TWENTY-SEVENTH ANNUAL REPORT OF THE AMERICAN
AMERICAN ANTI-SLAVERY SOCIETY,
No. 5, BEEKMAN STREET.
American Anti-Slavery Society,
BY THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE,
YEAR ENDING MAY 1, 1860.
AMERICAN ANTI-SLAVERY SOCIETY,
No. 5, Beekman Street.
PRINTED BY PRENTISS AND DELAND,
No. 40, CONGRESS STREET.
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REPORT FOR 1859-60.
Another year having reached its close, the Executive Committee of the American Anti-Slavery Society, according to their custom, present, with their account of the doings of the Society, a brief sketch of such noteworthy events of the past year as belong to the history of the Anti-Slavery movement.
Our last Report mentioned the steps which the people of Kansas were then contemplating, to bring themselves regularly before Congress for admission to the Union. These have since been successively taken, as arranged at the last previous session of the Territorial Legislature. On the 6th of June delegates were chosen to meet in Convention, and frame a Constitution. The contest, at this election, was not, as heretofore, between Free-State men and avowed Pro-Slavery men; the Free-State sentiment being now so decisively in the ascendant as to leave no hope for open opposition to it; so parties fell into the same division as in the country at large, and took the same names,— Democrats and Republicans. The latter prevailed, choosing thirty-five of the fifty-two delegates, or more than two-thirds of the whole Convention. The Convention met at Wyandotte, on the 5th of July, and, after finishing its work to the acceptance of the great majority of its constituents, adjourned without day, on the 29th. The Constitution which it framed, is substantially the old Topeka Free-State Constitution. It provides that “there shall be no slavery in the State, and no involuntary
servitude, unless for the punishment of crime; that "the right of trial by jury shall be inviolate, and extend to persons of every condition;"—words evidently intended to include persons claimed as Fugitive Slaves; — and that "no citizen of the State shall be held to appear before the Supreme Court of the United States on an appeal from the Supreme Court of the State, but when appeals are taken on questions of interstate law, they shall only be through or from District Courts of the United States." The design of this last-mentioned provision, no doubt, is to put the State on the same ground which Wisconsin is understood to occupy, in relation to State Rights, and the independence and supremacy of the Judiciary of the State within its own boundaries. So far, the leaning of the new Constitution is in favor of Freedom. But in another particular that Republican majority of more than two to one, strong enough to do, if it would, whatsoever was right in its own eyes, had either too much prejudice, or too little courage and manliness to deal justly with the weak. It denied to colored men the right of suffrage. The Democratic minority signalized its truth to party instincts by a still baser proposition. One of its members introduced, and the rest, with several Republicans, voted for, a resolution that a Committee be appointed "to inquire into the expediency" of forbidding "negroes and mulattoes" to come into the State, making void all contracts with any who shall come in, subjecting to a fine of from twenty to five hundred dollars any person employing them, or otherWise encouraging them to remain, and appropriating the fines to the colonization of such of those already in, as may be willing to emigrate. Of course we can feel no surprise at such a proposition from such a source; rather have we to wonder at the gracious state of its propounders, that they were content to ask so little, and that instead of a prohibition of future immigration of colored persons, they did not demand the prompt and forcible expulsion of those already in the State, and especially of such of them as had been at all active in rescuing it from the clutches of Border Ruffianism, and securing it to (white) Freedom.
The Constitution was adopted in the Convention by a strict party vote, every Republican present voting for it, and every Democrat voting against it, and refusing to sign it. On the 4th of October, it was submitted to the people, and ratified by
about two-thirds of the popular vote, notwithstanding the strenuous opposition of the "Democracy." The Republicans also elected their Territorial Delegate to Congress, and two-thirds or more of the Territorial Legislature. On the 6th of December, the State organization was completed, by the choice of State Officers and a Representative to Congress. In this election, also, the Republicans prevailed by decisive majorities. For Governor, they chose charles robinson, and for Member of Congress, Martin F. Conway; the same men who were chosen to those offices respectively under the Topeka Constitution of 1855.
On the 29th of February, Mr. Parrot, Kansas Delegate in Congress, presented to the House of Representatives resolutions of the Territorial Legislature, asking admission to the Union; and, soon after, the Committee on Territories, to which they were referred, reported a bill in accordance with their request. Mr. Seward, on the 21st of February, introduced in the Senate a bill for the same purpose, and, on the 29th, made it the occasion for a long, carefully-considered and able speech, reviewing not only the Kansas question, but also the general subject of Slavery and its relations to the Federal Government; and showing plainly enough, by the tenor and spirit of his remarks, that he had not forgotten what is to be the great event of this year, in the political world. The House bill, after an earnest debate, continued at intervals through several weeks, during which its enemies labored hard to defeat it, was passed, on the 11th of April, by 134 yeas to 73 nays. The Senate has not yet come to a vote on the question; and, controlled as it is, by the party which has from the first so violently and unscrupulously opposed the cause of Freedom, in Kansas, it seems very doubtful whether it will suffer the bill to go through at this sessions. Evident as it must be to all, that Kansas must come in as a Free State at last, an opportunity still remains; to subject her to the vexation of another half year's delay, and to disappoint her of the anticipated satisfaction of taking part in the approaching presidential election, and casting her vote against the corrupt and oppressive dynasty which she has such ample reason to abhor. And it seems almost too much to hope, that they who have struggled so long and desperately to give the Territory over to the despotic rule of the Slave-power, should be willing, in the fresh bitterness of fully-ascertained defeat, to yield grace-
fully, and permit their successful antagonists to enjoy, at once, the fruits of their victory. We have little doubt, however, that before the appearance of our next Report, Kansas will be a member of the Union.
In February, the Territorial Legislature again passed, by a large majority, the act abolishing Slavery in the Territory, which it will be remembered, failed, the year before, to become a law, through the Governor's neglect to return it with approval or veto. This time, he received it too early in the session to be able to shun responsibility by the same device, and was obliged to show his allegiance to his master by a direct veto of the bin. The principal reason which he assigned for the veto, was that the people of a Territory have no constitutional power to abolish Slavery, till they form a State government. The Legislature, unconvinced by his reasons, immediately passed the bill, over the veto, by much more than the necessary two-thirds vote. "The victory," said the Lawrence Republican, in announcing this result, "is at last won. Now let us see whether the Democracy in Congress will dare to pass a Slave-code." The attempt to do so is already making,—was begun, indeed, before this defiance was uttered. On the 23d of February, Mr. Brown, of Mississippi, introduced in the United States Senate a bill "to punish offences against Slave-property in Kansas," which was referred to the Committee on Territories. The prospect of its passage this year, if ever, is certainly not very bright, but its introduction shows that some of the champions of Slavery mean to keep up the fight yet, desperate as their cause may seem. But even if the bill should pass, it seems not likely to revive the courage and hopes of the Slave-holders, in regard to the establishment of Slavery in Kansas. The Jackson Mississippian, in publishing Mr. Brown’s speech in favor of his bill, adds this lugubrious comment, which doubtless speaks the general feeling of the South. "We very much fear, however, that 'the golden opportunity has been lost,' and that the adoption, at this late period, of what in Douglas parlance is termed a 'Slave-code,' will be like locking the stable-door after the exit of the stolen steed."
That the prohibition of Slavery by Territorial legislation was no needless form, is evident from the fact that it was strenuously opposed on the ground that the Territory contained half
a million dollars worth of Slave-property, which would be taken from the owners by that prohibition. Runaway Slaves were advertised, by their masters, within the most Anti-Slavery county of the Territory (Douglas), and rewards offered for returning them to bondage. In Leavenworth County, not long before the act was passed, a Slave was advertised for sale on execution for debt. Other tokens were given, from time to time, that President Buchanan's declaration, "Kansas is, to-day, by virtue of the Constitution, a Slave State as much as Georgia or South Carolina," was no mere "flourish of rhetoric."
In our last year's account of the affairs of Kansas, we spoke of the kidnapping of Dr. Doy and his son, with a number of colored persons; the enslavement of the latter, and the imprisonment of the white men, in Missouri, to await trial on the charge of Slave-stealing. Soon after that account was written, we learned that the young man had been released, no charge being sustained against him. The father was subsequently tried and convicted,—though so manifestly against law and evidence that it is said even the Missouri judge, who presided at the trial, regarded the verdict as illegal and unjust,—and was sentenced to five years' imprisonment in the State prison. Having appealed to the Supreme Court, he was committed to the jail, in St. Joseph, to await the decision upon his appeal. On the night of Saturday, July 23, ten or twelve men went over from Kansas, reached the jail—in the midst of a city of ten thousand inhabitants—about midnight, gained entrance by pretending to have brought a criminal to be confined, and, when within, drew their weapons, threatening the jailor with instant death if he should resist or give an alarm, took out the prisoner and returned safely with him to Kansas. A large reward has been offered for his rearrest, but we do not learn that any attempt has been made to earn it. After spending some time in Kansas, Dr. Doy has come to the East, where he appears in public, and goes about his private business, as occasion calls, with no attempt at concealment, and no apparent fear of molestation.
Last winter, the people of Nebraska, through their Legislature, attempted to exercise the power which, six years ago, it was pretended that the Kansas-Nebraska bill conferred upon them, of "regulating their domestic institutions in their own way." Their "way" was to pass an Act forbidding Slavery in the Territory. But that way did not accord with the views of the Territorial Governor, Black, whom the Slave-power, using the Federal Executive as its organ, had placed there to see that the interests of Slavery should receive no detriment. He therefore promptly returned the Act, with his veto, conveyed in a long, argumentative message, in which was announced what we take to be the latest discovery yet made in political science by the devotees of Pro-Slavery Democracy. The Governor admits that, according to the organic act, the people of Nebraska are "perfectly free to regulate their domestic institutions in their own way;" but he denies that the act of their Representatives, in the Legislature, is the act of the people. The members of the Legislature, his sagacity has found out, are not "the people," in contemplation of the organic act; and have no power to act for the people in this matter. There is no pretence that the Legislature has not acted in entire harmony with the wish of the people, having been duly authorized, by fair election, to act in the name and by authority of the people; but—they are not the people, and so cannot do the very work which the people chose them to do. In other words, the people can do a certain act, but cannot do it by the hands of their own chosen agents and instruments. Verily, the wisdom of Pro-Slavery Governors is "past finding out," and very "marvelous in our eyes." When a gang of Missourian invaders, by brute force, without a shadow of right, in defiance of the known wishes of a great majority of the people of Kansas, thrust themselves into the legislative hall and usurped the legislative power of that Territory; and then enacted into the forms of law some of the vilest abominations and blackest atrocities which ever defiled the pages of a statute book, — atrocities abhorred, repudiated, and loudly protested against by five-sixths of the people whom the usurpers falsely pretended to represent, — these enact-
ments were upheld by every official minion of Slavery in the land, from the President, in Washington, to his lowest underling, executive or judicial, in the Territory, as the strictly legal expression of the people's will, and as having all the sacredness and binding force of law; and whatsoever questioned their validity, was treason and rebellion. But when a Legislature, fairly and lawfully chosen by the free voice of the people of Nebraska, attempts to carry into effect the known and undenied wishes of the people, in an act demanded also by every consideration of justice, humanity, and enlightened policy, but hostile to the purposes of the Slave-power, the act is void, forsooth, because it is one which only the people can do, and the people's agents, chosen by them to do it in the people's name and by the people's authority, are not the people!
Projects for New Slave-States.
Our last Report mentioned the introduction into the Legislature of California, of a bill to divide the State, with the purpose, no doubt, on the part of the friends of the measure, to make a Slave State of the southern portion. Shortly afterward, we learned that the bill had passed both Houses, and wanted but the Governor's signature, to become a law. An attempt, in the lower House, to reconsider it, called out a long and warm discussion of the Slavery question, and was at last defeated by a vote of thirty-one to twenty-seven. Whether the Governor has since signed the bill we are not informed, but suppose he has, as it was expected that he would do so. The New-York Tribune, alluding to the subject, says, "As there does not seem to have been any recent popular agitation in the southern part of the State, having this division in view, the passage of this bill is probably a mere expedient of the Gwin-Buchanan Pro-Slavery politicians, a part of the same system of Pro-Slavery agitation with the proposed organization of the prospective Territory of Arizona. The projected acquisition of Sonora and Chihuahua, to be organized as Slave-holding Territories, and the recent recognition of Slavery as an institution entitled to the protection of law by the Territorial Legislature of New Mexico, are parts of the same scheme."
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, in New Mexico, last winter, introduced a bill to repeal the barbarous Pro-Slavery enactment of the previous session; but the House, preferring its Slave-code to its Speaker, rejected the bill without a dissenting voice, and requested him to resign his office. He resigned both that and his seat in the House. From this issue of the attempt to right the wrong of the former year, it would seem that "Popular Sovereignty," in New Mexico, means the sovereignty of the Slave-power. A letter, however, published last summer in the Vermont Watchman, from an old resident of the Territory, who has spent about twenty years there, intimates that the triumph of Slavery there is not due to pure Popular Sovereignty acting of its own motion; but to influences emanating from the high places of the land. The writer says he "was astonished at the passage of those stringent laws for the protection of property in Slaves," that he has "taken some trouble to learn how it was brought about;" and has "learned, through members of the Legislature who should know, that a letter was received from our Delegate in Congress, stating that, unless such laws were passed, his influence at Washington with 'the powers that be' would be at an end; and that all his efforts to secure anything for the protection of the Territory would be powerless. This, being with them a matter of life and death, had a tremendous effect." So we have here, if this witness may be trusted — and the Watchman vouches for him as trustworthy—another instance of the use of virtual bribery by the Federal Government, to promote the interests and extension of Slavery. We can the more easily believe the writer's statement, because of its intrinsic probability. Enough has been overwhelmingly proved against the Government, as now and for years past administered, to raise a strong presumption in favor of every charge of this kind which is brought against it.
