Now this may be all that the President and his party ever meant by that phrase, but it is not all that their words expressed or the country expected. In the course of the last three or four years, and by a series of high-handed measures, the established principles of the Federal Government, in regard to its management of the Territories, — principles sanctioned by every administration from Washington’s down to Fillmore’s, — have been overruled for the sake of a new doctrine, which goes by the name of Popular Sovereignty. The most sacred and binding compacts of former years were annulled to make way for it; and the judicial department of the government was violently hauled from its sacred retreat, into the political, into the political arena, to give a gratuitous coup-de-grace to the old opinions and the apparent sanction of law to the new dogma, so that Popular Sovereignty might reign triumphant in the Territories. At the convention of the party which nominated Mr. Buchanan as a candidate for his present office, — “a celebrated occasion,” as he calls it, — the members affirmed in the most emphatic manner the right of the people of all the Territories, including Kansas, to form their own Constitutions as they pleased, under the single condition that it should be republican. Mr. Buchanan reiterated that assertion in his inaugural address, and in subsequent communications. When he appointed Mr. Robert J. Walker Governor of the Territory, he instructed him to assure the people that they should be guarantied against all “fraud or violence” when they should be called upon “to vote for or against the Constitution which would be submitted to them,” so that there might be “a fair expression of the popular will.” Nothing, in short, could have been clearer, more direct, more frequently repeated, than the asseverations of the “Democratic Party,” made through its official representatives, its newspapers, and its orators, — to the effect, that its only object, in its Kansas policy, was to secure “the great principle of Popular Sovereignty.” On the strength of these assurances alone, it was enabled to achieve its hard-won victory in the last Presidential campaign. Mr. Buchanan owes his position to them, as is repeatedly admitted by Mr. Douglas in his speech of December 9th last, — and the whole nation, having discussed and battled and voted on the principle, acquiesced, as it accustomed to do after an election, in the ascendency of the victors. It prepared itself to see the application of the principle which had been announced and defended as so important and wise.
Under these pledges and promises, what has been the performance? A Convention, for which, inasmuch as it was illegally called by an illegal body, a large proportion of the citizens of Kansas refused to vote, frames a Constitution, in the interest and according to the convictions of the slenderest minority of the people; it incorporates in that Constitution a recognition of old Territorial laws to the last degree offensive to the majority of the people; it incorporates in it a clause establishing slavery in perpetuity; it connects with it a Schedule perpetuating the existing slavery, whatever it may be, against all future remedy which has not the sanction of the slave-master; and then, by a miserable chicane, it submits the Constitution to a vote of the people, but it submits it under such terms, that the people, if they vote at all, must vote for it, whether they like it or not, while the only part in which they can exercise any choice is the clause which relates to future slavery. The other parts, especially the Schedule, which recognizes the existing slavery, and that almost irremediably, the people are not allowed to pronounce upon. They are not allowed to pronounce upon the thousand-and-one details of the State organization; they are fobbed off with a transparent cheat of “heads I win, — tails you lose”; — and the whole game is denominated, Popular Sovereignty.