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beneficent than when she lays on man the imperative command “ Thou shalt work.” Of all ways of evading it the worst is to shift the burden to another man.
In being driven to do other men's work as well as his own the negro found some compensation, but his enslaver paid a constant and heavy penalty:
THE STRUGGLE FOR KANSAS
The foremost politician of the Northwest, in the early '50s, was Stephen A. Douglas, United States senator from Illinois. He was a native of Vermont, and had early gone West and pushed his fortunes with energy, audacity, and shrewdness. He was an effective, popular speaker; and his short and stout frame and large head had won for him the nickname of “The Little Giant." He was a leader in the Democratic party, and a prominent Presidential candidate, but never identified with any great political principle or broad policy. He was chairman of the Senate committee on Territories, and early in the session of 1853-4 he introduced a bill for the organization of a vast section hitherto known as “the Platte country,” a part of the Louisiana purchase, lying next to the western tier of States, and stretching from Indian Territory to Canada; all of which was now to constitute the Territory of Nebraska, or, as it was soon divided, the two Territories of Nebraska and Kansas. This region had as yet been scarcely touched by permanent settlers, but it was the next step in the great onward march toward the Pacific. It lay north of the line of 36 degrees 30 minutes, above which it had been declared by the compromise act of 1820 slavery should never be extended. Douglas incorporated in his “ Kansas-Nebraska" bill, a clause declaring that the prohibition of slavery north of 36 degrees 30 minutes, by the act of 1820, had been
superseded by the principles of the legislation of 1850,” and was “inoperative and void.” Later he added the
explanatory clause: “ It being the true intent and meaning of this act, not to legislate slavery into any Territory or State, nor to exclude it therefrom, but to leave 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.” On its face, this was a proposal to withdraw the congressional prohibition of slavery in the Northwestern territory, and remand the question to the territorial population. But the latent purpose to distinctly favor slavery was proved when Senator Chase moved an additional clause: “Under which (the Constitution) the people of the Territory, through their appropriate representatives, may, if they see fit, prohibit the existence of slavery therein "; and Douglas and his followers, in defiance of consistency, instantly threw this out. The meaning of the whole business was unmistakable; under the pretext of “popular sovereignty,”—Douglas's favorite watchword -the bars were thrown down and slavery was invited to enter.
The proposal took the country completely by surprise. The South was not asking for any such advantage as was offered, but was prompt to accept it. This of course Douglas had expected, and in this lay his personal gain as a Presidential candidate. But he had utterly misjudged the temper of the North. The general acquiescence in the compromise of 1850 might seem to indicate a weariness or indifference as to the slavery question. But just as in 1820 and in 1850, again there sprung up a wide and deep hostility to any extension of slavery, and now the old restraints on that hostility were gone, and its sources were newly filled. For now Clay and Webster were dead, and the case itself offered no room for compromise; no offset was possible. And the anti-slavery feeling had strengthened immensely throughout the North. Under the stimulus of Uncle Tom's Cabin, the
inhumanity of the system had made the deepest impression on the popular imagination and conscience. To this system it was now proposed to throw open all the fair and fertile Northwest, in effect from the Mississippi to the Pacific. The North awoke like a giant from sleep. The old party organizations went down in the shock; a new party came instantly to birth; and the last triumph of slavery in Congress gave the signal for a six-years' campaign, ending in the triumph of the Republicans and the appeal of the South to revolution.
The debate in Congress was hot through the winter and spring of 1854. In the Senate, Seward and Sumner and Chase had been reinforced by such allies as Benjamin Wade of Ohio, Hamilton Fish of New York, Solomon Foot of Vermont, and William P. Fessenden of Maine. The supporters of the bill, with such leaders as Douglas and Cass from the North and Mason and Benjamin from the South, proved finally to number three-fourths of the Senate. In the House, party lines were completely broken, and the division was almost equal,—the bill passed by 113 to 110. Its supporters included all the Southern and just half of the Northern Democrats, and two-thirds of the few Southern Whigs. Its opponents were all the Northern and a third of the Southern Whigs, with half of the Northern Democrats and the four Free-Soilers in the House.
The bill finally passed on the 25th of May, 1854, and there instantly began a hot battle for the congressional election. On the very next morning,-so Henry Wilson relates,-a meeting of about twenty members of the House was held; among their leaders were Israel Washburn, Jr., of Maine, and Edward Dickinson and Thomas D. Eliot of Massachusetts; and it was agreed that the best hope lay not in the Whig organization, but in a new party, for which the name “Republican” was chosen; and of which this
occasion might now be considered the birth and christening. It came to its earliest maturity in Michigan, where the Whigs and Free Soilers united in the new party and carried the autumn election. But in most Northern States there was political confusion, heightened by the sudden appearance of the “ American” party. This was the political development of the “Know-nothing" secret society, which came into existence the year before, on the basis of the exclusion of recent immigrants from political power.
Its special animus was hostility to the Irish Catholics, and in various parts of the country it had for a year or two a mushroom growth. In Massachusetts, where the Whigs clung obstinately to their tradition and their social prestige, and the Republican party was at first only a continuance of the Free Soil, the Know-nothings won in 1854 a sweeping victory, carrying the State by almost two to one and electing all the members of Congress. That shrewd politician, Henry Wilson, contributed to the result; was elected to the United States Senate; and led the anti-slavery element which controlled the American party in Massachusetts and a year or two later divided its national organization. In other States, the term “anti-Nebraska” was the basis of a temporary union, such as in Ohio had a majority of 70,000. In New York the influence of Greeley, Seward, and Weed prolonged the Whig organization as an anti-Nebraska party. The roster of the new Congress was a jumble of Democrats, Whigs, Republicans, Americans, and anti-Nebraskans. But the general result was clear; Douglas's bill had turned an overwhelming administration majority into a minority of the popular vote; and the political revolution had carried the House in the first engagement. The result crystallized a year later, when an obstinate battle of many weeks for the House speakership ended in the election of Nathaniel P. Banks of Massachusetts.