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formed to make Kansas a slave State at whatever sacrifice of blood and treasure. The ambition of Douglas, and the fears of the President were appealed to for aid and support by a repeal of the Compromise; and thereupon the political Nebuchadnezzars, who ought to have been turned out to grass long since, erected an image, composed mainly of brass, styling it “squatter sovereignty;”— and General Cass fell down and worshipped it. It is not necessary to detail to you how the doctrine, that the settlers of a territory have a right to determine their own institutions, has since been carried out in practice by those who promulgated it. The ruffians of Western Missouri, true to their determination to extend their institutions over Kansas, marched over the border well provided with bowie knives and revolvers, voted where that served their purpose, destroyed the ballot-boxes where that was better, drove the Free State voters from the polls, and elected a majority of the territorial legislature. A more gross case of usurpation never existed. But this was only the beginning of what is not yet ended. The usurping legislature met, turned out the members who were legally elected, and proceeded to pass a set of laws which would disgrace Turkey or Algiers. The inhabitants protested, and refused to recognize the authority of the usurpers, and were maltreated, beaten, and some of them murdered. They appealed to the United States authorities for protection; and the answer received reminded me at the time of an anecdote I read several years since, and which, being professional, has dwelt upon my recollection. A lawyer named Jones, with no great knowledge of the law, had become “cock of the walk” in one of the county courts of Virginia, and managed the court at his pleasure. A young lawyer settled in the county, and having superior prosessional knowledge, interposed legal objections in one of Jones's suits, which the latter could not answer; and he thereupon became very much enraged, and swore profanely. The young advocate finally appealed to the court with the question, whether it was proper for Mr. Jones to swear in the presence of the court. The court held a grave consultation, and delivered judgment in this wise: “Mr. H., if you don't leave off making Mr. Jones swear so, the court will commit you.” So seemed to be the answer of the general government to the appeal of the Free State settlers of Kansas for protection. “Gentlemen, if you don't leave off making these border ruffians commit all this violence, you shall be arrested for insurrection.” But the matter soon became too serious for a jest respecting it. The threats of arrest, it soon appeared, were no empty menace. To all appeals for protection, the answer was, “You must obey the laws.” And what were the laws to which obedience was thus required ? Permit me to give
you a specimen of them.
“If any free person, by speaking or by writing, assert or maintain that persons have not the right to hold slaves in this Territory, or shall introduce into this Territory, print, publish, write, circulate, or cause to be introduced into this Territory, written, printed, published, or circulated in this Territory, any book, paper, magazine, pamphlet, or circular, containing any denial of the right of persons to hold slaves in this Territory, such person shall be deemed guilty of felony, and punished by imprisonment at hard labor for a term of not less than two years.
“No person who is conscientiously opposed to holding slaves, or who does not admit the right to hold slaves in this Territory, shall sit as a juror on the trial of any prosecution for any violation of any of the sections of this act.
