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he can make a motion with regard to its reference, and then make any remarks he thinks proper.
Mr. SUMNER. , I have but a very few words to add, and then I propose to move the reference of the memorial to the Committee on the Judiciary.
The PRESIDENT. The memorial has first to be received before any motion as to its reference can be entertained. The Senator presenting a memorial states distinctly its objects and contents; then it is sent to the Chair, if a reference of it is desired. But it is not in order to enter into a discussion of the merits of the memorial until it has been received.
Mr. SUMNER. I do not propose to enter into any such discussion I have already read one part of the memorial, and it was my design merely to refer to the character of the memorialists
a usage which I have observed on this floor constantly- to-state the course I should pursue, and then conclude with a motion for a reference.
The PRESIDENT. The Chair will hear the Senator, if such is the pleasure of the Senate, if he does not go into an elaborate discussion.
Mr. SUMNER. I have no such purpose.
Mr. SUMNER. I observed that this Memorial was commended by the character of the religious association from which it proceeds. It is commended, also, by its earnest and persuasive tone, and by the prayer which it presents. Offering it now, sir, I desire simply to say, that I shall deem it my duty, on some proper occasion hereafter, to express myself at length on the matter to which it relates. Thus far, during this session, I have forborne. With the exception of an able speech from my colleague [Mr. Davis) the discussion of this all-absorbing question has been mainly left with Senators from another quarter of the country, by whose mutual differences it has been complicated, and between whom I have not cared to interfere. But, there is a time for all things. Justice, also, requires that both sides should be heard ; and I trust not to expect too much, when, at some fit moment, I bespeak the clear and candid attention of the Senate, while I undertake to set forth, frankly and fully, and with entire respect for this body, convictions, deeply cherished in my own State, though disregarded here — to which I am bound by every sen- . timent of the heart, by every fibre of my being, by all my devotion
to country, by my love of God and man. But, upon these I do not
Suffice it, for the present, to say, that when I shall undertake that service, I believe I shall utter nothing which, in any just sense, can be called sectional, unless the Constitution is sectional, and unless the sentiments of the fathers were sectional. It is my happiness to believe, and my hope to be able to show, that, according to the true spirit of the Constitution, and according to the sentiments of the fathers, FREEDOM, and not slavery, is NATIONAL ; while SLAVERY, and not freedom, is SECTIONAL. In duty to the petitioners, and with the hope of promoting their prayer, I move the reference of their petition to the Committee on the Judiciary.
A brief debate ensued, in which Messrs. Mangum, Badger, Hale, Clemens, Dawson, Adams, Butler, and Chase, took part; and, on motion of Mr. BADGER, the Memorial was laid on the table.
On Thursday, 27th July, the subject was again presented by Mr. SUMNER to the Senate.
Mr. SUMNER. Mr. President, I have a Resolution which I desire to offer; and I wish, also, to give notice that I shall expect to call it up to-morrow, at an early moment in the morning hour, when I shall throw myself upon the indulgence of the Senate to be heard
The Resolution was then read, as follows:
Resolved, That the Committee on the Judiciary be requested to consider the expediency of reporting a bill for the immediate repeal of the Act of Congress, approved September 18, 1850, usually known as the Fugitive Slave Act.
In pursuance of this notice, on the next day, during the morning hour, an attempt was made by Mr. Sumner to call it up.
Mr. SUMNER. Mr. President, I now ask permission of the Senate to take up the Resolution which I offered yesterday. For that purpose, I move that the prior orders be postponed, and upon this motion I desire to say a word. In asking the Senate to take up this Resolution for consideration, I say nothing now of its merits, nor of the arguments by which it may be maintained ; nor do I at this stage anticipate any objections to it on these grounds. All this will properly belong to the discussion of the Resolution itself - the main question — when it is actually before the Senate. The single question now is, not the Resolution, but whether I shall be heard upon it. As a Senator, under the responsibilities of my position, I have deemed it my duty to offer this Resolution. I may seem to have postponed this duty to an inconvenient period of the session ; but had I attempted it at an earlier day, I might have exposed myself to a charge of a different character. It might then have been said that, a new-comer and inexperienced in this scene, without deliberation, hastily, rashly, recklessly, I pushed this question before the country. This is not the case now. I have taken time, and in the exercise of my most careful discretion now ask the attention of the Senate. I shrink from any appeal founded on a trivial per. sonal consideration ; but should I be blamed for delay latterly, I may add, that though in my seat daily, my bodily health for some time past, down to this very week, has not been equal to the service I have undertaken. I am not sure that it is now; but I desire to try. And now again I say, the question is simply whether I shall be heard. In allowing me this privilege — this right, I might say you do not commit yourselves in any way to the principle of the Resolution ; but you merely follow the ordinary usage of the Senate, and yield to a brother Senator the opportunity which he craves, in the practical discharge of his duty, to express convictions dear to his heart, and dear to large numbers of his constituents. For the sake of these constituents, for my own sake, I now desire to be heard. Make such disposition of my Resolution afterward as to you shall seem best ; visit upon me any degree of criticism, censure, or displeasure, but do not deprive me of a hearing. “Strike, but hear.”
