« PreviousContinue »
In 1846, Mr. Lincoln was elected to Congress from the central district of Illinois.
He took his seat in Congress on the first Monday in December, of the year 1847. It was the Thirtieth Congress, and the House of Representatives to which he was elected was presided over by Mr. Winthrop of Massachusetts. The House was composed of 117 Whigs, 110 Democrats, and 1 Native American. Illinois then had seven representatives, and all were Democrats but Mr. Lincoln. He alone from that State held up the old Whig banner. With him, from other States, were associated such well-known names as the following : Collamer, Marsh, Ashmun, Truman Smith, Hunt, Tallmadge, Ingersoll, Botts, Goggin, Clingman, Stephens, Toombs, Gentry, and Thompson. Opposed to him in politics were men like Wilmot, Brodhead, Boyd, Bocock, Rhett, Brown, Linn Boyd, Andrew Johnson, etc., etc. In the Senate were Webster, Calhoun, Dayton, Davis, Dix, Dickinson, Hunter, Hale, B:ll, Crittenden, and Corwin. It was a Congress full of the most talented men-crowded with the real statesmen of the country, and such a one in these and other respects as the country rarely elects to make its laws. It turned out to be one of the most excited, agitated, and agitating ever convened.
HARBOR AND RIVER BILL.
One of Mr. Lincoln's first votes was given, December 20, 1847, in favor of the subjoined resolution :
“ Resolved, That if, in the judgment of Congress, it be necessary to improve the navigation of a river to expedite and render secure the movements of our army, and save from delay and loss our arms and munitions of war, that Congress has the power to improve such river.
“Resolved, That if it be necessary for the preservation of the lives of our seamen, repairs, safety, or maintenance of our vessels-of-war, to improve a harbor or inlet, either on our Atlantic or Lake coast, Congress has the power to make such improvement."
A motion was made to lay the resolution on the table, and Mr. Lincoln voted with the other Whigs then in the House against the motion, and it was defeated. The resolution was laid over after this test yote to another day for debate.
SLAVERY IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
The next day the slavery question was agitated in the House. Mr. Giddings presented a memorial from certain citizens of the District of Columbia, asking Congress to repeal all laws upholding the slave-trade in the district. Mr. Giddings moved to refer the memorial to the Judiciary Committee, with instructions so inquire into the constitutionality of all laws by which slaves are held as property in the District of Columbia. A motion was made to lay the paper on the table. Mr. Lincoln voted against the motion. The result was a
tie vote, and the Speaker voted in the negative. Mr. Howell Cobb stated that he wished to debate it, and it lay over under the rules.
On the 22d of December, Mr. Wentworth of Illinois moved the following resolution :
Resolved, That the General Government has the power to construct such harbors, and improve such rivers as are necessary and proper for the protection of our navy and commerce, and also for the defences of our country.”
A motion was made to lay on the table, and then withdrawn. An exciting contest ensued on the de mand for the previous question. It was sustained, and the House came to a direct vote on the resolution, passing it by 138 ayes to 54 nays, Mr. Lincoln voting, of course, with the ayes.
THE MEXICAN WAR.
On the same day Mr. Lincoln offered the following preamble and resolutions on the Mexican War :
“Whereas, the President of the United States, in his Message of May 11, 1846, has declared that "the Mexican government refused to receive him [the envoy of the United States], or listen to his propositions, but, after a long-continued series of menaces, have at last invaded our territory, and shed the blood of our fellowcitizens on our own soil ;'
“And again, in his Message of December 8, 1846, that we 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 basely became the aggressor, by invading our soil in hostile array, and shedding the blood of our citizens ;
“And yet, again, in his Message of December 7, 1847, · The Mexican 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
“Ist. Whether the spot on which the blood of our citizens was shed, as in his memorial declared, was or was not within the territory of Spain, at least after the treaty of 1819, until the Mexican revolution.
“ 2d. Whether that spot is or is not within the territory which was wrested from Spain by the revolutionary government of Mexico.
“3d. 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 of the Gulf and the Rio Grande on the south and west, and of wide uninhabited regions on the north and east.
" 5th. Whether the people of that settlement, or a majority of them, have ever submitted themselves to the government or laws of Texas or of the United States, of consent or of compulsion, either of accepting office or voting at elections, or paying taxes, or serving on juries, or having process served on them, or in any other way.
“ 6th. Whether the people of that settlement did or did not flee at the approaching 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 blood so shed was or was not shed within the enclosure of one of the people who had thus fled from it.
667th. Whether our citizens whose blood was shed, as in his message 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."
These resolutions were laid over under the rule. We have quoted them entire because one of the false charges of Mr. Lincoln's political opponents is, that he voted against the supplies to the army. He was a Whig, and took the position of the Whigs of his day, many