Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

removes to the Territory in question to reside, is an exercise of authority over private property which is not warranted by the Constitution."

To this it is replied, that while it is true that the owner of slaves may take them to a Territory as property, still he must submit to the local law of the Territory when he gets them there, be it friendly or otherwise.

Thus is the sentiment of the country divided into three great parties, which may be properly designated the Prohi. bitionists, the Protectionists and the Non-interventionists. The prospect for a speedy and peaceful settlement of the vexed question is by no means encouraging. Would that it were; for we presume no one will deny that the continued agitation of this delicate and disturbing question is a great public misfortune. It destroys fraternal relations between the States and embitters the minds of the people. It creates sectional discords and divisions, disturbs the national councils, and is gradually but surely alienating the affections of the citizens from their government. The political energies of the country, that should be spent in building up those great commercial, industrial, moral, and social institutions which constitute the monuments of national greatness and power, are exhausted in the business of engendering internal hatred, contentions and strife. Let it be the effort of every patriot to do away with this deplorable state of things,-to settle this question by the safe and wise principles our fathers established, there to rest forever undisturbed. Only thus will peace and harmony again be restored to the country only thus shall we present to the world the spectacle of a great, free, and happy people, united as one family in interest, in affection, and aim; ever moving onward in the pathway of prosperity and progress, as well as in all that contitutes national greatness, glory, and renown.

CHAPTER XVI.

NATIONAL CONVENTIONS.

The first National Conventions of delegates elected by the people to nominate candidates for President and VicePresident, were held in 1840. Both the Whig and Democratic parties nominated in that way for that campaign. Previous to that period nominations were made by caucuses called by the members of Congress, in which they only were admitted to vote. Alleged abuses and intrigues led to the change of nominating, by delegates chosen from each congressional district. Up to 1848, no issue in reference to slavery seems to have been raised between the parties in their platforms; or, rather, up to that time no necessity seems to have arisen for the conventions to take particular notice of the subject. In the midst of the slavery agitation of that year, the two parties held their conventions. The Whig party nominated Gen. Zachary Taylor for President, and Millard Fillmore for Vice-President, and adjourned without laying down any platform. The Democratic convention nominated General Lewis Cass for President, and General William O. Butler for Vice-President, and passed the following resolution on the question of slavery :

" Resolved, That Congress has no power under the Constitution to interfere with or control the domestic institutions of the several States, and that such States are the sole and proper judges of everything appertaining to their own affairs, not prohibited by the Constitution; that all efforts of the abolitionists, or others, made to induce Congress to interfere with questions of slavery, or to take incipient steps in relation thereto, are calculated to lead to the most alarming and dangerous cousequences; and that all such efforts have an inevitable tendency to diminish the happi. ness of the people, and endanger the stability and permanency of the Union, and ought not to be countenanced by any friend of our political institutions."

In 1852, the Democratic convention at Baltimore nominated General Franklin Pierce for President, and William R. King for Vice-President, and adopted the following resolutions referring to slavery:

Resolved, That Congress has no power under the Constitution to interfere with or control the domestic institutions of the several States, and that such States are the solo and proper judges of everything appertaining to their own affairs, pot probibited by the Constitution ; that all efforts of the abolitionists, or others, made to induce Congress to interfere with questions of slavery, or to take incipient steps in relation thereto, are calculated to lead to the most alarming and dangerous consequences; and that all such efforts have an inevitable tendency to diminish the happiness of the people, and endanger the stability and permanency of the Union, and ought not to be countenanced by any friend of our public institutions.

" Resolved, That the foregoing proposition covers, and was intended to embrace, the whole subject of slavery agitation in Congress, and therefore the Democratic party of the Union, standing on this national platform, will abide by, and adhere to, a faithful execution of the acts known as the compromise measures, settled by the last Congress the act for reclaiming fugitives from service or labor included ; which, being designed to carry out an express provision of the Constitution, cannot with fidelity thereto be repealed, or so changed as to destroy or impair its efficiency."

The Whig convention, at Baltimore, soon after, nominated General Winfield Scott for President, and William R. Granam for Vice President, and adopted the following as their views. This was the last national convention ever held by that party :

Resolved, That the series of resolutions known as the compromise, including the fugitive slave law, are received and acquiesced in by the Whig party of the United States as a settlement in principle and substance-a final settlemen of the dangerous and exciting subjects which they embrace; and so far as the fugitive slave law is concerned, we will maintain the same, and insist on its strict enforcement until time and experience shall demonstrate the necessity of further legislation against evasion or abuses, but not impairing its efficacy ; and we deprecate all future agitation of the slavery question as dangerous to the peace, and we will discountenance all efforts at the renewal or continuance of such agitation in Congress, or out of it, whenever, wherever, or howsoever the attempt may be made, and will maintain this system of measures as policy essential to the nationality of the Whig party and the integrity of the Union."

In 1856, the Democratic convention at Cincinnati nominated James Buchanan for President, and John C. Breckenridge for Vice-President, and adopted the following resolution on the slavery question :

Resolved, That the American Democracy recognize and adopt the principles contained in the organic laws establishing the Territories of Kansas and Nebraska as embodying the only sound and safe solution of the 'slavery question,' upon which the great national idea of the people of this whole country can repose in its determined conservatism of the Union,-non-interference by Congress with slavery in State and Territory, or in the District of Columbia ;"

"That this was the basis of the Compromises of 1850, confirmed by both the Democratic and Whig parties in national conventions,--ratified by the people in the election of 1852,--and rightly applied to the organization of the

[ocr errors]

Territories in 1854; That by the uniform application of this democratic principle to the organization of Territories and to the admission of new States, with or without domestic slavery as they may elect, the equal rights of all will be preserved intact,-the original compacts of the Constitution maintained inviolate,—and the perpetuity and expansion of this Union insured to its utmost capacity of embracing in peace and harmony any future American State that may be constituted or annexed with a republican form of government."

The same year the Republican convention at Philadelphia nominated John C. Fremont for President, and William L. Dayton for Vice-President, and adopted the following as its platform on slavery,

"Resolved, That, with our republican fathers, who, when they had abolished slavery in all our national territory, ordained that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, withont due process of law, it becomes our duty to maintain this provision of the Constitution against all attempts to violate it, for the purpose of establishing slavery in the United States, by positive legislation prohibiting its existence or extension therein.

"Resolved, That we deny the authority of Congress, of a territorial legislature, or any individual or association of individuals, to give legal existence to slavery in any territory of the United States, while the present Constitution shall be maintained.

Resolved, that the Constitution confers upon Congress sovereign power over the territories of the United States, for their government; and that, in the exercise of this power, it is both the duty and right of Congress to prohibit in the territories those twin relics of barbarism-polygamy and slavery.

The American convention nominated Millard Fillmore for President, and Andrew J. Donelson for Vice-President,

« ForrigeFortsett »