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the Mississippi, out of which the Western States have since been formed, she could have had no idea that her surrender could ever be turned so as to operate against herself. But the dislike which grew up in those States towards the negro being made use of by the Eastern Protectionists in furtherance of their own objects, caused this apparently harmless question to become as dangerous a bone of sectional contention as that of the tariffs themselves.
At first sight, one does not see why it need have done so. There seems to be no question that these States ought to have been admitted as slave States. Not that the fact of Virginia having once been mistress of the territory east of the Mississippi, and Louisiana of that to the west of it, ought to have affected the laws of the new States after their original connection was severed; but the territories in question, having been ceded to the Union, belonged to the whole Union, and ought to have been equally open to the citizens of every part of it; and it might have appeared preposterous that one cluster of States should combine to keep the citizens of the others out of the lands to be settled; for, of course, while the fact of negro slavery being permitted did not lead to the exclusion of Northerners, the fact of its being forbidden would lead to the exclusion of Southerners. The Northerner might go where he pleased, into free and slave States alike, and take his property with him ; but to a Southern slaveholder emigration into a free-soil State implied the confiscation of what probably was the most valuable part of his property.
Strict justice, therefore, would demand that, as I said, all new States should be slave States, or States in which Northern and Southern citizens might alike settle as colonists and find their own level; but there was very little doubt what that level would be. The condition of all the Western territory as to climate and soil was such as to be very unfavourable to slave labour, or the institution by which negro labour was fostered; and it was extremely unlikely that the South, which had more unoccupied land for which that kind of labour was fitted, and perhaps necessary, than it could hope to bring under cultivation within the space of another century, would care to send forth its citizens to the uncongenial climate of the backwoods ; so that a sincere hater of slavery might console himself for doing justice to the slaveholders by the belief that there were causes more powerful than any Federal legislation could be to prevent the stain of slavery from attaching to any of the States of the West. Besides this, it was not, in the eye of equity, an affair for the consideration of Congress at all. The Atlantic States had their own several con
stitutions regulating whether slavery was to be allowed or not. Surely the Western States ought to be allowed to do the same.
But though the question was not properly one for Federal legislation at all—though Congress, if it had passed any laws on the subject, ought to have permitted slavery—and though, if it had done so, there was no chance of slavery spreading—the exacerbated state of mind arising out of the long national contest which had been growing more and more irreconcilable, interposed a fatal barrier to the course which justice demanded, and which would have secured by the operation of nature the result which the emancipationists desired. Congress did attempt to legislate; the legislation had for its object to keep the Southerners out of the territories which belonged to them as well as to their rivals; and the result of it was to force slavery upon regions where, if it had been left to itself, it never would have shown its face. The alliance between the East and the West—of the men who attacked slavery because they wanted protection, and the men who swallowed protection because they hated slavery—forced those against whom the coalition was formed to connect the two ideas together. To please the Western States, those of the North-East resolved to keep slaves, if they could, out of any fresh communities that might be admitted
as integral parts of the Union; to please the NorthEastern States, those of the West were willing to support in Congress the principle of protection, under proper stipulations, to prevent it operating injuriously to themselves. The alliance between the two powers—call them, if you like, the children of Jacob and the children of Ishmael-was consecrated by the offering of a sacrifice on the altar of their great god, the Almighty Dollar, and poor Esau was selected as the victim. The understanding was, that any near States that were admitted should be at once free-soil and protectionist-free-soil, to satisfy alike the Philo-negroists of the East and the Misonegroists of the West, and protectionist, to satisfy the manufacturers of New England.
As far as the free-soil part of it went, the South had no particular objection. To be sure, it was rather insulting to be forbidden from going where her citizens had a perfect right to go if they pleased, even though they did not wish to do so,—especially if the prohibition came from a quarter in which there had been a constant endeavour to injure and to thwart her. Still, apart from the point of honour, there was no reason for fighting about it. But the protectionist element of the alliance made it a question for her of life and death. The certainty that a free-soil victory was also a protectionist victory made it absolutely incumbent on those who were opposed to the latter to be also opposed to the former. Hence the bitterness of conflict that prevailed when there was the question of admitting a new State. It was worth while for the Southerners to renew the conflict on each occasion that the question arose ; for though, in the question of the tariffs, the battle had gone against them, yet there was a hope that, by the creation of new slave States in the West, it would prevent the evil extending any farther. Such States might not have a wish to have a single slave within their borders ; but in the great warfare that was dividing the Federation, the absence of any direct Northern legislation ranged them on the side of the South. They were Southern, unless there was any distinct provision to the contrary.
I have yielded too much to the temptation of going into details on the question of Free Trade versus Protection. I think I shall avoid it here, because the temptation is less. The first great contest took place four years after the first great contest on the other subject in 1820. The fight was about the admission of Missouri. I shall not go into the history of it. It would be a long story to tell if details were given-how the South, supported not only by her natural rights with regard to the territories, but also by the stipulations entered into with