Why Slavery Must Be Protected In The Territories
Albert Gallatin Brown of Mississippi
United States Senate, January 3 1860

I have been asked elsewhere - and probably there is a whispering in the mind of some one who hears me to the same effect now - why are you so tenacious of this principle of protection to slavery in the Territories? What do you expect to accomplish by it? With that frankness which I trust is a part of my character, I will tell you why I am so tenacious. I know that you can never plant slavery in the Territories unless you afford it protection - protection based on statutory law. Without such protection, there never will be another slave Territory; and without slave Territories you can never have slave States. You have, I believe, five Territories now. You are already called on, during the present session, to organize three more. These Territories will rapidly populate, and as rapidly come knocking at the door for admission into the Union. You commenced with thirteen States only a little more than three quarters of a century ago - dating from the birth of the Constitution, not so long as that - and now you have thirty-three, five Territories already organized, and three asking for organization. Of these thirty-three States, fifteen are slaveholding States, and eighteen are non-slaveholding. Under your present policy, all the Territories outstanding, organized and unorganized, and all the territory to be acquired hereafter, will but add to the number of free States; and then, sir, the boast made on the other side of the Chamnber, that when they get the power they will so mold the Constitution, according to the forms of the Constitution itself, as to give them uncontrolled sway - will be carried out with all its force and all its power. It cannot be long, under the present order of things, before the anti-slavery sentiment of this country will have brought into the Union, and added to the non-slaveholding States now in the Union, a sufficient number of States to give them the two thirds required to change the Constitution. That being done, the enunciation so vauntingly made by the distinguished Senator from New York, and followed up by others, that you mean to crush out slavery under the forms of the Constitution, will have been accomplished. I see that things are rapidly drifting in that direction. I see that we can have no more slave States unless we can plant slavery in the Territories; and I see that that cannot be done unless you protect the slaveholder in his rights. If we can have no more slave States, then twenty years will not pass before a change of the Constitution will enable the anti-slavery sentments of the North, under the forms and guarantees of the Constitution, as amended, to overthrow slavery.

I hope I am understood. I am tenacious upon this point, because I want to multiply the number of slave States. I want to multiply the number of slave States because I am, and always have been, a genuine constitutional Union man. I love the Union of our fathers, and yield to no man in deep, earnest, heartfelt devotion to it. They made a slaveholding Union. Washington and Jefferson and Madison, and other illustrious patriots, who took a prominent part in the formation of the Union, were themselves slaveholders, and they gave to slave property the guarantees which the Consitution contains, as expounded by the Supreme Court. By the Union which they made I am ready to stand; for it I am ready to fall; and I will never stand idly by, and see, by your timid time-serving policy, that Union undermined and forced to tumble into ruins.

Nor am I willing to take the position which the President assigns me, of entrenchment beind the courts. No, sir. No man has higher veneration for courts of justice than I have. No man entertains a deeper, more heartfelt reverence for the judges of that illustrious court, which to-day sits in this Capitol, than I do. Sir, I venerate, I revere, I almost reverence these old judges; but when I see them on their trembling limbs treading your streets, I cannot disguise from my own mind that all these old men, in the lapse of a few years, not more than fifteen or twenty at most; must pass from the stage of active existence. The venerable Chief Justice is already over eighty years of age; I am told that the majority of his associates are over seventy. How long can these old men hold out? When they are gone, and the gentlemen on the other side of the Chamber shall have taken possession of the executive and legislative Government, what will happen? That bench now adorned by a Taney, by a Catron, by a Nelson, and by other illustrious judges, will be occupied by such gentlemen as those on the other side of the Chamber. When that day comes, what will become of the Dred Scott decision behind which I am asked to entrench myself? Sir, it will pass away as "the baseless fabric of a vision." These Senators and other persons outside the Chamber who sympathize with them, will carry their opinions upon the bench, and will as remorselessly overturn the decision rendered by the present judges as they would overturn a decision sounding in mere dollars and cents. Yet, sir, with these facts before us, seeing them as we do, we are asked to give up all struggle to maintain our constitutional rights through the law-making power of the Government, and to rely entirely on the courts. Sir, others may pursue that course which to them seems best; I will pursue my own, and leave to time, the great tester of all truths, to determine whether I am not right.


The Congressional Globe, The Official Proceedings of Congress, Published by John C. Rives, Washington, D. C.
Thirty-Sixth Congress, 1st Session, New Series...No. 19, Wednesday, January 4, 1860, pages 299-300.