of the Clayton compromise measure—the final Southern1
attempt to enforce the assumption that the free status of the Northwestern Territory
was debatable, and to make a nominal concession to Oregon
serve as a counter in the game to win New Mexico
Amid all this, the contemner of compromise, John C. Calhoun
, passed most unhappy days.
He had, as Secretary of State
, engineered the annexation of Texas
, in order to2
forestall British (and therefore abolition) possession, but he was no ‘manifest destiny’ filibuster, and he was filled with alarm at the wholesale dismemberment of Mexico3
contemplated by some of his section after the conquest.
He dreaded the taking into a ‘white man's government’4
new States both free and inhabited by a mixed population.
On that side, Actaeon-like (in Whittier
's fine metaphor),5
he shook to hear the bay of his own hounds.
On the other, the ‘defensive’ seizure of a vast, sparsely-settled wilderness to the north of the Gila
and the Rio Grande
, dedicated to freedom by the law of Mexico
, and which slavery6
could not colonize as fast as freedom, returned to plague the inventor, by renewing his mortal apprehension of the7
loss of the slaveholding preponderance in Congress.
He tried, by the Clayton makeshift, to gain time for Southern immigration and control, by forbidding the Territorial8
governments of New Mexico
to take any action for or against the introduction of slave property.
Beaten in this, he became frantic on the presentation,9
through Senator Benton
, of a petition from the people of New Mexico
asking for a Territorial organization exclusive of slavery.
‘Most insolent,’ he called it, from men whose confines had been conquered to the Union
by the very slaveholders they wished to keep out. Equally wild and ruffianly (in slave-driving fashion) was his language in the10
debates growing out of the Drayton and Sayres adventure11
—a wholesale running off by, water of a large body of slaves from the District of Columbia.
Even to his Northern lieutenant, Stephen A. Douglas
, who warned him that12
he was making capital for the political abolitionists, he