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measure as a means of preventing a fearful struggle in Congress on the slavery question. Mr. King spoke for the whig administration, and Mr. Gwynn, of Mississippi, afterwards Senator of that State, spoke to, and for, the democracy, urging the same course. King, after relating the history of the Wilmot proviso, said: “We cannot settle this question on the other side of the Rocky Mountains; we look to you to settle it by becoming a State.”
The friends of freedom on the Eastern side of the continent had feeble hopes of success in the Constitutional Convention of California; they rather expected to be compelled to make the fight in Congress on the question of the admission of that territory as a slave State. There was then no telegraph spanning the continent, and the mails were slow and tedious in bringing news from the Pacific to the Atlantic cast. Few more thrilling items from that distant shore were ever received, than the intelligence that the new Constitution contained the provision that, “ There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, otherwise than in punishment of crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” It was the death knell of slavery. The miners, the laborers of California, would not tolerate the competition of the aristocratic slaveholder with his gang of slaves, and uniting with those who opposed slavery from moral principle, they triumphed over the advocates of slavery and secured the adoption of this Constitution by the people, and the new State with her Constitution securing freedom for all, presented herself at the Capital for admission into the Union. To the free laborers from the North, and especially the miners who had crossed the mountains for gold, was this unexpected result to be attributed.
The slave power, although it had urged the formation of a State government, now wheeled about and opposed the admission of California. Had California come as a slave State, they would have welcomed her, but as a free State, she should not come in if they could prevent it.
After long debate, Mr. Clay reported a series of measures known as the Compromise Measures of 1850. These measures were in substance :
1. The admission of California as a free State under her Constitution.
2. The establishment of Territorial governments for New Mexico and Utah, without the Wilmot proviso excluding slavery, and providing for their admission as States into the Union with or without slavery as the people should decide.
3. The recognition of the claim of Texas to near 90,000 square miles of free soil situated above the line of 36° 30"; and the payment to Texas of ten millions for her relinquishment of New Mexico.
4. The abolition of the slave trade in the District of Columbia.
5. A new and stringent fugitive slave law, drawn by Mason of Virginia, avowedly to humiliate the free States, and by which all the defences of personal liberty on behalf of the accused were effectually destroyed.
These measures were finally forced through Congress, and the leading politicians of both the great parties declared this should be a finality, and they drew up a paper and signed it, pledging each other to oppose any man who would not regard them as such. The great Senatorial leaders thought now, that the agitation of the slavery question was forever silenced, forgetting that the voice of justice and liberty cannot be silenced.
REPEAL OF THE MISSOURI COMPROMISE AND THE STRUGGLE FOR
THE THIRTY-THIRD CONGRESS_Douglas INTRODUCES THE KANSASNEBRASKA BILL-DEBATE UPON IT IN THE SENATE — DOUGLAS —CHASE --SEWARD --SUMNER — TOOMBS — Mason-HUNTER — SLIDELL— HOUSTON – PASSAGE OF THE BILL— STRUGGLE OVER ITS PASSAGE IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES — BENTONRICHARDSON-CAMPBELL-WASHBURNE-STEPHENS OF GEORGIA - PASSAGE OF THE BILL THROUGH THE HOUSE STRUGGLE BETWEEN FREE AND SLAVE STATE MEN FOR KANSAS–GENERAL ATCHISON John BROWN-LANE AND ROBINSON.
S in the territory out of which Kansas and Nebraska
were to be organized, slavery had been, by the Missouri Compromise, solemnly prohibited foiever; thus far, in all the violence of the conflict between free and slave labor, no hand had been “ruthless" enough to attack what was regarded as a sacred compact.
