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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE
CINCINNATI, Nov. 17, 1850.
MY DEAR SIR, Your letter, like the "royal Charlie" of the Cannie Scots "was long in coming." It was dated Nov. 7 and I only rec'd. it yesterday.
I am much obliged to you for it; and like your general
views. I do not believe that the Free Democrats, if they
act prudently, will be put to the necessity of voting for any
such such as Wade or any counterpart in the Old Line Democracy for Senator for the full term. I should dislike greatly to see them descend so far from the position which Morse, Townshend, Smart & Swift maintained under worse circumstances in 1848-9. I would almost say that I would prefer a Coalition between the Hunkers of both sides, to such a descent. But our friends in the Legislature must judge for themselves The responsibility is upon them. I am assured by Capt Rafter, who was one of the Chief Engineers of the "Peoples Peoples Line" last winter that he went into it with great reluctance, and that if he & his fellow democrats had been met with the liberality and openness, which Townshend & Morse displayed the winter before it would never have been organized. Cooperation between Free Democrats & Old Line Democrats is more natural than Cooperation between either & Whigs because there is more agreement of principle; and I have so great confidence in the power of principles, that I do not doubt that a union, on right ground & honorable terms for both sides, can be had, if our friends go to work in the right spirit, and in a liberal temper, maintaining their principles firmly, & letting it be
seen distinctly that their action is governed by a paramount regard to them.
I suppose the most important first step will be to determine who shall compose the Free Democratic Caucus. The rule, proposed by Dr. Townshend, two years ago is I think the true one: that all who claim to participate in its proceedings shall subscribe a declaration that they hold, as of paramount importance, the political principles of the Buffalo & Columbus Platforms, and will support no candidates for the Presidency or Vice Presidency who are not able & avowed opponents of the Extension of Slavery into New Mexico & Utah, but will act with the Party which holds these principles arid whose Candidates occupy that position, namely the Free Democracy; and that they will act together as members of the Legislature so far as they conscientiously can after mutual consultation. This seems to me now and seemed to me then as far as honest men can go, and no farther than any sincere free democrat would cheerfully go.
I suppose that the Senate Caucus constituted on this principle will embrace yourself, Pardee, Randall & I suppose Lyman: and that the House Caucus will embrace Morse, Plumb, Pore, Bradley, Kent Johnson, of Medina, Thompson of Lorain & Williamson. You will find Pardee I suppose agreeing fully with you, and Randall will probably agree with you generally. I hope Mr. Lyman may also do so, but I do not know him & have heard that he may feel himself under obligation to the Whigs. I wish you could see Randall, and converse with him. A great deal will depend on his course. He has done much mischief heretofore, I fear, by his action under bad advice & influence. But I trust Beaver & Blake being out he may do well, follow in the convictions of his own judgment, which, if he will trust it fully & boldly will, I believe, guide him safely. In the House the Free Democrats of radical sympathies will have a clear majority in Caucus. They will only need to act cautiously but firmly, looking before them carefully and not fearfully.
The French say " it is the first step that costs." This is true. The beginning is full brother to the end generally.
If the session begins right, in mutual good will & cooperation between the Free Democrats & Old Line, I shall hope the best results. One side having the Speaker and the other the Clerk in each House, & the subordinate officers of the organization being fairly distributed, and the Committees fairly arranged every thing will, I trust, go well.
I have no personal interest in the result; but a very deep concern in the ascendancy of free democratic principles. May God grant that truth and reason and justice may govern: and that if I am mistaken I may be Overruled.
I enclose some resolutions which it seems to me the Free Denis & Old Liners can agree on. Without the use of any violence of language they cover the entire ground.
I expect to be in Cleveland by noon Thursday & stay till Friday morn I wish I could meet you and some other friends there.
[Enclosure in letter of November 17, 1850.]
That the Constitution of the United States established a General Government of limited powers, expressly reserving all powers, not thereby delegated, to the States and to the People.
, That among the powers delegated to the General Government by the Constitution, that of legislating upon the subject of fugitives from service is not to be found; while that of depriving any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law is expressly denied.
That in the judgment of this General Assembly, the Act of Congress in relation to fugitives from service, approved Sept. 18, 1850 is unconstitutional not merely for want of power to Congress to legislate on the subject, but because the provisions of the act are in several important particulars repugnant to the express provision of the Constitution.
That it is the duty of the Judges of the Several Courts of this State to allow the Writ of Habeas Corpus to all persons applying for the same in conformity with the laws of this State, and to [sic] conform in all respects to subsequent proceedings to the provisions of the same.
, That while the Constitution of the United States confers on Congress no power to interfere with the internal legislation of the Several States and consequently no power to act within State limits on the subject of slavery it does require that Congress, whenever, beyond the limits of any State, it has exclusive legislative power, [sic] shall provide, efficient securities for the personal liberty of every person unconvicted of Crime.
, That it is the duty of Congress to repeal all acts by which any person is deprived of liberty without due process of law and especially all acts by which any person is held in Slavery in any place subject to exclusive national jurisdiction.
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