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Which was rejected-Yeas, 23; Nays, 33.
After various other amendments had been offered and Upon these amendments-the one affirming the Pro- voted upon-all relating to the power of the Territorial Slavery, and the other the Anti-Slavery position, in oppo- Legislature over Slavery-Mr. Douglas moved to strike out sition to the right of the people of the Territories to de- all relating to African Slavery, so that the Territorial Lecide the Slavery question for themselves-Mr. Douglas said: gislature should have the same power over that question "The position that I have ever taken has been, that this, as over all other rightful subjects of legislation consistent and all other questions relating to the domestic affairs and with the Constitution-which amendment was rejected. domestic policy of the Territories, ought to be left to the deci- After the rejection of this amendment, the discussion was sion of the people themselves; and that we ought to be con- renewed with great ability and depth of feeling in respect tent with whatever way they may decide the question, because to the powers which the Territorial Legislature should exthe have a much per interest in these matters than we have, and know much better what institutions suit them than ercise upon the subject of Slavery. Various propositions we, who have never been there, can decide for them. I would were made, and amendments offered and rejected-all retherefore have much preferred that that portion of the bill lating to this one controverted point-when Mr. Norris, of should have remained as it was reported from the Committee New-Hampshire, renewed the motion of Mr. Douglas, to on Territories, with no provision on the subject of Slavery, strike out the restriction on the Territorial Legislature in the one way or the other. And I do hope yet that that clause respect to African Slavery. On the 31st of July this will be stricken out. I am satisfied, sir, that it gives no strength amendment was adopted by a vote of 32 to 19-restoring to the bill. I am satisfied, even if it did give strength to it, that it ought not to be there, because it is a violation of princi. this section of the bill to the form in which it was reported ple-a violation of that principle upon which we have all from the Committee on Territories on the 25th of March, rested our defense of the course we have taken on this ques- and conferring on the Territorial Legislature power over tion. I do not see how those of us who have taken the posi-"all rightful subjects of legislation consistent with the tion we have taken-that of non-intervention-and have argued Constitution of the United States," "uithout excepting in favor of the right of the people to legislate for themselves on this question, can support such a provision without abanAfrican Slavery. doning all the arguments which we used in the Presidential campaign in the year 1818, and the principles set forth by the honorable Senator from Michigan (Mr. Cass) in that letter which is known as the 'Nicholson Letter.' We are required to abandon that platform; we are required to abandon those principles, and to stultify ourselves, and to adopt the opposite doctrine and for what? In order to say that the people of the Territories shall not have such institutions as they shall deem adapted to their condition and their wants. I do not see, sir, how such a provision can be acceptable either to the people
Thus terminated this great struggle in the affirmance of the principle, as the basis of the Compromise Measures of 1850, so far as they related to the organization of the Territories, that the people of the Territories should decide the Slavery question for themselves through the action of their Territorial Legislature.
of the North or the South."
This controverted question having been definitely settled, the Senate proceeded on the same day to consider the other portions of the bill, and after striking out all except those provisions which provided for the organization of the Territory of Utah, ordered the bill to be engrossed for a third reading, and on the next day-August 1, 1850-the bill was read a third time, and passed.
On the 14th of August the bill for the organization of the Territory of New-Mexico was taken up, and amended so as to conform fully to the provisions of the Utah Act in respect to the power of the Territorial Legislature over "all rightful subjects of legislation consistent with the Constitution," without excepting African Slavery, and was ordered to be engrossed for a third reading without a division; and on the next day the bill was passed-Yeas, 27; Nays, 10.
Slavery or the holding of persons as property within said Territory."
Upon the question of how many inhabitants a Territory should contain before it should be formed into a political community with the rights of self-government, Mr. Doug
"The Senator from Mississippi puts the question to me as to what number of people there must be in a Territory before this right to govern themselves accrues. Without determining the precise number, I will assume that the right ought to accrue to the people at the moment they have enough to constitute a government; and, sir, the bill assumes that there are people enough there to require a government, and enough to authorize the people to govern themselves. bill concedes that a representative government is necessarya government founded upon the principles of popular sovereignty and the right of a people to enact their own laws; and for this reason you give them a Legislature composed of two branches, like the Legislatures of the different States and Territories of the Union. You confer upon them the right to
legislate on all rightful subjects of legislation,' except
negroes. Why except negroes? Why except African Slavery? If the inhabitants are competent to govern themselves upon all other subjects, and in reference to all other descriptions of property-if they are competent to make laws and determine the relations between husband and wife, and parent and child, and municipal laws affecting the rights and property of citizens generally, they are competent also to make laws to govern themselves in relation to Slavery and
These two bills were sent to the House of Representatives, and passed that body without any alteration in respect to the power of the Territorial Legislatures over the subject of Slavery, and were approved by President Fillmore, September 9, 1850.
In 1852, when the two great political parties-Whig and Democratic-into which the country was then divided, assembled in National Convention at Baltimore for the purpose of nominating candidates for the Presidency and Vice-Presidency, each Convention adopted and affirmed the principles embodied in the Compromise Measures of 155 as rules of action by which they would be governed in all future cases in the organization of Territorial governments and the admission of new States.
With reference to the protection of property in slaves, Mr. Douglas said:
On the 4th of January, 1854, the Committee on Territo
"I have a word to say to the honorable Senator from Mis-ries, of the Senate, to which had been referred a bill for sissippi (Mr. Davis). He insists that I am not in favor of pro- the bill back, with an amendment, in the form of a substithe organization of the Territory of Nebraska, reported tecting property, and that his amendment is offered for the purpose of protecting property under the Constitution. Now, tute for the entire bill, which, with some modifications, is sir, I ask you what authority he has for assuming that? Do I now known on the statute book as the "Kansas-Nebraska not desire to protect property because I wish to allow the Act," accompanied by a Report explaining the principles people to pass such laws as they deem proper respecting upon which it was proposed to organize those Territories, their rights to property without any exception? He might just as well say that I am opposed to protecting property in merchandise, in steamboats, in cattle, in real estate, as to say that I am opposed to protecting property of any other description; for I desire to put them all on an equality, and allow the people to make their own laws in respect to the whole of them."
Mr. Cass said (referring to the amendments offered by Mr. Davis and Mr. Chase):
"Now, with respect to the amendments. I shall vote against them both; and then I shall vote in favor of striking out the restriction in the bill upon the power of the Territorial governments. I shall do so upon this ground. I was opposed, as the honorable Senator from Kentucky has declared he was, to the insertion of this prohibition by the Committee. I consider it inexpedient and unconstitutional. I have already stated my belief that the rightful power of internal legislation in the Territories belongs to the people."
After further discussion the vote was taken by yeas and nays on the amendment of Mr. Chase, and decided in the negative: Yeas, 25; Nays, 30. The question recurring on the amendment of Mr. Davis, of Mississippi, it was also rejected Yeas, 25; Nays, 30. Whereupon Mr. Seward offered the following amendment: "Neither Slavery nor involuntary servitude, otherwise th an by conviction for crime, shall ever be allowed in either of said Territories of Utah and New Mexico."
"The principal amendments which your Committee deem it their duty to commend to the favorable action of the Senate, in a special report, are those in which the principles established by the Compromise Measures of 1850, so far as they are applicable to territorial organizations, are proposed to be affirmed new Territory. The wisdom of those measures is attested, and carried into practical operation within the limits of the not less by their salutary and beneficial effects in allaying sectional agitation and restoring peace and harmony to an irritated and distracted people, than by the cordial and almost universal approbation with which they have been received and sanctioned by the whole country.
"In the judgment of your Committee, those measures werc intended to have a far more comprehensive and enduring effect than the mere adjustment of the difficulties arising out of the recent acquisition of Mexican territory. They were designed to establish certain great principles, which would not time to come, avoid the perils of a similar agitation, by withonly furnish adequate remedies for existing evils, but, in all drawing the question of Slavery from the Halls of Congress and the political arena, and commtiting it to the arbitrament of those who were immediately interested in and alone responsible for its consequences. With a view of conforming their action to the settled policy of the Government, sanctioned by the approving voice of the American people, your Committee have deemed it their duty to incorporate and perpetuate, in their territorial bill, the principles and spirit of those
After presenting and reviewing certain provisions of the of Congress, and became the law of the land by the apbill, the Committee conclude as follows: proval of the President, May 30, 1854.
"From these provisions it is apparent that the Compromise Measures of 1850 aflirm and rest upon the following propo
"First.-That all questions pertaining to Slavery in the Territories, and in the new States to be formed therefrom, are to be left to the decision of the people residing therein, by their appropriate representatives to be chosen by them for that purpose.
"Second. That all cases involving title to slaves and questions of personal freedom, are referred to the adjudication the local tribunals, with the right of appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States.
"Third.-That the provision of the Constitution of the United States in respect to fugitives from service, is to be carried into faithful execution in all the organized Territories, the same as in the States. The substitute for the bill which your Committee have prepared, and which is commended to the favorable action of the Senate, proposes to carry these propositions and principles into practical operation, in the precise language of the Compromise Measures of 1850.""
"That this was the basis of the Compromises of 1850, confirmed by both the Democratic and Whig parties in National Conventions-ratified by the people in the election of 1852and rightly applied to the organization of the Territories in 1854; That by the uniform application of this Democratic principle to the organization of Territories and to the admission of new States, with or without domestic Slavery as they may elect, the equal rights of all will be preserved intact-the original compacts of the Constitution maintained inviolateBy reference to that section of the "Kansas-Nebraska-and the perpetuity and expansion of this Union insured to Act" as it now stands on the statute book, which pre- its utmost capacity of embracing in peace and harmony any scribed and defined the power of the Territorial Legisla- future American State that may be constituted or annexed ture, it will be seen that it is, "in the precise language of with a Republican form of government." the Compromise Measures of 1850." extending the legislative power of the Territory "to all rightful subjects of legislation consistent with the Constitution," without excepting African Slavery.
It having been suggested, with some plausibility, during the discussion of the bill, that the act of Congress of March 6, 1820, prohibiting Slavery north of the parallel of 36° 30' would deprive the people of the Territory of the power of regulating the Slavery question to suit themselves while they should remain in a Territorial condition, and before they should have the requisite population to entitle them to admission into the Union as a State, an amendment was prepared by the Chairman of the Committee, and incorporated into the bill to remove this obstacle to the free exercise of the principle of popular sovereignty in the Territory, while it remained in a Territorial condition, by repealing the said act of Congress, and declaring the true intent and meaning of all the friends of the bill in these words:
itution and all laws of the United States which are not locally inapplicable, shall have the same force and effect within the Territory as elsewhere within the United States, except the eighth section of the act preparatory to the admission of Missouri into the Union, approved March 6, 1820, which being inconsistent with the principle of non-interven: tion by Congress with Slavery in the States and Territories, as recognized by the legislation of 1850, commonly called the Compromise Measures,' is hereby declared inoperative and void-it being the true intent and meaning of this act not to legislate Slavery into any Territory or State, nor to exclude it there; from, but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United States.
In 1856, the Democratic party, assembled in National Convention at Cincinnati, declared by a unanimous vote of the delegates from every State in the Union, that—
"Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to revive or put in force any law or regulation which may have existed prior to the act of the sixth of March, 1820, either protecting, establishing, of abolishing slavery."
"The American Democracy recognize and adopt the principles contained in the organic laws establishing the Territories of Kansas and Nebraska as embodying the only sound and safe solution of the Slavery question,' upon which the great national idea of the people of this whole country can repose in its determined conservatism of the Union-noninterference by Congress with Slavery in State and Territory, or in the District of Columbia;
In this form, and with this distinct understanding of its "true intent and meaning," the bill passed the two houses
This exposition of the history of these measures shows conclusively that the authors of the Compromise Measures of 1850, and of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, as well as the members of the Continental Congress of 1774, and the founders of our system of government subsequent to the Revolution, regarded the people of the Territories and Colonies as political communities which were entitled to a free and exclusive power of legislation in their Provincial Legislatures, where their representation could alone be preserved, in all cases of taxation and internal polity. This right pertains to the people collectively as a lawabiding and peaceful community, and not to the isolated individuals who may wander upon the public domain in violation of law. It can only be exercised where there are inhabitants sufficient to constitute a government, and capable of performing its various functions and duties-a To which was added, on motion of Mr. Badger, the fol- Whether the number shall be fixed at ten, fifteen or fact to be ascertained and determined by Congress. lowing:
In accepting the nomination of this Convention, Mr. Buchanan, in a letter dated June 16, 1856, said:
"The agitation on the question of domestic Slavery has too long distracted and divided the people of this Union, and alienated their affections from each other. This agitation has assumed many forms since its commencement, but it now from its present character, I think we may safely anticipate seems to be directed chiefly to the Territories and judging that it is rapidly approaching a finality.' The recent legislation of Congress respecting domestic Slavery, derived, as it has been, from the original and pure fountain of legitimate political power, the will of the majority, promises, ere long, to allay the dangerous excitement. This legislation is founded accordance with them has simply declared that the people of a upon principles as ancient as free government itself, and in Territory, like those of a State, shall decide for themselves whether Slavery shall or shall not exist within their limits."
