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[189] default of time or opportunity for one more deliberate, among those Democratic members from Free States who felt that the extreme limit of justifiable or tolerable concession to Slavery had already been reached; wherein Messrs. Hamlin, of Maine, George Rathbun, Martin Grover and Preston King, of New York, David Wilmot, of Pennsylvania, Jacob Brinckerhoff and James J. Faran, of Ohio, McClelland, of Michigan, and others, took part; as the result of which, Mr. Wilmot moved to add to the first section of the bill the following:
Provided, That, as an express and fundamental condition to the acquisition of any territory from the Republic of Mexico by the United States, by virtue of any treaty that may be negotiated between them, and to the use by the Executive of the moneys herein appropriated, neither Slavery nor involuntary servitude shall ever exist in any part of said territory, except for crime, whereof the party shall first be duly convicted.

This Proviso was adopted in Committee by 80 Ays to 64 Noes — only three members (Democrats), it was said, from the Free States, passing through the tellers in response to the call for the Noes. The bill was thereupon reported to the House; and Mr. Rathbun, of New York, moved the Previous Question on its engrossment (so as to preclude a motion to strike out this Proviso). This was met by Mr. Tibbatts, of Kentucky, with a motion that the bill do lie on the table--in other words, that the original measure, but a moment since deemed so vital, be voted down, in order to kill the Proviso. This was defeated on a call of the Yeas and Nays — all the members from Slave States but Messrs. William P. Thomasson and Henry Grider (Whigs), of Kentucky, voting to lay on the table, with Messrs. John Pettit, of Indiana, and Stephen A. Douglas, John A. McClernand (Democrats), of Illinois, and Robert C. Schenck (Whig), of Ohio, making 79; while the Yeas (comprising all the Whigs but one, and nearly all the Democrats from Free States, with the two Kentucky Whigs aforesaid), were 93. The bill was thereupon ordered to be engrossed for a third reading by 85 Yeas to 80 Nays, passed, and sent to the Senate, then in the last hours of the session. On its being taken up, Mr. Dixon H. Lewis, of Alabama (a close adherent of Mr. Calhoun), moved that the Proviso aforesaid be stricken out; whereupon Mr. John Davis (Whig), of Massachusetts, rose to debate, and persisted in speaking, as though against time, until noon, which had been concurrently fixed as the hour of adjournment; so the session terminated, and the bill and proviso failed together. It is probable that President Polk would have vetoed the bill, because of the Proviso, had they then passed.

Mr. Davis died1 not many years afterward, and no explanation of his course in this instance was ever given to the public. He may have desired only to defeat some obnoxious measure which would have come up and which would probably have passed if this bill had been promptly disposed of. It is certain that Gen. Cass, then a Senator, complained, on his homeward journey, of Mr. Davis having defeated a measure which should have been passed, so as to preclude all further controversy with regard to the Extension of Slavery.

1 At Worcester, Mass., April 19th, 1854.

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