Convention to American Public
The undersigned were appointed by the Constitutional Convention to prepare an address to accompany the instrument which should emanate from this body. In performing this duty we desire briefly to direct attention to that necessity in which the present movement of the People originated and the reasons why it should still meet with the hearty approval of every American Citizen.
All the difficulties in Kanzas originated in the successful attempt to wrest the government from the People by fraud and to force a usurpation upon them by violence. The character of this usurpation was such that it seemed evident to the people that the most speedy and practicable way to accomplish its overthrow would be to change the government from a Territorial form to that of a sovereign and independent state. Believing the right to
make this change to be indefensible and holding that it was recognized by the
treaty of Cession with France, sanctioned by the Organic Act of Congress and
proclaimed by the dominant Political party of the country, the people, prompted
only by the hope and desire of speedily terminating their difficulties and peaceably
recovering their rights, inaugurated that movement, in 1855, which resulted
in the formation of a state Constitution. This instrument, upon being presented
to Congress was rejected by one branch of that body, chiefly, as it was asserted,
because it emanated from the people without an enabling provision from the Territorial
Legislature or from Congress.
Failing to find relief in this, the people with a hope of better success, participated in the election, last October, and secured the control of the Territorial Legislature. But, before
this body could take any official action, a Convention previously provided
for by the alien Legislature and elected under a partizan and fraudulent Registration
and apportionment, had framed a Constitution for Kanzas repugnant in many of
its provisions, thus throwing another great obstacle between the people and
their rights just when they were about enter into their possession and enjoyment.
In this crisis, when a people whose patience had been exhausted by the repetition of acts of tyranny and persecution, were exasperated by a new and startling attempt to foster another usurpation upon them and were ready to crush out their oppressors by violence, the Territorial Legislature, with a hope of averting the impending calamities, enacted the law providing for another Constitutional Convention. It was fully believed that an Enabling Act thus emanating from a le-
gally constituted Legislative body, would remove all technical objections previously
urged against the Constitution which originated with the people and this conviction
gave them confidence in the measure. Animated by that spirit which has inspired
them from the first and fully determined to exhaust every peaceable means to
defeat the consummation of the gigantic fraud before resorting to force, the
people earnestly engaged in this new Constitutional movement, and, by a very
large vote, elected Delegates to frame an Organic Law for Kanzas.
To the American People we would say, that the people of Kanzas, after they had repudiated the Lecompton Constitution by an overwhelming vote and had remonstrated against it in every possible way, beheld with dismay that the Congress of the United States disregarded their petitions and their protests. But amid all these discouragements they engaged in this Constitutional movement believing it to be the last peaceable measure for the recovery of their rights to
which they could resort. Their intention has been to make for themselves a
Fundamental Law and to organize a government under it, with the hope that its
existence might deter Congress from sanctioning the constitution framed at Lecompton,
and with the determination that it should be the standard around which they
would rally in the event of a forcible and violent resistance to the Fraud becoming
necessary. Because of this, we, in behalf of the long-oppressed people for whom
we speak, appeal to the citizens of every state to use all their influence to
prevent the National Congress from sanctioning that constitution and government
to which the people of Kanzas cannot submit without sacrifice of their dearest
rights, and which cannot be recognized as valid without an absolute disregard
of the fundamental principles of our government.
To the people of Kanzas, you whose interests are directly involved in this Constitutional movement, we can
say that your Delegates, in performing the duty entrusted to them, have endeavored to frame a Constitution adapted to the wants and calculated to conserve the highest interests of Kanzas. They now submit it to you for your approval or rejection. The limited time to which the convention has necessarily confined its session has prevented that deliberation with which such instruments are usually formed, but scrupulous care has been taken to avoid incorporating anything believed repugnant to any considerable portion of the people. The impending dangers have been kept steadily in view and because of them the aim has been, especially, to make an instrument which every good citizen may conscienciously approve. The Delegates earnestly hope that they have been entirely successful in this, for they are conscious that your peace and prosperity for years to come, may depend upon their work. They
feel that if it is such as to deserve and receive your ready and hearty ratification,
then, not only will they have been successful in their efforts, but you, the
People of Kanzas, will have created by your sovereign will an instrumentality
with which you may effectually contravene the conspiracy against your rights.
There is an urgent necessity that the ratification of this Constitution be of a most emphatic character, whether the Pro-Slavery constitution now before Congress is or is not received by that body. By a direct and overwhelming vote you have declared your hatred to that instrument; by a triumphant endorsement of the work of your own Delegates you will again express your hostility to the admission of Kanzas under a constitution which is the embodiment of a Fraud, and the result may reach the National Capitol in time to prevent the consummation of that great
wrong already begun by the Senate of the United States. But, if this wrong
shall have been consummated, then by your vote, you will be choosing directly
between a constitution under which Kanzas would be a subjugated Slave-State
and one under which it would be forever free and independent. You have it within
your power to reject and defeat the hateful Pro-slavery instrument by endorsing
this new Free-state Constitution.
It may be argued by some that such a proceeding would be revolutionary, but the arguments are specious and unfounded. The admission of a state into the Union is a simple contract the parties to which are the people of the state and the Federal Government. The terms of that contract can in nowise include the constitution of the state, for if they did, no state could ever change its Organic Law without first obtaining the consent of Congress. Upon
the admission of a state the Federal government abandons its authority represented by the Territorial government and the state becomes independent in all things except wherein limited by the terms of the Federal compact, and the people, consequently become possessed of full and sovereign power to make a constitution for themselves and in their own way, without reference to the Federal government. No act of Congress can give legal force to the fundamental Law of a state. After the admission of a state its constitution depends entirely upon the implied or expressed sanction of the people for all of its legal virtue and effect, and without that sanction it is in fact, and ever must remain, null and void. With a full confidence in the correctness of these views, we declare that if you, the people of Kanzas, adopt the
Constitution now presented for ratification and give to it a practical application
and enforcement, upon admission into the Union, it will become the only lawful
Constitution no matter what instrument Congress may recognize in the act of
Whatever, then, may be the action of the Federal government in regard to the Lecompton Constitution, your highest and best interests appeal to you to give to the present movement all that significance which the unanimous action of a people can impart to it. You have proven to the world that the Lecompton Constitution is not your choice. Let the world see, by your course now, that your repugnance to that instrument has not diminished in the least. You have resolved, never, of your own accord, to live under it. Let it again be shown that in this determination you are inflexible. Even in the absence of such determination no people could, without the viola-
tion of the fundamental principles of a free government, voluntarily, submit to a constitution forced upon them or one originated in fraud, and you, who are the descendants of a liberty-loving race and who have suffered so much and so long in the pursuit and defense of your rights, will, we are confident, express by your emphatic vote that the Organic Law of your State never shall derive its origin in any way whatever from the Lecompton Constitution or Government, but will demonstrate that it is now, as it ever has been, your high aim and unalterable purpose to dedicate Kanzas forever to Freedom by a course true to principle and worthy of men.
J. M Walden
Tho. Ewing Jr
Isaac T. Goodnow.
Henry J. Adams
T. Dwight Thacher
Done in Convention this [xxx]day of April, 1858
M. F. Conway,