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Collection Reference Number GLC04628
From Archive Folder Documents Relating to 1848 
Title Andrew Johnson to Alfred O. Nicholson regarding the concept of popular sovereignty
Date 18 January 1848
Author Johnson, Andrew (1808-1875)  
Recipient Nicholson, Alfred O.  
Document Type Correspondence
Content Description Supports Lewis Cass' concept of popular sovereignty, enabling each new state to vote whether or not to allow slavery, believing that this is the best way to extend and protect slavery. "It seems to me for the south to admit that the federal Government has the power to establish slavery where it does not now, exist, (that is in the territories) is conceding all that the most ultr & Wilmot proviso man desires - for if the Government can establish, in slave territory now free, it can abollish it in a territory where it does exist...Our true position in my opinion, is, to deny all power to the Genl Government to interfere with the institution of Slavery in or out of the states, leaving it exclusively to the people, the legitimate source of all power, to determin the nature and character of all institutions that pertain to there particular locality - It is the safest position for the south it is the most defensible for the democracy of the north, while at the same time we steer clear of impracticable Taneyism on the one hand and Wilmot Provisoism on the other."
Subjects Government and Civics  African American History  Slavery  President  US Constitution  Westward Expansion  
People Johnson, Andrew (1808-1875)  Nicholson, A. O. P. (Alfred Osborn Pope) (1808-1876)  Benton, Thomas Hart (1782-1858)  
Place written Washington, D.C.
Theme Government & Politics; African Americans; Slavery & Abolition; The Presidency; Westward Expansion
Sub-collection The Gilder Lehrman Collection, 1493-1859
Additional Information Johnson is probably discussing Lewis Cass' letter to Nicholson, dated 1847 Dec. 24 which is believed to contain the first formulation of the idea of popular sovereignty. Johnson refers to Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton, who opposed the extension of slavery. Written as Democratic representative for Tennessee. Alfred O. P. Nicholson was a Senator from Tennessee.
Copyright The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
Module Settlement, Commerce, Revolution and Reform: 1493-1859