John G. (John Gaylord) Wells.

Wells' illustrated national campaign hand-book for 1860 online

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against it the popular will. Taking Mr. Douglas's
position (as he said) for granted, Mr. J3rowu desired
to hear from other democratic Senators from the free
States, and to know whether they would vote to pro-
tect the rights of slaveholders in the territories. ISTo
one rising for several minutes, Mr. Brown concluded
his remarks, and the Senate being about to proceed to
the consideration of other subjects, Mr. Douglas arose,
and observed that if no other ]S"orthern democratic
Senator desired to be heard on the points presented by
the gentleman from Mississippi, he craved the atten-
tion of the Senate. He thanked Mr. Brown for takins;
his position for granted on the question presented to
the other ISTorthern democrats, and said he had yet to
know that there w^as one democrat in the free States
who would vote to protect slavery in the territories by
congressional enactment against the popular decision.
He proceeded to show that all property in the territo-
ries, including slaves, is, and must be, subject to the
local law of the territorial legislature ; — that the terri-
torial legislature has the same power over slaves in the
territory, as it has over all other property, and no
more ; that his past record shows that he would never
vote for a congressional slave code for the territories ;
that such a code is an absurdity ; that if the people of
a territory want slavery there, they will enact laws for
its protection ; that it was the intent of the Nebraska
bill to confer on the territorial legislature ail the
power that Congress possessed on the subject of slavery,


to allow them to exercise it as tlie people of the terri-
toiy chose ; that the provisions of that bill expressly
forbid the enactment of a congressional slave code for
the territories.

In the com'se of his remarks, he said :

" The Senator from Mississippi and myself agree that,
under the decision of the Supreme Court, slaves are
property, standing on an equal footing with all other
property ; and that, consequently, the owner of slaves
has the same right to carry his slaves with him to
a Territory, as the owner of any other species of prop-
erty has to carry his property there. The right of
transit to and from the Territories is the same for
one species of property as it is for all others. Thus far
the Senator from Mississippi and myself agree — that
slave property in the Territories stands on an equal
footing with every other species of property. IS^ow, the
question arises, to what extent is property, slaves
included, subject to the local law of the Territory ?
Whatever power the Territorial legislature has over
other species of property, extends, in my judgment, to
the same extent, and in like manner, to slave property.
The Territorial legislature has the same power to legis-
late in respect to slaves, that it has in regard to any
other property, to the same extent, and no further. If
the Senator wishes to know what power it has over the
slaves in the Territories, I answer, Let him tell me what
power it has to legislate over every other species of
property, either by encouragement or by taxation, or in
any other mode, and lie has my answer in regard
to slave property.

" But the Senator says that there is something pecu-


liar in slave property, requiring further j)rotection than
Dtlier species of property. If so, it is the misfortune of
those who own that species of property. He tells us that,
if the Territorial legislature fails to pass a slave code for
the Territories, fails to pass police regulations to protect
slave property, the absence of such legislation practic-
ally excludes slave property as effectually as a consti-
tutional prohibition would exclude it. I agree to that
proposition. He says, furthermore, that it is competent
for the Territorial legislature, by the exercise of the
taxing power, and other functions within the limits of
the Constitution, to adopt unfriendly legislation, which
practically drives slavery out of the Territory. I agree
to that proposition. That is just what I said, and all I
said, and just what I meant by my Freeport speech in
Illinois, upon which there has been so much comment

throughout the country."

* * ^:- * -sf * -:f *

"The Senator from Mississippi says they ought to
pass such a code ; but he admits that it is immaterial to
inquire whether they ought or ought not to do it ; for
if they do not want it, they will not enact it ; and if
they do not do it, there is no mode by which you can
compel them to do it. He admits there is no compul-
sory means by which you can coerce the Territorial
legislature to pass such a law ; and for that reason he
insists that, in case of non-action by the Territorial
legislature, it is the right and duty of Southern Senators
and Representatives to demand affirmative action by
Congress in the enactment of a slave code for the Ter-
ritories. He says that it is not necessary to put the
question to me, whether I would vote for a congres-


Bional slave code. lie desires to know of all other
Northern Democrats what they will do ; he does not
wish an answer from me. I am much obliged to him
for taking it for granted, from my past record, that
I would never vote for a slave code in the Territories
by Congress ; and I have yet to learn that there is
a man in a free State of this Union of any party who
* * * -X- * * * *

" llTow, sir, I stand on the Kansas-Kebraska bill, as it
was expounded and understood at the time, with this
full power in the Territorial legislature, with the right
of appeal to the Supreme Court to test the validity of
its laws, and no right whatever to appeal to Congress
to repeal them in the event of our not liking them. I
am ready to answer the inquiry of the Senator from
Mississippi, whether, if I believed the Maine liquor
law to be unconstitutional and wrong, and if a Territo-
rial legislature should pass it, I would vote here to an-
nul it? I tell him no. If the people of Kansas want a
Maine liquor law, let them have it. If they do not
want it, let them refuse to pass it. If they do pass it,
and any citizen thinks that law violates the Constitu-
tion, let him make a case, and appeal to the Supreme
Court. If tlie court sustains his objection, the law is
void. If it overrules the objection, the decision must
stand until the people, who alone are to be affected by
it, who alone have an interest in it, may choose to re-
peal it. So I say with reference to slavery. Let the
Territorial legislature pass just such laws in regard to
slavery as they think they have a right to enact under
the Constitution of the United States. If I do not like


those laws, I will not vote to repeal them ; if you do
not like them, you must not vote to repeal them ; but
anybody aggrieved may appeal to the Supreme Court,
and, if they are constitutional, they must stand ; if they
are unconstitutional, they are void. That was the doc-
trine of non-intervention, as it was understood at the
time the Kansas-Nebraska bill was passed. That is the
w^ay it was explained and argued in the Senate, and in
the House of Representatives, and before the country.
It was distinctly uirderstood that Congress was never
to intervene for or against slavery, or for or aga-inst
any other institution in the Territories ; but leave the
courts to decide all constitutional questions as they
might arise, and the President to carry the decrees of
the court into effect ; and, in case of resistance to his
authority in executing the judicial process, let him use,
if necessary, the wliole military force of the country, as
provided by existing laws,"

" I am glad that the Senator from Mississippi means
to have a clear, unequivocal, specific statement of our
principles, so that there shall be no cheating on either
side. I intend to use language which can be repeated
in Chicago as well as in New Orleans, in Charleston
the same as in Boston. We live under a common Con-
stitution. No political creed is sound or safe which
cannot be proclaimed in the same sense wherever the
American flag waves over American soil. If the North
and the South cannot come to a common ground on the
slavery question, the sooner we know it, the better.
The Democracy of the North hold, at least, that the


people of a Territory have the same right to legislate
in respect to slavery, as to all other property ; and that,
practically, it results in this : if they want slavery, they
will have it ; and if they do not want it, it shall not be
forced upon them by an act of Congress. The Senator
from Mississippi says that doctrine is right, unless we
pass an act of Congress compelling the people of a Ter-
ritory to have slavery, whether they want it or not.
The point he wishes to arrive at is, whether we are for
or against congressional intervention. If you repudiate
the doctrine of non-intervention, and form a slave code
by act of Congress, when the people of a Territory re-
fuse it, you must step off the Democratic platform. "We
will let you depart in peace, as you no longer belong
to us ; 3^ou are no longer of us when you adopt the
principle of congressional intervention, in violation of
the Democratic creed. I stand here defending the
great principle of non-intervention by Congress, and
self-government by the people of the Territories. That
is the Democratic creed. The Democracy in the ITorth-
ern States have so understood it. No Northern Demo-
cratic State ever would have voted for Mr. Buchanan,
but for the fact that he was understood to occupy that

On the question of the African slave trade, Mr. Dou-
glas has expressed himself very fully and explicitly. In
a letter to Col. John L. Peyton, of Staunton, Yirginia,
dated August 2, 1859, he says :

