Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; online

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to that effect to your friends here in Illinois, if requested. I do not
believe the story, but still it gives me some uneasiness. If such
was your inclination, I do not believe you would so express yourself.
It is not in character with you as I have always estimated you.

Tou have no warmer friends than here in Illinois, and I assure
you nine tenths — I believe ninety-nine hundredths— of them would


be mortified exceedingly by anything of the sort from yon. "When I
tell you this, make such allowance as you think just for my position,
which, I doubt not, you understand. Nor am I fishing for a letter
on the other side. Even if such could be had, my judgment is that
you would better be hands off !

Please drop me a line ; and if your purposes are as I hope they
are not, please let me know. The confirmation would pain me much,
but I should still continue your friend and admirer.

Toui" obedient servant, A. Lincoln.

P. S. I purposely fold this sheet within itself instead of an

July 10, 1858. — Speech at Chicago, Illinois..

2[y Fellow-citizens : On yesterday evening, upon the occasion of
the reception given to Senator Douglas, I was furnished with a
seat very convenient for hearing him, and was otherwise very cour-
teously treated by him and his friends, and for which I thank him and
them. During the course of his remarks my name was mentioned
in such a way as, I suppose, renders it at least not improper that I
should make some sort of reply to him. I shall not attempt to
follow him in the precise order in which he addressed the assembled
multitude upon that occasion, though I shall perhaps do so in the

There was one question to which he asked the attention of the
crowd, which I deem of somewhat less importance — at least of
propriety for me to dwell upon — than the others, which he brought
in near the close of his speech, and which I think it would not be
entirely proper for me to omit attending to; and yet if I were not to
give some attention to it now, I should probably forget it altogether.
While I am upon this subject, allow me to say that I do not intend
to indulge in that inconvenient mode sometimes adopted in public
speaking, of reading from documents ; but I shall depart from that
rule so far as to read a little scrap from his speech, which notices
this first topic of which I shall speak — that is, provided I can find
it in the paper.

I have made up my mind to appeal to the people against the combination
that has been made against me. The Republican leaders have formed an
alliance, an unholy and unnatural alliance, with a portion of unscrupulous
federal office-holders. I intend to fight that allied army wherever I meet
them. I know they deny the alliance, but yet these men who are trying to
divide the Democratic party for the purpose of electing a Republican sena-
tor in my place, are just so much the agents and tools of the supporters of
Mr. Lincoln. Hence I shall deal with this allied army just as the Russians
dealt with the allies at Sebastopol — that is, the Russians did not stop to
inquire, when they fired a broadside, whether it hit an EngUshman, a
Frenchman, or a Turk. Nor will I stop to inquire, nor shall I hesitate,
whether my blows shall hit these Republican leaders or their allies, who are
holding the federal offices and yet acting in concert with them.

Well, now, gentlemen, is not that very alarming ? Just to think
of it ! right at the outset of his canvass, I, a poor, kind, amiable.


intelligent gentleman — I am to be slain in this way. Why, my friend
the judge is not only, as it turns out, not a dead lion, nor even a
living one — he is the rugged Russian bear.

But if they will have it — for he says that we deny it — that there
is any such alliance, as he says there is, — and I don't propose hang-
ing very much upon this question of veracity, — but if he will have it
that there is such an alliance, that the administration men and
we are allied, and we stand in the attitude of English, French, and
Turk, he occupying the position of the Russian, — in that case I beg
he win indulge us while we barely suggest to him that these allies
took Sebastopol.

Grentlemen, only a few more words as to this alliance. For my
part, I have to say that whether there be such an alliance depends,
so far as I know, upon what may be a right definition of the term
alliance. If for the Republican party to see the other great party to
which they are opposed divided among themselves and not try to
stop the division, and rather be glad of it, — if that is an alliance, I
confess I am in ; but if it is meant to be said that the Republicans
had formed an alliance going beyond that, by which there is con-
tribution of money or sacrifice of principle on the one side or the
other, so far as the Republican party is concerned, if there be any
such thing, I protest that I neither know anything of it nor do I
believe it. I will, however, say — as I think this branch of the
argument is lugged in — I would before I leave it state, for the
benefit of those concerned, that one of those same Buchanan men
did once tell me of an argument that he made for his opposition to
Judge Douglas. He said that a friend of oiir Senator Douglas had
been talking to him, and had among other things said to him : "Why,
you don't want to beat Douglas?" "Yes," said he, "I do want to
beat him, and I will tell you why. I believe his original Nebraska
bin was right in the abstract, bat it was wrong in the time that it was
brought forward. It was wrong in the application to a Territory
in regard to which the qiiestion had been settled ; it was brought
forward at a time when nobody asked him ; it was tendered to the
South when the South had not asked for it, but when they could not
well refuse it ; and for this same reason he forced that question upon
our party. It has sunk the best men all over the nation, everywhere ;
and now when our President, struggling with the difiieulties of this
man's getting up, has reached the verj: hardest point to turn in the
case, he deserts him, and I am for putting him where he will trouble
us no more."

