| Chap. 1 | Chap.
2 | Chap. 3 | Chap.
4 | Chap. 5 | Chap.
6 | Chap. 7 | Chap.
8 | Chap. 9
The Dred Scott Case
for Chapter 3
THE SOUTH, 1860
ATTITUDE TOWARD SLAVERY
IMPACT ON RACE AND GENDER ROLES
A TEXAS SLAVE'S
LETTER TO HER HUSBAND, 1862
FREE BLACKS IN INDIAN TERRITORY
AND BLACK SLAVERY
OF 1850: TWO VIEWS
SLAVE RESPONDS TO HIS OWNER
BANS AFRICAN AMERICANS
MASON IN SLAVERY AND FREEDOM
THE DRED SCOTT
LAST SPEECH, November 2, 1859
PARTY PLATFORM, 1860
ELECTION OF 1860
for Week 3
Texas and Slavery
John C. Fremont
William Lloyd Garrison
Seminole Indian Wars
The Republican Party
William Walker and Filibustering
The American (Know-Nothing) Party
Gag Bill of 1837
Compromise of 1850
John C. Calhoun
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Bridget “Biddy” Mason
personal liberty laws
Stephen A. Douglas
Kansas‑Nebraska Act, 1854
Dred Scott Decision, 1857
SLAVERY IN THE SOUTH, 1860
Whites and Blacks in the Total Southern Population
% black slave
% free black
of Southern White Society: Nonslaveholders
Free Blacks comprised less than 1% of the state's total population.
Eighth Census of the
United States, 1860, Population by Age, Sex,
Race and Agriculture of the United States.
VIEWS OF SLAVERY
Fitzhugh, a 19th century defender of slavery argued that it
was a positive good and in fact advocated the enslavement of
white workers in the North to improve their condition.
Theodore Weld, however, was an uncompromising abolitionist who
wanted to end slavery because it brutalized slaves and made
their owners callous to human suffering. Their views are
The negro slaves of the South are the happiest, and, in some
sense, the freest people in the world. The children and
the aged and infirm work not at all, and yet have all the comforts
and necessaries [sic] of life provided for them. They
enjoy liberty, because they are oppressed neither by care nor
labor. The women do little hard work, and are protected from
the despotism of their husbands by their masters. The
negro men and stout boys work, on the average, in good weather,
not more than nine hours a day....Besides, they have their Sabbaths
and holidays. White men, with so much of license and liberty,
would die of ennui; but negroes luxuriate in corporeal and mental
repose. With their faces upturned to the sum, they can
sleep at any hour; and quiet sleep is the greatest of human
enjoyments....The free laborer must work or starve. He
is more of a slave than the negro, because he works longer and
harder for less allowance than the slave, and has no holiday,
because the cares of life with him begin when its labors end.
He has no liberty, and not a single right.
The slaves in the United States are treated with barbarous inhumanity...they
are overworked, underfed, wretchedly clad and lodged, and have
insufficient sleep...they are often made to wear round their
necks iron collars armed with prongs, to drag heavy chains and
weights at their feed while working in the field...they are
often kept confined in the stocks day and night for weeks together,
made to wear gags in their mouths for hours or days, have some
of their front teeth torn out or broken off, that they may be
easily detected when they run away...they are frequently flogged
with terrible severity, have red pepper rubbed into their lacerated
flesh, and hot brine, spirits of turpentine, etc., poured over
the gashes to increase the torture...they are often stripped
naked, their backs and limbs cut with knives, bruised and mangled
by scores and hundreds of blows with the paddle, and terribly
torn by the claws of cats, drawn over them by their tormentors.
George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All, (New York, 1857); Theodore
Dwight Weld, Slavery As It Is, (Boston, 1839).
ATTITUDE TOWARD SLAVERY
Abolitionist usually captured the public's attention with their
denunciations of slavery, the vast majority of Northerners were
ambivalent toward the institution. Ebenezer Kellogg, a
28 year‑old professor of languages at Williams College
in Massachusetts, visited Charleston, South Carolina in 1817
and provided these impressions.
The character and situation of the black population of this
country is one of the most interesting subjects of observation
to strangers who visit it. Their number is such as might
entitle them to be regarded as the first portion of the population,
and the whites only as a kind of agents for them, performing
a very important part in the interior economy of this mixed
society, but a part subservient rather than superior to the
blacks... [But] the negroes are servants and others masters.
I saw only house servants, and those employed in the labours
of the town, of the field servants I can say little. Of
house servants every family, however small must have at least
three, a cook, a chamber maid, and a waiting servant.
Every small child must have a nurse till it is several years
old. In larger and wealthier families there must be a
coachman, a laundress, seamstress, besides assistants in these
departments... You will readily believe that where so many are
employed their labour cannot be very severe; and this is commonly
true. The domestics of a New Englandman, do twice or thrice
the work of the same number here.
...As to clothing, that does not in this climate very much affect
their comfort. They are usually decent for labouring people...
Yet they sometimes suffer from cold. They seem more sensible
to cold than we are... Little attention is however paid
to their comfort in this particular. I have seen the servants
in a cold evening seated on mats in the hall before the door
of the sitting room. They are obliged to spend hours there
or in the back part of the room itself, where it would be unpardonable
for them to sit down.
Of their treatment as respect discipline, I saw little.
I often heard them scolded without reason. They were frequently
blamed when the justification was obvious to every bystander.
The worst form in which they are wronged...is when they are
talked about in their own presence... It has the effect to harden
them to the value of a good name, and to blight the first risings
of anything like affection or respect. When they are blamed,
however unjustly they never answer, never attempt to justify
themselves, even when a single word would completely do. I have
never seen them whipped though I have heard their cries while
under the lash. They must, many of them be whipped if
they are to be servants.
A great number from the black population belong to several churches
here. The Episcopal churches are said to contain a great
number of colored people... The blacks pay nothing toward
the support of the churches. They sit on benches
or stand along the aisles, or have part of the gallery.
These unhappy people are brought to a land that while it enslaves
their bodies...saves their souls [sic] from the slavery of sin,
and opens to them the glorious door of hope, which is the highest
blessing of the happiest portion of the world.
Stanley I. Kutler, Looking for
The People's History,
Vol. I, (New York: W.W. Norton, 1979), pp. 327‑329.
AND SOCIAL CONTROL
slave system included a variety of restrictions and punishments
designed to maintain social control over the black population.
In this account Moses Grandy, a fugitive slave, described some
of the measures.
...We had to work, even in long summer days, till twelve o'clock,
before we tasted a morsel, men, women, and children all being
served alike. At noon the cart appeared with our breakfast...
There was bread, of which a piece was cut for each person, there
was small hominy boiled...and two herrings for each of the men
and women, and one for each of the children. Our drink
was the water in the ditches... The salt fish made us always
thirsty. However thirsty a slave may be, he is not allowed
to leave his employment for a moment to get water; he can only
have it when the hands have reached the ditch, at the end of
the rows. The overseer stood with his watch in his hand
to give us just an hour; when he said, 'Rise,' we had to rise
and go to work again.... One black man in kept on purpose to
whip the others in the field; and if he does not flog with sufficient
severity, he is flogged himself.
The treatment of slaves is mildest near the border, where the
free and slave states join; it becomes more severe, the farther
we go from the free states. It is more severe in the west
and south than where I lived... On the frontier between
the slave and free States there is a guard; no colored person
can go over a ferry without a pass. By these regulations,
and the...patrols, escape is made next to impossible.
Formerly slaves were allowed to have religious meetings...but
after the [Nat Turner] insurrection...they were forbidden to
meet even for worship. Often they are flogged if they
are found singing or praying at home. They may go to the
places of worship used by the whites; but they like their own
meetings better... A number of slaves went into a wood
to hold meetings; when they were found out, they were flogged...
Three were shot, two of whom were killed.
...There are men who make a trade of whipping negroes; they
ride about inquiring for jobs of persons who keep no overseer;
if there is a negro to be whipped, whether man or woman,
this man is employed when he calls, and does it immediately;
his fee is half a dollar. Widows and other females, having negroes,
get them whipped this way. Many mistresses will insist
on the slave who has been flogged begging pardon for her fault
on her knees, and thanking her for the correction...
The severe punishments...for trifling offenses, or none at all...and
the agonizing feelings they endure at being separated from the
dearest connections, drive many of them to desperation...
They hide themselves in the woods, where they remain for months,
and, in some cases for years. When caught, they are flogged...their
backs pickled, [vinegar applied to the back] and the flogging
repeated. After months of this torture, the back is allowed
to heal, and the slave is sold away.
Moses Grandy, Narrative of the Life of Moses Grandy,
(Boston, 1844), pp. 16‑17, 34‑41.
IMPACT ON RACE AND GENDER ROLES
feminist theorist Michelle Wallace suggests in the passage below
the various ways in which slavery's racial and gender roles
impacted on the attitudes toward black people and particularly
on the dynamics of interaction between black women and men.
As the function of the Southern white woman changed, the life
of the black woman continued just as if the country were in
its first stages of growth. She labored in the fields
beside he husband, developed muscles in her arms, bore the lash
and the wrath of her master. Her labor and trials became
inextricably associated with her skin color, even though not
so long before the colonial woman had not been much better off....
Gradually a network of lies developed to justify the continuance
of the master/slave relationship, the selling of children away
from their mothers, the separation of wives and husband, the
breeding of slaves like animals. After the constitutional
ban on slave importation, which took effect in 1808, the market
required that a brutal emphasis be placed upon the stud capabilities
of the black man and upon the black woman's fertility.
The theory of the inferiority of blacks began to be elaborated
upon and take hold. It was at this point that the black
woman gained her reputation for invulnerability. She was
the key to the labor supply. No one wished to admit that
she felt as any woman would about the loss of her children,
or that she had any particularly deep attachment to her husband,
since he might also have to be sold. Her first duty had
to be to the master of the house.
She was believed to be not only emotionally callous but physically
invulnerable-stronger than white women and the physical equal
of any man of her race. She was stronger than white women
in order to justify her performing a kind of labor most white
women were now presumed to be incapable of. She had to
be considered at least the physical equal of the black man so
that he would not feel justified in attempting to protect her.
She was labeled sexually promiscuous because it was imperative
that her womb supply the labor force. The father might
be her master, a neighboring white man, the overseer, a slave
assigned to her by her master; her marriage was not recognized
Every tenet of the mythology about her was used to reinforce
the notion of the spinelessness and unreliability of the black
man, as well as the notion of the frivolity and vulnerability
of white women. The business of sexual and racial definition,
hideously intertwined, had become a matter of balancing extremes.
That white was powerful meant that black had to be powerless.
That white men were omnipotent meant that white women had to
be impotent. But slavery produced further complications:
black women had to be strong in ways that white women were not
allowed to be, black men had to be weak in ways that white men
were not allowed to be.
Michele Wallace, Black Macho and the Myth of Superwoman,
(New York, 1979) pp. 137-138.
TEXAS SLAVE'S LETTER TO HER HUSBAND, 1862
most slaves could not read and write only rarely do we have
the opportunity to read the thoughts expressed by someone in
bondage. Fanny Perry, a Harrison County, Texas slave woman
has provided one such opportunity with the letter she wrote
to her husband, Norfleet Perry, the personal servant of Theophilus
Perry, who at the time was serving with the 28th Texas Cavalry
in Arkansas. Here is Fanny's letter of December 28, 1862.
We do not know if she and Norfleet were ever reunited during
or after the Civil War.
Spring Hill, Dec. 28th 1862
I would be mighty glad to see you and I wish you would write
back here and let me know how you are getting on. I am
doing tolerable well and have enjoyed very good health since
you left. I haven't forgot you nor I never will forget
you as long as the world stands, even if you forget me.
My love is just as great as it was the first night I married
you, and I hope it will be so with you. My heart and love
is pinned to your breast, and I hope yours is to mine.
If I never see you again, I hope to meet you in Heaven.
There is not time night or day but what I am studying about
you. I haven't had a letter from you in some time.
I am very anxious to hear from you. I heard once that
you were sick but I heard afterwards that you had got well.
I hope your health will be good hereafter. Master gave
us three days Christmas. I wish you could have been here
to enjoy it with me for I did not enjoy myself much because
you were not here. I went up to Miss Ock's to a candy
stew last Friday night, I wish you could have been here to have
gone with me. I know I would have enjoyed myself so much
better. Mother, Father, Grandmama, Brothers & Sisters
say Howdy and they hope you will do well. Be sure to answer
this soon for I am always glad to hear from you. I hope
it will not be long before you can come home.
Your Loving Wife
Randolph B. Campbell and Donald K. Pickens, "'My Dear Husband,'
A Texas Slave's Love Letter, 1862," Journal of Negro
History 65:4(Fall 1980):361-364.
AND FREE BLACKS IN INDIAN TERRITORY
Five Civilized Tribes, the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Cherokees Creeks
and Seminoles all developed black slavery in their native homes
stretching from North Carolina to Mississippi. Upon their
removal to Indian Territory (Oklahoma) in the 1830s, they brought
slaves with them. In the account below Daniel and Mary
Ann Littlefield describe the status and treatment of African
Americans, slave and free, among the Five Tribes.
The greatest population, by far, was among the Seminoles.
Between 1838 and 1843, nearly 500 blacks, both slave and free,
removed with them. Many were freed by voluntary acts of
their Seminole masters. Some...were free by virtue of
their assistance to the United States as informers, guides,
and scouts. The Seminoles had no laws restricting free
blacks, who, like the Seminole slaves, were allowed to own property
and carry weapons. Because they spoke English as well
as the Indians' native tongue, several of the free blacks served
A number of free blacks also lived among the Creeks. Decades
before their removal to the West, the Creeks had written laws
which provided for the manumission of slavery by individual
owners. A census of 1832 showed 21,762 Creeks and 502
slaves with only a few Creeks owning more than ten slaves.
Among the Creeks were several free blacks who were heads of
households. The free blacks were removed with the Creeks,
and by the time the Civil War began some of them owned businesses
such as boarding houses and stores...
There were fewer free blacks among the Cherokees despite large
numbers of slaves among them. In 1835, on the eve of removal,
there were 16,543 Cherokees and 1,592 slaves. By 1859
the number of slaves in the Cherokee Nation had reached 4,000.
Slavery among the Cherokees was little different from that in
the white South and the status of slaves and free blacks declined
as laws became more severe... All persons of "negro or
mulatto parentage" were excluded from holding office.
The Cherokee Council [governing legislature] prohibited the
teaching of slaves and free blacks not of Cherokee blood to
read and write...and in the aftermath of a slave revolt in 1842,
[it] ordered all free blacks, not freed by Cherokee citizens,
to leave the nation by January 1, 1843.
Fewer slaves lived in the Choctaw Nation. An 1831 census
listed 17,963 Choctaws and 512 slaves [and] eleven free blacks.
In 1838 the Choctaws forbade cohabitation with a slave, the
teaching of a slave to read or write without the owner's consent
and the council's emancipating slaves without the owner's consent.
Other laws prohibited intermarriage and persons of African descent
from holding office.
The Chickasaws did not hold large numbers of slaves before removal.
But at that time many Chickasaws sold their homes in invested
in slaves whom they moved to the West [and] opened large plantations
[using] their blacks in agricultural labor.... The Chickasaws....regarded
their slaves in the same manner as white owners. In the
late 1850s the Chickasaws forbade their council from emancipating
slaves without the owner's consent... County judges were authorized
to order [free] blacks out of their respective counties.
Those who refused to go were to be sold...as slaves...
Daniel F. Littlefield, Jr., and Mary Ann Littlefield, "The
Beams Family: Free Blacks in Indian Territory," Journal
of Negro History, 61:1 (January 1976), pp. 17-21.
SLAVES IN MEXICO
of black Texas slaves made their way to freedom in Mexico in
the years before the Civil War. Here is a brief glimpse
of the lives of fugitive slaves in Mexico written by Fredrick
Law Olmstead following his famous journey across Texas in the
Very few persons were moving in the streets, or engaged in any
kind of labor... As we turned a corner near the bank,
we came suddenly upon two negroes, as they were crossing the
street. One of them was startled, and looking ashamed
and confounded, turned hesitantly back and walked away from
us; whereas some Mexican children laughed, and the other negro,
looking at us, grinned impudently--expressing plainly enough--"I
am not afraid of you." He touched his hat, however,
when I nodded to him, and then, putting his hands in his pockets,
as if he hadn't meant to, stepped up on one of the sand-bank
caverns, whistling. Thither, wishing to have some conversation
with him, I followed. He very civilly informed me, in
answer to inquiries, that he was born in Virginia, and had been
brought South by a trader and sold to a gentleman who had brought
him to Texas, from whom he had run away four or five years ago.
He would like...to see old Virginia again, that he would--if
he could be free. He was a mechanic, and could earn
a dollar very easily, by his trade, every day. He could
speak Spanish fluently, and had traveled extensively in Mexico,
sometimes on his own business, and sometimes as a servant or
muleteer. Once he had been beyond Durango, or nearly to
the Pacific; and, northward, to Chihuahua, and he professed
to be competent, as a guide, to any part of Northern Mexico.
He had joined the Catholic Church, he said, and he was very
well satisfied with the country.
Runaways were constantly arriving here; two had got over,
as I had previously been informed, the night before. He
could not guess how many came in a year, but he could count
forty, that he had known of, in the last three months.
At other points, further down the river, a great many more came
than here. He supposed a good many got lost and starved
to death, or were killed on the way, between the settlements
and the river. Most of them brought with them money, which
they had earned and hoarded for the purpose, or some small articles
which they had stolen from their masters. They had never
been used to taking care of themselves, and when they first
got here they were so excited with being free, and with being
made so much of by these Mexican women, that they spent all
they brought very soon; generally they gave it all away to the
women, and in a short time they had nothing to live upon, and,
not knowing the language of the country, they wouldn't find
any work to do, and often they were very poor and miserable.
But, after they had learned the language, which did not generally
take them long, if they chose to be industrious, they could
live very comfortably. Wages were low, but they had all
they earned for their own, and a man's living did not cost him
much here. Colored men, who were industrious and saving,
always did well... The Mexican Government was very just
to them, they could always have their rights as fully protected
as if they were Mexican-born. He mentioned to me several
negroes whom he had seen, in different parts of the country,
who had acquired wealth, and positions of honor. Some
of them had connected themselves, by marriage, with rich old
Spanish families, who thought as much of themselves as the best
white people in Virginia. In fact, a colored man, if he
could behave himself decently, had rather an advantage over
a white American, he thought. The people generally liked
them better. These Texas folks were too rough to suit
I believe these statements to have been pretty nearly true;
he had no object, that I could discover, to exaggerate the facts
either way, and showed no feeling except a little resentment
towards the women, who probably wheedled him out of his earnings.
They were confirmed, also, in all essential particulars, by
every foreigner I saw, who had lived or traveled in this part
of Mexico, as well as by Mexicans themselves, with whom I was
able to converse on the subject. It is repeated as a standing
joke--I suppose I have heard it fifty times in the Texas taverns,
and always to the great amusement of the company--that a nigger
in Mexico is just as good as a white man, and if you don't treat
him civilly he will have you hauled up and fined by an alcalde.
The poor yellow-faced, priest-ridden heathen, actually hold,
in earnest, the ideas on this subject put forth in that good
old joke of our fathers--the Declaration of American Independence.
The runaways are generally reported to be very poor and miserable,
which, it is natural to suppose, they must be. Yet there
is something a little strange about this. It is those
that remain near the frontier that suffer most; they who have
got far into the interior are said to be almost invariably doing
passably well. A gang of runaways, who are not generally
able to speak Spanish, have settled together within a few days'
walk of Eagle Pass, and I have heard them spoken of as being
in a more destitute and wretched condition than any others.
Let any one of them present himself at Eagle Pass, and he would
be greedily snatched up by the first American that he would
meet, and restored, at once, to his old comfortable, careless
life. The escape from the wretchedness of freedom is certainly
much easier to the negro in Mexico than has been his previous
flight from slavery, yet I did not hear of a single case of
his availing himself of this advantage. If it ever occur,
it must be as one to a thousand of those going the other way.
Dr. Stillman (Letters to the Crayon, 1856) notices having
seen at Fort Inge a powerful and manly-looking mulatto, in the
hands of a returning party of last year's filibustering expedition,
who had been three times brought from beyond the Rio Grande.
Once, when seized, his cries awoke his Mexican neighbors, and
the captor had to run for it. Once, after having been
captured, and when the claim to him had been sold for fifty
dollars, he escaped with a horse and a six-shooter. Once,
again, he escaped from the field where his temporary holder
had set him at work on the Leona. In revenge for this
carelessness, a suit was then pending for these temporary services.
The impulse must be a strong one, the tyranny extremely cruel,
the irksomeness of slavery keenly irritating, or the longing
for liberty much greater than is usually attributed to the African
race, which induces a slave to attempt an escape to Mexico.
The masters take care, when negroes are brought into Western
Texas, that they are informed (certainly never with any reservation,
and sometimes, as I have had personal evidence, with amusing
extravagance) of the dangers and difficulties to be encountered
by a runaway.
There is a permanent reward offered by the state for their recovery,
and a considerable number of men make a business of hunting
them. Most of the frontier rangers are ready at any time
to make a couple of hundred dollars, by taking them up, if they
come in their way. If so taken, they are severely punished,
though if they return voluntarily they are commonly pardoned.
If they escape immediate capture by dogs or men, there is then
the great dry desert country to be crossed, with the danger
of falling in with savages, or of being attacked by panthers
or wolves, or of being bitten or stung by the numerous reptiles
that abound in it; of drowning miserably at the last of the
fords; in winter, of freezing in a norther, and, at all seasons,
of famishing in the wilderness from the want of means to procure
Bravo negro! Say I. He faces all that is terrible
to man for the chance of liberty, from hunger and thirst to
every nasty form of four-footed and two-footed devil.
I fear I should myself suffer the last servile indignities before
setting foot in such a net of concentrated torture. I
pity the man whose sympathies would not warm to a dog under
these odds. How can they be held back from the slave who
is driven to assert his claim to manhood?...
Frederick Law Olmsted, A Journey Through
a Saddle-Trip on the Southwestern Frontier,
(New York, Mason Brothers, 1859), pp. 323-327.
AND BLACK SLAVERY
1852 Utah had become the only territory to legalize both black
and Indian slavery. Lester Bush, Jr., a member of the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, described the evolution
of Mormon doctrines on blacks and slavery against the background
of the antebellum slavery controversy. Part of his account
is reprinted below.
There once was a time, albeit brief, when a "Negro problem"
did not exist for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
During those early months in New York and Ohio...the Gospel
was for "all nations, kindreds, tongues and peoples...."
A Negro, "Black Pete," was among the first converts
in Ohio... W.W. Phelps opened a mission to Missouri in
July, 1831, and preached to...Negroes among his first audience.
The following year another black, Elijah Abel, was baptized
in Maryland. [Abel was later named a priest in the church and
lived for a time in Prophet Joseph Smith's home.]
This initial period was brought to an end by the influx of Mormons
into the Missouri mission in late 1831 and early 1832...
In less than a year a rumor was afoot that [the Mormons] were
"tampering" with the slaves. In the summer of 1833,
W.W. Phelps published an article... Missourians interpreted
as an invitation "to free negroes from other states to
become 'Mormon' and settle among us." The local citizenry
immediately drafted a list of accusations against the Saints,
prominently featuring the anti-slavery issue.... In response
Phelps issued an "Extra" explaining that he had been
'misunderstood'....and declared [no blacks] "will be admitted
into the Church." The Mormons, in spite of their
repeated denials, continued to be charged with anti-slavery
activity in Missouri. In response, the next issue of the
Messenger and Advocate, [the Church newspaper] was devoted
to a rebuttal of abolitionism... However, far from professing
divine insight the authors [including Joseph Smith] made it
expressly clear that these were their personal views.
The Mormon exodus to the Salt Lake Valley did not free the Saints
from the slavery controversy, for much of the national debate
was focused on the West.... The constitution of Deseret was
intentionally without reference to slavery and Brigham Young
declared "as a people we are adverse to slavery but we
do not wish to meddle in the subject." Though no
law authorized...slavery in Utah, there were slaves in the territory.
They were fully at liberty to leave their masters if they chose.
Slaveowning converts were instructed to bring their slaves west
if the slaves were willing to come, but were otherwise advised
to "sell them" or let them go free. The first
group of Mormons to enter the Salt Lake valley were accompanied
by three Negro "servants." By 1850 nearly 100
blacks had arrived, approximately two-thirds of whom were slaves.
The "laissez-faire" approach to slavery came to an
end in 1852. In his request for legislation on slavery
Governor Brigham Young...declared "while servitude may
and should exist...and [there are] those who are naturally designed
to occupy the position of 'servant of servants'...we should
not...make them beasts of the field, regarding not the humanity
with attaches to the colored race...nor elevate them...to an
equality with those whom Nature and Nature's God has indicated
to be their masters."
Lester E. Bush, Jr., "Mormonism's Negro Doctrine: An Historical
Overview," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought,
8:(1973), pp. 11-25.
1850 the debate over the admission of California as a free state
nearly prompted a civil war. The Compromise of 1850 was
worked out to mollify both pro‑ and anti‑slavery
interests. However New York Senator William H. Seward,
who four years later became one of the founders of the Republican
Party, spoke against the Compromise. Part of his address
is reprinted below.
Four years ago, California, a Mexican province, scarcely inhabited
and quite unexplored, was unknown even to our usually immoderate
desires... To‑day, California is a state, more populous
than the least and richer than several of the greatest of our
thirty states. This same California, thus rich and populous,
is here asking admission into the Union, and finds us debating
the dissolution of the Union itself. Let California come
in...California, the youthful queen of the Pacific, in her robes
of freedom, gorgeously inlaid with gold‑‑is doubly
But it is insisted that the admission of California shall be
attended by a compromise of questions which have arisen out
I am opposed to any such compromise, in any and all the forms
in which it has been proposed.
What am I to receive in this compromise? Freedom in California.
It is well; it is worth the sacrifice. But what am I to
give as an equivalent? A recognition of the claim to perpetuate
slavery in the District of Columbia; forbearance toward more
stringent laws concerning the arrest of persons suspected of
being slaves found in the free states; forbearance from the
proviso of freedom in the charters of new territories....California
brings gold and commerce as well as freedom. I am, then
to surrender some portion of human freedom in the District of
Columbia, and in New Mexico, for the mixed consideration of
liberty, gold, and power, on the Pacific coast.
California ought to come in...whether slavery stand or fall
in the District of Columbia...in New Mexico...and even whether
slavery stand or fall in the slave states.
What is proposed is a political equilibrium. Every political
equilibrium requires a physical equilibrium to rest upon...
To constitute a physical equilibrium between the slave states
and the free states, requires, first, an equality of territory...
And this is already lost.
We hear nothing but slavery, and well can talk of nothing but
slavery. And now our difficulties, embarrassments, and
dangers, arise....from want of moral courage to meet this question
of emancipation as we ought. I feel assured that slavery
must give way...to the salutary instruction of economy, and
to the ripening influences of humanity; that emancipation is
inevitable, and is near...but I will adopt none but lawful,
constitutional, and peaceful means, to secure even that end...
Let, then, those who distrust the Union make compromises to
save it. I shall not impeach their wisdom, as I certainly
cannot their patriotism; but, indulging no such apprehensions
myself, I shall vote for the admission of California directly,
without conditions, with qualifications, and without compromise...
Richard N. Current and John A. Garraty, ed., Words that Made
American History, Vol.I, (Boston: Little, Brown and Co.,
1965), pp. 446‑459.
OF 1850: TWO VIEWS
controversy over the admission of California to the Union in
1850 almost prompted the secession of several slaveholding states.
In the passages below South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun
and Massachusetts Congressman Horace Mann offer opposing views
on the issue of California and slavery in speeches before Congress.
The Union cannot... be saved by eulogies on the Union, however
splendid or numerous. The cry of "Union, Union, the
glorious Union!" can no more prevent disunion than the
cry of "Health, health, glorious health!" on the part
of the physician, can save a patient lying dangerously ill...
How can the Union be saved? There is but one way by which
it can with any certainty; and that is, by a full and final
settlement, on the principle of justice of all the questions
at issue between the two sections...
But can this be done? Yes, easily; not by the weaker party,
for it can of itself do nothing‑‑not even
protect itself‑‑but by the stronger. The North
has only to will it to accomplish it‑‑to do justice
by conceding to the South an equal right in the acquired territory,
and to do her duty by causing the stipulations relative to fugitive
slaves to be faithfully fulfilled‑‑to cease the
agitation of the slave question, and to provide for the insertion
of a provision in the Constitution, by an amendment, which will
restore to the South, in substance, the power she possessed
of protecting herself before the equilibrium between the sections
was destroyed by the action of this Government...
If you who represent the stronger portion, cannot agree to settle
them on the broad principle of justice and duty, say so; and
let the States we both represent agree to separate and part
in peace. If you are unwilling we should part in peace,
tell us so; and we shall know what to do, when you reduce the
question to submission or resistance.
Gentlemen of the South not only argue the question of right
and of honor; they go further, and they tell us what they will
proceed to do if we do not yield to their demands. A large
majority of the Southern legislators have solemnly "resolved"
that if Congress prohibits slavery in the new territories, they
will resist the law "at any and at every hazard..."
And do the gentlemen who make these threats soberly consider
how deeply they are pledging themselves and their constituents
by them? Threats of dissolution, if executed, become rebellion
and treason.... Such forcible opposition to the government would
be treason. Its agents and abettors would be traitors.
Wherever this rebellion rears it crest, martial law will be
proclaimed; and those found with hostile arms in their hands
must prepare for the felon's doom...
I have only to add that such is my solemn and abiding conviction
of the character of slavery that under a full sense of my responsibility
to my country and my God, I deliberately say, better disunion‑‑better
a civil or a servile war‑‑better anything that God
in His Providence shall send, than an extension of the bounds
John M. Blum, The National Experience:
A History of the United
(New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1989), pp. 268‑269.
Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass were leaders of the abolitionist
movement. In the passages below Garrison and Douglass
outline their views. The Garrison passage is from the
first editorial of his anti‑ slavery newspaper, The
Liberator, founded in 1831. The Douglass passage is
from speech he gave in Boston in 1857.
I am aware that many object to the severity of my language;
but is there not a cause for severity? I will be as harsh
as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject,
I do not wish to think or speak, or write with moderation.
No! No! Tell a man whose house is on fire, to give a moderate
alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands
of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her
babe from the fire into which it has fallen;‑‑but
urge me not to use moderation in the cause like the present.
I am in earnest‑‑I will not equivocate‑‑I
will not excuse‑‑I will not retreat a single inch‑‑AND
I WILL BE HEARD.
The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that
all concessions yet made to her august claims, have been born
of earnest struggle... If there is no struggle there is no progress.
Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation,
are men who want rain without thunder and lightning. They
want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one,
and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle.
Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did
and it never will. Find out just what any people will
quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of
injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these
will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows,
or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed
by the endurance of those whom they oppress. In the light
of these ideas, Negroes will be hunted at the North, and held
and flogged at the South so long as they submit to those devilish
outrages, and make no resistance, either moral or physical.
Men may not get all they pay for in this world, but they must
certainly pay for all they get. If we ever get free from
the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their
removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice,
and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others.
Richard Current, American History: A Survey, (New York:
Knopf, 1961), p.314; Lerone Bennett, Ebony Pictorial History
of Black America, I, (Nashville: Southwestern Company,
1971), p. 221‑222.
SLAVE RESPONDS TO HIS OWNER
Fugitive Slave Act proved unenforceable in the North because
abolitionists refused to assist local authorities in capturing
runaway slaves. In 1860 J.W. Lougen, a fugitive slave
living in Syracuse, N.Y., responded to his owner, Mrs. Sarah
Logue, of Tennessee, who had requested he return to her plantation
or face the possibility of slave catchers. Lougen's reply reflects
his sense of personal security in Syracuse.
Yours of the 20th of February is duly received, and I thank
you for it. You sold my brother and sister, Abe and Ann, and
twelve acres of land, you say, because I ran away. Now
you have the meanness to ask me to return and be your chattel,
or in lieu thereof, send you $1,000 to redeem the land but not
to redeem my poor brother and sister! If I were to send
you money, it would be to get my brother and sister, and not
that you should get land. You say you are a cripple...to
stir my pity, for you knew I was susceptible in that direction.
I do pity you from the bottom of my heart. Nevertheless,
I am indignant beyond the power of words to express, that you
should be so cruel as to tear the hearts I love so much all
in pieces; that you should be willing to crucify us all, out
of compassion for your poor foot or leg. Wretched woman!
I value my freedom, to say nothing of my mother, brothers and
sisters more than your whole body; more, indeed, than my own
life, more than all of the lives of all the slaveholders and
tyrants under heaven.
You say you have offers to buy me, and that you shall sell me
if I do not send you $1,000, and in the same breath and almost
in the same sentence, you say, "You know we raised you
as we did our own children." Woman, did
you raise your own children for the market? Did you raise
them for the whipping‑post? Did you raise them to
be driven off, bound to a coffle in chains? Where are
my poor bleeding brothers and sisters? Can you tell?
