were the wise and conservative statesmen of a former generation.
Although it had not silenced anti-slavery discussion in other forms, yet it soon tranquillized the excitement which for some months previous to its passage had convulsed the country in regard to slavery in the Territories
It is true that the power of a future Congress to repeal any of the Acts of its predecessors, under which no private rights had been vested, cannot be denied; still the Missouri Compromise
, being in the nature of a solemn compact between conflicting parties, whose object was to ward off great dangers from the Union
, ought never to have been repealed by Congress.
The question of its constitutionality ought to have been left to the decision of the Supreme Court, without any legislative intervention.
Had this been done, and the Court
had decided it to be a violation of the Constitution
, in a case arising before them in the regular course of judicial proceedings, the decision would have passed off in comparative silence, and produced no dangerous excitement among the people.
Let us briefly sketch the history of this repeal, which was the immediate cause of our present troubles.
, on the 4th January, 1854, reported a bill from the Committee
on Territories, to establish a Territorial Government in Nebraska
This bill was silent in regard to the Missouri Compromise
It was nearly in the usual form, and would have doubtless passed, with but little, if any, opposition.
Before it was reached in order, the Whig Senator Dixon
, of Kentucky
, on the 16th January, gave notice that when it should come before the Senate, he would move to add to it a section repealing the Missouri Compromise
, not only in regard to Nebraska
, but all other Territories of the United States
A few days thereafter, on the 23d January, the Committee
on Territories, through Mr. Douglas
, their chairman, offered a substitute for the original bill3
. This, after dividing Nebraska
into two Territories, the one still bearing that name, and the other the name of Kansas
, proceeded to annul the Missouri Compromise
in regard to these and all our other Territories.