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Monday, 4th January, 1847.
My private secretary returned from the Capitol and informed me that Mr. Preston King of New York had introduced into the House of Representatives a bill on the subject of slavery which had produced much sensation in the body. He informed me also that Mr. Hamlin, a Representative from the State of Maine, had made a speech against the bill recommended by the Secretary of War for increasing the regular army to serve during the war. Mr. Hamlin professes to be a Democrat, but has given indications during the present session that he is dissatisfied, and is pursuing a mischievous course, not only in this instance, but on the slavery question, as well as upon other matters. The slavery question is assuming a fearful and most important aspect. The movement of Mr. King today, if persevered in, will be attended with terrible consequences to the country, and cannot fail to destroy the Democratic party, if it does not ultimately threaten the Union itself. Slavery was one of the questions adjusted in the compromises of the Constitution. It has, and can have no legitimate connection with the war with Mexico, or the terms of a peace which may be concluded with that country. It is a domestic and not a foreign question, and to connect it with the appropriations for prosecuting the war, or with the two million appropriation with a view to obtain peace, can result in no good, but must divide the country by a sectional line and lead to the worst consequences. Of course the Federalists are delighted to see such a question agitated by Northern Democrats because it divides and distracts the Democratic party and increases their prospects of coming into power. Such an agitation is not only unwise, but wicked.
- Polk: The Diary of a President, 1845-1849, Covering the Mexican War, the Acquisition of Oregon, and the Conquest of California and the Southwest-Book by Allan Nevins, James Polk; 1929