In the Senate Collamer
spoke (April 3 and 4) on affairs in Kansas
and the constitutional question of the power of Congress over the Territories
spoke on the 9th, when he delivered an elaborate speech already in manuscript.
He avoided, as was his habit, all antagonism with senators, or a direct reply to their positions,—not so much as once referring to what any senator had said.
A formal arraignment of the President
as the chief promoter of the disturbances gave to the speech its chief interest.1 Cass
delivered a speech of great length, May 12 and 13, in defence of the repeal of the Missouri Compromise
and of the conduct of the Administration in Kansas
; and when he finished, Sumner
sought to follow him. It was then arranged that the debate should be suspended till the 19th, when he would be entitled to the floor.
He had already signified his purpose on May 2, when Douglas
was pressing the bill, to address the Senate upon it; and for some weeks before, his intention to speak at length was a matter of public knowledge.
When he stated his purpose, May 2, Butler
was in the Senate, and continued to participate in debates as late as the 6th.2
He then went home to South Carolina
with full knowledge that Sumner
was to speak.
This brief notice of the debates and proceedings in Congress must suffice to indicate the spirit which prevailed on both sides.
The pro-slavery party, led by Douglas
and his Southern allies, were determined to browbeat Northern senators,—to compel them to silence by threatening the penalties of treason; and the boldest of them were meditating personal violence.
wrote to William Jay
, May 6:—
I regret that you are going out of the country during these coining months; for we shall need here the moral support that comes from the presence, if not the activity, of good men. Indeed, we are on the brink of a fearful crisis.
The tyranny of the slave oligarchy becomes more revolting day by day. To-day I am smitten by the news from Kansas.
That poor people there are trampled down far beyond our fathers.
For some tine I have tried for the floor, and confidently count on it next week, after General Cass, when I shall expose this whole crime at great length, and without sparing language.
To Theodore Parker
, May 17:—