SOUTHERN AGGRESSION — THE PURPOSES OF THE UNION — AND THE COMPARATIVE EFFECTS OF SLAVERY AND FREEDOM!
Speech of Mr. L. D. Campbell, of Ohio, in the House of Representatives,
In Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union, on the Resolution to refer the President's Message to the appropriate Standing Committees.
Mr. CAMPBELL having obtained the floor at the close of the remarks of Mr. VENABLE, of North Carolina, addressed the Committee as follows:
Mr. CHAIRMAN: The early anxiety of young members, such as myself, who are without any practical experience in the affairs of legislative life, to participate in the debates of this body, is not regarded as a reliable promise of future usefulness, either by the older members or by the country. The temerity which I exhibit may, in justice to myself, require explanation. If it does, that explanation must be found in the deep interest felt by the people I have the honor to represent, in the exciting questions to which the attention of the Committee has been called, and in the somewhat peculiar political relation in which I stand to the Chief Magistrate, whoso first annual Message is under consideration, as well as to the various political parties represented on this floor.
It is well known, sir, to the gentleman from North Carolina, [Mr. CLINGMAN,] — to the gentleman from Alabama, [Mr. HILLIARD,] who have already addressed the Committee, as well as to others on this floor, whom I had the pleasure of meeting in the National Convention at Philadelphia, in June, 1848, which nominated the distinguished individual who now occupies the Presidential Chair, that for reasons which I then frankly gave, I considered it my duty to repudiate the nomination. I had the honor to represent there, the same district which I now represent here. I regarded then this all-absorbing proposition to extend slavery over free Territories, as paramount to all other questions, because of the vast moral responsibility which it involved. I regarded it as one upon which every man who sought power at the hands of the people should fearlessly and frankly avow his sentiments.
I had always been a Whig, perhaps an "ultra Whig." In my humble sphere I had labored fearlessly and ardently — if not successfully — to promote the great principles of that party, upon the success of which I sincerely believed the true interests of this great country depended. Before that time I had never faltered — never flagged — never turned my back to a political adversary! In looking around in the memorable contest of '48, I found one candidate pledged to veto the "Wilmot proviso" — another in whose new-born zeal for "Free Soil" I could not place reliance — and another whose opinions upon this question were not publicly declared. Finding no candidate who I believed was reliable, I wheeled out of the line of the "Old Whig guard," and stood as an "armed neutral" throughout the contest. Following the example of one of the distinguished candidates who had never voted, for the first time in my life I withheld my suffrage. In this independent position I find myself on this floor, representing a constituency of freemen, willing to confide to me all their political power here over the great questions now agitating the country from its centre to its remotest parts.
Sir, when a great principle is involved, I scorn an equivocal position! And although I did not select between supposed evils in '48, in less than the short hour allotted to me, no person shall truly assert that my position upon all the great questions of public policy is not distinctly defined.
In the sentiments of the annual message upon the importance of protection to American industry — improvements of our rivers and harbors — opposition to Executive influence over the legislative branch of the Government — economy in public expenditures — and, above all, a determined devotion to the union of the States — I recognize the "doctrines of the earlier Presidents," and the true principles of the Whig party. I will give them my most hearty support.
There is another item of this message which commands my especial commendation. It is that sincerely expressed desire that we may preserve, in all time, friendly relations with all the nations of the earth. The sad experience of the last few years cannot fail to impress the mind of every one with the importance of honorable peace. The expression of the sentiment is truly gratifying to those who feel that the late war, which, if honorable to the prowess of our arms, has brought macy woes to our people, and a vexed question which threatens the perpetuity of the institutions we revere, and is evidence that this war impressed upon the mind of Executive of the nation the importance of cultivating the relations of friendship with the whole world. It is gratifying to me, sir, as it will be to the friends of peace everywhere, to find that this distinguished hero, fresh from the field of slaughter, where he had spent years amidst the desolating scenes of bloody conflict — who had so recently been the eye-witness to that wretchedness and misery which are the inevitable, bitter fruits of war, should express in strong terms the deep anxiety he feels to preserve a beloved country from their dread consequences. It may be, too, that his keen perceptions have enabled him to discover that disposition which seems to pervade our people, to regard few men as qualified for the discharge of civil trusts until they have either killed an Indian or slain a Mexican! He may have discovered, too, that the youth of the land, looking at practical results, are disposed to regard the pistol-gallery as affording a more certain road to fame than the lecture-room and the library! According to strict classical tests there may be superfluous words in his method of expressing a desire for peace; but, sir, that sentiment will go home to the hearts of thousands throughout the land, whose beloved and cherished friends have fallen on the battle-field!
I came here, Mr. Chairman, untrammelled — with a firm determination to join in no factious opposition to this Administration; but, on the contrary, by my voice and my votes, to extend to it all the facilities for a full development of its policy. This I did in our efforts to organize; and the same rule shall control my humble action until my judgment is satisfied that its measures tend to pernicious results.
Occupying this position, and remembering the strong ties and early attachments which bound me to the only political party with which I have ever been associated, it is a source of deep regret to me, that I cannot approve the whole of this message. It urges upon us that it is our duty not to provide law for the Territories acquired by the late treaty with Mexico. I will not go into a detail of argument to show the impropriety, in my judgment, of this recommendation, as that subject has been discussed with more ability than I could command, by my colleague [Mr. ROOT] and others. The points of objection which I make are:
1st. Gold is discovered in California. Thousands congregate there from all quarters of the globe to hunt for it, dig it, and return to their homes, and not to remain there permanently under any law or any form of government. The people of New Mexico are citizens permanently located, for whom, by the terms of a solemn treaty, Congress is bound to provide a government. The consistency of Executive haste in furnishing law for California, and Executive influence in with holding law from New Mexico, is, by no means, clear to my mind. I shall anxiously look for arguments to this point.
2d. The effect of delay leaves that vast territory and its people, under the government of the Executive, through its military commanders. Those who have, for the last few years, felt the baleful effects of an increase of Executive power, will remember that to curtail that power instead of increasing it, has universally been recognized as an important tenet in the Whig faith.
3d. It is wrong to postpone until next year that which it is our duty to do now! If the Wilmot proviso is right — if it is a good thing, we should adopt it; if it is wrong we should reject it. These are questions which we are as competent to discuss and decide in a friendly and patriotic spirit now, as at any future time. "Delays are dangerous." What benefit is there in delay? None. The question must be met, — if not in giving territorial law, upon the admission of States. Sir, this opposition to it from the South must be met! California is knocking at our door for admission as a State. She presents a constitution, formed in a manner conformable to the most ultra southern platform, yet the wearied eyelids of all around me remind us, that from twelve o'clock m. yesterday, until midnight, southern men staved off a resolution proposing action, by a factious opposition, I may say, in my judgment disgraceful to this body and to the country. I say, then, we have nothing to hope from delay. Let us act now, like men worthy of our positions. Let us meet the responsibility which the country has placed upon us.
