When, prior to the American revolution, the King and Parliament of Great
Britain attempted to make laws for the Colonies,
The revolution was emphatically a contest whether the people of America should govern themselves, or Great Britain should govern them. The present struggle in Congress upon Mr. Douglass' bill is whether the people of the Territories shall control their own affairs, or the General Government shall control them.
In settling the fundamental principle included in this latter issue, it is
of infinitesimal consequence whether or not a few miserable negroes shall go
Had Congress spent the same time in legislating for white people that it
has for negroes during the past ten years, the general interests of the Union
would have been greatly advanced -- the would have enjoyed more happiness -- and
the limits of slavery would to-day be more circumscribed than they are.
It is, in reality, of the least practical importance whether the Missouri compromise is regarded as abrogated or not. The act is utterly without force or effect, for as Mr. Clay said, in speaking of the Wilmot proviso, "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." But, as establishing a great principle of government, it is of vast importance that the Missouri compromise shall be treated as a nullity. It is demanded of Congress that the assumption of a right to legislate for the Territories shall no longer be maintained, tacitly or otherwise.
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