Several plausible reasons are assigned why the ch. xvur. three slave States of Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina voted for this prohibition. First, the West was competing with the Territory of Maine for settlers; second, the whole scheme was in the interest of the " Ohio Company," a newly formed Massachusetts emigrant aid society which immediately made a large purchase of lands; third, the unsettled regions south of the Ohio River had not yet been ceded to the general Government, and were therefore open to slavery from the contiguous Southern States; fourth, little was known of the extent or character of the great "West; and, therefore, fifth, the Ohio Eiver was doubtless thought to be a fair and equitable dividing line. The ordinance itself provided for the formation of not less than three nor more than five States, and under its shielding provisions Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin were added to the Union with free constitutions.
It does not appear that sectional motives operated for or against the foregoing enactment; they were probably held in abeyance by other considerations. But it must not be inferred therefrom that the slavery question was absent or dormant in the country. There was already a North and a South. At that very time the constitutional convention was in session in Philadelphia. Greorge Washington and his fellow-delegates were grappling with the novel problems of government which the happy issue of the Revolution and the lamentable failure of the Confederation forced upon the country. One of these problems was the presence of over half a million of slaves, nearly all
Vol. V., p.
in five Southern States. Should they be taxed? Should they "be represented? Should the power to regulate commerce be allowed to control or terminate their importation? Vital questions these, which went not merely to the incidents but the fundamental powers of government. The slavery question seemed for months an element of irreconcilable discord in the convention. The slave-trade not only, but the domestic institution itself, was characterized in language which Southern politicians of later times would have denounced as "fanatical" and "incendiary." Pinckney wished the slaves to be represented equally with the whites, since they were the Southern peasantry. G-ouverneur Morris declared that as they were only property they ought not to be represented at all. Both the present and the future balance of power in national legislation, as resulting from slaves already in, and hereafter to be imported into, old and new States, were debated under various possibilities and probabilities.
Out of these divergent views grew the compromises of the Constitution. 1. The slaves were to be included in the enumeration for representation, five blacks to be counted as three whites. 2. Congress should have the right to prohibit the slave-trade, but not till the lapse of twenty years. 3. Fugitive slaves should be delivered to their owners. Each State, large or small, was allowed two senators; and the apportionment of representatives gave to the North thirty-five members and fourteen senators, to the South thirty members and twelve senators. But since the North was not yet free from slavery, but only in process
The newly formed Constitution went into successful operation. Under legal provisions already made and the strong current of abolition sentiment then existing, all the Eastern and Middle States down to Delaware became free. This gain, however, was perhaps more than numerically counterbalanced by the active importation of captured Africans, especially into South Carolina and Georgia, up to the time the traffic ceased by law in 1808. Jefferson had meanwhile purchased of France the immense country west of the Mississippi known as the Louisiana Territory. The free navigation of that great river was assured, and the importance of the West immeasurably increased. The old French colonies at New Orleans and Kas-kaskia were already strong outposts of civilization and the nuclei of spreading settlements. Attracted by the superior fertility of the soil, by the limitless opportunities for speculation, by the enticing spirit of adventure, and pushed by the restless energy inherent in the Anglo-Saxon character, the older States now began to pour a rising stream of emigration into the West and the South-west.
In this race the free States, by reason of their greater population, wealth, and commercial enterprise, would have outstripped the South but for the introduction of a new and powerful influence which operated exclusively in favor of the latter. This was the discovery of the peculiar adaptation of the soil and climate of portions of the Southern States, combined with cheap slave-labor, to the
cultivation of cotton. Half a century of experiment and invention in England had brought about the concurrent improvement of machinery for spinning and weaving, and of the high-pressure engine to furnish motive power. The Revolutionary war was scarcely ended when there came from the mother-country a demand for the raw fiber, which promised to be almost without limit. A few trials sufficed to show Southern planters that with their soil and their slaves they could supply this demand with a quality of cotton which would defy competition, and at a profit to themselves far exceeding that of any other product of agriculture. But an insurmountable obstacle yet seemed to interpose itself between them and their golden harvest. The tedious work of cleaning the fiber from the seed apparently made impossible its cheap preparation for export in large quantities. A negro woman working the whole day could clean only a single pound.
It so happened that at this juncture, November, 1792, an ingenious Yankee student from Massachusetts was boarding in the house of friends in Savannah, Georgia, occupying his leisure in reading law. A party of Georgia gentlemen from the interior, making a visit to this family, fell into conversation on the prospects and difficulties of cotton-culture and the imperative need of a rapidly working cleaning-machine. Their hostess, an intelligent and quick-witted woman, at once suggested an expedient. " Gentlemen," said Mrs. Greene, " aPPty to my young friend, Mr. Eli Whitney; he can make anything." The Yankee student was sought, introduced, and had the mechanical problem
JAMES K. POLK.
THE BALANCE OF POWER321
laid before him. He modestly disclaimed his host- ch. rvm. ess's extravagant praises, and told his visitors that he had never seen either cotton or cotton-seed in his life.. Nevertheless, he went to work with such earnestness and success, that in a few months Mrs. Greene had the satisfaction of being able to invite a gathering of gentlemen from different parts of the State to behold with their own eyes the working of the newly invented cotton-gin, with which a negro man turning a crank could clean fifty pounds of cotton per day.
This solution of the last problem in cheap cotton-culture made it at once the leading crop of the South. That favored region quickly drove all competitors out of the market; and the rise of English imports of raw cotton, from thirty million pounds in 1790 to over one thousand million pounds in 1860, shows the development and increase of this special industry, with all its related interests.1 It was not till fifteen years after the invention of the cotton-gin that the African slave-trade ceased by igoa limitation of law. "Within that period many thousands of negro captives had been added to the population of the South by direct importation, and nearly thirty thousand slave inhabitants added by the acquisition of Louisiana, hastening the forma- cS?,n" tion of new slave States south of the Ohio Biver in Esusfp.ciT" due proportion.2
1 The Virginia price of a maleadd to the force and eloquence
"field hand "in 1790 was $250 ;of the following from a recent
in 1860 his value in the domesticletter of the son of the inventor
market had risen to $1600.—of the cotton-gin (to the Art
sheerabd clemens, speech inSuperintendent of " The Cen-
H. E. Appendix "Congressionaltury"), stating the claims of
Globe," 1860-1, pp. 104-5.his father's memory to the grati-
2 No word of the authors could tude of the South, hitherto ap-
yol. L— 21
ch. xvnr. It is a curious historical fact, that under the very remarkable material growth of the United States which now took place, the political influence remained so evenly balanced between the North and the South for more than a generation. Other grave issues indeed absorbed the public attention, but the abeyance of the slavery question is due rather to the fact that no considerable advantage as yet fell to either side. Eight new States were organized, four north and four south of the Ohio Eiver, and admitted in nearly alternate order : Yermont in 1791, free; Kentucky in 1792, slave; Tennessee in 1796, slave; Ohio in 1802, free; Louisiana in 1812, slave; Indiana in 1816, free; Mississippi in 1817, slave; Illinois in 1818, free. Alabama was already authorized to be admitted with slavery, and this would make the number of free and slave States equal, giving eleven States to the North and eleven to the South.
original invention. It has made caused many towns and cities to
the South, financially and com-rise and flourish in the South. . .
mercially. It has made Englandu Yours very truly,
rich, and changed the commerce"E. W. whitney."
THE BALANCE OF POWER323
French colonies at and near St. Louis, had attained oh. xvm. a population of 60,000, and was eager to be admitted as a State. She had made application in 1817, and now in 1819 it was proposed to authorize her to form a constitution. Arkansas was also being nursed as an applicant, and the prospective loss by the North and gain by the South of the balance of power caused the slavery question suddenly to flare up as a national issue. There were hot debates in Congress, emphatic resolutions by State legislatures, deep agitation among the whole people, and open threats by the South to dissolve the Union. Extreme Northern men insisted upon a restriction of slavery to be applied to both Missouri and Arkansas; radical Southern members contended that Congress had no power to impose any conditions on new States. The North had control of the House, the South of the Senate. A middle party thereupon sprang up, proposing to divide the Louisiana purchase between freedom and slavery by the line of 36° 30', and authorizing the admission of Missouri with slavery out of the . northern half. Fastening this proposition upon the bill to admit Maine as a free State, the measure was, after a struggle, carried through Congress (in a separate act approved March 6,1820), and became the famous Missouri Compromise. Maine and Missouri were both admitted. Each section thereby not only gained two votes in the Senate, but also asserted its right to spread its peculiar polity without question or hindrance within the prescribed limits ; and the motto, " No extension of slavery," was postponed forty years, to the Eepublican campaign of 1860.
ch, xvin. From this1time forward, the maintenance of this balance of power, — the numerical equality of the slave States with the free,— though not announced in platforms as a party doctrine, was nevertheless steadily followed as a policy by the representatives of the South. In pursuance of this system, Michigan and Arkansas, the former a free and the latter a slave State, were, on the same day, June 15, 1836, authorized to be admitted. These tactics were again repeated in the year 1845, when, on the 3d of March, Iowa, a, free State, and Florida, a slave State, were authorized to be admitted by one act of Congress, its approval being the last official act of President Tyler. This tacit compromise, however, was accompanied by another very important victory of the same policy. The Southern politicians saw clearly enough that with the admission of Florida the slave territory was ex-• hausted, while an immense untouched portion of the Louisiana purchase still stretched away to the north-west towards the Pacific above the Missouri Compromise line, which consecrated it to freedom. The North, therefore, still had an imperial area from which to organize future free States, while the South had not a foot more territory from which to create slave States.
Sagaciously anticipating this contingency, the Southern States had been largely instrumental in setting up the independent State of Texas, and were now urgent in their demand for her annexation to the Union. Two days before the signing of the Iowa and Florida bill, Congress passed, and President Tyler signed, a joint resolution, authorizing the acquisition, annexation, and admission of