twenty thousand inhabitants does not affect the principle. The principle, under our political system, is that every distinct political Community, loyal to the Constitution and the Union, is entitled to all the rights, privileges, and immunities of self-government in respect to their local concerns and internal polity, subject only to the Constitution of the United States.
SPEECH OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN, OF ILLINOIS,
Delivered at the Cooper Institute, Monday, Feb. 27, 1860.
I fully indorse this, and I adopt it as a text for this discourse. I so adopt it because it furnishes a precise and an agreed starting point for a discussion between Republicans and that wing of Democracy headed by Senator Douglas. It simply leaves the inquiry: "What was the understanding those fathers had of the question mentioned ?"
What is the frame of Government under which we live?
The answer must be: "The Constitution of the United States." That Constitution consists of the original, framed in 1787 (and under which the present Govern ment first went into operation), and twelve subsequently framed amendments, the first ten of which were framed in 1789.
Who were our fathers that framed the Constitution? I suppose the "thirty-nine" who signed the original instrument may be fairly called our fathers who framed that part of the present Government. It is almost exactly true to say they framed it, and it is altogether true to say they fairly represented the opinion and sentiment of the whole nation at that time. Their names, being familiar to nearly all, and accessible to quite all, need not now be repeated.
I take these "thirty-nine," for the present, as being "our fathers who framed the Government under which we live."
What is the question which, according to the text, those fathers understood just as well, and even better than we do now?
It is this: Does the proper division of local from federal authority, or anything in the Constitution, forbid our Federal Government to control as to Slavery in our Federal Territories?
Upon this, Douglas holds the affirmative, and Republicans the negative. This affirmative and denial form an issue; and this issue-this question-is precisely what the text declares our fathers understood better than we. Let us now inquire whether the "thirty-nine," or any of them, ever acted upon this question; and if they did, how they acted upon it-how they expressed that better understanding.
In 1784-three years before the Constitution-the United States then owning the Northwestern Territory, and no other-the Congress of the Confederation had before them the question of prohibiting Slavery in that Territory; and four of the "thirty-nine," who afterward framed the Constitution were in that Congress, and voted on that question. Of these, Roger Sherman, Thomas Mifflin, and Hugh Williamson voted for the prohibition-thus showing that, in their understanding, no line dividing local from federal authority, nor anything else, properly forbade the Federal Government to control as to Slavery in Federal Territory. The other of the four-James McHenry-voted against the prohibition, showing that, for some cause, he thought it improper to vote for it.
In 1787, still before the Constitution, but while the Convention was in session framing it, and while the Northwestern Territory still was the only Territory owned by the United States-the same question of prohibiting Slavery in the Territory again came before the Congress of the Confederation; and three more of the "thirty-nine" who afterward signed the Constitution, were in that Congress, and voted on the question. They were William Blount, William Few and Abraham Baldwin; and they all voted for the prohibition-thus show ing that, in their understanding, no line dividing local from federal authority, nor anything else, properly forbids the Federal Government to control as to Slavery in federal territory. This time the prohibition became a law, being part of what is now well known as the Ordinance of '87.
The question of federal control of Slavery in the Territories, seems not to have been directly before the Convention which framed the original Constitution; and hence it is not recorded that the "thirty-nine," or any of them, while engaged on that instrument, expressed any opinion on that precise question.
In 1789, by the first Congress which sat under the Constitution, an act was passed to enforce the Ordinance of '87, including the prohibition of Slavery in the Northwestern Territory. The bill for this act was reported by one of the "thirty-nine," Thomas Fitzsimmons, then a member of the House of Representatives from Pennsylvania. It went through all its stages without a word of opposition, and finally passed both branches without yeas and nays, which is equivalent to a unanimous passage. In this Congress there were sixteen of the thirty-nine" fathers who framed the original Constitution. They were John Langdon, Nicholas Gilman, Wm. S. Johnson, Roger Sherman, Robert Morris, Thomas Fitzsimmons, William Few, Abraham Baldwin, Rufus King, William Patterson, George Clymer, Richard Bassett, George Read, Pierce Butler, Daniel Carroll, James Madison.
This shows that, in their understanding, no line dividing local from federal authority, nor anything in the Constitution, properly forbade Congress to prohibit Slavery in the federal territory; else both their fidelity to correct principle, and their oath to support the Constitution, would have constrained them to oppose the prohibition.
Again, George Washington, another of the "thirtynine," was then President of the United States, and, as such, approved and signed the bill, thus completing its validity as a law, and thus showing that, in his understanding, no line dividing local from federal authority, nor anything in the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government, to control as to Slavery in federal territory.
No great while after the adoption of the original Constitution, North Carolina ceded to the Federal Government the country now constituting the State of Tennessee; and a few years later Georgia ceded that which now constitutes the States of Mississippi and Alabama. In both deeds of cession it was made a condition by the ceding States that the Federal Government should not prohibit Slavery in the ceded country. Besides this, Slavery was then actually in the ceded country. Under these circumstances, Congress, on taking charge of these countries, did not absolutely prohibit Slavery within them. But they did interfere with it-take control of it-even there, to a certain extent. In 1798, Congress organized the Territory of Mississippi. In the act of organization they prohibited the bringing of Slaves into the Territory, from any place
VIEWS OF "THE FATHERS" ON SLAVERY PROHIBITION.
from federal authority, or some provision or principle of the Constitution, stood in the way; or they may, without any such question, have voted against the prohibition, on what appeared to them to be sufficient grounds of expediency. No one who has sworn to support the Constitution, can conscientiously vote for what he understands to be an unconstitutional measure, however expedient be may think it; but one may and ought to vote against a measure which he deems constitutional, if, at the same time, he deems it inexpedient. It, therefore, would be unsafe to set down even the two who voted against the In 1803, the Federal Government purchased the Louisi-prohibition, as having done so because, in their underana country. Our former territorial acquisitions came standing, any proper division of local from federal aufrom certain of our own States; but this Louisiana thority, or anything in the Constitution forbade the country was acquired from a foreign nation. In 1804, Federal Government to control as to Slavery in federal Congress gave a Territorial organization to that part of territory. it which now constitutes the State of Louisiana. New Orleans, lying within that part, was an old and comparatively large city. There were other considerable towns and settlements, and Slavery was extensively and thoroughly intermingled with the people. Congress did not, in the Territorial Act, prohibit Slavery; but they did interfere with it-take control of it-in a more marked and extensive way than they did in the case of Mississippi. The substance of the provision therein made, in relation to slaves, was:
The remaining sixteen of the "thirty-nine," so far as I have discovered, have left no record of their understanding upon the direct question of the control of Slavery in the federal territories. But there is much reason to believe that their understanding upon that question would not have appeared different from that of their twentythree compeers, had it been manifested at all.
First. That no slave should be imported into the Territory from foreign parts.
Second. That no slave should be carried into it who had been imported into the United States since the day of May, 1793.
Third. That no slave shall be carried into it except by the owner, and for his own use as a settler; the penalty in all the cases being a fine upon the violator of the law, and freedom to the slave.
For the purpose of adhering rigidly to the text, I have purposely omitted whatever understanding may have been manifested, by any person, however distinguished, other than the thirty-nine fathers who framed the original Constitution; and, for the same reason, I have also omitted whatever understanding may have been manifested by any of the "thirty-nine" even, on any other phase of. the general question of Slavery. If we should look into their acts and declarations on those other phases, as the foreign slave-trade, and the morality and policy of Slavery generally, it would appear to us that on the direct question of federal control of Slavery in federal territories, the sixteen, if they had acted at all, would probably have acted just as the twenty-three did. Among that sixteen were several of the most noted antislavery men of those times-as Dr. Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and Gouverneur Morris-while there was not, one now known to have been otherwise, unless it may be John Rutledge, of South Carolina.
