Michael F. Hot, The Political Crisis of the 1850s (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1983), 144-145.
Douglas realized that he would have to make a concession to the South by substituting popular sovereignty for the Missouri Compromise prohibition against slavery, but he saw even in that an opportunity to put the Democratic stamp on the territorial bill. The Democrats had long pushed popular sovereignty as the proper solution for slavery in the territories, and the party was pledged to the principles of the 1850 Compromise in their 1852 platform. Why not assert that the solution of 1850 was meant to apply to all the territories, not just Utah and New Mexico? A decision by settlers in the territory would prevent sectional strife in Congress, but, even more important from Douglas’s point of view, the principle of self-government, freedom from congressional dictation, was a way to reaffirm the Democratic party’s commitment to the republican tenant of popular rule just when people were worrying that political parties and government were beyond popular control.