New York Times, “The Tariff Bill,” January 16, 1857

    Source citation
    “The Tariff Bill — Political Speeches,” New York Times, January 16, 1857, p. 1: 5.
    Newspaper: Publication
    New York Daily Times
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    The Tariff Bill — Political Speeches
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    Newspaper: Column
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    Meghan Allen, Dickinson College
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    The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print.  Spelling and other typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.



    The House went into Committee on the Tariff bill. Mr. KEITT said he was opposed to all free lists in measures of this kind, because they would render necessary, to the extent of the exemption, additional duties on articles which were taxed. Branching from this subject he alluded to the Slave Trade. Notwithstanding all the efforts for its suppression, it had gone on from 45,000 to 150,000 souls per annum, while the mortality among them has increased from 5 to 50 per cent. African cruisers are not fitted out in the South, but in Boston, New-York, and other Northern critics.

    The framers of the Constitution foreboded the formation of geographical parties and prophesied their dissolving influence on the Union. It would not be bound by treacherous combinations, nor quieted by sentimental invocation. Some men had announced a political millennium in the event of the election of Mr. BUCHANAN; but who was to come into the Senate from the State of the President elect, where he had receive thirty thousand of a majority? Was he (CAMERON) one of the national conservative men? Look at his record. The Senatorial election was the first alarm given, or the first flag which fluttered at the masthead as a signal of distress. He (KEITT) will not be told that some few tricky men were bought. If a true man was not elected, it was either because of a dereliction of duty on the part of national men, or because they were in a minority in the Legislature. He did not speak of these things with pleasure, nor mean to compromise the future of the tranquility of the present, or help to consolidate any party which amalgamates strength without establishing principle. The irresistible tendency of events was to sectional organization. He did not agree with his friends as to the immateriality of the doctrine of Squatter Sovereignty; he regarded it as a most mischievous, dangerous and demoralizing doctrine. It rested on the fact that the sovereign States of this Union, exercising the power of Government as agents, are to be put down by squatters. When men say that Slavery depends on policy, they assert that those who go to the Territories may confiscate property recognized by other parts of the Union. This only paves the way for the other doctrine, that property, over and above the Constitution, may be stricken down. Slavery agitation, so far from being crushed out by the late election, has been increased. Slavery existed prior to law; it was as old as the institution of marriage or the individuality of property. It did not arise from compacts or violence, but grew up like any other rudimentary institution. He argued that it was the very foundation of the glory and refinement of Athens and Rome. Although the Ethiopian has for five thousand years been in contact with superior civilization, he is a savage still. He repeated, that there was a tendency in affairs for the formation of geographical parties which would lead to a dissolution of the Union; and in this connection showed the power and resources of the South, contending that she is able to save her soil from invasion and conquest, and her flag from dishonor. The South must and will expand; she will carry her institutions into the surround States, where the governments are falling and the people are lapsing into mongrelism. The States-rights men at the South, numbering nine tenths of the citizens, will rally around the standard of progress. Whatever else perish, those institutions will be saved.

    Mr. BLISS said that Mr. KEITT had succeeded in showing that from the earliest period of the world it had been subject to rapine and bloodshed, and accounted for the fact. He had been successful in showing that those brilliant little Republics to which he alluded soon fell and faded from existence, because their institutions were founded on force and injustice, rather than on law; and also, that as the world had progressed in civilization, all portions, except his beloved Arabs, are turning their attention to the amelioration of labor.

    Mr. STANTON remarked that it seemed to him that the Committee ought to determine whether it would do business or not. He therefore raised the point. The remarks of Mr. BLISS were not pertinent to the question now pending. He preferred making this point on his personal friend.

    Mr. GIDDINGS hoped that the gentlemen from the North would undertake to apply a gag when freedom of speech was indulged in on the opposite side of the Chamber.

    The Chairman, Mr. WASHBURNE, of Maine, was under the impression that it had been recently ruled that a general discussion was out of order. He decided that Mr. BLISS would confine himself to the question pending.

    Mr. WADE appealed from the decision, which the Committee overruled.

    Mr. BLISS said that he would now reply to Mr. KEITT, but he had not prepared himself to speak on the President’s Message. He then reviewed that document, taking exception to the position therein assumed relative to Slavery, and contending for Constitutional power to prohibit it in the Territories.

    The Committee then rose, and the House adjourned.

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