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interests. We may believe Mr. Lincoln, in common with Daniel Webster, saw that after the election the Whig Party would live only in history; that new political combinations must be made. He knew the Compromise of 1850 had settled nothing. The law which compelled the return of fugitive slaves to their masters was hateful, unrighteous, and contrary to human instincts. He knew that sooner or later vital questions would come up for consideration, but he little thought he was to be a leading actor in the historic drama of the future.
“The Compromise of 1850,” said President Pierce, in his inaugural address, " has given repose to the country. That repose is to suffer no
shock during my official term if I have power to avert it.” Pres
ident Pierce, quite likely, was sincere in his expression. We are not to conclude he was cognizant of the plans of the slave - holders ; but he was a partisan, and ready to do the bidding of those who had elevated him to power.
Stephen A. Douglas, Senator, chairman of the Committee on Territories, reported a bill which gave authority to the people in the Territory of Nebraska to say whether they would or would not have slavery. It was north of the Missouri Compromise line. Senator Dixon, of Kentucky, in order to carry out the plans of the slave - holders, offered an amendment to repeal the act of 1820 which prohibited slavery north of that line. David R. Atchison, of Missouri, advocating the amendment, said: “I am entirely devoted to the interests of the South, and I would sacrifice everything but my hope of heaven to advance her welfare." Ile wanted very much to be chairman of the Committee on Territories, that he might carry out his plans for making Kansas and Nebraska Slave States. He was President pro tem. of the Senate, and asked Douglas to change places with him. So earnest was he that he would willingly step down from the higher position. “I do not care to make such a change, but I intend to introduce a measure which will repeal the Compromise of 1820,” said Douglas. “I have become perfectly satisfied that it is my duty, as a fair-minded man, to co-operate with you for its repeal. It is due the South; it is due to the Constitution. The repeal, if we can effect it, will produce much stir and commotion in the Free States for a season. I shall be assailed by demagogues and fanatics without stint or moderation. Every opprobrious epithet will be applied to me. I probably shall be hung in effigy in many places. It is more than probable that I may become permanently odious among those whose friendship I have hitherto possessed. The proceeding may end my political career. But, acting under the sense of duty which animates me, I am prepared to make the sacrifice, and I will do it." (*)
Having been assured that Douglas would do what Senators from the Slave States wanted done, Atchison was quite willing to remain President of the Senate.
On Sunday morning, January 22d, Senator Douglas, of Illinois, and Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, were ringing the bell at the White House, President Pierce did not attend to public business on Sunday; he did
not wish to have people call upon him on that day; but the two Senators had an important matter in hand: the Nebraska Bill, which Doug
las proposed to lay before the Senate, and which, if passed, would
repeal the Compromise of 1820. The President was ready to listen to their plea. “Yes, I will do all that I can to secure its passage," his welcome words.
The sun went down on May 8, 1854, with cannon thundering upon Capitol Hill, in Washington, celebrating the passage of the KansasNebraska Bill, carried through Congress by Douglas, Pierce, Davis, and
the slave-holders, opening to slavery a region of country larger than the original thirteen States of the Union.
Just what motives animated Douglas to violate his pledges never will be known. Not many people thought him to have been sincere in his declarations, but believed he was influenced by an ardent desire to be President, and attempted to secure the prize by doing what the slave-holders wanted done. He saw nothing immoral or wrong in holding slaves. Many other men in the Northern States did not regard slavery as unchristian or sinful. It might or it might not be beneficial to a community. If the people of a Territory wanted slavery as one of their institutions, Douglas was willing they should have it.
In their estimate of the morality of the act which violated a solemn compact in order to secure the extension of slavery, Douglas, Davis, and Pierce did not stop to consider that for national wrong-doing there had been no abrogation of the eternal law : an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. It did not occur to them that divine Providence might have some part to enact in carrying out the plan. The booming of the cannon on Capitol Hill was heard in every city and town throughout the Northern States. It was seen that the first movement of the slaveholders would be to gain possession of Kansas, and there was therefore a determination to secure that Territory to freedom. The Free State men contemplated the establishing of towns, schools, colleges, churches, happy homes of free men and women, who should enjoy their civil and political rights under a Constitution guaranteeing freedom. The Slave Party determined to doom the beautiful region to the barbarism of slavery. The struggle began, the slave holders of Missouri taking possession of the lands nearest the territorial line in advance of any settlers from the Free States. A society was formed in Massachusetts to aid emigrants. It was a national society, and Abraham Lincoln was one of the Executive Committee; but there is no evidence that he was actively engaged in promoting the settlement of the Territory. The first party of settlers from Massachuseits reached Kansas, and laid out the town of Lawrence, naming it in honor of Mr. Amos A. Lawrence, the president of the society. The poet Whittier wrote a
song which the emigrants sang as they rolled onward to their future homes :
We cross the prairies, as of old
The Pilgrims crossed the sea,
The homestead of the free.
“We go to rear a wall of men
On Freedom's Southern line,
The rugged Northern pine.
“We go to plant her common-schools
On distant prairie swells,
The music of her bells."
When the time came to hold the first election, several thousand ruffians from Missouri, under the lead of Senator Atchison, armed with rifles, invaded the Territory, and elected officers favorable to slavery. A newspaper in Leavenworth announced the result with triumphant lines:
'ALL HAIL! PRO-SLAVERY PARTY VICTORIOUS! COME ON, SOUTH.
ERN MEN! BRING YOUR SLAVES! ABOLITIONISM REBUKED !"
The Pro-slavery Party seized William Phillips, a Free State settler, shaved his head, stripped off his clothes, daubed him with tar, ripped open a bed and rolled him in the feathers, rode him on a rail, and sold him at a mock auction. They put Rev. Mr. Butler on a raft and set him adrift on the Missouri River. The Legislature elected by the Missourians voted that the laws of their State should be the laws of Kansas. An act was passed prohibiting the printing of anything against slavery. Any one found with a book or newspaper containing an article against slavery was to be imprisoned not less than two years, and wear a chain and ball attached to his ankle. The Governor, Wilson Shannon, appointed by President Pierce, was using his power to make it a Slave State. He ordered the militia to aid the marshal in driving out the Free State settlers. Rifles and revolvers were purchased for those who favored freedom. The Missourians kept a sharp watch on the steamboats going up the Missouri, and they were sent by team through Iowa. A pro-slavery grand-jury indicted two newspapers for printing articles against slavery. A deputy marshal of the United States,