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#76: Plan in 1850 on Slavery Aims to Save Union

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Welcome to the MAKING OF A NATION – American history in VOA Special English.

The United States faced a deep national crisis in eighteen fifty. That crisis threatened to split the nation in two. It began over the issue of slavery in the new territories of California and Mexico. President Zachary Taylor had no clear policy on the issue. He tried to be neutral. He hoped the problem would solve itself.

1850年,美国面临一场深刻危机,将国家推向分裂的边缘。这场危机是由加利福尼亚和新墨西哥这两块新增领土上的蓄奴问题引发的。在这个问题上,扎卡里·泰勒总统没有明确的政策。泰勒总统努力保持中立,希望问题会自然消失。

But he did not get his wish. The split between the North and South only got wider. There was a real danger that the South would declare its independence. Then, Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky stepped forward to save the Union.

然而事与愿违,南北双方间的裂痕日益加大。南方眼看就要宣布独立。关键时刻,肯塔基州的联邦参议员亨利·克莱挺身而出,设法挽救联邦。

This week in our series, Stuart Spencer and Jack Moyles begin the story of the Compromise of Eighteen Fifty.

VOICE ONE:

Henry Clay
Henry Clay

After being away from the Senate for almost eight years, Clay was surprised to find how bitter the two sections of the United States -- north and south -- had grown toward each other. Clay urged his friends in the border states between North and South to try to build public support for the Union. He felt this would help prevent the South from seceding.

克莱将近八年前离开参议院。如今重返参议院时,他才意外地发现,南北双方之间的敌对情绪日益加深。克莱敦促介于南北之间的临界州里的政治友人,希望他们推动民众支持联邦。克莱觉得,这样可以防止南方分裂。

Clay also began to think about a compromise that might settle the differences between the two sections of the country.

克莱同时也开始策划妥协方案,设法解决南北双方的意见分歧。

VOICE TWO:

Clay was a firm believer in the idea of compromise. He once said: "I go for honorable compromise whenever it can be made. Life itself is but a compromise between death and life. The struggle continues through our whole existence until the great destroyer finally wins. All legislation, all government, all society is formed upon the principle of mutual concession, politeness, and courtesy. Upon these, everything is based."

克莱对妥协深信不疑。他曾说过,“我随时愿意接受体面的妥协。生命本身就是生与死的妥协。生死之间的搏斗贯穿于我们的整个生命,直到死神获胜为止。一切立法、一切政府、一切社会都是在相互让步、相互尊敬、以礼相待的原则基础上建立起来的,这是一切事物的基础。”

Clay was sure that a compromise between North and South was possible. Near the end of January, Clay completed work on his plan. Most parts of it already had been proposed as separate bills. Clay put them together in a way that both sides could accept.

克莱坚信,南北双方一定能够达成妥协。快到一月底的时候,他终于制定出一项计划,计划的大部分内容以前都曾以单独议案的形式出现,克莱把它们合并在一起,希望双方都能接受。

VOICE ONE:

Clay offered his plan in a Senate speech on January twenty-ninth, eighteen fifty. Clay proposed that California join the Union as a free state. He said territorial governments should be formed in the other parts of the western territories, with no immediate decision on whether slavery would be permitted.

1850年1月29号,克莱在参议院的一次讲话中提出了自己的计划。克莱建议,加利福尼亚作为自由州加入联邦,其他西部地区建立地方政府,在废奴还是蓄奴的问题上,暂时不做决定。

Clay proposed that the western border of Texas be changed to give New Mexico most of the land disputed by them. In exchange for this, he said, the national government should agree to pay the public debts that Texas had when it became a state.

克莱建议,修订德克萨斯西部边界,把大部分争议土地划分给新墨西哥,作为交换,联邦政府同意替德克萨斯偿还加入联邦时的公共债务。

He proposed that no more slaves be sold in the District of Columbia for use outside the federal district, but also proposed that slavery should not be ended in the district unless its citizens and those of Maryland approved. Clay said a better law was needed for the return of fugitive slaves to their owners.

克莱建议,禁止在哥伦比亚特区进行用于特区以外的奴隶的交易,但同时提议,除非哥伦比亚特区和马里兰州居民认可,否则不应该结束哥伦比亚特区内的奴隶制度。克莱指出,需要制定一项更有效的法律,将逃跑的奴隶送还奴隶主。

He also proposed that Congress declare that it had no power to interfere with the slave trade between states. Senator Clay believed these eight steps would satisfy the interests of both the North and the South.

他还建议国会宣布,无权干涉州与州之间的奴隶交易。克莱参议员相信,这八点步骤会让南部和北部的利益都得到满足。

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Davis

Senator Jefferson Davis of Mississippi declared that Clay's compromises did not offer anything of value to the South. He said the South would accept nothing less than extending the Missouri compromise line west to the Pacific Ocean. This meant that land south of the line would be open to slavery.

密西西比州的参议员杰斐逊·戴维斯宣称,克莱提出的妥协方案没有给南方任何实惠。他说,南方人唯一可以接受的方案就是将密苏里协定的适用范围向西延展,直到太平洋,这就意味着密苏里协定分界线以南地区允许奴隶的存在。

Clay answered that no power on earth could force him to vote to establish slavery where it did not exist. He said Americans had blamed Britain for forcing African slavery on the colonists. He said he would not have the future citizens of California and New Mexico blaming Henry Clay for slavery there.

克莱回答说,世界上没有任何力量能让他投票支持在没有奴隶制的地方建立奴隶制度。他说,美国人指责英国将非洲奴隶强加给美洲定居者,他绝不会让加利福尼亚和新墨西哥今后的定居者说,是克莱造成了那里奴隶制度的出现。

VOICE ONE:

Clay said he did not want to debate, but wished that the senators would think carefully about his proposals. He said he hoped they would decide on them only after careful study. He asked them to see the proposals as a system of compromise, not as separate bills. Clay expected extremists on both sides to denounce the compromise. But he believed the more reasonable leaders of the North and South would accept it.

克莱表示,他不愿意参加辩论,但是希望参议员们能认真考虑他的提案,然后再做决定。他要求参议员们从整体出发研究这些提案,而不是把它们分开考虑。克莱估计,南北双方的极端份子都会极力反对,但是议案会得到南北双方通情达理的领导人的接受。

One week after Clay first proposed the compromise, he rose in the Senate to speak in its defense. The Senate hall was crowded. People had come from as far away as Boston and New York to hear Clay speak. Some senators said there had not been such a crowd in the capitol building since the day Clay said goodbye to the Senate eight years earlier.

提出议案一个星期后,克莱在参议院发表讲话,为议案提出辩护。当时,参议院大厅里挤得水泄不通,很多人长途跋涉,从波士顿和纽约赶来,听克莱讲话。有些参议员说,克莱八年前告别参议院以来,国会大厦里还没有出现过这么多的人。

Clay had to rest several times as he climbed the steps of the capitol. He told a friend that he felt very tired and weak. His friend advised Clay to rest and make his speech later. "No," Clay said. "My country is in danger. If I can be the one to save it from that danger, then my health and life are not important."

克莱顺着台阶走上国会大厦,途中不得不多次停下来休息,他告诉一个朋友说,感觉疲惫不堪。朋友建议他推迟讲话,克莱回答说:“那可不行。我的国家面临危险,如果我能够挽救国家命运的话,那么我的健康和生命都不重要。”

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

Henry Clay speaks before the United States Senate
Henry Clay speaks before the United States Senate

Clay began his speech by talking of the serious crisis that faced the nation. He said that never before had he spoken to a group as troubled and worried as the one he spoke to now. Clay listed his eight resolutions. Then he said: "No man on earth is more ready than I am to surrender anything which I have proposed and to accept in its place anything that is better. But I ask the honorable senators whether their duty will be done by simply limiting themselves to opposing any one or all of the resolutions I have offered."

克莱一上来,首先谈到了国家面临的严重危机。他说,他以前面对的听众,从来没有象现在这样忧心忡忡。克莱提出了自己的八点妥协方案,然后说,“如果有什么更好的建议,我比任何人都更愿意接受,但是我要问问尊贵的参议员们,如果光是反对一项或是全盘否定我的提议,你们能算是履行了自己的义务吗?”

"If my plan of peace and unity is not right, give us your plan. Let us see how all the questions that have arisen out of this unhappy subject of slavery can be better settled more fairly and justly than the plan I have offered. Present me with such a plan, and I will praise it with pleasure and accept it without the slightest feeling of regret."

克莱继续说,“如果我提出的实现和平与团结的计划不好,那你说说你的计划,让我们看看你有什么更好的办法,能解决蓄奴问题引起的所有麻烦。如果你能提出这样的计划,我会高兴地大加赞扬,不带一丝懊悔,诚心诚意地接受。”

VOICE ONE:

Clay said the major differences separating the country could be settled by facing facts. He said the first great fact was that laws were not necessary to keep slavery out of California and New Mexico. He said the people of California already had approved an anti-slavery state constitution. And he said the nature of land in New Mexico was such that slaves could not be used.

克莱说,只要面对现实,就能解决南北之间的主要分歧。他说,第一个重大现实是,要想不让加利福尼亚和新墨西哥成为蓄奴州,完全不必立法。克莱说,加利福尼亚已经通过了反蓄奴的州宪法;而新墨西哥的地况并不适合使用奴隶。

Clay said there was justice in the borders he proposed for Texas, that it would still be a very large state after losing the area it disputed with New Mexico. And he said it was right for the United States to pay the debts of Texas, because that state no longer could collect taxes on trade as an independent country.

克莱说,他建议将德克萨斯重新划界,把争议领土划给新墨西哥是有道理的。他说,即使重新划界后,德克萨斯依然是一个地域广阔的大州,他说,美国帮助德克萨斯偿还债务也没有错,因为德克萨斯加入美国后,就失去了作为一个独立国家对贸易征收税务的权力。

VOICE TWO:

Clay said there was equal justice in his resolutions ending the slave trade in the District of Columbia and strengthening laws on the return of runaway slaves. He said the South, perhaps, would be helped more than the North by his proposals. But the North, he said, was richer and had more money and power.

克莱说,他提出,一方面禁止在哥伦比亚特区内进行奴隶交易,另一方面加强遣送逃逸奴隶,这也是十分公正的。他表示,他的提议可能对南方更有好处,但是北方更富有,权力也更大。

To the North, slavery was a matter of feeling. But to the South, Clay said, it was a hard social and economic fact. He said the North could look on in safety while the actions of some of its people were producing flames of bitterness throughout the southern states.

克莱说,对于北方人来说,奴隶问题只是一个情感的问题,但是对于南方人来说,则是一个实实在在的社会和经济果实。克莱说,北方人可以安全地在一旁隔岸观望,而北方人的一些行动却会在南方各州点燃愤怒的火种。

Then Clay attacked the South's claim that it had the right to leave the Union. He said the Union of states was permanent -- that the men who built the Union did not do so only for themselves, but for all future Americans.

接下来,克莱又批判南方,说他们没有权利脱离联邦。克莱说,美国联邦是永久的,美国的立国元老建立联邦并不是为了自身的利益,而是为了子孙后代。

VOICE ONE:

Clay warned that if the South seceded, there would be war within sixty days. He said the slaves of the South would escape by the thousands to freedom in the North. Their owners would follow them and try to return them to slavery by force. This, he said, would lead to war between the slave-holding and free states. He said this would not be a war of only two or three years. History had shown, he said, that such wars lasted many years and often destroyed both sides.

克莱警告说,如果南方宣布脱离联邦,六十天内就会爆发战争。他说,成千上万的南方奴隶会逃往北方投奔自由。奴隶主则将紧追不舍。这就会引起蓄奴州和自由州之间的战争。这场战争不会在两三年内结束,历史证明,这样的战争往往会持续多年,让冲突双方两败俱伤。

Even if the south could secede without war, he said, it still would not get any of the things it demanded. Secession would not open the territories to slavery. It would not continue the slave trade in the District of Columbia. And it would not lead to the return of slaves who escaped to the North.

克莱还说,即使南方和平地脱离了联邦,南方的要求也不会得到任何满足。克莱说,脱离联邦不会让新增土地实现蓄奴,不会让哥伦比亚的奴隶交易继续下去,不会让逃亡奴隶回到奴隶主身边。

So, said Clay, the South would not help itself by leaving the Union. Clay's two-day speech gave new hope to many that the Union could be saved.

因此,脱离联邦对南方没有好处。克莱两天的演说给很多人带来了希望,他们觉得,联邦这下子可能有救了。

(MUSIC)

ANNOUNCER:

Senator Henry Clay's compromise seemed to be a way to settle the dispute. But extremists on both sides opposed it. That will be our story next week.

Our program was written by Frank Beardsley. The narrators were Stuart Spencer and Jack Moyles. Transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our programs can be found, along with historical images, at www.unsv.com. Join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION -- an American history series in VOA Special English.

___

This is program #76 of THE MAKING OF A NATION

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