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various members of the Senate arrayed themselves on that side of the question which their convictions or their interests seemed to dictate. On the 7th of February, Mr. Douglas moved the striking out the amendment he had before reported, and substituting a clause instead, declaring that the Missouri compromise act being "inconsistent with the principles of non-intervention by Congress with slavery in the states and territories as recognized by the legislation of 1850, commonly called the compromise measures, is hereby declared inoperative and void, it being the true interest and meaning of this act, not to legislate slavery into any territory or state, nor to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United States." In favor of the bill, Messrs. Dixon, Badger, Pettit, Butler, Cass, Norris, and others, urged the arguments which appeared to them to demand the action proposed; while in opposition to it, Messrs. Everett, Wade, Houston, Sumner, Seward, Bell, and others, gave expression to the earnest convictions on their minds of the unfairness and impropriety of the course marked out by Mr. Douglas, especially urging that the repeal of the Missouri compromise would be a breach of faith on the part of the southern states. On the 14th of February, however, the amendment offered by Mr. Douglas, which declared the Missouri compromise inoperative and void, was adopted by a vote of thirty-five to nine. The discussion continued to be carried on Vol. III.—64
vigorously during the rest of the month; numerous amendments were offered, one of which, excluding aliens from voting, was concurred in by a vote of twenty-two to twenty; and on the 3d of March, after a considerable amount of speechifying and personal bickerings, the bill was passed by a vote of thirtyseven to fourteen.
On the last day of January, a bill for organizing the territories of Nebraska and Kansas, similar to the one before the Senate, was reported to the House, and gave rise to some debate, but without any action at the time. About the middle of March, on motion of Mr. Cutting, of New York, the Nebraska bill was taken up, and after some warm opposition was referred to the committee of the whole by a small majority. But little further attention was given to it for a month subsequently; but, on the 25th of April, Mr. Benton, who, since leaving the Senate, had entered the House as a Representative from Missouri, delivered an energetic speech against the bill. Protesting, in no measured terms, against the practice of bringing up in the legislature the opinions of the president, and denouncing vehemently the newspapers employed to do the public printing, for daring to dictate to Congress, the veteran statesman went on to resist the proposition to repeal the Missouri compromise, on the ground that it was one of the three great measures by which the Union had been formed and its harmony preserved—the first being the ordinance of 1787, and the second the Federal Constitution. Mr. Benton said, he came into public life on the Missouri compromise, and he intended always to stand upon it, even if he should stand alone. It partook of the nature of a contract, and could not be repealed now without a violation of good faith. It had given peace and harmony to the country, and its repeal would inevitably involve us in useless and mischievous agitations. Not a petition for its repeal had come into Congress from any quarter. The slave states had nothing to gain by passing it; the pretence that it was necessary in order to carry out the principle of non-intervention, was utterly fallacious; and on every account the bill ought not to be suffered to pass. Early in May, the bill was referred to the committee of the whole, and by a vote took precedence of all other business. Amendment after amendment was offered; interminable discussions and disputes took place; the bill was reported again and again to the House, and again to the committee of the whole; all sorts of engineering processes were put into operation; and finally, on the 22d of May, the bill, as passed by the Senate, was adopted by a vote of one hundred and thirteeen to one hundred, the clause excluding aliens from voting being omitted. A few days afterwards, the Senate took up the bill, as amended, and after considerable debate, it was agreed to, and passed by a vote of thirty-five to thirteen*
Early in the year, a treaty was concluded with Mexico by General Gads
* A letter from ex-senator Clemens, of Alabama, vindicating his course in opposition to the Nebraska bill, was published, and excited considerable attention. He gave it as his opinion, that the passage of this bill
den, and sent to the Senate for confirmation. It there underwent important modifications, and was finally arranged to the satisfaction of the respective governments. A part of the first article, respecting the limits between the two republics was as follows: "beginning in the Gulf of Mexico, three leagues from land, opposite the mouth of the Rio Grande, as pro vided in the fifth article of the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo (p. 463); thence, as defined in the said article, up the middle of that river, to the point where the parallel of 31° 47' north latitude crosses the same; thence due west one hundred miles; thence south to the parallel of 31° 20' north latitude; thence along the said parallel of 31° 20' to the 111th meridian of longitude west of Greenwich; thence in a straight line to a point on the Colorado River twenty English miles below the junction of the Gila and Colorado Rivers; thence up the middle of the said River Colorado, until it intersects the present line between the United States and Mexico." In consideration of being released from the obligation to protect the Mexican frontier against the Indians (see p. 465) and as compensation for the territory ceded by Mexico, the United States agreed to pay $10,000,000. The grant for a railroad route across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec was expressly confirmed, and various other privileges were secured to our countrymen. A good deal of debate was had upon this treaty;
would end in decided ultimate injury to the south; that the compromise of 1850 did not repeal that 01 1820; and that by this course of conduct the south was involved in a flagrant breach of faith.
Ch. VIII.] COMMODORE PERRY AND THE JAPAN EXPEDITION.
but finally, near the end of the session, the House, by a vote of one hundred and two to sixty-three, and the Senate, by a vote of thirty-four to six, passed the bill making the appropriation of $10,000,000 for carrying the treaty into effect*
Other topics of interest, to which we can now only allude, were—the manner in which the steamer Black Warrior was treated by the Cuban officials, and the spirit roused by it in the United States; the discussion upon building six first-class steam frigates, and the final passage of the bill by a large vote; the president's veto of the bill appropriating ten millions of acres of public lands to the several states for the relief of the indigent insane within their limits; the holding a convention at Charleston, in April, to consider how best to set forward the interests of the southern states; the various inklings and movements towards annexing the Sandwich Islands; the issuing of a proclamation by the president, on the 31st of May, denouncing the filibustering attempts again about to be made upon Cuba; etc. A considerable amount of public business was left unfinished, and Congress adjourned on the 7th of August.
Commodore M. C. Perry, who had urged upon the government the importance of effecting a treaty with
* At the close of 1856, the inhabitants of the newly acquired territory, sent a delegate to Washington, requesting that this portion of New Mexico might be erected into a territory, under the name of Arizonia. The committee of the House reported adversely to their petition, mainly on account of the paucity 3f the population.
Japan, succeeded, after many and vexatious delays, in getting an expedition for this important object under way. He sailed from New York on the 24th of November, 1852, in the steamer Mississippi, other vessels in the East being ordered to join him. The Cape of Good Hope was doubled during the latter part of February, 1853; Singapore was reached on the 25th of March; and Shanghai on the 4th of May. Here the commodore transferred his flag to the Susquehanna, and had now a fleet of four vessels, with two others to join him soon after. The Lew-Chew Islands were visited, and early in July, Commodore Perry directed his course to Japan. On the 7th of July, he reached the Bay of Yedo, and caused no little surprise and apprehension by steaming directly into the bay, and insisting upon carrying out the measures for which he had come so far. By his judicious firmness, the commodore succeeded in accomplishing the object of his mission; the letter of the president to the emperor was delivered; negotiations were entered into; and finally, on the 31st of March, 1854, a treaty was agreed upon and signed. Commodore Perry returned home, reaching New York early in 1855, and the treaty with Japan was duly ratified by the Senate*
* For a full and very interesting account of the whole voyage and its valuable results, see the "Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan, 1852-1854." By Commodore M. C. Perry, U. S. N. New York, 1857, pp. 624, This attractive volume was arranged and prepared from the documents, journals, etc., at the request of Commodore Perry, by the Rev. F. L. Hawks, D. D., of New York.
During the summer and autumn, political conventions were held in various parts of the country, and the usual elections excited active interest. The discussions and contrariety of opinions on the subject of the Missouri compromise repeal, and the passage of the bill respecting Nebraska and Kansas, seemed to indicate changes about to take place in some of the old party lines and combinations; and from this date, we may note the increase of a disposition on the part of a portion of our countrymen to form a native American party, as opposed to aliens, and especially Roman Catholic Irish and German natur* alized citizens. Whether anything was to grow out of the "Know Nothing" morements and operations, was not easy, perhaps not possible, to predict; but, in the opinion of many, there are grave and serious questions yet to be settled, as to the respective rights and privileges of native born and adopted citizens of the United States.
The second and short session of the
thirty-third Congress commenced on
the 4th of December, and President
Pierce sent in his message on the same
day. It contained the usual summary
of the state of foreign and domestic
affairs, and made a number of 1854. '. . . .
suggestions on various points ot
interest and importance for the consideration of Congress. The balance in the treasury, June 30th, was $21,942,892; amount received, $73,549,705; making the total available resources, nearly $95,500,000. The expenditures of the year were, $51,018,249; payments on the public debt, $24,336,380; leaving a balance in the treasury of
$20,137,967. The public debt remaining unpaid was, nearly, $45,000,000, redeemable at different periods within fourteen years. The reports of the various heads of the departments, and other documents, accompanying the president's message, were elaborate papers containing full statements on all the points necessary to guide Congress in carrying forward wise, appropriate, and economical legislation.
At the .beginning of the year 1855, President Pierce sent in a message, in which he presented an elaborate argument against the policy of internal improvements to be carried on by the general government, and in which he filso vindicated his action in having vetoed the bill for this purpose, passed at the last session. The merits of this whole subject have already been pretty fully set forth on previous pages of our history; hence we need not go over the ground again in this place. President Pierce certainly added nothing of moment to the settlement of the question, which is an open one among Americans, and which, we may say, always will be open to difference of sentiment.
General Cass, a few days later, made a speech on the subject of obeying the instructions of the legislature of his state; the substance of which seemed to be that, as the legislature was of different political views from his own, he could not conscientiously obey their instructions; if they agreed with him, as was the case when he came into the Senate, he was ready to obey their directions, but in the present instance he felt bound to decline. So the general refused to do as he was Ch. VIII.1
told, viz., to endeavor to procure the passage of a law prohibiting slavery from the territories of Kansas and Nebraska.
The emigrating expedition under Colonel Kinney attracted considerable attention at this date. It appears, that the intention of the colonel and his company was, to colonize and settle certain portions of the territory on the Mosquito coast, under a grant which, it was alleged, had been made to Sheppard and Haly, two British subjects, by the late king of the Mosquito country. The government of Nicaragua protested against this expedition, as an invasion of its territory; to which Mr. Marcy replied, that so far as he could learn, there was no intention to do otherwise than peacefully settle upon and improve the lands to which the company were about to proceed. The Nicaraguan minister, Mr. Marcoleta, addressed the secretary of state a long, argumentative letter, urging upon the United States not to allow any movements which should favor British pretensions on the Mosquito coast, or encourage the invasion of the rights of Nicaragua. Colonel Kinney pushed forward his movements, and about the middle of July, reached San Juan del Norte, after experiencing trials of shipwreck and delay. Sanguine of success in obtaining and holding possession of the Sheppard grant of thirty-five millions of acres of land on the Mosquito coast, every step to this end was taken with promptitude. Early in September, a public meeting was held, Colonel Kinney was elected civil and military governor, and a council of five appointed to aid him in the discharge
of his duties. During the autumn and winter, the colony seemed to be advancing, in prosperity, and a number of emigrants from the United States cast in their lot with those already on the ground. The government of Nicaragua, however, early in 1856, announced its claim to the Mosquito territory, refusing to recognize the validity of the land claims of Colonel Kinney.
A bill having passed both Houses, authorizing the establishment of a commission to investigate and pay the losses sustained by American citizens from French spoliations on American commerce, the president, on the 17th of February, sent in another veto message. An attempt was made to pass the bill in spite of the veto, but it failed of obtaining a two-thirds vote. Another bill, increasing the annual appropriation to the Collins line of steamers from $385,000 to $850,000, for mail ig5^ service, was passed by both the House and the Senate by a rather close vote. On the 3d of March, President Pierce vetoed this bill likewise, and gave various cogent reasons for his refusal to sign it. On motion of Mr. Seward, in the Senate, the bill just vetoed was added to the naval appropriation bill, omitting the repeal of that clause in the existing contract, which gives Congress the right to discontinue the extra allowance on giving six month's notice. This amendment was unanimously agreed to by the Senate, and the House, finding that it could not obtain a two-thirds vote in favor of the bill, agreed to pass it as received from the Senate. This was done, and the bill thus became a law.
THE PRESIDENT'S VETOES.