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[202] House, stated that he had sent Mr. King “as bearer of dispatches,” and added:
I did not hesitate to express to the people of those territories my desire that each territory should, if prepared to comply with the requisitions of the Constitution of the United States, form a plan of a State constitution, and submit the same to Congress, with a prayer for admission into the Union as a State; but I did not anticipate, suggest, nor authorize, the establishment of any such government without the assent of Congress; nor did I authorize any government agent or officer to interfere with, or exercise any influence or control over, the election of delegates, or over any convention, in making or modifying their domestic institutions, or any of the provisions of their proposed constitution. On the contrary, the instructions given by my orders were, that all measures of domestic policy adopted by the people of California must originate solely with themselves; and, while the Executive of the United States was desirous to protect them in the formation of any government, republican in its character, to be, at the proper time, submitted to Congress, yet it was to be distinctly understood that the plan of such government must, at the same time, be the result of their own deliberate choice, and originate with themselves, without the interference of the Executive.

In his Annual Message, transmitted some weeks previously, the President had said:

No civil government having been provided by Congress for California, the people of that territory, impelled by the necessities of their political condition, recently met in convention, for the purpose of forming a constitution and State government, which, the latest advices give me reason to suppose, has been accomplished; and it is believed that they will shortly apply for the admission of California into the Union as a sovereign State. Should such be the case, and should their constitution be conformable to the requisitions of the Constitution of the United States, I recommend their application to the favorable consideration of Congress.

The people of New Mexico will also, it is believed, at no very distant period, present themselves for admission into the Union. Preparatory to the admission of California and New Mexico, the people of each will have instituted for themselves a republican form of government, “laying its foundations in such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

By awaiting their action, all causes of uneasiness may be avoided, and confidence and kind feeling preserved. With a view of maintaining the harmony and tranquillity so dear to all, we should abstain from the introduction of those exciting topics of a sectional character which have hitherto produced painful apprehensions in the public mind; and I repeat the solemn warning of the first and most illustrious of my predecessors against furnishing “any ground for characterizing parties by geographical discriminations.”

It would seem that this programme might have secured the support of a majority in Congress and commanded the assent of the country. It insured, almost inevitably, to the champions of Free Labor a practical triumph in the organization and future character of the vast territories recently acquired, while according full scope to that “Popular Sovereignty” whereof Gen. Cass, Mr. Douglas, and other Democratic chiefs, were such resolute champions.

But Congress was not disposed to regard with favor any policy recommended by the Administration; while the Slave Power was fully determined, maugre any theory or profession, to exact a partition of the newly acquired territories, or a consideration for surrendering the alleged right to plant Slavery therein. There was an Opposition majority in the Senate; and the House, after a tedious contest, wherein the especial “Free soil” or Buffalo Platform members refused to support either Mr. Winthrop (Whig), or Mr. Cobb (Democrat), for the speakership, was finally organized under the Plurality rule, whereby, after taking three more ballots, the highest number of votes was to elect. This rule was adopted,1 by 113 Yeas to 106 Nays.

1 December 22, 1849.

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