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[226]

The bill now went to the Senate, with ample notice that a pro-Slavery cabal had been secretly formed to resist the organization of a new Territory on soil consecrated to Free Labor, as this had solemnly been, until a counterpoise could be found or devised, through the partition of Texas or otherwise. It reached the Senate on the 11th, and was sent to the Committee on Territories, from which Mr. Stephen A. Douglas reported it on the 17th without amendment. On the 2d of March (being the last day but one of the session), he moved that it be taken up; which was resisted and beaten: Yeas 20; Nays 25--the Nays nearly all from the South. He tried again next day, when Mr. Solon Borland, of Arkansas, moved that it do lie on the table, which prevailed: Yeas 23; Nays 17--as before. So the South defeated any organization at this time of a territory west of Missouri. No Senators from Slave States but those from Missouri sustained the bill; and Mr. Atchison, of that State, in supporting a motion to take up the bill, to which Mr. Rusk, of Texas, had objected, said:

I must ask the indulgence of the Senate to say one word in relation to this matter. Perhaps there is not a State in the Union more deeply interested in this question than the State of Missouri. If not the largest, I will say the best portion of that Territory — perhaps the only portion of it that in half a century will become a State--lies immediately west of the State of Missouri. It is only a question of time, whether we will organize the Territory at this session of Congress, or whether we will do it at the next session; and, for my own part, I acknowledge now that, as the Senator from Illinois well knows, when I came to this city, at the beginning of the last session, I was perhaps as much opposed to the proposition as the Senator from Texas now is. The Senator from Iowa [Mr. A. C. Dodge] knows it; and it was for reasons I will not not now mention or suggest. But, Sir, I have, from reflection and investigation in my own mind, and from the opinions of others — my constituents, whose opinions I am bound to respect — come to the conclusion that now is the time for the organization of this Territory. It is the most propitious time. The treaties with the various Indian tribes, the titles to whose possessions must be extinguished, can better be made now than at any future time; for, as the question is agitated, and as it is understood, white men, speculators, will interpose and interfere, and the longer it is postponed the more we will have to fear from them, and the more difficult it will be to extinguish the Indian title in that country, and the harder the terms to be imposed. Therefore, Mr. President, for this reason, without going into detail, I am willing now that the question should be taken, whether we will proceed to the consideration of this bill or not.

Here was a distinct intimation,1 from a leading propagandist of Slavery, that he was aware of a Southern conspiracy to prevent the organization, westward of the Missouri, of a new Territory which must necessarily be Free; but he had no faith in its success, and was anxious, for urgent local reasons, to have the organization proceed. But he was overborne, and the bill defeated.

The XXXIIId Congress met December 5, 1853. There was an over-whelming Democratic majority in either branch. Linn Boyd, of Kentucky, was chosen Speaker of the House. President Pierce, as he in his Inaugural had been most emphatic in his commendation of the Compromise of 1850, and in insisting that “the rights of the South” should be upheld, and “that the laws to enforce them be respected and obeyed, not with reluctance encouraged by abstract opinions as to their propriety in a different state of society, but cheerfully, and according to the decisions ”

1 December 15, 1852.

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