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MICHIGAN. Kinsley S. Bingham, Robert McClelland, Charles E. Stuart-3.
WISCONSIN.-Mason C. Darling, William Pitt
Iowa.-William Thompson. 1.
Total Democrats from Free States-30. Total Whigs from Free States-74. Nays, 21 Democrats from Free States, with 76 Democrats and Whigs from Slave States.
Mr. Pollock of Pa. moved that this vote be reconsidered, and that the motion to reconsider do lie on the table; which prevailed -Yeas, 113; Nays, 96. (Vote same as before, except that Mr. Franklin Clark of Maine changed from the minority to the majority.)
So Mr. Clayton's project of Compromise was defeated.
GEN. CASS'S NICHOLSON LETTER.
Immediately after the adjournment of Congress, in 1847, Gen. Cass was currently reported to have expressed his favorable opinion of the Wilmot Proviso, and his regret that Mr. Davis's untimely remarks in the Senate had deprived him (Cass) of an opportunity of recording his vote in its favor. This remark he was said to have made in a railroad car, on his homeward journey from Washington. If such a position were taken by him, however, it was not long maintained; as the following letter from his pen appeared during the winter of 1847-8, and proved a prelude to the nomination of the writer for President, by the Democratic National Convention which assembled at Baltimore in the spring of 1848. It may be regarded as the first logical and well-considered enunciation of the doctrine of "Squatter Sovereignty."
Gen. Cass to A. O. P. Nicholson.
WASHINGTON, Dec. 24, 1847. DEAR SIR, I have received your letter, and shall answer it as frankly as it is written.
You ask me whether I am in favor of the acquisition of Mexican territory, and what are my sentiments with regard to the Wilmot Proviso.
I have so often and so explicitly stated my views of the first question, in the Senate, that it seems almost unnecessary to repeat them here. As you request it, however, I shall briefly give them.
I think, then, that no peace should be granted to Mexico, till a reasonable indemnity is obtained for the injuries which she has done us. The territorial extent of this indemnity is, in the first instance, a subject of Executive consideration. There the Constitution has placed it, and there I am willing to leave it: not only because I have full confidence in its judicious exercise, but because, in the ever-varying circumstances of a war, it would be indiscreet, by a public declaration, to commit the country to any line of indemnity, which might otherwise be enlarged, as the obstinate injustice of the enemy prolongs the contest, with its loss of blood and treasure.
It appears to me, that the kind of metaphysical magnanimity which would reject all indemnity at the close of a bloody and expensive war, brought on by a direct attack upon our troops by the enemy, and preceded by a succession of unjust
acts for a series of years, is as unworthy of the age in which we live, as it is revolting to the common sense and practice of mankind. It would conduce but little to our future security, or, indeed, to our present reputation, to declare that we repudiate all expectation of compensation from the Mexican Government, and are fighting, not for any practical result, but for some vague, perhaps philanthropic object, which escapes my penetration, and must be defined by those who assume this new principle of national intercommunication. All wars are to be deprecated, as well by the statesman as by the philanthropist. They are great evils; but there are greater evils than these, and submission to injustice is among its rights and its honor, when assailed, would them. The nation which should refuse to defend soon have neither to defend; and, when driven to war, it is not by professions of disinterestedness and declarations of magnanimity that its rational taught a lesson of forbearance-the strongest seobjects can be best obtained, or other nations curity for permanent peace. We are at war with Mexico, and its vigorous prosecution is the surest means of its speedy termination, and ample indemnity the surest guaranty against the recurrence of such injustice as provoked it.
The Wilmot Proviso has been before the country some time. It has been repeatedly discussed in Congress, and by the public Press. I am strongly impressed with the opinion, that a great this subject, in my own as well as others; and change has been going on in the public mind upon that doubts are resolving themselves into convictions, that the principle it involves should be kept out of the National Legislature, and left to the people of the confederacy in their respective local
The whole subject is a comprehensive one, and fruitful of important consequences. It would be ill-timed to discuss it here. I shall not assume such general views as are necessary to the fair that responsible task, but shall confine myself to exhibition of my opinions.
We may well regret the existence of Slavery in the Southern States, and wish they had been saved from its introduction. But there it is, not by the act of the present generation; and we must deal with it as a great practical question, involving the most momentous consequences. We have neither the right nor the power to touch it where it exists; and if we had both, their exercise, by any means heretofore suggested, might lead to results which no wise man would willingly encounter, and which no good man could contemplate without anxiety.
The theory of our Government presupposes that its various members have reserved to themselves the regulation of all subjects relating to what may be termed their internal police. They are sovereign within their boundaries, except in those cases where they have surrendered to the General Government a portion of their rights, in order to give effect to the objects of the Union, whether these concern foreign nations or the several States themselves. Local institutions, if I may so speak, whether they have reference to Slavery or to any other relations, domestic or public, are left to local authority, either original or derivative. Congress has no right to say that there shall be Slavery in New-York, or that there shall be no Slavery in Georgia; nor is there any other human power, but the people of those States, respectively, which can change the relations existing therein; and they can say, if they will, We will have Slavery in the former, and we will abolish it in the latter.
In various respects, the Territories differ from the States. Some of their rights are inchoate, and they do not possess the peculiar attributes of sovereignty. Their relation to the General Gov
ernment is very imperfectly defined by the Constitution; and it will be found, upon examination, that in that instrument the only grant of power concerning them is conveyed in the phrase, "Congress shall have the power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations, respecting the territory and other property belonging to the United States." Certainly this phraseology is very loose, if it were designed to include in the grant the whole power of legislation over persons, as well as things. The expression, the "territory and other property," fairly construed, relates to the public lands, as such; to arsenals, dockyards, forts, ships, and all the various kinds of property which the United States may and must possess. But surely the simple authority to dispose of and regulate these does not extend to the unlimited power of legislation; to the passage of all laws, in the most general acceptation of the word; which, by-the-by, is carefully excluded from the sentence. And, indeed, if this were so, it would render unnecessary another provision of the Constitution, which grants to Congress the power to legislate, with the consent of the States, respectively, over all places purchased for the "erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards," etc. These being the "property" of the United States, if the power to make "needful rules and regulations concerning" them includes the general power of legislation, then the grant of authority to regulate the territory and other property of the United States' is unlimited, wherever subjects are found for its operation, and its exercise needed no auxiliary provision. If, on the other hand, it does not include such power of legislation over the "other property" of the United States, then it does not include it over their "territory;" for the same terms which grant the one, grant the other. "Territory" is here classed with property, and treated as such; and the object was evidently to enable the General Government, as a property holder-which, from necessity, it must be-to manage, preserve and "dispose of" such property as it might possess, and which authority is essential almost to its being. But the lives and persons of our citizens, with the vast variety of objects connected with them, cannot be controlled by an authority which is merely called into existence for the purpose of making rules and regulations for the disposition and management of property. Such, it appears to me, would be the construction put upon this provision of the Constitution, were this question now first presented for consideration, and not controlled by imperious circumstances. The original ordinance of the Congress of the Confederation, passed in 1787, and which was the only act upon this subject in force at the adoption of the Constitution, provided a complete frame of government for the country north of the Ohio, while in a territorial condition, and for its eventual admission in separate States into the Union. And the persuasion that this ordinance contained within itself all the necessary means of execution, probably prevented any direct reference to the subject in the Constitution, further than vesting in Congress the right to admit the States formed under it into the Union. However, circumstances arose, which required legislation, as well over the territory north of the Ohio as over other territory, both within and without the original Union, ceded to the general Government, and, at various times, a more enlarged power has been exercised over the Territories-meaning thereby the different Territorial Governmentsthan is conveyed by the limited grant referred to. How far an existing necessity may have operated in producing this legislation, and thus extending, by rather a violent implication, powers not directly given, I know not. But certain it is that the principle of interference should not be carried beyond the necessary implication, which produces
it. It should be limited to the creation of proper governments for new countries, acquired or settled. and to the necessary provision for their eventual admission into the Union; leaving, in the mean time, to the people inhabiting them, to regulate their internal concerns in their own way. They are just as capable of doing so as the people of the States; and they can do so, at any rate as soon as their political independence is recognized by admission into the Union. During this temporary condition, it is hardly expedient to call into exercise a doubtful and invidious authority, which questions the intelligence of a respectable portion of our citizens, and whose limitation, whatever it may be, will be rapidly approaching its termination-an authority which would give to Congress despotic power, uncontrolled by the Constitution, over most important sections of our common country. For, if the relation of master and servant may be regulated or annihilated by its legislation, so may the regulation of husband and wife, of parent and child, and of any other condition which our institutions and the habits of our society recognize. What would be thought if Congress should undertake to prescribe the terms of marriage in New-York, or to regulate the authority of parents over their children in Pennsylvania? And yet it would be as vain to seek one justifying the interference of the national legislature in the cases referred to in the original States of the Union. I speak here of the inherent power of Congress, and do not touch the question of such contracts as may be formed with new States when admitted into the confederacy.
