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fortunate one. I have no desire to say anything which shall be construed into a want of courtesy, kindness, or respect for him. I mean all due courtesy, kindness and respect. His situation is certainly such as to appeal to the magnanimity rather than provoke the hostility of his opponents. If he had been content to submit to it, and go out, as it seemed to be the wish of his friends and foes that he should, without attempting to make such a charge as this against his political opponents, I should certainly have been content.
But, sir, this message of the President is an arraignment of a vast majority of the people of eleven States of this Union of want of fidelity to their constitutional obligations, and of hostility to the Union and Constitution of these States. I deny it totally. More than that; the President of the United States, by virtue of the privileges conferred on him by the Constitution, charges upon the majority of the people of these States, in the exercise of their constitutional prerogative of voting for whom they please, the high offense of endeavoring to "usurp "-this is his very language-" the control of the Government of the United States." "Usurp," if lexicographers understand the meaning of the word, is "to seize by force without right." I have observed in the history of the past few months no attempt in any section of the country, last and least in that section which the President arraigns, to seize upon power in this Government except by the regular constitutional discharge of the people's obligations and duties as citizens going to the polls in the exercise of their elective franchise. Again, sir, I have not heard from a single citizen of those States an intimation, that if they should fail in the canvass upon which they had entered and in which they were striving to secure a majority in the councils of this Government, they were to do anything else but submit quietly and peaceably to the constitutionally expressed will of a majority.
Mr. Seward, of N. Y., said:
The President, I think, has departed from a customary course which was well established by his predecessors; that was to confine the annual message of the Executive to legitimate matters of legislation which must necessarily occupy the attention of Congress, and leave partisan disputes, occurring among the people, to the consideration and reflection of the people themselves. This President of the United States was the first one, I think, to depart from that course in his Inaugural Address; and, if I remember aright, he continued this departure in his first message and second message. He has been uncorrected, or rather unreformed in his erroneous course; he goes through to the end in the same course. I am willing, for my own part, that he, like all the rest of us, shall have his speech-shall assign his reasons and his vindication for his policy. I do not question his right; I do not dispute it. Whatever I have thought necessary to submit to any portion of my countrymen in regard to the canvass which is past, has been submitted in the right time, in the right place, and I trust, in the right spirit. I am willing to allow the President of the United States the same opportunity which you and I and all others have enjoyed.
election-stands before the country with its opinions clearly expressed and openly avowed. It has a right to claim from the President of the United States-it has a right to claim from honorable Senators here-it has a right to claim before the country that it shall stand upon its broad and open declarations of principle. How does it stand? It accepts the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States as its fundamental creed of doctrine. It claims that Congress has a right to legislate for the Territories of the United States, and to exclude Slavery from them. It avows its determination to exercise that power. It has a right to ask of the President, and the country, that it shall be judged by its open and avowed declarations, and shall not be misrepresented, as it has been misrepresented in this document by the President of the United States. The declaration is broadly made here, not only that these men are sectionalists-not only that they have gotten up a sectional warfare, but that they are maintaining doctrines hostile to the perpetuity of the Union. Now, sir, let me say here to-day, that I do not know a man in the Free States who supported John C. Fremont in the last presidential election, not one of the one million three hundred thousand intelligent freemen who supported that nomination, that ever avowed his intention to go for a dissolution of this Union; but at all times, on all occasions, in public and in private, they have avowed their devotion to the Union, and their intention to maintain and defend it.
Mr. Wilson, of Mass., said:
The party to which reference has been made in this message for I take it this assault of the President of the United States is upon the Republican party, and the people who supported that organization in the last
Let me say further, that the men in this country, who avow themselves to be disunionists, that squad, which, during the last thirty years, on all fit and unfit occasions, in moments of excitement and moments of calm, have avowed themselves disunionists, have, as a body, en masse, supported the Democratic party. The whole southern heavens have been darkened during the last four months by the black banners of disunion that have floated in the breeze.
Mr. Pugh, of Ohio, defended the President against the construction put on certain parts of the message by other Senators. He said:
My colleague (Mr. Wade) asserts that the President has employed libellous terms in speaking of a large number of our common constituents, who voted for Col. Fremont at the last election. If the charges were true in any sense, I should unite with my colleague in the condemnation which he has pronounced; for although I would have deplored the election of Col. Fremont as the greatest calamity that could befall the American people, I feel bound to render my tribute of respect to those honest, patriotic, but as I think, misguided, citizens of Ohio, who voted for him. The paragraph upon which my colleague based this accusation, is the one which I now send to the secretary's desk. (Here the secretary read the part of the message quoted above, beginning, "Our institutions framed" and down to "rather than
shoulder to shoulder as friends.") It is (continued Mr. Pugh) impossible that this paragraph should apply to the members of the Republican party, if, as now asserted, they do not aim at the abolition by Congress of Slavery within the States. It is directed against those who hold that doctrine. It refers to the men whom the Senator
Mr. Mason, of Va., said :
from Mass. (Mr. Wilson) and the Senator from Maine (Mr. Fessenden) themselves have denounced on the floor.
Mr. President: the constant and obstinate agitation of questions connected with the institution of Slavery, has brought, I am satisfied, the public mind in those States where the institution prevails, to the conviction that the preservation of that institution rests with themselves and
THE LECOMPTON CONSTITUTION.
chanan transmitted to Congress his first annual On the 8th December, 1857, President Bu
with themselves only. Therefore, at this day, when it is the pleasure of Senators again to bring that institution under review upon this floor, in any connection what-message. He devotes considerable space to the ever, as one of the Representatives of the South, I take subject of Slavery, giving a history of the forma. no further interest in the discussion, or in the opinion tion of the Lecompton Constitution for Kansas, and announcing the doctrine that the Constitution of its own force carries Slavery into all the Territories. Speaking of this subject, he says: "In emerging from the condition of Territorial dependence into that of a sovereign State, it was their duty, in my opinion, to make known their will by the votes of the majority, on the direct question, whether this important domestic institution should or should not continue to exist:" and that the slaves now in Kansas" were brought into the Territory under the Constitution of the United States.'
which is entertained at the North in relation to it, than as it may confirm the hope that there is a public sentiment at the North yet remaining, which unites with the South in the desire to perpetuate the Union, and that, by the aid of that public sentiment at the North, the Union will be preserved. But further than that, as a statesman, and as one representing a Southern State, where that institution prevails more largely than in any other, the public sentiment of the North is a matter indifferent to me, because I say again, we have attained the conviction that the safety of that institution will rest, must rest, and should rest, with the people of the States only where it prevails.
The following is the part of the message referring to Kansas affairs:
to a direct vote. How wise, then, was it for Congress to pass over all subordinate and intermediate agencies, and proceed directly to the source of all legitimate power under our institutions!
How vain would any other principle prove in prac tice! This may be illustrated by the case of Kansas. Should she be admitted into the Union with a constitution either maintaining or abolishing Slavery, against the sentiment of the people, this could have no other effect than to continue and to exasperate the existing agitation during the brief period required to make the constitution conform to the irresistible will of the majority. The friends and supporters of the Nebraska and Kansas act, when struggling on a recent occasion to sustain its wise provisions before the great tribunal of the Ame rican people, never differed about its true meaning on At the time of the election for delegates, an extensive this subject. Everywhere throughout the Union they organization existed in the Territory, whose avowed ob- publicly pledged their faith and their honor that they ject it was, if need be, to put down the lawful govern-would cheerfully submit the question of Slavery to the ment by force, and to establish a government of their decision of the bona fide people of Kansas, without any own under the so-called Topeka Constitution. The per- restriction or qualification whatever. All were cordially sons attached to this revolutionary organization ab- united up great doctrine of popular sovereignty, stained from taking any part in the election. which is the real principle of our free institutions. Had it, The act of the Territorial legislature had omitted to then, been insinuated from any quarter that it would be provide for submitting to the people the constitution a sufficient compliance with the requisitions of the orwhich might be framed by the Convention; and in the ganic law for the members of a convention, thereafter to excited state of public feeling throughout Kansas, an be elected, to withhold the question of Slavery from the apprehension extensively prevailed that a design ex-people, and to substitute their own will for that of a isted to force upon them a constitution, in relation to legally-ascertained majority of all their constituents, this Slavery, against their will. In this emergency it became would have been instantly rejected. Everywhere they my duty, as it was my unquestionable right, having in remained true to the resolution adopted on a celebrated view the union of all good citizens in support of the Ter- occasion recognizing "the right of the people of all the ritorial laws, to express an opinion on the true construc- Territories-including Kansas and Nebraska, acting tion of the provisions concerning Slavery contained in through the legally and fairly expressed will of a majorthe organic act of Congress of the 30th May, 1854. Con-ity of actual residents, and whenever the number of gress declared it to be "the true intent and meaning of their inhabitants justified it-to form a constitution with this act not to legislate Slavery into any Territory or or without Slavery, and be admitted into the Union State, nor to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the peo- upon terms of perfect equality with the other States." ple thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way." Under it Kansas, "when admited as a State," was to be received into the Union with or without Slavery as their constitution may prescribe at the time of their admission."
The Convention to frame a constitution for Kansas met on the first Monday of September last. They were called together by virtue of an act of the Territorial legislature, whose lawful existence had been recognized by Congress in different forms and by different enactments. A large proportion of the citizens of Kansas did Did Congress mean by this language that the delegates not think proper to register their names and to vote at elected to frame a constitution, should have authority the election for delegates; but an opportunity to do this finally to decide the question of Slavery, or did they in- having been fairly afforded, their refusal to avail themtend, by leaving it to the people, that the people of Kan-selves of their right could in no manner affect the legalsas themselves should decide this question by a direct ity of the convention. vote? On this subject I confess I had never entertained a serious doubt, and, therefore, in my instructions to Governor Walker of the 28th March last, I merely said that when "a constitution shall be submitted to the people of the Territory, they must be protected in the exercise of their right of voting for or against that instrument, and the fair expression of the popular will must not be interrupted by fraud or violence."
It is unnecessary to state in detail the alarming condition of the Territory of Kansas at the time of my inauguration. The opposing parties then stood in hostile array against each other, and any accident might have relighted the flames of civil war. Besides, at this critical moment, Kansas was left without a governor by the resignation of Governor Geary.
On the 19th of February previous, the Territorial legislature had passed a law providing for the election of delegates on the third Monday of June, to a convention to meet on the first Monday in September, for the purpose of framing a constitution preparatory to admission into the Union. This law was in the main fair and just; and it is to be regretted that all the qualified electors had not registered themselves and voted under its provisions.
In expressing this opinion it was far from my intention to interfere with the decision of the people of Kansas, either for or against Slavery. From this I have always carefully abstained. Intrusted with the duty of "taking care that the laws be faithfully executed," my only desire was that the people of Kansas should furnish to Congress the evidence required by the organic act, whether for or against Slavery; and in this manner smooth their passage into the Union. In emerging from the condition of Territorial dependence into that of a sovereign State, it was their duty, in my opinion, to make known their will by the votes of the majority, on the direct question, whether this important domestic institution should or should not continue to exist. Indeed this was the only possible mode in which their will could be authentically ascertained.
This Convention proceeded to frame a constitution for Kansas, and finally adjourned on the 7th day of November. But little difficulty occurred in the Convention, except on the subject of Slavery. The truth is, that the general provisions of our recent State constitutions are so similar, and, I may add, so excellent, that the difference between them is not essential. Under the earlier practice of the Government. no constitution framed by the convention of a Territory preparatory to its admis sion into the Union as a State had been submitted to the people I trust, however, the example set by the last Congress, requiring that the constitution of Minnesota "should be subject to the approval and ratification of the people of the proposed State," may be followed on future occasions. I took it for granted that the Convention of Kansas would act in accordance with this example, founded as it is, on correct principles; and hence my instructions to Governor Walker, in favor of submitting the constitution to the people, were expressed in general and unqualified terms.
