Table of Contents:
Important Debate in the U. S. SenateIn the U. S. Senate, on Thursday, Mr. Seward presented a memorial from 38,000 citizens of the State of New York, and said that although the Senate Chamber was the largest legislative chamber ever erected since the beginning of the world, except the House of Representatives, this memorial would cover a space thirty-eight times as large as this chamber. He had already presented a similiar memorial with 25,000 names, all urging conciliation. The committee who brought the memorial were the representatives of the largest commerce in the world — a commerce which in any other country would be paramount to all other interests. Happily, here it was not so. He had been requested to support the views of this memorial, and regretted that he had seen no disposition at the part of the seceding States and their friends to meet any practicable effort at compromise on the part of the adhering States.--He however, held himself open to such propositions, and was rejoiced at the fraternal being manifested by the people of his State in these memorials. He did not fear for the Union, nor did he believe these difficulties would certainly be settled in thirty, sixty or ninty days, but, nevertheles, he believed they would be settled. All platforms or men that stood in the way of the preservation of the Union would be swept away. The quested of slavery of freedom in the Territories had been greatest in 1850. The admission of kensas, California and Oregon had reduced the question to a very narrow compass. In that part which remained, all being slave territory, over which a slave code extended, there were but twenty-four slaves — but one for every 44,000 square miles. He did not fear slave aggression which had only carried twenty-four slaves to all that territory. Why, then, should he despair of the Union? Why could he believe that 8,000,000 of people would reduce themselves to the scorn of mankind by the dissolution of the Union for this question? This was a confederation, not an imperial government — Submit the question to a Convention to be called according to the forms of the Constitution and the world would see how thirty-four States could peaceably adjust this difficulty.--He urged, as a last resort, if other means called, the calling of a National Convention, according to the constitutional forms. He excluded by saying that he had advised the gentlemen composing the committee who had thought on the memorial to go home and speak for the Union, vote for the Union, to contribute their money to preserve the Union, and when all other expedients failed, to fight for the Union. Mr. Mason moved that the memorial be misted. He understood it to be a memorial paying for the adoption of the Crittenden amendments. He did not think that at this time when six States had seceded, and others are arming the Premier of the new Administration had proposed any practical meanst. All knew by his votes his opinion on the Crittenden amendments, and by his vote to Clark's resolution that the Constitution needed no amendments, but that the Constitution, and laws should be enforced. He (Mr. Seward,) had urged his constituents to contribute money to the Union. He would like to know the meaning of that. Mr. Seward said he meant that the people could advance to the Union the funds by which the credit of the Government should new be sustained. Mr. Mason said that he had not done him the injustice to suppose that he meant the money to subsidize or demoralize any portion of the South. He meant to pay the army to product the fight. Mr. Seward said he meant to advise that if, after all Congressional compromises, the asembling of a Convention of all the people of the United States had failed, then for all to stand as he should do himself, in the breach for the Union. Mr. Mason said he now understood the Senator. He meant, if nogotiations failed, to use war and bloodshed to preserve the Union.--The Union was gone and no attempt at subjuntion could restore it. He wanted his people, who were mediating to restore a broken Union, to understand these things. Mr. Seward said he meant nothing that was atributed to him by the Senator from Virginia. He did not believe that bloodshed would be necessary. He believed the people would settle it. The Union was not gone, for me Sinator was here to sustain it. Mr. Mason said the remark of the Senator in favor of coercion would undeceive Virginia, and show her that all this talk about compromise and concession amounted to nothing.--Money and war was the thing the North looked to. He would speak without angry emotion. Men on the eve of measuring words should comport themselves as gentlemen. He trusted that they might avoid the ultima ratio, and that the advive of the Senator of New York would be rejected. If there was to be a Confederation of Southern States, he trusted that they might be permitted to separate in peace. He hoped that the good sense, humanity, civilization, and a regard for unborn posterity, would lead the people both sections to repudiate the connects of the Senator from New York. The first efforts of those desiring peace should be to prevent a collision, which was now imminent.--The counsel of the Senator from New York was that the people of the North should speak for the Union, vote for the Union, contribute their money for the preservation of the Union, and fight for the Union. Now, for the first time, it was shadowed forth that the cry of the Republican leaders would be ‘"force, force, force. "’ He hoped this would open the eyes of the South to what she had to expect. If the North did not repudiate these counsels and civil war ensued, after years of devastation a military despotism would be the result. Mr. Seward was astonished at the self-delusion of the Senator from Virginia, who had made out of a speech pacific and fraternal, a declaration of war. He wished the Union saved by the pacific and constitutional action of the people, and had spoken of force as the last resort, when every other expedient had been exhausted. He had been willing to hear and consider all propositions, and was still willing so to do. New York stood ready to do likewise, and settle the question peaceably, without a resort to the sword. When all efforts failed to satisfy the intense Secessionists, is whose interests the Senator from Virginia seemed to speak, he would appeal to the States to say whether for twenty-four negro slaves this great Government was to be destroyed. Mr. Mason denied that he spoke for any other interests than that of Virginia, and there was no authority for the Senator's statement. Mr. Seward apologized. He had meant nothing offensive. Mr. Cameron asked what Maryland and Virginia wanted? Mr. Mason said the demands of Virginia were expressed in the resolutions of her Legislature, now before the Senate. He made some allusions to dispatches sent by Mr. Douglas to Virginia, saying that a settlement would be reached. Mr. Douglas said he had only expressed his views when asked by Virginians. Everything depended on the action of Virginia and the Border States. It was very clear the Senator from Virginia had one object in view and he another. He was for saving the Union by a fair and honorable adjustment, but had seen nothing in the action of the Senator from Virginia looking to such a result. He had repelled the advances made by the Senator from Pennsylvania, and had been applauded by the Republicans for his declaration that the South wished no concession. The Secessionists and Republicans coincided in their efforts to destroy the Government and acted in concert. Mr. Mason--‘"Do you mean that we consult"’ Mr. Douglas-- ‘"Certainly not."’ He then remarked that by the refusal of Southern Senators to vote the Clark substitute was adopted in lien of the Crittenden resolutions. Mr. Johnson, of Arkansas, said he could not permit that statement to go abroad without correcting it. As compromises not adopted by a majority of both parties in the Senate would be useless, following the rule which governed the action of the Committee of Thirteen, certain Southern Senators remained passive to see what the other side would do. They had all, without a solitary exception, voted against the Crittenden resolves. That was the fact, and he did not wish the Senator to send deceptive statements abroad, that Southern Senators had acted in concert, with Republicans, [Applance in the galleries.] Mr. Douglas said he could not know the motives of individual Senators. He only knew the refusal of certain of them to vote caused the adoption of Clark's substitute, and, upon that, dispatches were sent South that there was no hope. Mr. Johnson--‘"There was no deception in that. There is no hope."’ Mr. Douglas said he never would despair of the Union. Was could only lead to disunion and final separation. He was no reason why the difficulty could not be adjusted. The Senator from New York had shown that the Government had been in the hands of the South for twelve years, and yet in that time had only planted twenty-four slaves in all the Territories. That showed that slavery could not be carried there in opposition to natural laws. Why, then, seek to break up the Union on an abstraction of no practical value? A simple clause in the Constitution forbidding Congress to interfere with slavery in the States or Territories, would close the whole controversy. Mr. Douglas offered an amendment to the bill organizing the Territory of ‘"Idaho," ’ and it was ordered to be printed. On motion of Mr. Latham, the special order was postponed until to-morrow at 1 P. M. Mr. Hale expressed his surprise at the remarks of the Senator of Illinois, in regard to the approbation he manifested at the remarks of the Senator of Virginia. He approved the sentiments of that Senator, because he said that the people of Virginia only wanted the Constitution, and demanded no concession. Mr. Mason said the South asked for no concession. That was the term used and implied, a gratuity to which she was not entitled. She wished only the Constitution, but as that had been violated, she demanded guarantees that would more effectually protect her. Mr. Hale said the remarks of the Senator from Virginia showed that he and his people were satisfied with the Constitution and desired no change. Why, then, should the Senator from Illinois deplore expressions of loyalty to that instrument? He had been asked by self-appointed committees to settle this matter, but he did not know what was to be settled. The South admitted that the Constitution was right, they had not complained of the administration of the Federal Government, and the Supreme Court was with them. He could not tell what was the ground of complaint. He did not believe in tinkering with the Constitution, nor did he think this Congress, distracted as it was, could make a better instrument than that drawn up by the father of the country, who came together animated by piety and patriotism. He was for adhering to the Constitution as it was. The Revolution would have been of no value but for the constitutional Union which followed it, and the two could not be separated from each other. The best hopes of mankind were freighted in this ship of the Constitution, and no one but a madman would give it up and try new experiments.--He referred to the expression of hope that New England might be sloughed off, made by the Senator from Missouri, and said he would never beg for admission to any newly constructed Confederacy. If they could get along without New England, he would say, ‘"God bless them."’ He paid a glowing tribute to New England, to her enterprise, her industry and intelligence. They might go to the cotton fields of the South and there see that but for New England genitis, King Cotton would have been a beggar. The Northwest said, ‘"We are going"’ --well good by, but give us back our jewels. Give us the Senator from Illinois (Douglas) and his great priciple.-- [Great laughter.] Mr. Hale then denied that the Union was destroyed, and it could not be. The British empire existed after the colonies revolted. A man was still a man after his leg was cut off. In reply to a statement of the Senator from Virginia that a deep-rooted hatred existed between the North and South, he read the report made by the authorities of Norfolk as to the assistauce rendered that city during the pestilence in 1855. The citizens of the North contributed their money and flocked there to the assistance of the plague-stricken citizens. He wished it understood that in declaring his devotion to the Constitution he did not wish to evoke its power to repress the manifestations of disaffection in any section of the country. He thought the South had all she wanted, and the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott case had decided everything in its favor. Mr. Clingman--Does the Senator from New Hampshire adopt that opinion? Mr. Hale--There is a vacancy on the Supreme Court Bench and when Mr. Lincoln appoints me to it I will answer the gentleman — then my opinion will be worth something. [Laughter.] The judgment of the Court can't be aftected by my opinion. Mr. Hale expressed his gratification that Virginia had initiated a conference of the States, and he and his colleagues of the Senate and House had urged the Governor of New Hampshire to appoint Commissioners to the Conference. He did not know whether the Governor would feel authorized to comply, but he hoped he would. In conclusion, Mr. Hale said the condition of the South American Republics would be that of the seceding States, if they persisted in remaining out of the Union. He would be willing to do what he could to allay sectional strife, but he thought time, and the sober second thoght, were the true remedies. If the South insisted upon going, he would let her do so, but the Union would still be preserved, and when, like the prodigal son, the seceders returned, as they would return, then he would kill the fatted calf of rejoicing that the lost were found, and the dead still lived, [Considerable applause in the galleries.] Mr. Wigfall said that he was in favor of the Union, if it could be administered according to his understanding of it. He explained his refusal to vote upon the Clark resolutions, and said he wished to see what the dominant party would do. He then reviewed the action of Mr. Seward, Mr. Cameron, and other Republican Senators, to show that they had, during the present session, voted against every plan of adjustment presented. Mr. Lincoln had declared against compromise and for coercion. What, then, was the use of talking about the Union, when nothing was done to save it? The Senator from Illinois came forward with his great principle — his specific, before which Dr. Townsend's Sarsaparilla paled — and accused him of favoring disunion. This came with a bad grace from a man but for whom and his great specific a Democratic President would have been elected and the Union saved. To use a paradox, he was in favor of preserving the Union by disrupting it. He intended to give in his adhesion to the Government to be formed at Montgomery, and the seceding States never would come back into the Union. Mr. Wigfall then branched off into an extended argument in defence of the rights of the South, and the grounds upon which she had taken her present action. He severely upbraided the Republicans for their political course, and said they were reaping the reward of their deceptions upon the people. He argued that the Declaration of Independence did not refer to negroes, because one of the grounds of revolt was that George III. had interfered with their property in slaves. He could show in the Boston Gazette, which published the Declaration of Independence, advertisements offering a negro for sale and a reward for a runaway. Mr. Wigfall defended, at great length, the course of the seceding States. Mr. Douglas said the Senator from Texas threw the whole blame for the present condition of things upon his doctrine of non-intervention, whereas it all grew out of the contest between the Northern and Southern interventionists, both of whom agreed in attacking his theory. He defended the doctrine of non-intervention at some length, and expressed his unaltered hope that this Union would be preserved forever. He hoped there was a Union sentiment left which would put down the extremes of both sections. [Applause.]--The Senators from Virginia and New Hampshire both agreed that the Constitution was all sufficient, but, unfortunately, they differed as to its construction. It was, therefore, narrowed down to this, that either they had, by an amendment, to determine for all time the proper construction, or to let the extremists go on with their ‘"irrepressible conflict"’ to the destruction of the Government. He belived there was as many disunionists North as South, and the country would understand their professions of devotion to the Union while they refused to meet the issue and to do nothing to preserve it. Mr. Wigfall rejoined, and in the course of his remarks asked Mr. Douglas upon what he rested his hope of an adjustment? Mr. Douglas said he thought he saw a disposition on the other side of the chamber to yield, and the overtures from there should be met kindly. If the Senator from Texas would remain he would make him an efficient agent in the work of saving the Union. [Applause.] Mr. Mason, said he would move that the galleries be cleared. Mr. Wigfall wanted facts. He wished to have a specific statement of the Senator as to what measures the Republicans would vote for. Mr. Douglas said he did not know that he was called on to tell the Senator what took place in the conclaves of the Union men. He never asked the Senator what sort of dispatches he sent to Pensacola and Fort Sumter. Mr. Wigfall had no objection to reveal the contents of any dispatches he sent off. It was just as he expected. When he asked the Senator for his grounds of belief in an adjustment he could not give any definite answer.--On the principle of Micawber, he was waiting for something to turn up. The Senator sent off dispatches that matters looked bright, but all these statements were the merest fudge and balderdash. He could not name any proposition which would command a two-thirds vote in Congress. The bill for the organization of Idaho was taken up, and the Senate adjourned.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.