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U. S. Senate Debate
West Virginia Statehood

July 1, 1862

Extracted from the Congressional Globe


Mr. WILLEY. I move to take up Senate bill No. 365, for the admission of West Virginia into the Union.

The motion was agreed to; and the consideration of the bill (S. No. 365) providing for the admission of the State of West Virginia into the Union, was resumed as in Committee of the Whole, the pending question being on the amendment of Mr. SUMNER, in section one, lines sixteen and seventeen, to strike out the words "the children of all slaves born within the limit of said State shall be free," and to insert in lieu thereof, "within the limits of the said State there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, otherwise than in the punishment of crime whereof the party shall be duly convicted."

Mr. SUMNER. Before the vote is taken, I wish that the Senate should understand the precise state of the question. The bill for the admission of West Virginia provides that on and after the 4th of July, 1863, all children born of slaves shall be free, leaving the existing generation in slavery. It appears from the statistics furnished by the honorable Senator from Virginia, [Mr. WILLEY,] in his elaborate speech the other day, that there are now twelve thousand human beings in West Virginia held in slavery.

Mr. WILLEY. That was in 1860; but it is not so now.

Mr. SUMNER. There may be fewer now; call the number ten thousand. There are ten thousand slaves there. Those slaves, according to the bill, are to continue in bondage during their lives. Thus, for one whole generation, shall we be afflicted by another slaves State, with two slaveholding representatives in this body.

I mean to speak of the question with all possible respect for the Senators on the other side. I do not wish to introduce any topic that shall be otherwise than agreeable to them, but I must discharge my duties as a Senator. I cannot by my vote consent that there shall be two additional slaveholding Senators for another generation in this body, and when I say that, I wish to make no argument, but I shall simply quote the words of Mr. Webster in this body. In his speech of the 22d of December, 1845, on the admission of Texas, he used this language:

"In the next place, sir, I have to say, that while I hold, with as much integrity, I trust, and faithfulness, as any citizen of this country, to all the original arrangements and compromises under which the Constitution under which we now live was adopted, I never could, and never can, persuade myself to be in favor of the admission of other States into the Union as slave States, with the inequalities which were allowed and accorded by the Constitution to the slaveholding States then in existence. I do not think that the free States ever expected, or could expect, that they would be called on to admit more slave States, having the unequal advantages arising to them from the mode of apportioning representation under the existing Constitution.

"Sir, I have never made an effort, and never propose to make an effort; I have never countenanced an effort, and never mean to countenance an effort, to disturb the arrangements as originally made, by which the various States came into the Union. But I cannot avoid considering it quite a different question, when a proposition is made to admit new States, and that they be allowed to come in with the same advantages and inequalities which were agreed to in regard to the old. It may be said that, according to the provisions of the Constitution, new States are to be admitted upon the same footing as to the old States. It may be so; but it does not follow at all, from that provision, that every Territory or portion of country may at pleasure establish slavery, and then say we will become a portion of the Union, and will bring with us the principles which we have thus adopted, and must be received on the same footing as the old States. It will always be a question whether the other States have not a right (and I think they have the clearest right) to require that the State coming into the Union should come in upon an equality; and if the existence of slavery be an impediment to coming in on an equality, then the State proposing to come in should be required to remove that inequality by abolishing slavery, or take the alternative of being excluded."

Afterwards, in his famous speech of the 7th of March, 1850, he reaffirmed these principles. His language was as follows:

"It has happened, that, between 1837 and this time, on various occasions, I have expressed my entire opposition to the admission of slave States, or the acquisition of new slave Territories, to be added to the United States. I know, sir, no change in my own sentiments or my own purposes in that respect." He then proceeded in that very speech to quote an extract from another speech made by himself at a Whig convention in Springfield, Massachusetts, where he used this language:

"We are to use the first and the last and every occasion which offers to oppose the extension of slavery."

Now, sir, there is the whole argument. In the admission of West Virginia, with a constitution that recognizes slavery for a full generation, we introduce into this Chamber two additional slaveholding votes, and thus give a new lease of power to slavery in the councils of the country. I cannot consent to it, sir.

Mr. HALE. I believe I was entitled to the floor on this question; but I was willing to waive the privilege of saying anything or detaining the Senate a moment if a vote could be taken; but as the Senator from Massachusetts has seen fit to address to the Senate some considerations based entirely or almost entirely on the authority of Mr. Webster, I will say a word. I have not Mr. Webster's speeches with me, but I know that at a later and probably a wiser period of his life he repudiated every word that he said there.

Mr. SUMNER. The last speech I read from was the 7th of March, 1850.

Mr. HALE. He voted against imposing any restriction upon any Territory coming into the Union with a slaveholding constitution, and voted expressly against applying the Wilmot proviso to the new States.

Mr. FESSENDEN. He abandoned it in that very speech.

Mr. HALE. I know he did; and in all the latter part of his life he continually avowed the doctrine of opposition to that proviso; avowed it here on this floor, and voted repeatedly, as you know, sir, against its application. Now, I am not going to vote on this question either because Mr. Webster did or did not do anything on this subject. But I will say this: it will be a remarkable fact in the history of this Government if, from the beginning up to the present time, it has admitted without controversy slaveholding States that had in their constitutions a provision forbidding the Legislature from abolishing slavery, and they were admitted notwithstanding that, and this Republican Congress should refuse to admit the very first State that ever applied with slaves, having in her constitution a condition that she would immediately enter upon the system of prospective emancipation. I say it would be a singular fact if, after having always received slaveholding States with constitutions making slavery perpetual and eternal, the first time a slave State applied for admission with a clause in her constitution looking to the ultimate and entire overthrow of slavery, we should turn our backs upon her, and refuse to receive her.

