Page images





scenes of murder between the two races as has never been seen or heard of in the world's history. Such, in my opinion, is the inevitable result, and such is the policy of the Free States. They understand, as well as I do, how these things work out,

many propositions to indicate somewhat the direction Congressional sentiment was taking. Most of the plans, in one way or another, proposed a restoration of the Missouri Compromise line as the basis of adjustment. and it is especially their course to bring about this Monday was spent in the Senate, in mere very state of things, and in that very form. Long interchanges of opinion. A number of Sena- before these events occur the Free States will be tors made remarks-all expressive of a wish swelled by a majority that is irresistible. The Borfor the adjustment of differences, except those der States will be free, the Territories west will be made by the Gulf State Senators. The views planted into States by the hot-bed process of Northof Messrs. Douglas, Crittenden, Bigler, La-ern abolition emigration, and the South will be lying * * They comtham, King, Dixon, all were characterized by at the very feet of the North. moderation, and gave promise of harmony of plain of us that we make so much noise and confusion about the Fugitive Slave law when we do not action. In the House the question of excuslose any slaves; but it is not for the want of good ing Mr. Hawkins, of Florida, from serving on faith in the Northern States, so far as the reclamathe Committee of Thirty-three, was discussed tion of fugitive slaves is concerned, that the Southby Messrs. Hawkins, Vallandigham, McClernard, Sickles, &c. No conclusion was arrived at. The next day (Tuesday) was consumed in the discussion, but without a vote. In the Senate, Tuesday, an important speech was made by Iverson, of Georgia, in the course of which he declared against compromise or settlement upon any terms. He said, among other things :

Iverson's Speech.

I tell the Senators here to day that the Southern people will never be satisfied with anything short of Congressional protection to Slavery in the Territories. We know our rights under the constitution. We stand as equal States in this Confede

ern States are moving in this great revolution. We
look infinitely beyond this petty loss of a few ne-
groes. We know what is coming. Sir, in this Union,
it is universal emancipation, and the turning loose
upon society, in the Southern States, of the mass of
corruption which will be made by emancipation.
And we intend to avoid it if we can.
* I do
not believe any concessions can be obtained; and if
they are obtained, of what value would they be,
granted in a state of fear? I do not use this word in
But the North, if it yields at
any offensive sense.
all, yields to the fear that the South is going to dis-


solve the Union. What value would such concessions be to the South? None, sir, as long as a vitiated public sentiment of abolition exists. And when

is that going to decay? Never, so long as the Union lasts. * * * I believe the question is settled, and no power this side of Heaven can avert the result South Carolina has determined to risk all on this die, and other States will follow. Those west of the Mis

solved is a fixed fact, and no tinkering of the Constitution or of committees of thirty-three or thirteen

racy, and we are entitled to equal participation in the common property. We know well that we never can enjoy equal possession of the territories without protection to our property. I know well where the Wilmot proviso and non-intervention squatter sovereignty would lead. It would lead to the total exclu-sissippi are moving. That this Union is to be dission of the Southern States from any Territory which is now possessed, or may be hereafter acquired. We will never submit to any such dictation as that. We are entitled to the protection of our property, and we intend to have it; in the Union if we can get it, and out of the Union if we cannot get it in. * We have now in the United States four millions and a half of slaves. They increase, according to the

[ocr errors]

last Census bill, at the rate of about thirty-two per

cent every ten years. If you precipitate all this population into eight or ten Gulf States, we will have, in ten years, 6,000,000, in twenty years we shall have 8,000,000 or 9,000,000, and in thirty years 12,000,000 to 15,000,000. In less than twenty years the slave population of the South will largely preponderate over the white. Then will come universal emancipation by the Federal Government, and such

can avert the consequence."

Wigfall, of Texas, followed this, on Wednesday, with a violent speech to the same purpose as that by Iverson, though much less coherent and dignified.

