Secession Era Editorials Project

Passage of the Nebraska Bill in the House.

Jackson, Mississippi, Mississippian [Democratic]

(2 June 1854)

The Nebraska bill passed the House on the 23d, in the precise form in which it came from the Senate, except that the Clayton amendment was stricken out. This amendment prohibited foreigners who have declared their intention to become citizens, from voting in the affairs of the territory.

We are gratified at the passage of the bill, because it achieves the great object of removing from Congressional interference the slavery question -- and leaves its settlement in the territories to those who are directly interested when they come to form their organic law, preparatory to admission to the Union.

We are gratified, because it erases from the statute-book, as unconstitutional and a most odious enactment to the South, degrading her institutions, and asserting her inferiority in the Union. When the Missouri interdiction was adopted, after a stormy struggle between the two sections, Niles' Register, (see vol. 18, p. 26,) a faithful and impartial chronicler of the times, thus announced the result:

The votes on this question conclusively prove that a large majority in both houses were of opinion that Congress holds a constitutional right to inhibit slavery in the territories of the United States. * * * The territory North of 36 deg. north latitude is "forever" forbidden to be peopled with slaves, except in the State of Missouri. The right, then, to inhibit slavery in any of the territories is clearly and completely acknowledged, and it is conditioned as to some of them that even when they become States, slavery shall be forever prohibited in them.

The power thus unwisely yielded thirty-four years ago, to Congress, to prohibit slavery in the territories, is revoked. The dangerous precedent is done away with. The standard of Equality between the States, is raised aloft; and the doctrine of the Constitution once more reigns supreme.

The Missouri restriction was a monstrous assumption of power. It not only prohibited slavery in the territories, but went beyond that, and undertook to control the action of the people north of a certain line, after they had organized sovereign and independent States. It is "now acknowledged," said Niles' Register, "that even when they become States, slavery shall be forever prohibited in them," -- thus denying to the people of the States the right to establish or change in any way their domestic institution. Surely an important end is gained, when a doctrine so at war with the Constitution and so subversive of the liberties of the people, is disavowed by the Central Government.

We are gratified at the result, because it is a triumph of the Administration over treason to the Constitution, over faction, and over disaffection in the ranks of the Democratic party. The President did not hesitate to make known his views in favor of the bill. He did not seek to conciliate faction; but disregarding all minor considerations, identified his Administration with the measure. During its progress, the Washington Union, that no misapprehension might exist as to his position, said:

It need not now be repeated that President Pierce was an early, and that he has been an ardent and constant advocate of the Nebraska Bill. It has become a prominent measure of his administration. If it be defeated in the House, it will, it must be admitted, be a defeat of the Administration.

But the administration has triumphed; and we rejoice at it because in its triumph a breach in the Constitution has been repaired.

So much for the principles contained in the bill. Whether slavery will exist in either Kansas or Nebraska, remains to be seen. On this point, we will quote briefly, an extract from a late speech of the Hon. Mr. Zollicoffer, of Tennessee:

It is been said there is nothing of practical good to be accomplished by this bill. But an honorable member from Vermont, (Mr. Meacham,) who opposes this bill, tells me: "You may declare that slavery cannot go there because of climate and production; but I will put it to an honest and practical test. The Missouri delegation are men of great ability and integrity; they are on the borders, and can express their own opinion. If any man representing Missouri believes that slavery will not go to Kansas, on the passage of this bill, I now invite him to say so. No denial. Why should it not go there as well as to Missouri, on the same parallel of latitude?"

The southern boundary of Kansas is but a half degree north of the north boundary of Tennessee. I will not now detail my reasons, but I have a strong faith that Kansas will become a slave State. We owe it to Missouri to give Kansas a chance.

We have seen it stated elsewhere, that there are a number of slaves already in Kansas -- carried there by the Indians. Mr. Benton in a speech on the 19th, expressed the opinion that it would not become a slave State owing to the preponderance of the Northern population, but admitted it to be "adapted to slave labor in two of its great staples, hemp and tobacco." "Kansas, " he remarked, "is contiguous to southern and middle Missouri, where slave labor is profitable, and slaves are held in great number." We believe it is in the power of the people of the Southern States, if they will bring the right sort of energy and organization to bear, to make Kansas a slave State.

The following is the vote on the bill:

YEAS -- Messrs. Abercrombie, James C. Allen, Willis Allen, Ashe, David J. Bailey, Thos. H. Bayly, Barksdale, Barry, Bell, Bocock, Boyce, Breckinridge, Bridges, Brooks, Caskie, Clingman, Chrisman, Churchwell, Clarke, Clingman, Cobb, Colquitt, Cox, Craige, Cumming, Cutting, John G. Davis, Dawson, Disney, Dowdell, Dunbar, Dunham, Eddy, Edmundson, J.M. Elliott, English, Faulkner, Florence, Goode, Green, Hendricks, Henn, Hibbard, Hill, Hillyer, Houston, Ingersoll, George W. Jones, J. Glancy Jones, Roland Jones, Kerr, Kidwell, Kurtz, Lamb, Lane, Latham, Letcher, Lilly, Kindsley, McDonald, McDougall, McNair, Maxwell, May, J.G. Miller, Smith Miller, Mordecai Olds, Oliver, Orr, Packer, Perkins, Phelps, Phillips, Powell, Preston, Ready, Reese, Richardson, Riddle, Robbins, Rowe, Ruffin, Shannon, Shaw, Singleton, G.W. Smyth, Snodgrass, F.P. Stanton, RH. Stanton, A.H. Stephens, Straub, David Stuart, John J. Taylor, Tweed, Vail, Vansant, Walbridge, Walsh, Warren, Witte, D.B. Wright, Wright of Pa., Walker and Zollicoffer. -- 113.

NAYS -- Messrs. Ball, Banks, Belcher, Bennett, Benson, Benton, Bugg, Campbell, Carpenter, Chandler, Crooker, Cullom, Curtis, Thos. Davis, Denn, Dickinson, Drum, Deavitt, Dick, Eastman, Egerton, Edmunds, Thos. D. Eliott, Ellison, T. Everhart, Farley, Fenton, Flagler, Fuller, Gamble, Giddings, Goodrich, Grow, Aaron Harton, Harrison, Hastings, Haven, Heister, Howe, Hughes, Johnson, Daniel T. Jones, Kittridge, Ketchum, Knox, Lindsey, Lyon, McCulloch, Mace, Mayall, Mattleson, Middlesworth,, Millson, Morgan, Morrison, Murray, Nichols, Norton, Andrew, Oliver, Parker, Pennington, B. Perkins, Pratt, Pringle, Puryear, David Ritchie, Thos. Ritchie, Rogers, Russell, Sabine, Sage, Sapp, Simmons, Skelton, Seymour, Gerritt Smith, H.L. Stevens, Stratton, Andrew Stuart, J.L. Taylor, Thurston, Tracy, Trent, Upham, Wade, Witley, B. Washburne, Wells, John Wentworth, Israel Washburne, Tappan Wentworth, Wheeler and Yates -- 100.

[table removed]

The announcement of the result, says a dispatch to the N.O. Picayune, caused great applause, which however, was mingled with hisses. These were met by loud cries of "order."


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