" That question seriously disturbed the harmony of
of the Convention that ramed the Federal Constitution.
Upon it the delegates divided into two parties, under
circumstances which for a time rendered harmonious


action hopeless. The one demanded the instant and
unconditional prohibition of the African Slave-trade,
on moral and religious grounds ; while the other insisted
that it was a legitimate commerce, involving no other
consideration than a sound public policy, which each
State ought to be permitted to determine for itself so
long as it was sanctioned by its own laws. Each party
stood firmly and resolutely by its own position, until
both became convinced that this vexed question would
break up the Convention, destroy the Federal Union,
blot out the glories of the Revolution, and throw away
all its blessings, unless some fair and just compromise
could be formed on the common ground of such mutual
concessions as were indispensable to the preservation of
their liberties, union and independence.

" Such a compromise was efi'ected, and incorporated
into the constitution, by which it was understood that
the African Slave-trade might continue as a legitimate
commerce in those States whose laws sanctioned it until
the year 1808 — from and after which time Congress
might and would prohibit it forever throughout the
dominion and limits of the United States, and pass all
laws which might become necessary to make such pro-
hibition eifectual. The harmony of the Convention was
restored, and the Union saved, by this compromise,
without which the Constitution could never have been

" I stand firmly by this compromise, and by all other
compromises of the Constitution, and shall use my best
efibrts to carry each and all of them into faithful execu-
tion in the sense and with the understanding in which
they were originally adopted. In accordance with this


compromise, I am irreconcilably opposed to the revival
of the African Slave-trade in any form and under any

"Within the past year, Mr. Douglas received many
letters from personal friends, soliciting the use of his
name as the Candidate for the Presidency before the
Charleston Convention, to one of which he replied :

" Washington, Wednesday, June 22, 1859.

"My Dear Sm : I have received your letter, inquiring
whether my friends are at liberty to present my name
in the Charleston Convention for the Presidential nomi-

" Before the question can be finally determined, it will
be necessary to understand distinctly upon what issue
the canvass is to be conducted. If, as I have full faith
they will, the Democratic party shall determine, in the
Presidential election of 1860, to adhere to the principles
embodied in the Compromise Measures of i 850, and
ratified by the people in the Presidential election of
1852, and re-aflirmed in the Kansas-Nebraska Act of
1854, and incorporated into the Cincinnati platform in
1856, as expounded by Mr. Buchanan in his letter ac-
cepting the nomination, and approved by the people —
in that event, my friends will be at liberty to present
my name to the Convention, if Miey see proper to do so.
If, on the contrary, it shall become the policy of the
Democratic party — which I cannot anticipate — to repu-
diate these, tlieir time-honored principles, on which we
have achieved so many patriotic triumphs ; and if, in
lieu of them, the Convention shall interpolate into the
creed of the party such new issues as the revival of the


African Slave-trade, or a congressional slave code for
the territories, or the doctrine that the Constitution of
the United States either establishes or prohibits slavery
in the territories, beyond the power of the people legally
to control it as other property, it is due to candor to
say that, in such an event, I could not accept the nomi-
nation if tendered to me. Trusting that this answer will
be deemed sufficiently explicit,

'* I am, very respectfully, your friend,

"S. A. Douglas.
" To J. B. Dorr, Esq., Dubuque, Iowa."

The history of Mr. Douglas's nomination at Baltimore,
on a platform with the views expressed above as a basis,
is before the world.

January 16, 1850, he submitted the following resolu-
tion to the consideration of the Soutli :

Resolved, That the Committee on the Judiciary be in-
structed to report a bill for the protection of each State and
Territory of the Union against invasion by the authorities or
inhabitants of any other State or Territory, and for the sup-
pression and punishment of conspiracies or combinations in
any State or Territory with intent to invade, assail or molest
the government, inhabitants, property, or institutions of any
other State or Territory of the Union."

