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States, to the Constitution,” and “that they have no right to usurp judicial power,” with what consistency can these gentlemen meet in secret caucus and propose resolutions, to be offered in open Senate, as a platform for the Charleston Convention ; thus "giving a judicial exposition,” by the caucus and the Senate, to the Constitution, on the identical point which Mr. Bayard denounced as "a usurpation of judicial power,” and in the justice of which denunciation they all appeared at the time to acquiesce ? Would it not be well, at the next meeting of the senatorial caucus, to give a satisfactory answer to this inquiry?




Great Speech of Mr. Douglas on the Harper's Ferry Invasion-Anxiety to

hear him-His Speeches in Reply to Senators Fessenden, Jeff. Davis, and Seward—The Caucus of Senators—Their Utopian Platform.

The first session of the 36th Congress met on the first Monday in December, 1859. The great practical measure of the session was the proposition of Mr. Douglas, embraced in the resolution which he offered on the 16th of January, 1860, instructing the Judiciary Committee to report a bill to protect each State from invasion by people of other States.

A day or two before the introduction of this resolution, a sharp passage at arms took place in the Senate between Mr. Douglas and Messrs. Clay, Jeff. Davis, and Green, which is thus described by the correspondent of the “New York Herald :"

Mr. Pugh, of Ohio, a sharp, keen, and plucky debater, and the right-hand man of Mr. Douglas, brought the controversy to a focus. There was a good deal of cross-firing and sharp-shooting against the doctrines and speeches of the Little Giant, from Green, Iverson, Clay, Davis, Gwin, and other southsiders, till at length the Little Giant himself was brought to the floor.

He complained of ill-health ; but he never looked better in his life -never appeared fresher in the ring, and never acquitted himself more to the admiration of his friends. He was like a stag at bay, and right and left he dashed among his pursuers. It is useless here to repeat this branch of the debate. It was the feature of the day and of the session.

Mr. Douglas announced to-day that he will abide by the decision of the convention, for the sake of the Democratic party, though he will not accept its nomination except upon the doctrine of popular sovereignty, as enunciated in the Cincinnati platform.


This was Mr. Douglas's first appearance in the Senate after his severe and protracted illness, and it was thought rather ungenerous in these senators to make a combined and concerted attack upon him under the circumstances. It is conceded, however, by all who listened to the debate, that he never bore himself more gallantly or came out of a contest more successfully. The objects of the assaults upon him were to justify his removal from the Committee on Territories, upon the ground that he held opinions incompatible with the Democratic creed. We give several extracts from this important debate.

In reply to Mr. Davis of Mississippi, Mr. Douglas said:

I have never complained of my removal from the chairmanship of the Committee on Territories, and I never intended to allude to that subject in this body; but I do assert that the record proves that the Senate knew for eleven years that I held the identical opinions which I expressed in my Freeport speech, and which are now alleged as the cause of my removal; and during that period, with a full knowledge of those opinions, which were repeated over and over again in this body, within the hearing of every member of the Senate, I was, by tho unanimous vote of the body, made chairman of that committee, being reëlected each year for eleven years. The cause now assigned for my removal is that I hold the identical opinions to-day that I held and repeatedly expressed during that whole period. If this be the true state of the facts, what does it prove? Simply, that those who removed me changed at the end of the eleven years, and I was not sound because I did not change as suddenly as they. My only offence consists in fidelity to the principles that I had avowed during that whole period. If at the end of that time my opinions were incompatible with those of a majority,

it shows that the majority had changed their policy but that I had not changed my opinions.

Mr. Green answered by charging that Mr. Douglas, in 1856, had declared in the Senate that the question, in respect to the extent of the power of a Territorial legislature over the subject of slavery, was a judicial question, which could be alone authoritatively determined by the Supreme Court of the United States.

Mr. Douglas, in reply, said :

In 1856 I did say it was a judicial question, and I said it over and over again before 1856. I have said it since that time. I declared in my Illinois speeches that it was a judicial question, I have declared the same thing in every publication I have made during the last year. I assert, now, that it is a judicial question. The point is that for years it was no want of soundness in principle that I held one side of that judicial question while others held the opposite. I assert that the Senate did know which side of the judicial question I held. But I have always said that I would abide the decisions of the Supreme Court, not only as a matter of policy but from considerations of duty. I take the law as expounded by the Supreme Court, I receive the Dred Scott decision as an authoritative exposition; but I deny that the point now under consideration has been decided in the Dred Scott case. There is no one fact in that case upon which it could have arisen. The lawyers engaged on each side never dreamt that it did arise in the case. It is offensive and injurious to the reputation of the court to say that they decided a great question which had been the subject of agitation to the extent of convulsing the whole country, when it did not arise in the case, and when it was not argued by counsel. Sir, it would prove the court unworthy to decide the great question in a civilized country if it would take cognizance of a case when there was no fact upon the record upon

which it could arise, when the counsel on either side never dreamt that it was in issue, when there was no argument on it, and foreclose the right of self-government to thousands and hundreds of thousands of people without a hearing. But one word more: I assert, and the debates will prove, that the understanding of the Kaceas-Nebraska Bill was that this was a judicial question to be decided when it should arise on a Territorial enactment.

The speech of the senator from Va. (Mr. Hunter), shows clearly that it was to arise on a Territorial enactment, and all the speeches of all of us show that it was in that way and at that time that this judicial question was expected to arise and be decided. The under-, standing was that when a Territorial legislature passed an act on this subject, of which any man complained, he should be able to bring the matter before the Supreme Court; and to facilitate the court in getting jurisdiction, we amended the bill by putting in a clause providing that a case affecting the title to slaves might be taken

up to the Supreme Court without reference to the amount involved. That clause was inserted in order to get this judicial question before the Supreme Court of the United States. How? On a Territorial enactment, and nobody ever dreamt that the court was going in a decision on case which did not affect that question to decide this point without argument and without notice, and preclude the rights of the people without allowing them to be heard. Whenever a Territorial legislature shall pass an act divesting or attempting to divest or impair or prejudice the right to slave property, and a case under that act shall be brought before the Supreme Court, I will abide by the decision and help in good faith to carry it out.

Mr. Clay, of Alabama, was the next to assail Mr. Douglas and to impeach the soundness of his principles and the consistency of his course upon the slavery question. In reply to him, Mr. Douglas said:

I say

to the gentleman from Alabama, that while I have sought no sympathy and desire no sympathy, I shrink from no vindication of myself. I leave the public to judge whether there has not been rather a doubling of teams on me every time I have engaged in debate for the last two years. After fighting an unholy alliance in my own State, between federal officeholders and abolitionists, and triumphing over them, did I come here at the last session and make any parade of that fact? No, sir, I remained silent. I made no vindication of myself; I made no complaint of my removal from the chair of the Territorial Committee; I never alluded to it, and the matter would never have passed iny lips if it had not been thrust in

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