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the repeal of the Missouri Compromise when first broached in Douglas'ambiguous bill, although the editor is, and was known at the time to be, zealous for the repeal. His holding back was merely in respect to the President's scruples, who was doubly committed against the resurrection of the slave struggle, first by his inaugural address, and then in his maiden message to Congress.”
On the 9th of October, 1855, the Washington Union contained the following authentic denial of the slanders, and an equally authoritative exposition of the position of President Pierce:
“This is a total perversion of the history of the Nebraska Bill and of the introduction into it of the clause repealing the Missouri restriction. It is not true that either Senators Douglas or Cass, or President Pierce, was ever opposed to the repeal of the Missouri restriction. These statesmen were the early, the earnest, and the consistent advocates of the principle of congressional non-intervention in the territories, and of necessity were opposed to the recognition by act of Congress of the Missouri restriction, which was in direct conflict with that principle. The only question that presented itself to Senator Douglas, as chairman of the Committee on Territories, was whether the Nebraska Bill should be drawn in the language of the Compromise of 1850, and be a litteral copy of the New Mexico and Utah Bills, so far as the slavery question was concerned, and therefore be a repeal of the Missouri restriction by necessary implication, or whether, in addition to the language of the Compromise of 1850, there should be a clause expressly repealing the Missouri restriction.”
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“After the bill was introduced the abolition leaders in Congress denounced it with violence as a violation of the Missouri compact; moreover, doubts were suggested by Southern men as to whether the repeal of the Missouri Compromise was so clear as to satisfy slave-owners that they might settle in the territory and risk a judicial decision as to their property with safety. On the other hand it was suggested by northern men that there was no doubt about the repeal of the Missouri Compromise; but there was doubt whether the legal effect thereof was not to revive the Louisiana law of 1803, by which Nebraska was slave territory. To remove all room for doubt, and to free the question of non-intervention in Nebraska from all controversy, Senator Douglas himself brought forward the amendments which placed the bill in the shape in which it passed.
“It is due to the truth of history to state, also, that the amendments were seen and approved by President Pierce and General Cass before they were offered in the Senate by Senator Douglas. These three gentlemen were the earnest and consistent advocates of the Nebraska Bill, from its inception to its final passage, and we are entirely certain that its legal effect in the shape in which it passed is identically that which they attributed to it in the shape in which Mr. Douglas first introduced it. We go further, and affirm, with entire confidence in our ability to maintain the assertion, that the bill as it finally passed does not differ in the slightest degree in principle from the Compromise of 1850.”
We have thought this much due to Gen. Pierce. The Nebraska Bill was not forced upon his administration. He was not a man to submit to a wrong, or to acquiesce in a wrong.
It was his measure—having his full approval before it was proposed to Congress.
WHEN the bill passed Congress, the storm of hostility to its enactment was in full progress. The vote in the House upon its passage was classified as follows:
Democrats, non-slaveholding states.................... 43 43
The action upon this bill separated the Northern and Southern Whigs. During the winter and spring there had been organizing, under the powerful appliances of secrecy and mystery, a new party. At first it was known as the “Know-nothing” party, under which style it continued to be known as long as it was successful, after which it adopted the general title of the “American” party.
The Nebraska Bill had a very large number of opponents among the Democracy of the Northern States. The Abolition leaders at the North proposed a union of men of all parties, having for its object the exclusion from Congress of every Northern man who had voted for the bill. Into this unfortunate movement a very large number of Democrats thoughtlessly plunged. The new party was styled the “Anti-Nebraska” or “Fusion” party, being a combination of the Abolitionists, Free-soilers, Anti-Nebraska Democrats, Whigs, and Knownothings. It was under the deluding misrepresentations of the real terms and objects of the Nebraska Bill, and not because of any affection for the proscriptive doctrines of the Know-nothings, that thousands of Democrats were eventually led on step by step, until they found themselves sworn members of the dark-lantern order. The combination was soon a powerful one. It controlled cities, states, and sections. Every where the new party pledged itself to the most ultra doctrines upon the subject of slavery. The hostility toward Catholics and foreigners was revived in a new and most bitter spirit. It was no longer the open and fearless hostility such as culminated in 1844 in the church-burning riots in Philadelphia. The operations were in secret. Its members were unknown; no man could tell whether his neighbor in the councils of his own party was or was not a member of the secret order. Men and parties were paralyzed. Who would dare encounter the new political monster, whose organization was extended to all parts of the country, and embraced men of all parties? It sprung up rapidly. In May the Know-nothings, aided by the Anti-Nebraska men, elected their candidate for mayor in Philadelphia by six thousand majority. This election demonstrated its political power. Political leaders counseled conciliatory measures; others favored an acquiescence in its rule. The Whig party was swallowed up in the capacious portals of the mysterious lodges. Necessarily acting with it, if not indeed actually enrolled as members, were the Anti-Nebraska Democrats, Abolitionists, and Free-soilers. Who was to encounter this new and formidable political party? It was to be crushed by the Democratic party, or it would soon crush the latter. But who in the Democratic party would undertake the task of denouncing a party of whose principles so little was known, and whose organization and membership were so mysterious? Though Congress was in session, not a speech was made upon the subject. Every day it became more evident that the Democratic party alone would have to encounter the Know-nothing party and its allies, yet there were but few willing or sufficiently posted to open the contest. Mr. Douglas was at the North on a business visit, and stopped, on his return to Washington, in Philadelphia to pass the 4th of July. It has been an immemorial custom for the Democracy in that city to celebrate the 4th of July by an oration in Independence Square. The committee of arrangements, hearing of Mr. Douglas's presence in the city, called on him with a request to address the meeting. He consented, but frankly told them that if he spoke he would necessarily touch upon the Nebraska Bill and Know-nothingism—the two “delicate questions” which timid men at that day did all in their power to avoid. After some conversation upon this matter, it was agreed that Mr. Douglas should be allowed to speak his own sentiments in his own way. He addressed that meeting that day. It was the first speech ever delivered in the United States by any prominent public man, since the organization of the Know-nothing party, against the proscriptive principles of that party. It was received by the Democracy of Philadelphia with enthusiastic delight. It broke the spell which had apparently hung over the party, and which had closed men's lips and paralyzed their hands respecting the most dangerous and insidious opponents that ever threatened the Democratic party. He spoke out words of condemnation and defiance; and men, taking courage from his bold words, felt relieved, and, giving vent to the feelings so long held in subjection, recognized in the orator the bold and daring statesman who never yet, in any part of his eventful career, paused in defense of the right or condemnation of the wrong to inquire what would be the consequences of his action toward himself personally. From that day forth Know-nothingism had a stern opponent in the Democratic party, and from that day forth the Democracy never faltered until it had subdued, conquered, and broken up the organization in the Northern States. This speech was printed in pamphlet form and widely circulated. Though that part of it relating to the Kansas-Nebraska Bill is in the main a repetition of sentiments advanced by him in the Senate during the pendency of the bill, it is just that it should be here given. It was the first speech made outside of Congress in defense of the bill; and as it is fashionable in some quarters to say that he then represented that bill as meaning something very different to what he now claims for it, it is but just that his exposition then should be placed alongside of his exposition of the same measure now. He said:
Mr. President and Fellow-citizens:
While I am profoundly grateful for the generous enthusiasm with which you have received the kind remarks of my friend General Dawson, I know not whether I ought to make my acknowledgments to him for having created in your minds expectations which it is impossible for me to fulfill. I feel that it is good for us to be here on this day. The day and the place are consecrated to liberty. It is a hallowed spot. I enter Independence Square—I approach Independence Hall on the Fourth of July with feelings akin to those of the pilgrim when he approaches the holy places. It is the birthplace of American liberty. Here the Declaration of Independence was first promulgated—here the Constitution of the United States was formed. On this very spot were proclaimed in that declaration and embodied in that Constitution those glorious principles of civil and religious freedom which our fathers have transmitted to us as the most precious of all earthly blessings. [Great applause.]
In these days, when efforts are being made to stir up sectional strife, and organize political parties on geographical lines—when religious intolerance and persecution are being practiced through the agency of secret associations —and when men in high places sacrilegiously deny all obligation to carry into effect the plain and imperative injunctions of the Constitution which they have sworn to support, it is well for good men and true patriots to assemble on our national birthday, at the birthplace of our liberties, and unite their efforts to preserve our republican institutions by perpetuating the principles upon which they rest. [Applause.]
On the 4th of July, '76, from the place where I now stand, our forefathers declared that these “ColoniES ARE, AND OF RIGHT OUGHT TO BE, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATEs.” That was the starting-point. Thirteen British colonies were on that day converted into thirteen independent American states. The language is clear and explicit. The causes which led to the separation, and the instructions which the several colonies gave to their delegates in the Congress, prescribing the conditions upon which the Declaration of Independence was to be made, clearly show why this emphatic language was used. The colonies did not, in the first instance, demand independence. They were willing to acknowledge their allegiance to the British crown, provided they were left free to manage and regulate their own internal affairs and domestic concerns in their own way, without the interference or dictation of the imperial government. They were willing to recognize the right of Great Britain to grant colonial charters, like the organic laws of our Territorial governments, by which the people of the colonies might make their own laws through their representatives in their local Legislatures; but they solemnly protested against the right of the imperial Parliament, in which they had no representation, to make laws affecting their persons and property without their consent. Upon this point the separation took place, and the Declaration of Independence which you have just heard read declared the thirteen colonies to be “free and independent states.” But, before the declaration was made, the colonies gave instructions to their delegates, prescribing the conditions upon which each would consent to such a declaration. These instructions all prescribe the fundamental condition that the people of each colony shall have the right to manage their internal affairs and domestic concerns as to them shall seen meet and proper. [Hearty cheers.]
|. * recapitulated some facts of history, and then proceeded as follows:
Crime, in any of its forms and shapes, is a very great evil in any state or Territory; yet Congress has never presumed to enact criminal codes for the Territories and new states—to declare what shall and what shall not be deemed criminal—to prescribe the penalty and point out the mode of punishment. These things have always been left, and, I trust, always will be left, to the people of the different states and Territories, to be determined by them through their local Legislatures in accordance with their sense of right and duty: 'Why should we make an exception of the Slavery question, and apply to it a rule which is admitted to be unsound and subversive of constitutional right when applied to any other matter of local and domestic concern ? Are not the people of the Territories capable of self-government? If not, why give them a Legislature at all—why allow them to make laws upon any subject 2 If they are capable of self-government, does it require any higher degree of intelligence to legislate for the negro than for the white man, or to prescribe the relations of master and servant than those of husband and wife, and parent and child?
But, in order to excuse themselves for so palpable a repudiation of the great principle of self-government, the Abolitionists tell us that slavery is a violation of the law of God, and therefore the people of the Territories and