rejoiced within my secret soul, for I saw an indication that the American
people, when they come to understand the principle, would give it their cordial support.
bill was as fair and as perfect an exposition of the doctrine of popular sovereignty as could be carried out by any bill that man ever devised.
It proposed to refer the Lecompton Constitution
back to the people of Kansas
, and give them the right to accept or reject it as they pleased, at a fair election, held in pursuance of law, and in the event of their rejecting it and forming another in its stead, to permit them to come into the Union
on an equal footing with the original states.
It was fair and just in all of its provisions!
I gave it my cordial support, and was rejoiced when I found that it passed the House of Representatives, and at one time, I entertained high hope that it would pass the Senate.
I regard the great principle of popular sovereignty, as having been vindicated and made triumphant in this land, as a permanent rule of public policy in the organization of Territories and the admission of new States.
took her position upon this principle many years ago. You all recollect that in 1850, after the passage of the Compromise measures of that year, when I returned to my home, there was great dissatisfaction expressed at my course in supporting those measures.
I appeared before the people of Chicago
at a mass meeting an vindicated each and every one of those measures ; and by reference to my speech on that occasion, which was printed and circulated broad-cast throughout the State
at the time, you will find that I then and there said that those measures were all founded upon the great principle that every people ought to possess the right to form and regulate their own domestic institutions in their own way, and that that right being possessed by the people of the States, I saw no reason why the same principle should not be extended to all of the Territories
of the United States
A general election was held in this State a few months afterward, for members of the Legislature, pending which all these questions were thoroughly canvassed and discussed, and the nominees of the different parties instructed in regard to the wishes of their constituents upon them.
When that election was over, and the Legislature assembled they proceeded to consider the merits of those Compromise measures and the principles upon which they were predicated.
And what was the result of their action?
They passed resolutions, first repealing the Wilmot proviso instructions, and in lieu thereof adopted another resolution, in which they declared the great principle which asserts the right of the people to make their own form of government and establish their own institutions.
That resolution is as follows:
Resolved, That our liberty and independence are based upon the right of the people to form for themselves such in government as they may choose; that this great principle, the birthright of freemen, the gift of Heaven, secured to us by the blood of our ancestors, ought to be secured to future generations, and no limitation ought to be applied to this power in the organization of any Territory of the United States
, of either Territorial Government or State Constitution, provided the Government
so established shall be Republican, and in conformity with the Constitution of the United States
That resolution, declaring the great principle of self-government as applicable to the Territories
and new States, passed the House of Representatives of this State by a veto of sixty-one in the affirmative, to only four in the negative.
Thus you find that an expression of public opinion: enlightened, educated, intelligent public opinion on this question by the representatives of Illinois
, in 1851, approaches nearer to unanimity than, has ever been obtained on any controverted question.
That resolution was entered on the journal of the Legislature of the State of Illinois
, and it has remained there from that day to this, a standing instruction to her Senators
and a request to her Representatives in Congress, to carry out that principle in all future cases.
, therefore, stands pre-eminent as the State
which stepped forward early-and established a platform applicable to this slavery question, concurred in alike by Whigs and Democrats, in which it was declared to be the wish of our people that thereafter the people of the Territories
should be left perfectly free to form and