Our Washington Correspondence.
WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 1850.
The Slavery Question—The Opinions of Mr. Mangum—Speech of Mr. Clay—Conclusion of his Exposition of his Compromise.
There was the same pressure of the people upon the Senate chamber and galleries as yesterday, to hear out the argument of Mr. Clay; but from the more rigid enforcement of discipline upon the crowd, and from the exclusion of all men and boys from the circular gallery, good order was preserved.
The gist of Mr. Clay’s argument yesterday, as far as he went, was, that the Wilmot proviso is not necessary, either in California, or any other of the territories, because, under no contingency, and by no arrangement, can slavery be established in them. Secondly, that Texas has no good claim to the disputed territory of New Mexico, but that it is proper to allow something to Texas for it, in consideration of the loss of her revenues from imports of her annexation to the United States, which revenues has been pledged to the State debt; and further, that something is also due for the sake of peace.
Mr. Magnum has heretofore maintained a position in the Senate of a good whig, and yet a liberal and generous conservative in all things. He was here regarded as a conservative disposed to sacrifice everything rather than the Union; but the events of the last two years have brought him to a very definite and ultra Southern position, in reference to the territories. He presented a series of strong Southern resolutions, of the South Carolina complexion, passed by a meeting of the citizens of the Old North States, held in the city of Wilmington. Mr. Mangum in his remarks upon these resolutions, expressed himself as decidedly in support of Southern resistance to Northern aggressions, as Mr. Clemens of Alabama did some days ago—to wit, that the States of the South will not further recede, and that he is prepared to stand by them, even to the dissolution of the Union, if that alternative is forced upon the South, by any action of Congress, excluding them from a just participation in the territories.
Mr. Hale objected to the reception of the resolutions, and moved they be laid upon the table but they were received unanimously, excepting the votes of Mr. Douglas and Mr. Bradbury, who, perhaps, did not at all approve of the dissolution temper of the resolutions, even so far as to give them the respect of a reception by the Senate.
Mr. Clay then resumed his argument upon the resolutions embraced in his plan of a compromise. We have no responsibility to the State of Texas to buy her debts, but there was at least a sort of obligation on the United States to do it, having absorbed the revenues set apart by the republic of Texas, for its extinguishment.
“District of Columbia”—Mr. Clay maintained that Congress had the undoubted power to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia; but that, except under certain conditions, it is inexpedient to do it. But he goes in strong for the abolition of the “detestable” slave trade in this District.
“Fugitive Slaves.”—Mr. Clay maintains that loyalty to the constitution requires that the several States and the authorities of the several States, and that every citizen of the United States are under obligations to arrest and deliver up fugitive slaves, the same as fugitives from justice. This point, however, is so perfectly clear, that the exposition of Mr. Clay was hardly needed to confirm it.
“Slave Trade between the States.”—Mr. Clay’s last resolution declares that Congress has no power to interfere with the slave trade between the States, which he admits is but the declaration of a fundamental doctrine.
After detailing his participation in the act admitting the State of Missouri, in 1821, Mr. Clay contrasted the advantages to the South of his compromise, with the disadvantages of the proposition to extend the Missouri line to the Pacific, with a prohibition of slavery on the north side of it, saying nothing about it on the south side. His proposition to leave the whole territory open, to make no prohibition, no exclusion, but to leave the whole subject of slavery to be settled by the people of the territories of themselves, providing them territorial governments in every other respect, was far better for the South than a line of interdiction.
In conclusion, Mr. Clay let himself out in support of the Union, and gave us pretty much the same picture of the horrors of dissolution as was portrayed by Mr. Calhoun, a few years ago, though perhaps more definitely depicted.
There was one single point upon which the whole question hangs, upon which Mr. Clay made his best hit with the South, to wit—What is the South to gain in the safety of its peculiar institution by [illegible]? According to all reasonable conclusions, slavery would be rapidly annihilated in the event of a dissolution, by the inroads of civil war. But, whatever the hazards, whatever the consequences, whatever the disasters of the future, the South must have a compromise, or they will revolt; and Mr. Clay’s compromise, though it might have been satisfactory a year ago, will not now meet the demands of the South. They must have something more.
Mr. Clay spoke upwards of two hours to-day, and seemed stronger at the conclusion than at the beginning. His high compliment to Gen. Scott, over the shoulders of Gen. Taylor, is supposed to have some relevance to the next Presidency.