Washington (DC) National Era, “The Republican Platform,” January 1, 1857

Source citation
"The Republican Platform," Washington (DC) National Era , January 1, 1857, p. 2: 3.
Newspaper: Publication
Washington National Era
Newspaper: Headline
The Republican Platform
Newspaper: Page(s)
2
Newspaper: Column
3
Type
Newspaper
Date Certainty
Exact
Transcriber
Meghan Allen, Dickinson College
Transcription date
The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and other typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

THE REPUBLICAN PLATFORM.

A correspondent at Jacksonville, Illinois, says that some of the Buchanan leaders, during the late canvass, made use of Republican platform, as it first published, to throw doubt on the position of the Republican party; and when they were pointed to the corrected document, they quoted our remark, to the effect that the errors were only verbal inaccuracies.

Let us straighten out this matter. The part of the platform referred to, is the closing portion of the second resolution, which, as first reported by telegraph, and printed in the newspapers, was as follows:

"That as our Republican fathers, when they had abolished Slavery in all our National Territory, ordained that no person should be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, it becomes our duty to maintain this provision of the Constitution against all attempts to violate it for the purpose of establishing Slavery in the United States by positive legislation, prohibiting its existence or extension therein; that we deny the authority of Congress, of a Territorial Legislature, of any individual or association of individuals, to give legal assistance to Slavery in any Territory of the United States, while the present Constitution shall be maintained."

This is obscure, and, owing to the wrong punctuations, seems to affirm that Slavery should not be established in the Territories by positive legislation, nor should its existence or extension therein be prohibited, although such an affirmation would be utterly illogical and absurd, directly repugnant to the purpose for which the Convention had met, and flatly contradictory to the third resolution, which expressly declares that it is the right and duty of Congress to prohibit Slavery in the Territories. All that is needed to restore sense to the resolution, make it logical, and consistent with the third resolution, is, to insert a semicolon between "United States" and "by POSITIVE LEGISLATION," so as to make the latter phrase qualify the clause, "prohibiting its existence or extension therein." With this understanding, we remarked, when the corrected resolution was handed to us by Mr. Giddings, (who was the author of it,) that the inaccuracies in the former one were "verbal." The corrected resolution was printed in the same number of the Era that contained the spurious one, and is as follows. We mark in italics the portions in which the correction is made:

"2. Resolved, That, with our Republican fathers, we hold it to be a self-evident truth that all men are endowed with the unalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and that the primary object and ulterior design of our Federal Government were to secure those rights to all persons within its exclusive jurisdiction; that as our Republican fathers, when they had abolished Slavery in all our National Territory, ordained that no person should be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, it becomes our duty to maintain this provision of the Constitution against all attempts to violate it, to prevent the establishment of Slavery in the Territories of the United States, by positive legislation prohibiting its existence therein. And we deny the authority of Congress, of a Territorial Legislature, of any individual or association of individuals, to give legal existence to Slavery in any Territory of the United States, while the present Constitution shall be maintained."

As it stands, the resolution affirms that it is the purpose of the Federal Government to secure the rights of all persons within its jurisdiction:

That, as the Constitution declares no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, it becomes our duty to maintain that provision against all attempts to violate it:

That the establishment of Slavery in the Territories ought to be prevented:

That its existence therein ought to be prohibited by positive legislation:
That neither Congress, nor a Territorial Legislature, nor any association or individuals, can give legal existence to Slavery in any Territory of the United States, under the present Constitution.

If there is any fault about the resolution, it is that, in its effort to be explicit, it multiples words needlessly.

How to Cite This Page: "Washington (DC) National Era, “The Republican Platform,” January 1, 1857," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, https://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/index.php/node/40.