DEBATE in the United States Senate on the COMPROMISE OF 1850

Shortly after the Mexican-American War, it became apparent that the issue of slavery in the newly acquired territories was going to arise. The issue first became apparent during the presidential campaign of 1848 when the Free Soil Party under Martin Van Buren and Charles Francis Adams took votes away from Democrat Lewis Cass, throwing the election to Zachary Taylor. In the following year the California gold rush began, and by 1850 California was ready to be admitted as a state. Thus began the what may have been the most important debate in U.S. history. For months the Great Triumvirate of Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun and Daniel Webster wrestled with the problem, and issues of war and secession were very much in evidence. As the three great men faded, Stephen A. Douglas took over and shepherded the bills through. Although the Compromise of 1850 was celebrated as once again having "solved" the issue, the fact was that the time for solution was very late-and before long the country began its almost inevitable slide toward civil war.

Following are excerpts from the 1850 Compromise debates of Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, Daniel Webster and William Seward.

HENRY CLAY, Feb. 5 and 6, 1850.

Sir, I have said that I never could vote for it, and I repeat that I never can, and never will vote for it; and no earthly power shall ever make me vote to plant slavery where slavery does not exist. Still, if there be a majority-and there ought to be such a majority-for interdicting slavery north of the line, there ought to be an equal majority-if equality and justice be done to the South-to admit slavery south of the line. And if there be a majority ready to accomplish both of these, though I can not concur in the action, yet I would be one of the last to create any disturbance. I would be one of the first to acquiesce in such legislation, though it is contrary to my own judgment and my own conscience. I think, then, it would be better to keep the whole of these territories untouched by any legislation by Congress on the subject of slavery, leaving it open, undecided, without any action of Congress in relation to it; that it would be best for the South, and best for all the views which the South has, from time to time, disclosed to us as correspondent with her wishes. . . .

And, sir, I must take occasion here to say that in my opinion there is no right on the part of any one or more of the States to secede from the Union. War and dissolution of the Union are identical and inevitable, in my opinion. There can be a dissolution of the Union only by consent or by war. Consent no one can anticipate, from any existing state of things, is likely to be given; and war is the only alternative by which a dissolution could be accomplished. If consent were given-if it were possible that we were to be separated by one great line-in less than sixty days after such consent was given war would break out between the slaveholding and non-slaveholding portions of this Union-between the two independent parts into which it would be erected in virtue of the act of separation. In less than sixty days, I believe, our slaves from Kentucky, flocking over in numbers to the other side of the river, would be pursued by their owners. Our hot and ardent spirits would be restrained by no sense of the right which appertains to the independence of the other side of the river, should that be the line of separation. They would pursue their slaves into the adjacent free States; they would be repelled; and the consequence would be that, in less than sixty days, war would, be blazing in every part of this now happy and peaceful land.

And, sir, how are you going to separate the states of this confederacy? In my humble opinion, Mr. President, we should begin with at least three separate confederacies. There would be a confederacy of the North, a confederacy of the Southern Atlantic slaveholding States, and a confederacy of the valley of the Mississippi. My life upon it, that the vast population which has already concentrated and will concentrate on the head-waters and the tributaries of the Mississippi will never give their consent that the mouth of that river shall be held subject to the power of any foreign State or community whatever. Such, I believe, would be the consequences of a dissolution of the Union, immediately ensuing; but other confederacies would spring up from time to time, as dissatisfaction and discontent were disseminated throughout the country-the confederacy of the lakes, perhaps the confederacy of New England, or of the middle States. Ah, sir, the veil which covers these sad and disastrous events that lie beyond it, is too thick to be penetrated or lifted by any mortal eye or hand. . . .

Mr. President, I have said, what I solemnly believe, that dissolution of the Union and war are identical and inevitable; and they are convertible terms; and such a war as it would be, following a dissolution of the Union! Sir, we may search the pages of history, and none so ferocious, so bloody, so implacable, so exterminating-not even the wars of Greece, including those of the Commoners of England and the revolutions of France-none, none of them all would rage with such violence, or be characterized with such bloodshed and enormities as would the war which must succeed, if that ever happens, the dissolution of the Union. And what would be its termination? Standing armies, and navies, to an extent stretching the revenues of each portion of the dissevered members, would take place. An exterminating war would follow-not sir, a war of two or three years' duration, but a war of interminable duration-and exterminating wars would ensue, until, after the struggles and exhaustion of both parties, some Philip or Alexander, some Caesar or Napoleon, would arise and cut the Gordian knot, and solve the problem of the capacity of man for self-government, and crush the liberties of both the severed portions of this common empire. Can you doubt it?

Sir, I implore gentlemen, to pause, solemnly to pause at the edge of the precipice, before the fearful and dangerous leap be taken into the yawning abyss below, from which none who ever take it shall return in safety.

Finally, Mr. President, and in conclusion, I implore, as the best thing Heaven can bestow upon me upon earth, that if the direful event of the dissolution of the Union is to happen, I shall not survive to behold the sad and heart-rending spectacle.


Calhoun was sick and near death. His speech was read by Senator James Mason of Virginia on March 4, 1850.

I have, Senators, believed from the first that the agitation of the subject of slavery would, if not prevented by some timely and effective measure, end in disunion. Entertaining this opinion, I have, on all proper occasions, endeavored to call the attention of each of the two great parties which divide the country to adopt some measure to prevent so great a disaster, but without success. The agitation has been permitted to proceed, with almost no attempt to resist it, until it has reached a period when it can no longer be disguised or denied that the Union is in danger. You have thus had forced upon you the greatest and the gravest question that can ever come under your consideration: How can the Union be preserved?

To give a satisfactory answer to this mighty question, it is indispensable to have an accurate and thorough knowledge of the nature and the character of the cause by which the Union is endangered. Without such knowledge, it is impossible to pronounce, with any certainty, by what measure it can be saved. . . .

The first question, then . . . is: What is it that has endangered the Union? . . .

One of the causes is, undoubtedly, to be traced to the long continued agitation of the slave question on the part of the North and the many aggressions which they have made on the rights of the South during the time. . . .

There is another lying back of it, with which this is intimately connected, that may be regarded as the great and primary cause. That is to be found in the fact that the equilibrium between the two sections in the government, as it stood when the Constitution was ratified and the government put into action, has been destroyed. At that time there was nearly a perfect equilibrium between the two which afforded ample means to each to protect itself against the aggression of the other; but, as it now stands, one section has the exclusive power of controlling the government, which leaves the other without any adequate means of protecting itself against its encroachment and oppression. . . .

The result of the whole is to give the Northern section a predominance in every part of the government and thereby concentrate in it the two elements which constitute the federal government-a majority of states and a majority of their population, estimated in federal numbers. Whatever section concentrates the two in itself possesses the control of the entire government.

But we are just at the close of the sixth decade and the commencement of the seventh. The census is to be taken this year, which must add greatly to the decided preponderance of the North in the House of Representatives and in the electoral college. The prospect is also that a great increase will be added to its present preponderance in the Senate during the period of the decade by the addition of new states. Two territories, Oregon and Minnesota, are already in progress, and strenuous efforts are being made to bring in three additional states from the territory recently conquered from Mexico; which, if successful, will add three other states in a short time to the Northern section, making five states and increasing the present number of its states from fifteen to twenty, and of its senators from thirty to forty. On the contrary, there is not a single territory in progress in the Southern section and no certainty that any additional state will be added to it during the decade.

The prospect, then, is that the two sections in the Senate, should the efforts now made to exclude the South from the newly acquired territories succeed, will stand before the end of the decade twenty Northern states to twelve Southern (considering Delaware as neutral), and forty Northern senators to twenty-eight Southern. This great increase of senators, added to the great increase of members of the House of Representatives and electoral college on the part of the North, which must take place over the next decade, will effectually and irretrievably destroy the equilibrium which existed when the government commenced.

Had this destruction been the operation of time, without the interference of government, the South would have had no reason to complain; but such was not the fact. It was caused by the legislation of this government, which was appointed as the common agent of all and charged with the protection of the interests and security of all.

The legislation by which it has been effected may be classed under three heads. The first is that series of acts by which the South has been excluded from the common territory belonging to all of the states as the members of the federal Union, and which had the effect of extending vastly the portion allotted to the Northern section, and restricting within narrow limits the portion left the South. And the next consists in adopting a system of revenue and disbursements by which an undue proportion of the burden of taxation has been imposed upon the South and an undue proportion of its proceeds appropriated to the North. And the last is a system of political measures by which the original character of the government has been radically changed.

I propose to bestow upon each of these . . . a few remarks with the view of showing that it is owing to the action of this government that the equilibrium between the two sections has been destroyed and the whole powers of the system centered in a sectional majority.

The first of the series of acts by which the South was deprived of its due share of the territories originated with the Confederacy which preceded the existence of this government. It is to be found in the provision of the Ordinance of 1787. Its effect was to exclude the South entirely from that vast and fertile region which lies between the Ohio and the Mississippi rivers now embracing five states and one territory. The next of the series is the Missouri Compromise, which excluded the South from that large portion of Louisiana which lies north of 3630', excepting what is included in the state of Missouri.

The last of the series excluded the South from the whole of the Oregon Territory. All these, in the slang of the day, were what are called slave territories and not free soil; that is, territories belonging to slaveholding powers and open to the emigration of masters with their slaves. By these several acts, the South was excluded from 1,238,025 square miles, an extent of country considerably exceeding the entire valley of the Mississippi.

To the South was left the portion of the territory of Louisiana lying south of 3630', and the portion north of it included in the state of Missouri; the portion lying south of 3630' including the states of Louisiana and Arkansas, and the territory lying west of the latter and south of 3630', called the Indian Country. These, with the territory of Florida, now the state, make, in the whole, 283,503 square miles. To this must be added the territory acquired with Texas. If the whole should be added to the Southern section, it would make an increase of 325,520, which would make the whole left to the South, 609,023. But a large part of Texas is still in contest between the two sections, which leaves it uncertain what will be the real extent of the portion of her territory that may be left to the South.

I have not included the territory recently acquired by the treaty with Mexico. The North is making the most strenuous efforts to appropriate the whole to herself by excluding the South from every foot of it. If she should succeed, it will add to that from which the South has already been excluded 526,078 square miles, and would increase the whole which the North has appropriated to herself to 1,764,023, not including the portion that she may succeed in excluding us from in Texas.

To sum up the whole, the United States, since they declared their independence, have acquired 2,373,046 square miles of territory, from which the North will have excluded the South if she should succeed in monopolizing the newly acquired territories, from about three-fourths of the whole, leaving to the South but about one-fourth.

Such is the first and great cause that has destroyed the equilibrium between the two sections in the government.

The next is the system of revenue and disbursements which his been adopted by the government. It is well known that the government has derived its revenue mainly from duties on imports. I shall not undertake to show that such duties must necessarily fall mainly on the exporting states, and that the South, as the great exporting portion of the Union, has in reality paid vastly more than her due proportion of the revenue because . . . the subject has on so many occasions been fully discussed. Nor shall I, for the same reason, undertake to show that a far greater portion of the revenue has been disbursed at the North than its due share, and that the joint effect of these causes has been to transfer a vast amount from South to North, which, under an equal system of revenue and disbursement, would not have been lost to her.

If to this be added that many of the duties were imposed, not for revenue but for protection; that is, intended to put money, not in the Treasury but directly into the pocket of the manufacturers, some conception may be formed of the immense amount which, in the long course of sixty years, has been transferred from South to North. There are no data by which it can be estimated with any certainty, but it is safe to say that it amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars. Under the most moderate estimate, it would be sufficient to add greatly to the wealth of the North, and thus greatly increase her population by attracting emigration from all quarters to that section. . . .

That the government claims, and practically maintains, the right to decide in the last resort as to the extent of its powers will scarcely be denied by anyone conversant with the political history of the country. That it also claims the right to resort to force to maintain whatever power she claims, against all opposition, is equally certain. Indeed, it is apparent, from what we daily hear, that this has become the prevailing and fixed opinion of a great majority of the community. Now, I ask, what limitation can possibly be placed upon the powers of a government claiming and exercising such rights? And, if none can be, how can the separate governments of the states maintain and protect the powers reserved to them by the Constitution, or the people of the several states maintain those which are reserved to them, and among others the sovereign powers by which they ordained and established, not only their separate state constitutions and governments but also the Constitution and government of the United States ?

But, if they have no constitutional means of maintaining them against the right claimed by this government, it necessarily follows that they hold them at its pleasure and discretion, and that all the powers of the system are in reality concentrated in it. It also follows that the character of the government has been changed, in consequence, from a federal republic, as it originally came from the hands of its framers, and that it has been changed into a great national, consolidated democracy. It has, indeed, at present, all the characteristics of the latter and not one of the former, although it still retains its outward form.

The result of the whole of these causes combined is that the North has acquired a decided ascendancy over every department of this government, and through it a control over all the powers of the system. A single section, governed by the will of the numerical majority, has now in fact the control of the government and the entire powers of the system. What was once a constitutional federal republic is now converted, in reality, into one as absolute as that of the Autocrat of Russia, and as despotic in its tendency as any absolute government that ever existed.

As, then, the North has the absolute control over the government, it is manifest that on all questions between it and the South, where there is a diversity of interests, the interests of the latter will be sacrificed to the former, however oppressive the effects may be, as the South possesses no means by which it can resist through the action of the government. But if there was no question of vital importance to the South, in reference to which there was a diversity of views between the two sections, this state of things might be endured without the hazard of destruction to the South. There is a question of vital importance to the Southern section, in reference to which the views and feelings of the two sections are as opposite and hostile as they can possibly be.

I refer to the relation between the two races in the Southern section, which constitutes a vital portion of her social organization. Every portion of the North entertains views and feelings more or less hostile to it. Those most opposed and hostile regard it a sin, and consider themselves under most sacred obligation to use every effort to destroy it. Indeed, to the extent that they conceive they have power, they regard themselves as implicated in the sin and responsible for suppressing it by the use of all and every means. Those less opposed and hostile regard it as a crime-an offense against humanity, as they call it-and, although not so fanatical, feel themselves bound to use all efforts to effect the same object; while those who are least opposed and hostile regard it as a blot and a stain on the character of what they call the nation, and feel themselves accordingly bound to give it no countenance or support. On the contrary, the Southern section regards the relation as one which cannot be destroyed without subjecting the two races to the greatest calamity and the section to poverty, desolation, and wretchedness; and accordingly they feel bound by every consideration of interest and safety to defend it.

