Letter/IconHE complete contrast between the attitude of the first territorial legislature and that of the seventh toward the negro question indicates the rapid growth of anti-slavery sentiment in the Northwest after the discussion and passage of the Kansas-Nebraska act. As we have seen a bill "prohibiting the settlement of free negroes and mulattoes in the territory of Nebraska" passed the lower house of the first legislature and was favored by four of the eleven councilmen who voted on the question of its passage. At the third session a bill for the same purpose was introduced in the house by Mr. Singleton, representing Pawnee and Richardson counties, but it was indefinitely postponed. A similar bill was also introduced in the council, and it was laid on the table, Bradford and Reeves of Otoe and McDonald of Pawnee county voting against the motion. The nearer to the negro slave state of Missouri these lawmakers dwelt the farther away they wanted to keep the negro. At the sixth session Mr. Houston Nuckolls of Richardson county introduced a bill of the same purport in the house, but on motion of Hanscom it was loaded with an amendment prohibiting slavery, and the enacting clause was stricken out.
   Mr. T. M. Marquett of the committee made a report which reflects the conservative opinion of many anti-slavery men at that time on the slavery question:

    In opposing the passage of this bill, the undersigned does not wish to be understood as desiring to have negroes or mulattoes among us. It is not desirable to have them here, either as freemen or slaves. It never was intended that we should live with them. He who created us and them, alloted different portions of this earth's surface to each. They are among us, however, by no voluntary immigration, by no act of their own, but by a violation of nature's law, which, as it made them a different race, also gave them a different place on the earth to live. . .
   The undersigned admits that it is a great evil to have negroes or mulattoes among us.
   Gentlemen cannot be in earnest in passing a bill which subjects a colored person to fine and imprisonment merely because they are so unfortunate as to be a negro, and on Nebraska soil. To pass this bill would be to pander to the vitiated prejudices of those whose highest and holiest ambition is to perpetuate slavery, hence they have commenced the persecution of a few negroes for the sole purpose of driving them into bondage. We see, here, when a proposition is made to make the soil of Nebraska free, it is followed by one to persecute the few negroes that may be so unfortunate as to be here. It is our policy to steer clear of the negro worshiper, the negro enslaver, and the negro persecutor. There is another and a better way to get rid of this evil; one more in accordance with the impulses of this enlightened age; and that is to colonize them to Africa, or some other southern clime, to extend to them the hand of philanthropy rather than that of tyranny.
   Therefore, the undersigned would recommend that this bill and the whole subject matter be referred to the committee on federal relations, with instructions to inquire into the expediency of memorializing congress to adopt some plan by which all the free negroes in the United States, and more especially those of our own territory may be colonized in Africa or some other southern clime.

   By 1858 northern anti-slavery sentiment, which had been precipitated by the repeal of the Missouri Compromise in the Nebraska act, was crystallizing into form. The politicians, perceiving the opportunities of the new party, were quick to use every advantage for the promotion of its fortunes. Democrats of Nebraska especially, would be estopped by con-



sistency from objection to the application of the popular sovereignty rule to the Nebraska case. And so Samuel G. Daily laid the foundation for his political career by introducing in the house, at the fifth session, a bill to abolish slavery, which was referred to a special committee. The majority of the committee -- Daily, James Stewart of Douglas, and John Taffe of Dakota -- made a report whose adroitness was equal to, and whose effect was perhaps enhanced by its buncombe:

    Your committee, to whom was referred a bill for the abolition of slavery in this territory, having had the same under consideration, beg leave to make the following majority report:

    The abolition and prohibition of slavery in this territory is so clearly in accordance with the spirit of the age, and the wants of a progressive and enlightened and free people, that your committee deem it time wasted to stop to prove it to a highly civilized and christianized people; were we living in the dark ages of the world's history -- in a semi-civilized state, instead of the latter half of the nineteenth century -- such a work might not be unnecessary.
   And that the legislature of this territory has the power legally to enact such a law, we have only to refer to the ever living principles of all free and republican governments, towit: That the people rule, acknowledging no superior dictator, making their own laws in their own way. And in no case, in all our glorious history, do we find this grand principle more fully recognized, or more clearly expressed than in our organic act, where it is declared that it is not the "intention of this act to legislate slavery into any territory or state, or to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the constitution of the United States."
   And it is upon this doctrine -- that the people are the fountain of all power -- that your committee plant themselves, wholly disavowing the doctrines contained in President Buchanan's message, that this territory is as much a slave territory as South Carolina or Georgia.

