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sas being struck, wronged, violated in its tenderest part, would give one of her piercing shrieks, which, being re-echoed and reduplicated tenfold from that line of soundingboards great and small, the newspaper press with its reverberator in every village of the North, would send a thrill of sympathetic horror through all hearts from East to West. Thus the round kept going, wave after wave, till the whole People were brought to share in the Kansas-pain and began to cry out for relief, which they did not and could not get. For these Free-State men, as already observed, had a voice which bore their wrongs and sufferings on the wind, and repeated them in every hamlet.
It is no wonder that the people of the North, tortured with their own sympathy and shocked in their feeling of right, began to propound the question: Can we not transform that Washing. ton center of perpetual irritation, and let these Kansas people finish in peace building their State? More pressing does the question become, since the Presidential year has arrived, and the Convention for nominating the candidate draws near.
Such is, then, the task of the time: to get possession of the source of the trouble and to make it over, if possible, into a fountain of healing.
The nominating Conventions of the two parties may be regarded as the culmination of
Hence we shall first look at the swirl of events leading up to them, and then following after them till the election is over. In other words the events of the year move in two main processes separated by the Conventions. Thus we see each side first putting itself into trim for the contest, and then the contest between the two sides. When this is over, we may well take a look backward and also forward, to see if we
measure the work which the Genius of History has accomplished.
It had become the conviction of the North that the Washington Administration was the generating cause of the disorders in Kansas, inasmuch as this was determined not to be a Slave-State. Hence arose the movement of the Northern people to reach the seat of the malady by changing the central Administration, for which the opportunity is now at hand. But there was also the counter movement of those in power for keeping their grasp on the government. Thus the two Parties, Republican and Democratic, begin their preliminary maneuvers for the coming appeal to the final tribunal of the land, the People.
Amid all sorts of eddies, currents and countercurrents, the one fundamental historic movement can again be seen embracing all the diversities of the turbulent stream of events. We shall still follow the round which starts from Washington, passes to Kansas, then returns upon the People.
Both parties began to show certain changes of conduct in anticipation of the approaching contest before the People. Particularly among the Democratic leaders a new adjustment was noticeable. Pierce was a candidate for re-election. As he had favored the South, he looked to that section for his chief support in the approaching Convention. Still the South alone could not nominate him, so he had to conciliate a part of the North also. Another candidate was Douglas who had made his great bid for Southern support in his Kansas-Nebraska bill repealing the Missouri Compromise, which, however, had lost the North to the Democratic Party in the Congressional election. The hostile House of Representatives was already in session at the beginning of 1856 and was balloting for Speaker. Banks, a Republican, was finally elected, and a new source of antagonism had to be reckoned with by the Administration.
The first round of events we shall summarize as follows:
1. Washington. The President in his communication to Congress takes the Southern side in reference to slavery generally, and in reference to Kansas specially. He blames the Emigrant Aid Societies for the troubles on the border, though he faintly censures "the illegal and reprehensible counter-movements of the Missourians. But when he comes to the main issue, he asserts the legality of the Territorial Legisla
re, as its members had Reeder's certificates of election, while the Topeka Constitutional Convention was wholly without the warrant of law. And yet the former was a fraud, and the latter
an expression of the will of the Peoples
Thus the President in the interest of slavery turns the formal law against right and uses established authority to destroy its own original fountain-head. Douglas took substantially the same position, assailing the Emigrant Aid Society, and championing the side of legality against equity, of a wrong which was formally legal against a right which was formally illegal. Surely it is the duty of the legislator to reconcile such a contradiction when it has arisen.
As a new party was appearing and organizing itself, many speeches were made at this time, which was felt to be epoch-making. Particularly the Republican Senators gave expression to the dawning idea and its conflict in well-phrased turns which were printed in the great journals of the North and distributed far and wide. This expression was the counterpart to that of Kansas with its cry of pain, appealing more to the reason than to the emotions. The formulation of the Republican creed was completed and made universal in the doctrine that in all the Territories Congress is to prohibit slavery. It was a great service and prepared the minds of the people for the coming platform of the Republican Convention. Still this universal doctrine would hardly have found such a strong response in the hearts of the People, unless a particular and soul-harrowing illustration of it had been brought daily before their eyes through Kansas.