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Mr. President, I mean to keep absolutely within the limits of parliamentary propriety. I make no personal imputations, but only with frankness, such as belongs to the occasion and my own character, describe a great historical act, now enrolled in the Capitol. Sir, the Nebraska Bill was in every respect a swindle. It was a swindle of the North by the South. On the part of those who had already completely enjoyed their share of the Missouri Compromise, it was a swindle of those whose share was yet absolutely untouched; and the plea of unconstitutionality set up—like the plea of usury after the borrowed money has been enjoyed—did not make it less a swindle. Urged as a bill of peace, it was a swindle of the whole country. Urged as opening the doors to slave-masters with their slaves, it was a swindle of Popular Sovereignty in its asserted doctrine. Urged as sanctioning Popular Sovereignty, it was a swindle of slave-masters in their asserted rights. It was a swindle of a broad territory, thus cheated of protection against Slavery. It was a swindle of a great cause, early espoused by Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson, surrounded by the best fathers of the Republic. Sir, it was a swindle of God-given, inalienable rights. Turn it over, look at it on all sides, and it is everywhere a swindle; and if the word I now employ has not the authority of classical usage, it has, on this occasion, the indubitable authority of fitness. No other word will adequately express the mingled meanness and wickedness of the cheat.

Its character is still further apparent in the general structure of the bill. Amidst overflowing professions of regard for the sovereignty of the people in the Territory, they are despoiled of every essential privilege of sovereignty. They are not allowed to choose Governor, Secretary, Chief-Justice, Associate Justices, Attorney, or Marshal,—all of whom are sent from Washington; nor are they allowed to regulate the salaries of any of these functionaries, or the daily allowance of the legislative body, or even the pay of the clerks and doorkeepers: but they are left free to adopt Slavery. And this is nicknamed Popular Sovereignty! Time does not allow, nor does the occasion require, that I should stop to dwell on this transparent device to cover a transcendent wrong. Suffice it to say, that Slavery is in itself an arrogant denial of human rights, and by no human reason can the power to establish such a wrong be placed among the attributes of any just sovereignty. In [271] refusing it such a place, I do not deny popular rights, but uphold them, I do not restrain popular rights, but extend them. And, Sir, to this conclusion you must yet come, unless deaf, not only to the admonitions of political justice, but also to the genius of our Constitution, under which, when properly interpreted, no valid claim for Slavery can be set up anywhere in the National territory. The Senator from Michigan [Mr. Cass] may say, in response to the Senator from Mississippi [Mr. Brown], that Slavery cannot go into the Territory, under the Constitution, without legislative introduction; and permit me to add, in response to both, that Slavery cannot go there at all. Nothing can come out of nothing; and there is absolutely nothing in the Constitution out of which Slavery can be derived, while there are provisions, which, when properly interpreted, make its existence anywhere within the exclusive National jurisdiction impossible.

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