Of all the questions that can agitate us, those which are merely sectional in their character are the most dangerous, and the most to be deprecated. The warning voice of him who from his character and services and virtue had the best right to warn us, proclaimed to his countrymen, in his Farewell Address-that monument of wisdom for him, as I hope it will be of safety for them-how much we had to apprehend from measures peculiarly affecting geographical sections of our country. The grave circumstances in which we are now placed make these words words of safety; for I am satisfied, from all I have seen and heard here, that a successful attempt to engraft the principles of the Wilmot Proviso upon the legislation of this Government, and to apply them to new territory, should new territory be acquired, would seriously affect our tranquillity. I do not suffer myself to foresee or to foretell the consequences that would ensue; for trust and believe there is good sense and good feeling enough in the country to avoid them, by avoiding all occasions which might lead to them.
Briefly, then, I am opposed to the exercise of any jurisdiction by Congress over this matter; and I am in favor of leaving to the people of any territory, which may be hereafter acquired, the right to regulate it for themselves, under the general principles of the Constitution. Because
1. I do not see in the Constitution any grant of the requisite power to Congress; and I am not disposed to extend a doubtful precedent beyond its necessity-the establishment of territorial governments when needed-leaving to the inhabitants all the rights compatible with the relations they bear to the confederation.
2. Because I believe this measure, if adopted, would weaken, if not impair, the union of the States; and would sow the seeds of future discord, which would grow up and ripen into an abundant harvest of calamity.
3. Because I believe a general conviction that such a proposition would succeed, would lead to an immediate withholding of the supplies, and
thus to a dishonorable termination of the war. think no dispassionate observer at the seat of Government can doubt this result.
4. If, however, in this I am under a misapprehension, I am under none in the practical operation of this restriction, if adopted by Congress, upon a treaty of peace, making any acquisition of Mexican territory. Such a treaty would be rejected as certainly as presented to the Senate. More than one-third of that body would vote against it, viewing such a principle as an exclusion of the citizens of the slaveholding States from a participation in the benefits acquired by the treasure and exertions of all, and which should be common to all. I am repeatingneither advancing nor defending these views. That branch of the subject does not lie in my way, and I shall not turn aside to seek it.
In this aspect of the matter, the people of the United States must choose between this restriction and the extension of their territorial limits. They cannot have both; and which they will surrender must depend upon their representatives first, and then, if these fail them, upon themselves.
5. But after all, it seems to be generally conceded that this restriction, if carried into effect, could not operate upon any State to be formed from newly-acquired territory. The well-known attributes of sovereignty, recognized by us as belonging to the State Governments, would sweep before them any such barrier, and would leave the people to express and exert their will at pleasure. Is the object, then, of temporary exclusion for so short a period as the duration of the Territorial Governments, worth the price at which it it would be purchased?-worth the discord it would engender, the trial to which it would expose our Union, and the evils that would be the certain consequence, let the trial result as it might? As to the course, which has been intimated, rather than proposed, of engrafting such a restriction upon any treaty of acquisition, I persuade myself it would find but little favor in any portion of this country. Such an arrangement would render Mexico a party, having a right to interfere in our internal institutions in questions left by the Constitution to the State Governments, and would inflict a serious blow upon our fundamental principles. Few, indeed, I trust, there are among us who would thus grant to a foreign power the right to inquire into the constitution and conduct of the sovereign States of this Union; and if there are any, I am not among them, nor never shall be. To the people of this country, under God, now and hereafter, are its destinies committed; and we want no foreign power to interrogate us, treaty in hand, and to say, Why have you done this, or why have you left that undone? Our own dignity and the principles of national independence unite to repel such a proposition.
