New York Times, “Virginia Politics,” October 26, 1857

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    “Virginia Politics – Senator Hunter’s Letter upon Kansas and the Administration,” New York Times, October 26, 1857, p. 4: 4.
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    New York Times
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    Virginia Politics – Senator Hunter’s Letter upon Kansas and the Administration
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    Don Sailer, Dickinson College
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    The following text is presented here in complete form, as true to the original written document as possible. Spelling and other typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

    VIRGINIA POLITICS – SENATOR HUNTER’s LETTER UPON KANSAS AND THE ADMINISTRATION.— SENATOR HUNTER yields at last to the pressure which commands him to “define his position.” He has been “suspected of being suspicious.” The ultra and overzealous champions of the Administration have insisted upon knowing what he thought of Gov. WALKER and affairs in Kansas, and have menaced him with their dire displeasures if he failed to respond to their inquiries. He treated these threats with proper contempt for a long time,–but like all public men in these days, was forced to yield at last to the undignified and degrading tyranny of partisanship. Naturally ashamed of the part he is forced to play, he seeks to disguise it by pretending to answer the queries of a friend by words of scorn for the requisitions of his foes; –but the disguise is thin and deceives nobody–not even Mr. HUNTER himself. The Enquirer has triumphed and forced him to an explanation, which will be found in another column of this morning’s TIMES.

    The Senator’s letter will add nothing to his reputation. It is feeble in purpose and still feebler in argument. He is very explicit and emphatic in indorsing the principle of the Kansas-Nebraska bill, –which commits to the people of the Territory the absolute right, in forming a State Constitution, to admit or prohibit Slavery, as they may see fit. Yet he seeks to evade the practical application of this principle, by claiming for the Convention the right to adopt a Constitution, and, without submitting it to the popular vote, to send it to Congress for the approval which that body, in his opinion, has no right to withhold. It is impossible that Senator HUNTER should deceive himself by such sophistry as this; –and he will find it equally impossible to deceive anybody else. If he is sincere in indorsing the principle of Popular Sovereignty, why is he unwilling to allow that sovereignty its most direct and effective expression? Grant that the Convention duly and fairly represents the People of Kansas: –it is still not easy to see why its power or right should be paramount to that of the People themselves. But Senator HUNTER must know that it does not represent them, –that it was elected by less than one-third of their number, and cannot claim any right whatever, either actual or technical, to control their action or even express their will.

    The simple fact is, the ultra Pro-Slavery men, in endeavoring to force Slavery upon Kansas through this Convention, on the plea that it represents the People and may therefore refuse them an opportunity to act for themselves, are engaged in a paltry, thimble-rigging attempt to dodge the consequences of their own principle of popular Sovereignty, –and Senator HUNTER, in leading himself to it, sinks his character as a statesman and a man of honor. It is one of the shabbiest and least creditable shifts even of the reckless, unprincipled partisanship of the present day.

    The effort is evidently about to be made to force it upon the Democratic Party in Congress during the coming session. We can scarcely conceive it possible that President BUCHANAN should be weak enough to yield to it, –but attempts at prophecy upon that head are somewhat hazardous. It certainly is not possible that even the whole patronage and power of his Administration should be able to force it upon the people of the country. The Democratic party achieved power upon the principle that the People of Kansas should be left perfectly free to form and regulate their own domestic institutions for themselves. Senator DOUGLAS has already intimated his determination to insist upon a full and faithful redemption of this pledge: and if he takes that ground in the Senate, he will rally to himself the support, not only of the Democratic Party, but of the country at large.

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