Charles E. Clarke on the Texas and New Mexico Border Legislation

Speech of Hon. Charles E. Clarke of New York on the Bill establishing the Boundary between Texas and New Mexico.

Delivered in the House of Representatives, Aug. 30, 1850.

I rise with much hesitation, aware of the great value of time, and of my inability to gain attention; but the attack of my colleague (Mr. BROOKS) obliges me to reply, or to seem to admit that I have been guilty of some great legislative impropriety. The remarks of the gentleman were intended, not to instruct us how we should vote hereafter, but to inflict punishment for votes already given; and the chief burden of his remarks was the incongruity of the gentlemen who voted together on two occasions – to reject the Texas boundary bill, and that it was not in order to add to that bill the Senate bill giving a Territorial Government to New Mexico – instead of any abstract impropriety of the votes themselves.

The gentlemen whose votes my colleague scrutinizes are his equals in place, and perhaps in patriotism, and holding themselves amenable to their constituents and their consciences, will not be greatly moved because my colleague has seen fit to vituperate. For one, I am content to do what is right, and shall not be deterred from that course because others, who usually vote in opposition, unite with me.

The bill which I voted to reject on its first reading gives, in my estimation, at least seventy thousand square miles of territory, now free, to Texas, and of course to irremediable and hopeless slavery – a tract of territory nine times as large as the State of Massachusetts. It gives it in such shape that it embraces on three sides a tract of Indian territory two hundred and ten miles square, with the Missouri Compromise line only to be run, for its northern boundary you have a new slaveholding State, as soon as it shall please the white men to quarrel away the Indians.

Of the intention to make that Indian Territory into a slave State, I have no doubt; and that, I believe, is the reason for the peculiar shape of the territory ceded to Texas. Look at the map, and see “the tracks of the beast!”

The same bill, under the pretence of indemnity for surrendering to us all that part of New Mexico which lies east of the Rio Grande, gives to Texas ten millions of dollars, ($10,000,000). Again: by clear and undoubted concert of action, the Senate bill giving a Territorial Government to New Mexico , without the ordinance of ’87, (the Wilmot Proviso – the freedom clause,) is moved as an additional section to the bill. The Speaker decides that this is in order, and I vote, in common with political opponents, that it is not in order.

Read the rest of this important speech by logging into Accessible Archives and browsing to the October 3, 1850 issue of The National Era.

Collection: African American Newspapers
Publication: The National Era
Date: October 3, 1850
Title: Speech Of Hon. Charles E. Clarke, of New York
Location: Washington, D.C.

About Charles Ezra Clarke

Charles Ezra Clarke, a Representative from New York; born in Saybrook, Conn., April 8, 1790; completed preparatory studies and was graduated from Yale College in 1809; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1815 and commenced practice in Watertown, N.Y.; moved to Great Bend, Jefferson County, N.Y., in 1840; member of the State assembly in 1839 and 1840; elected as a Whig to the Thirty-first Congress (March 4, 1849-March 3, 1851); resumed the practice of law; also built and operated a gristmill and engaged in agricultural pursuits; died in Great Bend, N.Y., December 29, 1863; interment in Brookside Cemetery, Watertown, N.Y.

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