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pressed upon us, there is but a single one which | vided. In the course of time, and before very deserves a moment's attention. It is that wbich long, it will happen that the younger children arises out of the inquiry so often repeated, will of southern families must look elsewhere to find you not suffer a man to migrate with his family? | employment for their talents, and scope for Those who have been accustomed to the labor their exertion. What better provision can they and service of slaves, it is not to be denied, have, than free States, where they may fairly cannot at once change their habits, without enter into competition with freemen, and every feeling, at least, a great deal of inconvenience. one find the level which his proper abilities enIt is also true, that the associations, which have title him to expect? The hint is sufficient; I been formed in families, cannot be broken up venture to throw it out for the consideration of without violence and injury to both the parties; those whom it concerns. and in proportion as the authority has been But, independently of the objections to the mild in its exercise, will the transfer of it to extension, arising from the views thus presented other hands be disadvantageous, especially to by the opponents of the amendment, and indethe servant. But, it is impossible to make a pendently of many much more deeply founded discrimination, or to permit the introduction of objections, which I forbear now to press, there slaves at all, without giving up the whole mat- are enough, of a very obvious kind, to settle ter. If you allow slavery to exist, you must the question conclusively. With the indulgence allow it without limits. The consequence is, of the committee, I will touch upon some of that the State becomes a slave State. Free la- them. bor and slave labor cannot be employed together. It will be remembered, that this is the first Those who go there must become slaveholders, step beyond the Mississippi—the State of Lonisiand your whole system is overturned. Besides, ana is no exception, for there slavery existed to if the limited permission did not, of itself, pro an extent which left no alternative. It is the duce the evil, to an unlimited extent, (as it cer- last step, too, for this is the last stand that can tainly would,) it is liable to abuses, beyond all be made. Compromise is forbidden by the possibility of control, which would inevitably principles contended for on both sides. Any have that effect. The numbers of a family are compromise that would give slavery to Missouri not defined--the number of families of this sort, is out of the question. It is, therefore, the which a single individual may have, cannot be final, irretrievable step, which can never be refixed. It is easy to see how, under color of called, and must lead to an immeasurable spread such permission, a regular trade might be es- of slavery over the country beyond the Missistablished, and carried on as long as there was sippi. If any one falter; if he be tempted by any temptation of profit or interest. This argu- | insinuations, or terrified by the apprehension of ment, however, has been pressed, as if a prohi- losing something desirable; if he find himself bition to go with slaves, was, in effect, a prohi- drawn aside by views to the little interests that bition to the inhabitants of a slave-holding State are immediately about him-let him reflect upon to go at all. I cannot believe this to be the the magnitude of the question, and he will be case. They may go without slaves; for, though elevated above all such considerations. The slaves are a convenience and a laxury to those eyes of the country are upon him; the interests who are accustomed to them, yet the inhabit of posterity are committed to his care ; let him ants of the slave-holding States would hardly beware how he barters, not his own, but his admit that they are indispensably necessary. children's birthright, for a mess of pottage. Besides, they may take their slaves with them The consciousness that we have done our duty as free servants. But look at the converse. is a sure and never failing dependence. It will The introduction of slavery banishes free labor, stand by us and support us through life, tinder or places it under such discouragement and op- every vicissitude of fortune, and in every chango probrium as are equivalent in effect. You shut of circumstances. It sheds & steady and a the country, then, against the free emigrant, cheering light upon the future, as well as the who carries with him nothing but his industry. present, and is at once a grateful and a lasting There are large and valuable classes of people, reward. who are opposed to slavery, and cannot live Again, sir; by increasing the market for where it is permitted. These too you exclude. slaves, you postpone and destroy the hope The laws and the policy of a slave State will of extinguishing slavery by emancipation. It and must be adapted to the condition of slavery, seems to me, that the reduction in value of and, without going into any particulars, it will slaves, however accomplished, is the only inbe allowed, that they are, in the highest degree, ducement that will ever effect an abolition of offensive to those who are opposed to slavery. slavery. The multiplication of free States will It seems to me, sir, I may be pardoned for so at the same time give room for emancipation, or far expressing an opinion upon the concerns of to speak more aconrately, for those who are the slave-holding States—it seems to me, that emancipated. This, I would respectfully sug. the people of the south have a common interest gest, is the only effectual plan of colonization: with us in this question, not for themselves, but it can never take effect while it is the inperhaps, but for those who are equally dear to terest of owners to pursue their slaves with so them. The cultivation by slaves requires large much acidity, or to pay such prices for them. estates. They cannot be parcelled out and di- | Increase the market, and you keep up the value;
increase the number of slave-holding States, upon the subject of slavery, is every where imand you destroy the possibility of emancipation, proved, and still improving. It has already deeven if every part of the Union should desire it. stroyed that monstrous inhumanity called the You extend, indefinitely, the formidable diffi- slave trade. I fear that such a measure, as is culties which already exist.
now proposed by the opponents of the restricNor does the mischief stop here. All liberal tion, would not merely check and retard its minds, and all parts of the Union, have with progress. I seriously fear that it may gradually one voice agreed in the necessity of abolishing work an entire change. The effects are not to that detestable traffic in human flesh, the slave be contemplated without the deepest anxiety. trade—the foreign slave trade. But reject the The political aspect of the subject is not less amendment on your table, admit Missouri with alarming. The existence of this condition out restriction, and you will inevitably intro among us, continually endangers the peace and duce and establish a great inland domestic slave well-being of the Union, by the irritation and trade, not, it is true, with all the horrors of the animosity it creates between neighboring States. middle passage, nor the cold blooded calculation It weakens the nation while it is entire. And upon the waste of human life in the seasoning, if ever a division should happen, can any one but still with many of the odious features, and reflect, without horror, upon the consequences some of the most cruel accompaniments of that that may be worked out of an extensively prehateful traffic. From Washington to St. Louis, / vailing system of slavery? We are told, indeed, may be a distance of one thousand miles, both in the House and out of it, to leave the Through this great space, and even a much matter to Providence. Those who tell us so, greater, you must witness the transportation of are nevertheless active and eager in the smallest slaves with the usual appendages of handcuffs of their own concerns, omitting nothing to and chains. The ties of domestic life will be secure success. Sir, we are endowed with faculviolently rent asunder, and those, whom nature ties that enable us to judge and to choose-to has bound together, suffer all the pangs of an look before and after, however imperfectly. unnatural and cruel separation. Unfeeling force, When these have been fairly and conscientiously stimulated by unfeeling avarice, will tear the exerted, we may then humbly submit the conparent from the child, and the child from the sequences, with the hope and belief, that whatparent–the husband from the wife, and the ever they may be, they will not be imputed to wife from the husband. We have lately wit- us. The issue of our counsels, however well nessed something of this sort, during the period meant, is not in our hands. But if for own of high prices. Gentlemen of the south, par gratification, regardless of all considerations of ticularly those from Virginia, who speak of their right or wrong, of good or evil, we hug a vicious slaves as a part of their family, would start at indulgence to our bosom, until we find it turnthis; they would reject, with scorn and indig- ing to a venomous serpent, and threatening to nation, even a suggestion, that they were to sting us to the heart, with what rational or confurnish a market for the supply of slaves to the soling expectation, can we call upon Providence other States. I can well believe, that in fami- to tear it away and save us from destruction. lies where the relation has long subsisted, there It is time to come to a conclusion; I fear I are feelings that would revolt at such a thought have already trespassed too long. In the effort ---feelings that have considerably modified this I have made to submit to the committee my severe condition, and grown out of the associa- | views of this question, it has been impossible tions, it has, in a long course of time, produced to escape entirely the influence of the sensation But can any one tell, what cupidity may win or that pervades this House. Yet I have no such necessity extort? No man is superior to the apprehensions as have been expressed. The assaults of fortune; and, if he were, the stroke question is indeed an important one; but its imof death will surely come, and break down his portance is derived altogether from its connecpaternal government, and then the slave dealer, tion with the extension, indefinitely, of negro whom he would have kicked from his enclosuré slavery, over a land which I trust Providence bas like a poisonous reptile, presents himself-to destined for the labor and the support of freewhom?' He cannot tell. Thoughts like these men. I have no fear that this question, much have often, I doubt not, produced the liberation as it has agitated the country, is to produce any of slaves. If gentlemen question our sincerity, fatal division, or even to generate a new organilet them consider at what period of life it is, zation of parties. It is not a question upon that emancipation most frequently takes place. which we ought to indulge unreasonable appreIt is at that serious moment, when men sit down hensions, or yield to the counsels of fear. It to settle their worldly concerns, and, as it were, concerns ages to come and millions to be born. to take their leave of the world. Then, it is, by It is, as it were, a question of a new political the last will, to take effect when their own con creation, and it is for us, under Heaven, to say, trol is ended, that owners restore their slaves what shall be its condition. If we impose the to freedom, and, by what they certainly con- restriction, it will, I hope, be finally imposed. sider an act of justice, surrender them to them- But, if hereafter it should be found right to reselves, rather than leave them to the disposal of move it, and the State consent, we can remove they know not whom. Let gentlemen from it. Admit the State, without the restriction, the south reflect on this. The public sentiment I the power is gone for ever, and with it are for
ever gone all the efforts that have been made and pretensions with the existence of this condiby the non-slaveholding States, to repress and tion among us, we have our answer ready-it is to limit the sphere of slavery, and enlarge and you we owe this evil-you planted it here, and it extend the blessings of freedom. With it, per- has taken such root in the soil we have not the haps, is gone for ever the power of preventing power to eradicate it. Then, turning to the west, the traffic in slaves, that inhuman and detesta- and directing their attention to Ohio, Indiana and ble traffic, so long a disgrace to Christendom. Illinois, we can proudly tell them, these are the In future, and no very distant times, conve- offspring of our policy and our laws, these are nience, and profit, and necessity, may be found the free productions of the constitution of the as available pleas as they formerly were, and for United States. But, if, beyond this smiling rethe luxury of slaves, we shall again involve our- gion, they should descry another dark spot selves in the sin of the trade. We must not upon the face of the new creation another presume too much upon the strength of our scene of negro slavery, established by ourselves, resolutions. Let every man, who has been and spreading continually towards the further accustomed to the indulgence, ask himself if it ocean, what shall we say then? No, sir, let us is not a luxury—a tempting luxury, which follow up the work our ancestors have begun. solicits him strongly and at every moment. The Let us give to the world a new pledge of our prompt obedience, the ready attention, the sub- sincerity. Let the standard of Reedom be plantmissive and humble, but eager effort to antici- ed in Missouri, by the hands of the constitution, pate command-how flattering to our pride, | and let its banner wave over the heads of none how soothing to our indolence! To the mem but freemen-men retaining the image impressbers from the south I appeal, to know whether ed upon them by their Creator, and dependent they will suffer any temporary inconvenience, upon none but God and the laws. Then, as our or any speculative advantage to expose us to the republican States extend, republican principles danger. To those of the north, no appeal can will go hand in hand with republican practice be necessary. To both, I can most sincerely the love of liberty with the sense of justice. say, that as I know my own views on this sub- Then, sir, the dawn, beaming from the constituject to be free from any unworthy motive, so tion, which now illuminates Ohio, Indiana, and will I believe, that they likewise have no objectNlinois, will spread with increasing brightness but the common good of our common country; to the further west, till, in its brilliant lustre, and that nothing would have given me more the dark spot which now rests upon our country heartfelt satisfaction, than that the present pro- shall be for ever hid from sight. Industry, arts, position should have originated in the same commerce, knowledge, will flourish with plenty quarter to which we are said to be indebted for and contentment for ages to come, and the loud the ordinance of 1787. Then, indeed, would chorus of universal freedom, re-echo from the Virginia have appeared in even more than her Pacific to the Atlantic, the great truths of the dewonted splendor, and spreading out the scroll claration of independence. Then, too, our brethof her services, would have beheld none of ren of the south, if they sincerely wish it, may them with greater pleasure, than that series scatter their