But there is another important consideration, which ought not to be lost sight of, in the investigation of this subject. The question that presents itself is not a question of the increase, but of the diffusion of Slavery. Whether its sphere be stationary or progressive, its amount will be the same. The rejection of this restriction will not add one to the class of servitude, nor will its adoption give freedom to a single being who is now placed therein. The same numbers will be spread over greater territory; and, so far as compression, with less abundance of the necessaries of life, is an evil, so far will that evil be mitigated by transporting slaves to a new country, and ing them a larger space to occupy.
our efforts seem at present directed, unite in representing those countries as agricultural regions, similar in their products to our Middle States, and generally unfit for the production of the great staples which can alone render Slave labor valuable. If we are not grossly deceived-and it is difficult to conceive how we can be the inhabitants of those regions, whether they depend upon their plows or their herds, cannot be slaveholders. Involuntary labor, requiring the investment of large capital, can only be profitable when employed in the production of a few favored articles confined by nature to special districts, and paying larger returns than the usual agricultural products spread over more considerable portions of the earth.
In the able letter of Mr. Buchanan upon this subject, not long since given to the public, he presents similar considerations with great force. "Neither," says the distinguished writer, "the soil, the climate, nor the productions of California south of 36° 30', nor indeed of any portion of it, North or South, is adapted to Slave labor; and beside every facility would be there afforded for the slave to escape from his master. Such pro perty would be entirely insecure in any part of California. It is morally impossible, therefore, that a majority of the emigrants to that portion of the territory south of 36° 30', which will be chiefly composed of our citizens, will ever reestablish Slavery within its limits."
"In regard to New-Mexico, east of the Rio Grande, the question has already been settled by the admission of Texas into the Union.
"Should we acquire territory beyond the Rio Grande and east of the Rocky Mountains, it is still more impossible that a majority of the people would consent to re-establish Slavery. They are themselves a colored population, and among them the negro does not belong socially to a degraded race."
With this last remark, Mr. Walker fully coincides in his letter written in 1844, upon the annexation of Texas, and which everywhere produced so favorable an impression upon the public mind, as to have conduced very materially to the accomplishment of that great measure. "Beyond the Del Norte," says Mr. Walker, "Slavery will not pass; not only because it is forbidden by law, but because the colored race there preponderates in the ratio of ten to one over the whites; and holding, as they do, the government and most of the offices in their possession, they will not permit the enslavement of any portion of the colored race, which makes and executes the laws of the country."
The question, it will be therefore seen on examination, does not regard the exclusion of Slavery from a region where it now exists, but a prohibition against its introduction where it does not exist, and where, from the feelings of the inhabitants and the laws of nature, "it is morally impossible," as Mr. Buchanan says, that it can ever re-establish itself.
It augurs well for the permanence of our confederation, that during more than half a century, which has elapsed since the establishment of this Government, many serious questions, and some of the highest importance, have agitated the public mind, and more than once threatened the gravest consequences; but that they have all in succession passed away, leaving our institutions unscathed, and our country advancing in numbers, power, and wealth, and in all the other elegiv-ments of national prosperity, with a rapidity unknown in ancient or in modern days. In times of political excitement, when difficult and delicate questions present themselves for solution, there is one ark of safety for us; and that is, an honest appeal to the fundamental principles of our Union, and a stern determination to abide their dictates.
say this in the event of the extension of Slavery over any new acquisition. But can it go there? This may well be doubted. All the descriptions which reach us of the condition of the Californias and of New Mexico, to the acquisition of which
This course of proceeding has carried us in safety through many a trouble, and I trust will carry us safely through many more, should many more be destined to assail us. The Wilmot Proviso seeks to take from its legitimate tribunal a question of domestic policy, having no relation to the Union, as such, and to transfer it to another, created by the people for a special purpose, and foreign_to the subject matter involved in this issue. By going back to our true principles, we go back to the road of peace and safety. Leave to the people, who will be affected by this question, to adjust it upon their own responsibility, and in their own manner, and we shall render another tribute to the original principles of our Government, and furnish another guaranty for its permanence and prosperity. I am, dear sir, respectfully, your obedient servant, LEWIS ČAŠS.
