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2 Already steps had been taken in this direction. During the preceding session of Congress a bill passed the House by a large majority, creating a government for the territory without touching the existing prohibition of slavery. Near the end of the session it was laid on the table in the Senate, though cordially recommended by Douglas, the chairman of the committee on territories. Curiously enough, the names of Chase, Seward. and Sumner do not appear on the call of the yeas and nays; they are said to have been engaged elsewhere on public business. But they as well as other senators did not at all apprehend the momentous issue at hand. In the debate the interference with Indian rights was urged as a principal argument against the bill; but considerations relative to slavery were doubtless in the minds of some senators. Atchison deplored the prohibition, but admitted that there was no hope of its repeal. In the interval, however, between this and the next session he declared publicly that he should oppose any subsequent bill which did not include a repeal of the prohibition. It is therefore not wholly true, as sometimes stated, that the South in joining in the repeal only accepted a free will offering from the Northern Democracy. See Boston Commonwealth, March 28, 1853; and May 23, 1854.
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