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MR. CLAY'S PLAN OF COMPROMISE IN 1850.
after nearly three weeks' fruitless / gress in all the said territory not assigned balloting, and under it Howell Cobb,
as within the boundaries of the proposed
State of California, without the adoption of of Georgia, was chosen Speaker on any restriction or condition on the subject the 63d ballot, receiving 102 votes
“5. Resolved, that it is inexpedient to to 99 for Winthrop, and 20 scattering
abolish Slavery in the District of Columbia, (mainly on the Buffalo platform). Mr. whilst the institution continues to exist in Cobb was one of the most determined
the State of Maryland, without the consent
of that State, without the consent of the Democratic advocates of Slavery Ex people of the District, and without just comtension, and constituted the Commit pensation to the owners of Slaves within
the District. tees of the House accordingly.
66. But Resolved, That it is expedient to Gen. B. Riley, the Military Govern prohibit, within the District, the Slaveor of California, had issued 10 a Proc
Trade in slaves brought into it from States
or places beyond the limits of the District, lamation calling a Convention of the either to be sold therein as merchandise, or People of. California to frame a State to be transported to other markets without Constitution. Such Convention was
the District of Columbia.
"7. Resolved. That more effectual proviaccordingly held, and formed a State sion ought to be made by law, according to Constitution whereby Slavery was the requirement of the Constitution, for the
restitution or delivery of persons bound to expressly prohibited. State officers
service or labor in any State, who may esand members of Congress (all Demo cape into any other State or Territory in crats) were in due course elected un
the Union. And,
"8. Resolved, That Congress has no der it; and Gen. Taylor communi power to prohibit or obstruct the trade in cated 11 the Constitution to Congress. | slaves between the slaveholding States, but
that the admission or exclusion of slaves at whose doors the members elect
brought from one into another of them, defrom the new State stood for many pends exclusively upon their own particular ensuing months patiently awaiting
laws." their admission to seats. For, among The debate on this proposition of the various propositions introduced at compromise was opened by Southern this session, looking to the same end, Democrats, all speaking in disparageMr. Clay had already submitted 12 the ment of its leading suggestions, or in following basis of a proposed Com- scarcely qualified opposition to the promise of all differences relating to
whole scheme. Mr. H. S. Foote, of the territories and to Slavery: Mississippi, condemned especially the “1. Resolved, That California, with suita
proposition “that it is inexpedient to ble boundaries, ought, upon her application, abolish Slavery in the District of to be admitted as one of the States of this
this Columbia,” as implying a right in Union, without the imposition by Congress of any restriction in respect to the exclusion Congress to legislate on that subject, or introduction of Slavery within those which he utterly denied. He conboundaries. “2. Resolved, That, as Slavery does not
demned still more emphatically the exist by law, and is not likely to be intro- assertion that “Slavery does not now daced into any of the territory acquired by
exist by law in the territories recentthe United States from the Republic of Mexico, it is inexpedient for Congress to provide
| ly acquired from Mexico;" insisting by law, either for its introduction into, or that the mere fact of Annexation exclusion from, any part of the said terri
carried the Constitution, with all its tory; and that appropriate territorial governments ought to be established by Con guaranties, to all the territories ob9 Since, a Confederate Major-General.
12 January 29, 1850. 10 June 3, 1849. 11 February 13, 1850. 1 13 3, 4, relate to Texas and her boundary.
tained by treaty, and secured the gentlemen from the Slaveholding States, privilege to any “Southern slaveosouthorn slave 1 and which the Compromise bill 14 was fram
ed to test. So far, I regarded the question holder to enter any part of it, attend- of law as disposed of; and it was very ed by his slave property, and to enjoy clearly and satisfactorily shown to be
against the spirit of the resolution of the the same therein, free from all molest
Senator of Kentucky. If the contrary is ation or hindrance whatsoever.” He true, I presume the Senator from Kentucky also condemned the resolve relating
would declare that, if a law is now valid in
the territories abolishing Slavery, it could to the boundaries of Texas, contend not be introduced there, even if a law was ing that “her right to that part of passed creating the institution, or repealing New Mexico, lying east of the Rio
the statutes already existing--a doctrine
never assented to, so far as I know, until Grande, was full, complete, and unde now, by any Senator representing one of niable.” But he did not object to the slaveholding States. Sir, I hold the
very opposite, and with such confidence, abolishing the Slave-Trade in the
that, in the last Congress, I was willing, District, “provided it is done in a and did vote for a bill to test this question delicate and judicious manner;" and
in the Supreme Court. Yet this resolution
assumes the other doctrine to be true, and he would consent to the admission
our assent is challenged to it as a proposiof California, “above the line of 36° tion of law." 30'," “ provided another new Slave State can be laid off within the pres- |
Mr. Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, ent limits of Texas, so as to keep up
with equal energy, objected to so
much of Mr. Clay's propositions as rethe present equiponderance between the Slave and Free States of the
late to the boundary of Texas, to the Union, and provided further, all this
Slave-Trade in the Federal District, is done by way of compromise, and
and to the concession that Slavery in order to save the Union—as dear
does not exist by law in the newly to me as any man living." Mr. J.
acquired territories. He added: M. Mason, of Virginia, though anx “But, Sir, we are called upon to receive ious to do his utmost for “ adjusting this as a measure of compromise! As a these unhappy differences," still
measure in which we of the minority are to
receive something. A measure of commore pointedly dissented from Mr.
promise! I look upon it as but a modest Clay's scheme. He said:
mode of taking that, the claim to which has
been more boldly asserted by others; and, "Sir, so far as I have read these resolu that I may be understood upon this questions, there is but one proposition to which tion, and that my position may go forth to I can give a hearty assent, and that is the the country in the same columns that conresolution which proposes to organize terri- | vey the sentiments of the Senator from torial governments at once in these territo- Kentucky, I here assert, that never will I ries, without a declaration, one way or the take less than the Missouri Compromise other, as to their domestic institutions. | line extending to the Pacific Ocean, with But there is another which I deeply regret the specific recognition of the right to hold to see introduced into this Senate, by a Slaves in the territory below that line; and Senator from a Slaveholding State ; it is that, before such territories are admitted that which assumes that Slavery does not into the Union as States, slaves may be now exist by law in those countries. I un taken there from any of the United States, derstand one of these propositions to de at the option of the owners. I can never clare that, by law, Slavery is now abolished consent to give additional power to a main New Mexico and California. That was jority to commit further aggressions upon the very proposition advanced by the non- | the minority in this Union; and I will slaveholding States at the last Session; never consent to any proposition which will combated and disproved, as I thought, by have such a tendency, without a full guar
14 That of Mr. Clayton-laid on the table of the House, on motion of Mr. Stephens, of Georgia
CLAY AND WEBSTER FOR COMPROMISE. . 205 antee or counteracting measure is connected could see nothing in Mr. Clay's with it."
proposition that looked like comproMr. Clay, in reply to Mr. Davis,
mise; nothing but concession and spoke as follows:
surrender of all the rights of the “I am extremely sorry to hear the Sena South in the territories. In their tor from Mississippi say that he requires, first, the extension of the Missouri Com
view, it was only a skillful and promise line to the Pacific; and, also, that plausible device for reconciling the he is not satisfied with that, but requires, if South to the sacrifice of its rights, I understand him correctly, a positive provision for the admission of Slavery south of and to a concession of all the new that line. And now, Sir, coming from a territories to Free Labor. They Slave State, as I do, I owe it to myself, I owe it to truth, I owe it to the subject, to
were, therefore, utterly averse to it. state that no earthly power could induce! The most remarkable speech elime to vote for a specific measure for the in- cited by these resolves was that of troduction of Slavery where it had not before existed, either south or north of that
Mr. Webster, 15 wherein he took line. Coining, as I do, from a Slave State, ground against the Abolitionists; it is my solemn, deliberate, and well-matured
against the assumed Right of Instrucdetermination that no power-no earthly power-shall compel me to vote for the tion; against further legislation propositive introduction of Slavery, either hibitory of Slavery in the Territories ; south or north of that line. Sir, while you reproach, and justly, too, our British ances
against Secession or Disunion; tors, for the introduction of this institution against whatever seemed calculated upon the continent of America, I am, for to produce irritation or alienation one, unwilling that the posterity of the present inhabitants of California and New
between the North and the South; Mexico shall reproach us for doing just and in favor of liberal grants by what we reproach Great Britain for doing
| Congress in aid of the colonization to us. If the citizens of those territories choose to establish Slavery, I am for ad- by Slave States of their free colored mitting them with such provisions in their population. His reasons for opposConstitutions; but then it will be their own work, and not ours; and their posterity
ing any prohibitive legislation with will have to reproach them, and not us, for regard to Slavery in the new ter. forming Constitutions allowing the institu
ritories were set forth as follows: tion of Slavery to exist among them. These are my views, Sir; and I choose to express
"Now, as to California and New Mexico, them; and I care not how extensively and I hold Slavery to be excluded from those universally they are known. The honora territories by a law even superior to that ble Senator from Virginia (Mr. Mason) has which admits and sanctions it in Texas. I expressed his opinion that Slavery exists in mean the law of nature, of physical geograthese territories; and I have no doubt that phy, the law of the formation of the earth. opinion is sincerely and honestly entertained | That law settles forever, with a strength by him; and I would say, with equal sin beyond all terms of human enactment, that cerity and honesty, that I believe that Slavery cannot exist in California or New Slavery nowhere exists within any portion
Mexico. Understand me, Sir; I mean of the territory acquired by us from Mexico. Slavery as we regard it; the Slavery of the He holds a directly contrary opinion to colored race as it exists in the Southern mine, as he has a perfect right to do; and States. I shall not discuss the point, but we will not quarrel about that difference of
leave it to the learned gentlemen who have opinion.”
