« PreviousContinue »
to punish crimes committed by Mormons in that territory. Some other and more effectual remedy must be devised and applied. In my opinion the first step should be the absolute and unconditional repeal of the organic act— blotting the territorial government out of existence-upon the ground that they are alien enemies and outlaws, denying their allegiance and defying the authority of the United States. (Immense applause.)
The territorial government once abolished, the country would revert to its primitive condition, prior to the act of 1850, "under the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the United States," and should be placed under the operation of the act of Congress of the 30th of April, 1790, and the various acts supplemental thereto and amendatory thereof, "providing for the punishment of crimes against the United States within any fort, arsenal, dock-yard, magazine, or ANY OTHER PLACE OR DISTRICT OF COUNTRY, UNDER THE SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE jurisdiction of the United States. All offenses against the provisions of these acts are required by law to be tried and punished by the United States courts in the states or territories where the offenders shall be FIRST APPREHENDED OR BROUGHT FOR TRIAL." Thus it will be seen that, under the plan proposed, Brigham Young and his confederates could be "apprehended and brought for trial" to Iowa or Missouri, California or Oregon, or to any other adjacent state or territory, where a fair trial could be had, and justice administered impartially-where the witnesses could be protected and the judgment of the court could be carried into execution, without violence or intimidation. I do not propose to introduce any new principles into our jurisprudence, nor to change the modes of proceeding or the rules of practice in our courts. I only propose to place the district of country embraced within the territory of Utah under the operation of the same laws and rules of proceeding that Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, and our other territories were placed, before they became organized territories. The whole country embraced within those territories was under the operation of that same system of laws, and all the offenses committed within the same were punished in the manner now proposed, so long as the country remained "under the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the United States;" but the moment the country was organized into territorial governments, with legislative, executive and judicial departments, it ceased to be under the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, within the meaning of the act of Congress, for the reason that it had passed under another and different jurisdiction. Hence, if we abolish the territorial government of Utah, preserving all existing rights, and place the country under the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, offenders can be apprehended, and brought into the adjacent states or territories, for trial and punishment, in the same manner and under the same rules and regulations, which obtained, and have been uniformly practiced, under like circumstances since 1790.
If the plan proposed shall be found an effective and adequate remedy for the evils complained of in Utah, no one, no matter what his political creed or partizan associations, need be apprehensive that it will violate any cherished theory or constitutional right in regard to the government of the territories. It is a great mistake to suppose that all the territory or land belonging to the United States must necessarily be governed by the same laws and under the same clause of the Constitution, without reference to the purpose to which it is dedicated or the use which it is proposed to make of it. While all that portion of country which is or shall be set apart to become new States, must necessarily be governed under and consistent with that clause of the Constitution which authorizes Congress to admit new states, it does not follow that other territory, not intended to be organized and admitted into the Union as states, must be governed under the same clause of the Constitution, with all the rights of self-government and state equality. For instance, if we should
purchase Vancouver's Island from Great Britain, for the purpose of removing all the Indians from our Pacific territories, and locating them on that island, as their permanent home, with guarantees that it should never be settled or occupied by white men, will it be contended that the purchase should be made and the island governed under the power to admit new states, when it was not acquired for that purpose, or intended to be applied to that object? Being acquired for Indian purposes, is it not more reasonable to assume that the power to acquire was derived from the Indian clause, and the island must necessarily be governed under and consistent with that clause of the Constitution which relates to Indian affairs. Again, suppose we deem it expedient to buy a small island in the Mediterranean or Caribbean sea, for a naval station, can it be said, with any force or plausibility, that the purchase should be made or the island governed under the power to admit new states? On the contrary, is it not obvious that the right to acquire and govern in that case is derived from the power "to provide and maintain a navy," and must be exercised consistent with that power? So, if we purchase land for forts, arsenals, or other military purposes, or set apart and dedicate any territory which we now own for a military reservation, it immediately passes under the military power, and must be governed in harmony with it. So, if land be purchased for a mint, it must be governed under the power to coin money; or if purchased for a post-office, it must be governed under the power to establish post-offices and post-roads; or for a custom-house, under the power to regulate commerce; or for a court-house, under the judiciary power. In short, the clause of the Constitution under which any land or territory belonging to the United States must be governed, is indicated by the object for which it was acquired and the object to which it is dedicated. So long, therefore, as the organic act of Utah shall remain in force, setting apart that country for a new state, and pledging the faith of the United States to receive it into the Union as soon as it should have the requisite population, we are bound to extend to it all the rights of self-government, agreeably to the clause of the Constitution providing for the admission of new states. Hence the necessity of repealing the organic act, withdrawing the pledge of admission, and placing it under the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, in order that persons and property may be protected, and justice administered, and crimes punished under the laws prescribed by Congress in such cases.
While the power of Congress to repeal the organic act and abolish the territorial government cannot be denied, the question may arise whether we possess the moral right of exercising the power, after the charter has been once granted, and the local government organized under its provisions. This is a grave question-one which should not be decided hastily, nor under the influence of passion or prejudice. In my opinion, I am free to say there is no moral right to repeal the organic act of a territory, and abolish the government organized under it, unless the inhabitants of that territory, as a community, have done such acts as amount to a forfeiture of all rights under itsuch as becoming alien enemies, outlaws, disavowing their allegiance, or resisting the authority of the United States. These and kindred acts, which we have every reason to believe are daily perpetrated in that territory, would not only give us the moral right, but make it our imperative duty to abolish the territorial government, and place the inhabitants under the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, to the end that justice may be done, and the dignity and authority of the government vindicated.
I have thus presented plainly and frankly my views of the Utah questionthe evils and the remedy-upon the facts as they have reached us, and are supposed to be substantially correct. If official reports and authentic information shall change or modify these facts, I shall be ready to conform my
action to the real facts as they shall be found to exist. I have no such pride of opinion as will induce me to persevere in an error one moment after my judgment is convinced. If, therefore, a better plan can be devised-one more consistent with justice and sound policy, or more effective as a remedy for acknowledged evils, I will take great pleasure in adopting it, in lieu of the one I have presented to you to-night.
In conclusion, permit me to present my grateful acknowledgements for your patient attention, and the kind and respectful manner in which you have received my remarks.
Had the remedy thus indicated by Mr. Douglas in 1857 been adopted in place of the "war measures," to-day the Mormons would have been divested of that political government which serves them merely to carry out more fully their treasonable and disgusting enormities. To that remedy the government must come at last, and with a new government in the gold regions, the Mormons will eventually be forced either to leave the country or reform their code of civil and political morals to a standard more becoming the age, and more suitable to the enlightenment of the people of the United States.
MINNESOTA AND OREGON.
Pending the Lecompton controversy in Congress, the President on the 11th day of January, 1858, communicated to Congress copies of the Constitution of the State of Minnesota, and an application for admission into the Union. It was referred in the Senate to the Committee on Territories. On the 26th of the same month Mr. Douglas reported a bill for the admission of the State. He was indefatigable in his efforts to have the bill taken up, but it was not until after the Kansas bill had passed that he could succeed. Eventually the bill was taken up, and passed with but very little objection. The vote in the Senate being, yeas, 49; nays, 3; and in the House, yeas, 157; nays, 38.
On the 5th of April Mr. Douglas, from the Committee, on Territories, reported a bill for the admission of Oregon into the Union as a State. On the 18th of May, the bill having been debated in the meantime, and the principal objection urged was that of Mr. Trumbull, that the Constitution of the State prohibited the immigration of negroes, the question was taken on Trumbull's motion to postpone the bill till next session. This motion was rejected, the yeas being, Bell, Chandler, Clay, Crittenden, Durkee, Fessenden, Fitzpatrick, Hale, Hamlin,
Hammond, Hunter, Iverson, Kennedy, Mason, Trumbull and Wade. Democrats 6, Republicans 7, Americans 3. The bill then passed, yeas 35; nays 17; the nays being the same who voted to postpone, excepting Mr. Chandler, and with the addition of Mr. Davis, of Mississippi, and Mr. Henderson, of Texas. The House did not act on the bill until the next session, when the bill was passed, and Oregon was admitted.
