« 上一頁繼續 »
have the highest of human trusts committed to your care. Providence has showered on this favored land blessings without number, and has chosen you, as the guardians of freedom, to preserve it for the benefit of the human race. May He who holds in his hands the destinies of nations, make you worthy of the favors he has bestowed, and enable you, with pure hearts and pure hands, and sleepless vigilance, to guard and defend, to the end of time, the great charge he has committed to your keeping.
My own race is nearly run; advanced age and failing health warn me that before long I must pass beyond the reach of human events, and cease to feel the vicissitudes of human affairs. I thank God that my life has been spent in a land of liberty, and that he has given me a heart to love my country with the affection of a son. And, filled with gratitude for your constant and unwavering kindness, I bid you a last and affectionate farewell.
March 4, 1837.
THE KANSAS-NEBRASKA BILL.
Soon after the organization of Congress in December,
1853, a Bill for the organization of the Territories of Kansas and Nebraska, was introduced in the Senate, and referred to the Committee on Territories, of which Senator Douglas, of Illinois, was chairman. On the 4th day of January,
1854, the committee reported a substitute for the entire Bill, together with a report, which, after reviewing the various provisions of the Bill, concluded as follows:
"From these provisions it is apparent that the compromise measures of 1850 affirm and rest upon the following propositions:
"First. That all questions pertaining to slavery in the territories, and in the new States to be formed therefrom, are to be left to the decision of the people residing therein, by their appropriate representatives, to be chosen by them for that purpose.
"Second. That all cases involving title to slaves and questions of personal freedom, are referred to the adjudication of the local tribunals, with the right of appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States.
"Third. That the provision of the Constitution of the United States, in respect to fugitives from service, is to be carried into faithful execution in all the organized territories, the same as in the States. The substitute for the Bill which your committee have prepared, and which is commended to the favorable action of the Senate, proposes to carry these propositions and principles into practical ope31 (481)
ration, in the precise language of the compromise measures of 1850."
It will thus be seen that the report based the Bill upon the compromise of 1850, so far as the question of slavery was concerned, and hence it becomes necessary to refer to those measures, to determine what principle was settled by them.
On the 29th of January, 1850, while the slavery agitation was raging with great violence, threatening, indeed, the very existence of the government, Mr. Clay introduced into the Senate several resolutions upon the subject of slavery, intended to form a basis of settlement upon that subject. While these resolutions.were pending, the Committee on Territories reported a Bill for the admission of California as a State, and one for the organisation of the Territories of Utah and New Mexico, and the adjustment of the Texas boundary. On the 19th of April a select committee of thirteen was appointed, of which Mr. Clay was chairman, and to that committee was referred the various propositions before the Senate. On the 8th of May, Mr. Clay, from the committee of thirteen, submitted to the Senate a report, accompanied by a bill, containing the essential features of the two bills previously submitted by the Committee on Territories, excepting as to the powers of the territorial legislature over slavery. The tenth section of the bill reported by the Committee on Territories read as follows:
"And be it further enacted, That the legislative power of the territory shall extend to all rightful subjects of legislation consistent with the Constitution of the United States and the provisions of this act; but no law shall be passed interfering with the primary disposition of the soil."
To which Mr. Clay's committee added these words: "nor in respect to African slavery."
On the 31st of July, the above clause added by Mr. Clay, was struck out by the Senate, thus conferring on the Territorial Legislature power over "all rightful subjects of legislation consistent with the Constitution of the United States."
We have thus arrived at the meaning of the report, accompanying the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, from the committee to the Senate, on the 4th of January, 1854, when they say that the Bill "proposes to carry these propositions and principles into practical operation in the precise language of the compromise measures of 1850." It is proper here to say, that when the compromise of 1850 was before the Senate, an attempt was made to engraft upon it an amendment, declaring in substance, that the territorial legislature could not prohibit the introduction of slaves—that slaves were recognized as property by the Constitution of the United States, and hence were entitled to the same protection as other property. Many Southern Senators took this view of the question; while, upon the other hand, Messrs. Seward, Chase, and others from the North, advocated the power of Congress to prohibit slavery in the territories, and offered amendments to that import. The Bill passed the Senate, however, in the shape already referred to, by a vote of 32 to 19.
When the Kansas-Nebraska bill came before the Senate for discussion, it was contended by some, that, in the shape it then was, it could not be carried into practical operation, inasmuch as it did not, in terms, repeal the act of Congress of March 6th, 1820, prohibiting slavery north of 36° 30', commonly, but mistakenly, called the Missouri compromise. We say, mistakenly called the Missouri compromise, because the compromise under which that State was admitted into the Union was passed in 1821, while the section prohibiting slavery north of 36° 30' was a part of an enabling act for the admission of Missouri, passed in 1820, but which really had nothing to do with its final admission. This fact, however, is immaterial, in point of principle, and we allude to it only to correct a popular error.
The question having thus arisen as to the prohibition of
slavery north of 36° 30', Mr. Douglas, chairman of the committee on Territories, proposed an amendment, which was incorporated into the bill, as follows—the proviso at the close of the section being adopted on motion of Mr. Badger, of North Carolina:
"That the Constitution, and all laws of the "United States which are not locally inapplicable, shall have the same force and effect within the said Territory of Nebraska as elsewhere in the United States, except the eighth section of the act preparatory to the admission of Missouri into the Union, approved March sixth, eighteen hundred and twenty, which, being inconsistent with £he principle of non-intervention by Congress with slavery in the States and Territories, as recognized by the legislation of eighteen hundred and fifty, commonly called the compromise measures, is hereby declared inoperative and void; it being the true intent 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: Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to revive or put in force any law or regulation which may have existed prior to the act of sixth March, eighteen hundred and twenty, either protecting, establishing, prohibiting or abolishing slavery."
When this amendment was presented to the Senate it became the signal for opening anew the slavery agitation with redoubled fury. It was opposed by the anti-slavery sentiment of the North as a violation of a solemn compact;—as an attempt to tear down a sacred barrier between freedom and slavery for the purpose of spreading that institution over the virgin soil of the country. On the other hand it was contended that it was necessary in order to give full effect to the compromise of 1850; the spirit and intent of which was to withdraw from Congress all control over the