undertaken to discuss it; but I suppese
there is no Slavery of that description in Messrs. William R. King, of Ala
California now. I understand that peonism, bama, Downs, of Louisiana, and | a sort of penal servitude, exists there, or
rather a sort of voluntary sale of a man and Butler, of South Carolina, swelled
4 | his offspring for debt-an arrangement of a the chorus of denunciation. They peculiar nature known to the law of Mexico.
15 March 7, 1850.
But what I mean to say is, that it is as im- | think it to be an act taking away from them possible that African Slavery, as we see it | what they regard as a proper equality of among us, should find its way, or be intro- privilege. Whether they expect to realize duced, into California and New Mexico, as any benefit from it or not, they would think any other natural impossibility: California it at least a plain theoretic wrong; that and New Mexico are Asiatic in their forma something more or less derogatory to their tion and scenery. They are composed of character and their rights had taken place. vast ridges of mountains, of great hight, I propose to inflict no such wound upon with broken ridges and deep valleys. The | any body, unless something essentially imsides of these mountains are entirely barren; portant to the country, and efficient to the their tops capped by perennial snow. There preservation of liberty and freedom, is to be may be in California, now made free by its effected. I repeat, therefore, Sir, and, as I constitution, and no doubt there are, some do not propose to address the Senate often tracts of valuable land. But it is not so in upon this subject, I repeat it because I wish New Mexico. Pray, what is the evidence | it to be distinctly understood, that, for the which every gentleman must have obtained reasons stated, if a proposition were now on this subject, from information sought by here to establish a government for New hiinself or communicated by others? I Mexico, and if it was moved to insert a prohave inquired and read all I could find, in vision for the prohibition of Slavery, I order to acquire information on this import would not vote for it. ant subject. What is there in New Mexico “Sir, if we were now making a governthat could, by any possibility, induce any ment for New Mexico, and any body should body to go there with slaves ? There are propose a Wilmot Proviso, I should treat it some narrow strips of tillable land on the exactly as Mr. Polk treated that provision borders of the rivers ; but the rivers them for excluding Slavery from Oregon. Mr. selves dry up before midsuinmer is gone. Polk was known to be, in opinion, decidedly All that the people can do in that region is averse to the Wilmot Proviso; but he felt to raise some little articles, some little wheat the necessity of establishing a government for their tortillas, and that by irrigation. for the territory of Oregon. The Proviso And who expects to see a hundred black was in the bill; but he knew it would be men cultivating tobacco, corn, cotton, rice, entirely nugatory, since it took away no or anything else, on lands in New Mexico right, no describable, no tangible, no appremade fertile only by irrigation ?
