[Washington: Towers, (1859?)]. Caption title [as issued]. 16pp, printed in double columns. Disbound with scattered foxing, Good+.
Howes and Sabin record 1859 Baltimore printings only. Johnson was an authoritative voice on the issue of Popular Sovereignty: he was counsel for the slaveowners in the Dred Scott case, which held that Congress could not bar slavery from the territories. That decision destroyed the underpinnings of Popular Sovereignty. Stephen A. Douglas, who had built his career on that doctrine, sought to counter Dred Scott by arguing that slavery's viability in a given location depended upon friendly local legislation. A territorial legislature could bar slavery, as a practical matter, by refusing to enact such laws; but Southern Rights proponents insisted that territories had a duty to do so.
Here Johnson weighed in, against Southern Rights advocates and in support of Douglas on the eve of his presidential candidacy. He makes a 'natural rights' argument that, although Congress lacks power to regulate slavery in a territory, a territorial legislature may do so. "That slavery, an artificial instead of a natural condition, should be beyond the reach of human power, under any form of government...in disregard of the wishes of all branches of the government, and of all general or local power, is a doctrine so extraordinary that it almost defies human judgment."
Howes J143. Sabin 36266. LCP 5337. OCLC 23717234 . Item #18902