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democrats voted against the bill, while every republican sustained it, at every stage. Two days afterwards, Mr. Wade again called up the bill; but a motion to take up the Cuba bill, instead, prevailed." This was again repeated on the 25th of February. After a debate on the Cuba project, protracted late into the night, another effort was made to consider the homestead bill. Mr. Seward remarked :
“After nine hours' yielding to the discussion of the Cuba question, it is time to come back to the great question of the day and the age. The senate may as well meet, face to face, the issue which is before them. It is an issue presented by the competition between these two questions. One, the homestead bill, is a question of homes, of lands for the landless freemen of the United States. The Cuba bill is the question of slaves for the slaveholders of the United States."
All efforts, however, to lay aside the Cuba bill were ineffectual, and no other opportunity occurred before the adjournment of Congress to get a vote on the final passage of one of the most beneficent measures ever presented to any legislative body. In the senate and in the house of representatives the republicans voted steadily on the side of the measure, while the democrats, with a few exceptions, were as uniformly against it. Mr. Seward's speech in favor of a homestead law, delivered in the senate as early as 1851, is an elaborate defense of the measure, and may be referred to as the best exposition of the subject ever made in the senate.'
The legislature of Indiana, in 1857, attempted to elect two United States senators. The two branches were of opposite politics. The senate consisted of twenty-three democrats and twenty-seven opposition, while the house numbered sixty-three democrats to thirty-seven opposition. No law existing in that state prescribing the manner of electing a senator, the constitution of the United States was the only guide in the matter. That instrument declares, that senators shall be elected by the “legislature." The laws of Indiana define the legislature to be “the senate and house." The senate consists of fifty members; the house of one hundred. Two-thirds, in each, is required to make a quorum.
1 The following is the vote to give the Cuba bill priority of consideration: Yeas-Messrs. Allen, Bayard, Bell, Benjamin, Bigler, Brown, Chesnut, Clay, Clingman, Davis, Fitch, Fitzpatrick, Green,
Gwin, Hammond, Houston, Hunter, Iverson, Jones, Lane Mallory, Mason, Polk, Pugh, Reid, Rice, Sebastian, Shields, Slidell, Smith, Stuart, Toombs, Ward, Wright, and Yulee -35. Nays-Messrs. Broderick, Cameron, Chandler, Clark, Collamer, Dixon. Doolittle, Douglas, Durkee, tessenden, Foot, Foster, Ilale, Hamlin, Harlan, Johnson of Tennessee, Kennedy, King, Pearce, Seward, Simmons, Trumbull, 'Wade, and Wilson24.
2 See vol. I, p. 156.
The house, with twenty-three senators, on the 4th of February, in a pretended joint convention, elected Messrs. Bright and Fitch senators of the United States; the latter to fill the vacancy then existing, and the former for the full term, commencing the ensuing 4th of March. This election was deemed invalid for the following reasons—the senate had never voted for this joint convention, but on the other hand had adopted a protest, twenty-seven to twenty, against any such meeting, a few days before it was held. Less than a quorum of the house were present, and there were several other gross informalities attending the pretended election, sufficient to render it palpably illegal and void. Twenty-seven senators and thirty-six representatives sent a protest to the United States senate, declaring that a quorum of neither house had participated in the election; that the alleged joint convention was unauthorized by any law of the state, by any resolution of the legislature, or by any provision of the constitution of Indiana, or of the United States; and that to affirm its action would destroy the existence of the senate of Indiana as a branch of the legislature.' But a majority of the senate of the United States allowed Messrs. Bright and Fitch to take their seats and act as members of the senate.
In 1859 the legislature of Indiana, in a legal and formal manner, chose Messrs. Henry S. Lane and William Monroe McCarty, as senators, to take the places illegally held by Messrs. Bright and Fitch. One argument at the previous session of congress had been that no contestants appeared for the seats claimed by the latter gentlemen. Messrs. Lane and McCarty accordingly presented their credentials to the senate by the hands of the vice-president, with a memorial from the legislature of Indiana reciting the facts in the case.
Mr. Seward moved that the recently elected senators be allowed the privileges of the senate until their claims were considered and decided. His speech in vindication of their rights, and in condemnation of the usurpations and action of the legislature of Indiana in 1857, is a well reasoned and cogent argument of the whole question.
The senate, bowever, refused to adopt Mr. Seward's motion allowing Messrs. McCarty and Lane the privileges of the floor; and also declined to consider their claims, on the ground that the question had been closed by previous action of the senate.
1 Certain state officers are also, by the constitution and laws of Indiana, required to be elected by a joint convention. But, although several vacancies had existed for some time, the members composing the convention which elected the two senators, did not dare to assume the duty of electing such ofhcers at that or at any convention similarly constituted.
