Address to the People of the United States, together with the Proceedings and Resolutions of the Pro-Slavery Convention of Missouri, Held at Lexington, July 1855
PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES,
TOGETHER WITH THE
PROCEEDINGS AND RESOLUTIONS
HELD AT LEXINGTON,
ST. LOUIS, MO.
PRINTED AT THE REPUBLICAN OFFICE.
TO THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES.
We have been appointed by a Convention of citizens of Missouri,mainly representing that portion of the State lying contiguousto the Territory of Kansas, to lay before you somesuggestions, upon a topic which vitally concerns our State, andwhich, it is believed, may to a serious extent affect the generalwelfare of our country.
We propose to discharge this duty by a concise and candid expositionof facts, touching our condition, and its bearing uponKansas, accompanied with such reflections as the facts naturallysuggest.
That portion of Missouri which borders on Kansas contains,as nearly as can now be ascertained, a population of fifty thousandslaves, and their estimated value, at the prices prevailinghere, is about twenty-five millions of dollars. As the wholeState contains but about one hundred thousand slaves, it will beseen that one-half of the entire slave population of Missouri islocated in the eighteen counties bordering on Kansas, the greaterportion of which is separated from that Territory by no naturalboundary, and is within a day's ride of the line. This partof our State is distinguished by an uniform fertility of soil, atemperate and healthful climate, and a population progressingrapidly in all the elements that constitute a prosperous community.Agriculture is in a most flourishing condition, and thetowns and villages which have sprung up, indicate a steady progresstowards wealth, refinement and commercial importance. Norhave the higher interests of education, religion and science, beenneglected; but common schools, and respectable institutions of ahigher grade, and churches of every Christian denomination, arefound in every county. The great staple of this district is hemp,although tobacco, and corn, and wheat are also largely produced.The culture of hemp has been found profitable,—more so thancotton in the South; and this fact, with the additional ones, that[pg 4]almost every foot of land within the counties alluded to, is wonderfullyadapted by nature to its production, in greater quantities,and finer qualities, and at smaller cost, than in any other Statein the Union, and that the climate is such as to permit the growersof this article to reside on their estates, will readily explainand account for the unexampled growth of the country. Alreadyit constitutes the most densely populated portion of our State,and its remarkable fertility of soil, and general salubrity of climate,with the facilities for outlet furnished by a noble river,running through its midst, and two great railroads, destined soonto traverse its upper and lower border, will render it at no distantperiod, if left undisturbed, as desirable and flourishing a districtas can be found in the Mississippi Valley.
An idea has to some extent prevailed abroad, that Missouricontained but a very small slave population, and that the permanenceof this institution here was threatened by the existence ofat least a respectable minority of her citizens, ready and anxiousto abolish it, and that only a slight external pressure was necessaryto accomplish this purpose. We regret that this opinion hasto some extent received countenance from the publication andpatronage of journals in our commercial metropolis, evidentlyaiming at such a result. Without, however, going into any explanationof political parties here, which would be entirely foreignto our purpose, we think it proper to state, that the idea abovealluded to is unfounded; and that no respectable party can befound in this State, outside of St. Louis, prepared to embark inany such schemes. In that city, constituting the great outlet ofour commerce, as well as that of several other States and Territories,it will not seem surprising that its heterogeneous populationshould furnish a foothold for the wildest and most visionaryprojects. St. Louis was, however, represented in our Convention,and it is not thought unwarrantable to assume that the resolutionsadopted by this body have received the cordial approbationof a large and influential portion of her citizens. Other counties,besides St. Louis, outside of the district to which our observationshave been principally directed, were also representedby delegates; and had not the season of the year, the short noticeof its intended session, and the locality where the Conventionwas held—remote from the centre of the State—prevented, wedoubt not that delegates from every county in the State wouldhave been in attendance. Indeed, a portion of the upper Mississippiand lower Mississippi counties are as deeply, though less directlyinterested in this question, as any part of this State; andtheir citizens are known to accord most heartily in the sentimentsand actions of Western Missouri. Even in the south-west partof our State, from the Osage to the borders of Arkansas, wherethere are but few slaves, the proceedings of public meetings indicate[pg 5]the entire and active sympathy of their people. From thegeneral tone of the public press throughout the State, a similarinference is deducible, and, we feel warranted in asserting, avery general, if not unanimous concurrence in the principlesadopted by the Lexington Convention. Those principles are embodiedin a series of resolutions appended to this address, andwhich, we are happy to say, were adopted with entire unanimity,by a body representing every shade of political opinion to befound in the interior of our State. These facts are conclusiveof the condition of public sentiment in Missouri. The probabilitiesof changes here in reference to the question of slavery, arenot essentially different from what they are in Tennessee, or Virginia,or Kentucky. In relation to numbers, a reference to thecensus shows that Missouri contains double the number of Arkansas,nearly double the number of Texas, and about an equalnumber with Maryland.
These facts are stated with a view to a proper understandingof our position in reference to the settlement of Kansas, and thelegitimate and necessary interest felt in the progress and characterof that settlement. Previous to the repeal of the Congressionalrestriction of 1820, by which Missouri was thrown into anisolated position in reference to the question of slavery, andmade a solitary exception to a general rule, her condition in regardto the territory west of her border, and yet north of thegeographical line which Congress had fixed as the terminus ofSouthern institutions, was truly unenviable. With two States onher northern and eastern border, in many portions of which theConstitution of the United States, and the Fugitive Slave Law,passed in pursuance thereof, were known to be as inefficacious forthe protection of our rights as they would have been in Londonor Canada, it was left to the will of Congress, by enforcing the restrictionof 1820, to cut Missouri off almost entirely from allterritorial connexion with States having institutions congenial toher own, and with populations ready and willing to protect anddefend them. No alternative was left to that body but to repealthe restriction, and thus leave to the Constitution and the laws ofnature, the settlement of our territories, or, by retaining the restriction,indirectly to abolish slavery in Missouri. If the latteralternative had to be selected, it would have been an act ofcharity and mercy to the slaveholders of Missouri, to warn themin time of the necessity of abandoning their homes, or manumittingor selling their slaves—to give them ample time to determinebetween the sacrifice of fifty millions of slave property, or seventymillions of landed estate. Direct legislation would have beenpreferable to indirect legislation, leading to the same result, andthe enforcement of the restriction in the settlement of Kansaswas virtually the abolition of slavery in Missouri. But Congress[pg 6]acted more wisely, as we think, and with greater fidelity to theConstitution and the Union.
The history of the Kansas-Nebraska bill is known to the country.It abolished the geographical line of 36 deg. 30 min., bywhich the limits of slavery were restricted, and substituted a constitutionaland just principle, which left to the settlers of the territoriesto adopt such domestic institutions as suited themselves.If ever there was a principle calculated to commend itself to allreasonable men, and reconcile all conflicting interests, this wouldseem to have been the one. It was the principle of popular sovereignty—thebasis upon which our independence had beenachieved—and it was therefore supposed to be justly dear to allAmericans, of every latitude and every creed. But fanaticismwas not satisfied. The abolitionists and their allies moved heavenand earth to accomplish its defeat, and although unsuccessful,they did not therefore despair. Out-voted in Congress, receivingno countenance from the Executive, they retired to another theatreof action, and, strange to say, they prostituted an ancient andrespectable Commonwealth—one of the Old Thirteen—to commence,in her sovereign capacity as a State, with the means andimposing attitude incident to such a position, a crusade againstslavery, novel in its character, more alarming in its features, andlikely to be more fatal in its consequences, than all the fanaticalmovements hitherto attempted, since the appearance of abolitionismas a political party in 1835. They originated and matured ascheme, never before heard of or thought of in this country, theobject and effect of which was to evade the principle of the Kansas-Nebraskabill, and in lieu of non-intervention by Congress,to substitute active intervention by the States. An act of incorporationwas passed; a company with a capital of five millionswas chartered; and this company was authorized to enlist anarmy of mercenary fanatics, and transport them to Kansas.Recruiting officers were stationed in places most likely to furnishthe proper material; premiums were offered for recruits; thepublic mind was stimulated by glowing and false descriptions ofthe country proposed to be occupied, and a Hessian band ofmercenaries was thus prepared and forwarded, to commence andcarry on a war of extermination against slavery.
To call these people emigrants, is a sheer perversion of language.They are not sent to cultivate the soil, to better theirsocial condition, to add to their individual comforts, or the aggregatewealth of the nation. They do not move from choice or taste,or from any motive affecting, or supposed to affect, themselves ortheir families. They have none of the marks of the old pioneers,who cut down the forests of Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana, orlevelled the cane brakes of Tennessee and Mississippi, or brokeup the plains of Illinois and Missouri. They are mostly ignorant[pg 7]of agriculture; picked up in cities or villages, they ofcourse have no experience as farmers, and if left to their unaidedresources—if not clothed and fed by the same power which haseffected their transportation—they would starve or freeze. Theyare hirelings—an army of hirelings—recruited and shipped indirectlyby a sovereign state of this Union, to make war upon aninstitution now existing in the Territory to which they are transplanted,and thence to inflict a fatal blow upon the resources, theprosperity and the peace of a neighboring State. They are militarycolonies, planted by a State government, to subdue a territoryopened to settlement by Congress, and take exclusivepossession thereof. In addition to that esprit du corps, which ofnecessity pervades such an organization, they have in common areckless and desperate fanaticism, which teaches them that slaveryis a sin, and that they are doing God's service in hastening itsdestruction. They have been picked and culled from the ignorantmasses, which Old England and New England negro philanthropyhas stirred up and aroused to madness on this topic, andhave been selected with reference to their views on this topicalone. They are men with a single idea; and to carry out this,they have been instructed and taught to disregard the laws ofGod and man; to consider bloodshed and arson, insurrection,destruction of property, or servile war, as the merest trifles, comparedwith the glory and honor of seducing a single slave fromhis master, or harboring and protecting the thief who has carriedhim off!
That such a population would be fatal to the peace and securityof the neighboring State of Missouri, and immediate destructionof such owners of slaves as had already moved to theTerritory of Kansas, is too clear to admit of argument. Ahorde of our western savages, with avowed purposes of destructionto the white race, would be less formidable neighbors.
The colonization of Kansas with a population of this characterwas a circumstance which aroused attention, and excited alarmamong our citizens here, and those who had already emigrated toKansas. Could any other result have been expected? Did sensiblemen at the North—did the abolitionists