In the Kansas-Nebraska act, however, this requirement, as applicable to the whole constitution. had not been inserted, and the Convention were not bound by its terms to submit any other portion of the instrument The election of delegates to a convention must neces- to an election, except that which relates to the "domessarily take place in separate districts. From this cause tic institution" of Slavery. This will be rendered clear It may readily happen, as has often been the case, that by a simple reference to its language. It was "not to a majority of the people of a State or Territory are on legislate Slavery into any Territory or State, nor to one side of a question, whilst a majority of the represen- exclude it therefrom, but to leave the people thereof pertatives from the several districts into which it is divided fectly free to form and regulate their domestic institu may be upon the other side. This arises from the fact tions in their own way." According to the plain conthat in some districts delegates may be elected by small struction of the sentence, the words "domestic institumajorities, whilst in others those of different sentiments tions" have a direct as they have an appropriate refer may receive majorities sufficiently great not only to ence to Slavery. "Domestic institutions" are limited to overcome the votes given for the former, but to leave the family. The relation between master and slave and a large majority of the whole people in direct oppo- a few others are "domestic institutions," and are ensition to a majority of the delegates. Besides, our his-tirely distinct from institutions of a political character. tory proves that influences may be brought to bear on Besides, there was no question then before Congress, nor the representative sufficiently powerful to induce him to indeed has there since been any serious question before disregard the will of his constituents. The truth is, that the people of Kansas or the country, except that which no other authentic and satisfactory mode exists of relates to the "domestic institution" of Slavery. ascertaining the will of a majority of the people of any State or Territory on an important and exciting question like that of Slavery in Kansas, except by leaving it
The Convention, after an angry and excited debate, finally determined, by a majority of only two, to submit the question of Slavery to the people, though at the las*
forty-three of the fifty delegates present affixed their signatures to the constitution.
show that the President did not mean to "recommend" the Lecompton Constitution, but that he only
A large majority of the Convention were in favor of establishing Slavery in Kansas. They accordingly inserted an article in the constitution for this purpose referred that document to the Congress of the Unisimilar in form to those which had been adopted by ted States-as the Constitution of the United States other Territorial conventions. In the schedule, how-refers it-for us to decide upon it under our own respouever, providing for the transition from a Territorial to a sibility. "It is proper," said Mr. D., "that he should State government, the question has been fairly and ex- have thus referred it to us as a matter for congressional plicitly referred to the people, whether they will have a action, and not as an administrative or executive measure, constitution" with or without Slavery." It declares that, for the reason that the Constitution of the United States before the constitution adopted by the Convention says, Congress may admit new States into the Union.' "shall be sent to Congress for admission into the Union Hence we find the Kansas question before us now, not as a State," an election shall be held to decide this ques- as an Administrative measure, not as an Executive meation, at which all the white male inhabitants of the Ter- sure, but as a measure coming before us for our free ritory above the age of 21 are entitled to vote. They action, without any recommendation or interference, are to vote by ballot; and "the ballots cast at said directly or indirectly, by the Administration now in poselection shall be indorsed 'constitution with Slavery,' session of the Federal Government." and constitution with no Slavery.'" If there be a majority in favor of the the "constitution with Slavery," then it is to be transmitted to Congress by the president of the Convention in its original form. If, on the contrary, there shall be a majority in favor of the "constitution with no Slavery," "then the article providing for Slavery shall be stricken from the constitution by the president of this Convention" and it is expressly declared that "no Slavery shall exist in the State of Kansas, except that the right of property in slaves now in the Territory shall in no manner be interfered with;" and in that event it is made his duty to have the constitution thus ratified, transmitted to the Congress of the United States, for the admission of the
Mr. President, I am not going to stop and inquire how far the Nebraska bill, which said the people should be left perfectly free to form their constitution for themselves, authorized the President, or the Cabinet, or Gov ernor Walker, or any other Territorial officer, to interfere and tell the Convention of Kansas whether they should or should not submit the question to the people. I am not going to stop to inquire how far they were authorized to do that, it being my opinion that the spirit of the Nebraska bill required it to be done. It is sufficient for my purpose that the Administration of the Federal Government unanimously-that the administration of the Territorial government, in all its parts, unanimouslyunderstood the Territorial law under which the Conven
tion was assembled to mean that the constitution to be
State into the Union.
At this election, every citizen will have an opportunity of expressing his opinion by his vote "whether Kansas shall be received into the Union with or without Slavery," and thus this exciting question may be peace fully settled in the very mode required by the organic law. The election will be held under legitimate authority, and if any portion of the inhabitants shall refuse to vote, a fair opportunity to do so having been presented, this will be their own voluntary act, and they alone will be responsible for the consequences.
formed by that Convention should be submitted to the people for ratification or rejection, and, if not confirmed by a majority of the people, should be null and void, without coming to Congress for approval
Not only did the National Government and the Territorial government so understand the law at the time, but, as I have already stated, the people of the Territory so understood it. As a further evidence on that point, a large number, if not a majority, of the delegates were instructed in the nominating conventions to submit the constitution to the people for ratification. I know that Calhoun, President of the Convention, being among them, the delegates from Douglas County, eight in number, Mr. were not only instructed thus to submit the question, but they signed and published, while candidates, a written pledge that they would submit it to the people for ratification. I know that men high in authority, and in the confidence of the Territorial and National Government, Kansas has for some years occupied too much of the delegates, and each one of them pledged himself to the canvassed every part of Kansas during the election of public attention. It is high time this should be directed people that no snap judgment was to be taken; that the to far more important objects. When once admitted constitution was to be submitted to the people for acceptinto the Union, whether with or without Slavery, the ance or rejection: that it would be void unless that was excitement beyond her own limits will speedily pass done; that the Administration would spurn and scorn it as away, and she will then, for the first time, be left, as she a violation of the principles on which it came into power, ought to have been long since, to manage her own and that a Democratic Congress would hurl it from their affairs in her own way. If her constitution on the sub-presence as an insult to the Democrats who stood pledged ject of Slavery, or on any other subject, be displeasing to see the people left free to form their domestic instituto a majority of the people, no human power can prevent tions for themselves. them from changing it within a brief period, Under these circumstances, it may well be questioned whether the peace and quiet of the whole country are not of greater importance than the mere temporary triumph of either of the political parties in Kansas.
Whether Kansas shall be a free or a slave State, must eventually, under some authority, be decided by an election; and the question can never be more clearly or distinctly presented to the people than it is at the present moment. Should this opportunity be rejected, she may be involved for years in domestic discord, and possibly in civil war, before she can again make up the issue now so fortunately tendered, and again reach the point she has already attained.
Should the constitution without Slavery be adopted by the votes of the majority, the rights of property in slaves now in the Territory are reserved. The number of these is very small; but if it were greater the provision would be equally just and reasonable. The slaves were brought into the Territory under the Constitution of the United States, and are now the property of their masters. This point has at length been finally decided by the highest judicial tribunal of the country-and this upon the plain principle that when a confederacy of Sovereign States acquire a new territory at their joint expense, both equality and justice demand that the citizens of one and all of them thall have the right to take into it whatsoever is recognized as property by the common Constitution. To have summarily confiscated the property in slaves already in the Territory would have been an act of gross injustice, and contrary to the practice of the older States of the Union which have ished Slavery.
Not only that, sir, but up to the time when the Convention assembled, on the 1st of September, so far as I can learn, it was understood everywhere that the constitution was to be submitted for ratification or rejection. They until after the October election. I think that it was wise met, however, on the 1st of September, and adjourned and prudent that they should thus have adjourned. They did not wish to bring any question into that election which would divide the Democratic party, and weaken our chances of success in the election. I was rejoiced when I saw that they did adjourn, so as not to show their party until after the election. During that recess, while the hand on any question that would divide and distract the Convention was adjourned, Governor Ransom, the DemoDelegate from that Territory, was canvassing every part of cratic candidate for Congress, running against the present Kansas, in favor of the doctrine of submitting the constitution to the people, declaring that the Democratic party der of the Black Republicans to intimate the charge that were in favor of such submission, and that it was a slanthe Democratic party did not intend to carry out that pledge in good faith. Thus, up to the time of the Conabol-vention, in October last, the pretense was kept up, the profession was openly made, and believed by me, and I thought believed by them, that the Convention intended to submit a constitution to the people, and not to attempt to put a government in operation without such submis sion. The election being over, the Democratic party being defeated by an overwhelming vote, the Opposition having triumphed, and got possession of both branches of the legislature, and having elected their Territorial
MR. DOUGLAS ON LECOMPTON.
Mr. Douglas, who very early joined in the debate on the President's Message, at first said he dissented from the views of the President in regard to Kansas, but afterward endeavored to
Delegate, the Convention assembled, and then proceeded to complete their work.
