I have stated that we demand at the hands of our Northern brethren upon this floor that the great principle which we cherish should be recognized, and in that view I speak the common sentiments of our constituents at home; and I intend no reflection upon those who entertain a different opinion, when I say that the results and ultimate consequences to the Southern States of this confederacy, if the Popular Sovereignty doctrine be adopted as the doctrine of the Democratic party, would be as dangerous and subversive of their rights as the adoption of the principle of Congressional intervention or prohibition. We say that, in a contest for the occupation of the Territories of the United States, the Southern men encumbered with slaves cannot compete with the Emigrant Aid Society at the North. We say that the Emigrant Aid Society can send a voter to one of the Territories of the United States, to determine a question relating to Slavery, for the sum of $200; while it would cost the Southern man the sum of $1500. We say, then, that, wherever there is competition between the South and the North, that the North can and will, at less expense and difficulty, secure power, control, and dominion over the Territories of the Federal Government; and if, then, you establish the doctrine that a Territorial Legislature which may be established by Congress in any Territory has the right, directly or indirectly, to affect the institution of Slavery, then you can see that the Legislature by its action, either directly or indirectly, may finally exclude every man from the slaveholding States as effectually as if you had adopted the Wilmot Proviso out and out. * * * But we are told that, in advocating the doctrine we now do, we are violating the principles of the Cincinnati platform. They say that the Cincinnati platform is a Popular Sovereignty platform; that it was intended to present and practically enforce that great principle. Now, we who made this report deny that this is the true construction of the Cincinnati platform. We of the South say that, when we voted for the Cincinnati platform, we understood, from the fact that the Territories stand in the same position as the District of Columbia, that non-interference and non-intervention in the Territories was that same sort of non-interference and non-intervention practiced in the District of Columbia. Now, we maintain that Congress has no right to prohibit or abolish Slavery in the District of Columbia. Why? Because it is an existing institution. It becomes the duty of Congress under the Constitution to protect and cherish the right of property in slaves in that District, because the Constitution does not give them the power to prohibit or establish Slavery. Every session of Congress, Northern men, Southern men, men of all parties, are legislating to protect, cherish and uphold, the institution of Slavery in the District of Columbia. * * * It is said that the Cincinnati platform is ambiguous, and that we must explain it. At the South, we have maintained that it had no ambiguity; that it did not mean Popular Sovereignty; but our Northern friends say that it does mean Popular Sovereignty. Now, if we are going to explain it and to declare its principles, I say, let us either declare them openly, boldly, squarely, or let us leave it as it is in the Cincinnati Platform. I want, and we of the South want, no more doubtful platforms upon this or any other question. We desire that this Convention should take a bold, square stand. What do the minority of the committee propose? Their solution is to leave the question to the decision of the Supreme Court, and agree to abide by any decision that may be made by that tribunal between the citizens of a Territory upon the subject. Why, gentlemen of the minority, you cannot help yourselves! That is no concession to us. There is no necessity for putting that in the platform, because I take it for granted that you are all law-abiding citizens. Every gentleman here from a non-slaveholding State is a law-abiding citizen; and, if he be so, why we know that, when there is a decision of the Supreme Court, even adverse to his views, he will submit to it. * * * You say that this is a judicial question. We say that it is not. But, if it be a judicial question, it is immaterial to you how the platform is made, because all you will have to say is, “This is a judicial question; the majority of the Convention were of one opinion; I may entertain my own opinion upon tile question; let tile Supreme Court settle it.” * * * Let us make a platform about which there can be no doubt, so that every man, North
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
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.