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MR. M'KEAN'S RESOLUTION.
assert, and your people assert, | again as Senators in one common council chamber Mr. Benjamin's that, under a just and fair in- of the nation, no more forever. We desire, we beSpeech. terpretation of the Federal seech you, to let this parting be in peace. I conjure Constitution, it is right to deny that our slaves, you to indulge in no vain delusion, that duty, or which, directly or indirectly, involve a value of conscience, or interest, or honor, impose upon you $4,000,000,000, are property at all, entitled to protec- the necessity of invading our States, and shedding tion in the Territories under and by the Govern- the blood of our people. You have no possible jusment. You assert that, by a fair interpretation of tification for it. I trust it is from no craven spirit, that instrument, it is right to encourage, by all pos- or any sacrifice of the dignity or honor of my own sible means, the robbery of this property, and to State, that I make this last appeal, but from far legislate so as to render its recovery as dangerous higher and holier motives. If, however, it shall and difficult as possible. You say that it is right and prove vain-if you are resolute to pervert the Govproper, under the Constitution, to prevent our mere ernment, framed by the fathers for the protection transit across a sister State, to embark with our of our rights, into an instrument for subjugating and property on a lawful voyage, without being openly enslaving us, then, appealing to the Supreme Judge despoiled of it. You assert that it is right and of the Universe for the rectitude of our intentions, proper to hold us up to the ban of mankind, in we must meet the issue you force upon us as best speeches and writings, as thieves, robbers, villains, becomes freemen defending all that is dear to man. and criminals of the blackest die, because we con- What may be the fate of this horrible contest none tinue to own property, which we owned at the time can foretell; but this much I will say, the fortunes we all signed the compact. You say it is right that of war may be adverse to your arms; you may carry we should be disposed to spend our treasure in the desolation into our peaceful land, and with torch and purchase, and our blood in the conquest of foreign firebrand may set our cities in flames; you may even territory, and yet have no right to enter it for set- emulate the atrocities of those who, in the days of tlement, without leaving behind our most valuable the Revolution, hounded on the bloodthirsty savage; property, under penalty of its confiscation. Your you may give the protection of your advancing fathers interpreted this instrument to mean safety armies to the furious fanatics who desire nothing and peace to all, and you say it is eminently in ac- more than to add the horrors of servile insurrection cordance with the surety that our welfare and peace to civil war; you may do all this, and more, but you is to be preserved, that our sister States should never can subjugate us; you never can convert the combine to prevent our growth and development, free sons of the soil into vassals, paying tribute to and surround us with a cordon of hostile communi- your power; you never can degrade them to a serties, for the express and avowed purpose of accuvile and inferior race; never, never, never!" mulating, in dense masses and within restricted limits, a population which you believe to be dangerous, and thereby forcing us to sacrifice a property nearly sufficient in value to pay the public debt of every nation in Europe. This construction of the instrument which was to preserve our security and promote our welfare, and which we only signed on your assurance that such was its object, you tell us now is a fair construction. You don't propose to enter our States, you say, to kill and destroy our institutions by force. Oh, no! You initiate the faith of Rhadamiscus, and you propose simply to inclose us in an embrace that will suffocate us."
After referring, at some length, to the anomalous opinion held by the Republicanssaying that they disliked the Southern States, but would not let them go-he closed as follows:
"Our Committee has reported this morning that no feasible scheme of adjustment can be devised. The day of adjustment has passed. If you propose to make one now, you are too late. And now, Benators, within a very few weeks we part, to meet
Intense excitement followed its conclusion. The crowded galleries gave vent to shouts of applause, clapping of hands, and huzzas, Mr. Mason, of Virginia, with a voice which rose above the din, demanded that the galle ries instantly be cleared. Mr. Yulee, of Flori da, moved to adjourn, and demanded a vote. Order was restored after the galleries were cleared, when Mr. Baker, of Oregon, having the floor, the Senate adjourned to Wednesday.
In the House, Monday, December 31st, a resolution of inquiry-similar to that of Mr. Wilson, in the Senate-was offered by Mr. McPherson, (Rep.,) of Pa., but was instantly objected to by Southern members, and was not, therefore, received. Mr. McKean, (Rep.,) of N. Y., asked leave to offer a resolution as follows:
"That the several States did not ordain and establish' this Government; that it was made
by the people of the United States in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity; that for such purpose the people withdrew from their several State Governments certain powers and vested them in one General Government, whose Constitution, laws, and treaties are the supreme law of the land, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding; that we are not thirty-three nations, but one nation, made such by the Constitution, and known to the world as the American nation; that any nation has the right of
self-preservation, the right to defend itself against
enemies from without and traitors within; that we believe this nation has the power to do so, and that it is its duty to exercise it."
