« PreviousContinue »
BINGHAM AND CLEMENS' SPEECHES.
The consideration of the bill was finally | basis he would stand. He opposed the meapostponed to Thursday, January 31st.
The House revived the consideration of the report of the Committee of Thirty-three. Mr. Bingham, (Rep.), of Ohio, took the floor, to raise his voice against tampering with the Constitution, or resorting to a temporising policy. He would not withhold his support from any just legislation which looks to the supremacy of the laws; but it would be in vain to endeavor to save the Constitution by the sacrifice of the principles which underlie and constitute its vitality. He, with millions, stood by the Constitution as it is, with its blessed enjoyment of the present and the cherished hopes of the future. With uplifted hand, he stood there to deny that any State can by any appliance rightfully separate one section of the country from the rest, or sever the various ties which bind together the Republic. We have one Constitution, and he denied that any State can strike down the unity of the Government which constitutes us one people. He denied, in the name of the American people, that any State can let loose the demon of discord to breathe dismay and death, and pollute our hearths and homes with fratricidal blood. In view of the seizures of the forts and arsenals, and other lawless measures, it is the duty of Congress to strengthen the Executive arm to enable him to summon the people to the vindication of the outraged Constitution and the laws.
He refuted the idea of a constitutional right of secession, and scouted the assumption that peaceful disunion was possible. It could not be peaceful when it sought to blot, at one stroke, a mighty nation from its place in the category of governments. As well talk of a peaceful earthquake which envelops cities in one common disaster-as well tell of a peaceful tempest, which fills the heavens with darkness, desolation, and death. He concluded by arguing that States had no right to secede. They possess no inherent rights at all. The people have no cause of grievance which justifies revolution, and otherthrows the Constitution and supreme law of the land. Our duty is not to amend, but to maintain and uphold the Constitution, and on this
sures recommended by a majority of the Committee. He would not vote for the admission into the Union of New Mexico, until she repeals the unjust Slave code which would bring a blush to the cheek of Caligula. He would not aid in making this a Slave Government. He wished to punish treason and recapture the forts and other public property. He appealed to the people to uphold the Constitution. His speech was a bold and severe attack upon Mr. Corwin's Report, and aimed to draw the lines closely around those Republicans who still hoped and labored for compromise.
He was succeeded by Sherrard Clemens, (Dem.), of Virginia—one of the few who, seeing Virginia's danger, had the courage and the patriotism to speak for her salvation. After a long illness, he thanked God that, in renewed health, he could serve his constituents when his services were most needed. He would speak from his heart; not in passion, but in truth, as befitted the solemnity of the hour and the magnitude of the issue. Great events hurried by with unflagging steps. Did they portend the death of the Republic? He would not utter one word to hasten the danger, but would, as a Southern man, representing Southern interests, only study how to avert the impending ruin. He would speak as a Western Virginian, and as the custodian of those who were not old enough to know the perils to which they were exposed by those who were now riding on the crest of the popular wave, but who were, nevertheless, destined to sink into the very trough of the sea to a depth so unfathomable that not a bubble would ever rise to mark the spot where they went so ignominiously down. Well might those who had inaugurated the revolution which was now stalking over the land cry out, with uplifted hands, for peace, and deprecate the effusion of blood! It was the inventor of the guillotine who was the first victim, and the day was not far off when they would find among their own people those who would have to rely upon the magnanimity of that population whom they had most cruelly outraged and deceived. He had not the heart to enter into a detail of the ar
guments, or to express the | born. A statesman must indignant emotions, which now not only narrow his rose to his lips for utterance. mind and give up to party But, before God, and in his inmost conscience, what was meant for mankind, but he must rehe believed that Slavery would be crucified cede as submissively as a blind horse in a bark. should this unhappy controversy end in a mill to every perverted opinion which sits, dismemberment of the Union. If not cruci- whip in hand, on the revolving shaft, at the fied, it would carry the death rattle in its end of which he is harnessed. To be a diamond throat. It remained to be seen whether trea- of the first water he must stand in the Senate son could be carried out with the same facil- House of his country, and, in the face of a ity with which it had been plotted. There forbearing people, glory in being a traitor was a holy courage among the minority of and a rebel. He must solemnly proclaim the every State that might be for a time over- death of the nation to which he had sworn whelmed. Lazarus was not dead, but slept; allegiance, and with the grave stolidity of an and, ere long, the stone would be rolled away undertaker invite its citizens to their own from the mouth of the tomb, and they would funeral. He must dwarf and provincialize witness all the glories of a resurrection. It his patriotism to the State on whose local would not be forgotten that among the clans passions he thrives, to the country where he of Scotland beacon fires used to be lit by con- practices court, or to the city where he certed signals from crag to crag, in living flaunts in all the meretricious dignity of a volumes of flame, yet expiring even in their Doge of Venice. He can take an oath to own fierceness, and sinking into ashes as the support the Constitution of the United States, faggots which lit them were consumed. To but he can enter with honor into a conspisuch a picture as that might be likened a re- racy to overthrow it. He can, under the bellion such as political leaders sometimes sanctity of the same oath, advise the seizure excite for a brief hour; but the fires of rebel- of forts and arsenals, dock-yards and ships, lion burnt out with the faggots, and all was and money, belonging to the Union, whose cold and dark again. There was a striking officer he is, and find a most loyal and convecontrast between such a movement, between nient retreat in State authority and State alsuch a rebellion as he alluded to, and the up- legiance. rising of the masses of the people in vindication of violated rights. As great a difference as there was between Snug, the joiner, and Bottom, the weaver, who "could roar you as fierce as a lion, or coo you as gently as a sucking dove." One was the stage trick of a political harlequin, the other was a living reality—the one was a livid and fitful flame, the other was a prairie on fire, finding in every step of its progress, food for its all-ravening
He might stand alone. Be it so! His political race was, voluntarily, nearly run. He sought no office-asked no favors. History, that infallible arbiter, should decide for all in truth, and would apportion to each his share of infamy or honor as was merited. He then referred to the diseased sentiment which prevailed to such an alarming degree in Congress and out of it. Patriotism had become a starveling birdling, clinging with unfledged wings around the nest of twigs where it was
[This severe construction of secession morals was made in a tone of scorn which added to its bitterness. He fairly, for the moment, seemed the Jeremiah come to judge the macchinators against society and law. Being a Southern man he was prepared for the contingencies of any personal issue which his anathema might excite, and, for that reason probably, was not bullied and insulted from the Southern side of the House. His speech was not interrupted, except in one instance.]
Mr. Clemens said the differences between North and South had been created and carried out, to their ultimate, by systematic perversions of the public sentiment, in both sections. In the South it was understood that the North was but a league of States, seeking the overthrow of Southern institutions. In the North it was understood that the South desired and intended to monopolize with Slave Territory all the public lands, and to drive therefrom free labor, to convert every Free
MR. CLEMENS' SPEECH.
State into common ground, | Wendell Phillips, delivered for the recapture of colored in the Music Hall at Boston, persons, as slaves, who were a few days previously, in free, and to put the Federal Government, in all which Phillips declared, "We are dis its departments, under the control of a slave oli- unionists, not for any love of separate congarchy. These and all other stratagems that federacies," &c., ending with a reference to could be resorted to to arouse antagonistic South Carolina, "and Egypt will rejoice that feelings, were wielded with fearful power she has departed."] over turbulent passions. As they planted, so they reaped. The whirlwind was now born out of the storm, which never would have been created but for the bad men in the two sections-anarchists in heart, and morally diseased in mind. No anaconda, with his filthy folds around the banyan tree, threw out the venomous tongue and yearned with fiercer passion for the crushed bone and the pulpy flesh than he, the Abolitionist, now expectant of his prey, yearned for this longproposed repast. Well might he cry that the day of jubilee had come! Well might he marshal his hosts to the last great war of sections and of races! Defeated, stigmatized, insulted, scoffed at, ostracised and gibbeted by his countrymen, he now gloated over the most fearful of all retributions. His deadliest foes in the South had now struck hands in a solemn league of kindred designs, and, with exultant tramp, stolidly marched, adorned, like a Roman ox, with the garlands of sacrifice, to the eternal doom. At this moment, when a sudden phrensy had struck blind the Southern people, this picture could not even be realized in all its horrors. When he looked at his country, and its present distracted and desolate condition, and its possible fate, he felt almost ready to close the quick accents of speech, and allow the heart to sink down voiceless in its despair. He would refer them to the words of Lloyd Garrison, and demand what answer would be given to them? [His reference was to an article in the Liberator, which appeared a few days after the secession of South Carolina, in which Garrison said that "the last covenant with death was annulled, and the agreement with hell broken by the action of South Carolina herself;" closing with an appeal to Massachusetts, ending with the words, stands Massachusetts at this hour, in reference to the Union-in an attitude of hostility?" Mr. Clemens also quoted from a speech of
The speaker gave, with considerable minutiæ of detail, statistics of white population and of slaves in the Border and more Southern Slave States, for the purpose of showing, as he said, that there was an irreversible law of population governing the question; and that the South wanted population and capital rather than Territory. If secession were allowed to be carried out, he would show them a Southern Confederacy from which every man would turn back affrighted and pale, because it would be on the bloody hand that his rights of property would have to depend. Slavery cannot expand rapidly, either within the Union or without the Union, so long as slaves remained at their present high prices. The only mode by which Slavery could ever expand, was to reduce the price, and have a new source of supply. That was, in fact, the real design of the Coast States. Mr. Clemens, in proof of this, referred to all the Southern Conventions of late years, and cited the admissions of Messrs. Miles, Bonham, McRae, and Crawford, in the House, to show that the object was the reopening of the Slave-trade. Suppose, said he, that they do not get, out of the Union, this equality which they now claim? That is a little problem in the rule of three which will be ciphered out if these events are much longer pending. The Border Slave States might as well be prepared, first as last, for the realization of the truth. But where was Slavery to expand? If the South left the Union she would never get as much of the present Territory as he could grasp in his hand. A war of thirty years would never get it back, nor could there ever be extorted from the North a treaty giving the same guarantees to Slavery that it now had. Where was Slavery to expand? Not to Central America, for England exercised sovereignty over half of her domain. Not to Mex ico, for England had caused the abolition of
Slavery there also. Their retiring confederates ought not to forget the events of 1834, when George Thompson, the English Abolitionist, was sent to enlighten the dead conscience of the American people. In this connection he cited a letter from Thompson to Murrell, of Tennessee, in which was this sentence: "The dissolution of the Union is the object to be kept steadily in view." In the event of a Southern Confederacy there will be, besides the African Slave-trade, other elements of discord and agitation. Slavery was the great ruling interest of the extreme States, while the other States had other great interests which could not be lightly abandoned. It would be for the interest of the Coast States to have free trade in manufactured goods; but how would that operate on the mechanical and manufacturing industry of Missouri, Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware? There would be, therefore, in the proposed Union, an antagonism quite as great as there ever has been in this. If manufactories were to be protected and encouraged in the Border Slave States, their white population would increase so fast that they would be but nominally Slave States, and would finally become Free States. He appealed to the North to guarantee, by constitutional enactments, the principle secured by the decision of the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott case. Let us feel, he said, that we have a country to save instead of a geographical section to represent. Let us act as men, and not as partisans, and the old Constitution, now in the very trough of the sea, with battered masts and sails, will weather the storm.
During the remarks, Martin, of Virginia, had, in a tone of much excitement, expressed a hope that the member "should not be allowed to continue his traitorous remarks."*
* A correspondent at the Capital thus wrote:
"Both sides gathered around him, and while the extremists endeavored to distract attention, every word told with unusual effect. As he had not closed at the end of the hour, motions were made to extend
the time, but objections were shouted from the South side, even to let him print the conclusion. A more thorough exposure and dissection of false pretences has rarely been witnessed, and no surprise was excited that the demagogues and conspirators should have winced as they did."
Washburne, (Rep.,) of Wis., addressed the House advocating his Minority Report from the Committee of Thirty-three. He insisted that the Constitution was ample for the preservation of the Union and the protection of all the material interests of the country, and that it needs to be obeyed rather than amended. He gave the reasons why. He opposed the recommendations of the majority, not being disposed to subject the people of the North to further contempt. He said the plain question was-and it would have to be met--whether they shall give a Slavery guarantee in the Constitution. He was opposed to the admission of New Mexico. He would not consent to bring two more Slave State Senators into Congress. He would not vote for the admission of a Slave State. If New Mexico even were to present herself with a Free State Constitution, still he would be against it. She has not the necessary population, and not the ability to sustain a government. But one thing he desired to impress on the minds of all, and that was, if the Union was once dissolved, they might look in vain for its reconstruction on any such basis as it now stands upon. If reconstructed, the North will fix the terms of the reconstruction, and will insist that those who now secede shall come into a new Union, if they come at all, on terms of equality with us. But, said he, if disunion comes, whether it comes by peaceable secession or through fire and blood, and civil war, we shall have this consolation, that when the conflict is over, those who survive it will be, what they never have—namely, inhabitants of a free country.
In the Senate, Tuesday, (January 22d.) Mr. Saulsbury, of Delaware, presented that States' Legislative resolutions directing its Senators and Representatives to vote for the Crittenden resolutions, or for any other measure looking to the preservation of the Union.
Seats of Seceded Senators.
Much time was consumed, and an interesting colloquial debate had, on the question of the seats of the seceded Senators. A motion was made that the Vice-President
fill the vacancies existing in the Committees. That officer asked instructions. As there was no record, on the journal, of the absence
of the Senators, and as their names were
Mr. Douglas moved to amend, that Messrs.
After further questioning and personal opinions, the subject, on motion of Mr. Seward, was laid on the table.
spurned. He was in favor of an amendment to the Constitution to suppress the slavetrade forever, and argued in favor of an amendment requiring States to deliver up fugitives from justice, and also in favor of preventing all invasion of States. If these things were fair, he remarked, why not put them in the Constitution, so as to be beyond the reach of all sectional majorities. He referred briefly to other proposed amendments, specially to one denying the right of suffrage to colored persons. If the Senators are against negro equality, why should they not be willing to put this amendment in the Constitution? He believed that it was a Government specially for white men. He said that the Senator of Ohio (Mr. Wade,) asked what the charges were? He would repeat a few: One was, that bands were organized in Free States to steal the property of the South.
Mr. Wade, (Rep.) of Ohio., asked for a proof, and said he did not believe a word of it.
Mr. Powell said, the fast Underground Railroad is well known. He had read a letter of a member of the House from Ohio, (Mr. Cox,) speaking of the great number of slaves carried off. This, if it was a foreign country, would be a cause for war. The Personal Liberty bills were also another cause of complaint; such laws are a clear violation of the Constitution.
Mr. Wade said he wanted some specific charge against Ohio, so that he could answer
The Crittenden resolutions, being unfinished business, were then called up, and Powell, (Dem.,) of Kentucky, delivered a lengthy and somewhat elaborate speech. He repeated that he had advocated sincerely, every measure calculated to remove the difficulties, and argued that a division of the Territories, as proposed by his colleague, was just and equitable to all. The Territories were acquired by all the States. By the proposed division, the North gets nearly four times the quantity of the South, and ten times the value. He thought it eminently proper that the settlement should apply to all future acquisitions, so as to take the question forever from the halls of Congress, and contend-it. ed, that it would in no way encourage fillibustering, for territory could not be acquired in such a way. He said the objection that it recognized Slavery was not well taken. The Constitution did recognize Slavery, and at the time of its formation it was recognized everywhere in the civilized world. He claimed, also, that Congress had, on many occasions, recognized Slavery, in treaties and various ways. He thought there was no need of advocating the duty of protection, as protection was the plain duty of every Government. The South claimed no more than was right; and, for the sake of peace, and to transmit the institutions of our fathers to posterity, they were willing to yield far more than was right, and yet peace-offerings seemed to be
He was tired of hearing general charges. Mr. Powell said that the Governor of Ohio had refused to deliver up a fugitive from justice. He had also to refer to a letter of a colleague of the Senator. The Republicans elected a candidate on a platform hostile to the South, and had elected a President who declared that he would not vote to admit a Slave State, notwithstanding the decision of the Supreme Court.
Mr. Trumbull said it was directly the re verse from what the Senator had stated.
After further personal rejoinders, Mr. Powell proceeded. He said if anything was done to save the Union, it must come from the Republicans. He would not deal with the question of the right of secession-it was useless to argue the point, when a revolution