On the 24th of January, 1857, Mr. Slidell, of Louisiana, from the committee on foreign relations, reported to the senate a bill for the acquisition of the island of Cuba. The project had been ushered into the senate by a special message from the president and was considered an Executive measure. It provided for the immediate appropriation of thirty millions of dollars, to be placed under the control of the president, to be used in his discretion for the acquisition of the island, without requiring the ratification by the senate of any treaty he might make. Neither was the president limited in the amount to be paid, ultimately—the thirty millions of dollars being for the preliminary arrangements to the actual purchase. Mr. Seward's views in regard to the acquisition of Cuba were expressed in his speech in the senate on the 26th of January, 1853, as follows:
“While I do not desire the immediate or early annexation of Cuba, nor see how I could vote for it at all until slavery shall have ceased to counteract the workings of nature in that beautiful island, nor even then, unless it could come into the Union without injustice to Spain, without aggressive war, and without producing internal dissensions among ourselves, I nevertheless yield my full acquiescence to the views of John Quincy Adams, that this nation can never safely allow that island to pass under the dominion of any power that is already, or can become, a formidable rival or enemy."ı
The bill now before the senate met with Mr. Seward's persistent opposition. His speeches and remarks during the debate were full of warning and denunciation of the dangerous provisions contained in the bill. It also encountered the opposition of the other repub. lican senators, and was finally dropped hy its friends, without a vote being taken on its passage. A motion to lay the bill on the table was made in the senate at midnight on the 25th of February, which was lost, eighteen to thirty. This was the last action had upon the measure during the session.
By the 10th section of an act passed March 3d, 1857, congress provided for the establishment of an overland mail to San Francisco in these words:
“Sec. 10. And be it further enacted, That the postmaster-general be, and he is hereby, authorized to contract for the conveyance of the entire letter mail, from
1 See Vol. III, page 605.
such point on the Mississippi river as the contractors may select, to San Francisco, in the state of California, for six years, at a cost not exceeding three hundred thousand dollars per annum for semi-monthly, four hundred and fifty thousand dollars for weekly, or six hundred thousand dollars for semi-weekly service; to be performed semi-monthly, weekly or semi-weekly, at the option of the postmaster-general.”
The bids made for this contract specified the route to be traversed as it was contemplated they should, by the act. But none of the routes proposed were sufficiently southern to satisfy the president and his cabinet. By an extraordinary exercise of power the successful contractors were made to adopt a route agreed upon by the administration and its southern advisers, described as follows:
" From St. Louis, Missouri, and from Memphis, Tennessee, converging at Little Rock, Arkansas; thence, via Preston, Texas, or as nearly so as may be found advisable, to the best point of crossing the Rio Grande, above El Paso, and not far from Fort Fillmore; thence along the new road, being opened and constructed under the direction of the secretary of the interior, to Fort Yumas, California; thence through the best passes and along the best valleys for safe and expeditious staging, to San Francisco.”
One of the objects in compelling the contractors to take this extremely southern and circuitous route seems to have been to favor the gulf states and to populate with immigrants the territory of Arizona, at the expense of the more central and northern portions of the country. An effort was made in congress in February, 1859, to change the action of the post office department in regard to this matter, and to restore the spirit and letter of the act of March 3d, 1857. The route forced upon the contractors neither accommodated the transmission of letters nor the conveyance of passengers from the Mississippi river to San Francisco, while it involved an expense of over six hundred thousand dollars. On the 1st of March, 1859, an amendment to the post office appropriation bill was lost, as follows:
And be it further enacted, That the contract with Butterfield & Co., for carrying the mails from the Mississippi river to San Francisco, in California, shall be so construed as to allow said contractors to carry the mail by any route they may select."
YEAS-Messrs. Broderick, Cameron, Chandler, Clark, Collamer, Dixon, Doolittle, Durkee, Foot, Foster Harlan, King, Polk, Pugh, Seward, Shields, Simmons, Trumbull, Wade and Wilson–20. Nays-Messrs. Allen, Bell, Benjamin, Bigler, Brown, Chesnut, Clay, Clingman, Crittenden, Fitch, Fitzpatrick, Green, Gwin, Hammond, Houston, Hunter, Iverson, Johnson of Arkansas, Johnson of Tennessee, Jones, Lane, Mason, Pearce, Reid, Rice, Slidell, Stuart, Toombs, Ward
It will be seen that this vote was almost entirely sectional, Mr. Polk of Missouri being the only senator from a slave state in the affirmative.
Further efforts were made in the senate and in the house by Mr. Seward and others, to give to the north and west a just and equitable share in the advantages to be derived from an overland mail route to the Pacific. One provision of this character, adopted by congress, was defeated by the president's refusing to sign the bill containing it, and another was lost with the post office appropriation bill to which it was attached.
Mr. Seward advocated the most practicable measures that came before the senate for affording mail facilities to the people living between the Mississippi river and the Pacific ocean. In the same spirit he favored the best attainable projects for a railroad, and a line of telegraphs, through the same territory. No sectional prejudices mar any of his speeches on these great subjects nor appear in any of the votes he cast.
A bill giving to the several states portions of the public lands for the support of colleges devoted specially to agricultural and mechanical sciences, having passed the house at the previous session, came up in the senate and was passed: ayes twenty-five, nays twenty-two. It was vetoed by the president. Mr. Seward with other republican senators zealously supported this bill while the negative votes were cast entirely by democrats.
The efforts of the administration to increase the rates of postage on letters were opposed by Mr. Seward, and by the republicans in the senate and house of representatives, and were finally defeated.
On the 3d of March, 1859, the thirty-fifth congress adjourned sine die. The president immediately called an extra session of the senate to meet at noon on the next day. After a week spent chiefly in executive sessions the senate again adjourned.
After the adjournment of the senate (March 10, 1859), Mr. Seward determined to gratify his long-cherished desire for an extensive foreign tour. He had made a brief and hurried visit to Europe in 1833, in company with his father.
with his father. He designed now to make a more pro