Nebraska bill, which grew into the. Kansas-Nebraska act, including the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, of his own volition, and, by so doing, to ingratiate himself with the South for the selfish furtherance of his presidential ambition, he deliberately disturbed the repose which had been established by the compromise of 1850, and which President Pierce had promised in his late message should "suffer no shock during my official term, if I have power to prevent it." There is much reason for believing that Douglas was aware that southern politicians would press for adherence to the principles of the latest compromise, and that, instead of accepting it in the way of a compromise, as Clay or Webser (sic) would have done, at an earlier time, by his imperious method he took the

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Engraving from a photograph owned by the Nebraska State Historical Society


Provisional governor of the proposed territory of Nebraska, 1853

lead and pressed what he saw was a necessary concession as a positive measure of his own. Moreover, the debate shows that the question whether Douglas acted in bad faith in reference to the Missorui (sic) Compromise at least remained an open one, and with the technical or formal advantage with Douglas. In his speech in the Senate, February 29, 1860 he said:

   It was the defeat in the House of Representatives of the enactment of the bill to extend the Missouri Compromise to the Pacific ocean, after it had passed the Senate on my own, motion, that opened the controversy of 1850 which was terminated by the adoption of I measures of that year . . . Both parties in 1852 pledged themselves to abide by that principle, and thus stood pledged not to



prohibit slavery in the territories. The whig party affirmed that pledge and so did the democracy. In 1854 we only carried out, in the Kansas-Nebraska act, the same principle that had been affirmed in the compromise measures of 1850. I repeat that their resistence (sic) to carrying out in good faith the settlement of 1820, their defeat of the bill for extending it to the Pacific ocean, was the sole cause of the agitation of 1850, and gave rise to the necessity of establishing the principle of non-intervention by congress with slavery in the territories.

   And in his famous speech of March 3, 1854, he silenced Chase and Seward on his point by showing that, after the Missouri compact of 1820 was made, the northern vote in Congress still kept that state out of the Union and forced Mr. Clay's new conditions of 1821; that a like northern vote was recorded against admitting Arkansas with slavery in 1836, and that the legislature of Mr. Seward's state (New York), after the Missouri act of 1820, had instructed her members of Congress to vote against the admission of any territory as a state with sIavery.
   Mr. Douglas at least went far toward establishing the consistency of his action in 1854 by quoting from his speech in Chicago in 1850: "These measures (of 1850) are predicated on the great fundamental principle that every people ought to possess the right of regulating their own internal concerns and domestic institutions in their own way."
   It was conceded on both sides. that the states had the absolute power to adopt or reject slavery by provisions in their constitutions, and, as Douglas points out, it was inconsistent deny this principle to the territories: "These things are all confided by the constitution to each state to decide for itself, and I know of no reason why the same principle should not be confided to the territories."
   A severe critic of Douglas's selfish subserviency in the Nebraska affair admits that,
   Probably he had at first no more intention of actually enlarging the arena of slavery than had Daniel Webster in laboring to remove the restriction from the territory of Utah. Northern free labor was moving westward, as he knew, by leaps and bounds. It was not likely that slavery would ever gain any foot hold in the region between the Rocky mountains and the states of Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri. Douglas no doubt sought to further his presidential prospects without making any actual change in the practical situation respecting slavery extension.
   But what more or less could be said of Clay, Webster, or Lincoln, each of whom, while as ardently seeking to further his presidential prospects, temporized upon the slavery question? And in view of the probability, con-


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Delegate to Congress representing the proposed territory of Nebraska, 1853

firmed by the result, that slavery could not be forced upon Kansas or Nebraska, whatever might be done with the Missouri restriction, did not the course of Douglas result in a distinct gain in that, "the southerners abandoned the claim to their inherent right to take their slaves into the new territories and united both whigs and democrats -- in support of Douglas's bill"?
   Furthermore, Douglas emphasized the fact that there was a grave question as to the constitutionality of the Missouri restriction; and may he not be credited with sagacity and patri-



