DEBATE IN THE HOUSE ON THE POLYGAMY BILL.
The day was spent in debate upon the bill to suppress polygamy in the territories by making it a crime by direct congressional enactment. Three different views were presented by the speakers: that represented by the bill itself; second, that a better way to cure the evil was to divide Utah and its people among the surrounding territories; and third, that the first step should be to repeal the act organizing the territory of Utah, or so much of it at least as conferred upon the territorial legislature the power of making general laws. Mr. Olin of N.Y. (repub.) and Mr. Lamar of Mississippi (dem.) fa-vored the principle of the bill. The latter said there was no way to meet the question before them, but by looking it in the face, and considering it on its merits; he never heard of a retreating army in-spiring terror or respect in a pursuing party; and he maintained that there is nothing in the practice and history of legislation over the national terri-tory, which forbids the exercise of the power in question. The right of Congress to legislate over the territories, to revise their legislation, to amend the organic law, to repeal their acts, and punish offenses within the territories, has been asserted from the foundation of the government to the present day. The best way to get rid of this ques-tion was to authorize the president to buy out the Mormon possessions.
Mr. McCIernand of Ill. and Mr. Clark of Mo. (dems.) favored the second view, that of dividing up the Mormons. Mr. McC. said: Does any man believe a Mormon, who has a plurality of wives, would enforce this law against his neighbor, simi-arly circumstanced? The great cause of our troubles is that the Mormons have been entrusted with the execution of the laws, which they have constantly disregarded. He proposed to divide Utah between Pike's Peak and Nevada. The Mormons can thus be made subservient to moral virtue and legal authority. His information was that Pike's Peak has now a population of 20,000, and will soon receive an accession of 50,000.
Mr. Noell of Missouri (dem.) said there was no necessity for the passage of a direct law, which would be impractible. Let the power of the peo-ple of Utah to legislate be withdrawn, and trans-ferred to some other body, which will not exercise it so as to shock the moral sense.
Mr. Olin showed that Congress has full power to pass the law in question; that even the Dred Scott case recognized and admitted the power of Congress to govern the territories with certain limitations imposed by the constitution; that among those limitations was found no restriction of the power in Congress to prohibit this practice of polygomy; and finally he en-tered his protest against the doctrine of squatter or popular sovereignty, and said that it seemed to him Providence had permit-ted this modern Sodom to grow up in our midst as a standing rebuke against the madness and fol-ly of the doctrine that Congress has no power over the territories.
Mr. Thayer of Mass. advocated the proposition to divide Utah between Pike's Peak and Nevada.
Washington, Wednesday, April 4.
Mr. Keitt of S. C., characterized polygamy as a grave and high offense, but denied that Congress has power in the premises; it was not a crime against the United States; Congress cannot legis-late wisely and properly for the territories. If the federal government had any power whatever in the matter, it had the power to make the territo-rial government pass laws for the protection of property (slaves), and if the territorial govern-ment failed to do this, then the federal govern-ment could change the legislature of that territory, and put another there, which would pass such laws.
Mr. Gooch of Mass, offered an amendment, not differing in general principles, but in details, from the bill under consideration, and designed to limit its operation to Utah. He said this government has the power, and it was its duty, not only to declare polygamy a crime, but provide punish-ment therefor.
Mr. Barksdale of Miss, asked the gentleman whether, under the same power to prohibit polyg-amy, he would not draw the power to exclude slavery? So far as he was concerned, he saw a vast difference between prohibiting a crime, and excluding property from the territories. What were the gentleman's opinions?
Mr. Gooch replied that he and those with whom he associated were not responsible for the intro-duction of slavery in this discussion. The gen-tleman is from a slave-holding community, from the same state as his (Barksdale's) colleague (Lamar), who yesterday brought slavery into the consideration of the question. The gentleman rom New York alluded to it only in response to an in-terrogatory. On the republican side, the institu-tion of slavery had not been drawn into the dis-cussion. Mr. Barksdale—Then you decline to answer the question?
Mr. Gooch replied that he believed, under the constitution, that Congress has the power to pro-hibit slavery in the territories. When this ques-tion comes before the House, he would tell the gentleman whence he derived the power. He re-viewed the schemes of his colleagues (Mr. Thayer) and another gentleman (Mr. McCIernand), saying it was utterly futile to commit the Mormon's to the infant settlements of Pike's Peak and Nevada.
Mr. Thayer replied that one of the delegates from those territories says that they are entirely willing to take the responsibility, and further that the Mormons in great numbers are traveling to-ward Pike's Peak and Carson Valley, to engage in mining.
Mr. Gooch had no doubt that the people of these territories were willing to do ail they could to get a territorial organization; he was, however, told this morning by one of those delegates that they wished to have nothing to do with the Mormons.
Mr. Branch of N. C., called the gentleman's at-tention to that part of the republican platform (1856) which declares Congress has sovereign power over the territories, and in executing that power can prohibit those twin relics of barbarism, polygamy and slavery, in the territories. Mr. Goods replied that they now had one of the relics of barbarism here, and it was their duty to suppress it. He believed Congress had full power over all rightful subjects of legislation in the ter-ritories, subject only to the constitution.
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