Before submitting my views upon this all-absorbing topic of slavery, I desire to defend the section of the country, which I in part have the honor to represent, from unfounded charges, which are constantly preferred against it. We had scarcely taken the preliminary steps for an organization of this House, before the South in tones of thundering eloquence denounced the people of the North as "aggressors" — as "recreants to the Constitution" — as having for years been guilty of "oppression" to their brethren of the South. In this hall — in the social circle — upon the highway — everywhere we met with this charge. Sir, I propose briefly to examine the state of this account of "aggression."
How does it stand, as to territorial acquisitions, since the formation of the Union. We of the North have been opposed to an extension of our domain. We have been taught by the warning voice of past republics, that —
"Extended Empire like expanded gold
Exchanges solid strength for feeble splendor."
Southern policy has been different, and we have yielded.
In 1803, we annexed Louisiana.
In 1819, we annexed the Territory of Florida.
In 1845, we annexed the State of Texas.
In 1848, we annexed by conquest California and New Mexico.
In 1849, we have a stronger movement for annexing Cuba than we had ten years ago in favor of annexing Texas.
And now the honorable gentleman from North Carolina, [Mr. CLINGMAN,] notifies us that after the next Presidential election, we will annex that part of Mexico on the Gulf extending to Vera Cruz.
The South does all this, and still persists in the cry of "aggression! aggression!" Sir, the North has yielded to this system too long, and now she is determined to stop it.
But there are other aggressions which the North sorely feels. The honorable member from North Carolina, who has just taken his seat, [Mr. VENABLE,] charges us with having made aggressions upon the property of the South. He did not inform us particularly how and when. The South may have made no direct aggressions upon northern property, but southern policy has aggressed upon our industrial interests. She has paralyzed the strong arm of the laboring freeman of the North, which is his property and his capital, in order that the profits of her slave labor might be enhanced. From 1816 to 1832, the protective policy — the effects of which were to advance the interests of free labor without detriment to southern interests — was supported by the combined action of both political parties. Its effect was to build up manufactures in the North and furnish an increased demand for the agricultural products of the northwest. This increased demand raised the price of those products which were necessary to feed the slaves of the cotton-growing States of the South. The cry of "repeal, or nullification, secession and disunion," was raised. The appalling spectacle of American citizens shedding the blood of their own countrymen was about to be presented to the civilized world. A great statesman, in whose patriotism and wisdom the North had confidence, anxious to preserve the glory and renown of his country, determined to avert so sad a catastrophe, and presented his compromise bill. The cry of "disunion" then succeeded. The North gave way — the policy of the South triumphed. I will not attempt to depict the disastrous consequences to the industry of the North. The country
178will long remember the bitter fruits it produced in 1837, '38, '39, '40, and '41.
In 1812 another tariff was enacted. It brought prosperity to the North — a fair reward to her free labor. To destroy this required additional political power from the South. Texas had been conquered from Mexico, and southern policy demanded her annexation. The distinguished leaders of the two contending political parties (Mr. Clay and Mr. Van Buren) were interrogated. Both opposed the scheme. The Democratic party assembled in national convention at Baltimore. Mr. Van Buren had been the favorite candidate until he opposed annexing Texas. The southern Democracy, because of this opposition, plotted his defeat, and accomplished it by means of their Democratic rule requiring a vote of two-thirds to nominate at the Baltimore convention. Mr. Polk — a new man — a man of the South — for "immediate annexation" — was presented as a candidate to the astonished Democracy of the nation. Northern Democrats halted; but the South resorted to the old, but hitherto sovereign and now worn-out remedy, A THREAT TO DISSOLVE THE UNION.
The following are evidences from southern newspapers, showing the means resorted to then to drive the North again to submission:
"At a large meeting held in South Carolina, in 1844, it was
Resolved, That in the opinion of this meeting, the annexation of Texas is a matter of paramount importance to the southern and southwestern States of this Confederacy; and that it would be more for the interest of these States that they should stand out of the Union with Texas, than in it without her."
"At a large meeting at Williamsburg, Va., held on the 17th June, of the same year, it was also
Resolved, That in the opinion of this meeting, the honor and integrity of our Union require the immediate annexation of Texas; and that we hold it to be better, and more to the interest of the southern and southwestern portions of this Confederacy, to be out of the Union with Texas, than in it without her."
"At a numerously attended meeting at Lawrence, Alabama, it was
Resolved, That the possession of Texas is infinitely more important to us of this section of the Union than a longer annexation and friendship with the northeastern States, and if we have to yield either, it cannot and SHALL NOT BE TEXAS!"
The following extract from a speech of Col. S. W. Trotti, delivered at a public meeting in Charleston, South Carolina, and copied from the Charleston Mercury, is of a similar disorganizing character:
"He conclusively demonstrated that the safety, if not the very existence of the institution of slavery, is dependent upon the success of the measure; and contended with great power and ability, that THE ONLY TRUE ISSUE BEFORE THE SOUTH SHOULD BE TEXAS OR DISUNION."
At a public meeting held in Edgefield, at which the Hon. Mr. Pickens officiated as a committeeman, the following resolution was adopted:
"That the grounds upon which this annexation is mainly resisted, compel us to consider this measure as a question as to the maintenance of slavery guarantied to us by the Constitution; and we avow our determination to maintain this institution against all the attempts of Abolitionists in our own country or elsewhere; and we shall not resist the separation from the Union of such States as denounce the slaveholding members of the Confederacy as unworthy of connection with them, and as avow the purpose of not tolerating the admission into the Union of any new slaveholding country."
In 1844, the South Carolinian recommended to the people of that State —
"That a convention of the slave States, by delegations from each, appointed as aforesaid, should be called, to meet at some central position, to take into consideration the question of annexing Texas to the Union, if the Union will accept it; or, if the Union will not accept it, then of annexing Texas to the southern States."
"That the President of the United States be requested by the general convention of the slave States, to call Congress together immediately, when the final issue shall be made up, and the alternative distinctly presented to the free States, either to admit Texas into the Union, or to proceed peaceably and calmly to arrange the terms of a dissolution of the Union."
The scheme was indignantly denounced by Senator Benton in his speech on annexation in 1844. He said:
"THE COUNTRY IS IN DANGER! NULLIFICATION AND DISUNION ARE REVIVED, and revived under circumstances which menace more danger than ever, since coupled with a popular question which gives to the plotters the honest sympathies of the patriotic millions. I have often intimated it before but now proclaim it: DISUNION IS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS LONG CONCEALED TEXAS MACHINATION. Intrigue and speculation cooperate, but disunion is at the bottom; and I denounce it to the American people. Under the pretext of getting Texas into the Union, the scheme is to get the South out of it. A separate confederacy, stretching front the Atlantic to California (and hence the secret of the Rio Grande del Norte frontier) is the cherished vision of disappointed ambition: and for this consummation every circumstance has been carefully and artfully contrived. * * * * * THIS IS THE DESIGN, AND I DENOUNCE IT! and blind is he who, occupying a position at this Capitol, does not behold it!"
