The Douglas Controversy.
Tuesday, September 14, 1858.
We find the following in the Cincinnati Gazette, and bespeak for it an attentive perusal. It sets forth plainly and distinctly the merits of the controversy in this State, and clearly shows the duty of every citizen who has any regard for the principles of Republicanism:
The Western people, who honestly profess Democracy – profess it for something good and valuable which they suppose to be in it. They are neither so foolish nor so dishonest, as knowingly to take and pass political counterfeits. This is the point of view in which they look at it, and if the Administration and its organ, the Union, think they can bring Douglas to the block, and not feel it, they are the most mistaken people extant.
We, it is true, look at the matter in a very different light. The Administration Democracy is obviously a counterfeit, but the genuine article is worthless. The Administration counterfeits the notes of a non-paying bank. Douglas took from Congress its Constitutional power over the Territories, under pretence of letting the people govern; while the Administration will neither let Congress or the people govern, but subjects them both to the Dred Scott decision, and defiantly pronounces slavery to exist in Kansas by virtue of the mere dictum of a Judge in his dotage.
Douglas is, we say, the only real leader of Democracy in the North-west. For this very reason, if there be a man in Illinois, or anywhere else, whether he voted for Fremont, for Fillmore, or for Buchanan, who sincerely desires to oust the gang of political counterfeiters now in possession of this government, he should first defeat Douglas. Why? Because Douglas has proved in the canvass, that, however personally opposed to the President and his Cabinet he may be, his success will be, in reality, the success of the part which sustains that Administration. He has proved himself, at all points, an able and adroit Demagogue. He assails the Republican party with a vindictiveness and asperity which proves that between that party and himself there can be no harmony. He now flatters himself with the idea that he can cajole the American vote of Illinois into his support, and having used them for that purpose, defiantly place himself at the head of the Northern Democracy, and force his nomination for the Presidency. The game is bold one. He plays it with ability. For his courage and his talents we admire him; although as a man and a statesman he is very much overrated. In the contest with Lincoln, he is evidently inferior in point of wit, humor and address. His great forte is courage and boldness.
He desires to play the Caesar of his party; but it will require an extraordinary combination of circumstances to give him success. He must not only be returned to the Senate; but he must there take command of the Democracy, demolish the Administration, and acquire the confidence of the South. The last, we suspect, will be much easier than many imagine. The South want a bold and unscrupulous leader in the North. To have one in the South, will not avail them. Douglas has all the qualities required. He is brave, energetic, with no principles to burden his conscience, and no great amount of patriotism to stand between his country, and his ambition. He can serve the South, if it will aid his aspirations. Did Douglas appear in any other light, when he became the author of the Nebraska Act, and set afloat all the elements of mischief which have since been so rife in the land? What greater infamy has taken place in politics than the Repeal of the Missouri Compromise? What was the foundation of the Dred Scott decision, but that very act, and that very repeal? And what was the source and foundation of Lecomptonism, but the very acts of Douglas himself? – And what does Douglas now say about the Dred Scott decision? Only that he stands upon it, as the law of the land! No man knows better than Senator Douglas, that the politcal point to which he refers is not the law of the land. It was not decided, and if decided, would not be binding. It is not given to the Courts of the United States to decide upon political institutions. The judicial power extends only to "cases" and "controversies," to which there must be parties, and not to the institutions of States or Territories. These are in their nature political. Yet Mr. Douglas, (thinking of that reverence with which the people justly regard the Judiciary,) plants himself upon a dictum of Judge Taney, as if it were veritably the law of the land!
Such is the position of Douglas, and what is there in it to command the regard and support of any honest opponent of the Nebraska Act – the repeal of the Missouri Compromise – the Dred Scott decision – or the Lecompton Constitution?