freeport doctrine readings.docx - squatter sovereignty Quitman for the Journal notes my definition of squatter sovereignty as\"the doctrine which said

freeport doctrine readings.docx - squatter sovereignty...

This preview shows page 1 - 2 out of 3 pages.

( squatter sovereignty) Quitman for the Journal, notes my definition of squatter sovereignty as "the doctrine which said that early settlers, through their territorial legislatures, could exclude slavery by failing to pass legislation protecting slave property," points out that my definition is virtually indistinguishable from Stephen A. Douglas's Freeport Doc- trine of 1858 though I apply it regarding Quitman's position in early 1856, suggests that I have thus been "confused" by the "idea" of popu- lar sovereignty, and expresses regret that I left this part of my book so ambiguous.1 Mitchell's perplexity about an unconventional defini- tion of squatter sovereignty is understandable, but her reaction per- petuates a long-standing popular misconception about the Freeport Doctrine. U. S. history textbooks and some specialized studies make far too much out of the conceptual originality of Douglas's Freeport Doctrine. Several of the most authoritative works on the coming of the Civil War have identified Freeport Doctrine antecedents months and even years prior to the Lincoln-Douglas debates.2 The following brief consideration of territorial debate in the U. S. House of Repre- sentatives in the winter of 1855-1856 and its effect on Quitman's perspective is intended further to clarify an important aspect of the antebellum sectional controversy. A Freeport Doctrine-type definition of squatter sovereignty best explains John A. Quitman's ideology in late 1855 and early 1856 because many northern and southern House members by that time, including Quitman, equated squatter sovereignty with a refusal by early free-soil territorial settlers to pass protective legislation on behalf of slavery interests. Particularly revealing was a dialogue involving Representatives Leander M. Cox of Kentucky and Emer- son Etheridge of Tennessee on December 21, 1855. Cox, a proslav- ery American party proponent, said that despite Democratic claims to northern constituents that the Kansas-Nebraska Act was antislav- ery because it "required a positive law to establish slavery" in the territories, he believed that the Constitution carried slavery into new territories and that slavery therefore existed in such territories in the absence of a positive law abolishing it, and that such a law could not be passed until statehood. Etheridge, a Whig congressman, responded to Cox's

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture