• Speech at Chicago

     |  Crisis of Constitutionalism

    Speech at Chicago Speech at Chicago 1 Stephen Douglas (1813-1861) As the primary author of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the most vocal defender of the Dred Scott decision, Douglas traveled extensively promoting the concept of popular sovereignty, which he equated with republican self-government. The national reputation he garnered in the process would, he hoped, serve him well in a future presidential bid. July 9, 1858 ...Fellow-citizens, while I devoted my best energies—all my energies, mental and physical—to the vindication of the great principle, and whilst the result has been such as will enable the people of Kansas to come into the Union with such a constitution as they desire, yet the credit of this great moral victory is to be divided ...
  • Seventh Lincoln-Douglas Debate

     |  Crisis of Constitutionalism

    Seventh Lincoln-Douglas Debate Seventh Lincoln-Douglas Debate 1 Lincoln and Douglas agreed to debate in all nine of the state's congressional districts, with their recent speeches in Chicago and Springfield counting as the opening salvos. Seven debates ensued, each lasting three hours. This seventh and last debate, held in Alton, drew more than 5,000 spectators. Local and national papers—most in the service of one of the two main parties—reprinted each speech, leading to widespread circulation. After the debates concluded, Lincoln published an edited version. The book's popularity throughout the North paved the way for his eventual presidential campaign. October 15, 1858 Senator Douglas's Speech ...The issue thus being made up between Mr. Lincoln ...
  • The Dividing Line

     |  Crisis of Constitutionalism

    The Dividing Line The Dividing Line between Federal and Local Authority: Popular Sovereignty in the Territories 1 Stephen Douglas In September 1857, pro-slavery forces in Kansas drafted the Lecompton Constitution. Their anti-slavery opponents declared the document invalid, as they had not participated in its creation. Adhering to the principle of popular sovereignty, Douglas rejected the Lecompton Constitution and called for Kansans to draft a new document. Northern Democrats, dismayed by the armed conflict in Kansas, supported his position; Southern Democrats looked on it as an act of betrayal. Douglas took every opportunity to explain his position in hopes of re-unifying his party. This speech was published in Harper's New Monthly Magazine. September ...
  • Speech on the Kansas-Nebraska Act

     |  Crisis of Constitutionalism

    Speech on the Kansas-Nebraska Act Speech on the Kansas-Nebraska Act 1 Abraham Lincoln Supporters of the Compromise of 1850 lauded it as a continuation of the Missouri Compromise, which had helped maintain peace for thirty years. But four years later, the Missouri Compromise was eviscerated by the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Authored by Democratic Senator Stephen Douglas, it was in fact two provisions, one providing for the territory of Nebraska and the other for the new territory of Kansas. Breaking with the Missouri Compromise's ban on slavery in this part of the country, it established the policy of "popular sovereignty": Slavery would be voted on by the citizens of each territory, and made legal or illegal according to the will of the majority. For Lincoln, this ...
  • Speech on the Dred Scott Decision

     |  Crisis of Constitutionalism

    Speech on the Dred Scott Decision Speech on the Dred Scott Decision 1 Abraham Lincoln Lincoln argues that Chief Justice Taney's opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford violated America's founding principles and rewrote American history. June 26, 1857 ...And now as to the Dred Scott decision. That decision declares two propositions—first, that a negro cannot sue in the U.S. Courts; and secondly, that Congress cannot prohibit slavery in the Territories. It was made by a divided court—dividing differently on the different points. Judge Douglas does not discuss the merits of the decision; and, in that respect, I shall follow his example, believing I could no more improve on McLean and Curtis, than he could on Taney. He denounces all who question ...
  • Address at Cooper Institute

     |  Crisis of Constitutionalism

    Address at Cooper Institute Address at Cooper Institute 1 Abraham Lincoln With an eye to the Republican presidential nomination of 1860, Lincoln campaigned vigorously across the North. Responding to Stephen Douglas's "Dividing Line" speech, he used this address to claim the mantle of America's Founders for the Republican Party. Employing original research on the anti-slavery views of "our fathers," Lincoln cast himself as a conservative. The speech caught the attention of the Eastern political establishment, while at the same time distinguishing him from the radical abolitionists. February 27, 1860 ...But enough! Let all who believe that "our fathers, who framed the Government under which we live, understood this question just as well, and even ...
  • Republican Party Platform of 1856

     |  Crisis of Constitutionalism

    Republican Party Platform of 1856 Republican Party Platform of 1856 1 Northern anger toward the Kansas-Nebraska Act reached its zenith in the late spring of 1854, when various anti-slavery forces coalesced in Jackson, Michigan. Organized around the principles of the Declaration of Independence, the Republican Party was born out of this meeting. It would adopt a platform two years later that called for repeal of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and restoration of the Missouri Compromise. June 17, 1856 This convention of delegates, assembled in pursuance of a call addressed to the people of the United States, without regard to past political differences or divisions, who are opposed to the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, to the policy of the present Administration ...
  • Dred Scott v. Sandford

     |  Crisis of Constitutionalism

    Dred Scott v. Sandford Dred Scott v. Sandford 1 Roger Taney (1777-1864) Like Stephen Douglas, Supreme Court Chief Justice Taney believed that his response to the slavery controversy would resolve the issue. His ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford had the opposite result, throwing the country into even greater turmoil. The case was brought by a slave, Dred Scott, who was taken by his master into territory in which slavery was illegal. Asked to rule simply on whether Scott's residency in a free territory meant that he should be granted freedom, the Court ruled that Congress had no power to regulate slavery in the territories and that persons of African descent could not be citizens, rendering both the Missouri Compromise and the Compromise of 1850 unconstitutional ...
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