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 307

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Page 307

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 307
ture, which was a provisional government almost
without power, appointed and paid by this Govern-
ment. The Lecompton Constituton was the act of a
people, and the sovereign act of a people legally as-
sembled in convention. The two bodies moved in
different spheres and on different planes, and could
not come in contact at all without usurpation on the
one part or the other. It was not competent for the
Lecompton Constitution to overturn the territorial
government and set up a government in place of it,
because that Constitution, until acknowledged by Con-
gress, was nothing ; it was not in force anywhere. It
could well require the people of Kansas to pass upon
it or any portion of it ; it could do whatever was
necessary to perfect that Constitution, but nothing
beyond that, until Congress had agreed to accept it.
In the mean time the territorial government, always a
government ad interim, was entitled to exercise all the
sway over the Territory that it ever had been entitled
to. The error of assuming, as the Senator did, that
the convention was the creature of the territorial gov-
ernment, has led him into the difficulty and confusion
resulting from connecting these two governments
together. There was no power to govern in the con-
vention until after the adoption by Congress of its
Constitution, and then it was of course defunct.
As the Senator from Illinois, whom I regard as the
Ajax Telamon of this debate, does not press the ques-
tion of frauds, I shall have little or nothing to say
about them. The whole history of Kansas is a dis-
gusting one, from the beginning to the end. I have
avoided reading it as much,as I could. Had I been a
Senator before, I should have felt it my duty, perhaps,