Discussion Just for Curiosity: Pre-War Newspaper Comparison

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alan polk

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Below: The Yazoo Democrat, February 4, 1860

Below: Interesting listing of the prices of goods offered for sale in the Yazoo City markets for 1860.

If anyone knows what the number after the @ symbol represents I’d appreciate learning it.

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unionblue

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alan polk

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@alan polk ,

Always enjoy seeing price lists of the period. Gives a certain feel to know what folks were paying back then.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
It is, indeed. I’m hoping that I will eventually be able to compare those pre-war prices to prices during the war or during Reconstruction.

As always, thanks for reading and commenting on this thread.
 
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unionblue

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It is, indeed. I’m hoping that I will eventually be able to compare those pre-war prices to prices during the war or during Reconstruction.

As always, thanks for reading and commenting on this thread.
@alan polk ,

To me, reading this thread is nothing but a sheer pleasure and I thank you for taking the time and effort to keep it current.

This is a valuable window into the time we all enjoy studying.

Thanks again,
Unionblue
 

alan polk

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The Yazoo Democrat, February 4, 1860

Below: Disagreements Between The Yazoo Democrat and The Vicksburg Whig.

During my time examining these newspapers, The Yazoo Democrat has had many open disagreements with various publications, but none as often as with the Vicksburg Whig.

Lying just 45 or so airline miles to the southwest of Yazoo City, Vicksburg was the second largest city in Mississippi at the time. It is widely known that, although Vicksburg stood solidly behind the Confederacy when war came, she did not vote for Secession. In fact, Warren County, where Vicksburg is seated, voted for The Constitutional Union Party candidate, John Bell, over the Southern Democrat, John Breckinridge in 1860.

The Vicksburg Whig, then, apparently represented a different voice from that of The Yazoo Democrat and most of Mississippi during the run-up to War.

That difference is evident in the many disputes published by The Yazoo Democrat.

Below are two from the February 4th issue alone:

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It would make for a great compare and contrast project to study the two papers. Unfortunately, as of this writing, The Vicksburg Whig is not digitized on Chronicalling America.

Nevertheless, there is one article published by the Whig (and posted on the Internet) from around this time that summarizes its position regarding the growing tensions between the North and South. It is quite different from the views shared by Yazoo Democrat, and I will post it next.
 

alan polk

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Below: Vicksburg Whig Newspaper Article from January 18, 1860 (from American Historical Association website.)

In several parts-

This article by the Vicksburg Whig is similar in tone to the North Carolina article reprinted in The Yazoo Democrat and copied above in a previous post in this thread.

Although the article calls for Southern independence from the North, it does not call for disunion, nor does it find the conflict over the issue of slavery in the South or in the Territories important at all. In fact, the word “slavery” is not referenced once throughout the entire article.

Instead, its focus centers on the need for Southern economic independence from the North. In this context, it discusses the failed policies of the Southern region, its potential pecuniary interests, unnecessary dependence on the North, unfair taxation, manufacturing, shipping, and other economic matters.

The editors believe that “it is manifest to even a casual observer of ordinary intelligence, that the policy in trade and commerce uniformly pursued by the South is not only blind and simple, but absolutely suicidal to our pecuniary prosperity.”

The South, the article argues, is responsible for this by yielding to the North a great monopoly. The South has practically handed over to the North its manufacturing business, its importing and exporting business along with the carrying trade to boot.

Not surprisingly, “the North has been aggrandized, in a most astonishing degree,” the editors state, “at the expense of the South.”

Because of this, the North has grown rich. “How,” the editors ask, “could it be otherwise?” They point to New York City as the prime example of Yankee aggrandizement derived from Southern wealth, observing how that city “sits proudly upon her island throne, sparkling in jewels and waving an undisputed commercial scepter over the South.”

The North, according to the Whig editors, “sends out her long arms to the extreme South; and, with an avidity rarely equaled, grasps our gains and transforms them to herself - taxing us at every step - and depleting us as extensively as possible without destroying us.”

“Meantime, the South remains passive - in a state of torpidity- malting cotton bales for the North to manufacture, and constantly exerting ourselves to increase the production as much as possible.” And even if the South could, it “has no ships in the foreign carrying trade, or very few indeed,” the article states, with which to import or export.

To make matters worse, Mississippi and the South refuses to pay attention “to the various mechanical arts, buying most of our farming implements from the Northern people”

“Why is this? Why are we so far behind in the great march of improvement? Simply because we have failed to act in obedience to the dictates of sound policy. Simply because we have been almost criminally neglectful of our own pecuniary interests. What should we do? What remedy have we?”

