are anxious to carry through this proposition, with the feeble abilities I may be able to bring to bear upon it. I think it due to myself to make this explanation, because I do not wish it to be understood that, upon a question like this, I have, or could have, any motive except that which should influence a man anxious to secure what he believes to be a great principle — that is, Congressional non-interference in all the Territories, so far as this great question of Slavery is concerned.
I never did believe in the propriety of passing the Missouri Compromise.
I thought it was the result of necessity.
I never thought that the great Senator from Kentucky (Mr. Clay), when he advocated that measure, did so because his judgment approved it, but because it was the result of a combination of circumstances which drove him to the position he assumed; and I have never thought that that measure received the sanction either of his heart or of his head.
The amendment, then, which I gave notice that I would propose — and which I intended to have proposed, if it had not been rendered wholly unnecessary by the amendment reported by the Senator from Illinois, from the Committee on Territories, of which he is the honored Chairman —— I intended to offer, under the firm conviction that I was carrying out the principles settled in the Compromise acts of 1850; and which leave the whole question of Slavery with the people, and without any Congressional interference.
For, over the subject of Slavery, either in the States or Territories of the United States, I have always believed, and have always contended, that Congress had no power whatever, and that, consequently, the act of 1820, commonly known as the Missouri Compromise act, is unconstitutional; and, at the proper time, I shall endeavor to satisfy the Senate and the country of the truth of these propositions.
To which Mr. Douglas
responded as follows:
As this discussion has begun, I feel it to be my duty to say a word in explanation.
I am glad to hear the Senator from Kentucky say that the bill, as it now stands, accomplishes all that he desired to accomplish by his amendment, because his amendment seemed to myself, and to some with whom I have consulted, to mean more than what he now explains it to mean, and what I am glad he did not intend it should mean.
We supposed that it not only wiped out the legislation which Congress has hereto-fore adopted, excluding Slavery, but that it affirmatively legislated Slavery into the Territories.
The object of the Committee was neither to legislate Slavery in or out of the Territories; neither to introduce nor exclude it; but to remove whatever obstacle Congress had put there, and apply the doctrine of Congressional non-intervention, in accordance with the principles of the Compromise measures of 1850, and allow the people to do as they pleased upon this, as well as all other matters affecting their interests.
The explanation of the honorable Senator from Kentucky shows that his meaning was not what many supposed it to be, who judged simply from the phraseology of the amendment.
I deem this explanation due to the Senator and to myself.
, and Calhoun
had all passed from the earth since the inception of Mr. Clay
's Compromise in 1850.
Not one of them lived to hear that that Compromise had lifted the interdict of Slavery from the whole region solemnly guaranteed to Free Labor forever by the Compromise of 1820. Mr. Webster
, certainly, never dreamed of such a thing, when he vehemently denounced, as insane, malignant folly, the attempt to fasten a like prohibition on the bill organizing New Mexico
--as an effort to debar slave-holding on snowy crags and arid deserts where no slave could be subsisted — as a superserviceable attempt to “reenact the laws of God,” as if their Author were unequal to the task He had undertaken.
In the accord of Messrs. Douglas
, an undertone of discord may be detected.
repudiates the restrictive provision of the Compromise of 1820 as void ab initio
, for want of constitutional power to enact it. Congress could not
lawfully exclude Slavery from the Federal
domain — therefore, did not
, to any purpose.
consented to that Restriction because he must, not because he would--(as if this