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Hermaim Eduapd von Hoist 

Volume 6 

Callaghan & Co. 


Financial Situation. — Seward's Rochester S|)eecb. — Lincoln's 
Course of Development. — Lincoln's Letter of tlie 15th of Au- 
gust, IS').").— Senatorial Election in Illinois in 1855. — The Can- 
didate Question in Illinois in 1858. — Lincoln's Speecli Before 
the State Convention. — The Lincoln-Douglas Debate. — Lin- 
cohi's Position on the Slavery Question. — The Dred Scott De- 
cision and Popular Sovereignty. — Lincoln's Criticism of the • 
Frecport Declaration. — Rf'sult and Meaning of the Illinois 
Campaij^n. — The Southern Radicals.— The Public Lands and 
the Homestead liaw. — Danger to Sl avery in the S lave Stat es. — 
Ctuitinued Development of the Slavocratic Spirit. — Slavocratic 
Spirit in the Churches and Schools. — Slavocratic Definition of 
Abolitionism. — Agitation of the African Slave Trade. — Yan- 
cey's Letter of the 15th of June, 185S 253 



Annual M< ssage of the 6th of December, 1858, on Kansas. — Ore- 
gon Admitted as a State. — Slidell's Thirty-million Bill. — Sli- 
dell's Committee Report on the Project to Purchase Cuba. — The 
Purchase of Cuba and the Questions of Secession and Slavery. — 
Collamer's Refutation of Buchanan and Slidell. — Attitude of 
Spain towards the Project of Purchasing Cuba. — Buclianan's 
Plans and Wishes.— The Fight over Slidell's Bill in the Senate.— 
Brown's Speech of the 23d of February.— The Debate of the 
23d of February 825 





" When the mariner has been tossed for many days in 
thick weather, and on an unknown sea. he naturally 
ayails himself of the first pawse in the slorm, the earliest 
glance of the sun, to Cake his latitude, and ascertain how 
far the elements have driven him from hia true course." ' 
The stream of evolving circumstances shot with so 
much force and in such wild eddies lowards the steep 
precipice and down into the dark depths of time, that 
the memory of the great men of the second period of tho 
Iiistory of the Union, under the constitution, faded away 
with a rapidity surprising oven in the fasl-livmg Ameri- 
can people. These words, however, with which Webster 
began his celebrated speech of January 2G, 1830, in reply 
to Hayne, were not yet forgotten. But if they had 
foand a place only in the reading-books used in the 
schools, among the specimens of American eloquence, 
Ihey would have been of little value. They contained 
» Wtb8t.'B Worka, Ul, p. 2T0. 


- KSD OF 35Tn conaaESB. 

an earnest ailmonilion, tlia taking of which to beart 
was never so ur/^enUy demanded as after the presiden- 
tial election of liS56. To prevent the catastrophe was 
impossible, for tho will and the wishes of men were 
powerless against the logic of facts. But the time and 
form of its coming, the ra|)idity of its course and its final 
result depended, in great part, on tho voluntary deter- 
mination of the people as to what they would do or leave 
ondone, and their determination would bo more fatal in 
projKjrtion as they mistook the real situation. 

In this respect, the greatest responsibility rested on 
the president. The constihition had placed him on the 
highest watch-tower commanding the farthest and most 
unobstructed view. The express provision of the consti- 
tution that he should, from time to time, give Informa- 
tion to congress of the state of the Union, imposed on 
him the sacred duty to endeavor, with the most scrupu- 
lous conscientiousness, nOt to allow his vision to be 
dimmed by parly passion an<l party interest. He had, 
indeed, been elected b}' one party, but he was bound by 
his oath to support the constitution, which said nulhing 
of a democratic or republican president, and mentioned 
only a presitlent of the United States. True, even Wash- 
ington had found it impossible, when invested with the 
executive power, to keep entirely aloof from, and above, 
party, and the failure of his endeavor was determined by 
the very nature of things. It could not but be still more 
impossible, if we may be allowed the expression, for hia 
successoi's in the presidency to lift themselves, in thought 
and action, above party; and even if they coald so have 
raised themselves, they should not have been asked to do 
it, for the constitution was not guilty of the absurdity of 
making the absence of convictions a (jualificalion of n 
true president; besides, it was as the representatives of 


certain political convictions that tliey Imd been chosen 
presidents. But the correct principle that the personal 
convictions of the president which coincide more or less 
fully with the convictions of a certain definite, political 
party must control his judgment and action, should not 
be perverted into this, that the president ought to, or 
even must, base his judgment and action on wimt the 
doctrines of liis party demand of him, or on what would 
be of advantage or disadvantage to his party. But this 
is precisely what Pierce again did with the naive audac- 
ity of absolute shainelessness. 

The annual message of December 2, 1856, so far as it 
touched on the internal affairs of the Union, did not rise 
above the level of a stump speech by a professional party 
agitator of tbe most ordinary type. Such a harangue 
post Jt^ium, coming from any mouth, would seem very 
Tmpty, even lo tlie most short-sighted criticism; coming 
from the mouth of the preskiant, it made an impression all 
tbe worse, as Pierce introduced it with a referonco to his 
duty " lo scan with an impartial eye the interests of the 

If the message was generally judged ranch more in- 
dulgently than it deserved, the reason is that no impor- 
tance was attached to it. and rightly so; and, further, 
because people saw in it a plea for a defendant delivered 
from the bench, and in the tone of the judge. The re- 
publicans did not now do Pierce the honor of allowing 
themselves to be again aroused, by his bold distortion of 
the facts, to a still stronger expression of their moral in- 
dication. Their sentence on him had been long since 
irrevocably passed; and, whether that sentence wa.s well 
founded or not, it would have been useless for them to 
go buck to the record of his trial, since it was an indispu- 
table fact that he was politically dead. When he said 


f 35th 

that the states in which the republicans were victorious 
had tried "to usurp" the government, all he accom- 
plished was to awaken doubts as to his political responsi- 
bility. Whatever absurdities he might give utterance to, 
he thernby, in no way, changed the facts; but the more 
ho indulged in exnggorations, evident untruths and pure 
nonsense, the less could lie succeed in deceiving the 
thinking portion of the people as to the facts. The as- 
sertion that those alleged usurpatory wishes had been 
"pointedly rebuked" by the people did not transform 
the minority vote for Buchanan into a majority vote, 
and did not make people forget the honest admission 
of the radicals of the southern states, that the democrats 
owed even their plurality victory only to the Fillmorcans. 
Even if Kansas now enjoyed completely undisturbed 
pence, as Pieroe assured the country it did, would the 
correctness and justice of his Kansas policy bo recognized, 
on that account, by the republicans, and would the Kan- 
sas question cease to be the order of the day) 0ns of 
the moat influential democratic papers of the country, 
the Detroit Free Pre^iit, explained to him that Pennsyl- 
vania, New Jersey. Indiana, Illinois, Delaware, Ken- 
tucky, Tennessee, Missouri and Louisiana "could not 
have been saved" for the democratic party if he had 
been its candidate, or his Kansas policy the decisive ques- 
tion, in the electoral campaign.' 

Did Caleb Cushing's bold assertion, that the entire 
country covered by the territories had already been sur- 
rendet'ud to slavery by u series of decisions of the federal 
supreme court, become a fact because it was now repeated 
by the president J All these decisions had been published 

' Tl)e uU)iuiit« cause of hia fatal miitoke tlio article finds in liis 
"o^rirecning deaire of a second term." CoDgr. Olobo, Brd S«n, 
84th CuugT., p. 14. 


long before the elecloral ciimpaign, and yet the territo- 
riai qaestion was the pivotai point in thn,t campaign. 

Pierce, in ihe name of his party, hiding behind the 
mask of tlie triumphor whose victory has been sulli- 
ciently coin|)lete to warrant hiiu henceforth to liang his 
sword andhhield oa the wall wilh impunity, cut now only 
a half-comical, half-pitiful figure. Ko previous president, 
not even Tyler, had bo entirely thrown away his moral 
reputation and his reputation for statesmanship as had 
he; and tho short interval between the election and in- 
auguration of the new president bore, in a higher degree 
than ever before, the character of an interregnum. Even 
if Pierce in the composition of it had been animated xvith 
the sincerity of Washington, bis message could have no 
practical weight except to the extent that he succeeded 
in imparting his own delusions to the political parlies of 
the country. 

It was not so easy, as might have been expected, to 
give a definite answer to the question whether, and to 
what extent, this was the case. Congress devoted a great 
part of the session to exhaustive debates on the history 
and meaning of the electoral campaign. Most of the 
speeches, however, were delivered in a comparatively very 
calm tone, and tlio speakers kept to the subject. Tim 
southerners based their arguments much less than usual 
on threats and coarse slander of the republicans, and the 
republicans made no effort to find compensation for their 
defeat in angry declamation. Neither side retreated from 
any position it had previously taken, while both showed 
a certain reluctance to advance in the way of attack or 
defense. It was plain that this could not be ascribed 
solely to tho natural want of rest, after the long and vio- 
lent straggle. The two parties were weighed down by a 
cgrtain feeling of insecurity. The outlook into the near 


future was still so involved in obscurity that tliere t 
great tjesilalion on both sides to take the initiative. 

If the small majority of the secessionists on principle, 
in the democratic camp, had continued tlie agitation in 
favor of their programme immediately afler the new 
democratic victory, as openly and directly as they badj 
shortly before and during the electoral carapaiirn, thojl 
would, by so doing, have only sapped the foundatioi 
under their own feet. Every democrat who honestly da 
sired the preservation of the Unian, and who believe* 
tbul its preservation depended on tlie supremacy of hM 
party, could not but anxiously ask himself, when hd 
thought of the next step to be taken, whether that sted 
would not make the complete disruption of ihe party un- 
avoidable. There were not many lulled by the result ofl 
the election into such unreHccting optimism as to consiila 
a further straining of [)arty bonds devoid of danger, 
how could any advance be made without making such ij 
straining necessary! And advance the party muat; fol 
with the exception of the cjuestion whether llio democrali 
should continue to rule, the electoral campaign had daj 
cided nothing whatever. The more prudent democratu 
who recoiled before a cataslroplie, would, thoretore, havm 
liked nothing better than to see the taking of tlie initiJ 
utive shoved on to the shoulders of the republicans, andf 
iho latter thus justify the charge made by Pierce, Ihafl 
they were pursuing an aggressive policy towards thS 
soutli. But the republicans were neither so short-sighte 
nor so fanatical as to now adopt the modtts operandi of 
the abolitionists and carry it into actual political party 
life. Admitted it must be that, by doing so, they would 
have exhibited their fidelity lo principle and their loveofJ 
freedom in a biilUant light; but such action would hav( 
>eeij[ so grave a tactical blunder that, in all probabilityj 

its conspqucnce would btive been the loss of their viabil- 
ity as a political party. They were honestly convinced they were a strictly consfpvative party, and the peo- 
ple had flocked around their banner only because tbey 
uere believed to be such a parly. The moment they went 
beyond acting on the defensive they would lose that char- 
acter, and the masses then would, without question, de- 
sarl them as rapidly as they had fallen into rank with 
them. True, ethico- religions convictions were, to a great 
extent, the motire power ibat built up the republican 
party; bat only because it was thought that thuy were in 
complete harmony with the recjuirements of positive law 
did the people believe thin' might join them. Of course, 
ibe possibility that the party, by new provocaliuns, might 
be forced to make etbico-religious convictions and polit- 
ical necessity, viewed from thestandpoint of these convic- 
tions, govern in the construction of positive law, could 
not even now be denied. Still less could ii be denied 
there was danger that the masses would be again inclined 
to rest satistied xvtth the condemnation of slavery " in the 
abstract,"' if they were not kept awake and eager for the 
fray by new provocations. This danger was so great and 
so plain that the leaders must have been struck with com- 
plete blindness not to recognize that they could not play 
more etfectually into the hands of the slavocracy than by 
seeking to change the programme with which they had 
begun their existence, by making it aggressive. 

That party politics — with the exception of the speeches 
of a more academic chanictei- referred to — were very 
quiet in the winter months of ]t>5ti-57, was, under the 
oircumstiinces, very natural. Evidently, however, no 
conclusion as to ihe future cuuld be drawn from this 
ooniparativo calm. The programme of the Filhnoreans: 
conveniently and gafely to get out of the way of all 


danger, simply by the preservation of the atatwt j 
was still merely the declaration of bankniptcy of th^ 
fossil vvisdoiD of political mediocrity — Us declaration oP 
bankruptcy skilfully formulated. The question was not 
whether the struggle would begin anew, but only how, 
and from what side, the impulse to its outbreak would 

So far as the latter point is concerned the decision 1 
entirely witU the republicans, to the extent that aa o|>- 
position party is never compelled to pursue a positivi 
policy. They needed only to wait for the end of t' 
session, and of Pierce's presidential term, wLen ' 
democrats would have to lid;e the initiative. The lattei 
had only a choice us to whether that initiative would t 
taken by congress or by ihe new president. If the latte 
wished to lake it he could not be prevented, since, in 1 
inaugural address, he had the lirst word. It requirt 
very great ambition and a vast amount of self-relianca t 
want, in this instance, to assnme the dreadful responst^ 
bilily of the decision. But the peculiar circumstanoes o 
tile case transferred that responsibility to the presiddnl 
in such a way that he could not permanently escape 
no matter how ardently he might wish to do so. Aa t 
next step forward would necessarily broaden and deep! 
the split in the dejuocratic JKirty, it was useless for t 
president to submit everything to the "wisdom of ( 
gresu," Even if it had been possible for him to remaii^ 
absolutely passive, so loug as congress had reached nffi 
tirm resolve in the form of laws, tbo factions of bis own 
party could allow him to hold no such neutral posltioD,! 
because none of them was strong eiiougli to overcomft 
the adversaries in its own cainp, the republtcaos and the" 
Fillmoreans. It seemed xnr^ doubtful if even the decided'! 
partisanship of the president would have weight < 

suios OAitr.Ras. 

to tmito a sufficient majority on any programme; but 
without tl)e eini>luyiiient of all the pressure which the 
oxccGlivo was able to exercise by thetlivisiun of the spoils 
and other means, any effort in this direction would cer- 
tainly have hail no prospect of success. 

Verily, therefore, the president found himself in no en- 
viable position. But. froiii one sjiccial circumstance there 
arose, for Buclianan. difficulties, or at least unpleosant* 
nesa, uf a peculiar kmd, from which no other prominent 
party politician, in his position, would havo had to suffer 
to the same extent. At Cincinnati and in iho presidential 
campnign it had been of great advantage to him that, 
during the controversy over the Kansas-Nebraska bill, ho 
had been out of the country; but now, the very same 
reason made his position, in relation to his own party, 
more diHicult and delicate. If the fact that no one could 
positively say where he stood had rendered him the best 
of service up to the time of his victory, he had all the 
less reason, on that account, to oxpect indulgent iroatment 
from the faction against whom he would declare, after 
the battle had been won. If he wished to sit between 
the two stools his full would certainly be all the worse, 
because an energetic effort would be made, on both sides. 
to keep him from doing so. And if he made a choice, the 
other side, embittered, would, unquestionably, declaro it- 
selfshaniefuUy cheated; and the more uncertain it was 
where he had stood on the issues of the last three years, 
the less was he in a condition to refute the charges of 
disloyalty and treason. 

Under these circumstances, imagine what thoughts and 
feelings must have been awakened in Buchanan's breast 
by the news that the legislature of his own state, al- 
though the democrats were in a majority, small, indeed, 
butnndisputed, in that body, hud, on the 13th of January, 



1857, elected the republican Simon Ciinieron to be u 
senator of the United States. What importance was to 
bo attached to this defeat depended, of course, on its 
special causes But it could not fail to luako a powerful 
impression on friend and foe,' and this fact alone made 
it an event of iniporlance. Pennsylvaniii was not only 
Buchanan's own state, but the Cincinnati convention had 
chosen hioi as presidential candidate mainly beciiuse he 
had bonn tbo most prominent and the bcst-likod iioltti- 
cian of Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania, as a matter of 
fact, bad turned the scales in his favor in the electoral 
campaign. And now ho received this slap, even before 
he had taken possession of the White House, It was 
even sought to account for it by the fact that he had 
tried to obtain votes for one of the democratic candi- 
dates.^ And all tbo more weight was attached to it, 
because the greatest amount of credit for the victory of 
the democrats in Pennsylvania was ascribed to Colonel 

The repnblica.ns here and there inferred the imme- 
diate end of democratic rule in Pennsylvania from this 
unexpected incident; yet such an inference might easily 
prove to bo an over-hasty oonclusion. But that that rule 
would be greatly weakened, and that, in a short time, 
perhaps, a very small weight would sullice permanently 
to turn the scales, even the democrats could not conceal 
from themselves. Still what conclusions the party lead- 
ers, and especially Buchanan, would draw from the rec- 

I A cjjirespondtnt of the Now York 5V(l>iin« wrote f lom WasliinglOn 
to tlint paper on tliH 13th of Januiiry: "A single uveni hna rnrclj 
produced groaler sensRtiui) in polilitMil circles here th«n the inlclli- 
genoe ot Mr. Cameron's election did to-day," The N. Y, Tribune. 
Jftn. 16. 1857, 

igiM l)i« letter, in relation hereto, of Jannarjr T, l)4?7, to Henry S. 
Uott, iu the Now York Tribune ot Fcliruarr 3, 18.17, 


ognition of this possibility, was an entirely different 
question. If the southern wing looked upon the event 
as a warning to take into account, as far us possible, at 
leastfor the moment, the pressnre under which the party 
politicians in the nortiiera states were kept by public 
opinion, in order that they might gain a stronger foot- 
hold in the doubtful st.-iies, Buchanan would have gladly 
lent thpni a friendly hunil to help them to a cautious 
policy of reconciliation. But how if the slavocracy drew 
the contrary conclusion from the event, viz.: that all 
consideration on their part was love's labors lost, and 
that the ii-on must be forged with blows of redoubled 

On the 7th of February, the New York Tribune was 
written to fnmi Uarrisburgthat, in all probability, Colonel 
Forney would not be called to the cabinet, because 
the south did not want the real views of Pennsylvania, 
whose vole had been sneakingly obtained only by the 
promise that Buchanan's election would insure ihe free- 
dom of Kansas, represented in it; in October, therefore, 
that is, at the next election, violent storms might be ex- 
pected from Pennsylvania.' Three days before, the same 
journal had been informed, from Washington, that Buch- 
anan had conferred with some prominent southerners 
like Hunter and Mason, but that of the present cabinet 
officers, only Jefferson Davis had been honored with an 
invitation. The subject of discussion was not the com- 
position of the new cabinet. Buchanan had communi- 
CRlcd to the gentlemen present his views respecting his 
inaugural address, and received a promise from Davis to 
support the administration so long as it held to the pro- 
gramme contemplated.^ That this intelligence deserved, 

"TheS. Y. Tribune. Feb, 11. 1657. 
I Ibid. . etli and lOtb of Febniarjr. 


' 3J1 


as ihe correspondent wrote, attention as an indication olJ 
the future, could no longer be doiibtfd, when the TrtftunsM 
on the 12lb of January, ivas teiegra|ilied from Washing- 
ton that Buchanan bad said Rusk was dead with the 
republican party. Even if the thought bad not been 
expressed thus strongly, but had been merely intimaied,.J 
the despatch, that more clear-sighted democrats begai^ 
anxiously to ask tbeuisolvi-s what the party bad to cxpeoU 
from the president, had to be believed.' But not onlj^ 
the democratic party but, the entire country bad everyj 
reason to be anxious, when, under a cloud so pregnan^ 
with the storm, a fog thus dense obscured the vision oA 
tlie old man in whose hands the belm of the sbipof Btatal 
was to be |)laced during the next four yeai-s. 

The pomp displayed at the festivities of the inaugnra-l 
tion exceeded what was usual on such occasions. Amild,f 
clear, spring day put the population of Washington anda 
the guests ivlio bad flocked thither in great numbers ia^ 
tlio best of humor. Buchanan Iried not to dampen tbeirfl 
spirits. Those who honored him as the '* sage of Wheat- ■ 
land " were able to come down Capitol Hill, after listea*) 
ing to the inaugural address, gladder ibun when they had 
ascended it. 

The president begun with the assurance that, in fiiftj 
administration, be woolil be governed by no motive ex*J 
cept the wish to servo his country faithfully and wellj 
add to live in the grateful memory of the people, as hof 
was resolved not to seek re-eleclioo. 

Why might not a happy future be looked forward (o,! 
considering such excellent intentions? The presidenta 

>>■ . . . the lntU>r(K»9k), with others, HTj^iiri-l (hat if BUchd«b I 
liisioD could be entertnini'd. others more EH.»ri(ms micht easily occur. T 
Tliere spi'iiis tu be II IViL-b.uling on tlie i|{MiiiH.-rntk- niile that the nd- 1 
niniBtratioo is dooiiit.-d, undvr a. fatality of tbo president" 



liad said, indeed, in the electoral campnign, tbat tbe 
" passions " of the people bad been excited " to the high- 
est degree," because that campaign turned apon questions 
of "vital importance;" hot he had claimed also that 
the "tempest at once subsided and all ivas calm," when 
the people had made known tlieir will. What ground 
was there to consider this calm a sign that the storm 
was gathering strength for a new outbreak with re- 
doubled violence? W:is there not rather every reason to 
hope that the agitation of the slavery question would 
cease, and that sectional or geographical parties, so much 
dreaded Ijy Washington, would disappear? Since con- 
gress had evolved the "happy conception" to apply to the 
question of slavery in the territories the simple principle 
that the will of the majority must decide, the " agitation " 
was " without any legitimate object." 

If the hope that the long and violent struggle between 
slavery and freedom had boon terminated by the elec- 
toral campaign was based only on this, it evidently did 
not deserve to be likened even to a sonp-bubble. That 
"happy conception " of congri?ss had already become a law 
in the Kansas-Nebraska bill, in 1S54. But it was this 
vopy bill that led to the formation of tlie republican 
party; and on that very ground tbe last electoral baltlo 
had been fought ^-ith the high degree of passion alluded 
to by the president, Thus far, therefore, the people had 
certainly not believed that "the recent legislation of 
congress" had deprived the agitation of every "legili- 
niatc object." Ilence tbe suspicion couhl not but be 
awakened that the alleged hope that the tomahawk 
would now be buried, was a conscious sham ; for Buclianan 
must have become avictim of megalomania to thinkthat 
his ipse dixit would convert the people to his belief. Or 

14 bdchanan's electios- 

» OF 3oTn coS(.i 

might there not be, after all, some other positive founda- 
tron for this fair hope discovered ( 

Much as Buchanan might admire the " great principle "' 
of the Kansas-Nebrasiliit bill, ho could not liclpadmittin<; 
that it had not furnished, immediately, a complete solu 

tion to the ( 

, he bad to 

I question at issue. Will or not, h 
remember that the partisans of that bill held very di- 
vergent opinions on the question, when the decision by 
the majority was to be made. He explained that he had 
always understood the bill to mean that it was to be 
made when the population of the territory had grown 
so large that they could give theraselvea a constitution in 
order to be admitted into the Union. The practical im- 
portance of the question, however, bo considered very 

Scarcely a moment before he had said that, in the 
electoral campaign, a "question of vital importance'" was 
at issue, But nothing whatever had been changed by 
the presidential election, or since it. The republicans 
had performed no evolution, and the democrats were as 
much at variance as ever in their interpretation of the 
"great principle," Notwithstanding this, the contro- 
versy bad shrunk. Buchanan claimed, to a question "of 
but little practical importance,"' so that the president now- 
thought himself warranted to tell public opinion that it 
might turn its attention to questions of " more pressing 
and practical importance," This was sheer nonsense un- 
less reason were introduced into the evident contradic- 
tion, by the sentence immediately following the assertion, 
that the question in controversy, when the principle of 
" popular sovereignty " in respect to slavery should conic 
into force, was practically of little importance. "Bo- 
sides," that sentence reads, '"it is a judicial question 



which rightly belongs to the siipreme court of the United 
States, before whom it is now pending, and will, it is 
understood, be speeiidy «nd linuily settled." 

If this announcement were correct some meaning 
might be made out uf the nonsensical reasoning of the 
president, but a meaning very different from that which 
the president himself intendcil. 

What reason was there for the express assurance that 
he, "in common with all good citizens," would "cheer- 
fully" submit to the decision soon to be expected?' 
If it were ceriain that the decision lay with the supreme 
court of the United States, how could it be doubted 
that all citizens would submit to iis Judgment, e^'en if not 
"cheerfiiUyy" Was there not, in the allusion to the 
"good citizens." an expression of the anticipation that 
the jnrisijiction of the supreme court would be contested) 
Bad astlioso citizens might be who would not submit to 
its dei^ision, with respect to the iiractical imjiortance of 
the question on which the president hud laid iho greatest 
stress, it was evident that only their number was of any 
Influence, It was not indivictuids only, but the great polit- 
ical parties, whose creed hitherto came in conflict with 
the decision of the supreme court. It was not individuals 
only, but the great political parties, who denied its juris- 
diction, and who, therefore, claimed that its judgment was 
not binding. Hence its decision, as a matter of fact, could 
tiot be final. In the very nature of things, the battle 
must be renewed with increased bitterness on both sides, 

' James Biiclinnan Henry, nepliew of the prpsiilent, sHys tliBt ihe 
inaugural nddresa was (.-oinposed at Wheatlnni], aniJ tlitit Bitcliauau 
add^ to it, nrierwurda, only the portion relating lo ihu Ditd Scott 
ikcuion. Curtis. Life of Jauies Buchannn, ir, p. 187. Nii-olny and 
HBy, in their history of Lincoln, add. thin " Ic-hIh ui the inference 
UiBt it was prompted from higli quartera." The Century Magnztue. 
Jane, 1887, p. 219. 

16 BUCHAK4n's election — END OF 35tH COKaBKSS, 

because the vain effort had been made to settle the con- 
troversy in this manner. 

Tbe supreme court of the United States must have had 
the same opinion of its competency as Buchanan had, if 
the expectation of the latter was to be fnllilied that the 
court would render an opinion containing a decision re- 
specting ihe principle, and ivliich, on that account, could 
claim to be a final settlement of the controversy. Bat 
from Buchanan's oivn reasoning it followed that, in this 
case, his good and bad citizens would undoubtedly coin- 
cide, respectively, with the two political parties. The 
cbaracterizaliOQ of the "principle" of tbe Kansas-Ne- 
braska bill as a " happy conception " evidently contained 
a recognition of the unquestionable fact that, together 
with it, something new was introduced into the legislation 
of the Union. More than lliis, the expression wasA'ery 
unhappily chosen, if this new thing, thus ititroiluced into 
tbe country's legislation, was to bo declared an absolute 
postulate of the constitution,^ a postulate only juel now 
discovered. But if tbe application of the principle of 
" popular sovereignty " was not required by tbe cunslitn- 
tion, but only reconimendable on groundsof equity or po- 
litical expediency, it must, to say the least, have appeared 
very surprising, at the first glance, that, so far as the time 
at which it came into force was concerned, the question 
of equity and political expediency should be transformed 
into a pure question of law under the constitution, which 
was to be decided by the supreme court of the Uniti'd 
States. A metiimorphosis thus wonderful could not be 
underHtood; the most that can be said of it is that it 
might be taken onfait/i. But the Union had now lived 
more than two generations under the conslitution. Sev- 
eral lerritorics had been organized and admitted into the 
Union as states during that jieriod. 


On tlio occasion of their admission, the slavery qiie* 
tion Imd repeatedly given rise to the most violent party 
struggles, but they had been fought on different ground 
and settled in a different way. The doctrines now rep- 
resented by the president were an achievement of recent 
years, and ihey had furnished a basis for the transforma- 
tion and for a new formation of parties. If the an- 
nounced judgment of the federal supreme court bore the 
character described, tlien the two parties to the case be- 
fore that court were the two great political parties of the 
country; and in the constitutional creed of the republi- 
can party since its origin, two chief articles were the 
two principles: Congress alone has jurisdiction over the 
slavery qncstion in the territories; and the doctrine oE 
popidar sovereignty, whose unconditional rejection is 
demanded by every political, economic, practical and 
moral consideration, is destitute of all constitutional foun- 
dation. It was, accordingly, a notorious fact that the 
repnblican'i emphatically denied the jurisdiction of the 
United States supreme court on the gcnui-nl c\avsl\on, and, 
as they further considered the doctrine of popular sov- 
ereignty worthy of condemnation from every point of 
view, they could not, evidently, in the face of all the re- 
qaireincnts of loslc, hch'evc, notwithstanding, that the 
sjxcial question was. as Buchanan asserted, a "judicial" 
one under the constitution. If, spite of this, Buchanan 
really expected that a judgment of the supreme court 
would practically be a settlement of the controversy, 
then he could not but believe that the republicans, for 
some reason or other, surrendering their constitutional, 
|K>litical, economic and moral convictions, would accept 
the supremo court as an extra-constitutional arbitration 
court to whose sentence they would voluntarily submit. 
II this could be at all supposed, an absolute condition 

18 bcchanan's elkction— knd of 35tu concbkss. 

precedent thereto was unquestionably this: that the re- 1 
pubhcans should bold the slightest suspicion of the par- [ 
tialitj'ofthesupremecoiirtto be excluded. But they had | 
already long brandetl the supreme court as the " citadel " 
of slavery, and the history of its development, iviLh which j 
even the educated strata of the people were exceedingly I 
little acijuainled, was suggestive of the thought that the | 
south had. systematically and conscious of its aim, labored I 
for decades to make it such in very deed. 

The law of Suptember 24, 1TS9, on the organization 1 
of the judiciary system of the Union, provided that i 
chief justice and five associate justices should constitute J 
the supremo court of the United States, established by \ 
the constitution, and divided the Union into tbirleen dis- J 
tricts,' which were to be comprised in three circuits, — an i 
eastern, a middle and a western circuit,^an appeal lying 
to tbem from the district courts.^ A law of April 20,1 
1802, raised the number of the circuits to six, and tbel 
north and the south were given three each. Maine and f 
the stales of Kentucky and Tennessee continued to con- 1 
stitute separate and exclusive districts, but were not | 
included in any of the circuits.' Neither was any con- 
sideration shown to Ohio, although it was admitted oo i 
the following day into the Union. Not until 1807, by a | 
law of February 24 of that year, were Kentucky, Ten- \ 
nessee and Ohio formed into a seventh circuit, and, ac- 

1 The rnndamental idea was to make each state a separate district. 
North Carolina and'E-hode Island, however, coutd not he taken inl 
consideration, a£ tbe^ had not yet ratified the constitution. On the 
other band, Kentucky and Maine were even now formed into dis- 
tricts, although they atill were parts of Virginia and Masaacbuaetts 
revpectively, and although Maine nas admitted intA the Unioo only - 
thirty years aflerwarda (llarch 8. 1820;. 

^U. 8. Slat. atL.,1, p. 78. 

(Ibid., n, p. 157. 



eordingly, a seventh associale justice was added to the 
sapreme court ot the United States.' 

So fiir there ivas nothirif; to be observed of any influence 
of the slave-holding interest on the orgunisation of the 
judiciary system. On the occasion of the next important 
law, however, an attempt to influence it was clearly per- 
ceptible. The storms of the Missouri struggle and of the 
nullification experiment by South Carolina had swept over 
the country. The abolitionists, under the war-standanl 
of the unbending and inviolable principle, had entered on 
the scene, and the slavocracy had opened their eyes to 
the fact that the condition precedent to the continuance 
of slavery was its supremacy over the Union. Of how 
great importance, therefore, a. pre]>onderant position in 
the supreme court of the United States was, could not 
escape the keen eyes of the leaders,^ an<l the little inter- 
est public opinion had in qiicstiona relating to the 
organization of a judiciary as well as the little under- 
standing it had of them, made the pL^aiization of their 
wishes in that direction easy. By the law of March 3, 
1837, the number of associate justices of the supreme 

I U. S. Slat, at L , n, pp. 420. 421. 

1 Wljether autliDriliitive proof can be produced for J. M. Aahley'e 
Baser tion (hat Calhoun was the father of the idea, I do not know; 
|.liat the nssuiuiilioD seems proLable to me 1 nei-d not say, in view ot 
my opinion un the towering position of Calhoun among all the 
leaden i>r tlie Hlavocracy. The passage in Ashley's speech of May 
211, 1800, from which the fads adduced in tlie text are chiefly taken, 
Una follows; " Foiling, however, to secure tlie open indorsement by 
the democratic pai'ty of that day of the favorite theory of the slave 
puwer, Mr. Calhoun hit upon tlie plan of getting poesessioa of the 
BUpreme court, liecnuse it is a power the furthest removed from the 
people, b held in great esteem by them, and such acta of aggression 
as Mr. Calhoun contemplated, if committed by the supreme court, he 
kuew would be to quietly done as tv excite no alarm and pass almost 
unnoticed," Oongr. Globe, I Seas. 36th Congr., App., p. 806. 

20 Buchanan's electtion — kkd of SStii conoukss. 

court iva3 increased to eight, and that ot the circuit 
courts to nine. Kentucky and Tennessee were sepamted 
from Ohio, which henceforth, together with Indiana, 
Illinois and Michigan, constituted the seventh circuit. 
The two new circuits were made up of Kentucky, Ten- 
nessee and Missouri; and of Alabama, Louisiana, Missis- 
sippi and Arkansas, respectively.' The free stales, ivith a 
population (according' to the census of Itf-tO) of 9,654,S65, 
had, therefore, four circuit courts, while the slave states, 
with a white population of only 4,573,930, had five. In 
consequence of the rapid increase of population in the Free 
states, this unequal apportionment became more inequi- 
table and more unreasonable as years rolled by. It at 
last came to such a pass that the judge of the seventh 
circuit had more to do than the five judges of the south- 
ern circuits together,' while the now, free states admitted 
into the Union were allowed no representation in the 
supreme court ot the United States, and were neither as- 
signed a place in the existing circuits nor constituted cir- 
cuits themselves, although the amount of judicial busi- 
ness in tbem in 1S60, of wliicU such courts would have 

IStBt, 8tL„ III. pp. 170. 177. 

I Aahley drew up the following table; 






The five southern circuito. . 










Iiad jurisdiction, was, according to Ashley, equal to at 
least one-third of that ofal! liie tifteen sliive stales.' 

Groat as was tlie advantage whioli tbe slavocracy ac- 
quired by the law of lSa7, they did not consider them- 
selves suflicicnlly secnred by it. Only after they had 
succeeded in niiildng snre of a permanent majority in the 
judiciary commiilee of the seiialc, did they feel entirely 
certain that a majority of the justices of the supreme 
court of tbe United States would profess the doctrines 
relative to shivery which were agreeable to the slave in- 
terest, whenever a legal question bearing on slavery 
arose. The proposals of the judLciary committee of the 
senate controlled, as a rule, tlie position of the senate on 
the nominations of the president to the supreme court, 
and, beginning with Tyler's administration, the commit- 
tee had, on every occasion, criticised the nominations in 
such a way as to make it a moral certainty that the opin- 
ions of the nominees on the slavery question would be of 
great weight in, if not decisive of, the quesLion of iheir 
contirniatiun.' At last even southerners of tried probity 
and great, consideration found no favor in their eyes 
when, on the slavery question, they had professed consti- 
tutional convictions, — convictions which were condemned 
by the radical slavocrats, during the development of the 
struggle, as dangerous heresies, with an intensity to 
which time only added strength. 

Notorious as these facts were, no documentary proof 
of them Could bo produced because nominations wcru 
considered iu secret session, and further, because the sen- 

lIowB, Wisconsin, Ciilitorniu, Minneaota and Oregon Imii. accoril- 
tng to tlie ceiMUB of IHW, togL-tlier, a population of 3.040,!441. wiiilo 
the while populatina of theiiewi]- admitled alave states. Flonila unci 
Texxs, union [itL'il to only 45II.(I0'>. 

*8«e llic iiitercsling proofs Ashley gives of this In the opeech here 
dted. G>uer. Ulobc, I Susa. SUlli Congr, App., p. 387. 


> OF S^ril CONtiBlCSS. 

ators who allowed their vot«s to be determined by i 
jrard for ihe slavery question were not so unwise as tflj 
sny so openly.' In any event lliey would attain their ob-M 
joct moat surely and completely by avoiding to give eveni 
tlie Rliglitcst intimaiion of tlicir motive, since, by such! 
nvoidance, ihey would, for llio most part, deprive oriti-i 
cism of all foundation, especially as recognized judtciHlj 
ability and spotless personal lionor were still consideredg 
absolutely neeessury qualifications for a seat on the aa-| 
preme bench. 

If the possession of these qualilications was denied re-' 
peatedly and empliaticnily to several judges, in conse- 
quence of the Dred Scott decision, the reason was partly , 
this, that people had become too excited not to be unju3t.j 
But the principal reason was the much more importanta 
fact that, on this (juestion. men's thoughts and feelings^ 
had grown so divergent that at last they were utterly inca- 
pable of understanding one another. Spite of the absence 
of documentary evidence, it would be ridiculous to deny 
that orthodoxy on the slavtsry question had come to be a 
qualiltcalion for a seat on the supreme bench; but it 
does not, therefore, follow that the judges were unscru- 
pulous partisans, ready, consciously, to surrender their 
constitutional convictions at the cominaixi of the slave- 
holding interest. What made the opposition between 
the north and the south so enormous a danger was th« 
fact that the latter was so terribly honest in its faith in 

I Aalili-y. iiiJetf), «mcrle<l: " Many lliiiii^ have been said and dun* 
III the B«TPt stssions of the United Stntps svnuie. wliieh, if made puWio 
DC llie time, would liave conaigiiMl the utlertr to the Hhadeii of privnM 
lif* ftiid llie pnrly fci a lioptrlras minoritj'." I. c- In view of th*i ogi- 
lation Im'RIIIi iti 1880 in fnvor of (he considerallun of nontinationa by 
Ibe eetiatfl in public nKioiu, It ia wortliy of itii-nlinn iliat .4siiloy 
waa induced, br Um facta iiieiitioneil,Btruagly toadrocaUUiatcuan* 
n tbU lime. 


all its erroneous doctrines, conslitutional, economic and 
moral, relating to slavery. Slavery had become the 
formative principle of its entire life to such an extent 
that on that suhjecL it had gradually and completely lost 
the power tolliinliand feel aright. What appeared as 
the conclusion of its chain of reasoning was, in fact, 
alwaya the starung-point of its argument; but because 
it was sunk in such deep delusion, it succeeded to per- 
fection in clothing the demonstration of the a priori 
proposition in the form of an objective, legal investlga- 
liou. Willi the further development of the struggle, 
the aim of its political endeavor became more and more 
the premises of its legal deductions; and the grosser 
and bolder tlio sophisms it piled up on this foundation, 
the more did they become to it subjective truths which 
were declared with tlie fullest conviction to be unim- 
peachable tacts or uncontrovertible principles of law. 
But the laws of the moral order of the world do not 
surround the judge's bench with a wonder-working at- 
mosphere in which the poisonous germs that till all the 
air besidel lose their viability. The man who lies down 
in a swamp must breathe the air of the swamp with all its 
. miasmata. But not only had the entire population of the 
south fallen victims to the disease — not excepting even 
those classes whose own interests should have made them 
the must decided opj)onents of slavery — but the poison 
was so powerful and subllo that it carried the evil to the 
north as a permanent epidemic. 

The only question, therefore, could be, what stage of 
the development of the disease the thought and feeling of 
the southern membecs of the supreme court had reached, 
not whether lliey had been attacked by it at all. The 
republican press was, therefore, entirely right in con- 
sidering a judgment based on the doctrines of the south 


a matter of course, und the only tiling doubtful whether I 
the judgment of the court and the political question I 
would cover each other, that is, whether the EUjiieine I 
court would, for political reasons. extend its judgmenton ( 
ihe legal case before it to a judgment on iho political J 
question,' by depriving tho hitter of a lawful founda- [ 
tion through the decision of tlio constitutional issues in- | 
volved in it. But on the otlier hand, the repuhlicans 1 
were, for the same reusim, w rong in accusing the judges, | 
more or less directly and emphatically, of having debased ] 
themselves, against conscience and their bettor knowl-, 
edge, to such a degree as to become tho slaves of the 1 
slavocracy. The guilt of the supreme court was great, i 
but that guilt must not be ascribed to moral turpitude; ' 
it must be traced to a want of judgment in things polit- 
ical. Even if the jurisdiction of the supreme court bad 
been undoubted, and if ihc Dred Scott case hud ri;(|uired 
the decision nf the general (juestion, its judgment would 
not have ended tlie struggle, because, togother with the 
actual situation, it had, long before this, outgrown the < 
control of formal law. But now its jurisdiction was I 
roundiv denied by a political party, which, in tho last 1 
election, had cast nearly a million and a half of votes; I 
and, in order to pass from the Dred Scott case to the gen- 1 
eral question ot the powci-sof congress relative to slavery f 
in the territories, the supreme court had to go counter to 1 

1 Pike wrole uo January 5, 1837. t-> the New York Tribune : " The I 
ruQior lliix the Biiiitemu ctiun Iicls d(>ciili!d against ilic coniitUutioD< J 
olity (if the iKJwtT ot i'or]){reBB to teblrict slavery- in llie ti^rrltorics hi 
tivcn conimciilcd upon in the most unreflerTed mnnniT nt this inotrup- M 
olis. . . . Mnny liuvf cxpri-swl the ojnnion tliut thu (ii)e«tiuii f 
WDulJ not be met liy (lie court, and nuuibers aic Mill of thut wuy of 'I 
tlilnhinK. . . . If th« (xiuri u to tuke a pulitkul liliie. mid to 
a pohticnl ilecieion, t)ien Ii^t ub hy all weans Imve it distinctlj and 'I 
uow," Firel Blows ot the CJivii War. pp. M5, 330. 


funilamenlal principles of law ivliicli it liail Hself fre- 
quenlly recognised. But no ninltpr Imw tJio question o( 
jurisdiction must be decided, llic supreme court now 
wrongly forced itself between the jKiliiical parlies as arbi- 
ter, tind tins, witli a judgment lioldinjj that whioli from tlie 
first year of ibo Union's life under tlio constitution had 
been the law of the land to be null and void, because it was 
an uncunslitiitionul usurpation. The Dred Scott decision 
would, therefore, remain the greatest political atrocity 
of wbicb a court bad ever been guilty, even it tiio rea- 
soning of Chief Justice Taney, who delivered the opinion 
of the majority, were as untissadahle and convincing, 
historically and constitutionally, as ii was, in fact, wrong, 
sophistical and illogical. 

Dred Scott was a slave horn in Missouri, whom hts 
owner, Dr. Emerson, bad taken with him, in lS3i, to 
Kock Island, in Illinois, and from there, in ISSO, to Fort 
Bnelling, situated, north of the Missouri line, in tbo terri- 
tory of Louisiana. In the year 1S3S, Eniei'son returned 
with Dred Scott, who hud not claimed bis freedom on 
the ground of his sojourn in iho free stale and ibe free 
territory, to Missouri, and sold bim to ono Sandford, of 
New York. Subsequently, Scott claimed bis freedom as 
against the tatter, and tlie circuit court of St. Louis 
connty decided in his favor. The supreme court of Mis- 
■onri, however, to whieb an appeul was lal;en, reversed 
tbis decision and remanded tbe case back to the circuit 
court. Befoi-o it reucbeil a second decision here. Dred 
Scott, in November, 1S53, entered suit for damages in 
the circuit court of the United States against Sandford 
on tho ground that tlio latter had laid violent hands upon 
hilD, and, contrary lo law, held him in slavery.' Sandford 

'tThe tar<x nnil violence us well ns the complaint extenilcil lo Dreil 
Scott's wife anil two ciLiLJren, On this [ihasH of tlie ijuestion I shall 

Buchanan's klkciion — knu of 35th conqbess. 

denied the jurisdiction of the court on the ground that 
Drod Scott, as a negro and the descendant ot negro 
slaves, was not a citi7x:ii of the state of Missouri, and 
therefore could not, by virtue of art. Ill, sec, 2, § 1, of 
the constitution, bring suit in a Federal court. The court 
declared this plea invalid, but instructed the jnry that 
Dreil Scott, according to the laws in force, had no claim 
to freedom, and he was. therefore, adjudged to Sandford 
as his slave. Dred Scott now appealed to the supreme 
court of the United States. In the spring of 1S5G iho 
case came up for argument, but no decision was ren- 
dered. Judge Campbell subseijuentiy stated that this was 
brought about bv Judge Nelson, because he had as yet 
formed noIi.Yed opinion on the question at issue, whether 
it was necessary for the supreme court to subject the de- 
cision of the circuit court to a revision, which decision 
had declared Sandford's objections to its jurisdiction in- 
valid; and that NeUon's proposition to hear the attor- 
neys of both parties on " that and oth;;r questions " again, 
was unanimously adopted.' In republican circles, this 

not enter, becnuso the Rpccial oonstltutionnl quntionc iiiTulreil in it 
h«vc no iiii}vi [indent potltical eigniflcanc^. Even the pTincipol oon- 
■titutiunnl ifuotina I shall discuss ns briefly aa pMaitilc. In what I 
any. Ill the text. I sliitU conliiie myself, aa much as pOMtible. to tlie 
political napect nt tlio iiiicstion ; for thiit ns)ii.<ot nlone gives the case 
it* Kinineiiti hititoricitl importance. 

1 See Cooipheira letter or November SI, 1870, to G. Tyler, in tlie 
Intter'B Memoir of Koger B, Tnney. pp. S62. S83. Oooch eaiJ, on Hay 
3, i860, in the house of representntivea : " It wai not until two of ibe 
Juilgfia di^seiiipd from (he opinion of the intkjoiily of the conrt Iliat 
Drod Scott wna a slave, and propped to publisli their opinions, that 
the majority felt it to be nei.'eaiitu'y to exprixa opinions in rdation lo 
the conatitutionallly of the Mli<80tiri oompromiae. 

" It was thvn that tlie oourl onlPted the cuff Xn be re-argued for tbo 
purpoH of osccrtnining whether it could ho inntln to apiwnr Hint ih*t 
act WB9 unconstitutional." Cuiigr. Qlobe, i Scw. SOtli Couitr.. Appi. 
p. S03. 



postponement of the decision was believed to be connected 
Willi iKo impending presidential election,' 

After the case had come up again for argument, the 
majority of llie judges resolved to confine the judgment 
of the court to the case before them, and Justice Nelson 
was intrusted with the writing of the iirgument which 
was to serve as the ground of the decision.- It should 
have needed no special resolution to confine the judg- 
ment of the court to the case before them; such a course 
should have been considered simply self-evident. Tbis, 
however, was so far from being the case that the resolu- 
tion was afterwards reversed, and Chief Justice Taney 
requested to write the opinion of the court. Nelson had 
already linished the task intrusted to biin, and it now 
stands as his personal opinion in the records of the Dred 
ScOlt case. Hence the t^rlffinal and real opinton of the 
federal supreme court is not Taney's, but is to be found 
in Nelson's argument, and it, therefore, should be exam- 
ined first. The proper appreciation of the remarkable 
and sudden change which turned the original minority 
of the judges into a majority will thus be greatly facili- 

Nelson was of opinion that the supreme court had no 

'Judge Curtis writes, on the 8th of April, 1856, loTicknor: "Tlie 
court wilt not deeiJe the question of the Missouri couiprouise line. — 
a tunjorlty of the judges being of opinion that it is not nec^ssarj to 
iloso. (Tliis is confiUential.) Tlie one engrossing bubjectin both 
liouaefi of congresB and with all the members is tlie preaideuc; ; and 
upon this everything done and omitted, except the uiust ordinarj' 
■lecemities of the country, de[>ends." Curtis, A Memoir of ttenjamin 
Itobbins CuniH, 1, p. 180. 

>"The instruction of the majority, in reference to tlie preparation 
of this opinion, waa to limit tlie opinion to the ]>articu1ar circuin- 
Sluices of Dred Scott ; and Mr. Justice Nelson prepnred his opinion, 
tm file, under tiiis iaftruction, to be read as the opinion of the court." 
Campbell, in the letter quoted loc. cit., pp. 383, 381 

2S BL-I 


reason to entortain the question raised by Snmlford us t 
the jurisdiction of tbo supreme court. The c|UcBtion, whaq 
effect the sojouni. voluntarily caused by his owner, of I 
slave in a free state, had, nhen the latter was agniai 
hrooght back to the slave state, — that question, Juslicq 
Nelson said, had been decided in difTerent wuys by tbq 
courts of the slave states. Tbo supreme court of Missouri 
had answered this question in the Dred Scott caso, ana 
held that only the law in force in the state concerned gov^ 
erned, and it had further decided that, according to tllfl 
laws of Missouri, Dred Scott was still a slave. 
the first point, not only he. Nelson, agreed with the st^ 
prome court of Missouri,' but the supremo court of thtfl 
United Stales also had, years ago, laid down the sainn^ 
principle.' The decision of the supreme cuurt of Mis^a 
souri was, therefore, binding on the circuit court, andg 
hence the judgment of the circuit court could now onlj^ 
be affirmed. 

' Ue argues thus: "They insist that the removal and tempo 
Ksidmcu witli hiH uiAster in Illinois, wlier^ bltiwvy is iiiliibited, t 
ibe edcct toBL't him free, and tht-EtiinevO'ei-t is tobcfiivvii toihalnMI 
of Illinois, iviihinihe stale of MifcsuurJ. aftir hiaielum. WltywulM 
set fr«e in Illinuis? Boi'uuse the l:iw of Mtaiiuuri, under ivhich h6 m-u 
lutlil as A slave, bail no opemtioii by ita o»'ii turoe extraterrilurlolljr; 
and the stiit« ot Illinois refusecj lorecuguiM its rtrccc ivltliin her lioi- J 
ite, upon priuciples of comity, us a state of slnvtri-y w as incoosisteDt J 
with licr likWB anU contiory lo her jiolitiy. Uiit huw is tile C 
ferent vn tl>u letui'ii at the pluiutiS to the Biate uf Miaauuri? la ahi 
boimil to Kcogiiiza and enforce the law of Illinois? For, unlen ■ 
is, the «Iulu« and coiitlitiuu uf liie, slave upuu his return reiualne tl 
sameasuritjiniilly i-siBtwI. Hao Ihslaw of Illinois uny greater ftw 
within the jurisdiction of Missouri than the Iu«b of the liitt«r with 
that of the former? Ceriainly uot. They iinnd upon an equal foo 
ing. Neither bos anyforoe eilialinrilorlnlly, e3iCe|tt what m^ twJ 
volunlurily conwdcl to tliem." Ilnward'a Itep., XIX, Williams' edi- 
tioD, Boole IS, p. T84. 

1 Stradur «t aL ti. Urabam, Howard's Rep., X, p. 8& 


TIlis opinion would not have been very agreeable to 
Ihe republicans, nnd an effort would have boon made 
licre and tbere by tbem to create political cjipital out 
of it, as the fact mentioned by Nelson himself, that even 
the courts of dillerent slave states bad given opposite 
opinions, would have readily lent itself to that purpose. 
It would, however, have created no excitement at all. 
Much less would it have been the si^nni for the breaking 
out, with redoubled violence, of party war. The Dred 
Scott decision became such a signal only in consequence 
of the voluntary resolution of the supremo court to use it 
us an opportunity, by tiieir aulboritalive decree, to cut 
the Gordian knot of the territorial question, and thus 
solve the great problem which the politicians bad sought 
to solve, always with the negative result of an aggrava- 
tion of the evil: the pi-oblem of the permanent exclusion 
of the slavery question from politics, 

Cefore the opinion whicli Nelson had prepared was 
read,' and in Nelson's absence,' Justice Wayne moved to 
decide all the questions c;>vered by the record, because 
the public were of opinion thai this would be done. This 
proposition and the further motion to substitute Taney 
lor Nelson as the spokesman of the court were adopted. 
Whether all the justices except Nelson were present at 
this session, who spoke and voted against Wayne's prop- 
ositions, and how strong the opposition was, does not ap- 
pear from the sources of information at my command. 
Only this is shown by Campbell's letter cited above, 
that there was opp<sition; and the pubtisbed opinions 
prove that Wayne alone fully agreed with Taney, that 
Daniel and Campbell differed widely in their reasoning 

■ CatnpboU in the letter died, 

» Neliwn lo S. T>ler, May 18, l«l. Tyler, loc. cil., p. 8S8. 



from that of Taney, tbat Grier and Catron, together witw 
Nelson, held the first judicial opinion to bo sufBcienI, andl 
lastly that McLean and Curtis did not approve tbo judg- 
ment of the court in a single point. 

Campbell .issures us tbat Wayne had not informed 
him, and — so far as he knew — had not previously in-J 
formed the other associate justices of his views, and ibaH 
the consultations and conclusions of the court had nofcJ 
been influenced by any person not belon5;ingto it, in any 
manner whatever — especially not by Uticbanan. This 
last is the only thing of im[>ortance,and the presumption 
is that it is entirely in harmony with the truth, easy as 
it is to conceive that, at the time, jteople wore by no 
means generally convinced that it was the truth. Bet 
even if none of the judges had ever spoken a word out- 
side the court room on the Dred Scott case, the incon- 
trovertible fact remains that Wayne's motions and tlieira 
adoption were prompted by purely political considerafl 
tions, and that is, evidently, the main point. Wayne'aJ 
own statement excludes all doubt of this. Taney's opin4 
ion, be saiti, corresponded both in its argumentation nn<f 
in its conclusions so completely with his views, that 1 
gave up the idea of handing in an opinion of his own, 
although he bad prepared one, believing, at Ur^t, that it 
would be both necessary and proper to do so. He did 
not, however, consider it superfluous to try to justify lli& 
conclusion reached, lo decide "every point which wai 
made in the argument of the case by the counsel on eithen 
side of it." But of the technical arguments intended td 
show that this mode of procedure was regular, he pliicei 
the political motive firjt and foremost as the governinrt^ 
one. "The case," he says, "involves private rights ofl 
value, and cuDstilutional principles of the highest im 


portanco, aljout wliicb there had become such a difference 
of opinion that the peace and harmony of the country 
required the fiettlemenl of them by judicial decision." ' 

Chase had alrendy written in 184T: " If courts will not 
overthrow it (the pro slavery construction of the consti- 
tution), the people will, even if it be necessary to over- 
throw the courts also."' And now the supreme court of 
the United Slates undertook, in the judgment rendered 
on the second day after Buchanan'B inauguration, to re- 
store peace and harmony to the country by forcing upon 
it the pro-slavery construction of the constitution in its 
most radical form, as an inviolable laiv. But since tliis 
could not be done by the simple decision of the case be- 
fore it, it pleased the court to decide all the questions dis- 
cussed by counsel. It was thns placed beyond a doubt 
that the audacious imderlaking would turn out to be a 
eervice rendered to the cause of liberty, and that Chase's 
prophecy would he fulfilled. Under the combined pres- 
sure of their historical development, of their actual cir- 
cumstances, of thoir moral convictions and the peojile's 
own constitutional views, even this formally final judg- 
ment was fated to be ultimately reversed; but the vic- 
tory was destined to be rendered exceedingly dilllcult by 
the conservative feelings and scrupulous fidelity of the 
people to the laws. Yet even the most refined judicial 
subtlety could not convince the American masses that a 
court might, for political ends, decide every controverted 
oonstitulional question which couhl in any way be 
brought into connection with a concrete case at law; and 
''decision3"of the supreme court based upon a usurpation. 
boldly and openly admitted, signified nothing in their eyes 
except to the extent that they made it their duly [o wage 

■ Howard's Rep,, Williaias* ed., Book 13, p. 731. 
iWarden. UU ol a P. Cbose, p. 813. 


the war against slavery more energetically than evol 
because such decisions proved that even the suprerd 
court of the tJnited States had completely succumbed t 
the deadly inQuenee of the pestilential breath of slaverrf 
And this must all the more certainly be the effect of tbm 
work of "peace," to which the supreme court of tin 
United States believed itself called, since I'liney's argi 
ment — although it preserved much better by its leclinic 
form the appearance oC impartial pragmatism — plat 
the fact that the supreme court had been guilty of i 
nsurpation in a more glaring light than bad Waynev 
imprudent frankness. 

Two principal questions, said the chief justice, vt& 
presented by the record : 1st, Had the circuit court juris- " 
diction! 2d. If it had jurisdiction, is the judgment it has 
given erroneous or noti From the way in which Taney 
pnt these questions it is plain that the second sup|Kiscd tbat j 
tbe6rst must be answered in tbeatiirmatire. He. howe\'erJf 
in tbe name of the court, answered it in the ncgulire. 

The negative was founded on the claim thai the de- 
scendants of negro slaves wore not citizens within the 
meaning of the constitution. Tbe demonstration of (his 
proposition «as. in its essential parts, not juridical but 
historical From the fact that, on both sides of the 
Atlantic, negmcs had always been considcrvd subordi- 
nate beings and hud no rigbis except such as were 
gmntvd then.' it was inferred thai the frarnvrs of tbe 
eonsnintion could not tutve looked u]m>d negroes uco-^ 
possessors of s«i\-ere<gnty, that tbey could not hare li 

I " T1i«r w^rv « thai time coB»i(l«rcil ■■ » rabcrvlioUc aad fi 

am of Iwtng*, wlio Itad brwa wibjug»ied bf Dm d<uuiiwBt n», m 
^«r1iHliM «ai«BcitiUtU or nut. f *t tmnalncd ■utyert to tbcir ntli 
■«wl Ind BO rt«lH» >;r pdriligra tm auch » Umn who htU H^m 
la fomxatatat niiffat obooM 10 (nut tiwo." 


npon tliem ns citizens. And so it was inferred from the 
exclusive rigtit of naturalization vested in congress tbat 
it ro'ifd not have been intended' to allow the slates to 
make citizens of persons of color, because as such they 
would have been much more dangerous to the peace and 
safety of a great part of the Union than the few foreign- 
ers by reason of whose n,Tturalization a state would per- 
haps have given good ground for complaint. 

When the chief justice of the United States advanced 
such shallow and arbitrary reasoning as constitutional 
arguments which were to govern in the decision of legal 
questions of the most eminent importance, and, in the 
real meaning of the words, of awful political significance, 
what became of the proud claim of the American people 
that they had "a government not of men, but of laws) " 
With such a method of interpretation, there was nothing 
that could not bo tortured out of the fundamental law 
of the Union, and nothing one wished to lind that could 
not be discovered in it. 

If, as should have been done, the question of fact were 
examined, wbetiier, in the United Statps, negroes born 
free could ever, or under certain conditions, be "citizens 
of the United States within the meaning of the constitu- 
tion," a very different result would have been reached; 
and Taney's own reasoning pointed out the road to bo 
taken in such an investigation. 

After he had correctly shown that a citizen of a state 
is not alwiij's necessarily a citizen of the Unitid SUitcs,nnd 
why he is not,^ ho just as correctly proves that all who 

• " We cannot fail to see lliat thej- could never have lett with the 
Btntes a tuudi more iinixirtant powM." 

*I. hov/ever. share the opinion ol Justice Curtis, that, even be- 
fonthe adojition of tlie fourleeotli amendment, "every free pereon /\ 
born on the soil of a state, who is a citizen of that etate Uv force of its 


- EMD OF 35t11 WJNOKE83. 

were citizens of ihe individual states, at the timo of the 
adoption of the constitution, became citizens of the United 
States also. But now, instead of inquiring — as he bud 
promised to do' — whom the constitutions and laws of 
all the states had reco;;nized as citizens, he proves (!) from 
the views concerning negroes tlien prevailing, from the 
fact that the celebrated introductory sentences of the 
Declaration of Independence should not bo understood 
in their literal sense, and from the provision of tlie con- 
stitution that the importation of slaves should not be pro- 
hibited the slates until the year ISOS, that "the general 
terras in the constitution of the lluited Stales as to the 
rights of man and the rights of the jieople" should not 
be extended to the negro race, and that it was not tD- 
Condod to grant them any share in the blessings of the 
provisions of the constitution. This was his answer to 
the question, what had been the law in the several states 
relating to free persons of color? Spite of his great age. 
Taney was still in foil possession of his intellectual facul- 
ties, and justice to the republicans, therefore, demands 
the admission thil he had not made it an easy Tn.Tttcr 
for them to believe in his bona Jlh^i. That there had 
bt-en free persons of color who were citizens, in the dif- 
ferent states. WHS as undeniable a fact as the I>eclara- 
tion of Independence and the constitution itself; it was 
moreover a tmtvvrsally known fact,' But because Taney, 

Dsmlilutbii or Inws, U also ncitixcD of the Unitrd Suin." Willianu, 
loj. dt.pp. TTI, 7TJ. 

' '■ II tipctinics vvcrvsarj. thrrpfftrn, to dctt^nnioe who were cltiMiM 
of the BTVrtal slnttB wl»*n tlio oinstitution waa a(l'»ptn1," 

'S*e tho finyf* of this In ibn opinion of Ja^ge Cnitln. WOIianM, 
loft cil,. (ip. TT*). TTI. OihiT intirmitns proof* nre lo be tounil Id 
ConcT. ninhf, I Sew. 3'i|h CoDKr,, (ip. ail. 819. Panlmiar aIImiUod 
•hoalil b» calM |o Uw fact tlwt VtrKiols In 1763 ivpnW » law (tf 
UMf 3, 1TT9. ■cwnllns to which ao\j whlu nitn ooolil bo dllnaM, 

I Bcorr CASE. 


however, did not renlly fxamine, but only Eougbt to prove 
an untenable assertion, under the guise of investigation, 
he bad to substitute sophistical reasoning on tlic pioposi- 
tioQ to bo proven for the ansxver to liis own question; 
for thia answer overthrew bis argument entirely. Mo 
matter bow all further questions, and especially that in 
the present case, t. e., the Dred Scott case, in relation to 
the constituLioiinl status of free persons of color, might 
be ansivered, tliis much is certinn, that if all those who, 
at the time of the adoption of the constitution, were citi- 
zens of tho separate stales became citizens of the United 
States lilieiTJse, and if there were free persons of color at 
that lime in certain states who were also citizens, then 
the incorrectness of what Taney sought to prove, and pre- 
tended to clothe with the binding force of a judicial decis- 
ion, was demonstrated, viz. : that persons of color could 
not be, and bad never been, citizens of the United States, 
wiihin tlie nicanin<r of the constitution. 

But, certain as it was that Taney liad not proven his 
proposition, he could appeal in its favor to the decision 
of a state court,' to ihe uHicial opinions of two attorneys- 

snd Bccording to the new Inw " all fr^e persona bora witbin tlie t^r- 
rltorjrof lliis coiumonwenltli . . . sh.-ill be deemed citizena ol 
thia commonwealth." The boldneaa of tlie attempt, however, to dia- 
poee of the matter by VRgiio, general vensoning on iiotorioua facts ia 
placed in ilic otearvet light bj this, that the motion of Bnuth Car- 
olioa to insert the word ■■while" belweeo ■'free" and "inhabJitLiita" 
io the fourth article of the Articles of Confederation, was Ui^aied. 
The article reads as follows: " The free inhabitants of each of ib^so 
■tales — paupers, vagaixinds and fugitives from justice excepted — 
sbnil bo entitled to all privileges and immunities of free citizcna in 
the Mverat states." 

iThe State v. Claiborne, 1 Meigs (Tenn.). p. 831. "The citixenn 
tpoken of (art. IV, sec 3, § 1) are those entitled tooll (I}the privilege 
Oitd inimuoitica of citizens. But free negroes were never, in any 
state, entitled to all the privileges of citizens, and coneequentl; were 

3C bucuanan's electios-exd of 35tu congress. 

general' and to a law of the TJnited States.* Hence thisi 
decision could not create the impression that "the pro- i 

not intended to be included when this word was used in the coastita- 
lion;" and, " the meaning of the langunge is that no privilege en- 
;o)'ed hj, or immuDities allowed to, the most favored class (t) of 
citizens in eaid state shall be withheld troni a citizen of any other 
state." There in not a word in the coustilntion that affords the leoat 
support tor the claim that it recognizee different classes of citisens. 
Under such a construction what would become of women and minors? J 
'Wirt's Opinion of November 7, 1821 (Op. of Att'y Geni, I. 606 fD.! 
The opinion, however, does not go so far as would appear from Taney. F 
Wirt only says that iu Virginia free persons of color are not oitizeRiJ 
within the meaning of the constitution. He says: " I^ookiiie to tl 
constitution as tho standard of meaning, it ^eems very mnntfest that 
no person ia included In the description of citisen of the United State 
who has not the full rights of a citizen In the state of his residencei* 
and. "lam of the opinion that the constitution, by the tlescripttoi 
* citizens of the United States,' intended those only who enjoyed tl 
full and equal privileges of white citizens in the state of their r 
deuce." These definitions seem to me by no means hB|ipy. PracU*9 
cally, little can be ma<Je of these sentences. Although, for instaoc^l 
a pcraon can unquestionably be a citizen without having the right <i 
BUfTrage, and, convei-sely, have the right of sn<rraj,-e without being • 
citizen, it can scarcely be questioned that thi? right of Eiiffrage lielonsal 
to the " full righla of a citizen." An exact and exhaustive ei 
tion of the " lull rights of a citizen " — both of the United State* u 
of the separate states — it baa not yet been possible to make ; i 
CnlebCuslnng says, in an oOicial upinioii on the provision of tho coiisti^ 
tution that " tbccltizcnsof each state shall be entitled lo all privily 
and immunities of citizens of several stalee:" " Wliat that metu 
it it means anything, it is very hurdtosay " (lot cit.. VID, p. ] 
But be this OS it may, Wirt certainly docs not say lltat fre« p 
of color in no state have or can have the " full rijihts ot a dticen,'^ 
ftn<l hence never can be dtlaens of the Uiiitoil Slates. Whether hi 
thought so I do not know, but it is certainly probable that he (I 
»lDCe he says tlint a negm or mulatto would Iw eligible U 
deiicy of ilw United States '■ if nativity, residence and nllegianoa 
cointnned (without the rights nnJ privileges of a white man) a: 

t A law ot Hay 3, 16 13, prov ide« thai, after the cIom of the war wiihl 
Enghkod, "It shall not be law ml to employ on board any of th« pab- 



alarory construction of llio constitution '' liad won a new 
victory. It was only making sure of a success lont; 
since achieved — preat enough, indeeJ, to embilter the 
republicans, but neitber involving so vitiil a constitutionul 
principle nor politically of so mucli importance as to 

cient to make him a ctiJKen of the United Stales in the Eensa of (lie 
const iiutiou." Tlie fcundera of the constitution, as well ns Wirt, 
woald c^lttinlf have i^onsidored a. col<ii'L-d president bd absurdity, 
)>at this tact duee not malie the objection a conslitutjonal argument. 
The Philadelphia convention did not consider all the subtle questions 
which would grow out of the question of citizenship ; least of all ilul 
Hdream of this logical consequence, becauee a colored president «nB 
a practical impossibility. 

The second opinion conies from Ciileli Cusbing. Taney docs not 
give any reference to it, and I have been able to find none which 
treats the question directly. If, as I suppose, that of July IS, IB3n, on 
the " Reliitioris of Indians to Citizenship " (loc. cit., VII, p. 740), be 
meant, it might have remained unmentioned, as Gushing simply ex- 
presseil. in pnssint;, his agreement with Wirt, but giveE no reason for 
bis opinion beyond thati 

lie or prit ate vessels of the United States any person or persons ex- 
cept cJtixens of the Uni'.ed States, or persona of colour, natives otthi' 
'Dniled Slates." (Slat, at L., 11, p. 809.) From this opposition of 
terms, however, it does not necessarily follow that, in the opinion of 
confess, persons of color could never be citizens of the United 
Stales. Nobody quettioned that the great majority of them werenot 
citiiens. But it wus in contradiction with the wording at the law to 
construe this passitKe to the effect that persona of color, even if they 
were not citizens of the United States, might be employed on Ameri- 
can ships, provided they were natives of the United States. Indeed, 
one mnst so construe it, unless itbeaosumed that the congress of 1HI3 
ftndlhatotlSOII had thought differently on this constitutional question, 
for la a law of February Se, l80iS, already quoted in the uoond vol- 
UDlcof this work, we read; " Any negro, mulatto, or other |H?rson of 
Oirior, not being a native, a citizi-n or registered seamnn of the United 
Stat«fl." (Slat, nt L., II, p. 305.) Taney cited also the natural izution 
law of March SS, KOO. and the militia law of 17B3, in support of his 
position. 1 do not. however, think it iieceBsdry to enter into a dis- 
ouasiou of tliis question, because be rould make It say what lie 
wanted to llnd in it only by an over-artful interpi eta lion. 

38 bdchanan's election — end of 35tii 

constitute tlio immediute occasion of the cntranco into a 
new pfiase of development of the struggle over the slavery 
questioD. This was effected solely by the fact tlint Taney 
or the supremo court was not satislicd with deciding 
the case before him, and which was disposed of when it 
was decided that the circuit court had no Jurisdiction. 

After that there was no case at law befora tho court. 
But, according to the constitution, the courts of the 
United Slates arc authorized to decide cases at law and 
not Ifjal queatinna in general, tho authoritative decision 
of which may, for one reason or anoMier, seem desirable. 

How diflicult it was to meet this objection to ibe claim 
that Taney's further inferences and amplifications con- 
stituted a binding judgment, based as the objection was 
on principle, ap|>ears most clearly from the more than 
bold inanoDiivre Senator Benjamin had recourse to. The 
supreme court, he said, had denied the jurisdiction only 
of the circuit court, but not its own jurisdiction, and 
the question of iU own jurisdiction had been answered 
in tho affinnativu by all ihc justices.' Denjamin's great 
reputation as n learned »nd astute lawyer was well de- 
served, but Ibis claim was an absurdity pure and simple. 
This case was one in which the supreme court had ool 
original jurisdiction ; itsat as an ap})el!aie court, and tbl 
constilDlional grounds of want of jnrisdiction appliei 
equally to liolh courts. Tho judges were no morv uniui- 
imuus on the question of jurisdiction than on most 
other questions. Benjamin's claiin was correct only tp_ 
this extent, ilint all the judges cluiniod jurisdiction in a 
vray or another and in one sense or another; butwn 
of them believed, for various rpasons,!lint the case shoi 
not be decided on the bn^is of tho formal, legnl questioi 
wbcilier Dred Scott had a standing in Itic federal com 

■ iJonsr. Q\o\m. lit Scm. MUi Oonitr., pth 1061^ IVTO. 


while the others were of tlie opinion that, notwithstand- 
ing the decision of this question in the ncgutiru, they had 
power to decide further questions; but no judge made 
the prepostGroiis claim that tho jurisdiction denied the 
circuit court belonged to the supreme court. 

There is no reason why w« should examine tho views 
of each judge on the question of jurisdiction. If any- 
thing besides the want uf jurisdiction of the circuit court 
was "decided " in the Pied i^cutt case, it is contained in 
Taney's opinion, and lience only the reasons he assigny 
forgoing beyuiul this decision can be considered autliori- 
tutive, i. c, the decision of the court. 

Taney was of opniiun tlmt the claim that, with the de- 
utsion of the want of jurisdiction of the inferior court, the 
power of the supreme court to render any legally binding 
decisions in the case bofore them was cxliauslcd, was 
hiised on the error that a fundamental principle which 
lias force only as regards the judgments of state courts 
oould be extended to llie judgments of United States 
courts; when the judgment of a United Stales circuit 
court was brought, by writ of error, before thu supreme 
court, the whole record came before the latter for exami- 
nittton and decision, and if the sum in litigation was large 
enough, it was not only its eight but its duty to examine 
ibe whole case as presented by the record, and, if the cir- 
cuit court had fallen into any material error, to reverse 
the judgment and remand the case; and, added he, "it 
is the daily practice of this court, and of all appellate 
courts where they reverse the judgment of an inferior 
court for error, to correct by its opinions whatever errors 
may appear on the record material to the case; and they 
have always held it to be their duly to do so where the 
silenco of the couit might lead to misconstruction or 


- END OF li.'nll CONG 

fatui-e controversy and tlie point has been relied on by J 
either side and argued before ibe court." 

It could not be surprisin;^ tlial layiiien allowed theni>l 
selves to bo overawed by ibe statement made with s 
inach positiveness by the ayed chief justice C'Oncerniag' 
the practice of all appellate courts; but every jurist couldl 
not but perceive, at the tirst glance, the bold sophistry byfl 
which Taney eiuleavored to explain away iho usurpatioQj 
of the supreme court. In the present case i 
structions" or "further controversies" were p 
cuuso It was not remanded to the inferior court to I 
again examined and deoidL-d, but was simply adjudgi 
dismissed for want of jurisdiction, i. e^ the essential, autJ 
ual condition precedent to the practice of nppellate court 
of whiuh Taney spoke was wanting. That what Taoeyi 
said of that practice was, in itself, correct, was a matt« 
of utter indifference, as it did not apply here. Taneyl 
himself subsequently said that the decision of the othei 
questions had no signiriciince, so far aS Ured Scott an(l| 
Sandford were concerned. But. we are, further tuld.Mui 
could not justify the "sanctioning" of an evident error] 
in the judgment of the inferior court, if evil consflJ 
(jucnces, in other cases, might follow. The preceding ad-J 
mission tost nothing of its importance by this argumentjl 
but it must have opened tin; eyes of even thinking lay>j 
men to ibe previous sophism. Common sense was : 
liigher forum than the supreme court of the lTnlt«d| 
States, and it could not he convinced that tiie suprciiK 
court of the United States could reeognizo as correct uUJ 
the rulings of an inferior court when it entered into O0|j 
examination of those rulings, beeiiuse its dectsioD was l 
the elTect that the inferior court should have concorru 
itself no farther with tbo case than to declare it& want o^ 



The reason why the majority of the judgfs, after the 
rendering of Ihe judjiment in the ense at law, uudertook 
in tiecide all other kimis of questions, was doubtless to 
prevent further controversy, but controversy in the ter- 
ritories ond ahoul the territories, in congress, /. f., 
Tiiney's learned talk was only an unhappy etfort to cover 
the nakedness of Wayne's honest admission that lUeconrl 
hod ulloHcd itself to be determined by political consid- 
erations, with a lig-leaf of bad jurisprudence, the out- 
growth of ba<l logic. yUence the reiisoning by wliieh the 
further principles were supported was political, ulthuugli 
clothed in rich legal raiment. The constitution speaks 
only of the territory that belonged to the United Slates 
at the lime of its adoption, and speaks of it only aa prop- 
erty in the quality of an object of value, and docs not 
grant congress, in the only clause in which it speaks of 
it, general and unlimited legislative power in relation to 
it, a power which would be incoinputiblo with the I'unda- 
mental principles of the constitution; still less ca.i sucti 
power over the regions subsequently acquired be inferivd 
from that clause; they were acquired for the peuplo of 
' tbe individual states, and thecitizens of these states havL', 
therefore, an equal right to them and in them ; tlio oansli- 
lation makes no difference between slaves and other prop 
erty, but distinctly and expre-sly recognizes slaves »■- 
properly; hence congress cannot prohibit the bringing of 
slave property into the territories, and, therefore, the Mis 
Mturi Compromise, which prohibits slavery in the terri- 
lorics north of thirty-six degrees, thirty minutes, is null 
Md void, because in conflict with the constitution — such 
are the principal propositions to which Taney's further 
reasoning leads. The refutation of these propositions, in 
detail, is contained in the history of slavery in the pre- 
ceding volumes of this work, and hence cannot be here 

49 Buchanan's eleciion — knd of SStd co.nobess. 

undei taken anew, nor ia it necessary it should bo. We 
would o;ily say a few words on two points. 

Tbe territorial acquisitions were not made for the peo- 
ple of ibc individual states, but for the United States, as 
is expressly stated in all tlje treaties rcialing thereto. 
Taney's arguiuoat was an intellecliial sword -player's 
trick, by wLiuh lie made what he undertook lo prove the 
prcBUp|iositioi) of Iiis demonstration. I'rocisely in the 
eunstitutional relation of the federal government to the 
territorial possessions of the Union had the bational 
phase of the idea of tbe federal slate found the most 
pregnant expression, and Tuney took the principle of the 
confederated state as the stiirtingpoint of the proof of 
the proposition which was only the application of that 
principle to the slavery question in tbe territories. 

Still clearer was tbe utter untenahluneas of the second 
claim, without which it was impossible to reacli the con- 
cluding proposition, which wns the sole obj<£ct of the entiro 
second part of the "decision." The constiiutioa made a 
difference between slaves and other property, and this 
by the very clause relating to the delivery of fugitive 
slaves, to which Taney appealed. Why did it not also 
provide that horses, oxen and hogs which bud strayed 
into another state should be delivered to the owner! 
Plainly because that was self-evident. In the case of 
slaves, however, an express provision was necessary, pre- 
cisely because the United Stiiti-s as such did not took 
apon tboai as property, and t/iia, not what Taney claimed, 
was "expressly " provided for in llio text of the consli- 
'tution which recites that persons escaping from a state 
who by the laws thereof were held to service or tabor 
should be delivered up on claim. The constitution, 
therefore, only provided that the laws of tho several 
states on slavery should be regarded as controlling by alt 


olljer Slates, to this dlcnt, thai itiey would, in a given 
case, liare to perform a corresponding duty to tbtiin. 

If il Hei-e to bo inferred from this provision that the 
constitution of the Union looketl upon slaves as pro|)- 
erly, then, as Ihe Washington Union in iin article of 
November 17. 1857. very rightly eaid, the ulliniato con- 
sequent;c of tho Dred Scott decision was thut the states 
thcmsulves could not declare slaves brought wiihia ihcir 
borders free.' Benjamin denied this because the constitu- 
tion |irohihited only tho government oC the Union, and 
not the stales, to deprive any one of his properly "with- 
out duo process of law," 

I " The constitution declares tlint * the citijcens of each slate slinll be 
entitled to oil llip privilcgts aod inimunities of citieena lu the sev- 
eral stales.* Every citizen of one eintu ociuin^ intu another slate 
iiBB, thurctoT?, II right tu tlir protection of his jiereon, and thut i>ro|>- 
«rty whicli is ri-c'u^'iii£vd an Guib by the conEtilutioQ of tlie United 
Stales, any law of a state (!) notwithstanding. So far from any 
state jiaving a riglit to deprive hitu of Iiis property, it is its bounden 
duty to protect him in its possession. 