Continued...

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alan polk

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1860 Whig Article Continued -

In answer to these questions, the editors of the Whig suggests that the South “withdraw one-third, or one-half of our capital from agricultural operations, and invest it in the establishment of manufacturies of cotton. Thus we will greatly reduce the production of the raw material; and as a necessary consequence, greatly enhance the market price of our great staple.”

The editors point to the few existing manufacturies in Mississippi as proof of the feasibility of such a policy, stating that the business of “making cotton goods in Mississippi pays from 10 to 12 percent profit per annum on the investment.”

In addition to this policy, the article goes on to argue that the South should encourage the mechanical arts: “Let is manufacture here all of our carriages and wagons; all of our farming implements; every article of furniture required by our people.” In short, “create citizens who are producers instead of consumers,” so that an atmosphere is created where labor is viewed as “honorable and dignified.”

“Lastly, let us at once begin the business of direct importation and exportation, and thus keep at home the millions of dollars which we annually pay to the North.”

The editors end the article with its only reference to slavery - a subtle suggestion that the South is already a kind of slave to the North, and that if such policies as described above are not followed, economic enslavement of the South to the North would naturally continue and only deepen in its justification:

“It remains to be seen whether the South will awake from her ignoble slumber, and act for herself, or whether she will indolently remain inactive, and continue to be mere ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water,’ for the merchant princes of the North.”

End

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alan polk

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The Yazoo Democrat, February 4, 1860

Below: Millard Fillmore Speech (Reaction)

This event, seemingly innocuous, has nonetheless come up in various articles, so it must have have been important at the time. Nonetheless, it contains some interesting aspects for more than a few reasons.

One, the event represents the perception that the Republicans have taken a publicity hit after the John Brown Raid, and are therefore seeking to distance themselves from the likes of Wm. Seward, whose “Irrepressible Conflict” speech is seen as contributing to the Harper’s Ferry Raid.

Some Republican newspapers had begun calling for this shift from the radical Seward to some other candidate more acceptable to a wider base. One such example was posted above and is as follows:
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Second, it is alleged that, into this vacuum created by the distancing of the party from Seward, former Whig President, Millard Fillmore, is seeking the Republican nomination.

Third, it appears that some Southerners and anti-Republicans were defenders of Fillmore at the time, and the event appears to have stunned many of them.

Fourth, I have yet to come across Lincoln’s name as a potential candidate for the Republican nomination.

At any rate, all this was created when Fillmore either gave a speech, or had his speech read, at a New York Union meeting. However, and for whatever reason, parts of Fillmore’s speech were redacted before it could be read because it was thought that certain portions of it would create too much controversy in front of this particular gathering. The portions removed, from my understanding, were about Fillmore’s feelings regarding his enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law during his Presidency.

Nevertheless, when this news was leaked to the media, it created a bit of a firestorm among Southerners and excitement among Republicans.

How much of this was true, or how important it proved to actually be in the scheme of things, I don’t know. But it gives a snapshot of the Republican Party and the country in the months before the 1860 election.

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alan polk

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The Yazoo Democrat, February 4, 1860

Below: Illinois Democrats Repudiates “Squatter Sovereignty.”

Squatter Sovereignty is a derogatory term used by critics of Popular Sovereignty championed by Stephen Douglas and others in reference to the Territories.

The newspapers, particularly the Yazoo Democrat and other Southern newspapers which the Yazoo cites, use the term almost exclusively when referencing Popular Sovereignty and Stephen Douglas (Ironically, New England abolitionists critical of Popular Sovereignty for different reasons used the term as well.)

I had not found a decent working definition of Squatter Sovereignty until I came across these Illinois resolutions, and in as much as the term is used by Southern critics, it seems as good a definition as anything else I’ve seen.

The Illinois legislature first gives its definition of “Popular Sovereignty.” This definition is the one which would have been understood by Southerners and some Democrats as the correct definition. It can be found in the text of the article below. It is basically the definition which arose out of the compromises of 1850.

Generally speaking, it seems “Squatter Sovereignty,” on the other hand, took popular root during the Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858 and sprouted from there.

Although they do not use the term “Squatter Sovereignty,” it is certainly the Legislature’s object of description and I post their definition below:

“[T]hat a Territorial Legislature may do indirectly what the Constitution and laws will not permit it to do directly; and a resort to the unscrupulous expedient of ‘unfriendly legislation’ or non-legislation to compass the objects of a majority in the avoidance of the rights of citizens as guaranteed by the Constitution, would be an act of bad faith, irreconcilable alike with the obligations of citizenship and principles of sound morals.”

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alan polk

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The Yazoo Democrat, February 4, 1860

Below: Reaction to Hinton Helper’s Book, “The Impending Crisis of the South: How to Meet It.”

To some historians, the above book played a more important role in bringing about the American Civil War than did “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

Written by a North Carolinian, It was viciously anti-slavery. Because the book’s focus was on the adverse affects of slavery on the white working class, instead of the immorality of slavery itself, the Republican Party quickly seized upon it and used it during their campaigns in order to tap into Northern racism and broaden their base of support.

In many jurisdictions the book was banned or it was illegal to posses it. According to Wikipedia, three men in Arkansas were hanged for possessing the book. A few legal scholars have pointed to the censorship surrounding the book as contributing to the development of parts of the 14 Amendment later.

Below are remarks about the book in the February issue of the Yazoo:
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alan polk

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The Yazoo Democrat, February 4, 1860

Below: Democratic Party Reason for Present Conflict.

This article, like most in the Yazoo, is copied from another newspaper.

The gist of the editorial is that the New York Democrats should have permanently removed radical elements from its party and not allowed them to operate from within it or to return to it after leaving the party.

This, according to the author, began with the Free Soil Party which was formed in 1848, in part, by the New York Democrats, known as the “Barnburner” faction, who bolted from the party to support former President Martin Van Buren, himself a “Barnburner,” after Lewis Cass received the Democratic nomination.

According to the writer, after the Free Soil Party failed to take the Presidency, many of the Free Soilers returned to the Democratic fold, including Van Buren himself, even though, the article claims, “they did not bring back with them ten percent of the voters whom they had seduced away from it.”

The author contends, nevertheless, that they were rewarded for returning to the Democratic Party when President Pierce, and even Buchanan, placed “all the Federal patronage of New York at their disposal.” This allowed them to “acquire an ascendency in State and city politics” where they spent years “abolitionizing a large part of the Democratic party.”

The National Democracy, the editorial claims, allowed this to happen and should therefore take blame for the present sectional conflict.

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alan polk

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The Yazoo Democrat, February 4, 1860

Below: Mississippi Resolutions Calling for other slaveholding States to Cease Commercial Intercourse with North.

“That the slave holding States of this Union should resort to the most rigid system of commercial non-intercourse with all communities, cities and States who continue to offend against their constitutional rights.”

It calls for the Southern States to encourage “their own mechanics, merchants, manufacturers and institutions of learning, and the employment of their own citizens only in their public institutions, of any character, and especially discourage the employment of teachers and preachers in their midst, from such offending community, city or State, thus contributing to the safety and prosperity as well as the development of the unequal resources and independence of the South.”

It also resolved that a copy of said resolution be sent to the governors of each State in the Union.
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alan polk

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The Yazoo Democrat, February 4, 1860

Below: Two Articles - Repeal of African Slave Trade in Mississippi Rejected by Legislature; and Sentence of Death for Assisting Runaway Slave.

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alan polk

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The Yazoo Democrat, February 4, 1860

Tucked between the columns of news reports about impending conflict, comes into view a neat, well written poem about young womanhood. I suppose some of the same sentiment still exists, even today.
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alan polk

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New York Herald, February 1, 1860

Below: Senate Speech by Robert Hunter of Virginia re: Present Conflict (as outlined and reported by a correspondent for the Herald)

Note: US Senator Robert Hunter would go on to become Secretary of State for the Confederacy as well as a Senator in the Confederate States Congress for Virginia. In 1865, he was one of the Southern commissioners at the Hampton Roads Conference. In the 2012 movie, “Lincoln,” Hunter is played by Mike Shiflett.

In several parts -

Hunter describes economy of the South and its relation to the North:

- The foreign exports of the South amount to 200,000,000 dollars and the freights of them are from 7 to 8 percent of that amount;

- the North benefits greatly by the products of the South in carrying them to foreign and domestic markets and in manufacturing those products;

- 4 to 5 million Northern people are sustained by these products in the manufacturing and navigation interests;

- heavy duties have been laid to protect American manufacturers;

- the United States Bank is located in the North contributing to the concentration of commercial power in that section; and

- the South is by nature conservative, leading to economy in the administration of government and it has not substantially asked for any money for economic protection.

Assaults Upon the South by the North:

- the Missouri restrictions;

- the abuse in the right of petition in asking for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia and elsewhere;

- the suppression of the slave trade between the States; the latter being necessary for the moral and physical improvement of the Negro, as it carried him from natural law to a climate better suited him;

- the personal liberty laws of the Northern States (the “higher law” doctrine); the nomination by the North in the House by an endorser of the Helper book, etc.

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alan polk

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The New York Herald, February 1, 1860.

Below: Hunter senate speech continued-

Hunter states that the aim of the Republicans is to abolish slavery, not only in the Territories, but in the States as well. This does nothing more, in essence, “than invite the South to secede.”

Slavery in Relation to Civilization and the United States:

- every respectable form of civilization that has ever existed has been based on the institution of slavery;

- without the institution of slavery, this continent “could not have been opened up.”;

- on the South American continent, only Brazil had retained slavery, and it alone prospers;

- slavery is necessary for new countries; and

- the “happiest relation for the negro was that of master and slave.”

Proposed Alternative to Secession:

- if the North cannot carry out the provisions of the Constitution, it ought to propose a separation;

- for example, a confederation of some sort “which might preserve some of the benefits of the Union and avoid the conscientious scruples of the North.”;

- in so doing, it “might be necessary to form three or four smaller Unions, bound by looser bonds, and pledged to resist foreign encroachments.”

- Hunter, however, does not think this is necessary; for

He Believes there is No Real Collision of Interests Between North and South:

- Hunter claims the right of the South to carry her property into the Territories and thereby extend its social system;

- he denied that the “political power of the North was lessened by the extension of slavery.”

The Combination of Free Labor and Universal Suffrage, though Successful thus far in the North, Still Remains an Experiment:

- it nonetheless “had not yet sustained the severe trial of when a redundant population should press upon the means of subsistence.”;

- he alluded to “the dangers likely to result in free society from a collision between capital and labor.”;

- “All the evils denounced as incidental to slavery were to be found under the system of voluntary service.”;

- in this manner, if free society be an experiment, “why should the Territories be kept open only to that, and shut against slavery, which had proven to be stable?”

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alan polk

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The New York Herald, February 1, 1860

Senate speech continued-

Hunter declares that the North has gained a greater share of the relative wealth in this Union even with the increase of slave states, and, according to the reporter, he “could not see how, upon any calculation of interests, the North should object to the growth and development of the Southern system of society.”

Hunter sees the conflict arising out of “the mad pursuit of abstractions by moonstruck theoriest and crazy fanatics.”

Represented as these fanatics are in the Republican Party, Hunter asks whether, and if they ascend to the Presidency, they “will keep up this constant warfare upon the institution of slavery wherever it exists - whether they will deny our constitutional rights upon the plea that they fall under the ban of ‘higher law’ - whether they will do nothing to prevent armed insurrections of their people upon our people - whether they mean to use the government for the purpose of assaulting and destroying our peace, property, and perhaps our lives?”

Hunter warns that once placed “before the South the alternative of the Union at the price of irrepressible, eternal warfare upon its institutions, or separations with the view of seeking the means to defend their lives, property and honor, . . . the South will not hesitate for an hour in accepting the latter.”

End.

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alan polk

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The New York Herald, February 1, 1860

Below: Lecture Delivered by Wendell Phillips on Toussaint L’Ouverture, “The John Brown of St. Domingo.”

Phillips was a leading abolitionist noted for his oratorical skills and often called “abolition’s Golden Trumpet.”

A very long transcription, The Herald printed the entire lecture so it is not copied in its entirety here.

But the lecture, and those similar to it that alluded enthusiastically as they did to violent massacres and general bloodshed against masters by their slaves, undoubtedly sent fear into Southern slaveowners and Southern society when it was heard that such speeches were being delivered in the North.

In the lecture, Phillips promises to take his audience on a titillating journey of violence and bloodshed:

“Another thing I beg you to observe here:” Phillips says to the packed auditorium, “I am about to speak of times of bloodshed, of butchery, of terror. There were frightful scenes in the events that followed.”

Engrossing his audience in the righteousness of violence that raged in St. Domingo, he references throughout it John Brown and other abolitionists to the delight and excitement of his audience:

“And when, a few hours later, his soldiers heard from other lips the story of his insult, the cry ran through the ranks, ‘Death to all whites.’ There were twelve hundred white prisoners in camp. These were all ranged in line to be shot. It was just at this critical moment that Toussaint - who, like Cromwell, could preach as well as fight, another spirit like that of John Brown, (loud hissing and thundering applause continued for some minutes, and continued again and again). As soon as quiet was restored, Mr. Phillips concludes his sentence as reported, and added, ‘Honi soit qui mal y pense.’ [shame on him who thinks it evil.] (Loud laughter).

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alan polk

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The Yazoo Democrat, March 3, 1860

Below: Senate Speech by Robert Toombs of Georgia.

Toombs began his career as a Whig, opposing the Mexican-American War, eventually moved to join the Constitutional Union Party in the 1850s; opposed Southern secession during the 1850s crisis and supported the Compromise of 1850, before finally becoming a Democrat where he supported the expansion of slavery into the Territories and Southern secession upon Lincoln’s election.

The editors of the Yazoo Democrat printed the speech in its entirety, declaring in the same issue that they would not apologize for doing so, for they regarded it as “the most powerful exposition of the wicked designs of our Northern enemies we have read.”

Before leveling systematic accusations against the abolitionists and Republicans, Toombs reflects on the history of nationalism and the common ties which once bound the Union together. Toombs concludes that such long lasting unity and nationalism is rapidly ending:

“Senators, we all feel it in this chamber; we hear it proclaimed here everyday; we hear it proclaimed daily in the other branch of Congress; we hear it from State Legislatures, from the pulpit and the press, and from popular assemblies throughout the length and breadth of this broad land.”

Toombs insists that the accusations he is about to deliver are not charged against the Federal Government:

“There has been no time, since its establishment, when [the Federal Government] has been truer to its obligations, more faithful to the Constitution, than the last seven years. Its executive and judicial departments have firmly maintained the fundamental law in relation to these great questions; and the legislative department has approximated the same standard nearer than at any other time period of our history within the last forty years.”

Rather, his accusations are charged against the abolitionists, who he terms a “coalition” or as “public enemies” of the Union. From Toombs’ perspective, Republicans and abolitionists are one and the same, are nothing more than a mere collection (or “coalition”) of “deserters of all former political parties” who have but one central goal: “hatred of the people and institutions of the people and institutions of the slaveholding States of this Union.” To accomplish the ruin of the South, according to Toombs, the Republicans have subverted the Constitution and are attempting to take control of the Federal Government in order to complete their goal.

Senator Toombs makes three charges against the abolitionists which he then covers in detail:

- attempts to annul a fundamental principle of the Constitution;

- attempts to deprive the equal rights of Southerners in the Territories; and

- commission of offenses against the people and property of the United States.

Parts of his speech wherein he discussed the above are copied below. In following posts I will copy and outline the charges he makes in detail.

Continued....
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alan polk

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The Yazoo Democrat, March 3, 1860

Toombs Speech -

The Fugitive Slave Law

Toombs begins his attacks by citing The Fugitive Slave Clause in the US Constitution:

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He then cites the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution which establishes that the Constitution and all Federal Laws made pursuant to it constitute the supreme laws of the land; and that the State courts are therefore bound by this supremacy:

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In discussing the Fugitive Slave Clause, Toombs explores its history, reminding his listeners that it is also found in the Ordnance of 1787. He does not cite it, but I attach Section 6 of the Ordinance from Wikipedia:

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Toombs asserts that the Fugitive Slave laws predated the 1787 Ordinance and can be found, for example, even in the laws of New England as far back as 1643 - a law in which they copied, according to Toombs, nearly verbatim in the act of 1793:

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In this context, Toombs reminds the Senate that the Puritan fathers seized Indians, exporting and exchanging them for Africans: “experience had taught them the superiority of the [Negro] over the Indian as an available operative; therefore, they exported the Indian and imported the African.”

Toombs states that the Act of 1793, containing the above fugitive slave clause, was affirmed by the US Supreme Court. Moreover, the Act was found “to be constitutional by every State court in the United States, up to the passage of the act of 1850, without any exception.”

Toombs claims that the Republicans now “pretend that the act of 1850 instigated the hostility to the rendition of fugitives from slave labor.”

What the 1850 act does, according to Toombs, is provide a more effective means “for the execution of the Constitution, and defeats fraudulent State legislation intended to allude its provisions.”

Toombs then examines the various means by which Republicans have attempted to nullify the provisions of the Constitution itself in relation to fugitive slaves.

I will post those allegations in the following posts. In the meantime, everything referenced above is copied below:

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