Democratic Party Platform 1860 (Breckinridge Faction)

Why does the Breckinridge faction of the Democratic Party take the position on slavery that it does?
Does the Breckinridge platform represent a rejection of the Declaration of Independence (See Letter to Henry Pierce and Others)?

When the Democratic Party met in Baltimore in 1860 to try to overcome their differences, infighting between the different factions was intense and bitter (see Democratic Party Platform 1860 (Douglas Faction)). Northern Democrats supported Stephen Douglas and wanted a platform that emphasized the principle of popular sovereignty for the territories. Douglas’s opposition to the recognition of Kansas, however, had made him deeply unpopular in the South, and Southerners demanded a platform that called for direct constitutional protection for slavery in the territories. When it became clear that the two sides could not be reconciled and that Douglas’s supporters had the upper hand, Southerners stormed out of the convention vowing to go it alone. Conventions of Southerners were held in Baltimore and in Richmond. In both cities, southern Democrats nominated John Breckinridge of Kentucky for president and Joseph Lane of Oregon for vice president. Southerners favoring secession cheered the party split, paving the way toward the breakup of the Union with Lincoln’s election.

—Eric C. Sands

Source: Democratic Party Platform 1860 (Breckinridge Faction), November 6, 1860. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.

Resolved, That the platform adopted by the Democratic party at Cincinnati is affirmed, with the following explanatory resolutions:

First—That the government of a Territory organized by an act of Congress is provisional and temporary, and during its existence all citizens of the United States have an equal right to settle with their property in the Territory, without their rights, either of person or property, being destroyed or injured by Congressional or Territorial legislation.

Second—That it is the duty of the Federal Government, in all its departments, to protect, when necessary, the rights of the persons and property in the Territories, and wherever else its constitutional authority extends.

Third—That when the settlers in a Territory, having an adequate population, form a State Constitution, the right of sovereignty commences, and being consummated by admission into the Union, they stand on an equal footing with the people of other States; and a State thus organized ought to be admitted into the Federal Union, whether its Constitution prohibits or recognizes the institution of slavery.

Resolved, That the Democratic party are in favor of the acquisition of the island of Cuba, on such terms as shall be honorable to ourselves and just to Spain, at the earliest practicable moment.

Resolved, That the enactments of State Legislatures to defeat the faithful execution of the Fugitive Slave Law, are hostile in character to, and subversive of, the Constitution, and revolutionary in their effect.

Resolved, That the Democracy of the United States recognize it as an imperative duty of the Government to protect naturalized citizens in all their rights, whether at home or in foreign lands, to the same extent as its native-born citizens.

Whereas, One of the greatest necessities of the age, in a political, commercial, postal, and military point of view, is a speedy communication between the Pacific and Atlantic coasts; therefore, be it

Resolved, That the National Democratic party do hereby pledge themselves to use every means in their power to secure the passage of some bill, to the extent of the constitutional authority of Congress, for the construction of a Pacific Railroad from the Mississippi River or the Pacific Ocean, at the earliest practicable moment.

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