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which it ought to break. For the present, however, this contest is laid asleep. . . .
"The most remarkable circumstances in the history of the final decision of the Missouri question is that it was ultimately carried against the opinions, wishes, and interests of the free States, by the votes of their own members. They had a decided majority in both Houses of Congress, but lost the vote by disunion among themselves. The slaveholders clung together, without losing one vote. Many of them, and almost all the Virginians, held out to the last, even against compromise. The cause of the closer union on the slave side is that the question affected the individual interest of every slaveholding member, and of almost every one of his constituents. On the other side, individual interests were not implicated in the decision at all. The impulses were purely republican principle and the rights of human nature. The struggle for political power and geographical jealousy may fairly be supposed to have operated equally on both sides. The result affords an illustration of the remark, how much more keen and powerful the impulse is of personal interest than is that of any general consideration of benevolence and humanity."
Referring to the objectionable anti-republican article in the Missouri Constitution, Mr. Adams said:—
"That article is itself a dissolution of the Union. If acquiesced in, it will change the terms of the federal compact; change its terms by robbing thousands of citizens of their rights. Atid what citizens? The poor, the unfortunate, the helpless, already cursed by the mere color of their skin; already doomed by their complexion to drudge in the lowest offices of society; excluded by their color from all the refined enjoyments of life accessible to others; excluded from the benefits of a liberal education, from the bed, the table, and the social comforts of domestic life. This barbarous article deprives them of the little remnant of right yet left them, their rights as citizens and as men. Weak and defenseless as they are, so much the more sacred the obligations of the legislatures of the States to which they belong to defend their lawful rights. I would defend them, should the dissolution of the Union be the consequence; for it would be, not to the defense, but to the violation of their rights, to which all the consequences would be imputable; and, if the dissolution of the Union must come, let it come from no other cause but this. If slavery be the destined sword, in the hand of the destroying angel, which is to sever the ties of this Union, the same sword will cut asunder the bonds of slavery itself."
Of the final act in this Missouri conflict in the spring of 1821, Mr. Adams wrote :—
"On the 23d of February, the Missouri question being still undecided, on a motion of Mr. Clay, the House of Representatives chose by ballot a committee of twenty-three members, who were joined by a committee of seven from the Senate. Their object was a last attempt to devise a plan for admitting Missouri into the Union.
"This second Missouri question was compromised like the first. The majority against the unconditional admission into the Union was small, but very decided. The problem for the slave representation to solve was the precise extent of concession necessary for them to detach from the opposite party a number of anti-servile votes just sufficient to turn the majority. Mr. Clay found, at last, this expedient, which the slave voters would not have accepted from any one not of their own party, and to which his greatest difficulty was to obtain the assent of his own friends. The timid and the weak-minded dropped off, one by one, from the free side of the question, until a majority was formed for the compromise, of which the servile have the substance, and the liberals the shadow.
"In the progress of this affair the distinctive character of the inhabitants of the several great divisions of this Union has been shown more in relief than perhaps in any national transaction since the establishment of the Constitution. It is, perhaps, accidental that the combination of talent and influence has been the greatest on the slave side. The importance of the question has been much greater to them than to the other side. Their union of exertion has been consequently closer and more unshakable. They have threatened and entreated, bullied and wheedled, until their more simple adversaries have been half coaxed, half frightened into a surrender of their principles for a bauble of insignificant promises. The champions of the North did not judiciously select their position for this contest. There must be, some time, a conflict on this very question between slave and free representation. This, however, was not the proper occasion for contesting it."
These extracts leave no doubt as to Mr. Adams's position, while they furnish the first glimpse of his views on this momentous .subject. His feelings against slavery were intense, however little interest he had apparently taken in the first stages of the Missouri discussion. The future bearings and results of the great conflict now begun, he saw or predicted with prophetic accuracy. Of the dissolution of the Union he seemed to talk with equanimity. If slavery took up the sword for its own defense and propagation, the result would be its own destruction, and in the way of this desirable conclusion the Union itself should not stand.
To maintain the Union and fight for the overthrow of slavery did not appear then to occur to Mr. Adams. To whip slave communities, to make them remain in their places in the Union, was not yet a developed principle. General Washington had, indeed, mustered an army and moved with vigor to crush insurrection against the power of the Government, but to Andrew Jackson was reserved the immortal honor of declaring that the Union must and should be preserved.
THE CAUCUS—GREAT CONTEST FOR THE PRESIDENCY—WHO MADE GENERAL JACKSON PRESIDENT?
rT^HE Presidential election of 1820 was without X special interest, Mr. Monroe having no opposition and there being no votes against him at the polls. It is, however, an interesting fact, that one of the New Hampshire electors, unwilling to see James Monroe stand on the same plane as General Washington in this important matter, voted against him. And this single electoral vote was cast for Mr. Adams.
For the last four or five elections the nominations had been made by Congress, or by caucuses of the members of Congress. For some time there had been a growing opposition to this plan of intrusting to Congressional caucuses this most vital political affair of the Nation. Early in the winter of 1823, there appeared unmistakable signs of a popular disposition against submitting longer to this undemocratic method of making Presidential nominations.
Mr. Adams was decidedly opposed to the continuance of the caucus, for the reasons that the people wanted another method, and that in a caucus there could be little chance for a man who detested intrigue as he did. There was among the supporters of Mr. Crawford, and, perhaps, some others, a vexatious disposition to regard Mr. Adams as a candidate for the Vice-Presidency. But Mr. Adams wanted no second place. He felt toward the Vice-Presidency as his father had done. If it was not insignificant, it, at any rate, had no charms for him.
Maine and Massachusetts had declared for Mr. Adams, both Republicans (Democrats) and Federalists, and early in January, 1824, at a meeting of the Republicans of Rhode Island the following resolution was adopted and sent out:— v
"Resolved, That, although we duly acknowledge the talents and public services of all the candidates for the Presidency, we have the fullest confidence in the acknowledged ability, integrity, and experience of John Quincy Adams, the accomplished scholar, the true republican, the enlightened statesman, and the honest man; and we are desirous that his merits should be rewarded with the first office in the gift of the people of the United States, that his future services may continue unto us those blessings which, under the present administration of the General Government, we have so abundantly enjoyed."
Still the Congressional caucus had not been abandoned. And now, seeing that the people were opposed to it, Mr. Adams declared that he could not accept the nomination if it were proffered him by the caucus. But there was no probability of his needing to trouble himself on that score. The caucus was to be held in the interest of another man, and its managers hoped the people would this tune respect their action. See how they exerted themselves to that end!
On Saturday evening, February 14, 1824. in the hall of the House of Representatives sixty-six, of the two hundred and sixty-one members, assembled and chose Benjamin Ruggles, of Ohio, the only member present from that State, chairman. An effort was then made to postpone the nomination for one week,