Slike strani
PDF
ePub

1856.

ters of acceptance, and avowed their dred and eighty-eight thousand and sentiments on the various topics then fifty-five. agitating the public mind.

On the 1st of December, the second Congress, after a long session, and session of the thirty-fourth Congress one in which the legislature was called was begun, and President Pierce's last upon to act in many very important annual message was received and read matters, adjourned on the 18th of Au- on the following day. It possessed gust. The members dispersed to their more than ordinary interest from the respective homes, and the grand con- fact, that the president entered at large test for the presidency occupied them, into the exciting questions on which and nearly every body else, for some the north and the south were arrayed months afterwards; for the monster in hostile opposition. Mr. Pierce exgatherings, the political speechifying, erted himself to defend the views and the interminable war of words in the principles on which he and his adminnewspapers, the public places, and the istration had proceeded with respect like, gave an opportunity for both to the abrogating the Missouri sides, and all sides, to get their candi- compromise, and also with redates elected, if they could.

spect to the whole slavery question, The result, announced early in De- and he did not scruple to lay all the cember, we may here put on record: blame upon the northern men, and James Buchanan and J. C. Brecken- those who, while adhering to the comridge received the votes of nineteen pact not to disturb slavery where it states, i. e., one hundred and seventy- lawfully existed, were determined to four electoral votes; J. C. Fremont and resist its further expansion. Our limits W. L Dayton received the votes of do not admit of quoting the president's eleven states, i. e., one hundred and language, which the reader will do well fourteen votes; and Messrs. Fillmore to examine with care and attention. and Donelson received the vote of one We say this, because we wish also to state (Maryland) or eight electoral call his attention to a very searching votes; making in all two hundred and review of this message, so far as it reninety-six votes cast. Buchanan and lates to the abrogation of the Missouri Breckenridge having received a major compromise act, published at the close ity of the votes were, of course, presi- of 1857, by the veteran Senator, Thomas dent elect and vice-president elect. H. Benton, in which, he says, are "exThe popular vote for the respective posed and corrected the errors of fact candidates was, for the democratic can- and law” in the president's message. didate, one million eight hundred and The concluding paragraph of Mr. fifty-nine thousand three hundred and Benton's review deserves to be well thirty-seven; for the republican candi-considered. He is speaking of the date, one million three hundred and present slavery agitation," and goes on forty-one thousand eight hundred and to say; “Up to Mr. Pierce's administwelve; for the American, eight hun- | tration the plan had been defensive

CH. VIII.]

THE MESSAGE AND PUBLIC BUSINESS.

521

1856.

that is to say, to make the secession of and for democrats; and to stigmatize the south a measure of self defence all who refused to go with them, as against the abolition encroachments, disunionists, and abolitionists. And to aggressions, and crusades of the north; keep up this classification, is the object in the time of Mr. Pierce, the plan be- of the eleven pages of the message came offensive—that is to say, to com- | which calls for this review-unhappily mence the expansion of slavery, and assisted in that object by the conduct the acquisition of territory to spread of a few real abolitionists, (not five per it over, so as to overpower the north centum of the population of the free with new slave states, and drive them states,) but made to stand, in the eyes out of the Union. In this change of the south, for the whole."* of tactics originated the abrogation of The president's message stated, that the Missouri compromise, the attempt the revenues of the current year had to purchase one half of Mexico, and amounted to nearly $74,000,000; the the actual purchase of a large part;

large part; expenditures had amounted to not quite the design to take Cuba; the encour- $73,000,000, including $3,000,000 paid agement to Kinney and to Walker in to Mexico, and some $13,000,000 of Central America; the quarrels with the public debt. This debt Great Britain for outlandish coasts and amounted, at the present date, islands; the designs upon the Tehuan- to $30,737,129; all of which, if necestepec, the Nicaragua, the Panama, and sary, could be paid within a year. The the Darien routes; and the scheme to average expenditure, according to Mr. get a foothold in the Island of San Do- Pierce, during the preceding five years, mingo. The rising in the free states in had been $48,000,000; and, thinking consequence of the abrogation of the that this sum would be sufficient for Missouri compromise, checked these the next five years, a reduction of the schemes, and limited the success of the tariff was recommended so as to bring disunionists to the revival of the agita- the revenue from this source to about tion which enables them to wield the $50,000,000.* south against the north in all the federal The details of public business tranelections and federal legislation. Acci- sacted by Congress, we need not now dents and events have given this party enter into; it will be sufficient for our a strange pre-eminence. Under Jack- present purpose to state, that the recomson's administration, proclaimed for mendations of the executive, and of the treason; since, at the head of the gov- several heads of the departments, reernment and of the democratic party. The death of Harrison, and the acces

* Appendix to Benton's " Examination of the Dred

Scott Case," pp. 184–5. sion of Tyler, was their first great lift;

* On the subject of steam navigation for the public the election of Mr. Pierce was their service, and the importance of the government giving culminating point. It not only gave

wise and liberal assistance thereto, we refer the reader

to a valuable work, entitled “Ocean Steam Navigation them the government, but power to

and the Ocean Post," by Thomas Rainey. 8vo., pp. 224. pass themselves for the Union party, / N. Y. 1858.

VOL. III.--66

of

1857.

ceived due attention, and a number of the subject of promoting the efficiency acts were passed by both Houses and of the navy, (p. 510); appropriating oktained the approval of Mr. Pierce. about $500,000 for constructing wagonFor the civil and diplomatic expenses roads from Fort Kearney, by way of the year were appropriated nearly the South Pass of the Rocky Mountains $17,000,000; which, added to the other and Great Salt Lake Valley, to Calinecessary `appropriations for carrying fornia; authorizing the people of Minon the government, as the army, the nesota to form a constitution and state

navy, the post-office, etc., made government, preparatory to admission

the total of appropriations, about into the Union; granting lands in Min$70,000,000. The tariff, after amend- nesota, Alabama, etc., to aid in conment and compromise between the structing certain railroads; providing views of the House and the Senate, for the punishment of certain crimes was arranged in accordance with the against the United States; together president's recommendation. The bill with the usual number of private acts. passed the Senate by a vote of thirty- At the December term, 1856, of the three to eight, and the House by a Supreme Court, an important case came vote of one hundred and twenty-four before that learned body for decision, to seventy-one. It was to go into effect which has become well known throughon the 2d of July, 1857, and it was out the country as the “Dred Scott estimated, that the result would be a Case.” It excited unusual attention in reduction in the revenue of about every part of the United States, and $20,000,000. The Atlantic Telegraph the opinions of the chief-justice and bill, as finally passed, provided that the the associate justices were submitted sum to be paid the company should not to criticism and examination far more exceed $70,000 per annum, until the than ordinarily keen and searching. net profits reached six per cent., and af- Scott and his wife, it will be rememter that it should not exceed $50,000; bered, were slaves, belonging to Dr. that the tariff of prices should be fixed Emerson, a surgeon in the United States by the secretary of the treasury and army; they were taken into and resided Great Britain; that the citizens of in Illinois, and at Fort Snelling, in the America and England should be placed territory in which, by the ordinance of on an equal footing; and that Congress 1787, slavery was forever prohibited; might end the contract at the expira- in 1838, Scott and his wife were taken tion of ten years, by giving one year's into Missouri, where two children were uotice. Acts were also passed on born, and where they have ever since

been held as slaves. They claimed * In August, 1857, an attempt was made to lay the freedom on the ground that, by the act cable for the Atlantic Telegraph Company. Unfor- of their master, they had been brought tunately the cable gave way, when some three hun into free territory. The court decided dred miles of length had been paid out; and the great work of connecting the old world with the new by this against their claim, and ruled that nemeans had to be postponed.

groes, slaves or free, are not, by the

[ocr errors]

CH. VII.]

THE DRED SCOTT CASE.

522

1857.

Constitution, citizens of the United forcible and to the point.* Professor States. The political aspects of the Tucker, of Virginia, some 25 years ago, question, and the points argued by the expressed himself as follows: “Causes court, and the views expressed, respect not now foreseen, may prolong or ab. ing the Missouri compromise, and the ridge the existence of this institution self-extension of the Constitution to ter- (i. e., slavery) in the United States, but ritories, carrying slavery along with it, none of them seem capable of averting gave the Dred Scott case an interest its ultimate destiny. We may say of which every citizen was able to appre- it, as of man ; the doom of its death, ciate; and the decision of the court did though we know not the time or the not have the effect of quieting agitation mode, is certain and irrevocable.”+ on the siavery question, but rather Governor Geary, (p. 519,) who had

added fuel to that agitation. labored rery diligently in his efforts to

We quote in the appendix, a promote peace and order in Kansas, part of the chief-justice's opinion, and did not meet with all the success which refer the reader to the official “Report he hoped for; so that, finding his health of the Decision of the Supreme Court giving way, and the spirit of opposition of the United States, and the opinion still active against him and his proceedof the Judges thereof, in the case of ings, he judged it best to resign his Dred Scott versus John A. Sandford,” post. His resignation was made in prepared by B. C. Howard, Reporter. March, and Mr. Pierce's successor ap

If the reader be desirous to look into pointed, about the close of the month, this question under the light thrown Mr. Robert J. Walker governor, and upon it by Chief-justice Taney and the Mr. F. P. Stanton secretary. The free six associate justices who agreed with state convention, and the supporters of him, and also under that which is fur- the views which led to that convention, nished by the opinions of the two dis- continued to maintain their attitude of senting associate justices, he will study resistance to the legislative assembly this volume, and endeavor to weigh well and its acts. The prospect of further the force of the arguments on the two difficulties was not lessened, but rather sides of that question which has proyed increased, as the year 1857 advanced in itself a source of agitation and trouble its course. from the earliest period of our national On the 3d of March, 1857, the thirtyhistory to its final settlement in fourth Congress reached its termination. the extinction of slavery. The Supreme Court decision could not avert * In connection with this topic, we beg leave to rethe doom of slavery, which, whatever fer the reader to Senator Benton's “ Examination of

the Dred Scott Case.” It is a vigorous production, and politicians might say or think, was cer takes strong ground against the decision of the Sutain, sooner or later, to be abolished. preme Court. For some extracts from this volume, see

Appendix at the end of the present chapter. Of this fact sagacious Southern men + See the chapter on • The Future Progress of were aware, and when they ventured to Slavery," in Tucker's Progress of the United States in

Population and Wealth in Fifty Years." New York speak out plainly, their words were 1813.

1857.

At the same date, Franklin Pierce was had not met the expectations of the released from the burdensome duties party, and with, on their part, an ill. of president of the United States, and concealed sense, that it was bigh time

made way for his successor. Of to place the vessel of state under other

his administration we need say guidance, if the party hoped to mainbut little. In most respects, it greatly tain its ascendency, and carry out its disappointed the country; and the views to their completion. Of course, promises which seemed to be held out we are speaking simply of the retiring at the beginning of his term of office, president's political career; for, in all (p. 500), failed, long before his four other respects, we believe, Mr. Pierce years expired, of satisfying the just de- deserves honorable mention. We mands of the people. Mr. Pierce came cheerfully accord him all this; but, so into office with some considerable pres- far as the judgment of the country has, tige, as the democratic candidate and at any time, been expressed, Franklin the exponent of democratic principles Pierce's administration must be proand purposes; he retired from his lofty nounced, to all intents and purposes, position with a general feeling that he little short of a failure.

APPENDIX TO CHAPTER VIII.

SENATOR BENTON'S VIEWS ON ABROGATING an alteration of the Constitution, by inserting

THE MISSOURI COMPROMISE, AND ON THE new clauses in it, which could not have been put SELF-EXTENSION OF THE CONSTITUTION.

in at the time that instrument was made, nor at In assuming to decide these questions—(con- any time since, nor now. stitutionality of the Missouri compromise, and The Missouri compromise was a "political the self-extension of the Constitution to territo-enactment," made by the political power, for ries)—it is believed the Supreme Court com- reasons founded in national policy, enlarged and mitted two great errors; first, in the assumption liberal, of which it was the proper judge; and to try such questions; secondly, in deciding them which was not to be reversed afterwards by juas they did. And it is certain, that the decisions dicial interpretation of words and phrases. are contrary to the uniform action of all the de- Doubtless the court was actuated by the most partments of the government-one of them for laudable motives in undertaking, while settling thirty-six years; and the other for seventy years; an individual controversy, to pass from the priand in their effects upon each are equivalent to vate rights of an individual to the public rights

« PrejšnjaNaprej »