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DISCUSSION ON THE COMPROMISE BILL.
styled the Omnibus Bill It proposed the admission of CHAP California ; the organization, without mention of slavery, of the territories of New Mexico and Utah ; the arrange- 1849. ment of the Texas boundary, by paying the latter ten millions of dollars; the abolition of the slave trade in the District of Columbia, and the enactment of a more stringent fugitive slave law.
Senator Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, insisted that 1850, the bill was not equal in its provisions, because the South gained nothing by the measure; and he urged that the Missouri line of compromise should be extended to the Pacific, “ with the specific recognition of the right to hold slaves in the Territory below that line.”
To this Clay replied, that “no earthly power could induce him to vote for a specific measure for the introduction of slavery where it had not existed, either north or south of that line.” “I am unwilling," continued he, “that the posterity of the present inhabitants of California and of New Mexico should reproach us for doing just what we reproach Great Britain for doing to us.” the citizens of those Territories come here with Constitutions establishing slavery, I am for admitting them into the Union; but then it will be their own work and not ours, and their posterity will have to reproach them and not us.”
Calhoun, now near to death, in a speech read by a friend, urged that if the Union would be preserved, it must be by an equal number of slave and free States, to maintain the number of senators equal in the Senate.
“The incurability of the evil,” said Senator Benton, of Missouri, “is the greatest objection.” “It is a question of races, involving consequences which go to the destruction of one or the other; this was seen fifty years ago, and the wisdom of Virginia balked at it then. It seems to be above human reason. But there is a wisdom
CHAP. above human ! and to that we must look, In the meanLV.
time not extend the evil.” 1849. Soon after this occurred the death of John C. Calhoun.
He first entered Congress in 1811, and during almost forty years had filled various offices in the service of his country. A man of primitive tastes and simple manners, uniting the kindliest of feelings with unflinching integrity, and devotion to duty. The latter portion of his public
career was marked by the most strenuous advocacy of Mar. 31.
States' rights and Southern institutions.
A few months later President Taylor was also numbered with the dead. He suddenly became ill with a
violent fever, which terminated his life in a few days, after July, he had beld office sixteen months. He had shown him
self equal to the emergency; and his death was a public calamity indeed. Though elected by one party, his policy and acts were approved by all, and the whole nation mourned his loss.
The Vice-President, on the 10th of July, took the oath, and was inaugurated as President. It was done without show or parade ; merely a joint committee of three from each House of Congress, and the members of the cabinet, attended him. The oath was administered by the venerable William Cranch, Chief Justice of the Circuit Court of the District of Columbia, who, appointed by John Adams, had held the office for fifty years. Not an unnecessary word was spoken ; the ceremony was one of deep solemnity. The first official act of Mr. Fillmore was to call
upon Congress to take suitable measures for the funeral of the late President, “who had been so recently raised by the unsolicited voice of the people to the highest civil anthority
ADMISSION OF CALIFORNIA,
in the government." An impressive funeral service was CHAP
LV. performed, and eulogies pronounced upon him by many of the leading statesmen of the country. The Cabinet re- 1850. signed, and the President nominated another, at the head of which was Daniel Webster as Secretary of State.
Four months had nearly elapsed since Henry Clay reported his Compromise Bill. Its provisions had been thoroughly discussed by the members of both Houses. It was then taken up article by article and passed—the last the Fugitive Slave law. The similar law which had been Sept. enacted in 1787, as part of the ordinance prohibiting slavery in the Territory north-west of the Ohio, and also a law to the same effect passed during Washington's administration, were thought to be defective, and a new one 1793. was framed.
The Supreme Court of the United States held the opinion that justices of the peace in the respective States, were not called upon to enforce the law for the rendition of slaves. Since the agitation of the slavery question in Congress, a dislike to enforcing that law had greatly increased in the free States. The feeling reached the Legislatures and some of them, by law, prohibited the use of their jails for the confinement of fugitive slaves, and the justices of the peace refused to act on the subject. To obviate the latter difficulty the present bill provided for the appointment of United States' commissioners, before whom such cases could be tried.
When the vote on the reception of California was taken, and she admitted to the Union, her senators, Wm. M. Gwin and John C. Fremont, who had been in waiting, immediately took their seats.
The vast region known as Utah, was in the possession of the Indians and the Mormons or Latter Day Saints, a religious sect. It was founded by Joseph Smith, a native of Vermont, but at that time a resident of Central New 1827.
CHAP. York; illiterate and superstitious, cunning and unprin
cipled ; when a youth he loved to dupe his companions ; 1850. at the age of fifteen he pretended that he had seen visions ;
and at twenty-two that he had received a direct revelation from heaven; that he had been directed to a certain hill, where he would find golden plates, covered with Egyptian characters, which he alone, as a prophet, was empowered to decipher. This was the famous “ Book of Mormon.” It professed to give a new system of religion, and to chronicle events which occurred on this continent long anterior to the Christian era.
It is said a man named Spaulding, when laboring under ill health wrote the story to alleviate his hours of ennui ; after his death the manuscript fell into the hands of Smith, who unscrupulously used it to deceive his fellow-men.
His system of polygamy led to gross immoralities; and the vicious, as well as the ignorant, some of whom
may have been honest, became his disciples. In five 1883. years he had twelve hundred followers. At this time the
whole sect removed to Jackson county, Missouri. As they professed to be the true saints, by virtue of which they were to become the inheritors of the western country, they became objects of distrust to the Missourians. The
militia were called out, but the Mormons avoided a con1840. flict by crossing the river to Illinois.
They prepared to make that State their home. On a bluff, overlooking the Mississippi, they founded a city, Nauvoo, and erected an imposing temple. Thefts and robberies were numerous in the vicinity, and these crimes were attributed to the Mormons, some of whom were arrested. The saints, it was said, controlled the courts, for the prisoners were speedily liberated. An intense excitement was produced in the country by these proceedings. At length the Prophet himself, and a brother, were arrested and thrown into prison in the town of Carthage