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[347] a single hope in the future,—that the Providence which had watched over the new birth of Liberty on this continent might yet overrule the madness of men for its preservation; and the fruition of that hope was at hand!

The slave-power was not content with its recent victory. It knew the temper of its adversaries, timid and submissive before threats of disunion, and it saw another and greater conquest before it. Legislation in the nature of a compact stood indeed in the way of the next step; but the equality of slavery with freedom in the occupation of the national domain had been admitted by an obsequious North, and this principle was as applicable to territory acquired from France as to territory acquired from Mexico. If wise and just to leave one territory to the chances of ‘squatter’ dominion, it was equally wise and just to leave the others to the same fate. The repeal of the prohibition of 1820 was the natural sequence of the Compromise of 1850.

The session was not a month old when a conspiracy was revealed for the extension of slavery into the vast territory now comprising the great States of Kansas and Nebraska, and rival. ling in extent Spain, France, and Italy combined. The country, North as well as South, had for a third of a century rested under the conviction that this territory was to remain free, and in due time be divided into free States under the compromise and compact by which in 1820 Missouri was, after prolonged resistance from the free States, admitted as a slave State upon the condition that slavery should be forever prohibited in the rest of the territory acquired from France under the name of Louisiana, so far as it lay north of thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes. No partisan of slavery-neither Calhoun, who guarded the institution with a comprehensive and far-reaching vision, nor Atchison,1 who overlooked the territory from the border State of Missouri—had ever been audacious enough, even when the slave-power was putting forth its utmost pretensions, to propose in Congress the abrogation of the compact known as the Missouri Compromise. With the extinction of Indian titles, the progress of national surveys, and the pressure of emigration, the time had come for the organization of a civil government.2

1 1807-1886.

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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