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 306

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Page 306

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 306
Senator from Illinois would derive from the acts of
his Territorial Legislature, and from the information
received from partisans and partisan presses, would
lead us directly into populace, and not popular sov-
ereignty. Genuine popular sovereignty never existed
on a firm basis except in this country. The first gun
of the Revolution announced a new organization of it
which was embodied in the Declaration of Indepen-
dence, developed, elaborated, and inaugurated forever
in the Constitution of the United States. The two
pillars of it were Representation and the Ballot-box.
In distributing their sovereign powers among various
Departments of the Government, the people retained
for themselves the single power of the ballot-box ; and
a great power it was. Through that they were able
to control all the Departments of the Government.
It was not for the people to exercise political power
in detail ; it was not for them to be annoyed with the
cares of Government ; but, from time to time, through
the ballot-box, it was for them—enough—to exert their
sovereign power and control the whole organization.
This is popular sovereignty, the popular sovereignty
of a legal constitutional ballot box ; and when spoken
through that box, the " voice of the people," which
for all political purposes, " is the voice of God ; " but
when it is heard outside of that, it is the voice of a
demon, the tocsin of a reign of terror.
In passing I omitted to answer a question that the
Senator from Illinois has, I believe, repeatedly asked ;
and that is, what were the legal powers of the Terri-
torial Legislature after the formation and adoption of
the Lecompton Constitution ? The Kansas Conven-
tion had nothing to do with. the Territorial Legisla-