I am one of those who, since I did not make the world, am content to rely upon the wisdom of Him that did make it, and take things as He has made them, rather than as I, in my weakness and folly, would have had them. This institution, for good or for evil, is amongst us. I believe (as everybody who takes any interest in the opinions of so humble an individual as myself knows) that it is an evil; but I want to get rid of it in some practical form, in some practical way. I want to carry out the recommendation of the President - which we have adopted, I think, almost unanimously - tendering our aid and support to those States that will inaugurate a system of gradual emancipation. For myself - and I only speak for myself - I should brand myself as a hypocrite before God and man if, having voted that I would give the aid of this Government to every State that would inaugurate a system of gradual emancipation, I turned my back upon the first one that came to our doors with gradual emancipation inscribed on her constitution, and tell her I would not have her.

I have stated, and I need not repeat, that I regard slavery as an evil, perhaps not with such intense philanthropy as my friend from Massachusetts; but I hope I do, though, with, if not as refined, as honest an abhorrence of slavery as any man. I desire to see it ended; but, sir, I must deal with it as I deal with all other social, moral, and political evils, as an admitted fact, and take it as a fact and deal with it as wisely as I can. I know there are some very eminent men - there is in my State one of the most eminent theologians we have, a man holding the highest literary, social, and religious position in the State - I mean Dr. Lord, the president of Dartmouth college - who, if I understand him, and I believe I do, thinks honestly and maintains zealously and ably that slavery is a divine institution; that, inasmuch as government is ordained of God, and government cannot go down into all the interstices of society, slavery is a sort of subdivision of government intended by God to go down into those lower interstices where the great political and municipal organizations of the State cannot reach. I do not believe it; but as long as there are men, and man of high culture and high social, literary, moral, and religious position and education that do believe that, it is not for us in our dogmatic wisdom and philanthropy to set ourselves doggedly and obstinately against the convictions of a great many men who possibly may be as wise and as good as we are. I think they are mistaken, totally mistaken; but, sir, when I come to deal with this practical fact I want to deal with it in a practical way. I should hail the advent of a slave State into this Union with a clause in her constitution for a gradual emancipation and abolition - I hail the admission of such a State more gladly, with more satisfaction and more gratification than I would a free State outright. Why? I will tell you why: because there is joy among the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety-nine that need no repentance. {Laughter.}Therefore it is that I would hail the advent of such a State into the Union with more satisfaction than I would a free State outright.

When my friend from Massachusetts, for whom I have the highest regard, both for his head and his heart, his powers and his culture, introduced this amendment, I sent for the Life of Dr. Franklin for the purpose of reading an old fable of the doctor's couched in scriptural language, which I think has a good deal of instruction in it; but the volume I have got has not got the fable in it. I think I can tell it, though. The story was, that Abraham one day sat in his tent, and an old man came along and Abraham invited him in, and gave him water to wash and food to eat, killed the calf, baked cakes, and gave him milk. The old man ate without doing what Abraham had been accustomed to do, asking a blessing over his food. Abraham was exceeding wroth with the old man, and got up, and drove him out of his tent; and God came and made requisition to Abraham, and said, where is the old fellow that was eating in your tent a little while ago? And Abraham said, because he gave not thanks I turned him out. And God said to Abraham, have I borne with you these fourscore years and canst thou not bear with him one night who art thyself a sinner? Sir, in exactly the spirit inculcated by that fable I would deal with slavery, and I would listen today as it were to the voice of God, who asks us, have I borne with this thing so many generations and cannot you bear with it dying, when it begins on the next 4th of July; cannot you bear with it to that time, who are yourselves sinners: In this spirit I would deal with it, and I rejoice that the constitution of West Virginia has this provision in it.

Mr. COLLAMER. Mr. President, I have read this bill; and the motion of amendment which is now proposed and about which we are called to vote by yeas and nays, calls my attention more particularly to it. I have entertained some sentiments upon this subject for many years, applicable to the present question, which I feel it my duty briefly to present.

Mr. President, I have no doubt that Congress has the power and the right, in the exercise of its discretion, to admit a State or reject it. I think that in the exercise of that discretion, every member of the Senate may have his own reasons for his vote, which he is a liberty to disclose or to conceal, and he will judge according to his view of public expediency as to the course in this respect which he should take. There has long been very much agitation in Congress at different periods of history as to whether the Free States, having the majority of the two Houses, should say that they never would admit any more slave-holding States. The southern people have long told us that that thing, if declared, might produce a separation unavoidably. I do not think Congress are ever bound to state, even if they reject the admission of a State on that account, that to be their reason. One man may have one reason for rejecting it, another man may have another reason for rejecting it. They do not become the reasons of the body, they are only those of the individuals. I have always supposed that when a State was admitted to the Union, it should be admitted upon the same footing as the original States. This bill says so; this very bill declares in so many words that this State of West Virginia shall be admitted on the same footing as the other States. Now, what is admitting a State upon the same footing as the other States? What is implied in this? That it is a State, and a sovereign State, as much so as it can be, subject to the Constitution of the United States. Well, what is implied in being a sovereign State and a State of this Union? A State with the power to regulate its own internal concerns in its own way, including the relation of master and slave, and if the State is shorn of that power, if it is stated that that shall be a condition precedent, a prerequisite to their being a State, they are not admitted on the footing of the other States; they are shorn of their power. However we may consider it a reprehensible power, it is still a sovereign power which other States possess and that does not. Therefore I say, Mr. President, it has ever been my opinion that when we admit a State, we must admit it sincerely to be what we declare it to be, on the same footing as other States, and hence I say we cannot make such prerequisites and conditions precedent to the right of admission that they shall exclude slavery or prohibit it, or prohibit common schools or any other thing that the other States at large have a right to do.

There have been two different sorts of acts in the admission of States; and there is a broad distinction between them, very important in practice. One is an enabling act, and the other is the act of admission. They are distinct things entirely. Until the Michigan case, the States that were admitted always had enabling acts first passed by Congress to authorize them to call a convention and form a constitution, with a view to admission, and present it to Congress, and then Congress passed upon it when it was thus presented and that last act admitted them. When the application of Michigan came here, it was the first case where a Territory called a convention, formed a State constitution, and presented it for admission without any enabling act. It occasioned a great deal of debate, but upon the whole resulted in the admission of Michigan. I know there was some difficulty about sending it back afterwards, but Michigan was admitted without an enabling act, upon the presentation of a constitution formed by a convention called in the Territory, and adopted by the people there.

Now, Mr. President, let us inquire how it is about this case. The bill we have before us is an enabling act, if I read it aright. It is an act authorizing the calling of a convention within certain limits and counties named, all put down. It authorizes them to hold a convention and form a constitution. It provides that there shall be contained in that constitution a provision that children born after the adoption of the constitution shall be free. I think that is the substance of it.

Mr. SUMNER. Born after the 4th of July, 1863.

Mr. COLLAMER. It fixes a time and declares that those born after that time shall be free. This is an enabling act, authorizing these people to call a convention and form a constitution to be admitted as a State, provided they shall put into that constitution this provision about children born after such a day being free. This is the first instance in our history in which an enabling act was ever passed that made any king of condition prerequisite as to what, that constitution should contain. To be sure, it is always implied that it must be a republican form of government, but even that has never been put in, because that is open to subsequent inspection of the constitution when it shall be presented.

In the next place, there is another feature to be observed in this bill; that when they have formed their constitution with that in it, without saying anything about what else shall be in it, and the people have ratified that constitution, and the Governor has informed the)President of it, the President is to issue a proclamation, and thereupon they are to be admitted as a State. That, I believe, is the provision.

Mr. WADE. Substantially.

Mr. COLLAMER. That is another new feature in our history. There never was a State admitted in that way yet, and the reason is this; the Constitution provides that Congress shall guaranty to every State a republican form of government, and it has always been holden that when a new State is admitted under an enabling act, or without one, the constitution which it forms shall be presented to Congress, that congress, upon inspection of it, may see that it is a republican form of government. They never have delegated that power to the President or anybody else. Nor does this bill even provide that the President shall find it to be a republican form of government.

Mr. WADE. We have the constitution here.

Mr. COLLAMER. But that constitution is not provided for or recognized in this bill. I have been led to make these remarks because the Senator from New Hampshire suggested what their constitution contained. The bill that we have before us makes no mention of that constitution. It provides for their getting together some more counties besides those that were in before, and for that whole body to make a constitution; and then when that is ratified, they are to be admitted by a proclamation, without Congress ever having seen the constitution. Such a thing as that was never known in our history before. I am aware that constitutions have been presented here several times, which have been recommitted on certain terms and conditions for the people to agree to. For instance, in the case of Missouri, the constitution was presented after an enabling act, but there was a provision in it which Congress thought somehow recognized the idea that the State might make laws to prevent free black people from settling there; and in those days we all thought free black men were citizens, and I believe we always thought so until Judge Taney thought otherwise, and I do not know that many of us have altered our opinions since, even in consequence of that. But in order to provide for that, Congress declared that they should be admitted, provided nevertheless that their Legislature should pass an irreversible act providing that the State never should make a law to prohibit citizens coming in there to settle without regard to their color. They did do it, but there was nothing altered in the constitution; the constitution on which they were admitted was the one which they had passed, and which Congress inspected and found to be a republican form of government.

So, too, I might mention the case of Kansas. A constitution was presented from Kansas and a sort of vote of ratification by various hocus-pocus contrivances. It was recommitted to that people, saying to them, "if you will, with a certain amount of land grants which we offer, agree to this constitution, you may be admitted;" but still it was a constitution we had inspected; and the act went on further to provide that if they rejected that constitution they might make another, but not that they should be admitted under that other constitution until it was presented here and we had examined it and then admitted them. Nowhere in our history can be found an instance where any State has ever been admitted but upon a constitution which they had made and presented to Congress, and Congress had inspected and were satisfied with as being a republican form of government; nor has Congress ever attempted to delegate this power of inspecting the constitution and decide upon that question to any other department of the Government.

Mr. President, these are my views. They may be all wrong, and I am perfectly willing to hear any argument about them; but with these views, with this long train of our history and example, following the precedents, I cannot see how this bill can be passed. One word more in relation to the amendment proposed. I do not know that I should have any particular objection to voting for that amendment. The provision which is in the bill now, for which the amendment is proposed as a substitute, involves the same question in principle. If there can be made a condition precedent binding upon a State, not leaving that State to form its institutions in its own way as others have, it may as well be put in the form fixed by the amendment as in the form in which the committee have presented it. I do not think it any more objectionable on that score than the provision already in the bill, and therefore there would be no particular objection to voting for the amendment.

I want to be distinctly understood on another point. I do not say that if this State, or any other State, under an enabling act, should form a constitution, at this juncture of the country, after all we have now experienced, and should send us a constitution which permitted slavery, I would not vote against it. I say I would not put it in as a condition precedent and as a preliminary that we had authority to make, but I would exercise my discretion upon the question of admission, and that would depend on the constitution they presented and the inspection which I gave it under the light of modern history and after the experience of all the history we have had. I do not say I would reject it. It might have qualified forms in it of gradual emancipation that would commend it so much to me that I would accept it; but if it was left naked and open, without any provision on this subject by which we could fairly pursue at least a progressive emancipation in it, or authorized under it, I should be very much inclined to reject it. Still I would not put it in the enabling act as a condition precedent.

Mr. WILLEY. Mr. President, the objections suggested by the honorable Senator from Vermont had presented themselves to my mind, and I had prepared an amendment with a view of obviating those objections; an amendment, however, which has a wider scope in its operation than merely to obviate the objections suggested by the honorable Senator from Vermont. I have very great doubts whether Congress would have a right to pass this bill, refer it back to the people to ordain an entirely new constitution, and in the same bill at this time virtually admit the State into the Union with that constitution which the Senate had had no opportunity of ever seeing, thus virtually admitting it before the constitution was ordained and adopted by the people who were to be governed by it. I question very much whether Congress would have the power, whether it would not be a violation of the constitution, to admit a State under conditions of that character. And under the influence of my apprehensions in this respect, and for other reasons which I shall mention in due time, I had prepared an amendment striking out all after the word "that," in the first section, down to the last section of the bill; and as I have the highest confidence in the legal judgment of the honorable Senator from Vermont, I would be very glad to have his ear. The very objection so clearly stated by him to the admission of the State by the provisions of this bill had suggested itself to my mind, and under the influence of my apprehensions in that respect, I had prepared an amendment, not only with a view of obviating that objection, but also other objections which I have to the bill, and I now wish to read it, by way of argument, that I may get the judgment of the honorable Senator from Vermont on it, in whose judgement I have the highest confidence. I shall, when it is in order, propose to strike out all after the word "that," in the third line of the first section, down to the last section of the bill, and insert the following:

West Virginia is hereby admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original States in all respects whatever, and upon the fundamental condition that from and after the 4th day of July 1863, the children of all slaves born within the limits of said State shall be free, and that no law shall be passed by said State by which any citizen of either of the States in this Union shall be excluded from the enjoyment of any of the privileges and immunities to which such citizen is entitled under the Constitution of the United States.

Mr. COLLAMER. Will the gentleman read that last clause again?

Mr. WILLEY. It is the clause in the Missouri resolution word for word. It is:

And that no shall be passed by said State by which any citizen of either of the States in this Union shall be excluded from the enjoyment of the privileges and immunities to which such citizen is entitled under the Constitution of the United States.

Mr. COLLAMER. I do not think a law would be good for much if it did that.

Mr. WILLEY. I do not think so either. I did not think so in the Missouri case from which I quoted this provision. It is only ordaining what the Constitution guaranties. My amendment proceeds:

Provided, That the convention that ordained the constitution as aforesaid, to be reconvened in the manner prescribed in the schedule thereto annexed, shall by a solemn public ordinance declare the assent of the said State to the said fundamental condition, and shall transmit to the President of the United States on or before the 14th day of November 1862, an authentic copy of said ordinance, upon the receipt whereof the President by proclamation shall announce the fact; whereupon, and without any further proceeding on the part of Congress, the admission of said State into this Union shall be considered as complete.

Now allow me to state that this is an admission of the State with the constitution now presented to Congress and before the Senate, with this fundamental condition.

Mr. COLLAMER. I suggest to the gentleman that always in these cases, if he will look to the precedents, he will find that acts admitting States begin with stating that they have formed a constitution, that it has been presented to Congress, that Congress have found it to be a republican form of government, and that the same has been ratified by the people; and thereupon Congress do so and so. What the Senator has read I understand is to be the whole bill.

Mr. WILLEY. No, it is not; here is the preamble:

Whereas, by an act of the State of Virginia, passed May 13, 1862, entitled "An act giving the consent of the Legislature of Virginia to the formation and creation of a new State within the jurisdiction of this State," the people of that part of the State of Virginia including the counties of Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel, Marion, Monongalia, Preston, Taylor, Tyler, Pleasants, Ritchie, Doddridge, Harrison, Wood, Jackson, Wirt, Roane, Calhoun, Gilmer, Barbour, Tucker, Lewis, Braxton, Upshur, Randolph, Mason, Putnam, Kanawha, Clay, Nicholas, Cabell, Wayne, Boone, Logan, Wyoming, Mercer, McDowell, Webster, Pocahontas, Fayette, Raleigh, Greenbrier, Monroe, Pendleton, Hardy, Hampshire, and Morgan, did, with the consent of the Legislature of said State of Virginia, form themselves into an independent State, and did establish a constitution for the government of the same.

I intend to make an amendment to that preamble to cover the very grounds suggested by the honorable Senator, and I have a note of it here, "and that it is republican in form," &c., so as to meet that objection, "therefore, be it enacted," &c., and then comes in my amendment. That was the object I had in view, so that the objection suggested by the honorable Senator from Vermont is obviated by the fact that here is a constitution presented to the Senate, recognized and certified to be republican in form, all that the constitutional obligations resting on the Senate could require it to be upon their part, and the amendment which I propose to offer is for the admission of the State with that constitution so recognized and so certified and so before the Senate, upon the fundamental condition expressed in the amendment which I have just read. That is the scope of the amendment which I propose to offer, with a view in point of fact to obviate the difficulty which had presented itself to my mind as well as to that of the honorable Senator from Vermont.

And now, sir, the reason why I wish to get rid of the provisions of the bill reported is this: the people of Northwestern Virginia, as is well known to the Senate and to the whole people of the United States, have been exceedingly harassed. The war has been in their midst, the people have been kept from their farms and from their daily avocations. Notwithstanding all that, they have sent ten thousand men from their midst into the field, the living of whom are still there and at their posts. They have had guerrilla and domestic warfare to encounter, and they have already convened a convention and a Legislature and paid the great expenses incurred by the assembling of their convention and their Legislature.

The PRESIDING OFFICER, (Mr. CLARK in the chair.) The Senator will suspend. It is the duty of the Chair to call up the unfinished business of yesterday, being the resolution of the Senator from Ohio [Mr. SHERMAN] in regard to a quorum.

Mr. FESSENDEN. I move that that be postponed.

Mr. SHERMAN. I hope it will be postponed to a day certain, so that it may be taken up at a certain time.

Mr. FESSENDEN. There will be no difficulty in taking it up; a majority can take it up any time.

Mr. SHERMAN. Very well, let it go over if Senators wish; but I think we had better have a vote on it.

Mr. WILLEY. If agreeable to the Senate, I hope it will postponed.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. It is moved to postpone the resolution until to-morrow.

The motion to postpone was agreed to.

Mr. FESSENDEN. I made the motion, I will state, not with a view of going on with this bill, for I shall take the earliest opportunity to call up the Army appropriation bill when the Senator gets through.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Virginia will proceed.

Mr. WILLEY. I was adverting to the necessity of pointing out some mode by which the people of Northwestern Virginia could be relieved of the trouble and expense, under the extraordinary circumstances in which that people are now placed, of convening another constitutional convention, making another constitution, submitting it again to the people, recalling the Legislature, and sending an act of assent again to the Congress of the United States. They have incurred all this expense already; they have had their convention; they have ordained a constitution; it has been ratified with almost entire unanimity; it has been sent here; it is republican in form; and now, if it be practicable, in consistence with the Constitution and with the views of the Senate on the subject, I hope it may be the pleasure of the Senate to adopt my amendment, that we may avoid all this unnecessary trouble and additional expense. While I am up I wish to notice briefly some of the remarks of the honorable Senator from Massachusetts. I am perfectly aware of the opinion of Mr. Webster which he has read from his speeches, but I beg leave to suggest to that honorable Senator whether there be not a difference growing out of the fact that Mr. Webster made those speeches no doubt in reference to States which were to be erected and established out of Territories of the United States. His remarks were made in reference to the establishment of States from our Territories. They were not made under circumstances and in reference to a state of facts such as those which we now present to the Senate. While I appreciate the kindness and the many kind suggestions the honorable Senator has made to me during the progress of the efforts of the people of Northwestern Virginia to erect themselves into a new Commonwealth, I suggest to him whether in point of fact we are not really acting in the manner best adapted to the accomplishment of the end, and best adapted to secure both the interests and welfare of the slaveholder and the slave himself; whether we are not proceeding in that manner which will best accomplish the purpose. He says he wishes a free State. Do we not, by this fundamental condition which I propose, and by the condition as contained in the bill, present to him an opportunity of securing to the Federal Union one third of the territory of the State of Virginia which is now slave territory? And, sir, allow me to make another suggestion to that honorable Senator. Suppose his amendment prevails. I beg to know what will be the result on that class of population which he proposes to benefit by his amendment. I beg to know in what manner they are to be provided for. And allow me to say that at this day the majority of the eight or nine thousand slaves remaining within the limits of the proposed new State consists of old family servants, who have good homes, who have the love and attachment of their masters, or they consist of very young slaves. The slaves that labor, the slaves that have been valuable in the market, the slaves that have been valuable to masters who held to the right and believed in the expediency of making sale of them, have either already been sold to the South, or they have been carried over within the lines of the enemy. What will be the practical result, then, of the Senator's amendment if it should prevail, and the State should be admitted according to the provisions of the bill now before the Senate? It would be to cast houseless and homeless upon the community old family servants, without any provision for them in their old age; for, by the laws of Virginia, every slaveholder is bound to provide for his slave in his old age; and it would be casting upon the community without guardianship or protection a considerable number of young slaves that are incapable of self-protection. It seems to me the suggestions of humane policy would indicate to the honorable Senator the propriety of allowing those slaves to remain in the custody and under the guardianship of their humane masters, because all those who own slaves remaining there are humane.

Again, sir, suppose this State cannot be admitted if that amendment be incorporated in the constitution; what will be the result? Why, sir, not only will all the living slaves within the proposed limit of the new State be slaves during their lives, but their offspring will be slaves forever. Did not that suggest itself to the honorable Senator from Massachusetts?

Again, sir, I refer to the policy which has been adopted by his own State, perhaps by all the States north of Mason and Dixon's line. I know of no single State, although there were fewer slaves existing in them than exist in this new State, that did not adopt a system of gradual emancipation originally when slaves were emancipated.

Mr. SUMNER. Not Massachusetts.

Mr. WILLEY. Well, sir, almost every State. Pennsylvania adopted a gradual system; and so far as my recollection extends, every State that had slaves adopted a system of gradual emancipation, although there were very few slaves existing among them. New York did so; New Jersey did so; and I believe the last slave in New Jersey, perhaps, if not still living, only died a few years ago. The experience of mankind has shown that for the benefit of the slave, as well as for the benefit of the community where he lives, gradual emancipation is the plan.

Now, sir, we present, especially with the amendment which I had the honor to suggest to the Senate, a project for the introduction into this Union, in point of fact, of a new free State. We secure by the bill as it is reported, and by amendment as I propose to offer it, the freedom of all the slaves that shall be born after the 4th of July, 1863; and I am exceedingly obliged to the honorable Senator from New Hampshire for the very forcible and pointed remarks that he made in reference to this matter.

I will make a few more remarks on this part of the subject, and then take my seat. I say to that honorable Senator, and I say it here as a Senator from Virginia, sustaining a relation to all parts of that State, that, under the obligations which I feel resting on me as a Senator from Virginia, I should not, whatever my personal and local interests and feelings might be, fell myself authorized to do or to agree to anything that would be that would be prejudicial to the eastern section of the State of Virginia. Sir, if I understand my own heart and the feelings of obligation resting on me in the relation that I sustain to Virginia, I would not do aught that would interfere with the rights or the best interests of the eastern section of that State. However much I might personally desire it, however much I might be disposed personally to urge the division of the State, so far as my individual interests are concerned, yet sustaining the relation of Senator to the all the State of Virginia, I would not feel myself authorized here to urge upon the Senate anything that would be seriously prejudicial or detrimental to the eastern section of the State of Virginia. But I say to that Senator, I say to the Senate, and I say to all Virginia, that the God of nature has ordained with His own omnipotent hand that Western Virginia must ever necessarily be free territory. The slave cannot live there; he cannot exist there; and Eastern Virginia can find no argument against me to say that I am not true to her interests when I vote in favor of this gradual emancipation of slavery in the west.

