all understood one another from the beginning, and all worked upon a common plan or, draft drawn up before the first blow was struck.
It should not be overlooked that, by the Nebraska
bill, the people of a State
as well as Territory, were to be left “perfectly free,” “subject only to the Constitution
Why mention a State?
They were legislating for Territories, and not for or about states.
Certainly the people of a State are and ought to be subject to the Constitution of the United States
; but why is mention of this lugged into this merely Territorial law?
Why are the people of a Territory and the people of a State therein lumped together, and their relation to the Constitution
therein treated as being precisely the same?
While the opinion of the court, by Chief Justice Taney
, in the Dred Scott
case, and the separate opinions of all the concurring Judges, expressly declare that the Constitution of the United States
neither permits Congress nor a Territorial Legislature to exclude slavery from any United States
Territory, they all omit to declare whether or not the same Constitution permits a State, or the people of a State, to exclude it. Possibly
this is a mere omission; but who can be quite sure, if McLean
had sought to get into the opinion a declaration of unlimited power in the people of a State to exclude slavery from their limits, limits as Chase
sought to get such declaration, in behalf of the people of a Territory, into the Nebraska
bill ; I ask, who can be quite sure that it would not have been voted down in the one case as it had been in the other?
The nearest approach to the point of declaring the power of a State over slavery, is made by Judge Nelson
He approaches it more than once, using the precise idea, and almost the language, too, of the Nebraska
act. On one occasion, his exact language is, “except in cases where the power is restrained by the Constitution of the United States
, the law of the State
is supreme over the subject of slavery within its jurisdiction.”
In what cases the power of the States is so restrained by the United States Constitution
, is left an open question, precisely as the same question, as to the restraint on the power of the Territories
, was left open in the Nebraska
act. Put this and that together, and we have another nice little niche, which we may, ere long see filled with another Supreme Court decision, declaring that the Constitution of the United States
does not permit a State
to exclude slavery from its limits.
And this may especially be expected if the doctrine of “care not whether slavery be voted down or voted up,” shall gain upon the public mind sufficiently to give promise that such a decision can be maintained when made.
Such a decision is all that slavery now lacks of being alike lawful in all the States.
Welcome, or unwelcome, such decision is probably coming, and will soon be upon us, unless the power of the present political dynasty shall be met and overthrown.
We shall lie down pleasantly dreaming that the people of Missouri
are on the verge of making their State free, and we shall awake to the reality instead, that the Supreme Court has made Illinois
a slave State.
To meet and overthrow the power of that dynasty, is the work now before all those who would prevent that consummation.
That is what we have to do. How can we best do it?
There are those who denounce us openly to their own friends, and yet whisper us softly, that Senator Douglas
is the aptest instrument there is with which to affect that object.
They wish us to infer
all, from the fact that he now has a little quarrel with the present head of the dynasty ; and that he has regularly voted with us on a single point upon which he and we have never differed.
They remind us that he is a great man, and that the largest of us are very small ones.
Let this be granted.
But “a living dog is better than a dead lion.”
, if not a dead lion, for this work, is at least a caged and toothless one.
How can he oppose the advances of slavery?
He don't care anything about it. His avowed mission is impressing the “public heart” to care nothing about it
. A leading Douglas
democratic newspaper thinks Douglas
's superior talent will be needed to resist the revival of the African slave trade.
believe an effort to revive that trade is approaching?
He has not said so. Does he really think so?
But if it is, how can he resist it?
For years he has labored to prove it a sacred right of white men to take negro slaves