This was also objected to by Southern members and was not received.
Mr. Bingham, (Rep.,) of Ohio, offered an important resolution empowering the President to collect the revenues. It was referred to the Judiciary Committee.
The Speaker laid before the House a communication from Mr. Floyd, giving his version of the acceptances extended to Mr. Russell for services to be performed. He justified the advance issue of the acceptances as absolutely necessary to assist the contractors in forwarding supplies, since the enormous sum required to carry out the provisions of the contract exceeded the ability of any ordinary firm. The close of his communication read as follows:
“I have now nearly brought my administration of
the War Department to a close, and I will be excused for adverting to it briefly. There is not one branch of the military service which is not in perfect order as far as any means are afforded of knowing, and they are very complete. Some have been particularly encouraged, and, I think, improved; discipline is excellent, and the accountability to superior authority in every department could scarcely be excelled. Strict economy is enforced, and perfect responsibility in all money expenditures is and has been successfully carried into effect within four years. Since I have presided in this Department, not a dollar, I believe, has been lost to Government by embezzlement or theft, and within that time sixty millions of dollars have been disbursed. No system of administration, no line of policy, I think, could reach better results; no system of accountability
could be more perfect. These facts I confidently assert, and the Department is everywhere full of the proofs of them. I invite any investigation which the House may think proper to institute into any or all of my official acts."
This was referred to the Select Committee on the Abstraction of the Bonds.
Another attempt was
made to get a resolution Exciting Resolutions. of inquiry before the House in regard to the President's course. Mr. Stevens, (Rep.) of Pennsylvania, offered a resolve requesting the President to communicate to the House, if not incompatible with the public interests, the condition of the forts, arsenals, and other property at Charleston; whether any measures have been taken to garrison and put them in condition, since it has become evident that South Carolina intended to secede; what troops were there then and now; whether any orders have been given to reinforce Fort Sumter, and what orders have been given to the officers; and whether any vessels of war have been ordered thither since the seizure of the forts by the rebels. This shared the fate of all other resolves looking to the same end, by the objec tion of a Southern man.
Mr. Pryor, of Virginia, introduced the following resolution :
"Resolved, That any attempt to preserve the union between the States of the Confederacy by force would be impracticable and destructive to republican liberty."
He instantly demanded the previous question, which was ordered, thus cutting off objections. An exciting warfare of words followed. Motions to lay on the table, to adjourn, for the question, &c., following in rapid succession, and a passage of words occurred between Barksdale, of Mississippi, and MacClernand, (Dem.) of Illinois. The vote on the tabling of the resolution stood, 98 ayes, 55 nays. This vote was regarded as significant of the Union strength in the House.
Mr. Stevens, of Pennsylvania, then sought to bring forward his resolve, above referred to, by a motion to suspend the rules. Lost, by 91 against 62-not two-thirds, as required to suspend. Mr. Stanton, (Rep.) of Ohio, having proposed a substitute, it was then adopted as an independent resolution. proposed that the Committee on Military
MR. BAKER'S SPEECH.