Why, sir, what is the fact? The census shows that within the last ten years, the very era of slavery propagandism, the number of slaves within the limits of those counties which we propose to erect into a new State had decreased upwards of two thousand before the war commenced, and I am authorized to say to the Senate to-day that there are not now, perhaps, exceeding eight thousand slaves within the limits of the proposed new State. The kind of labor we have there is not the kind of labor that is profitable for the employment of slaves. Our geographical location, lying between the State of Ohio, with two hundred and fifty or three hundred miles of free territory, from Wayne county, at the Kentucky line, almost to Pittsburg on the one side, and again down on the Pennsylvania line on the other side, renders it almost impossible to retain in our midst any slave who wishes to escape. The knowledge of that fact has caused many of the slave-owners to sell their slaves South; a great many have run off, and there is not there, to-day, what may be really and truly called involuntary servitude. We are cut off from the eastern section of the State by the impassable barrier of the Alleghany mountains. We have no trade, no intimate social relations with the eastern section of the State. We have no identity of interest in any respect, and especially we have no identity of social relations so far as slavery is concerned. This bill does Eastern Virginia no injustice. It does the slaveholder in Eastern Virginia no injustice. It interferes with no right or interest which he could not exercise, provided the west should remain one State as heretofore.

Mr. President, I say again in the utmost sincerity of my heart that I verily believe the admission of this new State, and the introduction of this clause of gradual emancipation, is not affecting, practically, a solitary right of Eastern Virginia; that it is doing her no injury whatever in any sense of the term. Here is an opportunity presented to the Senate to erect Northwestern Virginia into a free State, a condition for which she was designed by the God of nature - the richest portion of this broad land in mineral resources, with inexhaustible marble quarries equal to those of Egypt and very similar; rich in inexhaustible fountains of salt and oil; and forests exceeding any of those that ever waved upon Mount Lebanon itself, that have remained from the foundation of the government of the State of Virginia undeveloped, useless, valueless, simply because we have not been able to organize improvements within and under the control of the western section.

But perhaps this course of remark and argument is traveling a little from the purport and object of the amendment now under consideration. I hope therefore the amendment of the Senator from Massachusetts [Mr. SUMNER] may not be adopted; and, in my view of the subject, designing to strike out the whole, it is a matter of indifference whether it be adopted or not; but I trust it will be the pleasure of the Senate to strike out all of the bill that I have indicated, and insert my amendment. I suppose, if it be not out of order, I might just as well while I have the floor, as it will take less of the time of the Senate, say not only why I think the Senator's amendment should not prevail, but also why I think the section he proposes to amend with all the other sections I have indicated should be stricken out of the bill.

I confess that I was infinitely surprised when the committee reported to the Senate a bill including fifteen counties within the valley of Virginia in the proposed new State. What are the facts on this subject. The people of Northwestern Virginia had looked over all this ground; they had considered where the line of demarkation should go; they had considered it well; and they fixed the Alleghany mountains as the natural barrier. They were willing to agree to that; not only were those mountains the natural barrier, because they divided the commercial, industrial and social relations of the State, but they were the natural barrier between the desire of the people who wished to be erected into a new State, and the desire of those people who were opposed to being included within the new State.

These additional counties in the valley, which have been added by this bill to the boundaries prescribed by the constitutional convention at Wheeling, and by the Legislature who gave its assent, contain 140,049 white inhabitants and 31,937 slaves. It is proposed by this bill to incorporate in the State of West Virginia, not only 140,409 white persons, who are almost a unit against being included within it, but also to incorporate in the new State 31,937 additional slaves. I ask my honorable friend to consider, taking into view the fact (of which he must be cognizant) of the secession element against whom we have been fighting in our midst, whether they, with a united phalanx of 140,000 additional inhabitants, whom it is proposed to include in our midst, if a convention were called at all, would not ordain a constitution which would never be accepted by this body; a constitution different in its fundamental principles from that which is now presented; whether it would not, in point of fact, forever preclude the people of Western Virginia from making any application to be admitted as a separate State into this Union. Sir, I speak of what I know; I speak of what I am fully advised by hundreds of letters received during the last ten days, that the people of Northwestern Virginia are utterly and irreconcilably opposed to any connection with these people in the valley. They are opposed to it because they have no commercial relations with them; they have no industrial interests in common; they are disconnected by impassable mountain barriers. They have no close social relations with them. They are different in interests, different in social habits, different in feelings, different in desires in this respect; and I venture the assertion that out of the 140,000 inhabitants proposed to be included in the new State from the counties of the valley, there are not 5,000 that desire any union with us. As was forcibly remarked by one of my colleagues the other day, in reference to this matter, if we were thus united in the same State organization, it would be like tying two cats by the tail; we should be forever fighting each other. They are utterly and irreconcilably hostile in social relations and hostile in feeling.

What is the position we now occupy? Upon those mountain barriers these two sections, which it is proposed to unite, have been engaged in battle, and there they stand, with hands dripping in each other's blood; and it is proposed by this bill to unite them in one State municipality! The people of the valley do not desire it. Why do they not desire it? Look upon the map. Why, sir, one of the counties named in this addition to the new State is cut by the Tennessee railroad passing through it for several miles. They have convenient eastern markets in that section entirely different from those markets in which Western Virginia is interested, and with which Western Virginia has connection. Then there is the Central railroad, piercing the Blue Ridge, running up into August county, and thence up the valley. Then there is the Manassas Gap railroad, running up to Strasburg, and projecting a connection with the Central railroad at Staunton. They have all markets in different directions from the natural markets of West Virginia. They have made connections in different directions. They do not wish any union with us on this account. They have separate interests; their markets are different; and all their commercial connections are different; and I say I was exceedingly astonished that it should be proposed to include these counties with the counties of Northwestern Virginia, within the same State municipal regulations.

I have said about all that is proper for me to say on that subject at this time. I merely desire to suggest these considerations to the Senate. I hope they will be favorably received; and I trust it will be the pleasure of the Senate not only to vote down the amendment of the Senator from Massachusetts, but to strike out all of the bill that I have indicated, and insert my amendment. By so doing you secure a new State, that will be perfectly homogeneous and identical in interests with the great States of Ohio and Pennsylvania; the great breakwater which the selfish policy of the eastern government of Virginia has always interposed between those connections across West Virginia will be swept away, and the people of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia will be one people in interest, living together harmoniously; and the great resources of that section of the State will no doubt be speedily developed; while all this can be done without detracting one iota from the interest, the welfare, the rights, or the privileges of the eastern section of the State.

Mr. WADE obtained the floor.

Mr. FESSENDEN. I move that this subject be postponed. I make the motion in order, if the Senate should agree to it, to move to take up for consideration the Army appropriation bill.

Mr. WADE. I want to say a few words on this subject. I am not going to make a speech.

Mr. FESSENDEN. I yield. The Senator yielded to me.

Mr. WADE. I am not going to take time on it now, but I wish to say that this printed bill reported from the committee, I believe, did not receive the formal assent of the committee. For myself, I was much more in favor of a bill embracing the principles of the amendment which the Senator from Virginia now offers than the one now before the Senate. This was rather a new proposition and was not very well considered, but it was as good to bring the question before the Senate as any other. This bill is open to many, if not all the objections, in my judgment, that were urged against it by the Senator from Vermont. The proposition that has been offered by the Senator from Virginia, with some modifications, is seems to me, I might be in favor of.

Mr. President, I have thought a great deal on this subject, and it is a great subject. It is the initiation of a new principle that probably will have to be repeated often before we get through with the great controversy in which we are engaged; and there is much that may be said on the subject on both sides. I have no fears, whatever, that my position on the subject of slavery will be misunderstood. I have no doubt that I have sufficient capital invested on that subject to draw very liberally upon on any occasion that may come up; and therefore I feel entirely unembarrassed upon these questions. I am a practical man. I care very little about theories. I go for practice. I have looked at the condition of things in Western Virginia, and I have come to the conclusion that it is impossible for the people of Eastern and Western Virginia to live together in harmony and peace. It is not a new controversy among thes people. When I come to investigate it, I find that it has existed for a long period of years; much of it probably growing out of the entire isolation of the two sections; for there is really no communication between the east and west. As Governor Pierpont remarked to me, "we have no communication whatever, except it be furnishing a few members of the Legislature, and a few inmates of their penitentiary." In other respects, in commercial feeling, in political feeling, in association, they are entirely isolated. On this subject of slavery they feel entirely different. There is an animosity between them that is more intense, I believe, from what I gather from the best men of that section, than that which exists between any of the northern and southern States. Under these circumstances the question is, shall they be compelled to be joined with the other portions of the State where they will undoubtedly be put under the ban of a hostile legislation for years? They complain that they have been heretofore. It is a standing complaint with them that while taxes and burdens have been imposed upon them by the vast majority of the eastern section, for internal improvements and the like, they have been awarded no benefit from them whatever, and this has aggravated the difference between them. They have no interest in this institution of slavery. As I understand it, they feel no interest in it; and now, when I say that I do not feel any very great objections to the constitution they propose, it is one the ground that it is all a slave country, and it is not spreading slavery abroad; for it is my purpose, so far as my acts can go, to limit that institution. If this constitution is adopted, it does not add a single inch to slave territory; but, on the other hand, it prepares slave territory immediately for freedom.

Mr. SUMNER. My friend will allow me to suggest that it adds to the slave representation. We shall have two slave Senators in this body.

Mr. WADE. I was about to speak of that, and I do not know but that constitutes a real objection. I know very well it takes but a very few slaves, as we have experienced here, to give color to the views of men, and their political sentiments seem to be entirely changed by a very little slavery. But, sir, we have no slave State conditioned as this new State would be after this constitution shall be adopted. I could look to nothing else but the final extirpation of slavery at a very proximate period. In all the other States where they have but a few slaves there seems to be no disposition manifested to get rid of the institution. On the other hand, their members advocate eternal slavery, and lay down the principle that it ought to be cherished, that it ought to be maintained, and they expect to maintain it forever. How is it in a slave community who come up to the principle of giving their assent to its final abolition, and that only depending on the progress of time? Can you find any other slave community that will voluntarily come to Congress and pray you to permit them to come in with a constitution that shall finally wipe out slavery in a few years?

I do not like the proposition as it stands, because it is very objectionable to me to say that a man born on the 4th day of July, 1863, shall be free, and one born the day before shall be forever a slave. I do not like that provision. I should much prefer to have it graduated so that all born after the adoption of this constitution shall be free, and that all between certain ages shall be free at a certain period. That would be more in accordance with those principles of gradual emancipation by which slavery has been abolished in most of the old thirteen States. I wish that that same principle might be adopted here, whereby these people could rid themselves of their connection with the other portions of the State of Virginia, and rid themselves at the same time of this accursed institution of slavery. They propose to do that. Is it wise for us to reject their proposition? I like the sound of the phrase that my friend from Massachusetts seeks to adopt, that there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the State. I am the strongest advocate for placing that restriction on every Territory, because without it slavery can spread over the continent; but when a slave State says to me, "let me into the Union under a reformed constitution that shall extirpate slavery within a very few years," it presents a very different state of things. Nor can I believe that that would not influence the members who may come here. They will come from a State where slavery is under the ban; where it is marked for destruction; where everybody knows there would be no motive to cherish it, because it is waning away, and must disappear very soon.

Mr. SUMNER. Look at Delaware now.

Mr. WADE. Yes, sir; but I have attempted already to make the distinction. Delaware has but very few slaves, and she is tenacious, above all things, to continue what she has, and, if possible, of having more. If Delaware, with a reformed constitution, should knock at our doors and say, let us into the Union on this reform principle, putting slavery under the ban, declaring that it shall be extirpated as unfit to live, and be done as early as it can be done, as they propose in this case, you would find after that no representative from Delaware on this floor who would stand forth as an advocate of an institution branded with the mark of Cain by his constituents, and about to die away. I think that makes a distinction. It seems to me that a State cherishing slavery, refusing and resisting every attempt to do away with it in any manner, treating every proposition to that effect with indignation, scorn and contempt, will be actuated, and its representatives will be actuated by very different principles from a community who have come up, as I said before, and voluntarily fixed the mark of degradation, of extermination upon the institution. I think they are different cases. Therefore, knowing that this community of Western Virginia have no interest in it, and, as I have been assured by the principal men whose influence is all potent there, that their Legislature or the first convention will repeal it, I do not think it is a dangerous thing. I do not think I am stepping aside from the great principles on which I have stood so firmly when I let in a State that comes here saying, we will extirpate slavery, and when their principal men, their Governor has said to me over and over again, the first Legislature that convenes will do away with this thing; that is, as fast as it can be done, considering the propriety of all things.

My friend from Massachusetts, by his proposition, strikes this institution down at one dash. I should like to see it go; but I must look a little to see what its effect will be, after all. Considering that for years past there has been such a fine market for slaves, and everybody that owned them has been tempted to sell them away, who does not suppose that the remnant that is left in this community are mostly old worn- out men and women, who probably would not find their condition bettered by the operation of the clause that my friend seeks to put in here. They are undoubtedly past the prime of life, and they would be thrown, in their old age, on their own resources, when, in fact, those for whom they have labored all their lives ought to be compelled to maintain them throughout; and probably their condition will not be improved if you adopt such a provision. Then there are, undoubtedly, many younger ones; and I want a provision that shall not be quite so abrupt as this, which says that a person born one day shall be a slave forever, and one born the next shall be free. I think there ought to be some provision made for them. As I have already intimated, I should like to see an amendment providing that all the children who, at the time this constitution takes effect, are fifteen or sixteen years old shall be free at such an age - twenty- one, or thirty-five, or something like a gradual emancipation. That has been found to work very well in the old thirteen States, and I do not think the people of Western Virginia would object to it.

But I do not propose now to argue this question. I do not wish to argue it any more than simply to express my desire that the people in that region, all anxious as they are for this law, may be gratified. I do not want this bill as it stands. It takes part of the valley of Virginia, where there are pro-slavery men enough to give color to the whole of it, and overrule it, for aught I know. They are entirely different from the people on the other side of the Alleghany mountains. There there is no violent feeling in favor of slavery. Down in the valley they are as pro-slavery as they are on the sea-coast, or anywhere else. I do not think it is wise to put them in. I never did assent to take those counties in; although if it were known that they would harmonize with the others, I should not have any objection; but my opinion is they would not.

Now, sir, it is said here by many that this bill cannot become a law at this session. I would endeavor to show, if we were not pressed for time, that it was constitutional; but I know that my friend from Maine desires to get up an appropriation bill, and I do not like to stand in his way. I believe some of the best lawyers in the Senate believe that the project of admitting this State is entirely in accordance with the Constitution of the United States. That it is expedient, that the people require it; nay, that they are all anxiety for it; that they are alarmed for fear they will be left in the hands of the old State, I know; and I think we ought to relieve them from that condition. I think justice requires it; I think good policy of free State men requires it; and, as a citizen of the State of Ohio, adjoining these people, I infinitely prefer having in my own neighborhood a good free State to a pro-slavery State. That is all I wish to say about it now.

Mr. FESSENDEN. With reference to the question before the Senate, I wish to say that I feel very favorably to the admission of this proposed State. I have not, however, been able to examine the question myself, and I shall want to be satisfied on one or two points. I make this remark at this time simply to excuse myself for making the motion that I shall make. I wish to be satisfied, in the first place, that we can constitutionally admit the State - not that I am ready to express doubts on the subject, but that my mind is yet uninformed in that particular; and I am glad to hear my friend from Ohio say that some of the best lawyers in the Senate, who have examined this question, have no doubts about it. I presume, if that is the case, that I shall come at the proper time to the same result.

There is one other thing I wish to say, sir, and to say it now, in connection with what has been said by my honorable friend from Virginia: that, considering the position of this State, the small number of slaves there is in it at the present time, and the feelings of the people in regard to that subject, I think it is not only our duty, but we have the entire right to prescribe before the State comes in that she shall put herself in a proper position and an irreversible position on that subject; I mean with reference to the gradual abolition of slavery. I agree with my friend from Ohio that when it is once fixed in such a manner as to be irrevocable that slavery is to terminate in a given time from the time it is so fixed, it becomes a free State in point of fact. People look at the future condition, and they are willing to accept the future condition if within a reasonable time, if it is fixed in such a manner as in no way to be altered by any authority without the assent of Congress, and without the assent of the General Government. To that, I understand my honorable friend to say, the people of Western Virginia will have no objection. I am very glad to hear it; but it should be placed in such a position that no change of opinion on that subject should enable the State to reverse that agreement which has been made, and which bears with it two considerations: not only the interests, or supposed interests of the State itself; but the interests of all the States of the Union as a party to that agreement thus made. That, sir, would be in my mind a matter under existing circumstances that ought to be fixed, especially it being in accordance with what are the wishes and opinions of the people of Virginia herself.

Saying these things, not proposing to make any argument on the subject, but simply to state my general good wishes and good feelings on a subject which has so much interest to the people of Western Virginia, I will now make the motion which I propose to make; and that is, that this matter be postponed with a view to take up the Army appropriation bill, which is pressing upon me at present.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. It is moved that the further consideration of this bill be postponed until to-morrow, and that the Senate now proceed to the consideration of the Army appropriation bill.

The motion was agreed to.

Mr. WILLEY. With leave of the Senate, I will move that the amendment I propose to offer be printed.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. That order will be made if there be no objection. The Chair hears no objection.

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