ciable right of the South; he said he would “I look upon it, therefore, as a fixed fact, / sign the bill for the sake of enacting a law to to use the current expression of the day, form a government in that Territory, and let that both California and New Mexico are that entirely useless, and, in that connection, destined to be free, so far as they are set- entirely senseless, proviso remain. Sir, we tled at all; which I believe, in regard to hear occasionally of the Annexation of CanaNew Mexico, will be but partially for a da; and, if there be any man, any of the great length of time; free by the arrange- | Northern Democracy, or any one of the Free ment of things.ordained by the Power above Soil party, who supposes it necessary to insert us. I have, therefore, to say, in this respect a Wilmot Proviso in a territorial government also, that this country is fixed for freedom, for New Mexico, that man would, of course, to as many persons as shall ever live in it, be of opinion that it is necessary to protect by a less repealable law than that which the everlasting snows of Canada from the foot attaches to the holding of slaves in Texas; of Slavery by the same overspreading wing and I will say further, that, if a resolution of an act of Congress. Sir, wherever there or a bill were now before us to provide a is a substantial good to be done, wherever Territorial government for New Mexico, I there is a foot of land to be prevented from would not vote to put any prohibition into becoming slave territory, I am ready to asit whatever. Such a prohibition would be | sert the principle of the exclusion of Slavery. idle, as it respects any effect it would have I am pledged to it from the year 1837; I have upon the Territory; and I would not take been pledged to it again and again; and I pains uselessly to rëaffirm an ordinance of | will perform those pledges; but I will not nature, nor to rëenact the will of God. I do a thing unnecessarily that wounds the would put in no Wilmot Proviso for the feelings of others, or that does discredit to mere purpose of a taunt or a reproach. I my own understanding." would put into it no evidence of the votes of superior power, exercised for no purpose out to wound the pride, whether a just and | It seems not a little remarkable rational pride, or an irrational pride, of the that a man of Mr. Webster's strength citizens of the Southern States. I have no such object, no such purpose. They would
should have traversed the whole think it a taunt, an indignity; they would ground of controversy so thoroughly MR. CLAY'S FINAL COMPROMISE.
in a speech inevitably calculated to consider the questions raised by Mr. excite deep dissatisfaction among the Clay's proposition, and also by regreat mass of his constituents, without solves submitted a month later by Mr. once considering or even touching this Bell, of Tennessee; and on the 19th question: “What need exists for any this Committee was elected by ballot compromise whatever ?” Admitting and composed as follows: the correctness of his views and gen
Mr. Henry Clay, of Kentucky, Chairman. eral positions with regard to Califor- Messrs. Dickir nia, New Mexico, Texas, etc., why Phelps, of Vt., Downs, of La., not permit each subject demanding
Bell, of Tenn., King, of Ala.,
Cass, of Mich., Mangum, of N. C., legislation to be presented in its order,
Webster, of Mass., Mason, of Va., and all questions respecting it to be
Berrien, of Ga., Bright, of Ind. decided on their intrinsic merits? He, of course, contended throughout that
Mr. Clay reported 18 from said Comhis position was unchanged, that his
mittee a recommendation, substanviews were substantially those he had
tially, of his original proposition of always held; yet the eagerness and
compromise, save that he now prosatisfaction wherewith his speech
vided for organizing. Utah as a diswas received and reprinted at
tinct Territory. His report recomRichmond, Charleston, New Or- |
mended the following bases of a leans, and throughout the South,
general Compromise : should, it seems, have convinced 61. The admission of any new State or him, if the disappointment and dis- |
States formed out of Texas to be postponed
until they shall hereafter present themselves pleasure of his constituents did not, to be received into the Union, when it will that either he had undergone a great be the duty of Congress fairly and faithfully
to execute the compact with Texas, by adtransformation, or nearly every one
mitting such new State or States. else had. His speech, though it con 52. The admission forthwith of Califortained little or nothing referring di
nia into the Union, with the boundaries
which she has proposed. rectly to the compromise proposed “3. The establishment of Territorial Goyby Mr. Clay, exerted a powerful ernments, without the Wilmot Proviso, for
New Mexico and Utah, embracing all the influence in favor of its ultimate
territory recently acquired from Mexico, not triumph.
contained in the boundaries of California. Mr. Douglas having reported 16 a
“4. The combination of these two last bill for the admission of California
measures in the same biri.
“5. The establishment of the western and into the Union, as also one to estab northern boundaries of Texas, and the exclulish territorial governments for Utah
sion from her jurisdiction of all New Mexico,
with the grant to Texas of a pecuniary equivand New Mexico, Col. Benton mov
alent; and the section for that purpose to be ed" that the previous orders be post incorporated in the bill admitting California,
and establishing Territorial Governments for poned, and the California bill taken
Utah and New Mexico. up. Mr. Clay proposed the laying of “6. More effectual enactments of law to this motion on the table, which was
secure the prompt delivery of persons bound
| to service or labor in one State, under the carried by 27 Yeas to 24 Nays. The laws thereof, who escape into another State; Senate now proceeded, on motion of and Mr. Foote, of Mississippi, to constitute
“7. Abstaining from abolishing Slavery,
tute but, under a heavy penalty, prohibiting the a Select Committee of thirteen, to Slave-Trade, in the District of Columbia."
16 March 25, 1850. 17 April 5th. 18 May 8th.