Three months ago the Congress of the United States blackened the annals of our nation by a foul crime against the people of an infant Territory. Like all other villainies, which power could not successfully accomplish, the Administration, beaten in its first attempt to carry the Lecompton Constitution in its original shape, was forced to resort to a mean artifice to save them from an open and disgraceful retreat. It is not the first time in our history that we find an Administration driven to such desperate measures. When, in the course of our Revolutionary struggle, the English Administration were driven to the wall, they attempted to retrieve their fallen fortunes by purchasing a traitor to betray the sacred cause of Liberty. This event finds a parallel in the late attempt of Buchanan’s Administration to secure the passage of the Lecompton Constitution. This is the only difference: Then an English Administration purchased an American to betray his cause. Now an American Administration, purchased English to betray the people of Kansas. The treason of Benedict Arnold was unsuccessful in the first case, and the Second of August will witness the overthrow of the second crime against popular Freedom.
It would be a useless consumption of time, my fellow citizens, for me to speak to you of the long train of abuses and outrages
which attended and culminated in the English Bill. As citizens of Kansas they are your personal history – the narrative of your wrongs. Your earnest and repeated petitions, against the Lecompton Constitution spurned with scorn and contempt; your votes cast against that instrument on the Fourth of January were disregarded; and fiendish malignancy, bitter with hatred against you because you would not be enslaved, hurled its last shaft in a low insult to your manhood and honor.
How little did the supporters of this English Bill know of the men they were dealing with? How small a value did they set upon their principles? They thought us weak; worn out by a long series of struggles; and dishearted by the many attrocities committed against us. We were ruled by Government officials whom we despised, and whose jurisdiction we refused to recognize. We were anxious to surround ourselves with the evidences of prosperity and the concomitants of civilization and education, and they anticipated an easy victory over us, by offering us a bribe for relinquishing our opposition to the Lecompton Constitution. Yet even in this they displayed their cowardice and treachery. They were afraid we would reject the bribe, and prefer to take our chance of obtaining admission at a future period, and so they added to the insult a threat. A threat that in case we refused
to be bribed, we should be whipped, or in other words, we should not come into the Union until they condescended to let us in. Those ermined murders should continue to rule us, and if we would not be a Slave State, we should remain a Slave Territory. These are the prominent features of that infamous bill on which we will be called upon to decide the Second of August. Not as they appear in so many words, but as they are.
I do not appear before you my friends, because I fear that any considerations will tempt, or any threat terrify you into a slavish compliance with the wished of these self constituted despots. Nor do I come to ask you to vote down this infamous measure, or instruct you how to vote upon it. I would not insult you by such an insidious request, or disgrace you by such presumptuous directions. I have too much faith in your firmness, your honor, your love of liberty and truth. I know that no earthly consideration could induce you to vote for this thing, but I come to urge you as men and as citizens of Kansas, to devote and day for the success of the great principles you have labored for so long and so nobly. I do not wish this crime against our liberties to be returned with a paltry majority of one, five, or ten thousand, but I would like to see a glorious vote, fifteen thousand strong, rolled up against it. Then we
will stand up before the world, a living monument of the truth that no oppression can ever conquer a people determined to be free! The greatest, grandest, proudest moral triumph in the history of the world, hangs dependant upon your votes. For the first time in the world’s progress, will be presented the spectacle of a whole people who loves their principles and worship their faith with such an ardent, enthusiastic zeal, that they sacrificed self-interest for the triumph of right, and spurned their pecuniary interest, when its acceptance was the price of the sacrifice of principle.
And not only should you vote it down because it is an insult, but because it
is unfair, because it is an unjust discrimination in favor of Slavery; because
it proclaims you unequal to slave-drivers and slaves; and because it is an open,
deliberate and infamous attempt to fasten Slavery upon a people who do not want
it. It is unfair for the reason that any election is a mockery which is not
free, and any election a fraud upon the rights of the people which holds out
inducements for affirmative and penalties for negative votes. It discriminates
in favor of Slavery, because it makes the admission of a Slave State easier
than that of a Free State, and it offers to pay a Slave State without a Representative
ratio, an enormous price for coming into the Union, and yet denies a Free State
admission with the same population, unless it has a Representative ratio.
It proclaims white men unequal to Negroes and slave-drivers, because it grants a
Territory, with 50,000 slaves and slave-holders, admission, and yet denies a Free State admission until it has 93,000 inhabitants. And it is an infamous attempt to fasten Slavery upon an infant State, because it provides that if we come in with a Slave Constitution, we can come in with any population, but if we demand another constitution, more consistent with our feelings and sentiments we cannot be received at all.
It is unjust again because we are the losers whichever way we vote, while the pro-slavery Democracy are the gainers in any contingency. If we vote for the proposition, we have a Constitution repugnant to our wishes, foisted upon us, and if we vote against the proposition, they gain again, as they prevent a Republican delegation from taking their seats from the new State of Kansas. It is unfair again, because if we vote for the Land Ordinance, we thereby vote for Slavery; and if we vote against it, we vote against the dowry which, by every right and precedent, should be ours
Four years ago Slavery made a bold advance. Then Kansas and Nebraska were to be admitted as states, it saw they were beyond the reach of the Slave power, because North of the Missouri Compromise Line. Nothing daunted by this, it sought to secure at least one of these Territories as its own. It boldly repealed that solemn compact which consecrated these Territories to Free Labor, and threw down its gauntlet to the North, asking it to enter into competition for the virgin soil of
Kansas. This was done against the earnest entreaties of the majority of the nation, and against the united voice of the North. But there was no escaping the issue. It was forced upon them, and the great Senator from New York, on behalf of the Free North, took up the challenge. “Come on then, gentlemen of the Slave States, “ he responded, “since there is no escaping your challenge, I accept it on behalf of Freedom. We will engage in competition for the virgin soil of Kansas, and God grant the victory to the side which is stronger in numbers as it is in right.” These were the terms, fairly stated, fully understood. The rival forces engaged in the battle, and after a long and fierce contest, Freedom gained the battle. The gigantic numbers of the North proved too powerful for the weak cohorts of Slavery, and Kansas, upon the terms of the contest, should have been free. “Sirs,” said the Free State party, “we have engaged in this contact against our wishes and upon your own terms. This soul was ours in justice, before, but you arrogantly demanded that you should have equal rights in the battle, and you extorted from us a promise to give you a chance for the mastery. We were forced to acceed to your request, and we met you here as man to man. We have conquered. We are stronger in numbers – stronger in right. This evil is ours! We have won it fairly, and you must yield. It belongs to Freedom – Slavery has no right here, and we cannot acknowledge its claims. You must no longer week to fasten it upon us.” But Slavery was loth to relinquish its claims.
Instead of gracefully yielding, it resorted to fraud to accomplish what it could not do by strength of numbers. Bolstered up by the power of the Federal Government, and with the offices under its control, rendered desperate by its defeat, and smarting under the last of popular scorn, it announced a Convention to form a Constitution, and by the most infamous frauds elected the members. The Lecompton Constitution was formed, and presented to us. We voted it down by ten thousand majority. If the principle of “Squatter Sovereignty” had been regarded, the South should have gracefully yielded the field. But it would not do this. The fraud had been successful in the first instance – they depended upon it again. It was sent to Congress, and has been successful there! Surrounded with more infamous measures than before, and our duty, our principle, and our manhood demands that we spurn both the bribe and its authors.
We will remain a Territory. Our oppressors will go back to an indignant constituency, pledges broken, principles trampled upon, the nation dishonored by the foul injustice of their act. We can wait until a Republican Congress is elected; until they and their base designs are repudiated and defeated, and Republicans, our only friends, are elected to fill their places. The people of Kansas, whom they have sought to crush, will rise above them, will be honored for their love of justice; their noble sacrifice of interest for right; their heroic endurance, and their grand and successful struggle for Freedom. Our oppressors will be buried beneath the just indignation of their constituents. The memory of the one will be a cherished glory which can never fade from the grateful recollection of their countryman, or perish from the brightest and proudest records of the human race. If pity should ever mark the resting place of the others with a stone, it will be but to act as a warning to others to beware the paths they trod with such fatal results to themselves.
Work, then my fellow-citizens, as Freemen alone can work. Great principles, noble designs, a high and holy cause is dependant upon you. The Republicans, who have sought and labored, and battled for your cause
in Congress and the States, are looking to you for an approval of their course: You will give it, I know, and with a hearty and generous good-will. You will bid them God-speed, by your votes, and denounce the black designs of that infamous party which blasphemes a name once pure and good.
It is of the utmost importance to secure every vote on this occasion. Immediately after the election, Gov. Denver intends calling the Legislature together for the purpose of making a new apportionment. If our county does not poll her full vote, we will not have a fair representation, as the basis for forming this will be the vote on the Second of August. It is for this I agreed to come before you, and to urge you, one and all, to see that every vote in the country was cast. I have never doubted how you will vote, but was only fearful that, conscious, as I am myself, that this infamous proposition would be almost unanimously defeated, now might grow too careless of the result, and neglect to work as you should.
With many thanks for your kind reception on this, my first appearance before you in the, to me, novel position as a public speaker, and with an increased faith in your love of right, by witnessing the enthusiasm of this meeting, I bring my remarks to a close. This sea of human faces indicates how deep an interest is felt in the election which is soon to be held, and clearly shows that in
you, at least, will not be found absent from the polls, on an occasion when your rights and liberties are in danger.