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If, in this, there be a failure, let the responsibility not rest upon us. Let our hands be clear of all blame. Let there be no cause for casting censure at our door. If, in the end, the great national Democratic party-the strong ligament which has so long bound and held the Union together, shaped its policy and controlled its destinies, and to which we have so often looked with a hope that seldom failed, as the only party North on which to rely in the most trying hours when constitutional rights were in perilif it goes down, let it not be said to us, in the midst of the disasters that may ensue, "you did it!" In any and every event, let not the reproach of Punic faith rest upon our name. If everything else has to go down, let our untarnished honor, at least, survive the wreck.
Mr. Stephens has said, what I think he was bound to say as a patriot and a Democrat, that the Cincinnati platform is all that the South ought to ask or has a right to ask, or that her interests require in this emergency. On that platform the party can remain a unit, and present an invincible and irresistible front to the Republican or Abolition phalanx at the North. So certain as you abandon non-intervention and substitute intervention, just so certain you yield a power into their hands that will sweep the Democratic party from the face of the globe.
The discussions upon the Brown and Davis resolutions chiefly occupied the Senate throughout the remainder of the session; they extended to all the important phases of the slavery question as these developed into special issues in the course of the campaign (the various parties holding their conventions while Congress was in session). Dr. Hermann von Holst, in his "Constitutional History of the United States," says:
"The debates on the Davis resolutions, to which American historians have hitherto paid scarcely any attention, are of much greater importance for the right understanding of the irrepressibleness of the conflict than the numberless compromise proposals and the endless negotiations between the Federal Executive and the seceded States which they never tire of following into the remotest details, although quite a voluminous library has been written on them."
On May 24, a vote was reached on Senator Davis' resolutions, and they were passed by a strict party vote, approximately 36 to 20 votes, the latter being the full strength of the Republicans in the Senate. On the fourth resolution, that which sounded the death-knell to Senator Douglas' theory of "unfriendly legislation" against slavery in the Territories, George E. Pugh [O.], a Douglas Democrat, voted with the Republicans. Senator Douglas was absent, through sickness, during the balloting.
SLAVERY IN THE TERRITORIES
[THE ISSUE IN THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN OF 1860]
The Charleston Democratic Convention-Debate on Platform Between William L. Yancey [Ala.], et al., and Senator George E. Pugh [O.]-Withdrawal of Southern Delegations-Convention Adjourns to BaltimoreThe Constitutional Union Convention Nominates John Bell [Tenn.] and Edward Everett [Mass.]-Abraham Lincoln [Ill.] Looms Up as a Candidate for the Republican Nomination-His Speech at Cooper Union, New York, on "Slavery as the Fathers Viewed It"-The Republican Convention at Chicago Nominates Abraham Lincoln [Ill.] and Hannibal Hamlin [Me.]-Its Platform—The Adjourned Democratic Convention at Baltimore-Douglas Delegates of the Contesting Delegations Are Seated -Southern Delegates Withdraw-Stephen A. Douglas [Ill.] and Herschel V. Johnson [Ga.] Are Nominated on a "Popular Sovereignty" Platform, Supplemented by a Resolution Submitting to Any Adjudication of the Question Which Might Be Made by the Supreme Court-Seceding Delegates Hold a Convention in Maryland Institute, BaltimoreThey Nominate John C. Breckinridge [Ky.] and Joseph Lane [Ore.] on the Charleston Minority Platform-Summary of the Issues of the Campaign by Horace Greeley-Election of Lincoln and Hamlin.
N April 23, 1860, the National Democratic Convention met at Charleston (S. C.). The Southern element early showed its power: Caleb Cushing [Mass.] who, as Attorney-General under Pierce, had declared the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional, was elected chairman, and the majority of the committee on platform brought forward a resolution inspired by William L. Yancey [Ala.], denying the doctrine of "unfriendly legislation" and proposing to establish the principle of the Dred Scott decision by positive legislation. The minority of the committee reported in favor of simply reaffirming the Cincinnati platform of 1856.
In the debate in the convention upon the platform
Mr. Yancey and other Southern delegates took the position that the election of President Buchanan had been accomplished by a shuffling platform which was interpreted one way in the South and another way in the North, and that the South would not stand for a repetition of such double dealing but was determined to assert its constitutional right to carry its property into the Territories. Therefore the South demanded that the convention take a "step in advance" upon upon the question of slavery.
"We shall now succeed in a clear exhibition of our principles, or not at all. If gentlemen of the North insist on a 'squatter sovereignty' platform in face of its condemnation by the Supreme Court in its Dred Scott decision, it is you, and not we, who will be responsible for the dissolution of the Democratic party, and, indeed, of the Union itself, since it is the unity of the Democratic party that alone holds the North and South together."
To this Senator George E. Pugh [O.] responded:
"Thank God that a bold and honest man [Mr. Yancey] has at last spoken, and told the whole truth with regard to the demands of the South. It is now plainly before the Convention and the country that the South does demand an advanced step from the Democratic party." Mr. Pugh here read the resolves of the Alabama Democratic State Convention of 1856, to prove that the South was then satisfied with what it now rejects. He proceeded to show that the Northern Democrats had sacrificed themselves in battling for the rights of the South, and instanced one and another of the delegates there present, who had been defeated and thrown out of public life thereby. He concluded: "And now the very weakness thus produced is urged as a reason why the North should have no weight in forming the platform! The Democracy of the North are willing to stand by the old landmarks-to reaffirm the old faith. They will deeply regret to part with their Southern brethren. But if the gentlemen from the South can only abide with us on the terms they now propound they must go. The Northwest must and will be heard and felt. The Northern Democrats are not children, to be told to stand here—to stand there-to be moved at the beck and bidding of the South. Because we are in a minority on account of our fidelity to our constitutional obligations we are told, in effect,
that we must put our hands on our mouths, and our mouths in the dust.1 Gentlemen," said Mr. Pugh, "you mistake us we will not do it."
On April 30, by a vote of 165 to 138, the convention adopted the minority report.
Thereupon the delegations from Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Florida, Texas, Georgia, and Arkansas, all but two delegates from Louisiana, and two delegates from Delaware withdrew from the convention.
It was then decided by the chairman that the remaining delegates elect the nominees for President and Vice-President by a two-thirds vote of the delegates including the seceded members. This meant that the votes of 202 out of 252 delegates present were required to elect. After 57 fruitless ballots in which Stephen A. Douglas [Ill.] obtained a maximum vote of 1522, the convention adjourned on May 3 to meet at Baltimore on June 18, having previously ordered the States with seceding delegates to fill the vacancies.
In the meantime the seceders had held a convention of their own which was presided over by James A. Bayard, Jr. [Del.]; it adjourned to meet at Richmond on June 12.
It was a foregone conclusion that Senator Douglas would be the nominee of the Baltimore Convention. The anti-Douglas Democrats in the Senate showed their determination to divide the party, and nominate another candidate, by continuing with increased vigor the warfare upon the Senator from Illinois which had been begun in the Davis resolutions against his doctrine of "unfriendly legislation."
THE CONSTITUTIONAL UNION CONVENTION
On May 9 the Constitutional Union party, composed largely of the supporters of Millard Fillmore in 1856, met at Baltimore and nominated John Bell [Tenn.] for President and Edward Everett [Mass.] for Vice-Presi
'An oft-repeated sentiment first uttered by Josiah Quincy, 2nd [see Volume I, page 69].