you have ever done. You have been faithful to your own convictions, and yet abstained from anything at which any conservative opponent could take umbrage. I read it with admiration, and generally with assent. It is received with great and general favor. . . . In all this matter you have borne yourself well, and gained credit everywhere at the North.Speeches full of manly spirit, and worthy of the occasion were made by other senators, as by Wade of Ohio and Fessenden of Maine;1 but the responsibility and leadership in the debate fell on Chase2 and Sumner. Unlike other senators who were resisting the bill, they were unhampered by political associations with its partisans, or pledges to maintain the ‘finality’ scheme of 1850. They were foremost in rousing the Northern masses to a sense of the peril, and in bringing them to the point of determined resistance. Douglas in his final speech was coarse and bitter, venting his coarseness and bitterness chiefly on Chase and Sumner, who had drawn their chairs closely together, and were keenly watching the debate,—pointing at them whenever he repeated his favorite epithet, ‘the abolition confederates.’3 Just before five on the morning of March 4, after a continuous session of seventeen hours, the bill passed the Senate by a vote of thirty-seven yeas to fourteen nays.4 The majority consisted of a united South, except Bell and Houston, and of all Northern Democrats except four. But this majority was divided in the grounds of its support. Douglas and Cass maintained that the people of the territory, by virtue of ‘popular sovereignty’ (‘squatter sovereignty’) had alone the right to settle the question of slavery for themselves; while the extreme Southern party maintained that the Constitution secured to slaveholders
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1 This was Fessenden's first speech in the Senate. Sumner remarked, ‘We felt that a champion had come.’ Pike's ‘First Blows of the Civil War,’ p. 220. Sumner in his tribute to Fessenden, Dec. 14, 1869 (Works, vol. XIII. pp. 189-191), describes the speech and the scene. An ally from an unexpected quarter was found in Houston of Texas, who opposed the bill as sure to stir up agitation and endanger the Union.
3 Springfield Republican, March 8.
4 Von Hoist, vol. IV. p. 406, says, ‘In this vote the enslavement of the minds and consciences of the Northern politicians by slavery had reached its lowest depth.’ Everett left the Senate an hour and a half before the vote was taken, and at the next session of the Senate explained that his absence was caused by a severe indisposition, and that if present he should have voted against the bill. Seward and other Northern Whig senators published a certificate confirming his statement as to his illness. All Northern Whig senators present voted against the bill, including Fish, who, however, took no part in the debate at any stage.
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