see for ourselves how they dealt with it. It is not a matter of argument or inference, but we know what they thought about it.
It is precisely upon that part of the history of the country, that one important omission is made by Judge Douglas
He selects parts of the history of the United States
upon the subject of slavery, and treats it as the whole, omitting from his historical sketch the legislation of Congress in regard to the admission of Missouri
, by which the Missouri Compromise
was established, and slavery excluded from a country half as large as the present United States
All this is left out of his history, and in nowise alluded to by him, so far as I can remember, save once, when he makes a remark, that upon his principle the Supreme Court were authorized to pronounce a decision that the act called the Missouri Compromise
All that history has been left out. But this part of the history of the country was not made by the men of the Revolution.
There was another part of our political history made by the very men who were the actors in the Revolution, which has taken the name of the Ordinance of ‘87.
Let me bring that history to your attention.
In 1784, I believe, this same Mr. Jefferson
drew up an ordinance for the government of the country upon which we now stand ; or rather a frame or draft of an ordinance for the government of this country, here in Ohio
, our neighbors in Indiana
, us who live in Illinois
, our neighbors in Wisconsin
In that ordinance, drawn up not only for the government of that Territory, but for the Territories
south of the Ohio River
, Mr. Jefferson
expressly provided for the prohibition of slavery.
says, and perhaps is right, that that provision was lost from that ordinance.
I believe that is true.
When the vote was taken upon it, a majority of all present in the Congress of the Confederation voted for it; but there were so many absentees that those voting for it did not make the clear majority necessary, and it was lost.
But three years after that the Congress of the Confederation were together again, and they adopted a new ordinance for the government of this Northwest Territory
, not contemplating territory south of the river, for the States owning that territory had hitherto refrained from giving it to the General Government
; hence they made the ordinance to apply only to what the Government
In that, the provision excluding slavery was inserted and passed unanimously
, or at any rate it passed and became a part of the law of the land.
Under that ordinance we live.
First here in Ohio
you were a Territory, then an enabling act was passed, authorizing you to form a Constitution and State Government, provided it was republican and not in conflict with the Ordinance of 87.
When you framed your Constitution and presented it for admission, I think you will find the legislation upon the subject will show that, “whereas you had formed a Constitution that was republican, and not in conflict with the Ordinance of 87,” therefore, you were admitted upon equal footing with the original States.
The same process in a few years was gone through with in Indiana
, and so with Illinois
, and the same substantially with Michigan
Not only did that ordinance prevail, but it was constantly looked to whenever a step was taken by a new Territory to become a State. Congress always turned their attention to it, and in all their movements upon this subject, they traced their course by that Ordinance of 87.
When they admitted new States, they advertised them of this ordinance as a part of the legislation of the country.
They did so because they had traced the Ordinance of 87 throughout the history of this country.
Begin with the men of the Revolution, and go down for sixty entire years, and until the last scrap of that Territory comes into the Union
in the form of the State of Wisconsin
-every thing was made to conform with the Ordinance of ‘87, excluding slavery from that vast extent of country.
I omitted to mention in the right place that the Constitution of the United States
was in process of being framed when that ordinance was made by the Congress of the Confederation; and one of the first acts of Congress itself, under the new Constitution itself, was to give force to that ordinance by putting power to carry it out in the hands of the new officers under the Constitution
, in the place of the old