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said territory, except for crime, whereof the party shall first be duly convicted."1 An amendment limiting the operation of the proviso to territory north of the Missouri Compromise line was defeated by a vote of 54 to 89; and the proviso was then adopted by a vote of 83 to 64. The original friends of the bill now sought to lay it on the table, but the motion was defeated by 78 yeas to 94 nays. It was then finally passed by a vote of 87 to 64. On August 10, 1846. (Monday), it was taken up in the Senate, and a motion was made to strike out the proviso. Davis of Massachusetts took the floor against the motion, and was speaking when the hour came which had been fixed for the end of the session, so that the bill failed, proviso and all.
Davis was sharply attacked for his conduct, both by the expansionists and the abolitionists, and Polk characterized it as a "disreputable expedient." 2 In defending himself afterwards Davis said that he was unwilling to see the proviso stricken out—as he thought it would have been—without discussion. He claimed to have spoken not more than twenty minutes, and to have been interrupted nine times by business from the House. He said it was his intention, in fact, to conclude his remarks in time for a vote, and he had so promised the chairman of the committee on foreign relations; but the clock in the House was eight minutes ahead of that in the Senate, and he was cut off unexpectedly by the announcement that the House had adjourned.1 The attack upon him seems to have been without substantial foundation, and to have been due simply to one of the overwrought impulses of the time.
1 Cong. Globe, 29 Cong., 1 Sess., 1217. * Polk. MS. Diary, August 10, 1846. 1 Cong. Globe, 39 Cong., 2 Sess., 509.
In his annual message at the opening of the next Congress in December, 1846, the president again recommended the appropriation. January 3, 1847, Preston King, a Democrat from New York, sought to introduce in the House a bill for the purpose, which fixed the amount at two million dollars, but contained a section excluding slavery from all subsequent territorial acquisitions by the United States.2 The House refused, by a majority of one, to suspend the rules for the introduction of the bill; but another bill to make the appropriation was taken up by the House on February 8. After a week's discussion it was amended by adding the exclusion clause of the King bill,' which had been adopted by Wilmot himself instead of his original proposition, and to which also had been extended the designation "the Wilmot Proviso." In its new form the proviso embodied the same principle, and was only a somewhat more definite announcement of the antislavery programme. The vote for the proviso was 115 to 106; the bill thus amended now passed the House by a vote of 115 to 105.4
* Ibid., 105. 'Ibid., 424. * Ibid., 425.
The Senate had under consideration in the mean time a " three million " bill of its own. The discussion began on February 5,1847, and lasted until March 1. Berrien of Georgia, a Whig, offered an amendment declaring the intention of Congress in making the appropriation to be, not the dismemberment of Mexico nor the acquisition of any part of her territory by conquest, but only definite boundary adjustment and the settlement of claims. For this amendment Cass offered a substitute, declaring it to be the sense of Congress in making the appropriation that the war should be vigorously prosecuted to a successful issue, and that there should be obtained from Mexico a "reasonable indemnity" to be determined by negotiation. The Cass substitute was finally withdrawn, and the Berrien amendment rejected, there being 24 votes for it and 29 against it. At the last moment an effort was made to amend the bill by adding the Wilmot Proviso, but it failed by a vote of 21 to 31. Among those who were recorded in the negative were six senators from free states. The bill was then passed by 29 yeas to 24 nays.1
The Senate bill went to the House, and on March 3, 1847, was taken up in committee of the whole. Wilmot moved to amend by adding the proviso, and the motion prevailed by a majority of ten; but when the vote was taken by yeas and nays, he found that his majority had slipped away, and there were only 97 yeas to 107 nays. The members from the slave states, with the exception of J. W. Houston, a Whig from Delaware, voted solidly in the negative, and the remainder of the nays were cast by twenty-three Democrats from free states. The bill finally passed the House, without the proviso, by 115 to 81.1
1 Cong. Globt, 19 Cong., 2 Sess., 345-556, passim, and p 334.
The debate in the two houses was able but ominous. It showed clearly in all their mischievous effectiveness the influences that were making for sectionalization and threatening to dissolve the Union. The subterranean currents of political activity became manifest, and gave evidence of the intense factional and sectional animosity engendered by the shelving of Van Buren, the annexation of Texas, the Oregon compromise, the Walker tariff, and the re-establishment of the independent treasury—to which was now added the fierce hostility between North and South aroused by the agitation of the slavery question.
One feature of the discussion was a searching review of the causes of the war. Niles of Connecticut, a Democrat, agreed with the president's assertion that it was begun by Mexico, and declared that "the removal of our troops to the Rio Grande was no more an act of war than the removal to Corpus Christi." Stephens of Georgia, a Whig, claimed
1 Cong. Globe, 39 Cong., 3 Sess., 573; see analysis of the vote in Niks' Register, LXXIL, 18 (Niles' summary, however, needs some correction).
that Polk himself was responsible for its initiation, and that it was "a war of his own making and in violation of the Constitution of the country." Harmanson of Louisiana, a Democrat, called attention to the obvious fact that, if congressmen were right in the charge that it was "a President's War," Congress could not escape its own share in the responsibility; and he asserted that, if "the marching to the Rio Grande provoked the war," then that body was "accessory to the act." *
The most important question raised was that of the proviso itself. Northern men frankly avowed that they would not allow more slave states to enter the Union; and their refusal to apply to any future acquisitions the line of the Missouri Compromise foreshadowed the refusal in 1861 to allow the dissolution of the bond which held the already sectionalized parts of the country together. Speaking in support of his amendment, Berrien condemned the project of acquiring New Mexico and California; and he appealed first to senators from the South to oppose any accession of territory, because it was certain that in none could their domestic institutions be secured, and then to all the senators to do the same in order to "exclude from the national councils this direful question."2 The warning to the South was emphasized by Calhoun, who said that if that section were assured of the exclusion of
lCong. Globe, 49 Cong., 2 Sess., 530, App, 352, 358. 'Ibid., 330.