In the House, Wednesday was literally a day of resolves. Resolutions for "saving the Union" were introduced by twenty-two members. Those by Mr. Sherman, (Republican) of Ohio, attracted the most remark outside the halls of Congress:—

"Resolved, That the only true and effectual remedy for the dissensions that now exist be

Significant Reso


[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

Resolved, That to avoid all further controversies

the Free and Slave States in the Senate; and particularly, whether this end can be accomplished, by a voluntary division, on the part of some of the Slave States, into two or more States.*

Mr. Cochrane, (Democrat) of New York, introduced propositions for amendment to the Constitution, as follows:

66 Whereas, a conflict of opinion dangerous to the peace and permanence of the Union has arisen, con

in regard to the several Territories of the United cerning the true intent and meaning of the Constitu tion of the United States, in relation to the subject of African Slavery; therefore

States, said committee divide said Territories into States of convenient size, with a view to their prompt admission into the Union, on an equal footing with

the other States."

One by Mr. Bingham, (Republican) of Ohio, provided that the special Committee of Thirtythree report to the House such additional legislation as they may deem necessary to suppress and put down armed rebellion against the laws and authority of the United States; to protect the property thereof against unlawful seizure, and the citizens thereof against unlawful violence. This was the first resolve which. looked to the compulsion of the President to do his duty.

Mr. English, (Democrat) of Indiana, came forward with a proposition to give half of the Territories to the South, in which Slavery should be recognized by the resolution of partition. But the most singular proposition came from Mr. Noell, (Democrat) of Missouri, who introduced resolutions instructing the special committee to take into consideration the propriety and necessity of abolishing, by amendment to the Constitution, the office of President, and of establishing, in lieu thereof, an executive council, consisting of three members, to be elected by districts composed of the contiguous States, as near as practicable, each member of said council to be armed with a veto power, such as is now vested in the President; and if such plan be deemed practicable by said special committee, that they report to this House such details thereof as may be necessary to accommodate the same to the existing Constitution of the United States; and that said special committee also be requested to take into consideration the means necessary, if any can be devised, to restore the equilibrium between


Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives, (two-thirds of both Houses concurring) that the following article be proposed as an amendment to the Constitution, which, when ratified by Convention in three-fourths of the several States, shall be valid as part of said Constitution, viz. :

"In all the territory of the United States lying North of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes, and not included within the limits of any of the existing States, Slavery and involuntary servitude, except in punishment of crime, shall be and is hereby prohibited. Provided that the said Territory, or any portion of the same, when admitted as a State, shall be received into the Union with or without Slavery, as its Constitution may prescribe at the time of its admission. That in all territory of the United States lying South of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes, not included within the limits of any existing State, neither Congress nor any Territorial Government shall pass any laws prohibiting or impairing the establishment of Slavery. Provided, always, that the said Territory, or any part of it, when admitted as

a State, shall be received into the Union with or without Slavery, as its Constitution may prescribe at the time of admission. Congress shall pass no law prohibiting or interfering with the trade in slaves between the Slaveholding States and Territories. The migration or importation of slaves within the United States, or any of the Territories thereof, from any foreign country, is hereby prohibited. No person held to service or labor in any State, or in any Territory of the United States, under the laws thereof, escaping into any other State or Territory of the United States, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such

* This singular scheme of government was Mr. Calhoun's idea of two Presidents strengthened by

one from the West. Mr. Benton characterized Calhoun's idea as similar to that of horses hitched to each end of a plow, and pulling in opposite direc tions.


service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due. The right of transit through, and temporary sojourn in, the several States and Territories of the United States, is hereby guaranteed to all the citizens of the several States and Territories, and their right to the possession and control of their slaves during such sojourn and transit shall not be impugn ed. No law enacted by Congress for the rendition of fugitive slaves shall be in any degree impaired or impugned by anything contained in the laws or Constitution of any State or Territory, but all such State and Territorial Laws, and all such provisions in an y State or other Constitution, shall be null and


Mr. Adrian, (Dem.) of New Jersey, resolved that non-intervention was the true remedy. Mr. Hindman (Dem.) of Arkansas, proposed amendments to the Constitution expressly recognizing property in slaves where Slavery now exists, or may hereafter exist, and express the denial of the Federal Government to prohibit or interfere with it anywhere, or restrict the trade in slaves between the States; also, to express an agreement to protect Slavery wherever the Federal jurisdiction extends, and guarantee the protection of slaves while passing through the Free States; any State defeating or impairing the Fugitive law not to be entitled to representation in Congress until the nullifying laws be repeal

ed, &c.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

The above propositions were severally read and referred to the Committee of Thirty-three. They are given here as indicative of the feeling on the floors of Congress of leading men of each party and section, and are only of interest as such an indication.

