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slavery, and many of them went so far as to give to the institution their countenance and support.
Very soon after the adoption of the Constitution, the slave power— vigilant and sagacious for its security - began to concentrate and entrench itself. Congress, in 1790, accepted from North Carolina, the territory now forming the State of Tennessee, upon condition, that that portion of the Ordinance of 1787, which secured freedom, should not be applied to it, and that no regulation should be made by Congress, which would tend to emancipate slaves. Following this came in 1796, the admission of Tennessee as a slave State.
The Capital of the Republic was, in 1790, located at Washington, in the District of Columbia, upon territory ceded for that purpose to the United States by Maryland and Virginia; and all the slave laws of these two States in a mass were extended over this territory, by which slavery was continued, in territory over which Congress had exclusive jurisdiction and control. This was a most important triumph of the slave power.
The Capital, to a considerable extent, gave tone to the national sentiment and opinion. This location of the Capital on slave territory, secured for slavery the sway of social influence and fashion. The power of Washington society and public opinion over the Executive, Judicial, and Legislative Departments of the government is felt to this day. There was ever in it down to the time of the advent of Lincoln a pro-slavery atmosphere, in which the officials of the government lived and moved and had their being. This atmosphere was never purified, until the thunderbolt of freedom and emancipation came during the administration of Abraham Lincoln. This location of the Capital gave to the aristocratic element the power of social ostracism, towards the friends of liberty, which was used for years with a tyranny and contemptuous pride and arrogance, which could only be found in an organization of slaveholders to uphold slavery.
The fugitive slave law of 1793, was passed to enable the master to follow the fugitive, seeking freedom; a law which in the light of to-day would be held by the Supreme Court of the United States a violation of the Constitution. The progress of the slave power was manifested by several Congressional enactments, designed for its protection.
In 1810, it was enacted by Congress that none but free white persons should be employed in carrying the mails. It had been already provided that none but white persons could be naturalized, or serve in the militia.
In 1802, Georgia ceded to the United States the country lying between her present Western boundary, and the Mississippi, carefully stipulating that the Ordinance of 1787, should be extended over it, excepting that clause which prohibited slavery. From this cession came the slave State of Alabama-admitted into the Union in 1819 — and the State of Jefferson Davis, Mississippi, admitted into the Union in 1817.
In 1803, the United States purchased for fifteen millions of dollars from France, the territory of Louisiana, where, at that time, there were 40,000 slaves.
In 1819, the United States purchased of Spain, the territory of Florida. From Louisiana were carved three slave StatesLouisiana admitted in 1812
1812 -- Missouri, in 1821, and Arkansas, in 1836. Florida was admitted in 1845. Thus the slave power had secured four new slave States from the original territory of the United States, viz: Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi; and from new territory purchased for its expansion, it had secured four other States, namely: Louisiana, Missouri, Arkansas and Florida. Not yet content, but still eager, and grasping power, the slaveholders determined to extend slave territory still further South, and as the first step, it resolved that Texas should be annexed. The leading slaveholding statesmen now boldly declared that Texas would make slavery secure, “it will give a Gibralter to slavery,” said one of them. The slave power pursued its purpose with sagacity and vigor, striking down and politically sacrificing every statesman who opposed its demands; especially all who threw obstacles in the way of this measure, which they regarded as vital to slavery.
Martin Van Buren, Thomas II. Benton, and Silas Wright, were among the more prominent victims sacrificed by the slaveholders because of their opposition to this scheme. It vis finally accomplished by Calhoun and Tyler, in 1845, by joint resolution of both houses of Congress. Thus slavery had secured nine slave States and eighteen Senators, to proteet the institution in what was called the great citadel of its power, the United States Senate.
The free States saw these vast accessions of political power in the hands of slaveholders, with uneasiness, and murmurs loud and deep began to be heard, but the cotton growing and manufacturing aristocracy rebuked these murmurs, and cried, peace, peace, to those who agitated for freedom. They seemed willing that the statesmen of the slave States should rule the country, if they might go on uninterrupted in their gains.
A most vigorous and determined effort was made to resist the encroachments of the slave power, when the attempt was madle to admit Missouri as a slave State. The contest over this question continued from 1819, to 1821, and was finally settled by what has been since known as the Missouri compromise, which was, that Missouri should be admitted into the Union as a slave State, without restriction, and that all territory North and West of Missouri, above latitude 36° 30" should be forever free.
