Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Selections from the Letters and Speeches of the Hon. James H. Hammond, of South Carolina >> Speech on the Admission of Kansas, Under the Lecompton Constitution, Delivered in the Senate of the United States, March 4, 1858 >> Page 302

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Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 302
all other defects and irregularities could be cured by
the act of Congress, and that he himself would be
willing to permit such an act to be passed.
Now, sir,. the only question is, how is that will to
be ascertained, and upon that point, and that only,
shall we differ. In my opinion the will of the people
of Kansas is to be sought in the act of her lawful con-
vention elected to form a Constitution, and no where
else ; and that it is unconstitutional and dangerous to
seek it elsewhere. I think that the Senator fell into
a fundamental error in his report dissenting from the
report of the majority of the, territorial committee,
when he said that the convention which framed this
Constitution was " the creature of the Territorial
Legislature ; " and from that one error has probably
arisen all his subsequent errors on this subject.
How can it be possible that a convention should
be the creature of a Territorial Legislature ? The
convention was an assembly of the people in their
highest sovereign capacity, about to perform their
highest possible act of sovereignty. The Territorial
Legislature is a mere provisional government ; a petty
corporation, appointed and paid by the Congress of
the United. States, without a particle of sovereign
power. Shall such a body interefere with a sov-
ereignty—inchoate, but still a sovereignty? Why,
Congress cannot interfere ; Congress cannot con-
fer on the Territorial Legislature the power to inter-
fere. Congress itself is not sovereign. Congress has
sovereign powers, but no sovereignty. Congress has
no power to act outside of the limitations of the Con-
stitution ; no right to carry into effect the Supreme
Will of any people, and, therefore, Congress is not