Discussion Just for Curiosity: Pre-War Newspaper Comparison

alan polk

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The Holly Springs Gazette, January 18, 1850

Below: Quitman Speech Continued-

To Quitman and other Southerners, California’s actions were not in accordance to “the general principles of the United States,” which, according to Quitman, is also a precondition of meeting the elements of the doctrine of Popular Sovereignty.

General Riley was a military officer only, yet he assumed the office Civil Governor of California. His office, Quitman States, was not created by Congress. Under this title, nevertheless, he ordered a convention to be held under Mexican law, which, by prohibiting slavery, deprived the States of their sovereignty.

Riley, according to Quitman, also held “an election without legal officers to conduct it and make returns, where persons of all nations, whether citizens or not, naturalized or not, should vote anyway.”

Compromise only Work Against the South

Governor Quitman adds California’s action to the list of other grievances suffered by the South throughout its membership in the Union:

“At the formation of the Confederation, about three-fourths of the territory of the Union belonged to the present slave States. In the spirit of conciliation, and for the sake of peace, we consented to a deprivation of our rights, first by the Ordinance of 1787, in reference to the Northwestern Territory, and secondly, by submission to the Missouri Compromise.”

“Here, we supposed, that the spirit of aggression would stop, and we might rest quietly, south of the line agreed on by that compromise. But in this, we are disappointed. This fell spirit now demands our exclusion from every foot of territory belonging to the Union.”

Violation of the Compact

“It is a universally admitted principle, that when one of the parties to a compact, without the consent of the other, disregards, and violates that compact, the other ceases to be bound to the performance of the obligations into which he entered in its formation.”

“The non-slaveholding States have refused to abide by the terms of the Missouri Compromise, and the slave States are therefore absolved from the observance of the stipulations into which they entered, and should, at once, fall back on their original constitutional rights, by which they held an equal right with all the citizens of the United States, to remove to, and settle with their property in any of the territories of the United States.”

Compromise Leads to Aggression

“We have learned by bitter experience, the consequences of compromising our rights. Instead of peace, it only invites renewed aggression. Not only are we denied a settlement in the present free States with our property, (a right we have never refused to our Northern brethren, who wish to settle among us,) but we cannot travel through their territories without danger of being robbed of our slave property.”

These, according to Quitman, are the results of the South’s concessions. Because of this, he believes the South should “never consent to any restrictions to the extension of our southern institutions, from any portions of the territories of the Union.”

Quitman Predicts Bloodshed

“The sprit of fanaticism and aggression will never be stayed by compromises; but will continue its work of destruction, until the sacred ties which have heretofore bound us together in one great and glorious brotherhood, shall be drenched in blood, and the glorious temple of human liberty, reared by our Fathers, and consecrated by their blood, shall tumble into ruins, exposed to the jeers and taunts of the minions of despotism.”

————

Twelve years later, in 1862, the country was fully engaged in Civil War against one another, as predicted by Quitman. That same year, Abraham Lincoln gave a speech wherein he stated that “without slavery the rebellion could never have existed; without slavery it could not continue.”

A Memphis newspaper responded to Lincoln’s above quote in much the same manner as Quitman might have. (This article was posted by forum member @lelliott19 on another thread and which I post below.).

“Slavery in this country,” the Memphis newspaper notes, “is older than either the Constitution or the government, and it is a species of property which the government was instituted to protect and not destroy. But for the guarantee of such protection, the government never could have formed, and it was the withholding or denial of such protection that mainly induced the secession of the slave States.”

The Memphis paper ends by stating: “The government failed to perform the ends and aims for which it was created, and was, of course, no longer entitled to obedience or respect.”

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End

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alan polk

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Spirit of Democracy (Ohio), June 24, 1849

Below: Speech of Senator Thomas Benton to Constituents in Missouri re: Slavery in Territories

Background:

The General Assembly of Missouri passed several resolutions which denied that Congress had the right to prohibit slavery in the territories. These resolutions were intended to advise its Senators, including Senator Benton, to deny to Congress the power to legislate as it pleases upon the subject of slavery in the Territories.

Mr. Benton refused to comply with this suggestion and, instead, appealed to the people of Missouri to explain his decision.

