Mr. Douglas--The Homestead Bill

Leavenworth Daily Times, October 10, 1860

Never has the character of Stephen A. Douglas, as a demagogue, been so glaringly manifested, as in his late tour through the Eastern and Middle States for the purpose of advocating his own Presidential claims. He has been going about the country, like a traveling auctioneer, delivering the same old harangue in praise of his "popular sovereignty" wares; but always embellishing it with an appeal to the different preferences and prejudices of each locality.

Thus, in Pennsylvania, he joined in the universal lamentation over the failure of the Tariff Bill; and declared that the agitation of the slavery question,—or, "the nigger," as he classically termed it,—had prevented the success of that measure. Now, if Douglas meant to say, that the Republican members of the last Congress neglected the Tariff in order to make anti-slavery speeches, he was guilty of a most gross misrepresentation. They labored for it with untiring zeal, and their entire vote, with a single exception, was given for it. The discussion of the subject of slavery was principally confined to Mr. Douglas, Mr. Davis, and other Democratic Senators, who were trying to settle their differences about the creed of the party. The only speeches which were made at all by the Senator from Illinois, had reference to "the nigger." When the Tariff Bill came up, he was afflicted with one of those numerous complaints, to which he is subject, whenever he wishes to dodge a question. Had he even supported the Bill, his position would have been inconsistent with all his previous votes and speeches, and in direct opposition to the platform of his party. Yet he has the audacity to appear before the Pennsylvanians in the character of chief mourner for their pet measure!

Since Mr. Douglas has come into the Western states, he has pursued the same policy in regard to the Homestead Bill, which he did east of the Alleghenies, in regard to the Tariff. The former measure is popular in Ohio and Indiana, and hence, in his pilgrimage through those states, he gave it especial attention. Indeed, with his accustomed egotism, he set himself up as its leading advocate, and endeavored to create the impression that its success would be identical with his own. It is a little strange that Judge Douglas should not have made his professions of friendship for the Homestead Bill, until the eve of the election. That Bill has occupied a large share of the public attention; and hence it is fair to infer that those who are not its active friends, are its enemies. What did Senator Douglas accomplish for the Bill at the last session of Congress? He voted for it, on its passage; but he neither spoke nor labored in its behalf. When the question of passing it over the President's veto came up, he was absent; his party friends went almost unanimously against the Bill.

When the Southern states seceded from the Democratic National Convention, Mr. Douglas had another opportunity to show his sympathy for the Homestead policy. His friends were left in complete control of the Convention, and his influence could easily have procured the incorporation into his platform, of a Homestead resolution. But it contains not a line upon the subject. If Mr. Douglas is unwilling or unable to pledge his supporters to the Homestead measure now, is there any reason to believe he would do more, if he should be elected to the Presidency?

In contrast with the indifference which Douglas has exhibited for the Homestead policy, is the active stand which the Republicans have taken in its favor. In the National Republican declaration of principles, is this resolution:

13. That we protest against any sale or alienation to others of the public lands held by actual settlers, and against any view of the Homestead policy which regards the settlers as paupers or supplicants for public bounty; and we demand the passage by Congress of the complete and satisfactory Homestead measure which has already passed the House.

The Republicans have not only resolved in favor of free Homesteads; but the previous action of their Representatives in Congress, is evidence of the sincerity of their declarations.

The Republican Homestead bill passed the House in March last, by a vote of 116 yeas, to 65 nays, every Republican voting for the bill, and all the Democrats but 21, voting against it. The Democratic Senate substituted a new bill for the one which passed the House, which in effect crippled the former.—This bill, which was better than none, finally went through both Houses, but was vetoed by a Democratic President. The effort to pass it by the requisite two-thirds, in defiance of the veto, failed in the Senate—yeas 28; nays 18. Of the yeas nineteen were Republicans and all the nays were Democrats! Douglas, as we have before said, dodged.

Let the people remember these facts. Let them remember that the actions of Douglas show that he "don't care" whether the Homestead is voted up or down; and that his party is nearly a unit in opposition to it. Let it be further borne in mind that the Republicans have shown themselves the earnest, active and sincere friends of the measure, and that the only hope of its success is in the success of the Republican organization.