This hostile feeling on the part of the North toward the social organization of the South long lay dormant, but it only required some cause to act on those who felt most intensely that they were responsible for its continuance to call it into action. The increasing power of this government and of the control of the Northern section over all its departments furnished the cause. It was this which made an impression on the minds of many that there was little or no restraint to prevent the government from doing whatever it might choose to do. This was sufficient of itself to put the most fanatical portion of the North in action for the purpose of destroying the existing relation between the two races in the South.

The first organized movement toward it commenced in 1835. Then, for the first time, societies were organized, presses established, lecturers sent forth to excite the people of the North, and incendiary publications scattered over the whole South through the mail. The South was thoroughly aroused. Meetings were held everywhere and resolutions adopted calling upon the North to apply a remedy to arrest the threatened evil, and pledging themselves to adopt measures for their own protection if it was not arrested. At the meeting of Congress, petitions poured in from the North calling upon Congress to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia and to prohibit what they called the internal slave trade between the states, announcing at the same time that their ultimate object was to abolish slavery, not only in the District but in the states and throughout the whole Union.

At this period, the number engaged in the agitation was small and possessed little or no personal influence. Neither party in Congress had, at that time, any sympathy with them or their cause. The members of each party presented their petitions with great reluctance. Nevertheless, as small and as contemptible as the party then was, both of the great parties of the North dreaded them. They felt that, though small, they were organized in reference to a subject which had a great and commanding influence over the Northern mind. Each party on that account, feared to oppose their petitions lest the opposite party should take advantage of the one who might do so by favoring their petitions. The effect was that both united in insisting that the petitions should be received and that Congress should take jurisdiction over the subject for which they prayed. To justify their course they took the extraordinary ground that Congress was bound to receive petitions on every subject, however objectionable it might be, and whether they had or had not jurisdiction over the subject.

These views prevailed in the House oft Representatives, and partially in the Senate; and thus the party succeeded, in their first movements, in gaining what they proposed-a position in Congress from which agitation could be extended over the whole Union. This was the commencement of the agitation, which has ever since continued, and which, as is now acknowledged, has endangered the Union itself.

As for myself, I believed, at that early period, if the party who got up the petitions should succeed in getting Congress to take jurisdiction, that agitation would follow and that it would, in the end, if not arrested, destroy the Union. I then so expressed myself in debate and called upon both parties to take grounds against assuming jurisdiction; but in vain. Had my voice been heeded and had Congress refused to take jurisdiction, by the united votes of all parties the agitation which followed would have been prevented, and the fanatical zeal that gives impulse to the agitation, and which has brought us to our present perilous condition, would have become extinguished from the want of something to feed the flame. That was the time for the North to have shown her devotion to the Union; but, unfortunately, both of the great parties of that section were so intent on obtaining or retaining party ascendancy that all other considerations were overlooked or forgotten.

What has since followed are but the natural consequences. With the success of their first movement, this small, fanatical party began to acquire strength; and, with that, to become an object of courtship to both the great parties. The necessary consequence was a further increase of power and a gradual tainting of the opinions of both of the other parties with their doctrines, until the infection has extended over both, and the great mass of the population of the North who, whatever may be their opinion of the original Abolition Party which still preserves its distinctive organization, hardly ever fail, when it comes to acting, to cooperate in carrying out their measures. . . .

Unless something decisive is done, I again ask what is to stop this agitation before the great and final object at which it aims-the abolition of slavery in the South-is consummated? Is it, then, not certain that if something decisive is not now done to arrest it, the South will be forced to choose between abolition and secession? Indeed, as events are now moving, it will not require the South to secede to dissolve the Union. Agitation will of itself effect it. . . .

It is a great mistake to suppose that disunion can be effected by a single blow. The cords which bind these states together in one common Union are far too numerous and powerful for that. Disunion must be the work of time. It is only through a long process, and successively, that the cords can be snapped, until the whole fabric falls asunder. Already the agitation of the slavery question has snapped some of the most important and has greatly weakened all the others. . . .

If the agitation goes on, the same force, acting with increased intensity . . . will snap every cord, when nothing will be left to hold the states together except force. But surely that can, with no propriety of language, be called a union, when the only means by which the weaker is held connected with the stronger portion is force. It may, indeed, keep them connected; but the connection will partake much more of the character of subjugation on the part of the weaker to the stronger than the union of free, independent, and sovereign states in one confederation, as they stood in the early stages of the government, and which only is worthy of the sacred name of Union.

Having now, senators, explained what it is that endangers the Union, and traced it to its cause, and explained its nature and character, the question again recurs: How can the Union be saved? To this I answer there is but one way by which it can be; and that is by adopting such measures as will satisfy the states belonging to the Southern section that they can remain in the Union consistently with their honor and their safety. There is, again, only one way by which this can be effected, and that is, by removing the causes by which this belief has been produced. Do that and discontent will cease, harmony and kind feelings between the sections be restored, and every apprehension of danger to the Union removed. The question, then, is, By what can this be done? But, before I undertake to answer this question, I propose to show by what the Union cannot be saved.

It cannot, then be saved by eulogies on the Union, however splendid or numerous. The cry of "Union, union, the glorious Union!" can no more prevent disunion than the cry of "Health, health, glorious health!" on the part of the physician can save a patient lying dangerously ill. So long as the Union, instead of being regarded as a protector, is regarded in the opposite character, by not much more than a majority of the States, it will be in vain to attempt to conciliate them by pronouncing eulogies upon it.

Beside, this cry of Union comes commonly from those whom we cannot believe to be sincere. It usually comes from our assailants. But we cannot believe them to be sincere; for, if they loved the Union, they would necessarily be devoted to the Constitution. It made the Union, and to destroy the Constitution would be to destroy the Union. But the only reliable and certain evidence of devotion to the Constitution is, to abstain, on the one hand, from violating it, and to repel, on the other, all attempts to violate it. It is only by faithfully performing these high duties that the Constitution can be preserved, and with it the Union. . . .

The plan of the administration cannot save the Union, because it can have no effect whatever toward satisfying the states composing the Southern section of the Union that they can, consistently with safety and honor, remain in the Union. It is, in fact, but a modification of the Wilmot Proviso. It proposes to effect the same object: to exclude the South from all territory acquired by the Mexican treaty. It is well known that the South is united against the Wilmot Proviso and has committed itself, by solemn resolutions, to resist should it be adopted. Its opposition is not to the name but that which it proposes to effect; that the Southern states hold to be unconstitutional, unjust, inconsistent with their equality as members of the common Union and calculated to destroy irretrievably the equilibrium between the two sections.

