previous next
[386] ceive the wisdom of dividing a legislature into two ‘houses’--once compared said device to that of a Dutchman, who, having a loaded wagon stuck fast in a bog, hitched a span of horses to either end and “whipped up both ways.” It is not certain that he might not have thus extricated his load-or, at least, overturned it; for even our old Confederation, though a feeble and vicious, was not an impossible frame-work of government. We could not have so rapidly increased in wealth or power under it; yet we need not have permanently held in the scale of nations a lower rank than that of Switzerland or Sweden. But this project of Mr. Vallandigham, if adopted, would have given us a government which no civilized people could have endured through a quarter of a century — a government embodying in an aggravated form all the vices of the old Confederation, with few or none of its virtues — a government requiring a President, yet rendering his election a rare and happy accident — a Congress wherein the passage of a single act of any decided importance would be the event of a decade — a rule hardly to be endured, yet not to be escaped without a revolution. For the chief end of this, as of nearly every kindred contrivance of the session, was the construction of a balance whereby three hundred thousand slaveholders would weigh down twenty millions of freemen, and a section which systematically repels immigration, degrades industry, and discourages improvement, be rendered enduringly equal in power and consideration with one cherishing a policy radically antagonistic to this. Yet this inevitable disparity in growth and strength between the Free and the Slave States was the basis of all Southern discontent with the Union, and to counteract or overbear it the object of every device for the removal of Southern grievances and the redress of Southern wrongs.

The House Committee of Thirty-three encountered the same obstacles, and achieved a like failure, with its counterpart in the Senate. Mr. Albert Rust, of Arkansas, submitted to it1 a proposition which was substantially identical with Mr. Crittenden's, and which he presented as the ultimatum of the South. It was voted down some days afterward: Yeas 12; Nays 15: no Republican sustaining it. On the 18th, Mr. Henry Winter Davis, of Md., offered the following, which was adopted unanimously:

Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives, That the several States be respectfully requested to cause their statutes to be revised, with a view to ascertain if any of them are in conflict with, or tend to embarrass or hinder, the execution of the laws of the United States, made in pursuance of the second section of the IVth Article of the Constitution of the United States, for the delivering up of persons held to labor by the laws of any State and escaping therefrom; and the Senate and house of Representatives earnestly request that all enactments having such tendency be forthwith repealed, as required by a just sense of constitutional obligations, and by a due regard for the peace of the Republic. And the President of the United States is requested to communicate these resolutions to the Governors of the several States, with the request that they will lay the same before the Legislatures thereof respectively.

Mr. Thomas Corwin, of Ohio, from a majority of this Committee, made an elaborate report, on the 14th of January, 1861, favoring concession

1 December 17th.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
C. L. Vallandigham (1)
Albert Rust (1)
Henry Winter Davis (1)
J. J. Crittenden (1)
Thomas Corwin (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
January 14th, 1861 AD (1)
December 17th (1)
18th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: