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gines have annihilated space, and have exploded all theories which rested on the accidents of extent and distance. But what, Mr. Chairman, becomes of that argument, of which we have heard so much in the late debate upon Texas, about natural boundaries, and the configuration of the earth?" It is not a little amusing to observe what different views are taken as to the indications of " the hand of nature," and the pointings of " the finger of God,” by the same gentlemen, under different circumstances and upon different subjects. In one quarter of the compass they can descry the hand of nature in a level desert and a second-rate river, plainly defining our legitimate boundaries and beckoning us impatiently to march up to them. But when they turn their eyes to another part of the horizon, the loftiest mountains of the universe are quite lost upon their gaze. There is no hand of nature there. The configuration of the earth has no longer any significance. The Rocky Mountains are mere molehills. Our destiny is onward. We must cover this whole continent - ay, and go beyond it, if necessary, says
. the honorable member from Illinois. And all for the glory of the Republic! “ The finger of God” never points in a direction contrary to the extension of the glory of the Republic! This would seem to be the sum and upshot of the whole matter. Sir, there is a definition of glory by the immortal dramatist whom I have already quoted, which such a course of remark has brought to my remembrance, and which I cannot forbear citing
“Glory is like a circle in the water,
'Till, by broad sprcading, it disperse to nought." And this, this, will be the glory of that spirit of aggrandizement which is seen, at this moment, leaping over the Sabine in one quarter, and dashing itself upon the Rocky mountains in another!
A few words in reference to the precise bill before us, Mr. Chairman, will bring me to a close.
I listened, Sir, with great pleasure, to the remarks of the Chairman of the Committee by which this bill was introduced, (Mr. A. V. Brown,) who closed the debate last evening. If the
whole discussion had been conducted in the same tone and temper in which he addressed the House, and if the bill had been originally drafted in the shape to which he has expressed his willingness now to reduce it, there would have been little cause for regretting the introduction of the subject. I agree with him in his two principal positions. I concur with him, first, in the opinion, that it is inexpedient for us to terminate the convention of joint occupation until negotiations have been still longer pursued. I agree with him, also, that it is perfectly consistent with the existence of that convention for us to extend our jurisdiction over our own citizens, just so far as Great Britain has extended her jurisdiction over her own subjects, in the Oregon Territory; and, so far, I am willing to go with him.
But I am of opinion that the bill under consideration, even with the amendments which have been proposed, goes far beyond this mark. The section which provides for the granting of lands to settlers, with whatever limitations and qualifications it may be guarded, will be considered as an assumption of exclusive sovereignty, or, as an indirect mode of securing an exclusive advantage. The British Government will so construe it. And how will our Secretary of State be able to gainsay such a construction, when he has already admitted the justice with which it would be set up, in a speech of his own in the Senate of the United States within eighteen months past, as printed in the Congressional Globe before me? I need not trouble the committee with citations. Any gentleman can turn to the speech for himself. But is it not worth while for the friends of Mr. Calhoun to pause, before they place him in a predicament, in which the only alternatives will be, either to resign his post, or to defend a course of proceeding, as Secretary, which he has openly condemned as a Senator ?
Even as a measure for the American settlers in Oregon, without regard to the claims of Great Britain, this bill is not alto. gether to my taste. It provides for the appointment of a governor and judge, who are to have absolute authority to promul. gate and enforce throughout the Territory of Oregon, any and all laws which they may see fit to select from the statutes of any State or Territory in the Union; which laws are to continue in force until positively disapproved of by Congress - a limitation which we all know, from our experience in regard to other Territories, is practically inoperative. This discretionary dominion of these two officers is to last until there shall be five thousand free white male American citizens of twenty-one years of age in Oregon to authorize the establishment of a legislative body for themselves. This will be no brief term for such a Duarchy. The tide of emigration is now setting towards California, and not towards Oregon. There has been a great deal of delusion as to the prospect of an early colonization of Oregon. It is now pretty well understood that there are as good lands on this side of the Rocky Mountains as on the other, so far, at least, as the country north of the 420 degree of latitude is concerned. The day is still distant, when there will be five thousand free white male American citizens in Oregon. I am told that there are not two thousand there now. And I do not believe that these American citizens will thank you for breaking up the little temporary organization upon which they have agreed among themselves, in order to make way for so arbitrary a system as is provided for them by this bill.
One limitation upon the discretion of these two irresponsible lawgivers ought certainly to be imposed, if the bill is to pass. As it now stands, there is nothing to prevent them from legalizing the existence of domestic slavery in Oregon. It seems to be understood that this institution is to be limited by the terms of the Missouri compromise, and is nowhere to be permitted in the American Union above the latitude of 36° 30'. There is nothing, however, to enforce this understanding in the present
The published documents prove that Indian slavery already exists in Oregon. I intend, therefore, to move, whenever it is in order to do so, the insertion of an express declara. tion that “there shall neither be slavery, nor involuntary servi. tude, in this Territory, except for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted." *
But I am in hopes, Mr. Chairman, that the bill will not become a law at the present session, in any shape. Every thing
* This amendment was subsequently offered by Mr. Winthrop, and adopted by a vote of 131 to 69.
conspires, in my judgment, to call for the postponement of any such measure to a future day. We ought not to contemplate the possibility of a question like this being settled otherwise than by peaceful negotiations. We ought to give ample time for those negotiations, and do nothing which can interrupt or embarrass them. We have nothing to regret in our past negotiations with Great Britain ; we have nothing to fear from those in which we are now engaged. Reproaches as to the former, and menaces as to the latter, are alike but the ebullitions of party heat or personal hate, and will perish with the breath in which they are uttered. Mr. Webster has dared to preserve the peace of the country by abating something of our extreme territorial claims on the Northeast, and he has earned the gratitude of all good citizens by doing so. I trust Mr. Calhoun will not be frightened out of that kindred spirit of conciliation and concession, which he has already manifested on this subject in the Senate, by the bluster and braggardism of this debate. We have twice offered to compromise with Great Britain on the 49th parallel of latitude, and such a compromise would be the very best result that we have a right to anticipate now. And even if some slight deviations from this line should be found necessary for effecting a peaceful settlement of the question, the sober judgment of the nation would not hesitate to approve the concession.
But, Mr. Chairman, if gentlemen will insist on contemplating the necessity of a resort to arms upon this question - if they have come to the conclusion that, inasmuch as the 49th parallel has been twice offered and twice refused, there is a point of honor between the two nations which can only be settled by a fight — if they are converts to the syllogism of the honorable member from Illinois, that no English Minister dares to accept the 49th parallel, and no American Secretary dares to offer more, ergo, they both dare to involve the world in war still, I say, postpone the present proceeding. We enter, to-day, upon the last month of an expiring administration. A new President is about to enter upon the four years' term to which the people have elected him. A new Congress will soon be in existence to act upon his recommendations. Upon this new
administration has been solemnly devolved the responsibility of conducting both the domestic and foreign affairs of the nation during its next Olympiad. Let us leave that responsibility undisturbed. Let us not employ the last moments of our power in creating difficulties which others must encounter, and exciting storms which others must breast. Rather let us do what we may, to secure for those upon whose shoulders the government has fallen, a serene sky and a calm sea at the outset of their voyage, that they may take their observations, and shape their course deliberately; and let all our good wishes go with them, as my own certainly will, - that they may complete their career, without striking either on Domestic Discord or Foreign War! If they fail in doing so, let the responsibility be wholly their