What was the
We assert that such was the object of those measures, and we will prove it; and our authority is Henry Clay. In his report, as chairman of the Committee of Thirteen who reported the measure to the Senate, he said:
"Out of our recent territorial acquisitions, and in
connexion with the institution of slavery, questions most grave have sprung up,
which, greatly dividing and agitating the people of the United States, have
threatened to disturb the harmony, if not to endanger the safety of the
The committee believe it to be highly desirable and necessary speedily to
adjust all those questions in a spirit of concord, and in a manner to produce,
if practicable, general satisfaction.
Having stated the object of the committee to be to adjust all the questions connected with the slavery agitation, Mr. Clay proceeded to speak of the bills giving territorial governments to Utah and New Mexico, as follows:
"The bill for establishing the two Territories, it will
be observed, omits the Wilmot proviso, on the one hand, and, on the other, makes
no provision for the introduction of slavery into any part of the new
That proviso has been the fruitful source of distraction and agitation.
If it were adopted and applied to any Territory, it would cease to have
any obligatory force as soon as such Territory were admitted as a State into the
Union." * * "The proviso is, as to all these regions in common, a mere
Why would it be any longer insisted upon?
Totally destitute, as it is, of any practical import, it has, nevertheless,
had the pernicious effect to excite serious if not alarming consequences.
It is high time that the wounds which it has inflicted should be healed up
and closed; and that, to avoid, in all future time, the agitations which must be
produced by the conflict of opinion on the slavery question -- existing, as this
institution does, in some of the States, and prohibited, as it is, in others --
the true principle which ought to regulate the action of Congress in forming
territorial governments for each nearly-acquired domain is to refrain from all
legislation on the subject in the territory acquired so long as it remains in
the territorial form of government, leaving it to the people of each Territory,
when they have attained to a condition which entitles them to admission as a
State, to decide for themselves the question of allowance or prohibition of
The "true principle" which Mr. Clay here describes is embodied in Mr. Douglas' bill now before Congress.
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