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zens of the several States shall be at liberty to take and hold their
slaves within any of the Territories."

At the first session of the 32d Congress petitions \vere presented for
the organization of the region westward of Missouri and Iowa, but it
was not until the next session that a bill was introduced into the
House for organizing the Territory of Platte. This bill Avas subse-
quently reported from the Committee on Territories as a bill organiz-
ing the Territory of Nebraska. This measure encountered unexpected
opposition from the Southern members in Committee of the Whole,
and was reported to the House with the recommendation that it be
rejected. An attempt to lay it on the table Avas defeated, and it
passed by 98 yeas to 43 nays, and w r as sent to the Senate, where it
failed. All the Senators from slave Steites voted against the bill, ex-
cept those from Missouri, who, for local
reasons, were anxious that the UCAV ter-
ritory should be organized. As early as
December 14, 1853, Augustus C. Dodge, of
Iowa, submitted to the Senate a bill for
organizing the Territory of Nebraska, em-
bracing, as before, the region lying Avest-
ward of Missouri and loAva. It was re-
ferred to the Senate Committee on Terri-
tories. It Avas then that Senator Dixon
gave notice that he should offer an amend-
ment virtually repealing the Compromise
of 1820. When the measure was reported
from the committee Mr. Dixon offered his
amendment as the t\venty-second section
of the bill. The Democratic organ at
Washington, the Union, denounced the

proposition as a Whig device to divide and disorganize the Demo-
cratic party. " I have been charged through one of the leading
journals of this city," said Senator Dixon afterAvard, in his place
in the Senate, " with haA'ing proposed the amendment Avhich I noti-
fied the Senate I intended to offer, with a view to embarrass the
Democratic party. It was said that I was a Whig from Kentucky,
and that the amendment proposed by me should be looked upon with
suspicion by the opposite party. Sir, I merely wish to remark that
upon the question of slavery, I know no Whiggery, and I know no
Democracy. I am a pro-slavery man. I am from a slave-holding
State. I represent a slaA r e-holding constituency. I am here to main-
tain the rights of that people whenever they are before the Senate."
Although General Cass had been the first to enunciate the doctrine



of Popular Sovereignty, generally called " Squatter Sovereignty," as
early as 1847, Senator Douglas, of Illinois, was the first to render it
potential as a principle of legislative action. It must be conceded,
however, that the Compromise of 1820 was inconsistent with slavery
in the Territories. It became necessary, therefore, that Mr. Douglas
should go a step further than he originally contemplated, and ac-
cordingly, on the 23d of January, 1854, he reported a new measure
from his committee, to which the Nebraska bill had been recom-
mitted. The bill was different from its predecessor, except that it
contemplated the same region. Instead of organizing the single Ter-
ritory of Nebraska, the new measure proposed to organize the Terri-
tories of Kansas and Nebraska. One of the sections of this bill de-
clared the Missouri Compromise of 1820 inoperative and void, be-
cause " inconsistent with the principle of non-intervention by Con-
gress with slavery in the States and Territories, as recognized by the
Compromise measures of 1850," and it was further declared that " its
true intent and meaning was not to legislate slavery into any Terri-
tory or State and not to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the people
perfectly free to regulate their domestic institutions in their own
way." The bill w r as finally forced through Congress, after a prolonged
and bitter contest of four months, by a vote of 113 yeas to 100 nays in
the House. The Free States contributed 44 votes in support of the
measure, all cast by Democrats. Against it were 94 members from
the Free States, of whom 44 were chosen as Whigs, 3 as Free Soilers,
and 44 as Democrats. From the slave States, 12 Whigs and 57 Demo-
crats sustained it. The Kansas-Nebraska bill, containing the repeal
of the Missouri Compromise, was signed by President Pierce, May
30, 1854, and became the law of the land.

The triumph of the Slave Power was complete, far-reaching, and
apparently perpetual. Kansas and Nebraska, with all the territory
south and west of them, were to become Slave States. When the
Kansas-Nebraska bill became a law there was no hope of rescuing any
part of this great domain from the domination of slavery. In Con-
gress the South was supreme, and it was intended to make it supreme
for all time. It was the purpose to carve the great State of Texas
into five States instead of one, thus giving the South ten senators in-
stead of two. Cuba and Central America were to be acquired for the
aggrandizement and perpetuity of slavery. Even the Free States
could not feel assured that they would be secure from the aggressions
of the Slave Power for many years. The threat of Robert Toombs of
Georgia that he would call the roll of his slaves on Bunker Hill might
indeed become true it was at least a possibility.

There were able champions of freedom in the 33d Congress Sew-



ard, Simmer, Chase, Hale, Wilson, Giddings, and others. Against
the repeal of the Missouri Compromise of 1820 were two Southern
Democrats of the old school General Sam Houston, of Texas, in the
Senate, and Thomas H. Benton, of Missouri, in the House. Houston
had had a career as romantic as that of a Knight of the Round Table.
A native of Virginia, he was a Representative in Congress from Ten-
nessee, and Governor of that State, before he was 35, but resigned
his Governorship because of domestic trouble, and fled from civilized
life. For years he roved with the Indians, adopted their habits, and
became the chief of a tribe. Finally emigrating to Texas, he led the
revolt against Mexico, and after fighting its battles, organized a new
republic of which he was made President; by these means he gave to
his native land the great domain that he had w T rested from Mexico.

Once more in the Union and a Sena-
tor of the United States, he warned
the South against the madness of re-
pealing the Missouri Compromise, and
of Southern Democrats in the Senate
he alone voted against the dangerous
measure. In the House, after thirty-
three years' service in the Senate, was
the venerable Colonel Benton. He
belonged to the class of Southern
Democrats for whom the South had
no longer any use the Democracy of
Andrew Jackson, not that of John C.
Calhoun. But his day was past, his
power broken, his influence gone. In
his own State he had been beaten, and
David R. Atchison sat in his seat in

the Senate. In the House, to which lie was sent by the city of St. Louis
in the autumn of 1852, he was unsparing in his denunciation of the
measure fathered by Douglas, declaring that the original Compromise
had been forced upon the North by the South, and that this repeal
had been initiated " without a memorial, without a petition, without
a request from any human being. It was simply and only a contriv-
ance of political leaders, who were using the institution of slavery as
a weapon, and rushing the country forward to excitements and to
conflicts in which there was no profit to either section, and possibly
great harm to both."

The immediate result of the repeal of the Compromise was the dis-
solution of the Whig party. There were still a few Whigs in the
South who refused to unite with the Democrats, but with the excep-




tion of John Bell in the Senate and seven members of the House, all
the Whigs in Congress joined in repealing the Compromise. Still the
Southern Whigs did not despair altogether, and with such leaders as
Humphrey Marshall, Henry Winter Davis, and Horace Maynard, they
attempted a reorganization under the name of the American party.
Its creed was proscription of foreigners and hostility to the Roman
Catholic Church. Its members met in secret lodges, and the party
was nicknamed the " Know-Nothing Party." The area of Know-
Nothingism extended as far as Texas, but the Order met with little
success in the West. In some of the Northern States a large propor-
tion of the Whigs joined it in the hope of diverting the political issues
over slavery to Native Americanism, and the new party achieved ex-
traordinary successes in the State
elections of 1854. Its successes, how-
ever, were feverish and fitful, and
the Order was destined to run its
career, and vanish as suddenly as it
appeared. The great body of anti-
slavery Whigs and anti-slavery Dem-
ocrats in the North, who w r ere not
Abolitionists, but who were sincere-
ly and earnestly opposed to the ex-
tension of slavery, saw that the real
contest was with the Slave Power,
and not against naturalization laws
and ecclesiastical dogmas. Before
the close of the year 1854, the anti-
slavery sentiment of the Free States
was in a ferment against the Pro-
Slavery Democracy. The result was

the birth of the Republican party. Old political landmarks had dis-
appeared, and with them the political prejudices of three generations.
At first the new party was without cohesion, without compact or-
ganization, and almost without a name. The people, however, were
determined to obtain a plurality in the House of Representatives,
and such was their success at the outset that after a prolonged con-
test in the 34th Congress, Nathaniel P. Banks, of Massachusetts, was
elected Speaker of the House over William Aiken, of South Carolina.
Every vote from the Slave States was given to Mr. Aiken, Banks being
chosen wholly by votes from the Free States. The contest lasted from
the 3d of December, 1855, until the 2d of February, 1856, none of the
candidates being able to obtain a majority. Through 121 ballotings
the Democratic candidate was William A. Richardson, of Illinois, the



