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Abridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. From Gales and Seatons' 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 Seatons' Annals of Congress; from their Register of debates; and from the official reported debates, by John C. Rives → online text (page 135 of 154)
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pauperis ; counsel is assigned him ; time is allowed
him to collect his witnesses and to attend the ses-
sions of the court ; and his claimant is placed under
bond and security, or is divested of tlie possession
during the progress of the trial, to insure the en-
joyment of these privileges ; and if there be any
leaning on the part of courts and juries, it is always
on the side of the claimant for freedom.

"In deference to the feelings and prejudices
which prevail in the non-slaveholding States, the
committee propose such a trial in the State from
which the fugitive fled, in all cases where he de-
clares to the officer giving the certificate for his
return that he has a right to his freedom. Accord-
ingly the committee have prepared, and report
herewith, (marked C,) two sections, which they
recommend should be incorporated in the fugitive
bill pending in the Senate. According to these
sections, the claimant is placed under bond, and
required to return the fugitive to that county in
the State from which he fled, and there to take
him before a competent tribunal, and allow him to
assert and establish his freedom, if he can, afford-
ing to him for that purpose all needful facilities.

" The committee indulge the hope that if the
fugitive bill with the proposed amendments shall
be passed by Congress, it will be efiectnal to se-
cure the recovery of all fugitives from service or
labor, and that it will remove all causes of com-
plaint which have hitherto been experienced on
that irritating subject. But if in its practical ope-
ration it shall be found insufficient, and if no
adequate remedy can be devised for the restoration



to their owners of fugitive slaves, those owners
will have a just title to indemnity out of the Treas-
ury of the United States.

"It remains to report upon the resolutions in
relation to slavery and the slave trade in the Dis-
trict of Columbia. Without discussing the power
of Congress to aboUsh slavery within the District,
in regard to which a diversity of opinion exists,
the committee are of opinion that it ought not to
be aboUshed. It could not be done without indis-
pensable conditions, which are not likely to be
agreed to. It could not be done without exciting
great apprehension and alarm in the slave States.
If the power were exercised within this District,
they would apprehend that, under some pretext or
another, it might be hereafter attempted to be ex-
ercised within the slaveholding States. It is true,
that at present all such power is almost unani-
mously disavowed and disclaimed in the free States.
But experience in public affairs has too often shown
that where there is a desire to do a particular
thing, the power to accomplish it, sooner or later,
will be found or assumed.

"Nor does the number of slaves within the
District make the abolition of slavery an object of
any such consequence as appears to be attached to
it in some parts of the Union. Since the retro-
cession of Alexandria county to Virginia, on the
south side of the Potomac, the District now con-
sists only of Washington county, on the north
side of this river ; and the returns of the decennary
enumeration of the people of the United States
show a rapidly progressive decrease in the number
of slaves in Washington county. According to the
census of 1830, the number was 4,605 ; and in 1840
it was reduced to 3,320 : showing a reduction in ten
years of nearly one-third. If it should continue
in the same ratio, the number, according to the
census now about to be taken, will be only a little
upwards of two thousand.

"But a majority of the committee think differ-
ently in regard to the slave trade within the Dis-
trict. By that trade is meant the introduction
of slaves from adjacent States into the District,
for sale, or to be placed in depot for the purpose
of subsequent sale or transportation to other and
distant markets. That trade, a majority of the
committee are of opinion, ought to be abolished.
Complaints have always existed against it, no less
on the part of members of Congress from the
South, than on the part of members from the
North. It is a trade sometimes exhibiting revolt-
ing spectacles, and one in which the people of the
District have no interest, but, on the contrary, are
believed to be desirous that it should be discon-
tinued. _ Most, if not all, of the slaveholding States
have, either in their constitutions or by penal en-
actments, prohibited a trade in slaves as merchan-
dise within their respective jurisdictions. Con-
gress, standing in regard to the people of this
District on this subject, in a relation similar to that
of the State Legislatures to the people of the
States, may safely follow the examples of the States.
The committee have prepared, and herewith re-
port, a bill for the abolition of that trade, (marked
D,) the passage of which they recommend to the
Senate. This bill has been framed after the model
of what the law of Maryland was when the General
Government was removed to Washington.

" The views and recommendations contained in
this report may be recapitulated in a few words;



DEBATES OF CONGRESS.



553



1st Sess.]



The Compromise Bill.



[May, 1850.



" 1. The admission of any new State or States
formed out of Texas, to be postponed until they
shall hereafter present themselves to be received
into the Union, when it will be the duty of Con-
gress fairly and faithfully to execute the compact
with Texas by admitting such new State or States.

" 2. The admission forthwith of California into
the Union, with the boundaries which she has pro-
posed.

" 3. The establishment of territorial govern-
ments without the Wilmot proviso for New Mexico
and Utah, embracing all the territory recently ac-
quired by the United States from Mexico not con-
tained in the boundaries of California.

"4. The combination of these two' last-mentioned
measures in the same bill.

" 5. The establishment of tha -western and
northern boundary of Texas, and the exclusion
from her jurisdiction of all New Mexico, with the
grant to Texas of a pecuniary equivalent; and
the section for that purpose to be incorporated in
the bill admitting California and establishing terri-
torial governments for Utah and New Mexico.

" 6. More effectual enactments of law to secure
the prompt delivery of persons bound to service or
labor in one State, under the laws thereof, who es-
cape into another State.

" And, 1. Abstaining from abolishing slavery ;
but, under a heavy penalty, prohibiting the slave
trade in the District of Columbia.

"If such of these several measures as require
legislation should be carried out by suitable acts
of Congress, all controversies to which our late
territorial acquisitions have given rise, and all ex-
isting questions connected with the institution of
slavery, whether resulting from those acquisitions
or from its existence iu the States and the District
of Columbia, will be amicably settled and adjusted,
in a manner, it is confidently believed, to give gen-
eral satisfaction to an overwhelming majority of the
people of the United States. Congress will have
fulfilled its whole duty in regard to the vast coun-
try which, having been ceded by Mexico to the
United States, has fallen under their dominion. It
will have extended to it protection, provided for
its several parts the inestimable blessing of free
and regular government adapted to their various
wants, and placed the whole under the banner and
flag of the United States. Meeting courageously
its clear and entire duty. Congress will escape the
unmerited reproach of having, from considerations
of doubtful policy, abandoned to an undeserved
fate territories of boundless extent, with a sparse,
incongruous, and alien, if not unfriendly, popula-
tion, speaking different languages, and accustomed
to different laws, whilst that population is making
irresistible appeals to the new sovereignty to which
they have been transferred for protection, for gov-
ernment, for law, and for order.

" The committee have endeavored to present to
the Senate a comprehensive plan, of adjustment,
which, removing all causes of existing excitement
and agitation, leaves none open to divide the coun-
try and disturb the general harmony. The nation
has been greatly convulsed, not by measures of
general policy, but by questions of a sectional
character, and, therefore, more dangerous and
more to be deprecated. It wants repose. It loves
and cherishes the Union. And it is most cheering
and gratifying to witness the outbursts of deep
and abiding attachment to it which have been ex-



hibited in all parts of it, amidst all the trials
through which we have passed and are passing. A
people so patriotic as those of the United States,
will rejoice in an accommodation of all troubles
and dilficulties by which the safety of that Union
might have been brought into the least danger.
And, under the blessings of that Providence who,
amidst all ricissitudes, has never ceased to extend
to them His protecting care. His smiles, and His
blessings, they will continue to advance in popula-
tion, power, and prosperity, and work out triumph-
antly the glorious problem of man's capacity for
self-government."

I do not know (said Mr. Olay) ■whether it
will be the pleasure of the Senate that the bills
should be read otherwise than by their titles,
or that the several amendments proposed to
the fugitive bill should be read. I hardly think
it can be required. They are stated and refer-
red to in the report in such a clear manner, that
they can be printed without being read. I
think it would be trespassing too much upon
the time of the Senate to read them ; unless
the reading is called for, I do not think it de-
sirable. I therefore send to the Clerk's table
the bills which have been prepared.
[The bills were laid on the table.]
The Secretary having read the first bill by
its title, as follows :

" A bill to admit California as a State into the
Union ; to establish territorial Governments for
Utah and New Mexico ; and making proposals to
Texas for the establishment of her western and
northern boundaries " —

The Vice Peesident. This bill has had its
first reading. Shall it be read a second time ?

Mr. Clay. Mr. President, still cherishing
the desire which has always actuated me, and
which is, I am sure, shared by the committee
in common with me, I am anxious that the
Senate should get on with as much promptness
as possible. I think that by to-morrow the
bills may be.printed. Although there are slight
amendments to the Utah and New Mexico bills,
they are very slight — some accidental clerical
omissions. It is hardly necessary that they
should be printed again. But the order to
print them need not interrupt action on the bill
to-morrow, if it be desired. I move, then, that
the report, witli the bills accompanying it, be
printed, and that they be made the order of
the day for to-morrow.

[On this motion to print, a general discussion of
the whole subject broke out, which was checked by
the presiding officer, as a question of order ; and
the printing was ordered as moved.]



■Wednesday, May 15.

The Compromise Bill.

The hour of one o'clock having arrived,
The Vice President announced the special
order of the day, being the bill reported from
the Select Committee of thirteen to admit Call-



554



ABKIDGMENT OF THE



May, 1850.]



The Compromise Bill.



[31st Cong.



fornia as a State into the Union, to establish
territorial governments for Utah and New
Mexico, and making proposals to Texas for the
establishment of her western and northern
boundaries. This bill was announced to be
under consideration as in Committee of the
Whole, and open to amendment.

Mr. Davis, of Mississippi. I offer the follow-
ing amendment. To strike out in the sixth line
of the tenth section the words " In respect to
African slavery," and insert the words " with
those rights of" property growing out of the in-
stitution of African slavery as it exists in any
of the States of the Union." The object of the
amendment is to prevent the territorial legisla-
ture from legislating against the rights of prop-
erty growing out of the institution of slavery.

Mr. Olat. Mr. President, I am not perfectly
sure that I comprehend the full meaning of the
amendment offered by the Senator from Mis-
sissippi. If I do, I think he accomplishes noth-
ing by striking out the clause now in the bill,
and inserting that which he proposes to insert.
The clause now in the bill is, that the territorial
legislation shall not extend to any thing respect-
ing African slavery within the territory. The
effect of retaining the clause as reported by the
committee will be this : that if in any of the
territories slavery now exists, it cannot be
abolished by the territorial legislature ; and if
in any of the territories slavery does not now
exist, it cannot be introduced by the territoriSl
legislature. The clause itself was introduced
into the bill by the committee, for the purpose
of tying up the hands of the territorial legisla-
ture in respect to legislating at all, one way or
the other, upon the subject of African slavery.
It was intended to leave the legislation and the
law of the respective territories in the condi-
tion in which the act will find them. I stated
on a former occasion that I did not, in commit-
tee, vote for the amendment to insert the clause,
though it was proposed to be intrpduced by a
majority of the committee. I attached very
little consequence to it at that time, and I at-
tach very little to it at the present. It is, per-
haps, of no practical importance whatever.

Now, sir, if I understand the measure pro-
posed by the Senator from Mississippi, it aims
at the same thing. I do not understand him as
proposing that if any one shall carry slaves
into the territory — although by the law of the
territory he cannot take them there — the legis-
lative hands of the territorial government
should be so tied as to prevent its saying he
shall not enjoy the fruits of their labor. If the
Senator from Mississippi means to say that —

Mr. Davis, of Mississippi. I do mean to
say it.

Mr. Clay. If the object of the Senator is to
provide that slaves may be introduced into the
territory contrary to the lex loci, and, being in-
troduced, nothing shall be done by the legisla-
ture to impair the rights of owners to hold the
slaves thus brought contrary to the local laws,
I certainly cannot vote for it. In doing so, I



shall repeat again the expression of opinion
which I announced at an early period of the
session. 1 think that the language of the
amendment which the Senator from Mississippi
has offered, is just as much restricted as is the
language of the bill which he proposes to strike
out. His amendment does not provide in ex-
press terms for the privilege of introducing
slaves, but merely declares that the territorial
legislature shall not interfere with the rights of
property in slaves, as that property exists in a
certain class of States. Very well. The legis-
lature is already restrained from so interfering,
unless slaves are brought in conti'ary to the lex
loci. If they be so brought in, then the amend-
ment of the gentleman — although its language
does not comprehend it — might secure to- the
introducer of slaves the protection of his prop-
erty.

If the object of the Senator, however, is as
he states, the language of it, I think, does not
necessarily imply it. I repeat what I have be-
fore said, that I cannot vote to convert a terri-
tory already free into a slave territory. I am
satisfied, for one, to let the lex loci, as it exists,
remain. Now, let us see what will be the effect
of this in that portion of New Mexico east of
the Rio Grande. Three opinions prevail upon
that subject in the Senate. According to my
oiiinion, the laws of Mexico still prevail in that
country, because Texas never had possession of
that country, never legislated for that country,
and her laws never stretched over that country ;
but, on the contrary, the country remained in
the possession of Mexico until, by the treaty of
Guadalupe Hidalgo, it was ceded to the United
States. In my opinion, therefore, the local law
which prevails in New Mexico — as well in New
Mexico east of the Rio Grande as west of it — ^is
the law of Mexico, as pronounced by the Dic-
tator of Mexico, by the constitutional authority
of Mexico, and by the legislative power of Mex-
ico. That is my own opinion.



Teidat, May 24.
The Compromise Bill.

The Senate proceeded to the consideration
of the special order, being the bill to admit
California as a State into the Union, to establish
territorial governments for Utali and New
Mexico, and making proposals to Texas for the
establishment of her western and northern
boundaries.

Mr. SouLK replied to the speech of Mr.
Downs, which was delivered on Wednesday.
His speech occupied upwards of an hour in the
delivery.

Explanations were afterwards made by
Messrs. Foote, Downs, Davis of Mississippi,
Clat, and others, and then the further consid-
eration of the subject was postponed to Monday
next.



DEBATES OF CONGRESS.



555



1st Sess.]



JDeaih of Hon. FranUin H. Elmore.



[May, 1860.



, HOUSE 01" EEPEESENTATIVES.
Feidat, May 81.
Death of Mr. Elmore.

A message was received from the Senate by
the hands of Asbnry Diokins, Esq., their Secre-
tary, informing the House of the decease of Hon.
F. H. Elmoee, a Senator from the State of South
Carolina, and communicating the proceedings
of the Senate with respect thereto.

The message having been read —

Mr. "WoouwAKD rose and addressed the
House as follows :

Mr. Speaker : It is not only expected but de-
sired by every one present that we should
spend a few moments in enlivening our remem-
brance of the distinguished person whose much
lamented and untimely death is the subject of
the resolutions just received from the Senate.
Not that the solemnities about to be entered
upon can add any thing to the reputation of the
deceased, or increase the estimation in which
he was and is to be held by the country. No
eulogy of mine could add to a fame from which
aspersion could never be able to detract. I
have not risen, therefore, to do justice to the
dead. The dead has done full justice to the
dead. The death of Feanklin H. Elmoee
holds no claim upon his life uncancelled. I
rise to discharge a debt due to you, to our-
selves, and the country — due to the proprieties
growing out of the relations under which we
stood to the deceased when living and the rela-
tions under which we stand to those who in
his death have suffered bereavement. It is not
necessary that any one should here, on this occa-
sion, bear testimony to his uncommon intellec-
tual endowments or his pure and elevated
character. The knowledge of these and the
deep impression they have made on the public
mind, will impart much greater interest to an
unadorned narrative of his life than any elabo-
rate eulogium could possess.

FEANKLiif Haepbe Elmoeb was born in the
year 1799, in the District of Laurens, State of
South Carolina. He was the second son of
Gen. John Eimore, who served in the war of
the Revolution, under Gen. Greene. He received
his education in his native State, and was gradu-
ated at the South Carolina College, in the year
1819. In 1821 he was admitted to the bar, and
the year after was elected by the Legislature
Solicitor, or State's Attorney, for the judicial
circuit which included Columbia, the seat of
Government. The duties of this office he con-
tinued to discharge with ability and distinction
for fourteen years, having been successively re-
elected, at periods of four years. From this
office he was, in December, 1836, transferred
to the House of Representatives of the United
States?, to flu the vacancy occasioned by the
resignation of the Hon. James H. Hammond,
subsequently a distinguished Governor of South
Carolina. He was again chosen Representative
at the next regular election. The whole period
of his service in this body was three years. He



was here known and marked as the man of
thought, and counsel, and action. He but sel-
dom mingled in debate, though he was gifted
with parliamentary powers. He was, however,
destined to pass to a different sphere.

In 1839 the Presidency of the Bank of the
State of South Carolina became vacant. This
bank, owning a large capital, and being the fiscal
agent of the State, holds a responsible position
relative to neighboring monetary institutions.
The weight of this responsibility had been in-
creased by the general crash and derangement
of 1887-'8. Circumstances made it peculiarly
necessary to place at its head a man of deep
and comprehensive mind, capable of discipline
and system — of complex combinations, and full
of circumspection and forecast. Colonel Elmoeb
was the individual fixed upon. For upwards of
ten years he continued at the head of the insti-
tution, unceasing in assiduity, and indefatigable
in labor. It was mainly during this period that he
achieved his reputation as a financier and com-
mercialist. And if results were not altogether
as favorable as could have been desired, the
explanation, doubtless, will be found in the
reflection that there are conditions which im-
pose a limit upon possible success in all affairs,
and no degree of human talent or effort is
capable of transcending this limit. It is con-
fidently believed that the laborious career just
referred to undermined his constitution, dis-
abling it to withstand the assaults of an acci-
dental malady. He is believed to have died of
erysipelas.

It would hardly seem appropriate to detail
the circumstances, so recently commemorated,
under which he appeared amongst us as a Sen-
ator from his native State. I cannot," however,
refrain from remarking, how striking and im-
pressive is the thought, that, having been called
so unexpectedly to take the post of his great
predecessor, he should also have been called so
speedily to follow his footsteps to the grave ;
as if drawn by some strong affinity for the one
who had gone before him ; as though he had
been beckoned still onward to a happier state
by the friendly spirit of a just man made per-
fect. I believe that Mr. Elmoke's voice was
heard but once in the Senate, and that was in
answering to his name when called by the
Secretary.

The intellectual endowments of Col. Elmoee,
his mental culture and acquirements, his ele-
vated character, the purity of his morals, his
unexceptionable good breeding, and the perfec-
tion of his social qualities, all conspired to bind
his fellow-men to him ; some by one law of
human sympathy, some by another.

Not unfrequently engaged in the honorable
competitions of life, he was, of course, some-
times the object of those irritations of feeling
which rivalries are apt to engender. These
heartburnings, however, could scarcely ever
survive a social interchange of ten minutes, or
even a transitory greeting upon the street.
And, strange as the verbal contradictioTi may



556



ABKID&MENT OF THE



June, 1850.]



The Compromise — Admission of California,



[31sT COHO,



seem, I speak with perfect sincerity when I say,
that his enemies, if he had an enemy, were
also his friends. And yet his popularity was
not of an intense character : it was too uni-
versal to be intense. It did not meet with
sufBcient resistance to give it the highest de-
gree of compactness. It seemed to exist, or
rather live by a general law of nervous con-
nection with the community ; and there is no
portion of the community whose sensibihties
will not be touched by his death.

Upon the nearer social ties that have been
broken, I choose not to make any remarks.
The disconsolate heart shrinks from the gaze
of the world, and what our eyes may not look
at, let our lips forbear to mention.

Mr. W., at the close of his remarks, submitted
the following resolutions :

Itesolved, That this House has heard with deep
sensibility the aunouncement of the death of the
Hon. Franklin H. Elmoke, a Senator in Congress
from the State of South Carolina.

Resolved, That, as a testimony of respect for the
memory of the deceased, the members and oiBcers
of this House will wear the usual badge of mourn-
ing for thirty days.

Resolved, That the proceedings of this House in
relation to the death of the Hon. Franklin H. El-
more, be communicated to the family of the deceas-
ed by the Clerk.

Resolved, That this House will, as a body, forth-
with repair to the Senate Chamber, to attend the



Online LibraryUnited States. CongressAbridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. From Gales and Seatons' Annals of Congress; from their Register of debates; and from the official reported debates, by John C. Rives → online text (page 135 of 154)