Secession Era Editorials Project


Raleigh, North Carolina, Register [Whig]

(31 May 1854)

Without waiting to learn the reasons which induced these gentlemen to vote against the Nebraska Bill, the "Standard" has opened upon them a most bitter and hyena-like attack. -- This is just what might have been expected from a print, which cannot treat a Whig with common justice, whilst it is ready, on all occasions, to cloak the acts and motives of members of its own party, however indefensible they may be. Such malice will but recoil on the head of the Editor; -- it will not hurt the objects of his assault.

Now the "Standard" knew very well, that Mr. Rogers has been an ardent friend of the Bill, as it came from the Senate, -- that he is in favor of the principle of non- intervention, by the General Government, on the subject of slavery in the Territories. Could it not see at once, -- did it not know, -- the reason which caused Mr. R. to vote against the Bill? The Senate Bill had in it what was called the "Clayton amendment." In the House of Representatives, Mr. Richardson, (a locofoco) moved, as a substitute, another Bill, which did not have in it the said amendment. -- Whilst this substitute was under consideration, Mr. Rogers (as the proceedings show,) made strenous efforts to incorporate the amendment, and make the Bill what it was when it came from the Senate. But he was ruled down, and all amendments declared out of order, by a locofoco Speaker.

Now what was the effect of the Clayton amendment? It was this: By the original Bill, all foreigners going into the Territories had a right to vote at once, without being naturalized, as required in other cases. The amendment made it necessary for them to reside there a certain length of time and to be naturalized, before they could exercise the privilege of voting.

The effect of the Bill, without the amendment, on the interests and rights of the South, is too plain, we take it, to admit of much doubt, -- especially should the Homestead Bill become the law of the land. Thousands and tens of thousands of foreigners, having no knowledge of our institutions, would pour into these Territories. They are large enough to make ten or fifteen such States as North Carolina; and but a few years would pass, before six, or eight, or perhaps a larger number of States, carved out of them, would be admitted into the Union, with non-slaveholding Constitutions. In the meantime, we could look no where for as rapid an increase in that section where slavery will likely go. What, then, will be the consequence? Not only the balance of power broken down, between the slave and the free States, with a large preponderance in the Senate in favor of the latter, but that very section which is now held out as open to the slaveholder, by this very measure, filled up by a foreign population violently hostile to our interests!

We presume that no member of Congress from the South, of either party, is opposed to the doctrine of non-intervention, unless it be that arch locofoco, Thomas H. Benton. This is a great and salutary principle. But is there not such a thing as surrounding, encumbering, hedging in a principle with such provisos and conditions, as to render it worse than useless, -- make it even mischievous and dangerous in the extreme, when accepted with such incumbrances? Congress says, in substance: -- "We acknowledge the right you have to carry your slaves to Nebraska and Kansas, but, to prevent you from doing so, we will force or decoy into those Territories a population, who will never let you go there, and who will drive you back, or take away your property, if you do go!"

These things are entitled to some consideration. We can well imagine how Messrs. Rogers and Puryear could have seen much in the Bill which might be injurious to the South, without the Clayton amendment, -- more especially in view of the probable passage of the Homestead. That they were honest in their motives, no man dare gainsay. The disgraceful and contemptible effort of the "Standard" to reflect upon them, by proclaiming that they voted with "Giddings and others," deserves the scorn of every fair minded man in the State. That paper knows that their motives in voting against the Bill were as wide apart from those which governed the freesoilers who did the same thing, as the poles are asunder. Yet, by a sneaking and covert insinuation, it would leave the impression that they were co-operating with abolitionists!

But why did the "Standard" pass over its own friends, Houston, Harriss, Benton, and Millson, to vent its mean malice on Messrs. Rogers and Puryear? It was not willing to let it be known that they were in the company of some of its own special pets and friends.

As to the enquiry, whether their votes do not place them in a hostile attitude to Messrs. Badger and Kerr, the "Standard" need give itself no uneasiness. Any one of five grains of sense, and a much smaller quantity of honesty, can well see how these gentlemen might differ as to the effect of the Clayton amendment, whilst they agreed on the great principle asserted in the Bill. But we ask pardon for saying this much. Messrs. Rogers and Puryear will doubtless define their own positions, and that they are able to take care of themselves, before their constituents, without the aid and despite the enmity of the " Standard," we have not the least misgivings!

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