Douglas' reply at Freeport was that, no matter what the Supreme Court might decide, the people of a territory could exclude slavery by failing to give it legal protection, or by enacting unfriendly legislation. "Slavery cannot exist a day or an hour anywhere," he said, "unless it is supported by local police regulations Hence no matter what the decision of the Supreme Court may be on that abstract question, still the right of the people to make a slave territory or a free territory is perfect and complete under the Nebraska bill." …
Although Douglas' answer at Freeport blocked his road to the Charleston nomination, it saved him the senatorship. If he had said that the people of a territory could not, under the Dred Scott decision, keep slavery out of a territory, his whole fabric of Popular Sovereignty and sacred right of self-government would have fallen into ruin and he would have been buried immediately under the heap.