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PLANS OF CRITTENDEN AND DAVIS.
thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown.”'_“I most cheerfully accord to the Senator from Kentucky purity of motive and patriotic intentions and purposes," said Henry Wilson, one of the most active and vigilant men in the Senate. “While I believe every pulsation of his heart throbs for the unity and perpetuity of this Republic; while I cherish for him sentiments of sincere respect and regarı, I am constrained to say here, and now, that his policy has been most fatal to the repose of the country, if not to the integrity of the Union and the authority of the Government. Whether his task be self-imposed, or whether it be imposed upon him by others, he has stood forth, day by day, not to sustain the Constitution, the Union, and the enforcement of the laws; not to rebuke seditious words and treasonable acts; but to demand the incorporating into the organic law of the nation of irrepealable, degrading, and humiliating concessions to the dark spirit of slavery."
It was plainly perceived that Jefferson Davis, one of the most cold, crafty, malignant, and thoroughly unscrupulous of the conspirators, had embodied the spirit of Crittenden's most vital propositions in a more compact
and perspicuous form, in a resolution offered in the Senate on the
24th of December," saying, “That it shall be declared, by amenc.ment of the Constitution, that property in slaves, recognized as such by the local law of any of the States of the Union, shall stand on the same footing, in all constitutional and Federal relations, as any other species of property so recognized; and, like other property, shall not be subject to be divested or impaired by the local law of any other State, either in escape thereto or by the transit or sojourn of the owner therein. And in no case whatever shall such property be subject to be divested or impaired by any legislative act of the United States, or any of the territories thereof." In other words, the Constitution was to be made to recognize property in man, and slavery as a national institution. Speaking for the Oligarchy, Senator Wigfall, in a speech on the Crittenden Compromise, exclaimed:-“We say that man has a right to property in man. say
that our slaves are our property. We say that it is the duty of every government to protect its property everywhere. If you wish to settle this matter, declare that slaves are property, and, like all other property, entitled to be protected in every quarter of the globe, on land and on sea. Say that to us, and then the difficulty is settled.” Because the majority of the people of the United States would not consent to abase their Constitution, and make it subservient to the cause of injustice and inhumanity, the Oligarchy rebelled and kindled a horrible civil war!
We have observed that a Committee of Thirteen was chosen by the Senate, and another of Thirty-three by the House of Representatives, to receive, consider, and report upon plans for pacification. These committees labored sedulously, but at every step they were met by evidence that the conspirators would not be satisfied with any thing that might be offered. These men were holding their seats in Congress, and committing perjury every hour, for no other purpose than to further their plans for the destruction of the Republic; and when they could be no longer useful there, they
1 Washington's Farewell Address to his Countrymen. 2 Speech in the National Senate, February 21, 1861.
3 Congressional Globe, December 24, 1860. * See pages 86 and 89.
SENATOR CLARK'S SUBSTITUTE.
cast off all disguise, insolently flaunted the banner of treason in the faces of true men, and fled to the fields of open and defiant revolt, there to work the infernal engines of rebellion with fearful power. Yet all the while, earnest, loyal men patiently labored, in committees and out of them, in the halls of Congress and out of them, to produce reconciliation, preserve the Union, and secure the stability and prosperity of the Republic. No less than seventeen Representatives offered amendments to the Constitution, all making concessions to the Slave interest; and petitions and letters came in from all parts of the Free-labor States, praying Congress to adopt the Crittenden Compromise as the great pacificator.
Finally, it became so evident that the labors of the committees were only wasted, that Daniel Clark, of New Hampshire, offered in the Senate® two resolutions as an amendment to Mr. Crittenden's
« January 9, propositions. The first declared that the provisions of the Constitution were ample for the preservation of the Union and the protection of all the material interests of the country; that it needed to be obeyed rather than amended; and that an extrication from the present dangers was to be looked for in strenuous efforts to preserve the peace, protect the public property, and enforce the laws, rather than in new guaranties for particular interests, compromises for particular difficulties, or concessions to unreasonable demands. The second declared that “all attempts to dissolve the Union, or overthrow or abandon the National Constitution, with the hope or expectation of constructing a new one, were dangerous, illusory, and destructive; that, in the opinion of the Senate of the United States, no such reconstruction is practicable, and therefore to the maintenance of the existing Union and Constitution should be directed all the energies of the Government and the efforts of all good citizens."
This amendment, so thoroughly wise and patriotic, and so eminently necessary at that critical moment in averting the most appalling national danger, was adopted by a vote of twenty-five against twenty-three. The leading conspirators in the Senate, who might have defeated the amendment and carried the Crittenden Compromise, did not vote. This reticence was preconcerted. They had resolved not to accept any terms of adjustment. They were bent on disunion, and acted consistently.”
