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candidates. It was a true political millennium when all manner of antagonistic natures laid aside their inherent hostility, and united in licking the hand which they hoped was yet to feed fat their ambition.
General Cass, nothing daunted by the disappointment of his hopes, was one of the first to make his title clear to the heaven to which he aspired. He boldly declared that it was unconstitutional for Congress to pass laws for the Territories! That the Supreme Legislature, to which the law-making power is expressly given by the Constitution, may not exclude Slavery from any Territory by law! It having been maintained by another class of politicians that the Territories themselves have no power to make laws for themselves, or to forbid Slavery within their limits, it would seem that no power is lodged anywhere of sufficient weight to keep Slavery out of any Territory, North or South, into which it suited its convenience to enter. This warrior and statesman, however, distinguished himself about the same time that he was thus proposing to open the gates of three Territories, each equal in 'extent and capacity of population to some European kingdoms, to a form of political degradation which no European despotism knows, by a proposition to discontinue diplomatic relations with Austria on account of her malfeasances towards Hungary. This extraordinary impertinence was received with the contemptuous indignation it deserved by the Power at which it was aimed, and by monarchic Europe generally; and the right of a Slaveholding nation thus to give herself airs of superiority over them was a theme of taunt and invective in Vienna and Berlin. It is needless to say that it led to no results here, or rather to the only result designed, the seizing of an occasion for the further inflation of a national vanity distended almost to bursting, but proving by its sensitiveness to censure that it feels how easily it can be exploded.
It was to the Great Compromiser, Mr. Clay, however, that the work of again arranging a bargain of which all the consideration should be paid by the North, and all the advantages redound to the South, was fitly confided. Having been successful in all his previous endeavors at this cheap kind of conciliation, he fearlessly undertook the task, and in January submitted a plan which received the ill-omened name of Clay's Compromise. Its terms were the admission of California with her Anti-Slavery constitution; the organization of the other two Territories without any restriction of Slavery; the extension of the southwestern boundary of Texas to the Rio Grande ; a portion of her debt to be paid on condition of her relinquishing her claim to that of
New Mexico east of that river ; the abolition of the Slave Trade in the District; the guarantee of Slavery, however, to its inhabitants as long as they choose that blessing; more stringent measures for the recovery of Fugitive Slaves; and the perpetuity of the Slave Trade between the States, unless forbidden by themselves. Of this Compromise, the only two particulars that looked towards freedom were the admission of California as a Free State, and the abolition of the District Slave Trade. The first of these was one of those concessions which could not well be withheld, inasmuch as California had settled the free character of her institutions for herself; and the second, though a just and proper act, which we have long demanded and which we now accept as the first fruits of our National Agitation, was, after all, in effect, merely shifting the Slave mart of Washington to some convenient point in Maryland or Virginia, just beyond the limits of the National Domain. It was an act of decency, which John Randolph and the citizens of the District had called for long years ago, but could hardly be allowed to counterbalance the tremendous odds in the southern scale of this adjustment. In exchange for this concession, Slavery was to find no impediment in its march from the fields which it had already laid waste to the new worlds it sighed to conquer; the limits of the Valley of Rascals was to be liberally enlarged, and her impudent claim to a portion of New Mexico, as groundless as one to Crim Tartary or Cochin China, was to be bought off by the payment of a portion of her scrip, believed to be prudently distributed among the incorruptible patriots at Washington; the virtual abdication of the Constitutional power of Congress over Slavery itself, in the District, and over the trade in Slaves between the States was to be secured ; and, finally, the creation of a yet stronger compulsion upon
the inhabitants of the North to become the servile tools of Slave-catchers, to drag back into the hell of Slavery the men whose skill and courage in escape had proved that they both loved and deserved freedom. Such was the Compromise, these the mutual concessions, proposed by this Doctor in this branch of American politics !
By uniting all these measures in one bill, Mr. Clay proposed to compel all persons desirous of the prevalence either of its good or its bad elements to accept the whole rather than lose the part they desired. The name of the Omnibus Bill,
it in derision, not unfitly described it. It was a pill of many ingredients, which the patient was to swallow without analysis, or the elimination of those he esteemed fatal from those friendly to life and health. This bill, in some shape, under various motions for modification or amendment, was
the staple business of the Senate for several months. It furnished the lists in which the champions on either side encountered to break à lance for Liberty or for Slavery. Mr. CLAY, himself, urged his plan as the sovereign panacea for the ills of the land, in speeches which showed that
age had not injured his intellect nor softened his heart. The more violent among the Slavery party thought the admission of Free California too gross an insult to the South to be endured. Mr. FOOTE, of Mississippi, was forward in the ranks of these heroes. But he was willing to endeavor to save the Union, the date of which he fixed to a day certain, if his scheme of a Committee of Compromise was not acceded to. The outery of the danger in which the Republic stood was raised on all sides. The threats of assassination and massacre, on the part of the Slaveholders in the Lower House, and of a settlement of the matter by a coup d'état, was plainly intimated. Mr. CALHOUN, with almost his dying words, gave a parting blessing to the Abomination of Desolation, and died as he had lived, its faithful and true servant. The violence and intemperance which marked this discussion were, we believe, unprecedented in the Senate Chamber, even in its worst days. Mr. Benton, who had advocated the more moderate measures, as they were esteemed, in relation to the matters involving Slavery, was the chosen object of the attacks of his Slaveholding brethren. Mr. FOOTE, even, one memorable night, drew a pistol upon him in the presence of the assembled Senators. Abuse, ribaldry, contempt, every weapon, rhetorical and moral as well as carnal, was directed at the recusants from the will of the Sovereign Power.
Most of these champions of Slavery were either Slaveholders or men whose whole political life had been one continual service to Slavery, and from whom no other work was expected. There was one man, however, with whom we have in an especial manner to do, from whom better things were looked for. The man who had represented Massachusetts for near a quarter of a century in the Senate, who was well informed by the resolutions and action of her Legislature of the feelings and opinions of his constituents, who had claimed the exclusion of Slavery from new territory as his own peculiar invention and property, whom Massachusetts had more than once attempted to elevate to the highest National Office, from him she had the right to expect, at least, the decent show of resistance to this new and insolent aggression of the Slave Power. To him, at least, she might look to oppose the powers which God and those which she had given him against the new tide of tyranny and disgrace which was about to pour over the land. These
hopes, however justly founded, were most direly disappointed. It is true that there had never been any manly stand made by Mr. WEBSTER for the honor and highest interest of Massachusetts or the North, at any crisis when either was really at stake. It is true that he had sat by and heard the most insulting language applied towards his constituents, and made no sign. It is true that he had never made any attempt to embody, in the National Legislation, the principles and the measures which the Legislature of Massachusetts had again and again accepted, proclaimed, and proposed. It is true that he had ever appeared to act more as the feed advocate of class interests than as the vindicator of broad principles and forecasting views of policy — that he had ever been ready rather to use her as the tool of his own ambitious projects than to act as the representative of what she ought to be. But after the deliberate and repeated committal of himself to the doctrines which Massachusetts had made her own, after purchasing the support of his own party and the State by the most emphatic and impassioned declarations of his coincidence in the opinions it had all along professed, it was thought that a decent self-respect, if not a regard to a higher duty to his State, his country, and his race, would have compelled him to uplift his voice against the further extension of Slavery, and his hand against any further insult to the submissive North. But shamefully and ignominiously did he betray the trust which had been committed to him, and defeat the hope that centred in him.
The seventh day of March was the one marked by the infamy of his speech in favor of the demands of Slavery. Forgetting the Proviso, the paternity of which he had not long ago claimed as a distinction he would not have wrested from him, or regarding his paternal rights, like those of the Roman Fathers, to extend to the life and limb of his offspring, he trode the life out of it with his first advancing step. “ If a resolution or law,” said he, were now before us to provide a territorial government for New Mexico, I would not vote for any prohibition into it whatever"! And this, because Slavery was already excluded from California and New Mexico, by the law of nature and physical geography, the law of the formation of the earth! And this immediately following an argument, showing historically that Slavery had existed in all parts of the world from the Equator to the Poles, and had been practised by nations of every grade of civilization! Never were true premises more signally contradicted by a lying conclusion. When all the leaders of the hosts of Slavery were demanding the right of taking Slaves to the Mexican territories as one of the highest and most
valuable nature, when, in the Presidential contest, Mr. WEBSTER, in common with other leading Whigs, had opposed the election of General Cass, because he was not to be trusted on this question, he had the effrontery to tell the South that she had labored in vain, and the North that she had spent her strength for naught. The South meekly submitted to her share of the implied rebuke, for she well understood that it was but the mask of a profitable treason. How far the patience of the North will endure this insult to their understandings and their feelings, it is as yet hardly time to decide.
An example of perversion of a law of man quite as extraordinary as the one just quoted of the law of God, is to be found in the gloss given to the resolution accompanying the Annexation of Texas. Forgetting his old doctrine, that “the Annexation as proposed was destitute of all decent semblance of constitutional propriety," and the parliamentary omnipotence of one Congress over the subject matter of the resolutions and bills of its predecessors, even if constitutional, he affirmed that those resolutions of Annexation was as binding upon Congress and the nation as a ratified treaty. But not content with this acceptance of that infamous bargain, he manufactured a construction of it never dreamed of by its inventors, and giving Slavery a victory which it had never claimed. It having been provided by those resolutions that four new States might be made out of Texas, of which the “State or States" lying north of thirty-six degrees forty minutes shall be free, implying, of course, that at least one if not more of these four shall be free States, Mr. WEBSTER had the impudence to affirm that, by this contract, such States as may be formed out of Texas, south of thirty-six degrees forty minutes, may come in as Slave States, to the number of Four! Thus stripping that nefarious bargain of the only shred of decency which it possessed, and depriving the North, as far as his interpretation could affect it, of the poor possibility of Freedom being ever established on that accursed soil !
The most abominable part, too, of this plan of abominations had no terrors for Mr. WEBSTER. The perfect shape in which further protection should be given to Slave property, by facilitating its restoration when it had escaped, had been only shadowed forth in Mr. CLAY'S proposition. Mr. BUTLER, of South Carolina, and Mr. Mason, of Virginia, supplied all deficiencies by the bill which the one, and the amendments which the other, had laid before the Senate anterior to Mr. WEBSTER's Speech. By this proposed legislation, not only every United States Judge and Commissioner, but every Clerk of Court,