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to disclose its profoundest depths. . . . I have a duty to perform, and I mean to perform it with fidelity —not without a sense of surrounding dangers, but not without hope. . . . I speak to-day for the preservation of the Union. “Hear me for my cause.’....” He then gave a historical review of slavery, referring to the expectation prevailing in the earlier years of the United States that when the importation of slaves ceased the institution would begin to die away, and showing how the prospect was changed by the development of cotton culture. He had his humorous fling at the northern Democrats who had voted “to bring in a world here, among the mountains and valleys of California and New Mexico, or any other part of Mexico, and then quarrel about it—to bring it in, and then endeavor to put upon it the saving grace of the Wilmot proviso.” Nature, he claimed, had excluded slavery from the acquired territory; and in oft-quoted words, upon the framing of a territorial government for New Mexico, he said: “I would not take pains to reaffirm an ordinance of nature, nor to reenact the will of God. And I would put in no Wilmot proviso, for the purpose of a taunt or a reproach.” As to the return of fugitive slaves, he thought “that the South is right, and the North is wrong”; but this was the only southern grievance that could be redressed by Congress. Peaceable secession was impossible, and he prayed his hearers to come out

from such "caverns of darkness" into "the fresh air of liberty and union." *

March 11, 1850, Seward, addressing the Senate in relation especially to the status of California, was naturally led to cover the whole ground of the proposed compromise. He was opposed to it because he thought "all legislative compromises radically wrong and essentially vicious." Quoting the fugitive-slave provision of the Constitution, he asserted: "The law of nations disavows such compacts; the law of nature, written on the hearts and consciences of freemen, repudiates them." "It is true, indeed," said he, "that the national domain is ours; it is true, it was acquired by the valor and with the wealth of the whole nation; but we hold, nevertheless, no arbitrary power over it. . . . The Constitution regulates our stewardship; the Constitution devotes the domain to union, to justice, to defence, to welfare, and to liberty. But there is a higher law than the Constitution, which regulates our authority over the domain, and devotes it to the same noble purpose." He denied that the Constitution recognized chattel slavery, and averred that there was "no climate uncongenial to slavery," and that the Wilmot Proviso was necessary for its exclusion from New Mexico and California.2

Chase's speech, delivered March 26 and 27, declared the duty of Congress to be non-interference with slavery in the states and prohibition in the territories. He agreed with Seward that the Constitution did not recognize chattel slavery, and he characterized the temporary protection extended by the Constitution to the slave-trade as "the first fruit of intimidation on the one side, and concession and compromise on the other." The three-fifths rule of slave representation he declared to be one reason for the attachment of the South to its peculiar domestic institutions. But for the Northwest Ordinance, he claimed, all the states west of the Alleghanies would have had slavery; and he endeavored to show that the slave states, instead of getting less than their share of acquired territory, as Calhoun argued, had received far more. The cry of disunion he regarded as "stale," and it did not alarm him.1

1Cong. Globe, 31 Cong., 1 Sess., App., 269-276. 1 Ibid., App., 262-269.

Webster has been freely charged by the zealous anti-slavery men of those and later days with sacrificing his conscience to his desire for the presidency; but it is doubtful whether those from whom the charge has come have fully understood his real character or the real significance of his career.2 The mission which he felt the circumstances of his era had committed to him was to defend the Union till the bonds had grown too strong to break. The anti-slavery crusade must fall to the men of a younger generation, whose work, had it come sooner, would have placed American nationality in deadlier peril than was brought by the Civil War. For Seward's appeal to the "higher law" by which he justified the refusal of constitutional protection to slavery meant one law for the North and another for the South—the very foundation of the "irrepressible conflict," but, from the stand-point of Webster and of Clay, dangerous as precipitating a crisis for which the time was not ripe.

1Cong. Globe, 31 Cong., 1 Sess., App., 468-480; Hart, Chase, 125-130.

1 For a sympathetic view, see Rhodes, United States, I., 137— 161; distinctly partisan, Curtis, Webster, II., 402-433.

April 18, 1850, the compromise resolutions were referred to a committee of thirteen, with Clay as chairman. Seven members of the committee were Whigs and six Democrats; seven were from slave and six from free states, and all but two were moderates.1 May 8 the committee reported two bills, together with an amendment to the fugitive-slave bill already pending in the Senate,2 which collectively would accomplish nearly all of what Clay proposed. The first of these bills, which because of the variety of subjects it dealt with was called "the Omnibus Bill," provided for the admission of California into the Union, for the organization of the remainder of the Mexican cession into the two territories of Utah and New Mexico, and for a proposition to the state of Texas to fix its boundaries so as to exclude what it had claimed from New Mexico and to receive therefor a sum of money from the United States. The other bill provided for the suppression of the slave-trade in the District of Columbia; and the amendment to the Senate bill for the return of fugitive slaves was intended to make that measure more effective. The Omnibus bill was under consideration in the Senate for nearly two months, and was amended until all that was left of it when it was passed on August 1 was the provision for the territorial organization of Utah.

1 Cf. Rhodes, United States, I., 171. 'Cong. Globe, 31 Cong., 1 Sess., 944-948.

Meanwhile various circumstances and influences worked in favor of the compromise. The selfassertive disposition of the South found expression in a convention of the slave-holding states which met at Nashville June 3, 1850, and in which nine states were represented. The movement took on no great importance except as an indication of potential mischief, but it thus helped to increase the desire for an agreement.1 July 9, Taylor died, and the presidency devolved on Fillmore, who was more under the influence of Clay, and therefore the more inclined to favor the compromise himself. Immediately after he took up his executive duties there arose grave danger of a clash between the national government and that of Texas over the claims of the latter to New Mexico east of the Rio Grande. In a message on the subject, dated August 6, Pres

1 Smith, Parties and Slavery {Am. Nation, XVIII.), chap, i.; Rhodes, United States, I., 173; Benton, Thirty Years' View, II., 780-785.

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