Discussion Just for Curiosity: Pre-War Newspaper Comparison

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alan polk

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The National Era, March 9, 1854

Below: William Seward Senate Speech Continued -

Seward concludes his speech by examining the political gains and losses shared between freedom and slavery throughout the past 15 or so years. He compares the political shifts as a pendulum that swings back and forth, at once to favor freedom then slavery.

In this portion of his speech, we see Seward express a variation on the statement, “the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” He appears to give it his own spin, one that would eventually be popularized (and brought into its modern form) by Martin Luther King Jr. in the next century.

Nevertheless, the concept was first expressed by an abolitionist minister named Theodore Parker, in 1853, less than a year before Seward gave this particular speech. So, I’m assuming Seward heard the expression from Parker or his acolytes, though I have no way of knowing that to a certainty.

Pendulum of Freedom

Seward informs the Senate slaveholders that they must consider for themselves which way they think the pendulum is ultimately swinging. They obviously want it to point toward the abrogation of the Missouri line and the opening up of Nebraska. So be it, Seward seems to say, but he implies that such sentiment is politically shortsighted and fails to take into consideration the universal movement of things toward freedom.

Where slave States may see the political pendulum swinging temporarily from point to point, advantage or disadvantage, Seward sees it as something akin to a truth, momentarily vibrating on a pivot:

“I see in the changes of the times only the vibrations of the needle, trembling on its pivot. I know that in due time it will settle; and when it shall have settled, it will point, as it must point forever, to the same constant polar star, that sheds down influences propitious to freedom as broadly as it pours forth its mellow but invigorating light.”

Struggle Seemingly Eternal

The interests of slave States and free States are not going away. They never have and won’t anytime soon, or so Seward declares. As soon as it is thought issues are settled, dead and buried, those differing interests are eventually resurrected in the halls of Congress and begin to clash all over again:

“Say what you will, do what you will, here, the [differing] interests of non-slaveholding States and of the slaveholding States remain just the same; and they will remain just the same, until you shall cease to cherish and defend slavery, or we shall cease to honor and love freedom!”

Conservatism vs. Progressivism

Neither side, according to Seward, is willing to give ground. That ground, he suggests, is between conservatism and progressivism, and he makes no bones about which side he thinks wrong:

“The slavery agitation you deprecate so much,” Seward informs his fellow Southern Senators, “is an eternal struggle between Conservatism and Progress, between Truth and Error, between Right and Wrong. You may sooner, by act of Congress, compel the sea to suppress its upheavings, and the round earth to extinguish its internal fires, than oblige the human mind to cease its inquirings, and the human heart to desist from its throbbings.”

European and Asian Immigration

The slave interest of the South cannot stop the flood of immigrants pouring in from Europe. These immigrants are “educated, vigorous, enlightened, enterprising freemen,” Seward notes. Twenty years from now, he predicts, these Europeans will be followed up by freemen from Asia.

“You may obstruct, and so turn the direction of those peaceful armies away from Nebraska. So long as you shall leave them room on a hill or prairie, by river side or in the mountain vastnesses, they will dispose of themselves peacefully and lawfully in the places you shall have left open to them; and there they will erect new States upon free soil, to be forever maintained and defended by free arms, and aggrandized by free labor.”

Freemen vs. Slaves

Seward agrees that slavery has “an ever-flowing spring” as well, but the South’s spring pours forth “a blackened tide” that cannot keep up with the volumes of immigrants as he describes above.

Southern slaveholders, he asserts, should be wise enough to understand that these “tides of freemen and of slaves will never meet, for they will not voluntarily commingle.”

If, however, they are somehow forced to mingle, “it is easy to see,” Seward asserts, “which of them will overcome the resistance of the other, and which of them, thus overpowered, will roll back to drown the source which sent it forth.”

Higher Law

Seward informs the Southern Senators that they “may legislate and abrogate and abnegate as you will, but there is a Superior Power that overrules all your actions, and all your refusals to act . . . and overrules them to the advancement of the happiness, greatness and glory of our country - that overrules, I know, not only your actions, and all your refusals to act, but all human events, to the distant, but inevitable result of the equal and universal liberty of all men.”

End -

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alan polk

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The North Carolina Standard, June 11, 1856

Below: Senate Speech of George Badger delivered on February 16, 1854 regarding Nebraska Act

Several installments -

Senator Badger, a Whig from North Carolina, proposes to show that the repeal of the Missouri Compromise is not a violation of the principle of good faith; that the bill being offered for its repeal, stating it is “‘inoperative and void,’ is the appropriate method and language which should be used for the purpose of producing the effect designed by this measure.”

The nature of the Missouri Compromise was one of legislation. In fact, Badger notes, it was an act of legislation authorizing the people of Missouri to form a State government and to prohibit slavery in certain Territories.

Section 8 of the Missouri Compromise Act states as follows:

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Badger asserts that the language in this Section is plain: “it was intended to apply to all organizations of government, States or Territories.”

The term territory as used in this Section, according to Badger, is all encompassing, particularly as it relates to the prohibition of slavery. That prohibition of the institution is made “without reference to any mutations in the political condition of the domain.”

In other words, the word “territory” applies to all the “land or domain” north of 36-30, and slavery therein is ‘forever prohibited.’”

It was not, Badger declares, meant to prohibit slavery in those domains “until they become States.” It could not have been so. Otherwise, he asks, “how does it happen that out of the territorial organizations we excepted the very State which the act provides should come into the Union?”

The issue back then was whether Missouri should not be compelled by her constitution to exclude slavery.

Some folks claimed Missouri should be allowed to do whatever she pleased, while others claimed that she should be controlled in regard to what she should do when becoming a State.

The arrangement made to resolve the issue was this: “to leave unto Missouri a right she claimed . . . and to relieve her from the restriction or condition which it was proposed by the opponents of the extension of slavery to impose upon her admission into the Union.”

So, according to Badger, the bargain encompassed by the Missouri Compromise essentially came down to this:

That Missouri “should be admitted into the Union with the exercise of her own power and discretion upon [the subject of slavery], provided that slavery should be excluded from the rest of the territorial domain [north of 36-30] acquired by the cession from France.”

Continued -



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alan polk

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The North Carolina Standard, June 11, 1856

Below: 2/16/54 Senate Speech of George Badger Continued -


Having concluded that the Missouri Compromise applied to both States and Territories, and that the framers of that law thought it was perpetual in its application to both States and Territories, Badger believes the law was also intended to apply to subsequent territories acquired by the US, not just the territory ceded by France.

This view is in contradistinction to senator Seward and other Northerners who believed the Missouri Compromise line was limited in its scope, i.e., limited to the Territory of Louisiana acquired from France.

Badger finds no evidence in the record that Congress “considered that there was something particular in regard to the territory ceded by France; and that what would be right with regard to that would be wrong with regard to territory which might be ceded by another power.”

Texas Annexation

Senator Badger points to the annexation of Texas to prove his point that the Missouri Compromise line was intended to be extended over subsequent territories:

“When Texas came into the Union,” Badger declares, “the Missouri compromise line was taken up and extended through her, as a matter of course; and. . . [found] just as applicable in principle to Texas as to the particular territory to which it had been originally applied.”

The provision introduced into the joint resolution for the annexation of Texas is as follows:

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The Texas legislation simply “took up and applied the rule, which was introduced in the first act, under the name of ‘the Missouri compromise line,’ and applied it to the new territory, as a matter of course.”

According to Badger, the Texas provision “was a clear construction put by Congress, in the year 1845, upon the meaning and interpretation of the exclusion contained in the act for the admission of Missouri passed in 1820.”

Simply put, these legislative provisions represented a policy of intervention by Congress “to establish a geographical line, and to permit slavery one one side the line and excluding it on the other.”

According to Badger, “any exclusion of a power of a State either to admit or to exclude slavery imposed by the government of the United States must be vain, idle, and inoperative, as an act of power.”

Consequently, Badger states, this is why the bill to repeal the Missouri Compromise line contains the language that such Federal legislation is inconsistent “with the principle of non-intervention recognized by the legislation of 1850.”

Continued -


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alan polk

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The North Carolina Standard, June 11, 1856

Below: 2/16/54 Senate Speech of George Badger Continued -

Badger explains that a majority of Southerners had attempted to uphold the legislative intent of the Missouri Compromise line in the years before 1850.

He had already shown how the annexation of Texas applied the principle.

Badger continues by recalling how he and other Southerners (as well as some Northern Democrats) “asked nothing, we sought nothing, but the simple recognition of the Missouri Compromise line, as carried still further out upon its original principle, and that it was refused us; and that the territorial governments established in 1850 were constructed in utter disregard of the Missouri compromise.”

Badger finds it “absurd” for Northerners, at this late hour, to “call upon us to maintain a compromise which has been repudiated and disavowed by themselves.”

Oregon
To prove this accusation, he points to a Senate amendment to the bill to establish the territorial government of Oregon in 1848. The motion to amend was made by Senator Douglas of Illinois, calling for the extension of the Missouri Compromise line to the Pacific.

The motion is as follows:

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Badger states that this motion asked the Senate to “recognize and apply the principle, the postulate, the fundamental truth, the assumed position upon which the resolution of 1820 was based, and carry it to the Pacific ocean.”

The Senate carried the provision by a vote of 33 to 21. According to Badger, every Southerner in the Senate voted for it (see text below for list of names for and against).

However, it did not carry in the House and thus the measure failed. In short, Free Soil Northerners in the House refused to apply the principle - a principle now they wish upheld.

California

Again, Southerners attempted to uphold the principle of the Missouri line with the admission of California into the Union. Those measures too were voted down by Northern senators and representatives.

Southerners, according to Badger, tried every form possible to uphold the Missouri line in regards to California. In fact, Badger states, Separate motions made by Senators King, Davis (of Mississippi) and Foote to uphold the principle all failed to pass.

Badger tells the Senate that “we have manifold evidences that southern gentlemen upon this floor desired nothing in the world but the Missouri compromise line.”

This was despite differences among Southerners. In fact, Badger recalls, some Southerners “thought the line was a constitutional exercise of power; others thought it was not; but so anxious were they that this whole matter should be closed up, and future agitation avoided, that without reference to any difference of opinion upon the subject, all we asked was the carrying out of the principle established in 1820, by the continuation of the line through the newly-acquired Territories.”

All this to no avail - or so says Badger.

Continued -

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alan polk

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The North Carolina Standard, June 11, 1856

Below: 2/16/54 Senate Speech of George Badger Continued -

Senator Badger explains that the North continued to repudiate the Missouri line despite Southern attempts to preserve it.

Wilmot Proviso and New Mexico Territory

He points to the Territory of New Mexico, the bulk of which lies south of the Missouri line.

According to Badger, Northerners moved to apply the Wilmot Proviso to the New Mexico Territory instead of recognizing the traditional Missouri Compromise Line.

Badger sees this as yet another prior repudiation by the Northerners of the compromise line which they now wish to somehow reestablish.

He seems to indicate that it is simply too late - or at least inconsistent - for the North to now ask for its return:

“Here were those of us [Southerners], not only arguing, but I may almost say begging, for the recognition of the Missouri Compromise line. We could not obtain it. The Missouri compromise line was rejected; it was repudiated; it was, in effect, declared not to be applicable to those territories, and that the principle of it should not extend to them.”

Badger asserts that the line has now been correctly construed to be inapplicable. If the North had simply applied the Missouri line back then, he seems to say, the present problems would likely have never arisen.

But because the Missouri restriction limited slavery according to latitude, it has been, Badger declares, deemed “‘inconsistent with the principle of non-intervention by Congress with slavery in the States and Territories recognized by the legislation of 1850.’”

“Now,” Badger continues to say, “after it has been utterly repudiated, after a totally different system of legislation has been adopted, in defiance of our votes and remonstrances, I think it is a little unreasonable, and a little absurd, that gentlemen should call upon us to respect a compromise which they themselves have destroyed.”

“They have refused to carry out the contract in its spirit and fair meaning,” Badger explains. Yet, he points out, “[t]heyseek to maintain whatever of it is beneficial to themselves, and to disregard all the residue.”

Continued -


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alan polk

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The North Carolina Standard, June 11, 1856

Below: 2/16/54 Senate Speech of George Badger Continued -

Slaves: “This is their country as well as ours.”

Senator Badger turns his attention to the 3 million slaves living in America and their relation to the Territories. From his perspective, it is not worth people bothering themselves with “investigating into the propriety of those slaves being here, into the . . . lawfulness of keeping them in the condition of slavery, or into the misfortune or calamity which may result from retaining them in slavery.”

“They are here. They are slaves. They cannot remain here except as slaves. Everybody knows that,” Badger states. “They cannot,” he continues to say, “be put into any situation in our country which will not be vastly more injurious to them, physically and morally, than the identical state and condition which they now occupy.”

According to Badger, the slaves cannot be sent back to Africa: “if you could buy them and remove them,” he speculates, “permit me to say that a more cruel act of tyranny and oppression could not be perpetrated upon any body of men.”

Even if the abolitionists could do this, Badger declares, the slaves themselves would be against it. They “would reject with horror the idea of being transported to those barbarous and foreign climes of Africa.”

According to Badger, American slaves simply have no attachment to that continent. Besides, he continues, “this is their country as well as ours. You cannot remove them; they are obliged to remain here, and they are obliged to be slaves. That is clear.”

Will Be No Competition with Free Labor if Slavery Allowed into Territories

It is obvious to Senator Badger, then, that the correct and moral policy “is to allow this [slave] population to diffuse itself in such portions of the Territories as from climate and soil are adapted to slave cultivation[.]”

In doing so, there would be no competition with free labor, he insists: “Slave labor will not be profitable, and largely employed anywhere, except upon the grand staples of the south - tobacco, cotton, sugar and rice.”

Consequently, Northerners will not have to compete with slaves in the production of these Southern staples. Where the cultivation of these staples ceases, he assures his fellow senators, Northerners can rest assured that “a slave population is not going to spread itself.”

Continued -

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alan polk

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The North Carolina Standard, June 11, 1856

Below: 2/16/54 Senate Speech of George Badger Continued -

Senator Badger views the Northern position as hypocritical. That position once refused to extend the Missouri line but now wants it reinserted in relation to the Kansa-Nebraska Act.

Again, Badger states that Southerners were willing to extend the Missouri Compromise Line to the Pacific, even though it reeked of Federal intervention. However, in those earlier decades, Northerners refused to extend the line, especially in the years leading up to the 1850 negotiations. In fact, Northern politicians sought to ban slavery, not only in the region above the 36 deg. 30 min. line, but in all areas in the Territories lying south of there. This is seen, for example, in the Wilmot Proviso.

Badger insinuates that if the North had simply agreed to extend the line, then the concept of Congressional non-intervention would have never arisen and all these present troubles non-existent.

Now, however, with the issue of non-intervention decided, the North switches sides, demands that the line be reasserted and slavery prohibited in the Kansas Territory.

To Badger, this is akin to building a “Chinese wall or barrier” around the Southern people and its institutions. Why not, he asks, let the issue of slavery in the Territories adjust itself in conformity to the 1850 measures?

“Live in your free States,” he says. “Rejoice in the possessions of the many advantages you have. But if there is a strip of land belonging to the United States, upon which a Southern planter can make cotton or sugar, why grudge it to him? He reduces no man from freedom to slavery to make it.”

According to Badger, no Southern planter is going to remove his slaves to a region that is not profitable: “he certainly will not do it unless the lands are better, the crops larger, and he and his slaves can live more comfortably . . . .”

“I will ask, in the name of heaven,” Badger offers, “whom does it hurt? You love freedom. We do not ask you to make freemen slaves. You profess to have a regard for the black man; can you resist the only measure which can enable us to make a progressive improvement of his condition as the amount of black population increases?”

“It is, therefore, as it seems to me,” Badger states, “wise and just to pursue the principles indicated in, and out of which sprang, the legislation of 1850. It is unjust to no section of the country.”

Continued -

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