To make success certain, the celebrated Kane letter on "protection" was written as a Pennsylvania platform. The Keystone State was wheedled out of her vote, and "Polk and Texas" were elected. She was annexed as a State, and a political power was thus brought into the Senate equal to that of the most powerful State in the Union. By these means, and by that power, the tariff of 1842 was destroyed; for, it will be remembered, the repeal passed the Senate by a majority of only one vote.
The gentleman from Mississippi [Mr. BROWN] complained bitterly of the character of the persons who were authorized to vote in California. He regarded the wholesale system of naturalization, as he termed it, a great outrage. He had forgotten, perhaps, that, but a few years ago, he acquiesced not only in the annexation of a foreign nation, (Texas,) but in the naturalization of its entire population, by a simple resolution! Not only were the free foreigners themselves brought into the national councils, but also a representation based upon the slave population.
The consequences of this annexation, predicted by Mr. CLAY and other statesmen, were fully realized. It brought a desolating war upon a sister republic. I do not propose now to discuss that war. Its history is fresh in the memory of all. The unerring pen of history will record the purposes of those who brought it about as a foul blot upon the proud character of the land of Washington. Its direful consequences will be felt throughout the land for long years to come, especially if the "fruits" which were demanded as a condition of peace should produce the sad consequences so ably depicted by the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. MANN] in the event of an attempt to dissolve this Union. Suffice it for my purpose to say, that there was indirect aggression upon the North in the sacrifice of many of her gallant sons, whose patriotic ardor induced them to "follow the flag of their country."
Mr. Chairman, the Constitution guaranties to every citizen the right of petition. Some of our northern people, believing that in territories over which Congress had power to legislate, slavery should be either immediately or prospectively abolished. They sent here their petitions. Southern power treated them with contempt, and trampled them under foot! Was there no "aggression" in refusing our people the exercise of that sacred right?
We sent you from Ohio a Senator, [Mr. CORWIN,] who, during the waging of that war upon a weak sister republic, plead for the cause of humanity with a power and eloquence worthy the best days of Greece and Rome. His arguments were unanswered and unanswerable, and we had evidence of your indisposition to aggress upon our State pride, and our feelings in the fact, that you burnt him in effigy!
A colleague of mine, now upon this floor, [Mr. GIDDINGS,] was sent here to represent as intelligent and as patriotic a people as is to be found in the whole land. He presented, in the discharge of his official duty, a series of resolutions against slavery and the slave trade. They were obnoxious to the South, and with the aid of northern dough-faces, who are fast finding their level, you expelled him from this hall, and attempted to disgrace him. Yet, during this session, we find that before we perfect an organization, a proposition is boldly made to dissolve the Union, by members from southern States, in the event that the people's representatives pass a particular law; yet nothing like censure is proposed by those lately so sensitive.
A sovereign State, New Hampshire, sends a Senator. He expresses sentiments not suited to southern tastes, and forthwith Mississippi notifies him, in arrogant and self-important tones, that if he were in that State he would be hung upon the highest tree!
Who has been "oppressed" in dividing the honors and emoluments of office? The poor, down-trodden South? She has almost monopolized the important offices since the formation of the Government. Let those who wish to have official evidence of her wrongs in this regard, examine the Blue Book. Virginia suffers! There are still a few of the "first families" unprovided for, and it is an act of unparalleled aggression! Why, sir, so craving is her thirst for these honors, that I see in one town (all the whites having been provided for, I suppose,) they procure the appointment of a negro as Postmaster!
How much did we aggress in organizing this House? And who gave the strongest evidence of a desire to organize by geographical tests? We always found on this side of the House, southern Whigs enough to hold the balance of power, who preferred the election of a southern Democrat to a northern Whig. On the other side, southern Democrats enough to elect a southern Whig in preference to a northern Democrat. And if, in the course of our efforts to organize, any candidate of either party, was suspected of having ever seen the city of Buffalo, his fate was sealed.
But, Mr. Chairman, I am consuming too much of the brief hour allotted to me, in detailing this account of aggression.
What has the North done to produce this loud and continual clatter about "aggression." Bear in mind an act of aggression must be an act of wrong. So long as we act for the promotion of that which is morally right, we cannot aggresss. Much complaint is made about negroes running off to the free States. I suppose they do sometimes stray away. But if you will keep property that will run off, is it our fault? We do not turn out to catch runaway negroes. There is a reason for that. The farmer in that beautiful valley, which I have the honor to represent in part, has no slave to till his soil. His family depend upon the labor of their own hands for support. He cannot, he will not abandon his plough and his fields, mount his horse, when he hears that a negro has been seen in the neighborhood, and follow in pursuit, on suspicion that he may be the slave of some member of Congress from Virginia. He has examined the Constitution, and finds nothing there which makes this his duty. The village mechanic in Ohio, who drives the jack-plane, and earns his bread by the sweat of his brow, will not abandon his honest pursuits, when he sees a man pass in the street, with a skin somewhat darker than his own, and a budget on his back, follow him, knock him down, and tie him, because there is a possibility that a Mississippi planter may hold a mortgage on his bones, flesh and sinews! Our fair country women, yielding to the tender sympathies which always adorn their sex, when enquired of by a disconsolate passer by of their own sex, who perhaps may carry in her arms an infant slightly tinged, may point out the nearest and best road to Canada. Is there anything wrong in this? Point it out.
On this point let me remark, that whilst the great mass of all parties in my State disclaim all design to interfere with your "peculiar institution," in States where it constitutionally exists, they remember, and will never forget that they, too, have an institution the operations of which are somewhat "peculiar," which they call Freedom! They have tasted its blessings, and they will throw no obstacles in the way of all who may strive to obtain them. If our southern brethren, then, will have slaves, and these slaves will run off to Ohio, they must capture them themselves.
But we aggress on the South because our political power increases more rapidly than hers. That is the result of an increase in population. We cannot help it if there are peculiarities about our institution which produce this result. It is certainly not wrong if we obey that injunction of Holy Writ, "Multiply and replenish the earth." This complaint comes with a poor grace, especially from the gentleman from North Carolina [Mr. CLINGMAN] who has, as yet, withheld from his country his aid in removing this source of inequality.
