previous next
[26] discriminate between free States and slave States in this Confederacy. I will not put a restriction upon a slave State that I would not put upon a free State, and I will not permit, if I can prevent it, a restriction being put upon a free State which is not applied with the same force to the slaveholding States. Equality among the States is a cardinal and fundamental principle in our Confederacy, and cannot be violated without overturning our system of Government. Hence I demanded that the free States and the slaveholding States should be kept on an exact equality, one with the other, as the Constitution of the United States had placed them. If the people of Kansas want a slaveholding State, let them have it, and if they want a free State they have a right to it, and it is not for the people of Illinois, or Missouri, or New York, or Kentucky, to complain, whatever the decision of the people of Kansas may be upon that point.

But while I was not content with the mode of submission contained in the English bill, and while I could not sanction it for the reason that, in my opinion, it violated the great principle of equality among the different States, yet when it became the law of the land, and under it the question was referred back to the people of Kansas for their decision, at an election to be held on the first Monday in August next, I bowed in deference, because whatever decision the people shall make at that election must be final and conclusive of the whole question. If the people of Kansas accept the proposition submitted by Congress, from that moment Kansas will become a State of the Union? and there is no way of keeping her out if you should try. The act of admission would become irrepealable ; Kansas would be a State, and there would be an end of the controversy. On the other hand, if at that election the people of Kansas shall reject the proposition, as it is now generally thought will be the case, from that moment the Lecompton Constitution is dead, and again there is an end of the controversy. So you see that either way, on the 3d of August next, the Lecompton controversy ceases and terminates forever ; and a similar question can never arise unless some man shall attempt to play the Lecompton game over again. But, my fellow-citizens, I am well convinced that that game will never be attempted again ; it has been so solemnly and thoroughly rebuked during the last session of Congress, that it will find but few advocates in the future. The President of the United States, in his annual message, expressly recommends that the example of the Minnesota case, wherein Congress required the Constitution to be submitted to the vote of the people for ratification or rejection, shall be followed in all future cases ; and all we have to do is to sustain as one man that recommendation, and the Kansas controversy can never again arise.

My friends, I do not desire you to understand me as claiming for myself any special merit for the course I have pursued on this question. I simply did my duty, a duty enjoined by fidelity, by honor, by patriotism; a duty which I could not have shrunk from, in my opinion, without dishonor and faithlessness to my constituency. Besides, I only did what it was in the power of any one man to do. There were others, men of eminent ability, men of wide reputation, renowned all over America, who led the van, and are entitled to the greatest share of the credit. Foremost among them all, as he was head and shoulders above them all, was Kentucky's great and gallant statesman, John J. Crittenden. By his course upon this question he has shown himself a worthy successor of the immortal Clay, and well may Kentucky be proud of him. I will not withhold, either, the meed of praise due the Republican party in Congress for the course which they pursued. In the language of the New York Tribune, they came to the Douglas platform, abandoning their own, believing that under the peculiar circumstances they would in that mode best subserve the interests of the country. My friends, when I am battling for a great principle, I want aid and support from whatever quarter I can get it in order to carry out that principle. I never hesitate in my course when I find those who on all former occasions differed from me upon the principle finally coming to its support. Nor is it for me to inquire into the motives which animated the Republican members of Congress in supporting the Crittenden-Montgomery bill. It is enough for me that

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Montgomery (1)
John J. Crittenden (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
August 3rd (1)
August (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: