Secession Era Editorials Project


New York, Tribune [Whig]

(18 January 1854)

Some of the Southern members are startled at the discovery that Douglas's Nebraska bill is a violation of the Compromise of 1850. That it is so is very plain.

The Texas boundary bill, (a part of the Compromise) provides distinctly that the third article of the second section of the resolutions annexing Texas, "shall not be impaired," a clause of which reads as follows:"And in such State or States as shall be formed out of said territory north of said Missouri Compromise line, Slavery or involuntary servitude, except for crime, shall be prohibited."

That Douglas's bill does impair this provision no one will deny, for it declares that such State or States, "shall be received into the Union with or without Slavery as their Constitution may prescribe." So that the prohibitory clause, so solemnly reaffirmed by the Compromise of 1850, is not only impaired but annulled. I know that this view of matter will have great weight with some members who have been counted as favorable to Douglas's bill. And it cannot be too often reiterated or too frequently pressed upon their attention. That Douglas in this matter is playing a game of "sharps," all well- informed politicians here admit.

He may yet be caught in his own machinery. Should an amendment be offered to his bill, establishing Slavery in Nebraska, how would he vote? How would General Cass vote? The latter, in his Nicholson letter, it will be remembered, takes the ground that Government shall neither prohibit or establish Slavery in new States, but leave it to the citizens thereof to determine which they will have -- Freedom or Slavery.

Although Douglas permits Slavery to enter the Territory by his bill, and thereby effectually establishes it there, yet an affirmative provision for its actual introduction, like that of Senator Dixon, would be more satisfactory to the South and less jesuitical in its character.

In the Senate this morning, Mr. Douglas gave notice that he should call up the Nebraska bill on Monday.

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