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
Engraving from a photograph owned by the Nebraska State Historical Society
WILLIAM WALKER AT THE AGE OF 33
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
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.
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"?
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.
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:
First "delegate to Congress" from the unorganized territory, now known as the state of Nebraska. Elected October 11, 1853.
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.
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."
52 Trans. Neb. State Hist. Soc., vol. ii, p. 87, et seq.
53 Augustus C. Dodge, born January 2, 1812; died November 20, 1883.