Hypocrisy of John C. Calhoun (1820-1846)

Senator Benton insists that the resolutions passed by the General Assembly are merely copies of resolutions written by John C. Calhoun in 1846-47. Like the Assembly’s resolutions, Calhoun’s resolutions declared that Congress lacks the power to prohibit slavery in the territories.

Benton accuses Calhoun of being a hypocrite and of attempting to dissolve the Union. The senator explains that evidence had been discovered, and he believed to have shown to be true, that Calhoun had, while a cabinet member under President Monroe in 1820, believed that Congress had the power to prohibit slavery in the territories:

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According to Benton, in 1820, “Mr. Calhoun gave his written opinion . . . in favor of the constitutionality of the act, and no whisper was ever heard to the contrary, or in denial of the right of Congress to prohibit, or abolish slavery in territories” until Calhoun submitted resolutions to the contrary some 26 years later, and which Missouri now copied and made its own.

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Senator Benton believes that he has established that Calhoun supported the constitutionality of the Missouri Compromise Act, the 8th Section of which provides as follows:

“That all that territory ceded by France to the United States, under the name of Louisiana, which lies north of 36 degrees 30 minutes north latitude, not included within the limits of the State contemplated by this act, Slavery and involuntarily servitude, otherwise than in the punishment of the crimes whereof the parties shall have been duly convicted, shall be, and hereby is, forever prohibited.”

Benton points out that the words used in Section 8 are the same used in the Wilmot Proviso. The Senator takes pleasure in telling his audience that the Wilmot Proviso should be called, instead, the Calhoun Proviso.

Continued -

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alan polk

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Spirit of Democracy (Ohio), June 24, 1849

Below: Speech of Senator Thomas Benton Continued -

After dealing extensively with Calhoun, Benton moves on to his main point:

He believes that it is simply absurd to deny to Congress the power to legislate as it pleases upon the subject of slavery in the territories. The territories, he asserts, “have no form of government but that which Congress allows them. Congress governs the territory as it pleases.”

Senator Benton’s view, of course, is at variance with the doctrine of Popular Sovereignty, a doctrine supported by many in Congress (not to mention the General Assembly of Missouri) as a means to remove the issue of slavery expansion from the national stage and onto the territorial or State level.

Accordingly, Benton disagrees with Popular Sovereignty, asserting that, “Congress has the power to prohibit or admit slavery, and no one else. It is not in the territories; for their governments are the creatures of Congress, and its deputies, so far as any legislative power is concerned. It is not in the States separately.”

The Senator then turns to the issue of Southerners taking slave property into the territories. Despite being a slaveholder himself, Benton believes that property is in the law that creates it, and that law cannot be carried “an inch beyond the State that enacts it,” and that if a different rule prevailed in the territories, there would arise a confusion of law in the new territories.

“Fourteen States, each carrying a code different, in many respects, from each other” would create too much confusion. All this would have to be “exercised by the same judges in territories where there is no slave law.” Benton goes on to insist that: “It would be in vain to invoke the Constitution, and say it acknowledges property in slaves. - It does so: but that is confined to States.”

Continued -

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alan polk

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Spirit of Democracy (Ohio), June 24, 1849

Below: Speech of Senator Thomas Benton Continued -

Senator Benton attempts to take a practical point of view of slavery expansion into the territories by reminding his audience that slavery does not exist in the territories at all.

First, Benton declares that, “Congress has the constitutional power to abolish slavery in the territories.” (He will later touch upon the concept of Congressional dogma.) Secondly, he states that there is no slavery in the territories to abolish.

At the time of his speech, the only territory left was that which remained of Louisiana lying north and west of Missouri, along with California, New Mexico and Oregon, and that portion north of Wisconsin known as Minnesota.

In that part of Louisiana mentioned above, slavery was abolished in 1820;

In Minnesota, it was abolished by the Ordinance of 1787, what Benton calls the Jefferson Proviso;

In Oregon, slavery was abolished by Congress in 1848, what he calls the Benton Proviso;

In New Mexico and California, slavery was abolished by the Mexican government in 1829, confirmed in 1837 and again in 1844.

“Thus, there is no slavery now in New Mexico and California,” Benton declares; “and consequently none in any territory belonging to the United States; and, consequently, nothing practical or real in the whole slavery question, for the people of the United States to quarrel about.”

“There is no slavery now by law in any territory; and it cannot get there by law, except by act of Congress.”

Nevertheless, Benton suggests (without expounding upon it) that there will be no such act of Congress because, he asserts, “[t]he dogma of no power in Congress to legislate upon slavery, kills that pretension.”

According to the Senator, there is no slavery, in law or in fact, in New Mexico or California, and never will be. “What, then,” he asks, “is all the present uproar about? Abstraction! The abstract right of doing what cannot be done! The insult to the sovereignty of the States, where there is no insult! All abstraction! And no reality, substance or practice in it.”

Continued -

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alan polk

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Spirit of Democracy (Ohio), June 24, 1849

Below: Speech of Senator Thomas Benton Continued -

Benton Admits that His Profession and Conduct do Not Agree:

“I was born to the inheritance of slaves, and have never been without them. I have bought some, but only on their own entreaty, and to save them from execution sales; I have sold some, but only for misconduct. I have had two taken from me by abolitionists, and never inquired after them; and liberated a third who would not go with them. I have slaves now in Kentucky, who are elevated to the dignity of real estate, by being removed from Missouri to Kentucky; and will have to descend next fall to the low degree of a chattel interest, in spite of the laws of Kentucky, when I shall remove them back to Missouri. And I have slaves in Washington city - perhaps the only member in Congress that has any there - and I’m not the least afraid that Congress will pass any law to affect this property, either there or here.”

Despite Benton’s personal investments in slaves, he declares that his personal sentiments “are against the institution of slavery, and its introduction into places in which it does not exist. If there was no slavery in Missouri to-day, I should oppose its coming in: if there was none in the United States, I should oppose its coming into the United States. As there is none in New Mexico or California, I am against sending it to those territories, and could not vote for such a measure - a declaration which cost me but little, the whole dispute now being about the abstract right of carrying slavery there, without the exercise of the right.”

End -

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The National Era, March 9, 1854

Below: William Seward Senate Speech re: Abrogation of Missouri Line and the Kansas-Nebraska Bills

First of Several Posts -

Seward begins with an in-depth examination of slavery in this country, a portion of which I will outline below.

First off, Seward blames the beginning of slavery in the United States on British authorities:

“Slavery, before the Revolution, existed in all thirteen Colonies,” Seward states. “But it had been forced by British authorities, for political and commercial ends, on the American People, against their own sagacious instincts of policy, and their stronger feelings of justice and humanity.”

Spirit of Emancipation

According to the Senator, emancipation was preferred by most Americans at the close of the Revolution. This spirit is seen by the suppression of the African slave trade, postponed until 1808.

Although there was no national desire to abolish slavery in the States where it then existed, there was, however, “a general desire” to “prevent its introduction into new communities yet to be formed and into new States yet to be established.”

Northwest Ordinance

In light of this, according to Seward, Thomas Jefferson “proposed, as early as 1784, to exclude it from the national domain which should be constituted by cessions from the States to the United States.

Seward notes that, in the beginning, there was little jealousy between the non-slaveholding and slaveholding States; “and the policy of admitting new States was not disturbed by questions concerning slavery.”

Early States and Territories

Vermont, non-slaveholding, came in 1793.

Kentucky, a tramontane [situated over the mountains] and slaveholding region, detached from Virginia, was admitted in 1792.

Tennessee, detached from North Carolina, was admitted in 1796. However, it was stipulated that the Northwest Ordinance should not apply within its limits.

The same stipulations applied to the Alabama and Mississippi territories, regions detached from Georgia and South Carolina.

All these States and Territories where the stipulations applied were situated southwest of the Ohio River and already inhabited by slaveholders and their slaves.

To exclude slavery in these places, Seward contends, “would have been a national act, not of preventing the introduction of slavery, but of abolishing slavery.”

“In short,” Seward continues, “the region southwest of the Ohio River presented a field in which the policy of preventing the introduction of slavery was impracticable. Our forefathers never attempted what was impracticable.

Northwest Territories

In the region north of the Ohio, stretching to the Great Lakes and westward to the Mississippi, the institution of slavery did not exist, or was “practically free” from slavery.

So the Territorial Governments arising out of that region were “organized with a prohibition of the introduction of slavery,” giving birth to the States with the same prohibition, namely: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin

Continued -




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