« PreviousContinue »
had ample cause of war against Mexico long before the breaking out of hostilities, but even then we forbore to take redress into our own hands until Mexico herself became the aggressor by invading our soil in hostile array, and shedding the blood of our citizens.' “And yet again, in the message of December 7th, 1847, that
ican Government refused even to hear the terms of adjustment which he (our minister of peace) was authorized to propose; and, finally, under wholly unjustifiable pretexts, involved the two countries in war by invading the territory of the State of Texas, striking the first blow, and shedding the blood of our citizens on our own soil.'
“And whereas, This House is desirous to obtain a full knowledge of all the facts which go to establish whether the particular spot on which the blood of our citizens was so shed, was or was not at that time our own soil. Therefore,
"Resolved, by the House of Representatives, That the President of the United States be respectfully requested to inform this House,
1st. Whether the spot on which the blood of our citizens was shed, as in his messages declared, was or was not within the Territory of Spain, at least after the treaty of 1819, until the Mexican revolution.
“2nd. Whether that spot is or is not within the territory which was wrested from Spain by the revolutionary Government of Mexico.
“ 3rd. Whether that spot is or is not within a settlement of people, which settlement has existed ever since long before the Texas revolution, and until its inhabitants fled before the approach of the United States Army.
“4th. Whether that settlement is or is not isolated from any and all other settlements by the Gulf and the Rio Grande on the south and west, and by wide uninhabited regions on the north and east.
“5th. Whether the people of that settlement, or a majority of them, or any of them, have ever submitted themselves to the Government or laws of Texas or of the United States, by con. sent or by compulsion, either by accepting office, or voting at elections, or paying tax or serving on juries, or having process served upon them, or in any other way.
“6th. Whether the people of that settlement did or did not fice from the approach of the United States Army, leaving unprotected their homes and their growing crops, before the blood was shed, as in the message stated; and whether the first bloo:), 80 shed, was or was not shed within the enclosure of one of the people who had thus fled from it.
“7th. Whether our citizens, whose blood was shed, as in his messages declared, were or were not, at that time, armed officers and soldiers, sent into that settlement by the military order of the President, through the Secretary of War.
“8th. Whether the military force of the United States was or was not so sent into that settlement after General Taylor had more than once intimated to the War Department that, in his opinion, no such movement was necessary to the defence or protection of Texas."
On several occasions during the session, he voted for the reception of petitions and memorials in favor of the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, against the slave-trade, and advocating the prohibition of slavery in the territory that might be acquired from Mexico.
On the seventeenth of February, 1848, Mr. Lincoln voted for a Loan bill reported by the Committee of Ways and Means, authorizing the raising of sixteen millions of dollars to enable the Government to provide for its debts, principally incurred in Mexico.
On the eleventh of May, in moving to reconsider a vote by which a bill having reference to the public lands had passed, he made the following remarks:
“ He stated to the House that he had made this motion for the purpose of obtaining an opportunity to say a few words in relation to a point raised in the course of the debate on this bill, which he would now proceed to make, if in order. The point in the case to which he referred, arose on the amendment that was submitted by the gentleman from Vermont (Mr. Collamer), in Committee of the Whole on the State of the Union, and which was afterwards renewed in the House, in relation to the question whether the reserved sections, which, by some bills heretofore passed, by which an appropriation of land bad been made to Wisconsin, had been enhanced in value, should be reduced to the minimum price of the public lands. The question of the reduction in value of those sections was, to him, at this time, a matter very nearly of indifference. He was inclined to desire that Wisconsin should be obliged by having it reduced. But the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. C. B. Smith), the Chairnian of the Committee on the Territories, associated that ques. tion with the general question, which is now, to some extent, agitated in Congress, of making appropriations of alternate sec tions of land to aid the States in making internal improvemonts and enhancing the prices of the section reserved, and the grou
tleman from Indiana took ground against that policy. He did not make any special argument in favor of Wisconsin; but he took ground generally against the policy of giving alternate sections of land, and enhancing the price of the reserved sections. Now, he (Mr. L.) did not at this time, take the floor for the purpose of attempting to make an argument on the general subject. He rose simply to protest against the doctrine which the gentleman from Indiana had avowed in the course of what he (Mr. L.) could not but consider an unsound argument.
6s It might however be true, for any thing he knew, that the gentleman from Indiana might convince him that his argument was sound; but he (Mr. L.) feared that gentleman would not be able to convince a majority in Congress that it was sound. It was true, the question appeared in a different aspect to persons in consequence of a difference in the point from which they looked at it. It did not look to persons residing east of the mountains as it did to those who lived among the public lands. But, for his part, he would state that if Congress would make a donation of alternate sections of public lands for the purpose of internal improvement in his State, and forbid the reserved sections being sold at $1.25, he should be glad to see the appropriation made, though he should prefer it if the reserved sections were not enhanced in price. He repeated, he should be glad to have such appropriations made, even though the reserved sections should be enhanced in price. He did not wish to be understood as concurring in any intimation that they would refuse to receive such an appropriation of alternate sections of land because a condition enhancing the price of the reserved sections should be attached thereto. He believed his position would now be understood, if not, he feared he should not be able to make himself understood.
