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THE CONCILIATION BILL
Lazarus W. Powell [Ky.] Moves in the Senate That a Committee of Thirteen Be Appointed to Report a Plan for Reconciling the North and the South-Speech of Senator Powell-Propositions of Preston King [N. Y.], James S. Green [Mo.], Milton S. Latham [Cal.]-Debate on the Powell Resolution: Lafayette S. Foster [Conn.], Stephen A. Douglas [Ill.], Jefferson Davis [Miss.], Charles Sumner [Mass.], James Dixon [Conn.], Albert G. Brown [Miss.], George E. Pugh [0.], Judah P. Benjamin [La.], John P. Hale [N. H.], Alfred Iverson [Ga.], James M. Mason [Va.], William Bigler [Pa.], Senator Powell, Benjamin F. Wade [O.], Louis T. Wigfall [Tex.], William H. Seward [N. Y.], Kingsley S. Bingham [Mich.]-John J. Crittenden [Ky.] Introduces Compromise Resolutions: Debate, Senators Crittenden, Hale, Willard Saulsbury [Del.], Andrew Johnson [Tenn.], John Slidell [La.], Joseph Lane [Ore.], Senator Pugh, Alfred O. P. Nicholson [Tenn.], James R. Doolittle [Wis.], Senator Brown, Senator Benjamin, Edward D. Baker [Ore.], Senator Douglas, Robert Toombs [Ga.]-Message of President Buchanan on the Subject-Debate Continued: Senator Davis, Lyman Trumbull [Ill.], Robert M. T. Hunter [Va.], James Harlan [Ia.], Senator Seward-Daniel Clark [N. H.] Offers Substitute for the Crittenden Resolutions-It Is Carried-The Peace Convention; Its Plan Is Negatived by Congress-Alexander R. Boteler [Va.] Moves in the House to Appoint a Committee of Thirty-three (One Representative from Each State) to Prepare a Plan of Conciliation with States Contemplating Secession-Committee Appointed, with Thomas Corwin [O.] ChairmanVarious Plans of Conciliation Referred to the Committee of Thirty-three -William A. Howard [Mich.] Moves Resolution of Inquiry into the Situation of Fort Sumter; Carried-A Majority and Two Minority Reports Presented by the Committee-Crittenden Plan of Conciliation Rejected, and Corwin Plan Adopted-Corwin Constitutional Amendment Forbidding Congress to Interfere with Slavery in the States Is Passed by House and Senate-Farewell Address of Jefferson Davis [Miss.] to the Senate-Territorial Organization of Colorado, Nevada, and Dakota Without Slavery.
N December 6, 1860, Lazarus W. Powell [Ky.] moved in the Senate to refer that part of the President's message which related to the present crisis to a Committee of Thirteen, to report a plan of averting disunion.
Senator Powell said that while legislation guaranteeing no interference with slavery would not restore harmony to the country it would be palliative, indicating good feeling on the part of the States in the Union to those out of it, and so preparing for friendly relations.
THE CONCILIATION BILL
SENATE, DECEMBER 10, 1860-FEBRUARY 4, 1861
In the succeeding days various amendments of Senator Powell's resolutions and additions thereto were made, with suggestions of kindred measures which would cement the Union.
Preston King [N. Y.] proposed to add the words "and persons" to "rights of property," which were to be protected throughout the country.
James S. Green [Mo.] desired that the Committee of Judiciary inquire into the property of establishing an armed police force between the slave and free States to prevent invasion of one State by another, and to execute the Fugitive Slave Law.
Milton S. Latham [Cal.], taking advantage of the crisis in behalf of his State, urged the building of a Pacific railroad as a means of insuring the loyalty of the people beyond the Rocky Mountains. (This was made a part of the Republican program, passing the Republican House though defeated in the anti-Republican Senate.)
Lafayette S. Foster [Conn.] took occasion to remind the Senate that the Democratic party was in power in the country.
Stephen A. Douglas [Ill.] deplored looking at the question from a partisan standpoint.
I had hoped that we could lay aside our party feuds until we had saved the country, and then, if we must, let us quarrel about who shall govern it afterwards. I am ready to act with any party, with any individual of any party, who will come to this question with an eye single to the preservation of the Constitution and the Union. [Manifestations of approbation in the gallery.] I do not desire to hear the word party, or to listen to any party appeal, while we are considering and discussing
the questions upon which the fate of the country now hangs. [Applause in the galleries.]
Jefferson Davis [Miss.] deplored the spirit in which emendations of Senator Powell's resolution had been offered.
One Senator presents, as a cure for the public evil impending over us, to invest the Federal Government with such physical power as properly belongs to monarchy alone. Another announces that his constituents cling to the Federal Government if its legislative favors and its treasury secure the works of improvement and facilities which they desire; while another rises to point out that the evils of the land are of a party character. Sir, we have fallen upon evil times, indeed, if the great convulsion which now shakes the body-politic to its center is to be dealt with by such quack nostrums as these. Men must look more deeply, must rise to a higher altitude; like patriots, they must confront the danger face to face, if they hope to relieve the evils which now disturb the peace of the land and threaten the destruction of our political existence.
First of all, we must inquire what is the cause of the evils which beset us? The diagnosis of the disease must be stated before we are prepared to prescribe. Is it the fault of our legislation here? If so, then it devolves upon us to correct it, and we have the power. Is it the defect of the federal organization, of the fundamental law of our Union? I hold that it is not. Our fathers, learning wisdom from the experiments of Rome and of Greece-the one a consolidated republic, and the other strictly a confederacy-and taught by the lessons of our own experiment under the Confederation, came together to form a constitution for "a more perfect union," and, in my judgment, made the best government which has ever been instituted by man. It required only that it should be carried out in the spirit in which it was made; that the circumstances under which it was made should continue, and no evil can arise under this Government for which it has not an appropriate remedy. Then it is outside of the Government-elsewhere than to its Constitution, or to its administration-that we are to look. Men must not creep in the dust of partisan strife and seek to make points against opponents as the means of evading or meeting the issues before us. The fault is not in the form of the Government, nor does the evil spring from the manner in which it has been administered. Where, then, is it? It is that our
fathers formed a government for a union of friendly States; and, though under it the people have been prosperous beyond comparison with any other whose career is recorded in the history of man, still that union of friendly States has changed its character and sectional hostility has been substituted for the fraternity in which the Government was founded.
The hearts of a portion of the people have been perverted by that hostility, so that the powers delegated by the compact of union are regarded, not as means to secure the welfare of all, but as instruments for the destruction of a part, the minority section. How, then, have we to provide a remedy? By strengthening this Government? By instituting physical force to overawe the States, to coerce the people living under them as members of sovereign communities to pass under the yoke of the Federal Government? No, sir; I would have this Union severed into thirty-three fragments sooner than have that great evil befall constitutional liberty and representative government. Our Government is an agency of delegated and strictly limited powers. Its founders did not look to its preservation by force; but the chain they wove to bind these States together was one of love and mutual good offices. They had broken the fetters of despotic power; they had separated themselves from the mother country upon the question of community independence; and their sons will be degraded indeed if, clinging to the mere name and forms of government, they forge and rivet upon their posterity the fetters which their ancestors broke.
But it has been said that we should not discuss the cause of existing evils. Then how are we to ascertain the appropriate remedy? It is our duty to discuss the cause and confront the danger as men resolved to perform the public service as best may serve the common good, and equally resolved not to engage in a scramble of party strife and crimination, either for party or personal advantage. It is only by laying bare the disease that we are to find a remedy. It is an ulcer. Cautery, not plasters, must be applied to it.
Then where is the remedy? the question may be asked. In the hearts of the people, is the ready reply; and, therefore, it is that I turn to the other side of the Chamber, to the majority section, to the section in which have been committed the acts that now threaten the dissolution of the Union. I call on you, the representatives of that section, here and now to say so, if your people are not hostile; if they have the fraternity with which their fathers came to form this Union; if they are prepared to do justice; to abandon their opposition to the Constitu
tion and the laws of the United States; to recognize and to maintain and to defend all the rights and benefits the Union was designed to promote and to secure. Give us that declaration, give us that evidence of the will of your constituency to restore us to our original position, when mutual kindness was the animating motive, and then we may hopefully look for remedies which may suffice; not by organizing armies, not so much by enacting laws, as by repressing the spirit of hostility and lawlessness, and seeking to live up to the obligations of good neighbors and friendly States united for the common welfare.
To dwell upon anti-fugitive slave laws is to deal with the symptom only valuable as it indicates the disease which demands attention. What though all the "personal liberty bills" were repealed: would that secure our rights? Would that give us the Union our fathers made? Would that renew good offices, or restrain raids and incendiarism, or prevent schools being founded to prepare missionaries to go into lands where they are to sow the seeds of insurrection, and, wearing the livery of heaven, to serve the devil by poisoning wells and burning towns? These are offences such as no people can bear; and the remedy for these is in the patriotism and the affection of the people if it exists; and, if it does not exist, it is far better, instead of attempting to preserve a forced and therefore fruitless Union, that we should peacefully part and each pursue his separate course. It is not to this side of the Chamber that we should look for propositions; it is not here that we can ask for remedies. Complaints, with much amplitude of specification, have gone forth from the members on this side of the Chamber heretofore. It is not to be expected that they will be renewed, for the people have taken the subject into their own hands. States, in their sovereign capacity, have now resolved to judge of the infractions of the federal compact and of the mode and measure of redress. All we can usefully or properly do is to send to the people thus preparing to act for themselves evidence of error, if error there be; to transmit to them the evidence of kind feeling, if it actuates the Northern section, where they now believe there is only hostility. If we are mistaken as to your feelings and purposes, give a substantial proof, that here may begin that circle which hence may spread out and cover the whole land with proofs of fraternity, of a reaction in public sentiment, and the assurance of a future career in conformity with the principles and purposes of the Constitution. All else is idle. I would not give the parchment on which the bill would be written which is to secure our constitutional