The Era of conservatism passed, also by imperceptible gradations, into the Era of slavery propagandism. Under the influences of this new spirit we opened the whole territory acquired from Mexico, except California, to the ingress of slavery. Every foot of it was covered by a Mexican prohibition; and yet, by the legislation of 1850, we consented to expose it to the introduction of slaves. Some, I believe, have actually been carried into Utah and New Mexico. They may be few, perhaps, but a few are enough to affect materially the probable character of their future governments. Under the evil influences of the same spirit, we are now called upon to reverse the original policy of the Republic; to support even a solemn compact of the conservative period, and open Nebraska to slavery.
Sir, I believe that we are upon the verge of another era. That era will be the Era of reaction. The introduction of this question here, and its discussion, will greatly hasten its advent. We, who insist upon the denationalization of slavery, and upon the absolute divorce of the General Government from all connection with it, will stand with the men who favored the compromise acts, and who yet wish to adhere to them, in their letter and in their spirit, against the repeal of the Missouri prohibition. But you may pass it here. You may send it to the other House. It may become a law. But its effect will be to satisfy all thinking men that no compromises with slavery will endure, except so long as they serve the interests of slavery; and that there is no safe and honorable ground for non-slaveholders to stand upon, except that of restricting slavery within State limits, and excluding it absolutely from the whole sphere of Federal jurisdiction. The old questions between political parties are at rest. No great question so thoroughly possesses the public mind as this of slavery. This discussion will hasten the inevitable reorganization of parties upon the new issues which our circumstances suggest. It will light up a fire in the country which may, perhaps, consume those who kindle it. * * *
(Born 1794, died 1865.)
On the Kansas-Nebraska bill;
SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES, FEBRUARY 8, 1854
I will not take up the time of the Senate by going over the somewhat embarrassing and perplexed history of the bill, from its first entry into the Senate until the present time. I will take it as it now stands, as it is printed on our tables, and with the amendment which was offered by the Senator from Illinois (Mr. Douglas) yesterday, and which, iI suppose, is now printed, and on our tables; and I will state, as briefly as I can, the difficulties which I have found in giving my support to this bill, either as it stands, or as it will stand when the amendment shall be adopted. My chief objections are to the provisions on the subject of slavery, and especially to the exception which is contained in the 14th section, in the following words: