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Abridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856 : from Gales and Seaton's Annals of Congress, from their Register of debates, and from the official reported debates by John C. Rives online

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Online LibraryUnited States. CongressAbridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856 : from Gales and Seaton's Annals of Congress, from their Register of debates, and from the official reported debates by John C. Rives → online text (page 108 of 186)
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doing what we find to be right I have no rev-

erence for that wisdom which would decide
questions of the highest order — questions inter-
woven in the very web of our destiny, by a ref-
erence to the transitory embarrassments which
may beset us at any particular moment. The
question has fairly met us, whether freedom or
slavery is to be the lot of the regions beyond
the Mississippi. It ought to be deliberately de-
cided, under a proper exercise of authority,
with a view to the ultimate consequences the
decision we come to may produce. It is, now,
as to Missouri only we are called upon to act ;
but it will yet arise in Arkansas and other ter-
ritories, which, in the fulness of time, may offer
themselves for admission into this Union.

The people to the South, says the gentleman
just sat down, (Mr. Babboub,) who compose
one-half of the Union, are to be put, by this pro-
position, under the ban of the empire, as, froni
its operation, they cannot settle in the new
State. If he be correct, which I do not admit,
reject the proposition, and you put the other
and larger half under the ban. A man who is
conscientiously averse to holding slaves, and
who cannot, therefore, employ the slaves of
others, is forbidden to settle in a land where
free labor cannot be procured. Such must be
the case where slavery exists unrestHcted. Ad-
mit Missouri, a slaveholding State, without lim-
itation, and you place the citizens of the non-
slaveholding States under an interdict, as to
settlement, that they cannot overcome. Thus
is the argument brought to an equation. With
this dilemma are we beset. The gentleman has
pronounced an eloquent and just eulogium on
those who, in doing what they believe to be
right, breast the storm of public opinion at
home. To gentlemen who act thus, I am ready
to afford an equal tribute of applause. Where
the gentleman finds the supple politicians, who
yield so obsequiously to every breeze of public
opinion from that quarter which affords him so
consoling a contrast, I cannot so well conceive.
In this part of his compliment I can take no
share. I have been glad to learn the opinion
of the Legislature of Pennsylvania accorded
with signal- unanimity. Having no doubt' of
my duty before, I still hail with gladness this
strengthening evidence of their concurrence.
With us, there can be no recognition of slavery
as a matter of right An abhorrence of it, on
all principles but those of supreme necessity, is
interwoven into the very texture of our hearts
and habits of thought

The gentleman from South Carolina (Mr.
Smith) has asked, why we did not propose this
restriction earlier? In this at least I have not
been wanting. My maiden voice was assayed,
in the House of Representatives, in favor of the
inhibition of slavery north of tlie paraUel of
latitude which passes through the mouth of the )
Ohio, in, I believe, 1811, when the bill estab- I
Ushing the present Territorial government was
under consideration. We were not then told
the proposition was unconstitutional, nor in
violation of the treaty ; but that we were on

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MisKmri i^ietiiam.

[Fbbbvabt, 182a

the eve of a war, with almost one-half of the
oommunity infatnated with the spirit of oppod-
tion to the GovemmeDt; that ^rther dissen-
sion at that time might he fatal. The question
was thus deferred until a more conyenient
season. What I then thought right, I thmk
80 now. I rejoice to see this question excite
puhlic interest Melancholy would he our
prospects, if it did not. It must he settled
some time, and hetter now than later. The
gentleman who has preceded me has spoken of
intemperate doctrine hrought into discussion in
a Northern State Legislature. Where, let me
ask, has any thing more intemperate appeared
than in the resolutions of that of Virginia?
Dictation to the Congress has heen uttered
there without qualification or reserve. The
gentleman tells us he has heard, too, the lan-
guage of reproach where he had hoped that of
kindness. He has been good enough to read
me a lecture on moderation ; hut, how has he
observed his own precepts. He charges us,
without qualification, of wishing to do an act
of enormous injustice — ^to insult Virginia ; and
although she is disposed to submit to much in-
sult and injustice, there is a point beyond
which submission ceases to be a virtue. As to
where the charge of inflicting reproaches, or the
merit o^ extending kindnesses, may be most
justly claimed, it is not for me, but those who
hear us to decide. If it were a question, says the
gentleman, whether or not we should multiply
daves, he should be as much against it as any
man ; but, he adds, it is not a question of this
kind, but one which determines only if they
shall be confined to the spot where they now
are. We do soberly hold, that it is a question
whether slavery shall be extended, and slaves
increased. No art nor subtlety in the use of
language can successfully be applied to make it
appear otherwise. Establish slavery over this
territory, and you, of consequence, increase the
value of slave property. Extend the market,
and you perpetuate this interest, by increasing
the power of the holders of it. Reject this pro-
position, and to whose benefit does the conse-
quence enure? clearly to the slaveholding in-
terest, pecuniarily and politically The scale of
political power will preponderate in favor of
the slaveholding States. The efibct of such an
event is hardly problematical. While the gen-
tleman tells us this is not a question of slavery,
he tells us that all sovereignty possessed on this
subject is in the States; and that, so far as
power is not given to the Federal Government,
or withheld from the States, they are despotic
sovereignties. Despotic indeed, if they can
transform freemen into slaves. We have heard
from gentlemen, that the right of establishing
slavery is a legitimate attribute of State sover-
eignty ; that the States northwest of the Ohio
tnay now constitutionally and lawfully intro-
duce it, compact notwithstanding: that it was
indulged under the Jewish theocracy, which
was a government of God; that Christianity
does not forbid it ; that the oonstitation of this

Government sanctions it, and recognises the
sovereg^nty of the State laws relating to it.
Nay, more, the gentleman fr>om South Carolina
(Mr. Smith) pronounces it right, views it as a
benefit, and looks for its perpetuity. Without
reserve, I deny that there is any power in a
State to make slaves, or to introduce slavery
where it has been abolished, or where it never
existed, or even to permit its existence only as
an evil admitting of no immediate remedy.
The gentlemen have further alleged the ord-
nance of 1787 was in fraud of the articles of
Confederation; that it was sheer assumptton,
and even downright usurpation. All this I
must also deny, without reserve. The consti-
tution provides that new States may be admit-
ted into this Union, and that the United States
shall gurantee to every State in this Union a re-
publican form of government. To ascertain \
what is a State and &r^9ubliean form ofg&oenir)
ment^ we shall very nnprofitably follow gentle-
men through the history of ancient dmes, the
middle ages, or periods of modem date, as re-
garding foreign communities—even Britain her-
self. We must search for their meaning in
our own history only; here a dififerent system
of political morality has prevailed, and political
truth taught without corruption. In this reply
I shall assume no new ground of defence; it
will only be necessary to take that trodden be-
fore a little more closely — ^when it was declare
ed, on the part of these States, that all men are
created equal ; that they are endowed by their
Creator with certain inalienable rights, among
which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of hap-
piness; that to secure these rights governments
are instituted among men, deriving their Just
powers from the consent of the governed. Two
conclusions most clearly result from these prem-
ises ; that a Government founded on these
principles neither make slaves nor kings. That
is to put some, by birth, below, and some above
the law. The exercise of creative power em-
ployed on one principle is just as reasonable as
on the other.

In 1780, the Congress invited the States to
cede their wilderness territory, from causes I
need not revert to. It was then promised such
territory should be formed into States, and ad-
mitted into the Union, with the same rights of
sovereignty, freedom, and independence, as the
original States. Can any one doubt that the
freedom, sovereignty, and independence, here
spoken of, meant the " boon of making slaves,"
as it is called. No; it most clearly resulted
that what of these rights the old States were
held to possess were such only as recognize the
inalienaole rights of man, and which were con-
formable to the prmoiple that government was
instituted to secure those rights, not to effec-
tuate their violation. When the Congress of
1784, and subsequentiy in 1787, came to apply
these principles of sovereignty, freedom, and
independence, to the Northwestern Territory,
they evidentlv acted on such an understanding.
The 6th article of compact is a proof too strong

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I^aBQABT, 1820.]

Missouri Qiuttioti,


of this to admit of denial, or even doubt. All
the articles of compact are preflBced by the
most unequivocal declaration by the Oongress,
that they contain the essential principles of the

Sovemments of the old StateS) and what they
eemed the essential principles of all free gov-
ernmente; that is, in brie^ republican govem-
ment We first find the phrases *^ Republican
States,'* and Bepublican Government," used, in
reference to new States, in the resolutions of
Congress in 1780 and 1784^ and in the ordi-
nance of 1787, from whence the phrase has
been transplanted into the constitution. A new
State admitted into the Union, therefore, must
be a State with a republican government.
Though gentlemen have looked abroad to de-
fine this phrase, to get at a conveniently en-
larged definition, it follows, most clearly, that it
stands in the constitution an insuperable inter-
dict to slave-making.

We have been told, as before remarked, that
the ordinance of 1787 was an act of usurpation.
The Oongress, under the Ooufederation, had the
power of making treaties. The States were not
fSorbidden under that Government, to cede ter-
ritory to the United States. The parties to the
oession of the Northwestern Territory were
parties competent to treat. The Oongress be-
came vested, by virtue of their several cessions,
with all the powers the States had over the
ceded territory, excepting so far as the stipula-
tions abridged that power. These stipulations
provided that the said territory should be form-
ed into States, and admitted into the Union.
Nine States were competent to admit new
members. The ordinance of 1787 was virtually
an admission of States into the Union. This
vote of admission was unanimous. The ordi-
nance was supervised by Virginia — ^first by her
delegates in the Oongress, and next by her
Legislature, who, at the desire of Oongress,
modified the terms of cession. It is thus im-
possible there could have been any doubt, on
the part of either of the contractinff parties, as
to the meaning of what was termed the same
rights of freedom, sovereignty, and independ-
ence, as to the original States, as well as to the
power of the Oongress to prescribe terms of

The Oongress have now the power over the
Territory of Missouri it has had over that north-
west of the Ohio, restricted alike by the treaty
of cession. That treaty certainly does not re-
quire the unrestricted introduction of slaves.
We admit it guarantees the property in those
that now exist We therefore hold Oongress
to be as free to require of the new State to in-
hibit their further introduction, as they were
formerly to forbid the existence of slavery in
the States northwest of the Ohio.

To show that slavery is fruitful of elevation
of national character, the achievements of
Thermopyl®, Marathon, Salamis, and Plataa,
have been instanced. Bay, was Grecian prow-
ess less in the Ten Thousand, and at Arbela?
Men will encounter much for their liberty ; they
Vou VL— 28

will sometimes perform bold deeds in pursuit of
mere glory, or through attachment to a leader.
Generally, I admit that great actions are the
result of strong moral motives. I should rather
ascribe the memorable exploits of the ancient
republics to the free principles of their govern-
ment, than to the existence of slavery, which
seems at last to have been their bane.

In depicting the efEects of the very limited
proposition before you, gentlemen have in-
dulged in the most extravagant figures of lan-
guage. On the one hand, they nave drawn
Afissouri in chains prostrate at your feet, the
limbs of her sovereignty mangled by a sort of
political surgery, with a brand on her face, and
the collar of servitude about, and your feet
upon, her neck ; the victim of the most odious
reproach, with her spirit broken; a State
squeezed to a pigmy, and made the shadow of
a shade, and the scorn of every tongue. We
are next warned to beware of awakening the
sturdy spirit of Missouri; she is, it is said,
snuffing oppression in every breeze. We are
called upon to look at her, &ed with a mighty
population, dissatisfied and rebellious ; to sow
not such seeds, lest we reap a lamentable har-
vest Beally, like the gentleman from Mary-
land, I want intellect to comprehend the force
of such reasoning, if it be to be called by so sober
a name. To what desperate acts of folly must
this compassionating and anon terrifying style
of address lead, if It be allowed to have any
effect In the midst of the tumult of the pas-
sions of fear and pity, reason and a sense of
right can hardly fail to be obliterated. Is it^
exclaims the gentleman from Maryland, (Mr.
PmxNET,) that you wish to force manumission
on the South ? I answer, not at all. It is to
do nothing more nor less than to prevent, as fsx
as possible, the extension of slavery.

Gentlemen have taken much offence at the
pamphlets which. have been published, reason-
ing against the extension of slavery in Missouri.
Why this disturbance? We have not relied on
them, nor plead them in the argument I am
aware it has been broadlv intimated that we
have found it cut and dried to.our hand. If it
were even so, it is still argument, and gen-
tlemen must meet it for what it is worth. We
claim no merit forther than that of doing what
we find to be right in the best way we can, and
the plain course for gentlemen is, after meeting
us here, if they be disturbed by what is said
elsewhere, to sit down in their closets and re-
fute these offensive publications. I should be
pleased to find them at such a work. It would
be fairly to enter the lists with the pamp
pbleteera, and to oppose Pharsalia to Pharsalia.
Perh^Sj however, these officious authors wiH
be sufficiently noticed in gentlemen^s speeches.
The gentleman from Maryland says, if slavery
be incompatible with republican Government,
that State must retire from the Union, perhaps,
for her sins. In some States, says he, a quan-
tum of property is necessary to the enjoyment
of the elective franchise, and that the white

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[FsBBUABT, i8aa

man who has it not is as much disfranchised as
^e slave of the Sonth. How strange an asser-
tion I Is the white man nnder the control of
a master whom he has not chosen, liahle to
punishment at his will, bound to labor for his
exclusive benefit, and to receive his pittance
of food and raiment from the hand and at the
discretion of him who holds him in bondage?
To hear observations so vague and unreasonable
may be matter of surprise, but hardly fit sub-
ject for reply. The government of ^ves, we
are told, is a patriarchal one, and that, in nine
oases out of ten, the slaves which may be taken
to Missouri will go with their masters. At
least, then, in one case out of ten, they will be
taken there manacled, under the lash of the
driver, who holds them in no other estimation
than as property — ^the creature of municipal
law. I have witnessed such exhibitions from
the windows of this Oapitol. But more. Though
in persons so degraded the severance of the ties
of husband and wife may be less painftd to the
fufferers than if the parties were of free con-
dition, but ties of maternal fondness are govern-
ed by other laws. Nor can it be necessary
to paint to your imagination the distress that
a severance of these ties by violence must

Slaves, says the gentleman from South Caro-
lina. (Mr. SMirH,) are the happiest poor people
in tne world, and the gentleman from Virginia
(Mr. Babboxtb) tells us the parting of a slave
from his master is not like parting the hired
man from his employer. I have had occasions
to listen before now to comparisons drawn by
Southern. gentlemen between the laborer of the
North and the Southern slave. In ordinary
oases such a narallel could hardly justify a re-
ply. The white Jaborer is always a fr'ee man,
generally an honest man ; often an intelligent
and informed man. He knows his rights, and
understands his duties. Free laborers, who are
housekeepers, are seldom without their news-
papers and means of in&>rmation. These chan-
nels of intelligence are everywhere established
with us. It is a successful business to the pub-
lishers almost always. Can there be a stronger
evidence of a reading people ? The relation be-
tween laborer and employer where the latter
is a free man, is that of equala. Each looks po
the other for the fulfilment of the covenant be-
tween them. They often stand in the relation
of friends. Their intercourse is almost always
respectful and courteous. I have been forciUy
struck with how equal a share of happiness, to
say the least, was ei^oyed by the man of opu-
lence and the cottager in the Northern States.
The later, being of good conduct, always has the
boon of substantial freedom, and can hardly
want the comforts of life, while the cares and
anxieties of the former seem proportioned to
his desire of increasing his wealth. Under any
aspect, however, there can be no just resen>
blance, nor any comparison of advantages, com-
mon to the freeman and slave. I must beg
Itore to correct the gentleman from South

Carolina, (Mr. Smith,) when he says that the
Colonization Society was formed to rid the
non-slaveholding States of their free people
of color. The associated friends of African
emancipation in those States have explicitly
published to the world, they consider the pro-
ject as having originated in the South ; that its
object is the perpetuation of slavery ; and that
they can neither participate in it, nor counte-
nance it

When gentlemen claim for Mssouri this boon
of slavery, as it has been called, and paint its
advantages, and plead for its legality, let them
look at its origin. Whence have they derived
their claims as owners and masters? From the
violence of savage warfiEire; frt)m the frauds
and crimes of the man-stealer. Here is. the
foundation of their 'pretensions. What was
ori^nally wrong can never become right, while
there is a living subject to suflTer. While I most
readily admit, a sudden and general emancipa-
tion in a large portion of this Union would be
the f^nzy of madness, I hold it the incumbent
duty of all to believe it desirable, and to look
and hope for its consummation in the ftdness of
God's providence.

No other gentleman rising to speak, the ques-
tion was taken on the restrictive amendment
offered by Mr. Roberts, which is in the follow*
ing words: "Provided, also, that tiie further
introduction into the said State of persons to be
held in slavery or involuntary servitude within
the same, shall be absolutely and irrevocably
prohibited;" and decided in the negative, by
yeas and nays, as follows :

Yeas. — ^Messrs. Burrill, Dana, DickoFson, King of v
New York, Lowrie, Mellen, Monrill, Noble, Otis, Bob- ]
erts, Buggies, Sanford, Taylor, Tichenor, TrimUe, '
and Wilson— 16.

' Nats. — ^Messrs. Barboar, Brown, Eaton, EdwaidiB^
Elliot, Gaillard, Hunter, Johnson of Kentucky, John-
son of Louisiana, King of Alabama, Lanman, Leake,
Lloyd, Logan, Macon, Palmer, Parrott, Pinkney,
Pleasants, Smith, Stokes, Thomas, Van Dyke, Wal-
ker of Alabama, Walker of Georgia, Williams of
Mississippi, and Williams of Tennessee — 27.

Thubsdat, February 8.

Ohio Bewlutions against the existence of Skmery

in the Territories or New States,

Mr. BuGOLBS communicated the following
resolutions of the State of Ohio, which were

" Whereas the existence of slaveiy in onr coontiy
mast be consideied a national calamity, as well as a
great moral and political evil; and whereas the ad-
mission of slATeiy within the new States or Territo*
lies of the United States is fraught with the most
pernicious consequences, and calculated to endanger
the peace and prosperity of onr country ; therefore,

J^clvei^ Tmttonr Senators and Representatives in
Congress be requested to use their utmost exertions
to prevent the admission or introduction of slavery
into any of tiie Terriix>ries of the United States, or
any new State that may hereafter be admitted into

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Febrvabt, 1820.]

BettrieUon on Ae SUOb of Muwuri*



The Compromise Propo»ed»
Mr. Thomas, of IQinoia, sobmitted tbe follow-
ing additional section, as an amendment to the
Missouri bill, Twhich, it was proposed, by a re-
port of tbe Juaiciary Committee, to incorporate
with tbe Maine bill,) viz :

" JnJ he it fufilier enacted, That m all that tract
of countiy ceded by France to the United States, un-
der the name of Louisiana, which lies north of thirty-
six degrees and thir^ minates north latitude, except-
ing only such part thereof as is included within ^e
limits of tbe State contemplated by this act, there
shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude,
otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof
the party shaU have been duly convicted : Provided
altoays, That any person escaping into the same, from
whom labor or service is lawfully claimed in any
State or Territory of the United States, such fugitive
may be lawfully reclaimed, and conveyed to the per-
son claiming his or her labor or service as aforesaid."
Tbe amendment having been read, tbe further
consideration of tibe subject was, on motion of
Mr. THOUABy postponed to Monday next

Fkidat, February 11.
Bestriction on the State of Missouri,

The Senate resumed the consideration of tbe
Mune bUl, and the amendment reported thereto
by tbe Judiciary Committee, (adding provisions
for the fonuation of a State government in Mis-

Mr. EjNa, of New York^^greeably to tbe in-
timation wbidi beg^ve on Wednesday, rose and
addressed the Senate about two hours, in sup-
port of tbe right and expediency of restricting
tbe contemplated State of Missouri from per-
mitting slavery therein ; and then, on motion of
Mr. Smith, tbe subject was postponed to Mon-
day ; to which day tbe Senate adyonmed.

TincsDAT, February IS.
Bestrietion on the State ofMissowrL

Mr. PiNKNET, of Maryland, rose and addressed
the Senate nearly three hours against the re-
striction, and in reply to the remarks of Mr.
King, of New York. His speech is as follows :*

Mr. President : As I am not a very frequent
speaker in this Assembly, and have shown a
desire, I trust, rather to listen to the wisdom of
others than to lay claim to superior knowledge
by undertaking to advise, even when advice, by
being seasonable in point of time, might have
some chance of being profitable, you will, per*
haps, bear with me if I venture to trouble you
once more on that eternal subject which has
lingered here, until all its natural interest is ex-
hausted, and every topic connected with it is
literally worn to tatters, I shall, I assure yon,
rir, spei&k with laudable brevity—not merely on
account of the feeble state of my health, and

* Mr. Piokney spoke twice on this snbjeci— once to the
rastrictlon itseU; before Mr. King took his seat, and now in
reply to Mr. Kbig. The Drst speech of Mr. Pinkney was
not reported, nor has that of Mr. El&g been .to which he

Online LibraryUnited States. CongressAbridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856 : from Gales and Seaton's Annals of Congress, from their Register of debates, and from the official reported debates by John C. Rives → online text (page 108 of 186)