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Election of President and Pice President.
[Fen. 4, 1837.
ond resolution. Michigan, when the people of that state gave their votes for presidential electors, was a sovereign State, acknowledged to be such by an act of Congress of the United States. She was now, before her electoral votes were to be counted, a sovereign State of this Union, acknowledged to be such by another act of the Congress of the United States. He had, therefore, risen to enter his most solemn protest, in behalf of the people of Michigan, against any decision of this body, or of Congress, which would, even by inplication, have the effect of preventing their electoral votes from being counted for President and Vice President of the United States; and upon the motion to adopt the second reso'ution, he requested that the yeas and nays might be taken. Mr. GRUNI) Y observed that the committee were unanimous for reporting the second resolution objected to by the gentleman from Michigan. The same course had been pursued with regard to the State of Missouri, and under the like circumstances; and when Senators recollected that this was the very place where the rock lies which may destroy this Government, they would perceive that the committee had good reasons for recommending the resolution objected to. Suppose (said Mr. G.,) the two Houses should differ and separate, and suppose the House should refuse to send for the Senate again: where will be your President or Vice President? Though he had been one of the most anxious for the admission of Michigan, yet he thought it better, under the circumstances, that her vote should not be counted, except in the way provided for by the second resolution. To count the vote could do no good, inasmuch as it would not vary the result; and it might do harm. No man was more anxious than he was for the admission of Michigan; yet he must express the opinion that she was not a State of his Union when she gave her vote. Mr. NORV FLI, said that, if this Union should ever receive a shock, as intimated by the Senator from Tennessee, it would arise from the practice of injustice by this Government towards one or more of the States of the confederacy, and not from the right decision of such questions as the one now pending. The reception of the votes of a State entitled to vote for the Chief Magistrate of the nation, by whom she, as well as the other States, was to be governed, could never endanger the Union. The result of the late election, he knew, could not be varied by the votes of Michigan; and less hazard would, therefore, be encountered at this time in proper. ly deciding the question upon receiving the votes of States in similar circumstances with Michigan, than at any other time. The case of Missouri, quoted by the Senator from Tennessee in support of the second resolution, was not, upon this point, a case analogous to that of Michigan. Missouri was a State when her electors were chosen, but she was not a State of the Union when the two Houses of Congress assembled to count the electoral votes for President and Vice President. She was not admitted until some months afterwards; but the State of Indiana did present a precisely analogous case to that of Mich gan. Insiana, when her electors were chosen, had formed her constitution and State Government; but she was not admitted into the Union until some time in the succeeding December. She became, however, a member of the Union before the electoral votes were counted. When the two Houses assembled, and, in counting the votes, came to those of Indiana, objection was made to their reception. The two Houses separated. Some discussion arose in both on the subject; but, before the point was directly decided by either, a message was sent by the House of Representatives to the Senate, that they were ready to proceed in the count. when they came together, "gain, the votes of Indiana were countéd, and roorded among the electoral votes of the other sta.
