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of CONGRESSIONAL PROTECTION TO SLAVERY IN THE TERRITORIES. The disruption of the Democratic.Convention at Charleston is its first fruit; but fortunately the delegates assembled there were not entirely bereft of their senses, and, by adjourning over to Richmond and Baltimore, they have placed it in the power of the Democratic people to interpose and save us from ruin.

Will you insist on having that doctrine incorporated into the platform of the Democratic party, as the sole condition on which you will act with it in the approaching contest with the Republican party?

Or are you willing to beat the Republican party on the same terms we have heretofore beaten them on, rather than not beat them at all?

That is the question you are to decide between this and the 18th of June, when the Convention will reassemble in Baltimore, and it is fairly stated, for I have not seen an individual who believes that either fragment of the Democratic party can defeat them single-handed, and many are of opinion that both combined cannot accomplish the good work.

At a time so full of perils as the present, I would feel disinclined to ask for the adoption of any new tenet, even if it promised additional security to the South. But, in this new doctrine, I see, under the insidious garb of protection, nothing but hidden dangers, and a surrender, even before the adversary has demanded it, of all the fruits of twenty years of successful struggle with Freesoilism and Abolitionism. The whole doctrine is embodied in three propositions, which I will state:

I. The citizens of the slaveholding States have a right to remove with their slaves into the Territories of the Union, and

the territorial legislatures cannot abolish slavery so as to deprive them of their property.

II. It is the duty of the territorial legislatures to pass all laws necessary for the protection of the slave owner in the full and convenient enjoyment of his property.

III. If the territorial legislatures pass laws to injure him, or fail to pass laws to protect him, it is the duty of Congress to pass all such laws for the Territories so failing as are necessary to enable the slave owner to use and enjoy his property conveniently and advantageously. In the first proposition I entirely concur.

Whatever right of property in a personal chattel I may have acquired under the constitution and laws of a State of the Union will accompany me into any of the Territories to which I may carry it; and until the inhabitants of the Territory can, with the consent of Congress and pursuant to the principles and provisions of the Constitution, exercise sovereign powers, there is no authority there competent to divest me of my right of property. The Constitution of the United States does not create the right by which I hold my slave in a Territory, but simply protects against violation a right acquired under the constitution and laws of a State.

As far back as in 1848 I had occasion to publish my opinion on what has been called “squatter sovereignty.” I then said:

“ It would be easy enough to show that a mere temporary government, owing its existence and all its powers to an act of Congress, and that of doubtful constitutionality, organized because there are not people enough to sustain a government for themselves, cannot assume to fix and alter the fundamental institutions of society, not only for themselves but for the

much larger number who are expected and encouraged by the general government to come after them; excluding whom and what they please from a vast extent of common territory, and admitting only whom and what they may choose.

And again, in a speech which I delived in the House of Representatives, in December, 1856, I said:

“ That such a body [a territorial legislature) possesses power to annul rights of property acquired and held under the common law and constitutions of fifteen States of the Union, appears to me a proposition too monstrous to be entertained for a moment in a nation not prepared to revert to barbarism and anarchy.

“For my part, I do not think it (the establishment of what shall be, or what shall not be, , property] a rightful subject of legislation; and hence I do not think the Kansas and Nebraska act, or the Constitution, confers any such power on the legislature, and I am satisfied the Supreme Court will so decide, if the question should ever arise.

Will the Democratic party, especially will the southern portion of it, fall into the snare laid for it by the Fillmore men of the South and the Black Republicans of the North? Shall we quarrel over the bone of contention cast into our midst by the honorable gentleman from Kentucky, (Mr. HUMPHREY MARSHAL?] Whatever others may do, I will not. I do not believe the Kansas-Nebraska bill empowers the territorial legislature to exclude the slaveholder with his property; but I am willing for that question to take the course of other constitutional questions, and be decided by the courts, as the bill intended it should be decided."

