Douglas' New Dodge.
Thursday ,September 2, 1858
It is hard matter to ride two ponies at a time, especially when those ponies are going at the top of their speed in opposite directions -- and thus it is, that Mr. Douglas finds it exceedingly difficult to keep astride of his Northern hobby -- Squatter-Sovereignty -- and at the same time keep a tight reign upon the neck of the Southern nag presented him by Chief Justice Taney. Yet he is compelled by the force of adverse circumstances to attempt the performance of this wonderful feat before the country. If he lets go Squatter Sovereignty, he loses his Northern support -- if he turns his back on the Dred Scott decision, the South cuts his acquaintance -- and so, with an eye to the Presidency, regardless of the inconsistency and dishonesty of his position, he stands forth as the champion of both doctrines, knowing full well, that is doing so he is but playing the part of a charlatan and humbug.
In all his speeches in this State, and elsewhere, up to that of last Friday at Freeport, he has unqualifiedly endorsed the opinion of the Supreme Court as expressed in the Dred Scott decision; but on that occasion, finding himself hard pressed by Lincoln, he made an entirely new dodge, and, in so doing, has placed himself in a still more unenviable position before the country. He now says:
"Whatever the Supreme Court may hereafter decide as to the abstract question of whether slavery may go in under the Constitution or not, the people of a territory have the lawful means to admit it or exclude it as they please, for the reason that slavery cannot exist a day or an hour anywhere, unless supported by local police regulations, furnishing remedies and means of enforcing the right to hold slaves. Those local aud police regulations can only furnished by the legal legislature. If people of the Territory are opposed to slavery they will elect members to the Legislature who will adopt unfriendly legislation to it. If they are for it they will adopt legislative measures friendly to slavery. Hence, no matter what may be the decision of the Supreme Court on that abstract question, still the right of the people to make it a slave Territory or a free Territory is perfect and complete under Nebraska Bill."
Now, when Mr. Douglas made this assertion, he knew very well, as did many of his hearers, that he was attempting to dodge a direct and naked issue by a piece of deception at once impudent and disgraceful. No man knows better than he that when slavery once fixes itself upon the soil of a territory, it will there exist, independent of local police regulations, and in defiance of local enactments, so long as it is upheld by the whole power and influence of the highest judicial tribunal in the land, backed and protected by the whole power of General Government, exercised through a pro-slavery Governor, a United States Marshal, and the U. S. Army.
But Mr. Douglas was not only aware of this fact, but he knew in the instant he made this assertion, that the language of the Supreme Court made especial provision for the defense and protection of slave property in the territories, as against any legislative action whatever, on the part of the people in the following words:
"And if the constitution recognizes the right of property of the master in a slave, and makes no distinction between that description of property and other property owned by a citizen, no tribunal, acting under the authority of the United States, whether LEGISLATIVE, Executive or judicial, has a right to draw such a distinction, or DENY to it the benefit of the provisions and guarantees which have been provided for the protection of private property against the encroachments of the Government."
Thus, by the late decision of the Supreme Court, which Douglas unequivocally endorses, a negro is placed upon the same as any other property -- a horse or a mule -- and the Legislature of a Territory has no right to deny it the same protection. And yet Douglas talks of police regulations, just as though they were essential, and as though (if they were necessary) there was any possibility of their being withheld.
Douglas evidently, about these days, is finding Jordan a hard road to travel; but he has one consolation -- he will soon be relieved of his public burdens.