In the Senate Committee of Thirteen, which was composed of five Republicans and eight opposed to them, Mr. Crittenden's proposition to restore the line of the Missouri Compromise (36° 30') was, after full discussion, voted down. The majority of the Committee were favorable to the remainder of his propositions, but, under the rule made by the Committee at the beginning, that no resolution should be considered adopted unless it received a majority both of the Republicans and anti-Republicans, they were not passed. Finally, Mr. Seward proposed that no amendment should be made to the Constitution which would authorize or give to Congress any
i Congressional Globe, January 9, 1861.
a The vote was as follows:-YEAs, Messrs. Anthony, Baker, Bingham, Cameron, Chandler, Clark, Collamer, Dison. Doolittle, Durkee, Fessenden, Foote, Foster, Grimes, Hale, Harlan, King, Seward, Simmons, Sumner, Ten Eyck, Trumbull, Wade, Wilkinson, and Wilson. Nays, Messrs. Bayard. Bigler. Bragg, Bright, Clingman. Crittenden, Fitch, Green, Gwin, Hunter, Jobnson of Tennessee, Kennedy, Lane of 0:egon, Mason, Nicholson, Pearce, Polk, Powell, Pugh, Rice, Saulsbury, and Sebastian.
3 See notice of “ The 1560 Association," on pige 95.
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE OF THIRTY-THREE.
power to abolish or interfere, in any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to service or labor by the laws of such State. Only Jefferson Davis and Robert Toombs voted against it. He then proposed that the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 should be so amended as to secure to the alleged fugitive a trial by jury. Stephen A. Douglas amended it so as to have the alleged fugitive sent for trial to the State from which he had escaped. This was voted down, the Republicans and Mr. Crittenden alone voting for it. Mr. Seward further proposed that Congress should pass an efficient law for the punishment of persons engaged in the armed invasion of any State from another State, and all persons in complicity with them. This, too, was rejected; and so was every thing short of full compliance with the demands of the Slave interest,
In the House Committee of Thirty-three were seen like failures to please the Oligarchy, notwithstanding great concessions were offered.
These concessions were embodied in an elaborate report sub* January 14, mitted by Mr. Corwin,“ the Chairman of the Committee.
It condemned legislative interference with the Fugitive Slave Law. It recommended the repeal of Personal Liberty Acts, in so far as they conflicted with that law. It recognized Slavery as existing in fifteen States of the Union, and denied the existence of any power, outside of a State, competent to interfere with it. It urged the propriety of a faithful execution of the Fugitive Slave Law. It recognized no conflicting elements in the National Constitution and laws that might afford sufficient cause for a dissolution of the Union, and enjoined upon Congress the duty of measuring out exact justice to all the States. It declared it to be essential for the peace of the country for the several States faithfully to observe their constitutional obligations to each other; and that it was the duty of the National Government to maintain its authority and protect its property everywhere. It proposed that each State should be requested to revise its statutes, or to so amend the same, that citizens of other States therein might enjoy protection against popular violence, or illegal summary punishment for implied crimes without trial in due form of law; also, that the States should be requested to provide by law against the setting in motion, within their respective orders, any lawless invasion of another State. The President was requested to send a copy of this report to the Governors of the States, asking them to lay it before their respective Legislatures.
In addition to this report, Mr. Corwin submitted a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution, whereby any further amendment, giving Congress power over Slavery in the States, was forbidden. By a portion of the Committee the report was considered too yielding, and two minority reports were submitted. One by Messrs. Washburne and Tappan declared that, in view of the rebellion then in progress, no concessions should be made; and then they submitted, as a distinct proposition, Senator Clark's substitute for Crittenden's plan. Another, by Messrs. Burch and Stout, proposed a convention of the States to amend the Constitution. A proposition was also made to substitute the Crittenden Compromise for Corwin's report. Albert Rust, of Arkansas, offered in the Senate a proposition, substantially the same as Crittenden's, as "the ultimatum of the South ;" and Henry Winter Davis, of Maryland, proposed a resolution to
DEBATES IN THE SENATE.
request the several States to revise their statutes, to ascertain whether any of them were in conflict with the Fugitive Slave Act, and, if so, to repeal them forthwith.
