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Full text of "John Bell's record"

JOHN BELL'S REGOfiD. 



ROOMS OF THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE 

" Constitutional Uniok Party," 
157 D Street, Washington, July 31, 1860. 

A full exposition of Mr. Bell's course on the Slavery question, from the commence - 
ment of the Abolition-petition agitation in 1835 down to the termination of his Congres- 
sional career in 1859, has been prepared by a distinguished gentleman of Tennessee, 
and recently published at Nashville, by the Union Committee of that State. 

This document the National Executive Committee has republished, and now presents 
to the people of the United States. It will be found to contain an authentic expression, 
from his own speeches and votes, of Mr. Bell's opinions on the Slavery question in all 
its aspects, and will be sufiBcient, of itself, to enable every supporter of Mr. Bell, every 
speaker and writer who proposes to take an active part in the Presidential canvass, to 
silence any man who may charge Mr. Bell with ever having enunciated a prin- 
ciple or advocated a doctrine in regard to Slavery, whicli should render him unworthy 
of the confidence .and support of his fellow-citizens, in any section of our country, for the 
higjiest office in their gift. 

^ By order of the Committee : 

ALEXANDER R. BOTELER, Chairman. 

W. H. Moom, Printer. 



TO THE T^UBLIC. 






la the outset of the political canvass for the Presidency just commenced, it is thought 
important by the undersigned, who are the Central Union Committee of Tennessee, that 
a fair presentation should be made of the political opinions of Mr. Bell, bearing upon the 
most important issues now before the country. With this view the Editor of the "Na- 
tional Union '' has carefully collated and compiled from his public speeches, acts and 
writings, such extracts as might most fully exhibit him in his character of statesman and 
politician. With his private life (though in all respects unblemished) the public has not 
so much to do, 

Jn his public life, as thus exhibited, we think he has shown firmness, forbearance, 
moderation, foresight, far reaching thought, and in a high degree the spirit of concilia- 
tion and compromise. He has ever shown himself a son of the Union, a Representative 
of the Nation, of comprehensive mind and of catholic spirit. See what he has done : 
hear what he has said. By his acts he is ready to be judged. 

-• '^'^' ii-uu ,'. . ,. .. .--..,.--• ■ EDWJN H. EWING, 

^noOeMK') f;'-»;»i!nlKr'"t'»!ll'»tflwnh .-.'^«r rjj r.V NEILL S. BROWN, 

ALLEN A. HALL, 
JOHN LELLYETT, 
P. W. MAXEY, 
HORACE H. HARRISON, 

Committee.- 
Nabhvillk, Tenn., July, I8C0, 

Mr. Bell entered the public service, as a Representative in Congress, at the age of 
thirty-one years. It was in 1827, towards the close of the Presidential term of John 
Quihcy Adams, and shortly preceding the election of Gen. Jackson to the Presidency. 
During the marked and eventful administration of the latter, many great and exciting 
questions arose and were decided, for good or evil. All the strong passions of our na- 
ture were roused and brought into action hy the greatest talent and address on both 
sides, and the very fabric of the governmenit was shaken and convulsed to its centre. 

Though acting, throughout this exciting period, with a party, with the principles of 
which he in the main agreed, and to which, so far as principle was concerned, he was 
M^er faithful, yet, Mr. Bell was at no time so blindly attached to the one party or opposed 
Co the other, as to be insensible to the motives which probably actuated both. More 
inteat upon watching and noting the peculiar tendencies of our system of government- — 
the dangers which most beset it — the points most exposed to attack, and those to be 
particularly guarded — more intent upon the solution of these problems, than zealous in 
the succefis of every party movement, he, at times, incurred the censure of some of his 
])arty friends for what appeared to them indifference to the interests of " the party." 

The truth i-o, that the qualities of Mr. Bell's mind, and the views which, at a very early 
period of his public life, he formed of the nature and tendencies of our government, and 
of the duties of American statesmen, utterly disqualified him for ever becoming the 
blind follower of ajiy party leader, however great and.distinguished, or a successful party 
Jcader himself, if the condition of such leadership were a ready compliance on his part 
with all the dictates of mere party expediency. 

What these characteristic qualities of Mr. Bell'^ mind are — what his views of the ten- 
dencies and dangers pertaining to our system of government and of the duties of Ameri- 
can statesmen — and what fthe principles which have governed him throughout the whole 
of Ms long public life, can he .made very clearly to appear by reference to a few passages 
in his political record: 



MR BELL LV 1829'/f-^''^; -'-' 

Bis Opinions a* to Ihe safest mode of construing the Consfitution^the Principle of CompTomise. 

The following passage occurs in a speech delivered bv Mr. Bell, in the Hou^e of Hep- 
resentatives, on the 10th of February, 1829, on a bill fo'r the preservation and repair of 
the Cumberland road ; 

" While I am upon the subject of this diversity of opinion which exists as to the safest 
mode of construing the Constitution, I. hope it will not be considered impror.er or pre- 
sumptuous in me to make a remark or two in regard to the two great parties which di- 
vide this country upon all (juestions of this kind. Thev had their origin as far back 'is 
the tormation of the Federal compact. Their foundatio'us were laid in the difference (/' 
sentiment which prevailed at that time, as to the wisdom of the provisions of thu, in- 
strument. They arc, in short, the fruit of that discord of opinions and feelings without 
a compromise of M-hich at the time, we should have had no Constitution at all. One 
opinion was, that sufficient power was not conferred upon the Federal Government to 
assure the quiet, happiness, and prosperity of the couutry; while the opinion of otbr-r-- 
was, that the power actually conceded would prove too strong for the preservation of 
liberty. The most zealous and active of the partizans on both sides, never abandoned 
their creeds ; both parties became sufficiently powerful to propagate their opinions- ard 
as one or the other predominated in the administration of the Government, a tincture of 
the hivorable notions of each was infused into its measures. Both have sou-dit bv con 
struction, to make the Constitution what thev wished it to be in fact: ihe\'ne bv en- 
larging Its powers beyond its letter and spirit, the other bv narrowing them down to the 
standard ol their wishes. Although it will be seen that I know and feel what p,'rtv h'ls 
bad the ascendency for several years past, and where the great danger is vet it may be 
said that both these great parties are in some degree hostile, not to liberty, not to their 
country, but to the Constitution as it is written ; to that instrument which we are bound 
b.y the most sacred obligations to support; to that instrument, to which, for one I am 
disposed to cling, with or without such modifications as may he effected by amendment 
both the great parties to which 1 have alluded, seem to me to have abandoned the prin- 
cipe of comprormse. I would adhere to it as the only principle by which the States were 
able to agree upon any compact, and without an acquiescence in which, we are not des- 
tined long to enjoy the blessings of the one adopted. He, sir, who shall renounce the «- 
tremes of both these great parties, as dangerous to order and union ; he, who, by his talents 
experience and weight of characte- shall succeed iu placing himself c^ the head of a great 
constitutional party, and shall become the advocate of the administration of the ■Govern- 
ment upon theprmciple of compromise, as it was understood to have operated in the for- 
mation of the Constitution, will deserve the highest gratitude of his country '' fSee 
Congressional Debates, vol. 5, page 349.] ' ' "■ 

It cannot but be regarded as a most extraordinary coincidence, that more than thirty 
years after the utterance of these opinions, "a great Constitutional party" should rise 
up, which, '-renouncing the extremes" of both the other great parties in the country 
^ as dangerous to order and union," should be led by its high estimate of .Mr BcKs 
''talents, experience, and weight of character." to sele'ct him to lead them in a contest 
for " the administration of the Government upon the principle of compromise as is was 
understood to have operated in the formation of the Constitutioa ! " 



MR. BELL IN 183'^. 

His Speech on the Tariff, June 8, 1832—^ Flea for the Union— Uuti/ of a Representative. 

With the dangers which threatened the Union in 1832, in consequence of the intense 
disc_ontent which prevailed in the southern States, and particularly in South Carolina 
at the working of the protective tariff, many of our readers are acquainted To this 
discontent and its threatened consequences, Mr. Clay adverted in his opening speech on 
the subject of the tariff, in the Senate, during the session of that year. In allusion to 
menaces ot disunion which had been heard from South Carolina, he entreated " the 
patriotic people" of that State " to pause, solemnly pause! and contemplate the frightful 
precipice which lay before them." " To advance, was to rush on certain and inevitable 
disgrace and destruction." The danger to the Union, however, did not lie. he thought 
on the side of persistence in the American system, but in that of its abandonment! 
Could It be expected that two-thirds, if not three-fourths of the people of the United 



4 

States, would consent to the destruction of a policy believed to be indispensably neces- 
sary to their prosperity ? Let New England, the West, and the Middle States, together 
with the mammoth States of New York and Pennsylvania, become firmly persuaded that 
their industry was paralyzed and their prosperity blighted, by the enforcement of the 
British colonial system, under the delusive name of free trade — let them feel that they 
were the victims of a mistaken policy, and despair of any favorable change^ and " then, 
indeed, might we tremble for a continuance of the Union." 

" Here," in the language of an eminent statesman, now deceased, " was an appaling 
picture presented : dissolution of the Union on either hand; and one or tBe other of the 
alternatives obliged to be taken. If persisted in, the opponents to the protective system 
at the South were to make the dissolution: if abandoned, its friends at the North were 
to do it!" 

With this brief reference to the condition of the country at the time, we shall the 
better appreciate the course of Mr. Bell, as a representative in Congress, at that perilous 
crisis : 

" This debate," said Mr. Bell, " it seems to me, was not commenced in the most fortu- 
nate spirit, nor has it been conducted altogether in the manner which the nature and 
intrinsic delicacy and difficulty of the subject demanded. A disposition has been mani- 
fested, and sentiments avowed by some gentlemen, equally unexpected and abhorrent to 
my feelings. It has been openly attempted to prejudice this question by holding it up 
as a contest between free labor and slave labor ; between laboring States and those whose 
citizens, it is alleged, do not labor. It is openly and vauntingly proclaimed, by one gen- 
tleman, to the complaining sections and interests, that, if they shall not be content to 
abide by what he is pleased to call the established policy of the country, " they may 
take the consequences ! " Sir, I am no alarmist, but when I reflect upon all I see and 
hear connected with this subject, when I look to the growing distractions of the country, 
I feel myself justified in designating the sum of what I shall say upon this question, as 
a plea for the Union! Upon such a subject — upon an occasion so interesting — I shall not 
consider myself as the representative of any particular section or interest; I shall not 
consider myself either as a tariff or anti-tariff man. I claim to be considered and to be 
heard as a representative of the whole country, most anxiously concerned for its perma- 
nent prosperity, its stability and glory. I claim to be heard as the advocate of higher 
interests than those which are the immediate subject of consideration. It is no longer a 
question whether the farmer shall get seventy-five cents or one dollar and twenty-five 
cents a bushel for his wheat ; whether the wool grower shall receive forty or seventy- 
five cents a pound for his wool ; whether the planter shall get eight or twelve cents a 
pound for his cotton ; or whether the manufacturer shall make twelve and a half or 
twenty per cent, upon his capital. The interests of wool and of woolens, of cotton, of 
iron, of sugar, and of the whole range of domestic products, sink into insignificance in 
comparison with those which now force themselves upon our attention, and claim our 
guardian care and protection. The interests of domestic peace, of free Government, of 
liberty itself, are involved in this question." 

STATE OF THE UNION IN 1832. 

" What, then, Mr. Chairman, is the state of the Union? In a time of profound peace- 
* * * * in the midst of the greatest abundance of all the necessaries and 
even comforts of life, that God in his providence ever decreed to be the rewards of virtue 
and industry" " discontents, jealousies, and rancorous sectional hates have arisen and 
are encouraged. Fostered by these unhappy feelings, disaffection to the Government 
itself makes a slow but steady progress in the hearts of thousands of honest and patri- 
otic citizens. A want of confidence in the mutual justice and forbearance of brethren of 
the same political family manifests itself. Confidence in our system, consequently, io 
every quarter, has diminished and is diminishing. Men's minds are set to work in new 
and unwonted channels, and upon new theories of Government, for a country of such a 
diversity of pursuits and interests ; upon theories thought to be exploded, or rendered 
useless, by the practical operation of the established government, until lately. The value 
of the Union itself, its date, and the consequences of its disruption, begin to be tolerated 
and canvassed in private discourse — nay, in public debate in this Hall, when, but as yes- 
terday in the period of our existence as an independent people, to breathe such discourse 
would have been thought little less than downright blasphemy." 

Condition of Parties in 1832 — Extreme doctrines of the infallibility of the Supreme Court on 
the one hand and of Nullification on the other. 

" It is now more than forty years," continued Mr. Bell, " since the adoption of the 
Constitution, and has the contest between the original elements of party, as I have de- 
scribed them, ceased ? I answer, no ! The war between them, acquiring new vigor from 



the infusion of selfish, political, and mercenary calculation?, on both sides, has, at this 
moment, reached its highest and most critical juncture. In some, sections the whole 
country is in a state of mental conflagration. In the intensity of the conflict between 
the extremes, the leaders on the side of the republican or vanquished party — for van- 
quished they are — cry out, and departing from the sjnrit of the Constitution, proclaim their 
determination to accept no compromise; while, on the other side, the victors, the majority — 
that majority which holds the destiny of this country in their hands, more calm, equally 
determined, but with less excuse or reason, announce their determination to yield 
nothing? Yes, sir, in the face of an imploring country, the majority proclaim that rather 
than one jotror tittle of the powers they exercise, or the advantages they enjoy, shall 
pass away, they are ready to stand the hazard of the entire overthrow of the whole fabric 
of our policy and of our glorious Republic. We, too, they proclaim, will make no com- 
promise, and ' let the minority take the consequences I ' This is the language of those 
who control the issues of all that is dear to the patriot, and who are able to dictate the 
pages of the future history of this country. It is not surprising that in a contest which 
menaces the repose of the country, the leaders, on both sides, should start new and un- 
tried theories, for the purpose of effecting their respective objects. Accordingly, we find 
that on the side of the victors, in order to secure the benefits of their conquest forever, 
the doctrine of the infallibility of the Supreme Court is avowed as the only means of 
securing the stability of the Government. On the side of the vanquished or republican 
])arty, the doctrine of nullification has been invented, and is proclaimed as the only 
infallible mode of efifecting the same object. These are the tests to which all questions 
of power under the Federal Government are proposed to be brought for final decision. 
But is it not manifest that both these newly invented doctrines are equally hostile to the 
spirit of the Constitution ? Not to the Union, for both parties, I verily believe, are friendly 
to the Union, but to a Union upon their own terms! Is it not manifest that this is a con- 
test between two extremes, equally distant from the true medium point of the Constitu- 
tion?" 

Importance to the country of a Middle or Moderate party. — Moderation aiid Compromise the 
only salvation for the Country. 

" Mr. Chairman, in the almost interminable waste of hqpe which lies before us, there 
is one bright spot to which the patriot may direct his eye, in some confidence that relief 
may come. In all the past civil strifes and revolutions which have agitated this countrj', 
and sometimes threatened its institutions, there has always been a moderate party of 
suSicient strength and influence to turn the balance between the extremes, and to impress 
upon the action of the Government some portion of that spirit of moderation and compro- 
mise which are characteristic of the constitution itself. This middle er moderate party is 
never in much esteem with the extremes on either side. It is said to be composed of 
men who are more disposed to submit to oppression, than to preserve unimpaired the 
rights of freemen. Still, to this party I choose to cling ; and we shall see who will prove 
the stoutest defenders of the liberties of the country. This party has always found its 
support in the good sense and moderation of the great body of the people. It has, in 
fact, owed its existence to the sound practical judgment and good feeling v.-hich, I trust, 
notwithstanding the vices of the time, still constitute the leading traits in the American 
population. It has been the sound, uncorrupted sentiment of the great bndy of the 
American people, which has always, heretofore, stepped in between the comb itant lead.- 
ers, and brought them to terms of compromise. It is this public sentiment which has 
still caused the republican party, when in power, to become less rigid in their construc- 
tion of the Constitution, than when in opposition. It is the same public sentiment which, 
when the federal party, being in power, have indulged their enlarging propensities too 
fiir, either displaced them, or restrained their action within reasonable limits. I trust 
there yet remains a portion of that pure and unaffected public sentiment to preserve the 
country from the confusion and discord which now menace it. The contest may become 
even more violent. What to-day is only a breeze of popular discontent, may to-morrow 
swell into a very tornado, threatening to overthrow and prostrate in the dust all the 
sacred edifices dedicated to freedom on this side of the Atlantic I But still my trust is 
in the solidity of the-ir foundations." 

The duties of American statesmen. 

" To calm,'' said Mr. Bell, " the rising elements of discontent ; to assuage the feverish 
symptoms of the body politic, is the business of every American statesman. An Ameri- 
can statesman ! Who and what are the duties and attributes of an American statesman 
at this day? They are, or they ought to account themselves the high-priests of liberty, 



6 

a'iiniu!rtii;r\ug her rights tor the benefit of her disciples in every country ; for this favor- 
ite people first, and then for all nations, tiuch is the high and noble ca'lHng of an Amer- 
ican statesman. What is the first great care of an American statesman? To preserve 
our free in!<tituHons. 1 will not go into an argument to show that the only effective mode of 
discharging tJm great tm'st i^ to preserve and cherish the Union. That is an axion in Ameri- 
can politic.-;, I trust, too firmly established to be 09-erthrown by the theories of any new 
professors in the science, however distinguished for genius and talents. What is the 
next great duty of American statesmen? tio to administer their ofhces as to secure com- 
fort and happiness to the greatest possible number of the citizens of this free country. 
These are the wh'olc law and the prophets for the guidance of our statesmen. These are 
the sum of all the commandments in the book of our political faith." 

Majorities and Miyiorilies. — He counsels mutual concession for the safety of the Union. 
" I maintain that each representative is, by the theory of the Government, a repre- 
.■^entative of the whole people of the (,'nited States ; that the principle of a representation 
by .State.-^ or districts was adopted for convenience in making the selection of representa- 
tives by the people, and for the purpose of securing to the National Legislature that 
knowledge of the interests, sentiments, and condition of the' whole country, which can 
be only had through a representative chosen by each small section or district. The in- 
t'lests and conditions of each section are entitled to be considered and respected in the 
l''gislative enactments, but only in the proportion which they hear to the aggregate in- 
terests and sections. It may and often must happen in the career of this Government, 
without any concert or design, that a majority, either large or small, shall fashion the 
legislation of the country and administer the Government in reference to their own in- 
terests, without a 'due regard to the interests and condition of sections represented by 
the minority; but this is an evil which is necessarily incidental to all societies and all 
governments, great or small. But, sir, Avhen, in this country, a majority of the repre- 
sentatives of the different sections in Congress shall admit the principle, and establish it 
in practice, that it is their right and privilege to consult the interests and prosperity of 
the sections and ijiterests which they represent exclusively, from that moment the action 
of the Government becomes vicious and tyrannical. Congress can no longer be held up 
as the great council in which the rights and interests of the whole people may be con- 
sulted. The Government ceases to fulfill the ends of its creation, and the proscribed 
interests and sections must bf expected to redress their grievances in any manner they 
are able. There is no example in history of the submission of a minority, under such 
circumstances, when it had the power of redress. Whether those in the minority shall 
be able to redress the grievances in any way, always depends upon circumstances. In 
the present case, I know not whether it is to be regarded as good or evil fortune, that 
the proscribed interests and sections lie in a compact form, constituting many contigu- 
ous States, giving them facilities for redress which no other circumstances could afford. 
If the present action of the Government is to continue with unabated energy and vigor, 
it is surely fortunate that the means of redress are convenient and acceptable to the op- 
pressed interests; but if under the smart of temporary injustice the bands which bind the 
Union shall be precipitately sundered, all earth may well deplore and curse the fatal 
facilitie* for so instant and fatal a remedy. I trust there is no settled purpose in any 
portion of the oppressed sections, to avail themselves of the means of redress which they 
may have at their disposal ; but I conjure those who sway the power of the House, seri'- 
ously and earnestly to consider the alternative of modifying a system of policy sustained 
upon the principle 1 have described, or of beholding, sooner or later, the Union broken 
up, and this last and noblest sanctuary of freedom polluted and destroyed. I trust I do 
not offend by lifting up an admonitory voice upon this subject at this alarming juncture 
of our affairs. I speak in the sincerity and with the fervency which belong to the rep- 
resentatives of a portion of the people of this country, who, so far from having any dis- 
position to countenance disunion, regard such a catastrophe as the last and direst 
calamity which fate can have in store for their country, short of absolute slavery and 
oppression. But they cannot close their eyes to the dangers which stare them in the 
face, and they invoke, through me, their brethren everywhere — of every quarter of the 
country, of every party and of every pursuit — to concede something to this greatest common 
interest, the safety of the Union." 

Jn the same speech from which the foregoing extracts are taken, Mr. Bell said, the 
"immediate and practical question" before Congress and the country was as to "the 
degree of protection which ought to be given to manufactures, under all the circumstances 
of the country" — whether the then existing tariff system should be "enforced with rigor, 
or in a spirit of.i'oncessiou and moderation." Believing the system to have been pushed 
to an extreme, and seeing, as he said, that it had "been the means of bringing the country 
to the very verge of disunion," he expressed his "strong conviction of the necessity, in 



the existing state of the country, of modifying it." It was modified by the celebrated 
Compromise Tariff Act, which was passed very shortly afterwaajfls. When, however, 
under the practical workings of this act, the degree of protection afforded by it, fell 
below "a just and expedient standard," Mr. Bell favored the policy of raising it to that 
standard. 

Extremt* of Party in 1 832. —Nullification and the Force Bill. 

Three years afterwards, in his celebrated speech at VauxhfiU, Nashville, referring to 
the excesses to which the protective system had been carried — to Nullification which 
grew out of those excesses, and to the Force Bill which grew out of Nullification, Mr. 
Bell said: 

"I have not yet shown how it happened, that the questions which have arisen within 
the last ten years came to excite so unusual a degree of heat and violence. Need I at- 
tempt this seriously? What! have we so soon forgotten, that while the party to which 
we belong [the Jackson party;] while it was contending for the mastery, and even for 
years afterwards, in some of the large States in which the contest was most fierce and 
doubtful, each party, one in order to gain, and the other to maintain, party ascendency, 
and both utterly regardless of all other consequences, contended which should go farthest 
in the support of both branches of the American system, the tariff and internal improve- 
ment? In all history, there is not a more striking and characteristic instance of the 
absurd and headstrong spirit of party. In regard to the tariff, all men of unprejudiced 
feelings and judgment must have seen, and did see, from the first, that the result would 
be either a re-action which might reduce it below a just and expedient standard, or that 
the Union itself would be severed. The immediate consequences of the extremes into 
which the supporters of the tariff, in one section of the Union, were driven, in a struggle 
for political power, was to excite an extreme antagonist action in another section. The 
leaders in the anti-tariff region sought to counteract the excesses to which they saw the 
protective policy was likely to be carried by a combination in its favor, between both 
political partiesto the North and East, thought it necessary to proceed to equal or greater 
extremes in order to protect the interests of the minority to the South. This state of 
parties gave birth to Nullification, by which the projectors of it sought to equalize the 
action of the Government, by questioning the validity of its regular enactments, and 
seeking to set them aside upon the authority of a separate State and local construction 
of the Federal power. Before a sufficient time was allowed for reason to resume her 
sway, in correcting the excesses into which the spirit of party had hurried both sides, so 
many political interests, so many personal views and resentments commingled in the 
strife, that an erAreme remedial action [the Force Bill] of the Government itself became 
a necesnart/ expedient, in the Judgment of moderate and unprejudiced men, though involving in 
its issues civil war, disunion, and a total overthrow of the Constitution." 



:f ,-lo'; -J.-lj/ii 



MR. BELL IN 1835. 
Extracts from a Speech delivered at Vauxhall, Nashville, on the 2'Sd of lifdi/, T!?35. 

KXCESSE3 OF PAKTY. 



"It will be a circumstance, in my course, to which, as long as I lire, I can nvert with 
conscious satisfaction, that I have ever opposed what appeared to me to be tli'i excesses 
in the party with which I have acted, with all the influence I could employ, .md in the 
only way in which I could do so without injury to its principles. While I have studied 
to make myself useful, I have never set myself up as a leader of (he party, or of a party." 

Moderation and a Spirit of Conciliation indispensably necessary in the Administration of the 

Government. , 

'•I have said that there was nothing in the questions which have arisen within the last 
eight or ten years in this country, necessarily productive of the extremes to which they 
have been carried. 1 re-affirm the proposition. Nor is there, from my observation, in 
the federative feature of our system, or in the extent of territory over which it operates, 
or even in the institution of slavery itself, as established in some of the States, taken 
together, or separately considered, which essentially impairs the prospects of harmony, 
duration, and a prosperous action of our system. If we except the danger to the local 
society into which slavery is admitted, there is no peculiarity in our condition from 
which we have anything to fear, except in connection with the designs of bad men, who have, 
or may acquire, an ascendency in one or the other of the two parties, which must ever 
have a decided influence upon the action of the Government. Even, then, some of these 



peculiarities are useful rather than injurious. They present formidable obstacles to the 
consolidation of powflf in any one set of men, or any party, founded upon unworthy or 
bad motives and principles. As long as moderation and the spirit of conciliation 
shall preside over the administration of the federal government, any faction which shall 
seek to divide the Union, either by rousing a sense of injustice and inequality in the 
action of the government in one section, or by seizing upon the delicate and inflammable 
question of slavery in the other, can always be shorn of its strength and defeated in its 
object, without the slightest convulsive sensation in our system." 

The Real Danger to our System of Oovernment. 

" The real danger to our system, as in every other system of free Government, is a 
violent party action of the government itself. A proscribed and disregarded minority, re- 
spectable for its numbers, its talents — and even for the virtues of many of its members, 
for virtue is never the exclusive attribute of any one party — such a minority is always 
tempted, in resentment for its real or imaginary wrongs, in redress for its violated privi- 
leges as American citizens, in being deprived of all actual participation in the govern- 
ment of the country — compelled to obey laws and be the subjects of a policy, prescribed 
and directed exclusively by their opponents ; such a minority, I repeat, is constantly 
tempted to seize upon every vexed and irritating question, to make common cause with 
the spirit of fanaticism itself in an effort to right, or at all events, to avenge their inju- 
ries. This is the danger of our system." 



MR. BELL AND THE SLAVERY QUESTION— 1840. 
abolition petitions. 

The reader will note the difference between rejecting the prayer of a petition, and re- 
jecting or refusing to receive the petition itself. When, in 1790, three years after the 
adoption of the Constitution, the Society of Friends, of Pennsylvania, forwarded a peti- 
tion to Congress praying its interference with the African slave trade, the petition was 
received^ although it contained an unconstitutional request — Congress being expressly 
prohibited by the Constitution, for twenty years to come, from meddling with the slave 
trade. No question as to the reception of this petition was made, although its reference 
or commitment to a committee, with a view to its being reported upon, was vehemently 
opposed by some of the Southern members, on the ground that it asked Congress to do 
that which was unconstitutional. Mr. Madison advocated its reference : 

"Gentlemen," he said, '/might vote for the commitment [or reference] of the petition 
without any intention of supporting the prayer of it." 

On a subsequent day, the debate still continuing, Mr. Madison said : 

"The debate has taken a serious turn, and it will be owing to this alone, if an alarm 
is created ; for, had the memorial been treated in the usual way, it would have been 
considered as a matter of course, and a report might have been made so as to have 
given general satisfaction. * * * * -x- * * xhe petition 

prayed in general terms, for the interference of Congress, so far as they were constitu- 
tionally authorized ; but even if its prayer was in some degree unconstitutional, it might 
be committed, as was in the case of Mr. Churchman's petition, one part of which was 
supposed to apply for an unconstitutional interference by the General Government." 

From 1*790 down to 1335, when the question of the reception of abolition petitions was 
first made in the House of Representatives, all petitions, couched in decorous and respect- 
ful terms, were received by Congress, whatever their subject matter might be. This fact 
was stated by the late Felix Grundy, in a speech made by him, in the Senate of the 
United States, on the 2d of March, 1836, from which the following is an extract: 

MR. GRUNDY ON ABOLITION PETITIONS. 

" Therefore, if there were no constitutional doubts existing, (as to the right of Con- 
gress to refuse to receive the petitions,) he would, as a matter of expediency, vote to re- 
ceive the petitions, to be followed up with a vote to reject their prayer. But he con- 
fessed that the Constitutional right to refuse to receive a petition was very far from 
being clear. The right of petition existed before the formation of the Constitution. It 
was well understood by the frameTs of that instrument ; and although it only declares 
that Congress shall pass no laws to prevent citizens from peaceably assembling and pe- 
titioning for a redress of grievances, it never could have entered into their minds, that 
those to whom the petitions were to be addressed would refuse to receive them. Of what 



value is the right of petition, if those to whom petitions are addressed mil not receive 
them, and act upon them? The framers of the Constitution remembered that the Parlia- 
ment of Great Britain had passed liAvs prohibiting citizens from assembling, consulting, 
and petitioning for a redress of grievances. They recollected the acts, commonly called 
the riot acts, and therefore they inserted the provision contained in the Constitution. 
But it never entered into their minds that petitions, when signed, would not be received 
by those to whom they were addressed. It was a matter of very little consaguence to 
citizens that they are permitted to assemble and petition for a redress of gn*'ances, if, 
after they have done so, their petitions are not to be received or considered by those 
who have the power to act upon the subject-matter of the petition. To his mind these 
arguments were too strong to be disregarded'; and he was unwilling to give the Aboli- 
tionists the benefit of them. At present they have no foundation on which to stand. 
They are giving way to the pressure of the public intelligence in the non-holding States. 
But if we shall enable them to blend the right of petition with their abolition schemes, 
they may raise a storm which will shake the very foundation of this Government. From 
the year 1790 down to the present day, all petitions have been received by this body 
which were respectful and decorous, whatever the subject-matter of the petition might 
be; and at every session, the petition of the Society of Friends, clothed in similar lan- 
guage with the present one, has been received. Mr. G. would not depart now from the 
established usage. He considered the reception of the petition and the rejection of the 
prayer as the strongest course against abolition that could be adopted." 

To the same conclusion with Mr. Grundy — namely, that the petitions ought to be re- 
ceived and acted upon, came Mr. Bell, as will be seen by the following extract of a letter 
written by him to the late Hon. Geo. R. Gilmer, of Georgia, in 1840, and published in a 
number of the newspapers of the day : 

MR. BELL IN 1840 ABOLITION PETITIONS, 

"When the'abolitionmoYement'at the North had reached a point of excitement which 
began to be felt in Congress, I was actively engaged in the canvass between Judge White 
and Mr. Van Burcn. The question was of such a nature as to render it almost imppssi- 
ble, in an assembly composed of so many ardent and impulsive spirits as the Congress 
of the United States, that it should not become, in some shape or degree, connected with 
the party conflicts of the day. Some of my most valued and cherished friends thought 
Mr. Van Buren fairly and justly assailable in the South, on the ground of his vote to in- 
struct the Senators of New York against the admission of Missouri. The favor which 
his friends and supporters at that time showed to abolition petitions, by voting for their 
reception, and also for their reference under Pincknej^'s resolution, appeared to them to 
afford a proper ground of attack before the people. I remonstrated earnestly with my 
friends against the policy of such a course, and against any proceeding whatever which 
might tend to bring about a division of parties, to any extent, upon such a delicate, not 
to say dangerous issue. ***-x-****-5(-** 

"At the period to which I refer, (1836,) the opposition to Mr. Van Buren in the South 
and Southwest, with few exceptions, took the position that the right of petition did not 
exist in this case. This opinion was maintained upon the ground that Congress had no 
right to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia ; and it was contended that a peti- 
tion to do an unconstitutional act was not entitled to notice, and ought not to be re- 
ceived. The argument was carried still further. It was strenuously urged that the ad- 
mission of the power to abolish slavery in the district would be fatal to the South. 

" My opinion was, that whether the petitioners had strict right on their side or not, 
sound policy dictated the reception and reference of their petitions. I believed that any 
unusual course in regard to them would give undue importance to the movements of the 
abolitionists, furnish new ground for agitation, and rather increase the existing excite- 
ment than allay it." 

Under these convictions, Mr. Bell only, of all the southern representatives in Congress, 
(save Mr. Bouldin, of Vii'ginia,) voted against the second clause of the fifth of 

THK ATHEP.TON RESOLnTIONS, 

which provided, that all petitions " relating in any way or to any extent whatever to 
slavery as aforesaid, or the abolition thereof, should, on the presentation thereof, with- 
out any further action thcroon, be laid on the table, without being debated, printed, or 
referred." 

The origin of these Atherton resolutions was as follows : On the night of the 8th of 
December, 1838 — Martin Van Buren being President — there was a meeting in Washing- 
ton of a few administration members of the House of Representatives from the South and 



10 

a few from tbe Nortt. The meeting was called at the instance of the Hon. R B Rhett 
of South Carolina, who, since the days of nullification, has had the strongest proclivities 
towards disunion, and is now an open disunionist, to consider certain resolutions which 
(he had prepared on the subject of slavery. The resolutions were considered and adopted 
ajid as It was deemed expedient that they should be oflfered by a northern man Mr' 
Atherton, of New Hami>shire, was selected for that purpose. Accordingly, he presented 
them to the House three days afterwards, made a speech explanatorv o/ his reasons for 
•Gftenng tliem, and concluded by calling the previous question, so as"to cut off all debate 
^n.d amendments. Gov. Wise was at that time a Whig representative from Virginia 
He denounced the whole proceeding in the most indignant terms on the floor of the 
House ; and on a subsequent occasion, in a public address to a portion of his constitu- 
ents, he stated that these resolutions were prepared in secret, so far as the Whig repre- 
sentatives from the South and North were concerned, and agreed upon by some few or 
more Van Buren men of the South, with others from the North, without permitting the 
Whig slave-holding members of the South to know anything of the matter, until it was 
sprung upon the House, with a call for the previous question. He said these resolu- 
tions, thus prepared and brought forward, were "the first of a strict party proceedino- " 
known to our national history. . "' 

This was the first organized effort at slavery agitation for strictly party purposes. The 
concoctors and authors of the proceedings were southern Democrats, who contrived to 
secure the co-operation of a portion of the northern Democrats of the House. Mr Rhett 
who prepared the resolutions, is a confessed disunionist. Mr. Atherton who was in- 
duced to offer them, voted in 1847 for the Wilmot Proviso. And Mr. Van Buren of 
whose administration the parties to the movement were all supporters, became in ■1848 
the Froesoil candidate for the Presidencj, on the Buffalo platform— receiving the support 
of a majority of the Democracy of New York over Gen. Cass. 

The same patriotic considerations which moved Mr. Bell to vote against the clause iu 
the Atherton resolutions, impelled him to vote against the famous 

TWENTY-FIRST RULE 
of the House of Representatives, which was as follows : 

** That no petition, memoriiil, or resolution, or other paper, praying the abolition of 
slavery in the District of Columbia, or any State or Territory, or the slave-trade between 
the States or Territories of the United States, in which it now exists, shall be received 
by this House, or entertained in anj way whatever." 

The rule was adopted, in a House where parties were nearly balanced, by 114 yeas to 
108 nays— Messrs. Bell and Gentry, of Tennessee, and Anderson, Calhoun"; and Under- 
wood, of Kentucky, being the only southern representatives who voted in the neo-ative 

At the next Congress, (the 27th) the House being Whig, the rule was again ad^opted 

At the next Congress, (the 28th) on the 3d of December, 1844, on motion of John 
Qiiincy Adams, the rule was rescinded by a vote of 108 yeas to 80 nays. 

In the House by which the rule was rescinded by this very decided majoritv the 
IJenwcrats had a majority of two-thirds ! ' . ' ' 

The grounds upon which the rule was rescinded by this overwhelmingly Democratic- 
House had been very fully discussed by leading Democrats from the free States at the 
preceding session of the same Congress. Among these was a distinguished Democratic 
representative from New York, the late Samuel Beard.slkt, who, in a speech delivered 
on the 5th of January, 1844, said : 

" What has the refusal to receive these petitions done, but to create perpetual strife 
and denunciation? * * * * * * ^- * 

The remedy of driving petitioners out of doors is a wrong course ; it is affronting to 
them and in my vicnv a violation of the Constitution. It never will end agitation either 
here or elsewhere. I, therefore, would beseech and entreat of the South to change the 
question. I pray them to consider and respect the right of petition." 

The rescinding of the rule was strongly advocated by another distinguished Democrat, 
the Hon. J. A. Wright, of Indiana, now United States Minister at Berlin, who was at 
that time a member of the House of Representatives, and who used the following lan- 
guage : 

" You now see, since the adoption of this rule in 1840. these misera'ble fanatics and 
enthusiasts going through the country, setting up their notices and placards, large .hs life 
and in all these announcements, they are for lectures to be given on the riffht of peti- 
tion— the right of petition. Thus we have an issue made whollr different from that of 



11 

abolition. And I now ask gcnllemen to say whether they insist on this false Issue ? 
Will they press the question in this shape? I ask them to change, and to meet the 
question in some other way — either, as Mr. Grundy says, by rejecting the prayer of the 
petition, after the recejHion, or by some direct vote putting the matter to rest. For one, I 
am determined to vote so as to give this question its true appearance. I have a sovereign 
contempt for these wild, deluded, enthusiastic abolitionits ; yet I cannot vote for the 
rule. / leant to take this weapon out of their hands, and let them stand forth on their own 
principles; and if they had not this rule, or question of the right of petition, (connected 
as it is with their movements) they would not be worth iu a short time a passing notice. 
********** 
" I hope that gentlemen see this question as understood by the people ; that it is not re- 
garded as one of abolitionism, but one of petition. And it becomes the duty of this 
House to change the issue. It is now regarded by the great mass of the people of the 
free States as a blow struck at what they consider as the right of every citizen in this 
country — the right to be heard." ,« 

Upon these grounds, thus earnestly urged by the Democratic leaders of the free States, 
the famous Twenty-First Rule, after a four years' trial, was rescinded by a House of Rep- 
resentatives numbering two Democrats for every Whig ! And it was in this way, by 
actual remits, and the votes of an overwhelmingly Democratic House, that the course of 
Mr. Bell on the subject of abolition petitions was most signally vindicated ! 

SLAVERY AGITATION .STRIKING ILLUSTRATION OF MR. BELL'S FORESIGHT. 

The letter from Mr. Bell to Gov. Gilmer, above referred to, was written and published 
just twenty years ago. In it there occur the following passages : 

"The deliberate and persevering obstinancy with which the supporters of the Adminis- 
tration [Martin Van Buren's] in the slave States persist in making abolition one of the 
issues between the two great parties which now divide the country, I consider wicked 
and mischievo'M in the highest degree. * * * What ought to be the measure of indignation 
and punishment which should be dealt out to those holloio and false guardians of southern 
interests, who ivill, for the sake of a trifling party advantage, put every thing to hazard by 
perpetual agitation ? For there is, and always has been, quite a? much to be apprehended 
ou this subject from those who agitate the question on political account, in the South, as 
from the abolitionists themselves. 

I have been a member of Congress, as you know, from the commencement of the agi- 
tation upon the subject. I have witnessed all that has taken place in Congress in rela- 
tion to it. I saw, and I think I fully understood, the game that was playing by some 
gentlemen, but I was not inclined to take part in it, because I thought the stakes too 
high. It was a common impression that the first movements of the abolitionists at the 
North were not looked upon with any deep regret by a portion of our fellow-citizens of 
the South. The fanatic spirit was rather provoked than deprecated. The North 
without distinction, was freely charged with a feeling of settled hostility to southern in- 
terests ; and many injurious reflections were cast upon their motives, calculated to give 
strength to the cause of the fanatics, by uniting with them a more rational and calcu- 
lating class of the Northern people. The motive to this policy in the South, to whatever 
extent it was adopted, was, beyond all doubt, to combine the South and Southwest more 
closely in their political movements and preferences. I then thought the experiment a 
dangerous one, regarding it in a political view only; for it struck me that, if the ambi- 
tious aspirants of the North should take it into their heads to play the same sort of game 
in retaliation, the South would soon be thrown into a settled minority, and forthwith 
deprived of political power. 

To these views, entertained and published by Mr. Bell, twenty years ago, we ask the 
candid attention of the people of the slave-holding States, as eminently v/orthv of their 
grave consideration at the present juncture, and as pouring a flood of light upon .Mr. 
Hell's whole course upon the slavery question. He saw the "game "which the Tari 

Bureu leaders of the Southern Democracy would play with slavery agitation a game 

for party purposes — and foretold what would be the result, if persisted in. He reo-arded 
it as a most dangerous and reckles.? game for the South ; for it struck him, •' that'^if the 
ambitious aspirants at the North should take it into their heads to play the same sort of 
game in retaliation, the South would be thrown into a settled minority, and forthwith 
deprived of political power." 

The southern Democratic aspirants would, however, persist iu the game, until northern 
aspirants took it into their heads to play the same in retaliation, and the result has been 
that Freemont came near being elected to the Presidency in 185G, and that Lincoln may 



12 

possibly be elected in 1860 — in which event those "hollow and false guardians of 
southern interests " who originated the game — who have been industriously playing it 
ever since, and who have put up their last stakes upon it now, have announced their in- 
tention to break up the Union, if they can ! 

The people of the South can thus fully understand why Mr. Bell has, through the 
whole of his long public life, uniformly opposed the making of unnecessary or immete- 
rial issues between the iSouth and the North on the subject of slavery. Does not the 
present unhappy and alarming state of the Union conclusively prove, that Mr. Bell, in 
pursuing that course, has shown himself to be a most sagacious and patriotic stateman, 
and a true and loyal son of the South ? 

THE SLAVERY QUESTION IN 1850. 

In the Senate of the United States on the 3d, 4th, 5th and 6th days of July, 1850, Mr. 
Bell gave his views on the slavery question in all its varied aspects. His opinions on 
all the material points inv(^ed in the subject will be found in the passages from his 
speech which we proceed to give: 

Territorial Rights of the South. 

"In the opinion of by far the greater number of the most eminent jurists of the United 
States, the laws of Mexico prohibiting slavery at the [time of] the cession are still in 
force, and must remain so until they are expressly repealed, either by Congress or the 
local legislature. This is the opinion of the distinguished Senator from Kentucky [Mr. 
Clay] himself. Such is the opinion of the scarcely less distinguished Senator from 
Michigan, [Gen. Cass;] and such is the opinion of the able and eminent statesman, the 
Senator from Massachusetts, [Mr. Webster;] three leading champions of this bill. I do 
not forget another Senator from the South, of high rank in his profession, [Mr. Badger,] 
Avho is also a supporter of this bill. Thus, sir, slavery, if it goes into New Mexico at all, 
must force its way there, in despite of all the obstructions of local laws, and of the 
interdict imposed by this bill on the territorial legislature. Still*it is contended that 
the South is secured in the full benefit of the doctrine held by some of the most dis- 
tinguished champions of its rights, who maintain that the GonstitMtion, proprio vigorc, 
that the flag of the Union protects the citizen in the enjoyment of his rights of property 
of every description recognised as such, in any of the States, on every sea, and in every 
territory of the Union. And this doctrine, it is said, is well founded, and if it shall be 
so declared by the Supreme Court, will authorize the introduction of slavery into New 
Mexico. The soundness of the general doctrine held upon this point, I think, cannot 
well be questioned or disproved; and if the question related to a territory situated as 
Oregon was, when the United States came into possession of it, property in slaves would 
be entitled to the protection of the laws and Constitution of the United States; but the 
question is more doubtful and formidable to the interests of the South, where it is raised 
in reference to New Mexico, where there has been ari organized society and government 
for two centuries, and where slavery was prohibited by the local sovereignty before and 
at the date of the -cession to the United States; and where under that prohibition slavery 
had ceased to exist. The Constitution, in its application to this Territory, is expected 
not merely to protect property in slaves, as in the case of Oregon, before there was any 
exercise of sovereignty upon the subject one way or the other, but to supercede the local 
laws in force prohibiting slavery, when the United States came into possession of it. If 
the obstructions interposed by these laws were removed, then the principles of the Con- 
stitution would be left to their full and fair operation, and the South might look, with 
some confidence, to the protection of slave property in this territory through the courts 
of the United fctates." 

Mr. Bell was in favor of removing these "obstructions," in order that the "principles 
of the Constitution" might be left "to their full and fair operation," and that "the South 
might look with some confidence to the protection of slave property in this territory, 
through the courts of the United States," as will appear by his vote in favor of the 
following amendment to the Compromise bill offered by Mr. Davis of Mississippi: 

"And that all laws, or parts of laws, usages or customs, pre-existing in the territories 
acquired by the United States from Mexico, and which in said territories restrict, abridge 
or obstruct the full enjoyment of any right of person or property'' of a citizen of the 
United States, as recognized or guaranteed hy the Constitution or laws of the United 
States, are hereby declared and shall be held as repealed." 

The yeas and nays on the adoption of this proposition to repeal or abolish the Mexican 
laws prohibitory of slavery, were as follows : 



13 

«* u-.^„ nv\i Rprripn Clemens, Davis of Mississippi, Dawson, Foote, 




same volume and page.] 

Tke cause of Freedom .rapped up in tke Constitution and tke Union-^^a Wretck u-l.o does not 
•' deserve to live. 

uTbe gentleman from Ohio, [Mr. Chase] New York [Mr Se.ard,] and ^^^^^^^^ 

[Mr.Hafe,]talk about the ^--J^xl'ras it m^ appe r^^ -e\hat 

Lbout the cause of freedom. .P^^'^/^^^^al as ^t may app .^ ^^^ ^ .^^^ 

concerns the cause ot freedom ^^J' nf L Luth to S and toil in Califoruia and New 
whether youwill permit a fe.v ^-^^^^^ ^^^^^^t The cause of freedom is wrapped 
Mexico, but it IS a question of freedom eve^wneie i^uj^arks-the Chinese wall 

1 T tm'^^Ttr reVrok^" own,?nrchTand Stary despotism become our in- 
ot ff ^*i«^-T, J^^'tirsTake t^^^ extent at issue now. If we allow faction-tanatical 

iXicede to nothing but what ^^S:^ ^^^^^^l^^^, difficulties, I would say 
"So, sir, I could dictate the course o Congress n t^^ pe^^^f conciUation. Let us 
let the adjustment be ^--^^^^^{^^^^^^^^ L permanent. Stay this agita- 

have some assurance that the P^omisea iiaii ^ ^^ system. Terminate this 

tion; allay this ^^^^^^^ ^1''^\'}tllfTrinov^^^^ If we of the South have 

suspense, which is ;-«;;> ,-^j;\-f^^i! to endure nothing; or if a better spirit actuates us, 
made up our '^''^'i^;?^^;^^^^^^. \^J^^ometSrng and to eAdure something, and yet cannot 
and we are prepared both to vieia 7'^^^'''"/ . prmitable arranoement, and they 

bring our northern ^^^eA^^" *'^ ^^^^ ^^^^..^f, Cever^ M ^^^^^^ '^^^' 

will continue to vex and harrass us, '^"^^^^^^J^^^t'^^gt-t^iil never come to this issue, 
us, to manage our own affairs in our own w-y^ I trust^t wi ^^ ^^^^.^^^^ ^^ 

Sir, to suppose that there - - -m^- «^ ,, adjustme/t of these ques- 

concede something ot ^'^ ,'7\^^*'Xd-es to which he may owe his position here, and 

HUMANITY AND JUSTICE OF THE DIFFUSION AND EXTENSION OF SLAVERY. 

1 i-„.»nt«i;=;tcj of the North, Avith all the countenance they re- 

" The fanatics and ^^^^'^J^^^J^jf ^^^ f oPPon^^ts of the institution of slavery, would 

ceive from the more just and ^^^^f ''^"'^"'^^fPu^t for their alliance with other auxiliary 

not have been able to conjure up ^h J ^^°™| -ealousies! the interests of party and per- 

and exciting elements of agitauon-sect^^^ by the appeals from 

sonal ambition. ^ ^ /.f^nm^n wrongs and the violation of human rights. I am 
the North upon the ^^^^ject of human wiongsa^^^^^^^^ ^^^ anti-slavery-extensiou policy of 
not to be misled as to the J^al ana true g ^ ^. ^ of freedom and the 

the North, by the fine f ""timents so often expressea on J^^.^ientious the anti- 

claims of humanity. I know, ^i' . th^tJiowe^JJ/^^; ^f ^^^^^^^ ^or a sentiment of 
slavery sentiment of the North may be ^^^^'^//^^^^^^^^^^ ^f the North. Were it pro- 



14 



th^^ policy of diffurnri ^^^^t::^^':'^^:::^;^:^'^^^''''' 



INVOKES THE JUSTICE OF THE NORTH. 



the period of southern asfendenrvintiv.r^H^ ' ^ ' T"^- '* "^^"^"^ ''^ disguised that 

. ^ u . . manliest, that a benator. who snoke n this HoKut« ^.^, u 

not forbear taunting the South with the prospect of their decfinlLfn.f I ^^^ 

HE HOLDS FAST TO THE CONSTITUTION. 

" But, Sir, as to myself, I shall hold fast to the Constitution until I see that it nn i. 

MR. BELL ON AFRICAN SLAVERY. 

q.H'v!!'?''^.';"*' ^ ''''''"°' conclude my remarks without taxing the indulgence of th^ 
Senate yet further m saying a few words upon the subject of that in^thntlon • . !u 

extension of which to the new territories, some gentlemen manifeTor;.^^^!"^ 
It has been denounced in this debate as a great moralTnd p^itica eil -^ ,, ' 

wrong and oppression to the race which are the subiects o? i? « m l\ ' ^ e^evous 
country which tolerates it, and a sin ^pon thrconSco-- o/tf ^ '^'"^- ''^''' *° '"^^ 
I am identified with this so much abtiL^d L^\ituTi"n?brr.y rlp^ern^tuv^po^^^^^^^^^ 

charges of my northern countrymen. * * * t^nef^reply loathe accusatory 

" For the purposes of my aVgument, the origin and progress of sl-verv in tha' tt ■. ^ 

States may be briefly told. Without pretending to accurfcv of le/a^irit Z \ "\''^ 

«w. native ha,^.3, w^re caught up and", ra'^^i^Vte^T t esc shtc, rel "d^'t'ol ^ at 
of bondage and they and their descendents held in slavery until this' dAvWi!!,j 

the race of their masters. Search the annals of all history, and .Merfrfo E S^X. ,? 
.tnJ.n, and .,ond^ful, one so .^orthy the contemplation of 'tie pMlosophZ 'ti: fuLUZ tt 



15 

VhTistiuii and the philanthropist 9 This great fact stands out boldly before the world ; and 
in the impressive language of the Senator from Missouri, (Mr. Benton,) it stanch for an 
ansxcer ; and it 7nust ever stand for an answer. Sir,, it can never be successfully ansivered. Has 
humanity cause to drop a tear over the record of this great fact ? Has Africa any cause to 
mourn ? 

" But there are some other and subordinate facts, fairly deducible from the greater 
and more prominent one, -which may likewise defy contradiction or answer. The rapid 
multiplication and improved lineaments of this people attest the fact, that the yoke of 
bondage has pressed but lightly upon them ; and that they have shared freelj', with their 
masters, of the fat of the land. Go, I repeat, and search the pages of historj', and where 
will you find a fact comparable to this? The history of the Hebrew bondage presents 
no parallel — nothing so wonderful. The family of Jacob (the germ of the Hebrew nation) 
were of a superior race, and civilized. There is one singular analogy, however, beside.^ 
that of bondage, which may be traced in the history of these two peoples. While the re- 
ligious institutions of the one forbade any amalgamation, social or political, with their 
masters and surrounding nations, nature, by laws more stringent and inexorable, forbids 
to the other any equality, social or political, with the race which holds them in bondage. 

"As to the lawfulness or sinfulness of the institution of slavery — M'hatever phrenzied 
or fanatic priests, or more learned and rational divines may preach, whatever they may 
affirm of Christian precepts or moral and religious duties and responsibilities ; whatever 
interpretation of the law of nature or of Almighty God they may announce ; whatever 
doctrines or theories of the equality of human rights, and of the different races of man- 
kind, diversified as they are by complexion, by physical formation and mental develop- 
ment, infidel philanthropists, or the disciples of a transcendental creed of any kind, may 
hold or teach ; however they may dogmatize upon this hypothesis, and declare it to be 
a violation of the law of nature, for any one race, with whatever superiority of mental or 
physical faculties that may be endued, to subjugate those of an inferior grade, and make 
them the instrument of improvement and amelioration in their own condition, as well 
as in that of masters or conquerors, in carrying forward the great work of civilization^ 
until we shall be enlightened by revelation from a higher source than themselves, I must 
claim the privilege of interpreting the law of nature by what I see revealed in the history 
of mankind from the earliest period of recorded time, uncontradicted by Divine authority. 
I must interpret that law according to the prominent facts connected with the subject, 
ns they have stood out in the past, and as they stand out before us at this day. Looking 
through the eyes of history, I have seen slavery or involuntary servitude, the hand- 
maid of Hindoo, Egyptian Assyrian, Jewish, Greek and Roman civilization. I have seen 
the institution recognized by the theocratic government of the Jews — the chosen depo- 
sitaries of the Word of Life — by democratic Athens and republican Rome. I have seen, 
upon the overthrow of Roman civilization by the savage hordes of the north, that those 
new masters of western Europe and their successors, adopted and continued to uphold 
the same institution, under various modifications, adapted to the changing condition of 
both slave and master, and still under an adyancing civilization, until a comparatively 
recent period. I see the same institution tolerated and maintained in eastern Europe, 
at this day. I see the native race of all British India, at this moment, bowing the neck 
under a system of quasi slavery. But above all, I have seen here— on this continent, and 
in these United States, the original lords of the soil subdued — some of them subdued to 
slavery, others expelled, driven out, and the remnant still held in subordination ; and all 
this under an interpretation of the law of nature, which holds good at this day among 
our northern brethren ; and I have yet in reserve that great fact to which I have already 
alluded — three millions of the African race, whose labor is subject to the will of masters, 
under such circumstances that their condition cannot be changed, though their masters 
should will it, without destruction alike to the interests and welfare of both master and 
slave. These are the lights by which I read and interpret the law of nature. 

" Now, sir, permit me to say a few words upon the effects of this institution upon the 
country which tolerates it. To the great fact to which I have more than once alluded, 
conjoined with the system of equal laws, which our ancestors brought to these shores 
perfected and consolidated at the Revolution, and by the adoption of the present form 
of Union, we are indebted — the world is indebted for that other great phenomenon in the 
history of the rise and progress of nations ; a phenomenon, in all its bearings, not yet 
fully comprehended by the nations of the Old World, nor even by ourselves: and which, 
in all future time, will be the study and admiration of the historian and philosopher; I 
mean not the founding of a republic on these shores, so recently the abode only of 
savage and nomadic tribes, but its amazing growth and development ; its magic-like 
spring, from small beginnings — rising, as it were, by a single effort, by one elastic 
bound, into all the attributes of a first-rate power ; a great republican empire — able not 
only to maintain its rights of sovereignty and independence, by land and sea, against a 



16 

hostile world, but at the same time, by its example, shaking to their foundatious the 
despotic powers of the earth ; a great incorporation of freedom, dispensing its blessings 
to all mankind. Sir, the fable birth of Minerva, leaping in full panoply from the head 
of Jove, if a truth, and no fiction, would scarcely be more wonderful, or a greater mys- 
tery, without the clue which African slavery furnishes for the solution of it. 

" Sir, making all due allowances for American enterprise and the energies of free labor, 
with all the inspiring advantages of our favorite S3'stem of government, I doubt whether 
the power and resources of this country would have attained more than half their present extra- 
ordinary proportions, but for the so much reviled institution of slavery. Sir, your rich and 
varied commerce, external and internal ; your navigation ; your commercial marine, the 
nursery of the military ; your ample revenues ; the public credit ; your manufactures ; 
your rich, populous, and splendid cities — all, all may trace to this institution as their well- 
spring, their present gigantic proportions ; nourished and built up to their present amazing 
height and grandeur by the great staples of the South — the products of slave labor. 

" Yet, slavery, in every form in which it has existed from the primitive period of or- 
ganized society — from its earliest and patriarchal form to this time, in every quarter of 
the globe— and all its results — even the magnificent result of African slavery in the 
United States, is declared to be against the law of nature. Though contributing in a 
hundred varied forms and modes, through a period of thousands of years, to the amelio- 
ration of the condition of mankind generally; though sometimes abused and perverted, 
as all human institutions, even those of religion, are still contributing to advance the 
cause of civilization ; though, if you please, having its origin in individual cupidity, still 
mysteriously working out a general good; yet slavery and all its beneficent results are 
pronounced to be against the will of God, by those who claim a superior illumination 
upon the subject. This may be so ; but I must say that this conclusion, so confidently 
announced, is not arrived at in accordance with the Baconian method of reasoning, by 
which we are taught that from a great many particular and well-established facts in the 
physical economy, we may safely deduce a general law of physical nature ; and so of 
morals and government. It seems to my weak faculties, that it is rather an arrogant 
and presumptuous ari-angement of the ways of Providence, mysterious as we know them 
to be, for feeble man to declare, that that which has been permitted to exist and prosper 
from the beginning, among men and nations, is contrary to its will. 

" But whoever has studied the history of civilization, the progress of society — of laws 
and government — must have perceived that certain abstract or theoretic truths, whether 
in civil or religious policy, have been, and can only with safety to the ultirn#,te ends of 
all societies and governments, be unfolded by degrees, and adjusted at every step, ac- 
cording to the advance of society from its infancj' to a higher civilization and a more en- 
lightened comprehension — such as the equality of natural rights of self-government, and 
freedom of speech and opinion. These general truths, though they cannot be success- 
fully controverted at this day, yet, as they have been seldom admitted, in their length 
and breadth, in the practical operations of government, with success, some law-givers 
have been led to deny that they are found|d in reason; and when they have, at any time, 
been suddenly embraced by the controlling minds among the people, the misfortune has 
been that they were applied in excess, and without due regard to the actual condition 
of the people who were to be afifected: and hence they have, so far, failed of success in 
some of the most highly civilized nations of Europe. But it is more to the point to refer 
to the emancipation of the slaves of St. Domingo — one of the first explosive effects of the 
sudden recognition of the rights of man by the French people. It would be difficult to 
demonstrate, at this day, that the cause of humanity, or of human progress has been, in 
the slightest degree, promoted by the abolition of slavery in that fertile and beautiful 
island. It is, I believe, now pretty well understood, that British statesmen committed 
an error in the policy of West Indian emancipation, forced upon them by fanatical re- 
formers. They were driven to adopt a sentiment, instead of a practical truth, as the 
foundation of a radical change in the social condition of a people, who were not prepared 
either to appreciate or profit by it. Even the reformation in religion and church gov- 
ernment, commenced some three centuries ago, in the opinion of many of the most pro- 
found inquiries, has failed of that complete success which ought to have attended it, for 
the reason that the general truths and principles upon which it was founded were ap- 
plied in excess. The zealous champions of reform, in throwing aside all ceremonies and 
observances which affect the senses, and in spiritualizing too much, there is reason to 
believe, have stayed the progress of substantial reform, and checked the spread of reli- 
gious restraints upon the evil passions of men. But this is a delicate subject, and I 
must forbear. 

" These examples may show that there are certain abstract truths and principles which, 
however incontrovertible in themselves, like every other good thing, may be, and often 
are, misconceived and abused in their application. It is the business of statesmen, in 



17 

every countrj'. to apply them with safety, and to give them the utmost practical inflnence 
and effect coiasistent with the existing state of society. The most interesting illustratioa 
of this sentiment, and the most striking example of the superiority of practical troth 
over theoretic axioms, in the formation of government, to be found in all history — and 
one which chiims the special attention uf the people of this country at this moment— was 
exhibited by our ancestors, when, with their own recognition of the aljstract truth of the. 
equality of'uatural rights still vibrating on their- tongue?,' they j-et fearlessly set their 
seals to a covenant of union between these States, containing an express recognition of 
slavery, I say express recognition; because, whatever the Jesuitical doctors of the 
North may say. the clauses in the Constitution relating to the importation of persons un- 
der certain limitations, and fixing the basis of direct taxes and representation in Con- 
gress, I aSirm, do amount to an express recognition of slavery." 

Search the debates of Congress on this exciting subject from 1T90 down to the present 
time — examine diligently the speeches of the most distinguished leaders of the southern 
'Democracy, Mr. Calhoun and his coropeers — pore over all that has been said and written 
by the whole tribe of southern politicians v.'ho have made it a part of their business, in 
season and out of season, to instil into the southern ear doubts and suspicions of Mr. 
Bell's " soundness on the slavery question,'' and say if, among them all, there can be 
found so masterly a refutation of the accusatory charges urged against the people of 
the South on account of the existence in their midst of the institution of African slavery. 

MR. BELL IN 1854— THE KANSAS-NEBRASKA BILL. 

We come now to what may justly be considered as the most important act of Mr, 
Bell's public life — his opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska act, A few brief passages 
from the two speeches made by him in the Senate on that memorable occasion will suffice 
to place before the people of the South (where his vote against the bill has been made 
the subject of bitter coudemnation) the motives and reasons by which he was governed. 
Hear him, fellow-citizens : 

Repeal of the Missouri Compromise — A great practical question — Its probable results con- 
sidered. 

"If this measure shall appear to be as important to the interests of the country as ita 
friends assume, 1 shall feel no embarrassment arising from any of the questions to which 
I have just alluded, in giving my support to the principle of non-intervention, embraced 
in the provisions of the bill before the Senate. I think it is a wise and expedient prin- 
ciple, for general application, and upon this point, it will be perceived, that there is no 
difl'erence between myself and any of my Southern friend;. It is not a new principle. It 
was the principle adopted in the compromise acts of 1850, and had my full concurrence 
and suppoi't. But in the application of this principle to the Territories proposed to be 
organized by this bill, in order to give it a free and unembarrassed operation, it is pro- 
posed to repeal the Missouri Compromise; and thus a great practical question is directly 
J)resented; and one which, above all others, claims the dispassionate consideration and 
reflection of every statesman of the country, north and south: Is it wise, is it expedient to 
disturb the Missouri Compromise? Does the repeal of the slavery rcstrictioii clause of the act of 
1820 promise such important and beneficent results to the country that all objections should be 
yielded? " 

1 Missouri restriction unjust to the South. 

. "Sir, it is contended that by applying the principle of non-intervention to the Terri- 
tories, we shall harmonize the action of the government by conforming it to the principle 
of the compromise acts of 1850. Admitted. It is said that the slavery restriction clause 
of the act of 1820 was a violation of the obligations of the treaty by which France ceded 
to the Dnited States the Territory of Louisiana, I admit it. It is contended that the 
restriction upon slavery imposed by the Missouri Compromise was unjust to the South. 
That is also true. 

The attempt of the North in 1820 to interdict slavery in Missouri, as a condition of her 
Admission into the Union, and the continued resistance offered to the application of that 
State for admission, until the South agreed to accept the proposition to interdict slaver}' 
in all the remaining territory ceded by France, lying north of the line of 36° 30^, waa 
just such a proceeding that the great names invoked by the honorable Senator from 
Massachusetts, [Mr. Sumner,] to sustain him in his course as an abolitionist — Washing- 
ton, Franklin, Jefferson, and Hamilton, had they been living at the time, anti-slaverj' in 
sentiment though they were, would have raised their united voices against it, as conceived 
in a spirit the very reverse of that which controlled their own course wben they gave 



•18 

their saiu-tlou to the Conatitutiou; when they eontritjuttd the lull weight of their great 
names unci characters iu conciliating and reconciling the strongest antagonisms of senti- 
ment and interests betwefen the North and the South; and in blending all in one great 
organic instrument of Union, unparralleled in the wisdom of its provisions and the 
grandeur of its results. Jefferson did raise his voice against it, but unhappilj' his 
glorious compatriots of the revolution had passed away, and he, iu his retirement, was 
no longer able to control the active passions of the day." 

lie fears the consequences of -repealing the Missouri Covipromise. 

''Having thus gone over all the grounds of objection suggested against the validity of 
the iMissouri Compromise, I trust it will be seen that I am not disposed to controvert 
them either as to fact or doctrine, with such exceptions only as upon more deliberate 
consideration, b}- those who asserted them, will be allowed to be well taken. But, sir, 
admitting them, with the exceptions I have stated, to be incontrovertiblj true, still the 
main question remains to be considered and decided: Do these facts and doctrines demon- 
strate the expediency of diMurhinf/ the Missouri Compromise under existing circumstances? and 
jn coming to an affirmative conclusion upon this point, I hesitate, I pause.'' 

Probahle consequences of the Repeal further considered. 

"I have listened with attention to all the luminous expositions of theories of con- 
stitutional construction, and of popular sovereignty; to the ingeneous application of 
doctrinal points to questions of compacts and compromises by the friends of this measure. 
The question has been fruitful of themes for dialectic display; for the exhibition of 
great powers of analysis and logical acumen; but the whole argument has been singularly 
defective and unsatistactory upon the main question: What practical advantage or benefit 
to the country generally, or to the South inparticular, will the repeal of the Missouri Compromise 
secure ? 

It is asserted with great confidence that the application of the principle of non-inter- 
vention to these Territories, and the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, Avill have the 
effect to transfer to the local legislatures, the Territories and States, and to relieve Con- 
gress for the future from the most dangerous and distracting subjectof controversy which 
ever has, or ever can disturb its deliberations; that the source of those sectional con- 
flicts and agitations upon the subject of slavery', which have more than once threatened 
the peace of the country, will be removed; that justice will be done to the South; that 
the Constitution will be restored and vindicated, and a new guarantee provided for the 
stability of the Union. I need not say that, if one-half the many beneficent results predicted 
of this measure can be shoivn to follmv as a probable consequence of its adoption, I would no 
longer hesitate to give it my support; but unfortunately the argument has proceeded no 
further than the affirmation, without showing how these results must or will follow." 

Wisdom of the Repeal doubted. 

'• Sir, I believe there is a better feeling prevailing at the North towards the South than 
formerly; but would it not be wise on the part of the South to do nothing to reverse the 
current of that better feeling, unless urged by some great necessity in vindication of its 
rights '?" 

What has the South to gain by it ? 

"What has the South to gain by the measure? * * * * -x- will 
slavery be established in the Kansas Territory proposed to be organized under its pro- 
visions? Does any'oue who has fully considered the subject, believe that this Territory 
will become a slave State ?" 

Jle differs with his Southern friends only as to the results of the measure. 

" I have said already, and I repeat, that if I could take the view of the importance of 
this measure to the country which my southern friends do — cutting o9' the source of all 
future controversy between the North and the South — putting an end to agitation in 
both sections upon the subject of slavery — lAvould feel justified in waiving all my objec- 
tions to this bill, and in uniting heartily with them in its support. We differ only as to 
the results of the measure." 

The foregoing extracts are from the first speech of Mr. Bell on the Kansas-Nebraska 
bill, delivered in the Senate on the 3d of March, 1854. (See Appendix to Congressional 
Globe, vol. 29, page 407.) 

From his second speech on the bill, delivered on the 24th and 25th of May, 1854, we 
laake the subjoined extracts, for which see Congressional Globe, vol. 29, pages 947-958. 



19 

Probable comequences of the Repeal farther considered. 

'•The people of Tennessee will doubt the propriety and wisdom of adding fuel to the 
flame kindled by the aboliiionists of the North, by repealing the Missouri Compromise. 
They will see that it must and will have a bad eO'ect on the steady, sober, patriotic, na- 
tional men of the North. There are. many gentlemen at (he South who may not care what 
consequences may flow from such a course. The people of Tennessee have sense enough, 
judgment ^d penetration enough, to perceive that, though the feeling of the North, ex- 
cited by the passage of this bill, may be restrained within such bounds as not to threaten 
inunediate disunion, yet that, perhaps, no more fugitive slaves may be captured and 
returned from the North, and that the swelling tide of fanaticism, and the more intense 
sentiment of hostility to the institutions of the South, created by this bill, may lead to 
such excess that irritation and resentment will be, in turn, excited and kindled into flame 
at the South ; and that then we shall find all the fears and apprehensions of civil war and 
disunion renewed, which spread consternation throughout the land in 1850." 

• Squatter Sovereignty. 

"As to the principle of 'squatter sovcignty,' I wish further to say, that in the late 
contest between General Taylor and the honorable and distinguished Senator from Mich- 
igan, [General Cass,] it was distinctly brought forward as an issue before the people of 
Tennessee. * * * ****** Jn th^t contest, in 

common with the South generally, they [the people of Tennessee] repudiated the idea, 
that a handful or any number of inhabitants, in a Territory of the United States, should 
have the power granted to them by Congress of regulating their domestic institutions, 
and at their discretion, to deny to the citizen of one section of the Union the power to 
enjoy his right of property in slaws. We were not prepared to reverse and set aside the 
previously established practice and doctrines of the Government, from 1789 to that time. 
We could see no peace, no quiet, no end of agitation that was to result from such a course. 
We thought that, if a Territorial Legislature should in one or two years establish or 
abolish slavery, the agitation of the question of slavery would still go on. We in Ten- 
nessee at that time believed we were advocating principles and doctrines on this subject 
approved in all the Southern States. The principle then contended for was that the 
people of a Territory, when they came to form their State Constitution, and then only, 
were qualified to establish their domestic institutions." 

Must discharge his duty to the country at whatever sacrifice. 

"When I informed honorable Senators that I did not hold myself committed to this 
bill, I was told, by some of my friends, that if I opposed the bill, such a course would be 
utterly destructive to me; that it would lead to a disruption of the Whig party in Ten-' 
nessee, and furnish a plausible ground for imputations uj)on my motives. And those 
friendly warnings were given to me up to the time of the final vote in the Senate. * * 

* * Sir, when a question is presented here involving great principles of any 
kind, when any great measure is proposed, and a man occupying a responsible positioa 
becomes strongly impressed with the conviction that its adoption would have a deep, 
and permanent, and injurious effect upon the future prospects of the country, threaten- 
ing the stability of the Constitution, and the Union itself, he should be willing to sacri- 
fice himself, and surrender all prospects that may be held out to him which stand in 
conflict witii his duty. Why should a mau abandon his convictions upon such a ques- 
tion for the sake of doubtful political chances? I consider the position of a Senator of 
the United States, which I now enjoy, as the proudest and most independent that any 
American citizen can occupy — the noblest and most desirable to any man who will 
boldly do his duty. Sir, I acknowledge my weaknesses. I know that kind feelings and 
a deference for the opinions of others have often induced me to give my support to meas- 
ures of inferior importance, which my judgment did not approve. But when a great 
question is presented ; when I have deliberately reflected upon it ; when I have lights 
before me by which to guide my course, whatever sacrifices of political standing may be 
required of me, whatever obstacles and embarrassments of any kind may stand in my 
way, I trust I shall always have the firmness to do what, upon deliberate reflection, I 
consider my duty to the country." 

A Conservative Sentiment at the North — Danger of alienating it. 

"I wish honorable Senators to understand, that if I thought there was really any great 
principle to be establi.'^hed or settled by this Ijili, of importance or value to the South, 
and to the couQtry generally, it would be a Uitfereut question. But I must not be di- 



rertecl from the issue made -with me, that there is no great body of conservative and 
national Whigs at the North, ready to stand by the South on questions affecting their 
rights and institutions. I deny the assertion. I know that there is a large body of pat- 
riotic and noble Whigs at the North, who, though they do not approve this bill, have 
Bte.adily opposed the Abolition movement at the North, from its inception, and have 
always deprecated all agitation on the subject of slavery. They, like all northern men, 
liave been, from training and education, opposed to slavery ; but they have been trained 
to respect and revere the Constitution and its compromises ; and they have shown their 
determination to respect and stand by the compromises of 1850, in their unwavering eflbrts 
to silence opposition to the fugitive slave law, and to secure its faithful execntion. And, 
sir, I would inquire of those who assert that there is no sound national Whig party at 
the Noith, what has become of that noble Whig phalanx at the North, who stood by 
and sustained Daniel Webster in his bold advocacy of the compromises of 1850? Where 
the supporters of Millard Fillmore at the North ? Where the Union Whigs of New York? 
Where the conservative spirit which prompted five hundred of the most respectable citi- 
zens of Boston, said to be the very hot-bed of fanaticism, to enroll themselves as special 
constables to secure the execution of the fugitive slave law? Is there no consideratiou 
due to the position of such Whigs as those at the North in deciding upon measures so 
'well calculated as the present to weaken their position and influence, or rather, to use 
the forcible language of the Attorney General, ' to crush them oat? ' 

" But, sir, there is a conservative sentiment in the North, outside the ranks of those 
Whigs known as the supporters of Mr. Webster and Mr. Fillmore, even among those 
denominated Freesoilers, or the opponents of the extension of slave territory, bekinging 
to the Whig and Democratic parties : I allude to those who acquiesced in the compro- 
mises of 1850 — those who are opposed to the plans of the abolition organization, and 
entertain no purpose of pressing their anti-slavery feelings and doctrines to the point of 
disunion. Is there any wisdom or sound policy in adopting a measure not called for by 
any public necessity or interest, but so well calculated to incite that large class of north- 
ern citizens to form combinations which may lead to a permanent alienation betweeii 
the North and the South ? " 

Rise of the Republican party predicted as a consequence of the Repeal. 

" Sir, the tendency of this bill is to stimulate the formation of a sectional party organ- 
ization. And, as I said in ray speech on the passage of the Senate bill, I regard that a3 
the last and most fatal evil which can befall this country, except the dissolution of the 
Union; and that last and greatest calamity to the country, the success of such a move- 
ment would infallibly bring about. I trust, sir, that ray fears on this subject will- 
prove to be groundless, and that no such results as I have indicated will ever be 
realized." 

Mr. BELI. IN 1856— ADMISSION OF KANSAS. 

The following are extracts from a speech made by Mr. Bell in the Senate, on the 2d of 
July, 1856, on the bill to authorize the people of Kansas to form a Constitution and State 
Government preparatory to their admission into the Union : 

HE ADVOCATES ITS EARLY ADMISSION. 

" Whoever has looked closely into this subject, and comprehends all its bearings, must 
be satisfied that, though we may remove some of the more fruitful sources of the exist- 
ing disturbances in Kansas, dissension and discord will still , continue, not only in Kan- 
sas, but throughout the country, until Kansas shall become a State. The excitement 
and agitation at the North may be expected to continue, even with increased intensity, 
80 long as there remains any prospect ot the success of the pro-slavery party, in order to 
unite and consolidate public sentiment in opposition to the admission of Kansas as a 
slave State. Can the country — can the Union, stand five years of unmitigated agitation 
upon this distracting subject? It seema inevitable that agitation must continue through 
the present canvass for the Presidency. There is no remedy for that evil. Had I the 
})ower, by my voice, I would paralyze — I would crush this many-headed monster — this 
Kansas hydra at once ; but, as that is impossible, I protest against the extension of this 
controversy into the next ensuing contest for the purple. I protest against that, as 
equally unnecessary and perilous." 

Practical Workings of Squatter Sovereignty. 

" This pi'iyciijjle of popular sovereignty, connected, as it was in this, case, with the 
repeal of the Missouri Coajpromi,^e, was thought by its friends to be of such Iransceudaut 



21 

jraportance, that when the Nebraska bill passed the Senate, at a late hour of the 2d of 
March, 1854, the inhabitants of the national metropolis were awakened from their slum- 
bers by peal after peal of deep-mouthed artillery, announcing the glad tidings that the 
great principle of popular sovereignty was triumphant; that justice was vindicated by 
the repeal of the Missouri Compromise ; that the reign of the Constitution would now be 
restored ; and that slavery agitation would return no more to vex the land ! As though 
some great victory had crowned our arms over a public enemy, as at Buena Vista or 
Ccrro Gordo heights, the reverberations of the cannon had scarcely ceased, when the 
same joyful tidings were carried with electric speed to every quarter of the Union. 

" I trust I may be permitted, without offence, to say that, in a long tract of time, no 
example can be found of a delusion engendered in the heat of controversy, more com- 
plete than that which appears to have taken possession of those who pressed the Ne- 
braska bill to its tinal passage through Congress. Where, now, do we find the realiza- 
tion of those pleasing dreams which doubtless inspired the authors of that measure? 

TT -TT -A- ^ ^ ^ 

'• Mr. President, I do not wish to say any thing that can be considered offensive : but 
I must say I do not know any way in which I can so well illustrate the true character 
and tendency of the organic law of Kansas, as by comparing it to the preliminary ar- 
rangements which usually attend the sports of the ring. Without any far-fetched anal- 
ogy, that law may be said to have inaugurated a great national prize fight. The ample 
lists were regularly marked out — they were the boundaries of Kansas. The two great 
sections of the Union, the North and" the South, were to furnish the champions and to 
be th^ir backers. The pri^e of victor.- was to be a slave State on the one side and a free 
State on the other. But as the victory was to be decided by the number of the cham- 
pions, to encourage their enlistment and prompt attendance, the prize of a choice quar- 
ter section of land, at the minimum price, was to be awarded to the thampions on either 
side. 

" When we consider that the champions on both sides of this great national contest were 
deeply imbued, for the most part, with adverse principles, sentiments and prejudices, on 
the subject of slaverj-, excited and inflamed almost to frenzy by recent and violent agi- 
tation ; and that the inhabitants of the western counties of Missouri would naturally be- 
come sensitive and excited in the highest degree by the prospect of a free State on their 
borders, it is not extravagant to assert that, had the most inventive genius of the age 
been called upon for a scheme of policy' combining all the elements of slavery agitation, 
in such a manner as to insure the greatest amount of disorder, personal and neighbor- 
hood fends, border disturbance, and bloodshed, in Kansas, leading, at the same time, 
to permanent sectional alienation, he could not have succeeded better than by adopting 
the provisions of the Kansas-Nebraska bill."' 

He insists vpon the importance of a speedy adjustment. 

" Sir, months ago, when authority was first given by the President to Governor Shan- 
non to call to his aid the military force of the United States then at Fort Leavenworth, 
we were told that there would be no further disturbances ; but we have been disap- 
pointed. The disorders have rather increased than diminished since that time. It may 
be that there will be no more unauthorized military arrajs on either side ; but will that 
cure the evil? Every settler in Kansas now goes artned, and prepared for sudden con- 
' flict ; and does any one suppose that any future emigrant to that Territory will fail to 
equip himself fully with the means of self-defence? Does any one snppose that there 
will be no more secret associations, no longer any system of intimidation kept up, no 
longer any use for the bowie-knife, revolver, or Sharpe's rifles ? Again, I ask, where is 
all this to end? Can quiet ever be established unless one party or the other is driven 
out by force, or shall voluntarily abandon the contest, or until Congress shall adopt 
some measure to end the controversy? 

" And, sir. what forbids that we should now adopt some measure, with provisions so faiT 
and just in all respects, that it cannot fail to mitigate, if it cannot remove altogether, ex- 
isting evils, and in the shortest period consistent with this spirit offairrie^s and justice, bring 
the whole matter in controversy to a close, by admitting Kansas into the Union as a 
State? Do this, and we may leave the issues in the hands of a higher power. * * * 

'• Settle this slavery controversy when we may, now or at any time, or in any way, the 
best that can be devised, whatever section may have a triumph, there will remain, on 
the side of the vanquished, a deep and rankling feeling of discontent and aliena- 
tion; and a whole generation must pass awny before they will cease to mar, to some 
extent, the general harmony. On the question whether Kansas shall be a free or a Slave 
State, as a representative of Southern interests, my preference, of course, is for a slave 
Stale. But, sir, if iu a fair corupetitioa it must be bo, let it be a free State; let it be retro- 



22 

ceded to the Indians, the aboriginal occnpants of the soil; let it become another Dead Sea, 
rather than continue the pestilent source of mortal disease to our system." 

MR. BELL IN 1858— THE LECOMPTON CONSTITUTION. 

In the speech made by Mr. Bell in the Senate, on the 18th of March, 1858, on the Le- 
compton Constitution bill, there occur the following passages: 

Issues between the North and the South — Estimating the value of the Union. 

"It is more than indicated: it is boldly assumed by some gentlemen that the rejection 
of this measure will be regarded as a decision that no more slave States are to be admitted 
into the Union, and the consequences which may follow such a decision are pointed to 
in no equivocal language. There is no gentleman here with whom 1 differ as to the value 
of the union of these States, to M'hom I do not accord honesty and patriotism of purpose. 
There is simply between us a difltrence in judgmeut as to the true interest of this great 
country; the true interest of the South as well as the North, connected with the Union. 
When my attention is invited to the consideration of the advantages and blessings that 
may follow disunion to the South, I shun the subject as one that is speculative only, and 
prematurely brought forward. That is a field of inquiry into which I do not propose 
now to enter. When an issue is made; when a question does arise demanding such an 
inquiry as that, I shall be ready to enter upon it, and to estimate the value of the Union; 
but I will not anticipate the occurrence of any such contingency. When the North shall, 
by any deliberate act, deprive the South of any fair, and just, and equal participation in 
the benefits of the Hnion — if, for example, the Territory now proposed to be admitted 
into the Union as a State, had not been subject to an interdict of slavery for thirty 
years — if it were a Territory such as that lying west of Arkansas, by climate adapted to 
slave labor, and by population already a slave Territory: and if, on application of such 
R Territory for admission into the Union as a slave State, the powerful North, without 
any of the feelings and resentments naturally growing out of the repeal of the Missouri 
Compromise in regard to Kansas, should deliberately announce to'the South, "you shall 
have no more slave States," that would afford a pretext with which the South might 
with some reason, and with some assurance of the approval of the civilized world and of 
posterity, seek, to dissolve the Union. I know that it is supposed by some, that the day 
will come when the North, in the arrogance of its power, will furnish just such a pretext 
as I have indicated; and the Senator from Georgia and others have argued this question 
on the ground that it will come; but I must see it come before I will calculate the value 
of this Union. I trust that day will never come. I do not believe it will come, if the 
South is wise and true to itself. I would not have them truckle or surrender any of 
their rights. I would not have them yield one jot or tittle of their rights; but I would 
have theni make no questionable issues in advance, stir up no strife upon unnecessary 
abstract questions, having no practical value; but to do always what is just and right 
upon all questions. When a people or a Territory applies for admission into the Union 
under a constitution fairly formed, with the assent of the people excluding slavery, I 
would admit it promptly; and when an application comes, on the other hand, from the 
people of a Territory who have fairly formed a constitution recognising slavery, I would 
insist upon its adtnission as a slave State. If the North should not agree to this, it 
•would then be time enough to consider of the proper remedy. But I would make no 
issue with the North now, and before any occasion for it has arisen; and I regret most 
sincerely to hear any Senator from the North suggesting that such an issue will ever be 
tendered from that quarter." 

WHAT OUGHT TO BE DONE? 

" With regard to the present question, I lay down as the basi." of my conclusion as to 
■what ought to be done, that the solution of it which promises the speediest termination 
of this dangerous slavery agitation is the true one. This dangerous agitation has con- 
tinued long enough. There has been no mitigation of it in the last four years. There 
have been intervals of apparent repose, but it was just such repose as foreboded increased 
disorder and commotion. It is time to terminate it. 

The question is. What is that solution which promises the speediest and most perma- 
nent remedy for these difliculties? Divine that to me, whoever can, and I will follow 
his lead. How shall we cut this Gordian knot of Kansas potitics? Shall we cut it by 
the sword? Shall we first subdue the rebellious faction, said to exist in Kansas, by force 
of arms, or shall we endeavor to uaravel this tangled skein by some more peaceful means ?" 



Frauds and Irregular if ies of the Lecompton CumtUutlon. 

"lly friend friend from Florida [Mr. Mallory] said, in his able speech the other drty, 
that it would be diificult to persuade the people of the South that if this Constitution btJ 
rejected by Congress, it will not be upon the ground that it recognizes slavery. That 13 
also the opinion of this honorable Senator from (-Jeorgia and others. Unless it be that 
these honorable Senators want some imraediaie pretext for a movement in the South, I 
advise them to investigate this question more fully than they seem to have done, Ijefore 
they conclude to make the rejection of this measure, should it be rejected, a caiigi's dis- 
junctionis [a case for disunion.] We are told that it will be difficult to persuade the 
people of the South that any other objection exists to this Constitution except that it 
recognizes slavery, and these opinions are avowed in the face of accumulated frauds and 
irregularities connected with its history, and though it is clear that four-fifths of the 
people ef Kansas are opposed to it. 

" It will not do lor these gentlemen to say that there is no record or other satisfactory 
proof to show the frauds and irregularities alleged against the Lecompton Constitu- 
tion, or any other statements made by the opponents of this measure in relation to 
the state of things existing in Kansas. The supporters of this measure in the Senate 
and in the House of Representatives, have obstinately persisted in voting <lown every 
jiroposition to investigate and take proof upon the contested questions of fiict: and I 
take it for granted that this course would not have been persisted in, unless it was 
understood that the tacts would turn out as thej- have been charged. If I have not 
wholly misconceived and misstated the material points in the history of Kansas affairs 
which preceded the formation of the Lecompton Constitution ; if I have not misrepre- 
sented the facts connected with its formation ; if I am not wholly mistaken iu the views 
I have presented of the existing state of public sentiment in Kansas in relation to 
this Constitution, is it becoming the character of the national Legislature to accept 
this instrument as the organic law of the new State which is proposed to be admit- 
ted into the Union? 

" Is it fit, is it becoming the Senate of the United States, to stamp this Constitution 
with all its attendant circumstances, with their approval, and send it to Kansas to be 
abided by or resisted to blood by the people there ? Surely, sir, there ought to be some 
great and overruling political necessity existing in the condition of afiairs to justify 
such a jiroceediug." 

The passage of the Lecompton Bill would strengthen Republicanism. 

" I now ask the attention of the Senate to the effect of the experiment localizing 
slavery agitation in the Territories made in 1854. in changing the complexion of parties 
both in Congress and in the country. In the Congress which passed the Kansas-Ne- 
braska bill, we have seen that there was, at the commencement of the session in De- 
cember, 1833, a Democratic majoritj- of eighty-four in the House of Representatives, and 
only four Free Soilers ; and in the Senate, a like number [of the latter] — so small, yet 
so distinct in their principles, that neither of the two great parties then known to the 
country knew well how to arrange them on committees. *•><•* Now, let us see 
what was the effect of the Kansas-Nebraska act on the elections which ensued in the fall 
of 1854, just on the heels of the adoption of that measure. One hundred and seven Free- 
Soilcrs were returned to the House of Representatives ; and the Democratic party, in- 
stead of having- a majority of eighty-four in that House, found itself in a minority of 
seventy-six: and in the Senate the number of Free-Soilers was increased to thirteen. 
Such was the complexion of the two Houses of Congress in the Thirty-third Congress, 
which assembled in December 1835. Now, we find in the Senate twenty Free-Soilers. 
How many more they may have in the next Congress will depend upon the disposition 
we make of the question now before the Senate. I call upon the Senator from Georgia 
to say whether he will have that number limited or not. Does he want a sufficient num- 
ber to prevent the ratification of any future treaty of acquisition? How long will it be 
before we have that number, if the southern Democracy persist in their present course ? 
They would seenj to be deeply interested in adding to the power of the Republican party. 
I consider the most fearful and portentous of all the results of the Kansas-Nebraska act 
was to create, to build up a great sectional party. * * I consider that no more omi- 
nous and threatening cloud can darken the political horizon at any lime. Huw formi- 
dable this party has already become, may be well illustrated by the fact that its repre- 
presentative candidate, Mr. Fremont, was only beaten in the Presidential election by the 
most desperate efforts ; and I feel warranted in saying, that but for the'emincnt prospect 
of his success which shone out near the close of the canvass, Mr. Buchanan would not 
have attained hia present high position. * '*■ * -;* * 



24 

*' In tlie closing debate on the Kansas-Nebraska bill, I told his supporters that thcr 
•could do nothing more certain to disturb the composure of the two Senators on the opposite 
side of the chamber, the one from Massachusetts, [Mr. Sumner,] and the other from Ohio, 
[Mr. Chase,] than to reject that bill. Its passage was the only thing in the range of pos- 
sible events by which their political fortunes could be resuscitated, so comjdetely had the 
Free-Soil nioveiiicut at the North been paralyzed by the Compromise measures of 1850. 
I say now to the advocates of this [the Lecompton] measure, if they want to strengthen 
the Republican party, and give the reins of Government into their hands, pass this bill. 
If they desire to weaken the poM^er of that party, and arrest the progress of slavery 
agitation, reject it. And, if it is their policy to put an end to the agitation connected 
with Kansas affairs at the earliest day practicable, as they say it is, then let them remit 
this constitution back to the people of Kansas for their ratification or rejection. In that 
way the whole difficulty will be settled before the adjournment of the present Miesion of 
Congress, without the violation of any sound principle, or the sacrifice of the" rights of 
either section of the Union." 

Mr. Bell replies to the complaints of the North against the South, and calls upon the folloivers 
of Mr. Seward " to arrest him in his mad career." 

" The honorable Senator from New York farther .announced to us, in exultant tones, 
that ' at last there was a north side of this Chamber, a north side of the Chamber of the 
House of Representatives, and a north side of the Union, as well as a south side of all 
these ; ' and he admonished us that the time was at hand when freedom would assert its 
due influence in the regulation of the domestic and foreign policy of the country. 

" When was there a time in the history of the Government that there was no north side 
of this Chamber and of the other? Wiaen was there a time that there was not a proud 
array of northern men in both Chambers, distinguished by their genius and ability, de- 
voted to the interests of the North, and successful in maintaining them? 

" Though it may be true that southern men have filled the executive chair for much the 
largest portion of the time that has elapsed since the organization of the Government, 
jet when, in what instance was it, that a southerner has been elected to that high station 
Avithout the support of a majority of the freemen of the North? 

" Do you of the North complain that the policy of the Government, under the long con- 
tinued influence of southern Presidents, has been injurious or fatal to your interests ? 
Has it paralyzed your industry ? Has it crippled your resources ? Has it impaired your 
energies? Has it checked your progress in any one department of human eifort? Let 
your powerful mercantile marine, your ships whitening every sea — the fruit of wise com- 
mercial regulations and navigation laws ; let your flourishing agriculture, your aston- 
ishing progress in manufacturing skill, your great canals, your thousands of miles of 
railroads, your vast trade, internal and external,.your proud cities, and your accumulated 
millions of moneyed capital, ready to be invested in profitable enterprises in any part of 
the world — answer that question. Do you complain of a narrow and jealous policy' under 
southern rule, in extending and opening new fields of enterprise to your hardy sons in 
the great West, along the line of the great chain of American lakes, even to the head- 
waters of the father of rivers, and over the rich and fertile plains stretching southward 
from the lake shores? Let the teeming populations ; let the hundreds of millions of an- 
nual products that have succeeded to the but recent dreary and unproductive haunts of 
the red man — answer that question. That very preponderance of free States which the 
Senator from New York contemplates with such satisfaction, and which has moved him 
exultingly to exclaim that there is at last a north side of this Chamber, has been has- 
tened by the liberal policy of southern Presidents and southern statesmen, and has it 
become the ambition of that Senator to unite and combine all this great, rich, and pow- 
erful north in the policy of crippling the resources and repressing the power of the 
South? Is this to be the one idea which is to mould the policy of the Government, 
when that gentleman and his friends shall control it? If it be, then I appeal to the 
better feelings and the better judgment of his followers to arrest him in his mad career. 
Sir, let us have some brief interval of repose at least from this eternal agitation of the 
slavery question." 

The Union — Hoto only it can he saved. 

" Let power go into whatever hands it may, let us save the Union ! I have all the con- 
fidence other gentlemen can have in the extent to which this Union is intrenched in the 
hearts of the great mass of the people of the North and South ; but when I reflect upon 
and consider the desperate and dangerous extremes to which ambitious party leaders aro 
often prepared to go, without meaning to do the country any mischief, in the struggle 



25 

for the imperial power, the crown of the American Presidencj-, I sometimes tremble for 
its fate. 

" Two great parties are now dividing the Union on this qnestion. It is evident, to every 
man of sense, who examines it, that practically, in respect to slavery, tjie result will be 
the same both to North and South ; Kansas will be a tree State, no matter what m.ay be 
the decision on this question. But how that decision may effect the fortunes of those 
parties, is not certain, and is the chief difficulty. But the great question of all. is how 
will that decision affect the country as a whole? 

"Two adverse yet concurrent and mighty /orces are driving the vessel of State to- 
wards the rock? upon which she must split, unless she receives timely aid — a paradox, 
yet expressive of a momentous and perhaps a fatal truth. There is no hope of rescue 
unless the sober-minded men, both of the North and South, shall by some sufficient 
influence, be brought to adopt the wise maxims and sage counsels of the great founders 
of the Government." 

CONCLUmNG BEMAUKS. 

It is particularly worthy of notice, that Mr. Bell's traducers have never assailed any 
sentiment, doctrine, or principle enounced by him on the subject of slavery. Their ob- 
jections lie, and are limited — 

1. To his votes in favor of receiving and acting upon abolition petitions, as a matter 
of sound policy on the part of the representatives from the South, and in view of the 
injurious results which he believed would follow the adoption of the opposite policy. 
The results turned out to be what he thought and said they would; and his course 
was ultimately vindicated, in the fullest manner, by the repeal of the ''Twenty-First 
Rule,'' after an experience of four years, by a Housee of Representatives numbering 
two Democrats to one Whig! 

2. To his opposition to the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, which he based solely 
upon what he foresaw and predicted would be the ^'results." He could find no warrant 
in the Constitution for the clause in the act of 1820, restricting slavery by the line 
of 36-30. He regarded such restriction as unjust to the South, and in violation of the 
treaty by which the territory was acquired from France. He had voted in 1850 to 
repeal the Mexican laws prohibiting slavery in New Mexico, which were in force at 
the time of the acquisition. But when it came to voting for the repeal of the Missouri 
Compromise, which had been peacefully acquiesced in for thirty years, he apprehended 
dangerous consequences to the South and to the whole country from the adoption of the 
measure. He looked at the probable results of the measure, and guided, as he expressly 
declared, entirely by the conclusion which hi.'* mind came to as to what those results 
would be, he voted against the repeal, and in so voting, as the results proved, he voted 
against the creation of the Republican party 1 It would be a gross libel on the majority 
who repealed the Missouri Compromise, to suppose they would have done it, had they 
been gifted with the foresight of Mr, Bell, and seen, as his far-reaching sagacity enabled 
him to do, the deplorable consequences which followed from it. 

No higher tribute could be rendered to any man than that which is unwittingly paid 
to Mr. Bell by the entire array, vasfas it is, of Democratic leaders, speakers and writers 
throughout the South, when they call upon the people of the South, as they are every- 
day doing, by uniting under the Deraocraiic flag, to interpose a barrier to the onward 
march of Republicanism — when they expatiate upon the danger to Southern institutions 
of the government's falling into the hands of the Republicans — when they proclaim that 
danger to be so great, that the South ought never to submit to the inauguration of the 
Republican candidate, if elected. Had Mr. Bell's prudent counsels — his wise admoni- 
tions — his earnest remonstrances been heeded, there would this day have been no Re- 
publican party, and the country would now be in the enjoyment of that repose and free- 
dom from slavery agitation which President Pierce congratulated it upon possessing at 
the date of his installation into the Presidential office. 

3. To his vote against the Lecompton Constitution bill. He voted, his accusers say, 
against admitting Kansas into the Union as a slave State. "A slave State!" The 
Democrats of Tennessee know, and will give ready credence to Gen. Whitfield, their 
former fellow-citizen and active co-laborer in the cause of Democracy, who removed to 
Kansas at an early day. In his speech against the Lecompton bill, Mr. Bell quoted the 
following extract of a letter, written by Gen. Whitfield to the editor of the Wa^hiugtoa 
Union, dated Washington City, September 2, 1S58 : 

"I have seen the letter addressed by Dr. Tebbs to a gentleman in this city. His letter 
fully and fairly represents the condition of parties in Kansas, both before and after the 
advent of Governor Walker ; and I have been perfectly astonished, upon my arrival i^ere, 
to find the crusade from the South upon Governor Walker, charging him with an at- 

3 » 



•26 

lempt to " abolitionize Kansas." It required no action from Governor Walker to make 
Kansas a free State. Its doom, if it is fixed, was fixed long before Robert J. Walker ever 
entered the Territory. 

" I repeat again, sir, that knowing Dr. Tebbs well, and knowing him to be thoroughly 
posted upon Kansas affairs, I endorse fully his views and conclusions as expressed in his 
letter to you." 

From the letter of Doctor Tebbs, referred to in Gen. Whitfield's letter, Mr. Bell quoted 
the following paragragh : 

" That in January, 1857, four or five months before Governor Walker arrived in the 
Territory, the pro-slavery party held a Convention of all the members of the Legislature 
and delegates from every county in the Territory, to discuss the conditionof parties, and 
leading pro-slavery men deliberately declared it as their opinion that the pro-slavery 
party proper was in a hopeless minority." 

This Doctor Tebbs was represented in the same number of the Union in which his 
letter was published, as a " Virginian by birth, a slaveholder, and one of the early settlers 
of Kansas," who had been a " member of every Legislature since Kansas had become a 
Territory," and whose " radical views on the slavery question had rendered him peculiarly 
obnoxious to the Black Republicans of the Territory." 

Mr. Bell's opposition to the Lecompton bill, therefore, took place in view of the highest 
Democratic evidence in the Territory — that " the pro-slavery party proper [in the Terri- 
tory] was in a hopeless minority ! " 

Mr. Bell also, by authentic facts and figures, demonstrated that an overwhelming ma- 
jority of the qualified voters of the Territory were opposed to the Lecompton Constitu- 
tion. In view of these facts, Mr. Bell argued, that to impose that Constitution on the 
unwilling majority of the people of Kansas — large and overwhelming as it was — would 
be an act of arbitrary power on the part of Congress, in violation of a fundamental 
principle of all free institutions, and which, under all the circumstances connected with 
it, could be of no sort of advantage to the South, while, on the other hand, the in- 
evitable effect of it would be further to excite the North against the South, and to give 
increased strength and vitality to the Republican organization. 

The Republicans had already twenty Senators. How long would it, Mr. Bell asked, be 
before they would have a sufficient number (one-third) to prevent the ratification of any 
treaty of acquisition, if the Southern Democracy persisted in their course? The 
Southern Democracy did persist, and the result was as Mr. Bell saw and foretold ; the 
Republican Senators have been increased to more than the requisite number, to enable 
them to reject any treaty they may see fit to reject. 

Did the advocates of the Lecompton bill, Mr, Bell further asked, want to strengthen 
the Republican party and give the reins of Government into their hands? If they did, 
let them pass the bill. Did they desire to lessen the power of the Republican party, and 
arrest the progress of slavery agitation? If they did, let them reject the bill, and send 
the Constitution back to the people of Kansas for their ratification or rejection. These 
are the grounds upon which Mr. Bell opposed the passage of the Lecompton Constitution 
bill. If well taken, they fully justify Mr. Bell's course. Who, at this day, will say that 
they were not well taken? What candid man will censure Mr. Bell for acting as he did 
upon those'grounds? 



MR. EVERETT THIRTY YEARS AGO. 



There is a peculiar fitness in the candidates of the Union party to stand before the 
people as the exponents of the platform of the Union, the Constitution, and the enforce- 
ment of the laws. From the commencement of their public career, throughout all their 
service in the councils of the nation, and in every public and private capacity, they have 
both been distinguished for their strong devotion to the union of the States, their un- 
wavering maintenance of the Constitution of the country, and their rigid requirement 
that the laws should be justly enforced. Upon the vexed and vexatious slavery question 
they have occupied precisely this position and no other. They have carefully avoided 
the extreme prejudices and opinions prevailing in their respective sections of the coun- 
try, and have preserved an inviolable nationality. 

Mr. Bell, representing in Congress and in the United States Senate a southern consti- 
tuency, has never faltered in his defence of the rights of the people of the southern StatcB 



27 ■ • ■ 

from any assault, and his record presents no single point of objection to the national- 
minded men of the South. His past career is to them a sufficient guaranty that in his 
hands and under his administration of public affairs their rights, their interests, their 
honor will be safe and well protected. But while he is firm in the defence of State rights, 
his course has been guided so truly and undeviatingly by the provisions and compro- 
mises of the Constitution, that his eminent justice and nationality and patriotism hat; 
endeared him more than any other southern statesman to the conservative, Union-loving. 
Constitution-abiding citizens of the North, and they have for him a respect and admira- 
tion that defy the calumnies and assaults of any opponents. 

Side by side with John Bell in the maintenance of the Union, the Constitution, and 
the equal rights of the States, stands Edward Everett. Upon the slavery question no 
northern man occupies a more national position, or is more acceptable to the people of 
the South. Again and again, in reference to this subject, he has expressed his determi- 
nation to abide, in good faith, by the compromises of the Constitution. Upon all neces- 
sary occasions he has boldly advocated the prompt and faithful execution of the fugitive 
slave law, and sternly opposed the agitation of the slavery question. In reference to 
attempts to excite servile insurrections in the southern States, no orator has ever spoken 
more eloquently or in terms of more decided reprobation. To use his own bold and 
manly language, he does not think, as far too many northern people do, that it is '■•im- 
moral and irreligious to Join in putting down a servile insurrection at the South." "There 
18 NO CAUSE," he bravely and patriotically proclaims, "in which i wodld sooner buckle 

A KNAPSACK TO MY BACK AND PUT A MUSKET ON MY SHOULDER THAN THAT." 

A correspondent of a southern cotemporary recently called attention to a speech made 
by Mr. Everett during the earlier part of his service in Congress, when, with prophetic 
vision, lie foresaw the deplorable consequences of abolition agitation, and eloquently 
defended the compromises of the Constitution. In that speech, Mr. Everett said : 

" If there are any members in this House of that class of politicians to whom the 
gentleman from. North Carolina (Mr. Saunders) alluded, as having the disposition, though 
not the power, to disturb the compromise contained in the Constitution on this point, 
(the three-fifths representative principle,) I am not of the number. Neither am I one 
of those citizens of the North to whom another honorable member lately referred, in a 
publication to which his name was subscribed, who would think it immoral and irreli- 
gious to join in putting down a servile insurrection at the South. I am no soldier, sir; 
my habits and education are unmilitary ; but there is no cause in which I would sooner 
buckle a knapsack to my back, and put a musket on my shoulder, than that. I would 
cede the whole continent to any oue who would take it — to England, to France, to 
Spain — I would see it sunk to the bottom of the ocean before I would see any part of 
this fine America converted into a continental Hayti, by that awful process of bloodshed 
and desolation by which alone such a catastrophe could be brought on. The great re- 
lation to servitude in some form or other, with greater or less departures from the 
theoretic equality of man, is inseparable from our nation. I know of no other way by 
which the form of this servitude shall be fixed but by political institution. Domestic 
slavery, though I confess not that form of servitude which seems to be the m')st bene- 
ficial to the master — certainly that which is most beneficial to the slave — is not, in my 
judgment, to be set down as an immoral and irreligious relation. 

"I cannot admit that religion has but oue voice to the slave, and that thi-; voice is, 
'Rise against your master.' No, sir; the New Testament says, ' slaves, obey yovr master;' 
and though I know full well, that in the benignant operation of Christianity, which 
gathered master and slave around the same communion table, this unfortunaie institu- 
tion disappeared in Europe, yet I cannot admit that while it subsists, and where it sub- 
ciists, its duties are not presupposed and sanctioned by religion. And though I certainly 
am not called upon to meet the charges brought against thisinstitution, yet truth obliges 
me to say a word more on the subject. 

"I know the condition of working classes in other countries ; lam intimately ac- 
quainted with it in some other countries ; and I have no hesitation in saying that I be- 
lieve the slaves in this country are better clothed and fed, and less hardlj' worked, than 
the peasantry of some of the most prosperous States of the continent of Europe. To 
consider the checks on population, read Malthas. What keeps population down? 
Poverty, want, starvation, disease, and all the ills of life ; it is these that check popula- 
tion all over the world. Now, the slave population in the United States increases faster 
than the white, masters included. 

"What is the inference as to the physical condition of the two classes of society? 
These are opinions I have long entertained, and long since publicly professed on this 
subject, and which I have repeat in answer to the intimation to which I have already 
alluded. But, sir, when slavery comes to enter into the Constitution as a political 



28 

clement — when it comes to affect the distribution of power among the States of the 
Union, that is a matter of agreement. If I make an agreement on this subject, I will 
adhere to it lilie a man ; but I will protest against anj interference being made from 
it of the kind which was made by the honorable mover of these resolutions." 

These noble and patriotic sentiments of Mr. Everett will be appreciated. They will 
sound gratefully in the ears of the conservative men North and South. They are in 
marked contrast with the diabolical expressions of the favorite of Republicanism, 
Charles Sumner, and are quite different in tone from any of the expressions of northern 
sentiment that have been uttered recently by prominent men of any party in the North. 
This speech of Edward Everett, containing the boldest, the manliest, and most just vin- 
dication of the South ever uttered bj'- a northern man upon the floor of Congress, will 
carry conviction to the hearts of southern men that its author will be guided only by 
sound, and safe, and conservative, and patriotic principles in the performance of every 
public duty. The Union men — conservative men of all parties in the South and in the 
North — may be proud to give their support to candidates who present a record of such 
proud nationality as John Bell and Edward Everett. 



MR. EVERETT ON THE BLAVERY QUB3TI0K. 

Boston, June 18, I860. 

Dear Sir: Your letter of the 12th was received by Mr. Everett this day. When he 
accepted the nomination of the Baltimore Union Convention, it was with the under- 
standing that the correspondence which might grow out of it, should devolve on the 
Union Committee here. Your letter of the r2th has accordingly been placed in my 
hands, and as you request an answer that will reach you by returu of mail, I have but a 
few moTieuts to prepare it in. 

The Coraprimise measures of 1850 were regarded and have been supported by conser- 
vative men at the North, as a fair and practicable basis of united political action be- 
tween the two great sections of the country. To those measures Mr. Everett gave his 
full concurrence. 

The papers enclosed in your letter, viz : the resolves of the Massachusetts Legislature' 
Mr. Borden's letter, and Mr. Everett's reply, date from the year 1S39. They were brought 
before the Senate of the United States in 1841, at the time of his nomination as minister 
to England, and made the ground of a motion for its rejection. Henry Clay opposed 
that motion with great warmth, and said "that if through the influence of the South, 
the appoiinment of a man of Mr. Everett's known conservative opinions was rejected, 
the Uniou was already dissolved." At the close of a fervid speech by Rufus Choate, in 
support of Mr. Everett'.s appointment, the late Hon. W. C. Preston exclaimed, "lam 
afraid I have committed myself to vote against him, but by heaven he shall not be re- 
jected." Mr. Preston was heard to say that "he regretted that vote more than any 
ever given by him." Mr. Everett's nomination as the first minister to China, two years 
later, was. I believe, unanimously confirmed in the same Senate, of vehich Mr. Vice 
President King and Mr. Calhoun were members. His nomination as Secretary of State' 
on the death of Mr. Webster was unanimously confirmed in 1852. In the following year 
he was elected, by the conservative member.s of the Legislature of Massachusetts, to the 
Senate of the United States. 

Mr. Everett's views with reference to the sectional agitation now distracting the 
country, if left in any doubt by his own course, are sufficiently shown by the bitter hos- 
tility of the entire anti-slavery press. They were re-affirmed, to the great acceptance of 
good patriots throughout the Union, in his speech at Faneuil Hall, on the occasion of 
the attempt at Harper's Ferry ; and they are re-stated in his letter signifying his reluct- 
ant acceptance of the Baltimore nomination. 

I will only observe, in conclusion, that as it seems to us here, no good can result from 
a review of all ihat has been said or written North or South, for twenty or thirty years, 
on the question which now more than ever distracts the country. Reasonable men will 
not, in either section, expect to find entire concurrence in the other; and if sentiments 
like those entertained, and on all proper occasions avowed by Mr. Everett, fail to win the 
confidence of Union-loving men at the South, Mr. Clay's emphatic exclamation in 1841, 
may well be repeated. 

I remain, dear Sir, in haste, very respectfullv vours, 

LEVERETT SALTONSTALL. 
President State Central Committee of the Constitutional Union Party. 

To Joseph W. Taylor, Esq., Eutaw, Alabama. 



29 

The Memphis Bulletin accompanies the publication of the above letter with the fol- 
lowing apposite remarks : 

"Read this letter again. Mark the fact that in 1852, the year in which the National 
Democracy met in convention at Baltimore, and adopted the compromise of 1850 as a 
part of their platform, Mr. Everett was unanimously con6rraed by a democratic Senate 
as Secretary of State. Mark the other general facts stated in this letter. Mark the fact 
that he is now acting against, and always has acted against the abolition party. He is 
now in opposition to the Republicans. If he is now in sympathy with them, why does 
he not go with them? There is nothing the republicans would not give him were he a 
member of their party. Turn to our back numbers and read what we have from time to 
time published from Mr. Everett. No honest mind believes he is an enemy to the South. 
Every honest mind knows that he is true and loyal to all divisions of the Union. 

" But if democrats will try Mr. Everett by his ancient record, they must take all that re- 
cord together, and not garble it to make out their case. Or if they will not admit the 
possibility of modification of opinion on his part, even in the presence of the testimony 
to that effect, they must make him no exception, but judge all men by the standard they 
have created. That is fair — nothing less would be honest. Judiug democratic states- 
men by this democratic standard, the Natchez Courier asks, ' where would stand Gov. 
Letcher, of Virginia, elected almost within a year ; who, within ten years, was an avowed 
emancipationist ? ' Where would stand Charles J. Faulkner, of Virginia, present Minister 
to France, than whom no man has received more States Rights eulogy ; whose freesoil 
abolition doctrines expressed within twenty years, would, if now avowed, drive him in 
contumely from the State of Virginia? Where would stand John A. Dix, held up twelve 
years ago by the leading democratic press of the South as worthy of the Presidency ; 
since that, the freesoii candidate for Governor of New York, on the Van Buren abolition 
ticket, and subsequently to that a petted recipient of democratic favor, and now a pro- 
minent office-holder under Mr. Buchanan? Mr. Dix was offered some time since, we 
believe, the Ministership to England, and Mr. Faulkner is now Minister to France ; and 
both freesoilers and emancipationi.sts, since Mr. Everett was one, if ever ; and the stric- 
tures, now quoted against the latter, are those that grew out of his appointment to a 
foreign embassy in 1841 ! 

" How of Mr. Buchanan ; who, in 1826, considered slavery ' a great moral and poli- 
tical evil ;' who, in 1836, presented and voted to receive petitions for the abolition of 
slavery; who, in 1844, considered the subject of slavery the great obstacle to agreeing 
to support the acquisition of Texas ; who avowed his repugnance at that time to extend 
the limits and the privileges of the Union over any new slaveholding territory? 

"How of Benj. R. Hallett, of Mass., for whose rejection in the Baltimore Convention 
the sectional Southern democrats made a month since their second bolt? Mr. Hallett, 
in 1849, ten years after Mr. Everett's alleged offence, introduced resolutions into the 
Massachusetts Legislature, of which the following are copies : 

" Resolved, That we are opposed to slavery in any form and color, and in favor of free- 
dom and FREKSOIL, wherever man lives throughout God's heritage. 

^^ Resolved, That we are opposed to the extension of slavery to free Territories, and in 
favor of the exercise of all Constitutional and necessary means to restrict it to the limits 
within which it does or may exist by the local laws of the State. 

" This test of democratic converts (tried by the Southern democratic standard) might 
be multiplied. It was only on Sunday morning last that we showed from the record 
that in 1836, Mr. Gushing, the President of the Convention that nominated the Breck- 
intidge ticket, opposed the admission of our sister State of Arkansas into the Union, be- 
cause her Constitution tolerated slavery. How does he stand to-day? At the head of 
the Southern party. Has he changed since 1836 ? But you cannot assume that, so long 
as you deny to P^verett the benefit of a modification of his views, and Mr. Gushing stands 
to-day, according to the rule by which democrats judge Mr. Everett, an abolitionist. 
There is no escape from this conclusion." 



HON. J. M. BERRIEN AND HON. EDW^ARD EVERETT. 

In 1842, when the charge of unsoundness on the slavery question was made against 
Mr. Everett, Senator Berrien being called on to defend his vote for him as Minister to 
England, vindicated triumphantly both himself and Mr. Everett. In hi.s address to the 
people of Georgia, on that occasion, he said of Mr. Everett : 

" He was an early, I believe the earliest, and certainly one of the m6.-t decided advo- 
cates, on the floor of Congress, of the south, of their exclusive right to determine the 
question for themselves, when to the astonishment of the more timid or more prudent of 
his eastern brethren, he declared his readiness to shoulder his musket in defence of 
them." 



30 

BRECKINRIDGE AND EVERETT. 

lu his speech before the Kentucky Legislature, on the 21st of December last, Mr. 
Breckinridge paid a noble tribute to Mr. Everett. He said: 

" There is another element at the North, not large, but noble and true. It consists of 
the scattered cohorts of the old Whig party, of men like EVERETT, Choate, and their 
associates, whose consera'atism, culture, and patriotism rebelled against the repub- 
lican ALLIANCE. Besides these, there are many thousands in the northern States who 
seldom attend the poles, and whose voices have not been heard amidst the clamors that 
surround them. To all these let us appeal; let us solemnly demand a general revolt of 
the virtue and loyalty of the country against the pernicious principles that threaten its 
safety, and when all the forces are arrayed in their proper ranks, we shall be able to see 
what remains to hope or fear." 



From the Montgomery Post, July 31. 
LETTER FROM JOHN BELL. 

, Nashville, July 22, 1860. 

Dear Sir : Your letter of the 9th instant, was received ten days since, and it is due to 
you, as well as myself, to state the causes which have delayed my answer to this late 
day to explain what, otherwise, might be imputed to me as discourtesy. Such a state- 
ment is due to numerous other gentlemen, who, in the last month or six weeks, have 
addressed letters of inquiry to me, from different quarters of the country, as to my views 
and opinions on the more prominent questions at issue in thepending canvass, and which 
have received no answer. 

To the inquiries in all such letters, there was but one reply, as I conceived, which 
could, consistently and properly, be made, under the circumstances of my position ; 
which was, to refer the writers to my past course ; to the views and opinions 
I have heretofore held and expressed on the subjects or questions embraced in 
their letters. But it appeared to me that a reply, containing nothing more than 
such a general reference, without pointing out the particular votes, speeches, and 
other evidences of what I had said or done in connection with the questions made 
the subject of inquiry, or stating where they were found, would be ungracious, to say 
the least of it. To make such references in my answers would far exceed the ordinary 
limits of a letter, and I concluded that it would be more convenient and satisfactory to 
both parties, to accompany my answers with a printed collection of such of my speeches 
and letters as have a direct bearing upon the subjects of controversy; or of such co- 
pious extracts therefrom, as to leave nothing to be supplied by further quotations from 
them. The preparation of such a compilation was immediately commenced, by a mem- 
ber of the Central Union Committee of Tennessee. It is now completed, and I transmit, 
herewith, a copy of it, printed in the " National Union." It was issued from the press a 
week later than was anticipated by rae, and hence, my answer to your letter, as well as 
to others, has been delayed a week beyond the time I had proposed to myself to answer 
them. 

For the reasons which impel me to decline any further answer to the inquiries in your 
letter, I refer you to the first and second pages of the "National Union." You will ob- 
serve that the ground there taken is, that it would be inconsistent with the declared 
views of the Convention which placed me in the position I now occupy before the 
public, to make any new declaration of principles. But I do not choose to shelter my- 
self under the authority of the nominating convention against any reproach I may incur 
in consequence of the course I have thought it my duty to pursue in relation to this 
subject. Had I been a member of the convention, I would have resisted the adoption of 
any platform, or other declaration of principles, not embraced or implied in the three 
fundamental propositions or objects intended to be maintained and secured by the 
National Union Party, and which constitute the basis of its organization — " The Consti- 
tution, the Union, and the Enforcement of the Laws." The great aim of the National 
Union Party is, to restore peace, with justice to both sections of the Union — not to per- 
petuate strife. 

Whatever may be the policy or designs of others, North and South, who, in their let- 
ters, have insisted upon their right, as a matter of principle, to call upon me to declare 
my views and opinions upon any or all of the questions which have become the subject 
of controversy in the present canvass, and contend that 1 cannot refuse compliance with 
their demands, without a violation of the obligation they assume to exist, on my part, 
as a candidate for public place, I have no distrust of your sincerity and good faith in 



31 

making the earnest appeals to me, which you do in your letter, to take a course, which 
I hope you will, upon reflection, perceive would not be in conformity with the intentions 
and expectations of those who chose rae to be their leader, and the representative of 
their policy and principles; nor do I doubt your sincere desire to support the Union 
ticket, if you can do so consistently with your sense of public duty. It is, therefore, 
with deep regret, that I find myself constrained to differ with you in any of your views, 
and most of all to have to say to you, that I cannot go beyond the record of my politi- 
cal life in responding to the questions presented in your letter. 

If in the authentic exposition of my course upon the subject of slavery, running through 
a period of twenty-five years, you can find nothing to inspire you with confidence that, 
in the event of my election, I would so employ the power and influence of the Executive 
Department of the Government, as to give no just ground of complaint to the South, or 
any other section of the Union, while I would regret the loss of your support and that 
of your friends, I could not reasonably expect to receive it. 

You are at liberty to make any use of this letter you may think proper. 
I am, M'ith great respect and the most friendly regard. 

Your obedient servant, 

JOHN BELL. 

Col. Thomas H. Watts. 



) 

PLEDGE AGAINST SLAVERY AGITATION. 

After the passage of the Compromise Acts of 1850, the following declaration and 
pledge were drawn up by ilr. Clay, and first signed by him and then by some forty other 
leading members of the 31st Congress. They vindicate at once the great importance in 
which Mr. Clay held the Compromise then just passed, and also the immense divergence 
ol' what is now called the Republican party from the views then held. The follow- 
ing is the declaration : 

" The undersigned, members of the Thirty-first Congress of the United States, believing 
that a renewal of sectional controversy upon the subject of slavery would be both dan- 
gerous to the Union and destructive of its objects, and seeing no mode by which such 
controversy can be avoided, except by a strict adherence to the settlement thereof ef- 
fected by the compromise acts passed at the last session of Congress, do hereby declare 
their intention to maintain the said settlement inviolate, and to resist all attempts to 
repeal or alter the acts aforesaid, unless by the general consent of the friends of the 
measure, and to remedy such evils, if any, as time and experience may develope. 

" And for the purpose of making this resolution effective, they further declare that 
they will not support for oflBce of President or Vice President, or of Senator or of Re- 
presentative in Congress, or as a member of a State Legislature, any man of whatever 
party, who is not known to be opposed to the disturbance of the settlement aforesaid, 
and to the renewal, in any form, of agitation upon the subject of slavery. 

Henry Clay, Henry W. Billiard, James. L. Johnson, 

Howell Cobb, Wm. M. Gwin, D. A. Bokee, 

C. S. Morehead, F. E. McLean, J. B. Thompson, 

William Duer, Samuel Elliott, Geo. R. Andrews, 

Robert L. Rose, A. G. Watkins, J. M. Anderson, 

H. S. Foote, David Outlaw, W. P. Mangum, 

Wm. C. Dawson, Alexander Evans, John B. Kerr, 

James Brooks, H. A. Bullard, Jeremiah Morton, 

Thomas J. Rusk, C. H. Williams. J. P. Caldwell, 

A. H. Stephens, T. S. Haymond, R. I. Bowie, 

Jeremiah Clemens, J. P. Phoenix, Edmund Deberry, 

Robert Toombs, A. H. Sheppard, E. C. Cabell, 

James Cooper, A. M. Schermerhoru, Humphrey Marshall, 

M. P. Gentry, David Breck, Allen F. Owen, 

Thomas G. Pratt, John R. Thnrman. 

President Pierce pledged himself in his Inaugural, and again in his first Message, that 
by no act of his should the happy condition of the country under the Compromise be 
disturbed ; yet in 1854 the country was again thrown into agitation on this very subject, 
and the Republican party thereby built up and increased. And it is now a lamentable 
fact, that some of the signers of the pledge are amongst the most ultra of the agitators. 



NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE 

OP THE 

co3srsTiTXJTioisr.A.i:j xjisrionsr fj^tit'^. 



Hon. ALEXANDER R. BOTELER, of Virginia, Chairman. 

" JNO. A. ROCKWELL, of Connecticut. 

" WILLIAM TEMPLE, of Delaware. 

" J. MORRISON HARRIS, of Maryland. 

" JOSHUA HILL, of Georgia. 

" RICHARD W. THOMPSON, of Indiana. 

" M. Y. JOHNSON, of Illinois. 

" ROBERT MALLORY, of Kentucky. 

" MARSHALL P. WILDER, of Massadmsettb. 

" ANTHONY KENNEDY, of Maryland. 

" D. B. ST. JOHN, of 1^ -r York. "^ v 

" JAMES BiSr ■■' fNt. Jersey. 

" JOHN A. GIL;',.wR, of North Carolina. 

" HENRY M. FULLER, of Pennsylvania. 

" THOMAS A. R. NELSON, of Tennessee. 

For the District of Columbia. 

Hon. JOSEPH BRYAN, of Alabama. 

BENJ. OGLE TAYLOR, Esq., Washington City. 

R. H. WILLIAMSON, Esq., 

W. G. FREEMAN, Esq., " 

JOS. H. BRADLEY, Esq., " 

L. A. WHITELEY, Esq., of Maryland, Secretary. 

Headquartiers of the Committee, 357 D street, between 9th and 10th streets, Washing- 
ton, D. C. 



Headquarters National E.xecutive Committee Constitutional Union Party. 

Washington, Ji/Zj' 10, 1860. 

At a meeting of the National Executive Committee of the Constitutional Union party 
held at their headquarters, in the city of Washington, this 10th of July, 1860, the fol- 
lowing resolution was unanimously adopted, to wit: 

Resolved, That, as a weekly campaign paper. The Union Guard has been started in thii 
city, at the solicitation of the National Executive Committee of the Constitutional Union 
party, to be conducted by men of experience, ability, and discretion, who are zealous in 
their devotion to the cause of the Union party, and sincere in their desire to promote 
the election rT Bell and Everett, meets the entire approval of this committee, and we 
heartily commend it to the friends of our cause and our candidates as a reliable cam- 
paign paper and central organ of the party, and a staunch and unwavering defender 
and advocate of the Union, the Constitution, and the enforcement of the laws, and of the 
Union party nominees. We would, therefore, respectfully urge our friends in all the 
States to use their active efforts, without delay, to extend the circulation of the " Union 
Guard," if possible, into every county, and township, and precinct in every State of the 
Confederacy. 

By order of the Committee : 

L. A. WHITELEY, Secretary. 

fl@°" Please circulate. 



'7/.-a/2>^'9 cjx