This resolution was intended as the ground-work for
the introduction and passage of a law to prevent the
recm-rence of such outrages as John Brown and his as-
sociates committed at Harper's Ferry. January 22,
Mr. Douglas made a powerful speech in favor of the
resolution, in the course of which, he used this expres-
sive language :


" Can any man say to us that, although this outrage
has been perpetrated at Harper's Ferry, there is no
danger of its recurrence ? Sir, is not the Republican
party still embodied, organized, sanguine, confident of
success, and defiant in its pretensions ? Does it not now
hold and proclaim the same creed that it did before
this invasion ? It is true that most of its representatives
here disavow the acts of John Brown at Harper's
Ferry. I am glad that they do so ; I am rejoiced that
they have gone thus far ; but I must be permitted
to say to them, that it is not sufficient that they disavow
the act, unless they also repudiate and denounce the
doctrines and teachings which produced the act. Those
doctrines remain the same ; those teacliings are being
poured into the minds of men throughout the country,
by means of speeches, and pamphlets, and books, and
through partisan presses. Tl^ causes that produced
the Harper's Ferry invasion are now in active opera-
tion. Is it true that the people of all the border States
are required by the Constitution to have their hands
tied, without the power of self-defence, and remain pa-
tient under a threatened invasion in the day or in the
night? Can you expect people to be patient, when
they dare not lie down to sleep at night without first
stationing sentinels around their houses to see if a band
of marauders and murderere are not approaching with
torch and pistol ? Sir, it requires more patience than
freemen ever should cultivate, to submit to constant
annoyance, irritation and apprehension. If we expect
to preserve this Union, we must remedy, within the
Union, and in obedience to the Constitution, every evil
for which disunion would furnisli a remedy."


The life, speeches and votes of a man who has so long
and so industriously labored as a public servant, were
they all gathered together, would fill many volumes,
and this slight sketch may be regarded as merely an in-
dex to what some enterprising publisher would be
warranted in placing in the hands of the public as
a record of the " Life and Speeches of S. A. Douglas."
Such a work, compiled and arranged with care, would
form a treasury of political history of rare value.

The nomination of Mr. Douglas at Baltimore was
greeted with the most enthusiastic demonstrations of
delight on the part of his friends ; and ratifying meet-
ings have been held in the principal cities and towns
throughout the country, in favor of Douglas and

At the conclusion of the ratification meeting at
Philadelphia, June 30th, Judge Douglas received the
honor of a serenade, and after acknowledging the
compliment, he expressed himself as follows :

" I have no political speeches to make during the
pending canvass. If my political opinions are not
known to the people of the United States, it is not
worth while for me to attempt to explain them now.
It now remains for the people to take the matter into
their own hands, to make such decision of the great
issue before the country as will preserve the Constitu-
tion inviolate, as the surest and only method of perpet-
uating this glorious Union. Pennsylvania has a
mighty interest in the preservation of the republic.
She, from her geographical position, is bound to
remain as she began — the keystone of the federal arch.
Pennsylvania has the elements of an empire within


her own limits — all the elements of greatness, whether
you look at her natural, her commercial, her manufac-
tures, at the raw material, the mineral wealth — every-
thing which contributes to make a great country is to
be found within the limits of the Keystone State.
And, in my opinion, the people of Pennsylvania 'have
come to the conclusion that the CongressS of tlie United
States can be better employed in developing the great
material resources of the country, than in wasting time
by forcing slavery or anti-slavery upon the people.
The Constitution of the United States has conferred
upon the federal government certain powers and duties
which they ought to perform. Let that federal gov-
ernment be confined strictly within the narrow sphere
of federal duties, leaving the people of the States and
Territories free to govern themselves without any dic-
tation from federal officers. My friends, I said I had
no political speeches to make, and I will not permit
the temptation of this vast and enthusiastic assemblage,
by the repeated cheering and compliments, to make
me for a moment violate the resolve."

A monster ratification meeting of the friends of
Douglas was held at Tammany Hall on the evening of
July 2nd, at the conclusion of which it was resolved
that a procession of electors, headed by the band,
should proceed to the Fifth Avenue Hotel, the tempo-
rary residence of Mr. Douglas, to serenade him, and
hear his opinions on the exciting topics of the day. In
acknowledgment of this honor, Mr. Douglas appeared,
and addressed his friends as follows :

" Fellow citizens : I return to you my most sincere
thanks for the manifestation of your good feeling. It is


gratifying to me to know that the united Democrac}'
of the city of New York feel the importance of the
great contest now pending before the American people.
There is no place on the American continent whose
citizens ought, from their position, to be so enthusiastic
in favor of those great political principles which should
be proclaimed alike in every State of the Union, as in
the Empire State of New York. While every other State
is in some degree local in its character, having a pecu-
liar circle for its own trade, New York reaches to the
furthermost ends of the continent, and across the whole
world, wherever her flag may wave over American soil
and over American ships. The whole country is the
theatre of your commerce, your interest and your influ-
ence, and you ought to sympathize with the people of
the distant portions of the republic as with those
who come into more immediate contact with you.
Hence, my friends, I expect to find the democracy of
New York standing a unit in favor of those great political
principles which recognize the rights and property
of the citizens of every State, and yet leave every State
perfectly free to manage its own affairs, mind its own
business, and which leave its neighbors alone. My
friends, I made my appearance on this balcony to-night
for the purpose of acknowledging the compliment you
now pay me, and not to enter into political discussion
upon any of the political topics of the day. It is the
first time in my life I have ever been placed in the
position to look on and see a fight without taking
a hand in it. I shall, however, feel no less interest in
this great political struggle, for I believe that the well-
being of this country and the popularity of the Union


depend upon maintaining intact and inviolate those
great cardinal principles for which the democratic party
now, as in former times, are pledged by that platform
and organization. I renew to you my sincere thanks
for your kindness upon this occasion." (Loud applause,
during which Mr. Douglas retired from the balcony.)

Addresses were then made by Messrs. Doheny, Mac-
Sweeny and others, but the audience seemed too good-
humored to listen well, and preferred to visit Mr.
Douglas in the parlor, to which a large and miscellane-
ous crowd accordingly retired. A few moments were
spent in this mutual interchange, and the company

We take leave of this great man in the midst of an
exciting political campaign, in which he is a candidate
for the highest office in the gift of the people. K
elected, we have no doubt that he will administer the
duties of that office with credit to himself and honor to
his country.

H E R S C H E L V . J C) H N ^^ ( > N ,







Was born in Burke County, Georgia, September,
1812. His parents were in good circumstances, and
young Johnson was early put in training to prepare
his mind for a lirst-class education. At school he
evinced a comprehensive mind, rare intellectual pow-
ers, and a studious disposition, that soon enabled liim
to master the elementary branches of his course. He
entered the University of Georgia, in 1830, and grad-
uated in coui'se in 1834, with distinguished honor.

Mr. Johnson adopted the profession of the law, in
which he was remarkably successful, and soon distin-
guished himself as an advocate. Ready and otF-
lianded in debate, of quick perception, apt at unravel-
ing and analysing the knotty points of a case, — a
pleasant speaker, with unlimited command of language,
affable and ceremonious, he is just the man to carry a
jury by storm. His experience has exemplified this fact
in a thousand instances ; and there is probably not so
])opular a lawyer in the State of Georgia to-day as
Hon. Herschel V. Johnson.

In 1844, he was a Presidential elector on the demo-
cratic ticket ; and in 1847, he was appointed by the
Governor of Georgia to represent that State in the
United States Senate, in place of Mr. Colquit, who


had resie^ned. While a Senator, he addressed that
body in a speech of great ability and eloquence, on
the subject of the fornriation of governments for the
territories of New Mexico and California ; and as we

Online LibraryJohn G. (John Gaylord) WellsWells' illustrated national campaign hand-book for 1860 → online text (page 7 of 27)