otism in fortifying against the event of the Dred Scott decision in 1857, which confirmed his fears, by interposing his Kansas-Nebraska popular sovereignty device as a new bar to the door against slavery in the territories which that memorable decision had otherwise opened wide? For "Kansas was the only territory in which slaveholders tried to assert their rights" -- that is, the constitutional right to carry slaves into the territories against attempted prohibition by Congress or its creatures, the territorial legislatures. And as it turned out, they had the best of the argument, and nothing could have hindered their design but the popular sovereignty provision of the Nebraska bill.
   But this spontaneous harshness toward Douglas reaches the climax of its unreasonableness when it discovers in southern proslavery motives a rare nicety or moral discrimination and self renunciation, and exalts it to contrasting heights above the groveling motives of Douglas. Thus we are told that the bill that passed the House in 1853, "being naturally objectionable to the pro-slavery politicians who still respected the Missouri Compromise, was defeated by them in the Senate." But in this bill there was no allusion to slavery, and the Compromise was not attacked. Moreover, on the final passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill, which repealed the Compromise, only nine votes from the South --two democrats and seven whigs -- could be mustered against it in the House, while forty-two democrats and forty-five whigs from the North voted against it.48 But in one instance Douglas has been grouped with the patriots -- though perhaps inadvertently. For "the ardent advocates of the compromise of 1850 were all devoted to the Union"; 49 and Douglas advocated every part of the compromise.
   The impartial judge of contemporary circumstances will conclude that Douglas thought and had good ground for thinking that in this first organization of new territory since the new compromise or temporizing arrangement between the slavery and the anti-slavery element in 1850, another controversy was inevitable, and that the statement that the "new policy thus sprung so unexpectedly upon the country was the secret contrivance of a few aspiring democrats, obsequious to slavery's propaganda,"50 is an inadequate and inconsistent explanation of the new compromise. Dixon's reason for pressing the repeal of the Missouri restriction, which it is generally admitted took Douglas by surprise, illustrates the fact that the pro-slavery leaders of the South intended to fight for a new arrangement, and the solid support which the members from the South gave to the bill makes the contention that the scheme was originated by a few politicians and that the people of the South "had not dreamed of taking it" little less than ridiculous. Mr. Dixon stated that he never did believe in the propriety of passing the Missouri Compromise. "I never thought the great senator from Kentucky, Mr. Clay, when he advocated that measure did so because his judgment approved it. . . And I have never thought that that measure received the sanction of his heart or of his head." He said that he proposed the amendment under the firm conviction that he was carrying out the principles settled in the compromise of 1850, and which left the whole question of slavery with the people and without any congressional interference. He had always believed that Congress had no authority over the subject of slavery in states or territories, and, therefore, that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional. In a colloquy with Dixon, Douglas explained that he "and some others with whom he consulted" thought that Dixon's amendment not only wiped out the legislation excluding slavery but affirmatively legislated slavery into the territory; he therefore inserted the repealing clause in his own words to avoid the affirmative force of Dixon's amendment. Abelard Guthrie, who had been elected a delegate to Congress from Nebraska, at Wyandotte, in October, 1852, writing while on his way to Washington in December 1852, to William

   48 Rhodes, History of the United States, vol. i, p. 489.
   49 Macy, Political Parties in the United States, p. 129.
   50 Schouler, History of the United States, vol. v, p. 281.



Walker, provisional governor, throws light on the attitude of the pro-slavery element toward territorial organization, as follows:

   I traveled in company with Senators Guyer and Atchison of Missouri and Representatives Richardson and Bissil of Illinois. I am sorry to say our Missouri senators are by no means favorable to our territorial projects. The slavery question is the cause of this opposition. I regret that it should interfere -- it ought not. Mr. Atchison thinks the slaves in Nebraska are already free by the operation of the Missouri Compromise act, and asks a repeal of that act before anything shall be done for Nebraska.
  In a letter to the New York Tribune, written August 9, 1856, Mr. Guthrie relates that he was a candidate for reëlection as a delegate to Congress in 1853; but because "the repeal of the Missouri Compromise was now first agitated, and it was thought important to success that the territory should be represented by one favorable to that measure," Mr. Guthrie complains, the influence of the administration was thrown against him, and he was defeated by a large Indian vote.
  The tradition and belief of the Douglas family are worthy of consideration. A son of Senator Douglas thinks that his father had become convinced that the South could and would repeal the Missouri Compromise, and he therefore set about to get the best terms he could against the further spread of slavery, and believed he had accomplished this in the formal recognition of the doctrine of popular sovereignty in lieu of the open door which the South was bent on securing.

   PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT. On the 23d day of January, 1854, Douglas presented the Kansas-Nebraska bill which passed as a substitute for the Nebraska bill of January 4th. It comprised two important additions to the old bill, which were to divide the territory into two -- Kansas and Nebraska -- and specifically repeal the Missouri Compromise. His own reasons for dividing the territory are as follows:

   There are two delegates here who have been elected by the people of that territory. They are not legal delegates, of course, but they have been sent here as agents. They have petitioned us to make two territories instead of one, dividing them by the 40th parallel of north latitude -- the Kansas and Nebraska territories. Upon consulting with the delegates from Iowa I found that they think that their local interests as well as the interests of the territory, require that the proposed territory of Nebraska should be divided into two territories, and the people ought to have two delegates. So far as I have been able to consult with the Missouri delegates they are of the same opinion. The committee therefore have concluded to recommend the division of the territory into two territories, and also to change the boundary in the manner I have described.51


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Engraving from a photograph owned by the Nebraska State Historical Society


First "delegate to Congress" from the unorganized territory, now known as the state of Nebraska. Elected October 11, 1853.

  The change consisted in making the southern line 37o instead of 36o 30', thus avoiding division of the Cherokee country and running between that and the Osages.
  The simple reasons Douglas himself gave for finally and somewhat suddenly dividing the Nebraska territory as at first proposed, into two territories, are not only consistent

  51 Cong. Globe, vol. 28, pt. 1, p. 221.



with the circumstances but are fairly confirmed by them, and they leave no necessity for the search that has been made for hidden, mysterious, and unworthy motives. The two delegates to whom Douglas referred, as he is quoted above, were Mr. Hadley D. Johnson, who was chosen at an election held at Bellevue, October 11, 1853, and the Rev. Thomas Johnson, who was elected at Wyandotte on the same day. Mr. Hadley D. Johnson states that after consultation with citizens it was decided to advocate the organization of two territories instead of one, and that on his presentation of the case to Douglas he adopted Johnson's plan and changed the bill so as to divide Nebraska into Kansas and Nebraska. It was quite natural that the people of the northern part of the territory and of Iowa lying directly opposite, should desire the division so as to have complete control, in view of the contemplated Pacific railway, and for other commercial reasons, and Mr. Johnson states that Senator Dodge of lowa warmly approved his plan for two territories, and took pains to introduce him to Douglas. Just as naturally, too, the people and politicians of Missouri would prefer to have the territory opposite their state, and over whose affairs they would naturally exercise much control separated from the northern territory. The general commercial interests, as well as considerations of the slavery question, would lead them to this desire.
   Contemporaries of Hadley D. Johnson now living, as well as the important part he played in the affairs of Iowa and Nebraska, testify to his high standing and the credibility his statements deserve. He was elected a member of the Iowa senate for the Council Bluffs district in 1852, was a "provisional" delegate to Congress from Nebraska in 1853, was a prominent candidate for delegate to Congress at the election of 1854, was elected territorial printer by the legislature of Nebraska in 1856, and in general was recognized as a man of affairs in those earlier years.
   We have an account of a meeting of citizens of Mills county, Iowa, at Glenwood, in October, 1853. Glenwood was then the county seat of Mills county, which adjoins Pottawattomie, of which Council Bluffs is the county seat, on the south, and borders on the Missouri river on the west, opposite Sarpy county, Nebraska, in which Bellevue is situated. Among those who addressed this "great and enthusiastic meeting were Hadley D. Johnson, delegate elect from Nebraska," J. L Sharp, who was chairman of the committee on resolutions, M. H. Clark who had bee chosen provisional secretary of Nebraska at the same Bellevue election which chose Johnson for delegate, and Hiram P. Bennet. Mr. Sharp became president of the first legislative council of Nebraska, and Bennet and Clark were also members of that body.
   The resolutions adopted by the meeting declared that the best interests of western Iowa as well as the bordering Indian tribes would be secured by the early organization of the territory of Nebraska, and that "the boundaries indicated by Judge Douglas's bill, subserve the interests of the whole country; but if they can not be obtained we would next prefer the parallel of 39 1/2 degrees south and 44 degrees north as the boundaries of Nebraska." This reference to the bill of Douglas "introduced some years ago," which must have meant his bill of 1848, discloses that the boundary which in the opinion of these enterprising border promoters would "best subserve the interests of the whole country" extended half a degree further south than the line that would satisfy them -- to the fortieth parallel, -- and fell one degree short of the boundary they proposed on the north. There is no material difference in the two boundaries in question, and perhaps the Glenwood resolutions made a mistake in their reference to Douglas's bill; but in any event they show that the men of Iowa wanted a territory, as nearly and exclusively as they could get it, opposite their own state. The proprietary regard of these Iowans for the prospective territory, the key to it, and their resolute intent to bring about territorial organization in the form suited to their ambitious purposes are disclosed in the other resolutions of the meeting. While they "approve of an election by the citizens of Nebraska of provisional ter-