" If (hree views ore correct — and we believe it would be difficult 
to invaliduio tliem — it follows ihnt all slate lawB. whether organic or 
otherwise, wliicli praliibit a citizen of one state from settling in an- 
other, and bringing hia slave pioiierty with him {even several slase 
states halt dono so), and most especially dectsring it forfeited, are 
direct \ iotutions of the briginnl intention of the govei-niuent, nliich, 
as before elated, \a the proiection of person and property, and o( 
tho constitution of the United States, which recognizea property in 

And «o Fugh, of Ohio, said: "If the constitution of the United 
States gives this form of property its pci-ullar protection . . . and 
the right to carry it, il is cairied into every Btate over the conatitu- 
tion and laws ot the slalo; for the constitution of the United Statea 
b supreme above the constitutions and laws of the slntes, and it 
means tliisor it means nuihiiig. There is no dJHinction, there can be 
none made." Congr. Globe, II Sess. 8Slh Congr., p. ISOO. To this 
faithful shiold-bcarer of slavery this consequenco seemed an abom- 



■■ 3JTU COKQl 

To this it could bo answered ttiut all tlio state consti- 
tutions contained the same provision. But oven if Bacb 
were not the case the argument would not have had the 
slightest weight. The constitution of the United States 
wiis above all slate constitutions and state Iiiws. If a 
slate deprived an owner of that which thu constitution of 
the United States "expressly " declared to bo property, 
because it was not property within the boundaries of that 
state, ihe coDstiiuiional ur legislative provision which de- 
prived him of it was null and void, because in coafliot 
with the constitution of the United States. That Taney 
did not draw this last consequence was intelligible 
enough, for the ultimate foundation of all claims of the 
slavocracy was the principle that the states had reserved 
their full sovereignty with res|)ect to slavery — the im- 
portation of slaves alone excepted. In order to open all 
the territories to slavery he had, in the name of the su- 
preme court, to interpret htto the constitution principles 
which overthrew the fundamental principle of the slavoc- 
racy. Even IE tlie Dred Scott decision had met with no 
opposition from any cjuarler whatever, it could not possi- 
bly be abided by, on this account: the supremacy of the 
slave-holding interest over the Union, bused upon slate 
sovereignly, could not but ultimately develop tnU> a de- 
mand for the unconditional nationalization of slavery. 

Alexander H. Stephens frankly admitted that the 
Kred Scolt decision would never have been made if the 
agitation and discussion of the slavery tpioslion had not 
preceded it, and brought to light the clear principles on 
which it is based. These were, llierofore, ii<!w principles 
of which the framors of the constitution and those whoi, 
in the earlier decadfs of its history had, as legislators, 
prcsiUonls and judges, to apply them, knew nothing. 

Yet, on this decision, Stephens claimed tlio fate of the 
country hung.' 

What then ha<l become of the siiporhtiman wisdom of 
the "fathers.'' iind what did the hyperwise poliljciana 
think they miyht not ventore with the common sense o( 
the people? The third generation since the adoption of 
the constitnlion had entered on the stuge, and now a few 
aged judges had to save the country— thanks to the 
ligbt obtained by the politicians — by overthrowing what 
hadhitlierto been considered constitutional law and what 
had always, up to the most recent time, been enforced in 
the legishition of the land. Even if the qacstion had ' 
come before the supreme court in such a way that it rauat 
give a judgment, and if all the eight associate justices 
had nnquulifiedlj agreed to every word of Taney, the 
decision would have been a political enorinity. If the 
former condition existed, political considerations neither 
could nor should have been excluded, but ihey must bring 
the judges to subordinate their own legal views to the 
constitutional law which had hitherto been in force, 
simply because, for almost seventy years, it had bciio the- 
constitutional law aciuaily accepted; for the history of 
the country could not be altered by judicial decree; and it 
was as impossible to change the actual Conditions which 
had grown up under this constitutional law as it was to 
allow them to continue in a constitutional stale with all 
Iheir practical and legal consequences, while declaring 
their utter legal nullity. But not only was there no need 

' " On the principle (of the Dred Scott decision) depended ... in 
all pTobabititj the deetiny of this country. And n-ho is vain ecough 
ta snppose that tlie Dred Sott decision would hare lieeii made but 
for the agitation and discussion ivhich preceded it. and llic sound 
clear [irinciplcs which that discussion brought to lij{lu." .\ugu9t 3, 
1S99, in Augusta, Ga. Cleveland. Al. H. Stephens, in Public and 
Private, witli Letters and Speeches, p. OH, 


of the decree, but it was against right and issued con- 
fessetllyon political grounds. The opinions of theinnjor- 
ity differed from one another in their argumentation, and 
to some extent ia their conclusions, so widely that, taken 
together, they constituted an inextricable tangle, and two 
of the judges not only opi>osed the chief justice on one 
point after another, but the severest moral condemnation 
conid bo heard in their juridico-historical deductions, 
spite of tiicir calmness and strict pragmatism. How 
could iho op|iosition fail to look upon the judgment, 
legally as an invalid usurpation and as a perversion of the 
law, never to be recognize'J, polilicallj aa an absurd and 
bold assumption, and morally as an unpamllclcd prosli- 
talion of the judicial ermine! The supremo court of the 
United Stales had wished to put an end to the contro- 
versy, and all il did was to add fuel to tljo flames which 
had already risen so high during the presidential cam- 
paign, and to drag itself down into the dirt, in the eyes 
of one-half the people. The last strong bulwark against 
the revolutionary spirit awakened by the triumphs 
achieved by the slavocracy and its northern follon-ing 
was broken down. 

The scnalo, or a committee of tho senate, in its name, 
eent thousands of copies of tho opinion, without delay, 
throughout the country. Tho republicans might rejoice 
that, from this place and in so forcible a manner, evidence 
was immediately borne before tho whole people, that 
what appeared in the garb of a judicial deci-eo was, in 
reality, only a campaign docnnicnt. Of its own freo will, 
the supremo court of the United States had taken the 
initiative for the democratic party in the sense of tho 
radical southern wing, and sounds of jubilation from the 
halls of the senate announced the great fact to the entire 




Tho Washington correspondent of the Charleston Mer- 
cury had saiil of Buchanan, in a report on the cabinet 
which Poll: had formed: "He is known to bo an able, 
modpratB old Ilnnlier — very timid nnri hiitcs trouble." 
Tho twelve years which had passed since then had 
thinnetl and bleached Buchanan's hair, and now a glance 
at the full, closely shaved face sufltced to convince one of 
the correctness of iliis tlescpiplion. In private life he 
could Dnqncstionubly knock at every door with tlie as- 
Buranoe of beinw accorded an honest welcome; for hia 
carriage ami stately form, no less than the expression of 
his Rot unremarkable countenance, showed liim at once 
to be a genilcmiin. even to the unpniciiced eye. In the 
line that lay over his heavily arched brows above hi3 
oleiu", bright eyes, unstudied dignity and self -conscious- 
ness too highly strung vied with each other for the mas- 
tery, but he neither awed nor repelled one, for the good 
hamorund the enjoyment of physical comfort stamped 
on the loiver half of his face, and hrs broad, double chin, 
acted as a counterpoise to it. One could believe his ad- 
miring friends that the ligure he cut at the court of (Jueen 
Victoria met with the applause of even liin exacting 
English aristocracy, and that his skill .lad tact as a dip- 
tomatc were recognized by English statesmen ; while the 
fact that, at the well-provided table and the cimlty lea, 
he was a stimulating and winning talker — too inclined 
(o teach, nt limes^did not fail to make him some 
enemies. But tho person who, judging from Buchanan's 
appearance, saw in him a great sintesamn, must have 



been either a very bad physiognomist or havo had a verv 
unclear idea as lo what the requirements of a statesman 
are. If this man was a great character, nature in fram- 
ing him must have been taken nilh the 8tran;c;e whim 
to make the form a mask to hide the contents. This 
flesh was evidently too sensitive not to be always very 
much inchned to purchase freedom from trouble, care 
and danger, at a high price. But, at the same time, his 
vanity was great enough, notwithstanding all this, lo 
play lor the highest prize, and his vain self-reliance could 
not but grow, through his great degree of weakness, to 
senescent wilfulness, and this all the more tim doe|M)r he 
was dragged into the whirlpool of the conHict of ovcr- 
jiowerful actual events, promoted as much by his mar- 
rowlessness as by his blind self-reliance. Weakness, 
self-overcstimation and wiHulness — a more disastrous 
combination' of qualities could, under exislinj^ circum- 
stances, be scarcely imagined. 

Self-ovorestimation was tiie warp of bis unrortiinate 
policy, weakness and wilfulness its woof. T.iat he did 
not hope for a stormless future ns confidently as one 
might suppose from his inaugural address is undoubted. 
Acconling to this, it might appear as if, after the publi- 
cation of tlie announced Dred Scott decision, ho could 
descry no darker cloud in tlio heavens than the overflow- 
ing coffers of the treasury, for tlio relief of which ho 
made various propositions. Little as one mi{:bt think 
of his statesmanlike capacity, lo impute such a lack of 
judgment to him as to assume that that was his real opin- 
ion was simply absurd. But he evidently cherished the 
happy belief that he would succeed, by his superior diplo- 
matic skill, in so moulding and directing things that, 
graduallv, the ship of slate would sail in smoother 
waters, and that at least his administration Monld re- 



main free from the more violent perturbations which 
might portend some great catastrophe. The politician 
who know not how to introduce the moral powers of the 
nationiil life as an element into his calculations, but con- 
sidered the solution of every problem possible, by means 
of art debased into a trade, might find some ground for 
this illusion. 

Buchanan's first difficalty and danger grew out of the 
split in his own parly m respect to the authentic inter- 
pretation of its creed on the territorial question. Al- 
though ho knew perfectly well that he owed his nomi- 
natioa to the circumstance that, to use the felicitous 
expression of the Xew Orleans Delta, he could prove " an 
alibi " ' in the case of the Kansas bill, he had, even before 
ibe election, frankly declared in favor of the view taken 
of it by the south.^ Bui he was cautious enough to so 
declare himself only before his neighbors who had como 
to congratulate him on the result of the stale elections 
in October; and, although he may not himself have 
brought it to pass, it was certainly very agreeable to him. 
that his remarks did not find their way into the press, 
although he had carefully committed them to writing. 
Now be could, in accordance with his whole conception 
of the controversy, harbor Ihe fond hope thai, so far aa 
the democratic i>arty was concerned, this attitude of bis 
would have no serious and permanent consequences. The 
leaders, in the debates on the Kansas-Nebraska bill, and 
then again in Cincinnati, agreed to recognize the courts 
as the competent forum, wherein to settle the contro- 

'The New Orleans Delta, Dec. 19, 1857. 

* " TliiB does no more tlian . . . recognize the right of & major- 
ity of the people of a territory, when about to enter the Union aa a 
atat«, to decide for themselves whether domestic slarcry shall or shall 

not exist among ihcm." Curtis, Life of J. Buchanan, 11, 1*6. 




verteil question, when the right of self-dotermi nation of 
the territorial population in respect to slavery came into 
force. Now the supreme court of the United Slates had 
decideil, in the sense of the south, and even if the re- 
publicans denied this part oF the judgment the binding 
force of law, betnuse obiter divta, r.lill the Douglas demo- 
crats were bonnd in honor by that agreement to submit 
to the decree. 

That the submission would be unreserved and uncom- 
plaining Buchanan scarcely expected, spite of his self- 
complncent optimism. Ho knew very well that Douglas 
and his associates had not stopped at squatter sovereignly 
because their own convictions were an insurmountable 
barrier, but because they had considered it impossible to 
draw the majority of their constituents beyond that line. 
If, in this matter, these cool, calculating, |)olilical wire- 
pullers, with their aridity of heart and their ice-buuml 
consciences, were not involved in an inconceivable delu- 
sion, the manoeuvering even noir couKI not be too cautious, 
for a judicial decree was not a charm by means of which 
convictions could be obliterated. For this reason it was 
deemed advisable, so far as the internal state of the party 
was concerned, to act as if the controversy had to do with 
a purely theoretical question. Would not the vanquished 
become all the more rapidly and more easily reconciled 
to their defeat, the less they were made to feel formally 
and materially that a deadly blow had been dealt theinf 
The more the internal dissensions in the democratic party 
threatened to grow, in consequence of the Dred Scott 
decision, the more necessary it was to have it outwardly 
appear that the party presented a united front. If its 
disruption could be prevented at all, the first pre-eonditioa 
thereto was the knitting of bonds so firm and lasting that 
the time needed for a new intergrowth would be obtaiaed. 



These must b&ro beon the considerations that guided 
Buchanan in the formation of his cabinet, if in forming 
it he was guided bv any general political ideas at all. 

Cass was secrelary of slate. He was certainly not 
chosen for the first place because ho was the father of 
squatter sovereigntj'; but he was its father none the less, 
and therefore the suspicion that the adherents of that doc- 
trine were to be treated henceforth as democrats of the 
second class could be warded off by pointing to the selec- 
tion made of him. But whether they would consider this 
guaranty sutficient was all the more doublful, as Dong- 
las, although he had adopted the Cass chanee'ing, was 
by no means Cass's political twin brother, and had long 
since acquired an incomparably more important position 
in the party than the one-time leaderof the northwestern 
democracy. The Xew York Tribune dhi^Alched the latter 
with the declaration that ho was " the most venerable 
office-seeker in America." ' Even from the mouth of an 
acrimonious opponent. Cass might well have claimed a 
somewhat less depreciatory judgment, but there was much 
truth in the statement. He had always been greatly 
overestimated, and now he was really Ittlle more than a 
great name. People did not criticise or rebel against the 
tradition which mitdo him one of the giants of a genera- 
tion of whom only a few still remained on the stage; but 
no one looked upon his name as a programme; he was 
the stately figure-head of the ship of the admiaisLratton. 

The conduct of the treasury department was confided 
to Howell Cobb. He had, for a long time, been numbered 
among the magnates of the first rank of the party, and 
even his op|7onents readily admitted that he was a man 
of real talent; but it could not be inferred from bis 

'The N. Y. TrOmne. March T, 1857. 



career hitherto, that he would prove himself specially 
qualiHed for this office. He was not called to the cabinet 
us a tried financier; bat lie was considered, more than any 
of the other secretaries, and particularly more than CasF, 
a political minister. It was not long before he was rightly 
looked upon as the very soul of the cabinet, so far at least 
as the cabinet seemed to bare any soul; but what made 
him such was his personal qualities and not his programme, 
while it was believed that he owed bis appointment, in 
great part or even mainly, to the role he had played as 
leader of the " Union party " of Georgia, in the dis- 
turbances of 1S50-1851. This was, perhaps, correct; but 
to attach much importance to that fact was certainly 
\"ery hazardous. We have shown in a previous volume 
in what a peculiar light the "Georgia platform " placed 
the fidelity of the stale to the Union — a platform the 
praises of which were sung with so much enthusiasm in 
the north. Since then things had taken a long stride 
further, and the times had assumed a very different char- 
acter. That the Cobb of 1S57 was still the Cobb of 
I$50-1851 was, to say the least, only an underaonstrated 
assumption. The man who based his confidence that the 
altitude of the administration in the sectional quarrel, at 
least in respect to secessionist tendencies, would be a cor- 
rect and vigorous one, on this ground, might well beware 
lest he built on sand. That the two cabinet places which, 
according to an old tradition, were considered the first, 
were given to Cass and Cobb, had to be interpreted to 
mean that Buchanan, at this time, certainly did not look 
ujwn it as a self-evident consequence of the triumph of 
the radicals of the southern states, that the helm of party 
policy was to he directed solely in accordance with their 
On the other band, be was just as far removed from 


considering It necessary to bold them more severely in 
check on account of that great victory. This was made 
evident by the selection of Jacob Tboin|Json to be secre- 
tary of the interior, for be had been, in 1S61)-1S01, in 
Jlississippi, as zealous an agitator in the cainp of the 
radicals as was Cobb in Georgin, for tlie ratification of 
the compromise, and tlie republicans at least claimed 
that lie ivas called to the cabinet precisely on this ac- 
count; for, altbougb he bad sat many years in the house 
of representatives, he bad left his name, in other re- 
spects, in the historical records of the country only as the 
ardent defender of the foul repudiation experiment of his 
adopted stale. Buchanan, therefore, seemed to ivish to 
have the same sun shine on, and the same wind blow for, 
both wings of the party — as the New York Tribune 
said — with the limitation that he did not invito one of 
the great "Fire Eaters" to his counsel board, but, wilii 
commcnilable deliberation, gave the radicals as unim- 
portant a representative as possible, 

J, Toucoy of Connecticut, the secretary of the navy, 
was politically Buchanan's own reflected imago. lie was 
indebted for his election to the senate to the supiwrt of 
some pseudo-wbigs, and the part he played in that body 
was, durmg the last years, an outrageous deRance of tlie 
political convictions which were obtaining the supremacy 
in his own state. His term had now expired, and, in 
Connecticut, the most he coidd hope for was to be used 
as a liorrible example. Whether as a cabinet olilcer ho 
could and would render the south as valuable service as 
ho had in the capacity of an orator and constitutional 
dialectician the future alone could tell. The south cer- 
tainly owed its thanks to Buchanan for making the 
stone which the heretical builders of Connecticut had re- 
jected one of the pillars of his administration, for Toucey 


was a man of talent and endowed with a cerliiin sharp- 
ness. When he entered the arena for the slavocracy, 
there ran through his arguments a pecuhar. clear tone uf 
conviction not to be foimil even in the constitutional ser- 
mons of Buchanmi, nitliousjb Senator Brown of Missis- 
sippi had lauded him as Just as worthy of the aoutli as 
Callioun himself.' Tiiis man, who knew so well bow to 
arrange southern airs for northern fiddles and northern 
ears, furnislied a goorl connecting link between tlie sec- 
reiaries we have already described, if indeed the latter 
really differed so widely ou constitutional and polJticci- 
party fundamental questions as to need an intermediary. 

The postmaster-general. Brown, had belonged to the 
house of representatives for six years, and had also been 
governor of Tennessee; but the general public knew 
scarcely anything more about hnn than that, because of 
his activity in the interests of his parly, bo was a valued 
and esteemed personalty in the circles of professional 
jtoliticians. In the eyes of the machine politicians, he 
was the most important member of the cabinet, because 
the patronage of ibu postotHce department was the 
largest. It was not to bo doubted that ho would turn 
this very large party capilal to good account, and to do 
so was considered the principal task of the postmaster- 

The secretary of war, Fbyd, and the allorney-gunernl. 
Black, were entirely now leaders on the national stage. 
Whoever took it into his head to inc)uire to what merit 
Floyd owed his elevation had to be content tviih the 
answer that he belonged to nno of the lirst families of 
Virginia. Of Black, too. people could say nothing; but 
that a judge of the supreme court of PennsyKania wuultl 
be an able jiinsl ami a man uf honor could not be culled 

■ In • Inttcr to il It- Ailnuu. Tlw Rkhnionil Eitguirv, Ao^ ST, ISSt. 


in queslioa bj tbe opposition party so fonff as uo facts to 
the contrary could be adduced. 

This cabinet «as curtainly not an imposing one, and 
the man who would infer from it Uie policy which tbe 
president had traced out for himself must have had much 
practice in answering riddles. If one judged from the 
political weight of this list of names the suspicion sug- 
gested ilself that Buchanan had in view, not so much 
the strength of the administration, as to make sure of 
his own position as actual lord and master; and if one 
looked at the shading of the party color in the individual 
members he naturally divined that the president had 
decided, at least so far as the near future was concerned, 
in favor of a policy of his own will — a (wlicy which could 
not be readily distinguished from the total absence, on 
principle, of a political programme. This was not only 
the surest, but the only, way to gain time, and it was 
easily intelligible, if he thought he could live in the hope 
that the saying, To gain time is to gain all, was appli- 
cable now. 

He had, in essentials, free scope during nine months, for 
congress did not meet again until December. Tbe repub- 
licans might pluck the Dred Scott decision to pieces, 
judicially and morally, as much as they pleased, but they 
could not, by so doing, tflfect anything of immediate 
political importance. It entered no one's mind to con- 
test the legal validity of the decision, so far as Dred 
Scott personally was concerned, and the declaration that 
the remainder of the decision would never be recognized 
meant only that the conflict in congress and in the terri- 
tories would bo continued, and that if the party should 
come into power vacancies on the supreme bench would 
be filled in such a way that the constitution and justice, 
humanity and morals, freedom and rational politics, 


would get tbcir rights once more. He, therefore, had Do 
reiison to trouble himself about the republicans. To 
keep ibe different fractions of his own party asunder was 
tbe i)roblem he had nnw to solve, and he thought he 
L'ouid solve it by being obliging to tbem all. If, by doing 
so, he satisfied no one, bo at least gave uo occasion for 
grievances such that they would openly oppose him. If 
he continued to hold to this policy when tlie op]K)sing 
elements within the party came into collision his fate 
would furnish another illustration of the truth that the 
more stools one tries to sit on at the same time the 
greater is the danger be runs of coming to the ground. 
For the present, however, he might disregard the warn- 
ing contained in this old truth, because he ex|wcted that, 
during the nine months, the question which alone gave 
the controversy the character of a real contlict of interests 
would fmd its practical solution. If this expectation wero 
realized it would assume for a lime the appearance of tin 
academic question, and then people would hare, indeed, 
to hope that this period would last long enougli to ])ermit 
the wisdom of the politicians, cotubined with the fre- 
quently experienced favor of Providence, to lind a way 
out of the labyrinth before a new crisis could mature. He, 
however, needed lo do nothing to bring about the actual 
settlement of the question, but to allow things calmly 
to take their legal course. Then, no matter how the die 
was cast he could not justly be held responsible for it. 
When, therefore, people hoped here, and feared there, 
that he wouhl immediaiely and of his own free will begin 
to play the part of the zealous and unscrupulous servant 
of the slavocracy they judged him very wrongly. His 
wish was not lo incur the UiEpleasure of cillier Jehovah 
or Bual, and hence ho honestly wished, at the time, to be 
nothing more than the guardian and executor of the laws. 



In this calculation Buchanan bad overlooked only one 
thing. Would the democracy fold their arms and allow 
bim to carry out his laudable resolutions? And if they, 
with the same brutal shamolessness witb which they, on 
the occasion of the first territorial election in Kansas, 
tore the principle of popular sovereignty to tatters, should 
oppose hira and, despite all law and right, seek a prac- 
tical decision in their favor, what would become of bis 
virtuous intentions? He wanted to be neutral, but in the 
drawing up of his programme he did not go so far as to 
ask liimself what aide he would lake if the slavocracy, by 
overt acts, forced him to become a partisan. But the 
programme he had drawn up for himself contained noth- 
ing to warrant the assumption tbat, with regard to this 
question, the unanimous opinion of bis slavocratic friends 
and his republican opponents, on what was to be ex- 
pected from him, would prove to be erroneous. 

Buchanan, in the address referred to above, delivered 
to his neighbors after the happy result of the October 
elections, bad given them the consoling assurance that 
this baleful episode bad been brought to an end through 
the calm restored by Governor Geary and General Smith 
in Kansas.' Geary himself, in a. letter of December 31, 
185fi, to Marcy, proudly claimed that, in proportion to 
its area and population, fewer crimes were committed in 
Kansas than in any other part of the Union.' One, how- 
ever, would have to bo more than an optimist if a nine 
days' earlier report of the secretary of state did not 

I ■' We ahull bear no more of bleeiling Kansas. There will be no 
mora ulirieks for livr unkiappy desliny. The i>oopb of tliia fiiio coun- 
tty, XiTOtecleii fi'tim external violence and internal cotiiinotjon, will 
decide llie qui^stion of slavery for themselven, and [lieit elide grace- 
fully into Ihe Union and become one of the aiaters of our groat con- 
federacy." Curtis, Life of J. Buchanan, II, p. 170. 

'Seu. Doc., 35lh Congr.. let Seas., vol, VI. No. 17, p. 101. 


;cTioN — KXD OF 35ru conorkss. 

awaken the fear that the " bajipy state of things" which, 
according to ilie letter of the 31st, had reignctt during 
the last three months in the territory, would not be last- 
ing. The governor coiniilainetl that there was still, in 
hoLh parties, n, minority who violently maligned him. 
While he was reproached by the one because, without re- 
gard for the constitution and the laws, he did not hasten 
the formation of a state government, he was slandered 
by the other because he would not consent to " a crusade 
in support of one idea'* — ihe idea of slavery. If on© 
read no further, one might certainly beHeve, from the 
expressions used by Geury.' that both groups were too 
small to occasion any serious anxiety. But, from the 
sentences that followed, it appeared that the latter ruled 
in the legislature, and that, therefore, their importance 
should not be measured solely by llieir numbers. Geary 
said be hud to enter into the crusade obligation by bis 
approval of the resolutions adopted by the legislature on 
the evening of Its last session. These resolutions de- 
nounced the proposition " to organize a national demo- 
cratic partv,"' and declared that every man who did not 
make the slavery question the sole dividing line between 
Iiarties was an ally of abolitionism and disunion.* 

' " A Tew ultra men" and "a few violent men." 

^" WlipreaB the sitins of the times indicate tbat a measure is now 
on toot, fraught with more danger In the intoreiits of llie pro-sJaverf 
)iai'ty and to tlie Union than any that has been agntated, la wit, the 
propoBition to organize a national democratic (lartj; and whereua 
some of our friends Imve already been misled bf it; And whoreos Ihe 
result will be to divide tUv pro-slavt-ry wldga from deuiocmts, thus 
weakening our partj one-half: and wherea* we believe that on the 
success of our parly depends the per|*tuity of the Union: therefore 

"Be it resolved by tlie house of repreaeritatives. the council concur- 
rinn therein, that it is the duty of the pro-slavery party, the Uiiion- 
lovini; nieii nf Kaniias territory, to know but one issue, slavery ; and 
thai any imrty makiuK or attempting to make any other is and should 
be held as an ally of nbolitionisoi and disunion." Ibid., p. H. 


The report which informed theadminiBtration of these 
resolutions was furnished, scarcely two weeks later, with 
a very surprising commentary. At a party meeting which 
the members of the legislature held on the 4th of Janu- 
ary, 11S57, with the delegates of the counties, the leading 
men declared, in plain terms, that the pro-slavery parly 
Wits only a small minority, and timt, tlierefore, there was 
no hope of success, unless they united with the free-state 
democmts: that is, unless they renounced making Kansas 
a slave state, in order lo be able to make Jt at least '"a 
conservative democratic free state."' 

The old leaders of the pro-slavery party who had made 
a name in the earlier history of the troubles of the ter- 
ritory, like Stringfellow, Dp. Tebbs, A, W. Jones and 
Whitfield, admitted the fact that the majority of the 
population would have nothing to do with slavery, and 
Bell, of Tennessee, subsequently stated in the senate that 
of the twenty pro-slavery newspapers in the territory 
nineteen were agreed tluit after January, ISiiT, there was 
no hope of bringing Kansas into the Union as a slave 
slate.' As there were scarcely three hundred slaves in 
the territory, and that small number was continually di- 
minishing;" and, as Walker in a letter of June 28, 18.17, 
lo Buchanan remarked, a considerable number of the 
immigrants from the slave slates were, in their own in- 
tei-est, which they well understood, free-state people,' it 

1 Governor Wnlket to Cass. Dt*. 15. 1857. Sen. Doc.. 85lh Congr.. 
iBt Sew., vol. I, No. 8, p. '.23. 

'CoDgr Globe, "^8i«a. 35lli Congr., App.. pp. 130. 137. 

■ Walker, ia the letter at Diiueniber 13, 1867. Bell eaid in tile 
speecli of Slaf IK, 16S8. above referred to, that Ihe number had 
shrunk in one year to one hunilreil, and according to some to fifty. 

' A *■ very Iflr^^e majority of the KiiiiatterB, wlio came to the territory 
from the slave statea. are wiid to be for a free Btnte, partly from con- 
viction that their claims would bring a larger price, and partly be- 



was, indeed, difftcuU to understand how any one could 
escape recognizmg this fact, if he formed, and wanted to 
form, his opinions in good faith. But ii was, none the 
less, very questionable wliether all those facts warriiDled 
Walker's assertion that, long before his arrival in Kansas 
(May, 1857), the slavery question, as n praclicnl question, 
had disappeared, and that its place bad been tu.ken by 
the question of self-government.' 

In February, 1857, the legislature resoh'od to call a 
constitutional convention. Geary vetoed the bill because 
it contained no express provision that the convention 
should submit the couslitution drafted by it to the people 
for ado])tion or rejection.- The legislature proceeded im- 
mediately to another vote, and the bill was adopted (_Feb- 
ruary 19) by the necessary majority. There was no need 
of i-ecalling the previous history of the territory to ex- 
clude all doubt as to whether the legislature refused to 
take into account the reasons of the governor or whether 
it intended to add another to numerous drastic illustra- 
tions of the "great principle," surpassing all previous 
ones in atrocity. The committees of both houses told 
Geary to his face that tbey in accord with their friends 
in the southern states had resolved to limit the co-opera- 
tion of the people, in the work of giving Kansas a consti- 
tution, to the election of delegates to the convention.* 

nmse m&iiy of tlieui caiue liere expresalj to settle in a free state. 
The same is the cose, to a limited extent, with pi'f>-slarcT7 men hold- 
ing towu lots, alioriis aoU interests ia the projected railroads." Hep. 
of Comin,, 80lh Congr., 1st Seas., toI. V, No. 648. p. 118, 

I Walker, in the letter of December IS. 1857. 

'See the veto message, Seo. Doc, 8Sth Congr., 1st Seal, vol. ^'I. 
No. 17, p. 167. 

»Geary writes; "In aconferenoe with the romniitteeB of the two 
housca, by whom the bill liad been reported. I proposed to 6ij(o Iba 
hill, proviiied they would insert in it a section authoriaing the eab* 



The struj;:gle for slavery, therefore, was not given op; 
on tlie contrary, it was announced in the most unambig- 
uous manner that it would be continued, regardless of 
consetjuences, with the old means. 

Seldom lias a federal officer as honestly rejoiced as 
Geary did that, in accordance with the piiiiciple of "ro- 
tation in office," he had to look upon a change of admin- 
istration as the natural end of his ofKciaL life. On the 
4th of March ho handed in his resignation, and Buchanan 
chose Kohert J. Walker to be his successor. The latter 
at tii-st declined, but on the repeated retjuest of the presi- 
dent accepted the post. 

"Walker was born and grew up in Pennsylvania, but 
when a young man of twenty-live years of age emi- 
grated to Mississippi. Lil;e most northerners who had 
removed permanently to the "sunny south," he became 
a decided partisan of slavery. If he had not been so, it 
is self-evident that his adopted state would not have sent 
him lo the senate in 183*3, nor Polk made him secretary 
of the treasury in ISiS. His opinions on this funda- 
mental {|uestion of the political life of the Union had 
undergone no change. He made no secret of his desire 
to see Kansas become a slave state.^ I3ut the southern 

miasinn o( the conslilution as above indicated. But they distinctly 
iiirunueJ me that the bill met the apprubation ol t1ii;ir friends in the 
south — thiit it was not their intern ion the conBtiluiion Hhould ever 
be BUl>niltt>.'d to the people, nud that to all iulents and purposes it 
was lilie thu iawB or the tledes and Persians, and oould not bo al- 
tered." CoiifcT. Olobe, 1st Sess. 35th Congr., p. Slfl, 

> ■■ 1 should have preferred tliat a majority of the people of Kansas 
would have made it a slave state. ... 1 never disguised my 
(pinions upon this subject, and I especially reiterated the opiuioii 
that I WHS thus in favor of niaintainiug; the equilibrium of the gov- 
ernment by giving the south a. majority in the senate, wliiie the 
north would always iiecesssrily have a majority in the botiae of rep- 
reeentatives, which opinion I have entertained ever since the Mia- 

63 iccuasax'b enection — esd of 35th o 

radicals were, nevertheless, mistaken, if they supposod 
they had found in him a man entirely after iheir own 
iieart, lie had not sacritieed his political, and still less 
his private, conscience on tlie alter of slavery; and this 
the man had to do who, as governor of Kansas, wished so 
to manage their case that they might Hnally triumph. 
Walker accepted the nomination only after he had, in 
writing, made it a condition that the president and his 
cabinet would bind themselves lioncstly to carry out tlio 
principle of " popular sovereignty ;" that is, " that the act- 
ual, hnii'i filJe residents of the territory of Kansas, by u 
fair and regular vote, unaffected by fraud or violenci.', 
must be permitted, in adopting their stale constitution, to 
decide for themselves what shall he their instilulions." ' 
In the written instruction which the secretary of state 
sent Walker on the 30tb of March, Buchanan, in duu 
form, gave the pledge demanded. Cass declared in his 
name that the elections to the constitutional convention, 
the deliberations of the same, and the vote of the people 
on the constitution,' must and would bo protected iigiiiniii 
fraud, violence and undue influence. 

After Walker had sliown, in this way, that he was re- 
solved not to be the baildl of the slavocracy, but to at- 

souri compromiae, avowing it at thnt time and on a great tuan.v 
public occasions ever since, espei'i ally in my efforts to make twoslnve 
states out of Florida, and elx slave stntea out oZ Texas. Tills opiuiun 
1 sllll entertitin." Declnrntlons ninrle before the Cof ode Committee. 
Rep. of Cumm., SStli Conj; , 1st S«u,. vol, V, No. 616. p. 10^. 

■Congr. Globe, lai Sess. S5[li Con^r., p, M. 

>"Wheo (not 'If 'or 'in caae') such a uonstitution elinll be sub- 
mitted to tbe people of tbe lerritorj', the; must be protecte<l in ttie 
exerctse of their right (I) to vole for or against the i 
(t ' the inslrunient' aud not the BlaTery clause of the ii 
and the fair expression of the popular will umst not be JDii-iTUpted 
by fraud or violence." Sen. Doc., SStli Coukt., IK Hk*^, vol. I, 
No. 8, p, 4. 



tend to his ofBce as an honorable man, and thai he well 
knew ihe carrying out of his intention would meet with 
resistance, it was to bo ex|>ected that he would proceed 
immediately to Kansas, in order to balk the people from 
whom tliis resistance was to be feared, before they could 
iigain create accomplished facts which might make his 
tusi: much more difficult and pcrhnps impossible. But 
he tool; his time, as if there was not a cloud in the heav- 
ens, and his secretary, Fr. P. Stanton, had to carry on 
the government for him,' The recognition his subse- 
quent conduct deserved has caused it to be too mucii 
overlooked he had, by doing so, assumed no small 
part of the responsibility for the events tiiat followed. 

According to the law of February 19, only those were 
to have a right to vote at the elections to the constifi: ' 
tional convention who were residents of the territory on 
the loth oE March or previous to that date. By tixiny 
the term thus early, not only the fresh emigrants from 
llie distant free states were excluded from the suffrage 
but also the free-state people who had left the territory 
ia consequence of the troubles of the previous year, and 
who now intended to return with the good season, since 
it seemed that life and limb were no longer at stake, if 
they did so. The Mis&ourians, on the contrary, could 
easily come over, and be registered in the list of voters, 
then go home and quietly remain thereuntil immediately 
before the election.' As bold an emigration from Mis- 
souri to Kansas as to the lirst elections could not bu 

1 Even Stanton did not come to ir»^nM» before the second half or 

*Gilion, Geary's prirate secretary, writes: "But even that trouble 
was at length conBidercd unneurasary. for ttie slieriffa and cenaus 
takers found it more couvenient to carry tlieir Ixjoks into Missouri 
and there record their namea." Congr. Globe, lat Smb. Sith Caagr,, 


Hasan's electios - 

) OF 35tii ( 

started now, and hence this little trick olono oould evi- 
dently not sutSce to insure the slacocracy a favorable , 
result at the polls. To bring tliis nbout, arduous labor 
was necessary, and the small but poworrul band under 
the leadership of tlio y^neral land-surveyor, John Cal- 
houn, did not recoil before it. 

Thehnv of the 19lh of February ordered a census of 
all the counties and the preparation of lists of voters, in 
accordance with which the apportionment of delegates to 
iho convention should bo made. The sheritTs and pro- 
bate judges who were intrusted with this Uisk were 
nominated by the legislature, and were, as "Walker and 
BtantoD agreed in stating publicly, decided adherents of 
the pro-slavery party. They were not satisfied, in draw- 
ing up the lists, with making advances, to the atmcet, to 
the Missourians, and manifesting the greatest neglect 
and forgetfulness of the free-state people.' Under the 
pretext that they had not the necessary money, they took 
no census at all in nineteen out of thirty-four counties, 
and in tifteen at least they prepared no lists of voters.' 

iTIie Knnaas neu'spapera cited so maaj names of fienons widely 
known, t)iHl lliert' can lie no doubt thut lliere wns good ground fur 
these coinjilaint*. In one place the entire personnel ol the free-Btate 
iiews|ia|K.-r uud. In iiuotlior, even the host of one ot tlie officers who 
hod lo prejiai-c the hsta, wure forgotten. 

■ Some leudttta of the pro-eloTery party suiiaoqueiitly putilished a 
document in which ttiey endeavored to deprive tlictit.' Tacts of tbvlr 
Hignlficani-e. by olleeing tlint iu (out counties the oPBciul* of the free- 
■tate people bad been hindered by threats atid rioleucv, and tlial the 
" other flrieenvrerc, (or civil purposes, attached tourg^oiied coun- 
ties," which Ihvy wanted to be understood tu mean tliat tlie penon* 
living lu lliein and entitled to vote might have eutciavd their right 
or snange in «tlier counties. (CoQgr. Globe, tst Seas. SOlli Coukt., 
p. S86.) Stuart o( Michigan said in the aennte in relation to the 
■ame point : " I( you can nttnoh five or aix countios to another for 
voting purposes, thcM countlce, I presume, being tweuty or twenty 



"Walker could therefore say, as he did later, with the 
best of reason, that the convention had "vital defects," 
sinoe cardinal conditions of the law to which it owed its 
existence had not been fullilleO.' 

The free-state people had not yet given up their Topeka 
constitution, and were therefore inclined, from the start, 
to refuse to have anything to do with the Lecompton 
convention.' But now tliis seemed totliein to be a dubious 
policy, and their niosi distinguished Itmders, ihereforCf 
aililrcssed a letter, on the 25th of April, to Stanton,' in 
which they offered to participate in the elections, pro- 
vided they were allowed, in the manner specitied by 

luur miles square, yuu may send a man a hun(lre<l milra to vote, and 
jou might na well deprive hiui of the privilege entirely." (lliid., p. SSlj. 
Besides this, Stanton said: "Nor could the people of these disfrao- 
chised counties vote in any adjacent county, us has been fuUely BUg'- 
cested." (Ibid., )). 5^.) That the complaints made against tlie Troe- 
siate people were not ullagetlier unfounded Js all the more probable 
an they would have nothing to du wlili the o invention, and, there- 
fore, nothing to dii with the measures introductory thereto. Stanhin, 
too, says: " In some iiislances, people and utllt;eni were alike ail- 
veree to Ihe pmcot-dings." Sen. Doo., 35th L'ongr., Ist Seaa., voi. I. 
No. 8. p. i 15. 

' '"Tliat convention had vital, nut technical, defecla in the very bu'j- 
Htaace of its organiEation under the territorial law." Cougr. Olohe, 
IstSess. 3Sth Congr., p. 150. 

»Plairorni of the free-state convention at Topeka of Haroh 10, 1857. 
In an address to the people of the United States by the free-slate 
convention we rend ; " We ask but that congress may adopt tlie To- 
)>eka oonHtltuIion. which baa already passed the house, or tbut both 
it and the one that n'ill be ndnpted by the pro-slavery eoDicntion in 
Snpteuiber be returneil In the people of the ti'rritorj-, with an enabling 
net providing for a fair and honest vote ot the bona fldc residents. 
Weasli no more than this — we can ask no less." .V. Y. Trilnitii', 
Mity 4, 1IS57. 

' The It'tttT is printed in full in the Congressional Globe, 1st Sess. 
«Oth Congr., p, 1318. 


-END OF 35tii congress. 

them, to correct atitt complete ibe list of voters, and were 
granted an impartial electoral count. Their demands were 
so undoubtedly equiiable and well -grounded that Stanton 
gave tliem reason to iiope tor a favorable answer. But 
ilie Calhoun party urged him so strongly to refuse their 
claims that the free-state people finally, mstcad of the jus- 
tice promised, received a long-winded argument, on the 
grounds which forbiide him to meddle in this matter. A 
month later the delegates were apportioned in accord- 
anoe with the incomplete and fraudulent list of voters.. 
Walker finally came to Kansas at the same time. On 
the 2Tth of May be published an inaugural address 
which, as Douglas alleged, had been revised and cor- 
i-ected by the president himself.' He urgently exhorted 
the free-state people to desist from their intended absten- 
tion from the elections, since no matter how many or 
how few voted, according to the principles which ob- 
tained everywhere in the United Stitles, the result would 
be binding on all, and what ivas now lost by their own 
fault could not be won again by a subsequent vole. The 
most important thing was not what the majority decided 
in favor of, but that the majority should decide. The 
question of self-government towered high above tha 
question whetiier Kansas should bo a free or a slave state, 
and, therefore, it would never bo admitted into the Union 
as a frec'or a slave stale unless the state constitution was 
adopted by a majority of the people, by a direot vote,* 

I •■ Qovernnr WatktY rend hia inaugural nildrem to me. as sligbtly 
modified bj^ inlerlmenlionn in the bnndwriting n[ the presidept of 
the United Blalts liltiiMir." Cutis. TreatJM) on loristil uiional and 
pmrty (piMiionit ... us I received it frum St, A. Douglaa. |i. 111. 
St« tlie addreu. ^-'en. Doc.. 35th Cougr.. lot Sv^.. \ul I. No. 8, p. IC. 

* " And in no n>nling(.-Dc]t will coDgrcsB Diltnit Kniuos na o Kla*« or 
m B ttw •Uttc, uDlvtf ft uiftjoriiy of tlie pooplff ot Kau«as th&tl first 



On the 2(1 of June, he informed Cnss the popuIatioD 
demandi^d almost itnunimously that the constitution, 
should be submitted to a direct, popular vote, and assured 
him that " a most disastrous civil war would have been in- 
evitable," if a promise were not given that this should 
be done.' 

Matters, indeed, threatened to take a dangerous turn 
n<;ain, and it was to be feared now that the incentive 
tlierelo would come from the free-stale party. The 
Topeka legislature was to meet on the 9ih of June. 
Walker himself hastened thither. On the 8th he deliv- 
ered a speech urgently exhorting the people not to be car- 
ried away by passion into a chase after shadows, and 
thus revive the old troubles in a worse form, while it 
needed only the honest carrying out of the law of con- 
gress in order to reach a decision in accord with the 
fundamental principles of repubhcan-democ ratio self-gov- 
ernment, A new legislature would be elected in Octo- 
ber, and if the party then won, it would be entirely in 
its power to repeal the territorial laws which they ob- 
jected to, and then before the close of the year the peo- 
ple, by voting on ibe constitution, would have to decide 
whether Kansas should be a free state or a slave state. 
The question: " Who elects the convention Che answered 
evasively, saying that it mattered little who submitted 
the constitution to the people provided Kansas got no 
constitution which was not wanted by a majority of the 
people. The (|nestion: Whether he had the power to 

have faii'ly and freely decided the question for themselves by a direit 
vote on tilt; adoption of tbu coDetUuiion, exctudiog all fiaud or vio- 
lence." TliiB declaration ia repeated tivice in a somewliut altered 
form hut with the same emphatiia. 
■ Sea. Doc., SSCh Congr., Isl Sess., vol. I, No. 8, p. 9. 


compel this, he answered with the promtso to unite with 
the free-state party in legal opposition, if tbe cotivontton 
did not order a popular vote on the coiistitution.' 

Walker's speech effected this much, that the moUona 
of the radicals having in view the completion of the state 
organization and the adoption of state laws were de- 
feated by a largo majority. They were content with de- 
claring that they held fast to what had already been 
resolved and done in the Topeka movement, and that a 
petition for the admission of the territory as a state, under 
the free-state constitution, shonld be again circulated.' 

This moderation was certainly due in great part to 
their recognition of the fact that Walker could really do 
no more than he had promised to do. The advice of the 
radicals would, however, probably have been listened to 
more readily if it bud not been so firmly believed that the 
convention would not dare to force a constitution on the 
people conlrarj' to the promises of the president, made 
through the mouth of the governor and against the almost 
unanimous will of the |)o|iulation. And, indeed, thai, in 
respect to this i]uestion, as Walker alleged, there was 
scarcely any difference of opinion among the population, 
was too evident to be coniesled. Not only was the pol- 
icy announced in Walker's inaugural address approved 
by nearly ail the newspapers of the territory, but Cal- 
houn and seven other pro-slavery candidates for the con- 
vention considered it necessary, on the 13th of June, to 
publish a letter in which, referring to a resolution of the 
democratic party convention, they repelled the "slander" 

> See tbe re|>ort in the Topeka Stalrwiaan of Juno 9, ISST, on tile 
Bpei^li Id the Congr. Olobe. tt.i Hvm. USih Uongr., p. 1889. 

' WalkM'a report of July 15 to Coaa. SeiL Doc, SStb OoDgr., In 
Baw., vol. 1, No. e. p. 87. 


that tliey were opposed to n, popular vote on the eoiisli- 


Two days later the elections to ibe convention were 
Iield, Whilo the census lists, which embraced only nine- 
teen out of thirty-four counties, enumerated nine thou- 
sand two hundred and fifty-one persons entitled to vote, 
only two thousand two hundred, that is, fewer than one- 
fourth, took part in the election," The free-state party 
Imd, therefore, remained true to their word as originally 
given, to abstain from voting; only a part of the free- 
stato democrats, who were zealously defended by the 
New York Times, had gone to the polls. The successful 
pro-sla^'ery or "regular"' democratic candidates received 
about one thousand eight hundred voles.' This figure 
furnished overwhelming evidence as to the manceuvre 
resorted to by the pro-slavery party in previous elec- 
tions. In March, 1S55, they would have it appear that 
they had cast six thousand three hundred votes, and now, 
in spite of the notorious doubling or trebling of the 
population' entitled to vote, they could bring out a 
vote of only one thousand eight hundred' in an election 
of such importance. This, however, proved not only 
that they had been previously guilty of gigantic election 

' Sec ihe letter and rosolutionB, Congr. Qbbe, Ist Sess. 35tb Congr. . 
,.. hi. 

I SUnton'B message of Dkc. 8, \fSi1. Sen. Doc,, 35th Congr,, iBtSesB., 
vol I, No, 6, p. IID. 

)Loc cit. 

• In a letter ot "' PemaijuiiJ," correspondent of the N. Y. Tribune, n( 
July 1 1, 1857, we eveu read : " It is known to all that at Least thrw- 
fuurthsof the actual resident popiilHtion of Kans.'is hate gone thither 
since llie riots ot Marcli HO, 1855. If there was then n pro-slavery 
vute ot six thouBDud three hunUied, there ought to be odo now »( 
Iwentj-live tliouoand." 

* Walker Haya: "Kfiireely more than one-teDth of Ihu present vol 
era of Kanaas." Congr. Olobe, 1st Sesa. 35th Consr., p. IBB. 



frauds, but also that they could attain their end only on 
conditiou that they operated with still greater harshness 
and criminality. They wore able, indeed, owing to the 
abstention of the free-state party from voting, to draft a 
constitution in accordance with their own wishes, as un- 
hindered as if there were no one in the territory who 
thought otherwise than they; but, when they submitted 
their work to the people, its rejecliun by au overwhelm- 
ing majority was beyond a doubt. Their victory, there- 
fore, of the 15th of June established the fact that they 
would be ignominiously defeated if Buchanan's and 
"Walker's promises were fultilled. 

No one was surprised at this result. People in the 
south had long been just as well informed as those in the 
north how matters stood in Kansas. Hence the radical 
slavocracy had not awaited the issue of the election. 
Even before the election the underground warfare against 
the new right obtained bj- surprise lliree years before, was 
raging liolty — against the new right, not perhajjs as 
Douglas wanted it to be understood, but as the south it- 
self had interpreted it. As it was unquestionable that 
the majority of the iiopuiation of Kansas did not war.t 
shivery, they were not allowed in organising the stale 
out of the territory, any more than in the question of the 
duration of the territorial condition, to exercise the right 
of self-delermlnatlon. Scarcely had Walker's inaugural 
address been given to the country than it was seen with 
what justice the territorial legislature had ap|>ealud in 
iheir negotiations with Geary on the law of February Ifl, 
to the wishes and the will of their "southern friends," 
"Walker was not only violently denounced by the press, 
but the democtntio state conventions of Qsopgia and of 
his own adopted state, Mississippi, made ti SaVftgu attack 
on liiui. The former commented on their cOQdcmnatioD 



of tbe promise tbat the constitution would be submitted 
to a direct popular vote, by making tbe further charge tbat 
Walker had pointed out the way iu which Kansas might 
become a free state. 

Thus Bucbanan, three months after his inau<^uratiun. 
was rudely awakened out of the pleasant dream that, 
eren before the meeting of congress, by simply letting 
things take their course, the Kansas question would be 
solved, and that the whole slavery question would be 
allowed to assume for a long period of time the charac- 
ter of an unuiljustahle conflict of material interests. Tbe 
projected neutrality accompanied by a conscientious exe- 
cution of tbe laws, according to tbeirspirit as well as their 
letter, meant the defeat of the slave-holding interest, and 
the radical slavocracy declared with wonted frankness 
that their interests alone would govern their action. 
Buchanan must have wanted to deceive himself, if he did 
not see that nol!iing had been gained even by the un- 
conditional recognition ot his doctrines through the 
Dred Scott decision, since the radical slavocracy had it 
followed immediately, in this way, by the annouDcement 
tbat they had no use fur tbe -'great principle" of popu- 
lar sovereignty, even when thus explained, but tbat of a 
little cloak of lies. Tbey forced him to resume the bat- 
tle, and bis freedom of choice was limited to deciding 
whether he would ivage it with them and for them or 
against them. If he decided for them, he was of course 
to be allowed the use of the lillle niuntleof lies. There it 
lay ready-made, and was neither shorter nor more trans- 
piirent than the one Douglas had wrapjied about the 
JvanaaS'Nebraska bill or Taney tiie Ured Scott decision. 
To take the initiative in favor of the slave-holding inter- 
est was not asked nor even desired of him at the lime. 
All he was asked to do was to substitute absolute passiv- 

- END Of 3olH CONOKl 

ity for his intended neutrality; tliat is, not to oppose, 
even by words, the action of tlie Lecompton convention 
iF it treated the riglit of the people, guarantied by the 
Kansiis-Nebnislia bill and recngnizud by tlie Dred Scott 
decision, of self-determination in organizing the state, as 
exhansted by the election of a constitutional convention. 

The Washington Union of July 7 published an article 
which was construed to mean that the adruiuistrution 
decidedly refused to comply with this desire. When, 
however, it was examined more closely the doubt could 
not but suggest itself whether the refusal was to be as 
decided and unconditional as might appear from tho Qrst 
impression. A direct, popular vote on tbe constitution, 
the article said, was certainly not, under all circumstances, 
an absolute requirement. If no great differences of opin- 
ion existed, either in the convention or among the popula- 
tion, it might properly be dispensed with, as has frequently 
been dono without objection. But the previous history of 
Kansas showed that there, there was no other means to 
surely ascertain tbe will of tlie people. No matter what 
the constitution might contain, it nould always be called 
a fraud by its opponents, if not approved directly by the 
people. It would be asked what reason the convention 
could have had for refusing the popular vote asked for, 
except tbe conviction that its work <lid not meet the will 
of the people, and this it would be dillicuU to anstver. 
Tbe controvi'isy would be continued and tho will of the 
majority linally prevail. 

If tlie f^iii'/ii had stopped here, the article would have 
met with tbe entire approval of all who honestly desired 
the settlement of the controversy on the basis of the 
principle of popular sovereignly. Hut tho organ of iIil' 
administration raised the further question, Who was 
tbe people, that is, what conditions had to be fulfilled to 

THE Pnri'tjlR VOTE. 


have the right of suffrage at the popular voting on the 
constitution, and its answer wiis that tliis was to be de- 
termined by (he conslitotional convention, Tliis may 
have been tjiiite right theoretically, although, to say the 
least, it might be a mutter for discussion whether it was 
not rather congress that should determine it, when tJiere 
was question of transforming a territory into a state. 
But, in this particular case, it was perhaps expedient to 
leave thiit undecidi-d, since the territorial legislature had 
ordered the electious to a constitutional convention, not 
ly virtue of an enabling act, but jjropno vwiu, and con- 
gress reserved full liberty to decide whether, and for what 
reasons, it would refuse its sanction to the whole prooeod- 
ing. But the history of Kansas was verily rich enough in 
exuinples to show that the settlement of such questions 
could be most effeclually abused in the interest of pnrty, 
and that u repetition of such foul practices was not to be 
apprehended of this convention would have been, consid- 
ering the history of its origin and its composition, an alto- 
gether too bold assumption. Must that history and com- 
position not rather awaken the suspicion that the Ihiwn 
wanted to give a friendly hint to the convention as to how, 
without too gross a disregard of the principle of jiopular 
sovereignty, still to do a groat deal in the interest of the 
sluvocrucy f This suspicion coid<l be allayed all the less 
by making a show uf moral indignation, as the sentence 
on the right of suffrage in Buchanan's inaugural address 
sounded very differently,' And if a hint were not in- 
tended, it was still to be expected that the passage in the 

'It IB tiie imperative and indispensable duty (1) of tbo guvernnipnt 
of tlie United iitlalea to st^cure to ever; resident inhabitant (I) the 
free and Independent expression of bis opinion by bis vote. This ae- 
cred riglil of each individual (!} tuust be jireBeivt^l, Slateaiu,'s 
Mitn,. Ill, p. 2233. 


article in the Union would be looked upon as one, and 
this not by the atrabilious republicans only. But if it 
was consicleretl such a hint in Lecomplon and in theslav- 
ocratio camp in general, the further question readily sug- 
gested itself, whether the declarallun that a popular vote 
was not necessary under all c i re u instances, might not be 
made use of as a back door through which the president, 
by the employment of proper pressure, might be forced 
out of the rest of liis virtuous reasoninfj. 

If a document emanating directly from the president 
but whicli saw the light only subsequently became known 
now, such interpretation of tho Union article would have 
been excluded, and the course of events perhaps greatly 
modified, since it might have been represented to tho 
president in time, i. a, before bis disgraceful and fatal 
change of front bad become un accomplished fact, that 
he had. so to speak, nailed himself fast. He wrote to 
Walker on the 12th of July, exhorting him not to allow 
liimself to be forced from the programme drawn up, 
since on that ground he was " irresistible," and announc- 
ing his own resolve to "stand or fall" with the demand 
that the constitution should be submitted to a vote of tho 

> " The point on wtiiuh your and our success dciiends ia the aub- 
uiissioii u( lliB ronsLitutioQ to the people of Kaii»as. ... On lliu 
quvstiun of hubmitting the constitution to tlie bonu fiile resiileut s«t- 
tlera of Kansas, 1 am willing to Htnnd or faJl. Iii suslnining sucli a 
jirinciple nu ctumot fall. It is the [irindplis of the Ennsas-Nf brnsku 
bill; the iiriiiciple of popular »uverrit;utj^, and the priuciple at tlie 
fii initiation of all popular ^T«rniuetit. . . . Should you uugwer 
the rv»alution of the latter (Misaiesippi;. I would adviae you to nialco 
th« great prinoiplp of the suhiuiesiou of the coustjtutiou to the bonn 
fide residents ot Kaunas couspicuouslj' prouiiuenl, Ou tliis you will 
bo irresistible." Itep. of Uomm., SSth Congr., lat Seai., vaL V, Ko. 
Mi. pp. 113,118, 



It by no means reqnired any extraordinary courage to 
remain true to this resotve. There was slill enough 
lionor left in the slavocrntic camp to approve it wichout 
resi'i-ve. Thus, for instance, in an article in the Rich- 
mond Examiner, of tlie Hth of July, the schemes of the 
" Ultras " were branJeil in terms as scathing as the most 
rtidical of republicans cuulJ liave employed.' Besides, the 
reports of Walker from Kiinsas were very satisfactory so 
far as this question was concerned. The governor was not 
without anxiety, but it was in the new "revolutionary" 
movements of the free-state people that he saw reason 
for serious apprehension. It seemed to him that Lane*s 
agitation for a certain mititiiry organization of the party 
and the intention of the citizens of Lawrence to constitute 
tiiemselves a state under the Topeka constitution, by 
dint of obstinacy, might again lead to deuds of violence 
at any moment. He wa^, therefore, not satisfied with 

i"'A paltry fraud, a political juggle, a legal Bwiiidle, upon the 
IHKiplc of Kaiisas — insUted iiiion, deuiandpd, ulaiuored (or, bj ' tiie 
cliivalry,' pat excellencs, fay the pink and pick poUtiuiaos of the 
south 1 

" ' Out tools in the convention will frame a constitution for Ean- 
«ai : ' ' it will be suuh as tlie pei>pIo would repudiate ; ' ' we will t«ke 
c«re to preveol the people from voting upon it : we will juggle it 
through with a bIiuw of mock fnruialilies ; ' and ' we will accomplish 
by chicane what we could noL liave accoinpliahed by stiaigliirorward, 
honest, douiocratic practice.' Such is tlie position of the peculiar 
champions of the south; such the attitude in which they are striv- 
ing to place tlie south before the Union and l>efore the world ; such 
the humiliating depths of dislionor — with faith violated, pledges 
broken, and reputation blasted — in which they would sink the uoble 
democracy of tlia slavebolding states. The fraud is infamous enough 
ia itself, but it is doubly so in being in violation of express pledges 
given by the deniociHcy ot the Union, and particijiuted in, in the 
uu»t soleniil^ manner, by the ultraa themselves." The Wmhinglou 
Union had the boldness to give ita commentary of the l&Eli of July 
the following heading: "'Will the south couatenauce the fraud?" 



an express wtirnino^, in his proclumatioii of July 15 to 
llie citizens of Lawrence, but lie aslied llm president, in 
accordance with ibc obligation entered into with him, 
in the negotiations above refun-ed to, to place at bis dis- 
posal a sufficient number of troops, as a poase comitatuB. 
Tbe troo|)3 wliicb on account of the Mormon troubles 
wore to have marched to Utah, were, therefore, left in 
the territory, and the free-state people gave no occasion 
for an appeal again to powder and lead, while the matter 
of the constitution was, in AValker's opinion, proceeding 
most satisfactorily. That in tiie democratic convention of 
July 3, in Lecoinpton, no one had alleged the possibility of 
making ICansas a domain of slavery, )m thouglit be might 
construe to mean ibat it was unicefsally recognised as im- 
possible that Kansas could be made a slave stale "in 
consequence ot tbe laws of climate and tbe well known 
will of the people."' And on tbe 15tUof July he reported 
to Cass that frequent conversations with the majority of 
tbe delegates to the convention made tbe adoption of a 
constitution patterned after those of ditTerent slave stales 
aeeni to bini highly probable: security of the right of 
properly in aiaves who were such at the time, prohibition 
of tbe further impiirlation of slaves, complete exclusion 
of ail froo persons of color, and tbe strictest e-tecution of 
the fugitive slave law. At a popular vote sucb a con- 
stitution would probably be adopted by a large raajority. 
as free-stale democrats and the pro-slavery party could 
unite on tbal platform: "Indued, il is universally ad- 
mitted here that the only real quoslion is ibis: Whether 
Kansas shall be a conservative, onnstitutioDal, democratic 
and ultimately free state, or whether ii shall be a repub- 
lican and abolition slate.'' 
In his letter of July 13 already moniioned, llucbanan 
iSeii, Doc.,35tUCcmgr.,latS«s., vol.1. No. 8, ji. 133. 


had stated that, in his opinion also, salvation coiiM lie 
hoped Tor only from a union of the pro-slavery party wiih 
the free-stale democrats; that is. in other words, that the 
south had to tie satisfied with what the free-state demo- 
crats were roady to grant it. Walker, now, on the 20th 
of Jnly, wrote that the violent attacks of tho slavocratic 
"ultras" upon himsalf and his policy on the constitu- 
tional question had already given such offense to so many 
free-state democrats that they would, presumably, spite of 
all representations, go hand in hand wrlli the repub!ic!ins ' 
If Buchanan still wished to remain true to his programme 
hitherto, this news, which made the fulfillment of the 
hopes awakened by the report of the 15tli, must induce 
him ostentatiously and strongly to back his governor 
against the slavocratic whippersin, in order that the free- 
state democrats might not be driven entirely into the 
arms of the republicans. But nothing occurred from 
which such an intention could be inferred. On the other 
hand, he made use of an opportunity which accidentally 
presented itself to express himself on the Kansas question. 
in a manner which must have dampened the expectation, 
encouraged perhaps here and there by his previous atti- 
tude, that he would stand out against the rage of the 

Some clergymen from Connecticut had addressed a 
niomorial to the president on his Kansas policy. His 
answer' of the 15th of August contained, indeed, the 
statement that, on the transformation of the territory into 
a state, the people had the right to decide the slavery 
question by voting on the constitution ; but as to the rest 

iSeii. Due,, SGtli Congr., let Bess., vol. L No. 8, pp. 30, 31. 

'Pcinled in llie N. Y. Tribune of Se\>t. i, 1&47. See also in the Jii- 
dtpendent of Oct. 1, 1867, the memorial ot the clergj-iiiea nnd thvir 
esbauslive refutation of Btichansn's Hopliistical reaBoiiing. 

cccriASAs'a electios — esd of 35th cosgresb. 

of it. even Calhoun himself, accordinf^ to Brown of Mis- 
sissippi, could not liiive written anything more accept- 
able to the slave barons. The election law relating to 
the constitutional convention was called equitable and 
just because it recognized the right of all honajiile inhab- 
itants to vote, and had, at the same time, by the three 
months' limitation above mentioned, guarded against 
fraud and the intrusion of citizens from neighboring as 
well as remote states. A refutation of the reasons 
which rendered these provisions inequitable and unjust 
in the eyes of the opposition was not attempted; — to 
prove the more than strange assertion, that an intrusion 
from remote states was possible in the same sense as from 
neigliboring Missouri, nothing was said; — on the man- 
ner in which the provisions of the law relating to the 
taking of the census and the drawing up of tlic list of 
voters were carrietl out, a discreet silence was observed. 
The free-state people, on the other hand, were again, suh 
j'Oiff, described as rebels. If their rebellion was yet in its 
first stage, still the announcement was thought necessary 
that it was the imperative duty of the president to protect 
the convention by federal troops from violence, as if thu 
intention to overwhelm it could not be doubted. Leav- 
ing this last insinuation out of consideration, it must 
have seemed an altogether unwarranted piece of mild- 
ness to speak only of a state of "incipient rebellion," be- 
cause slavery, as the supreme court finally det'lded, had 
always existed and still existed in Kansas " under the con- 
stitution of the United States." "llow it could ever 
have been seriously doubted is a mystery." Bnt it will 
always remain a still greater mystery bow Buchanan 
could write this sentence and allow it to be published to 
the country, since he must have known that the ducu- 
montary proof of ibe fact, that he had thereby exposed 


his own capacity of judging on constitutional matters 
to an unexampled teatinionium pituperlatis, could not only 
bo produced at any moment but would unquestionably 
be produced by numberless newspapers and orators. 
Many a beardless youtli could remember the time when 
he declared the legislative competency of congress in re- 
spect to slavery in ibe territories to be undoubted as em- 
phatically as ho had done so since the beginning of bis 
political career; ' and in the defense of himself which he 
pubiisbi-'d after tho civil war, be again severely con- 
demned the repeal of the Missouri com|)roinise. It has, 
however, never been denied that he was at this time as 
accountable as a man, as a politician and a jurist as at 
any other period of his life; and this sentence, therefore, 
was an aspersion of himself as severe as can well be 

Tlie New York democratic state convention passed a 
very different judgment. In its resolutions, the reply to 
the Connecticut clergymen was styled "an admirable 
letter." ' But, even from this point of view, it could not 
be denied that the letter betrayed an anxious and ardent 
desire to obtain the favor nf the southern radicals. That 
the new arlilices of their representative were to be traced 
directly to that desire itiust not, indeed, be assumed, and 
certainly cannot be proved. But if it must bo admitte<l 
as probable that these artifices would, under any circum- 
stances, have been resorted tg, we must say, on the other 
hand, that these people must have undergone a really 
wonderful raetamorpbosis for the belter, not to allow 

'In IhelMler frequently quoted of AiigiiBt 31, 1S4S, to Saadford, he 
Mfa: "Hnving urjceU the adoption of the Uisaourl coiupromiae, iho 
li)tereni:e is invsixtible thai congress, In my o|iinion. [KiMwsee the 
power to legislate upon the eubjevC of slaver; in the ttfrritoriea." 

*N. Y. Tribune. Sept. H. 1S57. 

80 iiuciianan'm ELKL-no-v — lixii OF 35ti 

tliemseUes to determine to reconsider tbeir resolntion ia 
consequence of tliia prostration of the president at the 
feet of the slavocnicy, if they had wished to deaist from 
continuing the struo;glo because entirely without prospect 
of success. 

Tlie Lecompton convention met on the 1st of Septem- 
ber only to adjourn until ufter the October elections.' 
That they did not adjourn merely that they might be 
able to take the iviU of the people, as expressed in the 
elections lo the legislature, ns their instructions, to some 
extent, in their work on the constitution, and turn it to 
account in that work, but mainly to mtiko it possible fur 
the members to devote their time and their various tal- 
ents entirely to the interest of the |iiirty, before and dm- 
ing the election, was soon seen to bo only too certain. 

For some time the republicans had bei-n divided In 
opinion on Ihe question wht'ther the freesnilers had 
acted not only constllutlonulJy and morally riglit but also 
wisely, In a political sense, in drawing, for so long u 
time and with rigid consistency, all logical consequences 
from the illegal origin of the tcrritorlnl legislature, in- 
stead of preserving tlie priiici|»le by a prolfsl ami placiriir 
themselves on the ground of fads, because now the for- 
mal legality of the actual situation created by the ille- 
galities of their opponents liad also grown to be an 
undeniable fact. Their opponents hud indubitably long 
been very clear on this point, although their Interest for- 
bade the frank expression of their views. The mode uf 
warfare of the opposition had on the one hand left them 
free to continue building on the foundation laid by their 
deeds of violence, and, on the other, had given their pos- 
ing as the defenders of the supremacy of law and order, 

< Duii>;lnB'a Minority R«port of Februu; 19. ItlM. Sna. Rep., «3ih 
Cougr., lat Seaa. vol, I, No. 82, p. 70. 



which at first bore so unmistakably the stamp of the 
boldest mendacity, the appearance of truth ; and this the 
more the longer it lasted. Now. at last, Walber'a assur- 
ances induced the free-soil people to resolve to come to 
terms with the principle for the moment, at least, with 
words, but to maintain the actual struggle on the field of 
their opponents. Considering the notorious numerical 
proportions of the parties, this resolution, in and of it- 
self, completely changed the situation. The pro-slavery 
party was thus deprived of the two props with which the 
free-sotlers had supplied it by their policy of absolute 
fidelity to principle, and they inimediaiely showed how 
perfectly they were conscious that these props had be- 
come the corner-pillars of their supremacy over the ter- 
ritory. If Kansas were not admitted into the Union as 
a state under the Lecompton constitution, the new terri- 
torial legislature might repeat all the laws passed by its 
predecessors, and all the vile deeds and crimes since those 
days in March. 1S55, would have been committed in vain; 
and if the election of a free-soil legislature were allowed 
to follow on Iho heels of the adoption of a slavery con- 
stitution without a popular vote, all the sophists of the 
world could adduce nothing in answer to the charge that 
slavery had been forced upon the people against their 
will. The victory of June was, therefore, worse than 
useless if it were to be followed in October by a defeat; 
for if the convention, spito of such defeat, drew the in- 
ferences it intended to draw from that victory, the pro- 
slavery party would thereby brand itself on the forehead 
with its own hand. Walker had merited to be more 
ardently hated by them than the Lanes, Kobinsons, etc., 
for he Imd lieivn down the branch on which they sat, by 
bringing it to pass that the free-soil people resolved lo 
take part in the October elections. Any idea of victory, 



in an honest struggle, was excluded; and sharp practice, 
which would of course be resorted to,' would avail noth- 
ing. To strike tbeir colors or return to the policy of 
election frauds of the glorious "law and order" days, 
with an energy utterly regardless of consequences — they 
liad no other choice. 

Owing to a defect in the laws of the territory — we 
must hero leave it undecided whether the defect was in- 
tentional or not — election frauds could be perpetrated 
with perfect safety to any extent desired. Penalties 
were indeed attached to illegal or fraudulent voting, but 
there was no provision th^it made the drawing up of 
fraudulent lists of voters punishable.' There was no need. 
Uierefore, of troubling the MlssouHans; the same end 
could be attained, much more easily, mncli more cheaply, 
without any unpleasant altercations, brawls or frays in 
the places of election, and without any dangerAvbatever, 
by writing fictitious names on the necessary quantity of 
paper; and this was now done. Johnson county, on the 
border, was joined to the densely populated county of 
Dougliis, and provided with a disproportionate represen- 
tation in the legishitnrc.* In the Oxford district of this 

iStantoii Bays, in tlie meaioi'bil referred to, "To the People of the 
United Slnti^;" '" When ... it hud beoomo appnrcnC th^it ih<> 
mass OF Uio people were pre[iai'cd and delerniined to parti(;i|iati.' In 
tlie Octulwr eiectiotta, tlio luiuority ondcavored to d^tcat tJie result 
by reviving the tax ijiialillcacion for electors, which lind Imh^d n'ptnird 
by the previous legislature. Opininiia were obtained fr.jni Jiigh legal 
aourc^a, [he etiect of which, had they prevailtHl, would havi< been to 
exclude the UJasa of the people from voting, to retuiii tlie coiilrol In 
tlie hands of the miDoritv. and, na a con sequence, to keep up aglta- 
tipn, and to render civil war ineritnhlc." 

= Stnnton'ii luessitge of Dec. 8. 1S37. Sen. Doc., BOlU Congr.. lut 
Sesa., vol. I. No. y. p, 110. 

>Stauton eayn in the uiemoriul of JauuHry 29, 1SS8: "with n 
lar^e and controlling representation in tliv lej^Uturc. Tk« ccli- 



electoral circuit and in three districts of McGeo county, 
the pen repaired the damage done by the votes of the 
population in the rest of the territory. Here the con- 
spirators snromed up a vote of twelve hundred, although 
not ^nite a luindred jiersons had the right of suffrage,' 
and there they prepared a list, fifty-foar feet long, of 
sixteen hundred names, ail of which bat one hundred 
and twenty were copied exactly in alphabetical order 
from an old Cincinnati directory,' 

Even in the United Stntes, where everything has a 
tendency to assume gigantic proportions, notliinj of the 
like had ever occurred before. This fact may have given 
some satisfaction to the forgers, and they miglit try to 
console themselves by it as best they could, for as to the 
rest they had wasted time, ink and paper, since Walker 
felt called upon to continue to play his part and 8|)oil the 
game. Xeitiier abuse nor tlireals could move him to re- 
store to its place of honor an ancient Cincinnati dii-ectopy, 
made waste paper of ihroughuge, by Irunsforming it into 
a. poll-list of the 0,\ford district of Kansas. Even a writ 
of mandamus issued by Judge Cato did not change his 
mind.* Thanks to his honest and manly redemption of 
the word he bad pledged to the free-soil people, the lat- 
ter obtained a large majority * in both houses of the legis- 
lature, and their delegate to congress was elected by a 
majority of about live thousand voles. 

Walker publicly and officially expressed the opinion 

brnted Oxford frond was perpetraled with a view lo obluiii miijorilies 
In both Ikjiisps of the assembly." 

I The I K'lf pendent, Nov. 5. 1S.17. 

»Tho Indtpendrnt. Nov. IS. IBoT. 

*Sea. Doo., 3St1i Congr., 1st Sure., vol. I. No. 8. pp. 10«-10e. 

• In the council nine agninst four, and in Iha houae of ropresenta- 
Uvea twentj-seveii agninac twelva The Indeptndent of Oct. 28, 
I85T. after tbe Chicago Tribune. 



that a victory obtained by sanctioning such monstrous 
frauds of the pro-slarery party would have been more 
disastrous than the worst defeat.' If he had been abetter 
adept in the art of reducing the ballast of civic morality 
in his political bark to a minimum, he would have seea 
that the victory could have been secured without sanc- 
tioning the frauds. The Kichmond Enquirer condemned 
these just as eniphaticiiliy as he did,' but claimed at tbe 
same time, with Judge Cato, that the certificates of elec- 
tion should have been given to the persons elected, in 
accordance with the fraudulent poll-lists, because the ter- 
ritorial laws made the legislature, and not tbe governor, 
tbe judge of the legality of tbe elections. This, in itself, 
was entirely correct; but, on the other hand, it was un- 
doubted that a party which bad not recoiled from these 
maiiceuvres, if it were allowed by means of such poll- 
lists to get a majority in tbe legislature, only for the first 
twenty-four hours, would never deprive itself of a major- 
ity by an examination of election certificates. The 
formal law would again have served only to set atrocious 
force ill motion, in such a way that it would become 
permanently and legally binding. Walker bad undoubt- 
edly assumed a power which the latv did not give him, 
but he thereby prevented an unparalleled piece of knav- 
ery becoming again a foundation on which a new citadel 
of criminal force might be erected out of formal law — a 
citadel against which, according to the doctrine preached 
for years in Washington by those in power and carried 

I Sw liis proclaitiationB of October 19 and OctobiT 22, I85T. 8«n. 
Doc., ystli Conpr.. IbI Sew., vol. I, No. 8, pii. 101-106. 

- " Tlie UDlure nml rtinracttT of llieae TrauitH uru tiu<:h as preclude 
the |)i](8ibilitT iif rlefcnHe anil Pxl^fUatiou. Tliere Is no defense fur 
tbe proceed ingt at Oxford, nud no power on earth onu induM lu to 
exteauHt^ ttuil manatroas tratuactlon." Priutvd in tho H. T. Trib- 
une at Xuv. B, 1837. 



out by armed force, not a fiuger could be lifttid without 
becoming guilty of rebellion. 

The history of Kansas's sorrows thus far made this so 
clear that the most stii|iid town politician needed no ex- 
planation to enable him to understand it. But the presi- 
dent who Imd lulled himself into the deiiision that he 
could drive the Kansas question out of the world until 
congress met, by the im[iai-tial execution of the laws, 
placed himself entirely at the point of view of Judge 
Calo, on which Pierce, too, hud stood from the first. The 
motto of the White House was still not: Ji<it justUia, ruat 
calum, but: woe to the hand that touches the letter of the 
Jaw conceived in violence and fraud and born of artiHce 
and deceit, no matter how completely justice, through its 
rule, may be crushed by the fulling heavens. Soma jour- 
nals even betrayed, in the unwise zeal with which they 
defended Buchanan, that he had foreseen what had haiv 
poned, and had expressly instructed Walker not lo think 
of going boyonO the letter of the law in the interests of 
justice.' The governor's guilt was, therefore, double; fur 
he had, contrary to express oniera, become guilty of an act 
of usurpntion, by means oF which ho deprived the pro- 
slavery party of the fruit of its infamous acts. Hence, 
for a time, the rumor was widely believed that his re- 
moval had been decided upon and would soon take place. 

1 Tlio Ricliiiionrt ^igiii/frwaa written on the 2d of November from 
WAsliin^tun : " Pi'i«id«int Bucharian tDOSt tinequivocuUy cundenins 
tlie ni'liou of Governor Walker [oucliing the Kansas elections. . . . 
I rcrl nssui't'd Walker'n aotions will be pronounced an rrror, and be 
will be reprimunded for falling into it in direct vjolatioti of bl* in- 
Btructjon of S^ptembt^r 8, in which he is especially charged to leave 
all quetitions of fraud to Ilie legislature, where it, pruperlj' belong«d. 

" Tlitj president regrets this blunder the more, bb it places tbo 
•uutliL'rn meiiilM.'rs of his cabinet in an tinnleasHnt imaitlon. and is 
likely to rti-o|*n the Kausiia iiuostion tlu-ou^bcut the aouth, Mr. 

80 Buchanan's election — end of SuTu conokess. 

The press friendly to tbe administration immediately 
met tlis I'uinor willi the assurance that the president, 
notwitlistimding the gravity of tiie offense, would exer- 
cise consideration, partly hecuuse it was the first fault 

Buchanrm is surprised that Unvprnor Walker Bhoutd Imvo Fallen into 
sutli itn error, as liix iDetruttionB n-vrc too [tlaiti to be misiinderatood, 
und wtre prepareil lo uiecl preiiisf ly the state ot llie <aao which oc- 
curred." N. Y. Hcntid Mild The Star. (See Congr. Globe. 1st Seas. 
33tli Congr.. N. V. Herald und The Star.) All tbrte jouriials dt-nW 
that Walker'a reuioval was Inteuded. The iUBtructJoiis of Srpteiu- 
ber8 werijnot to be (nuiid iti tbe docunieiita trausiiiitltd louungresit. 
Our infomiatiou coiit-erniiig the hc cret hi^torj ot tbe Kaasaa ques- 
tion has recently — a cimaideratle lioie after thia cbapttr hnd been 
conipleled in niunuscrliit — received a valuable uldltiun by the pub- 
lication or a letler ot Buchanan dated October 2S, l8IiT, tbat in, on the 
dsy of Walker's pruclaniation referred to, sddreaat?d to tbe governor 
in relation to the elections. (Nicolay and Hay, Abraham Liuuulu: 
A History. The Century Mujf..iiliie. July, 18t)7, pp. al7, MTS.) Tho 
president expre^^ses his GatiuCHctiou that the Leconipiun coDvuniion, 
as Walker bad inturmi^d him, vruuld HUbmitthe coniititucion to a vote 
of tbe jieople. " Tbix,'' as well ns " that the lute election passed off 
ao pencefulljV induce biiii tu btdievo that "■ we mny now fairly an- 
ticipate a happy conoluaion to all tbe difflcultiea in that territory." 
He then decl arm Walker's compluint about tbe attitude of Harris, 
editor ot the Unwn, unfounded, but ndinila tliat tbe latter dowi not 
acquiMce in biit m]Uei>t to send him an article, by which Walknr fvit 
Rpecially aKRrievcd, Hnrria was not responiihle. he said, for tho 
non-publicntion of the letter sent by Walker of Dr. Tehba and Gen- 
eral Whit&eld, in which the Ini ler admit that Kansas was lost beyond 
recovery to slavery, '' I knew nothing; of tbeiu until after the re- 
ceipt of yaura(I); and upon inquiry I found their publication had 
be#n prevented by Hr. C^bb{!) under a Hrni conviction that they 
would injure both yountclf and the ndtninistraliun. Wlivther be 
judgcid wisely or not I cannot suy. for 1 never bjiw them. That be 
acted in fairneaal!) and friundship I have no doubt." In connection 
with this letter. Nlcoluy and Uay recall that, accotdiiig to Walker's 
lesliuony before tho Coviido cinumittee, Calhoun aa'.ure'l hiui Ihiil 
tho administration bod chan^^ed ita pulley, liud that he trim] by Ilm 
bait of the presidency to induce him to change with him. Tbe in- 
ference Ihey draw fiom these facts is as followa: "The conduiiun 



Walker had committed, under such exceedingly difficult 
circumstances, partly because he would certainly see it, 
frankly acknowledge it, and, to the extent of his power, 
ntake amends for it. lie was, therefore, left in office, 
but whelhei- for the reasons just givtn must seem highly 
doubtful. Much more probable was the supposition that 
the "Wliite House calculated thus: his removal cannot 
undo what has been done; besides, it would be looked 
upon by the enemy, and more or less successfully, as an 
open siding with tbo forgers; it could, therefore, not help 
and must injure. The game with the accomplished facts 
which could not be gotten over had been played long 
enough for the participants to understand thoroughly 
that ihcy were not going to allow themselves to be mis- 
led by vexation into the mistake of knocking down the 
wall with their iieads. Great as was the rage of the 
slavocratic radicals, nothing coutil be done for them at 
the moment. Nothing was left for them hut to await 
what the Lccorapton convention would and could do for 
them, not only without the su|»port of a similarly -minded 
but against a hostile legislature. 

Many of their partisans in the territory evidently con- 
sidered their cause irretrievably lost. Of the sixty mem- 
bers of the Lecompton convention only forty-three put 
in an appearance; of these frequently only a few over 
thirty were present, and it was notorious that sessions 
were held without a quorum. The slavery question was 

is almoat forced upoD us tliut a cabinet intrigue, of wLich the preei- 
dent was kept in ignorance, was being carried on, under the Tery 
eyea of Mr. Buchanan, by tboas whoni lie himself significantly calls 
• the eitremiBta," — a plot lo supersede his own inlenlions and makis 

him falsify his own declarations. As ii 


by the same agents a. few years later, ho bad neither the wit t 
oelve nor the will to resist," 


SS ntciiANAs's ELEtrrioN — END OF 35to cosoress. 

decided by only twenty-eiglit votes, and the question of 
the popular vote was carried by only the miserable ma- 
jority of two votes. One di,l not need a very lively im- 
agination, nor very great party animosity, for this con- 
vention, with its body-;;iiard of federal troops, to impress 
him as a light-shunning conventicle of conspirators. Dur- 
ing its last days no journal was kept, or, at least, none 
could be found.' 

On the 7th of November the convention was done wilU 
its work. That work corresponded perfectly with what 
was to be expected from the first two steps it had taken, 
namely, the election of John Calhoun as president, and 
of Hiind, one of iho manufacturers of the Oxford poll-list, 
as secretary. What the party had lost by the pusilla- 
nimity of one part of its members the others had, by re- 
doubled audacity and tenfold craft, endeavored to maku 
ap. The border counties were accorded an undue weight 
in the legislature, from the fact that the fraudulent poll- 
lisls were made the basis of representation. That the 
way was paved as smooth as possible, hy all sorts of pro- 
visions, for the Jlissourians to intrude themselves at fut- 
ure elections need only be mentioned in passing. The 
free-soil legislature elected in October was completely 
crippled by iho provision that "all laws now in force in 

' The facts recited ore all taken f ratn llie MJaority Rejjort of J. 8. 
Morrill, EJ. Waile, H, Bi-nnelt. D. H. Walbriilge and J. RuWntog. 
Rej). of llie Select Comm, ot Fifteen, May 11, 1858. fU-p. of Cottim., 
a^tli Congr., iBl Seaa., vol. Ill, No. B77, p. 100.— The Bostua TVavei- 
ler wo* wriileo from Lawrt-nce on the 0th of November: " Wlion 
tho constiiuciun was eJopted aa b whole, only lwi-uty-§«v»ii votes 
were cast for it, and niiiu agalnal it. It was with diiliculty tliat a 
qU'inim could be secured to sign it, and but thirly*two names went 
appended to the instrument. A convention elected hy n uilaeraUe 
minority and n constUuiion voted for on its final posjaKe by a minor- 
ity of the convention!" 



the territory shall continue to be of force until altered, 
amended or repealed by a legislature under the provis- 
ions of this constitution." The liands of the governor 
were tictl by transferring the direciion of the election 
and the exjimination of the polling-lists entirely to the 
president of the convention.' The officers of election 
were not required to tiilte the usual oath to discharge 
the duties of their office conscientiously. Tlie material 
provision respecting slavery was, ■iJt-i-F/iif.iia, as follows: 
"The right of property is before and higher than any 
constitutional sanction, and the right of the oivuor of a 
slave to such slave and his increase is the same and as 
invioliible as the right of any property whatever. The 
legislature shall have no power to pass laws for the eman- 
cipation of slaves without the consent of the owners, or 
without paying the owners, previous to their emancipation, 
a full equivalent in money for the slaves so emancipated. 
They shall have no power to prevent emigrants to the 
state from bringing with them such persons as are deemed 
slaves by the laws of any one of the United States or ter- 
ritories, so long as any person of the same uge or de- 
scription shall bo continued in slavery by the laws of 
this state." Verily, there lacked but little here to trans- 
form the provision which, until the discovery of the "great 
principle" of the Kansas-Nebraska bill, had governed in 
this mutter, into its direct opposite: The abolition of 
slavery and of involuntary servitude is forever prohib- 
The crowning of the work was the resolutions respect- 

•The Independent scarcely pxagRBrated when it wrote (November 
lU, ISTi') : " It ItliB convention) actually constituted a provisioual gov- 
erntneiit for KariBas, whereof its president, United States Surveyor- 
Oenernl John Calliuun, is made governor." Somewliat morp detntJed 
d«ts regarding Callioun'a powera may be found in Ccingr- Globe, lot 
Seas. 3jtli Coni^r., p. 101 


iDg tlie popular vote. The convention had decided in 
favor of a popular vote. Tlie 'Washiniiton Uniun of No- 
veinbor IS broke out into enthusiastic jubilation over this 
news. The pioljlem, it exclaiuicd, is solved in accord- 
ance with the great principle of the Kansas- Nebraska 
bill, and tlie republicans who live by the eternalization 
of the troubles ia Kansas are ruined.' 

This must have had a startling effect on those even 
who despised Buchanan the politician too much to be 
able to liate him. The man who could have caused that 
to be written had no right to complain if the question 
was asked wiietber he could be taken seriously. 

The Utiiou stated that the "constitution" would be 
submitted to a popular vote. That was simply a lie, 
and the organ of the administration lied, fully conscious 
that it was lying. The voting formula read; "Constitu- 
tion with slavery " or "Constitution with no slavery." 
Hence, so far as the conalitutt'on was concerned, no choica 
was loft to the people; the people had to voLo for it; that 
is, it was forced on the people by the convention; only 
with respect to slavery — so far as could be disowred 
fi-om the voting fonmda — was the decision to rest with 
the people. Bui the constitution, quite independently of 
slavery, gave occasion for very many and very weighty 

I ■' The vexod (lUration is spttlL-d — the problem ia solved — the dead 
point o( ilnnger is pnssed — all seriras trouble nbont Kansas Hffaira is 
over and gonu. Anoilier star ia added u> the republican consiellation, 
not shining on sucnes of terror, conflagration anil bloiid, but lendin;; 
iU light lo the penoetul pursuiU of a contented and prosperous pt-o- 
ple. . . . This newH, BO full of hope to every American patriot, 
will bring sori-ow only to one class of our jiooplc. The blacli repub- 
Uuitl politiciuns had nil their cripitol staked on the chances of disor- 
der and confuBioii in Kanaus. The enterprise line foiled, ond thoy nrs 
ruined. The pt'ace of the country, Ibe prosperity of lliti people, «nd 
the safety o( the tJoiou is destruction to their hope." 

objections, and the ppiiici|}Ie of the Kansas-Nobraska bill 


inly in rogurd to slavei 

ivereignty c 
but [lopiilur sovereignly absolutely, llmt is, in regai-d to 
all insLituiions, and in accordance with tLis, not only 
Walker but Buchanan as well bad promised to use all 
bis influeuco to have the constitution submilti-'d to a popu- 
lar vote. If, therefore, he now approved the resolution 
of tbe convention without reserve, he became guilty of a 
breach of word, and made matters worse by the hypo- 
critical untruth tliat his word bad bceu fully redeemed 
by the convonliun. That the latter endeavored to have 
people believe that this bad, indeed, been done, did not, 
of course, diminish bis ^uill. 

This, however, was, so to speak, only the introduction 
to the gigantic fraud which the conveution had hatched, 
and which the organ of the administration celebrated 
with such hymns of praise. The voting formula itself 
was a cdutemptible lie. The '"constitution with no slav- 
ery " was a deceitful mockery; the people had to choose 
between two slavery constitutions, for the " constitution 
with no slavery" provided that the slavery existing in 
[ho territory should not be touched. In one respect it 
was even worse thnn the "constitution with slavery." 
The latter contained provisions on the right of owners to 
emancipate their slaves, and these provisions were voted 
out of existence by the formula "constitution with no 
slavery." What the people were allowed to do was lim- 
ited to prohibiting the further introduction of slavery; 
but they had to make Kansus a slave state. The conven- 
tion had endeavored to veil this under a false formula; 
but deliani recklessness had, through ilieir success hith- 
erto, become tlie nature of the slavocracy to too great a 
degree for them not to be able to find people enough to 
jinnouncB it immediately loudly and lri»aiphantly to the 


world. On the very day on which the contention com- 
pleted its labors the real state of the case nas clearlv ex- 
posed in a lellor from Leconipion to the Jackson Mmit- j 
alppian, wilh the most audacious frankness.' Nor did | 
the correspondent forget to call attcn lion to the fact that, 
to parlicipation in the popular vote, the condition was A 
attaclied that tlie voter should bind himself by oulh to i 
support the federal constitution and thia slate conttltu- 
tion — a really ingenious, knavish strala<retn, of whiali \ 
Mephistophcles himself might have been proud. On the 
2fith of Kovember, a day before this lettur appeared i 
the paper named, the Charleston Mercury bad, with u ' 
broad smile, informed its readers that Walker and the 
republicans had been corajiletely outwitted by the Le- 
oompton convention; tho constitution recited: "And no 
slavery shall exist in the state of Kansas," but the only 
object of that provision was to give the gentlemen of - 
tho Washington Union, a small plank on which iboy 
might stand in practicing their feats of jugglery.* 

'"Thus }'tiu sec that whilst, by subiiiUtin){ the qut^tiou in thui 
tatta, timj ore bound to liave a ratifli.'Aliun uF tlip oiis ur the utbcr, 
(tod that while it seeois to be an eleciion between a. freo slnle and at 
prodaver; conKtitution, it ia in fact but n question of tlie future IB- 
ttoduction of el&very that ia id coatroverBy : auil yet it furnish^* our 
tri«nJa in congress a l>as)a on which to rest tlieirjrindliMiun uf Urn 
admissiou of Kansas na a state uiider it into tlie Union, while tbqr 
would not have it. sent directly from the coitvenlioD. 

"It isthL- very best proposition for uiakiiig Kansas a iJavestnletlial 
was Eubmittt^d fur the coiiaiUerution of tlie L\>uv).-ntion." Rep. of 
Oomm.. S5th Congr., Isi Sess.. vol. 111. No. 877. p. 147. 

* " It is clear that the pro-slavery party have i.'uinplt^toly ontwiit«d 
Walker and Stanton nnd Lh« whole Uack rvpubllcaii party : and that, 
afl^r all, Kansas will apply to congress tor ndniiraion as a slave stoto, 
with a pro-slttvery conBtittttion, , . . Now. if Ihp right of ijrop. 
erty in slaves now in this teriitory slinll in no uianoer be- intprftred 
with, liuw is shivery abolisliml? Il nut only pxiutB, but hew is ■ 
: it iball in no tnsiiut-r be iiiierfvred witl). We liava 


"When Buclianan, in his annual mesmge, officially placed 
himself at ihe head of these political jugglei's. the sheet 
repeated its point' ia a polite and serious manner in- 
deed, but with the utmost positiveness, while warmly 
praising his positiou on the whole question. The Le- 
compton National Demof^rat had made tlie same point, 
with the same firmness, on the 19th of November. And 
the person who believed he should reject all these wit- 
nesses must have allowed himself to be convinced by 
John Calhoun's official declaration. In his proclamation 
of the popular vote, on the 21st of December, we read, 
a vote should be cast " for or against tlie future introduc- 
tion of slavery." This was still another faUification, for 
instead of "slavery " he should have written: ofdavea; 
but this much appeared beyond a doubt from this official 
document, that the popular vote did not extend to the 
slavery that existed. 

The popular vote resolved upon by the convention 
was an adder hidden in a fisb-abin. In the convention it- 
self there were decided partisans of slavery who branded 
the scheme as a base piece of villainy.' It had been 

not a doubt that the first part of the dauae EcemitiEly abolishing 
Hlavery was iiiBtned tor the benefit of Jxist audi peuple in the north 
as the editor of the Washingtou Union. It will give tliem a amaJI 
plank on whiuh they may atand in practicjng thp juKglinj; feats of 
bumbuggcry, whilst the prohibition in the latter piirt of the clauie 
wcnred to the |)ro-slar^ry party substantially Kaneaa be a ejave atat^." 

I " Whtrthcr the clause in the constitution is voted out or voted in. 
•l»»ery exist*, and has a guaranty in the conatitiilion that it shall not 
be Interfered wllii; whilst, if the alavery parly in Kansas can keep 
or get th« QiajoTity of tlie legislature, they may open wide the door 
for the ImiiiigratiOQ of alaves." 

SBttndolpb, of Atchiaon, said: "Now, what waa thin scheme? 
What iasnid! Why, here we have two constitutions — one for slav- 
ery, and one without. Well, that's a good one. (Laughter.) Yes, 
yon may laugh; It's just humbug. The fact is it is a slave-state 



hatched by one Martin, a clerk in the department of the 
interior, and the writer of the letter to the Jackson Mii- 

The president must really have had an enviable teroper- 
ameni, if, under such a condition of affairs, things seemed 
to him to have as bright and promising an aspect ns tlio 
article in the Union of November IS would have one be- 
lieve. "What he subsequently said about his frame of mind 
on this matter during' the first terrible shocks of the hur- 
ricane of secession exceeds the bounds of ereduliiy, but 
he was spite of this, by no means, now, in a very cheerful 

constitution, anil a slnve-state coiiBtiliitiun. Tliot'a it; 7011 mov 
Inugh. I'll tell jrou, the worlil will uoon be Uughing at us. Thin i« 
a grand humbug. It's not fair. It is bUp[K»e^d bv some of tlie grn- 
llemen liere that ilwy are awful smnri, or that the abolUioniats urv 
anful fools. V/e pxpect them to vole for a sUvu t<tnle In this wav. 
Thejr are not eiicIi fouls as j'ou suppose. But let 11a supiKiee that 
th*ynre such fools. Is it right to swindln them iu this way? It 
isn't fair; 1 won't do it. If tve are to Eubuiit it at all. inibmit it fair: 
let them have a free-»tate constitution if thej' vote lu beat us, or ito 
not submit it at all. I tell jrou this scheme of en-indling eubniiwioii 
wdl be the blai'kest page in your htstiiry; and "■« will never hear 
the end of it," 

And Hobley; "It is a swindle — a luoustruus fraud. It wears 
faUehiMil on its face in letters of braw. It preienda lo submit the 
Ciinstitulion, and dues not. This is n glaring fraud. It was con. 
cocted. not by the pro-slavery party, but the political democracy. It 
ii a lie, a cheat, a aniadle." Congr. Globe, lat Sess, SSth Coner., 
App., pp. 485, 488. 

' " It cannot, at least, be documentnrlly proved that he was an em- 
isMiry of the adiuinistraiion. He dialed thai he had liriiught no 
iuBtruetions with him from Wnshinglon. and even that his chief had 
expressed himself to him in fnvor <it a. popular vote on the entire 
conntitution. On further examination he had, however, to admit 
that Secretaries Tlioniption and Cobh had shown themselven not dis- 
•allstied with the reeolntion whispereit by bim into the ear of the 
oonventiun." Bep. of Com., 83th Congr., Ist Sew., vol. T, No. 6t9, 
pp. 10 and lOl-lTl. 


humor. The moral side of the question may not hnve 
Ifjtiched him in the least, and he could even tahuly antl 
serenely face the storm of republican indi;jnation, con- 
fiding probably in his frequently tested democratic coat 
of mail; but he was not so obtuse ft politician not to (even 
if he had l)een mistaken on it for n moment) see very 
soon and very clearly what evil days were in store for 
him, as the official head of his party. Douglas showed 
little inclination to swnllow the "Ijecomitlon swindle,"^ 
all the so-called " free democrats " declared that, if they 
made the attempt, the bit would infidlibly choke them. — 
in his own slate, the Philadelphia Pre8s, the organ of 
Colonel Forney, the leader oE the party in Pennsylvania, 
was nauseated at the sig;ht of It. This was a kind of 
signs of the time that a mnn like liuchanan understood 
perfeclly how to read. "While the Union trumpeted thus 
loudly, the presiflenl was endeavoring to dissipate the 
approaching Btonii-cloud before the tempest should break 
loose. Secret negotiations about a compromise were 
carried on with Walker, who had coine to "Wasliington. 
He agreed with the president that the legality of the 
convention should not be attacked; but he demanded 
that the legislature should be empowered to call another 
convention, whose draft of a constitution should be sub- 
mitted to the approval of the people. This was asking 
Buchanan to do the very reverse of what ho had just 
done. "Whether ho did not now secretly curse the hour 
when, true to the old custom, he resolved to act on this 
question too as train-bearer to the slavocracy, cannot be 
said; but once he had lifted its train, he could no more 
drop it than could the boy in the fairytale tear away 
his fiuger from the feathers of the golden goose. Even 
if Martin had not been his emissary, and if he, under the 
delasioD that ho was thereby averting a catastrophe, ran 


after one, he now had to become its standard-bearer, if, 
to use a forcible American expression, he did not want to 
" face the music." * 

The president and his governor had allowed them- 
selves to be parted so widely from each other bv events 
that thev coald not now meet half wav. And even if 
Buchanan had been willing and able np to the las: day 
of Xovem^>er to turn around, he certainly coukl not do 
so the day following. Walkers representative closed 
the only road through which, perhaps, a retreat could 
still be attempted. Stanton, urged onward by an irre- 
sistible power, and dreading, from the exasperation of 
the free-soil people, that they would, at any moment, 
break out in fatal acts of violence, on the 1st of Decem- 
ber called an extraordinary session of the legislature for 
the Tth of the month, to see how they could wipe out all 
that the Lecompton convention had done. 

Buchanan had entered on the duties of his office with 
the joyful confidence that the Kansas question would be 
settled forever before congress met, and this is how mat- 
ters stood when the thirty-fifth congress opened its first 
session on the Tth of December, 1S57. 

'The Washington coiTeqx>ndent of the Commercial Advertiser 
writes on the 24th of XoTember: " Unfortunately for the presi- 
dent he allowed bis cabinet to commit him and to commit tl.emselTes 
also upon the matter without due consideration. Tliere is now no 
retreat for them. Tliej have determined, as a unit, to face the 
music — that is, to stand bj the convention at all hazards — against 
Douglass (sics R. J. Walker, Col. Forney, and a host of southern 
democrats. No northern democratic member of the bouse can rote 
for the acceptance of the constitutioo with sUtvery, and it is in that 
form that it is to be presented. *" 



The fall elections had resulted so favorably to tlie 
democrats that the tone of the people in Washington be- 
came more conKdont than ever. The correspondent of 
the New York Tribune there inferred from this, that, 
with the election of an anti-slavery legislainre in Kan- 
S!ia, the struggle for freedom was not victoriously ended, 
biit would rather begin.' The prophecy was fulfilled. 
But the more tlie democrats allowed themselves to be 
misled by their triuiiiplis to lift their heads in defiant 
confidence of victory, the less reiison hsid the republi- 
cans to drop theirs. Even hofore the meeting of con- 
gress, it was more than questionable whether a direct 
inference from the results of the election, as to public 
opinion, could he pertinently drawn. The elections had 
taken place before the perfidious gameof the Lecompton 
convention, in all its viieness, bad been exposed to the 
light of day. Hence, only if the wish were father to 
the thought, could it be inferred, from thorn, that the 
party might dare, unpunished, to make the lecompton 
swindle the basis of a new attack, in the interest of the 
slavocracy. That was the calculation of a gamester 
whom pusston had de|)rived of ihe power of reflection; 
for even, leaving out of consideration the doings in 

1 "The gencrnl rt-ault of the recent plectioHB, wiili the exceptions 
of KausHB and MaBKUfhusette, has ent^nurnged (be adminiBtratiuii 
jiiid t-oitfirined the deruocritio party in lu ilitTiisin n' of- negroes policy. 
A bolder iodei is (ibaei'vublt; here sint-e the New York election. Not- 
w itfihtanding our triumph in Kansas, the contest for rreedom is not 
<iver. but is only beginning." The N. Y. Trihunt, Nov. H. 1857. 


> OF 35th conobess. 

Kansas, the nutumn months had been very rich ioJ 
events, and nbat had hiippencd way not calculated tofl 
strengthen the position of the parti'. 

In entering on the duties of his office Bachanan bad{ 
tinhesitatingiy left the [ircsident of the Union so far b 
hind the pai-tisun tliat he had used in his inaugural ad- 
dress a haughty lone which accorded bailly with the 
actual stale of things. Notwithstanding the many elect- 
oral victories the party had to record, not the faintest! 
echo of this tone was now to bo heard in his annuals 
message. It began witli a funereal jeremiad over thofl 
'"deplorable" economic condition to which the countryj 
had been reduced, in a night, so to sjicuk, notwithstand-f 
ing its unbounded natural wealth and its rich harvests.! 
The economic state of the Union, indeed, presented tbm 
picture of a luxurious country whose blossoming splendon 
and wealth uf fruit had been suddenly ruined by a terriJ 
hie and disastrous hailstorm. The sun, indeed, is wontJ 
to bid many a prostrate blade to rise again, and the deV'j 
astation is generally not as great as is thought at fii'st.fl 
That this case would be no exception to the rule was sal 
certain that Buchanan rightly expressed the fear tbatj 
rapidly returning prosperi'y would too soon make ih^a 
people forget the lessons bitter experience had just taught^ 
them. But the probabdity of the realization of this fearj 
must have been all the greater, ihu more absolutely antlM 
generally the people approved the view of the president,! 
that the present economic crisis — in contrast with ulll 
previous ones which were traceable to the en-operation 1 
of various causes — resulted "solely from an extraVHgMntT 
and vicious system of paper currency and bank credits.**! 
It WHS indisputable lliat this system could not be toose-f 
verely condemned, and that it occupied the lirst pta< 

; the direct causes of tbe catastrophe. Bat thutj 


tlio evil effects of the bad system had grown to such 
enoriDOLts dimensions and cast their roots so deep could 
he acconnted for only by causes much more universal and 
of much earlier date. It was evident, in the first place, 
that tbe"craBh" was by no means con fined to tbo United 
States. The "crash" occurred in the United States first, 
and was the immediate inipuhe to the production of the 
entirely similar and, in part, no less violent commercial 
crisis in Europe; but the latter was not produced by it; 
it bad its origin in the same general causes. In tlie crisis 
of 1857 the dark side of rapid and increasing consolida- 
tion, by the modern methods of trade and machine in- 
dustry, of the national, economic life of civilized nations, 
into one great world-economy, became clearly manifest 
for the first time. 

The transformation and new-formation of the economic 
life of Europe, in the si^Lteenth century, became so pro- 
found and was so rapidly accomplished, in comparatively 
so short a time, because the sudden and bountiful flow of 
silver from Spanish America was allied with the progress- 
ive derangement and change in the great commercial 
highways of tbo world between the Orient and Occident, 
which were a consequence of the sea route to India. 
The influence which the rapid increase of the production 
of gold exercised, since 1849, was certainly neither so 
great nor exactly the same as the former, but the two 
were essentially simitar events; other and deep-rooted 
causes — there cheaper ways of transportation and here 
new means of trade and production — caused a new de- 
velopment which must coniiaue uninterruptedly, but 
whose intensity is greatly added to and its tempo consid- 
erably accelerated by the rapid increase of the precious 

According to Buchanan's message, the gold yield of 


> OF 35th conosess. 

California alone, during the last eight years, amounted 
to $100,000,000. Since 1851, the gold diggers in Aus- 
tralia, likewise, were oumbered by thousaoiis. According 
to Evans, the total annual production of £7,000,000-^8,- 
0110,000 in tie year 1S49 rose to 4:34,O0O,OO0-£35,O00,0OO 
in the years 1853--1857,' Colossal as these figures are, 
one would remain far behind the facts, if, from them 
alone, one drew a direct inference as to tiie intensity 
of the impulse given to the whole economic life of the 
western uivltized world, and espeotally of its leading 
countries, by this extraordinary increase of gold. On the 
firm basis of the precious metal, credit paper of every 
conceivable kind towered into a pyramid of giddy height. 
The demands made on capital by the utilization of steam- 
|>ower were so enormous that the flow of gold would not 
have overrun the bounds of a healthy economic develoij- 
menl; nay, it even could not, by a great deal, have satis- 
lied real wants. A large field of prosperous activity still 
remained to the modern system of credit. But it was 
more and more lost sight of, that, even in the age of 
steam, time must remam an essential factor in every pro- 
cess of development; and, iliscounting the future by dec- 
ades, stirred the credit-fire under the boiler to such a 
heat that an explosion was inevitable. That conscious 
swindling, in this economic carnival, played a part is self- 
evident. It was not of decisive importance, however. 
The mischief had ils source in the ignoring of the two 
facts that production majtsurpass the capacity for con- 
sumption, and that a business enterprise to be warranted 
should not only be desirable in itself, and become nt 
some time or anutlier undoubtedly remunerutive, but must 
answer an already existing want, or at least be able prob- 
ably to create such a want within a reasonable time. 
> The Histurj' of (bu Cumtueruial Crisis ot 1897-1338, pp. 97-39. 


Tlio United States would necessarily reap greater ad- 
vuntages tlian any otliei- country from tliis co-ope rati on of 
the new tecbnic acliievenients with thosndden iaci'ea3e<)r 
gold, but, for the vury same reasons, the right limits would 
necL'ssarily bo earliest and furtliesl overetepped in thi; 
United States. The largest part of the new trc^asurcs 
was dug out of its soil, and promised the quickest and 
greatest multiplication if intrusted to it again in the 
form of economic enterprises. Circumstances had made 
the desire of gain, skill in acquisition and a spirit of bold 
and venturesome enterprise the domineering and most 
striking traits of the national character; and tho natural 
resources of the immense country had just been disclosed 
sufficiently to show cloarly the impossibility of formiii.j 
an idea now of what its economic greatness would one 
day be. Nowhere was it so difficult as here always lu 
bear in mind that it is only in fairy-land that one can 
charm what he likes into existence out of nothing, but 
that real life knows only development, and that rapid us 
that development may be, the wishes and endeavors of 
individuals always greatly exceed the extreme limits 
of velocity set in the life of nations by the nature of 
things, to the possibility of development. Hero scarcely 
an undertaking could be imagined which did not appear 
remunerative, if one only put the time in which it would 
be remunerative correctly into the calculation. But in 
this respect precisely, sober beads might too easily make 
serious miscalculations, because one was left entirely in 
the lurch by all the previous experience of mankind. 
Machines driven by steam had acceleratod the material 
develojiment of the whole civilized world, in a way of 
which earlier generations were able to form no idea 
whatever. Even those who, now, not only saw the 
cliangc going on before their eyes, and daily felt its ef 

102 IIUOHANAN's election — END OF 35th oougeesb. 

fects, direct and indirect, in a hundred ^vays, but who 
were active factors in it, ivere like swimmers in a power- 
ful Bireara; even iha weak and unaccustomed did not 
sink as easily as in shalloiv, stagnant water, but only the 
strong and skilful remained masters of their movements; 
the multitude rushed with it whithersoever it carried 
them with irresistible forco. All, indeed, under the press- 
ure of necessity, learned more or less well to reckon 
with the small part of the new facts whicb affected ibem 
most immediately ; but even the clearest beads were not 
yet able to get a lucid and exact picture of the phenom- 
ena in their entirety, not only because the rapidity of 
the development was so enormously accelerated, but also 
because, in many essential respects, a far-reaching trans- 
forumlion of the entire organization of society be^an to 
bo accomplished with tbu change in the conditions of 
production and trade. But in the United Slates the im- 
pulse Wiis strongest and the resistance of friction woakesl. 
Here there was no history of many centuries, with its 
social and political traditions, customs and institutions, 
to maintain a relative stability in the material circum- 
stances and in tbu sentiments, thought and will of the peo- 
ple such as exists in Europe, and like a. dam to keep the 
new economic era from deluging tbu land with the sudden- 
ness and violence of a cataclysm. Everything was in pro- 
cess of a growth of unparalleled extent and intensity. 
As the water must run down the valley until it meets 
the basin of a lake or linds its way to the sea, the settle- 
ment of the west had to progress unceasingly until civili- 
sation had taken possession of the continent from ocean 
to ocean. The treasures created by the quiet labor of 
nature, during innumerable myriads of years, and yet un- 
touched by man, Imd to be garnered up. The treasure- 
diggers vrho annually pressed upon their predecessors 



were numbered by hundreds of tliousands, — they came 
itrmed with alt tbc acquisitioiiE mutikind bud made since 
lirehistoric time,— each mie of ihem used his arms more 
vigorously and strained his wit more intensely the larger 
the drops of swpat were ihiit flowed from bis brow, be- 
CKUse as ibcy fell he expected to see thein transmuted 
bito gold, — the institutions of the country allowed every 
one tbe freest and fullest manifestation of bis strength, 
;ind the thoughts, aspirations and doings of all spurred 
each one on to utilize the possibilities ofTered, to the ut- 
most. Every one pushed and crowded and was, in turn, 
pushed and crowded, so that not only the pressure of the 
onward-striving masii-s grew in almost t;eometrical pro- 
gression, hut energy overstimulatcd, more anil more gen- 
erally, hcoanie impatience and precipitation, which seemed 
to make all victims of Mie delusion that to-morrow noth- 
ing could be done which had not at least been begun 
lo-day, and that everything must be done immediately 
and at the same time. With every forward step the 
picture of the future assumed more gigantic dimensions 
and appeared in more cuptivaling colors. Greater and 
greater became the nuniher of narrow rooms in Europe 
into which its brightness streamed as the glad message 
of promise. It lured hundreds of thousands every year 
across the ocean. The now world received a large 
amount of capital daily from the old in the form of strong 
arms, skilful hands and clear heads. The instinct of ac- 
quisition it was tiiat first urged them to cross the sea. 
and hence tbe national spirit, in its predominantly eco- 
nomic phase, became incarnate in them with astonishing 
rapidity. To tlie growth from within outwards, which 
had even now surpassed all that the development of na- 
tions in former times could show, there was superadded 
that which might he compared to the mechanical increase 

104 QlCllAM. 

-KND OF 35th CONOBE39. 

in size of an avalanche. Tlie raagiiiLude of this factopj 
could not, iniJeed, be foreseen from one year to anothera 
but, at least so Inng as the ilirection was an ascendinab 
one, this uncertainty served, for iho most part, only tffl 
supply new food to the inclination peojile felt to wandeq 
from the grand reality into unrealizable dreams. Thi^ 
people, who were then reproached in Europe, even mor< 
Iban now, for their cold-blooded sobriety, worked ihein 
selves deeper and deeper into tiie delusion that the fancyi 
could scarcely keep pace with the reality, and were thuftfl 
led to mould the reiility in their minds in accordance withj 
what imagination pictured to them. 

The building of new railroads naturally occupied thd 
first place among the great economic entoppHsea. Therrt 
was not in the new world, as in the old civilized conntrie) 
of Europe, a dense net of artiliolal highways. Leaving 
out of consideration tlie near neighborhood of tim larger " 
cities, in the free states of the cast, there were really but 
few that deserved the name. Corduroy roads, through 
swamps and sands, aimoyud the traveler greatly, and. j 
jn many places, he might be glad if, in the bad season,-! 

f he could pursue his journey any distance without serlousfi 
interruption. Cities, the naiiius of which were known 

. ihe world over, were frequently connected by roads which 
could not compare even with the turnpike roads of Ger- 
many. The further one went west the more frequently 

" could one scarcely say whether be was traveling on a 
real highway or only on a "trail" gradually beaten into 
Bomething like a road by ihe wagons of the earliest pio-| 
neers as thoy passed over ground which no wheel had ev< 
furrowed before. But now, side by side with and ovor3 
these primitive hi<;hways of trade, railways were built] 
in every direction. The whole development which 
Earope embraced a period of many centuries, and ; 


6omo places of two thousand years, was overlen peil, Tho 
United Stales bcjfan, so to speak, at tlie end. Europe 
liad all il could do to provide llie chief lines of existing 
tnide with tho new means of communication; but here, 
m addition to this, a civiliz^ition hud to be crualed. Rail- 
ways hail not only to precede artiticiul roads, but to widu 
i;irclea of the people it did not, by any means, seem an 
absurd idea to build them into the wilderness. They 
were to open np tho rich back-lands, which without iheni 
would have to remain for docndes longer the home ex- 
clusively of the savage and the buffalo, Tlio whistle of 
UiB locomotive was certain to be followed by the settler. 
This was riglit enough; but the question suggested 
itself, whether settlers would come, or even could come, 
so (juickly, or in such numbcra, that the enterprise would 
pay. Was not a great part of the roads which connected 
really im[Jortant places with one another built much in 
advance of the times! These starling points and termini 
were certainly — if the expression be allowable — ripe for 
railways. The distance between theiu, however, was, for 
the most part, gi-eat; and whether tho same (question 
could be answered in the affiruiative fur tho intervening 
country was more than doubtful. As a rule, the profit- 
ableness of a railway depends mainly on tho development 
of local trade; and this was, for the most pari, so slight 
that, to say the least, it was highly improbable that any 
interest could be paid iuimediately on the capital invested 
in railways. On the other hand, railways were naturally 
the best instrument for the development of local trade, 
and as they were becoming, year after year, the most 
important means of intercourse of the civilized western 
world, they nec(?ssarily became, year after year, simply a 
condition of the existence of cities: every mile which was 
in any way added to the railway net of the country was a 



step more towards making populous and commeroiiil cities 
witliout railway connections an impossibility. Hence the 
peculiar circumi^taDces of ihe country made it incom- 
parably more Irequently here than in the densely popu- 
lated stated of Europe, a necessity to budd raihvays 
which — judged exclusively Irom the paint of view of the 
payment of interest on the capital invested — would turn 
out to be unsuccessful economic enterprises. Butforthis 
very reason, the danger of precipitalion was also mu(4 
greater here: the more people had to reckon with I 
future, the more easily could one be misled mto taking 
the present too little into consideration; that is, into bas- 
ing one's calculations too exclusively on what lie supposed 
he might expect from the future. 

As the state was not the railroad builder with bat| 
the moral right and the actual practical possibility, 
enterprises of a permanent character conducive to tfai 
common welfare, to throw a larger or smaller part of tH 
cost on tbe future, the evil oonsctjucuces of <ill the uii 
economic --uneconomic in [ho sense just, referred lo-« 
oonstruction of railways would, necessarily, within i 
conceivable time, be keenly felt by a largo pari of tij 
people; but that fact — the fact that the state was i 
the builder of the railways — was only another rease 
that made them shoot up like mushrooms after a raioj 

There was no question, in the construction of railway! 
of humanitarian, butsiniply of economic, ends; and bend 
individuals as the builders of them were found, ont] 
when they e.xpected to do a good business by construol 
ing them. Large capital can, indeed, dispense with I 
immediate earning of interest, in expectation of subi 
quent great success; and this it naturally did licre to J 
greater or less extent. But, as a rule, iho risk was i 


apparent that the builtlcrs of the railways did not intend 
a permanent investment of ibeir capital. They stalied 
only the comparatively small sum necessary lo start the 
enterprise. Tlio construction funds proper were provideil 
by the middle classes out of ihu savings they bad uccu- 
mulated by hard work, These were in no condition to 
form a judgment as to the probable profitableness of the 
roads, and did not evtn try lo form such a judgment. 
Why should they hesitate lo invest their money in high, 
interest-bearing bonds? since — at least so far as they were 
informed — existing roads paid very well, and their cap- 
ital was secured, because, in case the companies did not 
fulfill their obligations to their creditors, the roads would 
beoome the property of the bondholders. Before it 
oould be seen on what an unsubstantial basis this reason- 
ing rested, the builders of the roads had really dono a 
splendid business ^partly by the awarding of the con- 
tracts or by assuming them themselves, and partly by 
selling their stoclc at the right time. If they were cau- 
tions people, there was no necessity of their engaging in 
stook-jobbing at all, and yet they could count on a large 
profit. As everybody believed in the great future of the 
roads, a rise in the stocks was as good as certain, and 
everything depended on fixing the sale for the exact 
rQomenC when the rising tendency would reach tho high- 
est point. 

Considering the disposition of people generally to be- 
come intoxicated by this business '* boom," such a mode 
of procedure would have, even in the absence of all mt^la 
jidea on the part of tho builders, called many a new road 
prematurely into existence, and would have reduced the 
vi/ell-being of many a family. But whore such rich bootv 
waa the allurement, »««/« jft/^a naturally soon took j>os- 
session of the field, and it met with the best success. To 


these railway enterprises there were added others whicU 
were subsequently called " foundations " (Gruendnngen) 
in Germany, and the " fnundors" were by no means al- 
ways people who are ever and everywhere known as 
swindlers, and who move about continually in the vicin- 
ity of the boundary line, the crossing; of which ia certain 
tu bring one before a court of criminal justice. They were 
generally men who considered theiTisulves thoroughly- 
honorable, and were so considered by others. They onljj 
did as directors and members of administrative boardi 
without hesitation what they would have condemned 
with unfeigned moral indignation outside of business lifu 
:ind as simple individuals.' Business life, when the bust- 
noss had assumed gri.'at proportions, had long since begun,] 
like high politics, to carve out a morality of its own — a| 
morality which departed widely from the command^] 
ments and prohibitions of civic morality. A refiuef 
system was developed under which iho capital put ii 
the enterprises by the "founders" contracted more an(6 
more, and their profits, at the expense of the delndedl 
bondholders, swelled to greater and greater dimensions.^ 

' "I believe myself to !« strictly justified whfn 1 say that then 
lutions of tlie last ten yenra sliuw tUut, in the munuf^mnent of thua 
great ami useful cotporntions, our most eminent busitiees m* 
not scrujilerl to do or to wink nnil (Wiinive iit eouraee of conduct whlrtlT 
involved directly or indirectly tiluiost every crime aguinat property 
knotvii to our laws. 1 nver my solemn belief that most eminent 
business men, handed togeUjer and noting ua n board of directors, 
have iiurMued methods which, if n single nian in his private oapticity _ 
ahoulcl pursur, would convict him irredeemably ot crime, and O 
hiiD with ignominious pnnishmenl. 

" Thn (Mnaei|nenCG bos been that onu of th« moat impr)rtaDl. ys 
dis|iciji>iilile, elemenUi at property in this land la eo asaooiated w!t1l| 
d(M'i-it and ftaiid thntit is likely to Iwiwmo a by-woni anda hisBiii|$l**'| 
Vu IndrpmiUnl. Oct. 9, 1807. 

'See the »xcell«iit deacrlplion iu the Independent <it July 18, 1857 J 
la on urtii'le of the North AmeritBU Review of January, 1608 (p. IM), I 



Not only were interest and unearned dividends paid out 
of the construction capital, but purchases oE building ma- 
terial, to the amount of double what was needed, were 
made on credit, and one-half of it inunodiately sold m 
order to carry the vile operations still further with the 
proceeds. And it was all the easier and safer to keep 
playing this game undiscovered, until the "founders" 
had bao;god their game, as among the public generally 
an epidemic of childdilje confidence prevailed, while legal 
control was utterly insufficient, and conditions had become 
developed in the entire system of credit which power- 
fully promoted economic thoughtlessness and swindling 
of every description. 

The two last-mentioned evils had their roots, to some 
extent, in the political nature of the Union. They cer- 
tainly were neither impossible in a unit-state nor unavoid- 
able in a federative state; but they had had so luxurious 
a growth audeaten their way so deeply, because thirty-one 
legislatures, entirely independently of one another, wiih 
insufficient penetration and comprehension and with not 
entirely pure moral principles, had managed their affairs 
confusedly and regiirdlessly without plan and withoutaim, 
legislating at cross-purposes, whereas, in its economic life, 
the practical consolidation of the Union into a national 
state was rapidly and uninterruptedly progressing. The 
politico-economic wisdom of congress frequently, indeed, 
left much to be desired ; but still, in ibe average, its mem- 
bers surpassed those of the legislatures of the states in 
^ucation and natural endowments, while their field of 

we read: "The seeming, though in almust every instance unreal, 
prospcrily of our oXdec railways, has given a dCiuiiilus to enterprise 
in the oouatruction ot new routes of travel; nud railway corpora* 
tloUH bave been enabled, by the prestitje of dividends Ihat were never 
earned, to ollain lu&ita to au incredible amount, and often on an in- 
credibly aleniier basis of actual jiropi-i tj- and potential inoouie." 

110 BL'OHAHAN's election — END OF 35tH Ci)XURB83. 

vision was broader, because their point of view was bo 
much higher. And so the motives that guided the law- 
makers in Washington were not always above siiS|iicion; 
but whiit here seemed too insignilicant lo even warrant 
an attempt at improperly influencing legislation was fre- 
quently considered remunerative enougii, on the smaller 
stages of the separate states, to set in motion tongues 
with whose piercing whispers the corridoi-s and recep- 
tion rooms of the American "Capitol" are so familiar. 
Perhaps the constitutional provision that transfers liie 
regulation of commerce between the states to congress 
afforded a possibility of preventing many of the evils 
arising out of the fact that thirty-one different legisla- 
tures had power to grant chartei-s for the construction of 
railways and to make laws governing the joint-stock 
companies. But, leaving the general political question 
entirely out of consideration, it might very easily have 
had very bad consequences, i£ congress had now given to 
this clause a scope which bad never been allowed it when 
lliere were no railways and when joinl'Stuck companies 
still ))luyod a relatively subordinate part in the economic 
life of the people. The country was confronted now with 
new problems, and many and serious mistakes were, there- 
fore, unavoidable; but all errors of principle assumed a 
much greater signitieance when committed, not by the 
legislatures of individual states, but by congress, whoso 
laws were in force throughout the entire land. The os- 
jiorience gained in bankruptcy legislation was, however, 
not calculated to make congress itself inclined to leave 
to Wasliiiigton the most essential portion of the experi- 
mentation relating to these matters. Dut above all, a 
satisfactory regulation of them w;i3 not possible unless a 
thorough reform of the atrocious banking systom put 
a stop to the woeful abuse of credit. 


Bnctianan was certainly right when he said it was an 
"anomaly" that the federal government, to which the 
constitiitLon had granted ihe privilege to coin monev, 
"should have no power to prevent others from driving that 
coin out of the country," by paper " which does not rep- 
resent gold and silver." The country was supplied with 
paper money by fourteen hundred banks "acting inde- 
pendently of one another, and regiilatitig their paper 
issues almost exclusively by a regard to the present in- 
terest of their stockholders." And this does not, even 
remotely, show the real extent of the confusion. The 
more tlian fourteen hundred banks not only acted inde- 
pendently of one another, but every state had its own 
banking system, and those sys'eins differed from one an- 
other not in points of subordinate importance only; the 
differences between ihem were differences of principle, 
and reached even to their foundations.' Even if each, in 
its way, had been admirable, this state of things would 
have been attended by many and great inconveniences. 
But in realily they gave occasion always to much criti- 
cism, so thai the proper way to put the question was to 
ask, not whether this was better than another, but whether 
it was less bad thau another.' 

■Baker distinguislips three prineipal classes: "The specie BjrBtem," 
"theaafetv fund syeteru" and "tlie frt:e banking system," "which 
hnsbut apoperbaBiB." Banks and Banking inthcUnittd States, p. 44. 
■ " A banking ayetera which varies from state to stale, and which, 
outside of New England and New York, where it ia by no means per- 
t«ci, is as buiighng a contrivance, for the enda to t>e answered. a« 
wssever inflicted on tlie patience of nmnkind." Tbe Financial Flurry. 
Atlantic Monthly, November, 18ST, p. 119. In addition to this, it was 
frequently much worse with the eiecotion ot the laws than with the 
laws theinselves. Baker, whose work cited ubove appeared in 1858, 
-SMks: "But where is an instance that directors of fraudulent or irre- 
sponsible banks have been made amenoble to tbe violated laws of ths 
BtaleT" p. 20. 


That no one was legally bound to take the notes of the 
banks in payment couM weaken the bad effects of this 
legal anarchy but little, for ihey bad become the basis of 
all business life to such ao extent that ii was practically 
impossible to refuse tliein.' But if it required some study 
to become acquainled with tiie bunk lawsof all the states, 
what was there one bad not to do to acquaint one's self, 
even superlicially, with the solvability of the banks! 
The more business life in general partook oC the ntitura 
of a revel, the greater the number in which the banks 
shot up out of the ground ; and tho greater their number, 
the more they endeavored to take the wind out of each 
other's sails by not only readily meeting all the wishes of 
their customers, but oven anticipating them. The greater 
the competition was which the newly -established banks 
had to meet, the more were they necessitated to push 
ease and freedom in their mode of transacting business 
to the limits of recklessness, and even beyond them; 
and, the easier and freer they were in iheir business meth- 
ods, the less solid became the customers they obtained. 
Whether the htrger or the smaller banks did most mia- 
ohief by this disastrous rivalry, it ie hard to decide. If 
the bad influence which the former exercised extended 
over a much larger area, the corrupting effects which the 
latter frequently had on the business life of iheir narrow 
(ieldsof operation were all the moi-o intense. " Instunces 
have occurred," says Baker, "in which bank-bills have 
been put into circulation before the bank itself had either 
a banking house, books of account or even capital to com- 

' " We constitute, by our acts of leEislation. bank-notes as the cur- 
rency of ths country; and ahliough they are not BlrJctly a legal len- 
der, yet the tra<ler, mecliauic ot farmer who should mfose to rooeive 
ihem in payment could have but little to da with the comniuhity." 
Bilker, loc. cit., p. 3S. 



mence with." The brisker business life became, the greater 
li)o became the supply of " mone}- ; " and the easier it was 
to gel " money " or credit, the greater the briskness intro- 
duced into business life. The boiler was heated at once 
from above and below; and the greater the tension of the 
steam became the more coals were put on belli above 
and below.' 

The steady deterioration of the "money" found its 
natural expression in a corresjionding steady enhanee- 
tncnt of prices; but this ste;idy rise in prices acted at first 
like a stimulant on business: in every department of it 
increased activity developed into a violent fever. The 
enormous increase of imports had, for years, awakened 
here and there the gravest anxiety. During the ten 
years from 1844 to 1854, they had risen from $5.03 to 
$10 per capita.' As freight rates were high at the same 
lime, ship-owners did a must thriving business. The 
A'oith American liev ie w * siales it had happened that a 
ship paid for itself in a single year. On the other hand, 
the profits of importers began to diminish seriously, as 
the market was overstocked. The proximate conse- 

■ The following figuros borrowed from the report of the aecre tar j 
of the treaBurj, McCulloch, of December 4, 18flr>. will HufBce as an 
illustration. The flrsl figure (^vee the condition on the Ist of Jntiu- 
ary, 1S57, the figure in pnretitheses thnt of Janunry, 16S8: Bank- 
note circulation. $314,778,833 (1150.303,944); depoails, »2.!0.851,0(>'l 
(«l8S.O8'i.0OO): loiiLia. $084,456,000 i|.^8a, 105.000). Congr. Globe, Ll 
hess. UOth Coiigr., App., p. 30. 

' " . . . To tliese Ten dollars we niimt add chnrges and dutifn, 
and profits, that will bring the wbi.le up to an average of sisteeii <>i 
eighteen dollars of murchandise imported for each Mai on onr soil, 
e«ch of the last two years (1853, 1834). Such a monstrous fact neeiis 
only to be stated. It needs no Poor Richard to cipher out its menninj; 
and its consrquenoea." J. W. Laurens, The Crisis: or, The Enemies 
of Amenia Unmaalied, p. 230 

iJan. 1858, p. ISO. 


qnence of this, however, wsia not a (Jecrease but a further 
incrense of imports. As credit was to be had every- 
where, an effort was made to remedj' this by purchasing 
much more than was required. Of course, the prices ftt 
which the auctioneer had to let one-lialf of those imports 
go were under-priccs; but with the proceeds one could 
get on a little while longer, and thns leave lime for fort- 
une to bethink itself of some new saving favor.' The 
derangement of the right relation between capital and 
credit, as buses of economic life, became greater and 
greater, and daring ventures, in the same measure, be- 
came greater and more universal. Even in 1^53, Baker 
wrote: "Tliere are enterprises enough at the present 
moment actually undertaken to task the lalior of the 
next twenty years to pay for, and each additional under- 
taking opens a new vista to still more miigniticent proj- 
ects." The feverish desire to grow rich rapidly spread 
from the commercial and indiislrial cenltTs over the 
whole country and attacked all classes of the population. 
In "regular" business, credit was substituted for the 
working capital, that the tatter might be cast into one of 
the innumerable urns of fortime which promised all the 
miracle of its rapid doubling or trebling. Everything 
became an object of speculation, and everybody specu- 
lated.* The demands made by alt the habits of life 
naturally increased with the same rapidity and to the same 

'"Those who locik only aijuHrtLTota milli"ii JoUnfB' worth of goods 
f rom EDgUnU. utidvr the tuvurof the Lnnks. mtviMit onc-hnlf, iliou;-li 
it was well kitomi Ihal tht; iiiujur purtioii of tlit<M iiurclia^en vroulil 
have to go to .mctUm. The oporutioiM on the pan nf thitU&niiJs 
■Dereljr rt!prw-nl?d a tucn agttinsi titue. on the atrynglh of bank 
favtwKanil roKign cruilli." Evans. The H.biory of the Comiuorciul 
CriBiB of 1M7-JSJ8. V »■•■ 

'" Nor in [he (peculntive HpiriC conllnpd to our commercial ciliea; 
it pervades the whole counlrjr, and a tictitious value ia affixvd to 

OHIO LIFli: & 1 


extent;' and the increased demands, in turn, heiglitened 
and spread the fever of speculation, because they could 
not be satisfied quickly and completely enoogh in any 
other way. 

And thus it n'ent on, in endless reciprocal action. As 
the N'orth American Reoiew happily expressed it, people 
were huilding an inverted pyramid; a marvelous struct- 
ure, which did not taper as it rose, but grew bi-oader the 
higher it towered. It had only one defect; a compara- 

e*er;thiDg nniniate or ioanimate, movable or fixed, whicb has any 
Talue at all." 1. c 

" The man who lias been possessed of a sunicjent workiog capital 
has been tempted to invest it in stocks, and to relf on loans or loDg 
credits tor the ineflns of conducting his own operations. The im' 
porter has epeoiilated in western citj lots, and discounted the notes 
ot the jobbers to meet his obligations in the foreign market. The 
jobber has bought railroatl burida under par with his funds in hand, 
and, as his notes came to niBtnrity, has paid Ibem with the paper of 
his customers. And the retail dealer, bujiig an eight months' credit, 
and thus realizing tlie proceeds of his sales before they became due, 
has gone with tliem into the stock market, and reeurted to loans 
wfaeujiis notes reached maturity." The North American Review, 
Jan. 1858, p. 180. 

" Merchants are forsaking their legitimate business and dabbling 
in this pool (the monstrous and over-bloated sin of vtock'gambling). 
Their clerks, following their example, gamble too. Simple men, 
seeing these marvels of success, venture their hard eaminga and go to 
gambling likewise. The lawyer follows suit : and, that there may be 
no want of moral sanction, ministers of the Giispel are found, not a 
f^w I am informed, Recretty buying and selling stocks." The Inde- 
pendent, Oct. 8, 1807. 

■ " Much of the trouble is due also to the extravagance and reck- 
less waste of our people, which, though owing in some degree to our 
want of good manners and good taste, are directly traceable to the 
rtimulns given to expense by the over-issue of artificial money," 
The Financial Flurry. Atlantic Monthly, Nov, 1857, p. 119. Baker 
jtave expression to the same censure four years earlier, and traced the 
era to the aame causes. 

An's election — END OF 35ru coNOBess. 

lively light blow would make it lose its csnlre of gravity 
and crumble to pieces. 

The ileclaratioa of bankruptcy of the Ohio Life and 
Trust Company on the 24th of August, 1857, is wont 
to be generally considered as the blow that introduced 
the catastrophe; but the structure had been trembling, 
from summit to base, for some months.' Although the 
amounts involved were large enough to cause this bank- 
ruptcy to make a great im pression,' it was mainly the oc- 
oorapanying secondary circumstances that gave it so 
melancholy an importance and celebrity. It was not 
one of the new " foundations," but an old trust company, 
which had always enjoyed a good reputation, and which 
had declared its half-yearly dividend a few days before 
it suspended payment. It was this that made the blov 
act like an alarm signal. Mistrust took the place of un- 
critical, sanguine confidence — the propelling power that 
made the numberless wheels of the whole moving appa- 
ratus hum so merrily about each other. The bankruptcy 
of a few large railway comjiaiiies, like the Erie & Michi- 
gan Southern, which bad also had the best of reputations, 
soon fanned the spark into a flame. The dry material 
lay everywhere piled so high that the fire could not but 
eat its way further, without any artificial assistance; bnt 
a powerful clique of stook-jobbors blew through their 
'■ bear" speculations on it — systematically discrediting 

' " A. aeriea of fuilurcs had begun in Arnericn for several montha 
before Ihe coi nine nee ruent of the crisis, but did not iiltract much ul- 
tention." Evaii:<, The Ulutoiyof the Cummoroiut Ciiais of 1S5T-1BS8, 
p. U. 

Carey calls the crisis of 1&17 " the most destructive, and, 
U> merchants f^nerally, the most ntilooked for of all that «tnnd on 
record." Hcview of the Decade, 1857-1967. p. 17. 

>«t^ll,W3. a^leo, Chaptera in Political Beoaomy, p. Ii9. 



railway valnea especially — witb pouched clieelis,' The 
doclino of prices, which had bcfjun even beforo tho col- 
lapse of the Oliio Life and Trust Compiiny, became 
greater and more universal, and assumcJ, in part, llio 
character of a sudden plunge. Tho chorus of dancen; 
was again led by the railways, whose second and third 
issues of bonds, as was alleged by the article in tho Nurth 
American lievinw already cited, could scarcely be ex- 
changed for the same quantity of blank paper. But bank 
credits had tlius far been based, by way of preference, on 
railway values; and the banks wbichhad already been 
seriously affected by the collapse of the Central America, 
with a semi-moiilhty remittance of gold from Califor 
nia,* were exceedingly alarmed and began to curtail their 
credit bnsiness. This was, no doubt, warranted, but its 
effects were very disastrous. Sobriety did not come to 
the people, but inebriate-like optimism turned into incon- 
sistent pessimism. As it was the banks that in the first 
place had put the speculation carnival on the stage, tiie 
least that could now be expected of them was that tiiey 
would keep within tho bounds of discretion. But they, 
most of all, became the victims of unrcQecting faint-heart- 
edness. The greater and more general embarrassment 
became, the more they believed that salvation could be 
found only in tho most energetic carrying out of their 

1 BoUrs prints iXie following passage rrom a New York letter to tlie 
London Tttiies of September 10, 1857 : " A large body of active buuHFii 
are known to be associattd for the purpose i to influence llio prtsss to 
work out ll)eir vk'ws, and are alleged not merely ta operate with n 
joint capital, but t» hold regular mtetings, and permanently retain 
legaJ ndvi^iers whose chief vocation, it may be assumed, is to discovet 
points thiLt may ensible the validity of each kind of security to be 
■ailed in question, and thus to create universal distrust." 

■Tbe Intlr^ndtMt, Dec. Ul, 1BJ7. 

lis Buchanan's electiox — end of 35th congiii^ss. 

policy of contraction, and the consequence was a real 

From the 8th of August to the 5th of September, the 
contraction amounted, in round numbers, to SIO.OOU.OOO 
($122,077,252 and $112,321,305). As the fall payments 
were near at hand, this alone was a considerable sam. 
If the banks had stopped here, people would, after all, 
have gotten off pretty welt. But, during the course of 
the month, they withdrew sis millions more from trade.' 
The tumble of all values and the scarcity of money were, 
in consequence of this, so great that the banks themselves 
were caught in the eddying waters and carried into the 
whirlpool. The number of banks that suspended specie 
payments from the 25th to the 29th of September, in 
Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and KhodelsliiDtl, was 
estimated at one hundred and fifty.' The banks of New 
York were strong enough, at first, to meet all their obli- 
gations without difflcalty. But,ns they bore the weighty 
responsibility of the policy of contraction,' jealousy and 
animosity now became allied with thoughtless pasitlanim- 
ity. When it was seen, from the bank statements for 

I The Bunkern' Magazine (XII. p. 430) subsequently wrote: "Th« 
contraction of bank acoommoJatioiis at New York, it (a uow con- 
ceded, was unnecessBrily auiMen and too greut. . . . This cotirae 
of contraction is now uonHidered by our leadinj; b^nk directors ns an- 
oecessury, and as productive of nearly tttl the evil tliat bas nriaen. A 
more liberal policy would have HBvcd the meroliitntii extraordinary 
losses." Bolles uddo; " Indeed, many of them saw the end of their 
fatal policy, and made an effort to extend their Joans: bnt, as all the 
banks would not ngme to tliia, it was linally abandoned." Chapters 
in Political Economy, p. 13)). 

'The IiKkpendeiU, Oct. 15. 1857. 

> Evans, p. 84. 

* " The loans of the New York city banks were contracted $30,000,000 
n the Ut of Augiiat aud the 34th of Octobw." Bulles, p. 12t. 



the week from the 3d to the 10th of October, that there 
was a futther contraction of §2,700,000, llieii- measure 
was considered full, and people wanted to ruin tliem too. 
On the 13th of October, they were, by concerted action,* 
so pressed with demands thut they loit courage. Eight- 
een of them suspended cish payments immediately. On 
the next duy the other banks rosulved lo follow their fx- 
ample, and now the banks in the remainder of the cities 
of the state, in Boston and in all New England, could not, 
or would not, hold out any longer. 

It soon appeared that the catastrophe could well have 
been avoided. The banks of New York proved to be 
still perfectly solvent.^ But, at the moinent, this was of 
Utile avail. Tliure was a crash and a. fall, as if a whirl- 
wind had, with irresistible force, hewn its wuy through a 
mighty forest. The Independent of October 22d enu- 
merated fifteen niihvuy companies, with a burthen of 
debt of over $IS1.0()U,000, which had collapsed during 
the last thirty days.* The total number of bankruptcies 

I " A preuoncerted run." Evans, p. S4. "As the banks bail fur- 
ther nppUi'J the screws un depinitorsaeekingdiacounis, the dppoaitora 
resolved to brMik the bankH, nod immediatdy cnmiapnctHl a run, 
-wtiieh hus ended in general bank GUs|>en9inn^ the Bank 
being the (inly one conliiming to pn.v in gold." Thu IndepcndKm, 
Oct. 15, 1857. 

* " It is Irue that in mnny {linces sfXHiie ivaa domnnded, but it wna 
not distrust in tlie iihility of the New York cily hanks lo redeem 
their nolea wliich led Iheir holdere to demand payment of them in 
specie. All uf the notod were imiply secured by the pledge of sound 
bonds held by the state comptroller. U-'sidca tiie spvuie owned by the 
liftnks, .\nd, in fnot. every note was paid. Not a bank in New York 
I'ity failed in 19-^7 having insnflicient funds tn pay every dollar ot 
its i^lrcnlntion. Their nines etroulaled without loss of value during 
all llio time tliAt specie payments were 8ii8|>eiided.'' Boltes, p. 133. 

) " Uuvitj>> neither gono tu protest on tlicir floating debt, suspended 
nr mode an iissignment of tlieir projwrty." 

120 bdchanan's election- 

I OF 35tii coNOBicaa. 

in tlic United States and Cannda n-as estimated at fire 
thousand one hundred and twenty-three, with an aggre- 
gate capital of nearly J293.000,000, of which perhaps 
$156,000,000 were secured, so that gl3G,000,0(10 were de- 
finitively lost.' These figures may, on the one hand, be too 
high, but, on the other, they by no means show the en- 
tire real loss. In order to folly measure the effect of tlie 
catastrophe, the enormous reductions in the prices of all 
goods must bo taken into the account. The farmer, too. 
who had not shared in the bankruptcies to tlio extent of 
a single dollar, suffered severely enough, iis pork wliioh 
had been worth ^'H per barrel had to go id search of 
purchasers at $15. aud dour that hud been worth $li) 
per barrel was paid for only at the rale of from $5 to tH. 
The planter fured sciircidy any better than the fiirmor. 
The ^cenijiff Post was written to from Mobilo tliat ono 
thousand bales of cotton, even at five cents per giound. 
could find no purchasers if the money had to be laid in 
cash OH the table, Tlie pressure which the general cnsiii 
exercised on coUon jiriccs meant, to the south, according 
to the osliniateof BenatnrGarlingron. of South Carol mil. 
a loss of *70,[)00,noo.- The farmers and planters, how- 
ever, still had their proiluels, although they were greatly 
depreciated, and the harvest had been a good one; but on 
what were the workingmen w!io had been discharged on 
account of the d<-pression in all liranchcs of business to 
fall back? Their number was frightfully large, and the 
winter had just begun. 

The roesaago of the jiresidunt was specially mindful of 
these pitiable victims of the catastrophe, who sulfurcd 
most Borety frojti it, ultliough they hud no share in tlio 
guilt. Buchanan was no colxl-hearted egotist, and the 

> EvaiiH, pp. U, 123. 

»The IndtpcndenI, Dec. 81. 1807, 



ivmpntliy he expressed for these iinfortiinatps he cer- 
tainly and truly felt. But it was just as certain ihal lie 
looked upon thdir misery as he did on the whole ma^js 
of ruins that covered llie laiul from onu end lo tlio olher, 
not siuijily from tin; jiurely liuiininitarian point of view. 

It was surely his duty us president to lake some po- 
sition on llm cmisea us well as on the probable conse- 
quences of the culauiity, and his message did this in » 
way which allowed tliat he did not take the matter 
lightly, altliough he did not and could not comprehend 
its scope m all its phases, and could not measure its 
bearing, because ho had not fully understood its causes. 
But, in all probabdity, it produced the greatest anxiety 
in his mind when ho viewed it from ii third point of 
view, which he did not oven hint nt in the message. 
What consequences would the direful collapse of the 
over-sanguine prosperity of the country have for the 
democratic party and for himself, in his capacity as head 
of that party! At first nothing could be said in answer 
to this question except that tlicse Cionsequoncas nii^ihl be 
very serious; but that was bad enough, since, in the case 
of a man like James Buchanan, there was more danger 
that he would be driven to some deplorable resolution, 
by his wavering between fear and hope, than by a disa- 
greeable but undoubted certainty. 

Buchanan was too much of a routine politician not to 
make e.xlensive use, in his political thought and calcida- 
tions, of the unreliable support of preeedent. And now 
80 much was said and written of the precedent of 1837. 
that he couUl not help pursuing the comparison to its 
ultimate details, even if ho had not hit on it himself. 
Bat the experience Van Buren had had. twenty yeai-a 
before, was not at all calculated to make him very conii- 
dent. In one vorv essential point, indeed, the circum- 


stances were entirely different, and in his favor. The 
finances of the Union had novr no connection whatever 
with the banks, and hence were not even indirectly af- 
fected by the catastrophe which had overtaken them. 
Buchanan, of course, did not fail to cull attention to this 
hajipy consequence of the indtijicndent treasury, which 
was an achievement of Van Buren's administration. But 
no political capital could be made out of it, because, for 
a long time, only one opinion had prevailed on this sub- 
ject, viz.: that, in this respect, the present situation w&& 
preferable to the former one. On the other hand, the 
crash of 1837, notwithstanding the unquestionable honors 
Van Burenhad won in the administration of the finances, 
was the primary cause of his political death and of the 
victory of the whigs in the next presidential election. 
Its history taught the doleful lesson that the masses are 
very much inclined to lay the load of responsibility for 
such calamities, to a greater or less extent, on the shoul- 
ders of the party in power, and especially on the admin- 
istration, without inquiring whether that burthen should 
rightlv be laid upon them. Men always like to look for 
a scape-goat, and if there be question of affairs in gen- 
eral, intellfctuat sluggards naturally turn their eyes first 
on the government, and if they do not do so of iLeir 
own motion, tiie political opposition takes care to direct 
tliem towards it. Ko matter what its true and direct 
canse may be, the party in power has seldom any good 
to expect from great and widespread dissaiisfiUJtion. 

In the case before us, it was cei'tainly impossible to 
charge congress or the president with having occasioned 
the catastrophe, or to allege that it could have been 
averted by them. But it did not at all follow herefrom 
thai only universal dissatisfaction would have to be reck- 
oned with — a dissatisfaction which docs not reason, but is 



inclincil In strike simply to vent its anger. Jlad legis- 
lation or the jid ministration done nothing, directly or 
lodinsctly, tu intensify the crisis or to make its disas- 
trous consequences more disastrous still! These, too, 
were important questions; and Bucbauau must have been 
very blind if he had persuaded himself that they would 
be unanimously answered in the negative of conviction. 

He liad himself, with the best of intentions, done some- 
thing which was judged disapprovingly by many. In 
order to come to the relief of the people, as far as ho 
could, during the terrible scarcity of money, he had or- 
dered certificates of debt of the United States to be pur- 
chased with the stock of gold in the treasury. Consid- 
ered as a financial operation, this was, of course, a bad 
business transaction ; for these bonds were at a very small 
premium, and were now, without any necessity, redeemed 
at a very high premium.' But this measure did not cause 
any great alleviation of the market, while the vaults of 
the treasury were rapidly becoming depleted. As early 
as on the 13th of October, the Washington correspondent 
of the New York Triftwiiti informed it I hat the redemp- 
tion of the funds had been suspended, because the slock 
of gold, which had still amounted to about $19,000,000 in 
September, had now dwindled to $9,000,000. And these 
89,000,000, too, were flowing; out on one side of the treas- 
ury with frightful rapidity, without being replaced by an 
iofluw of gold on the other. In December such & pass 
had been reached that it became necessary to have re- 
course to paper. 

A writer in the Atlantic Monthly scornfully told the 

'"The usurers end ttie stoclc-jobbore received aisteen per cenl. 
tor wlmt lliey had boujfht ac u premium of but two or three per 
ccDt." ilr. BuchaoBti'e Adtuinistratiou. Atlantic Moiitblf, April, 


president that be haul so inconsiderately arnugned the 
banks, in bis message, becaose ttiey Lad not a sulGcteDt 
metallic basis for tlieir note circulation, and now the nd- 
tn nistration was bringing IitUe bits of paper, back of 
tvhicb ibere was no bard money at all, amoo^ the people; 
tbeir only basis was: "We promise to pay." 

IL must bave come to this, even if tbcre bad been no 
redemption of tbe stocks. "Tbe current revenao is bat 
one-fourtb of tbe amount of tbe current oxpenditares," 
wrote the correspondent of the New York Tribune io 
bis report of October 13. Tbis was the principal canseoE j 
the ebb la the treasury, and a change for tbe bettor wmI 
scarcely to be expected m the near future ; for the cam 
Was the new tariff of March 3, 1857. Tbe singular spec- 
tacle was repeated of congress passing stringent laws to 
decrease the revenue of the Union, because the surplus of 
the treasury, existing and prospective, threatened serious 
embarrassment, and of its action being followed imme- 
diately by a baleful change of circumstances, which sub- 
stituted great scarcity for the threatened embarrtut dai 
riflifisge. The customs constituted the chief source of ra*' 
Bliue of the federal government, and, under the old highj 
tariff, their product during tbe most brilliant econoraial 
period which lasted several years, with their colossal ia 
ports, bud risen to such a height that a largo reducUoo:! 
was looked upon us urgently demanded. Imports nov.l 
greatly shrunk in conseijueiiLe of ibo crash, and paid, fori 
Llie must part, much loH'er duties. 

Tbo fulling off must, therefore, have been eaormons;.!! 

'Thus the /iitl^pci'iciitur Ui.-tolM.T8ri?port!i: " Ttio receipts nt m 
U>ms ore v«tj auinll: In ull Si'iileiiilwr they oiilj amouDt«d tol 
|3.31i0.48i:« M. wliorfU« in ^'[ilcmber. I»5a. tliey were {^,803,425.6^ | 
Hhowin;{)iilvclin«i>t |l,rilU.0Ta.T4. Tbe imporlof merchDndlM tt 
wmV uriiuuiili^ to (;3..-iUa.UJt : ooctraponding week of ISTin, «3,450,«aa) I 
dtcriiise, ( TJiu greulur part waa ware Louse; I." 



As the new tariff had only jnst gone into force, an im- 
mediate alteration of it could scarcely be thought of, least. espressed himself to that effect in bis 
message, and congress approved his vien*. Hence re- 
course had to be liad to loans. Opinions here could differ 
only as to the How, not as to the Whether. It was, 
nevertheless, certain that the debts contracted would be 
entered by the opposition in flaming letters on the list 
of the sins of the de.nocratic party, and especially of the 
administration : and it was just Jis undoubted that the 
opposition's declarations and denunciations would not die 
awny without leaving some impression. The democratic 
party was responsible for the new tariff. Under the old 
one, the government would hare had to feel the effects 
of the crash loss severely; and a government never wins 
popularity by getting into debt, 

If Buchanan's expectation, that the effects of the catas- 
trophe would be soon, perhaps too soon, recovciL-rl from, 
proved to be well founded, and if, further, in the real 
political questions of the day, the smoldering lire of dis- 
content, in his own party, was not fed anew, he might, 
indeed, feel confident that the economic calamity would 
be attended b}- no specially serious consequences to him 
or to the party. But who was able to guaranty flial those 
two conditions would be fulfilled? Was it not necessary, 
or at least highly proper, to come to the assistance of 
the healing effect of time by turning the attention of the 
people from the economic situation to other matters 
which might excite their interest, if not stir their pas- 
sions, .just as much! But if this were done, was there 
not reason to fear that there might be danger of jum|v 
ing out of the frying-pan into the fire? Was not the 
turning of the public interest to such things the surest 
means to sow the seeds of dissension still more widely. 



f 3orlI C0SGBKS9. 

and to make tlitim shoot up more luxnrinntly! Or could 
any questions be found on which the party would, with- 
out u doubt, take a position unanimiously and with some 
manifestation of enthusiasm ? 

These were the sceptical reflections between which tho 
president oscillated. Documentary proof of ihia cannot, 
indeed, be produced; but so far as it is at all allowable, 
in writing history, to base a statement on grounds of 
internal probability, this assumption is unr^ueslionably 
warnmied. The whole political situation and the pecul- 
iarities of the president, in which the tirniness of the par- 
tisan bordering on uiior regard lessness was intimately 
intertwined with a weak character and an elastic moral- 
ity, pointed directly to it; and by it, his entire policy, 
forever wavering between bold adventure and anxious 
groping, is must easily and most surely accounted for. 
It would certainly bo going much too far to say that the 
consideralion of the fatal consequences which the com- 
mercial crisis might have for himself and his party was 
tho direct incentive to any of the more im[iortant under- 
takings or projects of his administration; but he always 
took counsel of that consideration at this lime, and it- 
bad much to do with the carrying out of all his ide;is. 

The conduct of the head of a great nation, during a 
period of four years, can of course never be properly and 
exhaustively described in a single word, ami the richer 
in events the period has been, tho less possible it is to de- 
scribe it in this way. But Buchanan's administration is 
an exception to this rule. Although mutih more ei'ent- 
fid than thai of all his predecessors, it can be more easily 
and better characterized in this way, and so I might call 
Buchanan the president with a lightning-rod policy. It 
was not the commercial crisis that made him this; but 
from his whole nature, as a man and a politician, he 


could bn Tiothing else in a highly critical perioil. This 
was plainly eTident, even from his inaugural address. 
As. on the one hand, he knew only too well that there 
were millions who did not belong to the good patriots 
who saw, with him, a satisfactory settlement of the slav- 
ery question in the principle of thy Kansas-Nebraska 
bill; and as, on the other, he declared it wudd be the 
greatest good fortune if the people would now turn to 
more practical and more urgent tasks, it was obvious 
that he would, with patriotic zeal, test every existing 
question, by inquiring whether the majority of the peo- 
ple could be induced to look upon it us more practical 
and more urgent. And if it could not be asserted that 
any of the existing questions possessed this character, his 
patriotism would necessardy impel him to create one or 
more which might be expected to posses? it; for in his 
opinion the further agitation of the slavery question was 
entirely unwarranted and would be attended by the most 
direful consequences. But what he had to adiluoe, in 
this respect, in his inaugural address, was worth little or 
nothing. The construction of a " military road " to OaU 
iTornia, and the best disposition of the puL)lic lands, were 
certainly highly important questions, but it was impos- 
sible to give them such proportions as to make lliem 
overshadow the slavery question; and it had nlreatly be- 
come BUlHciently manifest that they too were weighed 
down by the curse that had fallen on all national ques- 
tions indissolubly amalgamatetl with the slavery ques- 
tion. Tiie difficulty of a suitable employment of th« 
surplus revenue which received so unexpected a solution 
by the crisis, now called for no action, aud only those 
who speculated on getting fat contracts could be induced 
to take a lively interest in the increase of the navy. 
Hence only the intimations about the eventual acquisition 


of new territorj' could be oonsideped, "Whether, back of 
them, there was a fixed programme, or wbetbor they 
were merely intended cautiously to nscerlain how great 
a obarm sucb bait would exercise, could not be disoov- 
•jred from the vague phrases used. Buchanan, there- 
fore, could not abandon himself to the illusion that 
public opinion would find, in the inaugnrnl address, the 
answer to the question, wliat tiie more practical and more 
urgent questions wer« to which they should turn; and 
hence it was to be inferred from il that iio would soon 
be seen devoting himself, with ardent zeal, to a hunt 
after such questions. The self-overestimation of suc- 
cessful metliocrity, ambition and vanity exorcised, indeed, 
n much greater influence on his policy than has been 
generally believed; but, even if these qualities had been 
entirely wanting; in him, he certainly would not have 
been satisfied with being the head of the administration. 
Their flattering whisperings, to which the self-compla- 
cent man listened only too willingly, and honest, earnest 
patriotic solicitude pointed out the same way to him, 
The role of a president of high politics not only pleased 
him, but he considered it bis duty to play it, in order to 
force the people away from the unfortunate question 
which was impelling them with demoniacal power 
towards a most terrible catastrophe. But aa a, really 
great question neither existed nor couUl be raised, he 
seised on everything that presented itself, in domestic or 
foreign politics, wiih uncritical zeal, in the foolish bopc 
that in the opinion of the public tlie resultant of the 
combined forces of all Ihe small ({Ueslions would tosii 
the giant weight of the slavery question out of aiglil. 
But he did not meet with real success in a single one of 
them. In the most important, he made a complete fail- 
ure, and the aggregate result of his altogether too poliC' 


ten i>oliey ivas llmt the flames he wished to stifle shot 
higher Eiill, because they were nil connected, directly or 
indirectly, with llie burning question of slavery. 

"With respect to the first question with which Buchanan 
tried to play this roie. he could not bo reproached with 
having artfully raised it, or even ivith having given it 
unseomty proportions. He found it as a legacy from 
former presidents or from the thirty-first congress, and its 
solution had become so urgent that it would have been a 
serious neglect of duty not to grap.ile with it earnestly 
and vigorously. But to judge of his mode of procedure, 
it is not sufficient, as he and many writers — among them 
the German, Neumann, by no moans friendly to him — 
did, to simply state this tact. Side by side with perti- 
nent reasons, there wore motives that could not be ap- 
proved; in the choice of means to attain the laudable 
end, he was guilty of greatly exceeiliug his legal and con- 
stitutional powers; improper grounds of action caused 
mistakes in the execution of the wrong, or, at least, in- 
sufficient, plan —mistakes which would have become al- 
most ruinous; and. in consequence of all this, the result 
was, essentially, a covering up of the evil instead of its 
removal, which was desired, and which it was pretended 
had been accomplished. 

The annual message asked for the formation of four 
now regiments to reduce the seditions Mormons, in Utah, 
lo obedience. "This is the first rebellion," eaid the pres- 
iilont, " which has existed in our territories, and humanity 
itself requires that wo should put it down in such a man- 
ner that it shall be the last." Strange! Buchanan had 
neither reached the stage of extreme seneclitude when 
the memory docs not reach back farther than a few 
weeks, nor did he give the least ground for the suspicion 
that he was in conflict with the policy, approved and sup- 

130 BUCEANAn's election — EXD OF 35tB 00NGKES3. 

ported by the democratic party, of his predecessor, who 
had over and over again declared the free-soil people of 
Kansas to be rebels, and who had made ample use of the 
federal troops against them. Not only Kansas but the ea- 
liro [lenple had the right — and it was even their duty — 
lo be informed how the contradiction between Ibis dec- 
laration und Pierce's words and deeds could be recon- 
ciled. Either Buchanan's assertion was a notorious un- 
truth or I'ierco bad lied a dozen times and scandalously 
abused his olBcial power. 

The information furnished by the message on the his- 
tory of the development of the rebellion and the state 
of affairs at that time was very meager. The presi- 
dent recalled the fact that Utah had been organized «s 
a terriloi-y by a law of September &, 1850. with a pro- 
vision that the governor of the stale should be c.v offieio 
supcriniundent of Indian affairs. On Se^ptember 20th 
of the same year Brigham Young was appointed gov- 
ernor, and had since then filled the office. Since, at the 
same time, ho claimed, as the head of the Mormon church, 
to govern its members by virtue of direct divine inspira- 
tion and authority, and to dispose of their pro|)erty. his 
power over both church and state had been absolute. 
tftah was inhabited nlmost exclusively by Mormons, who, 
wiih the fanatical certainty of conviction, kioked upon 
him as tho ruler of the territory, set over it by God. If 
it pleased him to bring about a conflict with the federal 
government, they would yield him absolute obedience, 
and. unfortunately, it could scarcely be doubled that he 
desired a conflict. All the federal officials except two 
Indian agents had left the territory to insure their per- 
sonal safety, because the only government it had the 
despotism of Brigliam Young. Then the president pro- 
ceeded as follows: "This being the condition of affairs 


in tbo territory, I couid not mistake the patli of duty. 

As chief executive magistrate. I was bound to restore the 

supremacy of the constitution and laws witliin its Limits. 

In order to effect this purpose, I appointed a new gov- 
ernor and other f-jderal otScers for Utah, and sent with 
them a military force for their protection, and to act as 
a. j)usM comitatus, in case of need, in the execution of the 
laws." The instructions given to Governor Oumming 
were made to conform strictly to the principle that the 
power of officials extended only to acts and not to relig- 
ious convictions. When these instructions were dis- 
patched, it was hoped that there would he no need of the 
military to restore and preserve the supremacy of the 
law; but this hope had now disappeared. Young bad de- 
clared, in a proclamation, that he was resolved to assert 
his power by force, and had aiready given e.\pression to 
this resolution by acts, although he had been assured by 
Major Van Vliet,' who had been sinit to Utah to purchase 
provisions for the troops, that the government had peace- 
ful intentions, and that the troops were to be employed 
only as ponsu comitalus when a rotjuisition to that effect 
should be made " by the civil authority," in order to assisi 
in the execution of the laws. There was reason to be- 
lieve that Young had kept this issue in view for a long 
time. He know that the continuance of his despotic 
power depended on the exclusion of all non-Mormon set- 
tlers from the territory. Hence he had been industriously 
collecting and manufacturing arms and amniunitioa for 
years, had given a military training to the Mormons, and 
had, as superintendent of military aflairs, disaffected the 
Indians and stored up provisions for three years, with 
which, as he told Van Vliet, he would flee to ihe mount- 
ains and defy the entire power of the governmeut. 

' ThuB ihe oieBaage. Van Vliet Bubacribes his repart as ■' cnptoiu." 


Buchanan coold not have said less in justification of tbe 
fact that he had, on his own sole responsibility, sent a 
military expedition to Utah, and yet he said a great deal 
too much ; for his nearly erery sentence was either a gravo 
chai^ against tho 31st congress or the last two presi- 
dents, or convicted him of boldly exceeding his legal 
powers and of gross mistakes which were being already 
severely pnniabed. 

Whut Buchanan said about the nature and extent of 
Young's power as well as about tiio tendency, the effects 
and the aims of his policy was entirely appropriate; and 
the more he — without becoming guilty of the slightest 
esaggeration — filled out this outline with a description 
of the details, the clearer it became to the ininds of the 
]»eople that the situation was really a dreadful one and 
demanded a radical cure. But from this it followed di- 
rectly that the responsibility for the atrocious anomaly 
o[ the existence of such a community as a territory, or- 
gjinized under a federal law, lay, in the first place, on thu 
yist congress, and, in the second, on the presidents who 
had made the head of the Mormon church governor or 
left him in that office. It was well enough knoivn, even 
in 1S50, that the religious fanaticism of tlie Mormons was 
not harmless, and was, by no means, a matter of indiffer- 
ence, from a politico-social point of view. In Missouri 
and Illinois, part of their history had been written in 
blood; and because their convictions and their aims 
had proved irreconcilable with the political institutions 
of the land and the elhico-moral convictions of the 
people, ihcy had wandered over the desert and sought an 
asylum, in complete seclusion from the whole civilized 
world. With the fantastic and absurd garaishmont of 
their belief, the political powers had, according to the 
prmciplo of complete religious freedom and absolute sep- 



aratron of cluircli and state, nothing todo. But the prin- 
ciples of an inflexible theocracy, the germs of which had 
been hiid in the Mormon doctrine, came in conflict, iit 
every step, with the fundiiniental principles of American 
nationality, and would necessarily, in isolation, lead to 
the development of a sacerdotal state, which would have 
to defend itself with the utmost energy against any or- 
ganic connection with the rest of the people, because such 
a connection would render its decay and final collapse in- 
evitable, liigid exclusivenoss was the first condition of 
its safe existence. And if all this was already determined 
by the political nature of Mormon ism, llie same was true, 
in a still higher degree, of the social institntion, which, 
partly on account of its exclusiveness^that is, its absolute 
irreconcilability with the etbieo-moral convictions and 
with the fundamental principles of legal life of Uie rest 
of the people — tended more and more to become its prin- 
cipal pillar, althoiigh it was only a supplementary a)>- 
pendage to the original body of doctrine. And paople 
were sufficiontij' well informed of their existence in 1850. 
although Brigham Young did not venture, until 1852, 
the publication of the decisive revelation which Prophet 
Joseph Smith protended to have received, in reference to 
polygamy, on the 12th of July, 1843. Even if congres-s 
could not bo accused of conscious imprudence, it had at 
least manifested a great lack of judgment in giving the 
Mormon district a territorial organization, and by so 
domg Mormonism, in a certain sense, a legal sanction — a 
lack of judgment all the more difficult to understand and 
which deserved to be all the more severely condcmnod, 
because there had been no lack of warning voices.' It 
gave the poisonous germs a soil to feed them, and the 
presidents, by appointing Young its governor, acted as if 
' Especiully Dell of Teunessee. 

134's EDicTioK — END (jF 35tu co.VGitEsa, 

tbey coiisidored it thoir rlnty to promote its luxurious de- 
velopmifnt as far as lay in iheir power. 

The PonseijueRccs of this policy became more evitlent 
every day; but both eono;ress and tbe executive not only 
looked M'ilb folded bands od tbe development of Ibe evil, 
but continued to provide it wilb fresb aliment. Tbe in- 
terests of the slavocracy, wbich controlled in uU Dalional 
questions, were guilty of tbis too, directly or indirectly. 
Tbe Cass-Dougias invention of popular sovereigntj" had, 
indeed, been made only for tlie slavocracy; but as it had 
to be proclaimed as a principle universally applicable, 
the Mormons niiturally claimed the benefit of it for them- 
selves. No objection could be made to this, for polyg- 
amy as well as slavery was a ■' domestic institution," and 
with the rest of the institutions of Muimonism the fed- 
eral government had no right to interfere, if, according 
to the funduinenliil principles of Ainorican nationality, 
tbe territorial population had to be recognized as sov- 
ereign on a question affecting the weal and woe of the 
entire republic so direeliy and in so great a measure as 
tbe slavery question.' The slavocracy of course had 
nothing against fair (vords. These very religious people 
allowed themselves this innocent luxury, on proper oc- 
casions, for tbe absolution of their sins; only they would 
hear nothing of taking steps against tbe Mormons, since 
the Mormons had no grudge against slavery and would 
cheerfully pay that price for admission as a state. As 
all the preconditions to the viability of slavery in Utah 
were wanting, this olTer woe wholly worthless; but before 
people were sufficienlly clear on this point to grant that, 
room would be made for other considerations, Mormon- 
ism had grown strong enough and taken root sufficiently 

> See Bell's appiopri:ito reTuarice ol Jauuor; 37, 1958, od tUis pnint. 
Congr. Globe, Ist Sew. 35ih Coiigr.. p. 431. 



to allow Erigliam Young to have tbe flag of open rebell- 
ioa hoisted as soou as Buchanan departed from the pol- 
icy which the federal government bad hitherto pursued. 
That the message did not say a word about these tn-o 
importunl chapters from the antecedent history of the 
rebelliou could excite no surprise, but its whole repre- 
suntuliori of the rebellion was uninteUigible because it 
did not refer to them. The president rightly traced the 
revolt to ibe nature of Mormonisin, and yel it did not 
appear frum bis description that it had gone through any 
stage of development. Xot the slightest intimation was 
given that his predecessors or congress had been guilty 
either of u sin of omission or of a sin of commission, and 
yet he claimed to have found himself confronted with a 
condition which made immediate and energetic action an 
imperative duty. Wben Cumming was given his in- 
structions, he pretended to have ground for hope that 
the employment of force would not bo necessary, and yet 
Young, It was said, had been industriously making prep- 
arations for years to forcibly assert his despotic power 
against the United States. These were contradictions 
which could not be reconciled. Logic was introdnced 
into tbe matter only whea the report was supplemented 
by the facts which Buchanan had thought well to bo 
silent upon. By this means it was made clear, not only 
that this silence sprang from consideration for others, 
but that it was intended to protect himself also. 

It was not precisely untrue ibat, as Buchanan said. 
Young had been the governor of the territorj' since its 
organization; but it was not the whole truth. Even 
Pierce had intended to remove him; but Colonel Stepton, 
whom be had sent to Utah in that behalf, soon became 
convinced that tbe Mormons could be governed only by 
the head of the church, and so reported to Pierce, who 



folloivcd bis advice, and left matters as thev were. That 
Young was a federal official only in foi-ra and in reality 
tliu ruler of Utah, was, ihcrefore, not a discovery just 
made by Buchanan, but a fact loiiy since established be- 
yond ii doubt, by what we may call the counter-proofs. 
('liief Justice Drum luund, wbu, in his iettorof resiguation 
of March 31), lS57,oxlmiisLiveIy exposed the consenuenoes 
(if this fact, and based his resignation on them, hod not I 
coine to recognize only after Buchanan's entry into ot&ce 
thut it was " noon-day madness" to attempt to adminis- 
ter the law there as a federal judge.' His nomination to 
iho oEIice dated from the year 1851, and the Mormons I 
had even then looked upon Brigham Young as their I 
only rightful law-maker, and made no secret of tlm 1 
fact. Drunimond was certainly not responsible for it, if I 
Buchanan was really so ingenuous as to expect that tha j 
military ponse vmnituias woabl not have to act, but only 
to show itself, to mend matters. The picture lie bad I 
painted, in the most glaring colors, could not make oven i 
the must thoughtless optimist imagine that that opinion i 
of the Mormons, that is, of the entire population of th« ' 
territory, was not an article of faith which would find i 
expression in acts, in such a way that the civil authorities 

1 See the letter, Exec. Doc. SSth Congr., Isl Seas., No. LXXI, pp. SlS- 
2U. Wcmaylierequotatwoplaces verbatim: " Tlio records, papem, | 
flC, of the si,i|in>ine court have been deairofed bj* order of the cburcb, | 
with direct knuwlodge and upprobalioo of Governor B. Yonpg;" ' 
'"llie judiciary is only irented as a farce; . , . iUaniwu-day mod- 
iiem and fully to attempt to administer tlie lavi ia that tcrritorf. , 
Tlie offlcere are inaulted, baraased and iiiurdertd for doing their duty ^ 
und not ri-cogniting Brigliara Toung aa the only law-givet or law- 
■imlceroii earth " Compure. however, the lottor of the deputy-clerk 
•■f the supreme raurt, Button, of June 2l!, 1857. to Allorney-Qeneml 
Blauk, in wliich Druimrond'a charges aroeinpbatically repelled, tbid , 
pp. 814, StS. 



woaM have tbo right, nay, that it would ha tlipir duty, to 
cjncern themselves with it. That pictiii-c showed the 
traits of fanatics raying with passion — fadaltcs for whom 
the most aboniinabto crimes ar« coiivcrtcil into holy 
deeds — and placed Erigham Young in the center, as the 
scheming chief and the directing will. 

It might be hard to determine whether, and to what 
extent, Drumraond was guilty of oxaggpralion ; but his 
descri|ition certainly contained so much tnilh that it was 
unquestionably the duty of the jiresidotit to employ all 
the means furnished him by the constiliition nod the 
laws ' to (jffect a radical and permanent change. This 
does not mean, by any moans, that he must, or even 
should, have acted as he did. Precisely because the evil 
had roached such a degree that none of the reasons 
which had hitherto prevented action should or could be 
considered, and because Buchanan, as undoubtedly a|)- 
peared from his own utterances, had clearly recognised 
that it was of a chronic and not acute nature, cautious 
steps were demanded, and nothing should have been 
risked unless under absolute necessity. It was impera- 
tive not only that no wrong steps shouhl be taken which 
might irritate the wound instead of helping heal it, but 
that all half measures, which, at best, could achieve only 
partial success, should be avoided — half measures by 
which people might delude themselves a few yeai-s longer, 
only to be iinally convinced once more of the necessity of 
a radical cure, which last might be rendered much more 
diOlcult by the fact that the eOlux of the poison had been 
partially checked. 

Hence the lirst question which Buchanan had to ask 
himself was whether the problem could be taken hold of 
rightly and with the necessary energy without tho in- 


UANAn's election — KSD of 35tU CONOKU&a. 

torvention of legislation. After what be had said rf 
the nature of Moniionistii, ho should certaiuly hiive an- 
swered this question in the nej^ative. But if he did not, 
and his aliinniitive answer did not exclude ull doubt, he 
should not liave come to a. decision himself, hut should 
have consulted congress; for, according to the spirit, if 
we may not even suy of ibc lettui-. of the constitution, the 
will of congress should have governed ; but he confronted 
congress with accomplished fucts which greatly inter- 
fered with its freedom of will. There was nothing what- 
ever to render this necessary. No material change of 
the situation, in the territory, had occurred since the last 
session of congress, and none was to he uxptHstcd before 
its next meeting, unless produced by tlio action of the 
president, liut if he was not of this opinion, or if be be- 
lieved liiut, notwithstanding this, the federal government 
should no longer look inactively on the criminal game of 
the Mormons, the constitution gave bim the right imme- 
diaLe!^' to summon congress to meet. Was the matter 
not worth his doing this, and still of such eminent im- 
portance that the president did not hesitate to grapple 
with it on his own responsibility, and in a way which — 
leaving everything- else out of consideration — made 
really enormous demands on the treasury, although it 
was a fundamental principle of the constitution that the 
administration should not lay out one dollar which had 
not been approjiriated by congress) He could not pro- 
tect himself by an appeal to the maxim pericultim in 
mora. Even the statement that he had not expected that 
Cumming would have to call for theservices of the troops 
Gouhl scarcely bw reconciled with this. But above all, he 
had, by the way in which be executed bis resolution, en- 
tirely abandoned the justification of himself by this argu- 


ment, wliile the other argnmeat, tLat his sworn duty to 
exocuto the laws left him no choice wUatovci', was re- 
futed by the resolution itself. 

The fact that the systematic disregard on principle of 
the laws in Utah dated far biicb, that bis predecessors and 
congress had not opposed it, and thai, in the main, the old 
state of things would continue if he left the territory to it- 
self untilcougressmet, certainly did not give the president 
the right not to fulfill his sworn duty to see to the execu- 
tion of the laws, for a single day, to say nothing of a space 
of nine months. But it was not only not llie duty of the 
president, but he bad not the right, to make use of all the 
means for the execution of the laws that seemed to him 
expedient. lie could only use lliose prescribed or allowed 
by tbe laws; otherwise he would begin to execute the 
laws by violating ihem himself. If ibcse means were not 
sufficient he was freed from all responsibility, with the 
exception of that other duty, expressly impo.scd on hira by 
the constitution, to inform congress thereof ami to rec- 
ommend the passage of such laws as soemed necessary to 
hira. Hence no objection could be made lo his appoint- 
ment of a new governor and other federal officials with- 
out flrst consulting congress. The right to give them a 
military escort was not quite as iudispuiable; but tins was 
not seriously objected to in any quarter, if tlie escort was 
to serve only for their personal protection, for which pur- 
pose little more than a corporal's guard would have been 
needed. But in what article of the constitution or what 
provision of law did the president Hnd authority to send 
any number of troops he wished into a territory to serve 
the civil authorities in a case of necessity as apoaae comi- 
tatu«? What powers he possessed, as commander-in-chief, 
over the distribution and stationing of troops, did not en- 
ter into the question at all. He expressly stated that be 


-KND OF 35rn cosqress, 

bad sent them to serve as a posse comitatvs, and Iienoe the 
onlj' question was whether he should have sent them for 
that puqiosc. The undisputed and indisptitable lawful- 
neas of the employment of the, posse comiUitus in the ex- 
ecution of the laws was no answer to this question; for 
the troops of the regular army no more became a posse 
comitatua by the president's calling them so, than a bird 
would become a fish by his declaring that it was one.' 
Neither the president nor the governor had even the rigbl 
to call out the real passe comiiatun, and the president con- 
sidered il a self-evident conse[|uence of his duty to see to 
the maintenance of the supremacy of the law. that he 
should give tho army to the governor to be substituted 
for the posse comitatua — a self-evident consequence, for 
the message did not contain a single word in defense of 
the claim. Ent this was simply senseless, even if from 
that duty the more general right to employ the armed 
power of the country whenever, in his judgment, it 
seemed expedient or necessary, could be directly and an- 
doubtedly deduced. 

That he did not possess this right was nut questioned 

ITrumbull eaid on the 21st of April, 1858. in the Eenute: "Sir. 
there is no authority for the president to use the arinj- as a piis»e c«fn- 
ilatus; aad it is a perversion of tprma, and it is .in tibsurility, to call 
the mililary power of thia country a posse comilittiis. Wiiat is such 
a posse f It is the power of the county, the civil poiver of the coanty, 
summoned (o tlie assistance of an executive officer to enablu liim to 
execiito process, summoned to the assistance of a manthal, or a sher- 
iff; but has your governor any autliuiity to execute o writ? lias iho 
governor of Utali, or any otiier governor of a territory, a right to 
summon a posse comilalut furany purpos^i'i'iiatovi-r? I deny it. No 
such authority is ^iven, The presideut liaa just as luuoh riglit to as- 
semble the whole army of the United States in the city of Washing- 
ton as aposMe eomilaltui to protect bloiself or to overawe coiigreas as he 
has to assemble it as a j«Mse cowi'fofus to accompany Governor Cum- 
ming to Ultth." Congr. Globe, 35th Congr., Ul Sees,, p|i, 1713, 1714. 



by any ono. The law3, of coui-se, recognized the army 
as a mciins to ninintain the supremacy of the law, but 
they also provideil that the president shoulil employ that 
means only under certain conditions; and that these con- 
ditions existed in the case before us was denied in some 
tjaarters, while the message was entirely silent on the 
qaeslion. The law of the 3d of March. 1S07.' authorized 
the president to employ the land and naval forces of 
the United States in the execution of federu! laws and 
the laws of a state or territory, in all cases in nhlch 
he mi^ht, in accordance witli existing laws, call out 
the militia for that pur|iose. In the law of the 2Sth 
of February, 1795,' which was referred to here, no men- 
lion was mnde of the territories, and hence it was 
not universally considered unquestionable that it applied 
to ihem hitowise. As they were expressly mentioned in 
the law of 1S07, it certainly cannot be denied that it was 
the opinion and tho intention of thccongr.'sa iluit passed 
this later law that it should be applied lo Iht-in. Yet, 
very prominent politicians, who were also considered 
distinguis'icd jurists, as, for instance, Trumbull 'and Bell,' 
claimed that the president could not at stil appeal to this 
law, since it allowed him to call out the militia only if 
requested to do so by the legislature, or, if the legislature 
could not be convened, by the executive of a state. That 
was not correct. This condition was inserted in the first 
section, "in case of an insurrection in any state, against 
the government thereof." It is not to be found in tlie 
second section, which relates lo the hinderingof the execu- 
tion of federal laws. Here all that is required is that 

> 8tat. at I^., 11, p, 443. 

»Ibid.,I, p. 4J1. 

iCoDgr. Gtobo, 33tb Congr., 1st Seas., p. 17IS. 

"Ibid., p. 751. 


An's election — END OF 35tB CONGRESS. 

the resistance must be by combinations too powerful to 
be ovepcorae by the usual course of law or with tho pow- 
ers granted the marshals. It' ii must be admitted that 
this condition was fulfilled in Utah, vre cannot under- 
stand how the president could be accused of exceeding 
his legal powers if he sent troops apainst the rebellious 
Mormons, But this was merely a theoretical question; 
for, according to his own statement, he had not done so, 
evidently because, in his own opinion, at the time when 
he appointed Gumming governor, the resistance of tho 
]Vrormons had not assumed such a form that he would 
hare been warranted by the requirements of the law to 
interfere with the sword. But the question was not what 
he should have done, but what, accoitling to his own dec- 
laration, he had done, and which the laws of 1795 and 
1807 authorized him no more than any otlier laws to do. 
It certainly was not "a distinction without a differ- 
ence" whether the army was employed in accordance 
with the laws of 1795 and 1807, or were placed at some 
one's disposal as a po».K comitaUis, but something essen- 
tially different. Even the masses of the people were 
sufficiently trained in political and constitutional thought 
clearly to understand this difference nnder certain circum- 
stances, and tu recognize its extent. But in this case 
that was not to be expected if tlie issue was in favor 
of the president. The terrible stories which circulated 
about the murdering band of "Danites," and the horribla 
crimes they had really committed in tho territory and 
others they were said to have committed, had so far 
transformed the earlier theoretical, elhi co-religious con- 
demnation of these smgular "Latter- Day Saints" into a 
feeling ready for action, that people were very much in- 
clined to hall with lively satisfaction the putting of a 
rigid rein on their wild doings, even if a strictly consti- 


tational criticism found many faults with the means used 
by the government to attain that end, Tet, on the otliep 
hand, Utah was too distant, and, in the descriptions of 
the state of affairs there, the disgusting, revolting reality 
Tvas alloyed with too large a proportion of fiction, for 
people, on sober reflection, to get into a great passion 
over what was going on within its borders. If Boclianun 
ncoomplialied the end sought, quickly, surely, and at a 
relatively small cost, with the posse ciTr'itatm fiction, why 
should it not be winked at that he did not — even if it 
would have been constitutionally more proper — pursue 
a wildcat with the arms he would have used in a tiger 
bunt? But his policy drove the Mormons into open re- 
bellion, which could be subdued only by calling out a 
large military force and at, great cost; and the principal 
reason why he effected the very opposite of what he had 
intended, and of what would have insured forgiveness 
for the wrongfulness of his procedure, afforded another 
illustration of the old saying that the interests of slavery 
had to taiie precedence oE everything else. To all for 
whom the party standpoint exclusively was not decisive, 
the legal as well as the political question was placed 
hereby in a very different light. 

As early as June the troops intended for Utah were 
collected at Fort Leavenworth, and General Harney, who 
commanded the troops stationed — as a pogge comiiatvs 
likewise' — in Kansas, was appointed corainander of the 
espedition. Governor Walker repeatedly and emphatic- 
ally protested against the troops being withdrawn from 
Kansas. In bis report of the SiOth of July to Cass, lie 
said that the territorial government would be infallibly 
overthrown if at least two thousand men wero not im- 

'See Buchiknnn'B answer of August M, 1857, to the New Baven 
meiuorial. 1h& I adcpcnth-nt , Qi^t. 1, IS37. 



mediately sont to Fort Leavenworth to support it.' This 
report, and a letter of the president dated July 12, «'hich 
was intendetl completely to calm the governor, crossed 
each other. Buchanan wrote hira: "General Harney 
has been ordered to command the expedition against 
Ulah.* but we must contriva to ijave him with you, at 
least until you are out of the woods. Kansas is vastly 
more important at the present moment than Utah."' Of 
course, the president liere was not thinkini^ solely of 
Harney personally. The intention at firet was to send 
tliree thousand men to Utah; now the number was re- 
duced to two thousand tive hundred; and at the last, it 
was thought that one thousand five humli-ed must be 
enough.* But weeks and months passed before even that 
number departed. " Pemaquid " wrote to the New York 
Tribune of September 5 from "Washington that three 
months ajro it had suited the government organs to im- 
pute so much evil to the Mormons with their pens, in 
<ir(ier to divert public opinion from the rcid and living 
issues by a sliow of morality and decency, tlut now the 
expedition had been given up, as Buchanan really cared 
little wlietherCumminp reached his destination; forBrig- 
liam Young, by his declaration in favor of slavery, bad 
become a pet of the sluvooracy and, tburcforo, of the 

The correspondent oversiiot tlie mark in the last sen- 
tences, as ihc Covodo couimiUee did subicquently, since 
he roadu mention of the charge that the Utah expedition 

'Sen. Doc., flSlh Congr.. 1st Sees., vol, I, No. Vm. p. 47. 
'How did this (>xi>re>w)ion agree with tliejicuar-cornf/dtur doctrine? 
»TI)e New York THbutte. April 19. 1800. 

* AMOvdiua to Bell's ligurea iii iliu teiiste. Congr. Glubc, t»t Seat. 
SGtliCoTi|i!r., p. ITol. 
•The N, Y. Tribune. Sept 7, 1857. 

OESEEAL ecorr s i-eotest. 

had been arranged in order to force slavery on Kansas, 
in a rasinner which left no room for tloubt that he held 
it to be wotl founded.' 

The expedition was not given up, and it had not been 
planned as a pretext to bring together so large a number 
of troops in Kansas, ihiit, by means of thein, a satfi- 
cient pressure might bo exercised lo realize the wishes 
of the south. That one of the reasons for the expedi- 
tion was the wish to divert the attention of the peopla 
from the slavery question is at least highly prob- 
able, audit is documentarily established — as has been 
shown — that they did not begin to march until autumn, 
and had been redueed to one-half of the number origi- 
nally determined on. because, il was believed the troops 
could not be dispensed with there, without seriously en- 
dangering the Kansas policy of the administration.* 
Whether, and to what extent, this furnished an occasion 
for a criticism of Buchanan's motive, is a question on which 
opinions differed, according to men's views on the slavery 
question and the Kansas question; but the consequences 
of it were so disastrous that the partisans of the adminis- 
tration could serve it best by beingentirely silenton this 
phase of the question. 

General Scott relates in his Memoirs that he protested 
against the expedition which had been set on foot by 
the secretary of war, Floyd, on account of the great op- 
portunities it would afford for fraud and intrigae.' This 
last was evidently a foolish charge, although the economic 

' B*p. ot CoTnin,. 3Gth Congr., 1st SesB., vol. V, No. 648. p. B. Ma- 
jority Report of Fiiiin, June 16. 1880. 

* Buulianan liimself eaya in his meBcaj^e nf Ft-'bruary 3, 1658i "1 
have b(! en obliged in some degree to interrere with the expedition 
to tltHli. in order to keep don'u rebellioa in Ennaai 
Man., III. p. 22G1. 

*Uem.. 11, p. GOJ. 

14G Buchanan's election ^ es]> of 35th ciis 

bistory of the expedition constituted a wonderful illus- I 
tration of tlie einphatio duclaratton which Me president I 
had made, in the inaugrural address, on the duty "of j 
preserving the government from the taint, or even the | 
suspicion, of corruption,"' Nor is the first allegation right. 
It is not only denied by Buchanan.' but Scott's instruc- 
tion to Harney prove tliat here, as in muny other ques- 
tions, his memory or his vanity deceived him when he 
wrote bis Memoirs. But even if Scott did not protest f 
against the expedition, he called attention to how hazard- 
ous it was to begin when the season was so advanced. | 
After Buchanan had let the entire summer go by, he j 
thought he could not wait a single moment. In his self- ! 
defense, he afterwards congratidateil himself greatly i 
that he did not allow himself to be determined by this 
consideration to endure BHgham Young's lawless rale a i 
year longer.' But in truth theriMvas not question of a 
year. Spring and snmmer came before the troops oould 
march through Salt Lake City and encamp in Codar 
Valley, and before the Mormons submitted to the extent 
they did. If the postponement of the expedition until I 
spring had delayed the quelling of the rebellion, a few | 
wcelis at the most would have been lost, while the ITnited I 
Slates would have saved ail that llie wmier campaign had I 
c>>sl it. This cost was so great that it required no small I 
degree of arllessnessorandacity, after the result had thus J 
passed judgment on this policy, to use it for the purpose I 
of adminng self-con leraplation. 
On the 24lU of July the Mormons, in Cottonwood I 

1 Stenliouae relHttv that tlif Morinoiia bmi called the expedition thfl J 
■■ Cotitrnitora' Wor." Thn Buclty MouDtain 8ninls, p. Alfl. 

^Mr. Bui'hnuim'B AOininistratioD oii iho Eve oX tha B«beUioB,l 
p, 33D. 

'ItiJ., pp. ^>. ^^^ 


iversary of their entry into 
$ before. Here they re- 

Canon, had celebrated the an 
the valley of Salt Lake ten ; 
ceived the news that the coatract which intrusted thei 
with the carrying of the mails to Utah had been can- 
celed by the postmaster-general. The excitement was 
great, for tliey saw in this the first act of open hostility. 
Brigham Young reminded them that he had told thera 
on the day to celebrate which they had assembled, that, 
in ten yeai-s, he would bo able to cope with the United 
States.* The pulpit and the press had since then faraiUar- 
ized the multitude sulliclently with the idea to make them 
enthusiastically agree with tbe resolution announced, to 
oppose force by force.' Captain Van Viiet, whose mis- 
sion has been already mentioned, was very courteously 
received by Tonng; but not only was the sale of provis- 
ions to liiin refused, but he was told, with the utmost 
decision, that tbe troops would not be allowed in the ter- 
ritory.' On the 15th of September. Young issued a proc- 
lamation in which he briedy recapitulated all the injustices 
that tbe Mormons bad suffered for twenty-tive years; 
declared their religious convictions to be the sole cause 
of their persecution; branded it as a shameful slander 
that tbe Mormons had ever demanded more than the 
rights guaranteed by the constitution to all other citi- 

l " Give us ten yenrs of peace, and we will ask no odds of tlie 
United States," 

'Hyde, Mormon iam. ita Leaders anrt Designs, p, 177, gives the fol- 
lowing citation from the Deaeret A'ejM of September I. IBSfl: ■' I say 
as the Lord lives, we are bound to become a sovereign state in the 
Union, or an independent nation by ourselves. I am still, and still 
will be, governor of this territory, to the constant chagrin of my en- 
emieia, and twenty years shall not pass before tbe elders of this church 
will be as much thought of as kings on their thrones." 

*See his report of tbe Iflth of September. Message and Documents, 
n. p. 25. 


zens; complained that the mendacious tales of anony- 
mous accusers and corrupt officials had not been exam- 
ined, but tiiat forthwith '■ an armed mercenary mob " bad 
been let loose upon them, and that they Lad then been 
forced to seek refuge under the primeval law of self- 
preserration; in the name of the people of the Dnited 
States in the territory of Utah, he, therefore, as gov- 
ernor, forbade anj' armed power whatsoever, under any 
pretest whatsoever, to come into the territory; com- 
manded all to keep themselves in readiness to repel such 
an invasion, and declared the territory in a state of 

This was indisputably an actual if not formal decla- 
ration of war, and it was meant seriously. Although 
Young was certainly not a comedian but an honest 
fanatic, he bad a clear and really able head for political 
affairs. His thought, speech and actions were clothed 
in a fantastic, extravagant dress, but the kernel of them 
was always a sober and shrewd calculation. Even now 
he was not carried away by passion or megalomania. 
He had admitted to Van Vliet. wiihout any reservation, 
that he would be defeated if the government persisted 
in its design, but added that it would find Utah trans- 
formed into a desert if it did so. Hence he desired to 
wage war with all his strength, and still without the 
shedding of blood, on the small force that was advancing 
against him, and which he fell able to cope with, in order, 
if possible, to deter the government from the further 
prosecution of its design, and to insure the possibility of 
a compromise in case he did not succeed. 

On the 27th of September, Colonel Alexander crossed 
Green river. This, in Young's opinion, made the invasion 

■ S«e Hyde's report of tlie 16th of Septembsr. Uetaage and Docu- 
inpnts. II, p, 33. 



a f»ct. His declaration that the troops might remain at 
Bluck Fork or Green river unniolesteJ, anti obtain the 
neceasary means of subsistence during the winter, if thov 
surrendered their arms,' could, of course, be taken nolico 
of only as a new insult and provocation. To retreat witli- 
out disgrace or covering tfiemselves with ridicule wiis 
now impossiolc. But, at every step forwai"d, the troops felt 
more bitterly how well founded were the objections to the 
hazardous enterprise of attempting the subjugation of 
liie fanatics at this season of the year, in the rougb mount- 
ainous country, and this, at first, only with infantry and 
artillery. "Welts, the commander-in-chief of the Mormons, 
was instructed to shed no blood, but to direct his opera- 
tions against the provisions and draught cattle. He was 
told to fight the intruders, not witb powder and lead, but 
with hunger.* Tliis must have been expected, and, there- 
fore, care sliould, above all things, have been taken to 
protect the train by cavalry. But it was thought that 
the cavalry could not be dispensed with in Kansas, and 
Kansas was given the precedence. In addition lo this, 
Alexander could not take the shortest road. From the 
camp at Hum's Fork, the distance to Salt Lake City, 
through Echo Canon, was only one hundred and fiUy 
miles; but the Mormons had put the narrow ravine in so 
good a state of defense that he did not venture to engage 
in a Btruggle with them there, and chose the road, twice 
as long, over Soda Springs. The Mormons hung contin- 
ually on his flanks, and operated with such success against 
the train that he resolved to turn back, when the winter, 
by a snow-fall, announced that it did not intend to wait 

1 See Hyile'a report of tlie IGtIi of September. ttessagM ami Docu- 
meiitB. II, p. 33. 

*Qee biH (tecloration in TowuaeDd, Tlie Hormoa Trials at Salt Lake 
City, p. 83. 

Buchanan's election — end of S^tii conoress. 

longer than usnal, or to exercise a milder rule, to please the 
presiiient. The news now came from Colonel Smith, 
leader oF the other division, that Colonel Albert S. John- 
ston, who had in (he meantime Ijeen placed in chief com- 
mand, and »'ho Bubsequently played an important part in 
the civil war, was fast approaching. Johnston's first c 
was to unite the troops. Uefore he could accomplish this, 
November had come, and it was full winter. The idea o 
pushing his way through the Wasatch mountains, bofo] 
spring, bad to be given up. On the 6th of Jfovcmbi 
Johnston set out for Fort Eridger to winter there. A p« 
of the train could not be despatched, because, on the pro^ 
ous evening, the Mormons bad again succeeded in dispen 
ing five hundred head of cattle. The troops, with great" 
effort, advanced slowly, the weather being rather cold and 
the snow deep. During the night, the cattle saved from 
the Mormons perished in masses from cold and hunger. 
The van required eleven days to travel the thirty miles 
to the fort which Ihe Mormons had vacated the week be- 
fore. Four days later (November 20) the dragoons under 
Colonel Cook arrived there with Governor Ouniniing. 
They had lost a large part of their horses, and cold and 
hunger had so reduced the troops that thoy were, at 
first, unfit for active service, "With courage undaunted, 
but under great privation, they waited there inactively 
with their comrades who had arrived before them until 
the spring, to resume operations with better prosjiccCs of 
Such was the condition of affairs when congress met, 
Th»' results of the president's ]K)licy were certainly not 
calculated to make the opposition approach the decision 
of ihe constitutional question in a placid frame of mind, — 
or to incline them greatly to grant the sum of six or sovon 
fi;jures for iho contracts already concluded and partly 



cxecated, tvithout close examination and without raising 
the general question whether the president did not hold 
in his hand the purse iis well iis the sword, if, under the 
cloak of cseculiug the laws, he could send any number 
of troops he liked to any point he liked, with nothing 
more to do but to present the bills to congress afterwards 
for adjustment, — or, iind lastly, to pei-siiude it to give Ihe 
president, gladly and immediately, the four new regi- 
ments asked for, for llie successful carrying out of his 
tixpedition, although tlie message had announced that, in 
consequence of the crash, the expected surplus in the 
treasury had been transformed into a deficit, so that re- 
course must be hnd to the issue of paper money. 

So far ns congress was concerned, all this could trouble 
Uuchauan hut little, ns he certainly expected, and had 
reason to expect, that the majority in that body would, 
at the lejist, not leave him in the lurch. Wiiat effect the 
s|)eec]ies of the opposition on all these points would have, 
outside of congress and among the people, was a very 
different question, as this d;d not by any means exhaust 
the arsenal of wea|>ons wliich the message had placed 
in the hands of all the dissatisfied elements against the 

The information the president gave on the relations of 
the Union to foreign powers showed no clear horizon. 
There was nowhere to be seen a cloud large and black 
enough to warrant even the pretense that a heavy storm 
might soon break over the country. But little as tho 
nebulae to which Euchinan referred could of themselves 
excite alarm, the manner in which he referred to them 
was a warning to be cantious. From those to whom 
Ruchanan seemed an untrustworthy pilot, il could not be 
concealed whether he liad seen reason for mistrust in his 
proposals. If his wishes were granted, it lay entirely 



with himself to raise a little storm at will; and there was I 
no lack of ground for the suspicion that it woiiM not bo I 
(lis|)leasing to him and his otHcial as well as unolTicial I 
advisers, if a stiff breeze should blow towards a certain ] 
point of the compass. 

The differences with Spain of which the message spoke 1 
coald not calculate on special consideration, as Cuba was I 
not even mealioned, and long j'etirs of habit bad brougl 
it to such a pass that the relation of the Union to thaU 
power was scarcely imaginable withont friction in all^ 
kinds of minor questions. 

A matter that excited more attention was tlie fact that| 
the president asked to be authorized to employ "other 
means" against Paraguay, if it did not agree to a de-j 
mund, to be presented " in u lirni but conciliatory spirit,"J 
that it make compciisa'iun fur the many iiijusticea it had) 
done to American citnerii, and give satisfaction for havingi 
fired on the armed American steamer " Water 'Witoh,"r 
which had navigated the Parana in the interests of<l 
science and commerce and examined its navigableness^! 
If Paraguay's guilt was really as undoubted and as greaU 
as Buchanan supposod, it was of course the duty of thw 
Union to defend its citizens and their flag. But this, n 
the sequel proved, was by no means unquestionable; antC 
hence it would certainly have been better not to Icavr 
the matter so entirely lo the discretion of the president " 
that it might end in war.' If congress had had to do 

1 By a Tceohitioii nf tlii? Sci of June, 1SSH. llie prt'si'li.'Tit was " bti- 
thorixed to adopt sucli tiieaMir«^ (inrf use suuh *(iree ns, Jii hia judg- 
ment, amy bv uecvea^rj mul advJMiblo in tlie event of n refusal of jiiiit 
satiBfactioti liy ilie go\ pirmif tit of Porngimy." (Stnt. at L.. XI, 
p. aiO.) LopeK vcnlured na ri-sistante. hb the conimisaioner, Bowlin, j 
was accoiiipnnied by uititiecii war ships with two hundred cannoi 
ftnd twii thousand five hundred Hailnra and marine Boldieis. On thi 
Igbtaary, t6Q9, acuuveiiliou wusooncludvd at AsaunoionflbidiJ 



with a more powerful state, or if secondary intentions as 
tu questions of iiuporLitnce had becc suspected in tlie 
presideut, it wuuld certainly have considered the mutter 
mure matucely before granling him the authority asked 

Congress proved this by not acceding to the wish of 
the prt'Sident thai he should be allowed to have the free 
disposition of the army in another question. 

The American ch«rg6-cl'affaires, B. A. liidlucU, whu hiid 
conducted the negotiations relating to the treaty of the 
lath of December, 184(J, with New Granada, had " u|i..u 
his own responsibilitj- and without instructions''^ adroLt- 
ted in the ihirty-fifth article thereof a guaranty obligation 
in respect to the isthmus of Panama,* Alttiough Polk, 

XII, p. 1087), nnd Buchatian aDDounred in tlio annual mpssai;a of 
Deceiubcr 10, 180B, thai " all our Uiiliuultk'S with llii: republic of Pnr- 
aguay have Ijeen satisfactorily adjusted." (C'ungr. Globe. Ist Sess., 
itOtli Congr., App,. p. 3.) lu the book iin Lis ndminlBt ration (pp. 3fl4' 
267} he speaks with E^eat BulisfnetioD of lliis suocess, but forgela to 
meution lliat llio claima of American citizens were found to be un- 
grounded by the commiaaion appointed in accordance with the con- 

t Buclianau i» also silent on the objection that be had exceeded the 
authority given tiim by putting the expedition on foot, because the 
condition precedent of refuaiil of just Batisfaction hod not been ful- 
flllrd. (See Congr. Olobe, 2d Sesa. 3Sth Cungr., pp. tn04. tOU8.) It may 
be renmrked. in passing, that the shot at the "Water Witch" was not. 
as wuiilil seem from the message, fired altogctlier without pivivoui- 
tion. (See Ibid., p. 160S.) 

^ Acconling to Buchanan's conftdentinl nieaange of April 5, ISOO. to 
the senate, eiteil by R. Schleiden iu Die rechtllche und politische 
Seite der Pnnnma-C'anul-FrBge. Preiiss. Jabrbflcher, Xi IX, p. 586. 

* ■' The United Stnlea giiBranty. positively and efficaciously, to New 
Uranada. by the preaeitt stipulntion, the perfect neutrality of the be- 
fore-nienlioned isthrnua. with the vitw tliat the free transit from the 
one t>i the other sea may not bo interrupted or euibarratiaed in any 
future time while this treaty exists: and, in consequence, the United 
States also gu.iranty, in the same iiiiuiner. the rights of sovereignly 

15i Buchanan's elkctioh — end o¥ 35th cosgbkss. 

in his message of the 10th of February, ISIT, called 
Lbe attention of the senate to tliis, it seems probable to 
Sclileiden tbat neither tbe president nor the senate then 
nltacbed auy particular weight to tbis point. By repre- 
senting that the United States had a greater interest than 
uny other people in tlie freedom and safety of all com- 
mercial highways over the isthmus, Buchanan asked for 
power, in case It became necessary, to employ the land 
and naval forces of the Union in the redemption of the 
guaranty obligation, as well as for further laws for the 
security uf any other transit routes in which tbe United 
States might obtain an interest by treaty. 

It would have been very hazardous, at this time, to agree 
to this request. But that the president, at this very time, 
should have asked congress for such a vote of confidenoe, 
was so great a piece of presumption that it might prop- 
erly be asked whether it was cause for wonder or alarm. 
It could not bo ascertained from tbe message whether 
Buchanan had even thought of England in the question; 
and it certainly was not invpossible that, in his request, he 
had in view only the other Ceulral American states, But 
this did not alter the fact tbat the diBerences between the 
United States and England, on tbe right interpretation 
of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, had not yet been settled, 
and that it could in nowise be coiifidontly expected that 
the pendinjf new effort to come to an understanding 
would bo successful.' 

The president himself expressed the opinion Ibat it 
would have been much better if the two powers had long 
since agreed to cancel the treaty and had begun negoli- . 

and property whieli New Gratiailit haa and (HMdessuB over the said 
territory." Blat. at L., IJC, pp. 888. SOU. 

'See, on tliis whole qutelioii, tile away of Sclilcidun above re- 
feiTwi Ift 



ations nnoxv; if that haJ been done immediately, all the 
Central American diflicultiL-s would probably have been 
solved alfoady. But tlie transit routes were of incom- 
parably mope importance than all the qucslions out of 
whicli the difficulties hitherto had grown. And now the 
president wanted to get such |X)wer in respect to the for- 
mer at tho moment that both sides were seriously con- 
BJdering whether the negotiations relating to the latter 
should not he canceled "to commence anew." Much 
might be said to show that an understanding could be 
still hoped for, only on condition that this venture was 
resolved on; but the better founded this opinion was, the 
more certain was it that Buchanan's request would have 
to be denied. Either lie had reason to assume that it 
woulil be necessary, sword in hand, to defend the neu- 
trality of the isthmns and the sovereignty of New Gra- 
nada over it, or he had no reason for such an assumption. 
In iliK latter case his demand lacked all foundation, and 
in the former it was necessary to avoid, as far as possible, 
doing anything which might make it easier for England 
to oppose the right of the United States to interfere. 
Buchanan's statement that iho interest of the two coun- 
tries in Central America was identical was entirely cor- 
rect, since it was confined to insuring the safely of trade 
on all interoceanic ways of communication over the 
istbmi'.s; but for this very reason congress should not pave 
the way for a conflict by giving him the possibility of 
practicing high politics there at his own discretion. If 
he had no intention to do this, uud if the transit routes 
were not endangered, the granting him such power would 
have been folly; for there was nothing to be gained by 
granting, it and it could not fail to arouse distrust; but 
if he had such an intention, or if danger threatened 
from any quarter, how could congress be warranted to 



cast its own constitutional responsibility on the shoulders 
of the president! That the president otlered bimsolf as 
an Atlas, whose back was able to bear tbe burthen of 
those Weighty interests of the country, could scarcely be 
consitierad sutfioicnt. 

In London no doubt was entertained of the honesty of 
Buchanan's assurance that be heartily reciprocated the 
friendly spirit in which England invited the Union to 
new negotiations. Great liritain was fully convinced 
that the edge of bis demand was not turned directly 
against her, but it could not touch her agreeably on that 
account. The assurance of his secretary of state, in a 
note of the 20th of October, 1857, to Lord Napier, that 
"the United States . . . demand no exclusive priv- 
ileges in these passages, but will alwaj's exert their influ- 
ence to secui-e their free a.nd unrestricted privileges, both 
in peace and war, to the commerce of the world," and 
his own declaration in harmony Fherewilb, on the iden- 
trty of the interests of the two powers in Central Amer- 
icii, were satisfactory as far as they went; but they 
contained no clear, express disclaimer not to strive for a 
controlling influence there. If the equal rights of Eng- 
land to the transit routes depended, even in the smallest 
degree, on the good-will of the United States, then her 
rights were really not equal. But Cass had again, as 
Pierce had already done, rejected the proposal to alloxv 
a third power to decide, by arbitration, the controverted 
points of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, although only Eng- 
land had anything to lose by a decision so madu, as the 
United States did not claim to have any possessory rights 
in Central America; and in the diplomatic circles of 
Washington it was rumored that he had, in September, 
decitledly rejected the further proposition, in ootQtnoD 
with England and France, to guaranty the freedom and 



safety of tbe transit routes by a triple treaty. The rear 
sons for the rejection were not parliculai'Iy convincing in 
either case. A court of arbitration, Cass thought, did 
not commend itself, because the English language was 
best understood in England and the United States; and 
he is said to have urged against the triple treaty that 
England iind Franco could, by separate conventions, ac- 
complisli with New Granada what the United States had 
already accomplished by the treaty of December 13, 1846. 
Buchanan evidently wanted to reserve full freedom for 
the United States or for himself to decide alone when 
and bow they would fiillill the guaranty obligation as- 
sumed. The question was therefore warranted, whether 
the intention now impuled to congress was not prompted 
more or less by the wish immediately to use every oji- 
portunity that presented itself to obtain a domineering 
position. It could not be suspected that the transit 
routes were in danger from England, and just as little 
could it be suspected that Buchanan desired to have free 
disposal of the troops in order to checkmate England. 
"It is our duty to take care that the freedom and secu- 
rity of all communications across the Jstlimus shall not 
be interrupted either by invasions from our country or 
by wars between the independent states of Central Amer- 
ica." There was no reason to doubt that, in this sen- 
tence of the message, those were correctly described whom 
the president wished to oppose, the occasion being given, 
with a cogent quos ego. without being obliged to have 
Xiourse to congress. But if he did this with the vigor 
ti success demanded, England would be forced into 
B second place; and as in politics the appetite is best 
Rrhettcd by eating, he might be led by hia first success to 
take further steps, among the remote, possible couse- 
nuences of which serious differencea with England might 


perhaps not bo considered the most dangerous. It was 
clear, from another part of the message, tbat Buchanan 
had a very definite cause to Relieve tbat the tirst Step 
Avould become a necessity in the neur future; and those 
who were so situated as to get a look behind the curtains 
kne^v that the further possibility, 8o far as il depended 
on the will of tiic president, was on the way to becomo 
u probabibty. 

"William Walker bad suddenly re-appeared on tho 
stage, after it had been supposed for a moment that a 
revolution of the wheel of fortune had relegated him for- 
ever to the ranks of retired adventurers, By the united 
ell'orls of the elements opposed to him in Nicaragua and 
the other Central American states, his power had been 
broken just as tjuickly as he had built it up. After sev- 
eral unsuccessful bailies the conlinuance of the struggle 
had become impossible, and he miistfear that the enemy, 
if ho fell into their bands, would visit the same punish- 
ment on him that he hud inflicted on Corral. This dan- 
ger he escaped by deliveriag himself up on May 1, 1857, 
with sixteen companions, to the American commander of 
the American war sloop the " Si. Mary's,'' ' who brought 
him to Panama, whence he proceeded to New Orleans. 
He began to agilate the equipment of another e](|>edition 
without delay, and immediately found so much support 
that Cass sent a circular, at the end of September, to the 
proper olticuils with an order to prevent the execution of 
the illegal undertaking; and the secretary of the navy, 

1 In the opiuEon of Watker'H Trltixls his defeat was owing partly to 
the liustile nltituile of Cnptain Davig. See, for inKtnnce, ZollicoN 
tn'e leiiiHrks, Congr. Glolw, 1st Sess, 35tli Conjir.. p. 8*5. His 0|(- 
potipnttt aii'l tlie ml ministration, on ihe olhEr himd. clnfmed thut 
Davla, or, in mlier wortis, the ad mint At ration, hail eared lilm from 
Certain ruiii, Hru Ihv siAtements of Txucey in his uhdujU report mul 
Djulidli'** (wuimeuu on the same. Ibid,, p. 'JdO. 



Toncey, took measures, at the beginning of October, to 
capture Llio iilibuslers on the sea, in case Cass's order was 
not ciirried out,' Walker was imprisoned in New Orleans, 
but set frei3 again on bail in only $3,OUO; and on the lUh 
o£ November he sailed in the "Fashion," as was given 
out, for Mobile, but really for Punta Arenas. 

Of tilt' furiher fate of the expedition the messa<;e could 
give no information. Indeed little was learned from it 
about the actual steps taken, although ibe message de- 
voted a whole pnge to the matter. Walker's name did 
not uppear in it, nor was it mentioned when and where 
he bad begun his new march of conquest. These, bow- 
ever, were only oditorial singularities, as a knowledge of 
these things had to be supposed. 

On [he other hand, a matter of essential importance 
was the dearth of proof that the government had done 
its full duty. Whetiier intended or not, it was none the 
less a fact that it could not be discovered from the mes- 
sage whether the ]irL'sident considered the existing laws 
in.suffictont. He indeed recommended "the whole subject 
to the si?ri(ius attention of congress," since duty, interest 
and national honor demanded effective measures against 
llie filibustering system; bat he not only made no def- 
inite pro|iosal himself, but did not even directly say that 
new and more stringent laws were needed. Emphatic, 
therefore, us was his condemnation of the wrong because 
contrary to international law, because disastrous and dis- 
honorable. It still bore the character of vagueness. If 
iiuchanan were fully in earnest in his condemnation, he 
^liouhl have avoided this; since he well knew that its 
honesty would be very much doubted by a great many. 
He did not need to ask himself now whether it was not 
an obvious consequence of the history hitherto of the 
■ S.'it. Doc., 35th Ckingr., 1st Seit., vol. I, No. 13, p. T. 


filibuster question: the fgct was stated in the concisest 
terms in the official reports of the officers to the mem- 
bers of his cabinet.' Yet the fact was the essential 
thing, even if he had to suflfer innocently for the sins of 
omission of his predecessors. Bui with what right conld 
the co-author of the Ostend Manifesto, and the person 
elected by the Cincinnati convention, claim that he 
shouM be considered above suspicion in this respect! 
The Cincinnati platform had declared it to bo self-evi- 
dent tiiat the American people sympathized with ef- 
forts at regeneration in Central America — that is, with 
the successes of the filibuster, Walker; and had g^iven 
utterance to the expectations of the democratic party 
that the next administration would insure the ascendency 
of the Union over the Gulf of Mexico; and I3nchanaa 
had declared that he heartily approved the platform is 
which his individuality would be entirely swallowed up 
and disappear.* The secretary of state had gone even 

' Lieutenant Aluiy writes to Toucey on the £9Hi of Octolwr. 183T; 
" He {A, J. Requier, district attorue}- of tlie United Slates iu Mobile) 
BBLil tbut he ci'uM not but hi^lp cxpreiotinK the opiuiuo tluit public 
Mutiiiient in Mobile was in favor of thesie «xp(.-djtiODS to Central 
Atnerica: that it was a frequent theme of conversation on 'change, iu 
the streets, and at the hotels ; and further that there seemed an idea 
to be prevaiUng in this part of the country that the cabinet aX Wash- 
ington ratber winked ut the fitting out and dtrparture of these expe- 
ditions than to be si^rioiialy dLspused to prevent tbum." Ibid,, p, 13, 

'According to the New York TYUntne of January 8, 1858, be had, 
on the aist of May, 1867, telegraphed to a meeting held iu Neiv Yorlt 
to sympathize with Walkrr: 

'■ I am free to confess thai tlie heroic elTort of our countrymen at 
Nicaragua excites tiiy admiratjuu while it engages all uiy soh'citude. 
I am not to be deterred from the exprcfisloa of tliesu feelings by 
sneers, or reproaches, or hard words, lie who does not sympathiie 
with finch an enterprise has little in common with me, 

"The dilHmilties which Ueneral Walker hna encountered and over* 
come will place bis uame high ou the roll of tbo distinguished uien 



further. He Imd taken occaaion to give public and em- 
phatic expressions to his admiration for Ihe person and 
doings of the adventurer. It was only natural, therefore, 
and WHS no evidence of unusual boldness, that 'Walker 
should have sent to Cass a formal protest against the 
request of the representatives of Costa Rica and Guate- 
mala to take positive measures against him, although it 
was ridiculous for him to protest as the " rightful and law- 
ful president " of Nicaragua.' By this protest the govern- 
ment was informed, in the most authentic manner, of his 
intention to return to Nicaragua; and of the three pos- 
sible explanations why it did not prevent bis doing so — 
the complete insufficiency of the laws, the great unskil- 
fulness and negligence or the secret connivance of the 
government and its organs — the last was necessarily, 
judging from the facts cited, considered universally ^the 
most obvious and most probable. 

Public opinion, however, was in error. The whole mat- 
ter was very disagreeable to the administration, not be- 
cause it wanted subsequently, on moral or other grounds, 
to sever itself on this point from the Cincinnati platform, 
but because the filibuster had, in an awkward way, 
thwarted its plans to carry it out. 

The escape of the "Fashion" Lad prompted Buchanan 
to have Cass conclude a treaty in hot haste with Tri- 
zarri, before the latter had ao much as handed him his 
credentials as representative of Nicaragua.' "Walker had 
put to sea on the 11th of November, the contract was 

ot his age, He lias concilinted the people he went to aid, the gov- 
einmpDt of which he mitkes a part ia performing its functions without 
oppiisition. hitI inli'i-nul trnnquillity marks the wisdom of its policy." 
The flnnl xetitencea make the correctness ot the data seem doubtful. 

iSept. 26, 18!j7. Exeo. Doc., 8Sth Congr., l8l 9e«., vol. VII, No. 
31. p. 6. 

^See, on the Caas-Yrliarrl treaty, Schlelden, pp. OlO ff. 

112 BCcnANajj's election — end of Sjtb conukkss. 

signeJ on the 15th, and then the New York Steamahip 
Company dotermined to have its outgoing steamer, con- 
Irary to the usual custom, rua into San Juan dol Xorte, 
in ordur to get the treaty to Nicaragua soon enough to 
bare its ratilication in Washington by the end of No- 

The message did not contain the least intimation about 
the treaty — certainly not because it was not of sufficient 
importance, but, on the contrary, because it was too im- 
portant to allow anything, at this moment, concerning it 
to be divulged. Here we need only briefly mention two 
provisions of articles 15 and 16. The United States ob- 
tained the right, without a previous demand of the state 
government, to send troops over the transit route of 
Nicaragua, and after notice — not after a demand, as 
Yriairri had desired — to defend it by force of arms and 
keep it open in case that duty was not fullillcd by Nica- 
ragua. The gentlemen of the cabinet spoko to the for- 
eign diplomalos with wonderful frankness about iho 
broad prospective which these provisions were destined 
to open. In a conversation with Ibe Uanscatio minister 
resident, Dr. Schleiden, Cuss called the Clayton-Uulwer 
treaty a "nuisance," wliicb must be canceled; and the 
secretary of the treasury, Cobb, even told bim that the 
government was beat on a territorial awiuisition, and 
that, on tiiat account, the filibustering march was very 
inopportnne, because it made it seem as if the govern- 
ment wished to use illegitimate means to accomplish its 

In the light of those facts, the correctness of the judg- 
ment expressed above on nuchnnan'a request to be allowed 
to use ilie land and naval forces of the United Slates in 
the protection of the transit routes, if he thought it wag 

'Sec, ou llie CitBS-Yricitrri treaty, Scliloidiia, [i. 013. 


nncessary to do so, cannot appear doubtful. Any one 
wlio does not lake Cobb's words cited above as conclusive 
evidence, must, indeed, consider it an open cineation 
whether the govepninent intended to make any territorial 
acquisitions; for no positive proof of sucli an intention 
can bo produced from documentary material. But this 
much is certain, that the president desired to carry out a 
great policy in the Central- American question, with all 
f Oisible independence of congress — a policy which might 
lend to entanglements of the most serious conspquence; 
and there is much to warrant the supposition that lie was 
intent on something more than the control of the transit 
routes. The reinarit in the message that peaceable im- 
migration, so highly advantageous to all concerned, was 
prevented by the filibuslenng marcij, might be looked 
upon as a very intelligible intimation of intentions, or at 
least wishes that extended much further, when one bora 
in mind liie manifest-destiny doctrine and the expari- 
mcnis Mexico had made in Texas and California with this 
peaceable immigration. And even if Buchanan wanted 
nothing but control over the transit ruutes, would the 
slavocracy bo satisfied with that, when the Union had a 
Arm footing there in the tropics? But, if the slavocraoy 
wanted more, was Buchanan the right man to meet them 
with an unconditional and irrevocable nonpossumun/ The 
siavocracy really looked upon Walker's undertaking as if 
they sup|)osed Buchanan was playing false. If this had 
, not been the case, would he not have fuund means to pie- 
► vent the escape of the filibuster, which was so disagree- 
^able to him, and would he not then have plainly slated 
that the neutrality laws must give the government more 
extensive powers to guarti against such occurrences in the 
future? It was certainly correct that Buchanan was not 
t such a friend of slavery as to desire to strengthen it. 


But it was just as certain that be would not refuse to do 
anything that seemed desirable, and at the same time 
practicable, simply because it would have that effect. 
And that bo would not do so, in this case, was beyond all 
doubt; because, considering his whole way of thinking, 
ho must have hoped that ihe Kansas question, whicb had 
been slumbering, would ba awakened into life again by 
the fact that a prospect of compensation was here opened 
to the slavocracy. The fact that the millstoue of the 
slavery question hung to the Central-American problem, 
as to all other problems of national politics, could not only 
not deter him from making a bold attempt to swim in the 
currents and billows of high politics, but it was an addi- 
tional reason for him to make it, because lie considered 
it possible, b^' so doing, to get rid of a great part of the 
burthen which tlireatened to dr.ig himself and the dem- 
ocratic party to the ground, in his own country, and thus 
to destroy the Union, 

We hare now exhausted the questions of importance 
in constitutional history and in the development of the 
irrepressible confiict discussed in the message, tor in the 
previous chapter the meagre data of the message on 
the doings in Kansas there recei^'ed all their necessary 
completion ; and the politico-constitutional utterances 
on them, in tbe meaning of the answer of August 15 to 
the Connecticut clergy and of the article in the Onion of 
November IS, have been critically passed upon. 

If now it be asked what were the results of the policy 
of tbe president during tbe Grst nine months of his ad- 
ministration, they may be thus briefly summed up: The 
confident hope of seeing realized his honest and ardent 
wish — that the slavery question would bo banished from 
the world, or at least that it would be deprived for a 
while of its acute and domineering character — was uot 

Buchanan's hopes. 105 

fulfilled, but he was driven further and further from that 
hope; and the blame for this lay not entirely with the 
ever-active logic of facts. His own weakness, his own 
ambition, and his dependence on the slavocracy, which 
had become a second nature to him by habit and political 
calculation, as well as a complete want of understanding 
of the moral side of the slavery question, made himself, 
with busy hands, knit mesh on mesh of the fatal net 
which was destined to drag his party for almost a gen- 
eration from the seat of power and plunge the country 
into the frightful depths of a four years' civil war. The 
thirty-fifth congress found marked out by Buchanan a 
broader plan for a collision of minds than any of his 
predecessors had presented to any other congress. 

166 OUOHANAn's ELECrlOM — END OF 35tH 00NORES3. 


Figures do not lie — provided they are correct, Th« 
proposition is unassailable; but, in its practicable applica- 
tion, it bas, perhaps, more frequently led to wrong than 
to correct conclusions. The difficulty lies in thig; that 
the figures must be not only right but rightly under- 
stood; and tlio right understanding of right figures is 
difficult in cases oilier than where one has to deal with 
long columns of figures which have to be combined in 
dilferent ways. Correct rows of figures can never lie; 
but they frequently decoivo, because tbey seem to mako 
undoubtedly clear conditions and circuin stances whicli, 
by their very nature, can find no adequate expression in 
simple figures. 

Judged solely by the relative numbers of tlie two par- 
ties in congress, tlie democrats uiight look forward to- 
wards the legislative action of the new legislative period 
with really pleasant feelings. In the senate they could 
in no way lose the supremacy.' Tho effort to crowd 
them out of the White House had failed; and tho buuso 
of representatives, in which they had been able to lay 
down the law to the republicans only with the assistance 
of the southern opposition, and therefore had met with so 
many severe detcuta, was in tlieir hands once more. On 
the very first ballot, their candidate^, James L. Orr, of 
South Carolina, was elected speaker, by one hundred and 
twenty-eight against ninety-seven votes, of which the re- 

'The ruling party Imil now » majority of ten (tliirty-HTe (i{;tiiDit 
twenty -five), whicli would he iiicreuseil to twolvo as soon as tlie two 
-Soiitb Cnroliim unil Tpina — wereflllpJ. 



publican candidiite received only eighty-four. If they 
only had been united ainony themselves they would, there- 
fore, have Imd llie power to do whatever the^' pleased.' 
But on the very nuxt day it became manifest that, in 
respoct to one question, this precondition did not exist. 
This (juestion cast all others in the ^hnde, and hence all 
calculations of the probabilities based solely on the rela- 
tive numbers of tlie two parties in congress were en- 
tirely worthless. 

As soon as the president's niessajie had been read, 
Douglas rose. He spoke only a minute, but among all 
the brilliant speeches ever made in congress it would not 
be easy to find one of a significance even approximately 
equal to the few calm words he spoke. "I have." he 
said, "listened to ihn message with great pleasure, and 
concur oonlialty with much the greater part of it, and in 
most of the views expressed; but in regard to one topic — 
that of Kansas — I totally dissent from that portion of 
the message whit-h may fairly be construed us approving 
of the proceedings of the Lecompton convention," 

This — the fact that the lirst blow aimed at the admin- 
istration was dealt by Stephen A. Douglas and not by 
the republicans*— was llie omen under which the thirty- 
fifth congress began its labors;- — this, an'I not the election 
of the speaker in the house of reprcseni; rives. The dem- 
ocratic party itself had now to feel whether the power 
of Douglas's arm warranted the ],ioud name it bad given 
him. The "Little Giant" had cerlainly not become a 
Don Quixote, who, in company only of a Sanclio Panza, 
set out, bent on adventure. lie had won the name be- 
cause he knew so well how to turn his party colors into 
a battle-flag. Not only Douglas himself, but the Douglas 

i The Independent nf NiiTcmlcr CO. lyiT, diviileil ihe hnuseinto: 
All shades of ilcmocriits. 129; Flee American and republican, 90; 
Sonth American (oil froiu tiui Hlave stules but obgJ, IS, 


democrats, through the mouth of their leader, Douglas, 
refused any louger to serve the presidi-nt and the slavoc- 
Tucy in tlio Kanitas (jiicsliun so Fur us they iiitcnOod to 
identify themsolves with the Lpconiploii fmud. Even 
if Stuart, of Michigan, hud not iiiimcdiutely joined in 
Douglas's declanttion by siiuwing that the Lecoiiijrton 
convention had overthrown the ppinciplo of the Kansas- 
Nebraska bill, no one could for a moment have harbored 
the slightest illusion in regard to this fact — a fact by 
means of which that d(it:iaration miglit, nay even must, 
draw after it consequences the import of which could not 
be estimated. 

The gauntlet was immediately taken up. First and 
foremost, the future jireaident of the Confederate States 
entered the lists in defence of the Lecumpton convention. 
Jefferson Davis declared that, to question the right of ibo 
people to have a directly valid constitution given them 
by their delegates, n-as to deprive tbem of their sover- 
eignty. Of course, tlie people might have reserved the 
decision to themselves; but it had not pleased them to 
do so. 

If no better arguments than these transparent sophisms 
could be advanced, Douglas and Stuart would find no 
difficulty in giving the reasons they had promised for the 
stand they had taken. The two assertions in the second 
of Davis's propositions were simply not true; and, hence, 
so far as the decision of the question at issue was con- 
cerned, it was entirely indifferent whether the first prop- 
osition was, in itself, right or not. The governor hud 
vetoed the bill relating to the calling of a cousiitulional 
convention because it did not provide that the constiiution 
should be submitted to a vote of the people, and the legis- 
lature had passed tlie bill over the governor's veto. Hcnc« 
it had pleased not liw peopk:,bui only lhelt<fialaturc,that 
the final decision should not bo reserved expressly to the 



people ; — tlie [icople had merely to elect delegates. The 
great majority of the people bad not taken part in the 
elections: and their leaders had declared over and over, 
orally and In writing, that they would not do so, because 
the resolutions of the legislature did not correspond with 
their wishes or their will. Davis's assertions, therefore, 
were a complete misrepresentation of the facts; for the 
majority of the people bad al initio protested, in every 
way possible for them to protest, against everything re- 
lating to the Lecompton convention; but the administra- 
tion, its organs and its entire party, inferred from the 
abstention of the people from the polls that they had en- 
tirely abandoned their right to complain, because they 
might have endeavored, by taking part in the elections, 
to send persons to the convention who would have framed 
a constitution in accordance with their wishes. 

Davis was Followed by Bigler of Pennsylvania, who, 
for the present, contiued himself to stating that he agreed 
with the doctrines developed in the message just as em- 
phatically as Donglas iiad rejected them. 

Before even one republican could open his mouth, there- 
fore, the declaration had gone forth to the whole country 
that Lecompton had split the norlhein democracy into 
two camps. Both still clung to the old shibboleth: "the 
great principle of the Kansas- Nebraska bill;" but it could 
bencetortii serve to show only that one was not a repub- 
lican; the answer to the further question, what one was, 
was first given by the battle-cry: Douglas! or Buchanan! 

Now the republicans began to enter on the scene. 
Hale confined himself to placing the veracity and bona 
fidi:« of the president in their proper light; but he did 
this in the must effectual manner by calling attention to 
how the message, in its discussion of the (juestiou sub- 
mitted by the Lecompton convention to the people to be 


JL-CIliSASS E[.ErriOX — END OF uJTH cosoHKaa. 

voted upon, bad grossly misrepresented the facts in the 
most essentia! point, by omittinij in one pluce both tlia 
quotation-marks and the dufiuite article before the word 
"constitution," and substituting for tbe latter tbe indefi- 
nite article — a ruse which to ttiesupcrQcial reader miglit 
seem perfectly barniless, Seward merely paid liis ilemu- 
cratic colleagues the compliment due llioai. The pre- 
cedence in the debate, he said, unquestionably belonged 
to the guntlemen who stood on the platform of the Kansas- 
JTebraska bill, but who now turned against the president; 
for their speeches would bo more effectual than those of 
the opponents on principle of this entire pohcy. This 
blow was more keenly felt than the best arguments and 
the sox'eresi. denunciations, for its meaning was simidy 
this: tertUis fjaiidct. Trumbull spoko somewliat longer 
than any of the other senators, but he shattered with a 
mighty blow tlie whole foundation of the president's rea- 
soning. Congress, ha said, has certainly the right, to 
admit a stale into tlie Union, even when the territory 
has given itself a constitution in an extru-legnl manner, 
Ihit there can be no obligation, on the part of iho Union, 
10 adniil a state, in such a case; and the present is such 
a case. The Lecompton convention never had a legal 
existence. The legislature could not give it such an ex- 
istence; and congress had not only not given it a legal 
existence, but it had repeatedly refused, during its bist 
session, to authorize tbe territory to adopt a stale consli- 
tiiliun. The question of tlie competency of the territorial 
legislature had been already raised under Jackson's presi- 
dency, and very clearly decided in the negative by Attor- 
'ney-General Butler in an official opinion.' If the presi- 

' " To suppose tlinl llio leglsliii.ive pow cru graiil^il to the gunenU 
uwwiubljr iiicluile llie aultiority to Rbroj^alc, ollur or inciilify llip tcrri- 
lorlttl guvernmeiit cstnbltslietl by Ilio act vf ooogruss, unil o( which 


ilont (lid not recognize this authority he certaiuly would 
not livny iinother — that of James Buohaiian, who, in the 
case oF Michigan, had uurcservcdiy professed the same 

When, on tlio following day, after he had first taken 
])rec:8ely the same position as Duller and Trumbull, Doug- 
liLs a^^uin called attention to this fact, the only answer 
Dialer could make him was that the Michigan question 
WHS (tf so old a date that the president might take refuge 
in the statute of limitations. The answer provoked no 
laiightor, either beciiuse it was not intended as a witticism, 
or because the senate did not want to have wit take the 
place of argument in this question. But in what light 
did the facts distorted by Jefferson Davis appear, if the 
course of the legislature, on the whole question of the 
constitution, was outside the law! Everything relating to 

tlieDBseinblf isaconstitiient pnr[, woitltl be uaiiireHtly absurd, . , . 
It is not in lli« powur of tbe genernl assembly at Arkansas to pass 
an,v Inw (or the purpose of plectinii nieiubers to a cunventjon to forai 
a I'uiiBlJlution anil state government, nor to do nciy other act, directly 
or indirectly, to create such new governwent. Every such law, eren 
though it were Approved by the governor o( the territnry, would be 
liutl und void; it passed by tliem, notwithstanding Ills veto, by a 
vote of two*thirds of each branch, it would still be equally void." 
Op. of the Att'ys Oen., II, p. 726, 

1 Till' opposite side was aware that, with the question of the legality 
of llie couiae pursued by tbe legislature, the prwidunt's whole argu- 
ment t-tood or fell. Before Ti'uuibuU took the floor. Mason had said : 

"Irl understand by the president'snii'ssngehe means [hat the action 
of the Kansas convention, being a legitiinatd convention, be the ac- 
tion of the ponvention what it may, is to be respeuted by tbe congress 
of tbe United States, I not only agree with him, but I here aver that 
there is no jnriHt in the Innd who could not demonstrate, as a quea- 
tion of law, that the federal governnieot was bound to resgiect it 
under the existing law — 1 mean the KausBs-Nebraskaact; , , . 
his (the president's) position is entirely impregnable on that subject." 
Congr. Glolie, 1st Seas. S5th Congr., p. 7. 

172 bucuanan's ELKtrriON — end of Sotii cosaitEss. 

it that bad been done up to the present moinont and that 1 
was yet to be done, in accordance witli tlm resolutions of j 
tbe convention, ivaa destitute of legal foi'ce. Parti ci|Kl*a 
tion in the election of delegates, and in tbo Tote on tboj 
slavery clause in the constitution. lixed for the Slst otm 
December, weighed, in law, not a grain moro than non- 
participation. If the will of the population was to bo 
decisive of the resolutions of congress, congress had to 
consider both in precisely the same way — for there was 
not a question of law before it; it had to do only with a 
question of f^.ct, and, so far as the latter was concerned, 
the truth could be arrived at only on this presupposition. 
Through the initiative of the pro-slavery party in the 
territory, the Kansas question had undergone a material 
change of character, to the disadvantage ot the slavoo- 
racy. The irreconcilable contradiction between law and 
right, the unprincipled turning of which to account had 
alone made the continuance of the struggle possiblo to 
them, did not consist in the Lecompton question. It 
should have been decided solely in accordance with equity 
and expediency, because the law of February 19 was a 
law only in form and not in essence. 

Douglas was thus thrust into a position which had the 
charm of novelty for him, Ix)ng habit had made it his 
second nature to treat the slavery question, at least so far 
as it concerned the territories, only with the arts of an 
unscrupulous logic. He was now relieved of this neces- 
sity. He could not mate his attacks more effective nor 
defend himself better than by meeting the subtle, sophis- 
tical arguments of his opponents with unimpeachable 
facts — the plain arguments of healthy common sense 
and the feeling of justice of a man of honor who observes 
the fundamental principles of civil morality in |)olitic8. 
This part was not only new to him, but his entire past 


made his consistent plriyin^ of it difficult, not to say im- 
possible. What imjieUod him now to ivage wnr against 
tho president anil the slavocracy ! Was it solely, or at 
least mainly, his own convictions and fiilelity to princi- 
ple, or was it not rather the recognition of the fact that 
the political and moral convictions of his following, 
on ivhom his power chiefly depended, left him no other 
choice) If this was the case, how far might one ex- 
pect to see him go? That lie would, if it were at all 
possible, biirn the bridges behind him, was self-evident. 
But would he stop on this side of the line, the crossing of 
which made his complete break with the slavocracy and 
the administration party of the north inevitable? 

These were questions which were decisive of more than 
his own personal fiiLure. Tho fate of the democratic 
party de[ie!ided on the answer given to them ; and, hence, 
how he would defend his short statement of the 8th of 
December, :n the speech annonnced for tho following 
day, was of the greatest interest and highest importance. 

Tho strained expectation of tho senate and of the 
densely-filled galleries was enhanced by his fii-st sen- 
tences, lie began with the statement that, on closer 
examination, the language of the measa;:;e on the Lecomp- 
ton question was not, lo his great sntisfaclion. as objec- 
tionable as he had thought the day before. The presi- 
dent had, indeed, signified his willingness to sign a bill 
admitting Kansas us a state under the Lecompton consti- 
tution. But the important [.ict must be considL-red, that 
he had expressed no approval of the course of the con- 
vention, and had not recommended congress to pass such 
a bill. Rather did the irrefutable reasoning of the mes- 
sage show that — whether he had wished to come to that 
conclusion or not — with his views and principles ho 
could not accept that constitution. 

174 Buchanan's electhix — esd of 35th oonokess. 

By these introductory remarks Douglas evidently 
wished to show that be did not desire the struggle, but 
that he wislied to hold fast to tbe hope thiit tliu bi'each 
might still be avoided. On the other hiind, it could not 
bcdiseovorcil from thein whether he wanted to luiivw ojien 
for himself a line of retreat, or to facilitate, as fjr as pos- 
sible, the return of the president. That was the decisive 
question; and, in the course of his sjicoch, ho gave an an- 
swer to it, with greater precision tlmn democrats or repub- 
licans had been led to expect from )iis opening sentences. 

Not onl3' was Buchanan frequently mentioned in the 
most flattering terms, but the error into which he had 
fallen was declared to be very pardonable, since his at- 
tention in London had been too mucti engrossed by na- 
tional interests of the greatest importance to occasion 
any wonder that he was not fidly informed of the battle 
that had been fought, in the meantime, over the terri- 
tories. He thus liirew a thick and downy carpet over 
the sharp thorns that covered the way leading b;ick 
from the I^ecompton heresy to Kansas-Nebraska ortho- 
doxy. The president's feet were to bo spared to the 
utmost; but lie was to be left no choice save to go the 
hard road, or assume all the responsibdity for the schism 
from the steadfast in the faith. 

The president's assertion that the Kansas-Ncbrnska 
bill meant, by the term "domestic institutions,"' with re- 
spect to which it guarantied the right of seir-delerniina- 
tion to the population of tlie territory, only slavery, was 
a " fundamental " and " radical " error; the bill had not 
made an exception of slavery; on tho contrary, it bad 
taken it out of the excepted cases in which the Missouri 
compromise had placed it. and brought it under the gen- 
eral I'ule. On this Douglas based his entire argument. 
It WU3 vain to try to shake such a foundation, and just 



as anslialcable as tlio foundatioa itself was tho demon- 
stration raised upon it, that the Lecomption convention 
bad iraitipled under fool tlie principle of self-deternii nation 
in all non-nationai affairs, witliin the limits of tlie fedural 
conslitution, niore syateinatically, boldly and periidlously 
iLan it had ever before been done in the United States. 
and than had been hitherto supposed possible. He intun- 
tionally did not use slavery as an illustration. "With 
revolting straightforwardness he declared that it was 
perfectly inditferent to him whether tho slavery provis- 
ion, as he expressed himself, was voted down or not. 
That, in viuw of the next presidential election, he meant 
lo lell the slavery interest that it must not harbor the 
ridiculous suspicion that he had, because ho said this, 
become suddenly infected with either abolitionism or 
even free-soilism, is unquestionable. But just as little did 
his wliole p:ist allow the slighlest doubt that tho state- 
ment was entirely true. In their want of understanding 
of the moral phase of the slaver}' question, Bucbunaii 
and he liad still the same ground under their feet; only, 
Douglas, who was a coarser man, was entirely wanting 
in the purely humane feeling for tho sad fate of the 
slaves — a feeling which, it certainly could not be denied, 
Buchanan possessed to a great extent. But, on tho other 
hand, Douglas understood ibe nature of the slavery ques- 
tion, .IS a politico-party i)roblem, incomparably better 
than Buchanan, and hence it was not of the least use 
to the slavorracy that the brutally cynical expression 
Voting "up" or voting "down" the slavery provision 
was honestly meant. Tlie doctrine of the message, he 
said, destroyed the platform of the party; if tho party 
had doimed the right of self determination as it bad 
now been interpreted by the Lecompton convention tn 
its resolutions, the democratic presidential candidate, and 


every man who sided with him, would Iiave been rejected 
by the people. Douglas's term expired with the present 
session, and he made no secret of the fact that he desired 
to be roSlccted, Hence, thesentence just quoted was per- 
Boually applicable to himself; and it was, therefore, on- 
doiib:e<l that he was irrevocably resolved to draw every 
consequence from it, Eis assurance, very generally 
given, that his readiness to sacrifice himself for lliii party 
had no limitexcept his principles and the reqnirtmonts of 
honor — a limit which, evidently, might be overstepped if 
the preservation of the party demanded it — was certainly 
not given absolute credence to any Rreat extent among 
the people. But even those who believed it could not, 
in view of its conclusion, consider that assurance an idle 
phrase in its relation to the case before us. How much 
weight was to be attached to the declaration that the 
party would not be worth preserving if it did not remain 
true to itself was a matter of indilTerence. The decisive 
words, were the last: it cannot be preserved unh'ss it re- 
mains true to its principles both in theory and prac- 
tice, and fultitU its pledges. Many would have been less 
surprised if he had purchased the preservation of the 
party with his principles and honor rather than with his 
political future; but no one could take him for so weak 
u visionary as, contrary to bis own declaration, to ex- 
pect that, to gratify the sluvocracy and the president, he 
would sacrilico his principles, his honor and his pulitical 
existence, altlion^h fully convinced of the usulessness of 
the sacriHce, 

On the fallowing day (December 10) Douglas an- 
nounced his intention to introduce a }jill permitting the 
population of Kinsas to hold a constitutional convention, 
lie at the same time nailud himself fust, so to speak, to 
bis declarations. The Washington correspondent of il>e 



Independent, on the 13th of December, wrote to his paper, 
in Ilia report on the speech: " Thus the 'beginning of the 
end' IiHs corae. From that hour the nationul pro-slavery 
party of the country may date its death."' The slavo- 
cratic press thus Eoniiuhitcs iis iipjMMViil of this view : 
The traitor Douglas luia awakened the moribund republi- 
can party to uew hfe. But the conclusion it drew from 
thifi was: the result may be the disruption of the Union.' 
In this sentence, however, it again coincided with Duug- 
!as. He too had emphatically said, on December 16, that 
llic game Jeopardized tho Union,' And they were joined 

aid thnt Ih"? re(iiih- 
lii-'iin frlv, which, after the result ot rhe electionB in siimmer and 
nuiiimn, " 8e«tnetl on the brink or diESulution, has reuontly been gal- 
vnniKeil Into lenewed ajmptDmB at vitnhty and rigor. Just nt tiie 
uiiini«nt when a vigorous effort of loyalty on the part oC the national 
(Ir'niocracy was alone required to quell dincontent at the south, to 
iillprly prustrate anti-aUverj at the north, and (a secure U> Kanus a 
|ieiice(ul adiniiisiun into the family of atutes. Stephen A. OoUglAs 
liirna recreanl lo bis prufeaieil faith, and leagues hiiuaelf with the 
i'n?inies of order, eijual rights nn<i tlie Uuion. . . . The conse- 
■[uences of this movement cna scaroelj be cxtiKstsrati^d, and for once 
we believe with tiic ifcrufd thnt we hntre before ua the inevitable 
lunlingeucy of a nortliern anti-Blavcr.v eoalitioti in IBBl) which will 
sweep everything Ixifure it as with the fori;e of a whirlwind, . . .;lna bus donu incslculiitilu niisuhiet by lukint; grounU against Mr. 
Ihiehaniin on this Kansa* qufstion — misfbief tlmtoutH'eighs athou- 
•iMid-told his past aervici:." 

The New Orleans DeJfa ot the same dnto: "Only the other day tho 
hopes of the black republicans were down to sero; now they are ap- 
parently up to vernal hent. . . . Altogether, this Kansas im- 
lirogllo at Washington is big with tremendous reeult!>- It is an 
immense political fuul. It is an alg^bmic njiintion containing a stu- 
pendous unknown qunnlity. The next prealdcncy hangs upon it, 
doubtti?£!i. but inflniiely mure thnn the ni-xt presidency, perhaps." 

>CoDgr. Olobe, 1st Bess. B3th Congr., p, 60. 

178 Buchanan's elkctmw — knd op S&rn congress. 

by the organs of tlie more radical wing of the republicans | 
with the alarm-cry: "The Union is at stakiil" 

Often as the cry: "The Union is in dangnrl" had boon 
sent through the country, it had never been hearkened to. 
The threatening of the south was us old as the constitn- 
tion, nay, older, for ihc constitution would not have be- 
come what it did if some of the representatives of the 
south had not made use of such threats in the Philadelphia J 
convention to carry out their wishes. But it was some- J 
thing new to hear the cry uttered inthiskey by a democrat-' 
of Douglas's stamp; that is, not as a means of compulsion 
to wrest, further concessions in favor of the " peculiar in- 
stitution," but as a rebuke and warning to the slavocracy. 
And something equally new was tlio pecnltar sound of 
the echo from the republican ranks. It had not even the 
slightest aci:ord with the deliant conlidence with which it 
had become the custom of late years to mock at tho ter- 
rible picture of the dissolution of tho Union as an empty 
specter. The profound darkness that had lain on the 
eyes of the republicans seemed to bo rent for a moment, 
as by a stroke of lightning. Lecompton is only a pretest, 
said the New Tork Tribune; the real object of the people 
by whom the president, in his blindness, allows himself to 
be niisusL' the disruption of the Union, timt they may 
erect a new confederacy on tho foundation of slavery.' 

1 Letter of ihe Wflsliington correspHiirlent: "The president is Hf- 
leivod nnd w unwiitiuKt/ lending himself to the purposes of men 
« lio are pliiyinK n deep iiiiil daiigeroua game. Tlie Houthern nutlioni 
vl this Leoumptun scheme care nothing for Kansas, which they know 
la lost lo thi^Di, Tht^.v «re uiining at a tllssotution i>f the Union anti 
llie funnotiiin of a pufe *lnvi'h(>lding republic. They expect through 
civil wiir lo drive Ihu frw slati-^ out of ttie Cfinfederucy. with the vx- 
L'l-ption of Penn«ylvmiia, and |>trhD|« New Jersey, Indinna and 
Illincrii." The leaders were resolved to remain in pmsFssiun of tlif 
guveninient, but they probably doaily wiw that the r«publi<.^nH 



NothinfT less was on foot, chimed in the Independent; 
things may soon have reached such a pass that we shall 
need a second Jackson in the White House,' This was in 
such bold contrast with the traditional, theatrical thunder 
of the secessionists, that one might have supposed it a 
tactic feint, were it not that the democratic papers of the 
Dorth had, with equal, sustained earnestness, and free 
from all exagfroration which might betray or excits a 
panic-like terror, fully confirmed the alleged facts and ox- 
plained them in the same way.* 

irould win in 1880, Tbis they ivanted to prevent at any cost. "To 
this enil, and wilh thia riew, thuy are preHsing Che Lecompton echeme 
upon the prcsiilent. They expect and hope that itH enforcemeat in 
Kansne will be r^atsied. and that a civil war wilt be the result. They 
expect through Guch a war to divide and conquer the free states and 
to drive the most obnoxious of them out of the Union. With the rest, 
or, at the worat, with tlie south alone, they calculate upon forming a 
confederacy in which tlie Blaveholding class shall have the unques- 
tionable eupremncy, with nothing to check the expanHiou of its 
dominion over Mexico, Central America and the West Indies.'' The 
N. Y. Tribune. Dec. 31, 1857. 

' Tlio WaBliingtoii correspondent of the Independent writes, on tlie 
2d of Jiuiuary, ltM>8: "In my liiat, as in tins, I have alluded to a 
ei;cret disunion feeling here, which is laking form and sliape (or an 
emergency wiiicli it hopes to create. . . , They look to a disnip- 
tion of llic present Union and thi^ estublishnient oF a southern con- 
federacy, IIS the grand panacea to cure all the abolition ills to wliicb 
they are now lieir by tlieir federal connection i and when they have 
fully prepared the ground, the grand scheme will be attempted. Tim 
great hody of the south, I am satisfied, are hostile to this crazy and 
fratricidal scheme. Yet they can be brought into line by some 
flaming niantfestoes of their political leaders, as Ihey have heretofore 
been in religious matteiti by their ministry. . . . Weshall need the 
purity, the sternness and lieroism uf Jackson in the executive chair, 
unless the designs of these titibustern against their country's unity 
shall be thwarted." The Independent, Jan. 7, 1858. 

'Thus, for instance, the Washington correspondent of the Boston 
Fatt wi'ilca: " I find that tliere are entliusiasta here, ardent worship- 
ers of the ' Southern Cross,' who e.xpect the early diseolutiun of tUia 


nan's election — liND OF SJTH CONOKESa. 

All this, iQ<lee(l, did not necessarily make it impossiblv 
that injustice was done to the southern radicals, or th^ 
their inSiiencc, in the White Uouse as well as in the soutlld 
was overesiimalud. But. even if the aiiiiation were nol 
as serious as it was thought to be, it became very serioiu 
from the fact that it was considered so. Above all, tbq 
breach in the democratic party could not be closed upt 
It mattered not whether the southern radicals would lei 
Kansas go at no price, or whether they would use thffi 
Ijccompton qiiestioa as a lever to further their sccessioit 
ist wishes. Douglas hud as little pardon to expect from 
them in the one cnse as in the other. He had also ! 
come guilty of an unpardonable sin in the eyes of th0« 
president and of the adminisLration democrats in the! 
northern states; and it made no difference whetber thoy I 
slill really found tbe unadulterated principle of the KaifJ 
sas-Nebraska bill in the Lecomptna programme, 
sidered it now as self-evident as in 1S51 that the part4 
basis in tbe territorial question bud to be shifted if 1 
slavocracy declared it to be a precondition of tbe pre»l 
ervation of the party, or even of the Union. 

If Douglas had harbored any illusions us to the const 
qucnces which his conduct would have for himself, peri 
Bonally, a few days sulficed to dissipate them. As earlj 
as on the 21st of Di-cember be complained in the senaU 
that curtain people, but especially the entire press wbicU 
depended on the adniinitilration, were endeavoring 1 

tinion, anil who dream of a sonthern enipirK, eDibracing the staM 
aoutli ol Hosun and Dixuii's line, the republic of Mexico, the Btates ol 
CVnlrut America, and tlie island of Cuba. . . . Thnl portlol 
of tht> H»uthi-rn deniuiTuu}- wbidi favors an eicluoively southen 
p;>rty is now in llie ascendant ; and it :a uniliT their cdudgtIb and A 
accomplish their purposes thui a dilTrrence of opinion with Jud| 
Di.u^'laB has Iwen prntlied tn a [Kraonal and mortal quarrel," Prii 
in \\w Indepcndait of Jan. U, ISM. 

lOLKil.ABa Vdb 


cast Iiim out of the party and to hunt him down, while 
aliuast every really independent doiuocriitio paper slui.d 
stoutly hy Lim, Ho expressly exonerated llio president 
from all participation in that guilt.' Many were rightly 
convinced that bo did not believe this himself. If their 
convictions were well founded, he either had desired Id 
keep the way open a mouieot longur for the possibility 
of Buchanau's coDversion, or ho had hoped, by the un- 
truthful coinplimeut,' to be able to move liim to charm 
away the raging mutiny. He miji:hl, have spared himself 
bis pains in both instances; they could meet with nu suc- 
cess in tho latter case, because they must have been lost 
in the former. To induce Buchanan to become converted 
he would have been obliged to move the slavocraoy to 
become converted; and as the conversion of the slavoc- 
racy, which had never yet been converted, was not to be 
thought of, the attacks on him could not be stopped when 
the Qrsb ebulliLions of anger began to yield to sober re- 
flection. The very opposite must happen and did hap- 
pen. He was entirely right; it was a systematic hound- 
ing which could cease only when the game was bagged, 
Douglas's Kdelity to principle had never been subjected 
by the republicans, with such rigor and sagacity, lo a 
historical tost as it was now by the administration demo- 
crats. In the Chicago 7Vm«*, which passed as his organ, 
an article was published in which it was alleged that the 

' Congr. Globe, 1st Seas. 36th Oongr.. p. 120. 

I In a speech wliidi lie delivered on the lUth ot October, 1800, in 
Milwaukee, he reliUed thai, iui mediately after his arrival iu Wasli- 
ington and before tbe beginninf; of tlio seEsioD, be had an angry con- 
troversy with the president. The latter remiuded him "that no 
democrat ever yet diftured [rum iin administration of his own choice- 
withont being crushed. Beware of the (ate of Tallmadge and Rives." 
To which he is £aid to bnve answered : "Mr. President, I wish yi>u 
to remember that QeuenJ Jarkaoii ia dead." 

182 bccuanan's election — end of 35th conokess. 

Topeka partj' of Kansas bad forfeited all right to say a 
word on the question of the constitution ; tbe inhabitants 
of tbo Fiji Islands might bo allowed to vote on the adop- 
tion or rejection of the constitution just as well as they.' 
It was said that Calhoun, tho president of tbe Lecomptoa 
convention, inrornied his good friend Douglas, by letter, 
of tbe manner in which he intended to submit the con- 
stitution to the people, but that Douglas had left the 
leller nnanswered, which could be interpreted only as a 
tacit approval of it. But the heaviest blow was dealt by 
Bigler's calling attention to the fact that the provision re- 
lating to tbe vote of tlio people had suddenly disappeared 
from tbo Toombs bill of tbe previous session, and this — 
which was not known before^in accordance with tbe 
resolution of a conference held at Douglas's house. Doug- 
las's answer to Bigler was that he bad not attended the 
con Terence, and therefore was not responsible for its res- 
olution. But his answer did not parry the blow, as he 
could not claim that he had not been informed of the res- 
olution, and had not, like many other senators, remarked 
the alteration. Uence, he further declared that he had 
not referred to it in the debate, because, in bis opinion, 
all that could be inferred from lbs silence of the bill 
was that a vote of the people was a matter of course. 
But then it was utterly undiscoverable why be had taken 
up an e.xpress provision on tbe subject into tbe Minnesota 
bill. Toombs's assertion that tbe provision bad gotten 
into his bill solely because he had cut the formal part, 
which was, as a rule, worded in precisely the same way, 
out of an old printed territorial bill, and had, without 
closer examination, allixed it to the part drafted by 
himseJf, made the matter worse rather than belter for 
Douglas. Toombs added that, after his attention had 
1 Sve Cougr, Globe, Ut Sesi. 85tli Congi.. p. 3S31. 



been drawn to it, Ue consiilered tlie striking out of it in 
thiit conference n matter of course; for the bill had not 
provided for s. second popular vole after tho election of 
delegates, and hence was not in harmony with tho ratiB- 
cation clause.' This was about the very reverse of what 
Douglas claimed to have considered a matter of course. 

But what would be gained if Douglas could be shown 
that his tidelity to principle wtts inach more like a worn- 
out and faltered garment than an impenetrable coat of 
mail? The less his convictions were the real reason of 
his opposition, the greater would bo the pressure of pub- 
lic opinion, forcing hiin to play the part of an inflexible 
knight of ptincipic, nlthough he could not but see that 
the kniglil of {irinciple, Douglas, would overthrow Doug- 
las, tho presilcntial candidate. Ilis tliought, will and 
action obtained significance only because of the masses 
who stood behind hira. The more forcible the proof ad- 
duced that he changed liis principles as lie changed bis 
clothes, the more undoubted it became that he was now 
not the mover but the moved, and that, therefore, the 
slavocracy and the administration would have to give 
up their I,ecom]Kon policy, unless they were willing to 
pay for the attempt to carry it out witli the permanent 
disruption of the democratic party. 

What had happened, however, in the meantime in 
Kansas excluded all hope that they would change their 
course in the slightest particular. The president imme- 
diately folhiwed the inforiiiiilion of tiie convocation of 
the legislature by the removal of 8tanton. As a reason 
for this, it was expressly stated that the latter, by coii- 
voliing the legislature, liad cast another apple of discord 
among the people, and that the step was "directly at 

1 " Ttie l>ill being iiiconeruoun as to ttint puriHwe." Ibid., Apgi., 

184 BliCHANAN'tl 


war, therefore, with llie peaceful policy of tlio ndniinis- ' 
tration." Denver, the Indian commissioner, was put in 
liis place. Walker did not wait to be told to go. Ho- 
hent in his resignation on the Ifith of Dtcoinber, defend- 
ing his resolve in an cxLanstive document, which, while 
I'Xlremely considerate in form, exposed not only tha 
perversity but also the untruthfulness of the ]tresident's 
whole Kansas policy in all Ws nakedness. It devolveil 
on Cass, as secretary of state and as the attorney of that 
policy, to refute Walker's demonstration — a lamentable 
part for the father of the doctrine of popular sovereignty 
to play. But ho found himself so (wl! adapted to it that he' 
did not even hesilato to smite the truth in the face. With 
Buchanan's letter of the 12th of July to Walker before 
his eyes, be boldly asserted tliiit the president bad never 
entertained or expressed tho opinion that the convention 
was bound to submit any part of the constitution, except 
tiio provision relating to slavery, to a vote of the people.' 

I Casa to Wallfer, Dec. 18, 18.17. (Ibid., p. I3^.1 Biictmnan liimself 
had avoided bo direct An untriitli in tlio ni^ssAK'^. H« lind \oa}nA 
for forms, by uliicll lie wiuciiided, so lo Hpenk, a compromise with 
tbe tiutli: ''I toolt it fur (jratittnl thai ttie convention of Knns4ia 
would att in aucordance witti ilii» (■xtiiii|>1e(of tli<< vntiflcatiuii pru- 
visiOD in tliu Minneiiiita bill), founded, bei it is. on correct princlplm; 
and hence m; instructions toGiivrrnor Walker, in fovor of submit- 
ting the constitution to tlie poiiple, wero expreKsed in general anil 
unqualilled teruis." Hewt^nt on: " lu the KunsaB-Kotirnaltn act, 
however, tills reifuin^nienl. ns npplicnblo to Ibe wliole conatitution, 
had not been ineerti'd. ond the i-onvenlion «ero not bound hjr Its 
terms to eulimit Jiny other imrtiiin of the inatrumi'Ht to nn electfou. 
puceptthal which i-elnte* l« Uie ■ domestic inslilulion' of slavivy." 

But, in tbe Hrsl |ilu('i>. tht- phraae '-by its terms" was confronted 
\>y tho express BtnCi<ment, in tho tt-tter ot July 13. thnt It wits n- 
quired by the "priucipW" of Ihu KflnBaB-Ntrbrn^lni bill — that is, of 
popular siiverelgnty: and, in tho sL'cond, the law giiiJ "domealic in- 
HtltnlionH," not "domeslic Itotilntlon." It Budmnan now wisliiid l-i 
justify t)w Avu'iaX o( tlie priiiuiple by appealing to the wording of Uiu 


By the removal of Slanton for the reasons assigned, 
wliut Douglas hud (Icclared to bo so Important in llie in- 
irodiiction to iiis first sf)eecli lost nil support ; it was now 
certain that the presidcnl itesireil the uttiniesion of Kan- 
sas, ander llie I^ecouipton constitution, although he had 
not plainly said so in his message, liut little or iKithing 
was gained towards the realizalion of this desire by llm 
removal of Sisinton. The ad ministration again, to nse 
II homely saying, lucked the stable after the horao had 
been stolen. The summoning of the legislature to meet 
could not he recalled; and it was clear tliat that body, in 
ncconhincc with his demand, would not only very gladly 
submit the entire constitution to a vole of the people, but 
would go much farther, in order to obstruct the road of 

law, the f!r«t cniidilioi) n-ns ttiat be should not cliange the n-ordiiig 
it} an entirely artiilrnr.v wny. In niie and the same bi'ealh he ap- 
renle^l to ll o wording ot Ihp law, and endcuvuri'd to prove Ihnt wliile 
it tised the plural it meant tlin sintnilar. 

In the nnnaal mes!>a)te of December 0, 1SS8. he hntl r(?$f>rt t« an- 
other evasion, which served no bptter to get him out of the dilemma, 
htit wliivh i;ave the lie directly to Cass. 

"It in true that, as an individual. I bad exprettced nn opinion, both 
hefore snd diiHnja; the sepBino of the convention. In favor of sabmJI- 
tins the remnlniriK rinusea of the canstitution. as k-pII as that con- 
eeriiinz sInri'Ty. to the people. But, acting in an offli-ml cliaroc-ter, 
neither myself nor any humnn outliority had the power to rejtidKa 
the iirocei'iliniis of the convention, and decluuf the conatititlion which 
It linil framed to be a nullity." ConRr. Glolie, Sd Seas. 05th Con|[r., 
A pp.. p. 1. 

The letter of July IS to Walker was not written by him "as an in- 
dividual." but aspreiiidenti nnd even if hi' did not have the power uf 
wliich the second sentence spoke, it did not follow that l>« could do 
n.iibin« whatever. Even if lip bad apokon only as an '• iitdividual.'' 
hi- not only should hut must — unless he had changed hi« views — 
cidi upon roncrenB " to rejndse the proceedinns of Ibe conveulioD," 
hv rvfiisini; udtiiinioii to Enneaa. The aweriion now made, that the 
Ka>l»a^<-Neh^■skn bill did not allow this, was siuiply irrccoacilable 
With the Uttef of July 13, 


1S6 BT'c 

- ESD OF 35X11 

the Lecomptonists. Over Stanton's veto, it re^ieaied the 
laivs of (he preceding legislutaru relating lo tlie Lucomp- 
ton convention und ttie militia, forpiiallv adopted a "joint 
resolution" prolrsling against the Lecompton constiti:- 
tion.and culling; upon congress not to admit Kansas, with 
tliat constitiiiioii, as a slate, and asked, in a " concurrent 
resolution," ' for its admission under the To]>ck:L constitu- 
tion, which it reaffirmed.- The vote of the people on the 
whole constitution was fixed for the 4th of January — that 
is, for the day on which, according to the resolution of 
the Lecompton convention, the elections to slate offices 
were to take place. The majority of ttie anti-slavery 
party in the legislature, adhering to their previcpus policy, 
decided not to take part in these elections. This resolu- 
tion, however, was subse(|Uontly reversed by the minority. 
At the eleventh hour they called upon the party lo vote 
for its candidates. 

On tho 21st of December the vote on the Lecompion 
constitution ordered by the convention was cast. The 
result, according to the official returns, was: Si-i ihuui^nd 
and sixty-throe " for the constitution with slavery " and 
five hundred and seventy-six "for ihu cunstituticm with 
no slavery." Even if not a single illegal vote haJ been 
cast, the real will of the people could not be ascertained 
from these figures, because those who would have noth- 
ing to do with the constitution, in the one form or the 
other, had not voted. Among them were people who, 
o|>enly and zealously, did their best to make Kansas u 
slave state, but who were not willing to j)urchas'3 that re- 
sult by sacrilleing the principle of the right of sdf-deter- 

' This form wub cliown in order U> iliaponse with the ner(«aily of 
(he approval of the executive. 

*"Be-iiffirming" Is I lis expression used in ihe Independent ot V^ 
ewnber 81, 1837. 


minution, the supremacy of the law, justice and personni 
honor.' Hence, under the specified presupposition, not 
even the strength of the pro-slavery party could be in- 
ferred from the vote of the 21st, of December. This was 
all tlie less possible, as the opponents of tbo Locotiiptoii 
ewindle among the partisans of slavery were an eva- 
nescent number as compared with the number of tho 
notoriously illegiil votes which were cast, or counted 
without being cast. The pro-slavery party were entirely 
eeriain of a majority, because no anti-Lecompton vote 
could be cast on that day. But, considerincr the vote of 
the 4th of Januar}', they must have attached great im- 
portance to a large figure. At least one-balf of the six 
thousand and odd votes was demonstrably illegal.* The 
wire-puUei'S had, therefore, lost none of their audacity. 
Their corrections, notwithstanding, remained far behind 
the requisite measure. On the 4th of January, ten thou- 
sand two hundred and sixty-six votes were cast against 
the Lecomplon convention.' However the question of 

1 A nieeliDg o[ tbe detuocraU of Duuglaa county, la Lawrence, 
bad, uit tlie llitli uf Deceiulvt, ptotestvd aj;uiust the aJiuiiision of 
Kansas uiitfer either the TopeUa or Lecomplon couatitutinn. beoauB« 
n«itlier answered the witjlie» of the peo(4e. On the 24th of Decem- 
ber, the deniucrutio territorial (x)nTeatioii at LeaT«Dworth foIlowtKl 
thi« exatni>le. Thu Leavenworth Journal exprcusly udvuciitud theaa 
rtvoluliotiB, whilo it at the Btime tiuw Jeclured that It could not 
ucase favoring making Kansas a slave atnte. Tht< resolutions of the 
two nicetitigs and the article of the Leavenurorth Journal are printed 
in the Gongr. Uiubc, 1st tiesa. SStb Congr., Ajip., pp. 173, 170. 

'bee the details in Congr. Glolte, 1st Sess. tlSth Congr., pp. 389, 
484.480; App.. p. 390; Rep. of Comni.. :i5th Gongr, IsC Suae., vol. 
Ul. No. 377, pp. Ill, 205. 

■Sen. Rep,. 85th Coagr., 1st Seas., vol. I, Na 83, p. SB. One bun- 
drtid and sixty-two votes were cast for the Lecoinpton constitution : 
onebundred and tUirty-eight " with" and twenty-four ■' without " 
slavery. These flgui'es, however, have no sigDiRcatice, as an order 
bad been issued to abstain from rating. 




llie formal legality of tilts voting lui^lit be iinswered, tbd 
fact (vas irr«fragably establiabed by il tiiat an over 
ivbcliiting mujurity of the population did not want tb« 
LeconiptoD constitution. If congress aJniitted Kanso 
as u state under lliat constitution, it would do so againstl 
the will of the people, and Jiave to bear the entire respon-T 
sibility of that enormity; for it would not have been! 
obliged to tidiiiit it, even if the Leconiptun party bad beeafl 
in the majority and bad acted optima Jidn from Grst tal 

Althougli the Dotiglus democrats and the repablioansfl 
had gained a [wwerful weapon on the itb of January, it i 
WU3 very doubtful wbicb party would ultimately derive 
ibe greater advantage from that day. They had, indeed, , 
taken part in ihc elections to state offices only under pro- J 
test: but then the fact remained that they bad partici- f 
paled in tliL'm. By so doing, they had again given aid ] 
lu the administration democrats in the formal qiicstioD. 
" You have yourselves made your choice under the Le- 
ooniplon consiituiion,and thereby rendered nugatory all 
objections to llie action uf the convention and to the re- 
sult of tlie voting of the 21st of December;" — the earlier 
history of the troubles sulHciently proved with what 
etfect this argument could and would be turned to ac- 
count. This considerutiun, as lias been already men- 
tioned, bad determined the legislature to declare in favor 
of the old policy of abstention from the elections. But 
as Ihe minority did not submit to this resolution, it would 
have been belter if it had not boon drawn up at all. On 
the one bund ibey exposed their flunk to an attack on 
the formal quesiion ^a fact from whicli a surrender of the 
principle might Ik- construed; and, on the other, thoy 
lessened the strt-n^lh of the vote by conlnidictory orders. 
If the diminution in the number uf rotes caused thereby 



liajipeneil to be largo, it was to be feared, consiilering 
the skill acquired by tlieir opponents in the correction of 
the votinf^-lists, that they would fignre out a victory for 
themselves. That thoy would attempt to do this was as 
good as certain; and oven if nnsuccessful, the monil 
e£fect of the large majority of votes against the Lecorap- 
ton constitntion would necessarily be greatly weitened 
if it seemed for a moment doubtful which party had 
been victorious in the state elections. 

The Lecom]tton constitution provided that the presi- 
dent of the convention, to whom the election lists were 
to be sent, should count the votes within eight days, 
Calhoun fulfilled this duty to the letter. After an agree- 
ment of tho chairmen of the two houses of the legisla- 
ture, he miido the count, but neglected to make its result 
known. It hnd to remain undecided whether his associ- 
ates, spite of the zeal wiih which ihey had worked to com- 
plete the poll-lists of Delaware Crossing. Kickapoo and 
Shawnee,' had not done enough, or whether they had 
nocomplished so much that he thought it prudent not to 
expose this newest illustration by the law and order party 
of the principle of popular sovereignly in too glaring a 
light, so long as it could still be hoped to reach the end 
in some other way. He left Kansas to itself, and went to 
Washington, Still, even there, it could not be ascertained 
what further be intended to do about the elections of 
the 4tti of January. He now gave one answer and now 
another, but did nothing. Hence, for the present, the 
statement was presumably true that he was resolved to 

' Tlio mods of procedure was very ainiple. Tlie ollicinl certificate 
at the end ot the Hat wns cut iiff, and after tlie iulci-pulaliou of n num- 
ber of elipelp*, with names chosen at will, affised to it agnin. The poll- 
lUts of Shawnee were, for tlie sake of Rrenler convenience, taken over 
the Itorder to Missouri. See Hie ileiaila in Douglas's speech of Uurcli 
8. ISM. Congr. Ololw, let Scsf. »5lli Congr., p. 820. 



issne no certiScates of election until congress Ijad re- 
solved on a ratilioation of tlie Lecoinpton swindle. 

The probability, however, that it would do this seemed, 
nt first, to grow continually less, not greater. Not all 
ihe representatives of the south even cured to fight 
for the interests of the slavocracy with such weapons. 
Among the " South Americans," in whom the interest of 
party was not assneiaied with the pressure of the slave- 
cratic interest, there was moro than one who rebelled 
against the foul bargain. Outside of congress, the com- 
bined pressure of both did not prove always sufficient. 
Many an influential southern democrat protested loudly, 
and even some democratic papers bad the courage to do 
the same.' Moral indignation, indeed, was not always 
the sole ground of this opposition. "Douglas ami his aa- 
Bocinles," wrote a Kentucky democrat to iho linid'tovn^ 
Gtisette, "are undoubtedly right; but. even if they are de- 
feated, there is no reason why the party should be ruined 
by the Locompton matter, provided they are not put out 
of the party because of their opposition; but, if this last 
should happen, the parly, and with it the Union, is lost." • 
But this reasoning of the opposition could not fail etTect- 
ually to strengthen the courage of the politicians among 
tile Douglas deinocrals, whose own ballast of moral prin- 
ciples was not quite full weight, while the moral indigns- 
liun of decided democrats like Henry A. Wise* was the 
>Suine of tliesu u(ti.'raiices or the prvw Hi'eprijited in Cungr. Globe, 
\f.t &'3B. until CuriF;r,. p. 1->8D, Scniitur Bell, reprL-sentntivpn U. W. 
DnviH. Hurris and Ricnud of Hiii'ytand, MamlinJI unrl Uadcrwuud ot 
E^i^luck;. nnd Giluitr of North Cnrolina. went with tlic op|>o8iiion 
1 1 congress. Tim liitter. Iiowever, subsequently voted for tUe Eng- 
tieli bill, buciiiiae, us he said, of the pressure bis enulbern Trlends ex- 



»Cnngp, Olobe, Ist Sesa. 83lh Congr. p. 1 
iSec hiu letttrla theLecuuij'tonuunvuntion in Pbiladelpbia. Ibid., 
p, 1209. 



best means to open the eyes of that part of the demo- 
cratic iimsses of the north, who conUI not be reckoned 
among the " voting cattle," to the knarish mendacity of 
the Leconipton policy. 

How powerfully the spirit of rebellion stirred among 
the masses, the slavocracy could infer from the fact that 
the tone of the politicians in congress grew continually 
louder,' This was a sure sign that tbey su]>posed they 
were swimming, not against, but with, tiie slream. Di- 
rect proof that they were not mistaken was soon found. 
In Concord, the democratic stale committee of New 
Hampshire adopted resolutions based entirely on Doug- 
las's views.^ A resolution of the democratic state com- 
mittee of Indiana, adopted by a vote of three bnndred 
and seventy-eight against one hundred and fifteen, de- 
clared that the people of every territory had the right 
to vote on the constitution drafted by a constitutional 
convention.' The democratic legislature of Ohio declared 
that Buchanan "still" had their "entire confidence," nnd 
that his administration could count on their cordial sup- 
port; but they requested the representatives and in- 
structed the senators of the state to vote against ihc 
admission of Kansas under the Lecompton constitution.' 
In Illinois, as a matter of course, the great majority of 
the democrats stood by Douglas, and the German demo- 
cratic press, almost without exception, went with him.* 
Hence, a new trial of the policy "to agree to disagree," 

1 9. 8. Coi, of Oliio, the first democratic orator ol the houap, bad 
obaracteriied their course as " a gross breach of faith." Ibid., p, 61. 

»The Independent, Jan. 7, 1858. 

•The Independent, Jan. 7, 1858. 

•See the reeolutionB, Congr. Globe, let Seas. 35lh Congr,. p. 438. 

*'I\to States o^rted that out of over one huodi-ed papers only 
thre«, wliich bad a place io the atatc crib, sided with the administni- 
tion on this question. Bee Ibid,, p. 1£3T, 


or an abandonment of victory in the (iresidential election 
of 1860. seemed to be the only alternative. 

The pressure which the knowledge of this fact exer- 
cised on Bticbaniin was groat; but ihc counterprcsstire 
of the slavocr-icy was not weaker. Hu became more and 
more convinced that the end of the anpremacy of the 
democratic piirty would be the end of the Union. But 
it ho decided in faror of anti-Lecompton, the disruption 
of the party was more certain than if he ma<le Lecump- 
ton the party shibboleth; and if he required that nei- 
ther I^corapton nor anti-Lecompton should be inscribed 
on the banner of the party, bat that full liberty of con* 
victjnn in respect to ihis qui^stion should be allowed, 
he would be sitting between two stools, and would come 
to the ground. The slavocracy took as decided a posi- 
tion against tliis as against anti-Lecompt.^n, because the 
result would be the same to them, since the republicans 
and the anti-Lecompton democrats together had a ma- 
jority in the house of representatives. "lie that is not 
for me is against me." The developmL-nl of the irre- 
pressible conflict, incessantly promoted by the force ot 
facts, made this text more and more, as the years rolled 
by, the moltu of the slavocnicy, np to which they would 
rigidly live and must live. "The whole power of this 
government has been exercised in Kansas to crush out 
southern rights, break down the institution of slavery 
there, and sacrilico tiie south upon the altar of partv." ' 
Such were the thanks which Shorter, of Alabama, now ex- 
pressed to the present and to tiie last president for their 
devotedness. Buchanan did not need to fear that manv 
would soar to this height of absurdity. But, in the form 
of this foolish indictment, Shorter gave hnn notice that 
the alavocracy would not permit the appeal to his former 

> Congr. Olube, Ut Sess. SSth Coagt.. p. 773. 



merits to have any force; and this notice was repeated, 
day after da_v, in the senate and the house. Its formula- 
tion was now severer and now milder; as a rule only 
suggestive, witli more or less indulgence; still, not unfpo- 
quently very clear and direct. But, under every cover, 
as a bitter kernel, lay concealed tlio simplu sentence: 
Choose 1 we are resolved not to yield a hair's breadth, 
even if it should come to extremes in this matter. 

The republicans tliemselvea had, at the openin/» of tho 
session, suddenly begun to see the threats of secession in 
a very different light from that in which they had pre- 
viously looked at them ; and how could these declarations, 
which were steadily accumulating and growing more in- 
tense, fad to make a powerful impression on Buchanan? 
When he commenced his prcsidenliul career he was al- 
lowed to blow hot and cold ut the same time; that is, he 
was left at liberty to use northern phrases when he 
thought that by employing them he could most easily 
and most surely reach soulheni ends. But now the state 
of things had greatly changed. With Lecompton, said 
Cochrane, of New York, the south has made "tho hist 
desperate throw of the dice.'" This was true; and who- 
ever wished to use tlio loss of Kansas as pretext for the 
disruption of the Union, or really believed that its loss 
would be the death-blow of tho slavocracy, should, on 
that account, have demanded not only great energy in 
action, but also entire clearness in speech. The radicals' 
own declarations were as concise and definite as possible. 
If the Union is to be preserved. said Gartrell.of (Georgia, 
on the 28th of January, Kunsas must be admitted with 
tlie Lecompton constitution with the slavery clause.' 
Even if Buchanan had seen in this only au idle ihreai, 

I CoDgr. niobe. Ut Sess. 35ili Congr., p. WO, 

'IbiA.. p. OW. 

194 buohasan's blection — end of 35th conobigss. 

the execution of which the most hot-blooded "fire-eater" 
would never dare to attempt, he must have inferred from 
it that he would he forced, under any circumstances, to 
take a very decided position. However, it could, at most, 
still seem questionable to him whether the radicals would 
succeed in carrying out tho secessionist programme. He 
could not douiit the st^riousuess of their will to execute it. 
The couHdential letters which furnish tho documentary 
proof of this' he certainly was not acquainted with, so 
far us their wording is concerned; but hrs southern cabi- 
net members and other friends scarcely served him so 
poorly as not to let him know that such letters went from 
Washington into the stales. 

But even this was not needed. In the utterances of 
tho press there were to be found, side by side with the 

I Thus, for inataiiDe. Quitman writes on the 1st of Februiiry to John 
Marshall: "I predict Dm (I«voiiiptont conatitutioii will be rejected. 
H th<! admitiUtration falters in Ihclenst.uDtl t foiir a little it will, oar 
defeat ia certain. Putilic sentiment uomes down to iia from tlie norlii 
and west like a MisBisaippi flood. Few. 1 tUink, will be nble to stand 
it Well, suppose we carry tlie constitution. Nntiuunl deinocracy 
will almost oeaee to exist in tlie dee stuttn. Every man who votes 
with ua will be swept off at the next (^Im-lion. The black repulilicans, 
or the anti-slavery party nndrr soniB other nnine, will swee[i every 
free atate at the neit coalPBt for president. Parties will biHMime 
purely seutioDal, and no remedy left to us of tlie minority hul^epara- ' 
t4oD. On the other hand. Khiinid the <!onstitutioii he rejected, the 
south inuat regard the plighted f.-iith of the northern detnovrauy vio- 
lated. It will assure us that do more reliance can be placed on them 
to aid in protecting our rights; thnt national d<>macracy is worthless. 
We must also Gee in the act a llseil and inexorable determination an 
the part of tlie majority never to admit anutUer slave slate. . , . 
Who cmi doubt what, under aui'b a atatu of things, the eouth ought 
to do? If abo waits for the burder states — Virginia, Maryland, Ken- 
L tucky and Missonri — or citht-r of thcni, fllie will never nut, butgradu- 
■'^ly hecoioe the willing slave of an insatiBte master. Tlie cotton 
tntee must move first, The Others would then have to follow," 
Claiborne, Life and Correspondence of J. A. Quitman, pp. 2G3, 3Q3. 


old-style bombastic tirades which, from too frequent rep- 
etilicju, mado no impression, a great many completely 
sober arguments tbat undeniably bore the stamp of 
conviction, and could not bo rL-futed.' Tbe American 
people liad, in consequence of the circumstances sur- 
roundin;^ them, hilberto been obliged to lire so inten- 
sively, ill order to satisfy their mutunal wtiuts, that the 
develo[iment of tbc hiaiorical sense in them bad re- 
mained surprisingly bubind their intellectnal develop- 
inent in other respects. Only in the lip^ht of accom- 
plished facts did numberless otherwise remarkably clear 
minds begin, very gradualiy, to perceive that, with the 
general development of things, the history of the slavery 
question bad, of necessity, to ever grow more and more 
out of tile legal formulas by which it had been possible 
to settle it in the constitution two generations before, 
and why it bad to grow out of them. Hence, otherwise 
clear and acute thinkers were lillle or not at all ojien to 
arguments on the question of secession, based on this 
historical development of the sectionid problem of slav- 
ery in a democriitic union consisting of states witli 
equal rights. But the man who was as mncli inclined as 
Buchanan to consider all the nrgnments of the slavocracy 
well founded, must, even when bis thought conld not fol- 
low the convincing loyic of this reasoning, have been 
made instinctively to feel from tlntni that Kansas was 
really a vital question to the slavocracy, because, in the 
nature of things, the maintenance of its supremacy was 
the precondition of its existence in the Union. 

'SeB, espfclallr, an nrticle in Do Bow's IVffklg Prean of Jnn. IB, 
1S5S. TliesCreiBtliere is laid on tills: " tlJHt tijo luau oC Kansiis to tfae 
south u'ould involve tlie Iom of MUhouH; nnd tbe loss or Missouri 
would ileslroj tbe moral as well as political prestige of tlie Eouth, 
and invadu the inti^gritf at tlicic institutions The moriil pieelige of 



t OP 35m coxoiiESS- 

These arguments were not, indeed, new. It had already! 
been proven, in precisely the same way, tliat for the t 
slavocracy, with which the southern states had allowed 
themselves to be more and more completely identified, 
there was but one aUornative; and still the Union bad 
been maintained. Spite of this, however, one coidd not-f 
now say: Words and nothing but words I The legisla- 
ture of Alabiuna had unanimously adopted resolutionsj 
making it the duty of the governor to order elections to! 
a state convention, if congress refused to admit Kansai 
as a slave state, under the X/ecompton constiiuUon;* and! 
the democratic state convention o( Texas cuUu'd upon the I 
legisliiture to charge the governor to appoint delegates to I 
11 convention to bo called of the slave states.' These 
not mere words — they wore acts; and Buchanan rcr- 
luinly attached more weight to them than to all tha 
speeches made and articles written. But the slavocracy 
had. before this, gone as far as those preparatory act3, I 
and even a step farther, and still the storm cloud rolled } 
by without discharging itself on the country. The satna 
uords and the same acts, however, have not always the 
same import. In Ihe most essential point, the circum^ 
stances were now entirely different from what they had 
been in all earlier struggles, and hence all conclusions 
drawn from tlio supposition that analogous cases existed , 
were unwarranled. Hitherto the slavocracy had always, I 
with the assistance of the democrats in the northern J 
states, been victorious in the principal matter, and there- ^ 

states, like that of indlviiJuule, once destroyed, no eaithl; power can 
resUire ; auii tliu iulegrity of state establish mpDtti, like tlio cbaatil^ 
of woman, once Bubjected to iuvaaiou, continues at thu will of the 

■ CoDi^. Globe, lat Seaa. SOtb Congr., p. 770. 

I Ibid., p. 610. 


fore had no occnston to go beyond words and preparatory 
nets. Now, on the contriiry, a part, and presumably bj' 
far the greater part, of the democrats of the uortliern 
states, gave notice to the slavocracy that they wouhi not 
swerve from tiie declaration they had made in 1854. viz.: 
that the limitsuf the concessions which thoy would make 
or could make had been reached in the Kansas-Nebraska 
bill; and if ibey were — as up to the present they seemed 
to be — irrevocably resolved to make their word gofnl, 
the slavocracy would not only be defeated on this ques- 
tion, but would have nothing to hope for in the future. 
Hence, even those politicians of the south to whom seces- 
sion, on account of Kansas, soenied criminal folly, might 
very well be of the opinion that the remainin;r of the 
slave stales in the Union must be made to depend on the 
decision of the Kansas question. 

As Buchanan, considering his whole way of thinking 
and his entire political past, must have looked at tlie 
matter, the pressure to which he was exposed from the 
south was, therefore, not only — as was said above — at 
least as great, but much greater, than that from tlio 
north. Besides, in the inoantime, the Nicuraguaii ques- 
tiuQ had reached a temporary settlement, which must 
contribute to depress the scale on the side of the south. 

On the 24th of November ihu "Fashion" arrived in 
safety before San Juan del Norte. As it saw the United 
States man-of-war "Saratoga" lying there, it did not 
enter the harbor until the following day, after it had 
landed the tilibusters at another jioint. It hail been uo- 
lieed the day before by Fr. Chatard, the commander of 
the "Saratoga," and bad excited his suspicion. He, 
therefore, sent a boat to examine its papers, which, how. 
ever, were found to be in due form. Suspicion, indeed, 
became a certainty; but still Chatnrd thought that he 

193 nuonASAs's election — end of Sots oosoBEi 

should do nothing op oonid do nothing. The only result 
of a cotifereace, for the purpose of wliich Walker cume 
on board the " Saratogn," was the order to take his ship 
away from Scott's building, because it was American 

Commodore Paulding liiid a ditferent idea, of his dnty. 
He did not begin by the investigation of subtle questions 
of international law, but conlined himself to the notori- 
ous fuels, Wlien Walker look forcible possession of Fort i 
Castillo, cunliBcated merchandise and steamships, shot 1 
people down in his incursions uiid carried them away \ 
as prisoners, the commodure, with his prosaio notions I 
of honor, deemed ihese doings acts of " rapine and mor- I 
der,"' On the 7th of December he ordered the "general" 
and his companions to lay down their arms and to repair 
to the ship, to be designated by him, to ho carried to the 
United States. Walker protested, but obeyed. 

On tho 4th of January the senate requested the presi- I 
dent to transmit to it the papers relating to the affair. \ 
Buchanan sent them lo that body on the 7th, together 
with a message.' The latter began with the declaration 
that Paulding "had committed a great error," hut that 
his motives were unquestionably pure and patriotic. Tho 
first of these assertions was not supported by an appeal 
to international law, but was based on the further ona 
that tho commodore had arbitrarily gone beyond his in- 
structions. Although this last could not bo called in 
question, it needed a commentary, which made the matter 
appear in no favorable light for the administration. Paald- 
ing himself declared that he was "sensible of tho respoD- 

' Chotord'a Report of Nov. 23. 1857, to Paulding. Sen. Doc., 85lh 
Conjtr., lat Seas., vol. I. No. 13, p. 16. 
^Report o( Dec. IS, to Toucey. Ibid., p. 97. 
»Stateam. Man., in. pp. a349-33r.i 



sibility he had ' incnrred.' " He, therefore, admitted that 
his instructions did not expressly authorize hiin to do 
what lie hail done. But while he stated that he had gone 
beyond tlie lettei* of his instructions, it, appeared from his 
report that he was convinced lie had acted in entire ac- 
cordanct! with their spirit. His right to do so, however, 
could not be binntly and absolutely denied. Davis had 
not been censured wheu he — in a less rude manner, in- 
deed—had done essentially the very same thing, i. c, 
when he had arrested Walker and shipped bira away; 
Chatard, on the contrary, was disciplined because he had 
not given chase to and captured the " Fashion." Besides, 
Lieutenant Almy had, with the utmost precision, asked 
to be instructed whether he should capture a filibusier- 
ing ship, if he found one in a Central American harbor. 
Toucey answered neither yea nor no, but only repeated 
(October 12th) that the landing of crews or arms in Mex- 
ican or Central American harbors should be prevented 
by force; that is, he actually refused to give the unam- 
biguous instructions asked for. But in what consisted 
the difference, in international law, between the employ- 
ment of force in the harbor of a foreign, friendly power 
and on the adjacent shore? 

The president passed over this question in silence. 
Nicaragua alone, he said, had a right to complain; but 
Paulding bad rendered it a great service, and it certainly 
would notdo so. This was true; but the suspicion might 
arise that the president did not feel unmingled satisfac- 
tion at the fact. Why did he not say that Yrizarri, as 
early as December 30th, had expressed the lively grati- 
tude of the three governments he represented.' Would he 
have preferred to have been able to base the blame put 
on Paulding on complaints made by Nicaragua? No one 

■ He oalta epecial atteption la his note to Cass to this, that " the 
point from which Commodore Paulding forced away thoao bandita 


could have objected to the duclamtion : The coniinodorelj 
course ID coiilraventioii of international law was nofl 
anthomed by the government, and tlie govornineiit disJ 
AVOWS it. But, on the other haad, a ceiisuie beToru tliq 
whole country on account of liis cxcocUing bis instriK 
tions. by which net he rendered a friendly state a greafl 
and fully-acknowled;jeJ service, and at the same lime a<!f 
compliahed what, according to the onlers of his ou'n govM 
eminent, should have been done bel'ore, in another way] 
could be justified only on condition that tlio form ' 
considered more iniportunt thtin the mutter. Did thfl 
message wish to allege this, on the [innci]>le that the ex* 
ceeding of instructions is almost unavoidably attended bjl 
had consequences? In this concrete case, none could t 
mentioned. Could it not or would it not do so? The flB 
busters, it said, could certainly not complain in the namfl 
of Kicaragua. But whether they could not do so in theijg 
own name, it did not say. As it gave information thaj 
the marshal had been dispatched by the secretary of etatj 
with an order that the government could not look apt 
Walker as a prisoner, this must hivve been talien to t 
the opinion of the president. That only ihe courts could 
decide on Walker's guilt or innocence was unquestionabld 
true. But was not the government bound to indict h 
after it had ordered its men-of-war to give chase to hiUB 
on account of a breach of the neutrality laws) Jjid 1 
become guiltless in its eyes simply because he came inU 
Paulding's power through the exceeding by the latter ofi 
liis instructions? 

All these obscurities and contradictions could flod a 
unforced explanation only on this assumption: Wit|i 
Buchanan consideration for the sli^vocracj was all-coD9 

. . . is nn nlmost ilesert nne, on which thorc exists noNicarnguui 
ftuthorities that cuald have uianti^d the npprcheOBion of thclj 
felons. " 



trolling; for the slavooracy, who believed their interests 
injured, looked upon the defense of those interests as the 
flpst duty of iho president, antl iuft him no alternative 
but to disavow Paulding or let them pour the overflow- 
ing vials of their wrath U]>on his own head. 

Although this was for Duchanan an alternative without 
a citoice, it required no little skill to conjure the threuteu- 
ing storm. We have already shown how greatly Walker's 
expedition grieved Buchanan, because it tinvarled his own 
policy, llence Paulding hud rendered him also a great 
service, and he now over-estimated it. as it could nut yet 
be foreseen that the expedition, notwithstanding its quick 
and lamentable end, would partly directly and partly in- 
directly cause the rejection of the Cass-Yrizarri treaty. 
The probloui, therefore, that Buchaoun had to solve was 
how to disavow Paulding, and at the siimu time to turn to 
account the fact that the "grave error" he had coiiiuiitled 
had again cleared the way for the carrying out of his 
policy. This he tried to do by, on the one hand, taking 
refuge behind an appeal to Paulding's instructions, and 
by the primf that he had a right to, and was obliged to, 
pursue the lilibustci's until they were before the harbors 
of Nicaragua; and, on the other, by further amplifying 
the short sentences of the annual message, which were 
intended to prove that filibustering enterprises could not 
open uu the way of the starry banner to Central America, 
but must, on the contrary, obstruct it. 

The claim of the |)resident that the " Americanization " 
of Central America was a natural necessity found a loud 
echo in both houses of congress;' but the alavocracy did 

' In llip Report of thi? lloiise Committee on Naval AtTuirs made by 
Bocock on the ad o[ February. 1858. we read: ■' DoublleBB in pxxl 
time, whatever uiaj- bet^^iuti of Walher, that countri' (Ceutrot Amer- 

202 BuciiAXAs's KLiscnoN — Exr or 35tii oongei 

not allow themselves to be convinced that the proniotioi 
of that pi-ocess, by the means of force, such as Walked 
had recourse to, was against their interests. While thq 
republicans called Buchanan to account because he dei 
clared Paulding's uioritorious act a "grave error." thafl 
radicals of the southern states pressed him slill harder' 
with the proof that he had given these imjiortam-sound- 
ing woi-ds no palpable tenor, and that his policy had wnr<J 
ranted the commodore in tliinking thtit he ".vas carrying oulir 
his ideas. At the same time, spite tlie severity of therf 
tone they assumed, it was very apparent that they had, ibt 
their own opinion, imposed a great restraint upon them- 
selves. What determined them to do tliis could not be ' 
doubtful, and was frankly declared in the letters of ■ 
prominent leaders which afterwards saw the light. Kan-, 
sas was, at the time, much more important tn them; and i 
they, therefore, showed indulgence to the president in tli^>l 
Nicaraguan question, in consideration of his siding unrn- 
servedly witii them in the Lecompton question,' 

ica) must und will be Americanized, . . . Whether litis ie 
brought about b; the sudden action of our goveruinoiit in acqai^ 
ing pogsession of it by treaty, or whether tlie wurk is to be d 
the healthier, if alower, proceaa of gradual imniigratioii from oarM 
borders; whether, wlien Americanized, it is to constitute a part of ^ 
tltia republic, or whether another great feJer.^tlve system is to bfrjj 
created on our southern borders," was not to bi? examined n 
here. Rep. of Conmi.. 85th Congr,. 1st Sea,*., vol- I. No. 73, p. 7. 

lA. H. Stephens writes, on the 3d of Jnnuary. 1S58: "The Wnllti 
and Paulding embroglio just now embarrasses us. Our eympathlM 
are all with the filibusters. We do not ngrec with the adminisl 
tion on tiie Central American question; but if wo denounce it, ai 
feel it deserves to be, we endanger their support of our views ol 
Kannns question. This we fear. The strength of that questioi 
the north lies in its being an administration measure; but if we M 
the south oppose the administration on one qneation, it nllonls a 
text tor men of the north to oppose it in onother, and yet be n 



If the republican papers were rightly informed by 
tUeir Washington correspondents, Buciianan did not im- 
mijdiately and Avitiiout reservation accept this burguin; 
but he thought tbiit by acting thus he was rendering a 
service to the slavocracy. On the 22d of December, Doug- 
las had ventured the prophecy ihat wiibin sixty days he 
would bo again recognized as an orlliodox democrat, be- 
cause the question would appear to the genlleraon who 
now excommunicated him in a very different light when 
Kansas presented them the Lecompton constitution with- 
out the slavery clause.' The expectation that this 
would happen was not, indeed, fullilled. But had not 

part;' men. In this wny the question ('mbarrnssea ub." JohDeton and 
Browne. Life of A. IT. Stephenn, p. 838. 

■Congr. Glabf. 1st Sees! DSlh Coii^., p. 140. 

And in a letter of Qui to) an to John Marstinll dated February 1, 
ISoS, ne read : " At the commencemeut aC the session, wc canio here 
to force a test n)X)n Wulker's administration of affaira in Kanttas, and 
to compel the .id ministration to ni'prove or disavow his leading nets. 
Before that could be matured, bowevor, we learned that there would 
be a funniduble defection from the nortliern democracy, on the pre- 
tense that the (LccuiiipUin) constitution sliould have been submitted 
to Ihe people. Mr. Buchanan took ground (or the constitution, not, 
however, without hesitation and apology, but still hia position, quoail 
hoe, was for us. This put an entirely di£Ferent phase upon the mat' 
ter, and we determined to adjourn our complaints against the preai- 
dant for his support of Wniker, up to bia last act, unlit the controversy 
betncen northern democrats should be determined. White the re- 
Hlilt8 o( the proceedings in Kanaaa were doubtful, and while this 
northern controversy was pending, our best policy was to make no 
final is.ioc3. You will see, from the representations, why we of the 
extreme state-rights wing were quiet, and presented no uitimatum, 
When the neutrality and Paulding questions came up, we were 
obliged, for the sake of principle, to come out; but, aware that the 
great question was still before us, we were as moderate as possible. 
We- wished Id give the president no reason for shifting his position 
on the Kansas constitution," Claiborne, Life and Correspondence of 
J. A. Quitman, II, p. 351. 

204 liUCIHNA?i"s E[,ECTION" — END OF 35tU COSOEKSa, 

the vote of tlio 4tli of January turned the edge of iho 
weapon forged hy theslavocracj' against llioniselves moro 
dangerously than ever? Even if all consideration wore 
refused the vote on the constitution for the well-known 
formal reasons, would they not have prepared a bed 
oE thorns and thistles for themselves, if the oppositiou 
had won in the state eluL-tions! That^ this had hap- 
pened seemed now to be so undoubted that it was more 
and more generally conceded in their own camp. The 
SiaUa and the Union began zealously to aiipeasu the irri- 
tation, and frankly confessed that they did so on this ac- 
count. " The free-soil people," wrote the Siate», on the 23d 
of January, "have won thirteen out of nineteen seals in 
the senate and twenty-nine out of forty-four in the 
house — a majority of twenty -one on joint ballot; Parroll 
has been chosen to the house of representatives, and 
Liine and Kobinson will probably he tiie future senators 
from Kansas; which gives 'an entirely now aspect' to 
this question," 

Buchanan, it was said, saw the matter in the same light. 
The Evening Pimth&d been telegniphed to from Wash- 
ington, on tho 20th ol January, that on the evening bo- 
fore there had been a great ctaeh of opinions in tho 
cabinet. A compromise, it was reported, liad been pro- 
posed to the effect that Kansas shoald, indeed, be ad- 
mitted as a slate with the Lecompton constitution, but 
on condition that the first legislature should submit " the 
whole thing" to a vote of the people. Buchanan, Cass 
and Toucey were in favor of this compromise; Cobb, 
Thompson, Floyd and Brown against it, while Block hatl 
not attended the conference. 

This piece of news was scarcely a pure invention; for a 
lie toid with a purpose would have imputed somettiin;; 
to Buchanan and his cabinet which needed no comnicn- 



tnry. But here a conundrum was proponiidod and an 
answer asked for. The compromise proposition alluded 
to gave each of the two wings of the democr.itic party 
ono-hnlf of the shell, and to the republicans the kernel of 
the nut: Kansas was to be admitted into liic Union with 
the constitution foisted upon it by fraud, and which yave 
it the name and the rights of a slave slate — this was 
conceded to the south; immediately thcivafier the prin- 
ciple of the Kansas-Nebraska bill got its deserls in a pop- 
idar vote — this was accorded to the Douglas democrats; 
but the republicans, in whose hnnds it. very pmbahly was 
in the interval, through the result of the elections of the 
4th of January, got Kansas by means of this popular 

Snih a proposition coming from Buchanan could be 
explained only on the assumption that the president had 
become convmced that Kansas was irrevocably lost, not 
only to the slavocracy but to the democratic party, and 
that, therefore, he desired to give the capitulation a form 
xvhich would make at least an external union of the in- 
ternally divided democratic party possible. If ho were 
successful in this, the defeat would perhaps be less re- 
gretahle in his eyes than a victory, the cost of which 
would be the votes of the Douglas democrats in the next 
presidential election. 

But what had dotorralned all the southern members 
of the cabinet to reject the proposition? Did they still 
cling to the hope that Calhoun would, after all, be able 
to Ggure out a victory for them from the poll-lists of the 
4lh of January) Did they believe that the great major- 
ity of the Douglas democrats would finally veer about 
again and follow the standard of the slavocracy? Or did 
they not desire the preservation of the democratic party 
if the slavocracy was now defeated? 

206 Buchanan's election — end of 35th conoeess. 

The dispatch to the Evening Post said nothing about 
all this. Every one might answer these questions as he 
wished, and no one could prove that his answers were 
the right ones. 

The fact, however, that every thinking patriot had 
been made to ask the questions and to attempt to answer 
them was, notwithstanding, not without value. On the 
2d of February, the president sent to congress a message, 
in which he unconditionally and unreservedly defended 
the Lecompton fraud. The questions had now, therefore, 
to be extended to him too; and whatever the answers 
given them, the situation, so far as the immediate object 
in controversy was concerned, was cleared, and that was 
something gained. 

The message did not adduce a single fact or a single 
argument more. All it contained had been heard before 
over and over again, although not ail from the mouth of 
the jTresident. On the contrary, there was much in it 
that did not coincide with what he had previously said 
and done. There Avas now not a word in it, not the 
slightest intimation of paroxysms of impartiality and jus- 
tice. The man was completed lost in the advocate who, 
on principle, recognizes no duty to truth when the inter- 
ests of his client demands its suppression or distortion. 
But as he was, at the same time, forced into contradic- 
tion with his own words and acts, he fell into the mistake 
characteristic of the plea of advocates of that stamp; he 
overshot the mark, and injured the cause of his client by 
unbounded exaggeration. 

The basis of the whole argument was the old allegation 
that the opposition in Kansas had been for years in a 
state of open rebellion, and that that fact was decisive 
of the question. The argument was much weaker than 
those which had been so frequently heard from Pierce, 



Douglas and so many others; but the audacity of the con- 
clusion made amends for that. If the whole Lecomp- 
ton constitution had been laid before the people, said 
Buchanan, the opposition would have voted against it only 
in the interest of their revolutionary Topeka constitution, 
and not because they hud found anything in it objection- 
able in itself. But was tho principle of (wpular sover- 
eignty to be applied only when congress a nd the president 
approved the grounds which, in their opinion, had deter- 
mined tho people's will in one way and not in anotherj 
Besides, Buchanan produced no jiroof of his allegation. 
He simply made tho further usseriion that the Lecotnpton 
constitution gave no cause for objection. Such might be 
his opinion. But that a great majority of tho people of 
Kansas thought otherwise was established by the figures 
of the vote of the 4th of January. Tho president got 
over that fact by ignoring this vote. As the facts were 
against him, every assertion had to find support in some 
new assertion. Convincing as was the testimony borne 
against him by the loiters he had vvrJUen to Wuliser, he 
would now have it believed tliat he had never had in 
mind anything but the slaveiy clause when he spoke of 
the constitution, and that no one could ever have had 
in mind any other question.' The message also [lassed 
over in silence the manner in which even the slavery 
question had been submitted to the people; the facts 

'It 19 flignificant thnt Buclmnan — with, indeed, a break in ihe 
quotation- mark a — inseria tlie n-orda " in fraruiiij; their constitution" 
in the populfir sovereigntj cluusa of the KanBos-Nebraska bill. In 
other questions, also, he could not dispense with similar petty arti- 
fices, but flpace will not allnw os to follow tiim tiirough all bis crooked 
ways. Compare B II channn'a earlier dpclnratioii made in the iinnunl 
measage of December 0. 1838, The president plves the lie in this ail- 
misBion not only lo Cam directly, aa was alreatly remarked there, but 
to himself. 


were simply covered up by the statement that the oppor- 
tunity afforded them on the 21st of December, to make 
known their will, had been "fair." What had gone be- 
fore, on the contrar\% was discussed in extenso^ in order 
to prove the statement at the beginning that a less ob- 
jectionable mode of procedure could not be imagined.^ 
Hence, the opposition which had put itself in the wrong 
from the verv be;j:inninor bv its rebellion, had not, in this 
question, the shadow of a reason in law or equity to ad- 
duce; it had even recognized the Lecompton constitution 
by taking part in the state elections. Hence, the presi- 
dent could not help being "decidedly in favor of its 
[Kansas'] admission " as a state under the same. 

After the message had thus discussed the legal and 
equitable question, it took up the question of expedicnc}'. 
The mode of argument remained the same; that is, asser- 
tions, in the most glaring contradiction with the facts, were 
substituted for reasons, and the result was just as satisfac- 
torv. A":ainst the admission of Kansas nothin^ir could be 
adduced, while the reasons which required its admission 
must be decisive with every patriot, since the continued 
ex stence of the Union would be imperiled b}' exclud- 
ing it. 

Buchanan declared that Kansas was, at that moment, 
a slave state precisely as Georgia and South Carolina 
were, since the supreme court of the United States had 
<lecided "that slavery exists in Kansas by virtue of the 
constitution of the United States." Not onlv Reverdv 
Johnson, who had been Sanford's attorney in the Dred 
Scott case, but Buchanan's own attorney-general. Black, 
publicly stated that the supreme court of the United 

1 ** It is impossible that any people couUl have proceeded with more 
regularity in the formation of a constitution than the people of Kan- 
sas have done." 


Slates had not and could not have said so, for the state- 
ment \vas pure nonsense.' There was a touch of humor 
in the fact that the president had to take a severe repri- 
iiiand from such a quarter for his too great zeal. 

The bold assertion had been made, in order that it 
might be infcri'ed from it that the admission of Kansas, 
under llic Lecompton constilntion, was in the interest oE 
the opponents of shivery Ukewise, since slavery could bo 
abolished only by a constitutional provision, and the adop- 
tion ot such an amendment might be effected more rap- 
idly than if another beginning were made by the calling 
of a constitutional convention. Opposed to this asser- 
tion was the claim of the opposition that the Lecompton 
constitution prohibited all change before the year 1864. 
Buchanan not only denied that the provision of the con- 
stitution referred to was to be understood in this way, 
but declared the proposition that liie people could, at any 
moment, renounce the right of exercising their sover- 
eignty to its fullest extent, in respect to any question, 
irreconcilable with the principle of popular sovereignty. 
He, at the same time, appealed to the fact that New York 
had then a constitution which had been drawn up and 
put in force, in direct contradiction of a provision of its 
previous constitution. He might have also referred to the 
history of the federal constitution. But such facts did not 
overthrow the principle that changes of a constitution 
not made in the manner provided for by the constitti- 
tion are always of a revolutionary character. That facts 
often make the law bend to them, and that the illegal 
facts then frequently become recognized law; and that 
the interests of nations frequently demand they should, 
80 imperatively, that those who oppose it sin against the 
state, is an old and unquestioned truth. To interpret the 
> See Congr. Olobe, let Sesa. SGlhCoDgr., p. 4ie,and id., App,, p. 08. 

210 ni'c 


Iirinciple of popular sorcroiflTity to mean ihat the major- 
ity of tlie population Iiaving a right to voto might re- 
solve, at any moment, in the face of tlic express provisions 
of the constitution, to mako any constitutional change 
they wanted, in a manner legally binding, is, in princi- 
ple, to deprive the denioeratio state, under a constitution, 
of the character of a constitutional state. The Chicago 
Tribune, a republican pa|jer, thought tliat tlie president's 
doctrine miglit be accepted if it were to a|i[)ly to the 
Dnion aa well as to the several states. Uiit the logical 
consequences of his premises had evidently, according to 
Buchanan, a claim to recognition only to the extent that 
they served his purpose. IIo bad immediateiy placed 
iiimscU in contradiction with himself, l>y mailing & reso- 
lution of the legislative pownr the precondition of tlio 
action of the sovereign pooplo. But it was conceivahlo 
that the majority of the people might want the change 
of the coTisiilution in question, hut that the legislative 
power miglit not think it well to ask the views of the 
population on the subject, because of the ouustitutional 
provision objected to by the opposition, or for some othtr 
reason. As Calhoun had not yet allowed anything to 
he divulged regarding the result of the elections of the 
4th of January, this possibility might at uny moment be- 
come a certainly. How tlio sovereign people could, in 
that case, carry out their will, the message did not say. 
The claim that lliu admission of Knnsas, under the Le- 
complon constilution, not only left the entire question in 
the hands of the people, hut also assumed its most expedi- 
tious settlement, rested, therefore, upon a very unsubstan- 
tial basis. Nor would the state of the case have been at nil 
different if congress, as the message propo.^i>d, expressly 
recognized the right of the people asserted by Buchanan, 
in the law admitting Kansas into tho Union. But it the 


opposition nglitly interpreted the provision of the Le- 
compton constitulion on cliangcs of tlie constilution, such 
an autliociUitive declaration of congress would have been 
the annulment of that constitutional provision — that is, 
tho grossest violulion of the popiilarsovoreignty principle 
of the Kansns-NcbrasUa bill. 

If tho reasoning of the president on this point could 
not be recognized as valid, his chief urgmnent from ex{>e- 
diency lost its force, viz.: the immediate rcsloralion of 
pence and quiet by tho dropping of Kansas from the list 
of potiiical questions. But even if all else that tho mes- 
sage contuine<l had been incontestable, tho untenable- 
ness of this decisive claim must have been patent to the 
dimmest eye, unless it entirely refused to see. Infallible 
means to bury the Kansas question and to restore peace 
and quiet to the country, had been already found almost 
as often ns tho revolntioniiry men of France from 1789 
to 170fi had saTcd the fatherland; and, after every new 
infallible treatment, its wise inventors — just like the 
French saviors of their country — averred that the case 
had assumed a more disheartening and desperate appear- 
ance. Tu tho claim of the president, mado in private 
letters, in the daily articles of the press, and in the formal 
resolutions of the legislature, the answer now came from 
Kansas itself that it bad been decided not to recoil oven 
from forcible resistance, if the federal government tried 
to thrust tho Lecompton constitution on tho people.' 
That men there would be convinced by bis arguments 
that tbey had no ground for complaint, and could most 
expeditiously and most certainly realize their own wishes 
it his proposid was carried out, Buchanan himself had not 
even ventured to represent as a possibility. And if, ia 
this latlor respect, said the message, a slight delay were 
'Bee Consr. Qtube, tst Sess. ;iSth Congr., App., p. S44. 

Buchanan's kleotion — end of 35th conohess. 

really caused by the admission of Kansas under the Le- 

oorapton constitution, it would be of the smallest impor- 
tance compared with the evil consequences which a re- 
vival of the agitation of the slavery question would have 
in the whole counlry; and that, so far aa the decisioQ 
miyht affect the few thousands of inhabitants of Kansajs 
who liad, from the first, resisted the constitution and the 
laws, it should not he forgotten that for that very reason 
the rejection of the Lecompton constitution would be felt 
all the more keenly by the fourteen slave states. But 
even supposing that, as compared to the fourteen slave 
states, the inhabitants of Kansas had no chiim to con- 
sideration, partly because they were eo small in nomber 
and partly because they were rebels, what became of the 
millions in whose names the republicans and the Douglas 
democrats declared that not only was the outrageous 
oppression of Kansas encouraged, but that a sacrile- 
gious attack was being promoted on the supreme princi- 
ples of American freedom and on legal popular sover- 
eignty. It was very evident that these millions, just 
like the opposition in Kansas, would not consider that 
everything was right and as it ought to be, if the presi- 
dent should win a majority in both houses of congress 
over to his views. The restoration of peace and quiet 
was, therefore, as completely excluded as it would have 
been by the rejection of the Lecompton constitution. 
The only difference was that, in the one case, the slavoc- 
raoy, and, in the other, their opponents, should be the dis- 
satis&ed parties, who could have no answer bnt blows to 
the victors' hymns of peace. Buchanan's allegation would 
have been a fallacy even if the tacit presupposition of 
his entire argument on this point had been right, viz.: 
that, in the nature of the case, only the slave states had 
occasion for just complaint in the slavery qnestion. Bui 



to this fallacious conclusion he had to come, for the end 
and aim of the whole argument was this: The slavoc- 
racy has named the price for which we can get peace and 
rest from them; it would be criminal fully not to pay it, 
for it is a mei-e bagatelle as compared with peace and 

The assurance that, deeply convinced of his responsi- 
bility to God and to bis country, he had done his duty, 
might be subjectively true. But it was undoubted that, 
at the same time, he wa* carried farther than ever from 
the goal he had described as his only earthly ambition; 
"to leave my country in a peaceful and prosperous con- 
dition, and to live in the affections and respect of my 
countrymen," Pugh was certainly a tried friend of the 
south, and yet ho had wanted to make the admission of 
Kansas, under the Lecompton constitution, dependent on 
the condition that the slavery clause should be again sub- 
mitted to a popular vote.' Buchanan assured the people 
that he believed he might be the restorer of peace, and 
acquire a new claim on the affection and respect of the 
people, by placing himself entirely on the side of one 
party in the struggle on the issue of which, in his opin- 
ion, the life or death of the Union might depend, ami m 
which, therefore, the passions ot the people must liave 
reached the boiling point. His delusion, whether renl 
or pretended, must have led to consequences too serious to 
allow the opposition to yield to the temptation to answer 
this strange logic by a loud peal of laughter. 

The coutidence of tlie opposition that Lhey would re- 
main victorious had, for some lime, rather decreased 
than increased. Again, the south was alforded an op- 

I See his 
by him ii 

n short statement of the L-onteots of the bill introduced 
seaate on the 4th of January. Congr. Globe, let Seea, 

85th CoDgr. , p. 175. 


porttinity lo play the old game of " tit-for-tat," and soma 
of its rciiresentativea had announcoti that they would do 
80. Minnesota also had petitioned for admission as a 
state. But there, too, all kinds of grave irregularilies 
bad taken place on the occasion of the adoption of the 
state constitution,' and, referrinj; to them, Miison and 
Brown had declared in the senate: "If you do not com- 
ply iviih our wishes in the matter of the Lccomplon 
constitution, Minnesota too \v\l\ be refused admission."* 
That this threat alone would exercise a sufficient pressure 
on one or olhcr of the grou]is of the united opposition 
was not probable. But still it exercised some pressure; 

iTh? enabling act provided that the conslilutional conrenUon 
ahould he composed of seventy-eight membera. Inalead of that, ore 
liuiidred aud ejglit wpre clioaen. who, liowevtr, did not wiwiV in OIW 
orinvuulion, hut, dicldiag BtcordJng to party, ia two, coiiiiiatiiig tf 
fifty -fuur and Stty-nine tncmberii respeetively — that le, luore than 
'hud been chosen nltogether. Conference commitlees n^^recd upon a 
iTonslitation, wliich, however, was siibecribed b; the democrats, but 
was, in accordance with the enabling act, euhmitted to a vote of tliu 
people. It was approved bj n large niBJoritjr, and all irregulariiiiB 
were cureil. in the eyes of the democrats, by popular sovereignty. 
The republicans complained of enormous frauds of ercry descrip- 
tion, but desired admissiot) notivithstandin^, in order to increase 
the number of free states. Hence the Adinission of Minnesota waa 
against the slavocratic interest. But it was, in a hit;li degree, in the 
Interest ot tlie democratic party, as the elect ions bad been inJUfnvor. 
Tlie latter, therefore, raised no objection to the fact that the state 
io^islnture met Mid elected United State senatora without waitinR 
for admission, wliile the Tupeka legislature in Kansas was accused 
of rebellion. Neither did the democratic party object to tbo fact 
lliiit the cenlftcateB of election bad been issued by tho governor of 
the terriory, who now did not even live in Minnesota, but was a poet- 
Ditisler in Ohio. And that, instead of the two members of the 
house of representatives allowed by tbe enabling act, three had beea 
elected, waa a bappy thought, to which, of course, it did not refUM 
fla reeognition. 

'Congr. Globe, let Sess. 83tb Congr., p. 501. 


and perhaps it did not require much more to move this 
or tbat represenlatire to bring the Lecoiiipton question 
up for serious reconsideration. Some southern papers 
bad declared against the Lecompton swindle; but, on tbo 
other band, nortlii-rn papers which lit first clung to Doug- 
Ins had already returned with flags unfurled to the camp 
of the slavocriicy.' Thus far, indeed, the rents in the dcai- 
ocraltc party were not very deep; hut the administration 
bad a gi'eat many weapons of the genus club at its dis- 
posal; and that it was resolved to make the most exten- 
sive use of tlicm with tbo most reckless energy was the 
only conclusion tbo opposition drew from the raessago. 
Its direct clfect, therefore, was a moro violent clashing 
of opposing forces. This was the flrst proof which tbo 
facta furnished lor the president's assertion that, in it, ho 
had pointed out the way to peace. 

During the night of tbe 5Lb-Gth of February, the 
bouse of representatives again presented a dreary picture. 
The excitement readied its height when Keitt began to 
use his Ost instead of his tongue ngainst Grow. The late 
winter morning had begun to dawn when the representa- 
tives of tbo people left the Capitol. The Sabbath tbat 
interrupted the struggle saw, indeed, the majority of 
them in the churches; but the " Peace bo with you " thej 
left at tbe threshold of the house of God. On Monday, 
the 8tli of February, there were no speeches — there was 
only voting, Tbo Lecompton party was defeated, but by 
a majority of only three votes. Harris, a democrat from 
Illinois, who, like Douglas, hud previously held the free- 
soil party alone responsible for the Kansas troubles, had 
made a motion which waa adopted to refer the message 
to a committeo of fifteen members, who were to investi- 
gate and establish the facts relating to the Lecompton 

'£jeu aome examples, Congr. GIoIm, Isl Sese. SSth Coagr., p, 1238. 

216 bdchanan's klkotios — end of 35th conobess. 

constitotion. TUe speaker did not blush to rob the viclore 
of the fruit of their victory by, contrary to all parliament- 
ary usage, giving the opponents of the resolution a major- 
ity in the committee. The opposiiion with iv majority of 
only three votes, antl the adniinistratiim party not recoil- 
ing from the use of such weapons — well might the most 
hupeTul be alarmed about the issue of the struggle. 

What the majority of the lionse of representatives 
wanted to obtain through a comniiUee, Douglas wanted to 
obtain through the executive. The resolutirms moved by 
him, on the 4th of February, enumerated separately tha 
]K>ints on which the president was to be requested to 
give information to the senate, by communicating to it 
the facts known to him and by transmitting to it the of- 
ficial corresponilence.' The majority did not allow the 
resolutions to come to a vote. Mason opposed a vote on 
thorn, an the ground that these facts did not concern the 
senate, and should not influence its conclusions. Because 
the demand of the slavocracy could not be maintained in 
the face of the facts, congress was denied the right tu 
take any other phase of the question, as the purely for- 
mally legal one, into consideration, Colfax afterwards 
proved in the house that, according to this doctrine, even 
Utah would have to be admitted into the Union as a 
state as soon as it submitted a constitution to congress.' 
But even if only a formal question of law was before 
congress, which it must decide regardless of justice and 
of consequences, it should not have refused to inform 
itself fully on all the facts. How could congress look 
upon it as established beyond a doubt that the constitu- 
tion transmitted to it was, as the committee on territories 
expressed itself in its report, the "legal constitution" of 

iCongr. Globe, 1st Seas. 35tli Cotigr., p. 870. 
"Id., p. 1231. 



the state to be admitted,' if it did not know all the facts 
relating to the history of its origin? The facts were no- 
torious; and because, both in mutter and in form, they 
were not irrelevant, but, on the contrary, of decisive im- 
portance, the slarocraoy prevented their offieia) establish- 
ment by lowering the rights and duties of congress in 
the admission of a state to the level on which the notary 
public in civil cases between man and man stands when 
drawing ujj the instruments to be executed by him. 

This was the view on which the report' that accom- 
panied the bill introduced by Green in the senate, in the 
name of the committee on territories, on the 18th of Feb- 
ruary, for the admission of Kansas, wns bused. By the 
utter ehamelessness with which, from this point of view, 
it dofonded the Lecompton swindle with all the weapons 
of sojihistry, this report bus a distinguished place among 
llie dark monuments which the slavocracy creeled to it- 
self in the parliamentary annals of the Union. Men per- 
sonally respcclttble would not have been ablw to descend 
so low were it not that the knowledge, or the instinctive 
feeling, that their cause — that is, the asseniun of their 

1 " This committee is of opinion that, when a constitution of & 
newly-formed state, created out of our own teiriloiy. ia in-eaented to 
congress for ndiiiisaion into tlie Union, it is no part of llio duly or 
priTilegti of congress t-itlier to approve or disapprove tlie ounstilutiua 
itself, and Its various proTisions, or nny of tliem (tlie opposition by 
no oienns based tlieir action oti tlijs riglit}. 1iui simply to see wliether 
it be the legal constitution of the new atnte." 

So. too, Stephens says in the report of the majority of the commit 
tee of lifleen; " Wlien a new slate presents a constitution for ad- 
mission, congress has no more power to inquire into the manner of 
its adoption than the matter of its Bulmtance; . . . the mode and 
manner of ita adoption can l>e inquired into only so tar ns to see that 
it has been formed in such way as tlie people have legally eatablL^bed 
for the ui selves." 

»Sc-n. Bi'p,, 35th Congr., Isl Sess., vol. I. No. 63. 



supremacy over the Union — was liopoloss, exerted such 
a pressui-c on tlieir mora! acntiments that every means 
seemed alloivuble to them. This masterpiece of refined 
psuodo-logic should, therefore, perhaps have excited sym- 
pathy rather than disgust and moral indignation. 

Douglas had so often, in the service of the slavocraoy, 
proved himself a master in the bad art tl)at it could not 
be hard for him, now that it disturbed his plans, to show 
in his minority report what a distorted face grimaced 
behind the smooth mask. But the sla\"ocracy knew this 
just as well as he, and it conld, therefore, make no im- 
pression on them. Their resolution was irrevocably made 
to take, in what thoy said and what they did, no point oC 
view but that of success. Almost every day now brought 
new and stronger proof of this. 

