of the tribunal to which their exposition belongs,” so now, in his first Annual Message, he reiterated these recommendations, and added:
Notwithstanding differences of opinion and sentiment which then existed in relation to details and specific provisions, the acquiescence of distinguished citizens, whose devotion to the Union can never be doubted, has given renewed vigor to our institutions, and restored a sense of repose and security to the public mind throughout the confederacy.
That this repose is to suffer no shock during my official term, if I have power to avert it, those who placed me here may be assured.
Mr. Augustus C. Dodge
, of Iowa
to the Senate a bill “to organize the Territory of Nebraska
,” embracing (as before) the region lying westward of Missouri
, which was referred to the Committee
on Territories; from which Mr. Douglas
, of Illinois
it with amendments.
Still, no word in this bill proposed to repeal or meddle with the interdict on Slavery in this region laid by the Missouri Compromise
On the contrary, Mr. Douglas
's Report accompanying the bill, while it raised the question of the original validity of the Missouri Restriction
aforesaid, contained no hint that said Restriction had been removed by the legislation of 1850.
The material portion of that Report is as follows:
A question has arisen in regard to the right to hold slaves in the Territory of Nebraska, when the Indian laws shall be withdrawn, and the country thrown open to emigration and settlement.
By the 8th section of “an act to authorize the people of Missouri Territory to form a Constitution and State Government, and for the admission of such State into the Union on an equal footing with the original States, and to prohibit Slavery in certain territories,” approved March 6, 1820, it was provided; “That in all that territory ceded by France to the United States under the name of Louisiana, which lies north of 36 degrees 30 minutes north latitude, not included within the limits of the State contemplated by this act, Slavery and involuntary servitude, otherwise than in punishment of crimes whereof the parties shall have been duly convicted, shall be, and are hereby, prohibited: Provided always, That any person escaping into the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed in any State or Territory of the United States, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed, and conveyed to the persons claiming his or her labor or service as aforesaid.”
Under this section, as in the case of the Mexican law in New Mexico and Utah, it is a disputed point whether Slavery is prohibited in the Nebraska country by valid enactment.
The decision of this question involves the constitutional power of Congress to pass laws prescribing and regulating the domestic institutions of the various Territories of the Union.
In the opinion of those eminent statesmen who hold that Congress is invested with no rightful authority to legislate upon the subject of Slavery in the territories, the 8th section of the act preparatory to the admission of Missouri is null and void; while the prevailing sentiment in large portions of the Union sustains the doctrine that the Constitution of the United States secures to every citizen an inalienable right to move into any of the Territories with his property, of whatever kind and description, and to hold and enjoy the same under the sanction of law. Your Committee do not feel themselves called upon to enter upon the discussion of these controverted questions.
They involve the same grave issues which produced the agitation, the sectional strife, and the fearful struggle, of 1850.
As Congress deemed it wise and prudent to refrain from deciding the matters in controversy then, either by affirming or repealing the Mexican laws, or by an act declaratory of the true intent of the Constitution, and the extent of the protection afforded by it to Slave property in the Territories, so your Committee are not prepared to recommend a departure from the course pursued on that memorable occasion, either by affirming or repealing the 8th section of the Missouri act, or by any act declaratory of the meaning of the Constitution in respect to the legal points in dispute.
This would seem conclusive; yet it is but fair to add the following, from near the close of the Report:
From these provisions, it is apparent that the Compromise measures of 1850 affirm, and rest upon, the following propositions: