Washington (DC) National Era, "Prohibition of Slavery in Nebraska," January 19, 1860

    Source citation
    “Prohibition of Slavery in Nebraska,” Washington (DC) National Era, January 19, 1860, p. 10: 3.
    Newspaper: Publication
    Washington National Era
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    Prohibition of Slavery in Nebraska
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    Don Sailer, Dickinson College
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    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.


    We are gratified to announce that the Council or Senate of Nebraska Territory has retraced its steps, and has passed an act for the exclusion of slavery from that Territory. Some weeks ago, the Council rejected a bill from the House of Representatives having the same object in view; but subsequently a Democratic member reconsidered the matter, and a new bill was brought in and adopted. It was immediately sent to the House, and met the approbation of that body; so that if it is approved by the Federal Governor, Mr. Black, who was appointed from Pennsylvania by Mr. Buchanan, it will become a law. But a veto, we are sorry to learn, is expected.

    This act of abolishing slavery by a Territorial Government is perhaps the first assertion of “popular sovereignty,” against the wishes of the President and the decision of the Dred Scott case. The moral effect of the victory will enure to the Republicans, to whom it belongs, since they introduced the subject, and pressed it upon the attention of the Legislature. It is true that the Legislature is Democratic in both its branches, but the party drill was compelled to give way before the moral pressure.

    The opponents of abolition urged that there was no necessity for the act, since but few slaves were to be found in the Territory – perhaps not more than a dozen or twenty. But in vain – the advocates for the bill insisted that the Territory should be absolutely free.

    This plea, that there was no necessity for an act of slavery exclusion, and that its introduction would be attended with useless agitation, comes with an ill grace from a party which repealed the Missouri compromise, not, as they pretended, with the hope of introducing slavery into Kansas and Nebraska, but in order to assert a principle. The opponents of slavery should be as punctilious in their adherence to principle. They should exclude slavery, if not a negro could be found within five hundred miles of the Territory.

    Equally futile was the objection raised by the sham Democracy, that the Republicans could not vote to exclude slavery by the Territorial authority, because they claim the power as belonging to Congress. For while the Republicans insist that the power belongs to Congress, they have never denied it to the Territories; on the contrary, they rejoice to see the Territorial Legislatures exercise it.

    Republicans claim for Congress the power “to make all necessary rules and regulations for the government of the Territories,” but in practice, from the origin of the Government, the Territories have been permitted to legislate for themselves in most respects. A Republican Congress would not permit a Territorial Legislature to establish polygamy, but it would freely consent to its adoption of the usual laws of Christian countries for the regulation of marriage. So with reference to slavery. A Republican Congress would not permit the establishment of that relic of barbarism in a Territory by its local Government; but no objection would be made to a Territorial act of exclusion. The squatter sovereigns have a right to do right, but not a right to do wrong.

    All honor to Nebraska. In two years, if not sooner, she will be knocking at the doors of Congress for admission into the Union as a free Republican State.

    The following is the act of slavery exclusion. It is brief, and to the point:

    “SEC. 1. Therefore be it enacted by the Council and House of Representatives of the Territory of Nebraska, That slavery or involuntary servitude, except for the punishment of crime, be and the same is forever prohibited in this Territory.

    “SEC. 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after the first day of July, A. D. 1860.”

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