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CHAPTER X.

POLITICAL MOVEMENTS IN 1856 AND '57.

The Republican Party Organized.-Their Platform adopted at Bloom

ington.—The Canvass of 1856.-Mr. Lincoln Sustains Fremont and Dayton.-His Active Labors on the Stump.-Col. Bissell Elected Governor of Illinois.-Mr. Buchanan Inaugurated.—His Kansas Policy.-Mr. Douglas Committed to it in June, 1857.—John Calhoun his Special Friend.—The Springfield Speech of Douglas.—Mr. Lincoln's Reply.

MR. LINCOLN took an active part in the formation of the Republican party as such. The State Convention of that organization, which met at Bloomington, on the 29th of May, 1856, sent delegates to the Philadelphia Convention of that year, held for the nomination of Presidential candidates. Among the resolutions of the Bloomington Convention were the following:

Resolved, That foregoing all former differences of opinion upon other questions, we pledge ourselves to unite in opposition to the present Administration, and to the party which upholds and supports it, and to use all honorable and constitutional means to wrest the Government from the unworthy hands which now control it, and to bring it back in its administration to the principles and practices of Washington, Jefferson, and their great and good compatriots of the Revolution.

Resolved, That we hold, in accordance with the opinions and practices of all the great statesmen of all parties, for the first sixty years of the administration of the Government, that, under the Constitution, Congress possesses full power to prohibit slavery in the Territories; and that while we will maintain all constitutional rights of the South, we also hold that justice, humanity, the principles of freedom as expressed in our Declaration of Independence, and our National Constitution, and the purity and perpetuity of our Government require that that power should be exerted, to prevent the extension of slavery into Territories heretofore free.

Resolved, That the repeal of the Missouri Compromise was unwise, unjust and injurious; in open and aggravated violation of the plighted faith of the States, and that the attempt of the present Administration to force slavery into Kansas against the

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known wishes of the legal voters of that Territory, 18 an arbitrary and tyrannous violation of the rights of the people to govern themselves, and that we will strive, by all constitutional means, to secure to Kansas and Nebraska the legal guarantee against slavery, of which they were deprived, at the cost of the violation of the plighted faith of the nation.

With this creed, and the Philadelphia platform, subsequently adopted, the Republicans of Illinois went into the canvass of 1856. Mr. Lincoln labored earnestly during the campaign, sustaining the nominations of Fremont and Dayton. In the State canvass, Col. Wm. H. Bissell received the united support of the Opposition for Governor, and was elected by a decisive majority. On the Presidential candidates, there being, unfortunately, two tickets in the field, the divided Opposition were unsuccessful, although Fremont, in spite of the heavy Fillmore vote, ran so closely upon Buchanan that the result was for a time in doubt, and only the nearly solid vote of “ Egypt " decided the result in favor of the latter. The untiring exertions of Mr. Lincoln on the stump, in enlightening the people as to the real issues involved, did much toward securing this remarkable vote.

Mr. Buchanan came into power in March, 1857, and the hopes which had been entertained of a material change, under his administration, of the unjust and execrable policy hitherto pursued toward Kansas, were speedily dissipated. After some little show of resistance at first, he was soon found acting in accordance with the dictates of the extreme pro-slavery interest. A deep scheme was concocted, into the secrets of which even the Governor and Secretary of that territory were not admitted, for forcing Kansas into the Union as a slave State. This plot began to be suspected, and its existence more and more confirmed by the course of events, not long after Mr. Buchanan's inauguration. The thin veil of "bogus Popular Sovereignty," with which Douglas had tried to hide the naked deformity of the act under which Kansas and Nebraska were organized, was to be rent asunder. People were beginning to look with curiosity for the next evasion or artful afterthought by which he would attempt to escape the force of a public sentiment which was already rapidly bearing him down, before

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this more complete exposure became inevitable. This interest in his course was the more lively, for the reason that his Senatorial term had nearly expired, and that, without some remarkable change of affairs, or some ingenious device, the curse he had himself pronounced in advance upon the disturber of the Missouri compact, was to be most signally realized.

Meantime, the machinery had been put in motion for a Convention at Lecompton, which was to ratify a Constitution prepared at Washington, under Administration auspices, and to secure the great purpose intended by the Southern supporters of the Kansas-Nebraska scheme. How grossly unjust and unequal were the provisions of the act calling this Convention, and how deliberate was its design of excluding the free State men from any effectual voice in determining “ the domestic institutions” of a State in which the party of free labor comprised about four-fifths of the people, as had already been distinctly indicated, need not be here rehearsed. To Douglas, at least, the real facts were not unknown. That these iniquities must all ultimately come out, and receive the condemnation of the people, he can not have seriously questioned. Yet, in spite of these facts, it is undeniably true, anā is clearly of record, that he committed himself in advancenot at all uncertain, most assuredly, as to what it was substantially to be—in favor of the Lecompton Constitution. John Calhoun the chosen instrument of the Administration for carrying out its piot to defeat “Popular Sovereignty” in Kansas, was one of the special friends of Douglas, and understood to share his intimate confidence. And when, in his speech at Springfield, in June, 1857, Mr. Douglas substantially indorsed the Lecompton Convention and its doings, beforehand, no one had any reason to doubt that he intended fully to sustain the Administration in attempting to force a slave Constitution on the people of Kansas—a process for which his "organic act " had prepared the way. In the course of his remarks on that occasion, he said :

Kansas is about to speak for herself, through her delegates assembled in convention, to form a Constitution, preparatory to her admission into the Union on an equal footing with the

original States. Peace and prosperity now prevail throughout her borders. The law under which her delegates are about to be elected is believed to be just and fair in all its objects and provisions. There is every reason to hope and believe that the law will be fairly interpreted and impartially executed, so as to ipsure every bona fide inhabitant the free and quiet exercise of the elective franchise. If any portion of the inhabitants, acting under the advice of political leaders in distant States, shall choose to absent themselves from the polls, and withhold their votes, with a view of leaving the Free State Democrats in a minority, and thus securing a pro-slavery Constitution in opposition to the wishes of a majority of the people living under it, let the responsibility rest on those who, for partisan purposes, will sacrifice the principles they profess to cherish and promote. Upon them, upon the political party for whose benefit and under the direction of whose leaders they act, let the blame be visited of fastening upon the people of a new State institutions repugnant to their feelings and in violation of their wishes.

Words could not have more positively indicated his purpose of sustaining all the acts of the Lecompton Convention, or that he anticipated the formation of a pro-slavery Constitution, for which he meant to charge the blame upon the Free State men and upon the Republican party in general, anticipating then that the non-voting policy would be adopted. In a subsequent part of this same speech, he still more fully and unreservedly indorsed the act providing for the Lecompton Constitutional Convention, committing himself to all its legitimate consequences. He said:

The present election law in Kansas is acknowledged to be fair and just—the rights of the voters are clearly definedand the exercise of those rights will be efficiently and scrupulously protected. Hence, if the majority of the people of Kansas desire to have it a free State (and we are told by the Republican party that nine-tenths of the people of that Territory are free State men), there is no obstacle in the way of bringing Kansas into the Union as a free State, by the votes and voice of her own people, and in conformity with the great principles of the Kansas-Nebraska act; provided all the Free State men will go to the polls, and vote their principles in accordance with their professions. If such is not the result, let the consequences be visited upon the heads of those whose policy, it is to produce strife, anarchy and bloodshed in Kansas, that their party may profit by slavery agitation in the Northern States of

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this Union. That the Democrats in Kansas will perform their duty fearlessly and nobly, according to the principles they cherish, I have no doubt, and that the result of the struggle will be such as will gladden the heart and strengthen the hopes of every friend of the Union, I have entire confidence.

The Lecompton Convention was to settle the whole Kansas controversy, “ peacefully and satisfactorily,” according to the professed faith of Mr. Douglas. He fully indorsed it in its origin, and committed himself to abide by its results, which were accomplished through the instrumentality of one of his warmest personal friends. And what these results would be, in his opinion, he clearly foreshadowed in the extracts above given from his speech. He expected a pro-slavery Constitution, and he repeatedly approved, without any reservation, the convention-act which, by its regular carrying-out, accomplished that expectation. Ile declared, substantially, that the will of the people could be fully and fairly expressed in forming a Constitution at Lecompton, under that act; and that if they did not obtain such a Constitution as they desired, it would be their own fault-plainly implying that they must submit to such action as should be taken. He left himself scarcely a loophole of retreat, whatever might come of the Lecompton Convention.

In the same speech, Mr. Douglas spoke at length in indorsement of the dogmas embraced in what is popularly called the Dred Scott decision, and particularly of the one which denies the power of Congress to exclude slavery from the Territories. He tried, also, to convey the impression that the Republican party was in favor of negro equality, because dissenting in general to a judicial opinion, of which one of the details is a denial to the negro race of any legal redress for wrongs in the higher courts.

A third subject of this speech was the Utah rebellion, which Mr. Douglas proposed to end by annulling the act establishing the Territory of Utah.

To this speech Mr. Lincoln replied at Springfield, two weeks later. It is noticeable that the first two of the topics of Mr. Douglas's speech formed leading subjects of the great canvass of the next year. It is not impossible that this prompt joining

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