“If any person offering to vote shall be challenged and required to take an oath or affirmation, to be administered by one of the judges of the election, that he will sustain the provisions of the above-recited acts of Congress, [the Fugitive Slave Laws of 1793 and 1850,) and of the act entitled “An Act to organize the Territories of Nebraska and Kansas,' approved May 30, 1854, and shall refuse to take such oath or affirmation, the vote of such person shall be rejected. “Each member of the legislative assembly, and every officer elected or appointed to office under the laws of this Territory, shall, in addition to the oath or affirmation specially provided to be taken by such officer, take an oath or affirmation to support the Constitution of the United States, the provisions of an act entitled “An Act respecting fugitives from justice and persons escaping from the service of their masters, approved February 12, 1793; and of an act to amend and supplementary to said last-mentioned act, approved September 18, 1850; and of an act entitled “An Act to organize the Territories of Nebraska and Kansas, approved May 30, 1854.” “Every person obtaining a license shall take an oath or affirmation to support the Constitution of the United States, and to support and sustain the provisions of an act entitled “An Act to organize the Territories of Nebraska and Kansas,' and the provisions of an act commonly known as ‘The Fugitive Slave Law,’ and faithfully to demean himself in his practice to the best of his knowledge and ability. A certificate of such oath shall be indorsed on the license. “If any person shall practise law in any court of record, without being licensed, sworn, and enrolled, he shall be deemed guilty of a contempt of court, and punished as in other cases of contempt. “Every person who may be sentenced by any court of competent jurisdiction, under any law in force within this Territory, to punishment by confinement and hard labor, shall be deemed a convict, and shall immediately, under the charge of the keeper of such jail or public prison, or under the charge of such person as the keeper of such jail or public prison may select, be put to hard labor, as in the first section of this act specified; and such keeper or other person having charge of such convict, shall cause such convict, while engaged at such labor, to be securely confined by a chain six feet in length, of not less than four sixteenths nor more than three eighths of an inch links, with a round ball of iron of not less than four nor more than six inches in diameter, attached, which chain shall be securely fastened to the ankle of such convict with a strong lock and key; and such keeper or
other person having charge of such convict, may, if necessary, confine such convict, while so engaged at hard labor, by other chains or other means in his discretion, so as to keep such convict secure and prevent his escape; and when there shall be two or more convicts under the charge of such keeper, or other person, such convicts shall be fastened together by strong chains, with strong locks and keys, during the time such convicts shall be engaged in hard labor without the walls of any jail or prison.”
You perceive how cunningly devised this code was to secure the introduction of slavery into Kansas. All persons opposed to slavery were disfranchised and gagged. If they dared to speak even against the right to hold slaves in the territory, they were to be deemed guilty of felony, and subjected to imprisonment at hard labor for a term not less than two years, and might be let out to work on the public highway, fettered with a chain and ball, after the manner of those convicted of the most infamous crimes under the worst of despotisms.
Fellow-Citizens! If the people of Kansas had quietly submitted to this usurpation and oppression, they would have deserved to be slaves themselves; nay, the very act of submission would have made them slaves. The wrongs inflicted on the colonists by the mother country, which led to the Revolution, bear no comparison with this monstrous injustice.
The people attempted to relieve themselves in the only way which seemed to be practicable, without a resort to violence. Following the example set by the people of Michigan, they chose delegates to a Convention for the formation. of a Constitution, in advance of an authority for that purpose, and asked for admission into the Union as a State. But what was good constitutional allegiance in Michigan, was treason in Kansas. A refusal to be gagged, was insurrection; and asking to be admitted into the Union as peacea
ble citizens, desirous of escaping from oppression, was treason against the peace and dignity of the United States. The more prominent of the free State settlers who did not escape were arrested and imprisoned on this charge of treason, while reiterating their protestations of allegiance and devotion to the Union, and for the crime of seeking admission into it; and armed bands, coming from abroad to secure the ascendency of slavery by force, were let loose, to ravage the possessions of those whose only offence was that they were supporters of free institutions. Our fathers had no very favorable opinion of the Hessians in the war of the Revolution. But the Hessians were not volunteers in the attempt to subjugate the colonists, and committed no atrocities beyond those usually attendant upon a state of warfare. Not so with the bands of ragamuffins who have invaded Kansas. It has been said that civil war was raging there. My friends, let us do no injustice to civil war. It has horrors enough to answer for which properly belong to it. But the robbery and arson, the pillage and murder which have been rife in Kansas within the last year, are not civil war. I intend no pun in saying this. The case is too grave and sad for that. I mean to say that it is not war which has raged in Kansas; but it is rapine and destruction, and cold-blooded, wilful murder. We have been accustomed, when we wished to express our sense of the damning infamy of atrocious deeds of violence or plunder, in the superlative of condemnation, to characterize them as piracy, and the perpetrators as pirates. But it has been reserved to the Atchison men, and the Buford men, and the Titus men, and the Emory men, in Kansas, to make piracy comparatively respectable, inasmuch as they have shown that there is a depth of infamy more profound than pirate ever yet has sounded. The buccaneers of former