House leader on the Nebraska bill in the previous Congress. Rich-
ardson withdrew from the contest on the 23d of January, but the
Democrats and Know-Nothings found themselves unable to concen-
trate on any other candidate with a better prospect of success. Banks,
the anti-Nebraska favorite, was in his second term in the House, and
had already won distinction as a parliamentarian. He had been a
member of both branches of the Massachusetts Legislature, serving
for a while as Speaker, and \vas President of the Convention to revise
the Constitution of the State in 1853. He was still a young man, vig-
orous, alert, bold, and outspoken as a Republican, and withal mod-
erate and conservative in word and act. He could do little in his own
behalf except to await the result. During the long contest over the
Speaker-ship, Col. John W. Forney, the Clerk of the 33d Congress,
presided with distinguished ability and impartiality. As it was ap-
parent that it was possible only to elect a Speaker under the plurality
rule, the House finally agreed to adopt it, and Banks was elected by
103 votes to 100 for Mr. Aiken, with 30 scattering. Colonel Forney, the
Clerk, declared the Speaker elected without reference to the House,
when a scene of the wildest confusion ensued. But for this action the
election of Banks might have been nullified even after it was made;
for a Republican Speaker, elected wholly by votes from the Free
States, was a bitter disappointment to the Representatives from the
Slave States, who had voted solidly against him. Never before had a
Speaker been chosen without support from both sections, and the
result was ominous of the strife of the next ten years, in which a
united North, gradually at first, arrayed itself against a united
South, but w r as compelled to accept the arbitrament of the sword as
the price of success in the Presidential elections of 1860. Between
the election of the first Republican House of Representatives and the
election of Banks as Speaker a new method of dealing with slavery
expansion had been adopted that gave stability to the new party.
It often happens that the triumph of wrong proves its undoing and
it was almost inevitable that the repeal of the Missouri Compromise
and the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska act should be the beginning
of the end of slavery. This, however, was not the accepted view at
the time. The anti-slavery agitators who had been shouting, " No
union with slave-holders," and crying

Tear dow r n the flaunting Lie!

Half-mast the starry flag!
Insult no sunny sky

With Hate's polluted rag!

were helpless and in despair. " The moment you throw the struggle



with slavery into the half-barbarous West, where things are decided
by the revolver and bowie-knife, slavery triumphs," said Wendell
Philips. " Will Kansas be a free State?" asked William Lloyd Gar-
rison, and he answered, " not while the existing union stands. Its
fate is settled. . . . Eastern emigration will avail nothing to
keep slavery out of Kansas." " No wonder that we were hopeless and
helpless," said Eli Thayer, in his " Kansas Crusade." " We had no
political organization of any strength to oppose slavery. . . .
During all this period of the successful aggressive and increasing
strength of slavery, there was in the North corresponding apprehen-
sion and alarm. On the repeal of the Missouri Compromise the appre-
hension became despondency, and the alarm became despair. . . .
The speeches in Congress and the editorials of influential journalists
prove that there was no hope of rescuing
Kansas from the grasp of this resistless
power, should the Kansas-Nebraska bill
become a law." It was true that no polit-
ical party, or parties, could avail to save
Kansas. Slavery had every advantage. A
slave State, with a population sufficient
in numbers and daring to settle both Ter-
ritories, bordered on the east, and stood
ready in defiance ready to punish with
death any anti-slavery man who attempt-
ed to settle in the new Territory. When
all others were despairing there was one
man had the foresight to perceive that all
was not lost who had the courage to
predict that Kansas would still be saved
for freedom, and the ability and energy to
find the way.

This man was Eli Thayer. He was a New England man, a graduate
of Brown University, a member of Congress from Massachusetts, an
impassioned and forcible speaker, and possessed of great organizing
ability and unflinching courage. He is almost ignored by the his-
torians of the epoch notably so in Greeley's " American Conflict "
and Blaine's " Twenty Years of Congress " but throughout the Kan-
sas struggle his name was on every tongue. Within a month after the
passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill Mr. Thayer had organized the
Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Society, designed to make Kansas a
Free State by actual settlement, and a determination to meet the
Missouri desperadoes who were flocking over the border, armed with
bowie-knives and revolvers, with Sharpe's rifles, and the ballot. At




the very outset he succeeded in obtaining substantial financial back-
ing for his plan. Amos A. Lawrence, the millionaire Boston mer-
chant, devoted a share of his great wealth and all of his greater in-
fluence to the cause. Charles Francis Adams subscribed $25,000, and
J. S. M. Williams $10,000. William M. Evarts gave $1,000, one-fourth
of what he was worth at the time. Mr. Thayer's contributions in-
cluded his untiring energy and ceaseless efforts. In preaching his cru-
sade and inciting the people of the North to action he traveled sixty
thousand miles, and made hundreds of speeches. But at first the pro-
ject met with little encouragement beyond the sphere of its pro-
jector's personal influence. Most of the newspapers that were after-
ward Republican refrained from giving it their indorsement. Some of
them, indeed, denounced the scheme as madness and Thayer as a

madman. The Abolitionist agitators
were scarcely less bitter in assailing
the Emigrant Aid Society than the
Pro-Slavery propagandists. Charles
Stearns, the only full-fledged Garri-
sonian to be found in Kansas early
in the conflict, denounced the society
as " a hindrance to the cause of free-
dom and a curse to the Territory."
He thought it an enormity that it
purposed to oppose brute force to the
Missourians, and arraigned Charles
Robinson, Thayer's lieutenant, for
saying, " If they fire, do you make
them bite the dust, and I will find
coffins." " It is, indeed, a noble enter-
prise," said the Rev. Thomas Went-

worth Higginson, afterward Colonel Higginson, " and I am proud
that it owes its origin to a Worcester man ; but where is the good of
emigrating to Nebraska, if Nebraska is only a transplanted Massa-
chusetts, and Massachusetts has been tried and found wanting?"
" What do I care for a squabble around the ballot box in Kansas? "
asked Wendell Phillips. If these men had had their way Kansas and
Nebraska would have been slave States, and there would have been
no Republican party.

As the first step toward organizing the new territory of Kansas,
President Pierce appointed Andrew H. Reeder, of Pennsylvania, Gov-
ernor, and Daniel Woodson, of Arkansas, Secretary of the Territory,
with the necessary judicial officers, a majority of whom was from
Slave States. The appointment of Governor Reeder was received



with suspicion at the South, and the Washington Union, President
Pierce's immediate organ, declared that he was appointed under the
strongest assurance that he was strictly and honestly a national man.
Indeed, the Union asserted that while in Washington, at the time of
his appointment, he conversed with Southern gentlemen on the sub-
ject of slavery, and assured them that he had no more scruples in
buying a slave than a horse, and regretted that he had not money
enough to purchase one to carry with him to Kansas. This was prob-
ably Governor Reeder's attitude at the time, but it is not likely that
he was then aware of the open and flagrant frauds that the people of
Missouri intended to commit in Kansas. The Territorial government
was organized in the autumn of 1854, and in November an election for
delegate in Congress was held. John W. Whitfield, an Indian agent,
the Missouri candidate, was returned as elected. He received 2,871
votes, of which 1,729 were cast by residents of Missouri. Early in
1855 Governor Reeder ordered an election for the first Territorial
Legislature, to be held on the 30th of March. All border Missouri
was on hand for this election. There was no disguise, no regard for
decency, no pretense of legality. The Missourians came in wagons
and on horseback, and were armed with revolvers, pistols, and bowie-
knives. They had tents, flags, and music. Nearly a thousand of them
encamped in a ravine near the new town of Lawrence, which they
menaced with two pieces of cannon loaded with musket balls. Find-
ing that they had more men than were needed to carry the Lawrence
District, they sent detachments to carry two other districts. The re-
sult of this invasion was that the invaders elected all the members of
the Legislature, with two exceptions one in either House, who were
chosen from a remote inland district, which the Missourians over-
looked. The Missouri newspapers boldly admitted the invasion, and
exulted in the crime. " It is a safe calculation that two thousand
squatters have passed over into the promised land from this part
of the State within four days," said the Weston Reporter, a day before
the election. " It is to be admitted that they, the Missourians, have
conquered Kansas," the Platte Argus declared when the result was
known. When the Missouri Brnnswickcr learned that Governor
Reeder had refused to give certificates to thirteen members of the
House, it said, " This infernal scoundrel will have to be hemped yet."
As a matter of fact, Governor Reeder set aside the election in only
six districts. All of these were afterward carried by the Free Soilers,
except the Leavenworth District, which was directly on the Missouri
border. The acts of this fraudulent Legislature were systematically
vetoed by Governor Reeder, but they were passed over his head, and
the President was memorialized for his removal. This was effected,


and Wilson Shannon, of Ohio, was appointed in his stead. Shannon
announced on his way to the Territory that he " was for slavery in
Kansas," and recognized the fraudulent Legislature as a legal assem-
bly. It is unnecessary to follow the history of the Kansas conflict
further in this place, because with its beginning the genesis of the
Republican party was complete.




The Nomination of James Buchanan First National Republican
Conventions Colonel Fremont Republican Candidates for the
Vice-Presidency The Platform Contrasted Campaign Medals
Contentions of the Canvass Assault Upon Senator Surnner
The Kansas Conflict Republican Leaders of the Period Results
of the Elections The Virulence and Vituperation with which
the Republicans were Assailed.

N the Eastern States at the beginning of 1856, there were
four parties the Democrats, the Whigs, the Know-Noth-
ings, and the Republicans. Each of these parties held a
National Convention the Democrats at Cincinnati, the
at Baltimore, and the
Know-Nothings, or Americans,
and the Republicans at Phila-

The Democracy nominated
James Buchanan for the Presi-
dency. Mr. Buchanan had been
a Presidential aspirant since
1844, but he had never loomed up
as a very formidable candidate.
At the Democratic National Con-
vention that nominated James K.
Polk, he received only four votes
on the first ballot, and the highest
number he obtained was 25. In
1848, he started with 55 votes on
the first ballot, but his vote was
reduced to 33 on the fourth, when
General Cass was nominated.
In 1852, he began with 93 votes,
which were reduced to 28 be-
fore the " stampede " for General Pierce. In 1856, Buchanan's
hour had come at last. He had been a Representative and Senator in
Congress from Pennsylvania; had been appointed Minister to Russia
by General Jackson; had been Secretary of State in the cabinet of



President Polk, and was Minister of the United States to the Court of
St. James, under President Pierce. Cold in temperament and austere
in manners, he lacked the affability of Cass, the gracious heartiness
of Pierce, and the bluff cordiality of Douglas. Being absent from the
country, he had no part in the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, or
the blunders of Pierce's administration. His nomination was de-
manded by the North and was a necessity to the South, but his success
was not gained without a struggle. Pierce's adhesion to the Slave
Power had made him a favorite with the Southern people, and the
Southern delegates in the Cincinnati Convention were disposed to
accord the President a second term. Senator Douglas had taken a
strong hold upon the Southern heart, and was regarded as the natural
heir to Mr. Pierce's support, if the President's nomination became im-
possible. In the balloting, Buchanan had the lead from the outset,
and gained steadily but slowly, while Pierce's vote waned rapidly,
much of it going to Mr. Douglas. The resistance was maintained until
the close of the sixteenth ballot, when Pierce was withdrawn and
Buchanan nominated. John C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky, was made
his associate on the ticket for Vice-President.

The American Convention nominated Millard Fillmore for the
Presidency, and Andrew Jackson Donelson, of Tennessee, for Vice-
President. These nominations were ratified by the Whig Convention,
which met in Baltimore in September, Edward Bates, of Missouri,
presiding. The determination of the National Council to prescribe a
platform of principles for the American Convention gave offense to
nearly all the delegates from New England and Ohio, and to part of
those from Pennsylvania, Illinois, and loAva, w r ho withdrew from the
Convention, and subsequently nominated Col. John C. Fremont, of
California, for President, and William F. Johnston, of Pennsylvania,
for Vice-President.

The first National Republican Convention was held at Pittsburg,

Online LibraryGeorge Oberkirsh SeilhamerHistory of the Republican party (Volume 1) → online text (page 3 of 61)