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the fact, it will not admit the possibility, that, in an enlightened age, in a free, popular republic, under a government where the people govern, as they must always govern, under such systems, by majorities, at a time of unprecedented happiness, without practical oppression, without evils, such as may not only be pretended, but felt and experienced; evils not slight or temporary, but deep, permanent, and intolerable; a single State should rush into conflict with all the rest, attempt to put down the power of the Union by her own laws, and to support those laws by her military power, and thus break up and destroy the world's last hope. And well the world may be incredulous. We, who hear and see it, can ourselves hardly yet believe it. Even after all that had preceded it, this ordinance struck the country with amazement. It was incredible and inconceivable that South Carolina should thus plunge headlong into resistance to the laws, on a matter of opinion, and on a question in which the preponderance of opinion, both of the present day and of all past time, was so overwhelmingly against her. The ordinance declares that Congress has exceeded its just power by laying duties on imports, intended for the protection of manufactures. This is the opinion of South Carolina; and on the strength of that opinion she nullifies the laws. Yet has the rest of the country no right to its opinions also? Is one State to sit sole arbitress? She maintains that those laws are plain, deliberate, and palpable violations of the Constitution; that she has a sovereign right to decide this matter; and that, having so decided, she is authorized to resist their execution by her own sovereign power; and she declares that she will resist it, though such resistance should shatter the Union into atoms."
After the passage of the bill Senator Calhoun said:
"It would be idle to attempt to disguise that the bill will be a practical assertion of one theory of the Constitution against another the theory advocated by the supporters of the bill, that ours is a consolidated government, in which the States have no rights, and in which, in fact, they bear the same relation to the whole community as the counties do to the States; and against that view of the Constitution which considers it as a compact formed by the States as separate communities, and binding between the States, and not between the individual citizens. No man of candor, who admits that our Constitution is a compact, and was formed and is binding in the manner he had just stated, but must acknowledge that this bill utterly over
throws and prostrates the Constitution; and that it leaves the Government under the control of the will of an absolute majority.
"If the measure be acquiesced in it will be the termination of that long controversy which began in the convention, and which has been continued under various fortunes until the present day. But it ought not-it will not-it cannot be acquiesced in-unless the South is dead to the sense of her liberty, and. blind to those dangers which surround and menace them; she
never will cease resistance until the act is erased from the statute book. To suppose that the entire power of the Union may be placed in the hands of this Government, and that all the various interests in this widely extended country may be safely placed under the will of an unchecked majority, is the extreme of folly and madness. The result would be inevitable that power would be exclusively centered in the dominant interest north of this river, and that all south of it would be held as subjected provinces, to be controlled for the exclusive benefit of the stronger section. Such a state of things could not endure; and the Constitution and liberty of the country would fall in the contest if permitted to continue.
"He trusted that that would not be the case, but that the advocates of liberty everywhere, as well in the North as in the South; that those who maintained the doctrines of '98, and the sovereignties of the State; that the Republican party throughout the country would rally against this attempt to establish, by law, doctrines which must subvert the principles on which free institutions could be maintained."
South Carolina admitted it was beaten by failing to execute its threat of formal secession from the Union in the event of the employment of force by the Federal Government in the collection of duties.
The issue of nullification remained latent until the election of Abraham Lincoln as President, when it arose in the sterner guise of secession. It was occasionally referred to, in the interim, as in the preceding cartoon of the presidential election of 1836:
Senator Stephen A. Douglas and President James Buchanan Clash Over the Lecompton Constitution: It Is Defeated-Contest of Senator Douglas and Abraham Lincoln for the Senatorship of Illinois-Lincoln's Speech Accepting the Nomination: "A House Divided"-His Reply to Douglas: "The Law of Equal Freedom"-Joint Debate Between Lincoln and Douglas on "Slavery in the Territories"-Douglas's Freeport Doctrine of "Unfriendly Legislation": It Wins Him the Senatorship and Loses him the Presidency-Debate Between Lincoln and Douglas on "The Moral Climate Line.'
HE prediction of President Jackson that the next pretext for secession which the South Carolinians would seize upon would probably be slavery showed active signs of fulfilment in 1858.
Presaging the division of the country was the disruption of the Democratic party, the bond which had thus far held North and. South together. The split in the party began with the indorsement by President Buchanan of the Lecompton constitution.
THE LECOMPTON CONSTITUTION
On his inauguration the President persuaded Robert J. Walker [Miss.], the distinguished ex-Secretary of the Treasury, who had retired from politics, to take the troublesome seat of Governor of Kansas, from which John W. Geary [Ind.] had resigned in disapprobation of the Administration's policy toward the Territory.
Governor Walker dealt fairly with both factions in Kansas and succeeded in reducing materially the disorders.
The Free State men, continually increasing in num
bers, steadily refused to accept the proslavery legislature. This body held a constitutional convention at Lecompton early in September, 1857. The convention formed a constitution which recognized slavery and submitted it to the people at an election held on December 21. The vote was taken "For the constitution with slavery" or "For the constitution without slavery," no rejection of the constitution in its entirety being permitted. The Free State men refused to recognize the election as legal and so did not vote, and the constitution with slavery was chosen by an overwhelming majority.
In the meantime an election for a new territorial legislature had been held, and at this, in despite of great frauds committed by the proslavery men, a majority of Free State men was returned and a Free State Delegate to Congress was chosen. This legislature repudiated the constitutional election and ordered another to be held on January 4, 1858, at which votes for or against the Lecompton constitution in toto were to be given. The proslavery men refused to take part in this election, since they upheld the validity of the former one, and the vote against the constitution was virtually unanimous.
In his annual message at the opening of Congress (December 8, 1857) President Buchanan supported the first election (which was called but had not yet been held) as a valid one.
During the ensuing session of Congress the validity of the Lecompton constitution was the chief subject of debate in both the Senate and the House.
Senator Stephen A. Douglas [Ill.] seeing that the indorsement by the President of the Lecompton constitution placed the principle of popular sovereignty in jeopardy by limiting its application to the question of slavery alone, placed himself in opposition to the President on this issue-a position which led to general opposition to the Administration by himself and his following throughout its course and finally brought on the complete disruption of the Democratic party.
Owing to the division in the Democratic ranks, on