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GEN. CASS ON POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY.
LETTER TO A, O, P. NICHOLSON.
cal institutions, if I may so speak, whether they have re
ference to Slavery or to any other relations, domestic or WASHINGTON, Dec. 24, 1847.
public, are left to local authority, either original or derivaDear Sir: I have received your letter, and shall an- tive. Congress has no right to say there shall be Slavery swer it as frankly as it is written,
in New-York, or that there shall be no Slavery in Georgia; You ask me whether I am in favor of the acquisition of nor is there any other human power, but the people of Mexican territory, and what are my sentiments with those States, respectively, which can change the relations regard to the Wilmot Proviso.
existing therein; and they can say, if they will, we will I have so often and so explicitly stated my views of | have Slavery in the former, and we will abolish it in the the first question, in the Senate, that it seems almost un- latter. necessary to repeat them here. As you request it, how- In various respects, the Territories differ from the States. ever, I shall briefly give them.
Some of their rights are inchoate, and they do not possess I think, then, that no peace should be granted to Mex- the peculiar attributes of sovereignty. Their relation to ico, till a reasonable indemnity is obtained for the inju- the General Government is very imperfectly defined by ries which she has done us. The territorial extent of the Constitution; and it will be found, upon examination, this indemnity is, in the first instance, a subject of Execu: that in that instrument the only grant of power concerntive consideration. There the Constitution has placed ing them is conveyed in the phrase, “Congress shall have it, and there I am willing to leave it ; not only because I the power to dispose of and make all needful rules and resave full confidence in its judicious exercise, but because, gulations respecting the territory and other property ben the ever-varying circumstances of a war, it would be longing to the United States." Certainly this phraseology ndiscreet, by a public declaration, to commit the coun- is very loose, if it were designed to include in the grant try to any line of indemnity, which might otherwise be the whole power of legislation over persons, as well as enlarged, as the obstinate injustice of the enemy pro- things. The expression, the “territory and other prolongs the contest with its loss of blood and treasure. perty,” fairly construed, relates to the public lands, as
It appears to me, that the kind of metaphysical mag- such; to arsenals, dockyards, forts, ships, and all the va nanimity which would reject all indemnity at the close of a rious kinds of property which the United States may and bloody and expensive war, brought on by a direct attack must possess. upon our troops by the enemy, and preceded by a suc- But surely the simple authority to dispose of and reg? cession of unjust acts for a series of years, is as unwor- late these does not extend to the unlimited power of legisthy of the age in which we live, as it is revolting to the lation; to the passage of all laws, in the most general common sense and practice of mankind. It would con- acceptation of the word, which, by the by, is carefully exduce but little to our future security, or, indeed to our cluded from the sentence. And, indeed, if this were so, it present reputation, to declare that we repudiate all would render unnecessary another provision of the Conexpectation of compensation from the Mexican Govern- stitution, which grants to Congress the power to legislate, ment, and are fighting, not for any practical result, but with the consent of the States, respectively, over all places for some vague, perhaps philanthropic object, which purchased for the “ erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, escapes my penetration, and must be defined by those dockyards,” etc. These being the property” of the who assume this new principle of national intercommu- United States, if the power to make "needful rules and nication. All wars are to be deprecated, as well by the regulations concerning" them includes the general power statesman as by the philanthropist. They are great of legislation, then the grant of authority to regulate the evils; but there are greater evils than these, and submis- territory and other property of the United States " is unsion to injustice is among them. The nation which should limited, wherever subjects are found for its operation, and refuse to defend its rights and its honor when assailed, its exercise needed no auxiliary provision. If, on the would soon have neither to defend; and, when driven other hand, it does not include such power of legislation to war, it is not by professions of disinterestedness and over the “other property" of the United States, then it declarations of magnanimity that its rational objects can does not include it over their “territory;" for the same be best obtained, or other nations taught a lesson of for- terms which grant the one grant the other. “ Territory” bearance-the strongest security for permanent peace is here classed with property, and treated as such; and We are at war with Mexico, and its vigorous prosecution the object was evidently to enable the General Governis the surest means of its speedy termination, and ample ment, as a property-holder-which, from necessity, it must indemnity the surest guaranty against the recurrence of be-to manage, preserve and“ dispose of” such property such injustice as provoked it.
