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On the 28th of Nov., Mr. Steele of N. C., sought to be referred to the Committee on the called the attention of the House to the above Fugitive Slave Law. He believed them to be memorial of Warner Mifflin. He was sur-free people, and contended that they had an prised to find this subject started anew by a
undoubted right to petition the House and to
be heard. fanatic, who, not content with keeping his
Mr. Swanwick defended their right to petiown conscience, undertook to become the tion. keeper of the consciences of other men; and, Mr. Blount said the laws of North Carolina in a manner which he deemed not very decent, did not permit a man to manumit his slaves. had intruded his opinions upon this House.
Mr. Sitgreaves of Pa., defended the petition. Had an application been made to him to pre
Mr. Heath was clearly convinced that these sent such a petition, he would have avoided a
people were slaves, and that the object of their compliance with it. Gentlemen of the North petition was within the jurisdiction of the legis
lature of the state, and not the United States. do not realize the mischievous consequences Mr. Madison of Va., thought it a judicial which have already resulted from measures case. If they are free by the laws of North of this kind; and, if a stop were not put to Carolina, they ought to apply to those laws it, the Southern States would be compelled to and have their privileges established. He apply to the General Government for their thought they could obtain their due in a court interference.
of appeals in that state.
Messrs. Rutherford and Gilbert defended He concluded by moving, " that the paper a reference. purporting to be a petition from Warner Mr. W. Smith thought that the petition Miffin, be returned to him by the Clerk of the ought to be sealed up and sent back to the House; and that the entry of said petition be petitioners. expunged from the Journal.”
Mr. Christie was much surprised that any Mr. Ames of Mass., who had presented the gentleman would present such a petition, and petition, defended his presentation of it on
hoped the gentleman from Pennsylvania would
never hand in such a one again. the ground of the general right of every citi Mr. Holland contended that it was a judicial zen to petition Congress. The petitioner's question, and that the House ought not to representative being absent, he had not, on pretend to determine the point. that account, felt at liberty to decline present
Mr. Macon of N. C., contended that justice ing it. He had no idea of supporting the would be done them in his state. He conprayer of the petition ; but had made up his ceived it a delicate matter for the general mind long since that it was inexpedient to government to act on, and hoped the petition
would not be committed. interfere with the subject.
Mr. W. Smith, alluding to a remark of Mr. That part of the motion directing the peti- Thatcher, that he wished to draw these people tion to be returned, was agreed to. The re- from a state of slavery into liberty, did not mainder was withdrawn by Mr. Steele, the think that they were sent there to take up
subject of emancipation.
Nr. Varnum of Mass., and Mr. Kitchell, On the 30th of Jan., 1797, Mr. Swanwick defended the right of the memorialists to petiof Pa., presented the petition of four slaves, tion, and hoped their petition would be re
ceived and be committed. who had been emancipated as they allege, representing that, under some law enacted by
The motion to receive the petition was North Carolina, they could again be reduced negatived. Yeas 33 ; Noes 50. to slavery; that they had escaped to Pennsyl
On the 30th of Nov., 1797, Mr. Gallatin of Fania to avoid its effects ; and petitioned Con- Pa., presented a memorial of the annual meetgress to look into the matter, as also to the ing of Quakers, relative to the oppressed state case of a fellow black, who was once manu- of their African brethren, particularly those in mitted, and, under the same law of North North Carolina, who had been manumitted and Carolina, was again reduced to slavery; and again reduced to slavery. It also was directed who, escaping therefrom, was lying in the against every species of extravagance and disjail of Philadelphia, under the sanction of the act of the General Government called the fighting, shows, plays, and other expensive
sipation, such as gaming, horse-racing, cock Fugitive Slave Law, &c., &c., &c.
diversions and entertainments. Mr. Swanwick hoped the petition would be
The reception of the petition was debated referred to a select committee. Mr. Blount from N. C., hoped it would not
at great length. Finally it was referred to a even be received. He said, under the law of select committee, consisting of Messrs. SitNorth Carolina they were slaves, and could greaves of Pa., Nicholas of Va., Dana of be seized as such.
Conn., Scharman of N. J., and Smith of Md. Mr. Thatcher of Mass., thought the petition On the 29th of Jan., 1798, Mr. Sitgreaves,
from the select committee, reported that the breathed the general spirit of emancipation, facts referred to in the petition were exclu- and though its request began with the District, sively of judicial cognisance; that therefore it its ulterior purpose went much further. He is not competent for the Legislature to do any- opposed the printing:
The motion to print was negatived by a thing in the business, and recommend that the
large majority. memorialists have leave to withdraw their memorial,
On the 12th of December, 1831, Mr. John On the 14th of Feb., 1798, the House con- Quincy Adams presented fifteen petitions from curred in the report of the committee.
numerous inhabitants of Pennsylvania, prayThe same petition was presented in the ing the abolition of slavery in the District of Senate, but withdrawn.
Columbia, and the abolition of the slave-trade
therein. So far as the latter desire was conIn the Senate, on the 21st of Jan., 1805, corned, he thought it a proper subject of legisMr. Logan of Pa., presented the memorial of lation by Congress, and that the petitions on the representatives of the Quakers, pleading that account should be referred to the comthe cause of their oppressed and degraded mittee on the District of Columbia. As to the fellow men of the African race, and praying other prayer of the petition, the abolition of that Congress may adopt effectual measures slavery in the District of Columbia, he deemed to prevent the introduction of slavery into the it his duty to say that he would not support it. territories of the United States.
Whatever his opinion of slavery in the abOn the question shall the petition be re- stract, or of slavery in the District of Columceived, it was decided in the affirmative, bia might be, he hoped the subject would not
Yeas.--Messrs. Adams of Mass., Bayard of Del., Brown of be discussed in the House. He would say
The petition was referred to the committee
A like memorial was presented in the House mittee, on the 19th of Dec. made a report, askon the same day, and referred.
ing to be discharged from the further con
sideration of so much of said petitions, as During the month of January, 1817, several asked the abolition of slavery in the District petitions were presented against the slave
of Columbia. trade between the middle and southern states, which were read and referred.
In the Senate, January 7, 1836, Mr. Mor
ris of Ohio, presented several petitions from During the first session of the 16th Congress, citizens of Ohio, one of which was signed by sundry petitions were presented against the ladies, praying the abolition of slavery in the introduction of slavery into any state there- District of Columbia, and moved to refer them after to be admitted, some of which were to the committee on the District of Columbia, referred and others merely read.
Mr. Calhoun asked that the question should
first be taken on receiving the petition. He On the 12th of February, 1827, Mr. Barney demanded it on the part of the state he repreof Md., presented to the House a memorial of sented, because one-half the Union was deeply certain citizens of Baltimore, Md., praying slandered in these petitions. The Senate had that a law may be passed providing that all refused to receive petitions, because they imchildren hereafter born of parents held to plicated members of that body. Were they to slavery, within the District of Columbia, shall put more reprobation on the slander of an in
dividual member, than on the slander of be free at a certain age, and moved that it be
sovereign states ? printed.
He demanded the question, because these Mr. McDuffie of S. C., opposed the printing memorials aimed at a violation of the constiof the memorial.
tution, and because he was averse to an agitaMr. Cook of Ill., moved to lay it on the tion which would sunder the Union. It was table; which motion the chair pronounced to agitation here that they feared, because it be out of order.
would compel the southern press to discuss Mr. Powell of Va., opposed the printing the question in the very presence of the slaves,
Mr. Barney had made the motion to print, who were induced to believe that there was a because the memorialists had requested him powerful party at the north, ready to assist to do so. He was perfectly content to acquiesce them. As a lover of the Union he objected to in the decision of the House.
receiving them, nay, they must cease or the Mr. Dorsey of Md., conceived the memorial | southern people never can be satisfied. And
how will you put a stop to them? By receiv- which these memorials are now presented ? ing these petitions and laying them on the A number of fanatics, led on by foreign intable? No, no! The A bolitionists understood cendiaries, have been scattering arrows, firethis too well? Nothing would stop them but brands, and death throughout the southern a stern refusal, by closing the doors to them, states; the natural tendency of their publicaand refusing to receive them.
tions is to produce dissatisfaction and revolt Mr. Morris of Ohio, contended, that the pe- among the slaves, and to incite their wild pas. titions contemplated no legislation by Con- sions to vengeance. All history, as well as gress, not within its constitutional power, the present condition of the slaves, proves that exclusive legislation being, in his opinion, there can be no danger of a servile war, but in vested in Congress, both as to persons and the mean time what dreadful scenes may be things within the District of Columbia. In this enacted before such an insurrection, which view of the case he contended for the recep-would spare neither age nor sex, could be suption of the petition, and warned the Senate to pressed; what agony of mind must be suffered, be careful how it tread on this ground, lest, especially by the gentler sex, in consequence in its attempts to make petitions palatable, of these publications ? Many a mother clasps it does not abridge the sacred right of peti- her infant to her bosom when she retires to tion.
rest, under dreadful apprehensions that she Mr. Porter of La., opposed the reception may be aroused from her slumbers by the of the petition.
savage yells of the slaves by whom she is surMr. Buchanan had had in his possession rounded. These are the works of the aboliseveral weeks a memorial from a meeting of tionists. That their motives may be honest I Quakers, making the same prayer, which he do not doubt, but their zeal is without knowhad deferred presenting, because he believed ledge. The history of the human race prethat, by private consultations, some resolution sents numerous examples of ignorant enthumight be devised upon this exciting subject, siasts, the purity of whose intentions cannot which would obtain the unanimous sanction be doubted, who have spread devastation and of the Senate. He felt it, however, to be due bloodshed over the face of the earth.” to the memorialists, himself, and the Senate, * “This being a true statement of the respectfully but firmly to state the reasons case as applied to the states where slavery why he could not advocate their views, or exists, what is now asked by these memorial acquiesce in their conclusions.
ists? That in this district of ten miles square, if any one principle of constitutional law a district carved out of two slaveholding can at this day be considered as settled, it is states, and surrounded by them on all sides that Congress had no right, no power, over the slavery should be abolished. What would be question of slavery in those states where it the effects of granting their request? You exists. The property of the master in his would thus erect a citadel in the very heart slave existed in full force before the federal of these states, upon a territory which they constitution was adopted. It was a subject have ceded to you for a far different purpose, that then belonged, as it still belongs, to the from which abolitionists and incendiaries could exclusive jurisdiction of the Southern States. securely attack the peace and safety of their These states, by the adoption of the constitu- citizens; you establish a spot within the slavetion, never yielded to the general government holding states which would be a city of refuge any right to interfere with the question. It for runaway slaves; you create, by law, a remains where it was previous to the establish- central point from which trains of gunpowder ment of our confederacy,
may be securely laid, extending into the surThe constitution has in the clearest terms rounding states, which may at any moment recognised the right of property in slaves. It produce a destructive and fearful explosion. prohibits any state into which a slave may By passing such a law you introduce the have fled, from passing any law to discharge enemy into the very bosom of these two states, bim from slavery, and declares that he shall and afford them every opportunity of producbe delivered up by the authorities of such ing a servile insurrection. Is there any reastate to his master; nay, more, it makes the sonable man who can for one moment suppose existence of slavery the foundation of politi- that Virginia and Maryland would have ceded cal power, by giving to those states within the District of Columbia to the United States, which it exists representatives in Congress, not if they had entertained the slightest idea that only in proportion to the whole number of free Congress would have used it for any such purpersons, but also in proportion to three-fifths pose? They ceded it for your use, for your of the number of slaves.
convenience, and not for their own destrucAfter showing that Congress, on the 23d laws of Virginia and Maryland, then, and not
tion. When slavery ceases to exist under the day of March, 1790, had so determined, and till then, ought it to be abolished in the Disthat the Union would be dissolved at the mo-trict of Columbia.". ment an effort would be seriously made by the Mr. Buchanan continuing said, notwithfree states in Congress to pass such laws, he standing those were his views, he could not continued :
vote against receiving these memorials, but
moved that the whole subject be postponed "What, then, are the circumstances under until Monday next.
Mr. Benton concurred in the views of Mr. tion be received, and it was decided in the Buchanan.
affirmative by yeas and nays as follows: Mr. Tyler of Va., advocated their reference
YEAS.-Messrs. Benton of Mo., Brown of N.C., Buchanan to the committee on the District of Columbia, of Pa., Clay of Ky.. Clayton of Del., Crittenden of Ky. in order that a report from that committee Davis of Mass, Ewing of o., Ewing of HII., Goldsborough might be made which would dispose of the Hubbard of N. H., Kent of Md., King of Ald., King of subject.
Geo., Knight of R. I., Linn of Mo., McKean of Pa., Morris Nr. Brown of N.C., advocated laying them Robbins of R. I., Robinson of II., Ruggles of Me., Shep
of Ohio, Naudain of Del., Niles of Conn., Prentiss of Vt., cn the table without printing.
ley of Me., Southard of N. J., Swift of Vt., Talmadge of Mr. Leigh of Va., advocated a distinct ex. N Y., Tipton of Ind., Tomlinson of Conn., Wall of X. J.,
Webster of Mass., and Wright of N. Y.-36. pression of opinion by Congress as to its con NAYS.—Messrs. Black of Miss., Calhoun of S. C., Cuthstitutional power over the question.
bert of Geo., Leigh of Va., Moore of Ala., Nicholas of La., Mr. Preston of S. C., thanked the Senator of Tenn.-10.
Porter of La, Preston of S.C, Walker of Miss., and White from Pennsylvania (Mr. Buchanan) for the
On the 11th of March, 1836, the question reprobation he had given the petition here presented.
was taken on the motion of Mr. Buchanan, Messrs. Calhoun and Brown continued the that the prayer of the memorial be rejected, discussion, and the subject was postponed. and it was decided in the affirmative, yeas
On the 11th of January, Mr, Buchanan pre- 34, nays 6. Every Senator who voted on the sented the petition from the Quakers, which he above vote was present, except Messrs. Calhad alluded to in his speech as having been in houn, Clayton, Kent, Moore, Naudain, and his possession for some time. He moved that Southard. Every Senator present voted aye it be read and its prayer rejected.
on Mr. Buchanan's motion, except Messrs. Mr. Calhoun demanded a vote on the recep- Davis, Hendricks, Knight, Prentiss, Swift, tion of the petition.
and Webster. During the pendency of the long debate The large number of petitions, &c., praying on these petitions, Mr. Swift of Vt., on the the abolition of slavery in the district, which 28th of January, 1836, presented another pe- were presented to the House during the first tition to the same effect from citizens of Ver- session of 24th Congress, gave rise to a variety mont, which he requested might be read. of resolutions, motions, &c., with reference to
The petition was read, when Mr. Calhoun the power of Congress over the subject, and demanded the preliminary question upon its the proper disposition which should be made reception.
of these petitions. Finally, on the 8th FebThe question was laid on the table on mo- ruary, 1836, Mr. H. L. Pinckney, of S. C., tion of Mr. Buchanan, to be called up again obtained a suspension of the rules to enable when the Senate was prepared to make a final him to introduce the following resolution : disposition of it.
“Resolved, That all the memorials which On the 9th of March, 1836, the question have been offered or may hereafter be preagain came up on the motion to receive the sented to this House, praying for the abolition petition presented by Mr. Buchanan. of slavery in the District of Columbia, and
Mr. Calhoun spoke at length against receiv- also the resolutions offered by an honorable ing the memorial.
member from Maine (Mr. Jarvis) with the Mr. Clay of Ky., did not agree with Mr. member from Virginia, (Mr. Wise,) and every
amendment thereto proposed by an honorable Calhoun as to the right of Congress to refuse other paper or proposition that may be subthe reception of a petition. The right of peti- mitted in relation to that subject, be referred tion carried with it the right of being heard on to a select committee with instructions to reany subject that the body addressed had the power to act on. As to the right of Congress authority to interfere in any way with the
port, that Congress possesses no constitutional to abolish slavery in the District of Colum- institutions of slavery in any of the states of bia, he was inclined to think, and candor this confederacy; and that, in the opinion of required the avowal, that the right did exist, this House, Congress ought not to interfere in though he was opposed to the expediency any way with slavery in the District of Co of exercising that power. He was opposed to lumbia, because it would be a violation of the the motion of Mr. Buchanan to receive and public faith, unwise, impolitic, and dangerous immediately reject the petition. He did not to the Union, assigning such reasons for these think it a safe, substantial, and efficient enjoy- conclusions, as in the judgment of the comment of the right of petition, to reject it with. mittee, may be best calculated to enlighten out its passing through the usual forms. That the public mind, to repress agitation, to allay right he thought required of them to examine, excitement, to sustain and preserve the just deliberate, and decide, either to grant or refuse rights of the slaveholding states, and of the the prayer of a petitioner, giving the reasons
people of this district, and to re-establish harfor such decision, &c., &c.
mony and tranquillity among the various secThe question was then taken, Shall the peti- tions of the Union.”
The resolution having been adopted, the fol- | Lincoln, of Mass.; Mason, of 0.; McCarty, of Ind.: McKen. lowing gentlemen were appointed the com- Potts, of Pa.; Reed, of Mass.; Russell, of N.Y.; Slade, of Vt; mittee:-Messrs. Pinckney, of S. C., Hamer, Sprague, of K. I.; Vinton, of 0.; and Whittlesey, of 0. of Ohio, Pierce, of N. H., Hardin, of Ky.,
The third resolution was carried by a vote Jarvis, of Me., Owens, of Ga., Dromgoole, of of 117 yeas to 68 nays. Va., and Turrill, of N. Y.
Every member who voted No on the last On the 18th of May, 1836, Mr. Pinckney Messrs. Harrison, Kilgore, Lee and Parker.
vote did so on this, with the exception of presented a unanimous report from the said Messrs. Harrison and Parker did not vote at committee, concluding with the following re-all on this vote. Messrs. Kilgore and Lee solutions :
voted Aye. In addition to the negative vote “Resolved, That Congress possesses no
as above stated, Messrs. Beaumont and A. constitutional authority to interfere in any
Buchanan, of Pa., Corwin and Crane, of Ohio, way with the institution of slavery in any of Garland, of Va., Glascock, of Ga., Granger, the states of this confederacy.
of N. Y., Haley, of Conn., Harper, of Pa., “Resolved, That Congress ought not to in- Holsey, of Ga., Howell, of Ohio, Judson, of terfere in any way with slavery in the District Conn., Jones, of Va., Laporte, of Pa., Love, of Columbia.
of N. Y., Patton, of Va., Pearce, of R. I., "And whereas it is extremely important Pickens, of s. c., Schenck, of N. 'J., Shinn and desirable that the agitation of this of N. J., Steele, of Md., Storer, of Ohio, subject should be finally arrested for the Thompson, of Ohio, Wardwell, of N. Y., and purpose of restoring tranquillity to the public Webster, of Ohio, voted No on the third mind, your committee respectfully recommend resolution. the adoption of the following resolution : In the Senate during the second session of
“ Resolved, That all petitions, memorials, the Twenty-Fifth Congress, the plan was inresolutions, propositions, or papers relating in any way or to any extent whatever, to the
variably pursued of laying the question of subject of slavery or the abolition of slavery, reception upon the table. shall, without being either printed or referred,
At this session Mr. Calhoun introduced his be laid upon the table, and that no further celebrated resolutions, induced by the aboliaction whatever shall be had thereon.” tion petitions which were being flocked in upon
Mr. Hardin, of Ky., a member of the com-Congress. These resolutions will be found at mittee, deemed it necessary to say, as the re- their appropriate place in this book, under the port had been called a unanimous one, that caption of Mr. Calhoun's name. he had attended none of the meetings of the committee, and there was a part of the report In the House, at this session, the excitement from which he entirely dissented; to wit, produced by abolition petitions, &c., was inthat the abolitionists were few. He believed tense. A better description of that excite there were a great many, and that the report ment, and the action to which it brought the had been got up to suppress that fact. House, cannot be better written than that from
Messrs. Wise and Bouldin, of Va., Thomp- the pen of Col. Benton in his valuable histoson, of S. C., and others, assailed the report. rical narrative of his time in the Senate. I Messrs. Pinckney, of S. C., Howard, of Md., give a synopsis of Col. Benton's description of and others, defended it.
the scene in the House, on the 20th of DecemOn the 25th of May, 1836, the first resolu- ber, 1837, during the proceedings on the motion was adopted by a vote of yeas 182, nays tion of Mr. Slade, of Vermont, to refer two 9. The negative vote being Messrs. J. Quincy memorials, praying the abolition of slavery in Adams, Clark, of Pa., Denny, of Pa., Everett, the District of Columbia, to a select committee. of Vt., Jackson, of Mass., Janes, of Vt., Phillips, of Mass., Potts, of Pa., and Slade,
* The immediate occasion of this contest,” of Vt. Messrs. Glascock, of Ga., Pickens, of says Col. Benton, was the pertinacious effort S.C., and Robertson, of Va., asked to be excused of Mr. Slade, of Vermont, to make the prefrom voting and did not vote. Mr. Wise, of sentation of abolition petitions the ground of Va., and Thompson, of S. C., refused to vote agitation and action against the institution of on the question.
slavery in the Southern States. Mr. Slade had The second resolution was then adopted, moved to refer the resolutions presented by yeas 132, nays 45.
him to a select committee, with instructions to The negative vote was as follows:
report upon them. Upon making this motion, Messrs. Allen, of Vt.; Bailey, of Me.; Bond, of 0.; Bordon,
he commenced a violent assault upon the inof Mass ; Briggs, of Mass; Calhoun, of Mass.; Carr, of Ind. stitution of slavery. Mr. Rhett, of South CaChambers, of Pa.: Childs, of N. Y.; Clark, of Pa.; Cushing, rolina, interposed to warn him of the conseGrendell, of Mass.; Hall, of Vt.; Hard, of N. Y.; Harrison quences of such an inflammatory harungue. of Pa.; Hazeltine, of N. Y.; Henderson, of 'a. ; Heister, of Mr. Slade refused to desist, and was interw. Jackson, of Mass.; Janes, of vč.: Jones, .; Kilgore rupted by a motion, made by Mr. Daws, of of 0.; Lane, of Ind.; Lawrence, of Mass.; Josh. Lee, of N. Y.; Georgia, for an adjournment. The Speaker