Affairs inquire and report how, to whom, and | Calhoun. He (Mr. Baker)
Wednesday's session of the Senate, (January 2nd,) was an interesting one. Before eleven o'clock the galleries, the lobbies, and the cloak-rooms were crowded, while a great multitude had gathered outside, unable to secure even a hearing place. Mr. Baker, the new Senator from Oregon, was to reply to Mr. Benjamin. His fame as an orator, and the position he was to assume as an exponent of the sentiment of the Pacific States, created much interest to hear him. His speech more than fulfilled expectation. It was an effort of great power, and was marked, throughout, with candor, earnestness and self-command. After complimenting the speech of Mr. Benjamin as the best yet made on the Southern side of the Senate, he said it still reminded him of what had once been said of a famous book:-"It is the best that could be said of what never ought to have been said at all." Benjamin sought to prove the Union to be actually dissolved. He (Baker) wished to contribute his poor argument to sustain the Government under which he lived, and under which he hoped to die. He desired to show that this Government was a substantial power, sovereign in its sphere-a Union (and not a compact between Sovereign States), which has a right to self-protection. Its Constitution is a perpetuity, and its power is equally capable of being exercised against domestic treason and a foreign foe. He would say, first, that the argument of the Senator (Mr. Benjamin) was based on an assumption that the Constitution of the United States is a compact between the Sovereign States, and that he thence argued that the compact was broken by one State. That South Carolina may withdraw from the Union was no new argument. It was a repetition of the famous discussion led by
denied, as Webster, Madison, and Jackson had denied, that the Constitution was simply a compact be tween Sovereign States. He referred to the authorities quoted by the Senator from Louisiana as being detached opinions, and extracts, and read copies of extracts from Madison to show that he was opposed to nullification. He thence proceeded to argue that Mr. Madison expressly declared that the Constitution was not a compact between Sovereign States. He read from Webster's works the opinion that no State had a right to dissolve its relation to the General Government, and there could be no secession without revolution. He then claimed that, according to Mr. Webster, the Government was a Government of the whole people, founded by individuals. He said the argument made against nullification would apply to secession, for secession bears the same relation to nullification as biography bears to history. As somebody said, history was biography with the brains knocked out; so nullification was secession with the brains knocked out. He then referred to the extract read by the Senator from an address made by J. Q. Adams, and said the Senator unwittingly left out the first part, where he said that nullification was an idea too absurd for argument, and too odious for discussion, and the right of a State to secede equally absurd. He then read the close of Mr. Adams' address, to the effect that the Constitution was the work of the people of the United States, and the United States, though double in numbers, are still one people. He then referred to the former attempts of South Carolina to do what she says she has done now. Was the President of the United States ready to do his whole duty? Whether there was such a President now he would leave for others to determine. He read an extract from the proclamation of Jackson. He (Baker) denied the assumption that States were sovereign or the Government sovereign. There was but one sovereign, and that was the people; and all arguments based on the sovereignty of a State were fallacy. He said the Constitution itself declares it was made by the people of the United States, and not by the States. The Senator from Loui
States, being one Government made by them.
Mr. Baker's Speech.
siana has read Vattel to show that a Sover- | light of that amendment, every argument which 1 eign State could withdraw from the comhave advanced from Jackson, Madison, Webster, pact. In answer, he would say, that South and Adams, all united in the proposition that this is Carolina was not a Sovereign State, and a Government made by the people of the United thought all arguments made with special ref-States, in their character of people of the United erence to European Sovereignties not exactly applicable here. Did the Senator mean to argue that there was a right of secession under the Constitution? Mr. Benjamin had asked what if South Carolina sent here two Senators and one was refused admittance? He thought South Carolina should first ask cause for such exclusion, but he supposed the Senator meant if it were right for a representative to be fraudulently denied his seat his State had a right to secede. He said the right of representation was inalienable, and if pertinaciously denied, may be repelled by all the force of the State, but such right is rebellion and revolutionary. He asked again if the right to secede sprang out of the Constitution?ents, without distinction of party, I, too, say I have not been, and never will be in favor of an uncondi tional repeal of the Fugitive Slave law. *
Objections, in answer, were interposed by Mr. Benjamin, in regard to the rights of the States guaranteed by the Constitution; the following passage occurred: Mr. Benjamin referred him to the ninth and tenth amendments to the Constitution.
Mr. Baker-Does the right to secede spring out of or belong to the Constitution? If so, where is it? Mr. Benjamin-I suppose the Senator will scarcely deny that the States have reserved to themselves, under the Constitution, every right not expressly denied to them by the Constitution, and I say the ninth and tenth amendments to the Constitution recognize the very right which I claim.
Mr. Baker-I have been endeavoring to show that, so far from its being true that the States had reserved all rights not delegated, they did not reserve anything, and there is no such thing as reservation by the States. The instrument was made by the people, and the reservations, if any, are by the people.
Mr. Benjamin-I ask the Senator whether or not, after the Constitution had been framed, amendments were proposed by nearly all the States to meet the very construction for which I am now contending, and for maintaining the very proposition against which the gentleman now argues, the amendments stating distinctly that the meaning of the Constitution was not that the Government was framed by the whole people, but that it was a delegation of power by the States, and the people of the States reserved to themselves the powers not expressly delegated?
Mr. Baker-The answer to that is, that, in the full
Mr. Baker, after some further interruptions, proceeded to refer to the Fugitive Slave law. He said :"You will find in the history of the debates, unsurpassed in the country, between the distinLincoln, that he was asked, for obvious purposes, what guished Senator from Illinois (Mr.Douglas) and Mr. his opinion was upon this Fugitive Slave law, and he replied, 'I do not now, nor never did stand in favor of an unconditional repeal of the Fugitive Slave law; and, Sir, I echo him, not because he is President, but because he is honest, wise and true. I reply with him, as a Senator on this floor, repeating what I believe to be the sentiments of my constitu
* "Now, Sir, have we in our platform, or in any resolution, or by any bill, have we evinced a disposition to repeal that Fugitive Slave law? Do we not abide by it on all occasions? Though many believe it is a hard bargain, yet it is so nominated in the bond, and we will endure it. When we make these statements, what is the reply? It is said: While your platform does not propose to repeal the Fugitive Slave law, there are States which pass Personal Liberty bills. Will gentlemen listen to our calm, frank, candid reply? The whole North is op. posed to nullification in any way, or upon any subject, and we will yield obedience-which is a better word than submission-we will yield obedience to any provision of the Constitution of the United States, as it is construed by the ultimate tribunal, and that has, we understand, declared that law to be constitutional. If, then, States have passed laws in violation of it, preventing it, or to hinder or defeat it, in my judgment, and what is of infinitely more consequence, the judgment of the whole North-west, those laws ought to be repealed. Not because South Carolina threatens-not because Louisiana will secede-but because we desire to yield obedience to those high obligations of right and duty. But the honorable gentleman knows very well that there is great doubt whether those laws are in any sense unconstitutional. We are told that some of them were made before the Fugitive Slave law was passed. We are told that the provisions of many of them are intended to secure personal liberty, independent of any question as to a Fugitive Slave law; but
MR. DAVIS' RESOLUTIONS.
whether that be so to any extent, or to what extent, we say, if it shall be proved before any competent tribunal, and, most of all, before the Supreme Court of the United States, that these laws do hinder, delay, or defeat the execution of that law, we will say, 'Let them be reformed altogether.' And, Sir, speak ing in my place, with some knowledge of the Repub
lican party-speaking by no authority of the President-elect, but because I have known him from my boyhood—I say that when the time arrives, when he shall be inaugurated in this Capitol, and exercise, in the chair of the Chief Magistrate, all the high responsibilities and duties of that place, that he will enforce the execution of all the laws of this Government, whether Revenue or Fugitive Slave law, or Territorial or otherwise, with the whole integrity of his character, and the whole power of the Government. Now, I ask my friend if that is not a fair and frank reply to anything he may say about differences of construction about the Fugitive Slave law?"
In regard to Mr. Benjamin's point of exception, that "the South complained, because holding property, which was recognized as property at the time of the formation of the Constitution by all the States, the North now undertakes to say, under the Constitution, that slaves are not property when found within the jurisdiction of the Federal Government, outside of certain States. They complain that the Federal Government does not recognize slaves as property in the Territories, at the same time it does recognize it on the high seas."
Mr. Baker replied:
“I understand what the Senator now says to be nothing more than a specification by item of the causes of complaint. There is this difference of opinion; we too believe that Slavery is the creation of the local laws, and does not, of its own force, extend beyond that jurisdiction. We do believe, when Senators claim the contrary, that they interpolate a new reading in the Constitution, and violate the cardinal belief which has been entertained in other and better days by distinguished statesmen of this country, and by their very party and their very organization, and beyond that which is entertained by the whole civilized world. Slavery is the creature of local law. But we do not deny that it is property at all. The whole extent of our offense is found
alone in the earnest recognition of the great doctrines of civilization and humanity, and of common law, and of universal law."
Mr. Baker then quoted from a speech of Senator Butler, where he said the South did not wish to extend Slavery. He only wished
to have hands off. If that was the opinion of South Carolina then, and if it be not truly the opinion of South Carolina now, then he would appeal from Philip, from Philip drunk to Philip sober. He quoted further from a speech made by Mr. Buchanan in 1845, and also from a speech made by Mr. Clay in 1850, contending against the right to take slaves in the Territories; and still further, to make the testimony overwhelming, he quoted from a speech made by Mr. Cass at Detroit in 1854, taking the ground that, if Slavery could go into the Territories, it might go into a State in the same way. This last great leader of the Democracy has shown in the great crisis that he loved the country more than State, place, power, or party. May his memory remain green in American hearts forever and forever!
The hour for adjournment having arrived, Mr. Baker gave way for the motion to adjourn. Pending the motion, Davis, of Mississippi, asked and obtained leave to present the following: