Stephen Arnold Douglas.

A brief treatise upon constitutional and party questions and the history of political parties, as I received it orally from the late Senator Stephen A. Douglas online

. (page 10 of 11)
Online LibraryStephen Arnold DouglasA brief treatise upon constitutional and party questions and the history of political parties, as I received it orally from the late Senator Stephen A. Douglas → online text (page 10 of 11)
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time it was inserted, or by whom. By an examina
tion of the journals it appeared that the Legislature
had at the same time passed resolutions instructing
their Senators and requesting their Representatives
in Congress to vote for the grant of land, although
it had already passed the Senate, and all the Repre
sentatives were supporting it in the House. Mr.
Douglas repaired immediately to Chicago, and made
a public speech, in which he exposed this act of the
Illinois Legislature in giving away the lands which
Congress proposed to grant to the State, and de
nounced it as an act of fraud and corruption, and
pledged himself to defeat any grant of land in Con
gress which should come to Mr. Holbrooke or his
associates, or to anybody except the State of Illinois.
It was never ascertained how the amendment was in-


troduced ; probably some enrolling clerk was bribed.
When Congress assembled at the next session, Mr.
Holbrooke made his appearance, and urged Mr.
Douglas to renew his bill for the grant of land.
Mr. Douglas showed him a bill which he was
about to introduce, commencing the road at a dif
ferent point on the Ohio River, and running it to
Chicago on a different line from the Illinois Central,
and making it a condition of the grant that it should
not enure to any railroad company then in exist

Mr. Holbrooke begged Mr. Douglas to save
Cairo, where he had lodged his entire fortune. Mr.
Douglas consented, provided he would release his
charter for the road, and his charters for the various
improvements at Cairo. Holbrooke went to New
York, and as president of the company executed
the release, and returned with it to Washington.
Mr. Douglas then told him he thought he was a
swindler, and had resolved to cheat somebody, but
was not wise enough to cheat him, and that he
ought to know, and did know, that neither the
president nor the directors alone could make a valid
release ; that he must first summon a meeting of
the stockholders, have them instruct the directors,
and the directors instruct the president. He


thereupon returned to New York, and brought
back a satisfactory release, setting forth the meet
ing of the stockholders and of the directors. I
had furnished him with an outline of a proper
release. I don't know whether the stockholders
ever did actually meet, but there was the seal,
the signature, and the proceedings set forth, and
that was enough. I immediately sent the release
to the Secretary of State of Illinois, to be filed
and recorded, and requested him to telegraph me
upon its reception. I waited until I received the
telegraphic despatch, and then called up the bill and
passed it through the Senate. I had previously told
Holbrooke that if he did not leave the city I would
denounce him in open Senate, as I did to the Senate,
and that I would not allow even a suspicion that so
great a scoundrel as he, was in any way connected
with the measure. The bill passed the House by
three majority, and I was confined to my room in
great pain by an abscess in my thigh, rendering a
surgical operation necessary, when Mr. Holbrooke
returned and walked into my room. I allowed his
presence, it being no longer necessary to quarrel
with him. We had some conversation, when he
offered, if I would surrender the release, to deed to
me one-half of the lands granted, over two and a half


millions, and worth twenty millions. I jumped for
my crutches, he ran from the room, and I gave him
a parting blow on the head. He did not know that
I had sent the release home to Illinois, to the Secre
tary of State.

The bill, when first introduced, had been opposed
by the Senators from Mississippi, Davis and Foote,
on the ground of its unconstitutionally, and also by
the Senators from Alabama, King and Clemens, and
by the members of the House from those States.
Immediately after its first defeat, I went to my
children's plantation in Mississippi, and from there
to Mobile, intending to see the president of the
Mobile Eailroad, then building, but which had been
stopped, and failed for want of means. I inquired
the way to his office, found it and himself, and for
tunately all the directors, who had just had a meet
ing, and knew what to do. I proposed to him to
procure a grant of lands, by making it part of rny
Illinois Central Eailroad Bill, which they assented
to. I then told them that their Senators and Repre
sentatives must vote for the bill. They said they
would. " No I " I replied, " they have already voted
against it. It is necessary to instruct them by the
Legislatures of your States." One of the directors,

