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ters of acceptance, and avowed their sentiments on the various topics then agitating the public mind.
Congress, after a long session, and one in which the legislature was called upon to act in many very important matters, adjourned on the 18th of August. The members dispersed to their respective homes, and the grand contest for the presidency occupied them, and nearly every body else, for some months afterwards; for the monster gatherings, the political speechifying, the interminable war of words in the newspapers, the public places, and the like, gave an opportunity for both sides, and all sides, to get their candidates elected, if they could.
The result, announced early in December, we may here put on record: James Bucnanan and J. C. Breckenridge received the votes of nineteen states, i. e., one hundred and seventyfour electoral votes; J. C. Fremont and W. L Dayton received the votes of eleven states, i. e., one hundred and fourteen votes; and Messrs. Fillmore and Donelson received the vote of one Btate (Maryland) or eight electoral votes; making in all two hundred and ninety-six votes cast. Buchanan and Breckenridge having received a majority of the votes were, of course, president elect and vice-president elect. The popular vote for the respective candidates was, for the democratic candidate, one million eight hundred and fifty-nine thousand three hundred and thirty-seven; for the republican candidate, one million three hundred and forty-one thousand eight hundred and twelve; for the American, eight hun
dred and eighty-eight thousand and fifty-five.
On the 1st of December, the second session of the thirty-fourth Congress was begun, and President Pierce's last annual message was received and read on the following day. It possessed more than ordinary interest from the fact, that the president entered at large into the exciting questions on which the north and the south were arrayed in hostile opposition. Mr. Pierce exerted himself to defend-the views and principles on which he and his administration had proceeded with respect to the abrogating the Missouri compromise, and also with respect to the whole slavery question, and he did not scruple to lay all the blame upon the northern men, and those who, while adhering to the compact not to disturb slavery where it lawfully existed, were determined to resist its further expansion. Our limits do not admit of quoting the president's language, which the reader will do well to examine with care and attention. We say this, because we Avish also to call his attention to a very searching review of this message, so far as it relates to the abrogation of the Missouii compromise act, published at the close of 1857, by the veteran Senator, Thomas H. Benton, in which, he says, are "exposed and corrected the errors of fact and law" in the president's message.
The concluding paragraph of Mr. Benton's review deserves to be well considered. He is speaking of "the present slavery agitation," and goes on to say; "Up to Mr. Pierce's administration the plan had been defensive— Ob, VIII.]
that is to say, to make the secession of the south a measure of self defence against the abolition encroachments, aggressions, and crusades of the north; in the time of Mr. Pierce, the plan became offensive—that is to say, to commence the expansion of slavery, and the acquisition of territory to spread it over, so as to overpower the north with new slave states, and drive them out of the Union. In this change of tactics originated the abrogation of the Missouri compromise, the attempt to purchase one half of Mexico, and the actual purchase of a large part; the design to take Cuba; the encouragement to Kinney and to Walker in Central America; the quarrels with Great Britain for outlandish coasts and Islands; the designs upon the Tehuantepec, the Nicaragua, the Panama, and the Darien routes; and the scheme to get a foothold in the Island of San Domingo. The rising in the free states in consequence of the abrogation of the Missouri compromise, checked these schemes, and limited the success of the disunionists to the revival of the agitation which enables them to wield the south against the north in all the federal elections and federal legislation. Accidents and events have given this party a strange pre-eminence. Under Jackson's administration, proclaimed for treason; since, at the head of the government and of the democratic party. The death of Harrison, and the accession of Tyler, was their first great lift; the election of Mr. Pierce was their culminating point. It not only gave them the government, but power to pass themselves for the Union party, Vol.ui.—66
and for democrats; and to stigmatize all who refused to go with them, as disunionists, and abolitionists. And to keep up this classification, is the object of the eleven pages of the message which calls for this review—unhappily assisted in that object by the conduct of a few real abolitionists, (not five per centum of the population of the free states,) but made to stand, in the eyes of the south, for the whole."*
The president's message stated, that the revenues of the current year had amounted to nearly $74,000,000; the expenditures had amounted to not quite $73,000,000, including $3,000,000 paid to Mexico, and some $13,000,000 of the public debt. This debt amounted, at the present date, to $30,737,129; all of which, if necessary, could be paid within a year. The average expenditure, according to Mr. Pierce, during the preceding five years, had been $48,000,000; and, thinking that this sum would be sufficient for the next five years, a reduction of the tariff was recommended so as to bring the revenue from this source to about $50,000,000."
The details of public business transacted by Congress, we need not now enter into; it will be sufficient for our present purpose to state, that the recommendations of the executive, and of the several heads of the departments, re
* Appendix to Benton's "Examination of the Dred Scott Case," pp. 184-5.
* On the subject of steam navigation for the public service, and the importance of the government giving wise and liberal assistance thereto, we refer the reader to a valuable work, entitled " Ocean Steam Jfavigation and the Ocean Post," by Thomas Raincy. 8vo., pp. 22-1. N. Y. 1858.
THE MESSAGE AND PUBLIC BUSINESS.
ceived due attention, and a number of acts were passed by both Houses and obtained the approval of Mr. Pierce. For the civil and diplomatic expenses of the year were appropriated nearly $17,000,000; which, added to the other necessary appropriations for carrying on the government, as the army, the navy, the post-office, etc., made the total of appropriations, about $70,000,000. The tariff, after amendment and compromise between the views of the House and the Senate, was arranged in accordance with the president's recommendation. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of thirtythree to eight, and the House by a vote of one hundred and twenty-four to seventy-one. It was to go into effect on the 2d of July, 1857, and it was estimated, that the result would be a reduction in the revenue of about $20,000,000. The Atlantic Telegraph bill, as finally passed, provided that the sum to be paid the company should not exceed $70,000 per annum, until the net profits reached six per cent., and after that it should not exceed $50,000; that the tariff of prices should be fixed by the secretary of the treasury and Great Britain; that the citizens of America and England should be placed on an equal footing; and that Congress might end the contract at the expiration of ten years, by giving one year's notice.* Acts were also passed on
* In August, 1857, an attempt was made to lay the cable for the Atlantic Telegraph Company. Unfortunately the cable gave way, when some three hundred miles of length had been paid out; and the great work of connecting the old world with the new by this means had to be postponed.
the subject of promoting the efficiency of the navy, (p. 510); appropriating about $500,000 for constructing wagonroads from Fort Kearney, by way of the South Pass of the Rocky Mountains and Great Salt Lake Valley, to California; authorizing the people of Minnesota to form a constitution and state government, preparatory to admission into the Union; granting lands in Minnesota, Alabama, etc., to aid in constructing certain railroads; providing for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States; together with the usual number of private acts.
At the December term, 1856, of the Supreme Court, an important case came before that learned body for decision, which has become well known throughout the country as the "Dred Scott Case." It excited unusual attention in every part of the United States, and the opinions of the chief-justice and the associate justices were submitted to criticism and examination far more than ordinarily keen and searching. Scott and his wife, it will be remembered, were slaves, belonging to Dr. Emerson, a surgeon in the United States army; they were taken into and resided in Illinois, and at Fort Snelling, in the territory in which, by the ordinance of 1787, slavery was forever prohibited; in 1838, Scott and his wife were taken into Missouri, where two children were born, and where they have ever since been held as slaves. They claimed freedom on the ground that, by the act of their master, they had been brought into free territory. The court decided against their claim, and ruled that negroes, slaves or freeware not, by the Co. VIII.]
Constitution, citizens of the United States. The political aspects ot the question, and the points argued by the court, and the views expressed, respecting the Missouri compromise, and the self-extension of the Constitution to territories, carrying slavery along with it, gave the Dred Scott case an interest whicli every citizen was able to appreciate ; and the decision of the court did not have the effect of quieting agitation on the slavery question, but rather .aK„ added fuel to that agitation.
TIT • 1 T
We quote in the appendix, a part of the c'.iief-justice's opinion, and refer the reader to the official "Report of the Decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, and the opinion of the Judges thereof, in the case of Dred Scott versus John A. Sandford," prepared by B. C. Howard, Reporter.
If the reader be desirous to look into this question under the light thrown upon it by Chief-justice Taney and the six associate justices who agreed with him, and also under that which is furnished by the opinions of the two dissenting associate justices, he will study this volume, and endeavor to weigh well the force of the arguments on the two sides of that question which hasproyed itself a source of agitation and trouble from the earliest period of our national history to its final settlement in the extinction of slavery. The Supreme Court decision could not avert the doom of slavery, which, whatever politicians might say or think, was certain, sooner or later, to be abolished. Of this fact sagacious Southern men were aware, and when they ventured to speak out plainly, their words were
forcible and tc the point.* Professor Tucker, of Virginia, some 25 years ago, expressed himself as follows: "Causes not now foreseen, may prolong or abridge the existence of this institution (i. e., slavery) in the United States, but none of them seem capable of averting its ultimate destiny. We may say of it, as of man; the doom of its death, though we know not the time or the mode, is certain and irrevocable.''''f
Governor Geary, (p. 519,) who had labored very diligently in his efforts to promote peace and order in Kansas, did not meet with all the success which he hoped for; so that, finding his health giving way, and the spirit of opposition still active against him and his proceedings, he judged it best to resign his post. His resignation was made in March, and Mr. Pierce's successor appointed, about the close of the month, Mr. Robert J. Walker governor, and Mr. F. P. Stanton secretary. The freestate convention, and the supporters of the views which led to that convention, continued to maintain their attitude of resistance to the legislative assembly and its acts. The prospect of further difficulties was not lessened, but rathe" increased, as the vearl857 advanced in its course.
On the 3d of March, 1857, the thirtyfourth Congress reached its termination.
* In connection with this topic, we beg leave to refer tho reader to Senator Benton's " Examination of the Dred Scott Case." It is a vigorous production, and takes strong ground against the decision of the Supreme Court. For some extracts from this volume, Sub Appendix at the end of the present chapter.
f See the chapter on "The Future Progress oi Slavery," in Tucker's "Progress of the United Stales in Population and Wealth in Fifty Years." New York 1813.
THE DRED SCOTT CASE.
At the same date, Franklin Pierce was released from the burdensome duties of president of the United States, and made way for his successor. Of his administration Ave need say but little. In most respects, it greatly disappointed the country; and the promises which seemed to be held out at the beginning of his term of office, (p. 500), failed, long before his four years expired, of satisfying the just demands of the people. Mr. Pierce came into office with some considerable prestige, as the democratic candidate and the exponent of democratic principles and purposes; he retired from his lofty position with a general feeling that he
had not met the expectations of the party, and with, on their part, an illconcealed sense, that it was high time to place the vessel of state under other guidance, if the party hoped to maintain its ascendency, and carry out its views to their completion. Of course, we are speaking simply of the retiring president's political career; for, in all other respects, we believe, Mr. Pierce deserves honorable mention. We cheerfully accord him all this; but, so far as the judgment of the country has, at any time, been expressed, Franklin Pierce's administration must be pronounced, to all intents and purposes, little short of a failure.
APPENDIX TO CHAPTER VIII.
SENATOR BENTON'S VIEWS ON ABROGATING THE MISSOURI COMPROMISE, AND ON THE SELF-EXTENSION OF THE CONSTITUTION.
In assuming to decide these questions—(constitutionality of the Missouri compromise, and the self-oxtension of the Constitution to territories)—it is believed the Supreme Court committed two great errors; first, in the assumption to try such questions; secondly, in deciding them as they did. And it is certain, that the decisions are contrary to the uniform action of all the departments of the government—one of them for thirty -six years; and the other for seventy years; and in their effects upon each arc equivalent to
an alteration of the Constitution, by inserting new clauses in it, which could not have been put in at the time that instrument was made, nor at any time since, nor now.
The Missouri compromise was a "political enactvient" made by the political power, for reasons founded in national policy, enlarged and liberal, of which it was the proper judge; and which was not to bo reversed afterwards by judicial interpretation of words and phrases.
Doubtless the court was actuated by the most laudable motives in undertaking, while settling an individual controversy, to pass from the private rights of an individual to the public rights