On the ith of March, Green moved in the senate to 
substitute for the bill of the committee on territories an- 
other bill, in which Kansas tind Minnesota were coupled 
together. On the 11th of March, Ilarris informed the 
house, in the name uf the minority of the committee of 
fifteen, that the majority of that committee had voted 
down every motion that aimed at the investigation and 
establishment of the facts they were appointed to inquire 
into, that they bad adjourned sine d!t\ and hail, there- 
fore, bid defiance to the command of the house. But 
the speaker defeated him by deciding that it was not a 
'■privileged question," since the minority of a committee 
had no report to make. On the 15ih of March tlie ma- 
jority in the senate, in accordance with a caucus resoln- 
tron, made a brutal attempt to force a Vote, although 
there were still many members of the opposition who 
wished to be heard. Thus far the senate had deemed 
itself too distinguished a body to abridge that right, u 
the bouse of representatives had done, in any vray, and 



tlic smallwr number of its members, as well as its justcp 
mode of warfare, bad always allowed its time lo bu suf- 
ficient for it. Now tho majority suddenly took the 
unscruiuilous coercive practice of tlie house ayainst minor- 
ities as its example. Clark was refiiseil the adjournment 
bo had asked for, altiiou;;h he liud stated that lie was al- 
most unalile to speak, because be had not eaten anything 
Btnca S o'clock in the morning. Stdl, ho spoke, but took 
tho liberty, after a while, to interrupt his speech, in order 
to refresh himself, before the assembled senate, with a 
cup of tea and a piece of bread and butter. In the 
meanwhile the senate killed time with an angry debate 
on questions of order. Toombs threatened that the 
majority would "crush this faction," Fcssenden replied 
that that was not very easy. The opposition gave the 
assurance, over and over agnin, that they were far from 
having any intention of improperly postponing tho de- 
cision; all they asked was to bo heard. At last the 
majority declared that they were ready lo adjourn, if 
the opposition bound themselves to allow the vole to bo 
taken on a deSnite day. The opposition did not agree 
to tliis, because they first wished to consult with one an- 
other; but, next morning, they would bo willing to accede 
to it. Now, however, tho majority wore not satisfied. 
Benjamin called on tliem lo go, leaving the house and 
tho responsibility for tho disruption of the government 
to the minority. Toombs said they should refuse to do 
liny business until the "previous question" was intro- 
duced in the senate likewise. But tho minority did not 
allow themselves to be terrified by all ibese threats, and 
the majority broke off the' hopeless struggle at C o'clock 
in tlie morning. 
This undignified parliamentary scuffle was of impor- 
BtoDoe only so far as it afforded a, striking illustration of 

BUCHANAn'b election — END OF SfilU OOKaRBSS. 

the stubborn violence with which both sides fought. It 
could not inQiience tbe result of the baitle. In the sen- 
ate, the slavocracy had been sure of victory from tbe 
start. The decision lay with the liouse; aud there they 
had to resort to meaiia of a different kind if they wished 
to hold the field. Since opportunities of learning what 
these means, as a self-evident consequence of the spoils 
system, could effect, had already frequently haen had, it 
was not considered doubtful that they would be em- 
ployed now. But hitherto the concession, as a rule, ha4 
been made to political morality of boldly denying what 
was done — as a rule, we say, and not alivays. But it had 
never before been as frankly declared as it was now, by 
the organ of the administration, to be the duty of tbo 
administration to bear in mind that purchased votes 
counted for as much as votes that were not purchasod. 
Now, wrote the Union, the executive can make its in- 
fluence felt in a decisive manner; "the shaky and hesi- 
tating democrats" are known, and they can be again 
brought mto the ranks by the government patronage.' 
Covode subsequently stated that the investigating com- 
mittee, commonly called after him, found proof in the 
hooks of the Bank of the Metropolis that people bad not 
conSned themselves to the employment of the patronage 
system, but that votes had been directly bought.' 

I "The democratic party must be preaervedl If patriotic Bervioee 
deserve reward at the bands of the people when displayed on the 
field of battle, thoj no less deserve it when displayed in civil life; 
Tho matter is now in the precise condition in wbich the executive in- 
fluenco mny be most availuble and decisive. The Bbaky and beajtat- 
iog democrats arc marked, and may be brought iDto the ranki. A 
large e;(ecutiTe patrona(;e is yet undisposed of. Additional patroo- 
age is to be afforded by the nrmy bill, if it should pass, aa it will, In 
some sliape." Quoted in Gongr. Globe, let Sras. 3oth tJoiigr., App., 
p. 223. 

3See, ia the N. V. Ti'ibime, the report of his speech delivered the 



"Wlietber or not, with his republican eyes, Covode saw 
more llian tbore was to be seen, there were certainly 
men in the bouse of representatives who, by an appeal to 
their personal interest, might be made to see the intereata 
of the public in a different light, and the Union's ex- 
hortation was not nnbeeded. But there were democrats 
who jnst as certainly could not be bribed, and still were 
"shaky."' Another bridge was now built for these by 
Calhoun — one over which the way to Lecompton might, 
perhaps, seem passable to them. If they were not obliged 
to recognize, in addition to the Lecompton constitution, 
a state government which, to use Douglas's words, de- 
pended on "forgery and perjury," a great difficulty would 
certainly be removed, Callioun. therefore, now sent to 
the publisher of the Star a, letter intended to create the 
impression that, in this respect, they bad no cause to be 
uneasy. He said that he had, indeed, not yet received 
any official information, but that evurything else that 
had come to bis knowledge bad convinced him that the 
poll-lists of Delaware Crossing were a fraud, and that 
therefore the free-state candidates were electeJ. 

Whoever wanted to go into the net miglit do so; but be 
had to do it without being able to saj' afterwards that he 
had not seen it, and had not been warned in time. Doug- 
las, too, knew exactly how many of his followers had 

doy before in New York, The money raised for lh« purpose of brib- 
ery waa all entered under flctiiious namea. AceordiDg to the atate- 
tuent o( the caahjer "S. U.," for instance, meant "'to snve the 
tJnion." One entry rnn : '• Pay K.insas $5,000." 

1 H. S. Foote aleo relates, however, that Cobb, the secretary of the 
treasury, bad aaid to him : " Oh, I thiok we hIihII get it (the Lecomp- 
ton bill} through. We have now secured almost as many votes aa 
wilt be necessary to its passage: and you know that thia department 
is always, in such a atrugglo, good fcr at least twenty votes." Casket 
of Reminiscences, p. 118. 

-END OF 33-rn ooKoiiEsa. 

bpcome "shaky," and ho was not the man to facilitate 
their fall by li;a\'irig them such excuses. For months, 
said bo, in UiG senate, on the 22il of March, tho roporta 
about Calhuuti's ialcntinii^ hud alternated lllic the heat 
and chills in an inteimittent fever. Now, suddenly, im- 
mediately before the decisive vole, lie feU impelled to 
make the public his conlidanis. Tbc trap was so clumsy 
that only " green " people could fall into it. Uis declara- 
tion WU3 a worlhlt'ss bit of paper; for, according to the 
provisions of the Lecompton constitution, his powers in 
this question Iiad been transferred, by his absence from 
Kansas, to the president jjro temporeot the convention. 

This was true, and hence the letter could bavo no aim 
but that imputed to it by Douglas, The only surprising 
thing is that Calhoun did not delay its publication until 
after the vote in ttie bouse. Only as a surprise could 
the dishonorable manceuvre, perhaps, bo atlendod with 
success; and, in the bouse, ibc decision for or against 
might depend on two or three votes, while in the senate 
the undoubted majority would, at the most, havo been 
only soinowbut increased. As the Leeoniiiton parly 
had this majority, it was evident from tlia lirst tiiat limy 
would have to let tbo senato talio the initiative; that is, 
that the decision of the house would havo to take the 
form of a vote on a bill transmitted to it by tho senate. 
On the 23d of March the Lecompton bill was passed by 
the senate by a voto of ibirty-threo against twenty-five 
The coupling of Minnesota with Kansas was abandoned, 
and the express recognition, recommended in tho message, 
of popular sovereignty, as a trap for "green" iiieuibers, 
after tho exact paltern of tbo Calhoun letter, was made. 
"Notiiing in this act," we road, "shall he conslrucd as an 
abridgment of the right recognized in the constitution 
of Kansas of the people to alter the same at any time in 


the manner they wish." Nobody had ever expressed or 
entertained the footisb fear that that right would bo cur- 
tailed by congress in n Imv admitting a state into the 
Union. The question in controreray was ivlielher the 
I^comptoii constitution uhsolutely recognized it or for- 
bade its exercise before 1S0+. The declaration that con- 
gress did not deny iho e.sistcnce of the nglit recognised 
by the I.ecom|tton conslittition was, tliereforo, not what 
it was meant to appear lo be: an answer to the question 
whether Kansas aiiglit abolish slavery before 1804. Lie 
upon lie, fraud upon fraud, swindle upon swindle, — such 
wns the unavoidable consequence of the resolution, by 
means of the monstrous fraii<l of the Kansas- Nebranlia 
bill, to deprive freedom of tlie possession granted her for 
all time. 

On April 1st .1 vote was talicn in the house on the ques- 
tion wlioilier ilic senate liill should be rejected at llio 
firet reading. A large part of the opposition refused to 
hive anything lo do witli so radical a comlemniilion of 
the entire Lcconipton policy. The question was decided 
in the negative by a tnajoi'ity of forty-two votes. Mont- 
(joraery, of Pennsylvania, tlien moved, as a "substitute," 
a compromise bill, the real father of which was Senator 
Crittenden. Before a vote was taken on this bill Quit- 
man moved lo strike out of the senate bill the clause 
referred to relating to the right of amendment. That 
clause, had, indeed, as has been seen, only a problemal- 
ieul value; but it v.-as all the more significant, on that ac- 
count, iliut seventy-two southern representiitives refused 
to make even this seeming concession to the principle of 
popular sovereignty agamst the slavocratic interest. 

The Critlondcn-Montgomery bill, which was adopted 
after the rejection of the Quitman amendment, by a vote 
of one hundred and twenty to one hundred and twelve. 

22i BCOBANAN's election — END OF 35tH CONGKl 

provided for a popular vote on the Lecompton constitu- 
tion. If it were adopted, tiie president was immediately 
to announce the admission of Kansas by a proclamation; 
if it were rejected, the people of Kansas might elect dele- 
gates to a new constitutional convention. 

By this manceuvre the mask was completely torn from 
the hypocritical face of the Lecompton party. But did 
not llie republicans pay too high a price for that, since it 
had long been certain that that party know no law but 
the inleri'sl of the slavocracy, and was resolved to train- 
plo the principle of popular sovereignty under their feel, 
as, under the leadership of the Douglas democrats, they 
had torn the llissouri compromise to pieces! A victory 
was not won, but an attack was repulsed for the moment; 
and it was repulsed, not by the republicans, but by a coali- 
tion of Douglas democrats and six southern Americans,' 
whose following the republicans had constituted them- 
selves. As early as March Uth, Chase had seriously re- 
monstrated with Seward because he had not strongly 
advocated holding fast to the principles on which the 
party had grown up as a natural product of the circum- 
stances of the time,* but seemed to maintain that for 
the present the party should change its base to that of 

> Stephens writes, on the 3d of April; " Sixaoutliern ' Amerioans ' 
defeated ua, Twentr-nine northern democruta stood firm. Had alt 
the Bouthem members stood firm also, out majotity nith a full house 
would have been elglit." Johnston and Browne, Life of A. H. 
Slephenii, p, 333. 

t •■ It Beenis to me that, in the regular process of mental and polit- 
ical developments, wortciug siaslj and irresistibly, a transition and 
transformation of parties, the republican orgaaizntion has grown up, 
not as much by clioice as by neceBsity, Our true policy and true 
wisdom is to adhere to it, ioateadof chnng^ing, to strengthon its base. 
Another course may seem to give greater immediate acDCBsionsof 
■Irength, but will result, I verily believe, in defeat," Warden, Pri- 
vate Life and Public Scrvic« of S. P. Cbase, p. 348. 



the principle of popukr soverejgntj'. Its representa- 
tives in the house had now taken the great retrojjrade 
jili?p, spite of the certainty that the senate would not 
iilloiv itself to be determined thereby, to return to the 
principle of the Kunsas-Nebraska oill as interpreted by 
l>uuglas. Its advocacy of the principle which it had 
condemned on numberless occasions, not only from the 
point o[ view of constitutional law, but also of common 
sense and freedom, could at best produce only the nega- 
tive result, that tlie admission of liansas as a state, with 
iho Lecomptoti constitution forced on it, would not bo 
carried. lint could they consider it certain that those 
whose fluy llicy toUowed would themselves remain true 
to it tliroughuul! The Lecumpton party was defeated 
by a coalition of three parties, and only by eight votes. 
Was a mm of the scales quite inconceivable, even if the 
opposition were to a man so honorable that no attempt 
would be made to try the convincing power of patron- 
age? "Was the gap between Ituciianan's popular sover- 
eignty and Douglas's so much broader and deeper than 
that between republican principles and the popular sov- 
ereignty of the Douglas observance? "What warranted 
the iissiiinjtiou tliaC some honest Douglas democrats 
would not be able to discover reasons to overleap the 
former — reasons allcist as weighty in their eyes as were, 
in the eyes of tlie republicans, those which had led them 
over the latter? Democratic politicians who, four years 
before, had hmdcd tlie substitution of popular sovereignty 
for the MisiTOuri compromise as a glorious achievement, 
now required much less short-sightedness, self-deception 
jind party spirit to consider an understanding with the 
ruling wing of the party a patriotic duty. And if only 
five Douglas democrats in the house were converted to 
this view-, what would the republicans have gained by 

22C Buchanan's election — end of 35tii coxorkes. 

the actual denial of Iheir principlea? They claimed to bo 
the party par excellence of principle and conscience, ano 
lience could not overwhelm the "traituis" with their 
moral indignation without smiting themselves in the face. 
The Isl of April is nut, as the republicans thought, a 
day of honor and rejoicing in the struggle for freedom. 
right ami self-govBrnment. Their unanimous vote for 
the Crittenden-Montgomery hill showed that, since the 
presidential campaign of 1S5S, they had made no prog- 
ress, but had been driven back; that more reliance wa? 
placed on sl^ilful tactics than on correct principles, and 
that the slavocracy had to add many terrible items more 
to their list of national sins before they forced an unwill- 
ing ]T00ple to recognize that the proposition : compromise 
is the essence of politics, was not only a fatal errof in 
this question, hut that, in the nature of things, it must 
become steadily fatal in an over-rising degree. A new 
proof wus added to all the enrlier ones, that the solution 
of the question was not to be expected from the sagacity 
of statesmen. They were, indeed, working at it, from 
every direction, with all their might; but they were 
doing so chiefly through their erroneous calcidatiims and 
their moral weakness. There was only one solution: the 
grinding weight of brutal facts. The problem had out- 
grown the limits of the power of statecraft. The man 
who cannot recognize this must be unjust in his judg* 
ment of all parties and of the leading ]H>rsonalities in 
thorn. In very different ways and from very different 
motives, pure anil impure, willingly' and unwiilinglj", 
moving and moved, by what they did and what tlioy loft 
undone, they all heljwd force the problem out of these 

) It is wortlijr of note that this charge was most svverelj formu- 
lated bj ft Bouthemer. Oilmer aaid, on tlie <la7 lM>rore the vol*: "I 
have hpord and rend speechM delivered butfa In this house and tn 



limits, and tliereb^- forced it to thatonly possiblo solution. 
Judged from the jioint of view of llie Ilnal resull, tliey 
all, therefore, labored for the salvation of the country, 
by the right and the ivrong in their liiinking, in their 
will ivnd in their deeds, because they prevented stagna- 
tion and brought about the catastroplje so early that it 
might become a blessing lo all. But thia was possible 
only because — ulthough again in very different ways 
and in very ditferent measures — in the thought, will and 
action of all, the right and the just were so amalgamated 
with the wrong and the unjust that in the catastrophe 
and through the catastrophe the moral powers necessa- 
rily attained a stronger and stronger development, since, 
on the one side, they forced the war for the restoration 
of tho Union into a war of annihilation against slavery, 
and, on the other, tninsfurmed secession for the purpose 
of founding a slavocratic con federuib republic into a 
lieroio strngglo for independence. Because the adoption 
of the Crittenden-Montgomery bill was, in one sense, a 
great step backwards, it was in another a great step for- 
wards: a new stage on tho way to the redeeming catas- 
trophe had been reached. 

the other end of this cnpitol, by gentlemen from the nortli and from 
the south, the true ipiiil antl lueaiiiug or which is dUuuion. 

"True, most, if iiot ull. pnifess to love the Uaiou and the consti- 
tution. . , . They inilulgB id putriotlc strain The 

spirit of disunion ia, liowf^er, the core. . . , The design is evi- 
dently to infuse the pojsonoua ^irit of disunion wliere, for it, there 
could be no receptimi. wore proper labels utWched. Professions of 
patriotism are Utler^l in loud and eioqui>nt tones, for peace and har- 
mony, while the evident drift Is to exaspernio aad make wider the 
brenoli," Congr. Globo. lat Sess, aSlhCoiijir, App., p. 882. Tbeivord 
design waa certaitdy uot justifled as regards a aiugle northern repre- 
sents tire. 

22S buchasah'b election — end of Soth CO.VOKBSS, 


The present generation, which surveys the entire his- 
tory of the devclojiment of the slavery prablem, from its 
inaeption to its final solution, Hods it didicult to under- 
stand how, even at this time, so dense a cloud coulil 
obscure the vision of the cleiirest eyes. Wliere mora! 
earnestness and courage, not to recoil even before tho 
extreme consequences which mig'ht be entailed upon the 
country by inviolable fidelity to principle, were want- 
ing, there was no cause to wonder at the greatest ob- 
liquity of tliought and the greatest errors of judgment. 
Bm ns not n single republican in the house of repre- 
sentatives liad voted against tho Monlgotnery bill, the 
surprising retreat of tho "party of principles" could 
evidently not bo traced to these alone. Men like Gid- 
dings and Lovejoy must have been deteriuined by other 
motives. Tho most probable supposition, iCi their case, is 
that, with heiivy bearls, tlicy made the concession to 
their party associates weaker in the faith, becaase, by bo 
doing, they thought they would be able to prevent some- 
thing worse. This at least is a view which there is no 
difficulty m understanding. But how are we to account 
for the fact that men with clear heads, gn^at and fear- 
less hearts and strong nerves, in one and the same 
breath, laid stress on their unshakable fidelity to princi- 
ple and approved the Montgomery bill as a tactic ma- 
neuver? But wlien Chase, who had recently endeavored 
so strenuously to ruuse Seward's conscience to a senea 
of not sacrificing principle to momentary considerations 
of expediency, saw no intrinsic contradiction in such nc- 



tion, even after the value of these tactics was placed in 
the most glaring light' by a successful counteMnaneuver, 
no great reproof can beadministered to average politicians 
because they were involved in the greatest darkness as 
to the character and import of this step. 

If I have a correct conception of the entire situation 
at this moment, the grave mistake of the republicans in 
this case was due only in a very small degree to their 
want of moral energy. The heat of the battle had 
warped their judgment on tlie point wliich they should 
have recognized as the decisive one. Because Kansas 
had been, in recent years, the position most hotly con- 
tested, they had, to a certain extent, lost the conscioiia- 
ness that il was in itself only a jiart, nnd a comparatively 
small part at that, of the whole field of battle. Tliey 
looked upon the slavery question as so much absorbed hv 
the Kansas question that they were not able to rise to a 
recognition of the fact that, in order to be able to con- 
tinne the general struggle efTocLuaily, they would have 
to he resigned to the loss of the territory, even if there 

I InaletterdatFdMHj 12, 18r)8, written, therefore, immediitely lifter 
the pssita^e uf the English bill, to Pibe, ive I'paij : ''Itcsistnnce to il 
(the Iiwwnjptnn iniquity) by all nieana not diBhonorablc, ami lo tliL- 
last extremit]' (!), was ever my counsel to all who thought it wurtli 
aakingfor. I even counseled ngaiiiHt the contingent consent pro- 
posed by tho Crittenden amendment, and would never, had I bi?en 
ill congresii. have voted for that proposed by the Montgomery amend- 
ment, except BK the only nienns left of defeatini; the dii-ect consent 
U> the Lecoiupton bill. Regarding it as the only lueaua left, 1 should 
have acted just as our friends in tht> bouse acted, wbode votes, undut 
the circumstances, for that auiendment 1 have couBlanlly approved 
iind still approve." And also: "I am very certain that the grrat 
niafueB of the republican party agree with me in di^ term in at ion to 
maintain republican principles witboot compromised), . . . fiiinly 
resolved not to leave our own (prinuiplel to stand on foreign ground." 
First Blows of the Civil War, pp. 410, 430. 

230 Buchanan's election — end of Sara conoress. 

was a means of saving it. To save it now seemed to3 
them their chief duty. They looked upon the diroetj 
triumph of the Lecompton swindle as the worst tbinj 
that could now happen to the country, and, in tUeifl 
opinion, there was no better means than the one thej 
had made use of to avert worst of evils. Hence tbeiij 
eyes could not bo opened even by the fact that, on I 
very following day (April 2d), the Semite rejected thi 
Montgomery bill.' They bad certainly expected thiaa 
and even if they bad been able, they would not on tb^ 
account have undone what they bad done. 

It was almost two weeks before the sweet illusion thit] 
they had deserved well of their country was disturbed 
by a single fihock. Secession, the fire-caters had threap 
ened, would be the answer of the slave slates if Kunsas'l 
were refused uncoiiilitional admission under the Lecomp- J 
ton constitution, and it had now been cuu]iled by tbOi 
house with a condition which the slave states well knea^ 
would never be fultilled. '■ If you show Kansas the doc>K| 
Minnesota too will have to stay outside," was said thena 
and now, on the 7th of April, the senate passed the MifS 
nesota bill by a vote of forty-nine to throe. The senata 
bad declared that it would stand by the Kansai bill, atid 
the bouse likewise resolved that it would abide by tlH 
Montgomery substitute. Should not, nay, must aoM 
every reasonnble man, who was not made oblivious to Ctig 
attainable by the desirable, have rccognizeil all this i 
highly thanknortby, since, in view of the solid maJoriCjR 
in the senate, a victory was impossible? This way ( 
looking at the mailer left one thing out of coiisideriition<] 
that it would end willi this purely negative result V 
all the more improbable, as, in Kansas, a new consll^ 
tntionul convention bad closed Its labors at Leaven worily 

' By thirty-two against twonty-three voles. 


on the 3(1 of April, und the constitution it had drafted 
was to be submitted to the popular vote on tiae third 
Tuesday in Ma}-. The argument that the two houses of 
congress would have to unite on a positive measure of 
some kind, in order to prevent the affairs of the terri- 
tory from becoming tiristed into a diseotangleable knot, 
could, therefore, be employed again with groat force. 
The decisive trial whether the fall of the "shaky " ones 
could be prevented was yet to be made. 

On the 13Ui of April the senate moved that a confer- 
ence comiuillee be appointed. The vole in the house on 
the following day was equally divided; ibe speaker's vote 
gave the decision in favor of the adoption of the motion. 
The republicans did not deceive themselves as to the 
importance of ibis defeat. But whether the game was 
irrevocably lost to them already might, however, seem 
■loubtful. As the scales had been in equilibrium, the de- 
cision might easily dei>end on how the speaker would 
construct the committee. He appointed English of Indi- 
ana, Stephens of Georgia, and Howard of Michigan. 
The latter was a republicau, and his and Stephens's vote 
oITset each other. The decision bad to be made by Eng- 
lish. What bad the different parties to ex[K)ct from the 
man who considered Orr of South Carolina the fittest 
person to speak the word on which depended, perhaps, 
tlic fate not only of Kansas but of the Union! 

English was one of the three northern democrats who, 
notwithstanding their vote on the Kansas-Nebraska bill, 
sldl bad a seat in the house of representatives. This fact 
attracted all the more attention to the firmness with which 
he took a pnaition, in a long and excellent speech, deliv- 
ered on the 9tb of March, against the unconditional ad- 
mission of Kansas under the I.ecjmplon constitution. He 
bad never yet, he said, been guilty of the slightest oppo- 

23S Buchanan's ] 


sition to a party command. lie should, tlicrefore, claim 
consideration, now tliat lio uUered a word of warnin;j. 
The representatives of the nortb could not do certain 
tilings even if they wished. A severe defeat had been 
the consequence of the Kansas-Nebraska hill, which, in 
the opinion of all party comrades in congress, reeled on 
correct prtnci|iIos. What was to ho expected from a 
ineiisure" which nine-tenths of the people of the free slates 
hold to ho a fraud, and at war with the plainest princi- 
ples of justice and republican government?" The states- 
man had to grasp "the great political facts;" und tho 
incontestable fact that tlie Lecompton constitution did not 
give expression to the will of the people of Kansas was 
plain as day, and they would have nothing to do with il, 
It betrayed the "spirit of a ShylocU'' toapjieal from these 
facts to legal subtleties suggested by the wording of the 
law; but these' were the only arguments which it had 
been possible to produce for the assertion that Kansas 
should be admitted under the Lecompton constitution.' 

This was a confession of faith wliich could not be mis- 
interpreted, and English allowed it to be believed, up to 
the last moment, that he stood by it. In this way only 
could the exhortation bo understood, which he addiea;>il 
to the speaker beture the appointment of the confer- 
fnco committee, in conformity with pnrlitiinentary law, 
to take the majority of the members of it from tlie ma- 
jority of the house; that is, to choose ihem from among 
ihose who were in favor of tho house bill,' He had 
then voted for the mutton, although ho had received no 
answer to the question whether the speaker would agree 
to his suggestion. What sense was there in this if, in his 
opinion, one should not allow oneself to be forced beyond 
the line to which the house had gone in its concessions to 

I Congi'. Glolie, lat Sess. 35l1i Congr, pp. 103, 101. 
libit!., p. I(i8». 

KKyLisn t; poBimiM. 

xhe senate in tlie Montgomery billJ Must not Orr bave 
inferred from this, or become cuni'iriced in soino other 
way, that he was ready to enter iuto negoiiationsi That 
the confc^rencG committee would noi be ab]e to reach any 
{lositive result, if the majority of the re|iresonIatives of 
the house should meet their programme with an obsti- 
nate lion possumiig, was self-evident. 

The republicans could not be so confident as not to 
have asked themselves these questions, even if the recol- 
lection of the speecli of March 9th did not make them give 
up all hope immediately. But as early as the 20th of 
April, Lovejoy wrote to Pike: "It seems as thouj^h 
English would strand our aliip." ' 

How the pilot appointed by Orr was to bring about 
the shipwreck, the republicans, so far as I can see, then 
seemed not to have suspected. When, subsequently, the 
administration party in the house urged a speedy decision 
on the adoption or rejection of the proposals of the con- 
ference committee, and even betrayed no great dislilie 
not to allow the opposition a close, critical ctamiiuitiuu 
of them, Howard, at least, declared that he was probably 
the only republican member of the house who had liad 
any knowledge of the bill before it was read by the clerk, 
while he had reason to believe that it had been before 
the opponents of his party for examination for several 
days.' But there is no lack of direct proof, however, that, 
conscious of working at a job that feared the light, a 
surprise was planned from the start. Uoward and Sow- 
ard, who, together with Green and Hunter, represented 
the senate, asked for a day to examine, the bill which 
English had submitted to the conference committee as a 
proposal of mediation; but the majority resolved to grant 

I First Blows of the Civil War. p. 417. 

»Congr. Gloth;. lat Sesa. 85th Congr.. pp. 1767, 1768. 

23i Buchanan's election — esd of 3orti coN'CREsa. 

them only two bours.' This resolulion waa. it is true, not 

ried ■ 

, but not bccaiisE 

1 closer 


showed a want oF courtesy nud justice, but because diffl- 
cidtics bad arisen in the ciim|). Tliia cntinot surprise lis; 
for tlie bill to tvhich Eiiglisb owes Ibo unenviable im- 
mortality of his name was a legislative monstrosity — 
uluiost the only one of its species, 

As ihe peojtle of Kansas, said the bill,^ by a conven- 
tion at Lecouipton have adopted a republican stale con- 
stitution, and simultaneously an ordinance in which it is 
declared that the state desires to renounce the right 
claimed by it to tax the lands of the United Slates situ- 
ated within its borders, on certain conditions (namely, 
the assijrnniont of definite parts of these lands), and as 
that constitution and that ordinance have been sent to 
congress with the petition to admit Kansas as a statu, 
but the conditions are not acceptable, it is provided that 
ibe people of Kansas shall declare, by a general vote, 
whether ihoy arc willing to accept olber more minntcly 
specified and considerably less favorable provisions in re- 
spect to the federal lands to be assigned; every ballot 
shall have on it the words "proposition accepted," or 
" proposition rejected ; " if the majority vote for the adop- 
tion of the proposition, the president shall Inimeitiately 
announce the admission of Kansas as a state, with eqnal 
rights, by a proclamation; "but should the majority of 
the votes be cast for 'proposition rejected,' it shall be 
deemed and held that the people of Kansas do not desire 
admission into the Union with said constitution under 
the conditions set forth in said proposition." In this case 
tile people of Kansas are empowered to hold another 
constitutional convention, but only after it shall have 

' Congr. Qlol>c, 1st Sesa. 35lh Coiigr.. p. 1880. 
'Seethe entire text, Ibid., pp. 1703. 1786. 



been established bj' a census legally taken tbut the terri- 
tory las at least tbe impulatiun requireii for the election 
of one represfntative; before the convention proceeds to 
tliu drafting of a constitution, it shall decide by a vote 
i\hethei- the people, at the time, desire admission as a 
state; whatever tbe law provides in respect to the ratiti- 
cation of the constitution shall be valid, and the admission 
shall take place with or without slavery, as established by 
the constitution 

In the short speech with which English, on the 23d of 
April, introduced the bill in the house, be stated that 
the conference cominilteo had been guided by the idea 
that they must cling to the "correct principles," but that 
they should not '-hazard the peace of the country for 
the sake of an unimportant point or unmeaning word." 
If the bill were passed, tbe Kansas question would, per- 
haps, never come before congress again, and even if it 
did come before that body again, it would be "deprived 
of all power of working evil." " It is one of those cases 
where much is to be gained and nothing losi." The re- 
sponsibility of those who, "for a slight cause," jeopar- 
dized all the blessings that flowed from the union of the 
states would be a frightful one. Of the material con- 
tents of the bill, ho touched only the land question, call- 
ing attention to the fact that the difference in the present 
selling value of the public lands asked by Kansas and 
offered in the bill amounted to $25,000,000 in favor of 
the Union, 

On reading the bill and this explanatory speech, the 
people had to rub their eyes and ask themselves whether, 
after all, the long, hot struggle over the Lccompton ques- 
tion was only a confused dream. Neither the bill nor the 
speech contained a single word on tbe great issue of princi- 



r 35'n 

pie OD which the battle had beeu fought. The sole objuo- 
tion to the admission of Kansas, undci- tliu Lec-ornpton 
constitution, that now appearcJ, seemed to be the claim of 
the Lecoinpton convention, made m the ordinance, that the 
slate might tax the federal lands; and the absurdly high 
[iriee demandol for the abandonment of that alleged 
right. In the earlier negotiations these two points had 
not, by any means, been overlooked, but the administra- 
tion party itself had insisted that they constituted no diffi- 
culty whatever, Pugh, who now declared that the English 
bill WHS a ■' fair ami honest compromise between the son- 
ate bill and the hoiisi^ bill." bad previously said: "The 
ordinance is not a part, cannot be made a part, of the 
constitution, no matter what Mr. Calhoun ceriitiea. This 
does not iiffeet its legal force." The question was only 
about public lands; and, from the time when Ohio was 
admitted, all the new states had asked more of such lands 
than congress had granted. The endeavor to make a 
mountain out of this mole-hill would not be successful. 
Benjamin, likewise, had called attention to the fact that 
new states had already frequently claimed the right to 
tax property of the United States, in order thereby to 
compel greater land grants; and he remarked, besides, 
that that right " has never yot been conceded, and never 
will." And it was not only individual semitors who had 
spoken with this determination. The senate bad, not- 
withstanding the oixJinance, adopted its Lecompton bill, 
which assigned to Kunsits just as much land as seemed 
proper to that body, and it had asked the assent of the 
liouse to that bill. More yet. Not even a single voice 
had been raised in the senate against an additional amend- 
ment, proposed by Green, which simply and uncondition- 
ally, in express terms, rejected the claims and the demand 


made in the ordinance.' Ilence, Wilson did not make 
use of too harsh terms n'heo lie said the report of thu 
conference committee "comes to ua undef a false and 
lying (iretenae. Yes, sir; false and lying pretense."* 

The bill was nut a compromise; tliu false and lying 
pretense simply charged the hoiiso willi surrendering its 
position. Tlin principle on whicli it had objected to 
the admission of under this Lcfompton consti- 
tution was tliat that constitution ivus not the will of tbo 
people. But Hunter truly said that English's bill was 
bused on the assumption that the people of Kansas 
asked for admission under the Lecompton constitution. 
Not the constitution, but only the propoiilton of con- 
gress in relation to the public lands, was lo be submitted 
to the poo|>le to vote upon. But the rejection of the lat- 
ter was lo liHve, as aconst-quencu, the rfjcclionof the for- 
mer; and solely on account of thia consequence was the 
proposition lo be submitted to a vote of the people. 
And this actual voting on the constitution, in the form 
of a vote on the proposition, was favored in order to 
afford a [wssibility to vote for the bill, both lo those 
who denied and to those who allirmcd that the con- 
stilalion had lo be submitted to a vote. Its fate de- 
pended upon this; for that was the back-door which was 
opened to the anti-Lecompton democrats who were will- 

1 ■' Tbal noiliins in this act ehali be construpd as nn aascnt by con- 
grpBB to nnyor nil of thu iiroposit ions or claims coiitniiied in tlie ordi- 
nanpo annpxod to said conetitution." 

I Less dromic iii tvrni, but just a* decided in the lUAIter, Crllien- 
den exin'ossed bimaplf. He snid; "Thnt (oro you willing to Uke 
llicse gri"'* o( lund?) is tbo only question to be suhiuilted to tbo 
peoplo: but by legislation a consequence is lo flfiw tram their action 
perfectly arbitrary in its nature, and allogetlter illogical In the oon- 
uluBion. . . . It is a sort of feiguud issue out o( congreas." Ibid.. 
p. 1814. 

23S bochanan's election — end of 3rn 

ing to be converted. They asserted with their leader, Enf? 
lish, that they bad not surrendered tlie correct principles^ 
since the bill, if not in express terms, yet practically, con^J 
ceded a popular vole on the constitution; while Stophens^l 
libi! Hunter and Green, with great determiniilion, do- 
cliired thiitsuch was not the case, but that the English blllfl 
held fast to t h« principle of the senate Lecompton bill, ihara 
everything that had taken place in T.>ecoinpton was en-., 
lirely legal, and that the demand for a popular vote was! 
wholly unwarranted,' It n-as a repetition of the experi-F 
meat which had succeeded so well with Douglas in thej 
Kansas-Ntbraslia bill: an effort was made to unite thesev? 
eral factions of the democratic party in order to suhservo'l 
the interests of the slavocnvlic south, by means of a for-j 
mula which each of iheui might interpret as it wanted.! 
Bui there was now one ditflculty in the way whicbl 
had not existed then. In ease Kansas decided againatf 
admission, under the conditions of the English bill, i 
hud to be determined what position would liavo to t 
taken when a request was made for admission under i 
new constitution, on the (juostion of a ralilioutioo by H 
vote of the people. The difficulty was siinnounttnl \ifM 
taking no position at all on the question of principle, ana 
by, at the same lime, giving the slavocraoy tinotbvi^ 
chance to try, eventually, to repeat the Lecompton § 

I Eoglish refUBcd to make n direct ntid unambiguous HtateuinjCN 
to whether he iiiter|ireU.'U his bill in this reapect ns Siephi^iis did? f 
a question relntitit; liuri'ti) put by Muishall, he anaweroih "Tbliti 
if drawn in tolerably noad English, and I suppose Iho gentli 
from Kentucky understaude thftt languuge, and U conipetmt Ij 
judge what the meaning of the bill is." Ibid., p. 1883. Owen JoRv4 
ot Pennsylvania, an ulher destrier from tliecunipof the anti-Lecomp-« 
ton democrats, anaveced tlie same question: " I am nilliag to 1< 
the people ot thia country «onstru« this bill for ttiemsiilve*," Ibkl.iJ 
p. 1003. 



over a;*ain. Tbe matter was left to the tlecisiou of Kan- 
sas, while the ratification by tLe people was made a twi- 
ililio sine qua non ' in the case of Minnesota, and had been 
urgently recommended by Eucbanan to bo made hence- 
forth the invariable rule, 

Tiiis was not the only point on which the administra- 
tion party, under their new leader whom ihoy had won 
tid hu<! from tbe democratic opposition Jiithcrto, turned 
against tbe president. The English bill upset the reason- 
ing by which Buchanan had supported his advocacy of 
tbe admission of Kansas under the Lecompton constitu- 
tion.* His argument culminated in the proposition tbat 
all considerationsshould yield to this one; that peace and 
quiet would be restored to the country as soon as Kansas 
became a stale with all the rights ot a state. English, 
on the other hand, now asserted that peace and quiet 
would bo given to the country by his bill, because it de- 
prived Kansas, for an indefinite time, of the possibility 
of becoming a state, unless it ;igreed to the adoption of 
tbe Lecompton constitution under the form of adopting 
the land propositions. 

The majority of the conference committee could not 
possibly have expected that tbe opposition would not no- 
tice this contradiction. Notwithstanding this, English 
neglected to support bis assertion by even a single word, 
Tbat was undoubtedly the wisest tiling he could hare 
done. In addition to all kinds of sophistry, formal legal 
arguments had been adduced for the men represented by 
Suclianan and the senate bill. In favor of the compro- 
mise patched u]> by English, even a Lecompton democrat 
had nothing to adduce, and the shrewdest anti-Lecomp- 
lon democrat would not have been able to devise any- 

ISWI. atL.SI, p. 1(W. 
' Bte Critleadt-'ii' 
8Sth Coogr., p. ISIS. 

n this point. Congr. Globe, l«t S 

240 Buchanan's election — end of Soxn congress. 

thing like an argument which would not have turned 
against himself. 

English had called it a great political fact, staring the 
nation in the face, that the immense majority of the peo- 
ple or Kansas would have nothing to do with theLecomp* 
ton constitution; and now he said, in his bill, that it could 
be admitted under this detestable constitution if it would 
be satisfied with a small part of the public lands which 
were demanded bv it for the state. This was the sheer- 
est nonsense — if, indeed, it were not going over to the 
ground of the Lecompton democrats. For this condition 
was certainly not a concession that could reconcile the 
population to the ** fraud," although the republicans 
rightly declared it to be an attempt at bribery. 

The administration party treated this charge as a ridic- 
ulous absurdity, ])retending to understand it to mean 
that the republicans wanted to make Kansas believe that 
the democrats intench'd to kccj) from it entirely the cus- 
tomarv dowrvof public lands, unless it earned them now 
by compliance in the constitutional question. But such 
an absurdity was far from entering the minds of the re- 
])ublicans; for the subventioning of the new states in this 
way for their school system and other public purposes 
had long been a custom so firmly established that no 
party would have ventured to depart frf)m it, in a partic- 
ular case, for party, political reasons. Tiie complaint was 
based on the provision of tlie 1)111 that Kansas, from the 
moment of its admission as a state, should receive five 
per cent, of the net proceeds of the sale of the public' 
lands situated within its borders, for the building of roads 
and other internal im;»n»ve;n(Mits. The best land, said 
Wilson, had been already taken possession of by settlers, 
under the pre-emption laws, but had not been paid for, 
and the government had ordered the sale of large tracUr 



in July; tfie proceeds, lie saiJ, would amount to millions, 
and the poor territory, if it becamo a state by July Isi, 
would obtain liuiulreds of thonsands whiob would be losl, 
to it, if it rejected the Englisli bill. 

Wilson's vsltiuiues might liavo been too Iiigh; but that 
tluTo wci'o sums involved wliicli wereof no small impor- 
tance to the territory, poor as it was in capital and not 
great in contribulivc power, could not befjuestinned. Bill 
the reward it was to receive, in case it accepted the Le- 
oomptoii constitution, was insignificant compared witli 
the punishment it was threatened with if it remained 
obstinate. The " great principle" of the Kansas-Nebraska 
bill received a now practical interpretation which cast 
almost everything that had hitiici-to been done in this 
respect into the siiado. If tho people of Kansos agreed 
to ths adoption of tbo constitution which, according to 
the emphatic testimony of English, the Lecoihpton con- 
vp.nlion sought to defraud them into, congress was willing 
to consider the territory, in every respect, ripe enough to 
become immediately a state with all tlie riglits of a state; 
hut if thoy still opposed the fraud and tlio violation of all 
the fundamental principles of republican government, 
they were to be condemned to continue to bear, until they 
had reached a certain figure, all the hardships of the terri- 
torial condition which had repeatedly grown into crime- 
surfeited, chaotic anarchy; and congress was to leave 
Kansas this alternative, because, by that means, whatever 
Kansas chose, it would restore peace and quiet to the 
country. As a reason for this proposition, nothing could 
be adduced except that Kansas bad no riyht to ask for 
admission into the Union before it bad the population doc- 
essary for the election of a representative, and could not 
complain of injustice, as freedom of choice was allowed 
it. So far as tho right was concerned, this claim was in- 


contestable. But that was not the question. In the i 
port on the senate bill, it was exjiresslv declared that Ih 
pupulaliun sliuuld be considered sutlicitint;' and tlia Enn 
lish bill udupled this view, in cusu Kansas said it was « 
isfied with the Leconiplon constitution, but rejocted it i)^ 
ciise it did not. It measured, therefore, with dilTcrenE 
measures. It indeed left tlio poi)ulation a choice, but 
tinder the exertion of a heavy pressure in favor ofsab- 
miasion to the violence attempted by the Lccomplon con- 
vcnlion. Ilenee. English m;ido himself an iiccomplice of 
the convention, hut by doing so descended to a much, 
lower moral level than it and its original defenders iOj 
congress, because of his own accord he gave evidence fc 
fore the entire people that ho clearly saw how deservef 
was the moral judgment pussed by " nine-tentlis of th^ 
people" on the intended outrage. 

The democratic party, said Seward, Isilew no jiislioo in ihd 
application of its principle of popidiirsovereignty; it liU 
been convicted out of the months of thesoutliern seniiton 
Crillenden and Hell, iind of the democrals, Douglas, Stu- 
art and liroderick, and llieir associates in tiie house, of tttl 
lonjjor holil iiig the scales equally poised between freedoifl 
and slavery, but of intervening in favor of shivery againi 
freedom.* In those words Seward appropriately nnd con 
cisely churacteriwd the new " compromise " that an am 
I^compton democrat ventured to impate to the nortb.-l 
Even on the lltb of March, Polk of Missouri bad deolureii,,, 
in the senate, that ihoru was no pcrtmcnl re;ison iigaiBfi) 
the admission ut Kansiis; that it had the requisite populn 
tioQ wan conceded and not contradicted.' The English bifl 

t " Oi needing the Eunicieiiuj/ of ttie |>o[iulation." 
'Cimgr, Ulobe, Ul Sim, a5lh Congr., p. 1W)7. 
* * All cont-cUi! tIJHt ilie (Kanuu) lins the reiiuioiti' j^opulation. 
one rniBea an ohji'inion on IhiB ground." IWd., [>. lOllO. 


now modiSed this to the cfTect that, as Collnmer expressed 
himself, there were "[Mjople enough lo bold sliivea, bul 
not people trough to enjoy freedom." The jjower of con- 
gress regiirding the text of the constitution of a new state 
to be admitted into tiie Union does not extend hevond the 
question whetliei-such constitution is republican. Tliia wns 
a dogma of the democratic party — one which had been 
for years constitutionally defended and politically landeJ 
in numberless speeches. And now it was to be practi- 
cally applied, by tolling Kansas: According as you meet 
our wishes or not, with regard to your constitution, the 
conditions also change under which we shall approve 
your admission as a state. Originally it was the univer- 
sal, and then for a long time, at least, the prevailing view, 
that congress might attach conditions to the admission 
of new Slates. On the other hand, the idea of indirectly 
forcing them to do what congress could not coni]>el them 
to do directly, by giving them their choice between dif- 
ferent conditions based on the principle of reward and 
punishment, was an acquisition now made, for the first 
time, by the partisans of the doctrine of popular sover- 
eignty and non-intervention. 

It was a long way from the substitution of squatter sov- 
ereignty for the Missouri compromise, with its absolute 
and perpetual prohibition of slavery, to a law that opened 
wide the door to a stave state made such against its will, 
without respect to the size of its population, but which de- 
manded proof that the population amounted to at least 
ninety-four thousand, before the right of the territory wns 
recognized to adopt a constitution which gave expression 
to the real will of its people. And the meaning of this 
was not: Kansas must yet wait an indefinite time, if in 
accordance with the wish of the great majority of its pop. 
uiation it wants to keep its soil free from slavery; its 

24i duchakan's eleotios — end of 35th conorehb. 

Dieaning was: Not until Kansns has, at least, nincty-foor 
thousand inhabitants shall it free its soil from slttTery. 
English's bill left Kansas a choice, but not a choico be- 
tween freedom and slavery. The alternative, as Cotlamer 
rightfully said, was this: "If you voto for the land grants, 
you are to have this slave constitution; and if you rote 
against the land grants, you are to have slavery in your 
territory wilhuut a constitution. That is, you are to have 
a constitution with slavery, or slavery without a Consti- 
tution; but slavery at any rate." 

The majority of the senate was, of course, snttsQod 
with this '"compromise." Tlunter's statement that, at 
tho worst — that is, ia case Kansas declined the offers of 
the bill — "a truce," at least, would bo secured for some 
years, was jnst as unfounded as Buchanan's and English's 
prophecies of peace. But the slavocracy had gained time, 
and that, next to the immediate assurance of the lasting 
possession of Kansas, was the best that could be obtained 
for them. This really gave tho slavocracy another 
chance; for a provision of the bill, hitherto nnraentionod, 
saw to it that, in the final decision by ICinsns, the old, 
unclean means might be again employed to tho fullest 

The house bill had, by the provisions on tho composi- 
tion of the board who were to bo intrusted with tho 
elections provided for in it, guarded against this ns far as 
possible. Of the four members, two were to bo federal 
officials appointed by the president (the governor and 
secretary of the territory), and two persons holding office 
of trust elected by tho people (president of tho council 
and speaker of the house of representatives), while tho 
presence of three members was required to pass a resolu- 
tion ; hence, equal representation aod tho impossibility of 
taking undue advantage by means of resolutions beyond 


tlio control of the otber side. The English bill addeil to 
theso four ineiiiliGrs the district attorney — ibal is, a third 
feilernl official appointed by the president — and retained 
tho provision respecting the number requisite to pass a 
resolution. Kot only was the population to have one 
represent ativo less than the goveniment, but tho lliree, 
entirely dependent on the administrulion, wcro, in the 
absence of tlio trusted representatives of tho people, to 
hare llio right to pass binding resolutions. And the 
provisiors as to tho powers of this board of commission- 
era in relation to the election, Itentiott, of New York, 
without tho least exaggeration, summed up in the follow- 
ing words: "Unlimited powers, without appeal or revis- 
ion." The history thus far of the elections in the territory 
made ail commcniary on the meaning of these cliangos 
Eupcrfluous, That tho chiinges were caused by the very 
rememhranco of that history must have seemed all the 
more certain to tho opposition, as nothing could bo ad 
duced in justilication of them except this strange claim: 
as it has been recognized that the president deserves suffi- 
cient conlidence to allow him to place two of the officials 
appointed by him on the board of commissioners of elec- 
tion, tho right has been abandoned to entertain suspicions 
of any kind because a third official nominated by the pres- 
ident has been made a member of tho board of commis- 

Eveo among the fire-eaters of the bouse, there were 
people who found no good Suvor in this kind of legisla- 
tion. Although Dunham, of South Carolina, and Quit, 
man, may havo been determined to vote against English's 
bill more by the fact that, as they suid, ji submitted thi: 
constitution to a popular vote and made Kansas a free 
state, still they expressly mentioned the dishonesty of tho 
bill as one of tho reasons for their surprising vote. But 
opposed to theso two rare bird* thoro were many "dis- 

846 bdchanak's election — end of 35x0 conghess. 

linguished" membora of ihe adininislration party who 
did fult justice to llio genius for gettiiifr out of a scrapo 
displaye<l by Englisli; and iis Ellieridjjf, of Tennessee, 
subsequently said in thu liouse, declared his "a better 
bill tban the senato bill itself."' Tim eunatu was in 
such a hurry to see it become a law that it not only dis- 
regarded ita usual parliamenrary courtesy, but violated 
the rules of the order of basiuess. Ntilv/ilhstandinff 
Gritlenden's request for postponement, the report of tlio 
conference coraraittco was sol for deitate on the Sfilh of 
April, although the original bill could not even bo read, 
because at the time it was not "in pos^^cssiou of tiic sen- 
ate," but was before the house. 

This inconsiderate pressure of the majority bad no 
rational ground, unless ihcy considered it necessary to 
oppose the storm of indignation of public opinion in the 
north, which was contiinially growing more violent, by 
their speeclies and with all their power, in order to Iteep 
the eacHHcial courage of the little body of men on ivhoin 
the decision in the house depended up to the rc(]uired 

Their former associates nnd the republicans did not, 
indeed, make it easy for English's immediate followers 
ugain to bend the knee to Baal, after they hud for months 
unnuunced tliat the anger of Heaven and the scorn of 
men would fall on those who did not render obedience to 
Ihe comuiiinds of his priests. 

On the day before the vote in the house Marshall said 
liiat the republlailis were, without exception, Iiilly con- 
scious of the fact that by the Montgomery bdl they had 
. agreed to admit Kansas as a slave state, "if it was the 
ivlll of the |ieopli3 of Kiius^s," When Btirnot, of Ken- 
tucky, qui^stloned the uurrcclncss of this statement, sev- 

■ Ck>ngr. Olobo, Ist Sess. S6lb Congr. . p. 441. 


©ral repiiblicitns crieil out to him itial Marahall was noi 
tnislaken; and SheruiiUi declarud tliat, tollieextontof liis 



i Iiad voted with 

3licati in the buiise ii 
his eyes open;' but, hu added: "We did ilbecuusoibeanLi- 
Lecomptoii dcnificratj had [ironiised us, on their honor, not 
to depart from llie demand for un honest appUcalion of 
their principle of popular sovereigntj'."- I, Luo, said Gid- 
dings, was m.idu to believe that all Douglas democrats had 
bound themselves to the country, to themselves and their 
constituents, " to stand by thai proposition forever; and 
that alone moved me, aluiosL the last, to agree to the adop- 
tion of llie Crittenden -Monlgomerv amendment," Oaiii))- 
bell laid still greater stress on this charge on t lie following 
day. llealleged that, on the bas>s of caucus resolutions of 
the anti-Lccompton democrats, a formal iigreument be- 
tween iheni and the republicans had been eniered into, in 
which the former had promised that under no circum- 
stances would they vote for another motion ; and he even 
slated lh:it the caucus hud appointed a committee with 
power to speak lor ibo culire body.' Owen Jones declared 

1 " So far na my kiioivli'ilge cutends, every reptiblicun member of 
the house I en J, carefully cuiisi tiered and pondered over llie CHltenden 
amendmeiil, aud voted fur it with bis ^yi's open." Cuiigr. Globo, 1st 
Bern. 35th C<mgr.. p. ISM. 

*"But with the ilistintt uiiderstandiog that the gentlemen from 
the fiv« Htati'S. belonging to the democratic partj, had iiledgcd to ub 
their faith iind honor that they only nanted a fair, Ptrnishtforwan), 
open optofluiity 10 carry out their princij)le of |iopular Mivfrt'ignly 
in Kunaaf, and Ibal they would stand by and adhere to Ihii propOBi- 
tion made in that Hmcndmcnt. Reljinc n-ith implicit faith uimju this 
underatnnding, ue TOled for the amendiiient. and hove steadily ad- 

'■■The frieiida of Mr. Douglas wert pledged, by thoee who were 
nuthoriKed to speak for them, as I understand, upon the bigli point 
ol personal honor, to go fur tbutpropouiUun. . , . I would inquire 

243 bcchasan's election — end of Zutu cosokess. 

that he know nothing of the ap[)ointinent of such a coi 
mittcc, and contended timL lie had never given aach^ 
(jromiso himself or uulhorized others to give sacli a. prom- 
ise in his name; he ndniilted, bo\vover,that he had "once 
itr iHiee" taken part in a caucus, but avoided, above all 
things, todenj- dirt'CLly that liisattitudeivarranteiJ the re- 
publicans to assuiue that ho was resolved to act like tliose 
ivho thought as he did, and who had made a formal prom- 
ise. And the other renegades stopped in their defense i 
this lino, Just as Jones did. Had it then reached suclll 
pass with the politicians that a notarial seal was necess 
in order to have a right to require truth and fidelity fraj 
iheml Nor was it every deserter of his flag wl 
say as much in his defense as Owen Jones. Samuel f 
Cox, of Ohio, had publicly, and with an appeal to Ilij 
name of God, boasted that his vote would " never be dra^ 
gled in the ijecoinpton mire;"' and yet he now belongi 
to the majority of one hundre<I and twelve by whtcBD 
the English bill had been adopted, on the ;;Olh ol Apri 

of the (jQiillenitui from Pentisylviiniu (Owrn Jones) wlietliit hedid d 
repeatc-illy meet in caucus witti ilmt pui'limi of tliu di-iuociiitio f 
known as oiiti-Lecomplon iDE:n7(iiiii whi'lhcr a cciinniitteewss d 
a|ipoint«d witli jtowcr to lejircsent and Epeak for thu entin: h 
IbiO., pp. lOUS, 10U3. 

' In a letler intcniJpd for pnblicnlion, flddrcssed to Colonel J 
nndoUiere. under (inle of Ffbiuaij-e, IBJS. hi- wrilcs; "While lb 
a votu in ihifi (.-onRivBii ilehiill never be drsKt'^''' ■" tho Lecoinptfl 
tnire. Tliut is my dcUberate jud(;inetit, mid iny irievocable wilL I 
cannot i<oy or do nthprwise, so help too God. Hat while Doii| 
stands in tlie Renate: not nbito Wise tipeiilis fi'orn his Virginia t 
can; net nliilu Walker crni give ns wiftdom or St.inton ran eti 
truth, or Sluurt ciin argue the law. or Forney ran wield the p 
the northwest i an eclio llio neRrei;alo ihnnder "f these tribunes | 
the jieople,— ahull this grent mron:; bo done in the face rf thl 
millions of freeuran." Ibid., p. 1903. 



Against one bnndrcd nnd Itirco votes. On tho very same 
liiiy llio senate adojited iL by a vote of lliirlj-one against 

In tho liouso, scenes of violence had preceded the vote. 
Campbell subjected the majority to a real castigntion by 
catechising tlieni on the question wlietlier the bill re- 
f}uiiL'd a vote of tlio people on tlio Ix'coinpton cunstitu- 
tion. Cox received the heaviest blows. Aftcp Campbell 
had re^id the letter to Forney already mentioned, Ilas- 
kin, of Now York, informed the house tiiiit Cox hud 
also condemned both Englisli personally and the bill, in 
the severest terois, in a letter to the 0/iia Statesman. 
Cox, and Lawrence oF Ohio, who loo had now returned 
to party onhodoxy aa a repentant sinner, hud expressed 
themselves in a similar manner iigalnst himself. Cox 
denied that he liiul charactt>rized the bill and its author 
m the insuiliii<^ manner alleged by Uuskin, but admitted 
that it ut lii-st had seemed to him entirely nnacceptable, 
and that he continued to have great objection to it, but 
Gtdl maintained that he adhered absolutely to every 
word he had written in his letter to Forney, 

Even it one bad become thoroughly versed in the zig- 
mg policy which the democratic party had followed for 
four years in regard to tho slavery question, one needed 
more than ordinary diiileetical acumen to consider it 
possible to prove that there was no contradiction in 
these three declarations. IF Cox himself had not felt the 
hopelessness of this nmlertuking, he would not have met 
his assailants with a vinlenco which was barely able to 
keep back the tears of impolent rage; and yet there was 
no unmistaltablc ring of Irulhlulneas in the overflowing 
passion with which be called Heaven to witness that, from 
the very beguining to the present, he had acted in the 
best of faith, and was consciuus of freedom from all im- 

350 BnctiiNAx'a . 


pure motives.' Gngljsb too — so far as we are warranla 
to draw a conclusion from liis private life and liis subi 
quent attitude durlnj^ the civil war —could say the & 
iif liiniself. But tne more respectable liie renegades 
private individuals were, t lie sadder was the light c 
by llieir ai>ostacy on the position of a larye circle of tho 
people on the terrible national problem. The most scan- 
dalous -Tudas-Iike bargains made by political uspiruuts 
and demagogues, who respected no principle but thoir 
own sellisb iutercsls, would have given iucumparably less 
occasion for alarm than this moral euiiucbism wbioh_ 
led otherwise bonorfible men to play such antics wiU 
their own and the peo[)le's convictions, only that then 
might purchase from tlie slavocracy another postpoaw 
ment of the decision. They could not assert their jwiBJ 
ci pics and keep faith with the republicans without puttind 
an end to the supremacy of the democratic party; 
Bupremacy of the democratic party threatened more a 

■The admlniBtralion, however, did not consider lihii too good 
to try to inflaeiice liini witli the " pntron.ige," maccordauce witho 
tain inaxiiii9 of rewnnl aad puniBlimeot. (Compare Congr. Ololw, fl 
Sbbs. SSth Congr, App., 1T3 ) Tlie fulluwing, liuwever, Irutn the f 
)»rt of the WuHhinglon (.-oii'f ^tpondent of tliC IndepcuJfiit at Maj iM 
warranta the assumption that even the radical republicuns believed 
tbat he and his nssot-iates had been won ot'or. not by brilicry, but li; 
persuasion: "From llial momeottof the appointmenl of tha O 
ferencc committee) until the committee reported, the defectii 
thesecood division (the Duuplns deni'K-ratsj of the amiy nereet 
jly goiitgnn. tip to Monday lout (April 3?th\ honoviT, cnoi 
by their pledges to make it certain that slnverj woulil be defeated % 
ita designs. Tho president was nt work carneiill.v ; and all th« C 
net, it wna nnderstiiod, mode tho success of Ibis nicnsur 
mount question. Some of them were upon the Hour of the hot 
daily, and in earnest consultation wiili tlie refractory inemben, I 
BlaTcry senators t<-nusa'.-ted more biisincM in tlic huu^e tbnn tticf d 
in tlieir own chnmber, At last Ohio began to tuinblo." Tbe Im 
pendent. Hay B, 185a 



more to become the precondition of the prcaerration of 
the Union, and pati-iotic anxiety for the Union induced 
them, after » hard internal stni^'gle, to prostitute them- 
Gfilvcs not only in iho eyes of the world but in their own 
eyes; habit had given constitutional sophistry such power 
over political thought that these people were able to 
convince themselves that conscious self-degradiition was 
ennobled by love of country. Not only the Union but 
American nationality itself had lost the right to continued 
existence, and therefore the possibility of continued ex- 
istence, if self-degradation was the price to be paid for it. 
When the vote was taken on English's bill, the twenty- 
three anti-Lecompton democrats of the house had been 
reduced to twelve. If the eleven renegades believed 
that they could confidently rely on the fact that the 
population oT Kansas had become tired enough of the 
troubles, or that they would be so greedy for the material 
advantages offered as to agree also to this conscious self- 
degi-adation, their blindness to the consequences of their 
disgraceful treason to their own principles was explicable 
to some extent. Even then English's bill would have 
remained a sharp-edged weapon in the hands of lUo re- 
publicans, which they certainly would not have neglected 
to use with terrible effect; but the struggle of the two 
great parties for Kansas would thereby have been brought 
to a close; for all idea of a revolt of the republicans 
against the legal decision was excluded. But would this 
have justified the shout of Jubilation with which Bigler, 
in the senate, had greeted the announcement that the 
house had adopted the bill —"the magnetic telegraph is 
spreading, with the speed of lightning, a message of 
peace all over the land?" If the earth had swallowed 
op all Kansas, and with it all remembrance of the contest 
over it, the struggle would still have to go on without 

252 Buchanan's election — end op 35tii gonqikess. 

interruption,' because the slavery question could disapi)ear 
only with slavery. What chapter in the history of tho 
territory' up to date warranted ono to estimate so low 
the firmness and spirit of sacrifice of the men of Kansas 
in defense of tho rights guarantied them by the demo- 
cratic party against that same democratic part}' ? Would 
they, now that that party was divided, throw into tho 
mouth of the sneaking fox what, at the price of their 
blood, they had snatched out of tho jaws of tho raging 
wolf, in the days of the border ruffians, while fighting 
the externally serried ranks of the democratic party? 
The lip-democrats from the free states, who sold tho right 
of the self-determination of tho people in whose name 
they had torn to pieces the perpetual charter of liberty 
of the northwestern territories, had now to listen to Crit- 
tenden, tho shive-holding senator, when ho told them: 
"I am perfectly certain" that Kansas will resist "all 
these temptations and reject your oflFers." If he was not 
deceived in this expectation, nothing could bo gained by 
this bill; "not a straw, not the dust in the balance in 
which the peace of tho country is weighed."^ 

1 Lincoln on September 18, 1858, in Charleston. Debates between 
Lincoln and Douglas, p. 157. 
2Congr. Globe, 1st Sess. 35th Congr., p. 1814. 



The first session of tlic ihirty-fifth congress lusted until 
Juno 14, 1S5S. Some of the questions which, after the 
passage of English's bill, had to be disposetl of, were of 
much greater importance than could be inferred from the 
interest public opinion took in the deliberiitions concern- 
ing them. This fact could not tcacli the presumptuous 
narrowness of the routine politicians that it was not a 
happy thought to have given the rcpnhlicans the nick- 
nurao of llio "party of one idea." Precisely because 
they were a party of one idea, the future belonged to 
them ; for the intellectual and moral elasticity of the peo- 
ple became more and more completely iibsorbed with the 
struggle for this one idea. All else could excite no great 
intereai escept to the extent tliat it promised to bo, di- 
rectly or indirectly, of iraportfinco in the progress of this 
struggle. The attention with which a few questions were 
still followed was attributable not so much to these ques- 
tions themselves as to their presumptive influence on the 
altitude of the masses towards the administr^ition and 
the democratic party. 

On the ISth of May, tho bill for the admission of 
Oregon as a state was passed by the senate by a vote of 
thirty-livo against seventeen, although everything that 
had been said in defense of English's bill, in refeience to 
its provisions about tho number of tlio population, was 
just as applicable bore. The republicans very naturally 
threw a glaring light on the wry faces made by tho mem- 
bers of the administration party at one another; but the 
majority of them — ten against six — voted, notwith- 



standiiig, for llio bill. They did not want to let Oregi 
atone for tlio sins of congress against Kansas, and e 
' muted tlie gain which every increase of tlie free slate 
would bring lo the cause of freedom higher than the lot 
which would be caused to it by the direct strengtbenir 
of the democriitic party in conj^ress and in the eiectort 
college. The administration party, on the other haiH^ 
did not believe that it should allow any consideration 
to weigh against this strengthening of the dcmocmtil 
party. Tho administration party might easily disregard 
the fact that it was obliged to expose its perfidious intei 
vention against the free-state party in Kansas thus plainl}*; 
but it was certainly a groat trial for the south to admit n 
free state without having the admission of a new slara 
state in prospect withm any conceivable time, fial 
Oregon was sure for the democrats: tliree, votes mon 
or less, in the cicclorul college might easily turn thesoalca^ 
and it became plain to the south, day after day, that in j 
the next presidential election the decisive throw of thdj 
dice of fate would be cast. 

That the bill at first lay quietly in the hoare i 
a matter of no conseciiiencB. It would be time enoDgH 
if it were passed in the next session; and that it would li 
passed then might, considering the attitude of the repob- I 
Jicans in the senate, be looked upon as almost undouUtedy 

If, therefore, Buchanan had good reason to be satisfiM 
with the course of this matter, he was — at least so fa^ 
as be was iHjrsonally concerned — certainly much bett 
pleased with the turn which things took in Utah. TbJ 
debate on the so-called deficiency biU had caused bid) 
many unpleasant hours. Fifteen millions had been ori^ 
inally granted for tbe army, and now eiglit millions mot 
were asked for it. Even if the colTera of the tri'asarjll 
had been full, ond if normal prosperity had prevailed ilfi 


25 :> 

the economic condition of the country, this would not 
have been looked upon n-itli equanimity. But trade had 
not yet, by any means, recovered from the crash of the 
preceding year; tlie revenues from the customs duties 
under tlie new tariff still flowed in scanl ily, and the gov- 
ernment's coffers were still so euiptj- that the country 
migiit he expected at any moment to hear the seeretfiry 
of the treasury declare that recourse must be again had 
for money to tlie printing-press. And. in the first place, 
it was the campaign arbitrarily undertaken against the 
Mormons which had mndc this enormous cstr.i demand 
necessary. The criticism would, therefore, not have been 
undeserved, even if the administration had proved that 
with, the greatest economv and tlie strictest honesty the 
cost could m^t have been lessened one cent. But the con- 
tracts entereil into for this expcdiilon were not the least 
c;iuso that led Toomlis, in the senate, to express the con- 
viction that, in the whole world, there was no govern- 
mvnt so corrupt as that of the United States.' 

The bill rejected by the house on the 8th of April, 
by a vote of one hundred and twenty-four against one 
hundred and six. The most material objection was, in- 
deed, to the third section, which did not have reference to 
the army, but which, contrary to an express legal prohibi- 
tion, gruiiteil extra remuneration to the appointees of the 
house. Reconsidcnition was resolved upon the very next 
day, and the bill piissed by a vote of one hundred and 
eleven against ninety-seven. Stili, the Hi-st vote, by which 
it was defeated, when twenty seven democrats voted with 
the majoriiy, contained a censure of extraordinary sever- 
ity, and discontent over the Utah expedition had contrib- 
uted not a little to the adminisiration of that censure. 

Buclianuu might, therefore, look upon it as a spoctal 

I Congr. Glube, Ut Seas. 35th Coagr., App., p. aS8. 

25li bccuanan's election — end of 35tii co:toees9. 

favor of Heaven that, immediately before tbo end of the 
sejsion, a dispatch from Cumining, dated the 2d of May, 
reached the secretary of state; — one wliicb, in his own 
eyes, complotely and striUingiy justified tbe policy lie bad 
pursued on tbe Mormon question, Tbe iuesaa<,'o of tbe 
lOlb of June, with wbich bo transmitted it to the senate. 
informed the country tbut tbe two regiments of volun- 
teers granted by tbe law of April 7t!i were now no longer 
needed, because Ibo news received from tbo governor 
warranted the assumption that "our dilllc-ulties with tbo 
territory of Utali have been terminated." 

Others, indeed, miglit not come to this conclusion from 
that information wilb tbo sumo conlidencu. In a letter of 
Cumming'8, dated April 15tli, to Colonel Jolinston, who 
brought tbo dispatch to the notice of ibe president, we, 
indeed, read: "I liavo been everywhere recognized aa 
the governor of Utah," and Brighani Young has, in re- 
peated conversations, "evinced a willingness to ulfont 
mo every facility which I may require for I he etticient 
performance of my adaiinistrativo duties." He, how- 
ever, also stated that a great many Mormons were pack- 
ing up their property and moving away, without knowing 
whither themselves. Something said by Young seemed 
to imply that they would, perhaps, go to Sonora. And 
this embittered feeling of the people had, at least up to 
the sending of tbe dispatch, undergone no change, for U 
ro|)ortcd: "Tbo masses everywhere announce to mo that 
the torch will bo applied to every bouse, indiscriminately 
throughout the country, as soon as the troops attempt to 
cross the mountains.'" 

Even in the most favorable case, therefore, tho presi- 
dent's declaration greatly anticipated events, unless, by 
tbo termination of difficulties, tlio unconditional snbJHO- 
1 3eu. Doc., B5lh CotJgr., lat Seas., vol. XIU. Na 07, pp. 3, 6. 



lion of the Mormons waa to be nnderetood. But that a 
grp.a.1 deal more had been accomplished than could have 
been expected at the beginning of the winter was unques- 
tionable. This was due most directly and in the fullest 
measure to a brother of the celebrated explorer, Kane, 
who was indebled to the Mormons for careful nursing in 
a severe illness, and wlio now most fittingly discharged 
that debt by mediating, with the approv'al of the govern- 
ment but in no official capacity, between its organs and 
Brigham You.ig. lie had arrived at the cam|) in Fort 
Bridger on the 12th of Marc li. Under the warm rays 
of the Bun in spring both tlie snow and the courage of 
the Mormons had begun to melt away. On the 21st of 
March, i'ourtg held a "special council" in theTaberoacle, 
in order to como to a decisive resolution. We must, lie 
said there, seek refuge in negotiation. If we take the 
initiative and shed the blooil of tlie troops, the people of 
the United States, in their bitterness, will place unlimited 
means at the disposal of the government, and we will 
linally succumb in the unequal struggle.' If the govern- 
ment decided to keep the troops inactive a while longer, 
and, at tlje same time, try what it could accomplish 
by negotiation, there was, therefore, every prospect 
that an amicable settlement would be reachc-d, provided 
both sides wore satisfied with tiie restoration of a modus 

Tem|orizing was not to the liking of Colonel John- 
ston, but Camming permitted himself to be induced to go 
with Kane to Salt Lake City in tlio beginning of April. 
Young, as we have seen, did not hesitate to submit ex- 
ternally; but Cumming purchased this submission with 
the promise that the troops should not coniL^ into the 
vicinity of the settlement, and should not interfere as 

I Sue Stealwua?, Tlie RtxVy Mounuin Sdiita, p. 383, 


258 buchasam's election — esd of 35th cosgress. 

a p08s6 comitatus nntil all other ineans had been ej| 

In the meantime, on the 6th of April, Buchanan had 
issued a proclamalion to the Mormons, in which he ac- 
cused them of treason and rebellion, assured them tbri 
they would still remain entirely unmolested so far as thei 
religion was concerned,' promised full pardon to all wM 
would submit, and announced that the troops would not 
be withdrawn from the territory until the population 
■manifested a proper feelina; towards the federal govern- 
rment. On the 7th of June, Powell and McCullo'-.h arrived 
as peace commissioners in Salt Lake City, with this proc- 
lamation. A gloomy quiet prevailed in the place, Tha 
Jiosts which had moved southward were already nun 
bered by tens of thousands; and, unlerrified by tbq 
fatigues and severe privations, others followed daily | 
their footsteps from town and country, as if this Ql| 
chosen people of God were firmly resolved to wundl 
forth once- more into the unknown, pathless wildernd 
in ordoi', in complete isolation from the rest of the wo^ 
to seek a new place of refuge.* On the 10th of Jaw 
however, Young, Kimball and other elders of the chaiW 

■ " Do not deceive yourselves, nor try to miEleud others bf ptM 
Ifating the iden tlial this ia a crusade ngainst yuur religion. The a 
etitution and laws of this country can take no notice of joiu o 
whether it be true or false. Tiiat \a a queBlion betwefn your Q 
and yourselveH, in which I iheclaim all right to interf«m 
obey the laws, keep the pence, and respect the Just rightg of oth 
you will be perfectly necure, and may live on in jour pn 
or change it for another at your ]>leasure. Every intelligant n 
among you knows very well that this government has nev 
or indirectly, siiught to molest you in your worship, to control J! 
in your ecclesiustical affairs, or even to Jnllaence you in your n 
fousopinioDB." Stat, at I., XI, p. 797. 

»AccordinB to Stenhouse, loc cit., p, 890. thirty thousand j 
participated in this new exodus. 



came from Provo, ivhero tbe fugitives were oollecting, to 
negotiate with the commissioners. But opinions might 
<liffor widely as to whether the result of the negotiations 
came entirely up to the expectation to which Buchanan 
gare expression on the same day in his message. John- 
ston was, indeed, able to complete his march, begun on 
the 13th of .Tune, to Salt Lsike City wiliioot molestation. 
The Mormons' throat that be would find the country 
turned into a desert by the toreb was not carried out. On 
the other hand, he only marched tlirouifh the desolated 
city, and moved into camp on the other side of it in Cedar 
Valley. While, therefore, the Mormons had to be resigned 
to seeing their utter powerlessncss to ofTcr forcible resist- 
ance to the federal government proven in the most un- 
doubted manner, the organs of the lailer showed just as 
plainly tliat they were satisfied with this, and did not in- 
tend to hold down tlicir delianL spirit wiib an iron hand 
until it was coinpletely bent or broken, but rather con- 
sidered forbearance towards thorn advisable and prudent 
lo the extent of sparing them the humiliation of even 
a temporary military occupation of their capital. And 
that that spirit was not yet hunt or broken was manifest 
enough from the fact that their piissivi; resistance by no 
means ceased either immediately or universally. Not 
until Young liad left Provo on ilie 5ih of July, with the 
declaration that he had resolved to put an end to bis 
volontary exile, did the others gradually begin to return 
to their deserted habitations. They returned much more 
Bobor-min<led than they had left, but not as contrite or 
converted sinners, nor in the least discouraged. They 
had recognized the necessity of acting more oantiouslv 
in the future; but they not only persoveretl unmoved in 
their resolution that, in the main, the condition of things 
would have to continue as it bad been, but they were also 

2110 BDcnANAtJ'a elkchos — of 35tii coxaKKSs. 

Srmly conTineed that the federal government had coi^ 
sented to allow them to .so continue in consideration ol^ 
their external submission. 

Whether, as their leaders made them believe, Camming 
and the commissioners had privately made them the raoi 
eatisractory promises, must remain undeeided. The seqao^ 
however, proved that the policy of the federal goverO) 
ment needed only to agree with the declarations made in" 
tlie {irodam.ition of the president in order to realize ttiis 
confident expectation of the Mormons. Buchanan's prop- 
osition that the constitution did uot give the federal gor- 
ernmeni a right to any legal procedure against religious 
convictions was unassailable. The principle tliut govern- 
ment liati nothing whatever to do with the thought, I 
only witli the acts, of the subjects of the state, is u 
in it wjthoul limitation. But the Mormons gave proof c 
their religious convictions; and this proof, in the firs 
place, led, in consequence of polygamy, to a conflict n 
tht! moral convictions of the entire people and with thi 
civil law based on these convictions — a coiiSiot whlofaj 
in the nature of things, could not possibly bo lastingly e* 
Uurcd; and, in the second, to the organization of a r 
dotal iitttle, which, by its very essence, excluded the organid 
construction of a political community and subordinatJod 
on principle to any external authority. But if this v 
no, what had been gained by the expedition? Thatitfa 
oponnd or cured this abscess in the body of the ' 
t\UH un illuHion. So long as the Mormons, in accordanci 
with ttio promiscH of the proclamation, might continue fc 
enjoy Ihu rulL-at freedom in the exercise of their religiot^ 
they would neceBsarily grow, although some of the wo 
symptomatic phenomena might he considerably allayet 

A generation has since passed. Congress has ] 
law after law, each more stringent thau the precedtngJ 


20 1 

tbe coiirls have discimrged iheir duty with a strictness 
lliat look no consequences into consideration; for years 
the pulse of the economic, intellectual and moral life of 
the rest of the nation has beaten along the linos of rail- 
way and telegraph through the territory; an ever-increas- 
ing number of unenliyhteiied children of the worhl have 
settled among the Latter- Day Saints; but the Mormon 
question has not yet been solved. Flcnce we need not 
say anything more on how far from warranted Buchanan 
was in acting as if ho had banished tbis tjuustion out of 
the world hy his^M.M(»MiiVi(w*cam|mign. Yet the great 
siicvifices made were not entirely useless. The moment 
Hormonism was deprived of its isolation, an internal 
process of dissolution had necessarily begun; the fresli 
draught of air deprives the fungus of its conditions of 
existence. The hole made in the walls with which Young's 
political instinct had surrounded his ehurcb, by the in- 
coming troops, was, indeed, not large — but it could not bo 
stopped up again; and the Mortuous did not resist the 
temjuation gradually to enlarge it, because it was aohan- 
nel for the coveted gold of the Gentiles. Young could 
secure rfspect for his command that tbe Mormons should 
abstain from all business with ihcm all the less, as his 
own instinct of gain was so strong that lie secretly acted 
counter to it himself. 

At the time, however, the nature of tbe Mormon ques- 
tion was so httle mulerstoud that a great over-estimate 
of the value of the results accomplished by the presi- 
dent's policy could not be a matter of surprise. If the 
message of the 10th of June had been his farewell greet- 
ing to congress he might, therefore, have ho|Md, {lerhaps, 
that it would shed a ray of light on the end of the ses- 
aion, which would, at least for some time, lighten the 
shadows which rested upon it and the previous history of 

-END OF 35th congress. 

the admlDistration. But although the legislators had al-^ 
ready packed their trunks, thej' received a new messug^fl 
from the president on the 12th of June. He strongly 
exhorted them not to adjourn on the 14th, as they hacfl 
determined, because the legislative decisions di;nmnde< 
by the financial situation could not be reached in twd 
days and submilted by him to a conscientious examinfc 
tion, as the constitution required. Congress troubled i 
self little as to hotv the presidunt might come out of tb^ 
conflict between the urgent necessities of the treasurw 
and his constitutional duty in i-espect to the examination 
of bills. The session was notprolon^d, hut a resolution 
was hurriedly passed authorizing a new loan of tiftcen 
millions. No effort was even made by the employmoDtf 
of the oratorical art, of which an unscrupulous use vrum 
made on almost every occasion, to color the sad condw 
tion of the tinauces. (iluncy Jones, the chairman of th^ 
house committee on ways and means, exposed it i 
terms so blunt and plain tliat one might have suppose 
he belonged to tlio opposition and not to the administn 
tion party. The twenty millions of treasury notes < 
ihorized by the law of December a:j, 1S57, were spent; tbd 
receipts of customs had fallen from almost twenty-ollffi 
millions in the first tjuarter of the fiscal year to sometbina 
over seven millions in the second quarter; it was of nq 
use now to deliberate about a customs tariff, for the tretis 
ury would not get one dollar more from higher dutiet 
because nothing was imported; the expectation ihattrada 
would revive had unfortunately not been fulfilled- 
was the only consolation he offered the country.' 