But the contest became more and more bitter. The Thirtythird Congress convened December, 1853, and its action so powerfully affected the anti-slavery agitation, by the struggle over the repeal of the Missouri restriction, that it becomes a point of departure in the anti-slavery history of the country. The action of this Congress secured the early triumph of the anti-slavery, or republican party. When Senator Douglas, as chairman of the Committee on Territories, in the bill organizing territories, introduced a section, repealing the prohibition of slavery, it startled the people of the free States,
NOTE.- I am indebted to the personal recollections of my late colleague, Hon. E. B. Washburne, for much of the material and language of the sketch of the repeal of the Missouri ('ompromise.
like a clap of thunder in a clear sky. Designed to extend and strengthen slavery, it was a powerful blow towards its destruction. The struggle in Congress, over this question, was so important, that it is given with such fullness of detail as will illustrate the fierceness of the conflict and the irresistible power of slavery at that time.
The Presidential election, in 1852, resulting in the election of Franklin Pierce, practically put an end to the old whig party. The celebrated compromise measures of 1850, already spoken of, were fully endorsed by that election, in his elevation to the Presidency. General Scott, who ran as the whig candidate, only received the votes of four States. then said, boastingly and sneeringly, that the slavery question was forever settled, and that the abolitionists and agitators were crushed. The institution, to the shame of the people, received at that election, a very full and complete recognition. The chivalry of the South, living by the sweat of unpaid toil, pampered by pride and lust, brought to their support all that was low, venal and cowardly, as well as much of a higher, but timid character.
At the opening of the Thirty-third Congress, December 5, 1853, there were in the Senate fifty-eight members; some thirty-eight democrats, seventeen whigs, only three free soilers, (Sumner, Chase and Iale,) and some four vacancies. Among the prominent whig senators, were Foote, of Vermont, Everett, of Massachusetts, Seward and Fish, of New York, Wade, of Ohio, Toombs, of Georgia, John Bell and Governor Jones, of Tennessee, Badger, of North Carolina, Judah P. Benjamin, of Louisiana, John M. Clayton, of Delaware. Among the democrats, there were Hannibal Hamlin, of Maine, Mason and Hunter, of Virginia, Clay, of Alabama, Slidell, of Louisiana, Bright and Pettit, of Indiana, Douglas and Shields, of Illinois, Cass, of Michigan, Mallory, of Florida, Rusk and Houston, of Texas, Butler, of South Carolina, and Gwin, of California. In the House, out of two hundred and thirty-three members, one hundred and fifty-nine were democrats, and seventy-four whigs. From New England, there were but few members of any very great distinction. Washburne, of Maine, was serving his second term as a whig, and Banks came in, for the first time, as a democrat from Massachusetts. From New York, there was Cutting, a man of ability, a democrat; Ilaven, a whig, of the “Fillmore” school, and Fenton, a democrat, now the Union Governor of New York. Illinois sent Douglas and Shields to the Senate.
Among the members of the House were William H. Bissell, Richard Yates, and Elihu B. Washburne; the two first have since been Governors. From Missouri, the great Benton, after thirty years of service in the Senate, came into the House to give the country the benefit of his long experience and profound statesmanship.
On the 4th of January, 1854, Mr. Douglas introduced into the Senate, what was afterwards known as the KansasNebraska-bill, accompanied by a special report. On the 16th day of January, Mr. Dixon, a Senator from Kentucky, gave notice that he would offer an amendment to Mr. Douglas' bill, repealing, in distinct terms, the Missouri Compromise. On the next day, Mr. Sumner gave notice of an amendment he would offer to the bill of Mr. Douglas, declaring that nothing in the proposed act should affect the Missouri Compromise. On the 23d of January, Mr. Douglas reported a substitute for the original bill, making, instead of Nebraska Territory, the two Territories of Nebraska and Kansas. And, he added to this substitute, an amendment to that part of it declaring that the Constitution and laws of the United States, which were not locally inapplicable, should be in full force, with the following exception, which exception involved more stupendous consequences than were ever contained in any law of as many lines:
“Except the eighth section of the act preparatory to the admission of Missouri into the Union, approved March 6, 1820, which was superceded by the principles of the legislation of 1850, commonly called the Compromise Measures, and is declared inoperative.”
This proposition startled the Senate and the people. It broke down the barriers which, by a sacred compact, had