Senator Trumbull's Charges.
August 14, 1858.
The exposure which Senator Trumbull makes in his Chicago speech, of the utter hypocricy of Mr. Douglas in professing to have opposed the Lecompton Constitution, on the ground that it was not submitted to the people for their ratification, is creating, as well as it may, quite a fluttering among the Douglas squad throughout the State.
Senator Trumbull charges boldly and explicitly, and has the documents to back him, that in 1856, Mr. Douglas, by a preconcerted arrangement and plot, attempted to have a constitution formed for Kansas and put in force, without giving the people an opportunity to pass upon it.
On the 25th of June, 1856, Mr. Toombs offered a bill authorizing the Territory of Kansas to form a State Government. His bill contained the following clause:
13th Section of the Toombs Bill. -- "That the following propositions be and the same are hereby, offered to the said Convention of the people of Kansas, when formed, for their free acceptance or rejection, which, if accepted by the Convention, and ratified by the people at the election for the adoption of the Constitution, shall be obligatory on the United States, and upon the said State of Kansas," etc.
Here we see there is a provision which contemplated a submission of the Constitution proposed to be formed, to a vote of the people, for their ratification or rejection. That bill was referred to the Committee on Territories, of which Mr. Douglas is chairman. Five days afterwards, on the 30th of June, Mr. Douglas reported back to the Senate the identical Toombs bill with a few alterations, and with the submission clause stricken out. Here is the section, as emasculated by Mr. Douglas:
19th Section of Douglas amended Bill. -- "That the following propositions be, and the same are hereby, offered to the said Convention of the people of Kansas, for their free acceptance or rejection, which, if accepted by the Convention, shall be obligatory on the United States and upon the said State of Kansas," etc.
It will be seen by comparing the phraseology of the two sections, that the words "ratified by the people at the election for the adoption of the Constitution," in Toombs' Bill, are stricken out of Douglas' amended bill, and Mr. Douglas, in reporting the amended bill, stated that he himself made the alteration. In his speech in the Senate; Dec. 9th, 1857, Mr. Douglas says in speaking of this bill:
"During the last Congress I reported a bill from the Committee on Territories to authorize the people of Kansas to assemble and form a Constitution for themselves. Subsequently, the Senator from Georgia, (Mr. Toombs) brought forward a substitute for my bill, which, after having been modified by him and myself in consultation, was passed by the Senate."
(See Congressional Globe, Part 1, 1st Session, 35th Congress, 1857-58. Page 15.)
This bill of Mr. Douglas was made the special order for July 1st, and was discussed with much warmth for several days. On the 2nd, Mr. Trumbull made able and conclusive speech in opposition to it. Among the objections which he urged against the bill was the very one which Mr. Douglas says was not made at all, either in the Senate or in any part of the Union. The following is an extract from his remarks:
"No provision is made in this bill for the ratification by the people. This is objectionable to my mind. I DO NOT THINK THE PEOPLE SHOULD BE BOUND BY A CONSTITUTION WITHOUT PASSING UPON IT DIRECTLY THEMSELVES. That is the practice in remodeling Constitutions in the States.
We have within a few years amended the Constitution of Illinois. The people called a Convention. That Convention remodeled our Constitution and then submitted it to the people for approval or rejection. A majority voted for it and it became the fundamental law of the State. Otherwise it would have had no effect. That Convention did not assume to fix the fundamental law for the people of Illinois, without submitting it directly to their decision.
It looks too much like the exercise of arbitrary authority to vest in the hands of the fiftytwo men who ware authorized to be elected by this act the power to fasten any sort of a Constitution upon the people of Kansas without allowing them to pass directly upon it. It is quite enough for Congress to call a Convention without being asked by the people of that Territory, or consulting them at all; but it is going a little to far to allow the Convention, when assembled, to fix a Constitution irrevocably upon the people of the Territory. There is nothing said in this bill, so far as I have discerned, about submitting the Constitution which is to be formed, to the people, for their sanction or rejection. Perhaps the Convention would have the right to submit if it should think proper, but it is certainly not compelled to do so according to the provisions of the bill."
Mr. Douglas made a reply to Senator Trumbull's remarks, but he was very careful not to reply to this part of them. To the charge that the bill, as reported by him, did not require a submission to the people he was as silent as the grave, but he advocated it and voted for it, with the "popular sovereignty" clause stricken out by his own hands. He was a party to the scheme and conspiracy to defraud the people of Kansas of their liberties.
These are historical facts, which Mr. Douglas cannot, dare not deny. How absurd, how dishonest it is for him now to turn around and talk about his great achievements in behalf of popular sovereignty; and his efforts to defeat the Lecompton Constitution.
Isaac N. Morris, the Democratic Congressman from the fifth District, told the truth when he candidly acknowledged to ‘Extra Billy’ Smith of Va., that Douglas opposed Lecompton not from principle, but "simply with a view to securing his reelection to the United States Senate." Every new development but proves and confirms his statement. Let Douglas no longer talk to the people of Illinois about "popular sovereignty" after this exposure of his treachery and hypocricy.