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may be otherwise; yet I doubt whether it would be so boldly proclaimed there that a man is a traitor for daring to vote according to his sense of duty, according to the will of his state, according to the interests of his constituents. Suppose the executive should tell the senator from California [Mr. Gwin] to vote against his Pacific Railroad Bill; would he obey 2 If not, he will be deemed a rebel. Suppose the executive should tell the senator from Virginia [Mr. Mason] to vote for the Pacific Railroad Bill, or the senator from Georgia [Mr. Toombs] to vote for the Army Bill, or the senator from Mississippi [Mr. Brown] to sustain him on the Neutrality Laws, we should have more rebels and more traitors. But it is said a dispensation is granted from the fountain of all power for rebellion on all subjects but one. The President says, in effect, “Do as you please on all questions but one;” that one is Lecompton. On what principle is it that we must not judge for ourselves on this measure, and may on every thing else? I suppose it is on the old adage that a man needs no friends when he knows he is right, and he only wants his friends to stand by him when he is wrong. . The President says that he regrets this Constitution was not submitted to the people, although he knows that if it had been submitted it would have been rejected. Hence the President regrets that it was not rejected. Would he regret that it was not submitted and rejected if he did not think it was wrong? And yet he demands our assistance in forcing it on an unwilling people, and threatens vengeance on all who refuse obedience. He recommends the Army Bill; he thinks it necessary to carry on the Mormon war; it is necessary to carry out a measure of the administration, and hence it is an administration measure; but he does not quarrel with any body for voting against it. He thinks every one of the other recommendations to which I have alluded is right, and, therefore, there is no harm in going against them. The only harm is in going against that which the President acknowledges to be wrong; and yet the system of proscription, to subdue men to abject obedience to executive will, is to be pursued. Is it seriously intended to brand every Democrat in the United States as a
traitor who is opposed to the Lecompton Constitution ? If so, do your friends
in Pennsylvania desire any traitors to vote with them next fall ? We are traitors if we vote against Lecompton, our constituents are traitors if they do not think Lecompton is right, and yet you expect those whom you call traitors to vote with and sustain you. Are you to read out of the party every man who thinks it wrong to force a Constitution on a people against their will? If so, what will be the size of the administration party in New York? what will it be in Pennsylvania? how many will it number in Ohio, or in Indiana, or in Illinois, or in any other Northern state 2 Surely you do not expect the support of those whom you brand as renegades? Would it not be well to allow all freemen freedom of thought, freedom of speech, and freedom of action? Would it not be well to allow each senator and representative to vote according to his judgment, and perform his duty according to his own sense of his obligation to himself, and to his state, and to his God? For my own part, Mr. President, come what may, I intend to vote, speak, and act according to my own sense of duty so long as I hold a seat in this chamber. I have no defense of my Democracy. I have no professions to make of my fidelity. I have no vindication to make of my course. Let it speak for itself. The insinuation that I am acting with the Republicans or Americans has no terror, and will not drive me from my duty or propriety. It is an argument for which I have no respect. When I saw the senator from Virginia acting with the Republicans on the Neutrality Laws, in support of the President, I did not feel it to be my duty to taunt him with voting with those to whom he happened to be opposed in general politics. When I saw the senator from Georgia acting with the Republicans on the Army Bill, it did not impair my confidence in his fidelity to principle. When I see senators here every day acting with the Republicans on various questions, it only shows me that they have independence and self-respect enough to go according to their own convictions of duty, without being influenced by the course of others. I have no professions to make upon any of these points. I intend to perform my duty in accordance with my own convictions. Neither the frowns of power nor the influence of patronage will change my action, or drive me from my principles. I stand firmly, immovably upon those great principles of self-government and state sovereignty upon which the campaign was fought and the election won. I stand by the time-honored principles of the Democratic party, illustrated by Jefferson and Jackson—those principles of state rights, of state sovereignty, of strict construction, on which the great Democratic party has ever stood. I will stand by the Constitution of the United States, with all its compromises, and perform all my obligations under it. I will stand by the American Union as it exists under the Constitution. If, standing firmly by my principles, I shall be driven into private life, it is a fate that has no terrors for me. I prefer private life, preserving my own self-respect and manhood, to abject and servile submission to executive will. If the alternative be private life or servile obedience to executive will, I am prepared to retire. Official position has no charms for me when deprived of that freedom of thought and action which becomes a gentleman and a senator. Mr. President, I owe an apology to the Senate for the desultory manner in which I have discussed this question. My health has been so feeble for some time past that I have not been able to arrange my thoughts, or the order in which they should be presented. If, in the heat of debate, I have expressed a sentiment which would seem to be unkind or disrespectful to any senator, I shall regret it. While I intend to maintain, firmly and fearlessly, my own views, far be it from me to impugn the motives or question the propriety of the action of any other senator. I take it for granted that each senator will obey the dictates of his own conscience, and will be accountable to his constituents for the course which he may think proper to pursue.
On the 1st of April the bill was taken up in the House. The House refused—yeas 95, nays 137—to reject the bill.
Mr. Montgomery, of Pennsylvania, moved to strike out all after the enacting clause, and to insert the same amendment proposed by Mr. Crittenden in the Senate. That amendment was agreed to—yeas 120, nays 112—and, as amended, the bill was passed by the same vote.
