Page images
PDF
EPUB

MR. CLAY'S FINAL COMPROMISE.

207

in a speech inevitably calculated to consider the questions raised by Mr. excite deep dissatisfaction among the Clay's proposition, and also by regreat mass of his constituents, without solves submitted a month later by Mr. once considering or even touching this Bell, of Tennessee; and on the 19th question: "What need exists for any this Committee was elected by ballot compromise whatever ?” Admitting and composed as follows: the correctness of his views and

gen

Mr. Henry Clay, of Kentucky, Chairman. eral positions with regard to Califor- Messrs. Dickinson, of N. Y, Cooper, of Pan, nia, New Mexico, Texas, etc., why Phelps, of Vt., Downs, of La., not permit each subject demanding

Bell, of Tenn., King, of Ala.,

Cass, of Mich., legislation to be presented in its order,

Mangum, of N. C.,

Webster, of Mass., Mason, of Va., and all questions respecting it to be

Berrien, of Ga., Bright, of Ind. decided on their intrinsic merits? He, of course, contended throughout that

Mr. Clay reported is from said Comhis position was unchanged, that his mittee a recommendation, substanviews were substantially those he had

tially, of his original proposition of always held; yet the eagerness and compromise, save that he now prosatisfaction wherewith. his speech

vided for organizing Utah as a diswas received and reprinted at

tinct Territory. His report recomRichmond, Charleston, New Or. mended the following bases of a leans, and throughout the South, general Compromise : should, it seems, have convinced “1. The adınission of any new State or him, if the disappointment and dis- States formed out of Texas to be postponed

until they shall hereafter present themselves pleasure of his constituents did not, to be received into the Union, when it will that either he had undergone a great be the duty of Congress fairly and faithfully transformation, or nearly every one mitting such new State or States.

to execute the coinpact with Texas, by adelse had. His speech, though it con "2. The admission forth with of Califortained little or nothing referring di- nia into the Union, with the boundaries

which she has proposed. rectly to the compromise proposed 6. 3. The establishment of Territorial Govby Mr. Clay, exerted a powerful ernments, without the Wilmot Proviso, for influence in favor of its ultimate

New Mexico and Utah, embracing all the

territory recently acquired from Mexico, not triumph.

contained in the boundaries of California. Mr. Douglas having reported a

“4. The combination of these two last bill for the admission of California

measures in the same bill.

“5. The establishment of the western and into the Union, as also one to estab northern boundaries of Texas, and the exclulish territorial governments for Utah sion from her jurisdiction of all

New Mexico,

with the grant to Texas of a pecuniary equivand New Mexico, Col. Benton mov and the section for that purpose to be ed" that the previous orders be post- incorporated in the bill admitting California, poned, and the California bill taken

and establishing Territorial Governments for up. Mr. Clay proposed the laying of **6. More effectual enactments of law to this motion on the table, which was

secure the prompt delivery of persons bound

to service or labor in one State, under the carried by 27 Yeas to 24 Nays. The laws thereof, who escape into another State; Senate now proceeded, on motion of and Mr. Foote, of Mississippi, to constitute but, under a heavy penalty, prohibiting the

“7. Abstaining from abolishing Slavery, a Select Committee of thirteen, to Slave-Trade, in the District of Columbia.”

16 March 25, 1850. 17 April 5th. 18 May 8th.

alent;

And still the debate went on, I passed—Yeas 150; Nays 564all hardly interrupted by the death Southern); and then the Utah bill (July 10th) of Gen. Taylor, and the was in like manner passed—Yeas 97; accession of Vice-President Fillmore Nays 85—(mainly Northern Free to the Presidency. Repeated efforts Soil). The bills providing more to cut off from California all her effectually for the recovery of fugiterritory south of 36° 30'; to send tive Slaves, and abolishing the Slaveback her constitution to a new con- trade in the District, were likewise vention of her people, etc., etc., were passed by decided majorities; and made by Southern ultras, but defeat the Senate” concurred in the House ed; and finally the bill to admit amendment, whereby two of its meaCalifornia passed the Senate by 34 sures had been welded togetherYeas to 18 Nays—all Southern- | Yeas 31; Nays 10 (Northern Free and the bill organizing the Territo- Soil). So all the measures originally ries of New Mexico and Utah, as included in Mr. Clay's proposition proposed, likewise passed two days of compromise became laws of the thereafter : Yeas 27; Nays 10. The land. other measures embraced in the proposition of compromise were in like The propelling force, whereby manner successively carried with lit- these acts were pushed through Contle serious opposition.

gress, in defiance of the original con

victions of a majority of its members, When these measures reached the or at least the lubricating oil whereHouse, they encountered a spirited with the ways were rendered passaopposition; but the bill organizing ble, was contained in that article the Territory of New Mexico was of the bill proposing to the State added as an amendment or “rider” of Texas the establishment of her to the bill defining the Northern Northern boundary, which reads : boundary of Texas, and paying her ten millions for assenting to such de

Fourth. The United States, in consider

ation of said establishment of boundaries, markation. This was moved by Mr. cession of claims to territory, and relinLinn Boyd (Democrat), of Kentucky, quishment of claims, will pay to the State

of Texas the suin of ten millions of dollars, and prevailed by Yeas 107, Nays in a stock bearing five per cent. interest

, 99. The bill, as thus amended, and redeemable at the end of fourteen years; was first defeated-Yeas 99; Nays the interest payable half-yearly, at the Trea

sury of the United States." 107; but Mr. Howard, of Texas, who had voted in the negative, now By this article, the public debt of moved a

reconsideration, which Texas, previously worth in market was carried-Yeas 122; Nays 81; but some twenty to thirty per cent. whereupon the Previous Question of its face, was suddenly raised nearwas seconded — Yeas 115 ; Nays ly or quite to par, to the entire satis97; and the bill passed TM as amended faction of its holders—many of them -Yeas 108; Nays 97. The Califor- members of Congress, or their very nia bill was next" taken up and intimate friends. Corruption, thinly

19 August 13th.

90

September 4th.

91 September 7th.

9 September 9th.

POLITICAL COMPROMISES-THEIR ABUSE.

209

disguised, haunted the purlieus and sures essential to the existence of the stalked through the halls of the Capi-Government. The attempt, theretol; and numbers, hitherto in needy fore, of the Senate of Februarycircumstances, suddenly found them- March, 1849, to dictate to the House, selves rich. The great majority, of “You shall consent to such an orcourse, were impervious to such in- ganization of the territories as we fluences; but the controlling and prescribe, or we will defeat the Civil controllable minority were not. This Appropriation bill, and thus derange, was probably the first instance in if not arrest, the most vital machinwhich measures of vital consequence ery of the Government," was utterly to the country were carried or de- unjustifiable. Yet this should not feated in Congress under the direct blind us to the fact that differences spur of pecuniary interest.

of opinion are at times developed on

questions of decided moment, where Political compromises, though the rights of each party are equal, they have been rendered unsavory and where an ultimate concurrence by abuse, are a necessary incident of in one common line of action is esmixed or balanced governments— sential. Without some deference to that is, of all but simple, unchecked adverse convictions, no confederation despotisms. Wherever liberty exists, of the insurgent colonies was attainthere diversities of judgment will be able—no Union of the States could developed ; and, unless one will domi- have been effected. And where the nates over all others, a practical Executive is, by according him the mean between widely differing con- veto, clothed with a limited power victions must sometimes be sought. over the making of laws, it is ineviIf, for example, a legislature is com- table that some deference to his posed of two distinct bodies or houses, views, his convictions, should be and they differ, as they occasionally evinced by those who fashion and will, with regard to the propriety or mature those laws. Under this asthe amount of an appropriation re- pect, compromise in government is quired for a certain purpose, and sometimes indispensable and laudaneither is disposed to give way, a ble. partial concession on either hand is But what is known in State legisoften the most feasible mode of prac-lation as log-rolling is quite another tical adjustment. Where the object matter. A. has a bill, which he is contemplated is novel, or non-essen- intent on passing, but which has no tial to the general efficiency of the intrinsic worth that commends it to public service such as the construc- his fellow-members. But B., C., D., tion of a new railroad, canal, or other and the residue of the alphabet, have public work — the repugnance of each his "little bill;" not, perhaps, either house should suffice entirely specially obnoxious or objectionable, to defeat, or, at least, to postpone it; but such as could not be passed on for neither branch has a right to ex- | its naked merits. All alike must act from the other conformity with fail, unless carried by that reciprociits views on a disputed point as the ty of support suggested by their comprice of its own concurrence in mea- mon need and peril

. An understand

ing is effected between their several | therefor. But why Texas should be backers, so that A. votes for the bills paid Ten Millions of dollars for relinof B., C., D., etc., as the indispensable quishing her pretensions to territory means of securing the passage of his never possessed by, nor belonging to, own darling; and thus a whole litter her— territory which had been first of bills become laws, whereof no sin- acquired from Mexico by the forces gle one was demanded by the public and then bought of her by the moninterest, or could have passed without ey of the Union — is not obvious; the aid of others as unworthy as it- and why this payment, if made at all, self. Such is substantially the pro- should be a make-weight in a bargain cess whereby our statute-books are covering a variety of arrangements loaded with acts which subserve no with which it had no proper connecend but to fill the pockets of the few, tion, is still less explicable. And at the expense of the rights or the when, on the back of this, was piled interests of the many.

an act to provide new facilities for It was entirely proper that Con- slave-catching in the Free States, osgress should provide at once for the tensibly balanced by another which temporary government of all the ter- required the slave-traders of Washritories newly acquired from Mex- ington to remove their jails and aucico; and there was no radical objec- tion-rooms across the Potomac to that tion to doing this in one bill, if that dull old dwarf of a city which had reshould seem advisable. As the estab- cently been retroceded to Virginia, as lishment of a definite boundary be- if on purpose to facilitate this arrangetween New Mexico and Texas was ment, the net product was a corrupt essential to the tranquillity and monstrosity in legislation and morals security of the Territory, that object which even the great name of Henry might fairly be contemplated in the Clay should not shield from lasting act providing a civil government opprobrium.

XVI.

THE ERA OF SLAVE-HUNTING.

But, whatever theoretic or practi- general joy the announcement that cal objections may be justly made to all the differences between the diverse the Compromise of 1850, there can be sections' had been adjusted and setno doubt that it was accepted and rati- tled. The terms of settlement were, fied by a great majority of the Ameri- to that majority, of quite subordinate can People, whether in the North or in consequence; they wanted peace and the South. They were intent on busi- prosperity, and were nowise inclined ness — then remarkably prosperous to cut each other's throats and burn

on planting, building, trading, and each other's houses in a quarrel congetting gain-and they hailed with cerning (as they regarded it) only the

THE SOUTH SUSTAINS THE COMPROMISE OF 1850.

211

status of negroes. The Compromise ry S. Foote for Governor-Mr. Foote, had taken no money from their pock- as Mr. Davis's colleague, though he ets; it had imposed upon them no demurred to Mr. Clay's programme pecuniary burdens; it had exposed at the outset, having supported the them to no personal and palpable Compromise to the extent of his abil; dangers: it had rather repelled the ity. The election occurred early in gaunt specter of Civil War and Dis- November, 1851; when the “Union” union (habitually conjured up when party won a complete triumph—the Slavery had a point to carry), and vote being the largest ever yet polled, increased the facilities for making and Mr. Foote elected by over 1,000 money, while opening a boundless majority. The rest of the “Union” vista of National greatness, security, State ticket, with a strongly “Union” and internal harmony. Especially Legislature, succeeded by still larger by the trading class, and the great majorities. Alabama, likewise, chose majority of the dwellers in seaboard a “Union" Legislature, and a “Unicities, was this view cherished with on” majority of Congressmen. Louiintense, intolerant vehemence. siana, this year, elected a Whig"

The Compromise had been violent- Auditor and Legislature — meaning ly opposed alike from the South much the same thing. And even and from the North—of course, on South Carolina—having been sumopposite grounds. The “Fire-Eat- moned by her chieftains (Mr. Cal. ers,” or disciples of Mr. Calhoun, houn being now dead) to elect a regarded it as surrendering the sub- Convention, whereby her course in stance of all that was in dispute- the exigency should be determinedthe. newly acquired territories -- to gave a

to gave a “Coöperation” majority of the North, while amusing the South over 7,000 on the popular’ vote, with a mere shadow of triumph in electing 114 “ Coöperationists” to 54 the waiver of any positive, peremp- unqualified “ Secessionists." In othtory exclusion of Slavery therefrom. er words, she voted not to attempt They resolved not to submit to it, but Secession without the concurrence to rouse their section at first to the-. and support of her Southern sistersoretical, ultimately to forcible, resist- this being the shape wherein she could, ance. To this end, a direct issue was with least sacrifice of pride or consismade against the Compromise in Mis- tency, indicate her disposition not to sissippi-next to South Carolina, the rush madly upon the perils of Dismost intensely Pro-Slavery State in union and Civil War. Thus the trithe Union-by nominating a “State umph of the Compromise in the Slave Rights” ticket, headed by Jefferson States was complete; for it was felt Davis for Governor—Mr. Davis hav- to be preposterous to make the issue ing opposed the Compromise in the in any other States if it could not be Senate with determined pertinacity. upheld in these. His adversaries accepted the chal In the North, likewise, the acquilenge, and nominated a “Union” escence in the Compromise was genticket in opposition, headed by Hen- eral and decisive; though here, too,

1 Foote, 28,738; Davis, 27,729.

For Cooperation, 25,098; for Secession,

9

17,796. These totals are obtained by adding up the votes for delegates in the several “ parishes.”

« PreviousContinue »