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[148]

The temporary, and afterward the permanent organization, was finished on the first day, with somewhat less than usual of the wordy and tantalizing small talk which these routine proceedings always call forth. On the second day the platform committee submitted its work, embodying the carefully considered and skilfully framed body of doctrines upon which the Republican party, made up only four years before from such previously heterogeneous and antagonistic political elements, was now able to find common and durable ground of agreement. Around its central tenet, which denied “the authority of Congress, of a territorial legislature, or of any individuals, to give legal existence to slavery in any territory of the United States,” were grouped vigorous denunciations of the various steps and incidents of the pro-slavery reaction, and its prospective demands; while its positive recommendations embraced the immediate admission of Kansas, free homesteads to actual settlers, river and harbor improvements of a national character, a railroad to the Pacific Ocean, and the maintenance of existing naturalization laws.

The platform was about to be adopted without objection, when a flurry of discussion arose over an amendment, proposed by Mr. Giddings of Ohio, to incorporate in it that phrase of the Declaration of Independence which declares the right of all men to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Impatience was at once manifested lest any change should produce endless delay and dispute. “I believe in the ten Commandments,” commented a member, “but I do not want them in a political platform” ; and the proposition was voted down. Upon this the old antislavery veteran felt himself aggrieved, and, taking up his hat, marched out of the convention. In the course of an

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