A debate ensued, in which Messrs. Mason, Brooke, Charlton, Shields, Gwin, Douglas, Butler, and Borland, took part. Objections to taking up the Resolution were pressed on the ground of “want of time,” the “ lateness of the session,” and “danger to the Union.”
The question being then taken upon the motion by Mr. Sumner to take up his Resolution, it was rejected — Yeas 10, Nays 32 as follows:
Yeas. – Messrs. Clarke, Davis, Dodge of Wisconsin, Foot, Hamlin, Seward, Shields, Sumner, Upham, and Wade – 10.
Nays. - Messrs. Borland, Brodhead, Brooke, Cass, Charlton, Clemens, Desaussure, Dodge of lowa, Douglas, Downs, Felch, Fish, Geyer, Gwin, Hunter, King, Mallory, Mangum, Mason, Meriwether, Miller, Morton, Norris, Pearce, Pratt, Rusk, Sebastian, Smith, Soulé, Spruance, Toucey, and Weller - 32.
Thursday, August 26, 1852. The Civil and Diplomatic Appropriation Bill being under consideration, the following amendment was moved by the Committee on Finance.
" That where the ministerial officers of the United States have or shall incur extraordinary expenses in executing the laws thereof, the payment of which is not specifically provided for, the President of the United States is authorized to allow the payment thereof, under the special taxation of the District or Circuit Court of the district in which the said services have been or shall be rendered, to be paid from the appropriation for defraying the expenses of the judiciary.”
Mr. Sumner moved the following amendment to the amendment :
“ Provided, That no such allowance shall be authorized for any expenses incurred in executing the Act of September 18, 1850, for the surrender of fugitives from service or labor ; which said Act is hereby repealed.” On this he took the floor, and spoke as follows:
MR. PRESIDENT : - Here is a provision for extraordinary expenses incurred in executing the laws of the United States. Extraordinary expenses! Sir, beneath these specious words lurks the very subject on which, by a solemn vote of this body, I was refused a hearing. Here it is; no longer open to the charge of being an "abstraction,” but actually presented for practical legislation; not introduced by me, but by one of the important committees of the Senate; not brought forward weeks ago, when there was ample time for discussion, but only at this moment, without any reference to the late period of the session. The amendment, which I now offer, proposes to remove one chief occasion of these extraordinary expenses. And now, at last, among these final crowded days of our duties here, but at this earliest opportunity, I am to be heard ; not as a favor, but as a right. The graceful usages of this body may be abandoned, but the established privileges of debate cannot be abridged. Parliamentary courtesy may be forgotten, but parliamentary law must prevail. The subject is broadly before the Senate. By the blessing of God, it shall be discussed.
Sir, a severe lawgiver of early Greece vainly sought to se
cure permanence for his imperfect institutions, by providing that the citizen who, at any time, attempted an alteration or repeal of any part thereof, should appear in the public assembly with a halter about his neck, ready to be drawn if his proposition failed to be adopted. A tyrannical spirit among us, in unconscious imitation of this antique and discarded barbarism, seeks to surround an offensive institution with a similar safeguard. In the existing distemper of the public mind and at this present juncture, no man can enter upon the service which I now undertake, without a personal responsibility, such as can be sustained only by that sense of duty which, under God, is always our best support. That personal responsibility I accept. Before the Senate and the country let me be held accountable for this act, and for every word which I utter.
With me, sir, there is no alternative. Painfully convinced of the unutterable wrongs and woes of slavery ; profoundly believing that, according to the true spirit of the Constitution and the sentiments of the fathers, it can find no place under our National Government that it is in every respect sectional, and in no respect national — that it is always and everywhere the creature and dependent of the States, and never anywhere the creature or dependent of the Nation, and that the Nation can never, by legislative or other act, impart to it any support, under the Constitution of the United States; with these convictions, I could not allow this session to reach its close, without making or seizing an opportunity to declare myself openly against the usurpation, injustice, and cruelty, of the late enactment by Congress for the recovery of fugitive slaves. Full well I know, sir, the difficulties of this discussion, arising from prejudices of opinion and from adverse conclusions, strong and sincere as my own. Full well I know that I am in a small minority, with few here to whom I may look for sympathy or support. Full well I know that I must utter things unwelcome to many in this body, which I cannot do without pain. Full well I know that the institution of slavery in our country, which I now proceed to con