Such is exactly the situation of Michigan. But he had not risen to provoke debate. His object was simply to protest against the principle of the second resolution reported by the Senator from Tennessee, and to ask for himself and his colleague the poor privilege of recording their names against it. He did not know that they would be sustained by the vote of any other Senator present. Mr. CLAY said that the committee had followed exactly the course adopted in the case of Missouri; and the Senators from Michigan would see that there was to be no exclusion of their votes, though no use might be made of them. Whether they were counted or not, the result would be the same. Now, when gentlemen reflected for a moment upon the operations of this Government, the difficulties to be settled, the important questions pending, and especially the one as to the election of a Chief Magistrate, they would see at once the necessity of avoiding doing any thing which would have the effect of creating excitement, or throwing any difficulty in the way at this particular juncture, when they were about to decide on so very important a question as would have to be dispesed of on Wednesday next. With regard, then, to what the Senator from Michigan [Mr. Non v Ell] had said as to Michigan being similarly situated to Missouri and Indiana, when they were admitted into the Union, and yet they were permitted to vote, he could not agree with him. The case of Michigan was not exactly that of Missouri, nor that of Indiana. The act of Congress passed admitted her on certain conditions, and, having accepted those conditions, she became a State, and performed all her functions as a state, and had given her votes for President and Vice President; and but for the formality of this resolution, which was deemed necessary by the committee, she was put upon precisely the same sooting as the States which had been mentioned. Whilst, then, he admitted there was some slight disserence between the case of Michigan and that of Missouri and of Indiana, he could not adunit that Michigan should vote, except in the maninct pointed out in the resolution; for he thought, under all the circumstances connected with this matter, it would be better to take the course recommended by the comnittee. Mr. CALT1 OUN remarked that, notwithstanding what was said by gentlemen to the contrary, during the debate on the admission of Michigan, they would now see that she was a state, de facto, at the time she formed her constitution. Now, if they applied the reason of that case to this, what was the result Michigan was not a State in this Union when her Senators were elected, nor when she voted for President and Vice President. The case was really a clear one, and any reason which would exclude these votes ought to have excluded her Senators from taking their seats on this floor. He did not bclieve that doubtful questions of this kind should be waived; and this question should be settled at once. He should, therefore, feel himself bound to vote against the resolution. Mr. LYON asked what course the committee would have recommended in case the vote of Michigan had varied the result. Would Michigan in such case be deprived of her vote? Mr. L. referred to the vote of Indiana, which, under similar circumstances, had been counted, and contended that Michigan was as much entitled to count her vote as was the State of Indiana. He thought the Senate would not make so unjust a discrimination between the two States as the resolution contemplated, and he would unite with his colleague [Mr. Nonwell.] in protesting against it. Mr. Giru NDY, replied that the gentleman could not expect him to answer a question which the wisest of their predecessors had purposely left undetermined. Feb. 4, 1837.]
What might be done under the circumstances adverted to by the Senator from Michigan, should they ever oc. cur, the wisdom of the day must decide. Mr. Piłł.STON concurred in all the views taken by his colleague in regard to this question. He confessed his inability to perceive any difference between admitting the Senators to take their seats in that body, and admitting Michigan to vote as the other States of the Union would vote. Looking at the matter in every point of view, he was willing that she should be allowed to vote. After a few words from Messrs. WEBSTER, GRUNDY, and CLAY, The question was taken, and the first resolution reported by the committee was adopted, without division; and the second was adopted: Yeas 34, nays 9, as follows: YEAs–Messrs. Bayard, Benton, Black, Brown, Buchanan, Clay, Clayton, Crittenden, Cuthbert, Dana, Davis, Ewing of Illinois, Ewing of Ohio, Grundy, Hendricks, Hubbard, Kent, King of Alabama, King of Georgia, Knight, Linn, Moore, Nicholas, Page, Prentiss, Rives, Robbins, Robinson, Sevier, Southard, Swift, Tipton, Tomlinson, Wright—34. Nars–Messrs. Calhoun, Fulton, Lyon, Morris, Niles, Norvell, Preston, Walker, Wall–9. Some struggle took place as to the order of business. Mr. BUCHANAN expressed his hope that the land bill would be taken up, and some final disposition made of it, so that the other business of the country might proceed. - Mr. WALKER expressed the same desire, and said that it was his intention to move that the bill be recommitted to the Committee on Public Lands. Mr. WEBSTER inquired of Mr. Walken whether, in the general bill reported by the latter to-day, there was not one section exactly the same as one of the sections in this land bill? Mr. WALKER replied in the affirmative. Mr. WEBSTER then obscrved that it was contrary to the rules of the Senate that they should have two bills before them at the same time for the same thing. He had no objection, as at present advised, to the principle to which the section related, which was that of the power of a State to tax the public lands within its bounds as soon as sold, and made the inquiry only that the due order of business might be preserved. The Senate then proceeded to take up
TII E LAND BILL.
And the question being on the motion of Mr. WALREu to recommit the bill to the Cominittee on Public Lands, Mr. WEBSTER inquired whether the motion had not been to recommit the bill, with all the amendments thereto, which had been agreed upon in the Senate, to the Land Committee. The CHAIR replied that, by a rule of the Senate, when a bill was recommitted to the committee which had reported it, all amendments dropped, of course, and it went back to the committee in its original form. A discussion arose on the point of order, which occupied the Senate for a considerable time, but which was finally arranged by the adoption of two distinct motions:
form;) and another to commit to the same committee the several amendments made thereto, with the understand. ing that the committee would not, in again reporting the bill, change the great and leading points on which the Senate had come to a deliberate decision; though, on points of minor consequence, and on those not decided,
they would be cousidered as at liberty to modify it at pleasure.
has continued fixed by force of law. one to recommit the bill, (which went back in its naked
Before the question of recommitment was decided on,
Mr. CALHOUN addressed the Senate. I sincerely hope (said Mr. C.) that the motion for recommitment will not prevail. The session is now far advanced; but a single month more remains, and this bill has already occupied more than its due share of the time and attention of the Senate. The discussion which it has undergone has shown that there exists in this body a great diversity of opinion, not on the details only, but on the principle of the bill. A large portion of the Senate are under the impression that nothing ought to be done; and among the residue who are in favor of some bill, the differences of opinion seem to be irreconcileable. If we recommit the bill, the inevitable consequence will be that we shall have a new set of propositions to amend it, and a vast deal of time will be wasted in vain attempts to reconcile things essentially irreconcileable. For myself, I believe the bill to be radically wrong; and that no modifications which it is likely to assume can ever render it right. I had intended to say something on the general subject, but it is now late, and I forego much of what it was my purpose to have submitted to the Senate. I will, however, as briefly as possible, throw out one or two leading views in regard to it.
The professed object of this bill is to restrict the sales of the public land; to put down speculation, and to prevent the accumulation of a surplus revenue. Plausible objects, I admit, and such as sound well to the ear; but the practical operation of the bill which promises then will, as I apprehend, lead to results very different indeed. So many and so subtle are the means by which those in power are able to fleece the community with. out the people themselves being sensible of it, that the contemplation of it is almost enough to make any lover of his country despair. I have long been sensible of this; but if I was called upon to select an instance which more than others forcibly illustrates the truth of the remark, I would refer any one who doubted to the present bill. When we closely examine its provisions, we shall perceive that, so far from repressing, its effect will be to secure and consummate the most enorinous speculation which has ever been witnessed on this continent. This speculation has been produced by those in power, and the large profits they hope to realize are to be consummated by the passage of this bill. The chairman of the committee himself has told the Senate that a body of the public lands, greater in extent than the largest State in the Union, has been seized upon by speculators. The Senator from Georgia [Mr. KING) states the amount at srom thirty to forty millions of dollars. This may be an over estimate, but at the lowest calculation the amount cannot be less than twenty-five millions. What has produced this vast investment? What has thus suddenly rendered the public lands an object of such enormous speculation? What but the state of the currency Our circulating medium has nearly doubled within the space of three years. It has increased from an average of six dollars and a half per head, to an everage of ten dollars. And what has been the natural and the inevitable effect? The rise in the price of every thing, the price of which is not kept down by some legal provision; the price of provisions and of labor have nearly doubled, while the price of land Is it, then, any thing wonderful that land under this restraint should have become an object of speculation? There lies the root of the evil. This enorinous augmentation of the circulating medium has filled all the channels of ordinary business to repletion, and the ovel flow finds an outlet in speculation. But who have been the authors of this state of things? Every Senator can answer the question. Every body knows that it has been the work of those in power. They began the experiment in crease, and with it the circulation of paper money; but in the face of all argument and all warning, the experiment went on. The only existing check which had power to control the excessive issue of bank paper was put down. The deposites of the public money were transferred som where the laws had put them, and placed in de posite banks, arbitrarily selected at the will of the Executive. The authors of the present state of things are the very men who come here and propose to us this bill as a remely. These two facts should be put together, and should be kept together, in the mind of every Senator who will form a right judgment in this matter. The removal of the deposites was the first step. We are now come to the second step in the process. The men who accomplished the first have already profited by it politically, and, if rumor speaks true, in other ways also. 1)oes any man here entertain a doubt that high officers of Government have used those deposites as instruments of speculation in the public lands? Is not the fact notorious? is not one in the immediate neighborhood of the Executive among those the most deeply concerned? Will this be denied? Is it not well known that several officers in the Departments purchased lands to sell on speculation, with the funds officially under their own control? How the same combination of persons profited politically by the same movement, I shall show hereaster. Assuming, then, what cannot be denic d, that the excessive increase of the circulating medium produced by the experiment is the main cause of these speculations in the public land, and assuming, on the authority of universal rumor, that high functionarics of the Government have availed themselves of the state of things thus produced, I come now to what is my main proposition, namely, that this bill is calculated to consummate these plans of speculation, and that without this measure, or something equivalent to it, they must end in loss. [Here some explanation took place between Mr. Calnow N and Mr. Walken, as to the state monts made by the latter in reference to the probable effect of the re. jection of the bill.] Well, sir, be it as the honorable chairman states. He says now tha', if this bill shall not become a law, the purchases of the public land will continue to go on as they have done for the last year. Admit it, and what must be the conse quence? Cannot all men perceive that in this, as in all other cases, over supply must operate to reduce the price? The honorable chairman tells us that the amount of land required for fair and honest settlement, by the progress of the country, is five millions of acres annually; and that the amount taken upon speculation last year was thirty millions. If so, then there is already in the hands of the speculators a six years’ supply. Should all the land offices be closed to-morrow, the amount these speculators hold would not be absorbed by the regular demands of the country in less than six years. Now, the greater part of these large purchases have been made upon loans; the interest is running on; and unless the sales shall be in proportion, do not all men see that the accumulation of unproductive land upon their hands must insallibly ruin those who are engaged in such speculations? Under such circumstances, the help of legislation is the only thing that can relieve them. I repeat it. This bill, or something like it, is indispensable. It puts a finish to the work. The land offices being left open, and no obstructions thrown in the way of the purchase for settlement, we may suppose that one half of the five millions annually required will be purchased from the (joment. There will then remain *''wo and a half millions to take off the thirty millions stock which the speculators already hold; and
SENATE.] Public Lands. [Feb. 4, 1837. 1833. They were distinctly told what would be the at this rate it must be twelve years before that stock can result. They were warned that bank capital would in- be disposed of, and if the stock is to be augmented by
new and large purchases during the present year, the speculation must end in inevitable ruin. The thing is plain; it cannot be denied; it admits of no demonstration. What, then, is resorted to to prevent this disastrous catastrophe The answer is found in the details of this bill. And I entirely concur with the Senator from Massachusetts [Mr. Davis] in pronouncing them most odious in their character. No American citizen is to be left free to purchase a portion of the public domain, the property of the whole people of the United States, without a license. Yet, before he can buy the land which his own Government has offered for sale, he must first take out a license. Odious as I hold all licenses upon the press or licenses upon trade, I hold this to be fully as obnoxious as either. A license to purchase the public lands! I cannot buy myself a farm, though I have the money in my pocket, till I pay a dollar and a quarter per acre for a license, and then I do not get a title until I have complied with the most onerous conditions; and if, after I have paid my money, I see reason to change my mind, I cannot leave the land without forfeiting all I have paid, if I find the situation to be sickly. I cannot remain there without risking the lives of my family; I cannot sell it to one more accustomed to the climate, without incurring the pain of perjury as a speculator; nor can I remove without forfeiting the purchase money. But supposing the settler remains, he is required to consuminate his title, not in a court of law or before a judicial officer, but before the register and receiver of the district. I do not know how Senators from the new States may feel, but this I know, that nothing uno'er heaven shall induce me to place Carolinians in such circumstances. The registers and receivers of a land office to be judges in matters of real estate! Why, sir, these persons, for the most part, are political partisans. They have obtained their offices as a reward for services rendered at the election. Has not the doctrine of the spoils been openly avowed on this floor’ Has it not been unblushingly maintained that the party which obtains a political victory has, as a thing of course, a right to all the offices of the State, and to the public money into the bargain, so that they may control it entirely for their own benefit? I have a right, therefore, to assume that, as a gen: eral thing, these registers and receivers will be political partisans. What, then, will be the condition of a large portion of our citizens’ Allowing the consumption of public lands to be two and a half millions of acres a year, you will have about a hundred thousand voters, the title to whose earthly all will be in the hands of these registers and receivers. Can any thing be conceived more odious? Would the license of the press itself be a measure more hatcful or dangerous? Sir, we have spent too much time in considering so monstrous a proposition. I hope we shill not waste upon it another moment. But, putting the political cffects of this bill out of veiw, let us inquire what will be its moral influence. The senator from New York [Mr. Whight] told us that he considered the price of public land as already too high, and that he was averse to placing it still higher. Sir, these were his words; but let us look at the face of the bill; its practical effect will be an enormous increase in the price to be paid for the public domain; I put to any man of sound common sense, whether he had not rather give two dollars an acre at once for his farm, and get a good title for his land without further difficulty? I would, most certainly. Consider the terms on which he must buy: the moment he enters his land under this bill, it becomes subject to State taxation; but if he buys from the speculators it will not be so. The entire mass of land purchased last year, and including some of the best parts of the public domain, is now held for sale free of
