« PreviousContinue »
ing System.- Rise of Prices and Increase of Imports. - The
Crash.- The Banks.-The Commercial Crisis from a Party
Point of View.- The Financial Situation and the Customs
Tariff of March 3, 1857.- The Annual Message on the Utah
Question.-Criticism of Buchanan's Views.- The Mormons
and the Slavery Question.- Criticism of Buchanan's Course.—
The Posse Comitatus Question.—Employment of the Army.—
Kansas and Utah.- The Mormons Resolved on Resistance.-
The Winter Campaign.- The Message on Foreign Relations.---
The Clayton-Bulwer Treaty.-The Cass-Yrizarri Treaty.-
Buchanan's and the Slavocracy's Attitude towards Walker
THE LECOMPTON CONSTITUTION IN CONGRESS.
Jefferson Davis and Bigler against Douglas.- Douglas's Speech
of the 9th of December.-The "Beginning of the End.”—
Douglas and the Administration Democrats.-Stanton's Re-
moval and Walker's Resignation.-- Measures of the Kansas
Legislature. Vote of January 4 and its Meaning.— Demo-
cratic Opposition.- The Southern Radicals.— Material Change
in the General Situation.- The Message on the Nicaragua
Question. Thoughts of Compromise on the Lecompton Ques-
tion.- Message of the 24 of February.- The Prospects of the
Opposition Decrease.- Douglas's Resolutions of the 4th of Feb-
ruary. Session of the Senate on the 15th of March.- Cal-
houn's Letter to the Publisher of the Star.- The Crittenden-
The Leavenworth Convention and the Conference Committee.-
English of Indiana.- English's Speech of the 23d of April and
the Lecompton Ordinance.-The "Shaky Democrats."- The
Land Clause an Attempt at Bribery.- The New Principle of
Reward and Punishment.- The Altered Electoral Commission.
Utah and the Deficiency Bill.- Kane's Mediation.- Arbitration
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Financial Situation.- Seward's Rochester Speech.― Lincoln's
Course of Development.- Lincoln's Letter of the 15th of Au-
gust, 1855.- Senatorial Election in Illinois in 1855.- The Can-
didate Question in Illinois in 1858.- Lincoln's Speech Before
the State Convention.- The Lincoln-Douglas Debate.- Lin-
coln's Position on the Slavery Question.- The Dred Scott De-
cision and Popular Sovereignty.-Lincoln's Criticism of the
Freeport Declaration.- Result and Meaning of the Illinois
Campaign. The Southern Radicals.- The Public Lands and
the Homestead Law.― Danger to Slavery in the Slave States.—
Continued Development of the Slavocratic Spirit.- Slavocratic
Spirit in the Churches and Schools.- Slavocratic Definition of
Abolitionism.- Agitation of the African Slave Trade.-Yan-
THE SECOND SESSION OF THE 35TH CONGRESS.
Annual Message of the 6th of December, 1858, on Kansas.- Ore-
gon Admitted as a State.-Slidell's Thirty-million Bill.-Sli-
dell's Committee Report on the Project to Purchase Cuba. - The
Purchase of Cuba and the Questions of Secession and Slavery.—
Collamer's Refutation of Buchanan and Slidell.- Attitude of
Spain towards the Project of Purchasing Cuba.- Buchanan's
Plans and Wishes.-The Fight over Slidell's Bill in the Senate.-
Brown's Speech of the 23d of February.-The Debate of the
END OF THE 35TH CONGRESS.
THE DRED SCOTT DECISION.
"When the mariner has been tossed for many days in thick weather, and on an unknown sea, he naturally avails himself of the first pause in the storm, the earliest glance of the sun, to take his latitude, and ascertain how far the elements have driven him from his true course."1
The stream of evolving circumstances shot with so much force and in such wild eddies towards the steep precipice and down into the dark depths of time, that the memory of the great men of the second period of the history of the Union, under the constitution, faded away with a rapidity surprising even in the fast-living American people. These words, however, with which Webster began his celebrated speech of January 26, 1830, in reply to Hayne, were not yet forgotten. But if they had found a place only in the reading-books used in the schools, among the specimens of American eloquence, they would have been of little value. They contained
1 Webst.'s Works, III, p. 270.
an earnest admonition, the taking of which to heart. was never so urgently demanded as after the presidential election of 1856. To prevent the catastrophe was impossible, for the will and the wishes of men were powerless against the logic of facts. But the time and form of its coming, the rapidity of its course and its final result depended, in great part, on the voluntary determination of the people as to what they would do or leave undone, and their determination would be more fatal in proportion as they mistook the real situation.
In this respect, the greatest responsibility rested on the president. The constitution had placed him on the highest watch-tower commanding the farthest and most unobstructed view. The express provision of the constitution that he should, from time to time, give information to congress of the state of the Union, imposed on him the sacred duty to endeavor, with the most scrupulous conscientiousness, not to allow his vision to be dimmed by party passion and party interest. He had, indeed, been elected by one party, but he was bound by his oath to support the constitution, which said nothing of a democratic or republican president, and mentioned only a president of the United States. True, even Washington had found it impossible, when invested with the executive power, to keep entirely aloof from, and above, party, and the failure of his endeavor was determined by the very nature of things. It could not but be still more impossible, if we may be allowed the expression, for his successors in the presidency to lift themselves, in thought and action, above party; and even if they could so have raised themselves, they should not have been asked to do it, for the constitution was not guilty of the absurdity of making the absence of convictions a qualification of a true president; besides, it was as the representatives of