Now let us stop to inquire how they redeemed the pledge to submit the constitution to the people. They first go on to make a constitution. Then they make a schedule, in which they provide that the constitution, on the 21st of December-the present month-shall be submitted to all the bona fide inhabitants of the Territory on that day, for their free acceptance or rejection, in the following manner, to wit: Thus acknowledging that they were bound to submit it to the will of the people; conceding that they had no right to put it into operation without submitting it to the people; providing in the instrument that it should take effect from and after the date of its ratification, and not before; showing that the Constitution derives its vitality, in their estimation, not from the authority of the Convention, but from that vote of the people, to which it was to be submitted for their free acceptance or rejection. How is it to be submitted? It shall be submitted in this form: "Constitution with Slavery, or constitution with no Slavery?" All men must vote for the constitution, whether they like it or not, in order to be permitted to vote for or against Slavery. Thus a constitution made by a convention that had authority to assemble and petition for a redress of grievances, but not to estab lish a government a constitution made under a pledge of honor that it should be submitted to the people before if took effect-a constitution which provides on its face, that it shall have no validity except what it derives from such submission-is submitted to the people at an election where all men are at liberty to come forward freely, without hindrance, and vote for it, but no man is permitted to record a vote against it!
That would be as fair an election as some of the enemies of Napoleon attributed to him when he was elected First Consul. He is said to have called out his troops and had them reviewed by his officers, with a speech, patriotic and fair in its professions, in which he said to them: "Now, my soldiers, you are to go to the election and vote freely, just as you please. If you vote for Napoleon, all is well; vote against him, and you are to be instantly shot!" That was a fair election. (Laughter.) This election is to be equally fair. All men in favor of the constitution may vote for it, all men against it shall not vote at all. Why not let them vote against it? I presume you have asked many a man this question. I have asked a very large number of the gentlemen who framed the constitution, quite a number of delegates, and a still larger number of persons who are their friends, and I have received the same answer from every one of them. I never received any other answer, and I presume we never shall get any other answer. What is that? They say, if they had allowed a negative vote, the constitution would have been voted down by an overwhelming majority; and hence the fellows shall not be allowed to vote at all. (Laughter.) Mr. President, that may be true. It is no part of my purpose to deny the proposition that that constitution would have been voted down if submitted to the people. I believe it would have been voted down by a majority of four to one. I am informed by men well posted there -Democrats-that it would be voted down ten to one; some say by twenty to one.
But is it a good reason why you should declare it in force, without being submitted to the people, merely because it would have been voted down by five to one if you had submitted it? What does that fact prove? Does it not show undeniably that an overwhelming majority of the people of Kansas are unalterably opposed to that constitution? Will you force it on them against their will, simply because they would have voted it down if you had consulted them? If you will, are you going to force it upon them under the plea of leaving them perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way? Is that the mode in which I am called upon to carry out the principle of self-government and popular Sovereignty in the Territories-to force a constitution on the people against their will, in opposition to their protest, with a knowlege of the fact, and then to assign as a reason for my tyranny, that they would be so obstinate and so perverse as to vote down the constitution if I had given them an opportunity to be consulted about it?
Sir, I deny your right, or mine, to inquire of these people what their objections to that constitution are. They have a right to judge for themselves whether they like or dislike it. It is no answer to tell me that the constitution is a good one, and unobjectionable. It is not satisfactory to me to have the President say, in his message, that that constitution is an admirable one, like all the constitutions of the new States that have been recently framed. Whether good or bad, whether obnoxious or not, is none of my business, and none of yours.
It is their business, and not ours. i care not what they have in their constitution, so that it suits them and does
not violate the Constitution of the United States and the fundamental principles of liberty upon which our institutions rest. I am not going to argue the question whether the banking system established in that constitution is wise or unwise. It says there shall be no monopolies, but there shall be one bank of issue in the State, with two branches. All I have to say on that point is, if they want a banking system, let them have it; if they do not want it, let them prohibit it. If they want a bank with two branches, be it so; if they want twenty, it is none of my business; and it matters not to me whether one of them shall be on the north side and the other on the south side of the Kaw River, or where they shall be.