as it might possess, and which authority is essential almost The Wilmot Proviso has been before the country some its being. But the lives and persons of our citizens, time. It has been repeatedly discussed in Congress and with the vast variety of objects connected with them, canby the public press. I am strongly impressed with the not be controlled by an authority which is merely called opinion, that a great change has been going on in the into existence for the purpose of making rules and regu public mind upon this subject, in my own as well as oth- lations for the disposition and management of pra ers; and that doubts are resolving themselves into con- perty. victions, that the principle it involves should be kept out Such, it appears to me, would be the construction put of the National Legislature, and left to the people of the upon this provision of the Constitution, were this question confederacy in their respective local governments. now first presented for consideration, and not controlled
The whole subject is a comprehensive one, and fruitful by imperious circumstances. The original ordinance of of important consequences. It would be ill-timed to dis- the Congress of the Confederation, passed in 1787, and cuss it here. I shall not assume that responsible task, but which was the only act upon this subject in force at the shall confine myself to such general views as are neces- adoption of the Constitution, provided a complete frame sary to the fair exhibition of my opinion.
of government for the country north of the Ohio, while in We may well regret the existence of Slavery in the a territorial condition, and for its eventual admission in Southern States, and wish they had been saved from its separate States into the Union. And the persuasion that introduction. But there it is, not by the act of the present this ordinance contained within itself all the necessary generation; and we must deal with it as a great practical means of execution, probably prevented any direct referquestion, involving the most momentous consequences. ence to the subject in the Constitution, further than vestWe have neither the right nor the power to touch it where ing in Congress the right to admit the States formed under it exists; and if we had both, their exercise, by any means it into the Union. However, circumstances arose, which heretofore suggested, might lead to results which no wise required legislation, as well over the territory north of man would willingly encounter, and which no good mạn the Ohio, as over other territory, both within and without could contemplate without anxiety.
the original Union, ceded to the General Government, The theory of our Government presupposes that its va- and, at various times, a more enlarged power has been rious members have reserved to themselves the regulation exercised over the Territories - meaning thereby the of all subjects relating to what may be termed their inter- different Territorial Governments – than is conveyed nal police. They are sovereign within their boundaries, by the limited grant referred to. How far an existing except in those cases where they have surrendered to the necessity may have operated in producing this legislaGeneral Government a portion of their rights, in order to tion, and thus extending, by rather a violent implica give effect to the objects of the Union, whether these con- tion, powers not directly given, I know not. But ceroeru foreign nations or the several States themselves. Lo- tain it is that the principle of interference should not be
carried beyond the necessary implication, which produces! 5 But after all, it seems to be generally conceded that
It should be limited to the creation of proper this restriction, if carried into effect could, not operato governments for new countries, acquired or settled, and upon any State to be formed from newly-acquired territo the necessary provisions for their eventual admission tory. The well-known attributes of Sovereignty, recog. into the Union; leaving, in the meantime, to the people , nized by us as belonging to the State Governments, inhabiting them, to regulate their internal concerns in would sweep before them any such barrier, and would their own way. They are just as capable of doing so as leave the people to express and exert their will at plea. the people of the States; and they can do so, at any rate sure. Is the object, then, of temporary exclusion as suon as their political independence is recognized by for so short a period as the duration of the Territorial admission into the Union. During this temporary condi. Governments, worth the price at which it would be tion, it is hardly expedient to call into exercise a doubt- purchased ?-worth the discord it would engender, the ful and invidious authority which questions the intelli- trial to which it would expose our Union, and the evils gence of a respectable portion of our citizens, and whose that would be the certain consequence, let the trial relimitation, whatever it may be, will be rapidly approach. sult as it might ? As to the course, which has been intiing its termination-an authority which would give to mated, rather than proposed, of ingrafting such a restricCongress despotic power, uncontrolled by the Constitution upon any treaty of acquisition, I persuade myself it tion, over most important sections of our common would find but little favor in any portion of this country. country. For, if the relation of master and servant may such an arrangement would render Mexico a party, be regulated or annihilated by its legislation, so may the having a right to interfere in our internal institutions in regulation of husband and wire, of parent and child, and questions left by the Constitution to the State Govern. of any other condition which'our institutions and the ments, and would inflict a serious blow upon our fundahabits of our society recognize. What would be thought mental principles. Few, indeed, I trust, there are among if Congress should undertake to prescribe the terms of us who would thus grant to a foreign power the right to marriage in New York, or to regulate the authority of inquire into the constitution and conduct of the soverparents over their children in Pennsylvania ? And yet eign states of this Union; and if there are any, I am not it would be as vain to seek one justifying the inter- among them, nor never shall be. To the people of this ference of the national legislature in the cases referred to country, under God, now and hereafter, are its destinies in the original States of the Union. I speak here of the commitied; and we want no foreign power to interro inherent power of Congress, and do not touch the ques- gate us, treaty in hand, and to say, Why bave you dono tion of such contracts as may be formed with new States this, or why have you left that undone ? Our own dig when admitted into the confederacy.
nity and the principles of national independence unite of all the questions which can agitate us, those which to repel such a proposition." are merely sectional in their character are the most But there is another important consideration, which dangerous, and the most to be deprecated. The warning ought not to be lost sight of, in the investigation of this voice of him who from his character and services and subject. The question that presents itself is not a quesvirtue had the best right to warn us, proclaimed to his tion of the increase, but of the diffusion of Slavery. countrymen, in his Farewell Address—ihat monument of Whether its sphere be stationary or progressive, its wisdom for him, as I hope it will be of safety for them, amount will be the same. The rejection of this restrichow much we had to apprehend from measures peculiarly tion will not add one to the class of servitude, nor will affecting geographical sections of our country: The its adoption give freedom to a single being who is now grave circumstances in which we are now placed make placed therein. The same numbers will be spread over these words words of safety; for I am satisfied, from all greater territory; and, so far as compression, with less I have seen and heard here, that a successful attempt to abundance of the necessaries of life, is an evil, so far ingraft the principles of the Wilmot Proviso upon the le- will that evil be mitigated by transporting slaves to a islation of this Government, and to apply them to new new country, and giving them a larger space to occupy. territory, should new territory be acquired, would seri- I say this in the event of the extension of Slavery over ously affect our tranquillity. I do not suffer myself to any new acquisition. But can it go there? This may well foresee or foretell the consequences that would ensue ; be doubted. All the descriptions which reach us of the con. for I trust and believe there is good sense and good feel- dition of the Californias and of New-Mexico, to the acqui. ing enough in the country to avoid them, by avoiding all sition of which our efforts seem to be at present directed, occasions which might lead to them.
unite in representing those countries as agricultural regions, Briefly, then, I am opposed to the exercise of any similar in their products to our Middle States, and genejurisdiction by Congress over this matter; and I am in rally unfit for the production of the great staples which can favor of leaving to the people of any Territory, which alone render slave labor valuable. If we are not grossly may be hereafter acquired, the right to regulate it for deceived and it is difficult to conceive how we can be themselves, under the general principles of the Consti- the inhabitants of those regions, whether they depend up tution. Because
on their plows or their herds, cannot be slaveholders. In 1. I do not see in the Constitution any grant of the voluntary labor, requiring the investment of large capital, requisite power to Congress; and I am not disposed to can only be profitable when employed in the production extend a doubtful precedent beyond its necessity-the of a few favored articles confined by nature to special disestablishment of Territorial Governments when needed tricts, and paying larger returns than the usual agricultu-leaving to the inhabitants all the rights compatible ral products spread over more considerable portions of the with the relations they bear to the confederation, earth,
2. Because I believe this measure, if adopted, would In the able letter of Mr. Buchanan upon this subject, weaken, if not impair, the Union of the States ; and not long since given to the public, he presents similar conwould sow the seeds of future discord, which would siderations with great force. "Neither," says the distingrow up and ripen into an abundant harvest of cala- guished writer, "the soil, the climate, nor the productions mity.
of California, south of 36° 30', nor indeed of any portion 3. Because I believe a general conviction that such a of it, North or South, is adapted to slave labor; and beproposition would succeed, would lead to an immediate side every facility would be there afforded for the slave to withholding of the supplies, and thus to a dishonorable escape from his master. Such property would be entirely termination of the war. I think no dispassionate ob- insecure in any part of California. It is morally imposserver at the seat of Government can doubt this re- sible, therefore, that a majority of the emigrants to that sult.
portion of the Territory south of 36° 30', which will be 4. If, however, in this I am under a misapprehension, chiefly composed of our citizens, will ever reëstablish Sla. I am under none in the practical opera ion of this re- very within its limits. striction, if adopted by Congress, upon a treaty of peace, "In regard to New-Mexico, east of the Rio Grande, the making any acquisition of Mexican Territory. Such a question has already been settled by the admission of treaty would be rejected as certainly as presented to Texas into the Union. the Senate. More than one-third of that body would “Should we acquire territory beyond the Rio Grande vote against it, viewing such a principle as an exclu- and east of the Rocky Mountains, it is still more impossision of the citizens of the slaveholding States from a ble that a majority of the people would consent to reësparticipation in the benefits acquired by the treasure tablish Slavery. They are themselves a colored populaand exertions of all, and which should be common to tion, and among them the negro does not belong socially all. I am repeating-neither advancing nor defending to a degraded race." these views. That branch of the subject does not lie in With this last remark, Mr. Walker fully coincides in his my way, and I shall not turn aside to seek it.
letter written in 1844, upon the annexation of Texas, and In this aspect of the matter, the people of the United which everywhere produced so favorable an impression States must choose between this restriction and the ex- upon the public mind, as to have conduced very materitension of their territorial limits. They cannot have ally to the accomplishment of that great measure.
* Beboth; and which they will surrender must depend upon yond the Del Norte," says Mr. Walker, “Slavery will not their representatives first, and then, if these fail them, pass; not only because it is forbidden by law, but be upon themselves.
cause the colo.ed race there preponderates in the ratic
MR. VAN BUREN ON SLAVERY IN THE TERRITORIES.
of ten to one over the whites; and holding as they do, or modern days In times of political excitement, when the government and most of the offices in their possession, difficult and delicate questions present themselves for they will not permit the enslavement of any portion of solution, there is one ark of safety for us; and that is an the colored race, which makes and executes the laws of honest appeal to the fundamental p:inc ples of our the country.
Union, and a stern determination to abide their dictates. The question, it will be therefore seen on examination, This course f proceeding has carried us in safety through does not regard the exclus.on of Slavery from a region many a trouble; and I trust will carry us safely through where it now exists, but a prohibition against its intro. many more, should many more be destined to assail us. duction where it dues not exist, and where, from the feel- The Wilmot Proviso seeks to take from its leg timate triings of the inhabitants and the lavs of nature, “it is bunal a question of domestic policy, having no relation morally impossible," a3 Mr. Buchanan says, that it can to the Union, as such, and to transfer it to another, ever reëstablish itself.
by the people for a special purpose, and foreign It augurs well for the permanence of our confederation to the subject matter involved in this issue. By going that during more than half a century, which has elapsed back to our true principles, we go back to the road of since the establishment of this government, many serious peace and safety. Leave to the people, who will be afquestions, and some of the highest importance, have fected by this question, to adjust it upon their own reagitated the public mind, and more than once threaten- sponsibility, and in their own manner, and we shall ed the gravest consequences; but that they have all render another t ibute to the original principles of our in succession passed away, leaving our institutions Government, and furnish another guaranty of its permaunscathed, and our country advancing in numbers, nence and prosperity. I am, dear sir, respectfully, your power, and wealth, and in all the other elements of obedient se vant,
LEWIS Cass. national prosperity, with a rapidity unknown in ancient A. 0. P. NicầolSON, Esq., Nashville, Tenn.
MR. VAN BUREN ON SLAVERY IN THE TERRITORIES.
The following letter was address to the trade by the Quakers of Philadelphia and New-York, and New York City Delegates to the Utica Free by Dr. Franklin as President of a society for the promo
tion of Abolition. These petitions were in the House of Soil Convention, of 1848, in response to a letter Representatives, referred to a Committee of seven, all to Martin Van Buren, asking his opinion on the but one of whom were Northern members, whose report
as amended in Committee of the Whole, affirmed that subject herein discussed :
Congress have no power to interfere in the emancipation of | LINDENWOLD, June 20, 1848.
slaves, or in the treatment of them within any of the
States, it remaining with the several States alone to proGENTLEMEN : .You desire also my views in regard vide any regulation therein which humanity and true to the prohibition by Congress of Slavery in territories policy might require." where it does not now exist, and thuy shall be given in a The perseverance and good faith with which both few words, and in a inanner which will not, I hope, in- branches of policy thus adopted have, until very recently, crease, if it does not diminish the existing excitement in been recognized and carried are highly honorable to the public mind.
the whole country. The peculiarity of the subject to be The illustrious founders of our Government were not converted into an element of political agitation, as well insensible to the apparent inconsistency between the in the slaveholding as in the non-slaveholding States, may perpetuation of Slavery in the United States, and the have led to occasional attempts so to employ it, but these principles of the Revolution, as delineated in the Declara- efforts have been very successfully frustrated by the good tion of Independence; and they were too ingenuous in sense and good feeling of the people in every quarter of their dispositions to attempt to conceal the impressions the Union. A detailed account of the numerous acts of by which they were embarrassel. But they knew, also, the Federal Government, sustaining and carrying into that its speely abolition in several of the States, was full effect the policy of its founders upon the subject of inpossible, and its existence in all, without fault on the Slavery in the States, and its extension to the Territories, part of the present-generation. They were also too upright and the steps aken, in the non-slaveholding States, to and the fraternal feelings which hari carried them through suppress or neutralize undue agitation in regard to it, the struggle for indep-nience were too strong to permit would be alike instructive and honorable to the actors in them to deal with such a matter upon any other principles them. But it will be readily perceived that this could not than those of liberality and justice. The policy they be given within the necessary limits of a communication adopted was to guarantee to the States in which Slavery like the present. It must therefore suffice to say that existed, an exclusive control over the subject within their from 1737, the date of the ordinance for the prevention of respective jurisdictions, but to prevent by united efforts, Slavery in the Northwestern Territory, down to and inits extension to territories of the United States in which cluding 1838, at least eleven acts of Congress have been it did not in fact exist.
passed, organizing Territories which have since become On all sides te most expedient means to carry out States, in all of which the Constitutional power of Con. this policy were adopted with alacrity and good feeling. gess to interdict the introduction of Slavery into the TerTheir first step was to interdict the introduction of Slavery ritories of the United States, is either directly exercised, into the Northwestern Territory, now covered by the or clearly asserted by enactments which, as matters of States of Ohio, Indianı, Ilinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. authority, are tantamount to its exercise; and that at the This may justly be regarded, as being in the main, a only period when the peace of the slaveholding States was Southern measure. The subj-ct was first brought forward supposed to be seriously endangered by Aboli ion agita. in Congress by Mr. Jeffers in. Virginia made the cession tion, there was a spontanevus uprising of the people of territory upon which the ordinance was intended to of the North of both parties, by which agitation was operate, and the Representatives froin all the slave paralyzed, and the South reassured of our fidelity to the holding States gave it à unaniinous support. Doubts have compromises of the Constitution. arisen in the minds of some whether the ordinance of In the laws for the organization of the Territories, which 1787 was authorized by the articles of Confederation. A now constitute the States of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, bill was introduced in the new Constitution, recognizing Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa, Slavery was expressly proand adapting it to the new organization and it has ever hibited. The laws for the organization of the Territories since been treated and regarded as a valid act. This bill of Mississippi, New Orleans, Arkansas, Alabama and received the Constitutional approbation of President Florida, containing enactments fully equivalent in regard Washington, whose highest and sworn dury it was to sup- to the extent of power in Congress over the subject of port the Constitution under which it was enacted. Nor Slavery in the Territories to the express exercise of it was the North backward in doing its part to sustain the in other cases. These acts were approved by Presidents policy which had been wisely adoptel. They assented to Washington, the elder Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, the insertion of provisions in the Constitution necessary Jackson and myself, all bound by our oaths of office to and sufficient to protect that interest in the States, and withhold our respective approvals from laws which we they did more.
believed unconstitutional. If in the passage of these laws The trouble apprehended at the commencement of the during a period of half a century, and under the adminisGovernment from this source, began to show itself as tration of 30 many Presidents, there was anything like early as the year 1790), in the form of Petitións presented sectional divisions, or a greater or less participation in to Congress upon the subject of Slavery 22] the slave. I their enactment on the part of the Representatives of tho
slaveholding or non-slaveholding States, I am not ap- distinctly announced my opinion in favor of the power of prised of it. I believe the plan devised by the founders Congress to abolish Slavery in the District of Columbia, of the Government, including the Fathers of our Political although I was, for reasons which were then, and are still Church, for the treatment of this great subject, and which satisfactory to' my mind, very decidedly opposed to its has hitherto been so faithfully sustained, and which has exercise there. The question of power is certainly as proven so successful in preserving the Union of these clear in respect to the Territories as it is in regard to that States, to be not only the wisest which the wit of man District; and as to the Territories, my opinion was also could have devised; but the only one consistent with the made known in a still more solemn form, by giving the safety and prosperity of the whole country. I do, there- Executive approval required by the Constitution to the fore, desire to see it continued so long as Slavery exists in bill for the organization of the Territorial Government of the United States. The extent to which I have sustained Iowa, which prohibited the introduction of Slavery into it in the various public stations I have occupied is known that Territory. to the country. I was at the time well aware that I went The opinion from which we dissent was given in the further in this respect than many of my best friends could face of, and directly contrary to, the views expressed, in approve. But deeply penetrated by the conviction that forms the most solemn and explicit, by all or nearly all Slavery was the only subject that could endanger our the non-slaveholding States, and we are not at liberty to blessed Union, I was determined that no effort on my suspect the sincerity of these expressions. Honest and part, within the pale of the Constitution, should be want- well-meanipg men, as we know the masses of our politiing to sustain its compromises, as they were then under- cal friends in those States to be, are incapable of trifling stood, and it is now a source of consolation to me that I with so grave a subject. pursued the course I then adopted.
Our ancestors signalized the commencement of this The doctrine which the late Baltimore Convention has glorious Government of ours, by rescuing from subjection presented for the sanction of the nation, is, in substance, to Slavery a Territory which is now covered by five great that the laws I referred to were but so many violations of States, and peopled by more than four millions of freemen, the Constitution—that this instrument confers no power on in the full enjoyment of every blessing which industry Congress to exclude Slavery from the Territories, as has and good institutions can confer. They did this when the so often been done with the assent of all. This doctrine opinions and conduct of the world in regard to the instiis set forth in the published opinion of the highly respect: tution of Slavery were very different from what they are able nominee of that Convention, who, it is well known, now. received that distinction, because he avowed that opinion, They did so before Great Britain had even commenced and who, it is equally certain, would not have received it those gigantic efforts for the suppression of Slavery by if he had not done so. It is proposed to give this doctrine which she has so greatly distinguished herself. After the most solemn sanction known to our political system, seventy-four years' enjoyment of the sacred and invaluby the election of its declared advocate and supporter to able right of self-government, obtained for us by the valor the Presidency. If it receives the proposed sanction of and discretion of our ancestors, we, their descendants, the People of the United States, the result cannot be are called upon to doom, or if that is too strong a word, doubtful. The policy in regard to the extension of to expose to the inroad of Slavery, a territory capable of Slavery to the Territories of the United States into which sustaining an equal number of new States to be added to it has not yet been introduced, which has existed since our Confederacy-a territory in a great part of which the commencement of the Government, and the conse- Slavery has never existed in fact, and from the residue of quences of which have been so salutary, must cease, and which it has been expressly abolished by the existing Guvevery act of Congress designed to carry it into effect be ernment. We are called upon to do this at a period when defeated by the Veto of the Executive.
the minds of nearly all mankind have been penetrated by The Territories now owned by the United States, and a conviction of the evils of Slavery, and are united in every acquisition of territory that may hereafter be made efforts for its suppression-at a moment, too, when the spirit to the United States, whether obtained by annexation, by of Freedom and Reform is everywhere far more prevalent cession for a valuable consideration, or by conquest, must, than it has ever been, and when our Republic stands as long as this opinion is held, and as far as the action of proudly forth as the great exemplar of the world in the the National Legislature is concerned, be subject to the science of Free Government. inroads of Slavery. And this consequence is to be sub- Who can believe that a population like that which inmitted to on the assumption that the framers of the habits the non-slaveholding States, probably amounting Constitution, with their attention directed to the subject, to twelve millions, who by their own acts, or by the foreand with a well understood desire to do so, have failed to sight of others, have been exempted from the evils of clothe Congress with the necessary powers to prevent it. Slavery, can at such a moment be induced, by consideraI cannot, with my vote, contribute to this sanction. I tions of any description, to make a retrograde movement cannot do so, because í cannot concur in the opinion of a character so extraordinary and so painful ? Such a which we are called upon to sustain.
