Section #22 - The Southern States secede and the attack on Ft. Sumter signals the start of the Civil War
Chapter 279: Two Last Second Bills Gain Congressional Approval
February 26, 1861
The Morrill Tariff Further Angers The South
As usual, legislators scrambles to complete left-over bills before the 36th Congress ends its second and final session on Monday, March 4.
With many Southerners already having withdrawn, the path is open for the Northern Republicans to pass several pieces of legislation.
On February 26, they vote to create the Territory of Colorado without reference one way or the other to slavery. On March 2 they add the Dakota and Nevada Territories the same way.
On the same day, they pass the Morrill Tariff, a sop to manufacturing interests in the state of Pennsylvania which has previously been blocked by Southerners in the Senate. The bill calls for a dramatic 70% jump in duties on foreign imports, from the 21% level in effect since 1857 to a new 36% rate. It passes this time by 25-14 in the depleted Senate, with 24 Republican votes and one from Democratic Senator William Bigler of the Keystone state.
While Southerners hope the Morrill Tariff with provoke Britain and France into formally recognizing the CSA government, its embrace of slavery will ultimately block such a move.
March 4, 1861
The Corwin Amendment Seeks To Assure The South
The final piece of business plays out in the Senate where John Crittenden and Stephen Douglas unite behind trying to pass the “Corwin Amendment,” named after the Ohio congressman, and aimed at assuring worried Southerners that slavery will never be abolished in states where it currently exists.
After a flurry of bickering the body agrees to an unusual Sunday session, which begins with one more emotional plea from Crittenden, witnessed by Lincoln who secretly enters the gallery:
We see the danger, we acknowledge our duty; and yet, with all this before us, we are acknowledging before the world that we can do nothing.
Incredibly the debate continues until 4:00am on Monday, inauguration day, when the senators, many in a drunken state, finally decide to vote. After three substitutes are turned back, Corwin’s bill finally passes with the 2/3rds majority required, and eight Republican supporters.
Final Voting On The “Corwin Amendment” In The Senate: March 4, 1861
|By Senator:||Proposal||Yea & Nays|
|George Pugh (OH)||Substitute Crittenden bill for Corwin bill||14-25|
|Kinsley Bingham (MI)||The Constitution needs no more amendments||13-25|
|Robert Johnson (Ark)||Substitute Peace Conference bill for Corwin||3-34|
|John Crittenden (Ky)||The Corwin bill||24-12|
To become law, the “Corwin Amendment” would be required to go to the states for ratification, a step that never occurs. But as a symbolic gesture it seems to be the single concrete accomplishment by the Congress to reduce the odds of warfare.
It is also consistent with what Lincoln has said all along: he has neither the right, nor the intention, to abolish slavery in the old South.
Sidebar: Roll Call Of Departing Southern Senators
In all, twenty-five U.S. Senators will exit their seats, all Southerners except for Jesse Bright of Indiana, a so-called Copperhead Democrat opposed to possible warfare. Bright has been three times President Pro Tempore of the chamber, and is expelled on February 5, 1861, for officially acknowledging Jefferson Davis as President of the Confederacy and for accusations that he helped direct arms to the Southern cause. No other senator has been expelled since Bright, as on 2108.
|James Chestnut||SC||Nov 10, ‘60||Withdrew ***|
|James Hammond||SC||Nov 11, ‘60||Withdrew *|
|John Breckinridge||Ky||Dec 4, ‘60||Expelled|
|Waldo Johnson||MO||Jan 10||Expelled|
|Trustan Polk||MO||Jan 10||Expelled|
|Albert Brown||Miss||Jan 12, ‘61||Withdrew **|
|Jefferson Davis||Miss||Jan 21, ‘61||Withdrew **|
|David Yulee||Fla||Jan 21, ‘61||Withdrew **|
|Stephen Mallory||Fla||Jan 21, ‘61||Withdrew **|
|Alfred Iverson||Ga||Jan 28, ‘61||Withdrew *|
|Robert Toombs||Ga||Feb 4, ‘61||Withdrew **|
|Judah Benjamin||La||Feb 4, ‘61||Withdrew **|
|John Slidell||La||Feb 4, ‘61||Withdrew *|
|Jesse Bright||Ind||Feb 5, ‘61||Expelled|
|Ben Fitzpatrick (D)||Ala||Mar 3, 1861||Term expires *|
|Alfred Nicholson||Tenn||Mar 3, ‘61||Withdrew ***|
|John Hemphill||Tex||Mar 4||Did not appear ***|
|Thomas Bragg||NC||Mar 8||Withdrew ***|
|Thomas Clingman||NC||Mar 11||Withdrew ***|
|Clement Clay (D)||Ala||Mar 14, 1861||Did not appear**|
|Louis Wigfall||Tex||Mar 23||Withdrew ***|
|James Mason||Va||Mar 28||Withdrew*|
|Robert Hunter||Va||Mar 28||Withdrew*|
|William Sebastian||Ark||July 11, ‘61||Expelled|
|Charles Mitchel||Ark||July 11, ‘61||Expelled|