bill, and also the reasons why he had voted on several previous occasions for the Wilmot Proviso.
"I shall vote for this amendment, not because I believe it confers any new right upon the people of the Territories, or modifies the terms of any old right which they possess. I shall vote for it as the assertion of a principle which is already in the Constitution, and which I believe would be implied, and be equally valid, if not here expressed. I would not deem it necessary to ex