Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That the following article be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which, when ratified by three-fourths of said Legislatures, shall be valid, to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution, viz.: art. 13. No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish, or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to service or labor by the laws of said State.Is not that very conclusive? Here is an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to make the Constitution unamendable upon that subject, as it is upon some other subjects; that Congress, in the future, should have no power to legislate on the subject of slavery within the States. Talk about “compromise,” and about the settlement of this question; how can you settle it more substantially? How can you get a guarantee that is more binding than such an amendment to the Constitution? This places the institution of slavery in the States entirely beyond the control of Congress. Why have not the Legislatures that talk about “reconstruction” and “compromise” and “guaranties” taken up this amendment to the Constitution and adopted it? Some States have adopted it. How many Southern States have done so? Take my own State, for instance. Instead of accepting guarantees, protecting them in all future time against the legislation of Congress on the subject of slavery, they under-take to pass ordinances violating the Constitution of the country, and taking the State out of the Union and into the Southern Confederacy. It is evident to me that with many the talk about compromise and the settlement of this question is mere pretext, especially with those who understand the question. What more was done at the last session of Congress, when the North had the power? Let us tell the truth. Three territorial bills were brought forward and passed. You remember in 1847, when the agitation arose in reference to the Wilmot proviso. You remember in 1850 the contest about slavery prohibition in the Territories. You remember in 1854 the excitement in reference to the Kansas-Nebraska bill, and the power conferred on the Legislature by it. Now we have a constitutional amendment, proposed at a time when the Republicans have the power; and at the same time they come forward with three territorial bills, and in neither of those bills can be found any prohibition, so far as slavery is concerned, in the Territories. Colorado, Nevada, and Dakota are organized without any prohibition of slavery. But what do you find in these bills? Mark, Mr. President, that there is no slavery prohibition; mark, too, the language of the sixth section, conferring power upon the Territorial Legislature: Sec. 6. And be it further enacted, That the Legislative power of the Territory shall extend to all rightful subjects of legislation consistent with the Constitution of the United States and the provisions of this act; but no law shall be passed interfering with the primary disposal of the soil; no tax shall be imposed upon the property of the United States; nor shall the lands or other property of non-residents be taxed higher than the lands or other property of residents; nor shall any law be passed impairing the rights of private property; not shall any discrimination be made in taxing different kinds of property; but all property subject to taxation shall be in proportion to the value of the property taxed. Can there be any thing more clear and conclusive? First, there is no prohibition; next, the Legislature shall have no power to legislate so as to impair the rights of private property, and shall not tax one description of property higher than another. Now, Mr. President, right here I ask any reasonable, intelligent man throughout the Union, to take the amendment to the Constitution, take the three territorial bills, put them all together, and how much of the slavery question is left? Is there any of it left? Yet we hear talk about compromise; and it is said the Union must be broken up because you cannot get compromise. Does not this settle the whole question? There is no
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