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ment offered by the senator from Mississippi. If I do, I think he accomplishes nothing by striking out the clause now in the bill and inserting that which he proposes to insert. The clause now in the bill is, that the territorial legislation shall not extend to any thing respecting African slavery within the territories. The effect of retaining the clause as reported by the committee will be this: That if in any of the territories slavery now exists, it shall not be abolished by the territorial Legislature; and if in any of the territories slavery does not now exist, it can not be introduced by the territorial Legislature. The clause itself was introduced into the bill by the committee for the purpose of tying up the hands of the territorial Legislature in respect to legislating at all, one way or the other, upon the subject of African slavery. It was intended to leave the legislation and the law of the respective territories in the condition in which the act will find them. I stated on a former occasion that I did not, in committee, vote for the amendment to insert the clause, though it was proposed to be introduced by a majority of the committee. I attached very little consequence to it at the time, and I attach very little to it at present. It is perhaps of no particular importance whatever. Now, sir, if I understand the measure proposed by the senator from Mississippi, it aims at the same thing. I do not understand him as proposing that if any one shall carry slaves into the territory-although by the laws of the territory he can not take them there-the legislative hands of the territorial government should be so tied as to prevent it saying he shall not enjoy the fruits of their labor. If the senator from Mississippi means to say that-"
"If the object of the senator is to provide that slaves may be introduced into the territory contrary to the lex loci, and, being introduced, nothing shall be done by the Legislature to impair the rights of owners to hold the slaves thus brought contrary to the local laws, I certainly can not vote for it. In doing so I shall repeat again the expression of opinion which I announced at an early period of the session."
Here we find the line distinctly drawn between those who contended for the right to carry slaves into the territories and hold them in defiance of the local law, and those who contended that such right was subject to the local law of the territory. During the progress of the discussion on the same day Mr. Davis, of Mississippi, said:
"We are giving, or proposing to give, a government to a territory, which act rests upon the basis of our right to make such provision. We suppose we have a right to confer power. If so, we may mark out the limit to which they may legislate, and are bound not to confer power beyond that which exists in Congress. If we give them power to legislate beyond that we commit a fraud or usurpation, as it may be done openly, covertly, or indirectly."
To which Mr. Clay replied:
"Now, sir, I only repeat what I have had occasion to say before, that while I am willing to stand aside and make no legislative enactment one way or the other-to lay off the territories without the Wilmot proviso, on the one hand, with which I understand we are threatened, or without an attempt to introduce a clause for the introduction of slavery into the territories. While I am for rejecting both the one and the other, I am content that the law as it exists shall prevail; and if there be any diversity of opinion as to what it means, I am willing that it shall be settled by the highest judicial authority of the country. While I am content thus to abide the
result, I must say that I can not vote for any express provision recognizing the right to carry slaves there."
To which Mr. Davis rejoined, that
"It is said our Revolution grew out of a preamble; and I hope we have something of the same character of the hardy men of the Revolution who first commenced the war with the mother country-something of the spirit of that bold Yankee who said he had a right to go to Concord, and that go he would; and who, in the maintenance of that right, met his death at the hands of a British sentinel. Now, sir, if our right to carry slaves into these territories be a constitutional right, it is our first duty to maintain it."
Pending the discussion which ensued, Mr. Davis, at the suggestion of a friends, modified his amendment from time to time, until it assumed the following shape:
"Nor to introduce nor exclude African slavery. Provided that nothing herein contained shall be construed so as to prevent the territorial Legislature from passing such laws as may be necessary for the protection of the rights of property of every kind which may have been, or may be hereafter, conformably to the Constitution of the United States, held in or introduced into said territory."
To which, on the same day, Mr. Chase, of Ohio, offered the following amendment:
"Provided further, That nothing herein contained shall be construed as authorizing or permitting the introduction of slavery or the holding of persons as property within said territory."
Upon these amendments-the one affirming the pro-slavery and the other the anti-slavery position, in opposition to the right of the people of the territories to decide the slavery question for themselves-Mr. Douglas said:
"The position that I have ever taken has been, that this, and all other questions relating to the domestic affairs and domestic policy of the territories, ought to be left to the decision of the people themselves; and that we ought to be content with whatever way they may decide the question, because they have a much deeper interest in these matters than we have, and know much better what institutions suit them than we, who have never been there, can decide for them. I would therefore have much preferred that that portion of the bill should have remained as it was reported from the Committee on Territories, with no provision on the subject of slavery, the one way or the other. And I do hope yet that that clause will be stricken out. I am satisfied, sir, that it gives no strength to the bill. I am satisfied, even if it did give strength to it, that it ought not to be there, because it is a violation of principle-a violation of that principle upon which we have all rested our defense of the course we have taken on this question. I do not see how those of us who have taken the position we have taken-that of non-intervention-and have argued in favor of the right of the people to legislate for themselves on this question, can support such a provision without abandoning all the arguments which we used in the presidential campaign in the year 1848, and the principles set forth by the honorable senator from Michigan (Mr. Cass), in that letter which is known as the 'Nicholson Letter.' We are required to abandon that platform; we are required to abandon those principles, and to stultify ourselves, and to adopt the opposite doctrine-and for what? In order to say that the people of the territories shall not have such institutions as they shall deem adapted to their condition and their wants. I do not see, sir, how such a provision can be acceptable either to the people of the North or the South."
Upon the question, how many inhabitants a territory should contain before it should be formed into a political community, with the rights of self-government, Mr. Douglas said:
"The senator from Mississippi puts the question to me as to what number
of people there must be in a territory before this right to govern themselves accrues. Without determining the precise number, I will assume that the right ought to accrue to the people at the moment they have enough to constitute a government; and, sir, the bill assumes that there are people enough there to require a government, and enough to authorize the people to govern themselves.. Your bill concedes that a representative government is necessary a government founded upon the principles of popular sovereignty and the right of a people to enact their own laws; and for this reason you give them a Legislature composed of two branches, like the Legislatures of the different states and territories of the Union. You confer upon them the right to legislate on 'all rightful subjects of legislation,' except negroes. Why except negroes? Why except African slavery? If the inhabitants are competent to govern themselves upon all other subjects, and in reference to all other descriptions of property-if they are competent to make laws and determine the relations between husband and wife, and parent and child, and municipal laws affecting the rights and property of citizens generally, they are competent also to make laws to govern themselves in relation to slavery and negroes."
With reference to the protection of property in slaves, Mr. Douglas said:
"I have a word to say to the honorable senator from Mississippi (Mr. Davis). He insists that I am not in favor of protecting property, and that his amendment is offered for the purpose of protecting property under the Constitution. Now, sir, I ask you what authority he has for assuming that? Do I not desire to protect property because I wish to allow the people to pass such laws as they deem proper respecting their rights to property without any exception? He might just as well say that I am opposed to protecting property in merchandise, in steamboats, in cattle, in real estate, as to say that I am opposed to protecting property of any other description; for I desiro to put them all on an equality, and allow the people to make their own laws in respect to the whole of them."
Mr. Cass said (referring to the amendments offered by Mr. Davis and Mr. Chase):
"Now with respect to the amendments. I shall vote against them both; and then I shall vote in favor of striking out the restriction in the bill upon the power of the territorial governments. I shall do so upon this ground. I was opposed, as the honorable senator from Kentucky has declared he was, to the insertion of this prohibition by the committee. I consider it inexpedient and unconstitutional. I have already stated my belief that the rightful power of internal legislation in the territories belongs to the people."
After further discussion the vote was taken by yeas and nays on the amendment of Mr. Chase, and decided in the negative: yeas, 25; nays, 30. The question recurring on the amendment of Mr. Davis, of Mississippi, it was also rejected: yeas, 25; nays, 30. Whereupon Mr. Seward offered the following amendment:
"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, otherwise than by conviction for crime, shall ever be allowed in either of said Territories of Utah and New Mexico."
Which was rejected: yeas, 23; nays, 33.
After various other amendments had been offered and voted upon-all relating to the power of the territorial Legislature over slavery-Mr. Douglas moved to strike out all relating to African slavery, so that the territorial Legislature should have the same power over that question as over all other rightful subjects of legislation consistent with the Constitution-which amendment was rejected. After the rejection of this amendment, the discussion was renewed with great ability and depth of feeling in respect to the powers which the territorial Legislature should exercise upon the subject of slavery. Various
propositions were made, and amendments offered and rejected-all relating to this one controverted point-when Mr. Norris, of New Hampshire, renewed the motion of Mr. Douglas, to strike out the restriction on the territorial Legislature in respect to African slavery. On the 31st of July this amendment was adopted by a vote of 32 to 19-restoring this section of the bill to the form in which it was reported from the Committee on Territories on the 25th of March, and conferring on the territorial Legislature power over “all rightful subjects of legislation consistent with the Constitution of the United States," without excepting African slavery.
Thus terminated this great struggle in the affirmance of the principle, as the basis of the compromise measures of 1850, so far as they related to the organization of the territories, that the people of the territories should decide the slavery question for themselves through the action of their territorial Legislatures. This controverted question having been definitely settled, the Senate proceeded on the same day to consider the other portions of the bill, and after striking out all except those provisions which provided for the organization of the Territory of Utah, ordered the bill to be engrossed for a third reading, and on the next day-August 1, 1850-the bill was read a third time, and passed. On the 14th of August the bill for the organization of the Territory of New Mexico was taken up, and amended so as to conform fully to the provisions of the Utah Act in respect to the power of the territorial Legislature over "all rightful subjects of legislation consistent with the Constitution," without excepting African slavery, and was ordered to be engrossed for a third reading without a division; and on the next day the bill was passed-yeas, 27; nays, 10.
These two bills were sent to the House of Representatives, and passed that body without any alteration in respect to the power of the territorial Legislatures over the subject of slavery, and were approved by President Filmore. September 9, 1850.
In 1852, when the two great political parties-Whig and Democraticinto which the country was then divided, assembled in National Convention at Baltimore for the purpose of nominating candidates for the Presidency and Vice-Presidency, each convention adopted and affirmed the principles embodied in the compromise measures of 1850 as rules of action by which they would be governed in all future cases in the organization of territorial governments and the admission of new states.
On the 4th of January, 1854, the Committee on Territories of the Senate, to which had been referred a bill for the organization of the Territory of Nebraska, reported the bill back, with an amendment, in the form of a substitute for the entire bill, which, with some modifications, is now known on the statute book as the "Kansas-Nebraska Act," accompanied by a report explaining the principles upon which it was proposed to organize those territories, as follows:
"The principal amendments which your committee deem it their duty to commend to the favorable action of the Senate, in a special report, are those in which the principles established by the compromise measures of 1850, so far as they are applicable to territorial organizations, are proposed to be affirmed and carried into practical operation within the limits of the new territory. The wisdom of those measures is attested, not less by their salutary and beneficial effects in allaying sectional agitation and restoring peace and harmony to an irritated and distracted people, than by the cordial and almost universal approbation with which they have been received and sanctioned by the whole country.
"In the judgment of your committee, those measures were intended to have a far more comprehensive and enduring effect than the mere adjustment of the difficulties arising out of the recent acquisition of Mexican territory. They
were designed to establish certain great principles, which would not only furnish adequate remedies for existing evils, but, in all time to come, avoid the perils of a similar agitation, by withdrawing the question of slavery from the halls of Congress and the political arena, and committing it to the arbitrament of those who were immediately interested in and alone responsible for its consequences. With a view of conforming their action to the settled policy of the government, sanctioned by the approving voice of the American people, your committee have deemed it their duty to incorporate and perpetuate, in their territorial bill, the principles and spirit of those measures.
After presenting and reviewing certain provisions of the bill, the committee conclude as follows:
"From these provisions it is apparent that the compromise measures of 1850 affirm and rest upon the following propositions:
“First.—That all questions pertaining to slavery in the territories, and in the new states to be formed therefrom, are to be left to the decision of the people residing therein, by their appropriate representatives to be chosen by them for that purpose.
"Second. That all cases involving title to slaves and questions of personal freedom, are referred to the adjudication of the local tribunals, with the right of appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States.
"Third.-That the provision of the Constitution of the United States in respect to fugitives from service, is to be carried into faithful execution in all the organized territories, the same as in the states. The substitute for the bill which your committee have prepared, and which is commended to the favorable action of the Senate, proposes to carry these propositions and principles into practical operation, in the precise language of the Compromise
Measures of 1850.'"
By reference to that section of the "Kansas-Nebraskå Act" as it now stands on the statute book, which described and defined the power of the territorial Legislature, it will be seen that it is "in the precise language of the Compromise Measures of 1850," extending the legislative power of the territory "to all rightful subjects of legislation consistent with the Constitution," without excepting African slavery.
It having been suggested, with some plausibility, during the discussion of the bill, that the act of Congress of March 6, 1820, prohibiting slavery north of the parallel of 36° 30' would deprive the people of the territory of the power of regulating the slavery question to suit themselves while they should remain in a territorial condition, and before they should have the requisite population to entitle them to admission into the Union as a state, an amendment was prepared by the chairman of the Committee, and incorporated into the bill to remove this obstacle to the free exercise of the principle of popular sovereignty in the territory, while it remained in a territorial condition, by repealing the said act of Congress, and declaring the true intent and meaning of all the friends of the bill in these words:
"That the Constitution and all laws of the United States which are not locally inapplicable, shall have the same force and effect within the territory as elsewhere within the United States, except the eighth section of the act preparatory to the admission of Missouri into the Union, approved March 6, 1820, which being inconsistent with the principle of non-intervention by Congress with slavery in the states and territories, as recognized by the legislation of 1850, commonly called the Compromise Measures,' is hereby declared inoperative and void-it being the true intent and meaning of this act 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."
To which was added, on motion of Mr. Badger, the following: