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had certain clauses ceding New Mexico and California to the United States. A Southern gentleman, Mr. Badger, of North Carolina, moved to strike out those clauses. Now you understand, that if a motion to strike out a clause of a treaty be supported by one third, it will be struck out; that is, two thirds of the Senate must vote for each clause, in order to have it retained. The vote on this question of striking out stood 38 to 14, not quite one third being against the cession, and so the clause was retained. And why were there not one third ? Just because there were four New England Senators voting for these new territories. That is the reason.
I hope I am as ardent an advocate for peace as any man living; but I would not be carried away by the desire for peace to commit an act which I believed highly injurious, likely to have consequences of a permanent character, and indeed to endanger the existence of the government. Besides, I believed that we could have struck out the cessions of territory, and had peace just as soon. And I would be willing to go before the people and leave it to them to say, whether they would carry on the war any longer for acquisition of territory. If they would, then they were the artificers of their own fortunes. I was not afraid of the people on that subject. But if this course had continued the war somewhat longer, I would have preferred that result, rather than that those territories lying on our southern border should come in hereafter as new States. I should speak, perhaps, with more confidence, if some Whigs of the North had not voted for the treaty.
My own opinion was then clear and decisive. For myself I thought the case a perfectly plain one, and no man has yet stated a reason to convince me to the contrary.
I voted to strike out the articles of cession. They would have been struck out if four of the New England Senators had not voted against the motion. I then voted against the ratification of the treaty, and that treaty would have failed if three New Eng. land Senators had not voted for it, and Whig Senators too. I should do the same thing again, and with much more resolution I would have run a still greater risk, I would have endured a still greater shock, I would have risked any thing, rather than have been a participator in any measure which should have a tendency to annex Southern territory to the States of the Union. I hope it will be remembered, in all future time, that on this
question of the accession of these new territories of almost boundless extent, I voted against them, and against the treaty which contained them, notwithstanding all inducements to the contrary, and all the cries, which I thought hasty and injudicious, of “Peace! Peace on any terms!” I will add, that those who voted against the treaty were gentlemen from so many parts of the country, that its rejection would have been an act rather of national than of local resistance. There were votes against it from both parties, and from all parties, the South and the West, the North and the East. What we wanted was a few more New England votes.
Gentlemen, after I had the honor of receiving the invitation to meet my fellow-citizens, I found it necessary, in the discharge of my duty, though with great inconvenience to my health, to be present at the closing scenes of the session. You know what there transpired. You know the important decision that was made in both houses of Congress, in regard to Oregon. The immediate question respected Oregon, or rather the bill respected Oregon, but the question more particularly concerned these new territories. The effect of the bill as passed in the Senate was to establish these new territories as slaveholding States. The House disagreed. The Senate receded from their ground, and the bill passed, establishing Oregon as a free Territory, and making no provision for the newly acquired territories on the South. My vote, and the reasons I gave for it, are known to the good people of Massachusetts, and I have not heard that they have expressed any particular disapprobation of them.
But this question is to be resumed at the first session of the next Congress. There is no probability that it will be settled at the next session of this Congress. But at least at the first session of the next Congress this question will be resumed. It will enter at this very period into all the elections of the South.
And now I venture to say, Gentlemen, two things; the first well known to you, that General Cass is in favor of what is called the Compromise Line; and is of opinion that the Wilmot Proviso, or the Ordinance of 1787, which excludes slavery from territories, ought not to be applied to territories lying south of 36° 30'. He announced this before he was nominated, and if he had not announced it, he would have been 36° 30' farther off from being nominated. In the next place, he will do all he VOL. II.
can to establish that compromise line; and lastly, which is a matter of opinion, in my conscientious belief, he will establish it.
Give him the power and the patronage of the government, let him exercise it over certain portions of the country whose representatives voted on this occasion to put off that question for fu. ture consideration; let him have the power of this government with his attachments, with his inducements, and we shall see the result. I verily believe, that unless there is a renewed strength, an augmented strength of Whig votes in Congress, he will accomplish his purpose. He will surely have the Senate, and with the patronage of the government, with every interest which he can bring to bear, coöperating with every interest which the South can bring to bear, he will establish the compromise line. We cry safety before we are out of the woods, if we feel that the danger respecting the territories is over.
Gentlemen, I came here to confer with you as friends and countrymen, to speak my own mind and hear yours; but if we all should speak, and occupy as much time as I have, we should make a late meeting. I shall detain you no longer. I have been long in public life, longer, far longer than I shall remain there. I have had some participation for more than thirty years in the councils of the nation. I profess to feel a strong attachment to the liberty of the United States, to the Constitution and free institutions of this country, to the honor, and I may say the glory, of my native land. I feel every injury inflicted upon it, almost as a personal injury. I blush for every fault which I think I see committed in its public councils, as if they were faults or mistakes of my own. I know that, at this moment, there is no object upon earth so much attracting the gaze of the intelligent and civilized nations of the earth as this great republic. All men look at us, all men examine our course, all good men are anxious for a favorable result to this great experiment of republican liberty. We are on a hill and cannot be hid. We cannot withdraw ourselves either from the commendation or the reproaches of the civilized world. They see us as that star of empire which half a century ago was represented as making its way westward. I wish they may see it as a mild, placid, though brilliant orb, moving athwart the whole heavens to the enlightening and cheering of mankind; and not as a meteor of fire and blood, terrifying the nations.