Now, gentlemen, that is not my argument —^ that is not my argu-
ment at all. I have only been stating to you the argument of a
Buchanan man. You will judge if there is any force in it.

Popular sovereignty ! everlasting popular sovereignty ! Let us
for a moment inquire into this vast matter of popular sovereignty.
What is popular sovereignty ? We recollect that at an early period
in the history of this struggle, there was another name for the same
thing — squatter sovereignty. It was not exactly popular sov-
ereignty, but squatter sovereignty. What did those terms mean 1
What do those terms mean when used now 1 And vast credit is


taken by our friend the judge in regard to liis support of it, when
he declares the last years of his life have beeu, and all the future
years of his life shall b^ devoted to this matter of popular sov-
ereignty. What is it? Why, it is the sovereignty of the people!
"What was squatter sovereignty 1 I suppose if it had any signifi-
cance at all, it was the right of the people to govern themselves, to be
sovereign in their own affairs while they were squatted down in a
country not their own, while they had squatted on a Territory that
did not belong to them, in the sense that a State belongs to the peo-
ple who inhabit it — when it belonged to the nation — such right to
govern themselves was called "squatter sovereignty."

Now I wish you to mark what has become of that squatter
sovereignty. What has become of it? Can you get anybody to
teU you now that the people of a Territory have any authority to
govern themselves, in regard to this mooted question of slavery,
before they form a State constitution? No such thing at all,
although there is a general running fire, and although there has
been a hurrah made in every speech on that side, assuming that
policy had given the people of a Territory the right to govern
themselves upon this question ; yet the point is dodged. To-day it
has been decided — no more than a year ago it was decided by the
Supreme Court of the United States, and is insisted upon to-day —
that the people of a Territory have no right to exclude slavery from
a Territory; that if any one man chooses to take slaves into a
Territory, all the rest of the people have no right to keep them out.
This being so, and this decision being made one of the points that
the judge approved, and one in the approval of which he says he
means to keep me down — put me down I should not say, for I have
never been up ; he says he is in favor of it, and sticks to it, and
expects to win his battle on that decision, which says that there is
no such thing as squatter sovereignty, but that any one man may take
slaves into a Territory, and all the other men in the Territory
may be opposed to it, and yet by reason of the Constitution they
cannot prohibit it. When that is so, how much is li^ft of this vast
matter of squatter sovereignty, I should like to know ?

When we get back, we get to the point of the right of the people
to make a constitution. Kansas was settled, for example, in 1854.
It was a Territory yet, without having formed a constitution, in a
very regular way, for three years. All this time negro slavery could
be taken in by any few individuals, and by that decision of the
Supreme Court, which the judge approves, all the rest of the people
cannot keep it out; but when they come to make a constitution
they may say they will not have slavery. But it is there ; they are
obliged to tolerate it some way, and all experience shows it wiU
be so — for they will not take the negro slaves and absolutely deprive
the owners of them. AU experience shows this to be so. All that
space of time that runs from the beginning of the settlement of the
Territory until there is sufficiency of people to make a State consti-
tution — aU that portion of time popular sovereignty is given up.
The seal is absolutely put down upon it by the court decision, and
Judge Douglas puts his own upon the top of that; yet he is appeal-


ing to the people to give him vast credit for his devotion to popular

Again, when we get to the question of the right of the people to
form a State constitution as they please, to form it with slaverj' or
without slavery — if that is anything new, I confess I don't know it.
Has there ever been a time when anybody said that any other than
the people of a Territory itself should form a constitution 1 What
is now in it that Judge Douglas should have fought several years of
his life, and pledge himself to fight aU the remaining years of his
life, for ? Can Judge Douglas find anybody on earth that said that
anybody else should form a constitution for a people? [A voice:
" Yes."J Well, I should like you to name him ; I should like to know
who he was. [Same voice : " John Calhoun."] No, sir; I never heard
of even John Calhoun saying such a thing. He insisted on the
same principle as Judge Douglas ; but his mode of applying it, in
fact, was wrong. It is enough for my purpose to ask this crowd
whenever a Republican said anything against it ? They never said
anything against it, but they have constantly spoken -for it; and
whosoever will undertake to examine the platform and the speeches
of responsible men of the party, and of irresponsible men, too, if you
please, will be unable to find one word from anybody in the Republi-
can ranks opposed to that popular sovereignty which Judge Douglas
thinks he has invented. I suppose that Judge Douglas will claim
in a little while that he is the inventor of the idea that the people
should govern themselves; that nobody ever thought of such a
thing until he brought it forward. We do not remember that in
that old Declaration of Independence it is said that " We hold these
truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal j that they
are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights ; that
among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness ; that to
secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving
their just powers from the consent of the governed." There is the
origin of popular sovereignty. Who, then, shall come in at this day
and claim that he invented it ?

