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SLAVERY AND ABOLITION IN AMERICA. MR. ROBERT J. WALKER, the author of the subjoined remarks in reference to the institution of African slavery in the Confederate States, having held a prominent position in America, a sketch of his political life may not be out of place. He was born in Northumberland county, Pennsylvania, in 1801, and graduated at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, in 1819, when he removed to Pittsburgh in the same State. He soon took an active part in politics, and became Chairman of the Democratic State Central Committee in 1823, supporting General Jackson for the presidency in 1824. None of the candidates that were balloted for having the constitutional majority of the electoral votes, Mr. John Quincy Adams, the second in plurality, was chosen by the House of Representatives. Mr. Walker shortly after this, in 1826, removed to Mississippi, where he began the practice of the law. At that time the State could not have had over 55,000 white inhabitants (the census of 1820 records only 42,634), and he at once assumed a leading and influential position within its limits, taking active interest in its internal affairs. In 1834 he was the Democratic nominee to represent the state in the Federal Senate; but was defeated, owing to the Whigs having a majority in the Legislature; he, however, was successful the following year, and took his seat as one of the 'ambas
sadors' from Mississippi in the Capitol at Washington in January 1836, which he continued to hold until March 3, 1845, when he was appointed Secretary of the Treasury by President Polk, which office he retained during the four years of his administration. Mr. Walker, in the whole course of his career in Mississippi, in Congress, and indeed up to the year 1858, was a strong State rights man, with extreme Southern sentiments. He began so early as 1826 to 'agitate' the annexation of Texas, repudiating the treaty of 1819 with Spain, and with persevering energy accomplished his wishes. It was not, however, until March 3, 1836, that Texas 'seceded' from the Mexican Union. This act was followed by the Battle of San Jacinto on
April 21, 1836, in which Santa Anna was taken prisoner, and on May 20, 1836, the Mexican Government passed a decree annulling all stipulations made between him and the rebels.' Prior to this date, on May 4, 1836, Mr. Preston in the United States Senate presented a petition from citizens of Philadelphia in favour of recognising the independence of Texas. That petition must have been signed within a week after the battle of San Jacinto, and the intelligence of the conflict could not have reached Pennsylvania at that time, as, in those days, there was no telegraphic communication, and the mails were conveyed in a most tedious manner. Mr. Walker, in an able and earnest speech on May 23, 1836, urged upon the Senate the propriety of recognising the independence of Texas; and on June 18, 1836, Mr. Clay, as chairman of the Committee of Foreign Relations, agreed to the same so soon as it should appear that Texas had in .successful operation a civil government capable of performing and fulfilling the obligations of an independent power.' The matter lay over until the next session, when, on January 11, 1837, Mr. Walker introduced the following resolution, which was passed on March 1, 1837, and approved by President Jackson two days thereafter.
Resolved that the state of Texas having established and maintained "an independent government, capable of performing those duties, ' foreign and domestic, which appertain to independent governments, ' and it appearing there is no longer any reasonable prospect of the
successful prosecution of the war by Mexico against said State, it is 'expedient and proper, and in perfect conformity with the law of ' nations, and the practice of this Government in like cases, that the
independent political existence of said State be acknowledged by the • Government of the United States.'
Mr. Walker having opposed, on March 2, 1839, the pretensions of England concerning the Maine boundary question, and likewise having taken part, on February 16, 1843, against the assumption by the Federal Government of the State debts (which idea he charged as being of ‘British origin'), combined with his actions in regard to Texas, made him quite popular throughout the North ; and in October 1843, he was put forward by the Democrats of his own State as an eligible candidate for the Vice-Presidency. On November 25, 1843, he was addressed by a number of the citizens of Kentucky, who requested his views on the topics of the day. His reply, dated January 8, 1844, was very long, extracts from which are subjoined, as noticed above. This letter, although Mr. Dallas was selected by the National Democratic Convention as a candidate for the Vice-Presidency, was used as an electioneering pamphlet, and induced Mr. Polk to invite Mr. Walker to a seat in his Cabinet.
Confedera Writtee states them
Mr. Walker did not return to Mississippi, but, after his term of office of Secretary of the Treasury expired, March 1849, he commenced the practice of law at Washington. In 1851 he visited Europe, and while in London, January 12, 1852, addressed a communication to Mr. Arthur Davies, in which will be found the following strong Southern doctrines:
The United States of America are a Confederated Republic, formed by and composed of separate States, with a written constitution, ' limiting and designating the powers granted by the States to the • general Government, all others being reserved to the States them
selves. . . . We think, also, that it has been confirmed by long • experience in our country; and that all our presidents, chosen by the
people, from Washington to Fillmore, all included, in moral worth, in • exemplary deportment, public and private, in talents and patriotism, were very far superior to any monarchs who, during any period of the world, have, for an equal period of time, been placed by hereditary . descent and accident at the head of any country.'