At this point it may not be out of place to recapitulate the action of Mr. Douglas upon the subject of territorial bills, and the admission of new states. When a member of the house he was a warm supporter of the bills to establish a territorial government in Oregon. He found that measure unacted upon when he entered the Senate. He voted for it there when it passed. He, as a member of the house, supported the resolutions for the annexation of Texas, and the bill for her admission into the Union. In the house he supported and voted for the bills admitting Iowa and Florida as states of the Union. On the latter bill he made one of his most forcible speeches on a proposal that Florida be required as a condition of her admission to abolish a provision in her Constitution limiting the authority for emancipating slaves. He denied the right or power of Congress to legislate upon the provisions of any constitution adopted by a state. He reported the several bills respecting the admission of Wisconsin, and voted for the admission of that state. He wrote the bills establishing the territorial governments of Utah, New Mexico, Washington, Kansas, Minnesota and Nebraska. He prepared the acts for the admission of California, Minnesota, and Oregon, into the Union as states.
THE AFRICAN SLAVE TRADE.
Mr. Douglas has always been decided in his opposition to the revival of the African slave trade. He has been always as decided in his efforts to enforce the existing, and willing to provide additional laws if necessary against that traffic. When this matter was discussed some time ago, Mr. Douglas, in answer to a letter from a gentleman in Virginia, thus expressed his views:
WASHINGTON, August 2, 1859.
Col. John L. Peyton, Staunton, Va.: MY DEAR SIR: You do me no more than justice in your kind letter, for which accept my thanks, in assuming that I do not concur with the admin
istration in their views respecting the rights of naturalized citizens, as defined in the "Le Clerc letter," which, it is proper to observe, has since been materially modified.
Under our Constitution there can be no just distinction between the rights of native born and naturalized citizens to claim the protection of our government at home and abroad. Unless the naturalization releases the person naturalized from all obligations which he owed to his native country, by virtue of his allegiance, it leaves him in the sad predicament of owing allegiance to two countries, without receiving protection from either-a dilemma in which no American citizen should be placed.
Neither have you misapprehended my opinions in respect to the African slave trade. That question seriously disturbed the harmony of the Convention which framed the federal Constitution. Upon it the delegates divided into two parties, under circumstances which, for a time, rendered harmonious action hopeless. The one demanded the instant and unconditional prohibition of the African slave trade, on moral and religious grounds, while the other insisted that it was a legitimate commerce, involving no other consideration than a sound public policy, which each state ought to be permitted to determine for itself, so long as it was sanctioned by its own laws. Each party stood resolutely and firmly by its own position, until both became convinced that this vexed question would break up the Convention, destroy the federal Union, blot out the glories of the Revolution, and throw away all its blessings, unless some fair and just compromise could be formed on the common ground of such mutual concessions as were indispensable to the preservation of their liberties, Union, and independence.
Such a compromise was effected and incorporated into the Constitution, by which it was understood that the African slave trade might continue a legitimate commerce in those states whose laws sanctioned it until the year 1808, from and after which time Congress might and would prohibit it for ever, throughout the dominion and limits of the United States, and pass all laws which might become necessary to make such prohibition effectual. The harmony of the Convention was restored, and the Union saved by this compromise, without which the Constitution could never have been made.
I stand firmly by this compromise and by all the other compromises of the Constitution, and shall use my best efforts to carry each and all of them into faithful execution, in the sense and with the understanding in which they were originally adopted. In accordance with this compromise, I am irreconcilably opposed to the revival of the African slave trade, in any form and under any circumstances.
am, with great respect, yours truly,
S. A. DOUGLAS.
THE CINCINNATI PLATFORM.
Ar no period of his life did Mr. Douglas experience more anxiety than just previous to the assembling of the Cincinnati Convention. This anxiety was not produced by any anticipations as to the action of that body respecting his nomination for the presidency. He had, in obedience to an established and recognized principle of the party, introduced and carried