A. O. P. NICHOLSON, Esq., Nashville, Tenn.
The next session of the same Congress opened under very different auspices. The Mexican War had been terminated, so that none could longer be deterred from voting for Slavery Exclusion by a fear that the prosecution of hostilities would thereby be embarrassed. General Taylor had been elected President, receiving the votes of Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Florida -a moiety of the Slave States--over Gen. Cass, now the avowed opponent of Slavery Restriction. Many of the Northern Democrats considered themselves absolved by this vote from all extra-constitutional obligations to the South, and voted accordingly.
Dec. 13.-Mr. J. M. Root of Ohio, offered Che following:
"Resolved, That the Committee on Territories be instructed to report to this House, with as little delay as practicable, a bill or bills providing a territorial government for each of the Territories of New Mexico and California, and excluding Slavery therefrom."
A call of the House was had, and the previous question ordered.
Mr. W. P. Hall of Mo. same do lie on the table. Nays, 106.
moved that the Lost: Yeas, 80;
The resolve then passed: Yeas, 108; Nays, 80, viz. :
Yeas-All the Whigs from Free States, and all the Democrats, but those noted as Nays below, including the following, who had voted against the same principle at the former session :
MAINE. Asa W. H. Clapp, James S. Wiley-2. NEW YORK.-Frederick W. Lord-1. OHIO.-Thomas Richey-1. INDIANA.-Charles W Cathcart, Thomas J. Henley, John L. Robinson, William W. Wick-4. ILLINOIS.-Robert Smith-1.
Messrs. Clark and H. Williams of Maine, Birdsall and Maclay of New-York, Brodhead and Mann of Pa., Pettit of Ind., Ficklin and McClelland of Ill., who voted with the South at the for
mer session-now failed to vote.
Mr. Jackson of N.Y., who then voted with the South, had been succeeded by Mr. H. Greeley,
who voted with the North.
Nays-All the Members voting from the Slave States, with the following from the Free States: NEW-YORK.-Henry C. Murphy-1.
PENNSYLVANIA-Charles Brown, Charles J. In
OHIO-William Kennon, jun., John K. Miller, William Sawyer-3.
ILLINOIS.-William A. Richardson-1.
Total Nays from Free States-8.
Mr. Robinson of Ind. moved a reconsideration of this vote, which motion (Dec. 18), on motion of Mr. Wentworth of Ill., was
laid on the table: Yeas, 105; Nays, 83.
[Messrs. Clapp, Clark, and Wiley of Me., voted to lay on the table, as did Messrs. Lord of N. Y., Job Mann of Pa., Richey of Ohio, Henley and Wick of Indiana, R. Smith of Ill. Messrs. C. Brown and Levin of Pa. did not now vote. The rest, very much as before, except that a few more voted.]
Dec. 20th.-Mr. C. B. Smith accordingly reported a bill, establishing the Territorial Government of Upper California, which was read twice and committed.
Jan. 3rd. He reported a similar bill for the organization of New Mexico, which took the same direction.
Jan. 15th.-Mr. Julius Rockwell of Mass.
moved that these bills be made the special order for the 23d instant. Negatived: Yeas, 114 (not two-thirds); Nays, 71 (nearly a sectional vote).
Feb. 26-7th.-The bill was taken out of committee, and engrossed for a third reading. Mr. Meade of Va. moved that it do lie on the table. Negatived: Yeas, 86; Nays,
It was then passed by the following similar vote:
Yeas-All the Whigs from the Free States, with Aylett Buckner (Whig) of Ky., and all the Democrats also, except
PENSYLVANIA.-Samuel A. Bridges-1. OHIO.-William Kennon, jun., John K. Miller, William Sawyer-3. Total-4.
Nays-All the Members from Slave the addition of those from Free States just States, except Mr. Buckner aforesaid, with
This bill was read twice in the Senate, (Feb. 28th), and referred to the Committee on Territories.
March 3d.-Said Committee was discharged from its further consideration, and Mr. Douglas moved that it be taken up in Senate, which was negatived. Yeas, 25; Nays, 28 (all but a sectional vote). That was the end of the bill; the Senate having already determined to affix its essential provisions to the Civil and Diplomatic Appropriation bill, and thus avoid and defeat the Slavery Exclusion contained in the House bill, and force the House to agree to organize the Territories, without such provision, or leave the Government without appropriations. this succeeded, we shall see.
The Civil and Diplomatic Appropriation bill having passed the House in the usual form, came up to the Senate, where it was debated several days.
Feb. 21st.-Mr. Walker of Wisc. moved an amendment, extending all the laws of the United States, so far as applicable, to the Territories acquired from Mexico.
Mr. Bell of Tenn. moved to add further
sections organizing the State of California, to be admitted into the Union on the 1st of October next. This was rejected: Yeas 4 (Bell, Dodge of Iowa, Douglas, Davis); Nays 39.
Feb. 26th.-Mr. Dayton of N. J. moved that the President be vested with power to provide a suitable temporary government for the Territories. Rejected; Yeas 8; Nays 47.
The question recurred on Mr. Walker's amendment, modified so as to read as follows:
The bill being returned to the House, thus amended, this amendment was (March 2d) voted down-Yeas 101; Nays 115-as follows:
Yeas, all the members from the Slave
OHIO-William Kennon, jr., William Sawyer
ILLINOIS-Orlando B. Ficklin, John A. Mc-
Total, thirteen from Free States; eightyeight from Slave States. (Only two from Slave States absent or silent.)
"Sec. 5. And be it further enacted, That the Constitution of the United States, in so far as the provisions of the same be applicable to the coudition of a Territory of the United States, and all and singular the several acts of Congress respecting the registering, recording, enrolling, or licensing ships, or vessels, and the entry and clearance thereof, and the foreign and coasting trade and fisheries, and all the acts respecting the imposing and collecting the duties on imports, and all the acts respecting trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes, and all the acts respecting the public lands, or the survey or sale thereof, and all and singular the other acts of Congress of a public and general character, and the provisions whereof are suitable and proper to be applied to the territory West of the Rio del Norte, acquired from Mexico by the treaty of the second day of February, 1848, be, and the same are hereby, extended over. and given full force and efficiency in all said territory; and the President of the United States is hereby authorized to prescribe and establish all proper and needful rules and regulations (in conformity with the Constitution of the United States) for the enforcement of the provisions of the Constitution herein before referred to, of said laws in said territory, and for the preservation of order and tranquillity, and the establishment of justice therein, and from time to time to modify or change the said rules and regulations in such manner as may seem to him The Senate resolved to insist on its discreet and proper; and to establish, temporarily, amendment, and ask a conference, which was such divisions, districts, ports, offices, and all arrangements proper for the execution of said laws, granted, but resulted in nothing. Messrs. and appoint and commission such officers as may Atherton of N. H., Dickinson of N. Y., be necessary to administer such laws in said ter- and Berrien of Ga., were managers on the ritory, for such term or terms as he may prescribe, part of the Senate, and insisted on its whose authority shall continue until otherwise provided by Congress; said officers to receive amendment, organizing the Territories withsuch compensation as the President may prescribe, out restriction as to Slavery. Messrs. Vinnot exceeding double the compensation heretofore paid to similar officers of the United States or its
territories, for like services; and to enable the same to be done, the sum of two hundred thousand dollars be appropriated, out of any money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated."
YEAS-For Mr. Walker's proposition: Messrs. Atchison, Houston, Hunter, Johnson of La.
Johnson of Ga.
Nays, all the Whigs from Free States, and all the Democrats from Free States, except those named above.
So the House refused to concur in this amendment, and the bill was returned to the Senate accordingly.
ton of Ohio, Nicoll of N. Y., and Morehead of Ky., were appointed on the part of the House. These, after a long sitting, reported their inability to agree, and were discharged.
The bill being now returned to the House, Mr. McClernand of Ill. moved that the House do recede from its disagreement; Carried Yeas 111; Nays 106.
Mr. Morehead of Ky. moved to amend so as to provide that nothing in this section