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solidated despotism with uniformity of local institutions, and that uniformity being slavery, existing by Divine right, and a higher law beyond the reach of the Constitution and of human authority.
Mr. President, if my protest against this interpolation into the policy of this country or the creed of the Democratic party is to bring me under the ban, I am ready to meet the issue. I am told that this Lecompton Constitution is a party test, a party measure; that no man is a Democrat who does not sanction it, who does not vote to bring Kansas into the Union with the government established under that Constitution. Sir, who made it a party test? Who made it a party measure? Certainly the party has not assembled in convention to ordain any such thing to be a party measure. I know of but one state convention that has endorsed it. It has not been declared to be a party measure by state conventions, or by a national convention, or by a senatorial caucus, or by a caucus of the Democratic members of the House of Representatives. How, then, came it to be a party measure? The Democratic party laid down its creed at its last national convention. That creed is unalterable for four years, according to the rules and practices of the party. Who has interpolated this Lecompton Constitution into the party platform ?
Oh! but we are told it is an administration measure. Because it is an administration measure, does it therefore follow that it is a party measure ? Is it the right of an administration to declare what are party measures and what are not? That has been attempted heretofore, and it has failed. When John Tyler prescribed a creed to the Whig party, his right to do so was not respected. When a certain doctrine in regard to the neutrality laws was proclaimed to be a party measure, my friends around me here considered it a “grave error,” and it was not respected. When the Army Bill was proclaimed an administration measure, the authority to make it so was put at defiance, and the Senate rejected it by a vote of four to one, and the House of Representatives voted it down by an overwhelming majority. Is the Pacific Railroad Bill a party measure ? I should like to see whether the guillotine is to be applied to every recreant Democrat who does not come up to that test. Is the Bankrupt Law a party measure ? We shall see, when the vote is taken, how many renegades there will be then. Was the Loan Bill an administration measure or a party measure ? Is the guillotine to be applied to every one who does not yield implicit obedience to the behests of an administration in power ? There is infinitely more plausibility in declaring each of the measures to which I have just alluded to be an administration measure, than in declaring the Lecompton Constitution to be sych. By what right does the administration take cognizance of the Lecompton Constitution ?
The Constitution of the United States says that " new states may be admitted into the Union by the Congress”—not by the President, not by the cabinet, not by the administration. The Lecompton Constitution itself says, “This Constitution shall be submitted to the Congress of the United States at its next session ;” not to the President, not to the cabinet, not to the administration. The convention in Kansas did not send it to the administration, did not authorize it to be sent to the President, but directed it to be sent to Congress; and the President of the United States only got hold of it through the commission of the surveyor general, who was also president of the Lecompton Convention. The Constitution as made was ordered to be sent directly to Congress; Congress having power to admit states, and the President having nothing to do with it. The moment you pass a law admitting
a state, it executes itself. It is not a law to be executed by the President or by the administration. It is the last measure on earth that could be rightfully made an administration measure. It is not usual for the Constitution of a new state to come to Congress through the hand of the President. True, the Minnesota Constitution was sent to the President because the Convention of Minnesota directed it to be so sent, and the President submitted it to us without any recommendation. Because senators and representatives do not yield their judgments and their consciences, and bow in abject obedience to the requirements of an administration in regard to a measure on which the administration are not required to act at all, a system of proscription, of persecution is to be adopted against every man who maintains his self-respect, his own judgment, and his own conscience.
I do not recognize the right of the President or his cabinet, no matter what my respect may be for them, to tell me my duty in the Senate Chamber. The President has his duties to perform under the Constitution, and he is responsible to his constituency. A senator has his duties to perform here under the Constitution and according to his oath, and he is responsible to the sovereign state which he represents as his constituency. A member of the House of Representatives has his duties under the Constitution and his oath, and he is responsible to the people that elected him. The President has no more right to prescribe tests to senators than senators have to the President; the President has no more right to prescribe tests to the representatives than the representatives have to the President. Suppose we here should attempt to prescribe a test of faith to the President of the United States, would he not rebuke our impertinence and impudence as subversive of the fundamental principle of the Constitution ? Would he not tell us that the Constitution, and his oath, and his conscience were his guide ; that we must perform our duties, and he would perform his, and let each be responsible to his own constituency?
Sir, whenever the time comes that the President of the United States can change the allegiance of the senators from the states to himself, what becomes of the sovereignty of the states ? When the time comes that a senator is to account to the executive and not to his state, whom does he represent? If the will of my state is one way and the will of the President is the other, am I to be told that I must obey the executive and betray my state, or else be branded as a traitor to the party, and hunted down by all the newspapers that share the patronage of the government ? and every man who holds a petty office in any part of my state to have the question put to him, " Are you Douglas's enemy ?” if not, your head comes off?” Why? “Because he is a recreant senator ; because he chooses to follow his judgment and his conscience, and represent his state instead of obeying my executive behest." I should like to know what is the use of Congresses ; what is the use of Senates and Houses of Representatives, when their highest duty is to obey the executive in disregard of the wishes, rights, and honor of their constituents? What-despotism on earth would be equal to this, if you establish the doctrine that the executive has a right to command the votes, the consciences, the judgment of the senators and of the representatives, instead of their constituents? In old England, whose oppressions we thought intolerable, an administration is hurled from power in an hour when voted down by the representatives of the people upon a government measure.
If the rule of old England applied here, this cabinet would have gone out of office when the Army Bill was voted down, the other day, in the House of Representatives. There, in that monarchical country, where they have a queen by divine right, and lords by the grace of God, and where Republicanism is supposed to have but a slight foothold, the representatives of the people can check the throne, restrain the government, change the ministry, and give a new direction to the policy of the government, without being accountable to the king or the queen. There the representatives of the people are responsible to their constituents. Across the Channel, under Louis Napoleon, it may be otherwise ; yet I doubt whether it would be so boldly proclaimed there that a man is a traitor for daring to vote according to his sense of duty, according to the will of his state, according to the interests of his con-stituents.
Suppose the executive should tell the senator from California (Mr. Gwin] to vote against his Pacific Railroad Bill; would he obey? If not, he will be deemed a rebel. Suppose the executive should tell the senator from Virginia [Mr. Mason] to vote for the Pacific Railroad Bill, or the senator from Georgia (Mr. Toombs] to vote for the Army Bill, or the senator from Mississippi (Mr. Brown] to sustain him on the Neutrality Laws, we should have more rebels and more traitors. But it is said a dispensation is granted from the fountain of all power for rebellion on all subjects but one. The President says, in effect, "Do as you please on all questions but one;" that one is Lecompton. On what principle is it that we must not judge for ourselves on this measure, and may on every thing else ? I suppose it is on the old adage that a man needs no friends when he knows he is right, and he only wants his friends to stand by him when he is wrong. The President says that he regrets this Constitution was not submitted to the people, although he knows that if it had been submitted it would have been rejected. Hence the President regrets that it was not rejected. Would he regret that it was not submitted and rejected if he did not think it was wrong? And yet he demands our assistance in forcing it on an unwilling people, and threatens vengeance on all who refuse obedience. He recommends the Army Bill; he thinks it necessary to carry on the Mormon war; it is necessary to carry out a measure of the administration, and hence it is an administration measure; but he does not quarrel with any body for voting against it. He thinks every one of the other recommendations to which I have alluded is right, and, therefore, there is no harm in going against them. The only harm is in going against that which the President acknowledges to be wrong; and yet the system of proscription, to subdue men to abject obedience to executive will, is to be pursued.
Is it seriously intended to brand every Democrat in the United States as a traitor who is opposed to the Lecompton Constitution ? If so, do your friends in Pennsylvania desire any traitors to vote with them next fall? We are traitors if we vote against Lecompton, our constituents are traitors if they do not think Lecompton is right, and yet you expect those whom you call traitors to vote with and sustain you. Are you to read out of the party every man who thinks it wrong to force a Constitution on a people against their will ? If so, what will be the size of the administration party in New York ? what will it be in Pennsylvania ? how many will it number in Ohio, or in Indiana, or in Illinois, or in any other Northern state ? Surely you do not expect the support of those whom you brand as renegades ? Would it not be well to allow all freemen freedom of thought, freedom of speech, and freedom of action ? Would it not be well to allow each senator and representative to vote according to his judgment, and perform his duty according to his own sense of his obligation to himself, and to his state, and to his God ?
For my own part, Mr. President, come what may, I intend to vote, speak, and act according to my own sense of duty so long as I hold a seat in this chamber. I have no defense of my Democracy. I have no professions to make of my fidelity. I have no vindication to make of my course. Let it speak for itself. The insinuation that I am acting with the Republicans or Americans has no terror, and will not drive me from my duty or propriety. It is an argument for which I have no respect. When I saw the senator from Virginia acting with the Republicans on the Neutrality Laws, in support of the President, I did not feel it to be my duty to taunt him with voting with those to whom he happened to be opposed in general politics. When
I saw the senator from Georgia acting with the Republicans on the Army Bill, it did not impair my confidence in his fidelity to principle. When I see senators here every day acting with the Republicans on various questions, it only shows me that they have independence and self-respect enough to go according to their own convictions of duty, without being influenced by the course of others.