Even if the administration and the dernoeratio party batfl 
been really as completely guililess of all this us they bw 

' See the message. Congr. Globe, Ist Sees. 3Jt]i Oongr., p. 2961, 4 
JoncsH Bjietcli, id., pp. 3018 JT 



lieved or pretended to believe themselves to be, these 
facts were a bed of thorns against the points of which a 
tuiieh thicker cover than the triumphant message of 
peace of the 10th of June would not have been able to 
afl'ord protection. The politicians recognized this so 
clearly that the appiirent philosophic calm with which 
thej' stretched themselves on it was a subject of groat 
surprise. To one thing only it conid not be traced: the 
certainty of tbcir powerlessness to change in the least the 
condition of affairs. The only satisfactory explanation 
was the assumption that they understood the signs of the 
time well enough to be firmly convinced that these ques- 
tions, heavily as they might weigh in the balnnce, under 
ordinary circumstances, could not now decide on which 
side the balance would turn in tho party struggle. 

The wordy battles which were immediately begun when- 
ever the fall elections were impending, as well as tho 
daily utterances of the press, must have forced tho rec- 
ognition of this fact on those who were most slub'jornly 
determined by their wishes to close their eyes to it. 
Both sides naturally showered their blows wherever they 
thought they discovered a weak spot or defect in the 
armor of their opponents; bnt in attack and defense both 
sides employed all their strength, from the very start, 
only on what related to slavery; — which bad never be- 
fore happened to the same extent in a. case in which no 
concrete question called for an immediate decision. This 
was still true, in the main, after Kansas, on the 2d of 
August, had rejected the offer of English's bill, by a vote 
of eleven thousand three hundred against one thousand 
seven hundred and eighty-eight,' This majority was so 
overwhelming that even the most sanguine slavocratB 
were at last obliged to abandon all hope of forcing Kan- 

1 Wilder, Annnls ol Kansas, pp. 180-18a 


sas into the Union as a slave state. Now the only questioi 
was how long the slavocracy and their northern alliei 
would be able to prevent its admission as a free statej 
iind this was a matter of relatively inferior importance 
So far as Kansas was henceforth used by the news)>apeid 
writers and orators as a subject at all, it was rather t 
the most obvious and striking illustration. The real ker; 
nel of the argument was the discussion of tiiu general 
principles. This was in iiself the most significant andj 
most menacing sign of the times; for people engaged in 
empty wrangling about stcrilo abstractions, not bGCaus< 
they had no concrete object to battle for, bnt althouglid 
at the moment, nothing detinito was to be gamed or lostjl 
The burning questions of iho day were treated by them am 
of secondary importance, and they concentrated ail theiB 
strength on the struggle over the differences of principle 
on the slavery question. Politicians who delight to ffOUH 
out their floods of eloquence on principles arc freqneu^j^ 
doctrinarians who masV ihe impotency of their statM 
inanship and their will under n parade of glittering g 
eralitios. But to now interpret the going back to Uid 
ultimate causes of the struggle over the slavery qnestion 
in this sense would have been a dangerous error. On t 
contrary, in this going back a powerful expression W( 
given to a terrible deepening of the contest, for it I 
nonnced aa awakening to the lecogniiion that the dA> 
cisive fact was the existence of a dilTerencu of prinoiplftV 
The more thoroughly this difference was discussed tbaT 
clearer it must become that all the concrete questionn 
which had been fought over with so much passion weraa 
the natural and inevitable consequencosof it; and,wh6thai'r 
people wished it or not, the discussion had to becuntinuo(tl 
until its last, logical consequence wa.s drawn and expr 
so clearly that there could be no mistaking it. 

TEE ritULI'llliSSIULE ( 


This Seiviird tliil, oa the 25Lh of October, in a spoecli 
at Roclicstcr;- and his nords resounded like a mighty 
clftp of thuiuiei" ihrougli tho whole country. A storm ot 
iimignation broke loose u|)on him, us if ho Lad committed 
Hn unb..'.ird of and horrible crimu. A doubt semned to 
be possible only on one thing: that is, whether llie amaze- 
ment or indignation excited by his speech was ibo greater. 
And yet ho had only aaid what all felt. Nay, only l)e- 
causQ all Celt that be hud so churactertzed the real nature 
of the struggle in a few words that it could never again 
be hidden in the mist of deception was the impression 
these few words made so powerful. The speech was a 
historic act, the import of which could not yet be mcus- 
ured; not because of the ideas to which ii gave ex- 
pression, but only because of one sentence of happy 
indention — "it is an irrepressible conflict." 

A sentence of happy invention: — this is evident not 
on!)' from the rest of the speech, but becomes still more 
apparent from the fact that Seward was, so to speak, 
struck completely blind when the hist consequences ol 
the words became accomplished incls. His speculative 
powers of thought were sufliciently acute and well trained 
to enable him to discover the concisest formula of tlie 
problem, and he Lad the courage, in his speculative think- 
ing, to pursue the logical consequences to be deduced 
from it to the end; but Le had not the statestnun-tike 
genms or instinct to discover, from the previous actual 
development of events, bow their subsetjuent actual de- 
velopment must take place in accordance with the for- 
mula Lu had rightly constructed. The saying invented by 
the thinker was a blast in the trumpet of judgment, bnt 
the infei-cnces of tbo statesman drawn from ii amounted 
to a hope which was not only destitute of all real foun- 
dation, but which could not by any possibility bo ful- 


UAXAN's election — END OF Z^ITU CO-VG. 

filled, if that Baying correctly describeti t!ie nature of Ihei 

"Tlio two systems of slave labor and free lubor," said 
Seward, "aro more tlian incongruous — tbey are ini±om*4 
palible. They liiive never |)erinanently existed togqtfcei 
in one coiinlry, and iliey never can ; . . . it is an in 
repressive conflict between opposing and enduring forces* 
and it means tbat the United Stutes must and will, soonei 
or later, become eillier entirely a alave-holding nation oS 
entirely a free-labor nation. . . . k is tbe failure to.1 
apprehend this great truth that induces so many unsuc-l 
cessful attempts at final compromise between the slave! 
and free states, and it is tbe existence of tliis great faot.j 
that renders all suoli pretended compromises, when made, 
vain and epiieraeral.'' ' 

Generally only these sentences arc qr.otwi from thecele- 
briited speech, and, out of them, a wreath is woven about 
Seward's head to which bo had no claim. A conclusion J 
had to follow them; for otherwise the speech wouldl 
have been an academic essay from the professional chair,r 
and not tbe political confession of faith of a statesmani 
who already occujiied the first place among ihe leulei 
of his party in congress, and who bad the best prospeotfl 
of being in two years its presidential candidate. If thet 
claims were well founded, what became of the constitQ-l 
lion which left the elates free to choose belween the twol 
systems? Could or would the pro])hecy be fulfilled aodfl 
etill ihis constiiulional right of the states be preserved F J 
Not until this question was answered could these propi 
sitions, no matter bow unassailable, become the basis of] 
a political programme; and Ibeir proclamation had ntA 
poliliualsignihcance except to the extent that they wer^l 
a political programme, Seward did not ignore UuKifl 
jBewnt Speeches and Writings ot W. U. Sevvnrd, |>p. 391, 2V2. 


His answer to the question was: "If these states are to 
again become universally sliivc-lioUling, I do not protend 
to say with what violations of the constitution that end 
shall be accomplished. On the other hand, while I con- 
fidently believe and hope that my country will yet be- 
come a land of universal freedom, I do not expect that it 
will be made so otherwise than through the action of the 
several states co-operating with the federal government, 
and all acting in strict conformity with their respective 
constitutions."' Whether the politicians continued or 
stopped the useless work of subtly devising compromises, 
the people might contemplate the further development 
of the irrepressible conHict with the calmness with which 
one hears the angry hiss of a venomous serpent without 
its sting; for the realization of the first alternative was 
and would remain an impossibility, even if the constitu- 
tion were lorn into shreds. 

Seward was universally considered as the statesman 
par excellence ot the republican party; and he possessed 
the qnalifications demanded by the school-like, not to say 
guild-like, statecraft which dominates in cabinets and em- 
bassies, more fully than any other republican politician. 
But precisely on this account he did not perceive that his 
reasoning excluded a peaceful, constitutional solution of 
the problem; for he was certain a priori that the possi- 
bility of such a solution could not be questioned, because 
the possibility of the permanent existence of the Union 
without a violation of the constitution had evidently to 
be the fundamental presupposition of the entire action of 
every statesman who was faithful to the constitution. 

Another republican who, until within a few months, 
had occupied so modest a position among the politicians 
of the party that the great majority of the people knew 

I Ret-ent Speeches and Writings of W. H. Seward, p. 398. 


only his name, or even not ihat, had, three years before 
become thoroughly convinceil oF the irrepressiblpnessa 
the conflict, witliout faUing into tho conLradiction I 
which Seward overthrew his own reiisoning, Troe, evei 
he had not followed out the diain of ihou^^ht to the 1 
frightful consequence; but he bad simply broken it witl^ 
a deep sigh, leaving the matter in the hands of un i "" 
wise and all-merciful God. On his way through life b^ 
had been able to gather only a few crumbs of methodic* 
statecraft, but for that very reason he made no pre 
sumptuous over-estimate of its power. Afiicii as 
wish that its postulates might be found in harmony WitU 
the reality of things, ho viewed facts loo laively ailA 
soberly to couple, like Sewaixl, the absolute negatlVi 
proclaimed by the latter, and in accordance with his o 
interpretation, with the confident aflirmative to be i 
(erred from tiiat arbitrarily presupposed harmony, 
too was tar, very far, from fully understanding wliaS X 
involved in the irreprcssibleness of the conflict; 
might come to understand it, if he continued in the pall 
into which the simple truthfulness of his political t 
had led him; while Seward, with his Eochcslcr apeeotlj 
could never bring the ship of slate into the right coun 
for either his compass or his chart was wrong, 
in Abraham Lincoln, a much more dangerous enemy u 
against the slavocracy than in the senator from Noirf 
York who was so grossly abused because of his Rochesten 
speech, but not because Heaven had givcpi him to 1 
people as a political genius and savior. Seward was n 
only far superior to him in genenil culture and i 
training as a statesman — he surpassed him also in nutOM 
endowments. But Lincoln had gone through a ! 
which more than compensatetl for all this; and i 

laTished on him the gifts which might, in that school^ 



develop info tlio intollectual powers nnd qualities of char- 
acter which would he needed more than all else by the 
man in whose hands the helm was to ha phiccO during 
the storm. 

lie was born in a, slave state,' and grew up in a free 
state in the jioverty and privation of pioneer life. What 
he was indebted to the schoolmaster for would not have 
filled him to fill the place of a teacher of an elementary 
class. But while his muscles \voro{?;iiningextraordinnry 
power behind the plow and in the steady use of Iho ax 
iind spade, belaid, in his leisure houi-s, hy unwearying in- 
dustry iind earnest, inlellectual and monil labor, the broad 
and deep foundalion of his future hisloric;il greatness. 
Yet he would himself certainly have made nieiriest over 
it, if he had heard it prophesii;d, during these years, that 
lie was to be called upon to play a part of any importance 
in the destinies of hia country, to say nothing of a part 
of such importance that not only his grateful countrymen, 
but the judgment of history, would assign him a place im- 
mediately utter, if not equal to, AVashington's. Jt even 
seems as if, at this lime, he had not the tniidlcst spark of 
ambition, in th^ ordinary sense of the word. Neither 
can it be snid that it in any way led him to the situations 
in whiob fate placed him. He was only conscious that 
the lot which had fallen to him .it birth, from fortune's 
wheel, wua almost a blank; but herecognizi'd, at thesame 
time, that a persevering will was sufficient to enable 
hJm, Willi the development of this gigantic new world, to 
grow into a position in life which might never perhaps 
be brilliant, but which would improve rapidly and stead- 
ily. This gift which is laid in the cradle of every Amer- 
ican lie was resolved to turn to account, for be wiis 

1 On tlie 13tK of Febiuarv, 1809, on the farm of his father, Thomas, 
111 Hordiii, now La Eue. county. Ktntuobj'. 



certain that he possessed the power lo will calmly and 
soberly. He seemed not to have yet foniied any idea a»J 
to the special manner in which he would become the 
architect of his own fortune. Until the time had come 
when lie could usehts own judgnteot in choosing between— 
the opportunities life might afford liim, he was sarieiiet 
with the considerntiun that knowledge and inCellectuafl 
ability are a power in every calhng. In his reading, bff" 
was spared the trouble of a choice, lie had to take what 
chance tlirevv in his way; and. altliough lie did so, llio 
number of books ho could procure was very small. But j 
he not only read them, but studied them in snch a wa^ 
thai he mastered them completely and for all time, Hoj 
dwelt on every new conception and every half-understo< 
idea with imperturbable perseverance, until he grasped !■ 
with such clearness that he could give it a form in whici 
it became inlelligibtc to minds much less well-trained tban^ 
his own. The intellectual discipline he thereby acqiiiredfl 
was worth more than the biggest bag of knowledge htb 
could have carried away from the desk of a scliool. Bad 
this quiet, unwearying struggle, without exlraneouBbela 
without the incentive of a direct, practical object, whiclL 
notwithstanding he engaged in with all his strength, ' 
besides, a moral act; and all the more so because it bftcfi 
not its origin in an ardent, innate thirst for knowledgfti 
Without being indolent, Lincoln was not one of those t 
whom labor, whether intellectual or physical, is a plai 
are. And if, notwithstanding this, he not only worla 
as much as, and at what, he was obliged to, be did t 
partly because labor was the only means of succeBS 
life, but partly also because he had so lively a sentiment^ 
of tho moral importance of labor in general that he ooak 
not do otherwise than prosecute the mtellccluat lubor to! 
which he had once subjected himself, with the deep, eac>] 


riBcing earnestness which is the preconJition of that 
sontimetit being developed to a clear UDderstandJng. 
Equipped wilh few acquirements, but with a conlidenco 
in his intellectual strength, which, with all his modesty, 
was as strong as that in his muscular power, because like 
the latter its capacity had been tested long enough, he 
luft the paternal roof and lauDched his ship on the broad 
stream of American life. 

The old figure may be taken here in its literal sense, for 
the real beginning of Lincoln's career was as a boatsman 
on atrip on the Mississippi to New Orleans. Aftersome 
time he repeated the journey in the same capacity. The 
scenes of slave-life which he saw in New Orleans made 
a deep impression on him. It is not at all improb- 
able that, as it is related ho said himself, they decided 
his position on the slavery question. But we must not 
suppose that the impressions muile on him by slavery 
were so overwhelming that they naturally rijiened into a 
resolution to seek his real tusk in life in combating the 
"peculiar institution." He had not the temperament to 
become a fanatic, nor was his religious feeling of such 
intensity as to prompt the thought — and especially at 
so young an ago — of his devoting his life to the service 
of a definite, ethical idea. He was not only a genuine, 
matter-of-fact American, but all his thoughts and feel- 
ings were still too directly and too completely under the 
influence of rough, backwoods life, for the suH'erings of 
the slaves to throw him into sentimental paroxysms of 
marked violence. But the kind-natured eyes of a child 
in the surprisingly homely face of the uncouth giant told 
of a warm heart, to which the weak and the unfortunate 
could always confidently appeal, while a bright mind 
looked out from them; one which, under the guidance of 
such a heart, must have already learned too well how to 

272 blchanan's elkciiox — ksd of Soih cosgekss. 

(Irstingtii^h between rigbt and wrong, to pass such ; 
wrong unmoved. The peculiar, melancholy streak in thd 
nature u( the inimiLnhle anecdottst, whose fveqaentlfl 
coarse sLorles made his hearers roar with laughter, i 
ceived nuurislimunL here; and the germ which bad been 
implunled in liim by his own obsui- ration found in thq 
innate truth of his nature, and in the moral earnestncs 
of his endeavor, the most nntriliong soil. But we aw 
undoi'ltedly warranted in as^nming that the deeponingon 
hia thought on slavery did not begin until many yean 
later, for we see it then keep pace exactly with the de- 
velopment of the struggle of parties about it; and it 
remained cimracterisiu: of him to the last, and was of 
immense importance during the civil war, that he never, 
or in any particular, went in advance of the time. Be- 
sides, he was still not only intetlectiially too immature, 
but he had nor the leisure necessary to oc^jupy liimscll' 
tenaciously, profoundly and earnestly with problums of 
such magtiituUe. If his thought, will and action bud 
not had, lor a long time more, the one aim to becoiii% 
something biiriself. ho would scarcely ever have been ubl^ 
to co-operate, in any important way, in the solution o 
tbo slavery question. 

He hud tried many things bofoi'e he was admitted 1 
the bar in Illinois. Ho hud been a clerk in a store, a aho^ 
keeper an<l surveyor — tirst as an assistant lo the B 
John Calhoun who was afterwards to achieve such t 
celebrity !is president of the Lecimipton convention, 
a merchant he gave proof of no great capacity, and U I 
surveyor he merely discharged his duties with satisfu 
tion, but did not, like so many adepts in that art, lay th3 
foundation of a fortune of his own by speculttionln landj 
By his political activity he began slowly to climb rountt 
after round of fortune's ladder. There wore at this tima 



no reai professional politicians in the young state, and he 
certainly was not one. Bul,consiiIering liis interest in all 
public affairs, it was natural that lie should lake an active 
part iu the agitation precedinf; elections. His gift of 
oratory, materially lielped by the great personal affec- 
tion fell for hira, and emphasized by his powerful gestures, 
soon brought him a local reputation. The success he met 
with in this field gave him an increased liking for it, and 
finally decided his choice of a profession. In the younger 
stales politician and lawyer were coincident ideas much 
more than in the older states. As a minimum of legal 
knowledge sulliced for admission to the bar, it was almost 
a matter of course that the young, struggling polilician 
who had to make a livmg should become a lawyer. When 
he thundered his monologues from the stump, or parailed 
his readiness and hie wit in genenit conversation at the 
street corners, before the court house or about the glow- 
ing stove of the tavern, he acijuired a clientele for him- 
self who were ready to place tlieir cases before judges 
and juries in bis hands, and, on the other hand, the court- 
room was the high training-school for the stump and the 
tribune. In these growing commonwealths, lawyers and 
politicians could make their way without going to great 
expense for printer's ink and lump od. Success depended 
here, incomparably less than under more developed and 
more stable circumstances, on knowledge; and one at- 
tained it must easily and most certainly by continually 
mingling with the people in their daily life and avocations. 
In the younger states it is seen, more clearly than any- 
where else, that in the United Slates the sole source of all 
power is the people; and the people stand most readily 
and firmly by those in whose leadership the pulse-beat of 
their own thought, feeling and will is felt most power- 
fully. But this docs not imply that the masses begin to 

274 BUcuA 

1 ELKcmos — END ov S'y\ 

ttirn away frnm a leader wlion he goes beyond a certatm 
line close tn their nivn intRllecInal nnd moral level. Si^ 
long as tlioy Fee! thiil he has not become alienatntl fi-oni 
them at heart, they grow prouder of him the higher hJ 
towers above all; for his greatness raises ibemsplTes ifj 
their own eyes. Flence, notwithslantling the briUiantl 
success which may be achieved in the United States "H 
the aid of the arts of the demagogue, the politlciiin, nvetti 
there, builds most securely, who does not descend to tliO 
level of the masses, but who endeavors, in his own efforts 
towards a loTty goal, to lift them np with litm by pOK 
means. If Lincoln wished todotbishohad tobegin togivirj 
his intellectual ability a much greater breadth nnd mnoli f 
greater depth than it bad hitberio bad^by earnest lalmr. j 
This he did by honest industry. His legal book-knowl-l 
edge, indeed, never exceeded rather narrow limits; but. J 
by the study of the cases contided to bim, he trained hwl 
power of logical thinking so tlioroughly that, notwiib- 
standing, bo gradually became a lawyer of great dislinc- I 
lion. He learned quickly and surely to discover ttteV 
decisive points, and acrjuired sncb skill in the art be bail I 
practiced early, of clothing his thoughts in the simplest J 
nnd clearcsL form, that competent judges said that biaj 
statement of u case was so convincing tiiut. argument^ 
was scarcely necessary in order to pronounce a corrucW 
judgment. Greater praise could hardly have been 
stowed upon him; for this meant ibnt the lawyer needeill 
only always to servo bis client in sucli a way as to remain^ 
at all times, an honest servant of the law and of justice 
This high moral earnestness became more and mm 
characteristic of bis professional activity as his intelloc 
ual development advanced, and it entered also iatu llial 
political life in cver-increusing mousure. By bis eOl^ 
oivnoy in the legislature (l»3i-184'i), he worked bimai-lfl 


into so (listin^nished a position in the party that be — 
the only whig in Illinois — was elected by a great major- 
ity to the thirtieth congress (lSi7-lS+9j, altliougb the 
opposing candidate waa the popular preacher, Cartwright. 
According to the customs of tlie party at the time, in 
Ilhnois, a re-election was absolutely excluded, and on that 
accoant alone the part he playud on this, his first appear- 
ance on the national stage, had to be a modest one. Nut- 
withstanding this, he had the courage to take the initia- 
tive in a step in the slavery question which might have 
had farieacbing consequences if it had been crowned 
with success. And it seemed for a moment that this 
was not im|iossibie; for his propositions were not only 
nnquestionably capable of being carried out, but were so 
evidently drawn up in the spirit of a really "honest 
broker" that the representatives of the two opposing 
camps, who firet obtained information of it, considered it 
acceptable. Tlio bill iniroduced by him on the lOlh of 
Jannary, 18-19, for the gradual abolition of slavery in the 
District of Columbia, met with the approval of the mayor 
of Washington as well as of Giddings. As it not only 
assured lull compensation to the owners of the slaves, but 
provided that the law should not go into force unttl after 
it had been established by a vote that the population of 
the District was in favor of it, it must seem at the first 
glance less surprising that Colonel Seaton agreed to it 
than that Giddings did.' Since Lincoln, as appears from 

■ Oiddii]i;9 writofl on the lltb of January, 1840, in his journal, on 
the CMnsiderations that determined him: "This evening our whole 
iDMa remained in the dining-i'txim after ten, and conversed upon the 
subject of tir. Lincoln's bill to abolish elaverj. It wbb approved bj 
all; I believp it as ROihI n bill aa we could get at this time, and wbb 
willinft to pny for Bltii'es in order lo save them from the Bouthern 
market, a^ I suppose every man in tlie District ivould sell liis elavea 
ir he Buw tliat slaver; was to be oboliahed." Jolin Q, Nicolaj and 


SeatoQ'a questions, did not n-isb merely to make a dem- 
onstration, bat actually hoped for success, his bill really 
only proved how deeply sunk in optimistic illusion bestiU 
was as to the nature of the struggle- Had not even the 
most moderate representatives of the south for years de- 
clared the abolition of slavery in the District, without 
the consent of Maryland and Virginia, a breach of good 
faiUi ! Did not the slavocrats know how greatly all their 
successes hitherto had been facilitated by the fact tbat 
the federal capital was situated in the domain of slavery, 
or had they lost all sense of the importance of moral de- 
feats? Was it not a presupposition of every project of 
emancipation that slavery was an evil? And how far 
i\-ere the great majority of slaveholders still from admit- 
ting this in wordsl The bill was an invitation to the 
District to give its consent to a terrible blow at the in- 
terests of the slavucracy, and wanted to pay for it out of 
the federal treasury; that is, in part with the money of 
the south. It must, therefore, have been unacceptable 
to the representatives of the south in proportion as it 
offered more to the people of the District, and especially 
to the slaveholders in it. 

The struggles of the next six years made Lincoln under- 
stand that his bill was a chase, and why it was a chase, 
after an intangible shadow. In the remarkable letter of 
August 15, 1855, to which reference was made above, lie 
says: The hope of a peaceful extinction of slavery is a 
delusion, because the south will not give it up,' The fact 

John Hay. Abralmm Lincoln {The Century Magazine, February, 188T, 
p. 033), aflvr Ihe Cleeeland Pott of March 81, 1878. 

■"SiDce then (a speech in which Roberlsou hnd spoken of the 
peaceful estinction o( slBvei-y) we have had Ihlrly-sii yesxr, of expe- 
rience; and ihii experience has demonstrated, I think, that thera is 
no peaceful extinction of slavery in proapecC lor u». . . . 

" That spirit which deiiired the peaceful extinction of alaTery linn 


that Ibis was the allilude of the south towards the ques- 
tion Lad long been well known to the whole people. 
The point of signidoaiice was that Lincoln had the cour- 
age of the truth to admit to himself that from that fact 
it followed directly that the peaceful extinction of slav- 
ery was impossihie. While Suward, three years later, In 
his Rochester speech, still endeavored to deceive himself 
and the people on this subject, Lincoln even now declared 
theirrepressiblenesso! the conflict in words from which it 
was clearly evident what would be the final issue. ''Our 
political problem is, 'Can we, as a nation, continue to- 
gether pertnaneHlli/ /'orever — half slaves and half free?' " 
that is: Is the permanent preservation of the Union, under . 
the present constitution, possible!' 

But what was gained by the fact that Lincoln saw- 
farther than Seward, if his two concluding sentences, 
"The problem is too mighty for me.' May God in IIis 

itself becnme PTtinct with tlie occaeioo and the men of Ibo Rtvolii- 
[iou. Under the impulse of that occasion nearly halt the stHtFs 
adopted sysIemH of emancipation at once ; and it is a significant fact 
that not a single state has done the liku since. So fur aa peaceful, 
voluntary emancipation is concerned, the condition ot the negro elave 
in America, scarcely leas terrible to the conteui plat ion o( a free niimi, 
is now BO fixed and hopeless of change for the better aa tliat of the 
loHt soul@ of the finally impenitent. Tlie autocrat of all the Riissiaa 
will resiga his crown and proclaim his subjects free republicans 
sooner than will our American maatera voluntarily give up their 
slaves," Nicolay and Hay, Abr. Lincoln, The Centurg Maijuziiit, 
May, lf>87, p, 866. 

I This, however, does not mean that he even now answered the 
question unqualifiedly in the negative. Bather is it certain that in 
his case, too, the perception of the fact could not prevail over his 
wish. In the presidential campaign of 1656, he said in a speech at 
Galena: " All this tallt about the dissolution of the Union is hum- 
bug—nothing but folly. We do nut want to dissolve the Union; 
you shall not. " Ibid., May, 1887. p. 100. 

* In the previous year (1S34) he had aaid in a public speech at Peo- 

278 buohanah's eleotioji — ehd of Sotd congresb. 

mercy superintend the solution," were intomletl to an. 
nouncc ttiat be was resigned to let the inevitable take its 
course? The most important thing wns not whether what 
was right was recognizoH, but whcthop it was done. 
Even some months before Seward had uast the fire-bmnU_ 
term " irrepressible conQicl " among ihe people, LincollL 
had proven that in this respect he would be a much more 
reliable leader of the republicans than many of the moat^ 
notable men in the party, who were not very far from be- 
lieving that its whole political judgment and conscience 
were porsonitied in themselves, and who saw this boW 
assumption generally recognized by a large circle of t 

Douglas's attitude towards the Lecomplon questiort" 
was, us we have seen, consequent on the great pressure 
brought to bear on him. As early as in the senatorial 
election of 1S55, It became evident that Illinois no 
longer belonged to the absolutely "safe" democratic 
states. The democrats, indeed, still had the majority in 

ria: "If all earthly puwer were g[vpii me, Isbould not tiiow whatl^ 
ilo as tn the existing instllutioD." His &r»t idea would be to MOd A 
ilavFS to Liliei'ia. Closer reflection nhoM'ed, liowevur, that, if auoh ■ 
wiuree were renliy posBiblp, tliey would be condtiiincil lo certain d 
Htruction. "Whattlicn? Free tliem alt. and keep them umong Oj 
as underlioKB'' Is it quite certain timt tliis betters tlieir conditi 
I think I would Dot bold one in slavery at any rnte: yet the pointfl 
iiut clear enougli to me to denounce peoiile upon. What m-xtf Fr^ 
them, and niHke tliom politically and sudallyour equals? Mjro 
ft-eliiiKS will not admit of this: and if mine wouU. we well knc 
that thos« of the gri^at miiss of white people will not. Whether tl 
fetilitig accords with justice and soniid judguient ia not llw ai 
question, if, indei-d, It is aiiV part of it, A universal feeling, wlielb 
well ur iil-tountled. cannot Iw safely disregarded. We c.tnnot, thei| 
make tliem equals. It does »eeiii tu ine that aystems of tfrodni 
emancipation niiulit be adopted; bnl for their tardiness iothb,^ 
will not undeilabe to judge our brelbrun of Ihe south." 
between Lincoln and Dauglni, p. 74. 



Ihe legislature; but the split which the skvery question 
had made ia the party had led to the defeat of the can- 
didate of the " regulars." This was due, in no small 
measure, to Lincoln's willingness to sacrifice himself per- 
sonally for the sake of great tangihle interests. He was 
the caadidato of the whigs; and the latter demanded of 
the democratic opposition that they too should vote for 
him, because the struggle against the encroachments of 
the slavocracy must take precedence of all other consid- 
erations, and because in erery alliance the weaker should 
leave the leadership to the stronger. The anti-Nebraska 
democrats would, houever, not be convinced by this rea- 
soning, and at tirsl none of tlio three candidates received 
the conslitulional majority of all the votes cast. But 
some of Lincoln's partisans soon became tired of the 
struggle, and, in order to prevent the election of a Ne- 
braska democrat,' he had, at the last moment, induced 
the ndhercnis who had remained faithful to him to fol- 
low the minority's flag and to cast their voles for Trumbull. 
The assertion of his opponents that a formal contract 
was then entered into, according to which the demo- 
cratic opposition had bound themselves, in the next elec- 
tion, to vote for Lincoln, was entirely baseless;* but the 
largest part of the whigs and anti-Kebraska democrats 
had since then become fused Into the republican party, 
and the stavucracy had uninterruptedly curried on the 

•The regulars li ad dropped their own eiiiididQtc. Shields, and made 
Oovernor Mattt^soa tlieir HUadai'd-bcnrt^r, becnusu ho ivos such a 
tuvurite, on ai'count of the part he had [ilnyed iu the politics ot tbo 
■:jtt!<. that a part ot the oppusitiou Bnally ovtriatiie their obJectioD* 
in respect to the DBtional question, 

1 According to Dou};las'a statetuent, tlio original agreeoient was 
the reverse of this; first Lincoln and then Trumbull. See his atate- 
luent and Liia^ulii's auswor. Debutes betweun Liucoln and Oouglu, 
pp 07, 68, 73. U, OJ. 


most effectual propagaiidism for the latter. Notwith-J 
standing the extraordinary popularity, therefore, that! 
Douglas enjoyed in Illinois, his re-election would not I 
have been at all certain, even if the party had been unan- [ 
niiously in favor of it. Not to alienate the great body I 
of it from himself, he imd to fall under the displeasurofl 
of the slavocraoy and the administration, and his defealil 
was, therefore, among the possibilities. But suddenly hel 
saw a prospect that what he bad lost on the one band I 
by the battle against the so-called Lecoinpton swindle he f 
might gain on the other n hundred and a thousand fold. I 
Some of the most influential spokesmen of ihe radical I 
wing of the rt^pubiiciins began zealously to argue that I 
their party comrades in Illinois should abstain from put- f 
ting up a candidate of their own and should support! 
Douglas's candidacy. Wilson, who cerlainly was Dot. inJ 
other respects, among the pusdianimous who on ercryl 
occasion were able to find an excuse for for^i^etting tbRT 
maxim principiia obstu-, laid so much stress on the| 
strengthening of the alliance with the anti-LooomptotL 
democrats, that, for ihe republicans to prevail on thettt-^ 
selves to march under the flag of the author of the anti-f 
Nebraska bill, seemed to him to be only a proof of abilitya 
for cool, calculating, practical politics.' Jiurlin^me^l 

' He certainly kiiuw at this time that, hs he relates in I 
Ri»e and Foil of the Power. li p. 503. DouglsB, « 
before ihe vote on tbe English bill, in a consultation at t)ie a 
Lecoinpton democrats, " while avowing lmuwi)0|i|Xi«ltion to tlioUU^I 
btated it at his opiniou that those who hod Iiiilierto o|iposed tlia^ 
measure might conaistentl)' go far it. because they could claim thul 
it did ' virtually' BUbiiiit the <|ue«tian at issue to the ptfople." 
the other hand, it niust be i|iiestionable whether, spite of ihia waver-^ 
ing attitude of Douglaa, nr rather precisely because of it, that la. In I 
order to "strenKthen his kiii^eii," he did not wish to put him uodcrfl 
ubligaiions to the republk-tkua. An authentic dei'lnrution 
point by hiniBolf hns not yet, na fnc us I know, been acknowledged. I 


who was almost equal in the violence of his declamation 
and denunciation to the southern fire-eaters, called u\mn 
llie youth of the land, in a speech in congress, to rally 
around this brave champion. The hot-headed Greeley 
went to Douglas's house to confer with him, and ijrad- 
ua!ly tallied liimself and wrote himself into a certain en 
thusiitsm for the idea, so that he treated those who would 
not bo convinced of its greatness with bitter scorn as 
ho|)e]es3ly stupid in matters political.' 

Lincoln liad been for a long time the dosignated candi- 
date of the republican parly. The history of his last 
electoral oampivign was not yet forgotten. Perhaps this 
or that now ally of Douglas ho]»ed that ho would do as 
he had done before — ^induce his friends to drop him and 
go over to his rival for the sake of the good cause. It 
may be asserted with certainly that, by doing so now, he 
would at most have saoriliaed his own oandidaoy in favor 

III the work menticinnl (II, p. 5671, he saya that only lie " aod other 
members of both the aenate and Ihe house were led (by the state- 
ments made by Douglas in the confeieocea with them) to believe 
him to tie in earnest, and that ho would be practically fighting their 
bittllea in the coming presidential contest. Hih repented deolarationa 
that he was fully committed to fight the thiug to the end, that he 
had 'checked his luKgaeie and taken a through ticket' with the be- 
lief that he would be re-elected in any event, led eeveral of the 
republicnna to look with fdvor upon his return to the senate, in 
theconllilent expectatioii that it would lend to divide and disrupt 
the democratic party, and aid in the election of their candidate (or the 

1 On this whole matter, see Kellogg's speech of BInrch 18, 1800. 
Conur. Gliibe, Ut Sess. 3Ctli Congr.. App. pp. 157-164. Compare, 
aU^ HolliBtei'B Life of Colfax, pp. 110-132. In Illinois it was be- 
heved for a time that even Seward was not unsympathetic toward 
the plan. See Lincoln's letter of June. 185B. to Wilson, in Nicolay 
aid Hay, Abraham Lincoln, The Cetilurg Magazine July, 1887. 
p. 338. 

282 Buchanan's election — end of 35th congbess. 

of that of some other republican. In Illinois, not only 
could people not see that the good cause was best served 
in this way, but, even leaving that entirely out of consid- 
eration, they were not at all willing that the wise men of 
the east should dictate to them what they had to do or 
not to do; and the history of the project became an event 
of great importance, because this fact found very clear 
expression. If the slaver\' question imperiled the Union, 
the west — that is, the central region of the continent — 
was, because of its geographical position, interested in an 
incomparably greater degree than the east in the further 
development of the struggle. Of this it became every 
year more and more clearly conscious, and therefore more 
and more firmly resolved not to allow its position on that 
question to be determined either by the east or the south, 
but to grasp the balance itself with a firm hand. The 
unanimous nomination of Lincoln was the answer given 
to the obtrusive counselors of the republican state con- 
vention at Springfield. 

It was at first hard for Grcele}', in the pride of his in- 
fallibility, to look at the wicked game with favor. He 
gave vent to all his feelings in a letter in which he re- 
buked the republicans of Illinois as if they were bold, 
headstrong school-boys.^ The high-flown casligatory lect- 

lOn July 24, 1858, to Joseph Medill. of Chicaii;©. ** You have taken 
your own course — don't try to tlirow the blame on others. You have 
repelled Douglas, who might have been conciliated and attached to our 
own side, whatever he may now find necessary to say or do, and, 
instead of helping us in other state?, you have thrown a load upon us 
that may probably break us down. You know what was almost the 
unanimous (!?) desire of the republicans of other states; and you 
spurned and insulted them. . . . You have got your elephant — 
you would have him — now shoulder him.'' Loc. cit., p. 357. Tlie 
authors remark that they had not seen the original but only a coi>y 


lire concluded with an exhortation to Lincoln, at least, 
not to swerve a hair's breadth ti-om the principles of the 
parly. If ho doL-s so, " he is lost and all others sinU down 
M-iih him." Itight as this advice was, to receive it now 
from Greeley's lips inusl have seemed exceedingly com- 
ical to Lincoln. In his speech before the state courenlion 
tie had subjected the proposition made hy Greeley and 
his associates to a destructive criticism; and he did not 
assign reasons of expediency only for its rejection, but 
gave his speech the character of a solemn protest, because 
the proposition involved a pusillanimous surrender of the 
principles of the party, for which no reason could be ad- 
vanced, and which must have dangerous consequences, 
precisely because the struggle was one of principle, and 
because, thercl'ore, lidelity to principle was an absolute 
precondition of success. 

It was a noteivorthy speech: so gimplo, in the forran- 
lation of its ideas, that even a child could nndcrsland 
it, and still of a statesman like depth incomparably 
greater than that of Seward's Rocliestor speech. The 
irrepressibleness of the conflict was the starting-point 
of his entire reasoning. He gave this idea such tan- 
gible dedniteness that all that remained for Seward, 
four months afterwards, was to give the fact proved by 
Lincoln the name that most properly described it. Lin- 
<oln had not gone backwards since he had written the 
l;ttcr to Robertson, referred to; but bis vision became 
clearer and clearer with the development of events. In 
his introductory sentences, he declared what Seward had 
dialed would be certainly avoided, to be an imperative 

■if the letter, and therefore could not nssert tlio truth of every word. 
Ab Greeley's lianilwriting reaa very illegible, it would be well, per- 
Imiifl. to put nu inlerrogation mark after the surprlatog conclUflian: 
■■ Ho (jour t'lepbaul) is not very heavy of kr aU." 

284 buchanah's election — end of SSth cokqbess. 

necessity. Even he could not see, in all its frigbtfal- 
Dess, what lay in the womb of the future; but he recog* 
nized that an irrepressible conflict must end in a violent 
clash between the opposing forces, and could not gradn- 
ally die out exce|)t after sucli a clash, as the waves of the 
sea of themselves gradually subside with the wind. "The 
agitation of the slavery (juestion," he said, " will notoeose 
until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. 'A._ 
house divided against itself cannot stand.' I belien 
this government cannot endure permanently half elavfld 
and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dis-^ 
solved — I do not expect the house to fall; but I do ex- 
pect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one 
thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery 
will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the 
public mind shall rest in the belief that it m in the course 
of ultimate extinction, or its advocates will push it for-| 
ward till it shall become alike lawful in all the states 
old as well as new — North as well as South." ' 

Caviling Oreeley still claimed, in 18C0, that the reput> 
licans of Illinois " would have done wisely" to givetheiej 
assent to Douglas's re-election; for "it would have beenj 
an act of magnanimity — a testimonial of admiring re. 
gard for his course on the Leeompton bill, which would 
have reflected honor alike on giver and receiver, and 
could have done harm to neither." The fundamenta 
propositions of Lincoln's entire argument had led him b 
assert the very reverse on every point. IIow, he askeii 
could the republicans be placed under the slightest oblE^ 
gation of gratitude to Douglas because he quarreled witU 
the president on a question on which lie and they hadG 
always been of the same opinion ) He had not advanoedfl 
a single step towards them — he remained where he ha(^ 

' Detattia bclween Lincoln and Douglas, p. 1. 



ahvays been; and that made him an utterly worthless 
ally of the republicans, A journal with a leaning to- 
wards him bad stated that liis powerfol aid would be 
needed to prevent the pe-iniroduction of the African slave 
trade. But he had himself desisted from every pertinent 
argument against that evil by his attitude on principle 
towards slavery — an attitude which made bim a caged 
lion so fiir as the aggressions of the slavocracy were con- 
cerned. It was plain that he did not now go with the re- 
publicans, that bo did not even pretend to do so, and did 
not promise that he ever would. " I do not asls," ho said, 
" whether slavery be voted up or voted down." Such was 
his confession of faith; that is, his "avowed mission " was 
to bring the people to look upon it as entirely indifferent 
whether slavery should gain or lose ground. " Our ciiust?. 
then," said Lincoln, " must be intrusted to and conducted 
by its own undoubted friends — those whose hands are 
free, whose hearts are in the work — who do care for the 
result. . . . We shall not fail — if we atnnd firm, 
we shall not fail. Wise counsels may accelerate or mis- 
takes delay it. but the victory is sure to come," 

Was Lincoln or Greeley right! Wliich of the two 
needed to be reminded that, in this struggle, everything 
depended on fidelity to principle 1 The conflict was irre- 
pressible, because it was a conflict of opposing principles ; 
and the victory of the one principle was to be promoted 
by its champion voluntarily making room for the man 
who, with boundless cynicism, proclaimed absolute indif- 
ference in the struggle of the two principles to be his 
supreme political maxim! It was, indeed, quite possible 
that the republicans might succeed in the next presiden- 
tial election, only provided the democratic party was split 
into Douglas and anti-Douglas democrats; but their vic- 
tory would have been worse than fruitless if they allowed 

280 Buchanan's election — end of 35tii congress. 

themselves to be converted to the utilitarian policy now 
preached by Greeley and his associates; for the conse- 
quence of that victory would necessarily be problems 
which never could bo solved by a party which did not 
hesitate, for supposed reasons of expediency and with 
full consciousness, to play fast and loose with the princi- 
ple on which their whole existence depended. If the re- 
publican party forgot that its opposition to the slavocracy 
was a struggle for a moral principle, it might well be 
considered dead; and it would have been guilty of such 
forgetfulness if it now favored Douglas. The urgent ad- 
vocacy of Douglas's candidacy b}' the republican zealots of 
the east was the most dangerous crisis which the repub- 
lican party had to meet up to the outbreak of the civil 

Many friends of the project had, as Wilson relates, 
been very much startled by the holding of the democratic 
state convention of ]llinois;and the course of the campaign 
soon opened the eyes of nearly all so wide that they no 
longer regretted its failure. If they had been able ini- 
mediatelv to rid themselves of the narrow-mindedness 
which dictated their original attitude towards the ques- 
tion, the holding of that convention and the course of the 
campaign would have convinced them that that project 
had led them to the verge of an abvss. 

The campaign was, at first, conducted in the usual 
way; that is, the two opposing candidates spoke before 
party meetings. Afterwards (July 24), Douglas was 
challen^red bv Lincoln to hold common meetings at dif- 
ferent places, in order that the views of the two parties 
might be developed and defended by their candidates 
immediately after each other and before the same audi- 
ence. Douglas accepted the challenge, but stipulated for 
an advantage: he was to open and close the debates. 



The first of the seven common meetings toolc place on 
the 21st of Au^^ust, in Ottawa, and the last on the 15th 
of October. 

The position Douglas occupied in national politics in- 
vesteti everything relating to t!ie senatorial election in 
Illinois with so much importance that it was followed 
by the whole people with stniined attention. But, be- 
fore lon^, tlie oratorical tournament itself e-icited so 
much interest that the prize directly striven for seemed 
almost a mutter of si^condary importance. Ooughis had 
so much at stake that he would certainly have done his 
liest^ if ho were concerned only with mnking a perfectly 
sure victory as brilliant as possible. lint it sf>on bL-Ciune 
evident that he had to employ uU his strength and make 
use of all bis art. Lincoln proved himself a foeman 
worthy of the ste;-! of even the strongest and most skil- 
ful. The republicans were almost as much surprised as 
the democrats to discover that his mi^nlal powers were 
so well proportioned to the sizo and strens;th of his bod- 
ily members. If the magnates of the east had not be- 
lieved that not much more than a vote nould be gained 
by bis election to the senate, ihey would probably have 
given a someahut different and more correct decision to 
the question of Douglas's re-election. If the presump- 
tive candidate had been culleil William H. Seward in- 
stead of Abraham Lincoln, they would never have asked 
that he slioukl voluntarily retire in favor of Douglas. 
Notwi thsiamling tlie one hundred and ten votes which had 
been united on Lincoln as a candidate for the vice-pres- 
idency in the Philadelphia convention, he bad, in their 
eves, scarcely grown beyond the dimensions of a local 
magnale; and only the partiality of those immediately 
about him could see iu bim the ability that would enable 
him to play a really important part on the theatre of na- 


tional politics. And now Douglas, the most dreadd 
purliameiitary champion of the democratic party, foati 
this intellectual combat with Lincoln harder work thaff 
any of his innumerable verbal tights in the senate with 
the most distinguished and most eloquent politicians, re- 
publican and dcmocralic. His sharpest thrusts and most 
perfidious feints were coolly and safely warded off and 
answered with powerful blows that beat through hia 
best parries. He took refuge in downright untruths - 
nay, did not disdain spiteful comments on ibe pusliti 
in which the j'oung backwoodsman had once taken < 
light, nor coai'se witticisms aimed at bis ungainly appead 
ance, in order to get an advantage over him; but, afw 
every tilt, Lincoln loomed np higher and firmer, wbi^ 
additional fragments of Douglas's armor strewed 

Douglas endeavored to stamp Lincoln as an abolitioi 
ist. This bit of tactics was not bad. As against t^ 
radical and the revolution ist. not only could (idelily t 
the laws, which was and must remain the fundamenW 
principle of American nationality, be appealed to, but I 
great many prejudices, so deep rooted that the very b 
of arguments were powerless against them, oouM be ( 
cited against him. Still Lincoln did not fall into 1 
snares which his erafly opponent had laid for him; 1 
trampled on them. The charges Douglas made ogatoi 
him, from out the past, were such as, as Lincoln irrefutt 
bly proved, might at most be laid on the shoaldera 4 
others, but not on his; and as to the present and futui 
he answered him in a manner that made the insiooatid 
of radical tendencies absolutely ridtuulous. The convd 
tions and views to which he confessed "ere not odIJ 
moderate, butso cons^ervative that one might feel onoBul 
ited to ask Fate: If that be the slandard-bearer d 


the party of progress, can the child be yet born who will 
see the day when the clanking of the chains of slaves will 
no longer be heard in the land of liberty? In respect to 
the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, ho 
still occupied precisely the same position he hud assumed 
in his bill upon that question. The obligation to give 
tlie south iin ellicient fugitive-slave law he recognized ab- 
solutely. Concerning the power of congress to prohibit 
the slave trade between the states, he declared thut ha 
had as yet formed no fixed opinion, but stated that, even 
if such a power existed, he would advocate its exercise 
only in case it was done, as in the abolition of slavery in 
the District. of Columbia, "upon some conservative prin- 
ciple." The "right and duty" of congress to prohibit 
slavery in all the territories he advocated without reserva- 
tion, but was of opinion that, if a territory in which it was 
prohibited gave itself a slavery constitution, it mast be 
admitted as a stale, much as the increase of slave states 
was to be iamfuted,' And lastlj', be emphatically ex- 
pressed the conviction that political and social equality 
could never be granted the negroes.'' 

Lincolji Itimself said that these answers would please 
his really abolitionist friends least of all. Eat whomso- 
ever tliuy might please or displease, they were certainly 
not ambiguous, anil hence every voter could lind in tbem 

'DetwtM, pp. 88. «0. 

»"1 wiltsny. ttiuii, . , , tiiat I am not nor ever have been in 
fHvgr of niiiki[Ji; vuli-ra or juroni of uv^iruee, nor of qualifflns tlicin 
tu hold olTici.', iiur to intermarry witb wliile people) and I will enj. In 
addilioa to tills, that tliero is a pli.vsioiil difference between the while 
und black racro, which I bellere will forever forbid the two riicef 
living logellier on tiTtna of social nnd political cqualit;. ... 1 
give him it>(]u^IaA| the moat Eotpniu pledge that 1 will, to the very 
last, stanJ by the l.i>v v( thia etate. which forbida the marrying of 
while people with negroes." lUU,, p. 138. 

2d0 Buchanan's election — exd op 35th co»ob£ss. 

a clear answer to the qaestion, whether niid to what ex- 
teat he would find io bim a representative of his own 
views. But for whom waa tiiis possible in Douglas's 
case? When, in a speech, bo charged BuchaniiD with 
inconsistency, Lincoln asked him: "Kas Douglas ih« ^jt- 
tilusive riijltt, in this country, of being on all eidus of a/l 
qiiegtiotiif' " ' The sneer was a cutting one, but it was de- 
served. Lincoln's hardest task was not to prove that 
Douglas's views were pemioious and wrong, but to wring 
from him unambiguous dcclarutions as to what his opin- 
ions really were. When Lincoln asked him whether ho 
would submit to u decision of the supreme court of the 
United Stales which denied a state the right to abolish 
slavery wilhiu ils limits, be answered that Lincoln's in- 
tention was to cast suspicion on the suproine court by 
representing it as possible that it would violate the con- 
stitution. Such a decision was impossible; it would I 
an act uf moral higii treason, of whicli no judj^e would 
ever be guilty.^ But were not the republicans convinu 
that the Drud Scott decision was a gross violation of tbM 
constitution, and did not Douglasseverely reproach then 
because, notwitlistanding this their conviction, they dM 
not unconditionally submit to it, but were endeavorim" 
by all legal means to overthrow the principles prtM 
olaimed in it? Henoo, Lincoln's ({uestion would ban 
been perfectly warninted, even if it had not been alread]! 
so often proved that what Douglas curtly declared to tl 
an absolute impossibility followed directly from the Dm 
Scott decision.* His answer was, therefore, no answerfl 
and no one was more fully aware of this fact than bto 

I Debutes, p. 23a 
■'Ibid,, p. 96. 

* In a lator s|>i>ech lie adiJiii.'ui] proof ot ihis in a lew cleat nod o 
cUe sentences of trrefulable logic 8ee Ibid., p. 184. 

self. He wonlii nut answer, because he could say neither 
yes nor no. If lie said yes, he would not receive a single 
vote in all Illinois; if be said no, he would blunt the edge 
i)f his best weapon against the republicans by putting 
himself in contradiction with himself. 

As Douglas's extraordinary, dialectical skill was sup- 
ported by complete iinscru|iulousiiess, he might really be 
compared to the shorn and oilod Reynard; but in Lin- 
coln he had found an Isengi-jn with teeth able to hold 
hiin 30 fast that all his arts wiiro of no avail. But at 
last, on tho most important (juestion, he was compelled 
to say so miicli that he said too much. 

Doujjias, said Lincoln, can no more be torn away from 
the Dred Scott decision than a, stubborn beast from the 
stick in wiiich it has locked its teeth. And yet, what did 
tho Dred Scott decision make of his squatter sovereignty? 
Its existence was decreed away. 

This was, indeed, as clear as the noonday sun; but 
Douglas dared not admit it, for the person in the free 
states who had allowed himself to be won over to the 
Kansas-Nebraska bill fonnd his justification before hU 
own political and moral conscience in the fact that the 
original democratic principle of popular sovereignty was 
substituted for the Missouri restriction. As early as the 
12tli of June, 1S57, in a speech at Springfield, he claimed 
that the Dred Scott decision was a confirmation of his 
doctrine.' He did not now, at first, repeat this absurd 
claim. lie did not even flatly deny that the decision and 
the doctrine contradicted each other, bui was satisfied 
with pointing out that the incompetency of the territorial 

' "IleocB the great principle of popular BovereiKiit; and s^lf-gov- 
eniinent is siistuiiied and flruily establislieil by tlie authority of this 
deulslon." Nieolay and Hay, Abr. Liocoln. Tlie Century Magazine, 
June, 18S;, p. 21S. 

202 bdobakah's ELKcrioN — end op 35tb co:40BsaB. 

legislature in relation to slavery was first deduced oaljti 
from the incompetency of congress established by thd 
decision, and ihen added : Whether the court will extend 
lis decision that far is of interest theoretically, but prac-1 
tically of no importance; as a matter of fact, the will of 
the people alone ia still controlling, for slavery cannot 
exist a day where it has not the people and the laws on 
it3 side.' This was again the substitution of a bold as- 
sertion for the answer asked to the question put. The 
question was not what would actually happen, but what 
was the law. 

Lincoln now formulated his question in such a way thai 
every loop-bole of escape in Reynard's constitutionalU 
dwelling-place seemed stopped. "Can the people of a 
United Stales Territory, in any lawful way, against the 
wish of any citizen of ihe United States, exclude slavery 
from its limits prior to the formation of a State Constitu- 

To refuse an answer was to admit defeat. But must 
not every answer given come in conflict either with the 
Dred Scolt decision or with the doctrine of popular sov- 
ereignty, since they stood in opposition to one another 
like yea and nay ? 

The answer which Douglas gave, on the 28th of August 
in Freeport, was an unsurpassable masterpiece of sopli- 
istry. " It matters not what way the supreme court 
may hereafter decide as to the abstract question whether 
slavery may or may not go into a territory under the 
constitution, the people have the lawful means to intro- 
duce it or exclude it, as they please, for the reason that 
slavery cannot exist a day or an hour anywhere unless il 
is supported by local police regulations. Those police 
regulations can only be established by the local legisla- 

> Etebatee, p. i9. 

ture, and if tho people are opposed to slavery they will 
I'lect representatives to that body who will, by unfriendly 
legislation, effectually prevent the introduction of it into 
their midst. If, on the contrary, they are for it, their 
legislation will favor its extension. ITence, no matter 
what the decision of the supreme court may be on that 
abstract question, still the right of tho people to make a 
slave territory or a free territory is perfect and complete 
under the Nebraska bill. I hope Mr. Lincoln deems my 
answer satisfactory on that point." 

In one respect, indeed — and in the most essential 
one — these stateracnla were entirely "satisfactory" to 
Lincoln, as Douglas soon learned to his cost; but they 
were not an answer. They seemed lo be an answer only 
because of the artful smuggling in of the wor<ls "lawful 
means" and "right" in a more ample exposition of the 
assertion ho had made previously concerning the devel- 
opment which alTaii-s would and must practically take. 
Lincoln had not asked what the "right" of the peo|»le 
of the territory " under the Nebraska bill " was. nor 
whether they could exclude slavery by means in thuiii- 
solves "lawful," but whether they could do it "in any 
lawful way"— that is, whether, according to theaulhuri- 
tative interpretation of the constitution given in the Pred 
Scott decision, they had the legal right to do it. 

But although Douglas's statements were no answer, one 
could be inferred from them; and the inferences to be 
drawn from them were the grave of Douglas's presiden- 
tial hopes. 

Lincoln refuted the assertion that slavery could not 
exist an hour among a population averse to it, without 
police regulations, by simply calling attention to the facts 
that slavery had been introduced into the thirteen colo- 
nies, and had taken root there without such police regu- 


lalions, altliough the majorityof the population did not I 
even desire it, and that Dred Scott' had been kept I 
in slavery, spite of a law which was held to be valid.' 
Our experience, he said, has shown thiit it needs not only J 
a hiw, but the enforcoment of that law, to exclude slav- 1 
ery. In the newly-invented "do-nothing sovereignty," 
by means of which the territories wished to protect them- 1 
selves from alitveiv, the original popular sovereignty 
seemed as diluted as tlic homeopathic soup made from j 
Ihe shadow of a chicken that had died of starvatic 
But even in this form popular sovereignty was irrooon- ] 
cihible with the Dred Scott decision: for the latter cov- j 
ered the whole ground, and two things cannot occupy I 
the same space at the same time. Douglas had, on the I 
!lth of June, 185(S, in the senate, in answer to questions | 
put to bim by Trumbull, declared, in the most various 1 
forms, that it was for the federal supreme court to decide I 
whether the population of a territory might exclude slav- 
ery before the adoption of a state constitution. Now iio J 
gave the claim that the territorial legislature w«W do it in I 
the face of the decision of the United States supreme courl.l 
such a form, that it seemed the self-evident consequffliool 
thereof was, that it inii//u properly do it. But the members-l 
of the legislature were obliged to take an oath to support! 
the constitution of the United Slates. Do ihey keep thai \ 
outh if, by their legislation, they make it impossible lo 
hold as property what, according lo the constitution of 
the United States, is lawful property/ Does that oath 
not impose an obligation to pass such laws as a re reqnirwlJ 
to make the enjoyment of the rights gninted by tho con-f 
stitution possible! Is it not an evident violation of Uiatl 

> ADd ruuny tliuiiHHnJH it utIierK. lu all the older nortliirestern ,1 
ttrritoriea anil slates slavery had actually esiateJ, noiwIthatftndlD^ J 
the ordlnatice of 17ST. 



oath to pass laws the object of which is to prevent the 
enjoj-ment of those rights! Will not, and must not, the 
courts declare such laws to be unconstitutional, and 
therefore null and void? Is not congress boiind to pro- 
led and support, bj' its legislation, every right grounded 
on the constitution? Is tliHt not the only reason that 
(-•ompels the opponents on principle of slavery to recognize 
llie provisions of the fugitive-slave law as binding, and 
makes obedience to them a iluty? 

To ask these questions was to answer them. Notwith- 
standing this, Douglas, perhaps, did not need to pay any 
special attention lo llifm, so long as they came only 
from republican mouths, and so long as he thought only 
of his seat in the senate, to the keeping of which tlie only 
thing necessary was that those who had hitherto been his 
friends in Illinois should remain faithful to him. But 
was not the south sutticienlly interested in the answering 
of them! And how would he recommend himself to the 
sl&vucracy as a presidential candidate by asserting that 
they received, in the decisions of the supreme court con- 
cerning the powers of the territorial legislatures relating 
to slavery only thankworthy material for scientific essays 
and forensic debating exercises, because the territorial 
legislatures were uncjuestioniibly free lo put them in the 
libraries unread, or to throw the paper on which thoy 
were written into the waste-basket, and by their actions 
cheat the slaveholders out of their recognized constitu- 
tional rights? That Douglas did not recognize what im- 
portance the proclamation of this doctrine must have in 
determining the attitude of the slave states towards his 
candidacy, is simply inconceivable; and that he never- 
theless proclaimed it is, therefore, in view of his charac- 
ter, explicable only on the assumption that be considered 
not only his re-election to the senate, but, more thau all, 

29(> buchana: 


the election of ihe number of democratic ]>rcsiiIeDiial 
electors in the five states necessary to insure the victory 
of the dcmociutic party, impossible wilhoul its proclumu- 

This it was that gave the electoral campaign oF tlie 
year 1S58, in Illinois, its immense import;ince, and hence 
Lincoln and the republicans came out of it the real vic> 
tors, althuugh the democrats, owing to an inequitablo 
division of the flecloral districts,' obtained so many scats 
in the legislature that they were able to send Douglas to 
Washington again. Tlie struggle reached its highest 
pointof intensity in Douglas's speech at FroejMjrt and Lin- 
coln's answer at Jonesburough ; the decision uf the main 
question was made there, and the opposite decision by 
the election on tlie comparatively secondary (juestion did 
not alter this iu any resjiect. There Lincoln had given 
irrefutable proof that the republican party, by adopting 
the project of Greeley and his associates, would have sold 
their world-historic mission for loss than a raess of pot- 
tage; for that mission was at an end the moment that 
party no longer based its right of existence on the strug- 
gle for a moral principle. But how could it maintain the 
claim that it was doing this, after il had placed itself, in 
such a manner, in the service of the man who was now 
convicted out of his own mouth of holding it to be allow- 
able to degrade constitutional law, so far as It related 
to the slavery questioi? to a. mocking phnntasmngory. 
after he had long since annoonced with cynical frankness 
that, as a statesman true to the constitution, he had noth- 
ing to do with a moral principle in tbo political treat- 
ment of that question i Theru, too, Douglas was forced 
to express himself on the rent that ran through the dem- 
ocratic party in such a way that even its apparent closing 

'See the ilvlaiU. Dobatea, [i, M. 



could never bo effected. Bat this was iLe most evident 
proof of tlie irrepiesaibloness of the conflict produced 
thus far by the history of the slavery question. Doiig- 
liia's conipiuisance towards the slavoeracry bnd found no 
limit either in expediency or equity or honor or law or 
morality, but only in political possibility; and yet it wns 
not fortuitous circumstiinccs that led to thi) slavocracy's 
bringing on the catastrophe by his political immolation: 
it was an inevitable consequence of this his {position, 
under tlie circumstances existing, that he compelled the 
slavocracy to do it. 

The slavocracy did not wait for the presidential cam- 
paign to annonnce that, notwithstanding all he had done 
for theio, they looked upon hiraonlyas an enemy, whose 
political annihilation they would endeavor to accomplish 
by all means in tbuir power. There iiad been no lack of 
bitter words uttered against him during tlie last session 
of congress. Now the favorable ojiportunity whs imme- 
(liiitety used to follow them up by corresponding acts. 
The influence of the administration was employed openly 
and emphatically against his re-election; and the cause was 
unquestionably not mainly Buchanan's personal animos- 
ity, but the imperative demand of the slavocracy. John 
Siidell was, according to his own admission, very active, 
as one of their principal agents, against Douglas, and 
made extensive use of the convincing power of ringing 
arguments.' In the bouse of representatives. Morris, of 
Illinois, afterwards read some sentences from the letter 
of a member of the cabinet to an oHicial, in which it was 
said to be the duty of the well-intentioned to take a de- 
cided stand against all democratic politicians who were 
affected with the Douglas heresies and did not repent 

I H. S. Foots, Cusljtt of Gctnlnisceoces, p, IHQ, 


' SSth conghess. 

and do penance; for tbev did much more Iiarm than the 
republicans.' On the 4th of November, two days after 
the election, the Chicago IJfrald, the principal organ of 
the national (i. c, administration) democrats, admitted 
that these manoeuvres had not remained without result. 
Immediately before the election, it was said, it had been 
learned that, notwitlistiinding previous contrary assur- 
ances, "the entire Catholic vote" of tlic city woold be 
cast for Douglas. Embittered at this. Ibe national dem- 
ocrats had voted en laiisne for the lepiibliran candidate, 
"as the most eifectual way of defealmg Douglas," 

That, Bpite of those attacks from the rear, Douglas re- 
mained the winner, only made the prospects of a demo- 
cratic victory in the presidential election worse. It had 
now been sliown thai the views represented by Douglas 
were in liarmony with those of an overwheimiiig majority 
of the democrats in the free stutes. That these states 
would agree to the demand of the i?oulh and saoritjce their 
convictions together with their leader, in order that the 
two wings of the party might beat in unison once more, 
was, at least, not very probable. But, on the other hand, 
it became mora every day that the south would 
make the demand and insist upon it, without regard to 
any consecjuence, however possible or certain. The radi- 
cals there had long since drawn the same inferences as 
Lincoln from the Dred Scott decision. Douglas, refer- 
ring to the non-intervention principle of the democratic 
party, bad euipliatically declared the demand for federal 
laws for the protection of slavery in the territories an 
absurdity.' But it bad scarcely become known that Kan- 
sas bud rejected the proposition of English's bill when this 

I CongT. Globe, ai S 
1 DebatM, p. ISi. 

a. 35tli Congr., App., p, 174. 



demand, too, was made with great deOnlteness by tlie 
Eicbmond Enquirer and the Cbarleston Xeioa} And the 
soutbern radicals and Lincoln met not only in this con- 
crete cjaestion, but their jiKlgmciits on the Dature of the 
evil were also entirely alike; and for this reai>oii they 
could bare no more in common tlian he with Douglas, 
although he had made his infallible remedy of popnlar 
sovereignty still more infallible by causing it to evapo- 
rate with the Dred Scott tieeision into "do-nothing sover- 
eignty." They had, like Lincoln, long before Seward, 
recognized and proclaimed the irrepressi bleness of the 
conflict. As early as 1850, the Richmond En-fuirer had 
gone a great way beyond Lincoln in the drawing of cor- 
rect conclusions. The assertion that the struggle would 
have to continue until one of the opposite principles had 
fully conquered the other and ruled alone, it followed up 
by saying that the disruption of the Union could not put 
an end to llie struggle, but would only aggravate it.* 

Men might dispute about the correctness of this latter 
assertion until the decision of facts ended the uonirt>- 
verHy, Proof that the former was indisputable accumn- 

I The flrBi-nientifmed wrote ; " ll is not Hiiffloient Ihnl Ihe rfectsion 
oT tlie supreme court prevents coiiRreRs nnil all iu delegntw from the 
prohibition nf slavery in a territory. There muEt be jioaltive legisla- 
tive ijiiactuieDt ; a civil and a criminal code for the protuction of slave 
properlf In the territories ought to be provided." Tlie Indejiendenl, 
Sept. SO. 1(I5S. 

'"Social forma so widely differing ns those of domestic slavery aii'l 
latLenipted) uoiversal liberty canool long co-exist in the great repub- 
lic of Christendom. They cannot be eijunlly adapted to the wants 
and interesla of society. The one form or tlie other luuat be very 
wrong, very ill suited to promote the quiet, the peace, the happiness, 
the morality, the religion, and general well-being of communitiea. 
Disunion will not allay excitoment and investigation, much leas beget 
luting peace, Tlie war between the two systems rages everywhere, 
and will continue to rage till the one conquers and the other is ex- 


BL'CUANAn's election — ESD OF 3jTl 

laled every day. Id the development of ideas and of actual 
circunistaDCcs — in every department of life — in the 
slave states. 

The old bonds were fast wearing away, and spite of 
every effort there was no replacing them by now ones. 
It was now universally recognized tbat it was very de- 
sirable, if not necessary, to establish a closer connec- 
tion with the Pacific coast by the building of a railway. 
Hut people scumod as far as ever from the realization of 
the idea, not because of tcohnio or financial ditlicuUtes, 
but because they could not agree on the route to be 
choaen. The question was discu3Si3d in eongrcs.^ till all 
were sick of it, and every speaker was able to adduce the 
most various grounds in favor of the line advocated by 
him. But an agreement as to some route would finally 
have been reached were it not that iho road would liave 
to be built either through slave soil or free soil. That 
was the one insurmountubledilRculty; for the idea which 
had, indeed, been also expressed, of building two roads 
at the same time, could not stand the most superficial 
criticism. Not a cent nor an acre of land was to bo got 
from the south for a road that ran through free territorv, 
because such a road could insure it no direct advantage, 
and would, moreover, accelerate the already alarming 
growth of the natural prejwnderance of the free states. 
But just as little could the north agree to have the road 
built through slave territory, since, looked at from an 
economic point of view, its construction through slave 
territory would have been folly, and would besides — at 

t^rmiiiatei]. I', with dJBUuiun, we oould Imvo ' the all atiJ end nil 
tiKire,' the iailucement would be strong to ntteiUjil it. But such ■ 
lueaaurH would but inspire uur European ond American nilverswlea 
with adilitioniil wal." Tlio Richmond Enquirer, May 0, 1836. Th« 
ttrtide was addremed to South Carolina. 


least after a short time — have directly promoted llie act- 
ual tflking possession of new tracts of land by slavery. To 
justify tlio immense saciitice ilemandert by tho gignnlio 
work only military reasons could be advanced, and tbeso 
reasons helped the Boulh to overcome tlin constitutional 
objections in ibe way; but, even from a military point of 
view.a southern line bad nr> advantage whatever. 

In respect lo the public lands, likewise, a marked con- 
flict of interests had gradually been developed. So long 
as they had been treated on the one hand only as a source 
of income for the federal government, and, on the other, 
had been ceded to tho states and territories for certain 
puhlic pLtrposes, the land policy of the Union had re- 
mained uninfluenced by the slavery queslion. But this 
ceased to ba the case when the idea began to bo enter- 
tained that the financial as well as all the other interests 
of the Union would be most effectually promoted if the 
direct advantage to be reaped from the sale of the a^nr 
juiMicns was looked upon as a matter of secondary mo- 
ment, and the prime consideration vcere to accelerate its 
settlement as much as possible. This fundamental idea 
of the later homestead law was brought befoTO congress 
OS early as 1S4(S, At first, however, it met with little 
favor. The number of those was not small who thought 
a scornful witticism the only answer appropriate to the 
absurd proposal — like the host in tho biblical parable, to 
invite everybody out of the highways and by-ways to 
select for himself from the domain of Uncle Sam a re- 
spectable pieco of land to bis own liking, as a free gift. 
But during the next succeeding years, steps were taken, 
in certain dclinite cases, lo realize the idea. A beginning 
was made with Oregon by a law of September 27, 1800,' 
and the experience there bad did Dot deter congress 

■Stat at L,,IX, p. 407. 

302 bl-c;ianan's ki,i:ctioj; — end of 35tu conoeess. 

from the further pursuit of this policy; for, in a law 
of July 22, I85i, relating to the territories of New Mexico, 
Kansas antl Nebraska, it was le-adopled, at least for tho 
first iiiimed.' In the house of representatives a majority 
had been gained for a general homestead law eren in 1833, 
and the bill had warm friends in both parties. Tlio senate, 
howev-er,\vas of more conservative mind. At first it agreed 
only to a species of payment on account in tho so-called 
Graduation Act of August 4, IS'il,' '" which the price of 
the public lands was fixed in accirdance wiiU ihe num- 
ber of years which they liad been already in the market, 
and with a sliding scale, down to twelve and one-half 
cents |)er acre. Grow, of Pennsylvania, however, intro- 
duced a new homestead law at every session. His oppo- 
nents, indeed, subsequently stated that he did this only 
that he might bo gratefully remembered by his constitu- 
ents; that piiblio opinion looked upon the homestead 
idea as disposed of, because enoui^li had been dnnt; by 
tho Graduating Act. This was not so. The ideaeteadily 
gained ground, but at the same time gradually assumed 
the character of a party question. The republicans' ad- 
vocacy' of it became more and more empluitieand more 
and more united. There were many democrats who did 
not allow themselves to be determined on that account 
to oppose what they had hitherto defended. But the 
attitude of the slavocmcy bL-oame more and more de- 
cidedly hostile. The lesson of the vain struggle for 
Kansas showed that they lacked the Imiuau material — 
slaves as well as freemen — successfully lo stand the 
struggle of competition with the north in the makingof 
settlements. A homestead law woald necessarily acoel- 
eratethegrowlh of the preponderance of the free states 

■Stat. BtU.X. p. 806. 
nUd., X, p. OTi. 



much more tban a railway running north of Mdson and 
Dixon's line Lo the Pacific ocean. 

Another experience of recent years taught the same 
lesson miicli more impressively, because it placed before 
the eyes of the slavocracy, in a much more glaring light. 
the fact that the lack of human material left their posi- 
tion weaker every year. We know ihat their leaders 
confessed that the conquest of Kansas could not be made, 
because conquests for slavery could not be effected with 
partisans of slavery only, and because sueh conquests re- 
quirerl slaves first and foremost; and because it had not 
been possible to procure them. At the same time, an- 
other deeply significant illustration of this great truth 
was gi%'en. It appeared that the slavocracy- did not have 
enough slaves to assert all that was in their undisputed 
legal possession. 

A census had been taken in Missouri in 1856, Its re- 
sults rehuing lo the movement of population accorde<l 
with the liigli-flown speeches on the universal superiority 
o( slavery over free labor as the basis of social order like 
the lolling of a funeral bell with the over-merry songs 
of a tippling party. When, in February, 1857, a strong 
resolution' was moved in the state legislature against all 
efTorts towards emancipation, Gratz Brown said, in the 
house of representatives, thai the figures of the census 
contained the proof "that this abolishment of slavery, 
which you are here seeking to stifle and suppress by paper 
niunifestofs, is already in force, and is fast gathering a 
strength and inoinentum that must soon crush out all op- 
position."' The totiil slave population had, indeed, in- 
creased twelve thousand four hundred and ninety-two 
since 1851; but of that number ten thousand two hundred 

'"Tile census is tlie ni--t of gruduul emancipntion in Missouri." 
Speech of Jaiiuarj* 13, 1857, Tlie Nuw York Tribune, Martli It, 1S57. 

304 Buchanan's electiok — v. 


and thirty fell to the share of twelve counties, nnd only 
two thousand two hundred and aixty-two to the remain- 
ing ninety-five. In twenty-five counties their numbtii- 
had decreased from twentj'-one thoiisund six liundretl 
and twenty-six to seventeen thousand and eighty-four. 
During the same period the white population hail in- 
creased two hundred and live thousand seven hundred 
and three. The ratio oi increase, IJiorcfore, of tlie two 
classes of population was as one to sixteen. Horeover, 
the increase of the white population was least where 
slavery was most strongly intrenched,' and vice vitea. 
This, indi-eil, undoubtedly showed ihat, as Brown said, 
the pupulatiun immigrating from Europe and the other 
states did not consider slavery a blessing. And that this 
expulsion of slavery by free labor, within a oomparalively 
short time, would lind ex|irc8Sion in legislation Was indis- 
putable, as the number o! newspapers ivhich advocated 
the gradual abolition of slavery steadily increased.' 

De Bow's Coiii-mercial litiview drew from these facts 
tiie inference that the border status' could bo preserved 

■ In tbe twelve counties meiitioneil, " lying chiefly in the cciitrul 
belt oC territury tiiiii Uirdetd the Missouri clvur," only twenty-oiie 
thouBaud two hunili'pi] aiul four. lu the ten couiitiea boniuring on 
Iowa, on the otiier Imnd, the white population increflsed trom twt^uty> 
five thousand live hundred oad Bisty-foor to flfiy-Buven thousand (wo 
hundred and fifty-tive, and that ot the slaves fruni six hundred nnil 
thirty -three to ei^ht hundred iiud seventy-one. 

>In genoi'ai. as Brown correctly said, not "as a mere act of hu- 
nmnity to the ahive," but "out of regard for the white mnn," '■nsa 
labor question." On t ho attitude of the prois, see the Independent. 


. 1038. 

» rumored that John U. Clayton entertained the thought, 
bv>fore his denlb. of laboring for tbe abolition of slavery i[i Delnvrare. 
The MilFord (Del.) AVuui and AdvertUer wrM^ in reference thereto: 
"We look at the likened of Clayton now hanging over our table, and 
can see un additional rny of honor dowoing Itis brow." The Init- 
l)endienl, January 0, 1B5[>. 



for slavery only on condition that the slave states left the 
Union a:id formed a new confederation,' True, in this 
connection, the Kansas troubles were mentioned in ii way 
from which it might be concluded thai that very influen- 
tial periodical believed itself warranted in tracing the 
danger to slavery in the border states solely to their 
direct contact with the free states. Whether the alavoc- 
racy could have derived any consolation from this did 
not need discussion, sincethc same complaints came from 
Texas as frura Missouri; and, in the case of Texas, such 
an explaniition of the threatening phenomena was out of 
the question. The slavocracy had looked upon the pro- 
vision, repeatedly suggested, that Texas might be divided 
into several states, as a great achievement in their inter- 
est; and now the New Orleans Crescent declared that 
the opponents of slavery ^ would, in live years, have such 
a preponderance in western Texas that they would be 
able to dictate the law to the whole state, or to constitute 
themselves a state.' 

As the material preponderance of the north became 
ever greater and more apparent, and began to make itself 
felt more strongly and directly, the thinking minds of 
the south naturally turned their attention more and more 
to the cause of the difference in the rapltlity of that de- 
velopment. In Calhoun's day it was sought for in the 
economic policy of the federal government; and those 
who looked for it there were certainly the victims, to a 

' XXin. pp. nai. 023. '■ Under the prcscnl Union, tUe border aUt^s 
must all in a aliorl time be lost to u«. W^re thnt Union at an end 
tlie suutli would at once tiecome a unit, and continue auch for per- 
liapa a century. The ternia ut a new confedttHtioa would secure 

iTbe alavocratjc press often poitiI«d out that here, as well as in 
Missouri, the Oerniuns stood in the foremost ranka of them. 

> See the Independent of Ociohei* 23, 1M7. 

306 Buchanan's klection — knd of 35th oonobe88. 

greater or lesser degree, of honest self-delusion. Nor had 
this self-delusion entirely ceased even now. Wherever 
the sins of the federal government were told, this chapter 
was not forgotten, and most extensive use was made in it 
of italics. But the complaints which, in this respect, were 
still deemed well grounded were no longer accompanied 
l)V the claim that those sins needed onlvto be avoided in 
order that the two halves of the Union might henceforth 
advance with equal strides in the path of progress. Men 
no longer concealed from themselves or from others that 
the ultimate cause of the difference lay in the opposition 
between slavery and universal freedom. But, on the 
other hand, they were much further than in the days of 
Calhoun from inferring from this that, in the second half 
of the nineteenth centur\% slavery was a terrible chain 
about the members cf a civilized people. The permanent 
existence of slavery had become the starting-point and 
object-point of thought. Facts could, therefore, no Luger 
be allowed to speak, but had to be talked down more 
systematically than ever, and with increasing violence. 
Because people in the south far more than in the north 
were conscious ho'v actual circumstances conformed 
themselves more and more to the logical postulate that 
contraries must mutually exclude each other, they de- 
clared, in an increasingly confident tone, according as 
their own weakness became more evident, the society 
based on freedom to be irrevocably doomed to decay. 
As, in the entire aggressive policy of the south, weakness 
had always been the sharpest spur to action, so now 
weakness made systematic self-deception, carried to the 
extent of pure madness, an inevitable necessity. On the 
other hand, the intentional self-deception springing from 
this root was now, as the south's aggressive policy had 
been from the beginning, the best proof that the slavoc- 



racy wcro really not deficient either in tha power of 
feeling the import of hard facta or of understanding 

them. We here meet not with anything; new, but only 
with the old interisiBed and bearing a more distinct 
stamp. It is the old method in the madness of the gluri- 
Bcation of their peculiur institution and in the condemna- 
tion and aspersion of free society; and the method leads 
to the adoption and execution of a consistent, practical, 
brutal, realistic policy, destitute of every feeling of con- 
sideration or regard — one whose cold calculations were 
made with the most remarkalile certainty. 

The idea is still widely prevalent on both sides of the 
Atlantic that the spokesmen of tho sla\'ocracy, in the 
press and on the stage, knew very well how monstrous 
an absurdity it was to laud slavery as an inestimable 
source of blessings, and to declare universal freedom tho 
quagmire in which all that was bad and worthless grew 
luxuriantly, and all that was good became stunted or died. 
But if this were true, we would have to assume that they 
wished consciously and deliberately to lead the slave states 
to rum ; for, absurd as were their words, their actions 
were in complete harmony with them. Although they 
continued to hanker after a trade of their own, tho de- 
velopment of ihe power of capital, and to some extent 
of independent industries, and to lake counsel amonjf 
themselves how these wishes were to bo fulfitled; still the 
recognition of the increasing ascendency of the north over 
the south did not strengthen tho endeavor to make as 
much room as possible for the vigorous action, side by 
side with slavery, of llie life-awakening spirit found 
where freedom prevails and servitude is denied a foothold. 
Oa the contrary, their study was directed, more ener- 
getically and more consciously than ever, towards giving 
the thought, will and feeling of the people a more and 

Buchanan's kleotion — end of 35th conobkbs. 

more exclusively skvocratic basis, towards consolidating 
the views and (alleged) interests of all classes of the peo- 
ple raore and more strictly on this basis, and thus sep- 
ai'atin^ the slave stales more and more from tbecomman- 
iiy of the occidental civilized world as a whole completu 
in itself. 

