The Order of the Day--The Presidency
Columbus Daily Capital City Fact, October 19, 1860
Having in a preceding issue of the FACT discussed at some length the respective merits of the different candidates who now stand before the people for the highest station in the government, we shall on this occasion resume the subject. We shall have especial regard to LINCOLN and BRECKINRIDGE. It is not our purpose to recommend Mr. BRECKINRIDGE, merely by detracting from the merits of the other three candidates. We have no such scheme before us; nor do we base our preference on any such foundation. Our preference is founded, not upon negative, but upon positive considerations. In a question so important, however, it is proper to bring into consideration, and to make the proper comparison among the Presidential candidates. Of Mr. DOUGLAS and Mr. BELL we have already spoken; and now take occasion to discuss the merits of Mr. LINCOLN. We have already characterized the latter gentleman as a sectional candidate, representing and leading a party in the non-slaveholding States, in opposition to the people of the South, and the institutions they have established. The great Republican party of the North has taken its rise upon the question of slavery, and upon that alone it now asserts its pretensions. But for the angry contests in Kansas, we should have scarcely found ourselves involved in a controversy so fierce and so embittered. At least not at so early a date. The contest, however, has been brought on, and it is now impossible to evade it.
It has always been our idea that a candidate for the Presidency should come forward on the broad ground of being the representative and servant of the whole people interested. In a government like this, embracing thirty three sovereign States, extending over a vast region of country—and penetrating all the temperate climates of the earth—our discussions should be co-extensive with the subject matter before us, and are not to rest in any narrow minded views and discussions.
When the foundation of the American Constitution was laid, it was upon a fair and equal basis. The thirteen States, then existing, by mutual consent, united to form a general union, for the purpose of a common protection against the dangers of foreign aggression, not less than to establish a government among themselves for the benefit and welfare of the whole.
It is well known that most of the then States, indeed a large majority of them, were slave-holding—all content with their own institutions, and not intending, by uniting into a confederated republic, to abolish their own polity and laws, except so far as the constitution enjoined it. It is the opinion of many, that the simple declaration of independence, by asserting the general sentiment that "all men are created equal," virtually overruled the principles of slavery theretofore existing in the several States, and set the enslaved African free, by placing him on a common and equal footing with his master. It is needless to spend time in refuting an idea so groundless and so absurd. When the Declaration of Independence was drawn, it was intended merely in reference to our position as British Colonies, and that we were about to break the tie binding us to the crown. We were not complaining of our domestic institutions, nor did the American people intend in any wise to affect them. The subject itself was unthought of. The great purpose was to break off their allegiance to the parent State. With this view—and with this view alone—and to justify the step before the world, they proclaimed a general truth, that all communities of men are naturally equal, and may set up a free government for themselves, whenever the opportunity arises, and especially when they could give the best of reasons for so doing. To contend that by making such a declaration that they thereby unwittingly acknowledged the freedom of their own domestics, is the higth of error—or, if we please, the hyperbola of nonsense. No sensible, impartial man in the universe, untrammelled by party spirit, or party-madness could draw so weak and foolish a conclusion. And to "make assurance double sure," when the Constitution itself was framed, the existence of slavery not only continued to be recognized in the respective States, but is incidentally alluded to in that great instrument in three different places. To contend that either by the Declaration of Independence, or the coming into the union under the constitution, that any State abolished slavery thereby, or intended to abolish it, cannot be maintained for a moment of time on any rational grounds whatever. Then the Declaration of Independence, and the formation of the union, did in no wise whatever affect the institution of slavery. This could be done in one way only, and that was, by each individual State acting with sovereign power on its own institutions. This was the doctrine in the beginning, and if so, must be the doctrine now. Time cannot change the true construction of solemn instruments, especially one so solemn as the American Constitution. The judges on the Supreme Court bench take this view, and with deference we say, could take none other.
We will now again speak of Mr. LINCOLN.—We will not discuss his general fitness to fill the highest place in the government. Each particular man must have his own ideas as to this. We shall merely glance him over as to the principles of himself and his party, on the great constitutional question which now agitates and distracts the public mind. It has already been maintained by us, and for the best of reasons, that Mr. DOUGLAS' Squatter Sovereign ideas were in open conflict with the constitution, as maintained by the great and only authoritative tribunal in the country; and not only so, but in conflict with those principles of justice and of equal right, on which the constitution itself was founded. That his ideas of a complete non-intervention by Congress was equally indefensible to the extent Mr. DOUGLAS proposes. How is it with Mr. LINCOLN? We find him still more in conflict with the constitution than even Mr. DOUGLAS. Mr. SEWARD, in his last Kansas speech, applauds the people of that territory in the most extravagant terms for their Squatter Sovereign achievements in driving out slavery. The whole tenor and bearing of the speech was the maintainance of Squatter Sovereign doctrines. Mr. DOUGLAS himself would have made just such a speech.—SEWARD, DOUGLAS and LINCOLN all maintain the Squatter Sovereign creed. But Mr. LINCOLN maintains further, that Congress may not only pass police laws and regulate the internal affairs of the territories, under the Constitution, but may go so far as to prohibit the Southern man from taking his slave property into such territory) It seems, according to this idea, that there is a double power to be set up against the Southern settler. First, Congress may pass laws to keep him out, or to turn him out; or, if Congress does not intervene with the great powers of the government, the people themselves may rise and thrust the slaveholder out! Although the Supreme Court decides it is unwarranted by and is against the constitution. It is contended that no such man as this should be supported by the American people, setting aside constitutional objections, which cannot be gotten over—from the crown of the head to the sole of his feet he is a sectional candidate, glorying in his favorite idea of the "irrepressible conflict," which is now dividing and maddening the Northern and Southern sections of the people. This alone should exclude him from every chance of being elected. The Southern people merely wish to be let alone, and to be left in the enjoyment of their constitutional rights.—Mr. LINCOLN would not admit them even to such an humble privilege. What man who is a friend to the constitution and to this glorious and even-handed Union, can further pretensions such as these? If such a man is voted for it must be for party purposes merely, and not for the good of the country.
In contrast to the three candidates we have named and discussed, we now present Mr. BRECKINRIDGE—a Union-loving man, of fair and spotless reputation—a faithful supporter of the constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court—a man of fine talents, and of manly and liberal principles—most beloved and admired by those who know him best. After scanning him well, and weighing his merits with an even hand, we present him as a candidate, not of a sectional party, but as a general candidate, for the whole American people, and in every way worthy of their general support in the coming election.