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hour of half-past ten o clock, in the midst of his family and surrounded
by affectionate friends, calmly and in the full possession of all his facul
ties. Among his last words were these, which he uttered with emphatic
distinctness : 4 1 have always done my duty ; I am ready to die ; my
only regret is for the friends I leave behind me.

" Having announced to you, fellow-citizens, this most afflicting be
reavement, and assuring you that it has penetrated no heart with deeper
grief than mine, it remains for me to say that I propose, this day, at
twelve o clock, in the hall of the House of Representatives, in the pres
ence of both houses of Congress, to take the oath prescribed by the
Constitution, to enable me to enter on the execution of the office which
this event has devolved on me.

" MILLARD FILLMORE."

Mr. Webster then submitted the following resolutions :

" Resolved, That the two houses will assemble this day in the hall
of the House of Representatives, at twelve o clock, to be present at the
administration of the oath prescribed by the Constitution to the late Vice-
President of the United States, to enable him to discharge the powers
and duties of the office of President of the United States, devolved on
him by the death of Zachary Taylor, late President of the United
States.

" Resolved, That the Secretary of the Senate present the above reso
lution to the House of Representatives, and ask its concurrence therein."

These resolutions having been unanimously agreed to, Mr. Downs of
Louisiana, as one of the Senators of the State of which General Taylor
was a citizen, made a feeling address to the Senate on the melancholy
event, and concluded by moving the following resolutions :

" Whereas it has pleased Divine Providence to remove from this life
Zachary Taylor, late President of the United States, the Senate, sharing



408 LAST ILLNESS AND DEATH OF GENERAL TAYLOR.

in the general sorrow which this melancholy event must produce, is de
sirous of manifesting its sensibility on this occasion : Therefore,

" Resolved, That a committee, consisting of Messrs. Webster, Cass,
and King, be appointed on the part of the Senate to meet such commit
tee as may be appointed on the part of the House of Representatives, to
consider and report what measures it may be deemed necessary to
adopt to show the respect and affection of Congress for the memory of
the illustrious deceased, and to make the necessary arrangements for his
funeral.

" Ordered, That the Secretary of the Senate communicate the fore
going resolution to the House of Representatives."

Mr. Webster then addressed the Senate as follows :

MR. SECRETARY, At a time when the great mass of our
fellow-citizens are in the enjoyment of an unusual measure of
health and prosperity, throughout the whole country, it has
pleased Divine Providence to visit the two houses of Congress,
and especially this house, with repeated occasions for mourn
ing and lamentation. Since the commencement of the ses
sion, \vo have followed two of our own members to their last
home ; and we are now called upon, in conjunction with the
other branch of the legislature, and in full sympathy with that
deep tone of affliction which I am sure is felt throughout the
country, to take part in the due solemnities of the funeral of
the late President of the United States.

Truly, Sir, was it said in the communication read to us,
that a " great man has fallen among us." The late President
of the United States, originally a soldier by profession, having
gone through a long and splendid career of military service,
had, at the close of the late war with Mexico, become so much
endeared to the people of the United States, and had inspired
them with so high a degree of regard and confidence, that,
without solicitation or application, without pursuing any devi
ous paths of policy, or turning a hair s breadth to the right
or left from the path of duty, a great, and powerful, and gen
erous people saw fit, by popular vote and voice, to confer upon
him the highest civil authority in the nation. We cannot
forget that, as in other instances so in this, the public feel
ing was won and carried away, in some degree, by the eclat
of military renown. So it has been always, and so it always
will be, because high respect for noble deeds in arms has been,



LAST ILLNESS AND DEATH OF GENERAL TAYLOR. 409

and always will be, outpoured from the hearts of the members
of a popular government.

But it will be a great mistake to suppose that the late Presi
dent of the United States owed his advancement to high civil
trust, or his great acceptableness with the people, to military
talent or ability alone. I believe, Sir, that, associated with the
highest admiration for those qualities possessed by him, there
was spread throughout the community a high degree of confi
dence and faith in his integrity, and honor, and uprightness as
a man. I believe he was especially regarded as both a firm
and a mild man in the exercise of authority ; and I have ob
served more than once, in this and in other popular govern
ments, that the prevalent motive with the masses of mankind
for conferring high power on individuals is a confidence in their
mildness, their paternal, protecting, prudent, and safe character.
The people naturally feel safe where they feel themselves to be
under the control and protection of sober counsel, of impartial
minds, and a general paternal superintendence.

I suppose, Sir, that no case ever happened, in the very best
days of the Roman republic, when a man found himself
clothed with the highest authority in the state under circum
stances more repelling all suspicion of personal application, of
pursuing any crooked path in politics, or of having been actu
ated by sinister views and purposes, than in the case of the
worthy, and eminent, and distinguished, and good man whose
death we now deplore.

He has left to the people of his country a legacy in this.
He has left them a bright example, which addresses itself
with peculiar force to the young and rising generation ; for
it tells them that there is a path to the highest degree of
renown, straight onward, steady, without change or devi
ation.

Mr. Secretary, my friend from Louisiana* has detailed
shortly the events in the military career of General Taylor.
His service through his life was mostly on the frontier, and
always a hard service, often in combat with the tribes of In
dians along the frontier for so many thousands of miles. It
has been justly remarked, by one of the most eloquent men

* Mr. Downs.
VOL. v. 35



410 LAST ILLNESS AND DEATH OF GENERAL TAYLOR.

whose voice was ever heard in these houses,* that it is not in
Indian wars that heroes are celebrated, but that it is there that
they are formed. The hard service, the stem discipline, de
volving upon all those who have a great extent of frontier to
defend, often, with irregular troops, being called on suddenly
to enter into contests with savages, to study the habits of
savage life and savage war, in order to foresee and overcome
their stratagems, all these things tend to make hardy military
character.

For a very short time, Sir, I had a connection with the ex
ecutive government of this country ; and at that time very peril
ous and embarrassing circumstances existed between the Unit
ed States and the Indians on the borders, and war was actually
carried on between the United States and the Florida tribes.
I very well remember that those who took counsel together
on that occasion officially, and who were desirous of placing
the military command in the safest hands, came to the conclu
sion, that there was no man in the service more fully uniting
the qualities of military ability and great personal prudence
than Zachary Taylor ; and he was appointed to the command.

Unfortunately, his career at the head of this government was
short. For my part, in all that I have seen of him, I have
found much to respect and nothing to condemn. The circum
stances under which he conducted the government for the short
time he was at the head of it have been such as perhaps
not to give him a very favorable opportunity of developing his
principles and his policy, and carrying them out ; but I believe
he has left on the minds of the country a strong impression,
first, of his absolute honesty and integrity of character ; next,
of his sound, practical good-sense; and, lastly, of the mild
ness, kindness, and friendliness of his temper towards all his
countrymen.

But he is gone. He is ours no more, except in the force of
his example. Sir, I heard with infinite delight the sentiments
expressed by my honorable friend from Louisiana who has
just resumed his seat, when he earnestly prayed that this event
might be used to soften the animosities, to allay party crimi
nations and recriminations, and to restore fellowship and good

* Fisher Ames.



LAST ILLNESS AND DEATH OF GENERAL TAYLOR. 411
feeling amonsf the various sections of the Union. Mr. Secre-

o o

tary, great as is our loss to-day, if these inestimable and inap
preciable blessings shall have been secured to us even by the
death of Zachary Taylor, they have not been purchased at too
high a price ; and if his spirit, from the regions to which he has
ascended, could see these results flowing from his unexpected
and untimely end, if he could see that he had entwined a sol
dier s laurel around a martyr s crown, he would say exultingly,
" Happy am I, that by my death I have clone more for that
country which I loved and served, than I did or could do by
all the devotion and all the efforts that I could make in her be
half during the short span of my earthly existence."

Mr. Secretary, great as this calamity is, we mourn not as
those without hope. We have seen one eminent man, and
another eminent man, and at last a man in the most eminent
station, fall away from the midst of us. But I doubt not there
is a Power above us exercising over us that parental care that
has guarded our progress for so many years. I have confidence
still that the place of the departed will be supplied ; that the
kind, beneficent favor of Almighty God will still be with us,
and that we shall be borne along, and borne upward and up
ward on the wings of his sustaining providence. May God
grant that, in the time that is before us, there may not be want
ing to us as wise men, as good men for our counsellors, as he
whose funeral obsequies we now propose to celebrate !



THE COMPROMISE MEASURES.*



Mr. PRESIDENT, It was my purpose, on Tuesday of last
week, to follow the honorable member from South Carolina,f
who was addressing the Senate on the morning of that day,
with what I then had, and now have, to say upon the subject
of this bill. But before the honorable member had concluded
his remarks, it was announced to us that the late chief magis
trate of the United States was dangerously ill, and the Senate
was moved to adjourn. The solemn event of the decease of the
President took place that evening.

Sir, various and most interesting reflections present themselves
to the minds of men, growing out of that occurrence. The
chief magistrate of a great republic died suddenly. Recently
elected to that office by the spontaneous voice of his fellow-
countrymen, possessing in a high degree their confidence and
regard, ere yet he had had a fair opportunity to develop the
principles of his civil administration, he fell by the stroke of
death. Yet, Sir, mixed with the sad thoughts which this event
suggests, and the melancholy feeling which spread over the

* A Speech delivered in the Senate of the United States, on the 17th of July,
1850, on the Bill reported by the Committee of Thirteen, commonly called
" The Compromise Bill."

The following 1 motto was prefixed to the Speech in the pamphlet edition :

" Alas ! alas ! when will this speculating against fact and reason end? What
will quiet these panic fears which we entertain of the hostile effect of a concilia
tory conduct? Is all authority of course lost when it is not pushed to the ex
treme ?

" All these objections being in fact no more than suspicions, conjectures, divi
nations, formed in defiance of fact and experience, they did not discourage me from
entertaining the idea of conciliatory concession, founded on the principles which
I have stated." EDMUND BURKE.

f Mr. Butler.



THE COMPROMISE MEASURES. 413

whole country, the real lovers and admirers of our constitutional
government, in the midst of their grief and affliction, found some
thing consoling and gratifying. The executive head of a great
nation had fallen suddenly ; no disturbance arose ; no shock was
felt in the great and free republic. Credit, public and private,
was in no way disturbed, and danger to the community or indi
viduals was nowhere felt. The legislative authority was neither
dissolved nor prorogued ; nor was there any further interruption
or delay in the exercise of the ordinary functions of every branch
of the government, than such as was necessary for the indul
gence, the proper indulgence, of the grief which afflicted Con
gress and the country. Sir, for his country General Taylor did
not live Ions: enough ; but there were circumstances in his death

O o *

so favorable for his own fame and character, so gratifying to all
to whom he was most dear, that he may be said to have died for
tunately.

" That life is long which answers life s great end."
A gallant soldier, able and experienced in his profession, he
had achieved all that was to be expected by him in that line of
duty. Placed at the head of the government, as I have said, by
the free voice of the people, he died in the full possession of the
gratitude of his country. He died in the midst of domestic
affections and domestic happiness. He died in the conscious
ness of duty performed. He died here, in the midst of the
councils of his country ; which country, through us, its organs,
has bestowed upon him those simple, but grand and imposing
rites, \vhich the republic confers on the most distinguished of
her sons.

" Such honors Ilium to her hero paid,
And peaceful slept the mighty Hector s shade."

He has run the race destined for him by Providence, and he
sleeps with the blessings of his countrymen.