In the Senate, on Thursday, Johnson, (Dem.) of Tennessee, introduced important resolutions specifying amendments to the Constitution. Wigfall continued his harangue of the previous day In the House Mr.Morris (Dem.) of Illinois, made another attempt to introduce a resolution declaratory of attachment to the Union: "That we will speak of it as the palladium of our political safety and prosperity; that we will watch its preservation with jealous anxiety; that we will discountenance whoever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned, and indignantly frown upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts;


among other things the resolution declares we regard the perpetuity of the Union as of more value than the temporary triumph of any party, or any man; that whatever evils or abuses exist under it are fit to be corrected within the Union in a peaceful and constitutional way; that we believe it has sufficient power to redress every wrong and enforce every right growing out of its organization or pertaining to its proper functions; and that it is a patriotic duty to stand by it, as our hope in and our defence in war." As on former occasions, Southern men objected to the reception of the resolution, and, under the rules, it was not admitted.


The two Houses adjourned over from Thursday to Monday, Dec. 17th.





to reinforce the forts, and his confession of a want of power to coerce a State, served to reassure the Secession members named, and they remained. Mr. Cobb, however, was con

*The manner in which Jackson discharged his duty when, in 1832, he was placed in a position nearly analogous, may be learned from his letter to Rev. J. S. Crawford, May 1st, 1833:

THE position assumed by | preparing for revolution. It daily became The President's the President was anoma- apparent that he lacked courage, candor, Timid Policy. lous and perplexing. His sagacity, and devotion to his constitutional Message denied the right of a State to with- oath; and the people felt that the greatest draw from the Union, asserted that the reve- peril was the President's incapacity for the nues must be collected, but confessed no crisis.* power existed to coerce a State. Following It is known that several members of the up the dispatch of the message to Congress Cabinet strongly opposed the doctrines of the was the dispatch of Assistant Secretary of President's Message, regarding a State's right State, Trescott, to Columbia, to prevail upon to withdraw from the Union, and that imthe Legislature not to order a Convention; portant modifications were made by Mr. Buor, if secession was predetermined, to post-chanan to appease Messrs. Cobb, Floyd, and pone the act until compromise schemes Thompson. The promise of the President not could be acted upon; or, if secession was inevitable, to beg that no attempt should be made against the forts which he, as President, pledged his word should not be reinforced. The country looked to him as the guardian of its Constitution, to care for its prosperity, to enforce its laws, to pilot it safely through its peril; but, all classes became impressed with the President's unfitness, soon after the opening of Congress. He literally trifled with treason, taking no steps whatever to ticipate the conspiracy against the Union, nor to provide for the safe keeping of its property in the Southern States. Why don't he reinforce, and place in a state of efficient defence, the forts at Charleston, Savannah, Key West, Pensacola, Mobile, and at the mouths of the Mississippi? Why don't he place the rich stores of arms and munitions in the U. S. arsenals at Wilmington, Charleston, Augusta, Baton Rouge, under a strong guard? Why is not the immensely valuable and available property in Norfolk and Pensacola navy yards placed in a state of defence * and usefulness? Few could answer, and the fact became daily apparent that he did not propose to anticipate the course of events by

"I have had a laborious task here, but nullification is dead, and its actors and courtiers will only be re

an-membered by the people to be execrated for their wicked designs to sever and destroy the only good Government on the globe, and that prosperity and happiness we enjoy over every other portion of the world. Haman's gallows ought to be the fate of all such ambitious men who would involve the country in civil war, and all the evils in its train, that they might reign and ride on its whirlwinds, and direct the storm. The free people of the United States have spoken, and consigned these wicked demagogues to their proper doom. Take care of your nullifiers you have among you. Let them meet the indignant frowns of every man who loves his country. The tariff, it is now well known, was a mere pretext

* Therefore, the tariff was the only pretext, and disunion and a Southern Confederacy the real object. The next pretext will be the Negro, or the Slavery question."

Resignation of Mr.



strained to resign, December 10th. Unable | Mr. Buchanan listened to his evil advisers, to extricate the Treasury from its threat- and resolved to respect the promise he had ened bankrupt condition, he could not, in unwisely made to South Carolina through consistency, retain "the keys;" and the con- Mr. Trescott, not to give Anderson men venient pretext offering of enough to save the forts in Charleston from a "difference with the Pres- seizure-for this was the effect of a non-reindent's views," he seized it, forcement. resigned, and almost immediately returned to Georgia to assume a leader's place in the secession drama. He left behind him a reputation untainted by a want of integrity; but an empty treasury attested his want of ability, and a complicity with the leaders in revolution against the Government gave evidence that, of two masters, he served one with his hand, the other with his heart.

Mr. Toucey, Secretary of the Navy, assumed the duties of the Treasury Department until, a few days later, Mr. Thomas, of Maryland, Commissioner of Patents, accepted the vacant chair.

Major Anderson's

Little was publicly known of the actual condition of the forts in Charleston harbor. It was certain that Major Anderson, in command at Fort Moultrie, was working his men to their utmost strength, in placing that fortress in a position for defence; and it was, also, reported at Charleston that workmen were very busy in Fort Sumter mounting guns; but, the true strength of these fortresses, and Anderson's ability for resistance to an assault, were matters with which the public could gain very little reliable information. The fact, however, that Anderson had but two companies of artillery under his command was sufficiently well understood to cause serious apprehensions for his safety as early as Dec. 10th. On the 13th the question of his reinforcement was discussed with considerable feeling in the Cabinet. Messrs. Cass and Toucey took the position that the reinforcement ought instantly to be made at all hazards-that, giving offence to South Carolina was the last consideration which should prevail to deter the President from doing his duty in placing the forts out of danger; but, the other members of the Cabinet insisted that such an act would "complicate" the question of settlement, and be "construed into the offensive design to coerce the State" therefore it must not be done, and it was not done,

General Cass' Resig nation.

Anderson asked for no additional forceleaving all to those who knew his needs and the extremity to which he must be reduced if he sought, in good earnest, to hold the fortress of Moultrie. He was ordered to the Charleston defences Nov. 18th, at the earnest wish of Gen. Scott, who reposed great reliance on the Major's discretion and loyalty. The selection proved, in every respect, satisfactory, for his indomitable will made a host out of his little band. By day and night the men worked in the fort, Moultrie, to render it defensible from the land side. All was done that industry and good engineering could effect, and the old fort, by Dec. 15th, assumed a more formidable look than it ever had worn. Two hundred men could have defended it against ten thousand. Mr. Cass resigned his seat in the Cabinet on the 14th. After the decision made in the meeting on the evening of the 13th, he could not remain in the counsels of the President. Too good a patriot to connive at treason, and too honest an officer to disregard his oath of fealty to the Constitution, he could not remain in an administration which refused to resort to " coercion," so far as to protect thirty millions of Government property from seizure. His resignation caused profound regret throughout the entire portion of the still loyal community, but gave a corresponding pleasure to the disunionists, since it indicated a line of policy in the Executive which would allow their schemes to develop without obstacle or danger. Attorney-General J. S. Black assumed the vacated chair. Unlike the Ex-Secretary of the Treasury, who hastened from Washington after his resignation, General Cass remained at the Capitol to lend his influence to carry the country through its peril. The good ship of state was indeed in danger of "beaching," but faithful hands and stout hearts might yet save her. General Cass gave his wise

« PreviousContinue »