Crisis of the House Divided: An Interpretation of the Issues in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates

By Harry V. Jaffa | Go to book overview

Chapter VIII
The Repeal of the Missouri Compromise IV TRAGEDY. THE EXTREMES CRUSH THE MEAN

Now intervened a strange episode. Douglas's special report, accompanied by the bill, was issued on January 4 and printed in the WashingtonSentinel on the seventh. This bill, despite the elaborate prologue of the report, actually contained no statement regarding slavery, except the language of the 1850 territorial acts which we have seen as the first of the provisions cited in the report. But on January 10, after the bill had been twice read in the Senate and ordered to be printed, it was reprinted by the Sentinel with an additional twenty-first section which, Douglas explained, had been omitted in the first published version because of a "clerical error." This famed "clerical error" section read as follows:

Section 21. And be it further enacted, That, in order to avoid all misconstruction, it is hereby declared to be the true intent and meaning of this act, so far as the question of slavery is concerned, to carry into practical operation the following propositions and principles established by the compromise measures of 1850, to wit:

First. That all questions pertaining to slavery in the Territories, and in the new States to be formed therefrom, are to be left to the decision of the people residing therein, through their appropriate representatives.

Second. That "all cases involving title to slaves" and "questions of personal freedom," are referred to the adjudica

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