emancipated slaves through this which began, by pleading the cause of humanity boundless region, and our country, at length, be in remonstrances against the slave trade, while happily freed for ever from the foul stain and she was yet a colony, and, embracing her own curse of slavery. And if (may it be far, very act of abolition, and the ordinance of 1787, ter- far distant!) intestine commotion-civil dissenminated in the restriction of Missouri. Consider, sion-division, should happen we shall not what a foundation our predecessors have laid ! leave our posterity exposed to the combined And behold, with the blessing of Providence, horrors of a civil and a servile war. If any man how the work has prospered! What is there, still hesitate, influenced by some temporary in ancient or in modern times, that can be com- motive of convenience, or ease, or profit, I pared with the growth and prosperity of the charge him to think what our fathers have States formed out of the North-west Territory? suffered for us, and then to ask his heart, if he When Europeans reproach us with our negro sla- can be faithless to the obligation he owes to very, when they contrast our republican boast | posterity!
JUDGE WILLIAM Gaston was descended, on the paternal side, from an influential and distinguished Huguenot ancestry. On the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, they fled from France, and settled at Ballymore in Ireland. There, Doctor Alexander Gaston, the father of the present subject, was born. He studied medicine in the College of Edinburgh, was appointed to a surgeoncy in the English navy, and was present at the capture of Havana. Soon after that event he resigned his situation, sailed for America, and landed at Newbern, North Carolina, where he commenced the practice of medicine. In the spring of 1775, he married Margaret Sharpe, by whom he had three children; two sons and a daughter. William, the second child, was born, at Newbern, on the nineteenth of September, 1778. His brother died during infancy, and, in the summer of 1781, his father was murdered by a band of tories, who had joined the British standard; a short time previous borne in triumph throughout the southern colonies. The particulars of his tragical death will not be uninteresting in this place, and will verify the eloquent exclamation made by his son during an exciting Congressional debate, that "he was baptized an American in the blood of a murdered father.” Mr. Gaston's biographer thus recounts the circumstances of the case :-Doctor Gaston was one of the most decided whigs in North Carolina, and as early as the month of August, 1775, was elected, by the Provincial Congress, a member of the committee of safety, for the district of Newbern. At various periods of the war he served in the army, generally in his professional capacity, and once, in the spring of 1776, as captain of a band of volunteers, marched to the aid of Wilmington, on the approach of the British forces under the command of Sir Henry Clinton. By his zealous and ardent support of the cause of freedom, he acquired the confidence of the patriots, and was distinguished by the bitter hatred of the logalists, who, though in a minority, were still numerous in the vicinity in which he lived. In the month of August, 1781, Major James H. Craig,* of the British army, whose head-quarters were at Wilmington, marched at the head of a small detachment of regular troops, and a gang of tories, towards Newbern, with a view of investing that place. The tories were several miles in the advance, and rapidly entered the town. The whigs, thus surprised, had but little opportunity to make a regular stand, and after an ineffectual resistance, gave up the contest. Doctor Gaston, however, knew too well the hatred and ferocity of his foes, to surrender himself into their hands, and hurrying off his wife and children, endeavored to escape across the river Trent, and thus retire to his plantation on Bryce's creek. He reached the wharf, accompanied by his family, bat before he could embark them in the light scow which he had seized, the tories in a body came galloping down, in their eager and bloody pursuit, and forced him to push off into the stream, leaving his wife and children unprotected on the shore. He was standing erect in the boat, which floated about forty yards from the bank, watching the situation of his wife, and while she, at the feet of his pursuers, with all the agony of anticipated bereavement, was imploring mercy for herself and life for her husband, a musket, levelled over her shonlder, was discharged and the victim fell dead.t
* Major Craig was Governor General of Canada in 1807.
