Secession Era Editorials Project

The Journal on Alien Suffrage

Springfield, Illinois, Illinois State Register [Democratic]

(13 March 1854)

The chief staple of the Journal's editorials for some weeks past, has been the fanatical ravings and vituperation of the abolition New York Tribune, and its Washington correspondents. Its Wednesday's effort is peculiarly characteristic of the gyratory course of the whig central organ. - The amendment of the Nebraska bill in the senate, offered by the ex-whig premier, John M. Clayton, denying to alien inhabitants of the new territories the right of suffrage, serves our consistent contemporary with a text to echo the meaningless rhodomontade of Greely and his corps against the bill. This proposition, which now excites the honest (!) indignation of our ex- non-intervention cotemporary, was offered by a whig statesman, than whom no man in the country has received more fulsome laudation from the Illinois Journal, while secretary of state under the whig Galphin dynasty, who, while he pretended to be an advocate of the bill, and, indeed, even made speeches in its favor, sought to break it down with amendments incorporating features odious to popular sentiment. After speaking for the bill, he "dipped," or dodged, the vote on the final passage, and next day asked to have his vote recorded against the bill, on account of provisions therein which he had himself assisted in incorporating in it. Now this odious feature, which the Journal views with holy horror, and which the editor would saddle upon Mr. Douglas, did not receive his vote! True to his antecedents, to the policy of his whole life, he voted against the amendment of the whig presidential aspirant from Delaware. It passed by a close vote - 23 to 21, and we hope it will be stricken out in the house.

But what a piece of shallow hypocrisy is it in the Illinois Journal to affect to find in this feature of the Nebraska bill as it passed the senate, an objection to that measure. Does the whig organ imagine that its course in 1841, on this identical question, is forgotten? Is the editor so simple as to believe that the high-handed and revolutionary intentions of a corrupt whig court, and the whig party leaders of that day, are forgotten by the people of Illinois? When the entire foreign population of the state were about to be disfranchised, to subserve unholy party purposes, the Illinois Journal cried Amen! To the villainous scheme which the whig leaders of the state had concocted, and but for the almost superhuman efforts of this same Stephen A. Douglas, (whom the Journal would now invest with its own and its party's iniquities,) backed by the sterling democracy of the state, the villainous deed would have been accomplished, and the constitution of the state trampled under foot, and our foreign citizens placed under the ban, and deprived of their constitutional rights - all because they had no affection for whig measures or whig men.

It was this high-handed movement of whig leaders in 1841, with the Illinois Journal as their chief mouth-piece, that led to the re-organization of the state judiciary, by a strict party vote in the legislature - the democracy for, and whigery against the breaking up of a corrupt court, who were willing to ride over the rights of the people, and treat the constitution as a dead letter, for party purposes. After one of the most exciting contests ever witnessed in our legislative halls, the right prevailed, and the Illinois Journal and its compeers were foiled. "Douglas did it," as we have time and again heard many of them bitterly remark, and he will never be forgiven for it, if it were the only thrust he ever gave to the vitals of that party.

Again: In the constitutional convention which formed our present constitution, the question of incorporating the provision of the old one on this subject was warmly discussed, and again we find our cotemporary, who now weeps over the prospective wrongs of aliens in Kansas and Nebraska, combatting the proposition, and insisting upon the naturalization qualification; and whigery, in the convention, with the assistance of a few democrats, including some who now have conscientious compunctions against the repeal of the constitutional act of '20, enacted the clause as it now stands.

The sincerity of the Journal's vituperative tears over the clause of the Nebraska bill will be fully appreciated by all. Its entire objections to the bill are equally hollow. They are in full keeping with its ancient revolving policy. Any humbug answers it for the nonce, to demagogue up, as its writers imagine, a modicum of capital for whig uses, however inconsistent, however ridiculous, it may make its author appear in the eyes of an intelligent public.

Its daily conglomerate, hashed up from Greely's mint of festering misrepresentation, calumny, and impotent malice, finds no response with the people of Illinois. Time was when the Journal was a very zealous advocate of "provisoism," but it found its error in the crushing indignation of the people. It returns now to former error, but of a darker hue; its latter day effusions being but sophomore efforts in abolitionism. The essays of a few days past, should they ever meet their eye, will gladden the hearts of Loyd Garrison and Gerrit Smith; whether they will have a similar effect upon "national whigs" in Illinois is somewhat doubtful.


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