Section #10 - A Manifest Destiny craze results in the Texas Annexation and a victorious war with Mexico
Chapter 126: Congress Finally Approves A Funding Bill Without A Ban On Slavery
March 1, 1847
The Senate Opposes The House Bill Again And Passes Its Own Option
With the final session of the 29th Congress set to adjourn on March 3, 1847, both chambers feel a sense of urgency about funding the Mexican War.
The House has already passed a bill, but with the amendment from Preston King prohibiting any future expansion of slavery, in the west or in other lands acquired by the United States. This prohibition, even more drastic than that from Wilmot, is considered too divisive in the Senate, and it goes down to defeat on March 1 with 21 ayes and 32 nays.
Senator Thomas Hart Benton then proposes a $3 Million Appropriations Bill, without the King amendment. It passes 29-23 on March 1, 1847, with the only Democrat voting “no” being Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania, a strong opponent of slavery. The only Whig “yes” belongs to Henry Johnson of Louisiana, who cast the decisive vote earlier to annex Texas.
Senate Vote On Appropriation Bill — Without Wilmot (March 1, 1847)
|Region||Democrats Yes – No||Whigs Yes – No||Other Yes – No||Total Yes – No|
|Northeast||6 – 1||0 – 8||0 – 3||6 – 11|
|Northwest||5 – 0||0 – 2||5 – 2|
|Border||2 – 0||0 – 5||2 – 5|
|Southeast||3 – 0||0 – 4||1 – 0||4 – 4|
|Southwest||10 – 0||1 – 1||1 – 0||12 – 1|
|Total||26 – 0||1 – 20||2 – 3||29 – 23|
March 3, 1847
The House Passes The Appropriation Bill Without The Wilmot Proviso
With time running out, the Senate bill is back in the House for reconciliation, where those opposing the spread of slavery make one final attempt to add back the King Amendment. But this time it goes down to defeat by a narrow spread of 97 ayes to 102 nays.
This funding battle has lasted since August 8, 1846, a full nine months, and many House members now seem to conclude they have been operating in a dark and dangerous place far too long.
American soldiers are in the field in Mexico; they deserve to be properly funded and supported; the time has come to push on and win the war. Also one war seems enough for the moment –without adding the visible threats of disunion that have surfaced over the Wilmot and King injunctions. Better to step back from this cliff for now, and possibly return to it later.
This is the theme promoted by the indefatigable Illinois congressman, Stephen Douglas, who lobbies hard to convince Northern Democrats to delay the battle over the spread of slavery until the various territories have been established, settlers have arrived and debated their state constitutions, and requests for admission are filed with congress.
This line of reasoning mirrors the plea from Calhoun that the people in each new state should determine their own form of government. As a principle it will soon become known as “popular sovereignty,” a new option to Wilmot/King and the 34’30” compromise line and one that postpones North-South violence until Kansas applies for statehood in 1856.
The efforts by Douglas and other party leaders pay off when the final bill passes by a comfortable 115-82 margin in the House on March 3, 1847.
House Vote On Appropriation Bill — Without A Slavery Ban
|Region||Democrats Yes – No||Whigs Yes – No||American Yes – No||Total Yes – No|
|Northeast||31 – 7||0 – 40||1 – 3||32 – 50|
|Northwest||22 – 3||0 – 10||22 – 13|
|Border||10 – 0||0 – 8||10 – 8|
|Southeast||28 – 0||0 – 5||28 – 5|
|Southwest||22 – 0||1 – 6||23 – 6|
|Total||113 – 10||1 – 69||1 – 3||115 – 82|
Analysis of the final outcome on the $3 Million Bill shows a remarkable shift among the Democrats in the seven months since the Wilmot Proviso passed the House on August 8, 1846. At that time, 52 Democrats voted in favor of the bill limiting the spread of slavery; by March 1847, only 10 of them are left! This is an early testament to Stephen Douglas’ powers of persuasion
Shift In Democrat Votes For The War Appropriations Bill
|Bill Limiting Spread Of Slavery||Aug 8, 1846||Mar 3, 1847||Change|
|# Democrats Voting Aye||52||10||(42)|
|# Democrats Voting Nay||55||113||+58|
The ten hold-outs are all Northern Democrats, led by David Wilmot, and joined by others including Preston King, Jacob Brinkerhoff, and Hannibal Hamlin.
The Ten Hold-Out Northern Democrats
|Martin Grover||New York|
|Preston King||New York|
|Mace Moulton||New Hampshire|
|Horace Wheaton||New York|
|Bradford Wood||New York|
Meanwhile, the House Whigs remain solidly against the appropriation bill and the war itself.
Sidebar: Recap Of The Key Votes On The Wilmot Proviso
|Chamber Date||Date||Form Of Bill||Yes||No||(NV)||Resolution|
|House||August 8, 1846||$2MM + Wilmot||85||80||(56)||Senate Tables|
|House||February 15, 1847||$3MM + King||115||106||(6)||House Passes|
|Senate||March 1, 1847||$3MM + King||21||32||(3)||Senate Opposes|
|Senate||March 1, 1847||$3MM w/o Proviso||29||23||(3)||Senate Passes|
|House||March 3, 1847||$3MM + Wilmot||97||102||(28)||House Opposes|
|House||March 3, 1847||$3MM w/o Proviso||115||82||(30)||House Passes|