This act also was passed without yeas and nays. In the Congress which passed it, there were two of the "thirty-nine." They were Abraham Baldwin and Jonathan Dayton. As stated in the case of Mississippi, it is probable they both voted for it. They would not have allowed it to pass without recording their opposition to it, if, in their understanding, it violated either the line proper dividing local from federal authority or any provision of the Constitution.
The sum of the whole is, that of our "thirty-nine" fathers who framed the original Constitution, twentyone-a clear majority of the whole-certainly understood. that no proper division of local from federal authority nor any part of the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to control Slavery in the federal territories,, while all the rest probably had the same understanding. Such, unquestionably, was the understanding of our fathers who framed the original Constitution; and the text affirms that they understood the question better
without the United States, by fine, and giving freedom to slaves so brought. This act passed both branches of Congress without yeas and nays. In that Congress were three of the "thirty-nine" who framed the original Constitution. They were John Langdon, George Read and Abraham Baldwin. They all, probably, voted for it. Certainly they would have placed their opposition to it upon record, if, in their understanding, any line dividing local from federal authority, or anything in the Constitution, properly forbade the Federal Government to control as to Slavery in federal territory.
In 1819-20, came and passed the Missouri question. Many votes were taken, by yeas and nays, in both branches of Congress, upon the various phases of the general question. Two of the "thirty-nine"-Rufus King and Charles Pinckney-were members of that Congress. Mr. King steadily voted for Slavery prohibition and against all compromises, while Mr. Pinckney as steadily voted against Slavery prohibition and against all compromises. By this Mr. King showed that, in his understand-than we. ing, no line dividing local from federal authority, nor anything in the Constitution, was violated by Congress prohibiting Slavery in federal territory; while Mr. Pinckney, by his votes, showed that in his understanding there was sufficient reason for opposing such prohibition in
The cases I have mentioned are the only acts of the "thirty-nine," or of any of them, upon the direct issue, which I have been able to discover.
To enumerate the persons who thus acted, as being four in 1784, three in 1787, seventeen in 1789, three in 1798, two in 1804, and two in 1819-20-there would be thirtyone of them. But this would be counting John Langdon, Roger Sherman, William Few, Rufus King, and George Read, each twice, and Abraham Baldwin four times. The true number of those of the "thirty-nine" whom I have shown to have acted upon the question, which, by the text they understood better than we, is twenty-three, leaving sixteen not shown to have acted upon it in any
Here, then, we have twenty-three out of our "thirtynine" fathers who framed the Government under which we live, who have, upon their official responsibility and their corporal oaths, acted upon the very question which the text affirms they "understood just as well, and even better than we do now;" and twenty-one of them-a clear majority of the whole "thirty-nine "-so acting upon it as to make them guilty of gross political impropriety, and willful perjury, if, in their understanding, any proper division between local and federal authority, or anything in the Constitution they had made themselves, and sworn to support, forbade the Federal Government to control as to Slavery in the federal territories. Thus the twentyone acted; and, as actions speak louder than words, so actions under such responsibility speak still louder.
But, so far, I have been considering the understanding. of the question manifested by the framers of the original Constitution. In and by the original instrument, a mode was provided for amending it; and, as I have already stated, the present frame of Government under which we live consists of that original, and twelve amendatory articles framed and adopted since. Those who now insist that federal control of Slavery in federal territories violates the Constitution, point us to the provisions which they suppose it thus violates; and, as I understand, they all fix upon provisions in these amendatory articles, and not in the original instrument. The Supreme Court, in the Dred Scott case, plant themselves upon the fifth amendment, which provides that "no person shall be de prived of property without due process of law;" while Senator Douglas and his peculiar adherents plant themselves upon the tenth amendment, providing that "the powers not granted by the Constitution, are reserved to the States respectively, and to the people."