Mr. Walker, from the fact of having changed his residence from Mississippi to Washington in 1849, of course lost his influence in that State; but Mr. Jefferson Davis, who entered the political arena as late as November 6, 1843, did not allow his removal to interrupt the friendship that had for a long while existed between them. Mr. Davis, after having served in the campaign against Mexico, and in Congress, was selected as Secretary of War by President Pierce, and entered upon the duties of that office March 4, 1853. Through his influence in the Cabinet, Mr. Walker was appointed Commissioner to China. He received his outfit, but did not enter upon the mission, and returned the amount advanced him by the Government for that purpose. At Mr. Davis's request, President Buchanan selected Mr. Walker for the Governorship of the territory of Kansas, and, on May 25, 1857, he delivered his address to the people of that district, which had become invested with a band of lawless Abolitionists from Massachusetts.* In this document he said :
* In order to exhibit the difficulties then existing in Kansas in a true light before the European reader, the following account is furnished, with extracts from the Report of the Committee on Territories of the Federal Senate, submitted on March 12, 1856. The Act of Congress for the organisation of the territories of Kansas and Nebraska was designed to conform to the spirit and letter of the Federal Constitution, by preserving and maintaining the fundamental principle of equality among all the States of the Union, notwithstanding the restriction contained in section 8 of the Act of March 6, 1820 (preparatory to the admission of Missouri into the Union), which assumed to deny to the people for ever the right to settle the question of slavery for themselves, provided they should make their homes and organise States north of 36 degrees and 30 minutes north latitude. Conforming to the cardinal principle of State equality and self-government, in
*Under our practice, the preliminary act of framing a State Constitu* tion is uniformly performed through the instrumentality of a convention
obedience to the Constitution, the Kansas-Nebraska Act declared, in the precise language of the compromise measures of 1850, that, when admitted as a State, 'the said territory, or any portion of the same, shall be received into the Union, * with or without slavery, as their Constitutions may prescribe at the time of their • admission.' Again, after declaring the said section 8 of the Missouri Act (sometimes called the Missouri compromise, or Missouri restriction] inoperative and void, as being repugnant to these principles, the purpose of Congress in passing the Act is declared in these words:
It being the true intent and meaning of this Act not to legislate slavery into State or Territory, nor to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the people thereof per• fectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way, • subject only to the Constitution of the United States.'
The passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act was strenuously resisted by all persons who thought it a less evil to deprive the people of new States and Territories of the right of State equality and self-government under the Constitution, than to allow them to decide the slavery question for themselves, as every State in the Union had done, and must retain the undeniable right to do, so long as the Constitution of the United States shall be maintained as the supreme law of the land. Finding opposition to the principles of the Act unavailing in the halls of Congress and under the forms of the Constitution, combinations were immediately entered into in some portions of the Union to control the political destinies, and form and regulate the domestic institutions of those Territories and future States, through the machinery of emigrant aid societies. In order to give consistency and efficiency to the movement, and surround it with the colour of legal authority, an Act of incorporation was procured from the Legislature of the State of Massachusetts, in which it was provided in section 1, that twenty persons therein named, and their associates, successors, and assigns, are hereby made a cor
poration, by the name of the Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Company, for the purpose of assisting emigrants to settle in the West; and for this purpose they 'shall have all the powers and privileges, and be subject to all the duties, re“strictions, and liabilities set forth in the 38th and 44th chapters of the revised • statutes' of Massachusetts.
The Committee here enter into a detail regarding the Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Society, and remark:
When a powerful corporation, with a capital of five million of dollars invested . in houses and lands, in merchandise and mills, in cannon and rifles, in powder and lead, in all the implements of art, agriculture and war, and employing a
corresponding number of men, all under the management and control of non* resident directors and stockholders, who are `authorised by their charter to 'vote by proxy to the extent of fifty shares each, enter a distant and sparsely settled Territory with the fixed purpose of wielding all its power to control the domestic institutions and political destinies of the Territory, it becomes a question of fearful import how far the operations of the company are compatible with the rights and liberties of the people. Whatever may be the extent or limit of Con'gressional authority over the Territories, it is clear that no individual State has 'the right to pass any law or authorise any Act concerning or affecting the Ter. ritories, which it might not enact in reference to any other State.'
It is a well-settled principle of Constitutional law in this country, that while of delegates, chosen by the people themselves. That convention is now about to be elected by you, under the call of the Territorial Legis' lature, created and so recognised by the authority of Congress, and
clothed by it in the comprehensive language of the organic law, with full power to make such an enactment. The Territorial Legislature, then, in assembling in Convention, were fully sustained by the act of
Congress, and the authority of the Convention is distinctly recognised ‘in my instructions from the President of the United States. Those
who oppose this course cannot aver the alleged irregularity of the · Territorial Legislature, whose laws, in town and city elections, in corpo
rate franchises, and all other subjects but slavery, they acknowledge by their votes and acquiescence. If that Legislature was invalid, then are we without law or order in Kansas; without town, city, or
county organisation ; all legal and judicial transactions are void; all "titles null, and anarchy reigns throughout our borders.
The people of Kansas, then, are invited by the highest authority ' known to the Constitution to participate freely and fairly in the elec
tion of delegates to frame a Constitution and State Government. The • law has performed its entire appropriate function when it extends to the
people the right of suffrage; but it cannot compel the performance of that duty. Throughout the whole Union, however, and wherever • free government prevails, those who abstain from the exercise of the
right of suffrage authorise those who do vote to act for them in that contingency; and the absentees are as much bound under the law and constitution, where there is no fraud or violence, by the majority of those who do vote, as although all had participated in the election. • Otherwise, as voting must be voluntary, self-government would be 'impossible, and monarchy or despotism would remain as the only
• Those who oppose slavery in Kansas, do not base their opposition upon any philanthropic principles, or any sympathy for the African • race. For their so-called constitution, framed at Topeka, they deem
all the States of the Union are united in one for certain purposes, yet each State, .in respect to everything which affects its domestic policy and internal concerns, stands in the relation of a foreign power to every other State.'
Hence no State has a right to pass any law or do or authorise any Act, with a view to influence or change the domestic policy of any other State or Territory in the Union, more than it would with reference to France or England, or any other foreign State with which we are at peace. Indeed, every State of this Union is under higher obligations to observe a friendly forbearance and generous amity towards each other member of the Confederacy than the laws of nations can impose on Foreign States.