The Kansas Question- Submission of the Constitution to the Popular Vote

    Source citation
    “The Kansas Question- Submission of the Constitution to the Popular Vote,” New York Times, 9 November 1857, p. 2.
    Original source
    Richmond (VA) Enquirer
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    New York Times
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    The Kansas Question- Submission of the Constitution to the Popular Vote
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    Wes McCoy
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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.
    The Kansas Question- Submission of the Constitution to the Popular Vote

    From the Richmond (Va.) Enquirer

    The Nebraska-Kansas act embodies what were intended to be terms of adjustment between the North and the South- an agreement between the Free States and the Slave States, that they and we would adhere to the spirit of the Government and the principles of the Constitution; and allow the people of the Territories in all latitudes and in every section to reject or accept Slavery at their own option. So it then follows, as well from the intent of the act under which the Constitution of Kansas is to be framed, as from the principle of popular sovereignty itself, which is the chief element of our political system, that the Convention should submit the Constitution to the people. Such a mode of proceeding is not only denied by fairness and justice, by the pledged faith of the North and South, and by the plainest precepts of republicanism; but it is also essential to the interests of the Slave States. If the Constitution is enforced, the South cannot be endangered. Our institutions belong alone to the separate states within which they exist. The Federal Government has no jurisdiction over them. We claim that Slavery is illegal only where it is pronounced to be so by the sovereign people, either already as a State, or when they have prepared a Territory for admission into the Union.

    The South must seek shelter, not under the shadow of the General Government, but in the rights of the States and the principles of the Constitution. And hence, even as a matter of strictly selfish consideration, it would be better for the interests of the Southern people that a dozen new States should be brought into the Union without Slavery, that the great principle of popular sovereignty should be perverted and destroyed. That principle involves the rights of the States, the security of the South, and the continuance of the confederacy. Let us once abandon that elevated and impregnable position, which we now hold, and we are inevitably undone. Let us once discard the Constitution, as the bulwark behind which we now bid defiance to Abolitionism, and acknowledge the legitimacy of the test which the North submits to us, and we will be provoked from a citadel strong as Gibraltar, to be beaten in unequal contest by an artful and unscrupulous enemy. Let us once say that Slavery shall be circumscribed or extended, cherished or annihilated as the North or South may predominate in the control of the General Government, and we will decide by numerical strength, that which we now claim as a moral and political right, beyond the reach of any other power on earth, than to those to whom it immediately belongs. And yet, to contend that the Constitution of Kansas should not be submitted to the people, it seems to us is to attack this important principle of popular sovereignty with serious significance. Every Southern man would, of course, rejoice to see Kansas come into the Union as a Slave State. But not unless with the approbation of that people. Let us win fairly, or let us lose. A new State on our side, in comparison with this principle involved, is absolutely inappreciable in its nothingness. To force Slavery upon the people of Kansas, in opposition to their wishes, would impair the proud prestige and injure the interests of the Southern people, more than all the Abolitionists ever have done, or ever can do, against our institutions.
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