Chapter 43: return to the Senate.—‘the barbarism of slavery.’—Popular welcomes.—Lincoln's election.—1859-1860.
took his seat at the beginning of the session, Dec. 5, 1859 (the first session of the Thirty-sixth Congress), the Senate now occupying the new chamber in the extension of the
, of which it had taken possession in the spring.
Three years and a half had passed since he withdrew from active duty.
During that period Buchanan
had succeeded Pierce
,—a change of administration, but not of policy; the Supreme Court had proclaimed, in the Dred Scott
case, the sanctity of slavery in the national territory, beyond the power of the inhabitants as well as of Congress to exclude and prohibit it; Kansas
, after alternating seasons of disturbance and peace, had been finally rescued by her Free State settlers, who, predominating largely in numbers and waiving their plan of abstention, now held the legislature, thus acquiring the sanction of legitimacy; the Lecompton constitution, when again submitted under the so—called ‘English bill,’ had been rejected by the people, notwithstanding the inducements offered in it for an accepting vote; the Territory
was now waiting for admission as a free State under a constitution duly formed and approved by the people, still kept out by a pro-slavery majority in the Senate;1 Douglas
had rent in twain the Democratic party by his stand for popular sovereignty in the session of 1857-1858, against the Lecompton constitution when it was submitted to Congress,—doing, from whatever motives, the one good service to his country which marks his public career, and paying the penalty in his removal from his place at the head of the committee on territories and his rejection by the pro-slavery party as a candidate for the Presidency; Minnesota
had been added to the sisterhood of States, forever destroying the balance between freedom and slavery in the Senate; the memorable debate in Illinois
had taken place, in