   The report was well met by the democratic minority, Benjamin P. Rankin of Sarpy and William C. Fleming of Richardson:

    The minority of the select committee to whom was referred the bill for an act to abolish slavery in the territory of Nebraska, have had the same under careful consideration, and respectfully ask leave to submit the following report:

    Your committee deeply regret the introduction into this House of a bill of this character, and greatly fear that it was done at the prompting of political ambition, rather than through a sincere desire to advance the useful and legitimate legislation so loudly called for by the wants and necessities of our people. It is unfortunate for our history as a territory that the halls of legislation have at times witnessed scenes of strife and angry controversy. Sectionalism in territorial matters has hitherto distracted our people and done much to embitter our social relations, and to destroy those feelings of brotherhood which should ever exist amongst the pioneers of a new country whose peculiar duty it is to help one another in molding and directing the destinies of a young empire, which we trust will be our pride and the glorious heritage of our children.
   The duties of a laborious and protracted session were about drawing to a close, and congratulations were general amongst the members that the records of one term at least of the Nebraska legislature would not be stained with the foot-prints of strife. We were felicitating ourselves upon the passage of criminal and civil codes, a revenue law, and other laws of a general nature which the public wants demanded. But a few days of the session still remained, and upon their labors hung the fate of the school law, a homestead law, and a license law, which were second to none in their importance and in their effect upon the well being of society. It is to be deplored that there was a single member in this hall who would not rather consecrate his efforts to the passage of these laws rather than to the introduction of a measure which can have no practical effect other than to sow dissension and discord amongst our people.
   Slavery does not exist in this territory in any practical form, and cannot so exist without affirmative legislation, recognizing the right of property in slaves, and regulating the mode of protecting and controlling them, and of enforcing that right. The abstract right under the constitution which is claimed by some, is in fact only an inchoate right, which can have no practical importance in the absence of local police regulations; upon the subject. In the absence then of any such legislation upon the subject -- in the absence of any effort on the part of any member of either branch of the legislature to introduce legislation for the protection of slavery the minority



of your committee deem it not only unnecessary but extremely unwise and unpatriotic, in the present state of the public mind, to hurl this fire-brand of strife into our peaceful territory. The page of blood which Kansas has furnished to the history of the world should have been a warning to the fell hand which has attempted to strike such a blow at our peace and quiet.
   The minority of your committee would therefore recommend the indefinite postponement of the bill. Let the pages of our journals be ever free from an allusion to the subject, and Nebraska will grow old in her career of glory, and the word slavery, either for negative or positive purposes, will never disgrace the fair pages of our statute book.
   All of which is most respectfully submitted,
SpacerB. P. RANKIN.

    Both of the reports were chiefly palpable political fencing, and Daily, Taffe, and Rankin, if not the others of the committees, were thus training and posing for popularity in the coming congressional lists. The bill passed the house by the following vote: Ayes, Bennet, Briggs, Collier, Davis of Cass, Davis of Washington, Daily, Dean, Doom, De Puy, Gwyer, Hall, Kline, Lee, Marquett, Mason, Norwood, Roeder, Seymour, Steele, Stewart, Taffe, Wattles, Young; nays, Bramble, Clayes, Fleming, Ramsey, Rankin, Steinberger. The bill was indefinitely postponed in the council by the following vote: Ayes, Bowen, Crawford, Doane, Donelan, Furnas, Moore, Miller, Porter, Scott; nay, Dundy.
   The politician in legislative bodies may habitually neglect matters of real importance to the public, but he never sleeps on a catchpenny partisan scheme. Near the beginning of the sixth session, Turner M. Marquett of Cass county introduced in the house "a bill for an act to abolish and prohibit slavery or involuntary servitude within this territory." But since the institution of slavery could not be shown to exist in the territory, it was deemed more plausible to assume that it might be established in the future, and so Hanscom's motion to strike out the word "abolish" prevailed by a vote of 19 to 16. The democrats in general voted no, presumably for tactical reasons. The bill now merely prohibited slavery in the territory, and in this form it passed the house by a vote of 21 to 17. This was not of course a party vote, for the house comprised 26 democrats to 13 republicans, and the council 10 democrats to 3 republicans. But republican politicians led in the project and they were followed by members of both parties. Such names, well known to present day Nebraskians, found in the affirmative list, are: Andrew J. Hanscom, George B. Lake, Dr. William S. Latta, Turner M. Marquett, Samuel Maxwell, and John Taffe.
   Like its predecessor of the fifth session, this bill was indefinitely postponed in the council, as follows: Ayes, Collier, Doane, Donelan, Little, Miller, Reeves, Scott; nays, Boykin, Cheever, Dundy, Furnas, Porter, Taylor. Of those voting against postponement, Boykin, Furnas, and Porter were democrats. The next day the bill was recalled from the house by vote of the council for the purpose of reconsidering its postponement, but the motion to reconsider was defeated by a vote of 6 to 7, Furnas, Porter, and Reeves, democrats, voting aye.
   Mr. Doane then offered the following as a joint resolution:

    Whereas, slavery does not exist in this territory, and there is no danger of its introduction therein,
   Therefore, Be it resolved by the Council and House of Representatives of the territory of Nebraska, that we deem it inexpedient and unnecessary to waste the time of the legislative assembly in enacting or to blot the pages of our statute books in publishing acts either to regulate, abolish or prohibit slavery in the territory of Nebraska.
   Resolved, further, That being opposed to the introduction of slavery in this territory, and asserting the exclusive power of territorial legislatures over the whole subject of slavery in the territories, by right of inherent sovereignty in the people to regulate their domestic institutions in their own way, and by virtue of the provisions of the Kansas and Nebraska bill, this legislature is prepared in any proper and practical way to take whatever action may be necessary to prohibit or exclude slavery from this territory at any time when Stich legislation may become necessary.
   Resolved, further, That believing the agitation of this question at this time, by the attempt to legislate upon the subject of slavery in this territory, to be ill-timed, pernicious and



damaging to the fair name of our territory, the members of this legislature will oppose all such attempts.

   But the council was bent on prohibiting slavery, and another joint resolution to that end was passed by a vote of 6 to 5. Doane's point of order that a similar resolution had been postponed by the council at this session was overruled by the president, and the ruling was sustained by the council, on appeal.
   When this resolution went to the house it was referred to a committee consisting of Turner M. Marquett of Cass county, George B. Lake of Douglas county, and Milton W. Reynolds of Otoe county. Marquett and Lake joined in the following report:

    Mr. Speaker: A majority of your committee, to whom was referred C. B. No. 58, having had the same under consideration, would beg leave to submit the following report:
    That the bill be amended as follows:
    Striking out in the title the words "joint resolution" and insert "a bill for an act," and likewise add the following: "Section 2d. This act to take effect and be in force from and after its passage." Those amendments are to be seen on the face of the bill; they need no comments. The question, disguise it as you will, which is involved in this bill, is the great question of the age. Our entire union is divided into two great parties on this question; one party struggles ever to uphold the principles of this bill, the other labors as earnestly for its overthrow, and we are now called to take one side or the other of this great question.
   The power to prohibit, in the opinion of the majority of your committee, is conferred on us by our organic act, and, by this measure, the opportunity is given to us to test our fidelity to the freedom, and opposition to the extension of slavery.
   The opponents of this measure have not a single reason to advance why this bill should not pass; they put forth, however, some excuses for opposing it. They come forth with the miserable plea that they are opposed to blotting our statute books with useless legislation. Sir, this is not so much a plea against this law as it is in favor of blotting our territory with slavery.
   They say that slavery does not exist here, and that this measure is useless. This excuse will not now hold good, for a president's message has just reached us in which it is declared, and in this opinion he is backed with a powerful party, that men have the right to bring slaves here and to hold them as such, and that this is slave territory.
   We, it is true, may not be of the opinion that this doctrine is true, but, sir, if men declare that they have a right to make this a slave territory, shall we not prohibit them in this act, and prevent the wrong they would do us? If the friends of slavery insist that they have a right to hold slaves here, shall we tamely submit to it? If they insist on making this a slave territory, which they do, shall we not insist that it shall be forever free?
   With the amendments proposed, a majority of your committee would report the bill back to the House and earnestly recommend its passage.
   All of which is respectfully submitted:

    The measure, amended into the form of a bill, passed the house, 19 to 17, the council concurring by a vote of 7 to 3. As a matter of course it was vetoed by Governor Black; for in all walks of life, and notably in the devious pathway to political preferment, environment, especially as it bears upon self-interest, has a more potent influence in shaping our principles and determining our beliefs than our weak moral vision is able to perceive or our weaker moral courage is willing to confess, and Governor Black had been appointed from President Buchanan's own state, and artfully, if not naturally, reflected the president's subserviency to the southern, pro-slavery school of politics.
   The veto message of this mouthpiece of Buchanan shows the portentous width of the breach between the administration and Douglas factions of the democratic party. The puerile technicalities employed by the governor in his attempt to prove that the organic act did not intend to invest territorial legislatures with authority over slavery indicates his ignorance of the debates over the bill and of the specific declarations by Douglas upon that point. In a heated colloquy with Green of Missouri, who was insisting in a speech in the Senate, January 12, 1860, that the Dred Scott decision had denied any authority of Congress over slavery in the territories, Douglas said:



   When the time comes for discussing it, I will show that at that period, on the very night the Kansas-Nebraska bill was passed, I stated that the sole object of the repeal of the Missouri restriction was that the people of the territory might introduce or exclude slavery through the territorial legislature while a territory, as well as after they became a state; and no man who heard me then, can have an excuse for not knowing that I held that the territorial legislature, in the territorial capacity, could do it. The record in the Globe will sustain me. . . In the House of Representatives, after the Kansas-Nebraska bill was passed, the question was put to Colonel Richardson, as the democratic nominee for speaker, whether he thought a territorial legislature could exclude slavery by a territorial enactment during its territorial existence, and he answered in writing; and after that answer every southern member but three voted for him as sound on the territorial question.
   In the course of these attacks on Green, which were made with his usual terrific force, Douglas insisted that the Dred Scott decision had not decided the question as to the power of Congress to prohibit slavery in the territories:

    I receive the Dred Scott decision as an authoritative exposition, but I deny that the point now under discussion has been decided in the Dred Scott case. There is no one fact in that case upon which it could have arisen. The lawyers engaged on each side never dreamt that it did arise in the case . . . The understanding was that when a territorial legislature passed an act on this subject, of which any man complained, he should be able to bring the matter before the supreme court; and to facilitate that court in getting jurisdiction, we amended the bill by putting in a peculiar clause providing that a case affecting the title to property in slaves might be taken up to the supreme court without reference to the amount involved. That clause was inserted in order to get this judicial question before the supreme court of the United States. How? On a territorial enactment. Nobody ever dreamt that the court was going, in a decision on any case that did not affect that question, to decide this point without argument and without notice, and preclude the rights of the people without allowing them to be heard. Whenever a territorial legislature shall pass an act divesting or attempting to divest, or impairing, or prejudicing the right to slave property, and a case under that act shall be brought before the supreme court, I will abide by the decision, and help in good faith to carry it out . . . But the difference between the senator from Missouri and myself is, that I assert that this question never arose. But suppose I am mistaken. You assert that the question has been decided; I assert that it has not been. Why cannot you wait for it to come before the court regularly? If you are right, the court will decide it in the same way that you think they have already decided it. I do not believe they will ever decide that way; but why not allow the question to come before the court on a proper case, and allow the argument of it? Let my friend from Ohio [Pugh] argue the case before the court.

   Though the specious technicalities of the veto message sound to us now like a voice from the tomb of a buried past, yet they were well expressed, and will doubtless be read as an interesting illustration of an important phase of Nebraska's early development.
   It was hopeless to attempt to pass the bill over the veto, and when the question came before the council it was laid on the table on motion of Porter, one of its supporters.
   A newspaper synopsis of the debate on the abolition bill discloses in an interesting way the differing attitude of the two parties, and of the two factions of the democratic party, toward the slavery question. Mr. Marquett insisted that the legislature had the right and power to prohibit slavery under the organic act. In the second place he said that the enemies of the bill objected to it because they were opposed to cumbering the statute books with abstract questions. "I look forward to the time when the state convention meets to see the same parties raise the cry of abstraction there. Why, sir, the Declaration of Independence was an abstraction; the way our forefathers secured to us the blessings we now enjoy was by declaring abstractly their rights and maintaining them; hence it was said by Daniel Webster that the Revolution was fought on a preamble; and in the days of the Revolution men who opposed the right merely because it was an abstraction were called tories." To the objection that the bill created unnecessary agitation, be said that, "We can not injure the territory by proclaiming to the world that the footprints of a slave

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