Stephen A. Douglas to John A. McClernand, November 23, 1857, in Robert W. Johannsen, ed., The Letters of Stephen A. Douglas (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1961).
The following text is presented here in complete form, as true to the original written document as possible.
My Dear Sir:
Your kind letter came to hand by due course of mail. I have not received a copy of the Kansas constitution, and hence cannot speak definitely upon the point of enquiry, in regard to what is to be done. Of course we must stand firmly by the principle of the Kansas organic act, which guarantees the right of the people of each State & Territory to form and regulate their own institutions in their own way.
I repeat, we must stand on this principle and go wherever its logical consequences may carry us, and defend it against all assaults from any quarter. The only question is whether the constitution formed at Lecompton is the act & will of the people of Kansas, [or] whether it be the act and will of a small minority, who have attempted to cheat & defraud the majority by trickery & juggling. If it be the will of the people freely & fairly expressed it is all right, it not it must be rebuked. Of course I will not pronounce a final judgment on this point until I get the facts officially before me, although the newspaper accounts look as if trickery & juggling have been substituted for fair dealing. If this shall turn out to be true we have but one course to pursue, and that is vindicate the principle of the organic act and the Cincinnati Platform by referring the whole matter back to the people. Let me hear from you soon. I leave for W the last of this week. Mrs. D joins me in respects to Mrs. Mc. Truly your friend.