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through Congress the Kansas-Nebraska Act, including the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. That act had failed to command the votes of a large body of the Democratic representatives in Congress. It had been met by a fierce and unrelenting combination in the northern states, against which the Democracy, except in a few isolated cases, had been unable to stand. The elections of 1854-5 had been most disastrous, and the thousands who regard present defeat as more fatal than the ultimate and successful establishment of a right principle heaped upon him their denunciations. His anxiety was lest the timid and temporizing would endeavor in that Convention to avoid or oppose a clear and unequivocal endorsement of the great principle of self-government and non-interference by Congress with the subject of slavery in the territories. When that Convention met, and when the representatives of the Democracy of all the states, without a dissenting voice, indorsed that great act of legislation, and proclaimed that thenceforth Congress washed its hands of all interference with the domestic affairs of the people of the territories—those inchoate states, as President Pierce styled them-all anxiety was removed, and once more he had the assurance of the Democracy that his adherence to the cause of right and truth had received, as well it had merited, the approbation of the Democracy of the nation.
There never was a platform of the Democracy that commended itself more generally to the approval of the people than that adopted at Cincinnati. It commanded the approbation of at least one half of the Republican party at the North. The latter, however, could not be induced to believe that the Democracy would carry out that platform in good faith. The action of the Lecompton Convention, the propositions for a revival of the slave trade, and for a slave code for the territories, have not had the effect to remove the doubts previously entertained by those who questioned the honesty of the inten→ tions of those who adopted the Cincinnati platform. The only way in which these doubts can ever be removed, and the people of the northwest again united under a common organization for the protection and security of the Constitution and the Union, is by placing the administration of that platform in the hands of a man who is known to entertain for it a devotion and an affection unequalled by that of any other person. A good
platform with candidates whose political fidelity is not established in the minds of the people is one thing, and a very different thing from the same platform with candidates who are known to the people as men who, at all hazards, and under all circumstances, will stand by principle, and never, even to court popular favor, abandon the established doctrines of free constitutional government.
Since June, 1856, Mr. Douglas has been unremitting in his defense of that platform. He stands upon it now, and clings to it as the best exposition of political faith ever produced in the United States since the adoption of the Constitution; and, when fairly executed, the safest and only reliable chart for avoiding those calamities that must ever attend any Federal legislation repecting African slavery. It is the best and most comprehensive declaration of the rights of the States that has ever been put in form, and there can be no violation of that platform that does not equally violate the vested and constitutional rights of the states of the Confederacy.
To the support and maintenance of that platform he has devoted much of his time, and expended his health and personal labor. In 1856, after its adoption, the Democratic National Committee at Washington regarded his report made upon Kansas affairs, on March 12th preceding, such an admirable epitome of the principles of the Democracy, subsequently asserted in the Cincinnati platform, that they had no less than three hundred thousand copies of it printed and circulated. The doctrines of that report were then deemed the best kind of Democracy, although they declared that no law or state government should be forced upon the people that did not receive a sanction from these people.
In the defense of the Cincinnati platform all questions were narrowed down to the one-the great fundamental principle of the right of the people of every distinct political community, which may be loyal to the Constitution, to regulate their own domestic affairs and local institutions, free of all interference by other states, or by the Federal government, and subject to no other restraint than may exist in the Constitution of the United States. In the defense of this principle Mr. Douglas, during the recess of 1859, prepared an elaborate essay, which was published in the September number of Harper's New Monthly Magazine. It had not only the extensive circula
tion of that popular publication, but soon found its way through an extra or supplemental edition, in pamphlet form, to all parts of the country. It was also published extensively in the public journals. We are authorized by Messrs. Harper & Brothers to republish that argument in this volume. It was as follows:
THE DIVIDING LINE BETWEEN FEDERAL AND LOCAL AUTHORITY. [Reprinted from Harper's Magazine, September, 1859.]
Under our complex system of government it is the first duty of American statesmen to mark distinctly the dividing line between federal and local authority. To do this with accuracy involves an inquiry, not only into the powers and duties of the federal government under the Constitution, but also into the rights, privileges, and immunities of the people of the territories, as well as of the states composing the Union. The relative powers and functions of the federal and state governments have become well understood and clearly defined by their practical operation and harmonious action for a long series of years; while the disputed question-involving the right of the people of the territories to govern themselves in respect to their local affairs and internal polity-remains a fruitful source of partisan strife and sectional controversy. The political organization which was formed in 1854, and has assumed the name of the Republican party, is based on the theory that African slavery, as it exists in this country, is an evil of such magnitude-social, moral, and political-as to justify and require the exertion of the entire power and influence of the federal government to the full extent that the Constitution, according to their interpretation, will permit for its ultimate extinction. In the platform of principles adopted at Philadelphia by the Republican National Convention in 1856, it is affirmed:
"That the Constitution confers upon Congress sovereign power over the territories of the United States for their government, and that in the exercise of this power it is both the right and the duty of Congress to prohibit in the territories those twin relics of barbarism, polygamy and slavery."
According to the theory of the Republican party there is an irrepressible conflict between freedom and slavery, free labor and slave labor, free states and slave states, which is irreconcilable, and must continue to rage with increasing fury until the one shall become universal by the annihilation of the other. In the language of the most eminent and authoritative expounder of their political faith,
"It is an irrepressible conflict between opposing and enduring forces; and it means that the United States must and will, sooner or later, become either entirely a slaveholding nation or entirely a free-labor nation. Either the cotton and rice fields of South Carolina, and the sugar plantations of Louisiana will ultimately be tilled by free labor, and Charleston and New Orleans become marts for legitimate merchandise alone, or else the rye fields and wheat fields of Massachusetts and New York must again be surrendered by their farmers to slave culture and to the production of slaves, and Boston and New York become once more markets for trade in the bodies and souls of men."
In the Illinois canvass of 1858 the same proposition was advocated and defended by the distinguished Republican standard-bearer in these words: "In my opinion it [the slavery agitation] will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. A house divided against itself can not stand.' I believe this government can not endure permanently half slave
and half free. I do not expect the house to fall, but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction, or its advocates will push forward till it shall become alike lawful in all the States-old as well as new, North as well as South."
Thus it will be seen, that under the auspices of a political party, which claims sovereignty in Congress over the subject of slavery, there can be no peace on the slavery question-no truce in the sectional strife-no fraternity between the North and South, so long as this Union remains as our fathers made it divided into free and slave states, with the right on the part of each to retain slavery so long as it chooses, and to abolish it whenever it pleases.
On the other hand, it would be uncandid to deny that, while the Democratic party is a unit in its irreconcilable opposition to the doctrines and principles of the Republican party, there are radical differences of opinion in respect to the powers and duties of Congress, and the rights and immunities of the people of the territories under the Federal Constitution, which seriously disturb its harmony and threaten its integrity. These differences of opinion arise from the different interpretations placed upon the Constitution by persons who belong to one of the following classes:
First.-Those who believe that the Constitution of the United States neither establishes or prohibits slavery in the states or territories beyond the power of the people legally to control it, but "but leaves the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United States."
Second.-Those who believe that the Constitution establishes slavery in the territories, and withholds from Congress and the territorial Legislature the power to control it; and who insist that, in the event the territorial Legislature fails to enact the requisite laws for its protection, it becomes the imperative duty of Congress to interpose its authority and furnish such protection.
Third.-Those who, while professing to believe that the Constitution establishes slavery in the territories beyond the power of Congress or the territorial Legislature to control it, at the same time protest against the duty of Congress to interfere for its protection; but insist that it is the duty of the Judiciary to protect and maintain slavery in the territories without any law upon the subject.
By a careful examination of the second and third propositions, it will be seen that the advocates of each agree on the theoretical question, that the Constitution establishes slavery in the territories, and compels them to have it whether they want it or not; and differ on the practical point, whether a right secured by the Constitution shall be protected by an act of Congress when all other remedies fail. The reason assigned for not protecting by law a right secured by the Constitution is, that it is the duty of the courts to protect slavery in the territories without any legislation upon the subject. How the courts are to afford protection to slaves or any other property, where there is no law providing remedies and imposing penalties and conferring jurisdiction upon the courts to hear and determine the cases as they arise, remains to be explained.
The acts of Congress, establishing the several territories of the United States, provide that: "The jurisdiction of the several courts herein provided for, both appellate and original, and that of the Probate Courts and Justices of the Peace, shall be as limited by law"-meaning such laws as the territorial Legislatures shall from time to time enact. It will be seen that the judicial tribunals of the territories have just such jurisdiction, and
only such, in respect to the rights of persons and property pertaining to the citizens of the territory as the territorial Legislature shall see fit to confer; and consequently, that the courts can afford protection to persons and property no further than the Legislature shall, by law, confer the jurisdiction, and prescribe the remedies, penalties, and modes of proceeding.
It is difficult to conceive how any person who believes that the Constitution confers the right of protection in the enjoyment of slave property in the territories, regardless of the wishes of the people and of the action of the territorial Legislature, can satisfy his conscience and his oath of fidelity to the Constitution in withholding such Congressional legislation as may be essential to the enjoyment of such right under the Constitution. Under this view of the subject it is impossible to resist the conclusion that, if the Constitution does establish slavery in the territories, beyond the power of the people to control it by law, it is the imperative duty of Congress to supply all the legislation necessary for its protection; and if this proposition is not true, it necessarily results that the Constitution neither establishes nor prohibits slavery any where, but leaves the people of each state and territory entirely free to form and regulate their domestic affairs to suit themselves, without the intervention of Congress or of any other power whatsoever.
But it is urged with great plausibility by those who have entire faith in the soundness of the proposition, that "a territory is the mere creature of Congress; that the creature can not be clothed with any powers not possessed by the creator; and that Congress, not possessing the power to legislate in respect to African slavery in the territories, can not delegate to a territorial Legislature any power which it does not itself possess."
This proposition is as plausible as it is fallacious. But the reverse of it is true as a general rule. Congress can not delegate to a territorial Legislature, or to any other body of men whatsoever, any power which the Constitution has vested in Congress. In other words: Every power conferred on Congress by the Constitution must be exercised by Congress in the mode prescribed in the Constitution.
Let us test the correctness of this proposition by reference to the powers of Congress as defined in the Constitution:
"The Congress shall have power
"To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises," etc.;
"To borrow money on the credit of the United States;"
"To regulate commerce with foreign nations," etc.;
"To establish a uniform rule of naturalization," etc.;
"To coin money, and regulate the value thereof;" "To establish post-offices and post-roads;"
"To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court ;" "To declare war," etc.;
"To provide and maintain a navy."
The list might be extended so as to embrace all the powers conferred on Congress by the Constitution; but enough has been cited to test the principle. Will it be contended that Congress can delegate any one of these powers to a territorial Legislature or to any tribunal whatever? Can Congress delegate to Kansas the power to "regulate commerce," or to Nebraska the power establish uniform rules of naturalization," or to Illinois the power "to coin money and regulate the value thereof," or to Virginia the power "to establish post-offices and post-roads ?"
The mere statement of the question carries with it the emphatic answer, that Congress can not delegate any power which it does possess; but that every power conferred on Congress by the Constitution must be exercised by Congress in the manner prescribed in that instrument.
On the other hand, there are cases in which Congress may establish tribu