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of the further importation of slaves, the fate of the Union would perhaps have had a wholly different turn. Up to this time the division of the Union into two sections had been only a fact: henceforth it was fixed by law. In internal politics no question of cardinal importance could arise in which the opposition of the two industrial principles did not play a greater or less part. And in all such questions the law-making power stood not only before a number of states, but before two geographically divided groups of states. Each of the two groups inevitably constantly consolidated more and more; and the more they consolidated the more the Missouri line lost its imaginary character. For the first time there was, in the full sense of the term, a free north and a slaveholding south. "Political prudence," as it was hyper-euphemistically called, might lead one to oppose this with the strength of despair; but all political artifices were put to shame by the power of facts. Even the last resource, the erasure of the black line from the map by another law and by judicial decisions, remained without effect; the line was etched too deeply into the real ground. Only one thing could erase it, and this one thing was the destruction of the gloomy power that had drawn it. From the night of March 2, 1820, party history is made up, without interruption or break, of the development of geographical parties.

This was what was really reached when men breathed free, as if saved from a heavy nightmare. The little and cowardly souls congratulated themselves that the slavery question had been buried for ever, and yet men never shook themselves free from the Missouri question.

The strife was kindled again by a clause of the constitution of Missouri, by which the legislature was obliged to pass laws against the entry of free colored persons into the state. The north declared that this clause infringed upon the constitutional provision, according to which "the citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and


immunities of citizens in the several states." 991 The slaveholders affirmed that free blacks were not to be considered as citizens "in the sense of the constitution." The northern congressmen opposed to this the fact that free blacks were citizens in some northern states, and that the clause in question spoke of "citizens of every state." The debate was finally lost in endless arguments over the meaning of the words "citizens" and "citizens of the United States," without reaching any result."


1 Art. IV., Sec. 2. Art. IV. of the articles of confederation contained the same provision, except that in it the common expression "all free inhabitants" was used.


? The discussion of this question more in detail belongs to the second part of this work. I will here refer only to Bates, On Citizenship, and to Livermore, Opinions of the Founders of the Republic on Negroes as Slaves, as Citizens, and as Soldiers, and will remark that in the same year in which the question was discussed in congress attorney-general Wirt gave an opinion in which he says: "I am of the opinion that the constitution, by the description of citizens of the United States,' intended those only who enjoyed the full and equal privileges of white citizens in the state of their residence." Opinions of the Attorneys-General, I., p. 507. Wirt was a skillful jurist, but in this argument bis reasoning is not only weak in the highest degree, but also illogical. In Bouvier's Law Dictionary, I., p. 275, is the statement that the constitution of the United States "does not authorize any but white persons to become citizens of the United States." This can be understood in no other way than that the constitution contains a clear provision to this effect, while in fact the only grounds for the assertion are some judicial dicta and decisions, which must be a stain on the annals of the United States forever, and from every point of view. Such a statement in a thoroughly scientific work is simply inexcusable, for either the choice of expres sions is made with inexplicable carelessness, or party politics has crept into the book. It may also be noted that the edition of the Law Dictionary which I used was dated 1872, while in 1868 the 14th amendment was adopted, in which it is provided: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the states wherein they reside." The editor, Childs, is, indeed, not to be blamed for failing to take notice of this amendment. The edition is actually that of the year 1867, and the date 1872 is only a mercantile trick, which is only too often resorted to by American booksellers.

The discussion of the question of law from other points of view was also fruitless. The slaveholders and staterights party argued that not only were similar laws against free blacks in existence in other states, but that even in free states there were excluding laws, which concerned white citizens, and were doubtless unconstitutional, if this reproach could rightly be brought against the constitution of Missouri. These assertions were partly well founded, but it did not follow from this that the clause was not inconsistent with the federal constitution.

As little tenable were the arguments by which it was attempted to prove the uselessness of any objection to this clause by congress. If it is unconstitutional-so the argument ran then it is eo ipso null, and the decision of the supreme court of the United States will give it that effect. The overwhelming answer to this was that the clause, despite its abstract worthlessness, would actually be in force until it had been declared unconstitutional. Moreover, congress could not impose upon the judiciary the responsibility which the spirit of the constitution placed upon it; to it belonged the right of admitting new states, and upon it, therefore, rested the duty of deciding in such cases whether the conditions had been fulfilled which were necessary in order to make admission possible.

Although these points were of slight importance in comparison to those decided at the previous session, the debates-which lasted some weeks-were not less violent. The main reason of this was the well-known wish of a minority in the house to use this opportunity to overthrow the compromise. The slaveholders therefore did not venture to insist upon the alternative of an unconditional admission of the state or an unconditional rejection of the constitution that had been submitted. The senate first showed a disposition to find a middle course. This gave

1 Compare Deb. of Cong., VI., p. 672, seq.


Clay an opportunity to lead back again into the path of compromise the house, which had already, thanks to the members hostile to compromise, rejected a motion to strike out the offensive clause. The two houses finally agreed to allow the state admission, provided its legislature "by a solemn public act shall declare the assent of the said state to the fundamental condition" that a right should never be deduced from this clause to pass a law and that a law should never be passed" by which any citizen of either of the states in this Union shall be excluded from the enjoyment of any of the privileges and immunities to which such citizen is entitled under the constitution of the United States." The legislature complied with this condition and therewith the Missouri conflict ended.


Three constitutional questions-two of them of cardinal importance had been discussed. Men had fought shy of all three for the moment, and for this reason the originators of the compromise claimed that they had postponed the decision to the Greek calends. From a legal point of view, only one positive result had been reached, and this was on a point concerning which no legal question existed. The northern majority had indirectly renounced the right of congress to forbid slavery, as far as the territory lying south of the line of 36° 30' was concerned, and it had agreed to this renunciation, because the southern minority had renounced, on its side, its claims to having the questions of law involved decided now in its favor,--provided its concrete demands, which it based upon its interpretation of the constitution, were complied with.

This was the true nature and the substance of the "compromise" which gave Henry Clay the first claim to the proud name of "the great peace-maker.

1 Stat. at L., III., p. 645.



The Missouri compromise produced no change in party relations. Monroe was re-elected president by all the electoral votes except one. The "era of good feeling," which had begun to dawn just after the end of the war with England, now really commenced. The people, wearied by the feverish excitement of the last years, abandoned politics to the politicians and the latter had to content themselves with routine business, since there was, for the moment, no burning question and no noteworthy opposition. But as yet a peace had not been made; only a truce had been concluded. New questions appeared, which sprang from the self-same roots as the earlier ones. Their germs could be traced back to the first year of the existence of the new constitution and their development had kept pace with the industrial development of the country. If their full importance was not yet appreciated, this could be partly ascribed to purely accidental circumstances and it was partly due to the fact that the opposition of principles in the industrial life of the two sections was less and less understood as it assumed a concrete form in the different industrial regions. A little while therefore elapsed before the party-programmes became clear, and meanwhile the parties. became more and more geographical ones. This time of transition was rich in strange transmutations in partyrelations. Leading statesmen changed their positions in the most barefaced manner.

1 Deb. of Cong., VI., p. 706.

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