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"Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to revive or put in force any law or regulation which may have existed prior to the act of the sixth of March, 1820, either protecting, establishing, or abolishing slavery." In this form, and with this distinct understanding of its "true intent and meaning," the bill passed the two houses of Congress, and became the law of the land by the approval of the President, May 30, 1854.
In 1856, the Democratic party, assembled in National Convention at Cincinnati, declared by a unanimous vote of the delegates from every State in the Union, that
"The American Democracy recognize and adopt the principles contained in the organic laws establishing the territories of Kansas and Nebraska as embodying the only sound and safe solution of the 'slavery question,' upon which the great national idea of the people of this whole country can repo se in its determined conservatism of the Union-non-interference by Congress with slavery in state and territory, or in the District of Columbia.
"That this was the basis of the Compromises of 1850, confirmed by both the Democratic and Whig parties in National Conventions-ratified by the people in the election of 1852-and rightly applied to the organization of the territories in 1854; That by the uniform application of this Democratic principle to the organization of territories and to the admission of new states, with or without domestic slavery as they may elect, the equal rights of all will be preserved intact—the original compacts of the Constitution maintained inviolate—and the perpetuity and expansion of this Union insured to its utmost capacity of embracing in peace and harmony any future American State that may be constituted or annexed with a Republican form of government."
In accepting the nomination of this Convention, Mr. Buchanan, in a letter dated June 16, 1856, said:
"The agitation on the question of domestic slavery has too long distracted and divided the people of this Union, and alienated their affections from each other. This agitation has assumed many forms since its commencement, but it now seems to be directed chiefly to the territories; and judging from its present character, I think we may safely anticipate that it is rapidly approaching a 'finality.' The recent legislation of Congress respecting domestic slavery, derived, as it has been, from the original and pure fountain of legitimate political power, the will of the majority, promises, ere long, to allay the dangerous excitement. This legislation is founded upon principles as ancient as free government itself, and in accordance with them has simply declared that the people of a territory, like those of a state, shall decide for themselves whether slavery shall or shall not exist within their limits."
This exposition of the history of these measures shows conclusively that the authors of the Compromise Measures of 1850, and of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, as well as the members of the Continental Congress of 1774 and the founders of our system of government subsequent to the Revolution, regarded the people of the territories and colonies as political communities which were entitled to a free and exclusive power of legislation in their provincial legislatures, where their representation could alone be preserved, in all cases of taxation and internal polity. This right pertains to the people collectively as a law-abiding and peaceful community, and not to the isolated individuals who may wander upon the public domain in violation of law. It can only be exercised where there are inhabitants sufficient to constitute a government, and capable of performing its various functions and duties—a fact to be ascertained and determined by Congress. Whether the number shall be fixed at ten, fifteen, or twenty thousand inhabitants does not affect the principle.
The principle, under our political system, is that every distinct political com
munity, loyal to the Constitution and the Union, is entitled to all the rights, privileges, and immunities of self-government in respect to their local concerns and internal polity, subject only to the Constitution of the United States.
THE CONTROVERSY WITH BLACK.
The appearance of this article in Harper's Magazine was rather a surprise to the enemies of popular right. The ability of its argument and the great force of its reasoning, carrying conviction to all candid minds, caused no little alarm. It was deemed necessary, on the part of those who professed doctrines which General Cass so emphatically declared were “far better suited to the meridian of Constantinople than to that of Washington," that there should be a reply. And with that blindness and blundering which seems to have marked every step and every movement of the Administration in the warfare upon popular sovereignty and its champion, instead of committing the office of replying to a competent or even well informed person, the task was intrusted to Attorney General Black. The country sustained a loss in this selection. Had the task of replying to Judge Douglas been assumed by a lawyer or statesman fitted by natural gifts or legal acquirements and political experience to discuss principles of government and their bearings and application towards the great point at issue, the literature-the political and legal literature of the country, would have been enriched by the productions on both sides, and the public would have been aided by the profound reasoning of the disputants in arriving at a correct conclusion. But Attorney General Black discussed the question not as a lawyer, not as a statesman, but after the style of a county court pettifogger arguing a case of slander. Had the discussion of this topic been conducted by Senator Davis, of Mississippi, instead of by Attorney General Black, the country would have had the views of a man thoroughly acquainted with the subject, well informed as a statesman, and one representing a people deeply interested in the matter; and whose views would have been presented in a manner and in language becoming a dignified gentleman, a scholar, and a constitutional lawyer. Had it been conducted by Mr. Toucey, who once filled the office of attorney general with great distinction, the country would have had an argument not only embellished with dignity and learning, but possibly as clear and as convincing even as his
beautiful and thrilling defence of the opposite doctrine delivered in the Senate in 1854 and in 1856.
It is related of an editor in one of the western cities who for a long time believed himself possessed of great powers of oratory, and who upon all occasions and at all times felt called upon to "respond for the press," that on one occasion, while standing in a crowd at a depot, when a lady complained to her attendant of the almost suffocating pressure they were experiencing, the editor, who had overheard only the first syllable of the word "pressure," immediately mounted a pile of trunks, and in behalf of the "press" gave utterance to his opinions. Judge Black seems to labor under a like impression, not only as to his capacity to discuss legal questions, but also as to the necessity for him, whenever a legal question is discussed, to enter into the debate, no matter where and by whom originated. With a recklessness that amounted almost to absurdity he rushed into print in reply to the Harper article of Judge Douglas. This reply appeared anonymously in the Washington Union, and was soon laughed at by the lawyers of the country. Subsequently the name of the author was given, and the reply, printed in pamphlet form, and franked by the attorney general, was distributed broad-cast over the country. Judge Douglas was then in Chicago. He had agreed, in reply to an invitation of the Democrats of Ohio, to deliver three speeches in that State. One of these was at Wooster. On his way to that place a copy of Black's reply was placed in his hands, and in his speech he discussed somewhat severely some of the personal passages of the document; and made a remark that the author of that reply had, in 1858, written letters to Illinois urging reasons for the defeat of Douglas and, consequently, the election of Lincoln.
It is only just, as a matter of history, that it should be stated that shortly after the publication of this speech letters from a cabinet officer were received by persons in Illinois, requesting the return of the originals of certain political letters written by the same cabinet officer during the great contest between the Democracy and the allied Danites and Republicans.
The limits of this volume preclude the possibility of giving herein Judge Douglas' reply to Judge Black's pamphlet. It was a complete and thorough review and exposure of the mistakes and blunders of the attorney general. Judge Black, late
in October, rejoined in a pamphlet, and Mr. Douglas was preparing an elaborate reply to that when he was stricken down with a painful and protracted disease. For weeks he hoped to be able to resume the work, but on November 16th, seeing no hope of being able to complete it within a reasonable period, he sent what had been written to the printer.
THE GWIN CONTROVERSY.
Sometime during the summer of 1859, Senator Gwin made a speech at Grass Valley, California, in which he told the Democrats there, that Judge Douglas had been removed from the chairmanship of the Committee on Territories because of the doctrines of his Freeport speech.
Copies of Mr. Gwin's speech, as published in the San Francisco National, were sent to Mr. Douglas. He at once replied to that speech in a letter to the editor of that paper. Mr Douglas again asserted that the views entertained by him and expressed in his Freeport speech were the same expressed by him during the entire period commencing with the compromise measures of 1850. He cited numerous authorities to show that he always was of that opinion, and also that the Nebraska bill was understood by others in the same light. After quoting from speeches of Secretaries Cass and Toucey he made the following quotation from a speech delivered by Hon. Mr. Cobb-Howell Cobb, now Secretary of the Treasury, at West Chester, Pennsylvania, on the 19th of September, 1856:
Fellow-citizens: There never has been, in all the history of this slavery matter, a more purely theoretical issue than the one involved in the question propounded to me by my friend, and I will show it to you. I will state to you the positions of the advocates of this doctrine of non-intervention, on which there are different opinions held; but I will show you that it is the purest abstraction, in a practical point of view, that ever was proposed for political discussion. There are those who hold that the Constitution carries all the institutions of this country into all the territories of the Union; that slavery, being one of the institutions recognized by the Constitution, goes with the Constitution into the territories of the United States; and that when the territorial government is organized the people have no right to prohibit slavery there, until they come to form a state Constitution. That is what my friend calls "southern doctrine." There is another class who hold that the people of the territories, in their territorial state, and whilst acting as a territorial Legislature, have a right to decide upon the question whether slavery shall exist there during their territorial state; and that has been dubbed "squatter sovereignty." Now, you perceive that there is but one point of difference between the advocates of the two doctrines. Each holds that the people have the right to decide the question in the territory; one holds that it can be done through the territorial Legisla
ture, and whilst it has a territorial existence, the other holds that it can be done only when they come to form a state Constitution. BUT THOSE WHO HOLD THAT THE TERRITORIAL LEGISLATURE CANNOT PASS A LAW PROHIBITING SLAVERY, ADMIT THAT UNLESS THE TERRITORIAL LEGISLATURE PASS LAWS FOR ITS PROTECTION, SLAVERY WILL NOT GO THERE. THEREFORE, PRACTICALLY A MAJORITY OF THE PEOPLE REPRESENTED IN THE TERRITORIAL LEGISLATURE
DECIDES THE QUESTION. WHETHER THEY DECIDE IT BY PROHIBITING IT, AC-
(Great Commenting upon these quotations, Judge Douglas said:
Here we find the doctrines of the Freeport speech, including "non-action" and "unfriendly legislation" as a lawful and proper mode for the exclusion of slavery from a territory clearly defined by Mr. Cobb, and the election of Mr. Buchanan advocated on those identical doctrines. Mr. Cobb made similar speeches during the presidential canvass in other sections of Pennsylvania, in Maine, Indiana, and most of the northern states, and was appointed Secretary of the Treasury by Mr. Buchanan as a mark of gratitude for the efficient services which had been thus rendered. Will any senator who voted to remove me from the chairmanship of the Territorial Committee for expressing opinions for which Mr. Cobb, Mr. Toucey and General Cass were rewarded, pretend that he did not know that they or either of them had ever uttered such opinions when their nominations were before the Senate? I am sure that no senator will make so humiliating a confession. Why, then, were those distinguished gentlemen appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate as cabinet ministers if they were not good Democrats-sound on the slavery question, and faithful exponents of the principles and creed of the party? Is it not a significant fact that the President and the most distinguished and honored of his cabinet should have been solemnly and irrevocably pledged to this monstrous heresy of "popular sovereignty," for asserting which the Senate, by Mr. Gwin's frank avowal, condemned me to the extent of their power?
THE PLATFORM UNCHANGED.
In reply to an unworthy taunt by Judge Black in one of his letters, Mr. Douglas thus expressed his veneration for the Cincinnati platform.
While I could have no hesitation in voting for the nominee of my own party, with whom I might differ on certain points, in preference to the candidate of the Black Republican party, whose whole creed is subversive of the Constitution and destructive of the Union, I am under no obligation to become a candidate upon a platform that I would not be willing to carry out in good faith, nor to accept the presidency on the implied pledge to carry into effect certain principles, and then administer the government in direct conflict with them. In other words, I prefer the position of senator, or even that of a private citizen, where I would be at liberty to defend and maintain the welldefined principles of the Democratic party, to accepting a presidential nomination upon a platform incompatible with the principle of self-government in the territories, or the reserved rights of the states, or the perpetuity of the Union under the Constitution. In harmony with these views, I said in those very speeches in Ohio, to which Judge Black refers in his appendix, that I