“But before he took his seat he would remark that the Senate, during the present session, had passed a bill making appropriations of land on that principle for the benefit of the State in which he resided--the State of Illinois. The alternate sections were to be given for the purpose of constructing roads, and the reserved sections were to be enhanced in value in consequence. When the bill came here for the action of this House, it had been received, and was now before the Committee on Public Lands—he desired much to see it passed as it was, if it could be put in a more favorable form for the State of Illinois. When it should be before this House, if any member from a section of the Union in which these lands did not lie, whose interest might be less than that which he felt, should propose a reduction of the price of the reserved sections to $1.25, he should be much obliged; but he did not think it would be well for those who came from the section of the Union in which the lands lay, to
He wished it, then, to be understood, that he did not join in the warfare against the principle which had engaged the minds of some members of Congress who were favorable to improvements in the western country.
“ There was a good deal of force, he admitted, in what fell from the Chairman of the Committee on Territories. It might be that there was no precise justice in raising the price of the l'eserved sections to $2.50 per acre. It might be proper that the price should be enhanced to some extent, though not to double the usual price; but he should be glad to have such an appropriation with the reserved sections at $2.50; he should be better pleased to have the price of those sections at something less; and he should be still better pleased to have them without any enbancement at all.
“ There was one portion of the argument of the gentleman from Indiana, the Chairman of the Committee on Territories (Mr. Smith), which he wished to take occasion to say that he did not view as unsound. He alluded to the statement that the General Government was interested in these internal improvements being made, inasmuch as they increased the value of the lands that were unsold, and they enabled the Government to sell lands which could not be sold without them. Thus, then, the Government gained by internal improvements, as well as by the general good which the people derived from them, and it might be, therefore, that the lands should not be sold for more than $1.50, instead of the price being doubled. He, however, merely mentioned this in passing, for he only rose to state, as the principle of giving these lands for the purposes which he had mentioned had been laid hold of and considered favorably, and as there were some gentlemen who had constitutional scruples about giving money for these purposes, who would not hesitate to give land, that he was not willing to have it understood that he was one of those who made war against that principle. This was all he desired to say, and having accomplished the object with which he rose, he withdrew his motion to reconsider."
On the nineteenth of the following month he first had an opportunity to record his views upon the Tariff question, by voting in favor of a resolution instructing the Committee of Ways and Means to inquire into the expediency of reporting a bill increasing the duties on foreign luxuries of all kinds, and on “such foreign manufactures as are now coming into ruinous competition with American labor.” He subsequently voted for a resolution instructing the Committee of Ways and Means to inquire into the expediency of reporting a Tariff bill based upon the principles of the Tariff of 1842.
On the 28th of July, 1848, the celebrated bill establishing Territorial governments for Oregon, California and New Mexico, the peculiar feature of which was a provision prohibiting the Legislatures of California and New Mexico from passing laws in favor of or against slavery, and providing that the laws of the Legislatures should be subject to the sanction of Congress, was argued, and after an exciting debate, laid on the table, Mr. Lincoln voting with Mr. Webster, Mr. Corwin, and other illustrious colleagues for this disposition of the bill.
On the sixteenth of January, 1849, Mr. Lincoln offered the following substitute for a resolution which he had voted against, not being satisfied with all its provisions :
“ Resolved, That the Committee on the District of Columbia oe instructed to report a bill in substance, as follows:
“ Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress assembled, That no person not now within the District of Columbia, nor now owned by any person or persons now resident within it, nor hereafter born within it, shall ever be held in slavery within said District.
Sec. 2. That no person now within said District, or now owned by any person or persons now resident within the same, or hereafter born within it, shall ever be held in slavery without the limits of said District: Provided, That officers of the Government of the United States, being citizens of the slave holding States, coming into said District on public business, and remaining only so long as may be reasonably necessary for that object, may be attended into and out of said District, and while there, by the necessary servants of themselves and their families, without their right to hold such servants in service being impaired.
“ Sec. 3. That all children born of slave mothers within said District, on or after the 1st day of January, in the year of our Lord 1850, shall be free; but shall be reasonably supported and educated by the respective owners of their mothers, or by their heirs or representatives, and shall serve reasonable service as apprentices to such owners, heirs, or representatives, until they respectively arrive at the age of
years, when they shall be entirely free: And the municipal authorities of Washington and Georgetown, within their respective jurisdictional limits, are hereby empowered and required to make all suitable and necessary provision for enforcing obedience to this section, on the part of both masters and apprentices.
“ Sec. 4. That all persons now within this District, lawfully