The next day (April 2) the Senate—yeas 32, nays 23—refused to concur in the amendment made by the House. On the 8th the House—yeas 119, nays 111—voted to “adhere” to their amendment. On the 13th the Senate “insisted” on its disagreement, and asked for a committee of conference. On the 14th Mr. Montgomery moved that the House “adhere,” and Mr. English, of Indiana, moved that the House appoint a committee of conference. The vote on the last motion was—yeas 108, nays 108; the speaker voting in the affirmative, the motion was agreed to. The committees were appointed—Messrs. Green, Hunter, and Seward on the part of the Senate, and English, Stephens, and Howard on the part of the House. This committee reported to the House on the 23d what is known as the “English Bill,” and on the 4th of May the House, by a vote of yeas 112, nays 103, concurred in the report of the committee of conference, and the Senate,..by the vote of all the friends of the original bill, did the same. The English Bill became the law. Its fate before the people of Kansas is well known. Thus ended the Lecompton controversy in Congress. Happy for the best interests of the country would it have been had it been allowed to reach its end without the bitterness that attended its progress. We will notice no farther at this time the assaults upon Mr. Douglas than to refer, as an example of the violence to which excited feelings led some men, to an article—leading editorial—in the Washington Union in the early part of March, in which it was demonstrated to the writer's entire satisfaction that no man of small physical stature could be a true Democrat at heart; and that R. J. Walker and S.A. Douglas were so constructed physically that it was naturally impossible for either of them to be a Democrat In this struggle Mr. Douglas was heartily sustained and supported to the end by his Democratic colleagues in the House, Messrs. Harris, Marshall, Morris, Shaw, and Smith.
MR. Douglas, during his entire political life, has agreed with the Democratic party in resisting any general system of internal improvements by the federal government. That hostility to a general system of internal improvements has been expressed over and over again in the platforms of the Democratic party, and has had no warmer defender than Mr. Douglas. Upon some points, however, such as the improvements of rivers and harbors, he has had opinions somewhat peculiar. He has endeavored throughout to discriminate between those works which were essential to the protection of commerce and the improvement of the navigable waters of the country, and those other works asked for by parties having local interests to serve, and desirous to promote them at the expense of the
federal treasury. Mr. Douglas voted pretty generally for all the River and Harbor Appropriation Bills, always protesting against such items as were included in them that did not come up to his idea of justice or propriety. He was thus often compelled to vote for a number of small appropriations for what he deemed inappropriate works, or vote against others that were eminently just and proper. He has uniformly protested against that system of legislation which compelled him thus to vote against what was right, or vote for others that did not meet his approval.
RIVER AND HARBOR IMPROVEMENTS,
His effort has been always to break up this irregular, incomplete, and unsatisfactory mode of legislating upon this important subject. The appropriations even for the most needful works had been so irregular and so often interrupted that the works constructed in one season under a partial appropriation would frequently be destroyed or rendered valueless before the additional sum was appropriated. To remedy these evils, he has always urged that Congress would adopt some regular system under which these works could be safely, intelligently, and profitably carried on. All efforts of that kind, however, failed in Congress, where local interests could not be reconciled to any plan that did not include them.
In 1852, when the River and Harbor Bill was under consideration in the Senate, Mr. Douglas, who supported the bill, proposed to add to it three sections, having for their object the recognition and establishment of such works as the business and interests of the country would demand. His amendment proposed to grant the consent of Congress to all the states, and that the several states might authorize the authorities of any city or town within their respective limits, which might be situated on the Atlantic or Pacific coasts, or on the Gulf of Mexico, or on the banks of any bay or arm of the sea connecting therewith, or on the shores of Lakes Champlain, Ontario, Erie, St. Clair, Huron, Michigan, or Superior, or on the banks of any bay or arm of the lake connecting with either of said lakes, to levy duties of tonnage, not exceeding ten cents per ton, upon boats and vessels of every description entering the harbor or waters within the limits of such city or town, the funds to be derived from said duties to be expended exclusively in constructing, enlarging, deepening, improving, and securing safe and commodious harbors and entrances thereto at such cities and towns; the duties thus levied and collected not to exceed the amount necessary for the purpose for which they were levied. It also granted the consent of Congress that, where several states bordered on a lake, such states might enter into an agreement by which a portion of the fund raised by tonnage duties in all the cities and towns within their limits might be applied to such works as should be deemed necessary to improve and render safe and convenient the navigation of the lakes, and of the rivers and channels connecting them together; these works to be the deepening of the channels, or artificial channels to be constructed for that purpose. When canals or artificial channels should be thus constructed, only such tolls should be levied as would be necessary to keep them in repair. His amendment farther granted the consent of Congress that, in all cases where any navigable river or water might be situated, wholly or in part, within the limits of any state, the Legislature of such state might provide for the improvement of the navigation of such river within its own limits, by the collection of a tonnage duty upon all boats and vessels navigating the same. And where a navigable river or water might form the boundary of any two or more states, such states might, by joint action and agreement, provide for the collection of tonnage duties, to be applied exclusively to the improvement of the navigation of such river or navigable Water. This was substantially the proposition of Mr. Douglas. It was offered, not as a substitute for the pending Appropriation Bill, but as an addition thereto. It was intended as a consent on the part of Congress that each state that felt disposed to do so might go on at once and provide the means for putting her harbors in good order, her streams in proper condition, and her channels in a safe and proper state. It was to throw open to the enterprise and public spirit of each community the commerce of the country. Instead of subjecting each city on the lake to the most uncertain chances in the lottery of Congressional appropriations for harbor improvements, it proposed to give the assent of Congress, as required by the Constitution, to each city to go on and make her own harbor. If two cities on the lake, having equal chances for a good lake traffic, should