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curacy in relation to all matters of this kind is so well established that I am not aware that any deliberately uttered statement of his touching points of disputed American history has ever been by any one directly called in question. In that memorable 7th of March speech which he delivered in the Senate of the United States for -- the Constitution and the Union," and which, at the time of its being pronounced, as I well recollect, awakened sentiments of respect and gratitude among conservative and enlightened patriots throughout the length and breadth of the republic—in that speech, for the delivery of which Mr. Calhoun is known, on his dying bed, to have thanked him in the most solemn and formal manner-Mr. Webster thus explicitly covers the ground which I am at present discussing: "Let us, therefore, consider for a moment what was the state of sentiment North and South in regard to slavery at the time this Constitution was adopted. A remarkable change has taken place since; but what did the wise and great men of all parts of the country think of slavery then? In what estimation did they hold it at the time when this Constitution was adopted? It will be found, sir, if we will carry ourselves by historical research back to that day, and ascertain men's opinions by authentic records still existing among us, that there was then no diversity of opinion between the North and the South upon the subject of slavery. It will be found that both parts of the country held it equally an evil-a moral and political evil. It will not be found that, either at the North or at the South, there was much, though there was some, invective against slavery as inhuman and cruel. The great ground of objection to
MR. WEBSTER ON THE IRREPRESSIBLE CONFLICT. 39
it was political; that it weakened the social fabric; that, taking the place of free labor, society became less strong and labor less productive; and therefore we find from all the eminent men of the time the clearest expression of their opinion that slavery is an evil. They ascribed its existence here, not without truth, and not without some acerbity of temper and force of language, to the injurious policy of the mother country, who, to favor the navigator, had entailed these evils upon the colonies. I need hardly refer, sir, particularly to the publications of the day. They are matters of history on the record. The eminent
men, the most eminent men, and nearly all the conspicuous politicians of the South, held the same sentiments—that slavery was an evil, a blight, a scourge, and
There are no terms of reprobation of slavery so vehement in the North at that day as in the South. The North was not so much excited against it as the South; and the reason is, I suppose, that there was much less of it at the North, and the people did not see, or, think they saw, the evils so prominently as they were seen, or thought to be seen, at the South."
Continuation of the same Subject. --Cession of Northwestern Territory by
Virginia and other States in 1784.-Ordinance of 1787.-Federal Convention.—Correlative and contemporaneous Action of that Body and of the Confederate Congress upon the Subject of African Slavery.-No Conflict worth mentioning then existed between the States of the North and the South in regard to African Slavery.-Action of Congress upon Abolition Petitions in 1790.-Congressional Resolution on the Subject of non-interference with Slavery in the States by the general Government for many Years faithfully observed in the North.-Mr. Webster's uncontradicted Statement on this Subject in the Debate between Mr. Hayne and himself.—Washington's Administration.—Election of John Adams; his stormy Administration.—Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Madison, and Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, '9.-Nullification and Sccession growing out of these.—John C. Calhoun.-Confederate Constitution professedly based upon the absolute Sovereignty of the States.
- This Principle shamefully abandoned by the Confederate Government itself.-Successive Administrations of Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Madison, and Mr. Monroe.-Rise of the Missouri Question, and violent Agitation consequent thereupon.-Wise and salutary Compromise of that Question. -Remarks upon the Value of legislative Compromises in general, with Mr. Calhoun's Views of the same.
THERE are one or two remarkable facts in addition to be brought forward in support of this view of the subject, which I will now concisely state.
In the year 1784, Virginia and other states ceded to the United States all the territory northwest of the Ohio River. In the year 1787, the celebrated ordinance was adopted in the Congress then holding its session in the city of New York, by which slavery was forever excluded
ORDINANCE OF 1787.
from the whole of that vast dominion. At the very moment of its adoption, the Federal Convention, sitting at the time in Philadelphia, was engaged in the consideration of the subject of slavery in its various aspects. Constant intercourse, by mail and otherwise, was going on between these two great commercial marts. Some of the most eminent members of Congress were likewise members of the Convention, and were of course sometimes engaged in the deliberations of one of these bodies, and sometimes in those of the other. The ordinance was unanimously adopted, every Southern member present and every Northern member voting for it. With such facts staring us in the face, surely he would be a bold man, and far more bold than discreet, who would assert that at this memorable period in American annals any serious antagonism, either of sentiment or of policy, in regard to slavery, was apparent. But other evidence in corroboration is easily adducible. In the Federal Constitution under which we now live, two other points were distinctly and definitively settled : 1st. Provision was made for the prospective, not the immediate prohibition of the African slave-trade—that is to say, Congress was, by the clearest implication, empowered to pass laws for the suppression of this nefarious traffic by the clause which provides that no legislation by this body for the purpose specified should take place anterior to the year 1808. 2d. The Convention, in language to which, until recently, only one interpretation has been any where af fixed, not only guaranteed to the states wherein slavery then existed the right to regulate it according to their own discretion, without any foreign interference whatev
er, but moreover guaranteed in a manner deemed at the time sufficiently explicit, the return of fugitive slaves to the service of their recognized masters.
No moon-struck political philosopher then undertook to declare that the constitutional clause guaranteeing to each of the states a “republican form of government' was designed by its framers to provide for the universal manumission of bondmen and bondwomen of African descent.
I now assert, what no fair-minded man will deny, that the existence of slavery in the states still choosing to retain it did not, for many years after the foundation of the present government, become a source of excitement and unbrotherly feeling. The injunctions of the Constitution were every where understood in the same way, and were every where faithfully observed. A few abolition petitions were sent forward by a portion of the inhabitants of Pennsylvania to the first Congress, the appearance of which produced no serious irritation, and these petitions were at once quietly disposed of and forgotten, but not until the adoption of the following important resolution:
" Resolved, That Congress have no authority to interfere in the emancipation of slaves, or in the treatment of them in any of the states; it remaining with the several states alone to provide rules and regulations therein, which humanity and true policy may require."
For many years, and, indeed, up to the year 1835, slavery in the South did not become a subject of unkind discussion any where.
Justice demands the admission that, up to a period