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Authors: Douglas, Stephen
Date: December 9, 1857
Senator Stephen Douglas delivered this speech in the United States Senate, responding to President Buchanan's decision to let Congress determine whether or not to admit Kansas into the Union. Douglas approved of the decision, as he believed it was not an Executive matter. Douglas reiterated the point that the members of the Lecompton Constitutional Convention were appointed to frame a sample government, subject to the approval of the Territory's citizens, not to make a government themselves. Although he disapproved of the means used to submit the Lecompton Constitution to Congress, Douglas judged that the free state government in Topeka was an unlawful legislative body.
Keywords: Admission, Kansas (see also Statehood); Douglas, Stephen Arnold, 1813-1861; Election fraud; Free state legislature; Kansas Nebraska Act; Lecompton Constitution; Lecompton Constitutional Convention, September 1857; Missouri compromise; Popular sovereignty; Slavery; Walker, Robert J. (Robert John), 1801-1869
Minority Report of Senator Douglas of Illinios on the Kansas-Lecompton Constitution
Authors: Douglas, Stephen
Date: February 18, 1858
Senator Stephen Douglas, as a member of the Committee on the Territories, presented this report, which analyzed the Lecompton and Topeka constitutional rivalry, for the consideration of the President. Douglas found that, under the Kansas-Nebraska Act, no government of Kansas, Territorial or otherwise, had the power to draft any constitution without the intital consent of Congress; the territories, though "self-governed" were not sovereign entities, and still were to defer to the direction of the federal government. He argued that even the recognized territorial government had no right to convene a constitutional convention without Congressional approval, and the vote the Lecompton Convention presented to the people offered no opportunity to fully reject the Lecompton Constitution, but only to accept or reject the slavery provision; a person could not vote against making Kansas a slave state unless he was also willing to vote for the Lecompton Constitution. Douglas, however, in his report likened this unauthorized act of Lecompton Constitutional Convention as much "revolution" and "treasonable pertinacity" as those actions of the free state government in Topeka; neither group held legitimate authority to draft or present their constitutions.
Keywords: Douglas, Stephen Arnold, 1813-1861; Free state legislature; Illinois; Kansas Nebraska Act; Lecompton Constitution; Lecompton Constitutional Convention, September 1857; Popular sovereignty; Slavery; Topeka Constitution; Topeka Movement (see also Free state movement); Walker, Robert J. (Robert John), 1801-1869