that court, because of that decision.
My private opinions on some points of the case may have been one way and on other points of the case another; in some things concurring with the court and in others dissenting, but what have my private opinions in a question of law to do with the decision after it has been pronounced by the highest judicial tribunal known to the Constitution
You, sir [addressing the chairman], as an eminent lawyer, have a right to entertain your opinions on any question that comes before the court and to appear before the tribunal and maintain them boldly and with tenacity until the final decision shall have been pronounced, and then, sir, whether you are sustained or overruled your duty as a lawyer and a citizen is to bow in deference to that decision.
I intend to yield obedience to the decisions of the highest tribunals in the land in all cases whether their opinions are in conformity with my views as a lawyer or not. When we refuse to abide by judicial decisions what protection is there left for life and property?
To whom shall you appeal?
To mob law, to partisan caucuses, to town meetings, to revolution?
Where is the remedy when you refuse obedience to the constituted authorities?
I will not stop to inquire whether I agree or disagree with all the opinions expressed by Judge Taney
or any other judge.
It is enough for me to know that the decision has been made.
It has been made by a tribunal appointed by the Constitution
to make it; it was a point within their jurisdiction, and I am bound by it.
But, my friends, Mr. Lincoln
says that this Dred Scott
decision destroys the doctrine of popular sovereignty, for the reason that the court has decided that Congress had no power to prohibit slavery in the Territories
, and hence he infers that it would decide that the Territorial Legislatures
could not prohibit slavery there.
I will not stop to inquire whether the court will carry the decision that far or not. It would be interesting as a matter of theory, but of no importance in practice ; for this reason, that if the people of a Territory want slavery they will have it, and if they do not want it they will drive it out, and you cannot force it on them.
Slavery cannot exist a day in the midst of an unfriendly people with unfriendly laws.
There is truth and wisdom in a remark made to me by an eminent southern Senator
, when speaking of this technical right to take slaves into the Territories
Said he, “I do not care a fig which way the decision shall be, for it is of no particular consequence ; slavery cannot exist a day or an hour in any Territory or State unless it has affirmative laws sustaining and supporting it, furnishing police regulations and remedies, and an omission to furnish them would be as fatal as a constitutional prohibition.
Without affirmative legislation in its favor slavery could not exist any longer than a new-born infant could survive under the heat of the sun, on a barren rock, without protection.
It would wilt and die for the want of support.”
So it would be in the Territories
See the illustration in Kansas
The Republicans have told you, during the whole history of that Territory, down to last winter, that the pro-slavery party in the Legislature had passed a pro-slavery code, establishing and sustaining slavery in Kansas
, but that this pro-slavery Legislature did not truly represent the people, but was imposed upon them by an invasion from Missouri
, and hence the Legislature were one way and the people another.
Granting all this, and what has been the result?
With laws supporting slavery, but the people against, there is not as many slaves in Kansas
to-day as there were on the day the Nebraska
bill passed and the Missouri Compromise
Why? Simply because slave owners knew that if they took their slaves into Kansas
, where a majority of the people were opposed to slavery, that it would soon be abolished, and they would lose their right of property in consequence of taking them there.
For that reason they would not take or keep them there.
If there had been a majority of the people in favor of slavery and the climate had been favorable, they would have taken them there, but the climate not being suitable, the interest of the people being opposed to it, and a majority of them against it, the slave owner did not find it profitable to take his slaves there, and consequently there are not as many slaves there to-day as on the day the Missouri Compromise
This shows clearly that if the people do not want slavery they will keep it out, and if they do want it they will protect it.