Page images
PDF
EPUB

agreed upon, which would harmonize and quiet the country, and reunite those who agree in principle and in political action on this great question, so as to take it out of Congress. I am not able, in the bill which is now under consideration, to find that the principle for which I have contended is fairly carried out. The position, and the sole position, upon which I have stood in this whole controversy, has been that the people of Kansas, and of each other Territory, in forming a constitution for admission into the Union as a State, should be left perfectly free to form and mold their domestic institutions and organic act in their own way, without coercion on the one side, or any improper or updue influence on the other.

The question now arises, is there such a submission of the Lecompton constitution as brings it fairly within that principle? In terms, the constitution is not submitted at all; but yet we are told that it amounts to a submission, because there is a land grant attached to it, and they are permitted to vote for the land grant, or against the land grant; and, if they accept the land grant, then they are required to take the constitution with it; and, if they reject the land grant, it shall be held and deemed a decision against coming into the Union under the Lecompton constitution. Hence it has been argued in one portion of the Union that this is a submission of the constitution, and in another portion that it is not. We are to be told that submission is popular sovereignty in one section, and submission in another section is not popular sovereignty.

Sir, I had hoped that when we came finally to adjust this question, we should have been able to employ language so clear, so unequivocal, that there would have been no room for doubt as to what was meant, and what the line of policy was to be in the future. Are these people left free to take or reject the Lecompton constitution ? It they accept the land grant they are compelled to take it. If they reject the land grant, they are out of the Union. Sir, I have no special objection to the land grant as it is. I think it is a fair one, and if they had put this further addition, that if they refused to come in under the Lecompton constitution with the land grant, they might proceed to form a new constitution, and that they should then have the same amount of lands, there would have been no bounty held out for coming in under the Lecompton constitution; but when the law gives them the six million acres in the event they take this constitution, and does not indicate what they are to have in the event they reject it, and wait until they can form another, I submit the question whether there is not an inducement, a bounty held out to influence these people to vote for this Lecompton constitution?

It may be said that when they attain the ninety-three thousand population, or if they wait until after 1860, if they acquired the population required by the then ratio—which may be one hundred and ten thousand or one hundred and twenty thousand--and form a constitution under it, we shall give then the same amount of land that is now given by this grant. That may be so, and may not be

80.

I believe it will be so; and yet in the House bill, for which this is a substitute, the provision was that they should have this same amount of land, whether they came in under the Lecompton constitution or whether they formed a new constitution. There was no doubt, no uncertainty left in regard to what were to be their rights under the land grant, whether they took the one constitution or the other. Hence that proposition was a fair submission, without any penalties on the one side, or any bounty or special favor or privilege on the other to influence their action. In this view of the case, I am not able to arrive at the conclusion that this is a fair submission either of the question of the constitution itself, or of admission into the Union under the constitution and the proposition submitted by this bill.

There is a further contingency. In the event that they reject this constitution, they are to stay out of the Union until they shall attain the requisite population for a member of Congress, according to the then ratio of representation in the other House. I have no objection to making it a general rule that Territories shall be kept out until they have the requisite population. I have proposed it over and over again. I am willing to agree to it and make it applicable to Kansas if you will make it a general rule. But, sir, it is one thing to adopt that rule as a general rule and adhere to it in all cases, and and it is a very different, and a very distinct thing, to provide that if they will take this constitution, which the people have shown that they abhor, they may come in with forty thousand people, but if they do not, they shall stay out until they get ninety thousand ; thus discriminating between the different character of institutions that may be formed. I submit the question whether it is not congres. sional intervention, when you provide that a Territory may come in with one kind of constitution with forty thousand, and with a different kind of constitution, not until she gets ninety thousand, or one hundred and twenty thousand ? It is intervention with inducements to control the result. It is intervention with a bounty on the one side and a penalty on the other. I ask, are we prepared to construe the great principle of popular sovereignty in such a manner as will recognize the right of Congress to intervene and control the decision that the people may make on this question?

I do not think that this bill brings the question within that principle which I have held dear, and in defence of which I have stood here for the last five months, battling against the large majority of my political friends, and in defence of which I intend to stand as long as I have any association or connection with the politics of the country.

Mr. President, I say now, as I am about to take leave of this subject, that I never can consent to violate that great principle of State equality, of State sovereignty, of popular sovereignty, by any discrimination, either in the one direction or in the other. My position is taken. I know not what its consequences will be per

sonally to me. I will not inquire what those consequences may be. If I cannot remain in public life, holding firmly, immovably, to the great principle of self-government and state equality, I shall go into private life, where I can preserve the respect of my own conscience under the conviction that I have done my duty and followed the principle wherever its logical consequences carried me.

SUBSEQUENT AFFAIRS OF KANSAS.

On the next day, however, April 30, the Senate passed the English bill. So far as the action of Congress was concerned, Kansas was admitted: that is, provided the people there chose to come in under the English bill.

But they did not so choose. In order to give completeness to this view of affairs in Kansas, we will state, though in doing so we greatly anticipate the order of time, that when the election took place, under the provisions of the English bill, the people of Kansas indignantly rejected the propositions of the bill, and at the election held on the 3d of August, 1858, trampled the odious Lecompton constitution under their feet, by a majority of 10,000 votes. Soon after the election, Gov. Denver resigned, and Samuel Medary of Ohic was appointed governor. The Territorial legislature met in January, 1859, repealed many of the laws of the previous session, passed a new apportionment act; and an act referring to the people the question of a new constitutional convention, the election to be held March 21. The people decided for a constitutional convention by a majority of 3,881. The convention met at Wyandot, on the 5th of July, 1859, and adopted a constitution by a small majority, the minority protesting against its adoption.

MR. DOUGLAS ON BRITISH AGGRESSION.

On the 29th of May, 1858, Mr. Douglas addressed the Senate, on the general subject of the recent British aggression on our ships, in a speech which made a most powerful impres. sion, not only on the Senate, but on the whole countıy. He ridiculed the idea of simply passing resolutions on the subject; and urged the importance, nay, the necessity, of at once adopting such energetic measures as should convince England that the time had come at last when this nation would no longer submit to her aggressions. He urged that the President of the United States should be clothed with power to punish instantly and effectually, all outrages on our flag, as soon as committed:“confer the power, and hold him responsible for its abuse.” He showed that the Presi- . dent of the United States was utterly powerless abroad, and that unless some such measures as he proposed should be adopted, the outrages of Great Britain would be continued. He then proceeded to prove, from his own observation, that the coast of America was not defenceless; that indeed, the coast of the United States is in a better condition of defence than that of Great Britain ; that New York was at this day better defended than London or Liverpool: and that it is easier for a hostile fleet to enter the harbor of either of those cities than the harbor of New York.

6. While I am opposed to war,” said Mr. Douglas, “while I have no idea of any breach of the peace with England, yet, I confess to you, sir, if war should come by her act, and not ours; by her invasion of our rights, and our vindication of the same; I would administer to every citizen and every child Hannibal's oath of eternal hostility as long as the English flag waved, or their government claimed a foot of land upon the American continent, or the adjacent islands. Sir, I would make it a war that would settle our disputes forever, not only of the right of search upon the seas, but the right to tread with a hostile foot upon the soil of the American continent or its appendages."

The reader will find the whole of this eloquent and patri

a

a

otic speech, in a subsequent part of this work. It electrified the whole nation. Men breathed freer and casier when they read it: and no one with a spark of American feeling in his breast failed to respond to the noble sentiments of the gallant senator from Illinois.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »