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question. Singularly enough, too, he represented the territorial question the main feature of the proposed amendments and resolutions" but a trifle in point of territory," and as involving "no breach of any principle."
Others thought otherwise; and the introduction of his resolutions became the signal of a most exciting and thorough debate.
Mr. Toombs followed, expressing himself "indifferent" as to which proposition he made the text of his discourse. His speech was defiant, and little calculated to conciliate.
He declared that the Abolitionists, under their new name of Republicans, had been sowing dragon's teeth, and had already begun to reap their crop of armed men. The Union, he said, was already dissolved. Claiming himself to be "as good a rebel and as good a traitor as ever descended from revolutionary loins," he proceeded to enunciate the demands of those he represented. He demanded for them an equal right to emigrate with their slaves into any future acquired territory and protection therein; that property in slaves should be entitled to the same protection everywhere as other property; that persons stealing property in one State and fleeing to another should be delivered up as any other fugitive from justice; that fugitives should be surrendered without being entitled to writ of habeas corpus or trial by jury; and that efficient laws should be enacted for the punishment of persons who should invade or abet the invasion of any State. These five demands, he contended, must be met, fairly considered, and in good faith granted.
He spoke in most disparaging terms of the origin of the Union. He said that the main difficulty at the outset it was designed to obviate was financial; that all talk of its being cemented by the blood of brave men was nonsense"; that it was carried in some of the States by treachery, in others by bare majorities; and that Monroe, Henry, and even Jefferson himself, were against it. Had he lived at the time of its formation, he should have voted against it. He believed its adoption had been an injury to the South, though, being a "compact," he would abide by it, if the North would. He expatiated largely on the equality of rights of the two sections,
and condemned, in unmeasured terms, Mr. Lincoln and his party, because they would not recognize and abide by the principle. Alluding to Mr. Lincoln's characterization of Southern demands, that the North must "cease to call slaveholding wrong, and join them in calling it right, and this must be done thoroughly, done in acts as well as words," and that silence would "not be tolerated," he responded with the remark: "I say so too. . . . . I will have these rights in the Union, or I will not stay in it."
On the 16th of January an amendment, previously offered by Mr. Powell of Kentucky, to the second clause of the first article, referring to the territorial question, and to that part "situate south of 36° 30'," adding the words "now held or hereafter to be acquired," was adopted by a decisive vote.
On an amendment, offered by Mr. Clarke of New Hampshire, proposing to strike out all after the word "resolved," and to insert the proposition that the Constitution, being in itself ample for the preservation of the Union, all the energies of the government should be directed to its maintenance and support, James F. Simmons of Rhode Island addressed the Senate. He began by quoting largely from the debates in the convention that adopted the Constitution, sustaining the proposition that this is a government of the people and not a compact of States. He contended that the resolutions proposed by the Senator were "grossly violative of the Constitution itself," and he asked their author if he had thought well enough, or was quite certain that these propositions were sound, to make them, like the laws of the Medes and Persians, unalterable. He well expressed the difficulties that were involved in the subject, and confessed his inability to fathom them or understand their solution. "I have thought of it," he said, "and looked into the fire more than a hundred hours since I have been here, not saying a word, to try if I could see the way out of it peaceably; and I am just as young as my youngest boy about it." He referred, too, to the poor encouragement there was to make concessions, for the lack of assurances that they would be adopted by the South. The nearest approach, he said, that had been made to a declaration
of that kind was that of the Texas Senator, who had said that after various things had been done by the North in that direction the South would "consider." "If we would stop the pulpits, burn the school-houses, suppress the newspapers, imprison the Abolitionists, and break up this government, everything that is here now, he would think about staying in it." While professing a willingness to do almost anything for the sake of peace, he said he could not follow the Senator of New York who had said that to exactions he would grant concessions, to threats he would offer conciliation, to hostile array the right hand of brotherhood. That would do for the millennium, but the millennium, he was sure, had not arrived. He closed with a touching allusion to the tender ties that bound Georgia and Rhode Island together, to the fact that the ashes of one of the latter's noblest "revolutionary worthies" rested in the soil of the former; and he claimed them before she left the Union. "We want to place it in his native land by his kindred. Let not that dust go out of the Union."
With a similar spirit his colleague, Mr. Anthony, followed. Deprecating disunion, he appealed to the same tender memories of past sacrifices, to heroisms in a common cause, and to the immigrations and intermarriages which so closely bound the two sections together. "Together," he said, "our fathers achieved the independence of the country, together they laid the foundations of its greatness and its glory; together they constructed this beautiful system under which we live. . . . I will not believe that this great Power, which is marching with giant steps toward the first place among the nations of the earth, is to be turned backward on its mighty track." The vote was then taken on the amendment offered by Mr. Clarke, and it prevailed by a majority of two; which was in effect a defeat of the resolutions as reported by the Senator from Kentucky. That vote, however, was reconsidered, on motion of Mr. Cameron of Pennsylvania, by a vote of twenty-seven to twenty-four, and the original resolutions were again before the Senate for consideration.
On the 21st William Bigler of Pennsylvania addressed the Senate. Prefacing his remarks with a reference to "the sol
emn scene presented here this morning," when the Senators from Florida took formal leave of the Senate, he said that it left him little heart to consider the subject before them. His speech was long and denunciatory. He denounced the Republican party as a sectional party, with "but one vital spark of existence, and that prejudice and hostility to slavery." He appealed to the friends of the incoming administration to give the reassuring word the South demanded, and thus avert a calamity he could not find terms or tones adequately to portray. It was a Union speech indeed, but it was from the Southern standpoint in everything but the location of the speaker.
In a few remarks of his colleague, Simon Cameron, was revealed a state of mind in Congress that is explicable only on the ground that, in the seeming desperateness of the case, members felt that disunion was a foregone conclusion. Speaking and listening, with little hope of good results, they joined in the debate, rather to put themselves right with their constituents than with any expectation of making others right. "The whole world," he said, "it seems to me, are taken up with this question of union and separation, and yet out of the whole Senate of sixty-six members, there were not at any time a dozen men listening to my colleague. .. He came with the olive-branch of peace, he came to save the Union, and yet he was not listened to." In a sharp colloquy with Mr. Mason of Virginia, he said: "It seems to me the only difference between the Senator from Virginia and myself is that he seeks for some excuse for getting out of the Union, while I desire to preserve it by any sacrifice of feeling and, I may say, of principle. I believe their wrongs are imaginary; and as a proof of it, if they will bring forward any projet upon which they will call this question settled, the North will come in and sustain it."
At an evening session of the 21st of February, Mr. Wilson of Massachusetts spoke. Alluding to George Mason of Virginia as "one of the noblest of the illustrious band of patriots" of the Revolution, whom the old Dominion sent to the convention for the formation of the Federal Constitution, he quoted from his
utterances in that body the declaration that "slavery brought the judgment of Heaven upon a country," and "that, by an inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence punished national sins by national calamities." By a rapid sketch of the progress of slavery in its various forms and phases, he showed how "these words of admonition and warning, uttered nearly three quarters of a century ago," had found their sad exemplification in the fact that "the treasonable words of last year have now hardened into deeds "; and "a conspiracy against the unity of the Republic" - not the work of a day, but the labor of a generation 66 now startles and amazes the world by its extent and power." He quoted, too, the admissions of Madison, Jackson, and Benton, that the slavery agitation, which had "a Southern origin," with "disunion as its end," had been largely fomented, in the words of the former, "by unceasing efforts to alarm the South by imputations against the North of unconstitutional designs on the subject of slavery." He quoted the words of the latter that "the disunionists had prostituted the Democratic party," and "that they had complete control of the administration."
Alluding to the election of Mr. Lincoln and the success of the new party, he declared its policy to be, in the words of its chosen leader," the policy of the founders of the government, nothing more, nothing less." He expressed in the strongest terms and as the results of large observation, that the North was not only loyal to the Union, but faithful to the compact of the fathers and to the compromises of the Constitution. Notwithstanding the many vociferous and bitter charges so ceaselessly as well as causelessly flung abroad against it, notwithstanding the series of unfriendly and hostile acts committed by their Southern brethren, there was cherished nothing like animosity and vindictive hate towards them. Of Massachusetts, he said, while in her heart of hearts she loves liberty and loathes slavery, she is never unmindful of her constitutional obligations. He demanded of her accusers to produce the proofs of their allegations, to file their bill of specifications, or forever hold their peace. Referring to her personal-liberty law, he said it was not designed to defeat her