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Old Cannon used by Gen. Hamey against Indians
and later to drive Sioux from Ponca Agency.
Now at Niobrara, Nebraska

lels; and New York City helping the southerners to keep her own hold on the California trade by sea and the Isthmus of Panama.

      There is one single reference to slavery during the debate in the house. Giddings, the well-known radical anti-slavery member from Ohio, was a member of the committee on territories which reported the bill. Howe, of Pennsylvania, asked Giddings why the Ordinance of 1787 excluding slavery was not in the bill, adding, "I should like to know whether he or the committee were intimidated on account of the platforms of 1852. (Laughter.) The gentleman pretends to be something of an anti-slavery man, at least I have understood so." Giddings replied by quoting the words of the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and said "The south line of this new proposed territory is 36 degrees, 30 minutes. It is very clear that the territory (in the Louisiana Purchase) north of that line must he forever free, --unless the Missouri Compromise be repealed."

      Hall, of Missouri, in closing his speech in favor of the bill, exclaimed: "Why, everybody is talking about a railroad to the Pacific ocean. In the name of God, how is the railroad to be made if you will never let people live on the lands through which the road passes? Are you going to construct a road through the Indian territory at an expense of $200,000,000 and say no one shall live on the land through which it passes?"

      At the end of this debate the bill passed the house by a vote of 98 to 43,--the north and west furnishing the majority while South Carolina and other southern states were solidly opposed. The next day the bill was in the senate and was taken in charge by Senator Douglas, at the head of the senate committee on territories. February 17 he reported it favorably without changing a line. It is not until the crowded hours after midnight of an all-night session of the senate about to die March 4, 1853, that Douglas sees a chance to call up the bill. Texas is instantly in opposition. Senator Rusk, of that state, exclaims: "I hope the bill will not be taken up. It will lead to discussion beyond all question." Senator Atchison, strong pro-slavery democrat from Missouri, tries to break this opposition and pleads with the south to let the bill be taken up, urging that Missouri is more deeply interested than any state in the Union. He at first hints at the real difficulty (slavery) without naming it. Finally he boldly takes that bull by the horns:

     "Mr. President: I did not expect opposition to this measure from the quarter whence it comes,--from Texas and from Mississippi. I had objections myself to the bill early in the session. One of them was the Missouri Compromise. But when I came to look into that



question I found there was no prospect, no hope of a repeal of the Missouri Compromise, excluding slavery from that territory. Now, sir I am free to admit that at this moment, at this hour, and for all time to come, I should oppose the organization or the settlement of that territory unless my constituents and the constituents of the whole south, of the slave states of the union, could go into it on the same footing, with equal rights and equal privileges, carrying that species of property with them as other people of this Union. I have always been of the opinion that the first great error in the political history of the country was the ordinance of 1787, rendering the Northwest Territory free territory. The next great error was the Missouri Compromise. But they are both irremediable. We must submit to them. I am prepared to do it. It is evident the Missouri Compromise cannot be repealed. So far as that question is concerned we might as well agree to the admission of this territory now as next year, or five or ten years hence."

      "But I must not stop here. The senator from Texas suggested another idea. His objection was that the Indians in the Nebraska Territory would be turned down upon the border of Texas."

      (Senator Rusk of Texas: "And scalp the women and children upon the border of Texas.")

      Senator Atchison: "Sir, it is the wild Indians of whom we are in danger and the Shawnees, the Delawares and the Kickapoos and others upon your western frontier would be your best guard against the wild Comanches, Pawnees and others."

      Senator Sam Houston, of Texas, made perhaps the most effective speech against taking up the bill. He spoke from the standpoint of a man who had spent his life in Indian camps, living the life of an Indian, and made a strong plea against disturbing them in their homes beyond the Missouri. Senator Bell, of Tennessee, also opposed the bill and remarked, "The morning of March 4th is breaking, and only five or six hours of the present congress remain." Then Douglas rose to conclude the argument for his pet measure. Just a few sentences from his speech may show its force.

      "The object of this bill is to create a territorial government extending from the western boundary of Missouri and Iowa to Utah and Oregon. In other words, it is to form a line of territorial governments extending from the Mississippi valley to the Pacific ocean, so that we can have continuous settlements from one to the other. We cannot expect, or hope even, to maintain our Pacific possessions unless they can be connected in feeling and interest and communication with the Atlantic states. That can only be done by continuous lines of settlements, and those settlements can only be formed where the laws will furnish protection to those who settle upon and cultivate the soil."

     "Sir, what have you done for these Pacific possessions? What have you done to bind them to us? When a proposition was brought forward here to establish a railroad connection it met with determined resistance. The project was crushed and destroyed. When a proposition was made for stockades and military colonization, that also was beaten down. When a proposition was made for a telegraph line you would not permit that to be established. You refused to allow settlers to go there; and when



Picture or sketch

Old Omaha Mission School, Omaha Reservation. Built 1856

      I asked for a territorial government you assign the absence of settlers as a reason for not granting it."

      "I have been struck with the zeal of some gentlemen in behalf of the poor Indians. Sir, it is necessary for them to avail themselves of some arguments to resist this bill, and sympathy for the poor Indian is the argument that was resorted to. It is expressly stipulated that the Indians do not come under the jurisdiction of the territory; that they are not embraced within its limits; that they do not come under the operation of its laws and are never to be a part of that territory unless by treaty the Indians shall choose to do so hereafter. It is said by this act, you will drive the Indians all down upon Texas. Does the bill do it in any way? The Indians now occupy that country. The bill leaves them there. Will they be any more likely to go down now than they were before?"

      Senator Adams of Mississippi: "I know that my friend from Illinois is a good compromise man and I wish to propose to him a compromise on this subject, and that is, that by common consent it be postponed until the Friday after the first Monday of December next, then we shall have ample time and opportunity to discuss and investigate it and if we think it right we can then pass the bill."

      Senator Douglas: "I must remind my friend from Mississippi that eight years ago, when he and I were members of the House of Representatives, I was then pressing the Nebraska bill, and I had ever since been pressing it. I have tried to get it through for eight long years. I would take it as much more kind if my friend should propose that by common consent we take up and pass the bill."

     A motion was then made that the Nebraska bill be laid upon the table. Roll call upon this motion resulted.--yeas, 23, nays 17 and so the bill was killed for that session. An analysis of the vote on this motion proves the real nature of the opposition--a combination of commercial rivals with slave jealousy which is determined to prevent a Pacific railroad up the Platte valley. Eighteen out of the twenty-three votes to lay on the table are from the south--both whigs and democrats from that section voting against Douglas' bill. The other five senators are from the commercial states of the northeast. On the other hand, every one of the seventeen senators for the bill are from the north and northwest, excepting the two senators from Missouri. Before another Nebraska bill could be debated in the next congress the southern interests controlling the Pierce administration had rushed the Gadsden treaty from Mexico to Washington where it was ratified,--paying ten million dollars of the people's money for a strip of desert in New



Mexico and Arizona whose only use was to open up a better route for a southern Pacific railroad.

      Senator Dodge, of Iowa, introduced the next Nebraska bill on December 14, 1853, when the new congress met. It was practically the same bill which had been laid upon the table March 4. It was referred to the senate committee on territories, Senator Douglas, chairman. January 4, 1854, the Nebraska bill comes back from the committee on territories, but not the Nebraska bill that went to it. New features, never before seen, have been grafted upon the measure in the committee room. It is provided that when Nebraska is admitted into the Union as a state or states it shall be "with or without slavery, as their constitution may prescribe at the time of their admission." Besides this there is the famous section 21--the "stump speech in the belly of the bill"--as Benton called it, declaring that it is the true intent and meaning of the act to carry into practical operation the principles of the compromise of 1850: First, that all questions pertaining to slavery in the territories and the new states formed therefrom are to be left to the decision of the people residing in them: Second, that all questions involving title to slaves or questions of personal freedom are left to local courts with right of appeal to the United States Supreme court. Third, that the Fugitive Slave Law is to be carried into execution in the territories as well as the states.

      What was Douglas' motive in proposing thus to make Nebraska a cockpit where slavery and freedom should fight it out? The common republican opinion then and since was that Douglas was conciliating the south to pave his own path to the presidency. The

Picture or sketch

Early Steamboat Navigation on the Missouri

historians, and especially Rhodes and Schouler, emphasize this proposition. Since Douglas' death this view has generally been adopted, and I have not seen it anywhere disputed in print, viz: that Douglas was an active candidate for president of the United States; that he realized it was impossible to procure the support of the southern democracy unless he gave proof of his disposition to protect their peculiar interests; and that the incorporation of the "Squatter Sovereignty" principle into the new Nebraska bill, was the best means in his power of giving such proof.

     Is there not another--and a sufficient reason for Douglas' action without this one? For ten years he had been trying to open this country lying straight in the path of commerce and emigration from his own state. For five years he had seen Pacific railroad and even Pacific telegraph projects blocked by commercial rivals, south and east. He had seen that those interests were strong enough to kill his bill the spring before, even when it was strongly supported by the slave state of Missouri: He knew that a hasty treaty with Mexico was being pushed to prepare the way for a Pacific

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@ 2002 for the NEGenWeb Project by Pam Rietsch, Ted & Carole Miller