The Lecompton constitution connects itself with this question^ for
it is in this matter of the Lecompton constitution that our friend
Judge Douglas claims such vast credit. I agree that in opposing
the Lecompton constitution, so far as I can perceive, he was right.
I do not deny that at all ; and, gentlemen, you will readily see why I
could not deny it, even if I wanted to. But I do not wish to ; for all
the Republicans in the nation opposed it, and they would have op-
posed it just as much without Judge Douglas's aid as with it. They
had all taken ground against it long before he did. Why, the reason
that he urges against that constitution I urged against him a year
before. I have the printed speech in my hand. The argument that
he makes why that constitution should not be adopted, that the
people were not fairly represented nor allowed to vote, I pointed out
in a speech a year^ ago, which I hold in my hand now, that no fair
chance was to be given to the i)eople. ["Read it; read it."] I
shall not waste your time by trying to read it. ["Read it; read
it."] Gentlemen, reading from speeches is a very tedious business.


particularly for an old man who has to put on spectaelos, and more
so if the man be so tall that he has to bend over to the light.

A little more now as to this matter of popular sovereignty and
the Lecompton constitution. The Lecompton constitution, as the
judge tells us, was defeated. The defeat of it was a good thing, or it
was not. He thinks the defeat of it was a good thing, and so do I,
and we agree in that. Who defeated it? [A voice: "Judge Douglas."]
Yes, he furnished himself, and if you suppose he controlled the other
Democrats that went with hira, he furnished three votes, while the
Republicans furnished twenty.

That is what he did to defeat it. In the House of Representatives
he and his friends furnished some twenty votes, and the Republicans
furnished ninety odd. Now, who was it that did the work ? [A voice :
"Douglas."] Why, yes, Douglas did it! To be sure he did.

Let us, however, put that proposition another way. The Republi-
cans could not have done it without Judge Douglas. Could he have
done it without them I Which could have come the nearest to doing
it without the other? [A voice: "Who killed the bill?" Another
voice : " Douglas."] Ground was taken against it by the Republicans
long before Douglas did it. The proportion of opposition to that
measure is about five to one. [A voice: "Why don't they come out
on it?"] You don't know what you are talking about, my friend.
I am quite willing to answer any gentleman in the crowd who asks
an intelligent question.

Now, who, in all this country, has ever found any of our friends of
Judge Douglas's way of thinking, and who have acted upon this
main question, that have ever thought of uttering a word in behalf
of Judge Trumbull? [A voice: "We have."] I defy you to show a
printed resolution passed in a Democratic meeting. I take it upon
myself to defy any man to show a printed resolution of a Democratic
meeting, large or small, in favor of Judge Trumbull, or any of the
five to one Republicans who beat that bill. Bverythiig must be for
the Democrats ! They did everything, and the five to the one that
really did the thing they snub over, and they do not seem to remem-
ber that they have an existence upon the face of the earth.

Gentlemen, I fear that I shall become tedious. I leave this branch
of the subject to take hold of another. I take up that part of Judge
Douglas's speech in which he respectfully attended to me.

Judge Douglas made two points upon my recent speech at Spring-
field. He says they are to be the issues of this campaign. The first
one of these points he bases upon the language in a speech which I
delivered at Springfield, which I believe I can quote correctly from
memory. I said there that " we are now far into the fifth year since
a policy was instituted for the avowed object and with the confident
promise of putting an end to slavery agitation ; under the operation
of that policy, that agitation has not only not ceased, but has con-
stantly augmented. I believe it will not cease until a crisis shall have
been reached and passed. 'A house divided against itself cannot
stand.' I believe this government cannot endure permanently half
slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved " —
I am quoting from my speech — "I do not expect the house to fall,


but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one
thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest
the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest
in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction, or its
advocates will push it forward until it shall become alike lawful in
all the States, old as well as newj North as well as South."

That is the paragraph ! In this paragraph which I have quoted
in your hearing, and to which I ask the attention of all, Judge Doug-
las thinks he discovers great political heresy. I want your attention
particularly to what he has inferred from it. He says I am in favor
of making all the States of this Union uniform in all their internal
regulations; that in all their domestic concerns I am in favor of
making them entirely uniform. He draws this inference from the
language I have quoted to you. He says that I am in favor of making
war by the North upon the South for the extinction of slavery; that
I am also in favor of inviting (as he expresses it) the South to a war
upon the North, for the purpose of nationalizing slavery. Now, it is
singular enough, if you will carefully read that passage over, that I
did not say that I was in favor of anything in it. I only said what
I expected would take place. I made a prediction only — it may have
been a foolish one, perhaps. I did not even say that I desired that
slavery should be put in course of ultimate extinction. I do say so
now, however, so there need be no longer any difficulty about that.
It may be written down in the great speech.

Gentlemen, Judge Douglas informed you that this speech of mine
was probably carefully prepared. I admit that it was. I am not
master of language; 1 have not a fine education; I am not capable
of entering into a disquisition upon dialectics, as I believe you call it;
but I do not believe the language I employed bears any such con-
struction as Judge Douglas puts upon it. But I don't care about a
quibble in regard to words. I know what I meant, and I will not leave
this crowd in doubt, if I can explain it to them, what I really meant
in the use of that paragraph.

I am not, in the first place, unaware that this government has en-
dured eighty-two years half slave and half free. I know that. I
am tolerably well acquainted with the history of the country, and I
know that it has endured eighty-two years half slave and half free.
I believe — and that is what I meant to allude to there — I believe it
has endured because during all that time, until the introduction of
the Nebraska bill, the public mind did rest all the time in the belief
that slavery was in course of ultimate extinction. That was what
gave us the rest that we had through that period of eighty-two
years ; at least, so I believe. I have always hated slavery, I think,
as much as any Abolitionist — I have been an old-line Whig — I
have always hated it, but I have always been quiet about it until
this new era of the introduction of the Nebraska bill began. I al-
ways believed that everybody was against it, and that it was in
course of ultimate extinction. [Pointing to Mr. Browning, who
stood near by.] Browning thought so ; the great mass of the nation
have rested in the belief that slavery was in course of ultimate
extinction. They had reason so to believe.


The adoption of the Constitution and its attendant history led
the people to believe so, and that such was the belief of the framers
of the Constitution itself. Why did those old men, about the time of
the adoption of the Constitution, decree that slavery should not go
into the new Territory, where it had not already gone i Why declare
that within twenty years the African slave-trade, by which slaves
are supplied, might be cut off by Congress 1 Why were all these
acts? I might enumerate more of these acts — but enough. What
were they but a clear indication that the framers of the Constitution
intended and expected the ultimate extinction of that institution?
And now, when I say, — as I said in mjr speech that Judge Douglas
has quoted from, — when I say that I think the opponents of slavery
will resist the farther spread of it, and place it where the public
mind shall rest in the belief that it is in course of ultimate ex-
tinction, I only mean to say that they wiU place it where the
founders of this government originally placed it.

I have said a hundred times, and I have now no inclination to
take it back, that I believe thei-e is no right and ought to be no in-
clination in the people of the free States to enter into the slave
States and interfere with the question of slavery at all. I have said
that always; Judge Douglas has heard me say it — if not quite a
hundred times, at least as good as a hundred times ; and when it is
said that I am in favor of interfering with slavery where it exists, I
know it is unwarranted by anything I have ever intended, and, as
I believe, by anything I have ever said. If by any means I have
ever used language which could fairly be so construed (as, however,
I believe I never have), I now correct it.

So much, then, for the inference that Judge Douglas draws, that
I am in favor of setting the sections at war with one another. I
know that I never meant any such thing, and I believe that no fair
mind can infer any such thing from anything I have ever said.

Now in relation to his inference that I am in favor of a general
consolidation of all the local institutions of the various States. I
will attend to that for a little while, and try to inquire, if I can, how
on earth it could be that any man could draw such an inference
from anything I said. I have said very many times in Judge
Douglas's hearing that no man believed more than I in the principle
of self-government ; that it lies at the bottom of all my ideas of just
government from beginning to end. I have denied that his use of
that term applies properly. But for the thing itself I deny that any
man has ever gone ahead of me in his devotion to the principle,
whatever he may have done in efficiency in advocating it. I think
that I have said it in your hearing — that I believe each individual
is naturally entitled to do as he pleases with himself and the fruit
of his labor, so far as it in no wise interferes with any other man's
rights ; that each community, as a State, has a right to do exactly
as it pleases with all the concerns within that State that interfere
with the right of no other State; and that the General G-overnment,
upon principle, has no right to interfere with anything other than
that general class of things that does concern the whole. I have
said that at all times. I have said as illustrations that I do not be-


lieve ia the right of Illinois to interfere with the cranberry laws of
Indiana, the oyster laws of Virginia, or the liquor laAvs of Maine. I
have said these things over and over again, and I repeat them here
as my sentiments.

How is it, then, that Judge Douglas infers, because I hope to see
slavery put where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is
in the course of ultimate extinction, that I am in favor of Illinois
going over and interfering with the cranberry laws of Indiana?
"What can authorize him to draw any such inference ? I suppose there
might be one thing that at least enabled him to draw such an infer-
ence that would not be true with me or many others; that is, because
he looks upon all this matter of slavery as an exceedingly little

Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 32 of 91)