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[57] Slavery in our Union did secure by this acquisition a vast extension of its power and influence. Louisiana came to us a slaveholding territory; had been such, whether under French or Spanish rule, for generations. Though its population was sparse, it was nevertheless widely dispersed along the Mississippi and its lower tributaries, there being quite considerable settlements at and in the vicinity of St. Louis. Slavery had thus already achieved a lodgment and a firm foothold in this vast, inviting domain. Possession is notoriously nine points of the law; but in this case the tenth was not wanting. The white inhabitants were habituated to slaveholding, liked it, and indolently believed it to be conducive to their importance, their wealth, and their comfort. Of the swarm of emigrants and adventurers certain to pour in upon them as a consequence of our acquisition, a large majority would naturally come from the States nearest them, that is, from the preponderantly and inveterately Slave States; while the Northern adventurers, hying with alacrity to such a tempting field for speculation and experiment, were pretty sure to interpose no fanatical objection to a social condition unanimously pronounced so pleasant and profitable by all who were permitted to speak at all on the subject. Moreover, the treaty of cession had expressly stipulated that the inhabitants of Louisiana “should be incorporated into the Union of the United States, and admitted, as soon as possible, according to the principles of the Federal Constitution, to the enjoyment of all the rights, advantages, and immunities of citizens of the United States. And, in the mean time, they should be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty, property, and the religion which they professed.” A just — no, even a literal construction of this provision, giving to the word “inhabitants” its natural and full signification — might have secured liberty, with the enjoyment of all the “rights, advantages, and immunities of citizens of the United States,” to the colored as well as the white Louisianians of that day. But it is hardly supposable that this was really intended by the treacherous murderer of Toussaint, just signally baffled in his formidable attempt to reenslave the freedmen of Hayti. It is very certain that this construction was never put in practice, but that those who had been slaves under Spanish and French rule in Louisiana remained so under the flag of our country, dying in bondage unless specially emancipated, and leaving their children the sole inheritance of their sad condition; and that slaveholders, whether in fact or in purpose only, eagerly hastened to our new purchase and rapidly covered its most inviting localities with cotton-fields and slavehuts. The day that saw Louisiana transferred to our Union is one of woeful memory to the enslaved children of unhappy Africa.

The plant known as Cotton, whence the fiber of that name is mainly obtained, appears to be indigenous in most tropical and semitropical countries, having been found growing wild by Columbus in St. Domingo, and by later explorers throughout the region of the lower Mississippi and its tributaries.

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