Towards the close of the short session this feeling broke out in an open demonstration. On February 23, while an item of the appropriation bill was under debate, Senator Brown, of Mississippi, said he wanted the success of the Democratic party in 1860 to be a success of principles and not of men. He neither wanted to cheat nor be cheated. Under the decision of the Supreme Court the South would demand protection for slavery in the Territories. If he understood the Senator from Illinois, Mr. Douglas, he thought a Territorial Legislature might by non-action or by unfriendly action rightfully exclude slavery. He dissented from him, and now he would like to know from other Senators from the North what they would do: “If the Territorial Legislature refuses to act, will you act? If it pass unfriendly acts, will you pass friendly? If it pass laws hostile to slavery, will you annul them and substitute laws favoring slavery in their stead?... I would rather,” concluded he “see the Democratic party sunk, never to be resurrected, than to see it successful only that one portion of it might practice a fraud on another.”
[Sidenote] Brown, Senate Speech, Feb. 28, 1859. “Globe,” pp. 1246-7.
Douglas met the issue, and defended his Freeport doctrine without flinching. The Democracy of the North hold, said he, that “if you repudiate the doctrine of non-intervention, and form a slave code by act of Congress, where the people of a Territory refuse it, you must step off the Democratic platform. I tell you, gentlemen of the South, in all candor, I do not believe a Democratic candidate can ever carry any one Democratic State of the North on the platform that it is the duty of the Federal Government to force the people of a Territory to have slavery when they do not want it.”
The discussion extended itself to other Senators; Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, Clay, of Alabama, Mason, of Virginia, and Gwin, of California, seconded the demands and arguments of Brown; while Pugh, of Ohio, Broderick, of California, and Stuart, of Michigan, came to the help and defense of Douglas and non-intervention. Several Republicans drifted into the debate on behalf of the position and principles of their party, which of course differed from those of both Brown and Douglas. The discussion was continued to a late hour, and finally came to an end through mere lapse of time, but not until an irreparable schism in the Democratic party had been opened.
[Sidenote] Douglas to Dorr, June 22, 1859.
Baltimore “Sun,” June