Who was it that sent them off into sugar and cotton fields,
to be kicked and cuffed, and whipped, and to groan and die...
Do you say you did not do it? Then I reply, your husband
did, and you approved the deed‑‑and the very letter
you sent me shows that your heart approves it all. Shame
You say I am a thief, because I took the old mare along with
me. Have you got to learn that I had a better right to
the old mare than Mannasseth Logue had to me? Is it a
greater sin for me to steal a horse, than it was for him to
rob my mother's cradle and steal me? If he and you infer
that I forfeit all my rights to you, shall not I infer that
you forfeit all your rights to me? Have you got to learn
that human rights are mutual and reciprocal, and if you take
my liberty and life, you forfeit your own liberty and life?
Before God and high heaven, is there a law for one man which
is not a law for every other man?
If you or any other speculator on my body and rights, wish to
know how I regard my rights, they need but come here, and lay
their hands on me to enslave me. Did you think to terrify
me by presenting the alternative to give my money to you, or
give my body to slavery? Then let me say to you, that
I meet the proposition with unutterable scorn and contempt.
I stand among a free people, who, I thank God, sympathize with
my rights and the rights of mankind...
Stanley I. Kutler, Looking for
The People's History,
Vol. I, (New York: W.W. Norton, 1979), pp. 342‑343.
TERRITORY BANS AFRICAN AMERICANS
Territorial Legislature in 1854 reenacted an earlier statute
which banned the entry of African Americans into Oregon.
The new measure is reprinted below.
BILL TO PREVENT NEGROES AND MULATTOES FROM COMING TO, OR RESIDING
Be it enacted by the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of
Oregon that it shall not be lawful for any negro or mulatto
to enter into, or reside within the limits of this Territory.
Providing that nothing in this act shall ....apply to any negro
or mulatto now resident in this Territory, nor shall it apply
to the offspring of any such as are residents....
That Masters and owners of vessels having negroes or mulattoes
in their employ on board of vessel may bring them into Oregon
Provided that in so doing such master, or owner, shall be responsible
for the conduct of such negro or mulatto....and shall be liable
to any person aggrieved by such negro or mulatto.
No negro or mulatto shall be permitted to leave the port where
the vessel upon which they are or may be employed shall be lying
without the written permission of such master or owner....
That it shall be the duty of masters and owners of vessels having
brought negroes or mulattoes into Oregon as aforesaid to cause
such negro or mulatto to leave this territory with such vessel
upon which the shall have been brought into the Territory, or
from some other vessel within forty days.
If any master or owners of a vessel having brought negroes or
mulattoes as provided for in the second section of this act
into this Territory, shall fail to remove and take the same
with them when leaving the Territory.... shall be deemed guilty
of a misdemeanor....and on conviction, shall be fined and imprisoned
at the discretion of the court; Provided that the fine in no
case shall be less than five hundred dollars.
If any negro or mulatto shall be found in this Territory, except
as hereinbefore provided and except such as may now be permanent
residents, it shall be the duty of any Judge or Justice of the
Peace to....to issue a warrant for the apprehension of such
negro or mulatto, directed to any sheriff or constable....to
arrest....such negro or mulatto....
If any negro or mulatto shall be found a second time unlawfully
remaining in this Territory he shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor
and shall....upon conviction be fined and imprisoned at the
discretion of the court.
The Governor of this Territory shall cause this act to be published
in some one or more of the California newspapers and such other
newspapers as he may think necessary in order to carry out the
spirit of the same.
This act to take effect and be in force from and after its passage.
Archives of the Oregon Historical Society
"BIDDY" MASON IN SLAVERY AND FREEDOM
"Biddy" Mason, born a slave in Georgia, became one
of the first settlers of Los Angeles when the city had fewer
than 1,000 inhabitants. Today a memorial to her 19th urban
homestead sits across the street from the Ronald Reagan Federal
Building in downtown Los Angeles. Here is a partial
account of the freedom Mason found in the Far West.
Nothing is left of the original homestead of Biddy Mason, the
first black woman to own property in Los Angeles. In its
place, at 331 South Spring Street, is the new Broadway-Spring
Center, primarily a parking structure. But this is no
ordinary parking garage. Ten stories tall, the Broadway-Spring
Center is a rather graceful pink-and-green building with a Tony
Sheets bas-relief on the front facade. The ground floor
will be divided into shops with access to the small, tranquil
park that has been named after Mason and which provides a green,
well-planted walkway between Broadway and Spring Street.
Two public art pieces─one by Sheila Levrant de Bretteville,
the other by Betye Saar─have recently been installed here,
and, as part of the same project, a fine art book has been printed
by artist Susan E. King, all to honor Mason and the site where
her home once stood.
More than a mile away, close to the USC campus, an old church
that Mason founded still exists. The First African Methodist
Episcopal Church of Los Angeles, one hundred and eighteen years
old, is a testament to the complexity of Mason's life, work,
and impact on the city. Many black leaders in the community
worship there. The dynamic Reverend Cecil L. "Chip"
Murray offers up sermons with titles such as "You Can't
Beat the House," while a conga drum, an electric guitar,
and clapping hands set a background beat for gospel-rocking
songs that bring people to their feet and infuse the room with
sudden, irresistible energy, the energy of hope and belief and
There's a very large mural at the front of the church, lit with
a golden light that also bathes the pulpit. A history
is pictured there: pyramids, Africa, slavery, migration,
rows of crops and workers. Presiding over everything is
the great motherly figure of Biddy Mason─Grandma Mason.
She's tending a flock of sheep, and she appears dignified and
Biddy Mason bought her land and built her house in 1866 in a
town then so raw and new that the streets were troughs of mud
or dust. Gas lamps were individually lit, one by one,
every night, by a rider on horseback, illuminating a scant few
blocks of humble houses in the bottom of a dark, sloping basin,
now the valley of a billion lights.
Mason was born in 1818 in the state of Georgia and sold into
slavery at eighteen. She walked across America in 1848
with the family who owned her and her sister─a Mississippi
family who'd converted to Mormonism and were trekking west in
caravans of wagons. They were a homeless people slouching
toward Zion, traveling with their slaves and stock and children
in oxcarts loaded with everything they owned. Biddy thus
became a western pioneer, a black slave caught up in a white
religious pilgrimage. She had three children at the time,
including the baby she carried in her arms.
They walked from Mississippi to Paducah, Kentucky, to Council
Bluffs, Iowa, and Lincoln, Nebraska, and points less charted
to the west, seven continuous months of walking, until eventually
Biddy's party passed the valley of the Great Salt Lake in Utah─where
others settled permanently─and went on to San Bernardino,
arriving in 1851.