National Portrait Gallery. Article William Gaston, LL.D.
By this sad occurrence the early training and education of young William devolved entirely on his mother. To this object she devoted herself with untiring and affectionate energy. Pure, high-minded, deeply religious, and noble in her own life, she left an impress of these sterling qualities on her son's character, which rendered him peculiarly eminent.
In the autumn of 1791, young Gaston was entered in the college at Georgetown, now of the District of Columbia, where he remained until the spring of 1793. At that time he abandoned his studies on account of severe illness, but a return to his native climate renewed his health, and he was placed under the superintendence of a private tutor, to prepare for college. After a few months' instruction he joined the junior class of Princeton College, from whence he received his degree, with the highest honors of the institution, in 1796. He studied law with Francis Xavier Martin, then a prominent practitioner; and subsequently a judge of the Supreme Court of Louisiana ; and at the age of twenty years (1800) commenced practice. The next year, on arriving at his majority, he was elected a member of the senate of his native State. In 1808, he was chosen an elector of President and Vice President of the United States, and the same year became a member of the House of Delegates, from the district in which he resided. Soon after its assembling, he was chosen the presiding officer. In this position he rendered services valuable to his constituency and honorable to himself: among which was the preparation of the act regulating the descent of inheritances.
In 1813, he was elected to the lower House of the Congress of the United States, and continued there by re-election, until 1817, when he voluntarily retired to the less exciting and more agreeable pursuits of his profession and his home. His congressional career was distinguished by a sincere devotion to the interests of the country—a high moral and political rectitude. He was an ardent federalist, and, as the "acknowledged leader of that party," opposed the celebrated loan bill of 1815. In his speech on that question he manifests extensive views of national policy, and bases his arguments on the firm considerations of justice, honesty, and humanity.
The next great effort of Mr. Gaston in Congress, was made in 1816, during the exciting and able discussions on the motion of Mr. Stanford of North Carolina, to expunge the previous question from the rules of the House. In this debate Mr. Gaston was opposed by Mr. Clay, in one of his most powerful speeches, and to him, in the main, he directed his reply. A short extract will give the character of the argument he used on that occasion. After a brief and clear exordinm, he remarked :-"And, sir, I rejoice equally at the opposition which the motion of my colleague has encountered. If this hideous rule could have been vindicated, we should have received that vindication from the gentleman who has just resumed his seat, Mr. Clay. If his ingenuity and zeal combined, could form for the previous question no other defence than that which we have heard, the previous question cannot be defended. If beneath his shield it finds 80 slight a shelter, it must fall a victim to the just, though long delayed vengeance of awakened and indignant freedom. If Hector cannot defend his Troy, the doom of Troy is fixed by fate. It is indispensable, before we proceed further in the consideration of this subject, that we should perfectly understand what is our previous question. Gentlemen may incautiously suppose that it is the same with what has been called the previous question elsewhere. This would be a most fatal mistake. Our previous question is altogether sui generis, the only one of its kind; and to know it, we must consider not merely what is written of it in our code, but what it has been rendered by exposition and construction. Our previous question can only be admitted when demanded by a majority of the members present. It is a question, 'whether the question ander debate should now be put. On the previous question “there shall be no debate;'until it is decided, it shall preclude all amendment and debate of the main question. If it be decided negatively, viz., that the main question shall not now be put, the main question is, of course, superseded; but if it be decided affirmatively, that the main question shall now be put, the main question is to be put instantaneously, and no member can be allowed to amend or discuss it. The previous question is entitled to precedence over motions to amend, commit, or postpone the main question, and therefore, when admitted, puts these entirely aside. This, according to the latest improvement, is now our rule of the previous question; and certainly in your patent office there is no model of a machine better fitted to its purposes, than this instrument for the