ritorial officers as well as a delegate to represent their interests in the approaching Congress," they "would not approve any measure which would retard or interfere with the early extinction of the Indian titles to all of said territory." They request their senators and representatives in Congress to use their best efforts to carry out the policy set forth in the resolutions, direct a copy to be sent to each of them and to Senator Douglas, recommend the appointment of a committee to confer with citizens of other counties touching the interests of western Iowa, and ask the St. Mary's Gazette, Western Bugle, Chicago Democratic Press, Peoria Press, and New York Herald to publish the proceedings of the meeting. Nor did they neglect the one subject on which all wide-awake border people in this latitude were now always harping, so they resolved, "That the valley of the Nebraska or Platte river and the South Pass is the route most clearly pointed out by the hand of nature for a world's thoroughfare, and a natural roadway for the United States, connecting the Atlantic with the Pacific."
   Mr. Hadley D. Johnson states52 that in the month of November meetings were held at Council Bluffs which were addressed by Senator A. C. Dodge and Col. S. R. Curtis, one of the first United States Commisioners (sic) of the Union Pacific railway, "who warmly advocated the construction of our contemplated railways, and the organization of Nebraska territory." He further says:

    Before starting (for Washington) a number of our citizens who took a deep interest in the organization of a territory west of Iowa had on due thought and consultation agreed upon a plan which I had formed, which was the organization of two territories instead of one as had heretofore been contemplated.

   After arriving at Washington Mr. Johnson says:

    Hon. A. C. Dodge,53 senator from Iowa, who had from the first been an ardent friend of my plan, introduced me to Judge Douglas, to whom I unfolded my plan and asked him to adopt it, which, after mature consideration, he decided to do, and he agreed that he would report a substitute for the pending bill, which he afterwards did do . . . The Honorable Bernhart Henn, member of the house from Iowa, who was also my friend, warmly advocated our territorial scheme.
   The important part which Senator Dodge played in the great national drama -- or perhaps a prologue which was to be followed by the tragedy of the Civil war -- aids greatly in the interpretation of its motive and meaning. Many of us of Nebraska remember him as the suave, kindly, and gracious gentleman of the old school. By virtue of his ability and experience as statesman and politician, as well as his official position, Senator Dodge represented the interests and wishes of the anti-slavery state of Iowa,. which demanded the early organization of the great empire on its western border.
   Indeed, until the last, when the question of the adjustment of the interests or demands of slavery became paramount, Senator Dodge might well have been regarded as the leader in the project of territorial organization rather than Douglas himself. In the terrific but short struggle at the last, when slavery was pressing its over-reaching and self-destructive demand, he preserved his independence. His democratic, anti-slave holding spirit breaks out in his rebuke of Senator Brown of Mississippi in the course of the Kansas-Nebraska debate. Brown had defended negro slavery on the ground that it was necessary to the performance of menial labor which he referred to contemptuously as beneath white people:

    There are certain menial employments which belong exclusively to the negro. Why sir, it would take you longer to find a white man in my state who would hire himself out as a boot-black or a white woman who would go to service as a chamber-maid than it took Captain Cook to sail around the world. Would any man take his boot-black, would any lady take her chamber-maid into companionship?
   This spirited retort of Senator Dodge's is not that of a dough-face:

    Sir, I tell the senator from Mississippi, -- I speak it upon the floor of the American sen-

   52 Trans. Neb. State Hist. Soc., vol. ii, p. 87, et seq.
   53 Augustus C. Dodge, born January 2, 1812; died November 20, 1883.

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