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[34]

No anti-slavery measures enacted by Congress.

Mr. Davis, in his message to the Confederate States, goes over a long list of measures, which he declares to have been inaugurated, and gradually extended, as soon as the Northern States had reached a sufficient number to give their representatives a controlling voice in Congress. But of all these measures, not one is a matter of Congressional legislation, nor has Congress, with this alleged controlling voice on the part of the North, ever either passed a law hostile to the interests of the South, on the subject of Slavery, nor failed to pass one which the South has claimed as belonging to her rights or needed for her safety. In truth, the North, meaning thereby the anti-slavery North, never has had the control of both Houses of Congress, never of the judiciary, rarely of the Executive, and never exerted there to the prejudice of Southern rights. Every judicial or legislative issue on this question, with the single exception of the final admission of Kansas, that has ever been raised before Congress, has been decided in favor of the South; and yet she allows herself to allege “a persistent and organized system of hostile measures against the rights of the owners of slaves,” as the justification of her rebellion.

The hostile measures alluded to are, as I have said, none of them matters of Congressional legislation. Some of them are purely imaginary as to any injurious effect, others much exaggerated, others unavoidably incident to freedom of speech and the press. You are aware, my friends, that I have always disapproved the agitation of the subject of Slavery for party purposes, or with a view to infringe upon the Constitutional rights of the South. But if the North has given cause of complaint, in this respect, the fault has been equally committed by the South. The subject has been fully as much abused there as here for party purposes; and if the North has ever made it the means of gaining a sectional triumph, she has but done what the South, for the last twenty-five years, has never missed an occasion of doing. With respect to every thing substantial in the complaints of the South against the North, Congress and the States have afforded or tendered all reasonable, all possible satisfaction. She asked for a more stringent fugitive slave law in 1850, and it was enacted. She complained of the Missouri Compromise, although adopted in conformity with all the traditions of the Government, and approved by the most judicious Southern statesmen; and after thirty-four years acquiescence on the part of the people, Congress repealed it. She wished for a judicial decision of the territorial question in her favor, and the Supreme Court of the United States, in contravention of the whole current of our legislation, so decided it. She insisted on carrying this decision into effect, and three new Territories, at the very last session of Congress, were organized in conformity to it, as Utah and New Mexico had been before it was rendered. She demanded a guarantee against amendments of the Constitution adverse to her interests, and it was given by the requisite majority of the two Houses. She required the repeal of the State laws obstructing the surrender of fugitive slaves, and although she had taken the extreme remedy of revolt into her hands, they were repealed or modified. Nothing satisfied her, because there was an active party in the cotton-growing States, led by ambitious men determined on disunion, who were resolved not to be satisfied. In one instance alone the South has suffered defeat. The North, for the first time since the foundation of the Government, has chosen a President by her unaided electoral

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Jefferson Davis (1)
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