« AnteriorContinuar »
used for unlawful purposes; (4-6) that the choice of Delegate Whitfield and the election of contesting Delegate Reeder were illegal, though Reeder had received a majority of the resident vote; (7) that a fair election could not be held without a new census, a well-guarded election law, appointment of impartial judges, and the presence of Federal troops; and (8) that the Topeka constitution embodied the will of a majority of the settlers.
On March 14 to 19, a debate ensued in the House on the report,' in which the opponents declared that fraud and intimidation had occurred in other places than Kansas without a subsequent investigation by Congress. No action was taken at this time on the report, and Delegate Whitfield retained his seat in spite of strenuous efforts of the Republican plurality of Representatives to expel him.
Squatter Sovereignty. A bill inspired by Stephen A. Douglas (I11.] was reported in the Senate on March 20, 1856, from the Committee on Territories authorizing the people of Kansas to frame a constitution preparatory to their admission as a State. William H. Seward [N. Y.), moved a substitute bill admitting the State under the Topeka constitution.
In the debate which ensued, Douglas twitted Seward with the fact that he was upholding a constitution which debarred his friends, the negroes, from the State.
Under the code of laws enacted by the Territorial legislature which the Senator and his party profess to consider so monstrous, a negro may go to Kansas and be protected in all his rights so long as he obeys the laws of the land. In order to get rid of those laws the Senator proposes to give effect to a constitutional provision which is designed to prevent the negro forever from entering the State!
See Great Debates in American History, vol. iv., p. 325.
The Black Republican party was founded on the fundamental principle of perfect equality of rights and privileges between the negro and the white man-an equality secured by a law higher than the Constitution. In your platform you stand pledged (1) against the admission of any more slave States; (2) to repeal the Fugitive Act; (3) to abolish the slave trade between the States; (4) to prohibit slavery in the District of Columbia; (5) to restore the prohibition of slavery in Kansas and Nebraska; and (6) to acquire no more territory unless slavery shall first be prohibited.
There are rumors that you are about to strike your colors; that you propose to surrender each one of these issues, and to nominate for President a new man, who, not being committed to either side, will be enabled to cheat somebody by getting votes from both sides.
Let us have an open and fair fight! (Applause in the galleries.]
Neither bill was passed, and one on the same subject, introduced in the House, and passed there by a vote of 99 to 97, was rejected by the Senate.
Sumner's Philippic against Butler and Douglas. On May 19, 1856, Senator Charles Sumner (Mass.), in a carefully prepared speech on the Kansas bill, delivered the most notable philippic in the annals of American forensic oratory. He gave it the title, when published, of “The Crime against Kansas.":
In the course of his speech he compared Senator Andrew P. Butler (S. C.] to Don Quixote, saying his Dulcinea was “the harlot Slavery,” and Senator Stephen A. Douglas (111.), to Sancho Panza, whom he
* For the entire speech see the collected works of Sumner. For the attack in it on South Carolina and Senators Butler and Douglas, see Great Debates in American History, vol. iv., p. 336.
called the "Squire of Slavery," ever ready to do all her “humiliating offices."
In attacking Butler, he denounced the State which the Senator represented for its “shameful imbecility from slavery" in the days of the Revolution, and for its "more shameful assumptions for slavery since.”
The Senator cannot have forgotten its wretched persistence in the slave trade as the very apple of its eye, and the condition of its participation in the Union. He cannot have forgotten its constitution, which is republican only in name, confirming power in the hands of a few, and founding the qualifications of its legislators on "a settled freehold estate and ten negroes.'
In comparison to South Carolina, he spoke of Kansas, whose entrance into the Union Senator Butler had opposed as unfit.
Were the whole history of South Carolina blotted out civilization would lose less than it has already gained by the example of Kansas in its valiant struggle against oppression, and in education and the development of a new science of emigration. Already in this infant Territory there is more mature scholarship, far in proportion to its inhabitants, than in all South Carolina. Kansas, welcomed as a free State, will be a “ministering angel” to the Republic when South Carolina, in the cloak of darkness which she hugs, “lies howling."
Senator Butler was not present when this speech was delivered. Senator Douglas therefore made reply. He aptly compared the main portion of the speech of Sumner, containing as it did familiar arguments, to a patchwork quilt, which the young lady who made it regards complacently as a beautiful specimen of handiwork, but which has not a new piece of material in it. He adverted to the plain expressions of the learned Senator as drawn from those portions of the classics “which all decent professors in respectable colleges cause to be suppressed.'
It seems that his studies have all been in those haunts where ladies cannot go, and where gentlemen never read Latin. [Laughter.]
He seems to be whistling to keep his courage up by defiant assaults upon us all. Is it his object to provoke some of us to kick him as we would a dog in the street, that he may get sympathy upon the just chastisement?
Senator Douglas stated that it had been common rumor that Sumner was preparing such an attack.
It has been the subject of conversation for weeks that the Senator had his speech written, printed, committed to memory, practiced every night before the glass with a negro boy to hold the candle, and annoying the boarders in the adjoining rooms till they were forced to quit the house! (Laughter.]
Commenting on the alleged avowal of Sumner that he would never obey one clause of the Constitution, that on the return of fugitives, Douglas said:
He came here with a pledge to perjure himself as the condition of eligibility to his place. Has he a right to arraign us because we have felt it to be our duty to be faithful to that Constitution which he disavows-to that oath which he assumes and then repudiates?
He then addressed Sumner directly.
What you call (my servility to] the slave power is simply observance of the Constitution as the Fathers made it.
I am regarded as a combative man, yet I call the Senate to witness that I have always stood on the defensive. You on the opposite side set your hounds on me, and then complain when I cuff them over the head and send them back yelping.
To the remark of a Senator that Sumner had taken unfair advantage of the absence of Butler in delivering his attack, Douglas did not assent.
The speech was written and practiced, and the gestures were fixed, and, if that part had been stricken out, the Senator would not have known how to repeat the speech. [Laughter.]
Senator Sumner replied to the charge that he had perjured himself. He read a passage from President Jackson's veto message on the United States Bank:
“Each public officer who takes an oath to support the Constitution, swears that he will support it as he understands it, and not as it is understood by others."
Turning toward Douglas he said:
The Senator has infused into his speech the venom which has been sweltering for months—ay, for years; and he has alleged facts that are entirely without foundation, in order that he may heap on me some personal obloquy. I brand them as false to his face. No person with the upright form of man can be allowed [here the speaker hesitated, and Senator Douglas cried out, “Say it!"]—without violation of all decency to switch out from his tongue the perpetual stench of offensive personality. The noisome, squat, and nameless animal to which I refer is not a proper model for an American Senator. Will the Senator from Illinois take notice?