I have no professions to make upon any of these points. I intend to perform my duty in accordance with my own convictions. Neither the frowns of power nor the influence of patronage will change my action, or drive me from my principles. I stand firmly, immovably upon those great principles of self-government and state sovereignty upon which the campaign was fought and the election won. I stand by the time-honored principles of the Democratic party, illustrated by Jefferson and Jackson—those principles of state rights, of state sovereignty, of strict construction, on which the great Democratic party has ever stood. I will stand by the Constitution of the United States, with all its compromises, and perform all my obligations under it. I will stand by the American Union as it exists under the Constitution. If, standing firmly by my principles, I shall be driven into private life, it is a fate that has no terrors for me. I prefer private life, preserving my own self-respect and manhood, to abject and servile submission to executive will. If the alternative be private life or servile obedience to executive will, I am prepared to retire. Official position has no charms for me when deprived of that freedom of thought and action which becomes a gentleman and a senator.
Mr. President, I owe an apology to the Senate for the desultory manner in which I have discussed this question. My health has been so feeble for some time past that I have not been able to arrange my thoughts, or the order in which they should be presented. If, in the heat of debate, I have expressed a sentiment which would seem to be unkind or disrespectful to any senator, I shall regret it. While I intend to maintain, firmly and fearlessly, my ow:1 views, far be it from me to impugn the motives or question the propriety of the action of any other senator. I take it for granted that each senator will obey the dictates of his own conscience, and will be accountable to his constituents for the course which he may think proper to pursue.
On the 1st of April the bill was taken up in the House. The House refused-yeas 95, nays 137—to reject the bill.
Mr. Montgomery, of Pennsylvania, moved to strike out all after the enacting clause, and to insert the same amendment proposed by Mr. Crittenden in the Senate. That amendment was agreed to-yeas 120, nays 112-and, as amended, the bill was passed by the same vote.
The next day (April 2) the Senate-yeas 32, nays 23-refused to concur in the amendment made by the House. On the 8th the House-yeas 119, nays 111-voted to “ adhere” to their amendment. On the 13th the Senate "insisted" on its disagreement, and asked for a committee of conference. On the 14th Mr. Montgomery moved that the House “ adhere," and Mr. English, of Indiana, moved that the House appoint a committee of conference. The vote on the last motion was-yeas 108, nays 108; the speaker voting in the affirmative, the motion was agreed to. The committees were appointed-Messrs.
Green, Hunter, and Seward on the part of the Senate, and English, Stephens, and Howard on the part of the House. This committee reported to the House on the 23d what is known as the “English Bill,” and on the 4th of May the House, by a vote of yeas 112, nays 103, concurred in the report of the committee of conference, and the Senate, by the vote of all the friends of the original bill, did the same. The English Bill became the law. Its fate before the people of Kansas is well known. Thus ended the Lecompton controversy in Congress. Happy for the best interests of the country would it have been had it been allowed to reach its end without the bitterness that attended its progress. We will notice no farther at this time the assaults upon Mr. Douglas than to refer, as an example of the violence to which excited feelings led some men, to an article—leading editorial—in the Washington Union in the early part of March, in which it was demonstrated to the writer's entire satisfaction that no man of small physical stature could be a true Democrat at heart; and that R. J. Walker and S. A. Douglas were so constructed physically that it was naturally impossible for either of them to be a Democrat! In this struggle Mr. Douglas was heartily sustained and supported to the end by his Democratic colleagues in the House, Messrs. Harris, Marshall, Morris, Shaw, and Smith.
MR. DOUGLAS, during his entire political life, has agreed with the Democratic party in resisting any general system of internal improvements by the federal government. That hostility to a general system of internal improvements has been expressed over and over again in the platforms of the Democratic party, and has had no warmer defender than Mr. Douglas. Upon some points, however, such as the improvements of rivers and harbors, he has had opinions somewhat peculiar. He has endeavored throughout to discriminate between those • works which were essential to the protection of commerce and the improvement of the navigable waters of the country, and those other works asked for by parties having local interests to serve, and desirous to promote them at the expense of the