But we are charged with designing or threatening to aggress by the passage of the proviso. I intend to vote for the admission of California as a State with this clause in her constitution, and for a territorial law for New Mexico embracing it. We are told that it excludes the South from a fair share of the territory acquired by common blood and common treasure; and that it weakens the title to their
179property and prevents them from removing it thither. This is not true. That proviso is and has been in full force in the State of Ohio and the Northwestern Territory for sixty years. A large portion of her best citizens are from the South. The district which I immediately represent embraces a large body of the lands of the Virginia military district, to which Virginians and North Carolinians emigrated with their property. Some took slaves with them, to whom their families were attached, although they knew that the moment the foot of the slave touched that soil, with the master's consent, one of the peculiarities of our institution made him a free man. And here let me say that the most thorough-going Free Soil men, and the most violent Abolitionists there, are those furnished us by North Carolina and Virginia. I would be entirely safe in allowing my action here to be governed on this subject by the views of those in my district who came from slave States. Their warmth in favor of free soil may, I suppose, be attributed to that same principle of human action which makes the reformed drunkard the most ardent in pressing onward the cause of temperance; or the converted sinner the cause of Christianity. These men had been eye witnesses to the evil effects of slavery, not the least of which is its tendency to reduce to the level of the degraded slave the free labor of the poor white man where it exists. If the proviso is applied to these Mexican Territories, the southern man as well as the northern man may take his property there; he may take his negroes if he chooses, but if he takes them, they cease to be property or things, and are made persons only.
The honorable member from Mississippi [Mr. BROWN] takes a bold position, if he is sincere, and I will not question it, notwithstanding his preposterous assertion. I read from his printed speech. [Mr. C. here read from Mr. BROWN'S speech:]
"For myself, I REGARD SLAVERY AS A GREAT MORAL, SOCIAL, POLITICAL, AND RELIGIOUS BLESSING — A BLESSING TO THE SLAVE AND A BLESSING TO THE MASTER."
The honorable gentleman (said Mr. C.) proceeds with arguments to prove that great blessings are conferred upon the African by making him a slave! Now, sir, if the gentleman can make this position good by sound argument, and if the honorable member from North Carolina [Mr. CLINGMAN] can make good his declaration that where slavery exists you find the greatest degree of civilization, refinement, wealth, comfort, and happiness, I pledge myself to abandon the proviso, and oppose it here and elsewhere, with as much honest ardor as I now support it. If slavery is a blessing to the slave, how is it that the great, the good, and the wise of every civilized land upon earth have never learned the fact? This is a great age we live in, and it has been reserved for the keen perceptive faculties of the honorable member from Mississippi, to make the grand discovery that the true way to make a negro happy is to put him in chains and under the lash of the task-master! A discovery somewhat parallel to this in importance, was made by one of the gentleman's political associates, but a few years ago, to wit: that the way to civilize the Mexican race was to knock out their brains!
If the position of the honorable gentleman is correct, will he tell us why our laws do not regard that man who steals the African infant from its mother's breast and bears it to perpetual bondage — who forces from his native land the father to rivit upon him the chains and fetters of slavery — as a philathropist, and not as a felon? Why does he not introduce a bill, entitled "a bill to make Africa happy," providing for the repeal of all laws prohibiting the slave-trade, and giving to the philanthropists who will engage in it, 160 acres of land for each native African brought into slavery?
I must examine the morals involved in this question of slavery. Having learned something of the high tone of moral character accorded, justly no doubt, to my honorable friend from Alabama, [Mr. HILLIARD,] I listened attentively to his eloquent speech, expecting him to base his argument upon a different foundation, I will not say he "dodged," but I do think he evaded the question, for he was particular to state with emphasis, that he could not discuss the question in its moral bearings, because, he said, we had nothing to do here with public morals! From what little I have seen here, I am induced to believe that the conduct of many is made to conform to this "platform." Sir, I profess no extra degree of morals, myself, but I may be permitted to say, considering its source, this avowal shocked me!
Mr. HILLIARD. Will the gentleman from Ohio allow me to explain and correct him?
Mr. CAMPBELL. With great pleasure.
Mr. HILLIARD. I said, that I would refrain from discussing the question as a moral one, because we hold no power to legislate on the morality of the question. To enter into a discussion here on that point might be deemed an admission of the jurisdiction of Congress over the subject.
Mr. CAMPBELL. I have not misunderstood the honorable gentleman, although I have not yet had the pleasure of reading his printed speech. To come directly to the point, the gentleman can now tell us whether he regards slavery as a moral evil or as a blessing.
Mr. HILLIARD. I do not regard it as a moral evil in the States where it exists.
Mr. CAMPBELL. Well, then, Mr. Chairman, it will be my duty as well as my pleasure to prove that it is a moral curse. I shall do so by referring directly to the opinions of some men which, notwithstanding my high regard for the gentleman from Alabama, are entitled to far more weight than his.
Mr. HILLIARD. I will ask the gentleman from Ohio a question. Admitting it to be morally wrong, what right have we to legislate upon the moral question?
Mr. CAMPBELL. Sir, I will answer the gentleman's question by putting one to every member of the committee. Admitting it to be morally wrong, how do you make it politically right? You cannot by any principle of philosophy that I have ever heard of, make that which is absolutely morally wrong politically right by legislation. Why? What power, asks the gentleman, in a tone of apparent triumph, have we, as the representatives of the people, to legislate with a view to promote public morals? Is it possible that such a question is seriously propounded, and must be seriously answered? What power? What right? A power which is the foundation of all civilized government. The first great object of all law — of all legislation, is to enforce that which is morally right, and prevent that which is morally wrong. It is to accomplish this grand purpose that governments are instituted among men.
But, Mr. Chairman, let us proceed with an examination of facts bearing upon the moral, social, and political effects of slavery, and show how far southern gentlemen, in the frenzy of their excitement, have suffered themselves to depart from the principles and feelings of their revolutionary ancestors. And, sir, in his connection, I lay down what may be regarded by some as a bold proposition. I assert, that one of the very designs of the founders of this Republic, when they rebelled against the power of Great Britain, and formed a union of the Provinces, was to prevent the extension of slavery; to do that which you denounce us as mad fanatics for proposing, and for which, when accomplished in part only, according to their designs, you say you intend to destroy the great work of their hands — this glorious confederacy of States — this happy Union — which secures liberty to millions, and has commanded the admiration of the world.
The gentleman from North Carolina, [Mr. CLINGMAN,] boasts that the ball of the revolution was started at Mecklenburg, where a resolution was passed in 1774. I have looked into the history of those days. There were many patriotic meetings in the South then. The gentleman will permit me to show the reasons which led to the rebellion.
Let us carry our imagination back to Virginia, the Old Dominion as she was in 1774. I hold in my hand the 1st vol. 4th Series of American Archives, published by order of Congress. It contains an account of various public meetings held preparatory to the then approaching conflict of those weak colonies with the giant nation of the earth. The patriots of Virginia proposed a State Convention at Williamsburg. County meetings of the people were held to appoint delegates, and declare their principles and determinations.
Mr. C. here read as follows from page 523:
"At a meeting of the freeholders and other inhabitants of the county of Culpepper, in Virginia, assembled at the Court-House of the said county, on Thursday, the 7th of July, 1774, to consider of the most effective method to preserve the rights and liberties of America.
HENRY PENDLETON, Esq., Moderator.
"Resolved, That the importing slaves and convict servants is injurious to this colony, as it obstructs the population of it with freemen and useful manufacturers; and that we will not buy any such slave or convict servant hereafter to be imported."
This meeting appointed "deputies" to the convention.
A VOICE. "That is only a resolution against the slave, trade."
Mr. CAMPBELL. True; such is the fact. But why did they resolve on this? To prevent the spread of slavery. Why? Because it was a political evil. There are two ways in which you may extend slavery. One, by extending it over new countries, opening new markets — increasing the demand, and consequently the value — thus inducing an increased production. The other, by importations. The spirit of the resolution shows that a prohibition of its extension was the design. But if gentlemen will be patient, I will not only show that they opposed its extension, but, even in the South, sought the Union for the purpose of abolishing it where it existed.
Similar resolutions were passed by primary meetings of the people throughout Virginia and other southern provinces, now States.
|By Prince George's county||July 1774,||page 493|
|By Nansemoad county||" "||" 530|
|By Caroline county||" "||" 541|
|By Surry county||" "||" 593|
|By Fairfax co., (WASHINGTON in the chair,)||" "||" 600|
|By Harrison county||" "||" 616||By Princess Anne county||" "||" 641|
And by various other counties which I need not name.
The State Convention assembled at Williamsburg on the 1st of August, 1774. They adopted this resolution:
2d. Resolved, "We will neither ourselves import nor purchase any slave or slaves imported by any other person after the first day of November next, either from Africa, the West Indies, or any other place." — Page 687.
This Convention recommended a Congress to meet at Philadelphia on the first Monday of September, 1774. THOMAS JEFFERSON, the great apostle of liberty, could not attend the Convention, but he sent to it a letter expressing his opinions and wishes. I read an extract from page 696:
"For the most trifling reasons, and sometimes for no conceivable reason at all, his Majesty has rejected laws of the most salutary tendency. THE ABOLITION OF DOMESTIC SLAVERY IS THE GREATEST OBJECT OF DESIRE IN THESE COLONIES, where it was unhappily introduced in their infant state. But previous to the enfranchisement of the slaves we have, it is necessary to exclude all further importations from Africa. Yet our repeated attempts to effect this by prohibitions, and by imposing duties which might amount to prohibition, have been hitherto defeated by his Majesty's negative. Thus preferring the immediate advantages of a few African Corsairs to the LASTING INTEREST of the American States, and to the RIGHTS OF HUMAN NATURE DEEPLY WOUNDED BY THIS INFAMOUS MASTER!"
How do gentlemen relish Mr. Jefferson's views upon the moral and political questions now raised on this floor?
North Carolina held her Provincial Convention, not at Mecklenburg, but at Newbern. The honorable gentleman from that State on the other side of the House, [Mr. ASHE,] the other day expressed to my colleague [Mr. ROOT] a desire to know who from North Carolina had been opposed to extending slavery. I have "the documents" here for his information. Nearly every county in this State was represented in this Convention. There were sixty-nine "deputies." It was convened on the 27th of August, 1774, and passed this resolution. On page 735 the gentleman will find the names of the deputies and the resolution:
"Resolved, That we will not import any slave or slaves, or purchase any slave or slaves imported or brought into the Province by others from any part of the world after the first day of November next."
Mr. Chairman, I will not go further into details of the action of the Provinces separately. The deputies they appointed and instructed, assembled at Philadelphia on the 5th of September, 1774. Let us look upon that assemblage of our patriot fathers. It was in the dark hour of our political history. It was "the day that tried men's souls." Yet they resolved to redress the grievances inflicted upon them by Great Britain, or perish nobly in the attempt. We are men of words — they were men
180of action. What was their design? To form a Union. The Provinces must be united. I have here the bond of their Union — the first Union! It is called the "Articles of Association." It was the bond of our fathers with the Almighty, whose all-protecting arm they desired as the shield to save them in the unequal contest they were about to engage in; they pledge by it their "virtue and their honor." Sir, I listened the other day to the honorable gentleman from Georgia [Mr. STEPHENS] with the most profound satisfaction. The power of his eloquent appeal in favor of the purchase of Washington's Farewell Address, marred as it was by a repetition of the unjust charge of "northern aggression," could not, did not fail to awaken the tender sympathies and feelings of every heart not wholly lost to the impulses of patriotism. He spoke of the incalculable value of the autographs of our revolutionary forefathers. Sir, I call that honorable gentleman's attention to these autographs of the members of the first Continental Congress. [Here Mr. C. held up the Articles of Association, unanimously adopted by the Continental Congress, and containing a facsimile of the signatures appended to it.] Look at the bold hand of Washington, of Patrick Henry, and of Lee; of Hooper and Caswell; of Jay and Duane; of the Adamses; of Gadsden and the Rutledges; and of Stephen Hopkins. If the gentleman, prompted by those noble feelings of his nature, would regard as priceless an old manuscript letter of a father to his son, containing advice upon his leaving the paternal roof to embark upon the stormy sea of this world, what should be his veneration for this document? How much should he, how much will he sacrifice to preserve inviolate this written pledge of our fathers to the God of battles that they would check this acknowledged curse of slavery? Sir, the gentleman invoked in most pathetic and heart-reaching language the spirit of Washington to check his northern brethren in what he termed their disposition of aggression. Could it be availing, I, too, would invoke the return of the illustrious dead from the tombs of Mount Vernon, of Monticello, and of Quincy, to stay the mad career of those who propose to destroy those glorious institutions which are the results of their toil — the fruits of their struggles for liberty! If I could but command the eloquence of the gentleman from Georgia, I could appeal, perhaps successfully, to him, to his colleague, to his associates of the sunny South, to come back to these principles and purposes — to these holy designs of our common ancestors — to join with us in the spirit of brotherly love and brotherly kindness, in an effort to redeem this solemn pledge, entered into in the dreary hour of their misfortunes, by the founders of that Government which has secured to us all the blessings we can hope for in our earthly career.
Mr. Chairman, I will read the extracts from these Articles of Association, which are applicable to the point:
"We do for ourselves and the inhabitants of the several Colonies whom we represent, firmly agree and associate under the sacred ties of virtue, honor, and love of our country, as follows:
2. "That we will neither import nor purchase any slave imported after the first day of December next; after which time we will wholly discontinue the slave trade, and will neither be concerned in it ourselves, nor will we hire our vessels, nor sell our commodities or manufactures to those who are concerned in it."
11. "That a committee he chosen in every county, city and town, by those who are qualified to vote for Representatives in the Legislature, whose business it shall be attentively to observe the conduct of all persons touching this Association; and when it shall be made to appear to the satisfaction of a majority of any such committee, that any person within the limits of their appointment has violated this Association, that such majority do forthwith cause the truth of the case to be published in the gazette to the end that all such FOES to the rights of British America may be publicly known, and universally condemned as the enemies of American liberty; and thenceforth we respectively will break off all dealings with him or her."
14. "And we do further agree and resolve that we will have not trade, commerce, dealings, or intercourse whatever with any colony or province in North America, which shall not accede to, or which shall hereafter violate this Association, but will hold them as unworthy of the rights of freemen, and as inimical to the liberties of this country."
"The foregoing Association being determined upon by the Congress, was ordered to be subscribed by the several members thereof; and thereupon, we have hereunto set our respective names accordingly.
In Congress, Philadelphia, October 20, 1774.
|John Sullivan||Nathaniel Folsom|
|Thomas Cushing||Samuel Adams|
|John Adams||Robert Treat Paine|
|Stephen Hopkins||Samuel Ward|
|Eliphalet Dyer||Roger Sherman|
|Isaac Low||John Alsop|
|John Jay||James Duane|
|Philip Livingston||William Floyd|
|Henry Wisner||Simon Boerum|
|James Kinsey||William Livingston|
|Stephen Crane||Richard Smith|
|John De Hart|
|Joseph Galloway||John Dickinson|
|Charles Humphreys||Thomas Mifflin|
|Edward Biddle||John Morton|
The lower counties — Newcastle, &c.
|Caesar Rodney||Thomas McKean|
|Matthew Tilghman||Thomas Johnson, Jr.|
|William Paca||Samuel Chase|
|Richard Henry Lee||George Washington|
|Patrick Henry, Jr.||Richard Bland|
|Benjamin Harrison||Edmund Pendleton|
|William Hooper||Joseph Hewes|
|Henry Middleton||Thomas Lynch|
|Christopher Gadsden||John Rutledge|
Mr. BOWDON. I would inquire of the gentleman from Ohio whether he calls that the Constitution of the Union?
Mr. CAMPBELL. I will with pleasure inform the honorable gentleman from Alabama. It is not the last Constitution of the Union, but higher evidence to prove the point I make, which is that the Provinces formed their first union, among other things, to check the progress of slavery! The gentleman from Alabama, on the other side of the Hall [Mr. INGE] the other day spoke of the Continental Congress, and of the Declaration of Independence, as a production from that august body of patriots, called for by the pressure of public opinion from without. So with this document, which is a declaration two years older than the Declaration of Independence itself. The outside pressure of public opinion on the subject of slavery, expressed at the various primary meetings of the people themselves, some of which I have referred to, required, as a preliminary step to the contemplated resistance, a solemn pledge that slavery should go no further; and it must be borne in mind that these fathers carried with them the same spirit and the same design when they subsequently entered into more formal articles, passed the ordinance of 1787, and formed our present Constitution.
Georgia was not represented in the Continental Congress, as you will observe. The reasons which prevented a representation I need not detail. Still the patriots of that province in that good old time, unlike her misguided but no doubt sincere representatives on this floor, were determined not to be behind the other colonies in their efforts to secure to themselves and to extend to those in slavery the blessings of freedom.
Georgia proclaimed her sentiments on the 12th of January, 1775, after the adjournment of the Continental Congress, (page 1136.)
"We, therefore, the Representatives of the extensive District of Darien, in the colony of Georgia, having now assembled in Congress, by authority and free choice of the inhabitants of said District, now freed from their fetters, do resolve — 5. To show the world that we are not influenced by any contracted or interested motives, but a general philanthropy for ALL MANKIND, of whatever climate, language, or complexion, we hereby declare our disapprobation and abhorrence of the unnatural practice of slavery in America, (however the uncultivated state of our country, or other specious arguments may plead for it) a practice founded in injustice and cruelty and highly dangerous to our liberties, (as well as lives,) debasing part of our fellow creatures below men, and corrupting the virtue and morals of the rest, and is laying the basis of that liberty we contend for, (and which we pray the Almighty to continue, to the latest posterity,) upon on a very wrong foundation. We therefore Resolve, at all times to use our utmost endeavors for the manumission of our slaves in this colony upon the most safe and equitable footing for the master and themselves."
Such was the action — these were the sentiments upon this question of moral and political right, when the foundation of our great superstructure was laid, and which was subsequently cemented, with the blood of our heroic ancestors.
Sir, I have offered the testimony exclusively southern, not of northern provinces. I would that we could but summon here those veterans to give us with a living voice their opinions just as they are here recorded. Would Washington be scouted from this Hall as a recreant to the best interests of his country? Would the Virginian denounce Jefferson as a traitor, because he said slavery was an execrable practice; or Patrick Henry as a "fanatic" because he avowed his devotion to the cause of human freedom, in that ever memorable burst of eloquence in the Virginia Convention, closing with "Give me liberty, or give me death!"
Suppose this hall was now occupied by the old Continental Congress — this question raised, and they unanimously declare Slavery a moral and political evil, — would the honorable gentlemen from Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Georgia denounce them as recreants to their country? Oh! no. Why, then, do they disavow the principles they proclaimed? Does not the experience of the last half century prove that they truly foresaw the blighting effects of this evil of which they desired to rid themselves? The rapid increase of the States, where slavery does not exist, in power and strength, and everything calculated to render life agreeable, establishes the wisdom of their determination.
Some of the States who were parties to this obligation have redeemed their pledges. We now propose to carry out, as far as we can, their original purpose.
Mr. STANLY. To abolish slavery in the States?
Mr. CAMPBELL. We will not do that where under the Constitution it exists. We leave the matter for you to attend to as you like; but we, having power over the Territories, intend to follow these wholesome counsels from the founders of the Government, and exclude slavery from them forever by the power of public sentiment — by the power of the law — and, if necessary, in maintaining the majesty of the law, by the power of the sword!
Mr. BOWDON. Will the gentleman from Ohio show us the power in the Constitution to pass such a law?
Mr. CAMPBELL. I have much to say yet in the little time that is left me. I have spoken by time before, and if I regarded the constitutional question as doubtful, I would not now go into it. If the honorable gentleman desires a discussion of that question with me, I will bet him on any stump either in Alabama or Ohio after Congress adjourns. It will save some money to discuss it in that way. For the present, I content myself by saying that the question of power has been decided in our favor by Congress, and by the various Administrations from the organization of the Government to the present time, and it will soon be settled again, notwithstanding the threats of a dissolution of the Union? If the gentleman intends to debate that question here, I desire to be informed in what article of the Constitution is the power found which enables you to stretch a wire on the line of 36° 30', your proposed compromise, and legislate to establish slavery on one side of it and prohibit it on the other? And on what principle of political justice to the North do you claim that an Alabamian may go with one hundred slaves, settle on one side of this wire, and come into this hall with a power of sixty-one votes, whilst the Ohioan who takes property equal in value, to a State on the other side, comes here with the power of one vote only? The arguments offered on these points remind me of those once offered by the opposition in relation to the improvements of our western rivers and harbors, claiming that the constitutionality as well as the justice of the measure depended upon the character of the water — whether fresh or salt! [A laugh.]
Mr. BOWDON. Did not that argument come from Ohio?
Mr. CAMPBELL. I believe the sentiment came from Mr. Polk, and my colleague, [Mr.
