Here, sir, you find that the Republican party resolve that they mean to maintain the principles of the Declaration of Independence, and of the Constitution, and that "the rights of the States, and the Union of the States, shall be preserved." In the face of this declaration the President informs Congress that they intend to trample upon the rights of the States, and destroy the Union.
They assert that it is the duty of the American people " to prevent the establishment of slavery in the Territories of the United States, by positive legislation prohibiting its existence therein;" and they deny the authority of Congress, of a Territorial Legislature, of individuals or associations, to give legal existence to slavery to any I Territory of the United States while the present i Constitution shall be maintained. They declare I that it is the right and duty of Congress, under the Constitution, to prohibit in the Territories those twin relics of barbarism, polygamy and slavery. Now, is there anything in all these averments and denials like inequality or injustice —that looks to sectionalism or disunion? It will be perceived that the leading, distinguishing principle of the Republican party upon the general question of slavery, is folded in the doctrine that it is the right and the duty of the General Government to prevent the extension of slavery into free territory. If this be treason, Heaven help us! We are all traitors!
Not only are the principles and purposes of the Republican party fully and clearly expressed in the Philadelphia platform, but they have been repeated a thousand times by the presses and speakers of the party, and in the resolutions of local conventions, with constant and emphatic disavowals of the wish or purpose to interfere with slavery in the States. Why should its members alone be singled out by the President*; and his party, for reproach and opprobrium? Why arc they more obnoxious to censure than the wise, the great, and the good men, whose pathway across our political horizon, from the early morning, is luminous with similar opinions? If holding these opinions justly exposes the Republicans to the imputation of being dishonest and dangerous men, fit to be classed with the " desperate and the damned," what shall save the Father of his Country, the Author of the Declaration of Independence, and the Father of the Constitution, from being placed in the same category? Were Republican doctrines and designs more constitutional, or less pernicious in 1789 or 1820 or 1848, than in 1856? They were among the axioms, the unquestionable truths, and the fixed purposes of the Fathers; and the Republican party is but acting in the light of their examples, and carrying out their instructions. When its members remember this, I trust they will be comforted, and be able to bear themselves bravely and decorously against the assaults of one whose calumnies strike so far.
General Washington, in a letter to Robert Morris, makes use of the following language:
"I can only say, there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do to see a plan adopted for the abolition of it, [slavery;] but there is only one proper and effectual mode in which it can be accomplished, and that is by legislative authority; and this, so far as my suffrage will go, shall never be wanting."
Surely this justifies the Republicans in all that they propose to accomplish; for to sincerely wish for the abolition of slavery is inconsistent with a desire to extend it. The power of the General Government to restrain slavery is recognized by the act of Congress of the 7th of August, 1789, which was approved by General Washington. In 1784, in the Congress of the Confederacy, Mr. Jefferson reported a resolution to the effect "that after the year 1800 of the Christian era, there- should be neither Slavery nor involuntary servitude in ANY of said States, otherwise than in the punishment of crime whereof the said party shall have been duly convicted to have been personally guilty." It will be seen that Mr. Jefferson designed to strike a single and fatal blow to all slavery extension. That he did not consider the powers of the Government, in this regard, as impaired by the Constitution, is shown by the fact that he approved, as President, many laws—some for the organization of territorial governments with the slavery restriction—involving the existence of plenary power in Congress to legislate for the Territories.
Mr. Madison, who ought to know, from his connection with the Constitution, the objects fur which it was framed, and the powers it was designed to confer, has said:
"I Hold It Essential IN Every Point Or View, That The General Government Should Have Power To PREVENT THE INCREASE OP SLAVERY."—Madison Papers, vol. 3,|). 1391.