Secession Era Editorials Project

The Nebraska Bill.

Concord, New Hamphire, New Hampshire Patriot [Democratic]

(31 May 1854)

The Nebraska Bill as it passed the Senate originally, contained a provision confirming the right of suffrage to those inhabitants who are American citizens, thus excluding foreigners who have not been naturalized. The House amended it so as to extend the right of suffrage to every white male above the age of 21 years, who shall be an actual resident. As thus amended, as we stated last week, the bill passed the House by a vote of 113 to 100. We give the yeas and nays and an analysis of the vote, in another column. On account of this amendment of the House, the Bill had to go back to the Senate for its concurrence therein. We give the proceedings upon it, under our Congressional head, from which it will be seen that the motion to restore the provision stricken out by the House, was rejected by a vote of 41 to 7, and that the Senate passed the Bill as it came from the House by of vote of 35 to 13. -- The vote on its original passage in the Senate was 37 to 14. Six Senators who voted for the Bill before, were absent when the vote was taken on Thursday, so that in a full Senate it would have received at least 41 votes, being two thirds of that body.

The Bill having thus passed both houses, has received the approval of the President and is a law. It provides for the organization of the Territories of Kansas and Nebraska in the same manner as the other Territories have been organized, and for the establishment of Governments for them. The right of suffrage and eligibility to office at the first election, is conferred, as above stated, upon all white male residents over 21 years of age; but the qualifications for voters and for holding office at subsequent elections, are to be prescribed by the Legislatures of the Territories.

In the organization of all other Territories, Congress has retained the right to revise and reject all laws passed by the Territorial legislatures; but this power is not retained in this Bill. So also the Governors of other Territories have an almost absolute veto upon the Legislative acts; but this Bill provides that the veto of the Governor shall be like that of the President and the Governors of the States -- subject to be overruled by a two-thirds vote. Thus the people of these territories have the same legislative power as the people of the several States, subject to no control and to no limitation, except that of the constitution of the United States. All laws in relation to slavery being expressly declared void, the people there are left, in the words of the Bill, "perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the constitution of the United States." This is the sum and substance of the Nebraska Bill.

When we say that we rejoice in the passage of this Bill we say only what our readers will expect from an earnest advocate of the measure. We rejoice in it because we believe it to be right and just in principle, and because we believe it will prove highly beneficial in its practical results. We rejoice in it because we believe it surrenders to the people who may inhabit these Territories, important rights which belong to them -- the right to govern themselves, to form and regulate their own domestic institutions in their own way -- which had been usurped by Congress in violation of the first principle of our political system and in direct opposition to the practice of the fathers of the Republic. -- We rejoice in it because it will tend to remove from the halls of Congress the slavery controversy, and to transfer it to the people who are to be mainly and immediately affected by the existence or absence of slavery among them. We rejoice in it because it will thereby give a death-blow to abolitionism, and put an end to the purchased elevation of the leaders of that pestilent faction -- depriving them of the influence which they have been too often enabled to barter for office at the hands of other parties. We rejoice in it because it will thus promote the peace of the country, the restoration of good feeling between the North and the South, and the consequent strength and perpetuity of our glorious Union. And we rejoice in it because both the nature of the measure and the facts and incidents of its rise, progress and consummation will serve to strengthen the great Democratic party of the Union and secure to it the control of the Government for many years to come, thus ensuring the continued prosperity, progress and glory of the country.

Every candid reader of the Patriot will bear us witness that in our support and advocacy of this great measure, we have uniformly treated those of our political friends who have differed with us, with all the candor and liberality and forbearance. We have used no harsh language towards them; we have never impugned their motives; we have said nothing calculated to irritate them or with which they can justly take offence. Our sole desire has been to promote the harmony of the Democratic Party, preserve its integrity and sustain its organization, while honestly and earnestly advocating a measure which some of them, we have no doubt as honestly opposed. And now that the measure has passed, having received the votes of more than two-thirds of the Democratic members, and received the cordial and earnest approval of a Democratic administration, we feel justified in saying that it is the bounden duty of every true Democrat to yield to it his cheerful acquiescence. The prompt acquiescence in the decision of the majority is "the vital principle of republics;" our Government could not exist a day without the observance of this principle in our political affairs. And upon that principle alone, rigidly adhered to, can the organization of our party be preserved. Now it is apparent to all that the enemies of the Democracy have resolved to continue the agitation of this question with the sole view to the destruction of the Democratic organization and the overthrow of our party. And in this they confidently count upon the active aid and coöperation of those Democrats who have opposed the Bill! In this we believe they will find themselves much mistaken. We do not believe that any Democrat of New Hampshire will lend himself to any such purpose. To suppose they will do so is to suppose them totally regardless of the great principles which they have long maintained, and the worst enemies of the party to which they have belonged. To join the enemies of the Democracy in continuing the agitation of this question -- to aid them in their efforts to promote division in our ranks in this way, is to strike at the very foundation of our organization and to labor directly for the overthrow of our party. Those who do this work of the enemy, will thus show themselves the allies, the co-laborers, the mere instruments of the enemy in his avowed efforts to break down the Democratic party. And there can be no sufficient or plausible excuse for this course; and those who pursue it will but follow in the wake of Hale, Tuck, and Atwood and others who have sought to override the will of the majority and to break down the organization of the Democratic party.

We believe the Democracy of New Hampshire will sustain this great measure, and that every honest man among them who has not favored it will now yield it his support. We believe they will adhere to their organization and indignantly frown upon and sternly rebuke every man who attempts to weaken or break it up. We believe they will continue to give their cordial and earnest support to the administration of Gen. Pierce, and do all in their power to strengthen his hands in his patriotic efforts to promote the interests of the the country and to administer the Government in the true spirit of the constitution. And every man who acts otherwise, or attempts to distract, divide and weaken them in this effort, will receive from them nothing but stern rebuke and indignant condemnation.


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