The opinions I then expressed remain unchanged, and the subsequent decision of the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott case has verified my prediction as to what its decision would be. If there is a doubt as to what was decided in that case, the court is the proper tribunal to intèrpret its own decisions; and, as a politician, I want no better platform to stand upon on a judicial question than a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States. By contemporaneous pledges, and by every consideration of sound principle, the party to which I am attached stands bound to respect differences of opinion--and to tolerate them, toomin all those who, in good faith, will stand to and abide by the decisions of the Supreme Court on this question of squatter sovereignty. This

question was discussed when the Kansas and Nebraska bill was pending in 1854. Some said the people of a Territory had a right to legislate against slavery before their admission into the Union; others said that, under the Constitution, they could not possess or exercise any such right. All agreed that the extent of their right, under the Constitution, was a judicial question, to be decided by the Supreme Court; and all agreed to abide by the decision of the court when it should be made. And, in order that the courts might be open for the decision of the question, the ninth section of the bill provided that appeals might be taken from the territorial courts to the Supreme Court of the United States, in all cases "involving title to slaves, “without regard to the value of the matter, property, or title in controversy,” showing clearly that the bill contemplated the settlement of this question by the courts, and not by Congress. Otherwise, a resident in a Territory would not have been allowed an appeal to the Supreme Court in a case in which such appeal is not allowed to the citizen of a State.

In 1856 the question existed in precisely the same dimensions, and having the same bearings as at present. We did not make it a test then; least of all, did we say that we could not, without a sacrifice of principle, act with those who differed from us in opinion as to how

the Court would probably decide the question? If we had done so, Mr. Fremont would now be President instead of Mr. Buchanan. What reason can be assigned for making it a test now, which was not equally cogent in 1856? None whatever. To the second proposition I also give my assent.

To protect persons and property within the limits of its jurisdiction is the sole purpose for which a legislature is instituted, and, when it fails to discharge that duty, it is recreant to its trust, and should meet the condemnation of every honest citizen. Amongst a people virtuous enough for self-government, such a dereliction from duty as a failure to pass laws for the protection of the citizen in the enjoyment


property declared to be his by the highest courts of the land, will meet the condemnation it deserves, and hurl the faithless legislators from the places they unworthily fill. The passage of laws hostile to property would make good men pray for despotism, to save them from ruthless anarchy.

But, unfortunately, we know that the Abolitionist scruples at no outrage, and glories in that of which other men would be ashamed. He is restrained by no constitutional inhibitions, and is ever anxious to signalize his zeal by outrage and fraud. Suppose they shall attempt to perpetrate the outrage here alluded to, as they have actually done in Kansas and Nebraska, and as I have no doubt they will do wherever they have the majority--what remedy have we?

This brings me to the third and main proposition. If they attempt to exclude us, or to deprive us of our property, or to harass us by actual tegislation, the remedy is clear, and will be efficient so long as the federal judiciary is kept pure. Any aggrieved citizen can contest the constitutionality of the law, and when the court has decided in his favor, as the Dred Scott decision assures us it will decide, the President is bound to see its decree obeyed and for that purpose can use the whole military and naval resources of the country. If the executive arm is not sufficiently strong for the purpose under existing laws, it is the duty of Congress to pass such additional laws as may be necessary to enable the President to discharge efficiently this his first and highest duty under the Constitution. This is as much protection as any of us have or can have against bad laws under a constitutional government, and more than we could have under any other; and if it is not perfect it is because human institutions cannot entirely eradicate human vices, nor bridle the selfish and malevolent passions of individuals.

The remedy through the courts would be effective to prevent a territorial legislature from assailing the slave owner by hostile legislation. But what slave owner would leave the fertile lands, and the friendly laws and congenial society of our southern States, to settle in the midst of Abolitionists, where he knew that nothing less than chains would secure his slave from running away or being stolen, and where constantly harassed with law suits and criminal prosecutions, he could only be maintained in the possession of his property by the army and navy of the United States ?

In a legal sense his rights and remedies might be complete and perfect. He might repose the fullest confidence in the President and federal judiciary, who have shown themselves obedient to their oaths


and true to duty even in the worst hot-beds of abolitionism. But I incline to think that no slave owner will ever carry his property to a Territory in which a majority of the inhabitants are known to be Abolitionists. In such a community even the most judicious and friendly laws would not be administered in his favor by abolition judges and juries, whether the laws emanated from Congress or from the local authorities, and the adventurous or confiding slave owner who should escape highway robbery at the hands of the legislature, would probably find himself in a den of thieves when he reached the jury-box. Hence, I announced no political theory but a simple patent fact when I said, in 1856, that "if a majority of the legislature are opposed to slavery there are a multitude of ways in which the slaveholder may be harassed and kept out by hostile legislation, and by a failure to provide remedies for the protection of his rights. Practically the institution can only be introduced and sustained where the majority are willing to tolerate it."

Suppose, however, that instead of legislating affirmatively for the annoyance and injury of the slaveholder, a different system of tactics should be adopted, and the majority should refuse to legislate at all about him or his property; should refuse to pass laws for the punishment of a person who harbors a runaway, or who sells liquor to a slave, or who trades with him for stolen goods, or who inflicts on him an injury without the consent of the owner. We all know there are a multitude of such legal provisions in every slaveholding community, without which there could be no control over ! no discipline and they would be a nuisance and a curse.

If the legislature should refuse to throw around us these guards, and should leave us a prey to evildoers, what is to be done? Many of these might be held, at least, under the system of jurisprudence prevailing in the southern States, to be offenses at common law—that great body of lex non scripta on which every community must rely, to a great extent, for the preservation of order—and might be punished wherever that law is recognized. But it must not be forgotten that the common law can only have force by the express adoption or tacit sufferance of the law-making power.

The advocates of the doctrine I am discussing say that if the legislatures fail to give suitable and adequate protection, Congress must pass what I will for brevity call “slave codes” for the Territories ; that is, must take upon itself the local legislation for them, at least to that extent.

I cannot give my assent to this proposition; and in discussing it, I propose to confine myself to considerations of expediency, without going at all into the much higher and broader question of the constitutional power of Congress in and over the Territories. My present object is not to seek the boundaries of power, but to show that if Congress has the right to do this thing, it ought not to be exercised; and above all, that the representatives of the southern States ought not to ask for nor consent to it.

Four fifths of the time of Congress, even now, is taken up with questions connected with the Territories and their inhabitants. From the conflicting claims of two squatters to a quarter section of land to the

most absurd pretensions to sovereignty over whole empires, of which not one foot is theirs, every local dispute and every vast scheme of plunder seeks admittance into Congress to choke up the channels of legislation, and to infuse gall and bitterness into the councils of the great Republic. If the most important national interests are neglectedif commerce and all its attendant interests are left to the guardianship of subordinates in the Treasury Department—if the relations of the Confederacy with the other powers of the earth are left exclusively to the President and Senate-if sixty millions of dollars per annum are levied on the people under a system of revenue dictated by a combination of interested parties, the details and principles of which are almost utterly unknown to the peoples' representatives—if these sixty millions are annually appropriated by Congress without examination as to the objects of the expenditure, without discussion as to their necessity or propriety, and often without the appropriation bills being even read to or by the members of the House of Representatives--if all these things are habitually and notoriously done, and the great interests of the States and their citizens are shamefully neglected-it is because the Territories have taken possession of Congress, and consume the time and absorb the faculties of the peoples' representatives. If we stand now on the brink of the precipice, and look down into the yawning gulf of dissolution and civil war, it was opened by the Territories, which have arrayed man against man, State against State, and section against section, and where were trained the bandits and outlaws who are the willing and ready instruments of murder and treason.

Under our nursing care the Territories have destroyed the peace of the family by their turbulent conduct, and are now threatening its very. existence. Shall we give them more of the time of Congress, and multiply the salient points at which they may assail the peace

and quiet of the country by taking upon ourselves their petty criminal and police regulations? For myself, I answer, no! and I believe the great body of the people--at least of the old thirteen States that won our liberties and established our Union--will answer, emphatically, no !

But I have to this proposition still greater objections founded on principle.

For long the Democratic party controlled all the departments of government, and the South, constituting more than half of it, controlled the Democratic party. Under that state of affairs, as I have already shown, the most sensitive and jealous southern statesmen feared to trust to Congress the control of slavery in the Territories. They denied its right to take cognizance of the subject, and resisted every attempt to invoke the action of that body. The Clayton compromise of 1848, which received the ardent support of Mr. Calhoun, owed all its popularity in the South to the fact that it provided for removing the subject from Congress and leaving it to the judiciary and local authorities. The debates on the Kansas and Nebraska bill are graven on the memory of all who are in the habit of reading the political history of the country. We made that bill a test of fidelity to southern rights to the utter overthrow of the northern Democracy, who stood bravely by us. and, with three exceptions, were driven from their seats for the votes: they gave on it. That bill never could have been passed, and the

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