181SCHENCK] dressed it up in plain English, that our hardy boatmen who navigate the western rivers, and the sailors on our lakes, might readily perceive its tremendous force!
I now proceed, briefly, Mr. Chairman, to examine the other proposition of the gentleman from North Carolina [Mr. CLINGMAN] as to the relative degree of civilization and human happiness in the slave and free States. The gentleman has instituted a comparison which, if left unanswered, may injure the interests of the State which I have the honor in part to represent. It may deter some of his prosperous and wealthy people from emigrating thither, and we find when they get to Ohio, they are the unflinching advocates of the principle of the ordinance of '87, which has produced a prosperity of which we do not boast, but of which we are not ashamed.
Upon the question as to what is true happiness and comfort there may be some difference of opinion. It is a very comfortable thing, no doubt, to have a negro to rub you down when you get up in the morning after having been off on a "bust" the night before! — to pour out your sherry at dinner — to bring you a light when you wish to take your evening smoke — or to keep off the flies as you take your afternoon's snooze! This is mere animal comfort. In the northwest, we believe that the cultivation of the intellect — the advancement of public morals — are the true sources of public happiness. Hence, we build churches and school houses — found colleges and academies, establish literary associations, and Sunday schools! I take up the gauntlet thrown down so vauntingly by the honorable gentleman, and it is by this standard that I bring up Ohio, my native State, the "first-born" under the ordinance of '87, and proudly place her by the side of the southern States, to meet her examination, and an unbiassed verdict.
I take my statistics from the census tables returned in 1840. Ohio has about one half only of the white population of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi, eight of the "prosperous and happy" slave States; yet she sends to school forty-two thousand more children than the whole of them together.
Ohio has about the same white population as North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi united; and she has EIGHTEEN HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN more colleges, academies, and schools than the whole five together, and sends to school ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-ONE THOUSAND more children!
In order to bring this test nearer to our immediate homes, I propose bringing the district I have the honor to answer for here, into comparison with the honorable member's "happy" constituents. I do not boast of the intelligence of my constituents — they are about on an equality with the balance of the State. There is one county in the gentleman's district whose people, I suppose, he had in his mind's eye, when he was depicting the prosperous and happy condition of the South! It ought to be the most intelligent county south of Mason and Dixon, if we may judge from the vast number of speeches which have been made for its special improvement. It is the county of Buncombe! [Laughter.] The statistics show that my district, composed of three counties, has two hundred and forty-three colleges and schools, and sends to them upwards of fifteen thousand scholars. Buncombe has one college and the startling number of one whole school! [laughter] precisely the same number that you find sustained in several of our villages by the free negroes! I do not know that it should be counted as a whole school either, because, by reference to the other column, I see it contains only ten scholars!
Buncombe gives one school to every 4,000 of her white population — my district, one to every 275.
My district sends one out of five of her white population to school. Buncombe semis one of 350!
A VOICE: You take no account of our private schools, not returned by the census.
Mr. CAMPBELL. Nor do I take any account of our private schools. Every log cabin in my district is a private school-house! You can find those there who seldom get to public schools. In the long winter evenings you will find collected by the fire-side, the evidences of that increase of population complained of, a circle of flaxen-haired, hearty boys and girls. The oldest has perhaps advanced at school to the "rule of three," and has a class of younger ones in simple addition at home — calculating, not the value of the Union, but probably the number of bushels of corn taken to market during the day. In this way many of our people are educated, and not a few of those thus brought up, find their way, in the course of time, to seats in this House. I have a constituent, now in my mind, who was born in Kentucky, and came to my district which is now his home, who received his education in one of these private schools of ours! At the age of sixteen he drove baggage-wagons with supplies for the army which defended our frontier. On his return he was crippled in his wagoning operations. Being confined for a year he betook himself to study, and at the end of that time had, without the aid of teacher, became master of the Latin and Greek languages! The "crack of his whip" has been heard in both branches of Congress, and if the Union is not dissolved too soon, we would like to see how he could manage the great team of State!
But I have heard of these private schools of the South before. I will apply another test, which may be more satisfactory and more just!
In the five slave States above-named there are of whites, over twenty years of age, who cannot read or write, 138,000. In Ohio (with the same white population) there are of those who cannot read or write, 35,000. Showing in the same slave States with the same white population of Ohio one hundred and three thousand more white adults who cannot read or write than we do. Your private schools, therefore, are not quite so efficient as ours. I will not say that your scholars are not as apt as ours, as that might be regarded as "aggressive."
How is it in Buncombe? Her white population over twenty years old is 3,345. Of these there are who cannot read or write 1,359. Or for every three adults who can read or write she has two who cannot.
Taking her whole white population there is one to six who cannot read or write. In my district we have one to thirty-two. In the five slave States above named, of this class there is one to fourteen. In Ohio, only one to forty-two!
In giving these statistics their proper force, two things must be borne in mind. 1st. That the slave population of the South, few of whom are educated, is not included. 2d. That they have slaves to perform their labor whilst they may go to school, and in Ohio we labor for ourselves.
I refer the gentlemen, who have pressed this investigation upon me, to a table which is the result of some labor. It will be a convenient thing for them. They can at any time, by reference to it, ascertain how happy they are, compared with the people of my State, with as much precision as they can ascertain the day of the month by referring to the counting-house calendar, or how cold it is by looking at the thermometer. I give the proportion of the whole white population who, being over twenty years old, cannot read or write:
|Buncombe county, North Carolina||1-6|
It will be observed that North Carolina stands highest in the scale of human happiness, civilization, and refinement, and that the good people of Buncombe are particularly blest! [Laughter.] If their distinguished representative here is not satisfied with this exhibition of his constituents, in future he may remember the old adage, that "those who live in glass houses should not throw stones!" [Laughter.]
Mr. ASHE. Will the gentleman favor us with a comparison of the statistics of crime?
Mr. CAMPBELL. My time is so nearly out, that I cannot. If it will comfort the gentleman in his present tribulation, I will admit that northern penitentiaries show more convicts than southern ones. The reason is obvious to everybody, everywhere. We punish our rascals, you allow yours to run at large! [Laughter.] At least we have seen some recent evidence of this fact.
Something about crime was said by the honorable member from South Carolina [Mr. BURT] the other day, in explanation, after the member from Massachusetts [Mr. MANN] had closed. His purpose seemed to be to relieve southern people from the inference of cupidity, raised by the assertion that they would not hang a slave for a crime for which a white man was punished with death. He stated that so far was the assertion from truth, the fact was that a slave was hung for sundry offences, which, if perpetrated by a white man, were not so punished. Now, I have been told, that in many slave States, where the slave is so punished, the law provides that the master shall be paid for him at public expense. I do not know that this is true.
Several voices — "It is true."
Mr. CAMPBELL. Then the South is not relieved from the implication of mercenary motives by the facts.
