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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 persorm 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It is in the face of this declaration that it has been impudently said that the compromise measure of 1850 repealed the Missouri Compromise.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 sympathiesno 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 have 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 nonslave-holding States do not vote; which is very true. But the women rear and train those who are one day to exercise the right of suffrage, and the children are coming forward as the compeers or successors of those who do exercise it. Both classes are therefore directly interested in its exercise, and form a part of the constituency of the representative. They are represented, and free population is therefore a suitable basis on which to apportion a representation. Not so with the slave. He is not a part of the constituency. No age qualifies him, no property, if there be a property qualification, ever entitles him to any participation in the elective franchise. The nurture and training of those who are to exercise it, and which is to qualify them for its exercise, is not committed to him. Slaves may minister to the mere physical wants of those who do, and those who are to exercise this franchise, but they do not imbue their minds with free principles and high aspirations. They are in no way an element of a free government. The representation, then, so far as they are concerned, is the representation of the master; and it is founded upon property. It is not to be denied that property may form the basis of representation. It has been contended that as it pays the greater portion of the taxes, it furnishes a suitable and proper basis of representation, to some extent. It was so contended in the Convention to revise the Constitution of this Commonwealth in 1820. But the question returns; — viewed as property, why should three fifths of this peculiar species of property furnish a basis of representation, while all other property is entirely excluded ? The solution of this question will be found in the history of the Constitution, and that of the period which immediately preceded its formation. So far as this representation is constitutional, it has its existence in the second section of the first article of the Constitution, in these words, –“Representation and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States, which may be included within this Union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other persons.” The reason why this should be the rule is certainly not apparent, but a short investigation will solve the mystery. Bills of credit were first resorted to as a means for carrying on the war of the Revolution, but it soon became apparent that the credit of the bills must be sustained by means for their redemption. On the 26th December, 1775, Congress resolved that the thirteen Colonies be pledged for their redemption, —“that each Colony provide ways and means to sink its proportion in such manner as will be most effectual and best adapted to the condition, circumstances, and equal mode of levying taxes in each; and that the proportion or quota of each respective Colony be determined according to the number of inhabitants of all ages, including negroes and mulattoes, in each.” The Committee which reported the articles of Confederation in July, 1776, inserted a similar provision, with an exception of Indians not paying taxes. Upon this a debate arose. Mr. Chase moved that the quotas should be fixed by the number of white inhabitants. He admitted that taxation should be always in proportion to property; that this was in theory the true rule, but that from a variety of difficulties it could never be adopted in practice. He considered the number of inhabitants a tolerably good criterion of property, and