United States Thirteenth Amendment 1863-65

An amendment to the United States Constitution to abolish slavery introduced during the American Civil War.

Committee on Territories of the Senate

Committee on Territories of the Senate for the Thirty-Eighth Session of Congress.

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Document introduced in:

Session 8440: 1864-02-03 12:00:00

S. 45 is amended and referred back to the Senate.

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Report of the Committee on Territories on S. 45

There are 0 proposed amendments related to this document on which decisions have not been taken.

The Committee on Territories, to whom was referred a bill (S. 45) "to set apart a portion of the State of Texas for the use of persons of African descent," beg leave to report:

If the government is successful in crushing out the present rebellion, something like four millions of blacks are to be thrown upon us for protection and direction. Justice requires that the nation should make a reasonable effort to give this mass of human beings a home within the United States. A habitable and desirable country should be selected on our southern border where congeniality of climate may be united with the privilege of our republican civilization, and where they may derive a protection from the contiguity of the dense masses of their white friends—a country within which they may concentrate all those who may desire to migrate hither.

It is believed that at the close of the present war there will be an unparalleled flood of foreign emigration to this country, which will naturally press that black man southward. Prudence suggests to the friends of the black man that a country for their concentration should be selected as far south as we can control.

In a northern latitude the black man cannot hold his ground against the grasping cupidity of the white, and he is safe only from that cupidity where the climate becomes his ally and his bulwark. When he has reached that point of latitude, he may become the ruler and lawmaker, the lord of the soil. Prudence, therefore, suggests to men of color and their friends, that the former concentrate rapidly in some country where all the motives springing from independence, self-dependence, self-reliance, together with that laudable emulation arising from their contiguity with their white neighbors, will stimulate and impel them forward in the path of progress and improvement.

A desire for a title to the soil is a marked characteristic of all people under Anglo-American civilization. The Anglo-African is not an exception to this rule. A quiet title to the land upon which either the black or white lives is absolutely necessary to the cultivation of enterprise, and the improvement of the country where they reside. An unsettled tide is fatal to all improvement, and all the more so if not only the fee of the land is disputed, but the various franchises springing from its sovereignty are the subjects of challenge and contention. We fear that this will be the future and fate of the freed men, who, on the close of the war, will remain in the States once slave.

The majority race, by aid of courts and laws, will keep their rights and interests in an unsettled State, unless by fundamental enactment in each of those States the government thereof could be placed in the hands of colored men—a thing that will be found impossible should it be attempted. Hence, to meet the wants and equities of the case, it becomes necessary to found a community where the men of color will be the majority race, possessed of undisputed sovereignty in their country, and all the rights which spring from eminent domain.

Let us, therefore, throw open that country to them, that they may have a fair opportunity for self-improvement, and evidence to their world their capability for self-government. In our opinion, we secure the greatest measure of peace and benefit by a prudent, permanent, and timely separation. We should, therefore, be willing to forego the great proft their labor brings, inasmuch as that labor is required to build up a commonwealth for themselves; and, if we sacrifice their service and their labor for their good, it is but just that they should concentrate southward for our good. For, as legislators responsible to the Great Ruler and to posterity, we are obliged to hold in abeyance party predilections and prejudices to the wants and destiny of future generations. We dare not disguise the fact that anything approximating to the legal and honorable admixture of the African blood with that of our race will meet the political condemnation of the ruling race of this land, while customs, opinions, and practice will remain adverse thereto, and the political parties attempting to revolutionize them will be crushed by the majority race.

Whilst it may be a question for the moralists of the country to answer how far it is right to encourage illicit intercourse by retaining two such races in proximity to each other, producing an illegitimate and consequently inferior population. In our opinion the black man requires but liberty, latitude, and proper sustenance to bring him up to a high standard of manhood.

It is desirable to cultivate friendly relations with the people of Mexico. It is known to us that among that people there are no prejudices against the black man, and that intermarriage is not prohibited either by law or custom.

The country described in the bill is separated only by the Rio Grande from the four large and important Mexican States of Tamaulipas, New Leon, Coahuila, and Chihuahua. It is confidently believed that the colony provided for in the bill, by intermarriage with the people of those Mexican States, and friendly intercourse with them, would so Americanize them as that they would be prepared and seek an annexation to our then glorious free republic.

The country described in the bill stretches from the Gulf on the south to New Mexico on the north, from 600 to 700 miles; the Colorado on the east, to the Rio Grande on the west, from 250 to 300 miles.

It is a truly desirable country for settlement, genial climate, producing cotton, sugar, and the cereals in great abundance, and is one of the finest grazing countries on this continent.

For further description of the country, we submit abstracts from the following writers, (see appendix:) "Brannon’s Texas," published in 1857, Cordova's book thereon, and Moore's Description of Texas.

The country solicited is easy of access for the emigrant, overland through Kansas, or southwestern Missouri, through the Indian country, on the best of natural roads, as well as by water, either by the Gulf or by Red river.

It is confidently believed that when the legislature meets in the State of Texas to take the initiative steps for her restoration to the Union, the President of the United States, if authorized, can arrange with that body for the relinquishment of the claim of the State of Texas to the territory described in the bill for the contemplated settlement.

Believing the passage of the bill is imperiously demanded by the best interests of the country, I return it to you, confidently trusting that you will report it back to the Senate, with your recommendation that it pass with the following amendments:

Add to the end of the first section the following: "And the President of the United States is authorized to adjust and discharge the claims of the State of Texas for the relinquishment and cession of all her rights, titles, interest, and claims which the said State has to the sovereignty and territorial jurisdiction of the country described in the second section of this act, situated within the limits of said State, and the territory thus ceded and relinquished shall be known and designated as the Territory of the Rio Grande."

After the word "President," in the second line of the third section, insert the words "in addition to the duties of that commission."

All of which is respectfully submitted.

J. H. LANE, Kansas.

[From Brannan's Texas, 1857, page 22.]

'I have, for convenience, divided the State by certain arbitrary designations as follows, viz: northern counties, western counties, &c.

"Western Texas is an extensive county, and has many varieties of soil and productions. Excepting on the bottom lands of the rivers and water-courses, the people are mostly engaged in stock-raising, many of them exclusively, and others in connection with farming. The region below 30° and west of the Rio Grande is very subject to long draughts [sic] during the summer; still the crops on the bottom land seldom fail, no portion is sickly, but all is favorable to man and beast. The principal grass on the prairies is the far-famed mesquit, deservedly renowned for its universal abundance and nutritious qualities. During all the winter season and after it has become sere and yellow, cattle and horses will eat it with the same avidity and benefit as when green. Of late years large quantities have been cured and baled for distant markets. I would advise emigrants who want good, cheap lands, with plenty of mesquit prairie for stock range, to purchase on the Nueces, Rio Frio, or some of their branches. This is a desirable part of Western Texas, and has as many natural advantages as can be asked by any reasonable man. Land sells from $1 50 to $2 per acre. The timber on the streams is pecan, hackberry, several kinds of oak, and mulberry; on the prairies are much live oak and mesquit timber. There are many other portions of the West where the land is better adapted for raising cotton, but none that will so well suit the emigrant of modest capital and fill the measure of his utmost expectations and desire."

Of the upper portion of this territory, Cordova says, page 49:

"The valley of the Rio Grande is in the vicinity of 32° north latitude, and for one hundred miles is capable of sustaining a large and prosperous population. It grows fine wheat, corn, fruits, and a variety of vegetables, all of the best quality, and is proverbial for producing excellent grapes, from which a native wine of very good quality is made. There are between 15,000 and 20,000 Americans and Mexicans already in the neighborhood of El Paso, and the valley is highly cultivated for many miles, beautiful gardens, with fine apricots, peaches, plums, and various other fruits, abounding."

In Moore's Description of Texas, page 8, he says:

"In the western counties the prairies are beautifully diversified with small groves of timber; most of the prairies of this level region, however, are entirely open, and resemble broad grassy lakes. The soil of the prairies is remarkably uniform in its character throughout the whole country, consisting generally of a black vegetable mould, varying from four inches to four feet in depth, resting on beds of sandy or clayey loam. This soil differs but little in fertility from the soil of the bottom lands, and is covered with a dense mass of grass, affording an inexhaustible supply of pasturage to the cattle of the southern planters. There is probably no class of men upon the globe who can live more independently or with less care than the herdsmen of Texas. Their herds of cattle feed out upon the prairies or in the wooded bottoms during the whole year, and require almost as little attention as the wild deer. * * * * Many of the Texan farmers own several thousand head of cattle, and derive from them a very large income."

Again, on page 13, he says: "The ordinary crop of cotton in the level and undulating regions is from a bale to a bale and a half to the acre; of maize, from forty to sixty bushels; of potatoes, from four to eight hundred bushels. Two crops of maize and potatoes are frequently raised the same year; both the common potato and yam, or sweet potato, thrive well. * * * The few attempts that have been made to cultivate sugar, tobacco, and silk, prove that these productions can be raised with great facility, and will, within a short period, become the staples of the country. It is found that the sugar-cane attains a larger size in Texas than in Louisiana, and, as the climate is milder, a larger portion of the plant matures; consequently the product of the sugar to the acre is considerably greater in the former country."

Decisions yet to be taken