Secession Era Editorials Project


New York, Tribune [Whig]

(9 February 1854)

The Nebraska bill originally reported, was a deception -- a fraud in disguise. It was a cowardly attempt to abrogate the slave-prohibiting compact of 1820 by indirection. It resulted, finally, in the present Kansas and Nebraska bill, by which that compact is expressly declared to be "inoperative." The originators of this proposed violation of a solemn and sacredly observed Adjustment, include the President and portions of his Cabinet, rival presidential aspirants and greedy recipients of governmental patronage and plunder. We now learn that a body of the representatives of the South, who are always united in the support of all schemes for the extension of the patriarchal institution, and who now anticipate a certain victory with the aid of the northern doughfaces, have still another deception in contemplation.

The Missouri Compromise Act forever prohibited Slavery in that portion of the Territory ceded by France, under the name of Louisiana, north of 36* 30' north latitude. To repeal the slave-prohibiting provision of this act, which legislated Slavery out of this Territory will not, it is said, legislate Slavery into it; and hence the necessity for another deception, which has been assigned to the Committee on Indian Affairs in the House, of which Mr. ORR, of South Carolina, is the Chairman. This gentleman, as we are informed, has prepared an elaborate report, accompanied by a bill which, at the proper time, is to be presented to the House. It is ostensibly designed to humanize, civilize and christianize those Indians tribes which our Government has removed to the Nebraska Territory, and to which it has guaranteed the perpetual possession thereof. Such is the ostensible purpose of the bill -- but its real design is to legislate Slavery into this territory. The bill provides that each Indian shall be entitled to a specific quantity of land; that each Indian who has a wife, shall have a certain additional quantity, with another additional quantity for children, and for slaves, still another additional quantity, according to the number of slaves he may possess. Such is the substance of the bill.

Now it is well understood that some of the Indians, half-breeds and Indian traders, inhabiting Nebraska, have slaves; and this cunningly devised bill under the disguise of philanthropic and humane regard for the Indians, aims simply at a legislative recognition of Slavery within the territory. To grant to the owners of slaves a preemption right to lands, more or less according to the number of their slaves, would be a positive recognition of the sort. It would legislate Slavery into the Territory after the passage of Mr. Douglas's bill had abrogated and repealed the Act of 1820, which "forever prohibited" the institution from taking root on that soil.

The President, with his doubtful Free-Soil antecedents and surroundings, is ready to second any proposition from the South, in the hope of winning its support for a second term. Douglas, with his insane aspirations for the Presidency, is content to play second fiddle to the Executive, trusting that his Mississippi plantation, covered with human chattels, will turn the scale of Southern support in his favor. And Northern doughfaces, who are the recipients and expectants of the public plunder, will be the servile followers and abettors of any man or any measure that promises either present or future enjoyment of the offal distributed from the Executive table. Let those who believe men are statesmen because they know how to cheat, wait and see how these plotters will come out.

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