but a Sword
The new thirty-sixth Congress assembled on December 5, 1859, a few weeks after Douglas published his final rejoinder to the Attorney General and just three days after John Brown died on the gallows in Virginia. Less than five months ahead lay the Democratic national convention, scheduled to meet at Charleston, of all places. Any lingering hope that the President might try to reunite the divided party was dispelled by his third annual message. Buchanan's previous messages had contained only passing references to the Dred Scott case. Now, almost three years after the Court's decision, he proceeded to "congratulate" the American people on the "final settlement" of the territorial issue:
The right has been established of every citizen to take his property of any kind, including slaves, into the common Territories belonging equally to all the States of the Confederacy, and to have it protected there under the Federal Constitution. Neither Congress nor a Territorial legislature nor any human power has any authority to annul or impair this vested right. . . .
Thus has the status of a Territory during the intermediate period from its first settlement until it shall become a State been irrevocably fixed by the final decision of the Supreme Court. Fortunate has this been for the prosperity of the Territories, as well as the tranquillity of the States.