Imágenes de páginas

It cannot be said that the time has not yet arrived for such legislation. It cannot be said with truth that the Harper's Ferry case will not be repeated, or is not in danger of repetition. It is only necessary to inquire into the causes which produced the Harper's Ferry outrage, and ascertain whether those causes are yet in active operation, and then you can determine whether there is any ground for apprehension that that invasion will be repeated. Sir, what were the causes which produced the Harper's Ferry outrage? Without stopping to adduce evidence in detail, I have no hesitation in expressing my firm and deliberate conviction that the Harper's Ferry crime was the natural, logical, inevitable result of the doctrines and teachings of the Republican party, as explained and enforced in their platform, their partisan presses, their pamphlets and books, and especially in the speeches of their leaders in and out of Congress. (Applause in the galleries.)

Mr. Mason. I trust the order of the Senate will be preserved. I am sure it is only necessary to suggest to the presiding officer the indispensable necessity of preserving the order of the Senate; and I give notice that, if it is disturbed again, I shall insist upon the galleries being cleared entirely. Mr. Douglas. Mr. President

The Vice-President. The Senator will pause for a single moment. It is impossible for the chair to preserve order without the concurrence of the vast assembly in the galleries. He trusts that there will be no occasion to make a reference to this subject again.

Mr. Toombs. I hope that the presiding officer will place officers in the galleries, and put a stop to this thing. It is a very bad sign of the times. It is unbecoming this body, or the deliberations of any free people.

The Vice-President. The presiding officer has not the force at his command to place officers in the gallery.

Mr. Douglas. If the Senate will pardon me for a digression an instant, I was about to suggest to the presiding officer that I thought it would be necessary to place officers in different parts of the gallery, with instructions that if they saw any person giving any signs of approbation or disapprobation calculated to disturb our proceedings, they should instantly put the guilty person out of the gallery.

The Vice-President. That has been done.

Mr. Douglas. I was remarking that I considered this outrage at Harper's Ferry as the logical, natural consequence of the teachings and doctrines of the Republican party. I am not making this statement for the purpose of crimination or partisan effect. I desire to call the attention of members of that party to a reconsideration of the doctrines that they are in the habit of enforcing, with a view to a fair judgment whether they do not lead directly to those consequences, on the part of those deluded persons who think that all they say is meant, in real earnest, and ought to be carried out. The great principle that underlies the Republican party is violent, irreconcilable, eternal warfare upon the institution of American slavery, with the view of its ultimate extinction throughout the land; sectional war is to be waged until the cotton field of the south shall be cultivated by free labor, or the rye fields of New York and Massachusetts shall be cultivated by slave labor. In furtherance of this article of their creed, you find their political organization not only sectional in its location, but one whose vitality consists in appeals to northern passion, northern prejudice, northern ambition against southern states, southern institutions, and southern people. I have had some experience in fighting this element within the last few years, and I find that the source of their power consists in exciting the prejudices and the passions of the northern section against those of the southern section. They not only attempt to excite the North against the South, but they invite the South to assail and abuse and traduce the North. Southern abuse, by violent men, of

northern statesmen and northern people, is essential to the triumph of the Republican cause. Hence the course of argument which we have to meet is not only repelling the appeals to northern passion and prejudice, but we have to encounter their appeals to southern men to assail us, in order that they may justify their assaults upon the plea of self-defence.

Sir, when I returned home in 1858, for the purpose of canvassing Illinois, with a view to a re-election, I had to meet this issue of the "irrepressible conflict." It is true that the Senator from New York had not then made his Rochester speech, and did not for four months afterwards. It is true that he had not given the doctrine that precise name and form; but the principle was in existence, and had been proclaimed by the ablest and the most clearheaded men of the party. I will call your attention, sir, to a single passage from a speech, to show the language in which this doctrine was stated in Illinois before it received the name of the "irrepressible conflict." The Republican party assembled in state convention in June 1858, in Illinois, and unanimously adopted Abraham Lincoln as their candidate for United States senator. Mr. Lincoln appeared before the convention, accepted the nomination, and made a speech-which had been previously written and agreed to in caucus by most of the leaders of the party. I will read a single extract from that speech:

"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."

Sir, the moment I landed upon the soil of Illinois, at a vast gathering of many thousands of my constituents to welcome me home, I read that passage, and took direct issue with the doctrine contained in it as being revolutionary and treasonable, and inconsistent with the perpetuity of this republic. That is not merely the individual opinion of Mr. Lincoln; nor is it the individual opinion merely of the senator from New York, who four months afterward asserted the same doctrine in different language; but, so far as I know, it is the general opinion of the members of the Abolition or Republican party. They tell the people of the North that unless they rally as one man, under a sectional banner, and make war upon the South with a view to the ultimate extinction of slavery, slavery will overrun the whole North and fasten itself upon all the free states. They then tell the South, unless you rally as one man, binding the whole southern people into a sectional party, and establish slavery all over the free states, the inevitable consequence will be that we shall abolish it in the slaveholding states. The same doctrine is held by the senator from New York in his Rochester speech. He tells us that the states must all become free, or all become slave; that the South, in other words, must conquer and subdue the North, or the North must triumph over the South, and drive slavery from within its limits.

Mr. President, in order to show that I have not misinterpreted the position of the senator from New York, in notifying the South that, if they wish to maintain slavery within their limits, they must also fasten it upon the northern states, will read an extract from his Rochester speech:

"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."

Thus, sir, you perceive that the theory of the Republican party is, that there is a conflict between two different systems of institutions in the respective classes of states-not a conflict in the same states, but an irrepressible conflict between the free states and the slave states; and they argue that these two systems of state can not permanently exist in the same Union; that the sectional warfare must continue to rage and increase with increasing fury until the free states shall surrender, or the slave states shall be subdued. Hence, while they appeal to the passions of our own section, their object is to alarm the people of the other section, and drive them to madness, with the hope that they will invade our rights as an excuse for some of our people to carry on aggressions upon their rights. I appeal to the candor of senators, whether this is not a fair exposition of the tendency of the doctrines proclaimed by the Republican party. The creed of that party is founded upon the theory that, because slavery is not desirable in our states, it is not desirable anywhere; because free labor is a good thing with us, it must be the best thing everywhere. In other words, the creed of their party rests upon the theory that there must be uniformity in the domestic institutions and internal polity of the several states of this Union. There, in my opinion, is the fundamental error upon which their whole system rests. In the Illinois canvass, I asserted, and now repeat, that uniformity in the domestic institutions of the different states is neither possible nor desirable. That is the very issue upon which I conducted the canvass at home, and it is the question which I desire to put to the Senate. I repeat, that uniformity in domestic institutions of the different states is neither possible nor desirable.

Was such the doctrine of the framers of the Constitution? I wish the country to bear in mind that when the Constitution was adopted the Union consisted of thirteen states, twelve of which were slaveholding states, and one a free state. Suppose this doctrine of uniformity on the slavery question had prevailed in the Federal Convention, do the gentlemen on that side of the house think that freedom would have triumphed over slavery? Do they imagine that the one free state would have out voted the twelve slaveholding states, and thus have abolished slavery throughout the land by a constitutional provision? On the contrary, if the test had then been made, if this doctrine of uniformity on the slavery question had then been proclaimed and believed in, with the twelve slaveholding states against one free state, would it not have resulted in a constitutional provision fastening slavery irrevocably upon every inch of American soil, North as well as South? Was it quite fair in those days for the friends of free institutions to claim that the Federal government must not touch the question, but must leave the people of each state to do as they pleased, until under the operation of that principle they secured the majority, and then wield that majority to abolish slavery in the other states of the Union?

Sir, if uniformity in respect to domestic institutions had been deemed de. sirable when the Constitution was adopted, there was another mode by which it could have been obtained. The natural mode of obtaining uniformity was to have blotted out the state governments, to have abolished the state Legislatures, to have conferred upon Congress legislative power over the municipal and domestic concerns of the people of all the states, as well as upon Federal questions affecting the whole Union; and if this doctrine of uniform

ity had been entertained and favored by the framers of the Constitution, such would have been the result. But, sir, the framers of that instrument knew at that day, as well as we now know, that in a country as broad as this, with so great a variety of climate, of soil, and of production, there must necessarily be a corresponding diversity of institutions and domestic regulations, adapted to the wants and necessities of each locality. The framers of the Constitution knew that the laws and institutions which were well adapted to the mountains and valleys of New England, were ill-suited to the rice plantations and the cotton-fields of the Carolinas. They knew that our liberties depended upon reserving the right to the people of each state to make their own laws and establish their own institutions, and control them at pleasure, without interference from the Federal government, or from any other state or territory, or any foreign country. The Constitution, therefore, was based, and the Union was founded, on the principle of dissimilarity in the domestic institutions and internal polity of the several states. The Union was founded on the theory that each state had peculiar interests, requiring peculiar legislation, and peculiar institutions, different and distinct from every other state. The Union rests on the theory that no two states would be precisely alike in their domestic policy and institutions.

Hence, I assert that this doctrine of uniformity in the domestic institutions of the different states is repugnant to the Constitution, subversive of the principles upon which the Union was based, revolutionary in its character, and leading directly to despotism if it is ever established. Uniformity in local and domestic affairs in a country of great extent is despotism always. Show me centralism prescribing uniformity from the capital to all of its provinces in their local and domestic concerns, and I will show you a despotism as odious and as insufferable as that of Austria or of Naples. Dissimilarity is the principle upon which the Union rests. It is founded upon

the idea that each state must necessarily require different regulations; that no two states have precisely the same interests, and hence do not need precisely the same laws; and you cannot account for this confederation of states upon any other principle.

Then, sir, what becomes of this doctrine that slavery must be established in all the states or prohibited in all the states? If we only conform to the principles upon which the Federal Union was formed, there can be no conflict. It is only necessary to recognize the right of the people of every state to have just such institutions as they please, without consulting your wishes, your views, or your prejudices, and there can be no conflict.

And, sir, inasmuch as the Constitution of the United States confers upon Congress the power coupled with the duty of protecting each state against external aggression, and inasmuch as that includes the power of suppressing and punishing conspiracies in one state against the institutions, property, people, or government of every other state, I desire to carry out that power vigorously. Sir, give us such a law as the Constitution contemplates and authorizes, and I will show the senator from New York that there is a constitutional mode of repressing the "irrepressible conflict." I will open the prison door to allow conspirators against the peace of the Republic and the domestic tranquility of our states to select their cells wherein to drag out a miserable life, as a punishment for their crimes against the peace of society. Can any man say to us that although this outrage has been perpetrated at Harper's Ferry, there is no danger of its recurrence? Sir, is not the Republican party still embodied, organized, confident of success, and defiant in its pretensions? Does it not now hold and proclaim the same creed that it did before this invasion? It is true that most of its representatatives here disavow the acts of John Brown at Harper's Ferry. I am glad that they do so; I am rejoiced that they have gone thus far; but I must be permitted to say

to them that it is not sufficient that they disavow the act, unless they also repudiate and denounce the doctrines and teachings which produced the act. Those doctrines remain the same; those teachings are being poured into the minds of men throughout the country by means of speeches and pamphlets and books and through partisan presses. The causes that produced the Harper's Ferry invasion are now in active operation. It is true that the people of all the border states are required by the Constitution to have their hands tied, without the power of self-defence, and remain patient under a threatened invasion in the day or in the night? Can you expect people to be patient, when they dare not lie down to sleep at night without first stationing sentinels around their houses to see if a band of marauders and murderers are not approaching with torch and pistol? Sir, it requires more patience than freemen ever should cultivate, to submit to constant annoyance, irritation and apprehension. If we expect to preserve this Union, we must remedy, within the Union and in obedience to the Constitution, every evil for which disunion would furnish a remedy. If the Federal government fails to act, either from choice or from an apprehension of the want of power, it can not be expected that the states will be content to remain unprotected.

Then, sir, I see no hope of peace, of fraternity, of good feeling, between the different portions of the United States, except by bringing to bear the power of the federal government to the extent authorized by the Constitution -to protect the people of all the states against any external violence or aggression. I repeat, that if the theory of the Constitution shall be carried out by conceding the right of the people of every state to have just such institutions as they choose, there cannot be a conflict, much less an "irrepressible conflict," between the free and the slaveholding states.

Mr. President, the mode of preserving peace is plain. This system of sectional warfare must cease. The Constitution has given the power, and all we ask of Congrees is to give the means, and we, by indictments and convictions in the Federal courts of our several states, will make such examples of the leaders of these conspiracies as will strike terror into the hearts of the others, and there will be an end of this crusade. Sir, you must check it by crushing out the conspiracy, the combination, and then there can be safety. Then we shall be able to restore that spirit of fraternity which inspired our revolutionary fathers upon every battle-field; which presided over the deliberations of the convention that framed the Constitution, and filled the hearts of the people who ratified it. Then we shall be able to demonstrate to you that there is no evil unredressed in the Union for which disunion would furnish a remedy. Then, sir, let us execute the Constitution in the spirit in which it was made. Let Congress pass all the laws necessary and proper to give full and complete effect to every guarantee of the Constitution. Let them authorize the punishment of conspiracies and combinations in any state or territory against the property, institutions, people or government of any other state or territory, and there will be no excuse, no desire, for disunion. Then, sir, let us leave the people of every state perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way. Let each of them retain slavery just as long as it pleases, and abolish it when it chooses. Let us act upon that good old golden principle which teaches all men to mind their own business and let their neighbors alone. Let this be done and this Union can endure forever as our fathers made it, composed of free and slave states, just as the people of each state may determine for themselves.


Mr. Fessenden having replied at some length to Mr. Doug las, he made the following rejoinder:

« AnteriorContinuar »