« AnteriorContinuar »
The election came. Mr. Buchanan was electe ed, and the indorsement, such as it was, se cured. That was the second point gained. The indorsement, however, fell short of a clear popular majority by nearly four hundred thousand votes, and so, perhaps, was not overwhelmingly reliable and satisfactory. The outgoing President, in his last annual message, as impressively as possible echoed back upon the people the weight and authority of the indorsement. The Supreme Court met again ; did not announce their decision, but ordered a reargument. The presidential inauguration came, and still no decision of the court ; but the incoming President in his inaugural address fervently exhorted the people to abide by the forthcoming decision, whatever it might be. Then, in a few days, came the decision...
The reputed author of the Nebraska bill finds an early occasion to make a speech at this cap. ital indorsing the Dred Scott decision, and vehemently denouncing all opposition to it. The new President, too, seizes the early occasion of the Silliman letter to indorse and strongly construe that decision, and to express his aston. ishment that any different view had ever been entertained !
At length a squabble springs up between the President and the author of the Nebraska bill, on the mere question of fact, whether the Lecompton constitution was or was not, in any just sense, made by the people of Kansas ; and in that quarrel the latter declares that all he wants is a fair vote for the people, and that he cares not whether slavery be voted down or voted up. I do not understand his declaration that he cares not whether slavery be voted down or voted up to be intended by him other than as an apt definition of the policy he would impress upon the public mind-the principio for which he declares he has suffered so much, and is ready to suffer to the end. And wein may he cling to that principle. If he has any parental feeling, well may he cling to it. That principle is the only shred left of his original Nebraska doctrine. Under the Dred Scott de cision “squatter sovereignty" squatted out of existence, tumbled down like temporary scaffolding,--like the mold at the foundry, served through one blast and fell back into loose sand,
helped to carry an election, and then was kicked to the winds. His late joint struggia with the Republicans against the Lecompton constitution involves nothing of the original Nebraska doctrine. That struggle was made on a point-the right of a people to make their own constitution upon which he and the Re. publicans have never differed.
The several points of the Dred Scott decision, in connection with Senator Douglas's “ care not" policy, constitute the piece of machinery in its present state of advancement. This was the third point gained. The working points of that machinery are :
(1) That no negro slave, imported as such from Africa, and no descendant of such slave, can ever be a citizen of any State, in the sense of that term as used in the Constitution of the United States. This point is made in order to deprive the negro in every possible event of the benefit of that provision of the United States Constitution which declares that "the citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the priv. lleges and immunities o: sitizens in the several States."
(2) That, “subject to the Constitution of the United States," neither Congress nor a terri. torial legislature can exclude slavery from any United States Territory. This point is made in order that individual men may fill up the Territories with slaves, without danger of los ing them as property, and thus enhance the chances of permanency to the institution through all the future.
(3) That whether the holding a negro in actual slavery in a free State makes him free as against the holder, the United States courts will not decide, but will leave to be decided by the courts of any slave State the negro may be forced into by the master. This point is made not to be pressed immediately, but, if acquiesced in for a while and apparently indorsed by the people at an election, then to sustain the logi. cal conclusion that what Dred Scott's master might lawfully do with Dred Scott in the free State of Illinois, every other master may law.
fully do with any other one or one thousand slaves in Illinois or in any other free State.
Auxiliary to all this, and working hand in hand with it, the Nebraska doctrine, or what is left of it, is to educate and mold public opin. jon, at least Northern public opinion, not to care whether slavery is voted down or voted up. This shows exactly where we now are, and partially, also, whither we are tending.
It will throw additional light on the latter, to go back and run the mind over the string of historical facts already stated. Several things will now appear less dark and mysterious than they did when they were transpiring. The people were to be left “perfectly free," "subject only to the Constitution." What the Constitution had to do with it outsiders could not then see. Plainly enough now, it was an exactly fitted niche for the Dred Scott decision to afterward come in, and declare the perfect free. dom of the people to be just no freedom at all. Why was the amendment expressly declaring the right of the people voted down ? Plainly enough now, the adoption of it would have spoiled the niche for the Dred Scott decision. Why was the court decision held up? Why even a senator's individual opinion withheld till after the presidential election ? Plainly enough now, the speaking out then would have damaged the “ perfectly free" argument upon
which the election was to be carried. Why the .- outgoing President's felicitation on the indorse
ment? Why the delay of a reargument? Why the incoming President's advance exhor. tation in favor of the decision? These things look like the cautious patting and petting of a spirited horse preparatory to mounting him, when it is dreaded that he may give the rider a fall. And why the hasty after-indorsement of the decision by the President and others ? .
We cannot absolutely know that all these exact adaptations are the result of preconcert. But when we see a lot of framed timbers, different portions of which we know have been gotten out at different times and places and by different workmen, Stephen, Franklin, Roger, and James, for instance, and we see these timbers joined together, and see they exactly make the frame of a house or a mill, all the tenons and mortises exactly fitting, and all the lengths and proportions of the different pieces exactly adapted to their respective places, and not a piece too many or too few, not omitting even scaffolding or, if a single piece be lacking, we see the place in the frame exactly fitted and prepared yet to bring such piece in-in such a case we find it impossible not to believe that Stephen and Franklin and Roger and James all understood one another from the beginning, and all worked upon a common plan or draft drawn up before the first blow was struck. .
It should not be overlooked that, by the Ne." braska bill, the people of a State as well as Ter." ritory were to be left "perfectly free," "subu.