Another scheme for adding to the number of Slave States, and thus increasing the weight of Slavery in the Senate, is the revival of an old project for forming a new State out of Northern Mississippi and so much of Tennessee and Kentucky as lies between the Tennessee and Mississippi Rivers. The proposed State would contain, it is said, about seven hundred thousand inhabitants. The scheme has been sanctioned by the Legisla-
ture of Tennessee, but we do not learn that those of Mississippi and Kentucky have yet taken action upon it, or whether it finds favor with the people of those States.
The formation of Slave States out of the Indian Territories south of Kansas continues to he agitated, a part of the plan in contemplation being the opening of the region to settlement by white men, but so as to ensure the keeping out of all who would be likely to favor Freedom. A letter from the Indian country, published in the St. Louis Democrat, says that "a secret political organization is formed in the South for the purpose of securing all the available territory to the Slave-power. Their efforts are just now directed to this vast and fertile country, known as the Indian Territory. Their plan is to induce the several nations to sectionize their respective domains, retaining a section for every man, woman, and child, and reserving the surplus for sale, with the understanding that no land is to be sold to northern emigrants, and that none but those who are 'sound on the goose' are to be allowed to settle in the country thus dedicated to Slavery. The secret society of propagandists already have active agents and emissaries among the civilized Indians, zealously laboring to carry out their schemes. I have good reason for believing that the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, the Superintendent, and the Indian Agents — all officers of the General Government—are conniving at, if not actually aiding in, these propagandist schemes. This new secret political organization boasts of being a power—of being strong in numbers, influence, and material means. There is a large fund to be applied to bribery." A letter from a Southerner in Kansas, published in the Charleston Mercury, with the remark that it points in the right direction, says, "it is conceded that Kansas will be a Free-soil, Black-Republican State, beyond question. * * * * * * We have about two thousand seven hundred southern men in Kansas still, and they intend emigrating South as soon as Kansas is admitted into the Union. We are connected with a southern organization, and, including all, we have about seventeen thousand men. The next theatre for action will be the Indian Territory south of Kansas, including Cherokee, Creek, and Choctaw nations. The South should prepare for this in time, and stand by her territorial rights. They are of the last importance to our colonization."
It is said that John Ross, head chief of the Cherokees, a large Slave-holder, and nearly white, secretly favors a territorial organization for the Cherokee country, opening it to settlement by the whites; but that the bitter opposition of a portion of the tribe, who fear that the Indians will lose their rights if the whites come in, deters him from advocating it openly. A letter from the Cherokee nation to the Fort Smith Times, written on the 30th of last March, represents that there is much excitement in the nation in regard to Slavery, that party-spirit runs high, and that there is even danger of civil war between the Pro-Slavery and Anti-Slavery parties.
The Federal Administration continues to betray its eagerness to "extend the area" over Mexico and Central America; for such, we believe, is the true meaning of its persistent endeavors to obtain power to work its own will in those regions, unchecked by the constitutional authority of Congress. Having failed in its attempt, last year, to wheedle out of Congress a virtual grant of power to make war, at its own pleasure, upon those weak republics, it is now seeking the same end by means of treaties with them; their weakness making it possible to gain their consent, while the strongly Pro-Slavery character of the Senate, with which rests the ratifying power, probably induces a hope that it will be more compliant than the other House. Treaties have accordingly been negotiated with Mexico and Nicaragua, by which rights of transit through their respective territories are granted; and it is provided that, if they are unable to protect the transit-routes, then, at their request, the United States shall employ force to protect them; and farther that "in the exceptional case of unforeseen or imminent danger to the lives and property of citizens of the United States, the forces of said Republic are authorized to act for their protection, without such consent having been previously obtained." As to when this "exceptional case" arises, the President and his subordinate army-officers are, of course, to judge; in other words, they are substantially empowered to make war at their own discretion. To these degrading stipulations, so incompatible with true national independence, a reluctant assent has, indeed, been extorted from feeble Nicaragua and distracted Mexico; but the ratification by the Senate still lingers. The Republican Senators unitedly oppose it, and without them, or at least a
part of them, though the majority may be ample for the ordinary purposes of legislation, it cannot reach the two-thirds required to ratify a treaty. The present prospect, therefore, seems to be that this year's attempt will succeed no better than that of last year.