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ophy, restraint, and general nobility of his speech, made it an event in the history of the time. He used as a text the memorial from the legislature of Kansas for admission to the Union, and made a powerful analysis of slavery. "What is just," he said, "to one class of men can never be injurious to any other; and what is unjust to any condition of persons in a state is necessarily injurious in some degree to the whole community." The slave state "affects to extinguish the personality of the laborer, not only as a member of the political body, but also as a parent, husband, child, neighbor, or friend. He thus becomes, in a political view, merely property without moral capacity, and without domestic, moral, and social relations, duties, rights, and remedies. . . . The state protects not the slave as a man, but the capital of another man which he represents. On the other hand, the state which rejects slavery encourages and animates and invigorates the laborer by maintaining and developing his natural personality in all the rights and faculties of manhood, and generally with the privileges of citizenship. In the one case capital invested in slaves becomes a great political force, while in the other labor thus elevated and enfranchised becomes the dominating political power." 1
This speech, reasonable and temperate, was, however, not of the kind to suit the fanatical spirit of those abolitionists whose leaders exalted John
Brown to sainthood, but it pleased the reasonable man, to whom Seward was appealing, and met the views of the sober part of the North which, having no fellowship or sympathy with the murderous and disunionist spirit of the Garrison school, was practically the whole North, including not only sympathizers with slavery, but the great body of middle-state and western abolitionists.
May 24, Davis's resolutions came to a vote, and were passed unchanged. On the first resolution there was a strict party vote, 38 to 19. The amendment offered by Harlan, of Iowa, to the second resolution, that “free discussion of the morality and expediency of slavery should never be interfered with," and that "freedom of speech and of the press . . . should be maintained inviolate," received but twenty votes. Most of the Republicans refrained from voting on the later resolutions, which were all tranquilly passed.
Congress lingered on into summer, the victim of factional strife. Keitt, in the House, epitomized the beliefs which were at the bottom of southern tactics a year later. "Touch a Southern state," he said, "with armed hand and the whole South would rush to its defense, and would emerge from the struggle with an organized slaveholding confederacy. And how vast would be the power of the South! She is now more imperial than Rome ever was. The South has the monopoly of tropical productions and upon them hang the destinies of
peace, civilization and empire. Mad as this now seems, it was then to the southerner an axiom. Cotton was king, and civilization would halt and disappear with the ruin which would come to southern labor with freedom.
Lovejoy, brother of the man murdered at Alton,' brought, by a violent anti-slavery speech, a scene of disorder in the House, with threats of violence which barely escaped leading to a bloody general fight; and this was followed by a challenge to a duel from Pryor, of Virginia, to Potter, of Wisconsin, who named bowie-knives as the weapons, a quarrel which attracted the attention and intensified the feeling of the whole Union. Legislation which involved any question of slavery was at a stand-still. A bill to admit Kansas under the Wyandotte constitution passed the House April 11 by 134 to 73, but was laid aside by the Senate June 5, and the Pacific Railroad bill was postponed by relegation to a select committee.
The authorization of a committee under the chairmanship of Covode to inquire into the conduct of the president was another evidence of the violent partisan feeling in the House. The report added to the unpopularity of the president throughout the country by the dissemination of "a crude mass of malicious matter," though with
* Cong. Globe, 36 Cong., 1 Sess., App., 97.
2 See Hart, Slavery and Abolition (Am. Nation, XVI.), chap Schouler, United States, V., 451.
much of truth deeply injurious to the administration.
Mexican anarchy of the period was a question worthy of the thought and space given it in the president's message. Juarez's government, acknowledged by the United States as the constitutional authority, held Vera Cruz, but was powerless in the interior, which was given over to lawlessness. Under the so-called Miramon government the republic was deeply in debt to foreign powers, and there was already hanging over her an invasion by Spain, England, and France, from which the two first were soon wisely to withdraw. The president, though only hinting at such possibility, proposed to forestall the movement by like action of our own, and “employ a sufficient military force to enter Mexico for the purpose of obtaining indemnity for the past and security for the future." His expressed intention was to aid the constitutional forces of Mexico, the country being "entirely destitute of the power to maintain peace upon her borders or to prevent the incursions of banditti into our territory. A treaty "of transit and commerce" and a convention "to enforce treaty stipulations and to maintain order and security in the territory of the republics of Mexico and the United States" was signed by our minister, McLean, December 14, 1859. For the payment of four millions the United States was to have control and a cer1 Richardson, Messages and Papers, V., 568.
tain lien upon Mexican customs dues. While it gave the United States great advantages of isthmus trade and commerce, it gave Juarez a capital which might have enabled him to forestall the empire of Maximilian, but it would, almost beyond doubt, have fixed the grasp of the United States upon Mexico and have made a great extension of the slave power possible. Attempts (and they could only be the attempts of folly in the political situation) to secure Cuba or to extend our influence in Central America or Mexico disappeared in the caldron of sectional feeling. The underlying design was too evident; it was impossible to pass such a treaty in face of such a declaration as that of Senator Brown, of Mississippi: "I want Cuba; I want Tamaulipas, Potosi, and one or two other Mexican states; and I want them all for the same reason, for the planting and spreading of slavery. . I would spread the blessings of slavery, like the religion of our divine Master, to the uttermost ends of the earth." Brown could also say: "I would make a refusal to acquire territory because it was to be slave territory, a cause of disunion, just as I would make the refusal to admit a new state, because it was to be a slave state, a cause for disunion." 1
The very favorable convention with Spain concluded at Madrid in March, 1860, establishing a joint commission for the adjudication and pay1 'Quoted by Wilson, Cong. Globe, 36 Cong., 1 Sess., 571, 573.