or counteracting measure is connected with it.
, in reply to Mr. Davis
, spoke as follows:
I am extremely sorry to hear the Senator from Mississippi say that he requires, first, the extension of the Missouri Compromise line to the Pacific; and, also, that he is not satisfied with that, but requires, if I understand him correctly, a positive provision for the admission of Slavery south of that line.
And now, Sir, coming from a Slave State, as I do, I owe it to myself, I owe it to truth, I owe it to the subject, to state that no earthly power could induce me to vote for a specific measure for the introduction of Slavery where it had not before existed, either south or north of that line.
Coining, as I do, from a Slave State, it is my solemn, deliberate, and well-matured determination that no power — no earthly power — shall compel me to vote for the positive introduction of Slavery, either south or north of that line.
Sir, while you reproach, and justly, too, our British ancestors, for the introduction of this institution upon the continent of America, I am, for one, unwilling that the posterity of the present inhabitants of California and New Mexico shall reproach us for doing just what we reproach Great Britain for doing to us. If the citizens of those territories choose to establish Slavery, I am for admitting them with such provisions in their Constitutions; but then it will be their own work, and not ours; and their posterity will have to reproach them, and not us, for forming Constitutions allowing the institution of Slavery to exist among them.
These are my views, Sir; and I choose to express them; and I care not how extensively and universally they are known.
The honorable Senator from Virginia (Mr. Mason) has expressed his opinion that Slavery exists in these territories; and I have no doubt that opinion is sincerely and honestly entertained by him; and I would say, with equal sincerity and honesty, that I believe that Slavery nowhere exists within any portion of the territory acquired by us from Mexico.
He holds a directly contrary opinion to mine, as he has a perfect right to do; and we will not quarrel about that difference of opinion.
Messrs. William R. King
, of Alabama
, of Louisiana
, and Butler
, of South Carolina
, swelled the chorus of denunciation.
They could see nothing in Mr. Clay
's proposition that looked like compromise; nothing but concession and surrender of all the rights of the South
in the territories.
In their view, it was only a skillful and plausible device for reconciling the South
to the sacrifice of its rights, and to a concession of all the new territories to Free Labor.
They were, therefore, utterly averse to it.
The most remarkable speech elicited by these resolves was that of Mr. Webster
wherein he took ground against the Abolitionists; against the assumed Right of Instruction; against further legislation prohibitory of Slavery in the Territories
; against Secession or Disunion; against whatever seemed calculated to produce irritation or alienation between the North
and the South
; and in favor of liberal grants by Congress in aid of the colonization by Slave States of their free colored population.
His reasons for opposing any prohibitive legislation with regard to Slavery in the new territories were set forth as follows:
Now, as to California and New Mexico, I hold Slavery to be excluded from those territories by a law even superior to that which admits and sanctions it in Texas.
I mean the law of nature, of physical geography, the law of the formation of the earth.
That law settles forever, with a strength beyond all terms of human enactment, that Slavery cannot exist in California or New Mexico.
Understand me, Sir; I mean Slavery as we regard it; the Slavery of the colored race as it exists in the Southern States.
I shall not discuss the point, but leave it to the learned gentlemen who have undertaken to discuss it; but I suppose there is no Slavery of that description in California now. I understand that peonism, a sort of penal servitude, exists there, or rather a sort of voluntary sale of a man and his offspring for debt — an arrangement of a peculiar nature known to the law of Mexico.