These objections equally apply to what, for brevity, I will call the Executive Proviso. There is no difference between it and the Wilmot, except in the mode of effecting the object; and, in that respect, I must say that the latter is much the least objectionable. It goes to its object openly, boldly, and distinctly. It claims for Congress unlimited power over the territories, and proposes to assert it over the territories acquired from Mexico, by a positive prohibition of slavery. Not so the Executive Proviso. It takes an indirect course, and in order to elude the Wilmot Proviso, and thereby avoid encountering the united and determined resistance of the South, it denies, by implication, the authority of Congress to legislate for the territories, and claims the right as belonging exclusively to the inhabitants of the territories.

But to effect the object of excluding the South, it takes care, in the meantime, to let in emigrants freely from the Northern states and all other quarters except from the South, which it takes special care to exclude by holding up to them the danger of having their slaves liberated under the Mexican laws. The necessary consequence is to exclude the South from the territory just as effectually as would the Wilmot Proviso. The only difference in this respect is that what one proposes to effect directly and openly, the other proposes to effect indirectly and covertly.

But the Executive Proviso is more objectionable than the Wilmot in another and more important particular. The latter, to effect its object, inflicts a dangerous wound upon the Constitution by depriving the Southern states, as joint partners and owners of the territories, of their rights in them; but it inflicts no greater wound than is absolutely necessary to effect its object. The former, on the contrary, while it inflicts the same wound, inflicts others equally great and, if possible, greater. . . .

In claiming the right for the inhabitant instead of Congress, to legislate over the territories, in the Executive Proviso it assumes that the sovereignty over the territories is vested in the former; or to express it in the language used in a resolution offered by one of the senators from Texas (General Houston, now absent), they have "the same inherent right of self-government as the people in the states." The assumption is utterly unfounded, unconstitutional, without example, and contrary to the entire practice of the government from its commencement to the present time.

The recent movement of individuals California to form a constitution and a state government, and to appoint senators and representatives, is the first fruit of this monstrous assumption. If the individuals who made this movement had gone into California as adventurers, and if, as such, they had conquered the territory and established their independence, the sovereignty of the country would have been vested in them as a separate and* independent community. In that case they would have had the right to form a constitution and to establish a government for themselves; and if, afterward, they thought proper to apply to Congress for admission into the Union as a sovereign and independent state, all this would have been regular and according to established principles. But such is not the case. It was the United States who conquered California and finally acquired it by treaty. The sovereignty, of course, is vested in them and not in the individuals who have attempted to form a constitution and a state without their consent. All this is clear beyond controversy, unless it can be shown that they have since lost or been divested of their sovereignty.

Nor is it less clear that the power of legislating over the acquired territory is vested in Congress and not, as is assumed, in the inhabitants of the territories. None can deny that the government of the United States has the power to acquire territories, either by war or by treaty; but if the power to acquire exists, it belongs to Congress to carry it into execution. On this point there can be no doubt, for the Constitution expressly provides that Congress shall have power "to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper to carry into execution the foregoing powers" (those vested in Congress) "and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States or in any department or officer thereof."

It matters not, then, where the power is vested; for, if vested at all in the government of the United States, or any of its departments or officers, the power of carrying it into execution is clearly vested in Congress. But this important provision, while it gives to Congress the power of legislating over territories, imposes important restrictions on its exercise by restricting Congress to passing laws necessary and proper for carrying the power into execution. The prohibition extends not only to all laws not suitable or appropriate to the object of the power but also to all that are unjust, unequal, or unfair; for all such laws would be unnecessary and improper and therefore unconstitutional.

Having now established beyond controversy that the sovereignty over the territories is vested in the United States-that is, in the several states composing the Union-and that the power of legislating over them is expressly vested in Congress, it follows that the individuals in California who have undertaken to form a constitution and a state, and to exercise the power of legislating without the consent of Congress, have usurped the sovereignty of the state and the authority of Congress, and have acted in open defiance of them both. In other words, what they have done is revolutionary and rebellious in its character, anarchical in its tendency, and calculated to lead to the most dangerous consequences. Had they acted from premeditation and design, it would have been in fact actual rebellion; but such is not the case. The blame lies much less upon them than upon those who have induced them to take a course so unconstitutional and dangerous. They have been led into it by language held here and the course pursued by the executive branch of the government. . . .

Having now shown what cannot save the Union, I return to the question with which I commenced: How can the Union be saved? There is but one way by which it can with any certainty, and that is by a full and final settlement on the principle of justice of all the questions at issue between the two sections. The South asks for justice, simple justice, and less she ought not to take. She has no compromise to offer but the Constitution, and no concession or surrender to make. She has already surrendered so much that she has little left to surrender. Such a settlement would go to the root of the evil and remove all cause of discontent by satisfying the South that she could remain honorably and safely in the Union; and thereby restore the harmony and fraternal feelings between the sections which existed anterior to the Missouri agitation. Nothing else can, with any certainty, finally and forever settle the questions at issue, terminate agitation, and save the Union.

But can this be done? Yes, easily; not by the weaker party, for it can of itself do nothing-not even protect itself-but by the stronger. The North has only to will it to accomplish it; to do justice by conceding to the South an equal right in the acquired territory, and to do her duty by causing the stipulations relative to fugitive slaves to be faithfully fulfilled-to cease the agitation of the slave question; and to provide for the insertion of a provision in the Constitution, by an amendment, which will restore to the South in substance the power she possessed of protecting herself before the equilibrium between the sections was destroyed by the action of this government. There will be no difficulty in devising such a provision-one that will protect the South and which, at the same time, will improve and strengthen the government instead of impairing and weakening it.

But will the North agree to do this? It for her to answer this question. But I will say she cannot refuse if she has half the love of the Union which she professes to have, or without justly exposing herself to the charge that her love of power and aggrandizement is far greater than her love of the Union. At all events, the responsibility of saving the Union rests on the North and not the South. The South cannot save it by any act of hers, and the North may save it without any sacrifice whatever, unless to do justice and to perform her duties under the Constitution should be regarded by her as a sacrifice.

It is time, Senators, that there should be an open and manly avowal on all sides, as to what is intended to be done. If the question is not now settled, it is uncertain whether it ever can hereafter be; and we, as the representatives of the States of this Union, regarded as governments, should come to a distinct understanding as to our respective views, in order to ascertain whether the great questions at issue can be settled or not. If you, who represent the stronger portion, cannot agree to settle them on the broad principle of justice and duty, say so; and let the States we both represent agree to separate and part in peace. If you are unwilling we should part in peace, tell us so; and we shall know what to do, when you reduce the question to submission or resistance. If you remain silent, you will compel us to infer by your acts what you intend. In that case, California will become the test question. If you admit her, under all the difficulties that oppose her admission, you compel us to infer that you intend to exclude us from the whole of the acquired territories, with the intention of destroying, irretrievably, the equilibrium between the two sections. We would be blind not to perceive, in that case, that your real objects are power and aggrandizement, and infatuated not to act accordingly.

I have now, Senators, done my duty in expressing my opinions fully, freely, and candidly, on this solemn occasion. In doing so, I have been governed by the motives which have governed me in all the stages of the agitation of the slavery question since its commencement. I have exerted myself, during the whole period, to arrest it, with the intention of saving the Union, if it could be done,. and if it could not, to save the section where it has pleased Providence to cast my lot, and which I sincerely believe has justice and the Constitution on its side. Having faithfully done my duty to the best of my ability, both to the Union and my section, throughout this agitation, I shall have the consolation, let what will come, that I am free from all responsibility.

DANIEL WEBSTER, March 7, 1850

MR. PRESIDENT, I WISH TO SPEAK TODAY, not as a Massachusetts man, nor as a Northern man, but as an American and a member of the Senate of the United States. . . . I have a part to act, not for my own security or safety, for I am looking out for no fragment upon which to float away from the wreck, if wreck there must be, but for the good of the whole and the preservation of the whole; and there is that which will keep me to my duty during this struggle, whether the sun and the stars shall appear or shall not appear, for many days. I speak today for the preservation of the Union. "Hear me for my cause." I speak today out of a solicitous and anxious heart for the restoration to the country of that quiet and that harmony which make the blessings of this Union so rich and so dear to us all. . . .

Mr. President, in the excited times in which we live, there is found to exist a state of crimination and recrimination between the North and the South. There are lists of grievances produced by each; and those grievances, real or supposed, alienate the minds of one portion of the country from the other, exasperate the feelings, subdue the sense of fraternal connection and patriotic love and mutual regard. I shall bestow a little attention, sir, upon these various grievances produced on the one side and on the other.

I begin with the complaints of the South. I will not answer, further than I have, the general statements of the honorable senator from South Carolina that the North has grown upon the South in consequence of the manner of administering this government, in the collecting of its revenues, and so forth. These are disputed topics, and I have no inclination to enter into them. But I will state these complaints, especially one complaint of the South, which has in my opinion just foundation; and that is that there has been found at the North, among individuals and among the legislatures of the North, a disinclination to perform, fully, their constitutional duties in regard to the return of persons bound to service who have escaped into the free states. In that respect, it is my judgment that the South is right and the North is wrong.

Every member of every Northern legislature is bound by oath, like every other officer in the country, to support the Constitution of the United States; and this article of the Constitution which says to these states they shall deliver up fugitives from service is as binding in honor and conscience as any other article. No man fulfills his duty in any legislature who sets himself to find excuses, evasions, escapes from this constitutional obligation. I have always thought that the Constitution addressed itself to the legislatures of the states themselves, or to the states themselves. It says that those persons escaping to other states shall be delivered up, and I confess I have always been of the opinion that it was an injunction upon the states themselves. When it is said that a person escaping into another state, and coming therefore within the jurisdiction of that state, shall be delivered up, it seems to me the import of the passage is that the state itself, in obedience to the Constitution, shall cause him to be delivered up. That is my judgment. I have always entertained that opinion, and I entertain it now.

But when the subject, some years ago, was before the Supreme Court of the United States, the majority of the judges held that the power to cause fugitives from service to be delivered up was a power to be exercised under the authority of this government. I do not know, on the whole, that it may not have been a fortunate decision. My habit is to respect the result of judicial deliberations and the solemnity of judicial decisions. But, as it now stands, the business of seeing that these fugitives are delivered up resides in the power of Congress and the national judicature, and my friend at the head of the Judiciary Committee has a bill on the subject, now before the Senate, with some amendments to it, which I propose to support, with all its provisions, to the fullest extent. And I desire to call the attention of all sober-minded men, of all conscientious men in the North, of all men who are not carried away by any fanatical idea, or by any false idea whatever, to their constitutional obligations.

I put it to all the sober and sound minds at the North as a question of morals and a question of conscience: What right have they, in all their legislative capacity, or any other, to endeavor to get round this Constitution, to embarrass the free exercise of the rights secured by the Constitution, to the persons whose slaves escape from them? None at all-none at all. Neither in the forum of conscience nor before the face of the Constitution are they justified in any opinion. Of course, it is a matter for their consideration. They probably, in the turmoil of the times, have not stopped to consider of this; they have followed what seemed to be the current of thought and of motives as the occasion arose, and neglected to investigate fully the real question, and to consider their constitutional obligations, as I am sure, if they did consider, they would fulfill them with alacrity.

Therefore, I repeat, sir, that here is a ground of complaint against the North, well founded, which ought to be removed; which it is now in the power of the different departments of this government to remove; which calls for the enactment of proper laws authorizing the judicature of this government in the several states to do all that is necessary for the recapture of fugitive slaves and for the restoration of them to those who claim them. Wherever I go and whenever I speak, I say that the South has been injured in this respect and has a right to complain; and the North has been too careless of what I think the Constitution peremptorily and emphatically enjoins upon it as a duty. . .. .

Mr. President, I should much prefer to have heard, from every member on this floor, declarations of opinion that this Union should never be dissolved than the declaration of opinion that in any case, under the pressure of any circumstances, such a dissolution was possible. I hear with pain, and anguish, and distress, the word "secession," especially w en it falls from the lips of those who are eminently patriotic, and known to the country, and known all over the world for their political services.

Secession! Peaceable secession! Sir, your eyes and mine are never destined to see that miracle. The dismemberment of this vast country without convulsion! The breaking up of the fountains of the great deep without ruffling the surface! Who is so foolish-I beg everybody's pardon-as to expect to see any such thing? Sir, he who sees these states, now revolving in harmony around a common center, and expects to see them quit their places and fly off without convulsion may look the next hour to see the heavenly bodies rush from their spheres and jostle against each other in the realms of space without producing the crush of the universe. There can be no such thing as a peaceable secession. Peaceable secession is an utter impossibility.

Is the great Constitution under which we live here-covering this whole country-is it to be thawed and melted away by secession as the snows on the mountain melt under the influence of a vernal sun-disappear almost unobserved and die off? No, sir! No, sir! I will not state what might produce the disruption of the states; but, sir, I see it as plainly as I see the sun in heaven-I see that disruption must produce such a war as I will not describe, in its twofold characters.

Peaceable secession! Peaceable secession! The concurrent agreement of all the members of this great republic to separate! A voluntary separation, with alimony on one side and on the other. Why, what would be the result? Where is the line to be drawn? What states are to secede? What is to remain American? What am I to be? An American no longer? Where is the flag of the republic to remain? Where is the eagle still to tower? Or is he to cower, and shrink, and fall to the ground? Why, sir, our ancestors-our fathers, and our grandfathers, those of them that are yet living among us with prolonged lives-would rebuke and reproach us; and our children and our grandchildren would cry out, Shame upon us! if we of this generation should dishonor these ensigns of the power of the government and the harmony of the Union, which is every day felt among us with so much joy and gratitude. What is to become of the Army? What is to become of the Navy? What is to become of the public lands? How is each of the thirty states to defend itself?

I know, although the idea has not been stated distinctly, there is to be a Southern confederacy. I do not mean, when I allude to this statement, that anyone seriously contemplates such a state of things. I do not mean to say that it is true, but I have heard it suggested elsewhere that that idea has originated in a design to separate. I am sorry, sir, that it has ever been thought of, talked of, or dreamed of in the wildest flights of human imagination. But the idea must be of a separation, including the slave states upon one side and the free states on the other. Sir, there is not-I may express myself too strongly perhaps-but some things, some moral things, are almost as impossible as other natural or physical things; and I hold the idea of a separation of these states-those that are free to form one government, and those that are slaveholding to form another-as a moral impossibility.

We could not separate the states by any such line if we were to draw it. We could not sit down here today and draw a line of separation that would satisfy any five men in the country. There are natural causes that would keep and tie us together, and there are social and domestic relations which we could not break, if we would, and which we should not, if we could. Sir, nobody can look over the face of this country at the present moment-nobody can see where its population is the most dense and growing-without being ready to admit and compelled to admit that, ere long, America will be in the valley of the Mississippi. . . .

And now, Mr. President, instead of speaking of the possibility or utility of secession, instead of dwelling in these caverns of darkness, instead of groping with those ideas so full of all that is horrid and horrible, let us come out into the light of day; let us enjoy the fresh air of liberty and union; let us cherish those hopes which belong to us; let us devote ourselves to those great objects that are fit for our consideration and our action; let us raise our conceptions to the magnitude and the importance of the duties that devolve upon US; let our comprehension be as broad as the country for which we act, our aspirations as high as its certain destiny; let us not be pygmies in a case that calls for men. Never did there devolve on any generation of men higher trusts than now devolve upon us for the preservation of this Constitution and the harmony and peace of all who are destined to live under it. Let us make our generation one of the strongest, and the brightest link, in that golden chain which is destined, I fully believe, to grapple the people of all the states to this Constitution, for ages to come. It is a great, popular, constitutional government, guarded by legislation, by law, by judicature, and defended by the whole affections of the people.

No monarchical throne presses these states together; no iron chain of despotic power encircles them; they live and stand upon a government popular in its form, representative in its character, founded upon principles of equality, and calculated, we hope, to last forever. In all its history, it has been beneficent; it has trodden down no man's liberty; it has crushed no state. Its daily respiration is liberty and patriotism; its yet youthful veins are full of enterprise, courage, and honorable love of glory and renown: It has received a vast addition of territory. Large before, the country has now, by recent events, become vastly larger. This republic now extends, with a vast breadth, across the whole continent. The two great seas of the world wash the one and the other shore. We realize on a mighty scale, the beautiful description of the ornamental edging of the buckler of Achilles:

Now the broad shield complete the artist crowned,
With his last hand, and poured the ocean round;
In living silver seemed the waves to roll,
And beat the buckler's verge, and bound the whole.

WILLIAM H. SEWARD: “A Higher Law than the Constitution,” March 11, 1850

TODAY, CALIFORNIA IS A STATE, more populous than the least and richer than several of the greatest of our thirty states. This same California, thus rich and populous, is here asking admission into the Union, and finds us debating the dissolution of the Union itself. …

Shall California be received? For myself, upon my individual judgment and conscience, I answer, yes. For myself, as an instructed representative of one of the states, of that one even of the states which is soonest and longest to be pressed in commercial and political rivalry by the new commonwealth, I answer, yes; let California come in. Every new state, whether she come from the East or from the West, every new . state, coming from whatever part of the continent she may, is always welcome. But California, that comes from the clime where the West dies away into the rising East; California, which bounds at once the empire and the continent; California, the youthful queen of the Pacific, in i her robes of freedom, gorgeously inlaid with gold, is doubly welcome. . . .

But it is insisted that the admission of California shall be attended by a compromise of questions which have arisen out of slavery. I AM OPPOSED TO ANY SUCH COMPROMISE, IN ANY AND ALL THE FORMS IN WHICH IT HAS BEEN PROPOSED, because, while admitting the purity and the patriotism of all from whom it is my misfortune to differ, I think all legislative compromises radically wrong and essentially vicious. They involve the surrender of the exercise of judgment and conscience on distinct and separate questions, at distinct, and separate times, with the indispensable advantages it affords for ascertaining truth. They involve a relinquishment of the right to reconsider in future the decisions of the present on questions prematurely anticipated; and they are a usurpation as to future questions of the province of future legislators.

Sir, it seems to me as if slavery had laid its paralyzing hand upon myself, and the blood were coursing less freely than its wont through my veins, when I endeavor to suppose that such a compromise has been effected, and my utterance forever is arrested upon all the great questions, social, moral, and political, arising out of a subject so important and as yet so incomprehensible. What am I to receive in this compromise? Freedom in California. It is well; it is a noble acquisition; it is worth a sacrifice. But what am I to give as an equivalent? A recognition of a claim to perpetuate slavery in the District of Columbia; forbearance toward more stringent laws concerning the arrest of persons suspected of being slaves found in the free states; forbearance from the proviso of freedom in the charters of new territories. None of the plans of compromise offered demands less than two, and most of them insist on all of these conditions. The equivalent then is some portion of liberty, some portion of human rights in one region for liberty in another region. But California brings gold and commerce as well as freedom. I am, then, to surrender some portion of human freedom in the District of Columbia, and in East California, and New Mexico for the mixed consideration of liberty, gold, and power on the Pacific coast. . . .

There is another aspect of the principle of compromise which deserves consideration. It assumes that slavery, if not the only institution in a slave state, is at least a ruling institution, and that this characteristic is recognized by the Constitution. But slavery is only one of many institutions there-freedom is equally an institution there. Slavery is only a temporary, accidental, partial, and incongruous one; freedom, on the contrary, is a perpetual, organic, universal one, in harmony with the Constitution of the United States. The slaveholder himself stands under the protection of the latter, in common with all the free citizens of the state; but it is, moreover, an indispensable institution. You may separate slavery from South Carolina, and the state will still remain; but if you subvert freedom there, the state will cease to exist.

But the principle of this compromise gives complete ascendancy in the slave state, and in the Constitution of the United States, to the subordinate, accidental, and incongruous institution over its paramount antagonist. To reduce this claim for slavery to an absurdity, it is only necessary to add that there are only two states in which slaves are a majority, and not one in which the slaveholders are not a very disproportionate minority.

But there is yet another aspect in which this principle must be examined. It regards the domain only as a possession, to be enjoyed either in common or by partition by the citizens of the old states. It is true, in. deed, that the national domain is ours; it is true, it was acquired by the valor and with the wealth of the whole nation; but we hold, nevertheless, no arbitrary power over it. We hold no arbitrary authority over anything, whether acquired lawfully or seized by usurpation. The Constitution regulates our stewardship; the Constitution devotes the domain to union, to justice, to defense, to welfare, and to liberty.

But there is a higher law than the Constitution which regulates our authority over the domain and devotes it to the same noble purposes. The territory is a part-no inconsiderable part-of the common heritage of mankind, bestowed upon them by the Creator of the universe. We are His stewards and must so discharge our trust as to secure, in the highest attainable degree, their happiness. . . .

This is a state, and we are deliberating for it, just as our fathers deliberated in establishing the institutions we enjoy. Whatever superiority there is in our condition and hopes over those of any other "kingdom" or "estate" is due to the fortunate circumstance that our ancestors did not leave things to "take their chance," but that they "added amplitude and greatness" to our commonwealth "by introducing such ordinances, constitutions, and customs as were wise." We, in our turn, have succeeded to the same responsibilities; and we cannot approach the duty before us wisely or justly except we raise ourselves to the great consideration of how we can most certainly "sow greatness to our posterity and successors."

And now the simple, bold, and even awful question which presents itself to us is this: Shall we, who are founding institutions, social and political, for countless millions-shall we, who know by experience the wise and the just, and are free to choose them, and to reject the erroneous and unjust shall we establish human bondage, or permit it, by our sufferance, to be established? Sir, our forefathers would not have hesitated an hour. They found slavery existing here, and they left it only because they could not remove it. There is not only no free state which would now establish it but there is no slave state which, if it had had the free alternative as we now have, would have founded slavery. Indeed, our revolutionary predecessors had precisely the same question before them in establishing an organic law, under which the states of Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa have since come into the Union; and they solemnly repudiated and excluded slavery from those states forever. I confess that the most alarming evidence of our degeneracy which has yet been given is found in the fact that we even debate such a question.

Sir, there is no Christian nation, thus free to choose as we are, which would establish slavery. I speak on due consideration, because Britain, France, and Mexico have abolished slavery, and all other European states are preparing to abolish it as speedily as they can. We cannot establish slavery, because there are certain elements of the security, welfare, and greatness of nations, which we all admit, or ought to admit, and recognize as essential; and these are the security of natural rights, the diffusion of knowledge, and the freedom of industry. Slavery is incompatible with all of these, and just in proportion to the extent that it prevails and controls in any republican state, just to that extent it subverts the principle of democracy and converts the state into an aristocracy or a despotism. . . .

This brings me to the great and all-absorbing argument, that the Union is in danger of being dissolved, and that it can only be saved by compromise. I do not know what I would not do to save the Union; and therefore I shall bestow upon this subject a very deliberation. . . .

In any condition of society, no revolution without a cause, an adequate cause. What cause exists here? We are admitting a new state; but there is nothing new in that we have already admitted seventeen before. But it is said that the slave states are in danger of losing political power by the admission of the new state. Well, sir, is there anything new in that? The slave states have always been losing political power, and they always will be, while they have any to lose. At first, twelve of the thirteen states were slave states; now only fifteen out of the thirty are slave states. Moreover, the change is constitutionally made, and the government was constructed so as to permit changes of the balance of power in obedience to changes of the forces of the body politic. . . .

Those who would alarm us with the terrors of revolution have not well considered the structure of this government and the organization of its forces. It is a democracy of property and persons, with a fair approximation toward universal education and operating by means of universal suffrage. The constituent members of this democracy are the only persons who could subvert it; and they are not the citizens of a metropolis like Paris, or of a region subjected to the influences of a metropolis like France; but they are husbandman, dispersed over this broad land, on the mountain and on the plain and on the prairie, from the ocean to the Rocky Mountains, and from the Great Lakes to the Gulf And this people are now, while we are discussing their imaginary danger, at peace and in their happy homes, and as unconcerned and uninformed of their peril as they are of events occurring in the moon. Nor have the alarmists made due allowance in their calculations for the influence of conservative reaction, strong in any government and irresistible in a rural republic, operating by universal suffrage. That principle of reaction is due to the force of the habits of acquiescence and loyalty among the people.

No man better understood this principle than Machiavelli, who has told us, in regard to factions, that "no safe reliance can be placed in the force of nature and the bravery of words, except it be corroborate by custom." Do the alarmists remember that this government has stood sixty years already without exacting one drop of blood? That this government has stood sixty years, and treason is an obsolete crime? That day, I trust, is far off when the fountains of popular contentment shall be broken up; but whenever it shall come, it will bring forth a higher illustration than has ever yet been given of the excellence of the democratic system; for then it will be seen how calmly, how firmly, how nobly a great people can act in preserving their Constitution whom "love of country moveth, example teacheth, company comforteth, emulation quickeneth, and glory exalteth."

When the founders of the new Republic of the South come to draw over the face of this empire, along or between its parallels of latitude or longitude, their ominous lines of dismemberment, soon to be broadly and deeply shaded with fraternal blood, they may come to the discovery then, if not before, that the natural and even political connections of the region embraced forbid such a partition, that its possible divisions are not northern and southern at all, but eastern and western, Atlantic and Pacific; and that nature and commerce have allied indissolubly, for weal and woe, the seceders and those from whom they are to be separated; that, while they would rush into a civil war to restore an imaginary equilibrium between the Northern states and the Southern states, a new equilibrium has taken its place, in which all those states are on the one side and the boundless West is on the other.

Sir, when the founders of the new Republic of the South come to draw these fearful lines, they will indicate what portions of the continent are to be broken off from their connection with the Atlantic, through the St. Lawrence, the Hudson, the Delaware, the Potomac, and the Mississippi; what portion of this people are to be denied the use of the lakes, the railroads, and the canals now constituting common and customary avenues of travel, trade, and social intercourse; what families and kindred are to be separated and converted into enemies; and what states are to be the scenes of perpetual border warfare, aggravated by interminable horrors of servile insurrection. When those portentous lines shall be drawn, they will disclose what portion of this people is to retain the Army and the Navy and the flag of so many victories: and, on the other hand, what portion of the people is to be subjected to new and ominous imposts, direct taxes, and forced loans, and conscriptions to maintain an opposing army, an opposing navy, and the new and hateful banner of sedition. Then the projectors of the new Republic of the South will meet the question-and they may well prepare now to answer it-what is all this for? What intolerable wrong, what unfraternal injustice have rendered these calamities unavoidable? What gain will this unnatural revolution bring to us? The answer will be: All this is done to secure the institution of African slavery.

And, then, if not before, the question will be discussed: What is this institution of slavery that it should cause these unparalleled sacrifices and these disastrous afflictions? And this will be the answer: When the Spaniards, few in number, discovered the Western Indies and adjacent continental America, they needed labor to draw forth from its virgin stores some speedy return to the cupidity of the court and the bankers of Madrid. They enslaved the indolent, inoffensive, and confiding natives, who perished by thousands, and even by millions, under that new and unnatural bondage. A humane ecclesiastic advised the substitution of Africans, reduced to captivity in their native wars; and a pious princess adopted the suggestion, with a dispensation from the head of the church, granted on the ground of the prescriptive right of the Christian to enslave the heathen to effect his conversion. The colonists of North America, innocent in their unconsciousness of wrong, encouraged the slave traffic, and thus the labor of subduing their territory devolved chiefly upon the African race.

A happy conjuncture brought on an awakening of the conscience of mankind to the injustice of slavery, simultaneously with the independence of the colonies. Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania welcomed and embraced the spirit of universal emancipation. Renouncing luxury, they secured influence and empire; but the states of the South, misted by a new and profitable culture, elected to maintain and perpetuate slavery; and thus, choosing luxury, they lost power and empire.

When this answer shall be given, it will appear that the question of dissolving the Union is a complex question; that it embraces the fearful issue whether the Union shall stand, and slavery, under the steady, peaceful action of moral, social, and political causes, be removed by gradual, voluntary effort, and with compensation, or whether the Union shall be dissolved and civil wars ensue, bringing on violent but complete and immediate emancipation. We are now arrived at that stage of our national progress when that crisis can be foreseen-when we must foresee it. It is directly before us. Its shadow is upon us. It darkens the legislative halls, the temples of worship, and the home and the hearth. Every question, political, civil, or ecclesiastical-however foreign to the subject of slavery-brings up slavery as an incident; and the incident supplants the principal question. We hear of nothing but slavery, and we can talk of nothing but slavery.

