Thoughts on the proposed annexation of Texas to the United States Page: 37 of 55
This book is part of the collection entitled: From Republic to State: Debates and Documents Relating to the Annexation of Texas, 1836-1856 and was provided to The Portal to Texas History by the UNT Libraries.
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ANNEXATION OF TEXAS.
By the compromise of the Federal constitution, slavery was incorporated
into the government, a power conferred upon, and a representation
given to property wholly foreign to the first principles
of the Union, and for twenty weary years the national sanction
was, notwithstanding Madison's emphatic protest, extended
to that atrocious traffic which the common voice of mankind
now declares piracy. " Twenty years," said Mr. Madison, "will
produce all the mischief that can be apprehended from the liberty
to import slaves. So long a term will be more dishonorable to
the American character than to say nothing about it in the
constitution." [Madison Papers, vol. iii. p. 1426.] Religion and
humanity," said Mr. Rutledge, of South Carolina, "have nothing
to do with the question; interest alone is the governing principle
with nations." [vol. iii. p. 1389.] Such was the spirit which
triumphed in the federal convention. This first error has brought
others equally, even more serious in its train-in the expressive
language of Scripture, " our fathers ate sour grapes and our teeth
are set on edge." Nearly half a century after the formation of
the government, was effected that most unhappy settlement of
the Missouri question, which is the immediate source of our
present difficulties. It is only by looking at the past that states.
men can acquire wisdom-it is only in the hard school of experience
that nations or individuals are taught. It was in the settlement
of the-Missouri question that the slave-holding interest,
that the slave-holding power avowed its determination to extend
and perpetuate its pernicious influence, and it was then that the
freemen of the north were taught that they had in the bosom of
their own country, masters whose wilful blindness and haughty
violence could claim kindred with the most despotic spirits that
the world has seen. Constitutional scruples, and the terms
of the treaty with France, were relied on to justify the course of
southern gentlemen, but all these reasons were abandoned in
that which was so absurdly called a " compromise ;" and the constitutional
power was distinctly asserted in the 8th section of the
act (1820 Mar. 36, ch. 20-21) which declared that slavery should
be prohibited north of thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes of
north latitude, a territory where experience had shown it could
with difficulty exist. Slavery a second time triumphed, and the
bitter fruits of northern weakness have been abundantly enjoyed
in our generation. It is to the settlement of the Missouri question,
to its introduction of two slave States, to its promise of
many more, and to the confidence and arrogance which it engendered
in the slave-holding interest, that we owe those scandalous
acts that have tarnished the character of the country, and
have vitiated the whole action of the government. It is to this
that we owe the digraceful scenes of violence which within a
few years we have witnessed even on the free soil of the northern
States; it is owing to this, that the freedom of the mails
has been violated; to this, that the free expression of northern
opinion has been stifled; to this, finally, that the first statesman
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Sedgwick, Theodore. Thoughts on the proposed annexation of Texas to the United States, book, January 1, 1844; New-York. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth2387/m1/37/: accessed February 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .