Application of Missouri for admission into the Union.--The restriction and compromise bills of I818-19-20.--Debates on the Kansas-Nebraska Bill.--The Organic Act of Kansas Territory.
THE inhabitants of Missouri being desirous of admission into the Union, a bill for that purpose was introduced into Congress in the session of 1818-19. In consequence of Mr. Taylor, of New York, having introduced into it what was then called "the Restriction," providing that involuntary slavery should not exist in the proposed new State, the bill, after having passed in the House of Representatives, was lost in the Senate.
After the adjournment of Congress, the "restriction" became a question of very general public interest. It was liberally discussed in the leading journals, and speeches in relation to it were delivered to large assemblies by some of the most prominent men of the country.
It was revived in Congress at its next session, which met on the 7th December, 1819, and debated in both Houses for a great length of time with a bitterness of feeling on both sides which exceeded anything that had ever been known in the national councils.
At length a "compromise" was proposed by Mr. Thomas, of Illinois, fixing the line of 36° 30' as the future boundary between free and slave States. This, at first, met with little better favor in certain quarters than the absolute "restriction," and was discussed with quite as much spirit and rancor. It finally, however, passed both Houses, and after being submitted by President Monroe to all the members of his Cabinet to ascertain their opinions in regard to its constitutionality, it received his signature and became a law on the 6th of March, 1820.
The distinguishing feature of this bill is embraced in the following section:
"SECT. 8. And be it further enacted,, That in all that territory ceded by France to the United States, under the name of Louisiana, which lies north of 36° 30' north, not within the limits of the state contemplated by this act, slavery and involuntary servitude, otherwise than in the punishment of crime, whereof the parties shall have been duly convicted, shall be and hereby is, forever prohibited."
It was generally supposed that by the passage of this act the question of slavery extension in the United States was forever set at rest. But on the 7th of June, 1836, a bill was passed, without opposition, ceding to Missouri a triangular piece of land between the Missouri River and the west line of the State. By the "compromise," this tract, lying north of 36° 30', was, with all other portions of the Territories, to be forever free from slavery; but from the period of its cession to Missouri until the present time, slaves have been introduced and held therein.
At the session of Congress for 1853-'4, a bill was introduced which provided that all that part of the territory of the United States included between the summit of the Rocky Mountains on the west, the States of Missouri and Iowa on the east, the 43° 30', north latitude on the north, and the Territory of New Mexico and the parallel of 36° 30' north latitude on the south, should be organized into a temporary government by the name of the Territory of Nebraska.
This bill was introduced to the Senate by Mr. Dodge, of Iowa, on the 14th of December, 1853, and referred to the Committee on Territories, and on the 4th of January following was reported back by Mr. Douglas, of Illinois, chairman of the committee, with sundry important amendments; and subsequently the same gentleman introduced a substitute for the original bill, which provided for the creation of two territories--Kansas and Nebraska--and repealed or abrogated the compromise of 1820 respecting the extension of slavery.
The debates upon this bill were even more strong, if possible, than those which resulted in the passage of the compromise act. Nor was the interest excited confined to Washington. The whole country was awakened to the importance of the measure proposed, and public meetings were held in various localities either for its approval or condemnation. Speeches especially characterized by the violence of their denunciations were delivered; the press teemed with partisan maledictions; and addresses and petitions were forwarded to Congress to influence its action. In both Houses the discussion was carried on with a vehemence and passion rarely exhibited in a deliberative body.
Several amendments were made to the substitute of Mr. Douglas before its final passage on the 25th of May, 1854. It received the signature of President Pierce on the 30th of the same month. The most important part of this act, so far as it relates to the Territory of Kansas, is as follows:
"Sect. 19. And be it further enacted, That all that part of the territory of the United States included within the following limits except such portions thereof as are hereinafter expressly exempted from the operations of this act, to wit, beginning at a point on the western boundary of the state of Missouri, where the thirty-seventh parallel of north latitude crosses the same; thence west on said parallel to the eastern boundary of New Mexico; thence north on said boundary to latitude thirty-eight; thence following said boundary westward to the east boundary of the Territory of Utah, on the summit of the Rocky Mountains; thence northward on said summit to the fortieth parallel of latitude; thence east on said parallel to the western boundary of the state of Missouri; thence south with the western boundary of said state to the place of beginning, be, and the same is, hereby created into a temporary government by the name of the Territory of Kansas; and when admitted as a state or states, the said territory, or any portion of the same, shall be received into the Union with or without slavery, as their constitution may prescribe at the time of their admission: Provided, That nothing in this act contained shall be construed to inhibit the government of the United States from dividing said territory into two or more territories, in such manner and at such times as Congress shall deem convenient and proper, or from attaching any portion of said territory to any other state or territory of the United States: Provided further, That nothing in this act contained shall be construed to impair the rights of persons or property now pertaining to the Indians in said territory, so long as such rights shall remain unextinguished by treaty between the United States and such Indians, or to include any territory which, by treaty with any Indian tribe, is not, without the consent of said tribe, to be included within the territorial limits or jurisdiction of any state or territory; but all such territory shall be excepted out of the boundaries, and constitute no part of the Territory of Kansas, until said tribe shall signify their assent to the President of the United States to be included within the said Territory of Kansas, or to affect the authority of the government of the United States to make any regulation respecting such Indians, their lands, property, or other rights, by treaty, law, or otherwise, which it would have been competent to the government to make if this act had never passed."
"Sect. 32. And be it further enacted, That a delegate to the House of Representatives of the United States, to serve for the term of two years, who shall be a citizen of the United States, may be elected by the voters qualified to elect members of the legislative assembly, who shall be entitled to the same rights and privileges as are exercised and enjoyed by the delegates from the several other territories of the United States to the said House pf Representatives, but the delegate first elected shall hold his seat only during the term of the Congress to which he shall be elected. The first election shall be held at such time and places, and be conducted in such manner as the governor shall appoint and direct; and at all subsequent elections the times, places, and manner of holding the elections, shall be prescribed by law. The person having the greatest number of votes shall be declared by the governor to be duly elected; and a certificate thereof shall be given accordingly. That the constitution and all laws of the United States which are not locally inapplicable, shall have the same force and effect within the said Territory of Kansas as elsewhere within the United States, except the eighth section of the act preparatory to the admission of Missouri into the Union, approved March sixth, eighteen hundred and twenty, which being inconsistent with the principles of non-intervention by Congress with slavery in the states and territories, as recognised by the legislation of eighteen hundred and fifty, commonly called the compromise measures, is hereby declared inoperative and void; it being the true intent and meaning of this act not to legislate slavery into any territory or state, nor to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United States: Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to revive or put in force any law or regulation which may have existed prior to the act of sixth March, eighteen hundred and twenty, either protecting, establishing, prohibiting or abolishing slavery."