THE MISSOURI COMPROMISE -- THE SECOND COMPROMISE -- STEPHEN A. DOUGLAS -- THE RICHARDSON BILL -- THE DODGE BILL -- THE KANSAS-NEBRASKA BILL -- PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT -- DIVISION OF NEBRASKA -- ESTIMATE OF DOUGLAS -- PROPOSED BOUNDARIES --SUFFRAGE QUALIFICATIONS
first direct contest over the slavery question took place
when John Taylor of New York, February 17, 1819, moved to
amend the bill for the territorial organization of Arkansas
by the same anti-slavery provision which Tallmadge sought to
incorporate into the enabling act for the admission of
Missouri as a state. It provided that no more slaves should
be introduced into the territory, and that all children born
after admission should be free, though they might be held to
service until the age of twenty-five years. But the status
of slavery was fixed on the east in Mississippi and on the
south in Louisiana at the time of the purchase, and the
argument that Arkansas was naturally and by original right
slave territory easily prevailed. But the proposal at the
same time to admit Missouri as a state started the fierce
controversy over the slavery question, which to leading
states-men even then seemed destined to end in disruption of
the Union, and war, and which were postponed merely by the
three great compromises -- the last being the Nebraska
precipitated nullification in 1832 and has kept the
country in a state of sectional embroilment ever since.
Previous to the war political policies were controlled by
the Northeast and the South. The Northeast was adapted to
manufacturing, for which slave labor was unfit, and so the
Northeast eschewed slavery and chose a tariff subsidy
instead. The South believed that it could only raise the raw
material for which slave labor was essential, and so refused
to pay New England's tariff subsidy, and clung to slavery.
The same immoral principle in kind was involved in both
policies, but it differed in degree, and to the disadvantage
of the South; and on this point the Northwest, holding the
balance of power, sided with the Northeast, and the South
was loser. It was insisted also that the growth of slavery
was inherently essential to its life and, in turn, demanded
its territorial expansion. To further this end, in the
Missouri controversy Clay contended that this spreading
policy was philanthropic and would mitigate the evils of
crowded confinement within the old states, and Jefferson, in
his anxiety to ameliorate the condition of the slaves, since
he now despaired of the practicability of abolishing
slavery, lent his approval to this theory of
5 Writings of Jefferson, vol. 10, p. 158.
6 Schouler, History of the United States, vol. iii, p103.
7 McMaster, History of the People of the United States, vol. iv, p. 576,
8 Rhodes, History of the United States, vol. i, p. 37.
expansion spirit of the South; and now that the northern
obstructionists had outgrown the determined propagators of
slavery, outnumbering them in the House of Representatives
by twenty-nine members, the obstruction was the more
exasperating. Tallmadge's amendment passed the House by
eighty-seven to seventy-six, notwithstanding the great
adverse influence of Clay who was then speaker; but it was
lost in the Senate, and the bill for the time was dead. The
bill for admitting Missouri as a slave state was passed
March 6, 1820. The three points of the Compromise were as
follows: (1) The Senate should consent to the division of
the bill for the admission of both Maine and Missouri; (2)
the House should yield on the restriction of slavery in
Missouri; (3) both houses should consent to the admission of
Missouri with slavery, but forever restrict it from all the
Louisiana territory north of the parallel 36° 30' --
the extension of the southern boundary of Missouri. John
Randolph dubbed the fifteen northern members who voted
against the restriction of slavery in Missouri "dough
faces," and the epithet stuck to them and their kind till
the death of the slavery question. Every member of Monroe's
cabinet answered yes to his question whether Congress had
the constitutional power to prohibit slavery in the
territories. John Quincy Adams thought that this power
extended to statehood as well, while Crawford, Calhoun, and
Wirt thought it was limited to the territorial status alone.
This difference was portentous of trouble to come.
9 Cox, Three Decades of Federal Legislation, p. 46.
Boston, September 29, 1847, he denounced the war as
unnecessary and therefore unjustifiable.10
10 Niles' Register, vol. 73, p. 104.
11 Ibid., vol. 73, p. 106.
12 Ibid., vol. 74, p. 61.
13 Webster's Works, vol. v, p. 311.
questions of the compromise were, the organization of the
territories of New Mexico and Utah without the Wilmot
Proviso, that is, without any restriction as to slavery, the
admission of California as a free state, the abolition of
the slave trade in the District of Columbia, adjustment of
the Texas boundary dispute, and strengthening of the
fugitive slave law. There has never been an array of giants
in debate in Congress equal to those who discussed the
compromise of 1850. Among its supporters were Webster, Clay,
Cass, and Douglas; and among its opponents, Calhoun, Seward,
Chase, Hale, Benton, and Jefferson Davis. Calhoun's speech
in opposition was his last in the Senate, and he died before
the bill finally passed. It was the last struggle also of
Clay and Webster. Clay-died in 1852, two weeks after the
Whig convention had set him aside for General Scott as the
candidate for president, and Webster died four months later
"the victim of personal disappointment." 14
14 Schouler, History of the United States, vol. v, p. 246.
15 Stephen A. Douglas (Brown), Riverside Biographical Series, p. 21.
16 Cong. Globe, 2d sess., 28th Cong., p. 41.
17 Ibid., 2d sess., 30th Cong., pp. 1, 68.
18 These boundaries are from the original bills on file at Washington, and never before published.
plicable except by the assumption that from the first his
motive was to further the scheme of the South for the
extension of slavery. But inspiring the origin and running
through the entire long campaign for the organization of
Nebraska we find the strong and steady purpose of commercial
enterprise. Chicago, where Douglas lived, was already the
potential base of northwestern commercial conquest and
development. In 1844 the state of Illinois was already well
settled, and the territory of Iowa had become important in
population as well as promise. The quick eye of business
interest already saw that the Missouri river would soon be
the terminus of railway lines leading from Chicago. Whitney
had come home from Europe in 1844 enthusiastic in the
conviction of the need and practicability of a railway to
the Pacific, and as early as January, 1845, he memorialized
both houses of Congress in favor of such a project, and from
that time on the national legislature was bombarded with
influences in its favor. The representatives in Congress
from Illinois and Iowa could now see the importance of
making the most of this border territory. Douglas, as
chairman of the committee on territories, was the natural
agent and spokesman for these interests. He afterward
explained his seemingly premature action in introducing the
organization bill of 1844 by saying that he served it on
secretary of war as a notice that he must not locate any
more Indians there, and by repeating this notice he
prevented action for ten years.19 He said also
that the Atlantic states opposed opening Nebraska to
settlement out of jealousy, and that both political parties
had the power to defeat the Kansas-Nebraska hill by making
new Indian treaties, and "I was afraid of letting that
STEPHEN A. DOUGLAS
the name Nebraska, or its French substitute, for the
country in question.
19 Constitutional and Party Questions, J. M. Cutts, pp. 90-92, inclusive.
20 Cong. Globe, vol. 24, pt. 1, p. 80.
21 Ibid., vol. 26, p. 47.