It was not only the newspaper writers and other pro- 
fessional politicians with a more radical tendenoy who 
wero intensely active in the advocacy of this policy. 
They, of course, made tlie most noise, and spoke most 
frequently in a wild, agitalive tone. Fart of the most 
effective work, however, was done where politics should 
have been excluded on principle, and where moral con- 
siderations would have demanded al least the greatest dis- 
cretion. Prominent southerners liiul already declared un- 
reservedly that the whole struggle, in the end, amounted 
to the question, whether slavery was morally wrong. It 
was highly signiScant, therefore, that this question was 
now more and more loudly and more and more abso- 
lutely answered in the negative by the different churches. 
This bad, in 1857, led to a further rupture among the 
Presbyterians of the New School. When the General 
Assembly that met in Cleveland very mildly expressed its 
disapproval of the course of certain Presbyterians of the 
south in calling slavery "an ordinance of God," the 
southern members protested against it;' and, when their 
protest was rejected, they resolved to call a convention 
at Washington, in order to organize a new General 
Assembly, with the guaranty that it would not concern 
itself with the slavery question.' The Methodist Church 

iTIie protest says: " We protest that such action is, under pr«aent 
candiiiona, the exscinding of the south, whatever be the mo- 
tires of those who do the deed." 

> See the acts in the IndepetuUnl of June, 11, 1837. 


South took a still more significant step in 1858. Their 
"general rules" forbade "the buyingand selling of men, 
women and children with an intention to enslave them." 
This provision was now repealed, for the reason that its 
wording was ambiguous, and might be considered "an- 
tagonistic" to ihe institution of slavery, with which the 
church bad nothing to do.' At the same time great 
stress was laid on this, that "a strong desire for the ex- 
punclion of said rule has been expressed in nearly all 
parts of our ecclesiastical connection." 

These demonstrations of the churches did more to 
shake the Union than the most intemperate speeches of 
the politicians. Not until people, on both sides, who 
wished to live simply and rightly in peace with God and 
their fellow-men, engaged in the struggle with the utmost 
firmness, did the day of the decision dawn. And to these 
people came, in the resolutions of church meetings, the 
voice of admonition, with terrible impressiveness, saying: 
Hb that is not for me is against me, and he that is not 
against me is for me. We have already seen that, dec- 
ades before, the charge was rightly lodged against the 
churches, that they were the strongest bulwark of slavery. 
But, in the north, one after another of them had oeased 
to be such, more or less; and in the south, even when 
they did not say so directly, their teachings were un- 
derstood to mean that it was the duty of a good citi- 
zen and true Christian not only not to oppose slavery 
one's self, but to protect it now and in the future against 
every attack, no matter from what quarter it came or in 
what form it was made. In neither section did these 
people want to lay hands on the work of the fathers 

1 " Except in enforcing the iJuties ot tnasters and sprvants, as net 
forth in the Holy Scriptures." It was added that this alimild not be 
looked upon as an expression of opinion od the Atricon elave trade. 

310 bdcdasam'b 


of the republic. In the south itself the great majority 
of lliem would have rande personal sacrlDces in order 
that they might be able to transmit that n-ork stronger, 
grander and mightier than ever to their children and 
iheir children's children. What would liavo furnished 
the strongest i)roi)s to the tottering structure, if iJie con- 
flict had not been an irrepressibla one, now served, on 
the opposing sides, as the most powerful lover of destruo- 
tion under its foundation. It fell, and could not hut fall, 
because, out of the clash of diametrically opposed in- 
terests, views of cthico-religious duly arose among the 
core of the people. 

To make use directly of agitation, aa some of the clergy 
had done for yeara, liie churches as such still considered 
to be impro]>er. That the evil effects of the position 
thi>y hud taken ^- a position which may bo most properly 
described as the rejection and condemnation on {)rinciple 
of all criticism — reached these proportions so soon, might, 
therefore, be a matter of surprise, were it not that the 
tichools became more and more preparatory institutions 
to the churches. 

Up to this time even the moat ultra radicals had asked 
nothing more than that the school-books imported from 
the north should contain no word condemnatory of slav- 
ery. Now, there were a great many who did not deem this 
sufficient. Mora and more frequently and more and more 
emphatically was the demand made that southerners 
should prepare their own school-books, because nothing 
could be had from the north that the south needed. An 
author and a publisher had, indeed, been found here and 
there who endeavored to meet this demand. The paper 
and typography bore sorry witness to the industrial de- 
velopment of the south; but the good intentions of the 
publisher made up for ibo mechanical defects of the books. 



The most ardent patriots did not rest satisfied to care for 
the development of a " sound " s'avocratic spirit in the ris- 
ing generation; titey clothed venumous calumnies of the 
north and of society in which slavery did not exist in the 
garb of graninmlical and aritliiiietical examples.' The 
gospel of hatred began to be jireached to the youth. We 
need scarcely say that tliese wild e.xcessos did not yet 
Dicet with general approval. But the admonition that it 
was a political ni^cessity to saturate the entire school sys- 
tem with the unadulterated slavoeratic spirit found an 
attentive and willing ear among an ever-widening circle 
of people. A gentleman in Georgia published in IS5T a 
series of articles in De Bow's Commercial lieoicw, intended 
to show that the estublishinent of a "Cetitial Southern 
University " was necessary, and why it was necessary.' 
A peaceable seiileiiient of the difficulty with the north 
was, he said, impossible; and, in order to insure victory 
to the south in the approaching conllict, there should be 
only one way of thinking in the south on the question at 

1 this iioiiil, see L^ Slantun. Tlip Clmrch and 

to be aFtum'aj'ds condensed, i 
jur niuDJcipal aod eta 

1 Por furthci- data o 
Slavery, pp. 1U5, 1U(I. 

>"Towai'da H'liich should ladia 
tensified anil rtfli^elfd, tlm 
Bchoola, scndetuies nnd mlkgeti." 

' "That there dueH exist a [loliticnl necessity tor tbeiwtnblislimcntal 
an iiiBtituticju uf Icaiuingol the ebarucler nituilud to — au instilutiun 
around winch shoU duBlor tbe hopes aud the pride ol the south, the 
teachiiJgB ut wliidi shall Lie thorouglily Mjutliern ; one pledged to the 
defense and perpetuation of that forui of civilizHtion peculiar to the 
slaveholding stales — will nut, perhaps, bequestioned, ultlioughBome 
may enterluin duubla us to tbe preasuro of tliat ueeessily. . , . 
The difficulty between the south mid the north can never arrive at b 
peaceable settleinenl. . . . The first step, then, which tbe south 
should take in preparing for the great cuulest ahead ot her ia to se- 
care harmony at home. . , , Tbe University of Virginia is not 
sufficiently southern, sufficiently central, sufficiently cottonised, to 



The Stiuthern Literary Messenger adrooated, so far as 
ilie last point is concerned, the same view; and in doing 
so told, with frighlful plainness, what it understood by 
an unadu Iterated stavouniiic spirit, "An abolitionist is 
any man who does not love slavery for- its own sake as 
a divine institution; who does not worship it as the cor- 
ner-stone of civil liberty; who does not adore it as tho 
only possible social condition on which a permanent re- 
publican government can be erected; and who does not, 
in his inmost soul, desire to see it extended and perpet- 
uated over the whole earth as a means of human reforma- 
tion, second in dignity, importance and sacredness alone 
to the Christian religion. He who does not jovo African 
slavery with this lova is an abolitionist." 

If this was so, the south swarmed with abolitionists. 
But even if the majority of the people had not yet sunk 
to this inconceivable depth, where were the men to be 
found who still had the nitelleclniil, moral and even phys- 
ical courage to come manfully before the peu[)Ie and say 
to them: Hearken not to ibo false, ntnling preachers; 
their blessings are a mockery and a oursel The entire 
population had become loo much the slaves of slavery to 
be aroused, by such terroristic blasphemies, to a conscious- 
iioss of the abyss towards which they were staggering. 
The iron law of self-preservation continued gradually to 
force the slaveholdei-s to lake measures which could bo 
adopted without shuddering only provided people had 
li;arned to love slavery with the insane love of tUoso 
Iwcotiie the great uilucaiinnal oenltT ot tlie suiitti. , , , The «s- 
talilUhtuent of the uiiivtrsliy hns \xvn pro|taEuil as u iiiiiiisure c«rt&in 
to produce, by its working, unity nn-i concord of uption on the part 
ot tho alitveholding Btatra. The youn^ men of the south witl then tu- 
aetuble and drink pun; aiid iovigurntiug drau){hta from anpolluti-d 
fouiitaios. Tboy will met't together sa brotlircn, and be oducattxl in 
Q potitioal faith, at one cuminou aliua muter." 



fanatics, and the masses bad grown in every respect un- 
able to emancipate themselves from ibeir leadership in 
proportion as the unfre^dom of the slavocracy itself had 
becoitnJ greater. 

The fire eaters had so long rondo the people accustomed 
lo tiie most monstrous assertions and demands that the 
agitation for the re-opening of the stave trade attracted 
litilo ultentiOQ in the north so long as it was carried un 
only by a few newspapei-s. Their utterances were so far 
from being taken seriously, even in the slave slates, that 
Hunter of Virginia called the message of Governor 
Adams of South Carolina (_IS56), in relation to this ques- 
tion,' a clap of thunder from a clear sky.' The impres- 
sion they made ia the froe sttttes was not, in<leed, cor- 
rectly described by this rhetorical figure; but here, too, 
people hei!;an to look upon the matter with dilferent eyes 
m eonsequence of them. Even in the editorial rooms of 
the republican newspapers in which the articles of the 
Charleston .Stamiard, liiehmond Enquii-ei; Charleston 
Mei'citri/, etc., were cut out to be reprinted, scarcely 
more that a symptomatic importance had hitherto been 
ascribed lo them. But after such an otBcial announce- 
ment of a governor — and of the governor of the state 
which had always manifested the greatest energy and the 

1 The principal pnrta read : " Irrespective, bowever, of interest, the 
act of coiiRi-eaa declaring Ilie slave traite piracy ia b brand upon ua, 
which I think it important to remove. It the trade be pii'at'y tin- 
slave mu»t be [iluaUer, and ao ingenuity can avoid the logical neces- 
sity at suub uoitclusiun. ... 1 feel that I would be wanting in 
duty if I would not urge you to withdraw your oaaent lo an act which 
ia itself a direct condi-tn nation of your inalitutiona. , . . It ia per- 
haps of the most sacred obt]»,'ntiuD that we eliould give JI (slavery) 
the means of expausion, and that we should press it forward to a 
perpetuit]' of progress." Cluskey. Political Text-book, p, 084. 

^Oe Bow'a Cummer. Rev., XXII, p. 338. 

814 Buchanan's election — end of SSth conqbess. 

greatest skill in the propagandist agitation in the inter- 
ests of slavery — it could no longer be doubted that the 
eflForts to move the slavocracy to take this question into 
their programme would bo suflBciently successful to pos- 
sibly become in time a real danger. How soon it would 
come to this, however, not even the most pessimistic 

Henceforth the question occupied a very ])rominent 
j)lace in the deliberations of the '' commercial conven- 
tions" of the south, which were not, indeed, official rep- 
resentative bodies, but which bore a representative char- 
acter because of the position of their individual members; 
and the radicals got a great deal nearer to their object 
every 3'ear. In Savannah (December, 185G) W. B. Goul- 
den, of Georgia, made a motion that the members of 
congress should be requested energetically to bestir them- 
selves to have all the laws which forbade the African 
slave trade repealed.* The motion to bring the resolu- 
tion up for debate was lost, after a long discussion, by 
sixty -seven against eighteen votes ;2 but finally a com- 
mittee was appointed to report at the next session on all 
the facts relating to the re-opening of this trade.' The 
scornful complaint made by Scott, of Virginia, that 
Goulden's motion filled the convention with as " pious 
horror" as if it were a Faneuil Hall meeting,* was there- 
fore certainly not warranted. Cochran, of Alabama, 
stated that his opposition was based exclusively on polit- 
ical grounds; if he were convinced of the expediency of 
the re-opening of the slave trade, neither the world in 
arms nor "sickly sentimentality" would keep him from 

1 De Bow's Commer. Eev., XXII, p. 91. 

2 Ibid., p. 91. 
Ubid.. p. 102. 
* Ibid., p. 217. 




promoting it.' The speech of John A. Calhoun, of Soutli 
Carolina, showed that Cochran did not stand alone- To 
win their game tbe radicals only needed to produce the 
proof of Scott's assertion that there was no otlier means 
"to retain certain portions of tho south in tlieir alle- 
giance to tlio great principle upon which our social sys- 
tem reposes;" and in this tliey must be successful, 
Goulden himself was, notwithstanding tho fniitlessnoss 
of bis motion, so sure of his case that ho declared him- 
self conrinced he would see the African slave trade re- 
opened before five years had elapsed.' 

At a meeting at Knoxville in August, 1S5T, the radicals 
won a brilliant victory on an important question. A 
resolution of Bryan, of South Carolina, demandud the 
repeal of the well-known eighth article of tho Washing- 
ton treaty of November 10, 18i3, in which the United 
States had bound itself to maintain a squadron on the 
coast of Africa for the suppression of tho slave trade. 
The motion was adopted by a vote of sixty-si-x against 
twenty-si-x, after a resolution of Sneed, of Tennessee, bad 
been rejected by a vote of (ifty-two to forty, which had 
prefaced the same demand with tho declaration that the 
abolition of the slave trade was "ine.\pedient and con- 
trary to the settled policy of this country." On motion 
of Spratt, of Charleston, ii was further resolved, by a 
majority of twelve votes, to appoint another committee 
to report to the next convention on the question in all its 

The report which the majority of the committee laid 
before the convention in Montgomery in May, 1S58, 
reached the conclusion that, from every point of view, it 
was " right and expedient " to urge tbe resumption of the 

I Ds Bow'b Cktmrner. Rev., XXII, p. 331. 

»IbiU.,p. 323. 

*De Bow, Commer, ReT„ XXin, pp. 80&-310. 

316 bcchan&k'b election - 

) OF 35th 00K0BEB8. 

importation of slaves.' Yancey, in a report of bis own, 
branded the prohibition of the slave trade as a sbamefat 
violation of the spirit of the constitution, as an injury to 
the slave states, and as a fruit of tliat spirit of iiijiisticd 
which, by legisiatioti, artificially built up the economic 
greatness of the north and kept the south down. Hence, 
he demanded the absolute repeal uf the prohibition, bat 
wanted it left undecided for the present whether it was^ 
advisable for the south to make use of the legal posa 
bility of slave im]>ortation.' The debate lusted long an 
was a very excited one.' No party was strong enough t 
have an entirely unambiguous declaration |>assed; and 
both sides resolved to lay the matter on the table, and to 
order the reports printed, as a species of compromise. 

In two years, therefore, the radicals had gainoJ so 
much ground that the more moderate could avert a com- 
plete defeat only with difficulty. And even this the\ 
were no longer sucoessful in doing everywhere. In | 
commercial convention held the same year in Vicksbui^ 
the radicals were able by their clamor to drive a number" 
of their opponents out of the hall.* I)e Bow's triumphant 
statement that in some of the southwestern states " almost 

ilbid., XXIV, pp. 473-491. ThebaaiB on which the whole a 
mont was raised with the Btricteet consiatency was tbe propoeitiof 
" Afflrmance of slavery is, tn principle and effect, an affirmance dl 
the foreign slave trade." 

nbid.,XXV, p. 121. 

'Ibid., XXIV. pp. G7P-803. 

* H, 8. Foots write* : " A brilliant speech on the resumption of tl 
importation of slaves was listened to with breathless altentioo, ( 
applauded vociferously. Those of us who rose in oppowtion * 
looked upon by the excited assemblage pre«eiit na trniti 
intereels of the south, and onlj' worth]'' of expulsion from the bi 
The excitement at last grew so bigh that personal violence was mei 
at^ed, and somo dozen of tbe more conservative oiembera of the 01 
vention withdrew froni the hall in which it was holding its si 
The Bench and Bar of tbe South and Southwest, p. W. 



a controlling portion of the population" liad been won 
over to his views on this question ' might, tiiereiore, not 
be very far from the truth ; and it is certain that the propa- 
gating of them made rapid progress, although it was not 
exactly true that, as the influential publicist said, tha 
attitude of "most of our southern legislatures" proved 
that "certainly no cause has ever grown with greater 
rapidity." ' It would, indeed, have been unnatural if new 
proselytes had not been daily made, since the agitators 
were the "young, ambitious and unscrupulous" represent- 
ati vesof " iho Young American spirit of the south " — " de- 
termined and ]iersevering men ; " ' and every southerner, 
among the different arguments which these agitators 
advanced for their demands, found at least one which he 
could not, although perhaps unwillingly, deny to be pos- 
sessed of great weight. 

A. Morse, of Louisiana, showed in De Bow's J^cvieie,^ 
with an imposing array of figures, that the world's re- 
quirement of cotton could no longer be met with the 
existing amount of labor; tho slave-raising border states 
were no longer able to satisfy the demand of the planter 
states for field-hands. "Slave prices are even now too 
high, and must finally become exorbitant " — such was 
the commentary on these utterances made by an ever- 
swelling chorus. This argument could not, of course, 
find favor in the slave-raising states; and the sale of free 
negroes, which, according to the Richmond Examiner, 
had become more and more a necessary protective meas- 
ure against the agitation of abolitionists, bad afforded 

■Oommer. Rev., XXV, p. 166. 
»Ibid,. XXVI, p. IM. 

' Lett«r of April 37, 1650. from Savannfth to the Independent. 
The Independent, Jane S, 16S9. 
'XSUI, pp. 149 3. 

318 Buchanan's election — end of 35tu co.^oeess. 

no suflBcient compensation for a great and permanent de- 
cline of the price of slaves, even if Virginia alone, as the 
Examiner calculated, had earned twenty millions in the 
business, and spent the money productively in "internal 
improvements.* " It was certain from the first that only 
an evanescent minority would have no objections to make. 
But, so far as the agitators endeavored to prove the worth- 
lessness of the objection growing out of material interests, 
political opinions or ethico-religious convictions, their 
trouble was doomed to be fruitless. Still their success or 
want of success did not depend on this. The person to 
whom weightier reasons could be given for a return to 
the state of things that existed before 1808 became a 
convert, notwitlistanding his scruples. But even in the 
border states only a small part of the population was 
interested so directly and to such an extent in not letting 
the price of slaves fall permanentl}'' that it was to be ex- 
pected all else would have to be subordinated to this con- 
sideration. Deloney, of Louisiana, rightl}^ pointed out 
that it was precisely the small land-owners who were not 
able to afford the money to buy the slaves necessary for 
their husbandry;' and the majority report, the printing 
of which the commercial convention in Montgomery 
had ordered, baited the white plebs with the assertion: 
" Every slave that comes may be said to bring his master 
with him, and to add more than twice his political value 
to the fortunes of the south."' 

Joined to the alleged material interest was the ques- 
tion of law. Deloney's bold assertion that every state 
might settle that question to its own sovereign liking 
must have been very acceptable to every genuine advo- 

iThe Richmond Examiner, Jan. 6, 1857. 
»De Bow, CJommer. Rev., XXV, p. 493. 
aibid., XXIV, p. 4':<2. 



I'lilc of states' rights, for it was the logical consequence 
of his other claim that "the federal government has no 
right to interfere with slavery for any other purpose than 
to protect the rights of the owners in such shive prop- 
erty ; " ' unii this propostion was, for yeara pnst, the basis 
i)f all the constitutional deductions of the slavocracy. 

Gut the generul, political consideration still remained 
the most effectual. Tiie number of ihose steadily in- 
creased whom facts convinced of the irrefutableness of 
1 his proposition: the ruling position of the south is lost 
heyond recovery, unless wo are able, in the competition 
with the north in the sottlenient of the land, to procure 
more slaves than tbo natunil incrcnsu of the slave pop- 
ulation would provide. But if this one condition were 
fulBllcil, not only could the possibility of a successful re- 
sistance to any further outHanlting of the south by the 
north be insured as certain, but an unendingera of grow- 
ing triunijihs was prophesied with a contidence which con- 
sidered It a matter of course. With ten thousand slaves 
each, said tho New Orleans Delta, Kansas, a now state 
in Texas, a stale in Kew Mexico and one in Lower Cali- 
fornia might bo guined; and from one thousand to two 
thousand would suffice to make sure completely of the 
lideliiy of Delaware, Maryland. West Virginia and Mis- 
souri; "tho foreign slave trade is the certain road to 
l>ower tor the south, and tho only road to power within 
the Union." And from this decisive proposition in tho 
reasoning of the radicals, the KIchmond W/iig now in- 
ferred for tho conservatives that, in the re-opening of the 
African slave trade, an infallible means had been found 
not only lo preserve tho Union, but to permanently re- 
gain internal peace for it. This would deprive abolition- 
ism of its sling immediately and forever, for the powerful 

I De Bow, Comuoer. Ro»., XXV, p. 003. 

320 bkchanah's sleotion — end of 35th conores8. 

sbipping interest would he welded wilb golden clamps to 
" tbe peculiar insLilution;" the Fugitive Slave Law would 
cause no more trouble, because the abolitionists would 
have ail ibey could do to defend their own soil; but the 
negro was superior to the Irishman, and bonce " wemight 
forthwith take up the line of march, recapture Kansas, 
perhaps Indiana, Illinois and even Ohio, and colonize all 
the remaining territories of the confederacy;" the people 
will be again united among themselves, and lienco ive 
shall never again hear of a disruption of the Union.' 

If, as the Richmond Enquirer had stated as early as 
at the beginning of 185C, "policy, humanity and Chris- 
tianity alike forbid the extension of the evils of free 
society to new peoples and coming generations;"' and if, 
as G. Filzhugh, of Virginia, had said the follow. ng year, 
the occidental civilized world would be ruined economic- 
ally, intellectually and morally unless the soiiihern states 
of the Union showed it the way to rcgencnition' by re- 

' Copied in Do Bow'a Commer. Rev., XXV, p. 80. 

'The Richmond Enquirer, Jan. 22, 1856. 

■"Twenty yearB ago the south had aa thought — no opinions of 
hcrowu. Then she atoud behind all Christendom; adinitled her social 
structure, her habits, her econotny and her industrial purauita to be 
wronR, deplored them as a neceBaity, and begged pardon for their 
existence. Now she ia about to lead the thought and direct the prac- 
tices or Christendom : for Chrigteudom eees and admits (I) that she 
has acted a silly and suicidal part in abolish i ng Arrican ulavery — 
the south a wise and prudent one in retaining it. . . . Southern 
practices nlone (can) save Western Europe from universal famine; 
for cotton, sugar, rice, molasses and other slave products are intol- 
erably dear and intolerably scarce, an>] France and England must 
have slaves to increase their production or starve. ... In an j 
view of the subject eouthern thought and southcrc eioniple must 
rule the world. 

■■The south has acted wisely and prudently, acted Rccordinjc to the 
almost nniversal usage of civilised mankind, and the injun<!tloiis of 
the Bible, and she is about to gather her reward for so doing. Sba 



opening tho African slave trade and by the principle ihat 
Iho world is loo little governed, and tbat not merely 
iiL-gro slavery is jiistilied, — the day on which the prophe^ 
cies of the Eicbniord WAiff were fulfilled would be the 
happiest and most glorious ihe republic could see. As 
ttie existing laws could not be allcred without the co-oper- 
ation of the north, and as the north was closed against 
the importation of slaves, this grand future would have 
to remain a bri^'ht vision unless the slave states could 
open wide tbu door to the African blessing in spile of 
the existing laws. Cut the radicals not only claimed that 
this was possible, but had long ago told bow it could be 
done. The immigration of African nejiroes, said the 
Cliarlcston Mercunj, is no more prohibited than immigra- 
tion from Europe; an<l southerners might make contracts 
with these negroes beforehand concerning worlt and 
wages, as did the Now England manufacturers with their 
European ivorknien. The federal courts would have no 
jurisdiction in respect to ibe enforcement of these con- 
tracts; it would depend entirely on the interested states 
whether the negroes should bo really slaves.' Edw, A, 

flnurisbea like tViu ba; tree, wliiJst Europe starves; sni) she is as 
retuarkable fur tier exemption of crime an lier frtidom from pov- 
rrty. . . . We iiiuat defcDd tlie principle of slavery as port of tlie 
cuiiBlitutiuD ct luao'a niiLure. The (li'teiitie uf man- negro slaver; 
will, Day, haa invulved us in a thousand attsurdities and contradio- 
tionf. . . . Tlie south leads opinion; ehe virtually proposes a re- 
newal of the old sKve trade. . . . The south hIko must originate 
a new political science, whose leading and distinclive principle will 
be, 'the world is tuo little governed.' . . . Slaver 
IM an etlucational institution, and is worth ten times all the a 
Rchouls of the north. Such common schools teach only nnoommonly 
bad morals, and prepare their inmates to graduate in the peniten- 
tiary." De Bow, Commer. Kev,, XXIII, p^. !J3T, 83S, 343. 140, 453. 
' What liecoQies of the ne^rocB after they are imported into a state 

323 Buchanan's election — end of SSth congbess. 

Pollard, of Virginia, repeated this proposition in a book 
entitled Black Diamonds^ and refuted the objection that 
that would be an evasion of the law with the remark that 
"it very often becomes necessary to evade the letter of 
the law in some of the greatest measures of social happi- 
ness and patriotism." ^ 

These counsels did not fall on deaf ears. The house of 
representatives of the Louisiana legislature passed a bill 
in 1858 which authorized a company to import two thou- 
sand five hundred African negroes, who had to be in- 
dentured for at least fifteen years. The senate, indeed, 
rejected the bill, but only by a majority of two votes.* 
In Mississippi, on the other hand, if the newspapers were 
not incorrectly informed, people did not wait for the leg- 
islature to build a safe road around the gallows erected 
by the federal law. There some enterprising people had 
already made a successful beginning in importing slaves. 
In the house of representatives in Washington, Covode 
added, to the mention of this fact, the remark that the 
gentlemen would have nothing to fear from the presi- 
dent.^ Even were this opinion not considered warranted, 
it had been only too certain for a long time that great 
zeal was not to be everywhere expected from the federal 
officials in the execution of the laws on this subject. That 

win be an affair of the state. The general government can have 
nothing to do witli it. Tlie enforcement of any contract for wages 
win bo entirely within the jurisdiction of the states. And if public 
opinion or the real understanding of the emigrants establishes practi- 
cally that they shall bo slaves, there is no redress by any other au- 
thority than that of the states in which tliey are located." Reprinted 
In the New York Tribune, June 29, 1857. 

*Sce the entire citation in Oongr. Globe, Ist Sdss. 80th Congr., 
p. 225. 

'See the Independent of March 11 and April 1, 1853, 

» Oongr, Globe, 1st Sess. «5th Congr., p. 1302. 

couurrrEE3 of bafett. 323 

the cquipincnt of slave-ships in the harbors of the Union 
ivas incrciising i-ear after year was not a malicious inven- 
tion of tile republicans and abolitionists, English otHciaU 
compbinctl very bitterly of it, and the southern press 
was fai- from denying the fact,' 

Tlio people who bad given the first impulse to the mat- 
ter had tliemselves scarcely dared to bopo that they 
would bo able to point to such results after so short a 
time. Bnt if, by their agitation, they had, as the Rich- 
mond li'/cV/ and otbei's now said of them, intended to 
Blrongthcn the position of the south in the Union, they 
dealt tbomsclves a frightful blow with every success; for 
every pmsclyte whom they had won in the south was op- 
posed by at least two iu the north on whom iboy had 
forced iho recognition of the irrciiressil)lencs3 ot the con- 
flict. Only those reaped any real advnntiige from the 
triumphs of the propagandism for the re-opening of the 

I J. 3. Crawford, the English consul-general of Cuba, xrtitea on tlie 
lUIi of October. 1854: " Almost all tiie slnvo oxpwlitions for Bomp 
time piipt linvo been fitted out in the United Slates chiefly nt New 
York, n'hci-e tlicre must be some rslnblishment, ship or outfiltinK 
builderd' or carpcnlci-s' ward speciull; iinilertnking such business for 
tho Blftver*." Exec. Doc.. 80th Congr.. 3d Sesa., vol. IV, No. 7, p. 115. 
Sefi, nlso, Ibid., pp. 07, 70, 103, 200, 201. The New York Journal 0/ 
Comjneree, which was far from lioving to foor tho reproach ot being 
an enemy of the south, writes nt the end of 13jG: " We learn, upon 
JDQiiiry of tlio ITnited Statex ileputy-uinrshals, that tbe fitting out 
of Klavere from this port continues. In fact, this business was never 
proseciitod with greater energy thun at present. The occasional in- 
terposition of the legal nuthorltieii exercises no apparent inRoence 
for its fiiipprcssion. It is seldom that ono or more resscls cannot tw 
desjgnat(.il otthe wharves respecting which tliere is evidence that 
she citlier is or lijis been concerned in tlie IrnfRci" Copied in tlie In- 
dependent of DfC. 4. 1800. De Bow's Review (XXII. pp. <30, 431) 
calculnted in 1837 that about forty slavers were annually fitted out in 
the eastern linrbors of the Union, imd mode a net piollt of about 
eeventccu millions. 

334 bdchawan's electioit — ekd of 35te cosoeess. 

slave trade who, Tvith the Disuniontst, woulil henceforth 
have a platform with only one plank — Secession ! ' Their 
day was now approaching with equal rapidity and cer- 
tainty; for, although they were still only tho minority, 
and a very small minority in several states, tlioy had al- 
ready found tho right answer to the question how they 
could bend the majority to their will. 

In a letter of June 15, 1853, to James S. Slaughter, 
Yancey proposed the formation of committees of safety 
in all the cotton states. With these "we shall fire the 
southern heart, instruct the southern mind, give courage 
to each other, and at tho proper moment, by one organ- 
ized, concerted action, we can precipitate the cotton states 
into a revolution." As lato as May, ISGO, Jefferson Davis 
endeavored, by the statement that this southern Icaguo 
planned by Yancey had been really formed only in Ala- 
bama, and even therfl numbered scarcely one hundred 
members, to malte those people ridiculous who wished to 
attach great political significance to that letter.' A few 
weeks later he proved by his action that ho was only 
shamming. The question was not whether a sontbem 
league had been formed, but only whether the radicals 
were resolved to act when a favorable opportunity of- 
fered. If they did this and were strong enough in only 
one cotton state, in Yancey's words, to precipitate it into 
a revolution, the disentangleable knot was cut. 

1 " We Hhould never participate in the election of a president or 
congress; but build u platform of one plank, and let that be seceseioi): 
and Eland upon it, few or many, weak or strong. Id \it» and In 
death "(p. 71). 

'Congr. Globe, lat Sesa. SSth CoDgr., p. 21SC 




If tho president's annual message of December 6, 1858, 
sent to the thirty-fiftli congress at tho beginning of its 
second session, judged the situation correctly, it wus to 
be expected that questions of foreign policy would, in 
the near future, engross the attention of the republic. At 
least tho ship of state bad, according to bis utterances, so 
far as home affaii-s were concerned — tho financial ques- 
tion to a certain extent excepted — owing, in the first 
place, to bis strong and wise policy, and, in the second, 
to the support which that policy had received from con- 
gress, an unusually calm sea before it. The description 
of tbo events in Utah already discussed was summa- 
rized in tho sentence : " The authority of the conslitntion 
and the laws has been fully restored, and peace prevails 
throughout the territory." Just as satisfactory results 
were said to have been obtained by the legislative meas- 
ures by which it was sought to deprive the Kansasques- 
tion of its threatening character, inasmuch as the violent 
struggle over the slavery question was confined to its le;j;il- 
iraato domain, the territory. Tho exhaustive deioonstra- 
tion of this assertion did not add a single new argument 
to the reasoning that bad been heard so often. As new 
protests against tho most recent acts of violence and out- 
rage bad been added to the old oiics, made in the name 
of right and justice, he only sung the old tune in a. sliU 
higher key: "In the course of my long public life, I have 
never performed any official net which, in the retro- 
spect, has afforded me more heartfelt satisfaction." Thus, 
Buchanan now pretended to pass judgment on his course 


in the Lccoinpton question, although lie wns obliged im- 
mediately thereafter to make the admission, \vli;ch was 
far beliind the dociimentarily proven fact, lliat he, "as 
an individual," was in favor of a voto of llio peojtlo on 
the entire constitution. From the man wlio could write 
that, even tho most decided opponent needed to ask no 
further argnment in justiticatiun of what aflei'vvards haj>- 
pened. Buchanan, therefore, spared himself the trouble 
of making such further argument; for iho more literal 
copying of the most imiwrtnnt sentences of English's bill 
cunuot well be considered such. Uis jndgment on the 
hill was given without any assignment of reiisons for iL 
The statesman-like authority of the "Sage of Wheatland" 
was the solo proof that it was " sorely not unreasonable" 
to forbid the third attem])t of Kansas to constitute itself 
a slate until it had the population necessary for tho elec- 
tion of a representative. To o.\tend " this csccllcut pro- 
vision" in future to all territories niiglit, indeed, ba 
commendable. Why "of course it would bo unjust" to 
extend it to Oregon also was, however, a riddio hard to 
solve. In support of this claim all that wns said was 
that, "acting upon the past practice of the government," 
it hud already given itself a state constitution, and had 
I'tecled a legislature and otiior officers. But every just 
claim growing out of the fact that the population of the 
territory, acting upon the previous pnictice of llto gov- 
Mrnraent, had already tried to constitute themselves a 
state, might undoulitedly bo made with at least the 
same right by Kansas as by Oregon. Po!itlc!illy, how- 
ever, that was of no importance, it, as tho president said, 
Kansas was now, because congress had guuranleed it 
complete freedom in respect to its own affairs, "tranquil 
and pro3|K!rous;" and after the sad experience it bad had 
with resistance to territorial laws, it was not to bo n»- 

tVEKSOH'S sriTccn. 

Eumed tliat it would try to givo itself a constitution in 
opposition to tlio cx|n-css provisions of a federal law. 
Then Englisli's bill htiJ not only put an end to the ex- 
citement in tlie states over tiio Kansas question, but it 
miglit and oven must bo assumed ibat tbe population of 
Kansas likowiso lad at last come to recognize liow *'in- 
Bjgniticant" ilie question over which it had become so 
excited, "viewed in its piilitical effects," was. Now, as 
the message — leaving out of consideration the economio 
condition of the couniry — touched on no internal ques- 
tion, except tlioso of Utah. Kansas and Oregon, to which 
a political character could be attributed, thoso people, 
evidently, whoso wishes wore not suited to a tiino of 
political calm must havo thanked thu president for his 
endeavor to put the dead waters in mutioii by the request 
for extensive powers ayainst certain American states, and 
for the appropriation of a sum for tho purpose of negoti- 
ating fu.' tho purchase of Cuba. 

The best criticism of the message was furnished by a 
speech of Iverson of January' 9, 1859, although it did not 
even mention it. The speech of the senator from Georgia 
showed only how the country's situation was reflected in 
his own mind. If he so judged the situation, bis esti- 
mate of it, considering the position ho held among south- 
ern politicians, of itself showed Buchanan's description 
of it to be absurd. That a question not necessarily a 
jiolitical one — ^ the construction of a railway to tho Pacific 
ocean — gave Iverson occasion to describe the situation 
generally, served only to place the contrast between tho 
president's assertions and the facts in a still mora glaring 


In all the northern states east of the Rocky Mountains, 
said Iverson, "in which elections have been held, our ene- 
mies have been victorious. Even Illinois is no exception, 

828 Buchanan's election — end of 35Tn conobess. 

for Douglas's doctrines oppose just as insurmountable a 
• barrier to the extension of slavery as those of the repub- 
licans. The slave states must, therefore, either surrender 
their peculiar institutions or separate from the north, and 
t!ie time could not be distant when thev would form a 
confederation of their own. '' Step by step, it [the repub- 
lican party] will bo driven onward in its mad career until 
slavery is abolished or the Union dissolved. One of these 
two things is as inevitable as death." The south, there- 
fore, will not wait for an aggressive act: the election of a 
republican president in an electoral campaign carried on 
on a sectional basis will suffice. That a general con- 
vention of all the slave states would resolve upon seces- 
sion is very improbable. But if only one slave state 
secedes, everv slave state will be soon forced to follow it. 
The attempt to bring back by force into the Union a 
seceded state would be the greatest folly of which a weak 
and corrupt government ever became guilty. If the 
Union is once sundered, it can be restored again only 
by concessions from the north guarantying full securitv 
to the south.^ 

The value of the pacification which, according to the 
assurance given by Buchanan, had been- brought about 
by the wise laws of the last session, had to be measured 
in accordance with this ec'no which his congratulations 
awakened among the radical slavocrats. Of coui'se that 
echo was not unexpected bv him, and hence he would cer- 
tainly have now written the parts of his message in 
question word for word as he had written them a month 
airo. At the time he was. indeed, less inclined than 
usual to take such speeches very tragically, because of the 
successful erection of a new barrier against the eventualitv 

»Congr. Globe. 2d Sesa. 85th CoDgr., pp. 242-214. 



whicb, according to Ivej-son, would be followed by seces- 

On the 14lh of February, 1S59, Bucbanan signed the 
l)ill lliai iidmitted Oregon into ibo Uuion. Two days be- 
fore, il had been pjissed by tbc bouse of representatives 
by a vote of one liundrutl and fourteen against one hun- 
dred and throe. No jmrly liad voted as a unit. The- 
republican minority of tha committee on territories had, 
in tlieir report,' furnished the tigures proving that Kan- 
sas, so far as one was warranted to draw a conclusion 
from the number of votes ciist at the elections, had a 
larger papulation than Oregon, and had therefore asked 
that the census provision of EngHsh's bill should be re- 
pealed. So long as what was recognized to be just for 
Oregon was not allowed to be right in the case of Kan- 
sas, they would oppose the admission of the former. All 
their piirty associates, of course, agreed with them that 
the two territories should not be measured with different 
measures; but a part of ihcm considered it neither wise 
nor just that Oregon should be punished because others 
were unjust to Kansas. In addition to this another 
reason w'ns advanced from Origon itself and from a 
friendly source, to which consideraljle weight had to be 
attncbed, if tlie actual condition of affairs were really 
what it was alleged to be. Its constitution had taken such 
a (losiLion against free persons of color that its provisions 
must not only have aroused the indignation of every man 
who thouglit uright, but that their accordance with the 
federal constitution might bu very seriously questioned. 
But a letter from Owen Wade' to a member of the house 
of representatives urgently argued that this should be 
overlooked if something incomparably worse were to be 

' Ctingr. Gbbe, ad Sum. 33th Cjagr,, p. 010. 

330 bcodanan's election — esd of Sotd conceebs. 

avoided. Nearly three tliousnnd votore, Iig said, wora very 
angry, because, on the Otiiof November, 1857, a free state 
constitulioii had been adopted, and tbcso now claimed 
that, in sjiite oE tbat constitution, they might, by virtue ot 
the Dred Scolt decision, hold slaves; but if slavery wag 
nnoo introduced it would be very dillicult to get rid of it 
ugnin, and hence the admission of the territory as a state 
under the present coustitntion would be disagreeable not 
to the friends of freedom, but, in a hiirh degree, to the 
slavocrals. Op[iosed to this eoiisidoration was tho otber 
that tho democrats in Oregon had a great preponder- 
ance, and tho Buchanan democrats besides. lis aditiission 
as a stale, therefore, meant giving the democrals ihreo 
sure votes for the next ])i'esidenlial election. But if tbe 
election, as the politicians of all parties considered very 
possible, devolved on tho honso of representatives, Ore- 
gon's vote would count as much as New York's; and the 
vote of tine state for one party or the other might easily 
decide the issue.' It could not, therefore, bo easy for 
any republican to vote for its admission; and ihe advan- 
tage Buchanan reaped from this was certainly not to be 
lightly estimated. 

As so ranch might depend on this question, it could not 
be a matter of surprise if its settlement had been waited 
for before the negotiations on IJuchanan's project of par- 
chasing from Spain " ihe Poarl of tiie Antilles " bo^an. 
Kotwiilislanding the glaring liglii which this discussion 
would cast on tho danger involved in any strengthening 
of ihe Buchanan democracy, lb was not done. Whether 
they believed themselves, under all circumstances, sure 
of a majority for Oregon, or whether the slavocracy 
looked upon their interests us no longer so intimaloly 
connected with those of the democratic parly, ont of con- 

1 Sm the nriicle of tlie N. Y, Times of Douembar 17, I3J8L 

Tiin I'UBcnASt: of cuba, 331 

sidcration of it, to be patient a few weeks longer, must 
reiTiaiii ur:tleci<lc(l licre. It is not easy to soo vvliiit it 
couM fear to loso by such delay; for it lianlly deceived 
itself on tlio point that in no casa couUl it liupo to be 
able to move bolb houses of congress to adopt its pro 
posiils ut tills session. 

The message had not informed congress thai now iiogo- 
tuitions with Spiiin tor the purchase of Cuba, had been 
openad ; but, that it might first give esprossion to its will, 
the whole question was laid before it, with the statement 
thai it was absuhitely necessary to success to givo tbo 
[iresiJont the means to make a payment on account to 
the Spanish government, iiniuediately after iho signing of 
the treaty and before its ratiGcation by the senate. Al- 
though attention was called to the fact that the same 
power had been granted to Jefferson and Polli, it was un- 
questionable that, by reason of tliis statement, the proj- 
ect would fail in the present liousri of rejiresentatives. 
What was granted to Jefferson for the pLireliaso of Loui- 
siana, and to Polk for a settlement with Mexico after its 
defeat by arms, could be only a trifle compared with the 
sura of which there must be question here; and among 
the democrats themselves ihero were people enough who, 
even if they in general considered the purchase desirable, 
would never have confided such a sum to the discretion 
of James Buchanan. 

Tbo manner in which Buchanan took bold of the mat- 
ter seemed to surprise even the senate. On iho ISth of 
January, it requested the president, by a resolution, to 
send it the correspondence on the purchase, not yet made 
pnblic, between ibo two governments. A message of 
the 21st of January * answered very briefly that no such 
corre3|)omlcnco existed, and that tbo president must ro- 

■ CoQgr. Gtutw. 3d Seas. 85tU Congr., p. 000. 


peat the opinion expressed in bis aanual message that tlie 
previous consent of congress seemed to him " highly im- 
portant if not indispensable to sncccss." 

In respect to this point, however, the annual message 
bad not been misnnderstood by tlie senate. Whether 
that body nonld busy itself more particularly with the 
suggestion made in the message, it did not by any means 
ivish to make dependent on the answer it would receive 
to its request. As early as tho lOlh of January, Slidell 
had introduced a bill which placed at the disposal of the 
president $30,00O,00U for the purpose mentioned, and the 
senate had referred it to the committee on foreign affairs. 
On tho 15th of January, a caucus of tho democratic sen- 
atore was held, in which the majority declared in favor of 
supporting tho views of the president; but no formal reso- 
lution was passed as to how they should proceed iu the 
matter.' Three days after the message was received tho 
oommittec made its report through Slidell, recommend- 
ing tho adoption of the senator's bill with certain imma- 
terial changes. Slidell, too, was tho author of the lengthy 
argument by which the motion was introduced.' 

The review of the history of the question, and the dis- 
cussion of the reaMtns in favor of tho acquisition of the 
island, brought nothing new. "The ultimate acquisition 
of Cuba may be considered a fixed purpose of the United 
Slates." If this projKisition were madothe starting-point 
of the argument, it was, in truth, almost a mailer of in- 
difference what was said as to the reasons why tho pur- 
chase was to bii made. Even if every word of Slidell was 
acquiesced in absolutely and by alt, it still remained to 
be proved that it was advisable to try to execute this 

I The N. y. Ti-ibune. Jan. 17, 1859. 

*Tlie ri-port is printed in full in Congr. Qtobe, 2d Sesa. BSth Ccmgr., 

Append., pp, 90-95. 


fixed pnrposo now and in the manner proposed by the bill. 
If this were made the test, both bill and report seemed, 
from every point of view, the greatest nbsurditiea in the 
entire legislative history of the Union, 

The picture which the annual message had drawn of 
the financial condition of the country was by no means 
a brilliant one, although the figures wore presented in a 
manner which marie it appear to (ho reader hot trained 
in such matters much more favorable than it was in 
reality. Seward gave the sum total of the complicated 
account in two figures: the receipts had fallen off fifty 
millions, and the admitted deficit for the year amounted 
to thirty millions.' Under these circumstances thirty 
millions was so large a sum, even for a rich country like 
the United Slates, that the granting of it must meet 
with serious objection, although the object for which 
it was asked were in itself to be approved. But, in the 
matter proposed, there was question of an incompar- 
ably greater but wholly undetermined amount. The bill 
H,Nod no limit beyond which the offer of the president 
might not go. Slidcll had, indeed, made an exhaustive 
calculation of returns based upon a purchase price o£ one 
hundred and twenty-five millions, stating that ten years 
ago one hundred millions had been olTered, and that the 
increase in value in the meantime might he assumed to 
be twenty-five millions. This estimate was not only en- 
tirely arbitrary, but even if correct it did not possess 
the least importance, as it was not binding on the presi- 
dent. If Spain could only be induced to sell Cuba for 
twice or thrice this amount, and if Buchanan thought 
that, considering the resulting political advantages, that 
sum was not too much to pay for the island, there was 
nothing to prevent his giving it in his treaty. There was 

■ Congr. Qlotie. SJ Sesa. 83ch Cungr., p. CSS. 

334: Buchanan's election — end op SSth congress. 

a great difTcrcnco between the opinion that Cuba should 
be acqiiirecl if it could bo had for a suitable price, and 
that it must bo purchased at any prico which James 
Buchanan would not consider too high. Yet this is what 
the bill practically amounted to, for the senate would 
have had no choice but to approve the treaty or allow the 
country to bear the loss of the thirty millions the presi- 
dent would have already paid on account. But if it was, 
on the one hand, self-evident that congress would never 
consent to the alternative of abstaining from co-operating 
in the determination of the purchase price, or running 
the risk that the president would throw away thirty mill- 
ions, it was, on the other, for obvious reasons, not advis- 
able to llx a definite sum beyond which the president 
shoukl not go, as Taylor, of Louisiana, moved in the 
house of reprosentatives.* This shut out all real negotia- 
tions on this point from the start. If a sufficiently large 
amount was not bid, a curt answer in the negative would 
have been received ; and if the result showed that enough 
had been ollercd, perhaps too high a bid would have been 
uselessly miulc; for it was clear that Spain would not be 
satisfied with less than congress had already declared it- 
self ready to pay. 

The dan;^cr that the island would have to bo paid for 
at a price far beyond its value, unless Spain was made a 
present of thirty million dollars, was by no means the 
only one to which the country would have been exposed 
by the pas5age of the bill. That the contract would not 
only fix the price, but would contain other stipulations, 
was a matter of course; and, with respect to the latter, 
congress would have exempted the i)resident from the 
constitutional control of the senate, inasmuch as it would 

I He proposed $120,000,000. Cougr. Globe, 2d Seas. 83th Confi^r.. 
p. 747. 

TDE TnnjTy-inLuos bill. 

be obligcil to approve tlicm also, if tho thirty milliona 
were not to be lost. Notwithstanding the precedents 
adduced by Buchanan, more tlian one strong argument 
could bo made to show liiat this was an unwarranted 
stretching of the power wliich tho president should, ac- 
cording to tho intentions of Uic framers of the constitu- 
tion, have in tho conclusion of treaties. Bat, however 
this might bo, con^Tess was certainly not bound to, in 
this way and to this extent, leave it enlirely to the judg- 
ment of tho president to say what tlie interests of the 
Union demanded and allowed. If It did so, notwithstand- 
ing, without imperative reasons, it assumed a frightful 
responsibility to the country. Even under ordinary cir- 
cnrastances sueli a request should not have been made 
unless grciit unanimity prevailed among the people in 
respect to tho question under discussion, and unless the 
president enjoyed their conlidence to an extraordinary 
degree. To properly characterize the fact that such 
powers were now asked for James Buchanan in this 
question is not easy. "AVe," said Seward, "who have 
disputed so earnestly, often so vehemently, year after 
year, j-oar in and year out, over the question whether 
the institution of slavery shall be introduced into the 
territory of Kjinsas, are e.\|)ected by the president, in his 
simplicity, to allow him to determine for tbo north and 
for the souUi. for the free slates and for tho slave states, 
at his own absolute pleasure, the terms and conditions 
upon whicli Culm sliall be annexed to tho United Slates 
and incorporatod into tho Union, I say nothing of the 
present incumlwal of the executive office. I say that 
men never chose, nor did God ever send on earth, a mag- 
istrate to whom I n-ould L-ouiide this great question, hav- 
ing a coastitutional right to decide it myself." 
If tho bill were to be seriously interpreted to mean 

BDCn&NAN'» EtEOnOS — Him OF 35th CONQBESa. 

wbut it pretonded, there were, indeed, only two poB- 
fiibilities: either ita advocates and the president wore 
themselves possessed, or they thought thoy might assume 
the republicans and the free-soil democrats possessed, of 
an excess of simplicity. Even ihose northorn democrats 
who, nith Douglas, looked upon slavery with absolute 
indifference could not vote for the bill without giving 
proof such as this of their poverty of thought in political 
matters, nnless they looked upon speeches like Iverson's 
as the ravings of madmen. If only the very least pos- 
sibility had to be conceded that the Union would be dis- 
rupted by the slavery question, the purchase, so far as 
the north was concertied, was an act of Uii[iaralleled folly ; 
and not only an act of unparalleled folly, hat of frenxy, 
if the secession of the slave states, as Ivcrson had as- 
serted, were unavoidable and must take place in the near 
future. Cuba must then naturally fall to the share of 
the southern confederacy, and the federal fjovernment 
would have thrust its hand thus deeply into the pockctis 
of the tax-payers of the free states in order lo put a pre- 
mium of perhaps one hundred millions and even more 
on the secession of the south. As early as April 10. 
ISJS, Francis Liebcr, who had lived so luny in the heart 
of the slave territory, had written to G. S, Hiliiard that 
the moment the north had paid fur Cuba the south 
would declare itself independent.' 

Buchanan's superior political wisdom, however, had 
enabled him to discover reasons which must make the ao- 
quisition of the island seem to even the fanatical oppo- 
nents of slavery a great achievement for their cause. So 
long as the African slave trade continues, said the annual 
message, civilization cannot penetrate into benighted 
Africa; but that trade will como to an end as soon nH 

' Perrf. The Life nod Letter* of Francis Llober, p. 800. 



Ciibn, by Ijelngtranstorped to the possession of the United 
States, ceases to be a market for wicked man-huntei-s. 
SUdell developed this idea still further in bis report; and 
if he did not, iit the same time, call attention to Uuchaii' 
an's murul indignation at the accursed trade, be nmdu up 
for his neglect by hi ying all the more stress on the tinan- 
cial as[«JOD of the question: the saving that would bo el'- 
fecled by tbo faci ibut it would no longer be neci'ssary to 
maintain a squadron on the African const, was a very 
material factor in his calculation of the reniuneralivenesa 
of the investment. But as the im|iortution of such slaves 
was already prohibited by law, the question might prop- 
erly be asked by what right both president and senator 
believed themselves exempt from the necessity of assign- 
ing any ground whatever for the assertion that by the 
mere change of owner a complete revolution in this re- 
spect in tbc actual condition of afTairs would immediately 
take place. In his annual messafie of tbe 3d of Decem- 
ber. 1?60, Buchanan recalled the fact that "a restoration 
of the African slave trade had numerous and powerful 
advocates in the United States." If he had forgotten tliis 
when he was writing his message of the Cth of December. 
1S5S, it, must have been vividly enough recalled to hia 
memory by many a word spoken in tho debates of con- 
gress during this session. On the 2*»th of January Keitt, 
in the house of representatives, declared himself opposed 
to the agitation of the question, because it was a cause of 
excitement, and yet could "now result in no practical ac- 
tion.'' But the day would come when it would conquer 
a place in the politics of the south, nnd independently of 
parties fix itself in the consciousness of the public with 
books of steel. Yet as the free states prevented the fed- 
eral government from intervening in favor of slavery, it 
must also be deprived of the possibility of intervening 

338 Buchanan's election — end of 35th congress. 

against it; that is, the law which declared the African 
slave trade to be piracy must be repealed and the squad- 
ron on the coast of Africa recalled.^ Seward, of Georgia, 
followed Keitt with the formal motion that all laws which 
forbade the slave trade should be repealed, and the sep- 
arate states allowed to act on the matter as they thought 
fit.- And on the 21st of Februarv, before the decision on 
the thirty-million bill in the senate was reached, Slidell 
himself confessed that propagandism for the restoration 
of the slave trade would make great progress, if the south 
continued to be obliged to compete with the cheaper slave 
laborof other states, which were continually receivingnew 
importations from Africa.^ The best commentary, how- 
ever, on the president's statement and Slidell's report was 
furnished by an actual occurrence m Georgia, the dis- 
cussion of which was now in every mouth. In December, 
1858, the yacht Wanderer had landed some hundred Af- 
rican negroes in the vicinity of Brunswick. The ship was 
confiscated and sold. But public opinion revolted so 
little against the trade that people willingly acceded to 
the bold demand of the owner not to outbid him, and 
the ship was sold to him at about one-quarter of its real 
value. Judge Wayne endeavored fruitlessly to get a jury 
together who would do their duty; and while the guilty 
man found protection against the law in public opinion, 
nothincr could be ascertained as to the whereabouts of the 
negroes.* When the case w^as finally decided judicially 
in 1860, morality and the supremacy of the law received 
only a new slap in the face. District Judge A. G. Ma- 
grath enriched the annals of forensic sophistry with the 

1 Congr. Globe, 2d Sess. 85th Congr., Append., p. 4. 

2Loc. cit. 

5 Ibid., p. 1184. 

« Ibid., p. 1386. 



proof that the stave trade bad not been declared piracy 
by the law of May 13, 1820,' 

Even if people in the southern states without exception 
xvere still of ihe same way of thinking on the African 
slave trade as they had been forty years before, the as- 
serlion made by Buchanan and Slidell would have been 
entirely baseless, Collaraer called attention to the fact 
that slaves in the United States cost about twice as much 
as in Cuba, and that this difference of price must im- 
mediately disappear after annexation, as slaves then could 
be brought uuhindered from the island to the continent 
at a nominal cost to be sold. From these facts he drew 
the correct conclusion that if the prospect of a so much 
sm:iller profit had been a sufficient inducement to the 
slaveholders, spite of all the penalties imposed by the law, 
to sinuiigle ten thousand" African negroes into the coun- 
try, such an enormous increase of the profit would give the 
business the necessary impetus. This was all the more cer- 
tainly to be expected, as the annexation would probably 
cause England to withdraw its African squadron. But as 
it waa universally conceded that the united efforts of Eng- 
land and the United States for the suppression of the 
African slave trade had hitherto been attended by very 
unsatisfactory results, it was impossible to foresee what 
sums the Uniteil States would then have to spend if it 
were only to keep that trade within its present limits. =■ 

That all these reasons made it impossible for any re- 
publican to vote for Slidell's bill is self-evident. Some 
of them, however, must have seemed so weighty to the 
Douglas democrats that a part of them likewise would 

iSom@ further detnlls nuj be (onml in Lieber. Mi»o. Writings, II, 
pp 170. 176. 
'' Benjamin corrected him — Iwenty-flvo thousand. 
< Congr. Globe, 2d Seas. 85th Congr., pp. 1183, 1183. 

340 buoqanan's ELEcnos — esd of 35tb ooxoress. 

join the opposition, altljough their leader had for a long 
time advocated the acquisition of the island in a mati^ 
ner such that it was now to bo expected be would 1 
seen inarching under Buchanan's flag. Even in the slavd 
states tliemselves, there was no lack of people who nofl 
only took umbrage at the fact that the president was to b 
given practically unlimited power in a question of thiffl 
importance, but who had serious objections to the annexa^ 
tion project itself, or at least to its prosecution at thid 
time; and if these dissenting voices had not a weight 
worthy of consideration, Slidell would certainly not ha' 
referred to tliein in his report. He could not, of course, j 
pass over in silence the assertion thai "perils" to the j 
United States were to be apprehended from "the diffep-fl 
ent elements composing the population and the suppose 
mixture of races;" and to be forced to admit that these 
fears were entertained by "some southern statesmen" 
also must have been very disagreeable to him. The op-J 
position in the south, however, was not confined to a fev-l 
statesmen; nor was this tha only objection they raised.! 
G-roups of certain interests, as, for instance, the sugurl 
planters, would have to be actuated by the most wonder^fl 
fnl unselfishness, if they had given no consideration \vhat>| 
ever to the menacing competition they would have to n 
in consequence of the annexation of Cuba. But, abovQS 
all, thinking conservatives could not ignore the heavyM 
responsibility they assumed, if now, without the weight- 
iest reason, another apple of discord were thrown betwee^fl 
the north and the sonth, while they felt themselves forcedl 
daily more and more to face the momentous questloill 
how much longer the bonds of the Union would be abloF 
to bear the frightful weight of the slavery question withJ 
out breaking. And was it not the utmost wickedness t 
stir up this new quarrel, when the preliminary qaestlM 


whether Spain would agree to the sale, under any circum- 
stances, could not be answered in the affirmative with any 
degi-ee of confidence! Even if there were absolute una- 
nimity in congress and among the entire people, both on 
the question of purchase itself and on the mode of pro- 
cedure provided for in the bill, the legislative branch of 
the Union would have been guilty at least of an entirely 
purposeless waste of lime, it' an absolute negative was to 
be expected. 

At least, we say; for, considering the previous history 
of the question, one could not but perceive that Spain's 
answer wouM be a categorical Not and that' it would look 
upon the proposal as insulting bare- faced ness. Slidell's 
report could adduce nothing to weaken this argument, 
except that revolutions bad become a chrunic disease In 
Spain: new men might bo placed at the helm of the 
ship of state there any day, and the American ambassa- 
dors would not make any proposition until they hud rea- 
son to believe that it wouhl be favoi-ably accepted. lie 
admitted, however, that if it were true that a proposition 
would '■ offend the Spanish pride, be regarded as an in- 
sult and rejected with contempt,"' that '■ would bo a con- 
clusive argument against the bill." But accident would 
have it thai on the very morning on which Slidell, In the 
name of the committee, laid his bill before the senate 
again, newspapers reached Washington which contained 
exhaustive reports of the reception given in Spain to the 
part of Buchanan's message with which we are con- 
cerned. To a question of Ulloa's, O'Donnell had an- 
swered that Spain " was disposed to liemand due satis- 
faction for such an insult." The exposition in detail of 
the reasons for this declaration had been interrupted by 
loud and frequent applause; and a resolution moved by 
AUozaga, which expressed gratification at the answer 



and atldcd that the Cortes would always co-operate withi 
the government in the defence oF the integrity of tlitf 
territory subject to Spain, ivns unanimously adopted.' Ifl 
Seward beliered that, by reading tbis report, he would] 
disconcert Slidell, he did not know the man. ITe non'-i 
declared to be of no importance what he hud five min-fl 
utes before alleged to be a conclusive ar-i^nnient againsti 
the bill, since iho message had already produced tlie ef- J 
feet tiiat Seward feared from the bill; and the l&tter,l 
therefore, could do no further harm. 

All criticism of such logic was superfluous; for this an- ] 
swer to Buchanan's suggestion of the purchase of Cuba I 
settled the whole question. No matter what powers I 
were given to the president, all negotiations about a pur- j 
chase were entirely meaningless unless it were desired f 
to excite Spain still more, iis Kennedy, of Maryland, said» ■ 
to force a solution of the question in harmony with thai 
wishes of the president and the slavocracy, by lead and ] 
steel instead of gold.' 

The suspicion that this was kept in view as an eventu- . 
ality could not be dismissed without any more ado as an 
absurd slander. The assurance nf the message that the J 
United States would continue to make territorial acquisi-J 
tions by honorable purchase, as it had done hitherto, was<I 
accompanied by a reminder of the supreme law of statM,^ 
the duty of self-preservation,; and in the mouth of one oEl 
the authors of the Ostend manifesto this was no raeail--r 
ingless commonplace. Nor was the idea itself by any 1 
means new. It had for a long time a great many ad?n> J 
cates even in the free states. Thus it was definitelvJ 

• See tlie worJIng of the newspaper report read by Seward. Ibid..,! 
p. 540. 

'"If i;entteiiiei) liavc biH^ii in earneat on litis question, tbny n 
violence or (liey mean nothing.'' Ibid., p. 1347. 



stated that, in Doiifjlas's (jjiinion, tlie I'niteil Slates slioulil 
wait until the Cuban authorities had become guilty 
of some new gross impropriety, like that of the Black 
Warrior affair, to create accomplislietl facts which would 
overcome Spain's unwiltingoess to enter into negotia- 
tions.' And if ho did not now, in the debate on the 
tliirty-million bill, confess that lie was unreservedly of this 
opinion, more than one of the sjiolcesmen of the slavoc- 
racy did. They did not even think it necessary to wait 
for Spain lo furnish a pretext fortheeinployuiontof force. 
Mallory's advice was that if Spain continued stubborn it 
should be given "openly and frankly to understand that 
the United States would do as Frederick the Great had 
done with Silesia — that is, tirst take Cuba and then talk 
about it.' .\nd Brown blurted out that the bill should 
announce to all the world that the United Stales was re- 
solved to acquire Cuba— "peaceably if we can, forcibly if 
we must." ' 

If the bill was lo announce this, much more could be 
discovered in it with the assistance of the message and 
Slidell's report. 

Of what immense importance Cuba is to us, Slidcll had 
said, no more needs a proof than the simplest mathemal- 
ical proposition. " The purchase and annexation of Louisi- 
ana led, as a necessary corollary, to that of Florida; and 
both point with unerring certainty lo the acquisition of 
Cuba." This simple argument might be continued at any 

'Seethe N. Y. Tribune. Jun. 17. 1859. 

iCoQgr. Globe, !W Sess. 35lli Congr. p. 1332. 

■ " t am tor ttie ac(|uis[tiun ur Cuba, an<l I want to aiiv^rtiae to all 
the world that we ineaii lo liave it — jvencenblv i( we csn. forcibly if 
we muat. I am willing to pay tor it, or I am willing to tight for it. I 
would ddverlise to the world that we tiienn to have it: and I look 
Upon tliix bill as nothing more than a mere advt^rtiecmenl that tl>e 
United States desire Cuba, and mean lo have it." Ibiil., p. 13(13. 

344 Buchanan's klicition — end of 35th congress. 

raonient, iind curried lo the point to which the cupidild 
of the United States Oesii-ed to go. And that its cupidT 
ity would not sto)) itt Cuba, if tbe wishes of the radical 
wing of the slavocraey were to control tUe policy of tlld 
Union, had been alreaily frequently stated with the grcutf 
est frankness. But ni)»',one did not need to call to mingj 
ihe old truth that appetite conies with eating. Xo c& 
traoi'dinary amount of suspicion was needed to bo led bj 
the message to inquire whether preparatory atejis wuM 
not already taking for a further advance in the near futj 
ure. On the very first day of the debate, Sowaiil hut| 
said: We have not to do with an isolated propositioi 
but the executive has proposed a whole series of measure 
of the same kind; the president wants to be authorizam 
to send the armed force of the United Stiitcs to Mexicx 
to establish a protectorate over a part of that rcpubli<^ 
and "to make war in his own discretion and at his owij 
pleasure against all or nearly all the Spanish- American 
states on Ibis continent." Evoii if Buchanan's characlei 
and political past had excluded all suspicion that he i 
tended to favor territorial acquisition, the fear would] 
have been not entirely unfonnded that the facts create 
by himself, through the instrumentality of these es 
traordinary and entirely unrepubllcan powers, might I 
made use of by tlie slavocraey as a foundation for tha 
realization of their desires for annexation. That, undeg 
their influential leaders, there would be no lack of mei 
who would try to do this, was certain. When CoUatneig 
on the 21st of February, repeated the objections c 
Seward, above mentioned, and at the same time called ttt] 
tcntion to tbe faotthat Toombs had onou expressed thfl 
wish to see the annexation of tropical America declare 
the policy of the United States, the latter replied: "II fi 
true — the whole of it." 


Even if those who thought that, they could dismiss all 
such idenB with a shrug of the sliouldors as ridiculous 
chimeras were in the right, the reiiublicans ooiild not be 
reproaclied with endeavoring to prejudice ]niblic opinion 
agaiDSt the bill by uwaking exaj-gurated notions of tlie 
evil consequences which must l)e expecteil from it. The 
eonlrary objection that thoy undert-stiinatod its impor- 
tance might seem to be much better founded; lor even if 
they pointed to the uUimato aims of a partof the slavoc- 
racy, they at the same time declared over and over again 
that they could not believe the pi'oject ivas seriously in- 
tended. From the undoubted cerLiiinly tbalSpniu would 
reject every proposition, they drew the conclusion that 
tliey had to do with a political manceuvre the motives 
and objects of which were to be looked for in llie tki- 
mestic uffaira of the Union. Bucbaniin, said Seward, 
"expects, by ap]>oaling to the cupidity of the American 
|}eople, that he will escape an investigation upon the do- 
mestic policy of the admin istralion, which has been a 
total failure,'" There was question of acquiring not Cuba, 
but this country, in ibe next prasidentialeloct ion, said Hale; 
and he added that the question menaced to demoralize 
the republican party if it were not met in the right wur.- 
Doolittle agreed to both opinions, as he called the bill an 
effort " to change the pleadings " for the electoral cam- 
paign of 1800.' And Hale was not the only one who did 
justice to the tactic skill of his opponents. Once tbey 
have awakened the greediness of the masses for more 
hind, said the New York Tribune of January 17, "their 
battle for 1860 is half won." 

A few days later the Tribune was indeed vvrillea to 

1 1biJ.. p. 1»53. 
-• Ihid.. p. flU5. 
) Ibid., p. eoQ. 

3i0 bucuanan's election - 

r.ND OF 30TU CO.S( 

from Washington that to Buchanan and his cabinet tbs 
bill was certainly not merely a means to reach othen 
ends, and that the president might really hope for sua- 
cess if only a suliicient sum trei-e [ilaced at bis dis|)osa1.l| 
Even if this view were the correct one — and it is not im"! 
possible that it was — it was indisputable that the proj^ 
ect had its origin to a great extent and probably chioflyl 
m considerations as to its assumed effects on the presi>J 
dential election of ISfiO. The Wasliinglon correspondent 
of the Charleston Mi^reury asserted this with as muohl 
positivenesa as the republicans;- and bis testimony in the j 
case of this question could not be found fault with. And , 
scarcely less heavily than the direct admissions of this J 
kind, weighed the indirect confirmation this view received, 
by the apparently contradictory course pursued by th^ 
majority of the senate, under Slidell's leadership, in re-J 
spect to the parliamentary management of the bill. 

On the 9th of February the senate had, by a vote otl 
twenty-eight against seventeen, resolved that the biUf 
s'lould be bronght up for discussion, notwithstanding th* 
fact that the most important questions, like the apprf 
priations and the financial question generally, in ( 
quence, ran the risk of remaining undecided. HunterJ 
who had charge of the appropriation bills, was always 

> Tho N. y. Tribum, Jan. So, 1850. 

'"It H evident Mr. Buchnnnii liaa purpoa^ly reserved Ibia questioill 
fur political i^apitAl, and intt-mls tu make it thu If vt>r by wliicb I 
raise the democratic pnrt;^ out of ' tlie stough of dospond ' into whicn] 
tlie ab-)litionisiB had tliiuBt it. It is a subjeut peculiarly attraolive Iffi 
ilie people uf the Donli, who. wbjle tliej ata foiiiily devoted to frod 
negroeH, ore still moi-e anient in tlieir love of ' Tree eugar,' and will 
Ko for Cuba without slnverv. ir anything in the future iha; 
dieted from the present complexion of ullairs, 'Cuba' is \a 
dt^mocrultc wnr-cry in the presideiitiul (.'anipaign of ISQO, antt b tllj 
only tliinic virhlcli is likely to givt> u» a deiiKiuralic priMidunt." Congrfl 
Olobe, 2d Sess. 3Sth Congi., Apjiend., p. 103. 



ready to defer the latter in favor of the thirty-million bill ; 
but whenever a request was made that any other important 
bill — -as, for instance, the homestead bill — -should betaken 
up, he ininiediiilely objected that such a thing could not 
bo permitted ou account of the appropriation bills. The 
session of the 25tL of February lasted into the following 
day. The majority wished a<^in to force the opposition 
to malie their speeclies to a sloe ping audience or to prom- 
ise that they would allow the vole to be taken on the fol- 
lowing day at a definite hour. The minority remained 
firm; and Slidell himself at last moved an adjournment, 
after the motion to lay the bill on the table had been re- 
jected by a vote of thirty against eighteen, which he 
called a "test vote." A large majority liad, therefore, 
been secured for the bill ; and, in the course of the debate, 
Slidell annouuced again wiih emphasis that a vote would 
be taken at any risk. Uc, therefore, had no reason to 
complain when the explanation he had given a few hours 
later (February 26) was doubted, viz. : that it was consider- 
ation for the appropriation bills which had determined 
him and the other friends of the bill to defer the de- 
cision of the question until next session, and for the pres- 
ent to rest satisfied with the fact that the majority in 
lhis"test vote" had expressed themselves in favor of 
■' the principle of the bill." 

Even the democratic press inferred from this contrii- 
dictorv course that the passage of the bill had never 
been desired by Buchanan, because the purchase project 
could fulfill its real purpose of holding the party together 
in the presidential campaign only so long as it remained 
a means of agitation.' But if it could he considered cor- 

■ The Rochester Union nnd Advrrtiaer, one of the olileat and ini at 
respected deiuocrntic journals of wosIbtii New York, lets its aiiipli- 
flcntioii of this proposition culminate in the charge that Buchaiinirs 

348 Buchanan's 

> Ob' 35ra cnxoREas. 

tain that, even with tliirty millions at his disposal, 
president would not be atjle to induce Spain to sell tli| 
island, it was now incomparably more curtain that tfaj 
apectdation on this unifying power of the project was G 
tirely wrong, and that it tliereforo had served only l 
intensify tho strain by increasing still further the dai 
gerous excitement of men's mindti. On the S3d of Fe^ 
ruary a debate had taken place in the senate which i 
such a glaring light on the yawning gap between the tvf 
wings of the democratic party that it was more thai 
folly to cling to the hope that by energetically caterin, 
to the appetite for more territory it could be closed agoi 
at last during the next presidential campaign. 

The repeal moved by Hale of the provision of English^ 
bill, according to which Kansas could adopt a stale com 
stitulion only after it had been shown by tho taking of ■ 
census that it had the population required for the electitq 
of a representative, was under discussion. Brown's speocl 
which, to use Eroderick's expression, cast a bombshel 
into the senate, was, however, not provoked by that mA 
tion. Its connection with that motion was so remote tbu 
it might, with equal truth, have been connected withj 
hundred other questions. Its dechired object was lo makj 
it perfectly clear what was the position respectively 43 
the two wings of the democratic party on the questit^ 
of slavery in the territories. Its text, pregnant win 
meaning, was; "I neither want to cheat nor be oheatt 
in the great contest that is lo come off in ISW.' " Asf 
presidential candidate, Douglas should give an explaiU 
tion of the doctrine he had announced in Freeport; 
certainty should be obtained fts to whcthur the demooi 

uttiniatc object was his re-election. This iuttrt^ling artiols 1b 01 
in tho N. Y. Tribune of March IS, 18S9. 
' Congr. Globe. 34 Seaa. 35lh CoDgr., p. 1212. 


of the nortbern states took the same ground. Those who 
had hitherto deceived themselves on the matter had now 
to recognize that the re-election of Douglas to the senate 
was nut the end of the play of the Lin coin- Douglas cam- 
paign, hut only of ils first act. 

If the Dred Sccilt decision has any sense at all, said 
Brown, it means that it is the duty of the government to 
protect our slave property in the territories. If the word 
protection is not to lie a deception and a fraud, it mnst 
mean an "adequate" and "sufficient" protection. The 
constitution has not given us rights, and refused us the 
means to protect and defend them. If the territorial leg- 
islature refuses ine pr-otecuoii tomy slavepropert}', I shall 
demand thitt protection of congress; and congress must 
grant it to me, for the territorial legislature is its creature. 
Will you grant that demand? Will you annul the laws 
of the territorial legislature that violate that right of pro- 
tection, and pass laws that will grant it! Tlie declaration you do not, with Douglas, consider the territorial 
legislature authorized, by non-action or by unfriendly ac- 
tion, to exclude mo and ray slaves from tlio territory is 
worth nothing. It is a matter of indifference how you 
think; wc shall demand that you act, If you refuse to 
answer the question, Will you do this! in the affirniatire, 
there is to rae no difference between you and Douglas. 
But if we cannot get the rights which belong to us under 
the constitution according to the sujireiue court of the 
country, we shall remain in it no longer — for it is a despot- 
ism. There must, therefore, be a clear understanding be- 
tween us and the democrats of the northern states. If 
we do not agree, let us, like honest men, separate. 

Douglas accepted the challenge with the declaration 
that he too did not want to cheat or to bo cheated, and 
that he would, therefore, define his position so clearly 
that no doubt coDcerning it would be possible. In 

350 BtrCBiNAN's 

) OF 35Tn 

doing so be said nothing ne\r. As Brown had onfl 
clothed Lincoln's reasoning in different words, Doagla 
simply repealed the sophisms with which he had endeai 
tirod to meet the latter. The legal nature of slave profl 
erty and other property, he aaid, is exactly the i 
and hence the territorial legislature has precisely t 
same power over tlie one as over the oilier. If the raj 
nature of slave property is such as to require greater prj 
tection than other pro|jerty, that is the misfortune of t! 
slave-holders. What the territorial legislature should i 
in consequence of this is a matter of indifference. If t 
population do not want slavery, the legislature will nej 
lect to lake the measures which, considering the i 
value of slave property, are the absolute preconditions Q 
the possibility of the continuance of slavery ; but it c 
not be forced to do what it does not want to do. And i 
is very doubtful whether, in all the free stales, a slnj^ 
man can be found who is ready to agree to the demaUl 
through congress to force upon the population, again 
their will, such a "slave code " as ts indispensable to tfl 
continuance of slavery. The Kansas-Nebraska biU li 
settled that help against the unconstitutional action oQ^ 
territorial legislature is to be suiiglit for, not from OOa 
gress, but from the courts; and Brown himself expresa 
approved this in his speech of July 2, 1S5G.' But it,f 
right that we must come to a clear understanding as 1 
whether we shall agree. " We live under a common c 
stitution. No political creed is sound or safe which c 
not be proclaimed in the siinie sense wherever the Am« 
ican Hag waives over American soil. If the north an 
the south cannot come to a common ground on I 
slavery question, the sooner we know it the better. 
If you repudiate the doctrine of non-interventioa a 
form a slave code by act of congress, when the people d 
' Comiiare Cangr. Qlobe, 1st Sess. S4th Congr., Append., p. 801. 

the tei'ritory refuse it, you must step off the democratic 
platform. We will let you depart in peaco, as you no 
longer belong to us. . . . I do not l>clie\'e a demo- 
cratic candidate can even carry any one democratic state 
of the north on the platform that it is llie duty of the 
federal government to force the people of a territory to 
have slavery when tlicy do not want it."' 

Brown absolutely denied that he had changed his 
views. The provision of the Kansas-Nebraska bill quoted 
by Douglas did not provide for the case of slave-holders 
deprived of their rights by the failure of the territ<irial 
legislature to act; for such a case could not be brought 
before the federal supreme court- 
Undeniable as ibis was, it was not at all pertinent to 
the political question. If Douglas could not convince 
Brown, nor Brown Douglas, or if neither could induce the 
other actually to surrender his point of view, it was. so 
far as the practical consequences of the controversy were 
concerned, entirely indilTerenl who was right or wrong 
on the constitutional question. But Douglas and Brown 
did not speak in their own names alone. On the onoside 
Pugh, with great emphasis, supported Douglas's assertion 
that no free state would ever agree to Brown's " mon- 
strous dem;ind;" and, on the other. Mason and Jefferson 
Davis adhered just as strongly to Brown's declaration 
that the slave states would never accept a presidential 
candidate who took Douglas's point of view. Was it now 
conceivable that the electoral battle of 18G0 would after 
all be fought under ii loader of the alavocracy and of tlio 
democrats of the northern states? 

Green declared it not only possible but even bad the 
boldness to promise to bring about the reunion of the 
struggling parties on the main question by his speech, 

1 Cungr, Globe, 24 Seaa. 80tb Cungr., pp. 1240, 1317. 
llUd.p, laei. 

352 Buchanan's election — end of 35th congress. 

although on the legal question he stood .precisely where 
Brown did. As at the time there was no practical ques- 
tion before them, he thought;, no proper ground could be 
found on either side for a separation in this difference of 
opinion. But an accident now swept the ground from un- 
der his feet as one had swept it from under Slidell's in 
the discussion of the Cuban question. During the debate 
the news came that tlio Kansas legislature had passed a 
law which declared slavery abolisbed. Douglas's reply 
was, therefore, irrefutable: '*Ifow is the time and hero 
the cause if you ever intend to intervene." * 

If the questiou'could ever become a practical one, it 
had, indeed, become one by this step taken by the legisla- 
ture of Kansas. Its settlement might, notwithstanding, 
be deferred. But it had become impossible to hold the 
])arty together, for the presidential campaign of ISGO, 
under the pretense that an irreconcilable difference of 
opinion prevailed only on a theoretical question which 
probably would never assume the character of a prac- 
tical probltiin. Even Bigler, of Pennsylvania, who with 
Gwin, of California, opposed Douglas's doctrine, therefore, 
acknowledged that the discussion provoked by Brown 
couid evidently 'Mead to no other result than disaster to 
the democratic party." - The t/iema prohantluin of the bit- 
ter, leading article of the Washington Statcft^ of January 
2^), 1S50, had been made an undoubted and irrevocable 
fact by the deb:itc of February 23, viz.: ''There is no 
such entity as a democratic party." The 35th Congress 
ended while tlie funeral bells of the democratic party 
were tolling; and hence the history of the 30th Congress 
could not but become the knell of the Union. 

iCongr. Globe, 2d Sees. 35tb Congr., p. 1255. 

2 Ibid., p. 1623. 

3 The organ of the radical slavocrocy at the national capitoL 



3 tiiaS 054 LiBt B^3 




[650] 723-9201