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upon. It is not a sentiment on which Massachusetts Whigs differ. There is not a man in this hall who holds to it any more firmly than I do, or one who adheres to it more than another. I feel some little interest in this matter, Sir. Did I not commit myself in 1837 to the whole doctrine, fully, entirely? And I must be permitted to say that I cannot quite consent that more recent discoverers should claim the merit and take out a patent. I deny the priority of their invention. Allow me to say, Sir, it is not their thunder.” .
“We can only say, and in my judgment, Mr. President, I can only say, that we are to use the first, the last, and every occasion that offers to oppose the extension of slave power. But I speak of it here as in Congress, as a political question for statesmen to act upon. We must so regard it. tainly do not mean to say it is less important in a moral point of view,that it is not more important in many other points of view. But as a legislator, or in an official capacity, I must look at it, consider it, and decide it, as a matter for political action.”
The platform of that convention contained a very full and emphatic annunciation of Whig principles. It was resolved, among other things,
" That the acquisition of Mexican territory, under the circumstances of the country - unless under adequate securities for the protection of human liberty
- can have no other probable result than the ultimate advancement of the sectional supremacy of the slave power.
“ That if the war shall be prosecuted to the final subjugation or dismemberment of Mexico, the Whigs of Massachusetts now declare, and put this declaration of their purpose on record, — that Massachusetts will never consent that Mexican territory, however acquired, shall become a part of the American Union, unless on the unalterable condition that there shall be neither elavery nor involuntary servitude therein, otherwise than in the punishment of crime.'
That, in making this declaration of her purpose, Massachusetts announces no new principles of action in regard to her sister States, and makes no new application of principles already acknowledged. She merely states the great American principles embodied in our Declaration of Independence --the political equality of persons in the civil State ; —— the principle adopted in the Legislation of the States under the confederation, and sanctioned by
the Constitution; in the admission of all the new States formed from the only territory belonging to the Union at the adoption of the Constitution; — it is, in short, the imperishable principle set forth in the ever memorable ordinance of 1787, which has for more than half a century been the fundamental law of human liberty in the great valley of the Lakes, the Ohio and the Mississippi, with what brilliant success, and with what unparalleled results, let the great and growing States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, answer and declare. “And that uncompromising hostility to all wars for conquest, and to all acquisitions of territory in any manner whatever, for the diffusion and perpetuity of slavery, and for the extension and permanency of the slave power, are now — as they have been — cardinal principles in the policy of the Whigs of Massachusetts, and form, in their judgment, the broad and deep foundations on which rest, and ever must rest, the prospective hopes, and enduring interests of the whole country.”
There has been no repeal of these resolutions.
With regard to Mr. Webster, who may be allowed by the Whig friends of Mr. Fillmore to have been a sound exponent of Whig principles, his opposition to the extension of slavery was distinctly expressed in a speech at Niblo's Garden in New York, in 1837; and he adhered to it throughout his whole life.
When the bill to establish a territorial government in Oregon was under consideration in August, 1848, Mr. Webster said: —
“For one, I wish to avoid all committals, all traps by way of preamble or recital; and as I do not intend to discuss this question at large, I content myself with saying, in few words, that my opposition to the further extension of local slavery in this country, or to the increase of slave representation in Congress, is general and universal. It has no reference to limits of latitude or points of the compass. I shall oppose all such extension and all such increase, in all places, at all times, under all circumstances, even against all inducements, against all supposed limitation of great interests, against all combinations—against all compromises. This is short, but I hope clear and comprehensive.”
It may be noted as a curious piece of political history, that Mr. Douglas moved an amendment to the bill, in favor of extending the Missouri Compromise to the Pacific Ocean, which was adopted by the following vote :
YEAS — Messrs. Atchison, Badger, Bell, Benton, Berrien, Borland, Bright, Butler, Calhoun, Cameron, Davis of Mississippi, Dickinson, Douglas, Downs, Fitzgerald, Foote, Hannegan, Houston, Hunter, Johnson of Maryland, Johnson of Louisiana, Johnson of Georgia, King, Lewis, Mangum, Mason, Metcalf, Pearce, Sebastian, Spruance of Delaware, Sturgeon, Turney, and Underwood. Total, 33.
NAYs - Messrs. Allen, Atherton, Baldwin, Bradbury, Breese, Clarke, Corwin, Davis of Massachusetts, Dayton, Dix, Dodge, Felch, Green, Hale, Hamblin, Miller, Niles, Phelps, Upham, Walker, and Webster. Total, 21.
In Mr. Webster's speech " for the Constitution and the Union," March 7, 1850, there was no surrender of his opposition to the extension of slavery. While he declared that if a proposition were before Congress to establish a government for New Mexico, and it was moved to insert a provision for a prohibition of slavery, he would not vote for it, giving as a reason that "such prohibition would be idle as it respects any effect it would have upon the territory, and he would not take pains uselessly to reaffirm an ordinance of nature, nor to reënact the will of God," — he caused extracts from his speeches in 1837 and 1847 to be read as evidence of his uniform opinions, and added :
" Sir, wherever there is a substantive good to be done, wherever there is a foot of land to be prevented from becoming slave territory, I am ready to assert the principle of the exclusion of slavery. I am pledged to it from the year 1837; I have been pledged to it again and again ; and I will perform those pledges ; but I will not do a thing unnecessarily that wounds the feelings of others, or that does discredit to my own understanding.”
It is in the face of this declaration that it has been impudently said that the compromise measure of 1850 repealed the Missouri Compromise. One extract more, and that on his reception at Buffalo in 1851.
“I never would consent, and never have consented, that there should be one foot of slave territory beyond what the old thirteen States had at the time of the formation of the Union. Never! never !”
Mr. Clay also was opposed to the further extension of slavery. In the debates of 1850 he is reported to have said:
“I am extremely sorry to hear the senator from Mississippi say that he requires, first, the extension of the Missouri Compromise line to the Pacific, and also that he is not satisfied with that, but requires, if I understood him correctly, a positive provision for the admission of slavery south of that line. And now, sir, coming from a slave State, as I do, I owe it to myself, I owe it to truth, I owe it to the subject, to say that no earthly power could induce me to vote for a specific measure for the introduction of slavery where it had not before existed, either south or north of that line. Coming, as I do, from a slave State, it is my solemn, deliberate, and well-matured determination, that no power, no earthly power, shall compel me to vote for the positive introduction of slavery either south or north of that line.
+ # # + + # # *
“But if, unhappily, we should be involved in war, between the two parts of this confederacy, in which the effort upon the one side should be to restrain the introduction of slavery into the new Territories, and upon the other side to force its introduction there, what a spectacle should we present to the astonishment of mankind, in an effort, not to propagate rights, but, I must say it, though I trust it will be understood to be said with no design to excite feeling, — a war to propagate wrongs in the Territories thus acquired from Mexico. It would be a war in which we should have no sympathies, no good wishes; in which all mankind would be against us; in which our own history itself would be against us; for, from the commencement of the Revolution down to the present time, we have constantly reproached our British ancestors for the introduction of slavery into this country.”
These extracts show the Whig faith in relation to the extension of slavery, into which I have been baptized ; and with this creed before me, I may well believe that Whigs who are willing that slavery should be farther extended, are following after strange political gods.
But the argument to show that the opposition of the Republican party to the extension of slavery is not fanatical or sectional; but that it is for the preservation, thus far, of equal rights on the part of all the people in the national representation; and that it is therefore a constitutional measure; may be extended much beyond the proof that it has heretofore had the support of the Whig party and its most eminent leaders.
The representation in the House of Representatives is politically unequal. The representation of the non-slaveholding States is based upon free population ; – that of the slave-holding States upon free population, with the addition of a further representation of three fifths of their slaves; which they insist are property. The slave-holding States bave twenty-one members, by reason of their slave representation. This is clearly not an equality of representation. If the slaves are persons, entitled to be represented as such, there is no reason for this discrimination. If they are regarded as property, there is just as much reason for a representation founded on the laboring animals which aid in performing the work upon a farm in a non-slave-holding State.
That the slave is not a person who is represented in the national government, is very obvious. He never votes. It may be answered that the women and children of the non