previous next
[323] and be protected in, the use of such property in said Territory. And Congress is bound to render such protection wherever necessary, whether with or without the cooperation of the Territorial Legislature.

We have seen how thoroughly this last doctrine is refuted by Col. Benton in his strictures on the Dred Scott decision. If it were sound, any blackleg might, with impunity, defy the laws of any Territory for-bidding the sale of lottery tickets or other implements of gambling. Or the Indian trader might say to the United States Agent: “Sir, I know you have a law authorizing and directing you to destroy every drop of liquor you find offered or kept for sale on an Indian reservation; but my liquor is property, according to the laws of my State, and you cannot touch it. I have a Constitutional right to take my property into any Territory, and there do with it as I please — so, Hands off!” He who does not know that this is not law, nor compatible with the most vital functions of government, can hardly have considered the matter patiently or thoughtfully.

The Douglas platform was practically eviscerated by the ready acceptance at Baltimore of Gov. Wickliffe's resolve making the dicta of the Supreme Court absolute and unquestionable with regard to Slavery in the Territories. The Dred Scott decision was aimed directly at “Squatter Sovereignty:” the case, after being once disposed of on an entirely different point, was restored to life expressly to cover this ground. Ambiguous as was the Cincinnati plat-form, the upholder of “Popular Sovereignty” in the Territories, who, at the same time, regards the Dred Scott decision as binding law, and its authors as entitled to make further and kindred decrees controlling his vote and action with regard to the extension of Slavery, maintains positions so inconsistent and contradict tory as to divest him of all moral power in the premises — all freedom of effective action.

The canvass was opened with great spirit and vigor by Mr. Douglas in person; he speaking in nearly every Free, and in many if not most of the Slave States, in the course of the Summer and Autumn. A ready and able debater, he necessarily attracted large crowds to his meetings, and infused something of his own fiery impetuosity and tireless energy into the breasts of his supporters.

But the odds were soon seen to be too great; since the partisans of Breckinridge, not content with their manifest preponderance in all the Slave States, insisted on organizing in and dividing the Democratic strength of the Free States as well. Nay, more: in several of those States--Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, California, and Oregon--the leaders of the Democracy in previous contests were mainly found ranged on the side of Breckinridge; while, in nearly or quite every Free State, enough adherents of the Southern platform were found to organize a party and nominate a Breckinridge ticket, rendering the choice of the Douglas Electors in most Free States hardly possible.

The Democrats, as we have seen, had divided on a question of principle--one deemed, on either side, of overwhelming consequence. Pathetic entreaties and fervid appeals had been

Creative Commons License
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.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Stephen A. Douglas (2)
John C. Breckinridge (2)
Charles A. Wickliffe (1)
Squatter Sovereignty (1)
Dred Scott (1)
Thomas H. Benton (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: