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Purchase of the Mesilla Valley.—Treaty with Japan.—The Kansas-Ne
braska Bill. The effects of the Measure.—Emigrants to Kansas.Struggles and Conflicts.-James Buchanan, President. The Contest continues in Kansas.--National Progress.
The new President inaugurated on the 4th of March,
was a native of New Hampshire, a graduate of Bowdoin 1853. College, and by profession a lawyer. He had served in
the legislature of his native State, two terms in the House of Representatives at Washington and nearly a term in the Senate of the United States. William L. Marcy, of New York, was appointed Secretary of State.
Owing to the incorrectness of the maps used when the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was made, a dispute arose as to the proper boundaries between New Mexico and the Mexican province of Chihuahua. Both parties claimed the Mesilla Valley, said to be fertile, but more important for affording facilities for a road to California. Santa Anna, who was again President of the republic of Mexico, and intent, as usual, on driving a bargain, took possession of the territory in dispute. The United States obtained the valley, and the free navigation of the Gulf of California and of the river Colorado, to the American boundary by paying the Mexican government ten millions of dollars.
The acquisition of California made the importance of CHAP. commercial treaties with the nations of eastern Asia more and more apparent. During Fillmore's term, Commodore 1853. Perry, brother of the hero of Lake Erie, was sent with a squadron to open communication with the empire of Japan. The inhabitants of those islands from time immemorial had excluded foreigners. The authorities were greatly astonished at the boldness of the Commodore, when he appeared with his steamers—the first that ever floated on those waters—in the Bay of Jeddo. He was ordered to depart; but he declined and insisted on seeing the proper authorities, and making known to them the object of his friendly visit. At length a Japanese officer appeared, who promised to lay the matter before the emperor. The 14th of July was the day named to receive the letter from the President.
The Commodore, escorted by a company of marines, landed. He was received with the pomp of an oriental pageant, and an answer to the letter promised the following spring. The answer was received and a treaty concluded. The merchants of the United States obtained permission to trade in two specified ports—Simodi and Hakodadiand also for the residence of American citizens and consuls at the ports, as well as to visit without molestation in the interior, ten or twelve miles.
The measure that will render the administration of Pierce famous, was the bill to organize the territories of Nebraska and Kansas. This was an immense regionextending from the confines of Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota to the crest of the Rocky Mountains, and from thirty-six degrees thirty minutes north latitude, to the British possessions. This vast territory was a part of the Louisiana Purchase, from which, by the Missouri Compromise, the system of slavery had been excluded.
In part this region had been assigned to the various
CHAP, tribes of Indians, who years before, to make way for sete
tlers, had removed from their lands north-west of the 1853. Ohio. The white settlers who had gone to that region
wished that the Indian titles should be extinguished, and a territorial government established.
In accordance with this wish Senator Stephen A. Jan.
Douglas, of Illinois, proposed a bill in the United States' 1854. Senate, to organize this region into two territories, to be
known as Kansas and Nebraska. This bill contained a
The question, so destructive to national harmony, and which it was hoped had been settled forever, had assumed a new form. The Missouri Compromise had been deemed a sacred compact between the south and the north, and as such, for the third of a century, had received the sanction of all parties. The irritations caused by the fiery discussions in Congress four years previous were by no means yet healed. A deep-toned feeling was excited, especially in the northern States.
It was just fifty years since the purchase of the territory, and up to this time nearly all its benefits had been enjoyed by those who held slaves. Meantime emigrants from the free States had been compelled, from their unwillingness to come in contact with slavery, to seek their homes and farms north of Missouri, and forego the advantages of the genial climate found in the latitude of that State.
These free laborers, as well as those who intended te
EMIGRANTS TO KANSAS.
seek homes in the west, complained that this regie al, CHAP. guaranteed to them by the Missouri Compromise, should be rendered liable to be made slaveholding. Conventions 1854.
. were held and petitions poured into both Houses of Congress, imploring those bodies not to disturb the tranquillity of the country, nor violate the compact so long held sacred. The Fúin did not participate so much in this feeling
In reply to these remonstrances it was said, the principle of “ Squatter or Popular Sovereignty," would obviate all difficulty ; by this principle the people of the territory would be free in their political action, and when they came to form their state constitutions, and ask admission into the Union, they could exercise this right and adopt or reject slavery. With this interpretation the bill passed Congress, after nearly four months' discussion, was signed by the President, and became the law of the land.
Now came the struggle to secure the new State by sending emigrants, whose votes were to decide the question. Two years before, and not with reference to a contingency of this kind, the Legislature of Massachusetts incorporated a company known as “The Emigrants’ Aid Society." This association had been inactive, but now its aid was invoked, and numbers were assisted to emigrate to Kansas. Similar societies were formed in other northern States. The emigrants from the free States went to remain and improve their claims, and found homes for their families. Emigrants came also from the Southern States, but with the exception of those who came from Missouri only a limited number have remained in the territory to improve their claims.
Conflicting opinions soon produced political parties known as Pro-Slavery and Free State, and the practical application of the doctrine of "popular sovereignty” was
CHAP. appealed to, to test which party had the majority, and
according to true democracy should rule. 1854. The first territorial election was held to choose a deleNov.
gate to Congress, and four months later-a census in the Mar. meantime having been taken and the territory divided 1855.
into districts—another election was held to choose members to the Territorial Legislature. In both of these elections, the pro-slavery party claimed that they had chosen their candidates, but the free-state men repudiated the election as fraudulent; giving as a reason that the polls were controlled by armed men from Missouri.
The Territorial Legislature assembled at Pawnee and July immediately adjourned to the Shawnee Mission, near the 2.
Missouri State line. They passed a series of laws, to which Governor Reeder refused his signature, on the ground that the Legislature, by the organic act, could not change the place of meeting appointed by himself. These laws were however passed by a two-thirds vote.
The Free State men held conventions, denied the legality of the legislature, and refused to obey the laws enacted by it, and made arrangements to choose delegates
to a Convention to form a Constitution. In due time this Uct,
Convention assembled at Topeka, framed a Constitution rejecting slavery, and ordered it to be submitted to the vote of the people, who ratified it. One month later the people chose State officers and members for a State Legis
lature. Soon after Governor Reeder was removed from Jan.
his office by the President. 15.
During these ten months confusion reigned in the Territory. Outrages of almost every kind were committed, robberies, murders, illegal arrests and property destroyed, most of which belonged to the Free State settlers.
Wilson Shannon, of Ohio, who had recently been appointed Governor, now appeared and assumed office. He