Now, it so happens that these amendments were framed by the first Congress which sat under the Constitutionthe identical Congress which passed the act already mentioned, enforcing the prohibition of Slavery in the northwestern Territory. Not only was it the same Congress, but they were the identical, same individual men, who, at the same session, and at the same time within the session, had under consideration, and in progress toward maturity, these Constitutional amendments, and this act prohibiting Slavery in all the Territory the nation then owned. The Constitutional amendments were introduced. before, and passed after the act enforcing the Ordinance, of '87; so that during the whole pendency of the act to enforce the ordinance, the Constitutional amendments were also pending.
That Congress, consisting in all of seventy-six memTwo of the twenty-three voted against Congressional bers, including sixteen of the framers of the original Conprohibition of Slavery in the federal Territories in the institution, as before stated, were preeminently our fathers stances in which they acted upon the question. But for who framed that part of the Government under which we what reason they so voted is not known. They may have live, which. is now claimed as forbidding the Federal, done so because they thought a proper division of local Government to control Slavery in the Federal Territories..
It is not a little presumptuous in any one at this day to | licans." In all your contentions with one another, each affirm that the two things which that Congress deliber- of you deems an unconditional condemnation of "Black ately framed, and carried to maturity at the same time, Republicanism" as the first thing to be attended to. Inare absolutely inconsistent with each other? And does deed such condemnation of us seems to be an indispensanot such affirmation become impudently absurd when ble prerequisite-license, so to speak, among you to te adcoup ed with the other affirmation, from the same mouth, mitted or permitted to speak at all. that those who did the two things alleged to be inconsistent understood whether they really were inconsistent better than we-better than he who affirms that they are inconsistent ?
Now, can you, or not, be prevailed upon to pause and to consider whether this is quite just to us, or even to yourselves?
Bring forward your charges and specifications, and then be patient long enough to hear us deny or justify.
It is surely safe to assume that the "thirty-nine" framers of the original Constitution, and the seventy-six You say we are sectional. We deny it. That makes an members of the Congress which framed the amendments issue: and the burden of proof is upon you. You prothereto, taken together, do certainly include those who duce your proof; and what is it? Why, that our party may be fairly called "our fathers who framed the Gov- has no existence in your section-gets no votes in your ernment under which we live." And so assuming, I section. The fact is substantially true; but does it prove defy any man to show that any one of them ever, in his the issue? If it does, then in case we should, without whole life, declared that, in his understanding, any change of principle, begin to get votes in your section, we proper division of local from federal authority, or any should thereby cease to be sectional. You cannot escape part of the Constitution, forbade the Federal Govern- this conclusion; and yet, are you willing to abide by it? inent to control as to Slavery in the federal territories. If you are, you will probably soon find that we have I go a step further. I defy any one. to show that any ceased to be sectional, for we shall get votes in your secliving man in the whole world ever did, prior to the be- tion this very year. You will then begin to discover, as ginning of the present century (and I might almost say the truth plainly is, that your proof does not touch the prior to the beginning of the last half of the present cen-issue. The fact that we get no votes in your section is a tury) declare that, in his understanding, any proper fact of your making, and not of ours. And if there be division of local from federal authority, or any part of fault in that fact, that fault is primarily yours, and rethe Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to mains so until you show that we repel you by some wrong control as to Slavery in the federal territories. To those principle or practice. If we do repel you by any wrong who now so declare, I give, not only" our fathers who principle or practice, the fault is ours; but this brings you framed the Government under which we live," but with to where you ought to have started-to a discussion of the them all other living men within the century in which it right or wrong of our principle. If our principle, put in was framed, among whom to search, and they shall not be practice, would wrong your section for the benefit of ours, able to find the evidence of a single man agreeing with or for any other object, then our principle, and we with it, are sectional, and are justly opposed and denounced as such. Meet us, then, on the question of whether our principle, put in practice, would wrong your section; and so meet it as if it were possible that something may be said on our side. Do you accept the challenge? No? Then you really believe that the principle which our fathers who framed the Government under which we live thought so clearly right as to adopt it, and indorse it again and again, upon their official oaths, is, in fact, so clearly wrong as to demand your condemnation without a moment's consideration.
