Abraham Lincoln (18091865). Political Debates Between Lincoln and Douglas 1897.
their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United States. Then opened the roar of loose declamation in favor of squatter sovereignty, and sacred right of self-government. But, said opposition members, let us amend the bill so as to expressly declare that the people of the Territory may exclude slavery. Not we, said the friends of the measure; and down they voted the amendment.
While the Nebraska bill was passing through Congress, a law case involving the question of a negros freedom, by reason of his owner having voluntarily taken him first into a free State and then into a Territory covered by the Congressional prohibition, and held him as a slave for a long time in each, was passing through the United States Circuit Court for the District of Missouri; and both Nebraska bill and law suit were brought to a decision in the same month of May, 1854. The negros name was Dred Scott, which name now designates the decision finally made in the case. Before the then next Presidential election, the law case came to, and was argued in, the Supreme Court of the United States; but the decision of it was deferred until after the election. Still, before the election, Senator Trumbull, on the floor of the Senate, requested the leading advocate of the Nebraska bill to state his opinion whether the people of a Territory can constitutionally exclude slavery from their limits; and the latter answers: That is a question for the Supreme Court.
The election came. Mr. Buchanan was elected, and the indorsement, such as it was, secured. That was the second point gained. The indorsement, however, fell short of a clear popular majority by nearly four hundred thousand votes, and so, perhaps, was not overwhelmingly reliable and satisfactory. The outgoing President, in his last annual message, as impressively as possible echoed back upon the people the weight and authority of the indorsement. The Supreme Court met again, did not announce their decision, but ordered a re-argument. The Presidential inauguration came, and still no decision of the court; but the incoming President in his inaugural address, fervently exhorted the people to abide by