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AN IMPORTANT DISTINCTION. But the distinction between the cause of the President in beginning the war, and the cause of the country after it was begun, is a distinction which you can not perceive. To you, the President and the country seem to be all one. You are interested to see no distinction between them; and I venture to suggest that possibly your interest blinds you a little. We see the distinction, as we think, clearly enough; and our friends, who have fought in the war, have no difficulty in seeing it also. What those who have fallen would say, were they alive and here, of course we can never know; but with those who have returned there is no difficulty. Col. Haskell and Maj. Gaines, members here, both fought in the war; and one of them underwent extraordinary perils and hardships ; still they, like all other Whigs here, vote on the record that the war was unnecessarily and unconstitutionally commenced by the President. And even Gen. Taylor himself, the noblest Roman of them all, has declared that, as a citizen, and particularly as a soldier, it is sufficient for him to know that his country is at war with a foreign nation, to do all in his power to bring it to a speedy and honorable termination, by the most vigorous and energetic operations, without inquiring about its justice, or anything else connected with it.
Mr. Speaker, let our Democratic friends be comforted with the assurance that we are content with our position, content with our company, and content with our candidate; and that although they, in their generous sympathy, think we ought to be miserable, we really are not, and that they may dismiss the great anxiety they have on our account.
Mr. Lincoln concluded with some allusions to the then divided condition of the New York Democracy.
This session of Congress came to a close on the 14th day of August. The chief points of Mr. Lincoln's Congressional record, thus far, have been noticed, and his principal speeches given at length. He stood firmly by the side of John Quincy Adams, in favor of the unrestricted right of petition, as will be seen by his vote, among others, against laying on the table a petition presented by Caleb B. Smith (December 27, 1847), praying for the abolition of slavery and the slave-trade in the District of Columbia. He favored a liberal policy toward the people in disposing of the public lands, as indicated by
his imperfectly reported remarks (May 11, -1848), at the time of the passing of the bill admitting Wisconsin into the Union as a State. He was careful to scrutinize particular claims, to satisfy which he was asked to vote for an appropriation, as in the case of the proposition to pay the Texas volunteers for lost horses (May 4, 1848). All his acts show a purpose to do his duty to the country, no less than to his immediate constituents, without fear or favor.
After the session closed, Mr. Lincoln made a visit to New England, where he delivered some effective campaign speeches, which were enthusiastically received by his large audiences, as appears from the reports in the journals of those days, and as will be remembered by many. His time, however, was chiefly given, during the Congressional recess, to the canvass in the West, where, through the personal strength of Mr. Cass as a North-western man, the contest was more severe and exciting than in any other part of the country. The final triumph of Gen. Taylor, over all the odds against him, did much to counterbalance, in Mr. Lincoln's mind, the disheartening defeat of four years previous. As before stated, he had declined to be a candidate for re-election to Congress, yet he had the satisfaction of aiding to secure, in his own district, a majority of 1,500 for the Whig Presidential candidates.
Mr. Lincoln again took his seat in the House in December, on the re-assembling of the thirtieth Congress for its second session. Coming between the Presidential election, which had effected a political revolution, and the inauguration of the new Government, this session was generally a quiet one, passing away without any very important measure of general legislation being acted upon. A calm had followed the recent storms. There were, indeed, certain movements in regard to slavery and the slave-trade in the District of Columbia, which produced some temporary excitement, but resulted in no serious commotion. On the 21st of December, Mr. Gott, a representative from New York, introduced a resolution, accompanied by a strong preamble, instructing the Committee on the District of Columbia to report a bill prohibiting the slave-trade in the District. The language used was as follows:
WHEREAS, The traffic now prosecuted in this metropolis of the Republic in human beings, as chattels, is contrary to natural justice and the fundamental principles of our political system, and is notoriously a reproach to our country throughout Christendom, and a serious hinderance to the progress of republican liberty among the nations of the earth ; therefore,
Resolved, That the Committee for the District of Columbia be instructed to report a bill, as soon as practicable, prohibiting the slave-trade in said District.
Mr. Haralson, of Georgia, moved to lay the same on the table, and the yeas and nays were taken on his motion. Mr. Lincoln, Joseph R. Ingersoll, Richard W. Thompson, and George G. Dunn, were nearly or quite the only Northern Whigs who voted in the affirmative. The motion was lost, and the resolution, under pressure of the previous question, was adopted, ninety-eight to eighty-eight, Mr. Lincoln voting in the negative. A motion to re-consider this vote came up for action on the 27th of the same month. A motion to lay on. the table the motion to re-consider having been lost (yeas 58, nays 107, Mr. Lincoln voting in the negative), the subject was postponed until the 10th of January. At that date, Mr. Lincoln read a substitute which he proposed to offer for the resolution, in case of a re-consideration. This substitute contained the form of a bill enacting that no person not already within the District should be held in slavery therein, and providing for the gradual emancipation of the slaves already within the District, with compensation to the owners, if a majority of the legal voters of the District should assent to the act, at an election to be holden for the purpose. It made an exception of the right of citizens of the slaveholding States, coming to the District on public business, “be attended into anl out of said District, and while there, by the necessary servants of themselves and their families." These were the chief provisions of the measure contemplated by Mr. Lincoln, which compared favorably with the act prohibiting the slave. trade in the District, included among the Compromise measures of 1850. After rehearsing the details of the bill, according to the report in the Congressional Globe
Mr. Lincoln then said, that he was authorized to say, that