But this Mormon family, named Smith, who owned Biddy and her
sister and their children, didn't realize that California was
a free slave state: If you brought your slaves here, and
they wanted to leave you, they could. That's exactly what
Biddy wanted, but Smith was hoping to depart for Texas, taking
his slaves along before anyone could stop him.
Biddy, however, had made friends with free blacks here, including
Elizabeth Flake Rowan, Charles Owens, and his father, Robert
Owens, who ran a flourishing stable on San Pedro Street.
Owens got up a posse of vaqueros to rescue Biddy and
her kin, swooping down on the Mormon camp in the Santa Monica
mountains in the middle of the night. Biddy sued for freedom
in court, won her papers in 1856, and moved her family in with
the Owens. She was, at this time, thirty-eight years old.
Mason possessed great skills in medicine and became a midwife.
Like many Afro-American women, she knew the lore of remedies
and rituals. (For childbirth, keep the patient walking
as "long as she can drag"; for a new baby, "string
small pieces of poke root around a baby's neck to ease teething";
to celebrate a birth, "make a blue flame in the hearthfire
by throwing a handful of salt"...)
Ten years after winning her freedom she had saved enough money
to buy the Spring Street lot; she eventually built her own house
there─the house in which the First African Methodist Church
was born. In time she bought more land.
Her grandsons were prosperous, in part because she gave them
land to start a stable, and later she erected a two-story building.
She became known for her good works. Before her death
in 1891, she also became rich enough to know the joys of opening
her hand and giving her wealth away.
Freeman, "Commemorating An L.A. Pioneer,"
April, 1990, pp. 58-60.
KANSAS‑‑ONE SOUTHERNER'S VIEW
John Hoole, a South Carolinian, was one of thousands of Americans
who participated in the settlement of Kansas Territory in the
1850s. Hoole, like most Southerners, came to Kansas partly
to insure its admission as a slave state while Northern settlers
had the opposite intent. These excerpts from his letters
home describe "Bleeding Kansas."
Lecompton, K.T., Sept. 12, 1856
I must write you a few lines to let you know how I am getting
along, though I have but little hopes of your getting this letter
for some time past have been miscarried or stopped on the way‑‑but
I will make the venture.
You perceive from the heading of this that I am now in Lecompton,
almost all of the Proslavery party between this place and Lawrence
are here. We brought our families here, as we though that
we would be better able to defend ourselves when altogether
than if we were scattered over the country. [Anti‑slavery
leader James] Lane came against us last Friday..... We
had about 400 men with two cannon‑‑we marched out
to meet him, though we were under the impression at the time
that we had 1,000 men. We came in gunshot of each other,
but the regular soldiers came and interfered, but not before
our party had shot some dozen guns, by which it is reported
that five of the Abolitionists were killed or wounded.
We had strict orders from our commanding officer (Gen'l Marshall)
not to fire until they made the attack, but some of our boys
would not be restrained. I was a rifleman and one of the
skirmishers, but did all that I could to restrain our men though
I itched all over to shoot, myself. I drew a bead a dozen
times on a big Yankee about 150 yards from me, but did not fire,
as I knew if I did, the boys all around me would do the same,
and we had orders not to fire until the word was given....I
firmly believe that we would have whipped them, though we would
have lost a good many men. I did not see a pale face in
our whole army, every man seemed keen to fight. I for one, did
not feel as nervous as I am when I go to shoot a beef or a turkey.
Your Affectionate Son
Douglas, K.T., July the 5th., 1857
I fear, Sister, that coming here will do no good at last, as
I begin to think that this will be made a Free State at last.
'Tis true we have elected Proslavery men to draft a state constitution,
but I feel pretty certain, if it is put to the vote of the people,
it will be rejected, as I feel pretty confident they have a
majority here at this time. The South has ceased all efforts,
while the North is redoubling her exertions. We nominated
a candidate for Congress last Friday‑‑Ex‑Gov.
Ransom of Michigan. I must confess I have not much faith
in him, tho he professes to hate the Abolitionists bitterly,
and I have heard him say that Negroes were a great deal better
off with Masters. Still, I fear him, but it was the best
we could do. If we had nominated a Southern man, he would
have been beaten, and I doubt whether we can even elect a Northerner
who favors our side...
Stanley I Kutler, Looking for
The People's History,
Vol. I, (New York: W.W. Norton, 1979), pp. 393‑394.
1857 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Dred Scott v. Sanford that
a black slave was undeniably property and because no citizen
could be deprived of his property without due process of law
as guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment, Congress could not outlaw
slavery in any territory under its jurisdiction. The decision
understandably sent shock waves through the black community
and, moreover, angered anti‑slavery advocates throughout
the country. Part of that controversial decision is printed
The question is simply this: Can a negro, whose ancestors were
imported into this country, and sold as slaves, become a member
of the political community formed and brought into existence
by the Constitution of the United States, and as such become
entitled to all the rights, and privileges, and immunities,
guarantied [sic] by that instrument to the citizen? One
of which rights is the privilege of suing in a court of the
In the opinion of the court, the legislation and histories of
the times, and the language used in the Declaration of Independence,
show that neither ...slaves, nor their descendants, whether
they had become free or not, were acknowledged as a part of
They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings
of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with
the white race, either in social or political relations; and
so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man
was bound to respect.
...The general words [of the Declaration of Independence] would
seem to embrace the whole human family, and if they were used
in a similar instrument at this day would be so understood.
But is too clear for dispute, that the enslaved African race
were not intended to be included and formed no part of the people
who framed and adopted this declaration; for if the language,
as understood in that day, would embrace them, the conduct of
the distinguished men who framed the Declaration of Independence
would have been utterly and flagrantly inconsistent with the
principles they asserted; and instead of the sympathy of mankind,
to which they so confidently appealed, they would have deserved
and received universal rebuke and reprobation.
...They perfectly understood the meaning of the language they
used, and how it would be understood by others; and they knew
that it would not in any part of the civilized world be supposed
to embrace the negro race, which, by common consent, had been
excluded from civilized Governments and the family of nations,
and doomed to slavery... The unhappy black race were separated
from the white by indelible marks, and laws long before established,
and were never thought of or spoken of except as property, and
when the claims of the owner or the profit of the trader were
supposed to need protection.
It is the judgment of this court...that the plaintiff in error
is not a citizen of Missouri, in the sense in which that word
is used in the Constitution...and that the Circuit Court of
the United States had no jurisdiction in the case, and could
give no judgment in it...
Leslie H. Fishel and Benjamin Quarles, The Negro American:
A Documentary History, (Glenview, Ill., 1967), pp. 205‑207.
LAST SPEECH, November 2, 1859
Brown, the New York abolitionist who moved to Kansas in the
1850s and participated in the territory's civil war, was arrested
in 1859, tried and convicted of attempting to seize the Federal
Arsenal at Harper's Ferry to gather arms to support a large
scale slave uprising in the South. Brown offered no defense
at his trial other than his desire to end slavery.
I have, may it please the Court, a few words to say.
In the first place, I deny everything but what I have all along
admitted,‑‑the design on my part to free the slaves.
I intended certainly to have made a clean thing of that matter,
as I did last winter, when I went into Missouri and there took
slaves without the snapping of a gun either side, moved them
through the country, and finally left them in Canada.
I designed to have done the same thing again, on a larger scale.
That was all I intended. I never did intend murder, or
treason, or the destruction of property, or to excite or incite
slaves to rebellion, or to make insurrection.
I have another objection: and that is, it is unjust that
I should suffer such a penalty. Had I interfered...in
behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so‑called
great, or in behalf of any of their friends,‑‑either
father, mother, brother, sister, wife, or children, or any of
that class,‑‑and suffered and sacrificed what I
have in this interference, it would have been all right; and
every man in this court would have deemed it an act worthy of
reward rather than punishment...
This court acknowledges, as I suppose, the validity of the law
of God. I see a book kissed here which I suppose to be
the Bible, or at least the New Testament. That teaches
me that all things whatsoever I would that men should do to
me, I should do even so to them. It teaches me, further,
to 'remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them.'
I endeavored to act up to that instruction. I say, I am
yet too young to understand that God is any respecter of persons.
I believe that to have interfered...in behalf of His despised
poor, was not wrong, but right. Now, if it is deemed necessary
that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends
of justice, and mingle my blood further with the blood of my
children and with the blood of millions in this slave country
whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments,‑‑I
submit; so let it be done!
Leslie H. Fishel and Benjamin Quarles, The Negro American:
A Documentary History, (Glenview, Ill., 1967), p. 207.
Lincoln writing to his friend, Joshua Speed, in 1852 offered
the following explanation of his political views. Lincoln's
ambivalence about his political affiliation reflected the increasing
political confusion brought on by the slavery question.
Within two years Lincoln and thousands of other Americans would
create the Republican Party to articulate their views and advocate
the changes they felt were vital to the nation's interests.
You enquire where I now stand. That is a disputed point.
I think I am a whig, but others say there are no whigs and that
I am an abolitionist... I am not a Know‑nothing. That
is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors
the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes
of white people?
Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid.
As a nation we began by declaring that "all men are created
equal." We now practically read it "all men
are created equal, except negroes." When the Know‑Nothings
get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except
negroes, and foreigners and Catholics." When it comes
to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they
make no pretense of living liberty‑‑to Russia, for
instance, were despotism can be taken pure, and without the
base alloy of hyprocracy [sic]."
William E. Gienapp, This Fiery Trial: The Speeches and Writings
of Abraham Lincoln, (New York, 2002), p. 37.
PARTY PLATFORM, 1860
is part of the platform of the Republican Party when it nominated
Abraham Lincoln for President. Much of that platform was
unacceptable to the South and Lincoln's election precipitated
the secession of a number of Southern States which later formed
That we, the delegated representatives of the Republican electors
of the United States, in Convention assembled, in discharge
of the duty we owe to our constituents and our country, unite
in the following declarations:
1. That the history of the nation, during the last four years,
has fully established the propriety and necessity of the organization
and perpetuation of the Republican party, and that the causes
which called it into existence are permanent in their nature,
and now, more than ever before, demand its peaceful and constitutional
2. That the maintenance of the principles promulgated in the
Declaration of Independence and embodied in the Federal Constitution,
"That all men are created equal; that they are endowed
by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among
these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness..."
is essential to the preservation of our Republican institutions;
and that the Federal Constitution, the Rights of the States,
and the Union of the States, must and shall be preserved.
3. That to the Union of the States this nation owes its unprecedented
increase in population, its surprising development of material
resources, its rapid augmentation of wealth, its happiness at
home and its honor abroad; and we hold in abhorrence all schemes
for Disunion, come from whatever source they may...
4. That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States,
and especially the right of each State in order and control
its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment
exclusively, is essential to that balance of powers on which
the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depends;
and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil
of any State or Territory, no matter under what pretext, as
among the gravest of crimes.
5. That the present Democratic Administration has far exceeded
our worst apprehensions, in its measureless subserviency to
the exactions of sectional interest, as especially evinced in
its desperate exertions to force the infamous Lecompton constitution
upon the protesting people of Kansas; in construing the personal
relation between master and servant to involve an unqualified
property in persons; in its attempted enforcement, everywhere,
on land and sea, through the intervention of Congress and of
the Federal Courts of the extreme pretensions of a purely local
interest; and in its general and unvarying abuse of the power
intrusted to it by a confiding people...
7. That the new dogma that the Constitution, of its own force,
carries Slavery into any or all of the Territories of the United
States, is a dangerous political heresy...is revolutionary
in its tendency, and subversive of the peace and harmony of
8. That the normal condition of all the territory of the United
States is freedom; That as our Republican fathers, when they
had abolished slavery in all our national territory, ordained
that "no person should be deprived of life, liberty, or
property, without due process of law," it becomes our duty...to
maintain this provision of the Constitution against all attempts
to violate it; and we deny the authority of Congress, of a territorial
legislature, or of any individuals, to give legal existence
to Slavery in any Territory of the United States.
9. That we brand the recent re‑opening of the African
slave‑trade, under the cover of our national flag, aided
by perversions of judicial power, as a crime against humanity
and a burning shame to our country and age; and we call upon
Congress to take prompt and efficient measures for the total
and final suppression of the execrable traffic.
11. That Kansas should, of right, be immediately admitted as
a State under the Constitution recently formed and adopted by
her people, and accepted by the House of Representatives.
12. That, while providing revenue for the support of the General
Government by duties upon imports, sound policy requires such
as adjustment of these imposts as to encourage the development
of the industrial interests of the whole country...
13. That we protest against any sale or alienation to others
of the Public Lands held by actual settlers, and against any
view of the Homestead policy which regards the settlers as paupers
or supplicants for public bounty; and we demand the passage
by Congress of the complete and satisfactory Homestead measure
which has already passed the house.
14. That the Republican Party is opposed to any change in our
Naturalization Laws...and in favor of giving a full and efficient
protection to the rights of all classes of citizens, whether
native or naturalized, both at home and abroad.
16. That a Railroad to the Pacific Ocean is imperatively demanded
by the interests of the whole country; that the Federal Government
ought to render immediate and efficient aid in its construction;
and that, as preliminary thereto, a daily Overland Mail should
be promptly established...
Richard N. Current and John A. Garraty, ed., Words that Made
American History, Vol. I, (Boston: Little, Brown and Co.,
1965), pp. 522‑525.
ELECTION OF 1860
Stephen A. Douglas