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lative act of Arkansas was held to be void, so far as it assumed authority to authorize the calling of a convention to form a constitution, yet they did not hold, in those days, that the people could not assemble and frame a constitution in the form of a petition. I will read the rest of the opinion, in order that the Senate may understand precisely what was the doctrine on this subject at that day, and what the Committee on Territories understood to be the doctrine on this subject in March, 1856, when we put forth the Kansas report as embodying what we Nebraska men understood to be our doctrine at that time. Here it is. This was copied into that report:

"But I am not prepared to say that all proseedings on this subject, on the part of the citizens of Arkansas, will be illegal. They undoubtedly possess the ordinary privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States. Among these is the right to assemble and to petition the Government for the redress of grievances. In the exercise of this right, the inhabitants of Arkansas may peaceably meet together in primary assemblies, or in conventions ehosen by such assemblies, for the purpose of petitioning Congress to abrogate the territorial gov. ernment, and to admit them into the Union as an independent State. The particular form which they may give in their petition cannot be material, so long as they confine themselves to the mere right of petitioning, and conduct all their proceedings in a peaceable manner. And as the power of Congress over the whole subject is plenary and unlimited, THEY MAY ACCEPT ANY CONSTITUTION, HOWEVER FRAMED, WHICH IN THEIR JUDGMENT MEETS THE SENSE OF THE PEOPLE TO BE AFFECTED BY IT. If, therefore, the citizens of Arkansas think proper to accompany their petition with a written constitution, framed and agreed on by their primary assemblies, or by a convention of

delegates chosen by such assemblies, I perceive no legal objection to their power to do so, nor any measures which may be taken to collect the sense of the people in respect to it; provided, always, that such measures be commenced and prosecuted in a peaceable manner, in strict subordination to the existing territorial government, AND IN ENTIRE SUBSERVIENCY TO THE POWER OF CONGRESS TO ADOPT, REJECT, OR DISREGARD THEM, AT THEIR PLEASURE"

While the Legislature of Arkansas had no power to create a convention to frame a constitution, as a legal constitutional body, yet if the people chose to assemble under such an act of the Legislature for the purpose of petitioning for redress of grievances, the assemblage was not illegal; it was not an unlawful assemblage; it was not such an

assemblage as the military power could be used to disperse, for they had a right under the Constitution thus to assemble and petition. But if they assumed to themselves the right or the power to make a government, that assumption was an act of rebellion which General Jackson said it was his duty to put down with the military force of the country.

If you apply these principles to the Kansas convention, you find that it had no power to do any act as a convention forming a government; you find that the act calling it was null and void from the beginning; you find that the Legislature could confer no power whatever on the convention. That convention was simply an assemblage of peaceable citizens, under the Constitution of the United States, petitioning for the re dress of grievances, and, thus assembled, had the right to put their petition in the form of a constitution if they chose; but still it was only a petition-having the force of a petition-which Congress could accept or reject, or dispose of as it saw proper. That is what I understand to be just the extent of the power and authority of this convention assembled at Lecompton It was not an unlawful assemblage like that held at Topeka; for the Topeka constitution was made in opposition to the territorial law, and, as I thought, intended to subvert the government without the consent of Congrass, but, as contended by their friends, not so intended. If their object was to subvert it without the consent of Congress, it was an act of rebellion, which ought to have been put down by force. If it was s peaceable assemblage simply to petition and abide the decision of Congress on the pe tition, it was not an unlawful assemblage I hold, however, that it was an unlawful assemblage. I hold that this Lecompton convention was not an unlawful assemblage; but, on the other hand, I hold that they had no legal power and authority to estab lish a government. They had a right to petition for a redress of grievances. They had a right in that petition to ask for the change of government from a territorial to a State government. They had a right to ask Congress to adopt the instrument which they sent to us as their constitution; and Congress, if it thought that paper embodied the will of the people of the Territory, fairly expressed, might, in its discretion, accept it

as a constitution, and admit them into the Union as a State; or if Congress thought it did not embody the will of the people of Kansas, it might reject it; or if Congress thought it was doubtful whether it did embody the will of the people or not, then it should send it back and submit it to the people to have that doubt removed, in order that the popular voice, whatever it might be, should prevail in the constitution under which that people were to live.

So far as the act of the Territorial Legislature of Kansas calling this convention was concerned, I have always been under the impression that it was fair and just in its provisions. I have always thought the people should have gone together en masse and voted for delegates, so that the voice expressed by the convention should have been the unquestioned and united voice of the people of Kansas. I have always thought that those who staid away from that election stood in their own light, and should have gone and voted, and should have furnished their names to be put on the registered list, so as to be voters. I have always held that it was their own fault that they did not thus go and vote; but yet, if they chose, they had a right to stay away. They had a right to say that that convention, although not an unlawful assemblage, is not a legal convention to make a government, and hence we are under no obligation to go and express any opinion about it. They had a right to say, if they chose, "We will stay away until we see the constitution they shall frame, the petition they shall send to Congress; and when they submit it to us for ratification we will vote for it, if we like it, or vote it down if we do not like it." I say they had a right to do either, though I thought, and think yet, as good citizens, they ought to have gone and voted; but that was their business and not mine.

Having thus shown that the Convention at Lecompton had no power, no authority, to form and establish a government, but had power to draft a petition, and that petition, if it embodied the will of the people of Kansas, ought to be taken as such an exposition of their will, yet, if it did not embody their will, ought to be rejectedhaving shown these facts, let me proceed and inquire what was the understanding of the people of Kansas, when the delegates

were elected? I understand, from the his tory of the transaction, that the people who voted for delegates to the Lecompton Con vention, and those who refused to vote both parties-understood the territorial act to mean that they were to be elected only to frame a constitution, and submit it to the people for their ratification or rejection. I say that both parties in that Territory, at the time of the election of delegates, understood the object of the Convention Those who voted for delegates did so with the understanding that they had no power to make a government, but only to frame one for submission; and those who staid away did so with the same understanding.

Now for the evidence. The President of the United States tells us, in his Message that he had unequivocally expressed hi opinions, in the form of instructions Governor Walker, assuming that the com stitution was to be submitted to the people for ratification. When we look into Go ernor Walker's letter of acceptance of the office of Governor, we find that he stated expressly that he accepted it with the un derstanding that the President and h whole Cabinet concurred with him, that the constitution, when formed, was to be submitted to the people for ratification Then look into the instructions given by the President of the United States, through General Cass, the Secretary of State, t Governor Walker, and you there find that the Governor is instructed to use the mil tary power to protect the polls when the constitution shall be submitted to the peo ple of Kansas for their free acceptance or rejection. Trace the history a little further and you will find that Governor Walker went to Kansas and proclaimed, in his in augural, and in his speeches at Topeka and elsewhere, that it was the distinct under standing, not only of himself, but of those higher in power than himself-meaning the President and his Cabinet-that the com stitution was to be submitted to the people for their free acceptance or rejection, and that he would use all the power at his com mand to defeat its acceptance by Congress, if it were not thus submitted to the vote of the people.

Mr. President, I am not going to stop and inquire how far the Nebraska bill which said the people should be left per fectly free to form their constitution for

themselves, authorized the President, or the Cabinet, or Governor Walker, or any other territorial officer, to interfere and tell the Convention of Kansas whether they should or should not submit the question to the people. I am not going to stop to inquire how far they were authorized to do that, it being my opinion that the spirit of the Nebraska bill required it to be done. It is sufficient for my purpose that the Administration of the Federal Government unanimously, that the administration of the territorial government, in all its parts, unanimously understood the territorial law under which the Convention was assembled to mean that the constitution to be formed by that Convention should be submitted to the people for ratification or rejection; and, if not confirmed by a majority of the people, should be null and void, without coming. to Congress for approval.

of September, so far as I can learn, it was understood everywhere that the constitu tion was to be submitted for ratification or rejection. They met, however, on the 1st of September, and adjourned until after the October election. I think it was wise and prudent that they should thus have adjourned. They did not wish to bring any question into that election which would di vide the Democratic party, and weaken our chances of success in the election. I was rejoiced when I saw that they did adjourn, so as not to show their hand on any ques tion that would divide and distract the party until after the election. During that recess, while the Convention was adjourned, Governor Ransom, the Democratic candi date for Congress, running against the present Delegate from that Territory, was can vassing every part of Kansas in favor of the doctrine of submitting the constitution to Not only did the National Government the people, declaring that the Democratie and the territorial government so under- party were in favor of such submission, and stand the law at the time, but, as I have that it was a slander of the Black Repubalready stated, the people of the Territory licans to intimate the charge that the De so understood it. As a further evidence on mocratic party did not intend to carry out that point, a large number, if not a majo- that pledge in good faith. Thus, up to the rity, of the delegates were instructed in the time of the meeting of the Convention, in nominating conventions to submit the con- October last, the pretence was kept up, stitution to the people for ratification. I profession was openly made, and believed know that the delegates from Douglas by me, and I thought believed by them, county, eight in number, Mr. Calhoun, pre- that the convention intended to submit a sident of the Convention, being among constitution to the people, and not to at them, were not only instructed thus to sub- tempt to put government in operation with mit the question, but they signed and pub-out such submission. The election being lished, while candidates, a written pledge that they would submit it to the people for ratification. I know that men, high in authority, and in the confidence of the territorial and National Government, canvassed every part of Kansas during the election of delegates, and each one of them pledged himself to the people that no snap judgment was to be taken; that the constitution was to be submitted to the people for acceptance or rejection; that it would be void unless that was done; that the Administration would spurn and scorn it as a violation of the principles on which it came into power, and that a Democratic Congress would hurl it from their presence as an insult to Democrats who stood pledged to see the people left free to form their domestic institutions for themselves.

Not only that, sir, but up to the time when the Convention assembled, on the 1st

the

over, the Democratic party being defeated by an overwhelming vote, the Opposition having triumphed, and got possession of both branches of the Legislature, and hav ing elected their territorial Delegate, the Convention assembled, and then proceeded to complete their work.

Now let us stop to inquire how they redeemed the pledge to submit the constitu tion to the people. They first go on and make a constitution. Then they make a schedule, in which they provide that the constitution, on the 21st of Decemberthe present month-shall be submitted to all the bona fide inhabitants of the Territory on that day, for their free acceptance of rejection, in the following manner, to wit: thus acknowledging that they were bound to submit it to the will of the people, conceding that they had no right to put operation without submitting it to the peo

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ple, providing in the instrument that it should take effect from and after the date of its ratification, and not before; showingthat the constitution derives its vitality, in their estimation, not from the authority of the convention, but from that vote of the people to which it was to be submitted for their acceptance or rejection. How is it to be submitted? It shall be submitted in this form: "Constitution with slavery or constitution with no slavery." All men must vote for the constitution, whether they like it or not, in order to be permitted to vote for or against slavery. Thus a constitation made by a convention that, had authority to assemble and petition for a redress of grievances, but not to establish a government—a constitution made under a

a

pledge of honor that it should be submitted to the people before it took effect; a constitution which provides, on its face, that it shall have no validity except what it derives from such submission-is submitted to the people at an election where all men are at liberty to come forward freely without hinderance and vote for it, but no man is permitted to record a vote against it.

That would be as fair an election as some of the enemies of Napoleon attributed to him when he was elected First Consul. He is said to have called out his troops, and had them reviewed by his officers with a speech, patriotic and fair in its professions, in which he said to them: "Now, my soldiers, you are to go to the election and vote freely just as you please. If you vote for Napoleon, all is well; vote against him, and you are to be instantly shot." That was a fair election. (Laughter.) This election is to be equally fair. All men in favor of the constitution may vote for it-all men against it shall not vote at all. Why not let them vote against it! I presume you have asked many a man this question. I have asked a very large number of the gentlemen who framed the constitution, quite a number of delegates, and a still larger number of persons who are their friends, and I have received the same answer from

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every one of them. I never received any other answer, and I presume we never shall get any other answer. What is that? They say if they allowed a negative vote the constitution would have been voted down by an overwhelming majority, and

hence the fellows shall not be allowed to vote at all. (Laughter.)

Mr. President, that may be true. It is: no part of my purpose to deny the propo sition that that constitution would have, been voted down if submitted to the peo ple. I believe it would have been voted down by a majority of four to one. I am informed by men well posted there-Democrats that it would be voted down by ten, to one; some say by twenty to one.

But is it a good reason why you should declare it in force, without being submitted. to the people, merely because it would have been voted down by five to one if you had submitted it? What does that fact

prove! Does it not show undeniably that an overwhelming majority of people of Kansas are unalterably opposed to that. constitution? Will you force it on them against their will simply because they would have voted it down if you had consulted them! If you will, are you going to force it upon them under the plea of leaving them perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way! Is that the mode in which I am called upon to carry out the principle of self-govern ment and popular sovereignty in the Terri tories to force a constitution on the people against their will, in opposition to their protest, with a knowledge of the fact, and then to assign, as a reason for my tyranny, that they would be so obstinate and so perverse as to vote down the constitution if I had given them an opportunity to be con

sulted about it!

Sir, I deny your right or mine to inquire of these people what their objections to that constitution are. They have a right to judge for themselves whether they like or dislike it. It is no answer to tell me that the constitution is a good one and un-, objectionable. It is not satisfactory to me to have the President say in his message that that constitution is an admirable one, like all the constitutions of the new States that have been recently formed. Whether good or bad, whether obnoxious or not, is none of my business and none of yours. It is their business and not ours. I care

not what they have in their constitution,

so that it suits them and does not violate the Constitution of the United States and the fundamental principles of liberty upon which our institutions rest. I am not go

ing to argue the question whether the banking system established in that constitution is wise or unwise. It says there. shall be no monopolies, but there shall be one bank of issue in the State, with two branches. All I have to say on that point is, if they want a banking system let them have it; if they do not want it let them prohibit it. If they want a bank with two branches, be it so; if they want twenty it is none of my business, and it matters not to me whether one of them shall be on the north side and the other on the south side of the Kaw river, or where they shall be. While I have no right to expect to be consulted on that point, I do hold that the people of Kansas have the right to be consulted and to decide it, and you have no rightful authority to deprive them of that privilege. It is no justification, in my mind, to say that the provisions for the eligibility for the offices of Governor and Lieutenant Governor requires wenty years' citizenship in the United States. If men think that no person should vote or hold office until he has been here twenty years they have a right to think so; and if a majority of the people of Kansas think that no man of foreign birth should vote or hold office unless he has lived there twenty years, it is their right to say so, and I have no right to interfere with them; it is their business, not mine; but if I lived there I should not be willing to have that provision in the constitution without being heard upon the subject, and allowed to record my protest against it.

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I have nothing to say about their system of taxation, in which they have gone back and resorted to the old exploded system that we tried in Illinois, but abandonded because we did not like it. If they wish to try it, and get tired of it, and abandon it, be it so; but if I were a citizen of Kansas I would profit by the experience of Illinois on that subject, and defeat it if I could. Yet I have no objection to their having it if they want it; it is their business, not mine.

So it is in regard to the free negroes. They provide that no free negro shall be permitted to live in Kansas. I suppose they have a right to say so if they choose; but if I lived there I should want to vote on that question. We, in Illinois, provide that no more shall come there. We say

to the other States, "take care of your own free negroes and we will take care of our." But we do not say that the negroes DOW there shall not be permitted to live in I nois; and I think the people of Kansas ought to have the right to say whether they will allow them to live there, and if they are not going to do so, how they are to dispose of them.

"So you may go on with all the different clauses of the constitution. They may be all right; they may be all wrong. That is a question on which my opinion is worth nothing. The opinion of the wise and patriotic Chief Magistrate of the United States is not worth anything as against that of the people of Kansas, for they have a right to judge for themselves; and neither Presidents, nor Senates, nor Houses of Rep resentatives, nor any other power outside of Kansas, has a right to judge for them Hence it is no justification, in my mind, for the violation of a great principle of selfgovernment, to say that the constitution you are forcing on them is not particularly obnoxious, or is excellent in its provision

Perhaps, sir, the same thing might be said of the celebrated Topeka constitution. I do not recollect its peculiar provision I know one thing: we Democrats, we Ne braska men, would not even look into it to see what its provisions were. Why! Be cause we said it was made by a political party, and not by the people; that it was made in defiance of the authority of Com gress; that if it was as pure as the Bible as holy as the ten commandments, yet we would not touch it until it was submitted to and ratified by the people of Kansas, in pursuance of the forms of law. Perhaps that Topeka constitution, but for the modə of making it, would have been unexcep tionable. I do not know; I do not car You have no right to force an unexception able constitution on a people. It does not mitigate the evil, it does not diminish the insult, it does not ameliorate the wrong, that you are forcing a good thing on them I am not willing to be forced to do that which I would do if I were left free to judge and act for myself. Hence I assert that there is no justification to be made for this flagrant violation of popular rights in Kansas, on the plea that the constitution which they have made is not particularly

obnoxious.

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