The admission of this State was, on many accounts, a great epoch in the struggle between freedom and slavery. Both parties on this occasion put forth all their strength. Both were aroused to the inherent antagonism between each other. The contest was terminated by a victory of the slaveholders, and by a compromise long considered binding on both sections. A compromise which Douglas himself declared to be a sacred thing which no “ruthless hand would ever be reckless enough to disturb."
The importance of Missouri was not fully appreciated by the free States at that time. If Missouri had been introduced as a free State it would have been decisive of the controversy, and might have saved the republic from a long and bitter controversy —perhaps from the great civil war.
As a free State, Missouri would have been the centre of colonization from which free labor would have passed along the valleys of the Mississippi, the Missouri and the Arkansas, to the West, and to Northern Texas. As a slave State it crowded off the current of free labor to the Northwest. By this success the slaveholders secured the most commanding position in Central America, and prolonged the power of slavery for forty years. From that time until 1860, the control of slavery over the Federal Government was paramount. Free labor triumphed in California, and in Kansas, but by no aid of the Federal Government, and against its active influence.
From the Missouri struggle down to the Mexican war, the control of the slave power in the Federal Government was decided. The slaveholders always possessed a great advantage in that clause of the Constitution which gave them representation for their slaves. Under this clause a slaveholder owning five thousand slaves had a power in Congress, and in the electoral Colleges for President and Vice President, equal to that of three thousand freemen. Practically his power was far greater, because the slaveholders, few in number, bound together by a common interest, were ever a compact, vigilant, and sagacious body. Thus there grew up substantially, an order of nobility, an aristocracy of slaveholders at the South. The intellect of that portion of the Union was absorbed in politics, while in the free States it was engaged in all the varied pursuits of civilization. The mind of the free States was active in inventing labor-saving machinery; it produced the steam-engine, the cotton-gin; the electric telegraph; the reaping machine; it was opening canals; constructing railways; rivalling the world in ship building; creating a National literature; schools of painting and sculpture; and competing successfully with Europe in mechanism, in the products of skillful labor, in learning, science and the fine arts. The slave States, althcugh in a minority, largely monopolized the offices of power, profit, and influence under the government. They selected their ablest men, and trained them for, and kept them permanently in public life; while at the North a principle of rotation in office, kept many of its ablest men out of public life, and those who entered, held office for so short a period, that their ability to direct and govern, to make and administer the laws of the land, was greatly lessened.
Thus the slave power, ever watchful, a unit, grasping power, seized and held the reins of government.
The Capital of the Republic under these influences became a great slave mart. The old Commonwealth of Virginia, with her stern republican motto,“ Sic semper tyrannis,” sought wealth, and found poverty, and barbarism, in breeding slaves for sale to the cotton States on the Gulf of Mexico. The whole power, moral, political, and physical of the government, was wielded to uphold and maintain slavery. The Federal Government interfered to prevent emancipation in Cuba. It refused down to 1862, to hold diplomatic intercourse with Hayti, because it was a Republic of emancipated slaves.
The United States made war upon the Seminole Indians a tribe occupying a portion of Florida, because that tribe furnished refuge and asylum for escaped slaves. This Seminole war has been well described by a regular officer of the United States Army, as an extensive slave hunt, in which the United States were the leaders and slave hunters. The romantic hero of that war, Osceola, married a beautiful woman with some African blood in her veins, and his children and their mother were seized, carried off, and sold as slaves. The heroic Chief made a very gallant fight, but was most perfidiously, shamelessly entrapped and captured,while holding a friendly talk under a flag of truce. This was a sample of the “chivalry” produced by slavery! Yet such was the lethargy on the subject, that even such acts of atrocity did not arouse the American people to the barbarism of slavery.
It has already been stated that the slave power, desiring Texas, annexed and appropriated it. This was done while Mexico was yet carrying on war for its reduction. But all the acquisitions of slave territory already secured were not sufficient; the slaveholders determined to acquire additional territory South, for the expansion of their institution. Governor Wise, of Virginia, announced the purpose of the slaveholders in Congress, by declaring “slavery should pour itself abroad and have no limit but the Southern Ocean."