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compare favorably with any delivered in Congress upon that question.
On March 25th, Mr. Douglas, from the Committee on Territories, reported bills as follows:
" A bill for the admission of the State of California into the Union;"
“A bill to establish the territorial governments of Utah and New Mexico, and for other purposes ;" which bills were read, ordered to a second reading, and ordered to be printed.
In addition to all the resolutions and propositions before the Senate, the three leading questions of the compromise were now before the body in the shape of bills ready for legislative action. The struggle in the Senate for the select committee of thirteen was animated and protracted. For a long time it hung in doubtful balance. The friends of that measure desired to pass all the subjects embraced in one bill. To this there were many objections. Mr.Benton was particularly strenuous in his opposition to any proposition having for its object the connection of the admission of California with any other subject. He declared it an indignity to couple her admission with any other measure. At every stage of the motion to raise the committee of thirteen, he presented his motion to except from the matters referred to said committee the question of the ad-mission of California. When his amendments were voted down in one form he proposed them in another. Mr. Douglas was one of those who had doubted the expediency of uniting the several measures in one bill. But, having succeeded in getting the matters before the Senate in separate bills, and as nothing could be done with either bill as long as a majority of the Senate desired a report from a select committee, he urged the friends of the California Bill to allow the committee to be raised, to abandon a struggle which could result only in a delay of action. Pending these measures, on the 31st of March Mr. Calhoun's death took place. It was not until the 18th of April that the Senate came to a vote upon the motion to raise the select committee of thirteen, and before that time the several memorable scenes between Foote and Benton took place. The vote on raising the committee was, yeas 30, nays 18. On the 19th of April the Senate proceeded to ballot for the members of the committee, and the following senators were elected:
Mr. Clay, chairman ; Messrs. Cass, Dickinson, Bright, Webster, Phelps, Cooper, King, Mason, Downs, Mangum, Bell, Berrien.
As soon as the committee was raised, Mr. Douglas persistently presented his motion to take up the bill for the admission of California. On the day the committee was elected he made the motion making that bill the special order. He was sustained by Mr. Clay; but a committee of six senators having been appointed to accompany the remains of Mr. Calhoun to South Carolina, Mr. Clay said that he “ wished some understanding on the subject of taking up this California Bill with the senator from Illinois and the Senate.” He then stated that the committee of six were about leaving the city, and he wished some understanding that the bill, during the absence of these six members, should not be pressed to a vote. Mr. Douglas promptly responded that he would not feel authorized to ask a vote in the absence of the committee on a duty like that. His only object was to have the bill considered, and, when the Senate had arrived at the point for a test vote, he would defer that vote until the committee should return. To this Mr. Clay said:
“Mr. Clay. That is exactly in conformity with the liberal, manly course of the senator, and, with that understanding, I hope the bill will be taken up.”
Mr. Clay gave notice on that same day that he would, while the bill was under consideration, move to add to it provisions for territorial governments and for the adjustment of the Texas Boundary; and, in explanation, stated that the amendments he proposed to offer were“ the bills reported by the senator from Illinois, and which have already been printed.” Mr. Benton gave notice that he would resist all such amendments; and on the 22d, his resolution that the said committee of thirteen) be instructed to report separately upon each different subject referred to it, and that the said committee tack no two bills of different natures together, nor join in the same bill any two or more subjects which are in their nature foreign, incoherent, or incongruous to each other," was taken up and debated. In the course of that debate, Mr. Cass, a member of the committee, said:
“Now, sir, I think it quite possible, yea, even probable, that the committee will not report any bill at all. The senator (Mr. Benton), then, is presupposing a state of things which may
never occur at all, and which it will be quite time enough to discuss when it does.
“It is perhaps necessary that I should explain what I said a moment ago. I merely meant that, instead of reporting a specific bill or bills, it was quite possible that the committee may propose amendments to, or recommend the passage of bills now before the Senate."
The probable course of the committee, as suggested by Mr. Cass, was the one favored by the distinguished chairman of that committee. It was not his intention then, and not until after his report was written, to report a bill that would include the admission of California or governments for the Territories. Whoever will turn to the report of the select committee will see that it recommends the passage of the bill reported from the Committee on Territories for that purpose, and that the bill reported from the same committee, establishing territorial governments for New Mexico and Utah, making proposals to Texas for the settlement of her boundaries, should be added by the Senate to the California Bill, and all passed as one measure. In the report no mention is made of any bill agreed upon by the committee, except one to abolish the slave trade in the District of Columbia.
How Mr. Clay came to change his determination in this respect may possibly be explained by stating the substance of a conversation between him and Mr. Douglas. Mr. Clay made his report on Wednesday, the 8th of May. On Tuesday, the 7th, Mr. Clay and Mr. Douglas met in the Senate Chamber, and, after an exchange of friendly greetings and some conversation on indifferent subjects, Mr. Douglas inquired of Mr. Clay when he would report his Compromise Bill. Mr. Clay said that he should present an elaborate report upon all the subjects before the committee, in which would be recommended that the Senate should unite the two bills, California and Territorial, which Mr. Douglas had previously reported from the Committee on Territories, and pass them in one act; but he should report no bill on those subjects from his committee. Mr. Douglas asked why Mr. Clay did not himself unite the two bills and report them from the select committee as their bill; to which Mr. Clay promptly answered, that such a course would not be just or fair toward Mr. Douglas, the author of those bills, particularly after having had all the labor, and having prepared
them in a form so perfect that he (Mr. Clay) could not change them in any particular for the better; hence, continued Mr. Clay, as a matter of justice toward Mr. Douglas, he intended to recommend to the Senate to take up the bills as they stood, and, after uniting them, pass them without change.
Mr. Douglas at once stated that he had no such pride in the mere authorship of the measures as to induce him to desire that the select committee, out of regard to him, should omit adopting that course which would or might possibly best accomplish the great object in view. Moreover, there was another reason, which he regarded as of the very highest importance, why the select committee should report to the Senate the bills united into one. It was his opinion they could never pass the two houses of Congress as a joint measure, because the union of them would unite the Opposition to the several measures without uniting their respective friends; the bill for the admission of California, as a separate measure, would receive all the votes from the North, and enough from the South to secure its passage; while the Territorial Bills, if not connected with the California Bill, could receive nearly all the Southern votes, with a sufficient number from the North to secure their passage through both houses of Congress. For this reason, he urged that, if the bills were to be united at all, they should be united by the select committee, and in that form reported to the Senate as the action of that committee. If that course were adopted by the select committee, the Senate would have the several measures before them in two forms
one as separate measures, and the other as a joint measure, and thus all the chances of success would be secured; for, in the event of the defeat of the joint measure, the friends of the Compromise could fall back upon the bills separately. If united in the Senate, and then defeated, all would be defeated.
Mr. Clay acknowledged the full force of this reasoning, but repeated that to take the bills of Mr. Douglas and report them as the great Compromise Bill, prepared by the select committee, would be unjust to their author, who was entitled to all the honor of preparing them.
Mr. Douglas then said: “I respectfully ask you, Mr. Clay, what right have you, to whom the country looks for so much, and as an eminent statesman having charge of a great measure for the pacification of a distracted country, to sacrifice to any
extent the chances of success on a mere punctilio as to whom the credit may belong of having first written the bills ? I, sir, waive all claim and personal consideration in this matter, and insist that the committee shall pursue that course which they may deem best calculated to accomplish the great end we all have in view, without regard to any interest merely personal to me."
Mr. Clay (extending his hand to Mr. Douglas). “You are the most generous man living. I will unite the bills and report them; but justice shall nevertheless be done to you as the real author of the measures.”
The next morning Mr. Clay presented his report, and also reported the bill subsequently known as the “ Omnibus Bill,” being a bill consisting of Mr. Douglas's two bills attached together by a wafer. Extracts from subsequent debates will be found in this volume, and will show, to the satisfaction of all, who was the author of the compromise acts of 1850 relating to territorial questions. True to his promise, Mr. Clay subsequently bore honorable testimony to the ability, fairness, and patriotism displayed by Mr. Douglas throughout that long and memorable session.
The only change made by the select committee in the Territorial Bill was to insert in the sections defining the powers of the Territorial Legislature the words “nor in respect to African slavery.” The effect of this amendment was to deny to the Legislature of the Territories the privilege or authority to legislate upon the subject of African slavery.
On May 13th Mr. Clay addressed the Senate in support of the bill. On the 15th, Mr. Douglas, with a view of saving time, by ascertaining at once the sense of the Senate as to whether the questions involved in controversy should be considered upon the Omnibus Bill or upon the separate bills, moved, as a test question on that point, to lay Mr. Clay's bill on the table. The motion was rejected-yeas 24, nays 28. The Senate having thus decided to consider the general bill in preference to the separate measures, the former thenceforth, and until its fate was accomplished, occupied the consideration of the Senate to the exclusion of the bills of the Committee on Territories.
Mr. Jefferson Davis moved to amend the bill so as to restrain the Legislature from interfering “ with those rights of