Kansas Affairs — Mr. Buchanan’s Position — Duty of Congress.
The Washington Union copies some remarks from a Lancaster paper, declaring that no person has any authority to speak for Mr. BUCHANAN, in regard to the policy of his Administration, and adds the following:
“In connection with the foregoing, we have the approval of Mr. Buchanan, in saying that the following extract, from the Southside Democrat, states correctly his position:
‘As for Kansas, Mr. BUCHANAN has never expressed an opinion, either one way or the other, in favor of its coming in as a Free or a Slave State. He had prudently conceived that is a matter with which he has nothing to do, and with which he does not mean to meddle. It is a question exclusively with the people of the Territory, with whom he is content to leave it for solution. He will see to it that the principles of the Nebraska law are carried out, in letter and spirit, impartially, and without fear, favor, or affection.’”
This, certainly, is somewhat oracular, at least in its vagueness. But it encourages the belief that Mr. Buchanan will not permit the Federal authority to sustain or screen such violations of the rights of the people of Kansas as have been practiced with impunity under the present Administration. We regard it as pledging him, at all events, to use the power of his office to prevent my farther invasions from Missouri, and to guarantee to the bona fide settlers of Kansas the right of electing their own rulers and making their own laws. Under all the circumstances of the case, this is all that can reasonably be expected at his hands. While the Nebraska bill is upon the statute book he will be bound to enforce it:--and it probably does not fall within his province to decide whether, under its provisions, slaves may or may not be held in the Territory previous to the formation of a State Constitution. But it is clearly his right and his duty to protect the settlers in the exercise of their suffrage, and to repe any attempt, from whatever quarter it may come, to overrule or override their will.
We trust, therefore, that it may be considered settled that the People of Kansas will be permitted to elect without molestation their own Legislative, and, so far as the Nebraska bill permits, their Executive officers.
There are still obstacles, however, in the way of a full adjustment of the political difficulties of the Territory which we trust. Congress, at its present session, may remove. The vote at the October Election in Kansas was in favor of a Convention to form a State Constitution. But the Free-State men took no part in that election, considering themselves debarred therefrom by the test oaths required, and by the position they had taken against the validity of the Territorial Legislature. They cannot, therefore, without a sacrifice of consistency and of principle which should not be demanded of them, take part either in the election of members, or in the proceedings of any State Convention which may be called by the Legislature in pursuance of this vote.
Congress ought to relieve them form this embarrassment. It should pass at its present session an “enabling act,” authoring a Convention to form a State Constitution, fixing the time and place of holding it, prescribing the qualifications of those who may vote for members of it, repealing all Territorial laws prescribing test oaths, as well as all other laws that prevent freedom of speech or infringing in any way upon the political rights of the inhabitants, and taking all other steps that may be necessary to secure to the people of the Territory the formation and regulation of their own domestic institutions. We are inclined to believe that such a law might be passed at the present session of Congress. At the last session the Democrats professed a readiness to vote for a bill embracing some of these provisions, and charged the Republicans with having defeated it. The Republicans claimed to be heartily in favor of the professed objects of such a bill, and vindicated their opposition to it by very just and cogent objections to its political features.
The fact undoubtedly is, that each party had political reasons for not acceding to the wishes and views of the other. Each feared that the other would strengthen itself in the Presidential contest;--and to this apprehension other considerations were to a very great extent compelled to yield. This state of things no longer exists. The election is over, and political parties are relived from its pressure. They can afford now to act together, so far at least as they may concur in regard to the desirableness of certain objects to be accomplished. Both Democrats and Republicans are now desirous that the professed scope and intention of the Nebraska bill should be carried into practical effect, and the inhabitants of the Territory left to control their own affairs,--the former because this is part of their platform and the latter because they cannot do any better. Both, therefore, may very well assent to the passage of such a bill as we have referred to. It may be framed so as to exclude all objects justly obnoxious to either party, and yet be of essential service in restoring peace and harmony to the Territory.
One point should receive attention:--the time for holding a State Convention should be postponed until all traces of the recent connotations have faded away. October or November of this year will be quite as early as such as movement can be made without injustice to one side of the other. And if Gov. GEARY continues to enforce the law with a steady and impartial hand, the settlers, if relieved from the pressure of the savage enactments which men of all parties now condemn, and which Congress should at once repeal, can dispense with any earlier action upon this subject.