Sir, when that honorable gentleman or any other southern gentleman speaks to this question, I wish to direct his particular attention to this point. Upon what principle of moral right, or of justice, do you make this discrimination? You denounce us if we propose to enlighten the slave, as "aggressors" — you refuse to teach him yourselves — to fix upon his mind the impress of morality, and his duties to his fellow man — you doom him to degradation, and ignorance of the right, and yet hang him for the wrong, whilst the master who knows and is taught what are his duties, is permitted to go unwhipped of justice. Sir, that All-just God, who rules the destinies of the world, will make no such distinctions in our favor, when in a few brief years we shall be summoned to answer at the bar of Heaven!
Mr. Chairman, gentlemen from the South insist upon calculating the value of this Union. We of the North will not. I regard it as more profitable to calculate the value of the proviso against extending slavery. Gentlemen talk about their southern convention, and about dissolving the Union. I have already shown that this is the old scheme of a few bewildered men, who perhaps are led on, as Mr. BENTON informs us, by an unhallowed ambition! It is a matter of deep regret to me that some of those, with whom I deeply sympathized in former struggles — whose noble efforts in the cause of their country have commanded our admiration, are now disposed to unite with them in the "dream of a separate independence — a dream to be interrupted by bloody conflicts with their neighbors, and a vile dependence on a foreign power," — to join them in renouncing the glorious flag of our country — in destroying the peace of mankind and deluging our fertile fields in blood. As to a dissolution of the Union, it cannot occur. We will not contemplate it. Coolly and firmly determined to carry out the great principles of our fathers — unawed by the storm which may threaten — we will follow the advice of the great and good Washington, "discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned, and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts." Sir, the attempt may be made, but the whole North, with thousands in the South, will resist it to the last.
The gentleman from North Carolina, [Mr. CLINGMAN,] with a coolness by no means creditable to his patriotism, calculates it as a matter of dollars and cents! You do not find the yankee making such calculations; and why? Because it wont pay — it wont pay even the expense of slate pencil. He has run the matter over in his head and considers it a scheme which it is impossible to carry out. He knows it cannot be accomplished, and he would as soon think of calculating the costs of a railroad to the moon! But the honorable gentleman, has, no doubt, worn out many slate pencils in the cause, and has given us the benefit of his figures! I have no time to expose the fallacy of his conclusions, if it were necessary.
A few words as to his proposed "northern boundary" of the contemplated "southern confederacy." He bids high for "Old Kentuck," and makes the Ohio river the dividing line. The gentleman forgot, (if he ever knew,) that there are strong natural ties which unite Ohio and Kentucky.
182Their citizens never can — they never will become foreigners to each other! The hardy sons of Ohio have united their destinies for life with Kentucky's fair daughters. We are one people, and I think I may safely say that when the struggle comes, if come it must, Ohio and Kentucky will be found as they were in the last war with Great Britain in defence of our frontier, shoulder to shoulder under the flag of the Union, bearing as their motto, "One country — one constitution — one destiny!"
The gentleman bids for Kentucky to join in this unhallowed plot. What is his bid? Kentucky being a stock-raising State, is to have a monopoly of the southern market! The old Northwest — Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, etc., are to be shut out from the immense benefits of the southern market! I do not suppose the gentleman regards Kentuckians as fools, because they have not made many speeches here; but he underrates their business faculties very much if he thinks they would be willing to exchange the New England market for their products for that of Charleston. They know that the rule would work both ways. And when the Northwest is driven from the South with her pork, her beef, and her flour, I suggest for the consideration of members from Louisiana, that there might be a falling off in the exports from New Orleans which are now paraded to show the vast resources of the South!
I should like to be present, Mr. Chairman, [Mr. LINN BOYD being in the chair,] in your district, when the brave sons of the "dark and bloody ground" should be assembled to hear the first disunion speech. What would be their feelings on hearing as an argument for disunion, that by shutting out from Mobile the pork raised by their brothers or their sons in Ohio and Indiana, the value of Kentucky pigs would be increased ten cents a head? What would your people do with such an orator? They would snake-poll him out of the district and set the dogs on him!
The gentleman wants Maryland too. If he can get Maryland, he will make Baltimore the New York of the South. Well, sir, if Maryland thinks it best to take this sort of "street paper" without any endorsement or mortgage security, she had better suspend her Baltimore and Ohio railroad; we of the great Northwest would be compelled to take the Pittsburg route!
Mr. Chairman, I will not pursue the absurdities of the arguments which have been offered in favor of disunion. Whenever the proper time comes — whenever there are any "overt acts," arguments more potent than mine will be furnished by the "Commander-in-chief" at the other end of the Avenue. "Old Whitey" nips the grass on the public grounds, and will be in good plight!
I have shown some of the reasons why I am in favor of the proviso of the ordinance of '87. I designed going at large into an exhibition of its practical effects. For want of time I will relate an anecdote which is calculated to impress them upon the mind.
I have a constituent who has been an eye-witness to the rapid progress of that Territory to which our revolutionary fathers first applied it. He is a native of the "Old Dominion," and at the age of sixteen fought in the battles of Eutaw and Guilford Court-House. The northwest Territory was then a vast, unbroken wilderness, uninhabited save by the savage and the wild beast. No keel had ruffled the smooth surface of her magnificent lakes and rivers. Her boundless forests were untouched by the woodman! The sod of her vast prairies was unbroken by the agriculturist! In 1787 it was decreed that this soil should never be polluted by the foot of slavery! In '89 he left his friends, and with his rifle upon his shoulder cast his destiny there. In that year he taught, in a log cabin on the banks of the beautiful Ohio, the second school of the northwestern Territory. Subsequently he aided to "carry up the corner" of the first log cabin, where now stands the great city of Cincinnati! In 1802 he was a member of the Convention which framed the constitution of Ohio, and aided in embodying in it the clause prohibiting slavery. Sir, that man still lives to witness its fruits. Four millions of freemen are happy there, with no fear of insurrections to trouble them in the stillness of the night — the lamentations of no slave to disturb their repose. Instead of the single hut, surrounded by savages, thousands of colleges, academies, churches, and schoolhouses, adorn the land, and tens of thousands of merry children acquire in them those impressions which will make them useful to their country and prepare their souls for eternity. Sir, I relate this anecdote to challenge gentlemen to point me in the history of all the world to any country, in any age, where, in the life time of one man, such progress has been made, and for the purpose of pointing to these monuments there erected to the patriotism, wisdom, and sagacity of those who formed the old Continental Congress of 1774! That individual, although aged, still lives, and is still physically able to protect the family of a native of that soil who is absent from his home to urge, as a solemn duty, the passage of the same provision for the Territories which our posterity must occupy.
Before high Heaven, let me say, that duty, regardless of consequences, will be discharged. That person will urge upon all to keep up the lights of liberty enkindled by our fathers; that we may be directed by them in the advancement of measures which will secure the highest degree of perfection of which man in his fallen condition is susceptible in this life; and when "its fitful dream is over," a place in that land where sorrows and oppressions never come.