taxation, while land purchased from the Government must immediately be taxed. What chance will the United States lands have against such a competition? None at all; the speculators will have the complete monopoly. This, then, is a question between the Government and the speculators. Our stock is one hundred and twenty millions, theirs is thirty millions; our land is at a dollar and a quarter, theirs is at not less than three dollars; and here is a fair competition. But this bill comes in, and throws the market into the hands of the speculators. In any other than these extraordinary times, one woull suppose that these objections must be fatal to any bill. It is most obvious that unless you throw restrictions round the purchase of land from the United States, the object of the speculators must be defeated. But we are asked, what is to be done with all this speculation? I answer, let it alone, and it will run down of itself. The times will react—the present state of things is artificial—it cannot possibly continue. Speculation, after it has run its course, will run down, and that with far less injury than will result from any attempt to put it down by legislation. If, however, you do legislate, there are many expedicnts besides that proposed in this bill. In the first place, you may raise the price of the public lands. This, to be sure, will confer a great benefit on those who have already purchased; but it will check future speculation. I have, however, no idea that any such measure will be resorted to; it would be very unpopular; and the object which gentlemen have in view must be secured without the loss of personal popularity. Then, in the second place, you may shut the land offices. This expedient, however, would be liable to the same objections with the other; for you can hit upon none which will not either be inoperative altogether, or of great advantage to those who have already purchased. My opinion, in regard to the public lan's, has undergone a great change during the course of this debate. I thought there was a majority in this Senate who would resolutely object to all rash changes in our !and system. I hoped, most confidently, that New England at least would have stood fast. I have been disappointed. I hoped that the public lands would not be drawn into our political contests. But in this, too, I have been entirely disappointed. I see that the era has arrived when our large capitalists are in a fair way to scize upon the whole body of the public lands. This has compelled a great change to take place in my mind. I greatly fear that we have reached the time when the public domain is lost to the Government for all useful purposes. We may, indeed, receive some amount of revenue from it, but it will be accompanic d with such agitations, and so much trouble and political corruption, that the gain will not compensate for the evil incurred. I have made up iny mind, if a fair concession can be made, to co::cede the whole to the new states, on some fixed and well-considered condition. I am for transferring the whole, on the condition that they shall pay us a certain per cent. of the proceeds, and submit to the necessary limitations as to the mode of bringing the lands into the market. The present system of sale not to be disturbed for some years, and after that the principle of graduation to be Prudently introduced. I have always felt the force of the argument that the new states are not now placed upon an c qual footing with the other members of the confederacy. They are full of our land officers and of public officers under our control; and in regard to the soil within their limits, they sustain to us a relation which * ever be productive of discontent and agitation. Whether a thing of this kind can safely be dome, I do not know; but of this I am fully persuaded, that such a * Would be infinitely better than the scheme propool in."o bill. The chairman of the committee on the Public Lands has avowed his own ornot belief that Vol. XIII.-45
the evils of the existing state of things are such that even a bill like this should be resorted to as a preferable alternative. He considers a surplus in the Treasury as a great evil: (and so do 1, too, if it is to be permanent.) And his dread of a surplus is so great that it has prevented him from regarding the details of this bill as I am persuaded he would have done, but for the bias thus produced. With these views, I conclude by expressing my hope that the bill will not be recommittcq, but that we shall either reject it, or suffer it to sled p by laying it upon the table. The question was then taken on the recommitment of the bill, and decided in the affirmative: Yeas 23, nays 20, as follows: YEAs--Messrs. Benton, Black, Cuthbert, Dana, Ewing of Illinois, Fulton, Grundy, Hendricks, Hubbard, King of Alabama, King of Georgia, Linn, Lyon, Moore, Nicholas, Niles, Norveh, Rives, Robinson, Ruggles, Sevier, Walker, Wright—23. NAxs–Messrs. Bayard, brown, Buchanan, Calhoun, Clay, Clayton, loavis, Ewing of Ohio, Kent, Knight, Morris, Prenti-s, Preston, Southard, Swift, Tipton, Tomlinson, Wall, Webster, White—20. On motion, the Senate adjourned.