While I have no right to expect to be consulted on that point, I do hold that the people of Kansas have the right to be consulted and to decide it, and you have no rightful authority to deprive them of that privilege. It is no justification, in my mind, to say that the provision for the eligibility for the officers of Governor and Lieut.-Governor requires twenty years' citizenship in the United States. If men think that no person should vote or hold office until he has been here twenty years, they have a right to think so; and if a majority of the people of Kansas think that no man of foreign birth should vote or hold office unless he has lived there twenty years, it is their right to say so, and I have no right to interfere with them; it is their business, not mine; but if I lived there I should not be willing to have that provision in the constitution without being heard upon the subject, and allowed to record my protest against it.
I have nothing to say about their system of taxation, in which they have gone back and resorted to the old exploded system which we tried in Illinois, but abandoned because we did not like it. If they wish to try it and get tired of it and abandon it, be it so; but if I were a citizen of Kansas I would profit by the experience of Illinois on that subject, and defeat it if I could. Yet I have no objection to their having it if they want it; it is their business, not mine.
So it is in regard to the free negroes. They provide that no free negro shall be permitted to live in Kansas. I suppose they have a right to say so if they choose; but if I lived there I should want to vote on the question. We, in Illinois, provide that no more shall come there. say to the other States, "Take care of your own free negroes and we will take care of ours." But we do not say that the negroes now there shall not be permitted to live in Illinois; and I think the people of Kansas ought to have the right to say whether they will allow them to live there, and if they are not going to do so, how they are to dispose of them.
So you may go on with all the different clauses of the Constitution. They may be all right; they may be all wrong. That is a question on which my opinion is worth nothing. The opinion of the wise and patriotic Chief Magistrate of the United States is not worth anything as against that of the people of Kansas, for they have a right to judge for themselves; and neither Prestdent, nor Senates, nor Houses of Representatives, nor any other power outside of Kansas, has a right to judge for them. Hence it is no justification, in my mind, for the violation of the great principle of self-government, to say that the Constitution you are forcing on them is not particularly obnoxious, or is excellent in its provisions. Perhaps, sir, the same thing might be said of the Topeka Constitution. I do not recollect its peculiar provisions. I know one thing: we Democrats, we Nebraska men, would not even look into it to see what its provi sions were. Why? Because we said it was made by a political party, and not by the people; that it was made in defiance of the authority of Congress; that if it was as pure as the Bible, as holy as the Ten Commandments, yet we would not touch it until it was submitted to and ratified by the people of Kansas, in pursuance of the forms of law. Perhaps the Topeka Constitution, but for the mode of making it, would have been unexceptionable. I do not know; I do not care. You have no right to force an unexceptionable constitution on a people. It does not mitigate the evil, it does not diminish the insult, it does not ameliorate the wrong, that you are forcing a good thing upon them. I am not willing to be forced to do that which I would do if I were left free to judge and act for myself. Hence I assert that there is no justification to be made for this flagrant violation of popular rights in Kansas, on the plea that the constitution which they have made is not particularly obnoxious.
But, sir, the President of the United States is really and sincerely of the opinion that the Slavery clause has been fairly and impartially submitted to the free acceptance or rejection of the people of Kansas, and that, inasmuch as that was the exciting and paramount question, if they get the right to vote as they please on that subject, they ought to be satisfied; and possibly it might b
better if we would accept it, and put an end to the ques-
visions, they reply, "You cannot vote for or against
position is submitted. Every man opposed to the constitution is disfranchised on the Slavery clause. How many are they? They tell you there is a majority, for they say the constitution will be voted down instantly, by an overwhelming majority, if you allow a negative vote. This shows that a majority are against it. They disqualify and disfranchise every man who is against it, thus referring the Slavery clause to a minority of the people of Kansas, and leaving that minority free to vote for or
against the Slavery clause as they choose.
Let me ask you if that is a fair mode of submitting the Siavery clause? Does that mode of submitting that particular clause leave the people perfectly free to vote for or against Slavery as they choose? Am I free to vote as I choose on the Slavery question, if you tell me I shall not vote on it until I vote for the Maine Liquor Law? to go to the polls and vote. Am I free to vote on the Slavery question, if you tell me I shall not vote either way until I vote for a Bank? Is it freedom of election to make your right to vote upon one question depend upon the mode in which you are going to vote on some other question which has no connection with it? Is that freedom of election? Is that the great fundamental principle of Self-Government, for which we combined and struggled, in this body and throughout the country, to establish as a rule of action in all time to come?
If Kansas wants a Slave-State Constitution, she has a right to it; if she wants a Free-State Constitution, she has a right to it. It is none of my business which way the Slavery clause is decided. I care not whether it is voted down or voted up. Do you suppose, after pledges of my honor, that I would go for that principle, and leave the people to vote as they choose, that I would now degrade myself by voting one way if the Slavery clause be voted down, and another way if it be voted up? I care not how that vote may stand. I take it for granted that it will be voted out. I think I have seen enough in the last three days to make it certain that it will be returned out, no matter how the vote may stand. (Laughter.)
Sir, I am opposed to that concern, because it looks to me like a system of trickery and jugglery to defeat the fair expression of the will of the people. There is no necessity for crowding this measure, so unfair, so unjust, as it is in all its aspects, upon us.
On the 2nd of Feb., 1858, the President transmitted to Congress the Lecompton Constitution, accompanied by a special Message strongly urging the admission of Kansas as a State under this constitution. (The following is a brief statement in regard to the origin of the Lecompton Constitution :)
The first Territorial Legislature passed an act in 1855 to take the sense of the people on the call of a Convention to form a State Constitution, at the election in Oct., 1856. Accordingly, an election was held at which about 2,500 votes were polled, the Free-State men not voting. At this election, a new legislature was elected, all Pro-Slavery, which met in Jan., 1857, and in conformity with the vote of 2,500 at the preceding October election, passed an act providing for the election of delegates on the 15th of June, to meet in convention in September following. Soon after this, Gov. Walker went to Kansas, and published an address to the people in which he assured them of his determination to use every means in his power to prevent all disorder and violence. He persuaded the Free-State men An objection which they urged was, that in 19 out of the 38 counties no registry had been made, and that in 15 out of the 19 no census had been taken, so that it was impossible for the people to vote in those counties. These facts are confirmed by Gov. Walker and Secretary Stanton.
Let me ask you, why force this Constitution down the throats of the people of Kansas, in opposition to their wishes and in violation of our pledges? What great object is to be attained? Cui bono? What are you to gain
The election for delegates to the Convention was held on the 15th of June. The Free-State men did not vote, for the reason just mentioned, and also (as they stated,) that they had no confi
ciples? Do you propose to keep the party united by forcing a division? Stand by the doctrine that leaves
the people perfectly free to form and regulate their institutions for themselves in their own way, and your party will be united and irresistible in power. Abandon that great principle, and the party is not worth saving, and cannot be saved, after it shall be violated. I trust we are not to be rushed upon this question. Why shall it be Who is to be benefited? Is the South to be the
by it? Will you sustain the party by violating its priu-dence in the officers who were to hold the election, and because the Constitution which might be formed, must, in the opinion of Gov. Walker, be submitted to a vote of all the people for ratification or rejection, whether they voted at this election or not. The entire vote for delegates was only about 2,200.
gainer? Neither the North nor the South has the right to gain a sectional advantage by trickery or fraud.
But I am beseeched to wait till I hear from the election on the 21st of December. I am told that perhaps that will put it all right, and will solve the whole difficulty. How can it? Perhaps there may be a large vote. There may be a large vote returned. (Laughter.) But I deny that it is possible to have a fair vote on the Slavery Gov. Walker, 2,000 U. S. troops were in the Ter Clause; and I say that it is not possible to have any vote ritory, and they were stationed so as to protect
The delegates elected assembled in Convention at Lecompton, Sept. 5th, but soon adjourned over to October, to await the result of the Territorial Election on the first Monday of that month. At this Territorial Election, both parties nominated candidates. At the request of
on the Constitution. Why wait for the mockery of an the polls as much as possible. Over eleven
election, when it is provided, unalterably, that the people cannot vote-when the majority are disfranchised?
But I am told on all sides, "Oh, just wait; the ProSlavery clause will be voted down." That does not obviate any of my objections; it does not diminish any of them. You have no more right to force a Free-State Constitution on Kansas than a Slave-State Constitution.
thousand votes were polled, after rejecting 2,800 as fraudulent and irregular, 1,600 of which were returned from the Oxford precinct, where, according to the census, there were but 43 voters, and twelve hundred from McGee County, where