movement would, in my view of the matter-and I say it The power, the existence of which is at this late day de- / with unfeigned deference to the conflicting opinions of nied, is, in my opinion, fully granted to Congress by the Con- others-bring reproach upon the influence of free institustitution. Its language, the circumstances under which it tions, which would delight the hearts and excite the hopes was adopted, the recorded explanations which accompanied of the advocates of arbitrary power throughout the its formation-the construction it has received from our world. highest judicial tribunals, and the very solemn and re- Accept, gentlemen, my warmest acknowledgments for peated confirmations it has derived from the measures of the obliging expressions contained in your letter, and be. the Government-leave not the shadow of a doubt in my lieve me to be mind, in regard to the authority of Congress to exercise
Your friend, MARTIN VAN BUREN. the power in question. This is not a new opinion on my part, nor the first occasion on which it has been avowed, To Messrs. Nelson J. Waterbury, David Dudley Field, and While the candidate of my friends for the Presidency, I; others, New York.
LAND FOR THE LANDLESS.
Action of Congress on the Public Lands. The Public Domain of the United States is ment there are now about one thousand millions still immense, notwithstanding the millions upon of acres of public lands still unentered. “What millions of acres which have been squandered shall be done with this immense domain?” is a or passed over to the hands of speculators and question which has for years occupied the monopolists, by the action of the National Go- minds of thoughtful men, who have the best vernment during the past few years. It is interests of society at heart. At length, the estimated by intelligent persons, who have great question of the proper disposition of these given their attention to the subject, that lying lands has become one of party, and may be stated within the States and Territories of this Govern- as follows: “Shall the Public Domain be open
to monopoly by speculators, leading inevitably ried, the bill never would have been reached, to a landed aristocracy? or shall it be reserved and would never have been heard of afterward. for actual occupants in small quantities, at a The vote upon the motion to refer the bill to nominal price, or without price ?" There would the Committee of the Whole, was as follows, be no difficulty whatever in adjusting this the Democrats in Roman, the Republicans in question at any time and in the right way, if Italics, and the Southern Americans in small the Negro question, which, in the National CAPITALS: Administration, absorbs or overrides all others, were not behind it. Although this is an old
CONNECTICUT.- Arnold, Bishop-2. question, it had never commanded in Congress,
NEW-YORK.-Burroughs, Maclay, Russell, Taylor-4. the attention to which it is entitled, previous to NEW-Jersey.-Wortendyke-1. the organization of the Republican party; be- PennsyLVANIA.-Ahl, Chapman, Dewart, Montgomery, cause until that time both the great parties
Morris, Ritchie, White-7.
MARYLAND.-HARRIS, RICAUD-2. into which the country was divided were either VIRGINIA.-Bocock, Caskie, Edmundson, Faulkner, Garcontrolled, or their action was modified, by the nett, Millson, Powell—7. Slaveholding interest of the country. That NORTH CAROLINA.-Craige, Ruffin, Scales, Winslow—4.
SOUTH CAROLINA.-Boyce, Branch, Keitt, McQueen, interest, which is ever vigilant, understands Miles-5. that Slavery cannot well exist were small free- GEORGIA.-Crawford, Gartrell, Jackson, Seward, Steholds prevail, and hence it opposes, with all its phens, Trippe, Wright-7.
FLORIDA.-Hawkins-1. great power, all Preëmption and Homestead
ALABAMA.-Curry, Houston, Moore, Shorter-4. laws, knowing well that if our new States and MISSISSIPPI.-Barksdale, Davis, McRae-3. Territories are to be occupied in quarter-seç
LOUISIANA.- Eustis, Sandidge, Taylor_3.
Texas.-Bryan, Reagan-2. tions, they will be occupied by working farmers,
TENNESSEE. -Atkins, Jones, MAYNARD, READY, Savage, and not by speculators and great planters. Watkins, ZOLLICOFFER-7.
Since this question has assumed a national KENTUCKY.—Burnett, Jewett, MARSHALL, Peyton, Steimportance, a concise record of the proceedings
venson, Talbott, UNDERWOOD—7.
MISSOURI.-ANDERSON, Caruthers, John B. Clark, James and votes in Congress during the session of Craig, Phelps, WOODSON-6. 1858-9, and 1859–60, upon the disposition of Ohio.- Burns, Cockerill, Groesbeck, Harlan, Law. the Public Domain, will be of interest as a
rence, Nichols, Pendleton, Vallandigham-8.
INDIANA.- Davis, English, Gregg, Hughes, Niblack_5. matter of record.
ILLINOIS.—Marshall, Morris, Shaw, Smith—4. On the 20th of January, 1859, (See Congress
Total, 90. ional Globe, p. 492,) a bill relating to preëmptions, reported from the Committee on Public
MAINE.- Foster, Gilman, Morse, I. Washburn4.
New-HAMPSHIRE.-Cragin, Tappan-2. Lands, was pending before the House. The bill
VERMONT. —Morrill, Royce, Walton-3. proposed to make some changes in the details MASSACHUSETTS.-Buffinton, Burlingame, Chaffee, Coof existing preëmption laws, but without affect- mins, Dawes, Hall, Knapp, Thayer-3. ing the substance of the present system of dis
Rhode ISLAND.—Brayton, Durfee-2.
CONNECTICUT.-Clark, Dean-2. posing of the public lands. It was, however, in New-YORK.- Andrews, Clark, John Cochrane, Dodd, parliamentary order to propose to amend the Fenton, Granger, Hatch, Ioard, Kelsey, Mutteson, bill so as to change the present system, and to Morgan, Morse, Murray, Olin, Palmer, Parker, spin
ner, Thompson—18. bring the House to a direct vote upon such pro- NEW-JERSEY.-Clawson, Huyler—2. positions. The friends of such change were
PENNSYLVANIA.-Covode, Edie, Florence, Grow, Jones, prompt to avail themselves of this advantage.
Keim, Leidy, Purviance, Stewart-9.
MARYLAND.--Bowie, Stewart-2. Mr. Grow, of Pennsylvania, moved to amend VIRGINIA.-Goode, Hopkins-2. the bill by adding the following as an additional NORTH CAROLINA.-GILMER, VANCE-2. section:
ALABAMA.-Cobb, Dowdell, Stallworth-3.
MISSISSIPPI.-Singleton-1. Be it further enacted, That from and after the pas- OH10.--Bingham, Bliss, Giddings, Hall, Leiter, sage of this act, no public land shall be exposed to sale by Mott, Sherman, Stanton, Tompkins, Wade-11. proclamation of the President, unless the same shall have INDIANA.-Colfax, Foley, Kilgore, Pettit, Wilson been surveyed, and the return of such survey duly filed in -5. the Land Office, for ten years or more before such sale.
ILLINOIS.-Farnsworth, Kellogg, Lovejoy, Washburne, The force and effect of this amendment would MISSOURI.-Blair-1. be to give the preëmptors ten years the start MICHIGAN.- Howard, Leach, Walbridge, Waldron of the speculators and land monopolists. That is to say: with the addition of Mr. Grow's
WISCONSIN -Potter, Washburn-2.
Iowa.-Curtis, Davis-2. amendment to the existing laws and regulations CALIFORNIA.-Scott-1. touching the Public Lands, they would be open
MINNESOTA.-Cavanaugh, Phelps—2. Total, 92. to preëmption ten years before they could come
The motion to refer the bill to the Commitwithin the grasp of the speculator, thus giving tee of the Whole having thus failed, the House the poor, industrious settler ample time to was brought to a direct vote upon Mr. Grow's “clear up” his farm and pay for it from the pro- amendment, which was adopted by the followceeds of the soil. This was just what the South ing votes : and the Democracy did not want, as the sequel will show.
MAINE.-Foster, Gilman, Morse, Washburn, Wood
-5. The opponents of the bill forthwith resorted New-HAMPSHIRE.-Cragin, Pike, Tappan-3. to parliamentary tactics to avoid a direct issue VERMONT. - Morrill, Royce, Walton–3. apon Mr. Grow's proposition.
MASSACHUSETTS.-Buffinton, Burlingame, Chaffes, Their first movement was a motion to refer
Comins, Davis, Dawes, Gooch, Hall, Knapp, Thayer
-10. the bill and amendment to the Committee of the Rhode Isand.-Brayton, Durfee-2. Whole, familiarly and aptly styled “the tomb of
CONNECTICUT.-Dean-1. the Capulets.” If that reference had been careí John Cochrane, Dodd, Fenton, Granger, Hoard, Kel.
New-York.- Androws, Bennett, Burroughs, Clark,