Mox DAY, FEB Ru Any 6. A BOLITION OF SLAVERY.
Mr. TIPTON said that he was requested to present to the Senate two memorials, signed by citizens of Carroll and White counties, in the State of Indiana, praying Congress to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia. These petitions (said he) are printed papers, couched in language both decorous and respectful, and signed by citizens of great respectability. I acknowledge (said Mr. T.) the right of the people to petition Congress for a redress of their grievances, and I feel it to be my duty, as one of their representatives on the floor of the Senate, to present their petitions, and to ask for them a respectful consideration; but I feel it to be due to the petitioners, to the Senate, and to myself, to state, respectfully but firmly, that my reflections on this subject have brought me to to a conclusion very different from that which they seen to have arrived at.
I am unable to perceive, sir, whence it is that Congress derives the power to interfere with slavery in the i)istrict of Columbia. Our forefathers, in framing the federal constitution, recognised the existence of slavery in a portion of the States of this confederacy, by permitting slaves to be enumerated in apportioning representatives on the floor of Congress. Every attempt made by citizens of the non-slaveholding States to disturb the rights of our neighbors to this species of property distracts the peace of the country and endangers the existence of the Union.
It is contended that Congress has exclusive legislation over the District of Columbia. If that be granted, it is but a delegated and limited power, not original, derivative. Slavery existed in Virginia, Maryland, and other States, before the fideral constitution was adopted; slavery then belonged exclusively to the several States, and there it still remains; their entering into the Union did not yield to the Federal Government any right to interfere with the question of slavery within the States or in this District. The States of Virginia and Maryland ceded to the Federal Government this ten miles square, called the District of Columbia, for a seat of Government, and granted to Congress exclusive legislative powers over it for that purpose. This power was given to Congress by the States for special purposes, and is limited, from the very nature of the grant. Congress cannot abolish the right of trial by jury, abridge the liberty of
the press, nor establish a national church, in this District, any more than in any of the States; nor do I believe that Congress has a right to interfere with slavery in the District, while Virginia and Maryland continue to be slave States. Were it possible that the petitioners could essect their object, and abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, they would erect a receptable in the midst of two slaveholding States for fanatics, abolitionists, and I unaway slaves, who would, from their stronghold here, spread dissatisfaction, death, and destruction, through the surrounding country. Could the States who ceded the District have anticipated such a result, they never would have ceded it to the United States. Mr. T. said he was happy in being able to state to the Senate that there were but thirty-three names signed to these petitions, and that he hoped and believed that there was but a small portion of his constituents in favor of the course that the petitioners recommended; that he thought it was best to meet this question fairly; and, taking the suggestion of an honorable Senator from Virginia, not now here, [Mr. Tyler, he would move to refer these petitions to the Committee for the 1)istrict of Columbia. Let that committee give us a report that will present a full and fair view of the subject. This, he thought, would quiet the public mind. This course was adopted some years ago, when Congress was over un with petitions for stopping the mail on Sunday. The memorials were referred to the appropriate committee, and one able report from the chairman of the committee had put that exciting subject to rest, as he hoped, forever.