Mr. President, I proceed now to say upon the subject before
us what it was my purpose then to have said. I begin by re
marking, that the longer we stay in the midst of this agitating
subject, the longer the final disposition of it is postponed, the
greater will be the intensity of that anxiety which possesses
my breast. I wish, Sir, so far as I can, to harmonize opin
ions. I wish to facilitate some measure of conciliation. I wish
to consummate some proposition or other, that shall bring op-
35*



414 THE COMPROMISE MEASURES.

posing sentiments together, and give the country repose. It
is not my purpose to-day to compare or contrast measures or
plans which have been proposed. A measure was suggested
by the President* in his message of 1848. The same measure,
substantially, was again recommended by the late President,!
in his message of 1849. Then there is before us this proposi
tion of the Committee of Thirteen. I do not regard these as

o

opposite, conflicting, or, to use the language of the day, antag-
onistical propositions at all. To a certain extent, they all
agree. Beyond what was proposed either by Mr. Polk or by
the late President, this report of the committee, and the bill now
before us, go another step. Their suggestions were, and espe
cially that of the late President, to admit California, and for the
present to stop there. The bill before the Senate proposes to
admit California, but also to make a proper provision, if the
Senate deem the provision proper, for the Territories of New
Mexico and Utah. I confess, Sir, my judgment from the
first has been, that it was indispensable that Congress should
make some provision for these Territories ; but I have been in
different whether the things necessary to be done should be
done in one bill or in separate bills, except that, as a matter of
expediency, it was and has been my opinion, from the begin
ning, that it would have been better to have proceeded measure
by measure. That was a matter of opinion upon the expe
diency of the course. I was one of the Committee of Thirteen.
Circumstances called me to my home during its deliberations ;
and the general opinion of the committee at that time seemed
to be, and I thought the better opinion, in favor of beginning
with California, and then taking up the other measures in their
order. Upon further consideration, the committee, very fairly, I
doubt not, and in the exercise of their best judgment and dis
cretion, thought fit to unite the three things which are in this
bill. Well, Sir, whether singly or together, each and every one.
of these objects meets my approbation, and they are all, in my
judgment, desirable.

In the first place, I think it is a desirable object to admit Cal
ifornia. I do not conceal from myself, nor do I wish to con
ceal from others, that California is before us with some degree

* Mr. Polk. f General Taylor.



THE COMPROMISE MEASURES. 415

of irregularity stamped upon her proceedings. She has not
been through the previous process of territorial existence. She
has formed her constitution without our consent. But I con
sider, Sir, that California, from the extraordinary circumstan
ces which have attended her birth and progress to the pres
ent moment, entitles herself, by the necessity of the case, to an
exemption from the ordinary rules. Who expected to see
such a great community spring up in such an incredibly short
time? Who expected to see a hundred or a hundred and
fifty thousand people engaged in such an employment, with so
much activity, and enterprise, and commerce, drawing to them
selves the admiration and regard of the whole world, in the
period of a few months ? Well, Sir, she comes to us with a
constitution framed upon republican models, and conformable
to the Constitution of the United States ; and under these cir
cumstances, still regarding her application as premature and ir
regular, I am for admitting her, as there has been nothing done
which her admission on our part will not cure. She will be law
fully in the Union if we admit her, and therefore I have no hes
itation upon that point.

Then, with respect to the Territories, I have been and I am
of opinion, that we should not separate, at the end of this ses
sion of Congress, without having made a suitable provision for
their government. I do not think it safe to allow things to
stand as they are. It has been thought that there may be such
a thing as admitting California, and stopping there. Well, it
is not impossible, in the nature of things, that such a course of
policy should be adopted, if it would meet the proper concur
rence. But then I have always supposed, Sir, that, if we were
now acting upon California as a separate measure, and should,
in the prosecution of that measure, admit her into the Union,
the inquiry would immediately arise, What is next to be
done ? I have never supposed that the questions respecting the
Territories would thereby be put to rest, even for the present.
I have supposed, on the contrary, that the very next thing to be
done would be to take up the subject of a government for the
Territories, and prosecute that subject until it should be in
some manner terminated by Congress, to the exclusion of all
ordinary subjects of legislation. I am not authorized to state,
Sir, I do not know, the opinion of the honorable members of



416 THE COMPROMISE MEASURES

the Committee on Territories. The honorable member from
Illinois, who is at the head of that committee, sits near me,
and I take it for granted that he can say whether I am right
or not in the opinion, that, if we should this day admit Cal
ifornia alone, he would to-morrow feel it his duty to bring in a
bill for the government of the Territories, or to make some dis
position of them.

MR. DOUGLAS (in a low voice). Does the Senator wish an answer ?
I should like to know the honorable member s purpose.

MR. DOUGLAS. Mr. President, if California should be admitted by
herself, I should certainly feel it my duty, as the chairman of the Com-
mitee on Territories, to move to take up the subject of the Territories at
once, and put them through, and also the Texas boundary question, and
to settle them by detail, if they are not settled in the aggregate, to
gether. I can say such is the opinion and determination of a majority
of that committee.

Then, Sir, it is as I supposed. "We should not get rid of the
subject, even for the present, by admitting California alone.
Now, Sir, it is not wise to conceal our condition from our
selves. Suppose we admit California alone. My honorable
friend from Illinois brings in, then, a bill for a territorial gov
ernment for New Mexico and Utah. We must open our eyes
to the state of opinion in the two houses respectively, and en
deavor to foresee what would be the probable fate of such a
bill. If it be a bill containing a prohibition of slavery, we
know it could not pass this house. If it be a bill without such
prohibition, we know what difficulty it would encounter else
where. So that we very little relieve ourselves from the em
barrassing circumstances in which we are placed by taking up
California and acting upon it alone. I am therefore, Sir, de
cidedly in favor of passing this bill in the form in which it is
upon your table.

But, Sir, if it be the pleasure of the Senate to approve the
motion which is shortly to be made for laying this whole meas
ure upon the table, and thereby disposing of this bill, I can
only say, for one, that, if this measure be defeated by that pro
ceeding, or any other, I hold myself not only inclined, but
bound, to consider any other measures which may be suggest
ed. The case is pressing, and the circumstances of the coun-



THE COMPROMISE MEASURES. 417

try arc urgent. When have we ever before had any foreign
question, any exterior question, if I may say so, that has oc
cupied the consideration of Congress for seven months, and
yet been* brought to no result? When have we had a subject
before us that has paralyzed all the operations of government,
that has displaced the regular proceedings of the two houses of
Congress, and has left us, at the end of seven months of a ses
sion, without the ordinary annual appropriation bills ? What
is now proposed is, to make a territorial government for New
Mexico and Utah, without restriction. I feel authorized to as
sume, from the circumstances before us, that it is in the power
of gentlemen of the South to decide whether this territorial
government without restriction, as provided in the bill, shall be
established or not. I have voted against restriction for the rea
sons which I have already given to the Senate, and may re
peat ; but it now lies with Southern gentlemen to say whether
this bill, thus providing for territorial governments without re
striction, shall pass or not ; and they will decide that question,
doubtless, by reference to what is likely to happen if it should
not pass.

Now, Sir, I am prepared to say, that, if this measure does
not pass, I am ready to support other proper measures that
can and will pass. I shall never consent to end this session
of Congress until some provision is made for New Mexico.
Utah is less important. Let her repose herself upon the borders
of the Salt Lake another year, if necessary. But as to New
Mexico, situated as she is, with a controversy on her hands
with her more powerful neighbor, Texas, I shall never con
sent to the adjournment of Congress without a provision made
for avoiding a collision, and for the settlement of the point in
controversy, between that Territory and that State. I have the
strongest objection to a premature creation of States. I stat
ed that objection at length in the Senate some two years ago.
The bringing in of small States with a representation in the
Senate equal to the representation of the largest States in the
Union, and with a very small number of people, deranges and
disturbs the proper balance between the Senate and the House
of Representatives. It converts the Senate into a kind of
oligarchy. There may be six, or eight, or ten small States in
the Southwest, having as many Senators in Congress as they



418 THE COMPROMISE MEASURES.

have Representatives. This objection is founded upon the in
congruity which such a case produces in the constitutional re
lation of the Senate and the House. It disfigures the sym
metry of the government ; and in this respect it does not make



Online LibraryDaniel WebsterThe works of Daniel Webster (Volume 05) → online text (page 40 of 53)