The consideration of reports and propositions concerning pacification occupied a large portion of the session, and nearly every debater in both Houses of Congress was engaged in the discussion. It was fairly opened in the Senate on the 7th of January," when Mr. Crittenden called up a resolution which he had offered on the 2d, to provide by law for submitting his proposed amendments to the Constitution to a vote of the people. He saw no chance for any agreement on the subject in Congress, and he perceived no other course for him to pursue than to make an appeal to the people. He earnestly desired to save the Union and prevent civil war. He felt that the danger to which the Republic was exposed was imminent, and he pleaded earnestly for the people to take care of the Constitution and the Union, saying :-“The Constitution will take care of you; the Union will be sure to protect and preserve you.” He proposed, he said, to take the Slavery question from Congress forever. He did not think he was asking any one to make concessions, but only to grant equal rights. He was opposed to secession, as a violation of the law and the Constitution. "If a State wishes to secede,” he said, “ let them proclaim revolution boldly, and not attempt to hide themselves under little subtleties of law, and claim the right of secession. A constitutional right to break the Constitution was a new doctrine.”
Senator Toombs followed Senator Crittenden. His speech was characteristic of the man-coarse, treasonable, and defiant. “The Abolitionists," he said, “ have for long years been sowing dragons' teeth, and they have finally got a crop of armed men. The Union, Sir, is dissolved. That is a fixed fact lying in the way of this discussion, and men may as well hear it. One of your confederates [South Carolina] has already wisely, bravely, boldly, met the public danger and confronted it. She is only ahead and beyond any of her sisters because of her greater facility of action. The great majority of those sister States, under like circumstances, consider her cause as their cause.” He then declared that “the patriotic men of the country," having appealed to the Constitution, to justice, and to fraternity in vain, were “prepared for the arbitrament of the sword. Now, Sir," he said, “you may see the glitter of the bayonet and hear the tramp of armed men from your Capital to the Rio Grande.”
Toombs then proceeded, with great insolence of speech and manner, to define his own position and demands. “They are what you,” he said, “who talk of constitutional right, call treason. I believe that is the term. I believe for all the acts which the Republican party call treason and rebellion, there stands before them as good a traitor and as good a rebel as ever descended from revolutionary loins. What does this rebel demand?” The right, he said, of going into all the Territories with slaves, as property, and that property to be protected there by the National Government. Shall I not do it ?” he asked. “You say No. You and the Senate say No; the House says No; and throughout the length and breadth of your whole conspiracy against the Constitution, there is one shout of No! It is the price of my allegiance. Withhold it, and you can't get my obedience. There is
TOOMBS'S FAREWELL SPEECII.
the philosophy of the armed men that have sprung up in this country, and I had rather see the population of my own, my native land beneath the sod, than that they should support for one hour such a Government.”
Toombs further demanded that offenders against Slave codes in one State, fleeing into another, should be delivered up for punishment; that the Fugitive Slave Law should be rigidly enforced, and that no State should pass Personal Liberty Acts. He denounced the National Constitution as having been made by the fathers for the purpose of getting “at the pockets of the people.” With a wicked perversion of history, he declared that a "large portion of the best men of the Revolution voted against it,” and that it was “carried in some of the States by treachery.” He sneered at the venerable Senator from Kentucky (who had fought for his country when this traitor was yet an infant, and had entered Congress as a member when this conspirator was a schoolboy), because of his attachment to that Constitution, and his denial of the constitutional right of a State to secede. “Perhaps he will find out after a while," said Toombs, “ that it is a fact accomplished. Ycu have got it in the South pretty much in both ways. South Carolina has given it to you regularly, according to the approved plan. You are getting it just below there [in Georgia], I believe, irregularly, outside of law, without regular action. You can take it either way. You will find armed men to defend both. ... We are willing to defend our rights with the halter around our necks, and to meet these Black Republicans, their myrmidons and allies, whenever they choose to come on.” The career of this Senator during the war that ensued was a biting commentary upon these high words before there was any personal danger to the speaker, and illustrated the truth of Spenser's lines in the Fairy Queen :
“ For highest looks have not the highest mind,
Nor haughty words most full of highest thought;
That being pricked cranish out of sight."
Toombs concluded his harangue by a summing up of charges not unfavorable to the Government against which he was rebelling, but against the political party that had outvoted his own party at the late election, and was about to assume the conduct of that Government. “Am I a freeman ?” he asked. “Is my State a free State, to lie down and submit, because political fossils (referring to the venerable Crittenden) raise the cry of the glorious Union ? Too long, already, have we listened to this delusive song. We are freemen. We have rights; I have stated them. We have wrongs; I have recounted them. I have demonstrated that the party now coming into power has declared us outlaws, and has determined to exclude four thousand millions of our property (slaves] from the common Territories." He then said :-" They have refused to protect us from invasion and insurrection by the Federal power, and,” he added truly,“ the Constitution denies to us in the Union the right either to raise fleets or armies for our own defense. All these charges I have proven by the record." He then said, with gross perversion of the truth, that they had appealed in vain for the exercise of their constitutional rights. Restore them and there would be peace.
“Refuse them," he said, “and what then? We shall