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ration, in the precise language of the compromise measures of 1850."
It will thus be seen that the report based the Bill upon the compromise of 1850, so far as the question of slavery was concerned, and hence it becomes necessary to refer to those measures, to determine what principle was settled by tbem.
On the 29th of January, 1850, while the slavery agitation was raging with great violence, threatening, indeed, the very existence of the government, Mr. Clay introduced into the Senate several resolutions upon the subject of slavery, intended to form a basis of settlement upon that subject. While these resolutions were pending, the Committee on Territories reported a Bill for the admission of California as a State, and one for the organization of the Territories of Utah and New Mexico, and the adjustment of the Texas boundary. On the 19th of April a select committee of thirteen was appointed, of which Mr. Clay was chairman, and to that comniittee was referred the various propositions before the Senate. On the 8th of May, Mr. Clay, from the committee of thirteen, submitted to the Senate a report, accompanied by a bill, containing the essential features of the two bills previously submitted by the Committee on Territories, excepting as to the powers of the territorial legislature over slavery. The tenth section of the bill reported by the Committee on Territories read as follows:
"And be it further enacted, That the legislative power of the territory shall extend to all rightful subjects of legislation consistent with the Constitution of the United States and the provisions of this act; but no law shall be passed interfering with the primary disposition of the soil.”
To which Mr. Clay's committee added these words : "nor in respect to African slavery."
On the 31st of July, the above clause added by Mr. Clay, was struck out by the Senate, thus conferring on the Terri
torial Legislature power over "all rightful subjects of legislation consistent with the Constitution of the United States."
We have thus arrived at the meaning of the report, accompanying the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, from the committee to the Senate, on the 4th of January, 1854, when they say that the Bill “ proposes to carry these propositions and principles into practical operation in the precise language of the compromise measures of 1850.” It is proper here to say, that when the compromise of 1850 was before the Senate, an attempt was made to engraft upon it an amendment, declaring in substance, that the territorial legislature could not prohibit the introduction of slaves that slaves were recognized as property by the Constitution of the United States, and hence were entitled to the same protection as other property. Many Southern Senators took this view of the question; while, upon the other hand, Messrs. Seward, Chase, and others from the North, advocated the power of Congress to probibit slavery in the territories, and offered amendments to that import. The Bill passed the Senate, however, in the shape already referred to, by a vote of 32 to 19.
When the Kansas-Nebraska bill came before the Senate for discussion, it was contended by some, that, in the shape it then was, it could not be carried into practical operation, inasmuch as it did not, in terms, repeal the act of Congress of March 6th, 1820, prohibiting slavery north of 36° 30', commonly, but mistakenly, called the Missouri compromise. We say, mistakenly called the Missouri compromise, because the compromise under which that State was admitted into the Union was passed in 1821, while the section prohibiting slavery north of 36° 30' was a part of an enabling act for the admission of Missouri, passed in 1820, but which really had nothing to do with its final admission. This fact, however, is immaterial, in point of principle, and we allude to it only to correct a popular error.
The question having thus arisen as to the prohibition of
slavery north of 36° 30', Mr. Douglas, chairman of the committee on Territories, proposed an amendment, which was incorporated into the bill, as follows—the proviso at the close of the section being adopted on motion of Mr. Badger, of North Carolina :
“That the Constitution, and all laws of the United States which are not locally inapplicable, shall have the same force and effect within the said Territory of Nebraska as elsewhere in the United States, except the eighth section of the act preparatory to the admission of Missouri into the Union, approved March sixth, eighteen hundred and twenty, which, being inconsistent with the principle of non-intervention by Congress with slavery in the States and Territories, as recognized by the legislation of eighteen hundred and fifty, commonly called the compromise measures, is hereby declared inoperative and void ; it being the true intent and meaning of this act, not to legislate slavery into any Territory or State, nor to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United States : Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to revive or put in force any law or regulation which may have existed prior to the act of sixth March, eighteen hundred and twenty, either protecting, establishing, prohibiting or abolishing slavery."
When this amendment was presented to the Senate it became the signal for opening anew the slavery agitation with redoubled fury. It was opposed by the anti-slavery sentiment of the North as a violation of a solemn compact ;--as an attempt to tear down a sacred barrier between freedom and slavery for the purpose of spreading that institution over the virgin soil of the country. On the other hand it was contended that it was necessary in order to give full effect to the compromise of 1850; the spirit and intent of which was to withdraw from Congress all control over the
question of slavery in the territories, and leave the people therein free to act as they pleased. We give no debates upon the bill for the reason that they are now, in extenso, within the reach and remembrance of all who take any interest in the matter. The bill passed the Senate on the 3d day of March, 1854, by the following vote :
Yeas-Messrs. Adams, Atchison, Badger, Bayard, Benjamin, Brodhead, Brown, Butler, Cass, Clay, Dawson, Dixon, Dodge of Iowa, Douglas, Evans, Fitzpatrick, Geyer, Gwin, Hunter, Johnson, Jones of Iowa, Jones of Tennessee, Mason, Morton, Norris, Pettit, Pratt, Rusk, Sebastian, Shields, Slidell, Stuart, Thompson of Kentucky, Thompson of New Jersey, Toucey, Weller, and Williams, -37.
Nays—Messrs. Bell, Chase, Dodge of Wisconsin, Fessenden, Fish, Foot, Hamlin, Houston, James, Seward, Smith, Sumner, Wade, and Walker,–14.
It was delayed in the House till the 23d day of May, when it passed that body, striking out what was called the Clayton amendment, restricting the rights of aliens so far as suffrage was concerned. The following is the vote in the House :
46 Whigs from Slave States 13
100 It was returned to the Senate, and on the 25th of May, the House amendment was concurred in by a vote of 36 to 13. On the 30th of May, it was signed by the President, and thus became the law under which those territories were organized.
It would seem that both the North and the South construed the Kansas-Nebraska Bill alike, so far as the slavery question was concerned, at the time of its passage,-that the intention of Congress was to give to the people of the territories full power to dispose of this as well as other questions. It is now, however, contended by many, especially in the South, that such power cannot be exercised by a territorial legislature—that slavery may exist in the territories, under the protection of the Constitution of the United States, which recognizes it as property and is bound to protect all species of property alike. For this they rely upon the following points in the decision of the Court in the Dred Scott case.
"1. Congress can exercise no power over the rights of persons or property of a citizen in the Territory which is prohibited by the Constitution. The government and the citizen, whenever the Territory is open to settlement, both enter it with their respective rights defined and limited by the Constitution.
“2. Congress have no right to prohibit the citizens of any particular State or States from taking up their home there, while it permits citizens of other States to do so. Nor has it a right to give privileges to one class of citizens which it refuses to another. The Territory is acquired for their equal and common benefit—and if open to any, it must be open to all upon equal and the same terms.
"3. Every citizen has a right to take with him into the Territory any article of property which the Constitution of the United States recognizes as property.
“4. The Constitution of the United States recognizes slaves as property, and pledges the federal government to protect it. And Congress cannot exercise any more authority over property of that description than it may constitutionally exercise over property of any other kind.
“5. The act of Congress, therefore, prohibiting a citizen of the United States from taking with him his slaves when he