Now, and here, let me guard a little against being misanderstood. I do not mean to say we are bound to follow implicitly in whatever our fathers did. To do so, would be to discard all the lights of current experience-to reject all progress-all improvement. What I do say is, that if we would supplant the opinions and policy of our fathers in any case, we should do so upon evidence so conclusive, and argument so clear, that even their great authority, fairly considered and weighed, cannot stand; and most surely not in a case whereof we ourselves declare they understood the question better than we.
If any man, at this day, sincerely believes that a proper division of local from federal authority, or any part of the Constitution, forbids the Federal Government to control as to Slavery in the federal territories, he is right to say so, and to enforce his position by all truthful evidence and fair argument which he can. But he has no right to mislead others, who have less access to history and less leisure to study it, into the false belief that "our fathers, who framed the Government under which we live," were of the same opinion-thus substituting falsehood and deception for truthful evidence and fair argument. If any man at this day sincerely believes "our fathers, who framed the Government under which we live," used and applied principles, in other cases, which ought to have led them to understand that a proper division of local from federal authority or some part of the Constitution, forbids the federal government to control as to Slavery in the Federal Territories, he is right to say 80. But he should, at the same time, brave the responsibility of declaring that, in his opinion, he understands their principles better than they did themselves; and especially should he not shirk that responsibility by asserting that they "understood the question just as well, and even better, than we do now."
Bearing this in mind, and seeing that sectionalism has since arisen upon this same subject, is that warning a weapon in your hands against us, or, in our hands, against you? Could Washington himself speak, would he cast the blame of that sectionalism upon us, who sustain his policy, or upon you, who repudiate it? We respect that warning of Washington, and we commend it to you, together with his example pointing to the right application of it.
But you say you are conservative-eminently conservative-while we are revolutionary, destructive, or something of the sort. What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried? But enough. Let all who believe that "our fathers, We stick to, contend for, the identical old policy on the who framed the Government under which we live, under-point in controversy which was adopted by our fathers stood the question just as well, and even better, than we who framed the Government under which we live; while do now," speak as they spoke, and act as they acted upon you, with one accord, reject, and scout, and spit upon that it. This is all Republicans ask-all Republicans desire old policy, and insist upon substituting something new. in relation to Slavery. As those fathers marked it, so let True, you disagree among yourselves as to what that subit be again marked, as an evil not to be extended, but to be stitute shall be. You have considerable variety of new tolerated and protected only because of and so far as its propositions and plans, but you are unanimous in rejecting actual presence among us makes that toleration and pro-and denouncing the old policy of the fathers. Some of tection a necessity. Let all the guaranties those fathers you are for reviving the foreign slave-trade; some for a congave it, be not grudgingly, but fully and fairly, main-gressional slave-code for the Territories; some for Contained. For this Republicans contend, and with this, so gress forbidding the Territories to prohibit Slavery within far as I know or believe, they will be content. their limits; some for maintaining Slavery in the TerritoAnd now, if they would listen, as I suppose they will ries through the judiciary; some for the "gur-reat pur-rinnot, I would address a few words to the southern peo- ciple" that "if one man would enslave another, no third ple. person should object," fantastically called "Popular So
I would say to them: You consider yourselves a reason-vereignty;" but never a man among you in favor of fedeable and a just people; and I consider that in the general ral prohibition of Slavery in Federal Territories, according qualities of reason and justice you are not inferior to any to the practice of our fathers who framed the Government other people. Still, when you speak of us Republicans, under which we live. Not one of all your various plans you do so only to denounce us as reptiles, or, at the best, can show a precedent or an advocate in the century withas no better than outlaws. You will grant a hearing to in which our Government originated. Consider, then, pirates or murderers, but nothing like it to "Black Bepub-whether your claim of conservatism for yourselves, and
Some of you delight to flaunt in our faces the warning against sectional parties given by Washington in his Farewell Address. Less than eight years before Washington gave that warning he had, as President of the United States, approved and signed an act of Congress enforcing the prohibition of Slavery in the northwestern Territory, which act embodied the policy of the Government upon that subject, up to and at the very moment he penned that warning; and about one year after he penned it he wrote Lafayette, that he considered that prohibition a wise measure, expressing in the same connection his hope that we should sometime have a confederacy of free States.