This declaration very clearly defined the issue on one side. On the other side it was also formulated with equal distinctness. Jefferson Davis, already recognized as the ablest leader of the Buchanan wing of the Democratic Senators, wrote and submitted to the United States Senate, on February 2, 1860, a series of resolutions designed to constitute the Administration or Southern party doctrines, which were afterwards revised and adopted by a caucus of Democratic Senators. These resolutions expressed the usual party tenets; and on two of the controverted points asserted dogmatically exactly that which Douglas had stigmatized as an intolerable heresy. The fourth resolution declared “That neither Congress nor a Territorial Legislature, whether by direct legislation or legislation of an indirect and unfriendly character, possesses power to annul or impair the constitutional right of any citizen of the United States to take his slave property into the common Territories, and there hold and enjoy the same while the Territorial condition remains.” While the fifth resolution declared “That if experience should at any time prove that the judiciary and executive authority do not possess means to insure adequate protection to constitutional rights in a Territory, and if the Territorial government shall fail or refuse to provide the necessary remedies for that purpose, it will be the duty of Congress to supply such deficiency.”
Party discipline was so strong among the Democrats that public expectation looked confidently to at least a temporary agreement or combination which would enable the factions, by a joint effort, to make a hopeful Presidential campaign. But no progress whatever was made in that direction. As the clans gathered at Charleston, the notable difference developed itself, that while one wing was filled with unbounded enthusiasm for a candidate, the other was animated by an earnest and stubborn devotion to an idea.
[Sidenote] Murat Halstead, “Conventions of 1860.”
“Douglas was the pivot individual of the Charleston Convention,” wrote an observant journalist; “every delegate was for or against him; every motion meant to nominate or not nominate him; every parliamentary war was pro or con Douglas.” This was the surface indication, and, indeed, it may be said with truth, it was the actual feeling of the Northern faction of the Democratic party. Douglas was a genuinely popular leader. He had the power to inspire a pure personal enthusiasm. He had aroused such hero-worship as may be possible in modern times and in American polities. Beyond this, however, the Lecompton controversy, and his open persecution by the Buchanan Administration, made his leadership and his candidacy a necessity to the Northern Democrats.