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[160] which was rather party than sectional. The advantages of the acquisition were too apparent, and the passion for territorial expansion too strong, to admit of this feeble expedient for resisting the course of events. Sumner from the beginning believed the acquisition to be inevitable, and treated the ‘no more territory’ makeshift as altogether impracticable. Indeed, he never accepted the Whig idea of keeping the republic within its ancient limits, and was ready—as his welcome to Alaska and Canada late in life shows—for any extension on the continent which came naturally and justly.1

Contemporaneously with the debates concerning the exclusion of slavery from Mexican territory to be acquired, there was a similar contest as to a territorial government for Oregon. After a discussion prolonged from the previous session, a provision interdicting slavery in that territory passed the House, Aug. 2, 1848, mostly by a sectional vote, and was rejected by the Senate; but the latter body, which had on similar occasions carried its point against the former, receded August 13, and the bill received the signature of President Polk,—his approval being accompanied with the apology that ‘it was not [on account of the latitude] inconsistent with the terms of the Missouri Compromise.’

Among the incidents of the conflict was the Clayton compromise, reported in July, 1848,—a insidious device for establishing slavery judicially. It prohibited the territorial legislatures of California and New Mexico from acting on the subject, and referred the question of its legal existence in those territories to the Supreme Court of the United States, then a pro-slavery tribunal. the measure received the support of Calhoun and Jefferson Davis, with no Northern Whig senator supporting it except Phelps of Vermont. It passed the Senate, but was lost in the House,—its defeat in the latter body being accomplished, strangely enough, by Alexander H. Stephens, who, from whatever motives acting, did the country a good service on that day.2

The debates in the years 1846-1848 in relation to the Oregon and Mexican territories brought the opponents and partisans of

1 Adams, in the Boston ‘Whig,’ July 29, Aug. 4 and 21, 1847, combated the ‘no territory’ position as untenable.

2 A. H. Stephens's ‘Life,’ by Johnston and Browne, pp. 228-230. The Boston ‘Advertizer,’ July 22 and 29, 1848, and June 28, 1850, approved this measure.

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