Foote, was related to Senator Foote, of Mississippi,


and said he would have this done, and that Foote
should never be reflected to the Senate unless he
did vote as was required. The others all thought
they had sufficient influence to secure instructions
from the Legislatures of Alabama and Mississippi.
I told them it was necessary to keep quiet, and
secret, as to my connection in the matter. They
promised this, and we all returned to Montgomery,
Alabama. They begged me to stop with them, but
I went straight on to Washington, being afraid to
be seen in those parts. After I arrived in Wash
ington, the instructions came from Alabama, and
King came, and cursed the Legislature. Davis did
not know what in the world was the matter, and
refused to believe it. Soon after came instructions,
by telegraphic report, from Mississippi ; Davis
swore, and a few days after came his letters and
written instructions. Then they wanted me to
assist them. I told them, by way of brag, and
to conceal my connection with their instructions,
that they had refused to support my bill, and that I
could carry it without them ; but I finally yielded,
and consented to King's proposition (I allowed it to
come from him), to amend my bill, so as to connect
the Mobile road thus making a connection be
tween the latter and the Gulf of Mexico. Some


time afterwards I prepared an amendment Mr.
Rockwell, of Connecticut, a good lawyer, assisting
me and gave them notice that I was going to
call up the bill in the Senate. When I did so, I
found that Foote, Davis, King, and others were
absent from the Senate room, and I sent a boy to
their committee rooms to summon them. They
came in haste, King saying that he had not pre
pared an amendment, and that he did not know
what was required, and asking me to draw one for
him. I told him I had anticipated this, and showed
him the amendment which I had prepared. I
then made my motion in the Senate, and Mr. King
then rose, and with great dignity asked the Senator
from Illinois to accept an amendment which he
had to offer. I did so. They all voted for the bill,
and it passed the Senate, and went to the House.

All this occurred during the excited times of
slavery discussion and agitation in 1850.

When the bill stood at the head of the calendar,
Harris, of Illinois, moved to proceed to clear the
Speaker's table, and the motion was carried. We
had counted up, and had fifteen majority for the
bill pledged to support it. We had gained votes
by lending our support to many local measures.
The House proceeded to clear the Speaker's table,


and the Clerk announced " A bill granting lands
to the State of Illinois," et cetera. Then you could
see the opposition start up. A motion was imme
diately made by the opposition, which brought on a
vote, and we found ourselves in a minority of one.
I was standing in the lobby, paying eager atten
tion, and would have given the world to be at
Harris's side, but was too far off to get there in
time ; and it was all in an instant, and the next
moment a motion would have been made, which
would have brought on a decided vote, and have
defeated the bill. Harris, quick as thought, pale
and white as a sheet, jumped to his feet, and moved
that the House go into committee of the whole on
the slavery question. There were fifty members
ready with speeches on this subject, and the motion
was carried. Harris came to me in the lobby, and
asked me if he had made the right motion. I said,
" Yes," and asked him if he knew what was the
effect of his motion. He replied it placed the bill
at the foot of the calendar. I asked him how long
it would be before it came up again. He said, " it
would not come up this session ; it was impossible,
there were ninety-seven bills ahead of it." "Why
not then have suffered defeat ? It was better that
we did not. We then racked our brains, or I did,


for many nights, to find a way to get at the bill, and
at last it occurred to me that the same course pur
sued with the other bills would place them, each
in its turn, at the foot of the calendar, and thus
bring the Illinois bill at the head. But how to
do this was the question. The motions to
clear the Speaker's table, and to go into " com
mittee of the whole" on the slavery question,
would each have to be made ninety-seven times,
and while the first motion might be made by
some of our friends, or the friends of the other bills,
it would not do for us, or any one known to be a
warm friend or connected with us, to make the
second motion, as it would defeat the other bills, and
alienate from us the support of their friends. I

thought a long while, and finally fixed on Mr.

of , who, though bitterly opposed to me, we

having often had warm and excited passages of
arms on political questions, I yet knew to be my
warm admirer and personal friend. Living up in

, he supported the bill, but did not care much

one way or the other whether it passed or not;
voted for it, but was lukewarm. I called him aside
one day, stated my case, and asked him if he would
place me under obligations to him by making the
second motion, as often as was necessary. He said


yes, provided that Mr. , of , whom he

hated, should have no credit in the event of the
success of the measure. I replied that he would
have none. Harris, then in the House, sometimes
twice 6n the same day, on others once, either made
himself, or caused the friends of the other bills to
make the first motion, when Mr. would im
mediately make the second. All praised us ; said
we were acting nobly in supporting them. We
replied, " Yes, having defeated our bill, we thought
we would be generous, and assist you." All cursed
Mr. . Some asked me if I had not influ
ence enough to prevent his motion. I replied, he
was an ardent antagonist, and that I had nothing
to do with him, to the truth of which they assented.
Finally, by this means, the Illinois bill got to the
head of the docket. Harris, that morning, made the
first motion. We had counted noses, and found, as
we thought, twenty-eight majority, all pledged.
The Clerk announced " a bill granting lands to the
State of Illinois," and so on, reading by its title.
The opposition again started, were taken completely
by surprise, said there must be some mistake, that
the bill had gone to the foot of the calendar. It
was explained, and tne Speaker declared it all right.
A motion was immediately made by the opposition


'to go into committee of the whole ; it was negatived
by one majority, and we passed the bill by three

If any man ever passed a bill, I did that one. I.
did the whole work, and was devoted to it for two
entire years. The people in Illinois are beginning
to forget it. It is sometimes said, " Douglas never
made a speech upon it." The Illinois Central
Railroad Company hold their lands now by virtue
of the release from Holbrooke, which I procured.


THE Government of the United States recog
nizes the possessory right of the Indian tribes to
the country occupied by them, and protects the In
dians in the enjoyment of such rights against mo
lestation % or invasion by anybody. While it recog
nizes this possessory right in the Indians, of which
they cannot be deprived without their consent,
it denies the irright to dispose of their lands, or to
hold intercourse with anybody except the United
States or their duly appointed agents. The mode
adopted for extinguishing the Indian title is by
treaty between the United States and the several
tribes, which treaties, like all other treaties, are to
be ratified by the Senate. In order to protect the
Indians in their right to occupy their lands, Con
gress has enacted a system of laws which are usually
known as the " Indian Intercourse Laws." These


laws make it a criminal offence for any person to
invade or enter the Indian Territories without per
mission of the Government, or to trade with the In
dians in any respect whatever, and also make it a
criminal offence for the Government agents or any
body else to sell ardent spirits to the Indians. They
provide for the appointment of Indian agents by
the President and Senate, to reside among the
various tribes, and to see that the Indians are not
molested by white people, and that the intercourse
laws are not violated either by the Indians or whites.
They provide also for the appointment of licensed
traders among the various tribes, who supply the
Indians with blankets, clothing, provisions, and other
articles adapted to their use, at certain fixed rates of
profit above the wholesale cost, and prohibit all other
persons from trading with the Indians. They pro
vide also for the appointment of persons called
" farmers," who reside among the Indians, and
teach them the arts of agriculture, the use of the
implements, and the mode of planting, cultivating,
and preserving the crops. These traders, farmers,
and licensed persons residing among the Indians,
are all under the general superintendence of the In
dian agents of the respective tribes, and these agents
themselves act under the direction and instructions


of tlie Superintendent of Indian Affairs for each
territory or district for which a superintendent is
appointed ; and the superintendents act under the
direct authority of, and are responsible to, the Com
missioner of Indian Affairs, who resides in "Wash
ington, and is the head of the Bureau in the Depart
ment of the Interior known as the Indian Bureau.


THE increase of population and business along the
entire extent of our Northern frontier, and upon the
great lakes, rendered a more intimate and liberal in
tercourse between the Canadas and the United States
necessary to the interest and convenience of both
countries, and also created a necessity for procuring,
on the part of the United States, the right to use
and navigate the Welland Canal, connecting Lakes
Erie and Ontario, and by which the Falls of Niagara
are avoided ; and also for the navigation of the river
St. Lawrence, and the use of the locks and short
canals around the falls, arid obstructions in said

The necessity for an arrangement to cover these
points was deeply felt by the Canadians as well as
by the Americans interested in the trade of the great


lakes. As an illustration of the inconveniences aris
ing out of the former restrictive policy, it will be
borne in mind that the transportation from Chicago
and all other points west to the eastward, consisted
chiefly in wheat, corn, beef, pork, and other heavy
and bulky articles ; whereas the freights up the
lakes, westward, consisted in drygoods, manufac
tured articles, and ordinary merchandise, so that
one vessel freighted with these articles could carry
up the lakes goods of sufficient value to pay for the
freight of ten vessels down the lakes, and conse
quently a large portion of the vessels which carried
full cargoes down the lakes were under the neces
sity of returning with very slight or no cargoes. It
soon became the habit of vessels to touch upon the
Canadian shore, and to take in building-stone, fire
wood, and lumber, for the purposes of ballast. But
when they arrived in Chicago with their cargoes, the
duty was frequently greater than the value of the
cargo, and the consequence was that hundreds of
vessels were known to throw their entire cargo over
board into the lake, rather than pay the duty, and
this at a time when the articles were in demand at
Chicago and at all other points on the lakes. These
in conveniences were felt also in the shipments of
wheat and other American products from the upper


lakes to Oswego, and other points below on their
way to New York, not only in consequence of the
high duties on the Welland Canal, but from the fact
that they had to pay duties in Canada for the im
portation of those articles from the United States,
when they were only in transitu / while the Cana
dians, who found it to their interest during a great
portion of the year, when the St. Lawrence was
closed by ice, to send their wheat and other prod
ucts to New York by the railroads and canals, were
prevented from doing so by the duties which they
were compelled to pay by the United States, in con
sequence of entering our territory.

These considerations suggested the propriety of
an arrangement between the two countries by which
certain articles of growth and manufacture in each
might enter the other free of duty, and permitting
the United States to use the canals and the St. Law
rence River for purposes of navigation on an equal
footing with the British subjects, and without paying
any other or higher duties. Failing to procure any
such arrangement by treaty, General Dix, of New
York, Mr. Douglas, and others, proposed bills in the
Senate, making the propositions in the form of re
ciprocal legislation, for the accomplishment of their
object. Pending these measures, however, a treaty


was made between the United States and Great
Britain, which is known as the Reciprocity Treaty,
by which these objects were accomplished. This
was in 1850 or 1851.


WHAT is known as the " Monroe Doctrine " had
its origin and name in a recommendation of Presi
dent Monroe, in one of his messages to Congress, at
a time when Spain was making arrangements to re
conquer and subdue her various colonies in America
which had revolted, and established their independ
ence in 1819-'20, and ? 21. It was apprehended by
the American Government that the despotic powers
of Europe, after the overthrow of Napoleon and the
reestablish ment of the despotic sway in Europe,
would lend their aid to conquer and subject these
Spanish colonies, which had then become inde
pendent States ; and that while a portion of them
would, in this event, be restored to Spain, the others
might be divided among the various powers of Eu
rope. In view of this probable result, President
Monroe declared, in his message to Congress, with
a view of its being taken as notice to all Europe,


that no portion of the American continent was here
after to be deemed open to European colonization,
and that the United States would consider any such
attempt as imposing upon them the obligation to
take such steps as were necessary to prevent it.
This declaration assumed the name of the Monroe
Doctrine ; and it has frequently been appealed to by
American statesmen as a rule to l>e inflexibly ad
hered to, whenever any European power has threat
ened or attempted to extend its dominions upon
the American continent North, South, or Central
America. This doctrine did not contemplate any in
terference on the part of the United States with the
existing rights or colonial possessions of any Eu
ropean power, "but was a protest against the exten
sion of their power and policy in the future.



THE oldest possession which Great Britain claims
in Central America is that which is known as the
" Balize Settlement," dividing Nicaragua and Hon
duras on the one side from the Mexican State of
Yucatan on the other. More than a century ago
some British merchants sent out ships, and cut and
loaded them with logwood at the Balize, which at
that time belonged to Spain. In making a treaty of
peace between Spain and England, a clause was in
serted continuing the permission to cut logwood,
without conveying any right of soil or dominion to
England. Under the permission to cut logwood,
England founded a settlement at the Balize, with
no fixed or definite boundaries ; and she has en
larged and extended it from time to time, and or
ganized it into a colony, without paying any atten-


tion to the territorial rights or boundaries of the
adjoining States.

About the same time England pretended to have
made a treaty with a small tribe of Indians called
the Mosquitos, upon the coast of Central America,
and to have guaranteed to the Indians the protec
tion of the British Government. Some years ago,
perhaps twenty, the British Government sent an
agent to the Mosquito coast, and found an Indian
boy part Indian and part mulatto who was said
to have been the son of a Mosquito Indian chief,
and took him over to Jamaica and had him crowned
as the king of the Mosquitos, took him back again
to his own country, and put him in nominal pos
session of his alleged inheritance, but, in fact, under
the direction and control of a British consul on that
coast. This Mosquito country was within the char
tered limits of the State of Nicaragua, and conse
quently the Indian tribes, the Mosquitos included,
were subjects of the State of Nicaragua, and in
capable of establishing a government independent
of that State.

This was the condition of affairs in Central
America when the war between the United States
and Mexico was brought to a close. It was under
stood, and in fact not denied, that Great Britain


used her entire powers of diplomacy to encourage
Mexico, and to defeat any treaty of peace by which
the United States would acquire any Mexican ter
ritory. On the day that it became known at Yera
Cruz that a treaty of peace had been signed, by
which California and New Mexico were transferred
to the United States, the British fleet set sail from
Vera Cruz and proceeded directly to the mouth of
the San Juan River, in Central America, and took
possession of the town of San Juan at the mouth
of the river, changed its name to Greytown, and
established British authority there, in the name of
the Mosquito king, to be exercised by the British
consul, and, in fact, converted into a British depend
ency. The United States protested against this act,
as being an aggression upon the territorial rights of
Nicaragua, and as being prompted by hostile mo
tives toward the United States, it having for its
object to close up the only channel through which
the United States could establish and maintain com
munication between the Atlantic States and our
newly acquired possessions on the Pacific.

The controversy growing out of this seizure of
that transit route lead to the Clayton and Bulwer
treaty. It is proper, however, to remark, that
during the last years of Mr. Folk's administration,


he had appointed Judge Hise, of Kentucky, minister
to the Central American States, and that Judge
Hise had negotiated a treaty on the part of the
United States, with the State of Nicaragua, by
which the United States were invested with the ex
clusive right of constructing a ship canal between
the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, through the San
Juan River and Lake Nicaragua, together with the
right of establishing towns and free ports at each
end of the canal, and of fortifying the same and
placing the whole line of the canal and its banks,
from ocean to ocean, under the exclusive protection
of the United States. This Hise treaty was signed
in Central America while Mr. Polk was President,
but did not reach the United States until after the
inauguration of General Taylor, and the appoint
ment of Mr. Clayton as Secretary of State. Mr.
Clayton refused to accept this treaty, and sent an
agent to Central America to have it cancelled, and
a new treaty made by which the said canal should
be placed under i\\Q joint protection of Great Britain
and the United States. Mr. Clayton then negoti
ated with Sir Henry Bulwer the Clayton treaty,
by which his scheme of a joint protection to the
transit route was recognized, and a provision in

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Online LibraryStephen Arnold DouglasA brief treatise upon constitutional and party questions and the history of political parties, as I received it orally from the late Senator Stephen A. Douglas → online text (page 10 of 11)