Mr. CALHOUN expressed the hope that a question
would be made on the reception of the petitions. Ile insisted that, if an objection should be made to the reception of a petition, it was the rule, and for forty years had been the practice of the Senate, to take the vote of reception, without a motion not to receive. He read the rule on this point, which stated that, if there was a cry of the House to reccive, and no objection should be made, or if the House were silent, the reception would take place of course. Otherwise, a vote must be taken on its reception. Mr. C. said he had in vain insisted on this at the last session. He hoped the Chair would now sustain the rule, before Mr. C. would be compelled to move a non-reception. Mr. EWING, of Ohio, said he supposed the question before the Senate was, as a matter of course, whether the petition should be received. The C11 AIR was understood to say that the practice which thus rendered a simple objection nugutory, and required a motion not to receive, was crroneous. Mr. EWING. Such is my opinion as to the rules of this body. But I rise to express my regret that any ob. jection is made to the reception of those petitions. I last year expressed a most decided opinion against the passage of a law which should carry into effect the prayer of these petitioners; and my opinion is still unchanged. I am a citizen of a State in which slavery is not admitted, and all my habits, and seelings, and opinions, are averse to it, both in principle and practice; but I did not then think, and I do not now think, that our National Legislature ought to interfere with the subject. They ought not to interfere with it, for it would exacer. bate sectional scelings, which ought to be assuaged rather than excited; and, in justice to the people of the District itself, it ought not, for they are in the midst of a slaveholding population, surrounded with it on aii ideo, "oy themselves have been bred up in the same habits. We cannot, therefore, as just legislators, act for these People in a most importaño mor, involving their so condition, according ... t. opinions and wishes of those who * entire strangers to them and their condition, and against their . scelings and will.
We did not receive a cession of this territory from the States to which they belonged for any such purpose; nor would such a measure be an act of humanity toward the slave, but the reverse. It would not give liberty to one human being. If such a law were about to pass, all the slaves in the 1)istrict would be hurried out of it, and sold to the rice and sugar planters in the South; so that the cause of humanity would not be subserved by it. I have therefore been, and am still, opposed to the prayer of these petitioners. Having expressed once more my views on this subject, I will further say that, in my opinion, great injustice has been done to these petitioners, here and elsewhere. They are not incendiaries, but an orderly, quiet, conscientious part of the community. The opinions which I expressed last year—the same which l now briefly repeat—went abroad to the m, and were not, as 1 ever heard, objected to; they allow the same frecdom of opinion which they demand, and which I claim for them; and let me add that they are much mistaken who expect to put down opinion by harshness or proscription. The refusal to receive these petitions is considered as a denial of a constitutional right, and the tendency of our course here is to blend the constitutional right of petition with the abolition of slav cry in the District. The effect of this is easily forcseen. I hope, sir, that these petitions will be received, and referred in the ordinary way, and that a report containing reason and argument will be made by that committee, and go ab oad to the people. It would have a better sect on the public mind than harshness either of action or expression here. Mr. Til'TON said, when he presented the memorials, he thought the usual course would be pursued; but he was satisfied with the decision of the Chair. Mr. MORRIS, in order to obviate any possible difficulty, moved that the petition be received. Mr. SWIFT said he thought the same respect ought to be paid to petitioners on this as on any other subject. The kind of opposition which these petitions had met with on their presentation had very much increased the excitement, instead of putting it down; and he therefore regarded it as an improper course, if such were the object. In Mr. S's S'ate, those petitioners were among the most respectable; and he to erefore felt unwilling to have the m branded here as fanatics and incendiaries. They might be mistaken; but they were as intelligent and honest as any other people. Mr. CALHOUN oxofessed his satisfaction at the decision of the Chair. He hoped the old mode, which had been uniformly practised till within five or six years, would now be pursued. The CHAIR was understood to say that an objection was alone sufficient to produce the question on reception. Several petitions were then presented on the same subject—By Mr. MORRIS: A petition from 2,265 ladies of Ohio; a pet ton from 3,710 ( !ectors of the State of Ohio; a petition from 780 electors of Cuyahoga county, Ohio; a petition from a number of the electors of Laporte, Indiana; also, two petitions from the State of Tennessee, one srom 108 ladies and the other from 107 men; all praying for the abolition of slavery and the slave trade in the District of Columbia, Mr. Glt UNLY asked the gentleman from Ohio iMr. Mon it is] to file with the petitions the letter which enclosed to him the two from Tennessee. Mr. MOIRRIS said that the Tennessee petitions were enclosed in a letter srom the State of Tenness, e, to a citizen of Ohio, by whom they were enclosed to him. . Mr. WHITE asked for the name of the person in Tennessee who had enclosed the petitions to Ohio,