Secession Era Editorials Project

Speech of Judge Douglas on the Nebraska Bill.

Milledgeville, Georgia, Federal Union [Democratic]

(14 February 1854)

A large portion of our columns this week is taken up with Judge Douglas's speech. We thought we could not give our readers a more acceptable treat than this masterly effort in favor of the constitutional rights of the South. The South has for more than thirty years borne the unjust and unconstitutional restrictions embraced in the Missouri Compromise for the sake of peace, -- Whilst northern men by virtue of this Compromise could go into any Territory belonging to the United States with all their property and settle there, Southern men could not carry their property North of 36 30. The South has submitted to this humiliating demand of the abolitionists as we said, for the sake of peace. But submission did not bring peace, it only encouraged the enemies of the South to greater demands. -- When the New Territory acquired from Mexico was about to be organized, the South was willing to have the Missouri Compromise extended to the Pacific, but the free soilers having grown bold and insolent by their former success, would not abide by the Missouri Compromise, but demanded that the Wilmot Proviso should be thrown around the territory South of 36 30. So that slaveholders should be kept out all the territory acquired from Mexico. -- This produced the great excitement on the slavery question, and finally led to the Compromise of 1850. Judge Douglas in his speech has demonstrated that the free soil portion were the first to break the Missouri Compromise, and that by the settlement of the question by the compromise of 1850, the whole slavery question was settled forever.

He contends that upon the basis of that settlement, the people of every new territory, whether lying north or south of the Missouri compromise line, have the right to decide whether they will have slavery within their territory or not; and that Congress hereafter shall have nothing to do in the premises. These principles are so reasonable and so just to all parties, that we had hoped that that the whole South would have united in their support. But we fear there are some men at the South in whose bosom the hatred of Democracy is even stronger than the love of country. We regret to learn that several whig papers at the South, such as the National Intelligencer, the Louisville Journal, and the New Orleans Bulletin are out in opposition to the Nebraska Bill. We are at a loss to imagine upon what principle any Southern man can oppose that bill. We call upon every true friend of the South to mark the man or the party at the South that opposes this important measure. When Northern statesmen, like Judge Douglas, Gen. Cass, &c. are willing to stem the torrent of Northern opposition for the sake of doing justice to the South, and bringing peace to the country, what shall we think of Southern men, that attempt to throw stumbling blocks in their way and give aid and comfort to the enemy? On this subject there should be but one party at the South. We cannot imagine what objection any reasonable man at the South can raise against Judge Douglas's doctrine. We ask our readers to give his speech a careful reading and see for themselves if there is anything in it which Southern men should oppose. As we said in a former article on this subject, there are but two sides to this question. Judge Douglas and the friends of the South are one side, the freesoilers and their friends on the other. The President and nearly or quite the whole Democratic party will support the Nebraska bill. Where will the Southern Whigs be found?

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