been a free State instead of a slaveholding State ; and as an evidence of this fact I wish you to bear in mind that my speech against that Lecompton
act was made on the 9th day of December, nearly two weeks before the vote was taken on the acceptance or rejection of the slavery clause.
I did not then know, I could not have known, whether the slavery clause would be accepted or rejected ; the general impression was that it would be rejected, and in my speech I assumed that impression to be true ; that probably it would be voted down ; and then I said to the U, S. Senate, as I now proclaim to you, my constituents, that you have no more right to force a free State upon an unwilling people than you have to force a slave State upon them against their will.
You have no right to force either a good or a bad thing upon a people who do not choose to receive it. And then, again, the highest privilege of our people is to determine for themselves what kind of institutions are good and what kind of institutions are bad, and it may be true that the same people, situated in a different latitude and different climate, and with different productions and different interests, might decide the same question one way in the North
and another way in the South
, in order to adapt their institutions to the wants and wishes of the people to be affected by them.
You all are familiar with the Lecompton struggle and I will occupy no more time upon the subject, except to remark that when we drove the enemies of the principle of popular sovereignty from the effort to force the Lecompton Constitution
upon the people of Kansas
, and when we compelled them to abandon the attempt and to refer that Constitution to that people for acceptance or rejection, we obtained a concession of the principle for which I had contended throughout the struggle.
When I saw that the principle was conceded, and that the Constitution
was not to be forced on Kansas
against the wishes of the people, I felt anxious to give the proposition my support ; but, when I examined it, I found that the mode of reference to the people and the form of submission, upon which the vote was taken, was so objectionable as to make it unfair and unjust.
Sir, it is an axiom with me that in every free government an unfair election is no election at all. Every election should be free, should be fair, with the same privileges and the same inducements for a negative as for an affirmative vote.
The objection to what is called the “English
” proposition, by which the Lecompton Constitution
was referred back to the people of Kansas
, was this that if the people chose to accept the Lecompton Constitution
they could come in with only 35,000 inhabitants, while if they determined to reject it in order to form another more in accordance with their wishes and sentiments, they were compelled to stay out until they should have 93,420 inhabitants.
In other words, it was making a distinction and discrimination between free States and slave States under the Federal Constitution
I deny the justice, I deny the right, of any distinction or discrimination between the States North and South, free or slave.
Equality among the States is a fundamental principle of this government.
Hence, while I will never consent to the passage of a law that a slave State may come in with 35,000, while a free State shall not come in unless it have 93,000, on the other hand, I shall not consent to admit a free State with a population of 35,000, and require 93,000 in a slaveholding State.
My principle is to recognize each State of the Union
as independent, sovereign and equal in its sovereignty.
I will apply that principle not only to the original thirteen States, but to the States which have since been brought into the Union
, and also to every State that shall hereafter be received, “as long as water shall run and grass grow.”
For these reasons I felt compelled, by a sense of duty, by a conviction of principle, to record my vote against what is called the English
bill ; but yet the bill became a law, and under that law an election has been ordered to be held on the first Monday in August for the purpose of determining the question of the acceptance or rejection of the proposition submitted by Congress.
I have no hesitation in saying to you, as the chairman of your committee has justly said in his address, that whatever the decision of the people of Kansas
may be at that election, it must be final and conclusive of the whole subject; for if at that