Quixotism that was ever enacted before a community.
What is the matter of popular sovereignty?
The first thing, in order to understand it, is to get a good definition of what it is, and after that to see how it is applied.
I suppose almost every one knows that, in this controversy, whatever has been said has had reference to the question of negro slavery.
We have not been in a controversy about the right of the people to govern themselves in the ordinary
matters of domestic concern in the States and Territories.
, in one of his late messages (I think when he sent up the Lecompton Constitution
), urged that the main points to which the public attention had been directed, was not in regard to the great variety of small domestic matters, but was directed to the question of negro slavery; and he asserts, that if the people had had a fair chance to vote on that question, there was no reasonable ground of objection in regard to minor questions.
Now, while I think that the people had not
had given, or offered them, a fair chance upon that slavery question ; still, if there had been a fair submission to a vote upon that main question, the President
's proposition would have been true to the uttermost.
Hence, when hereafter I speak of popular sovereignty, I wish to be understood as applying what I say to the question of slavery only, not to other minor domestic matters of a Territory or a State.
Does Judge Douglas
, when he says that several of the past years of his life have been devoted to the question of “popular sovereignty,” and that all the remainder of his life shall be devoted to it, does he mean to say that he has been devoting his life to securing to the people of the Territories
the right to exclude slavery from the Territories
If he means so to say, he means to deceive; because he and every one knows that the decision of the Supreme Court, which he approves and makes especial ground of attack upon me for disapproving, forbids the people of a Territory to exclude slavery.
This covers the whole ground, from the settlement of a Territory till it reaches the degree of maturity entitling it to form a State Constitution.
So far as all that ground is concerned, the Judge
is not sustaining popular sovereignty, but absolutely opposing it. He sustains the decision which declares that the popular will of the Territories
has no constitutional power to exclude slavery during their territorial existence.
This being so, the period of time from the first settlement of a Territory till it reaches the point of forming a State Constitution, is not the thing that the Judge
has fought for or is fighting for, but on the contrary, he has fought for, and is fighting for, the thing that annihilates and crushes out that same popular sovereignty.
Well, so much being disposed of, what is left?
Why, he is contending for the right of the people, when they come to make a State Constitution, to make it for themselves, and precisely as best suits themselves.
I say again, that is Quixotic I defy contradiction when I declare that the Judge
can find no one to oppose him on that proposition.
I repeat, there is nobody opposing that proposition on principle
. Let me not be misunderstood.
I know that, with reference to the Lecompton Constitution
, I may be misunderstood ; but when you understand me correctly, my proposition will be true and accurate.
Nobody is opposing, or has opposed, the right of the people, when they form a Constitution, to form it for themselves.
and his friends have not done it ; they, too, as well as the Republicans and the Anti-Lecompton Democrats
, have not done it ; but, on the contrary, they together have insisted on the right of the people to form a Constitution for themselves.
The difference between the Buchanan
men on the one hand, and the Douglas men and the Republicans on the other, has not been on a question of principle, but on a question of fact.
The dispute was upon the question of fact, whether the Lecompton Constitution
had been fairly formed by the people or not. Mr. Buchanan
and his friends have not contended for the contrary principle any more than the Douglas men or the Republicans.
They have insisted that whatever of small irregularities existed in getting up the Lecompton Constitution
, were such as happen in the settlement of all new Territories.
The question was, was it a fair emanation of the people?