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such a war as I will not describe in its twofold character." 1 It was this feeling which caused the utterances in this speech, which with Webster's acceptance of the unfortunate and exasperating fugitive-slave law of the compromise (the latter a profound error both of judgment and heart) brought a condemnation throughout the North which destroyed his influence, embittered the short remainder of his life, and hastened his death.

No more common-sense statement could have been made than that by Webster, that California and New Mexico were "destined to be free... by the arrangement of things ordained by the Power above us. I would put in no Wilmot Proviso, for the mere purpose of a taunt or a reproach. I would put into it no evidence of the votes of superior power, . . . to wound the pride, whether a just and a rational pride, or an irrational pride, of the citizens of the southern states.. Whether they expect to realize any benefit from it or not, they would think it at least a plain theoretic wrong." In these words was an epitome of the situation. Webster was right when he said "there is not at this moment within the United States, or any territory of the United States, a single foot of land, the character of which, in regard to its being free territory or slave territory, is not fixed by some law, and some irrepealable law, beyond the power of the action of the government.

1 Webster, Works, V., 361.

2 Ibid., 340, 351.

Had the statesmen North and South accepted the dispassionate and wise views of this speech there might have been many years of calm, and perhaps as an end, could the fugitive-slave law have been modified to a more kindly form, a general disposition such as that expressed by Webster, “to incur almost any degree of expense" for a scheme of colonization upon a large scale. One southerner at least accepted his convictions as to conditions. Jefferson Davis himself said "the climate of Kansas and Nebraska was altogether unsuited to the negro and the soil was not adapted to those productions for which negro labor could be profitably employed. . . . As white laborers adapted to the climate and its products flowed into the country, negro labor would have inevitably become a tax to those who held it, and their emancipation would have followed that condition as it has in all the Northern states old and new-Wisconsin furnishing the last example."


That slavery should have been prohibited by mandatory act, had invasion of these territories by it been imminent, all now must agree, but it is questionable if it was wise statesmanship to pass a law of supererogation, and one which could only have been a profound irritant to a great section. Neither the Wilmot proviso nor the South's contention could have any practical result beyond placing the two sections finally in an attitude of 1 Davis, Confederate Government, I., 30.

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strong antagonism, though of an intensity in the South far from dreamed of at the North, where feeling, except among the few, was very mild in comparison.

The strength of those antagonistic to slavery extension lay in waiting; the greater basis of northern representation in Congress, now rapidly increasing, with the certainty that the adverse sentiment of the North to slavery must in the very nature of things increase and not diminish, made it certain that, whatever the attempts by the South, no further annexations of territory would be made to the southward. That a fear of such annexations existed is unquestionably true, but it was baseless by reason of the impossibility of such a concession on the part of the North, even at this period. Cuba even now, without slavery, is not a part of the Union. The nation had been sufficiently satiated with conquest for many years, but those who so pressed the Wilmot proviso and kindred legislation were impelled by a like psychical force with that which drove the South towards its impossible demands.

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THAT every ebullition of feeling in this stormy epoch had its following period of quiescence and acceptance of the situation, showed the strong desire of the people North and South to live in accord. However strong the passions involved in the Missouri controversy, the compromise of 1820 met with so general an acceptance that the principle involved did not reappear until brought forward by new issues. That this discussion had not changed the moderate views of slavery held in the border states at the time was shown by the strong invectives against slavery in the Virginia legislature in 1832.1

The nullification action of South Carolina, in a way, strengthened the feeling for the Union; for it brought out the powerful defence of Webster, which, whether it fully met the arguments of Calhoun or no, was accepted as conclusive by the country at large; and it was significant that Jackson himself based his nullification proclamation upon 1 Hart, Slavery and Abolition (Am. Nation, XVI.), chap. xii.

Webster's answer to Hayne. The president's action gave the country a new view of the federal power to act; and argument and action combined to foster a feeling of security which dominated the North, and strongly affected the South, to the very eve of actual secession.

The success of abolitionism of the Garrison type was in the too - ready acceptance of the South to take up the gauntlet. The South was demoralized by a movement which, if it could have been quietly ignored, would have lost itself in the more reasonable anti-slavery sentiment, the growth of which the conditions of the age made certain. The abolitionists scorned the idea of compensation to slave-holders, though that remedy, found in the speeches of Seward as well as of Webster, was growing in favor, and, had the South shown the slightest willingness to accept the freedom of the negro under any conditions, might have become a working basis for such action. The results of manumission in the West Indies, however, which brought financial ruin to the great majority of planters, and the fear of the political equality of the negro, aided in supporting the view of Calhoun that emancipation was an impossible supposition.


'Whatever," said McDowell, of Virginia, in 1850, the opinions I have expressed or entertain upon the institution of slavery in the abstract, I have

1 Cf. Hart, Slavery and Abolition (Am. Nation, XVI.), chap. xxi.

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