And, now, it seems to me that all our difficulties, embarrassments, and dangers arise, not out of unlawful perversions of the question of slavery, as some suppose, but from the want of moral courage to meet this question of emancipation as we ought. Consequently, we hear on one side demands-absurd, indeed, but yet unceasing-for an immediate and unconditional abolition of slavery; as if any power except the people of the slave states could abolish it, and as if they could be moved to abolish it by merely sounding the trumpet violently and proclaiming emancipation, while the institution is interwoven with all their social and political interests, constitutions, and customs.

On the other hand, our statesmen say that "slavery has always existed, and, for aught they know or can do, it always must exist. God permitted it, and He alone can indicate the way to remove it." As if the Supreme Creator, after giving us the instructions of His Providence and revelation for the illumination of our minds and consciences, did not leave us, in all human transactions, with due invocations of His Holy Spirit, to seek out His will and execute it for ourselves.

Here, then, is the point of my separation from both of these parties. I feel assured that slavery must give way, and will give way, to the salutary instructions of economy and to the ripening influences of humanity; that emancipation is inevitable and is near; that it may be hastened or hindered; and that whether it be peaceful or violent depends upon the question whether it be hastened or hindered; that all measures which fortify slavery or extend it tend to the consummation of violence-all that check its extension and abate its strength tend to its peaceful extirpation. But I will adopt none but lawful, constitutional, and peaceful means to secure even that end; and nonesuch can I or will I forego.

Nor do I know any important or responsible body that proposes to do more than this. No free state claims to extend its legislation into a slave state. None claims that Congress shall usurp power to abolish slavery in the slave states. None claims that any violent, unconstitutional, or unlawful measures shall be embraced. And, on the other hand, if we offer no scheme or plan for the adoption of the slave states, with the assent and cooperation of Congress, it is only because the slave states are unwilling, as yet, to receive such suggestions, or even to entertain the question of emancipation in any form.

But, sir, I will take this occasion to say that, while I cannot agree with the honorable senator from Massachusetts in proposing to devote $80 million to remove the free colored population from the slave states, and thus, as it appears to me, fortify slavery, there is no reasonable limit to which I am not willing to go in applying the national treasures to effect the peaceful, voluntary removal of slavery itself

I have thus endeavored to show that there is not now, and there is not likely to occur, any adequate cause for revolution in regard to slavery. But you reply that, nevertheless, you must have guaranties; and the first one is for the surrender of fugitives from labor. That guaranty you cannot have . . . because you cannot roll back the tide of social progress. You must be content with what you have. If you wage war against us, you can, at most, only conquer us, and then all you can get will be a treaty, and that you have already.

But you insist on a guaranty against the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, or war. Well, when you shall have declared war against us, what shall hinder us from immediately decreeing that slavery shall cease within the national capital?

You say that you will not submit to the exclusion of slaves from the new territories. What will you gain by resistance? Liberty follows the sword, although her sway is one of peace and beneficence. Can you propagate slavery, then, by the sword?

You insist that you cannot submit to the freedom with which slavery is discussed in the free states. Will war-a war for slavery-arrest, or even moderate, that discussion? No, sir; that discussion will not cease; war would only inflame it to a greater height. It is a part of the eternal conflict between truth and error-between mind and physical force-the conflict of man against the obstacles which oppose his way to an ultimate and glorious destiny. It will go on until you shall terminate it in the only way in which any state or nation has ever terminated it-by yielding to it yielding in your own time and in your own manner, indeed, but nevertheless yielding to the progress of emancipation. You will do this sooner or later, whatever may be your opinion now; because nations which were prudent, and humane, and wise, as you are, have done so already.

Sir, the slave states have no reason to fear that this inevitable change will go too far or too fast for their safety or welfare. It cannot well go too fast, or too far, if the only alternative is a war of races. . . .

The Union, then, is, not because merely men choose that it shall be but because some government must exist here, and no other government than this can. If it could be dashed to atoms by the whirlwind, the lightning, or the earthquake, today, it would rise again in all its just and magnificent proportions tomorrow. This nation is a globe still accumulating upon accumulation, not a dissolving sphere.

1 have heard somewhat here-and almost for the first time in my life-of divided allegiance, of allegiance to the South and to the Union, of allegiance to states severally and to the Union. Sir, if sympathies with state emulation and pride of ,achievement could be allowed to raise up another sovereign to divide the allegiance of a citizen of the United States, I might recognize the claims of the state to which, by birth and gratitude, I belong-to the state of Hamilton and Jay, of Schuyler, of the Clintons, and of Fulton-the state which with less than 200 miles of natural navigation connected with the ocean has, by her own enterprise, secured to herself the commerce of the continent and is steadily advancing to the command of the commerce of the world.

But for all this, I know only one country and one sovereign-the United States of America and the American people. And such as my allegiance is, is the loyalty of every other citizen of the United States. As I speak, he will speak when his time arrives. He knows no other country and no other sovereign. He has life, liberty, property, and precious affections, and hopes for himself and for his posterity, treasured up in the ark of the Union. He knows as well and feels as strongly as I do that this government is his own government; that he is a part of it; that it was established for him and that it is maintained by him; that it is the only truly wise, just, free, and equal government that has ever existed; that no other government could be so wise, just, free, and equal; and that it is safer and more beneficent than any which time or change could bring into its place.

You may tell me, sir, that although all this may be true, yet the trial of faction has not yet been made. Sir, if the trial of faction has not been made, it has not been because faction has not always existed and has not always menaced a trial but because faction could find no fulcrum on which to place the lever to subvert the Union, as it can find no fulcrum now; and in this is my confidence. I would not rashly provoke the trial, but I will not suffer a fear which I have not to make me compromise one sentiment-one principle of truth or justice-to avert a danger that all experience teaches me is purely chimerical.

Let, then, those who distrust the Union make compromises to save it. I shall not impeach their wisdom, as I certainly cannot their patriotism; but indulging no such apprehensions myself, I shall vote for the admission of California directly, without conditions, without qualifications, and without compromise.

For the vindication of that vote, I look not to the verdict of the passing hour, disturbed as the public mind now is by conflicting interests and passions, but to that period, happily not far distant, when the vast regions over which we are now legislating shall have received their destined inhabitants.

While looking forward to that day, its countless generations seem to me to be rising up, and passing in dim and shadowy review before us; and a voice comes forth from their serried ranks, saying:

Waste your treasures and your armies, if you will; raze your fortifications to the ground; sink your navies into the sea; transmit to us even a dishonored name, if you must; but the soil you hold in trust for us, give it to us free. You found it free, and conquered it to extend a better and surer freedom over it. Whatever choice you have made for yourselves, let us have no partial freedom; let us all be free; let the reversion of your broad domain descend to us unencumbered and free from the calamities and the sorrows of human bondage.

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