Abraham Lincoln.

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

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you will reach me at Springfield.

A. L.

Mr. Douglas to Mr. Lincoln.

Bembnt, Piatt Co., III., July 30, 1858.

Dear Sir : Your letter dated yesterday, accepting my proposition
for a joint discussion at one prominent point in each congressional
district, as stated in my previous letter, was received this morning.

The times and places designated are as follows :

Ottawa, La Salle County ; August 21, 1858.

Freeport, Stephenson County " 27, "

Jonesboro, Union County September 15, "

Charleston, Coles County " 18, "

Q-alesbnrg, Knox County October 7, "

Quincy, Adams County " 13, "

Alton, Madison County " 15, "

I agree to your suggestion that we shall alternately open and
close the discussion. I will speak at Ottawa one hour; you can re-
ply, occupying an hour and a half, and I will then follow for half
an hour. At Freeport, you shall open the discussion and speak one
hour ; I will follow for an hour and a half, and you can then reply
for half an hour. We will alternate in like manner in each succes-
sive place. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

S. A. Douglas.
Hon. a. Lincoln, Springfield, 111.


Mr. Lincoln to Mr. Douglas.

Springfield, July 31, 1858.
Hon. S. a. Douglas.

Bear Sir : Yours of yesterday, naming places, times, and terms
for joint discussions between us, was received this morning. Al-
though by the terms, as you propose, you take four openings and
closes to my three, I accede, and thus close the arrangement. I
direct this to you at Hillsboro, and shall try to have both your letter
and this appear in the " Journal " and " Register " of Monday morn-
ing. Your obedient servant,

A. Lincoln.

July 31, 1858.— Letter to H. Asbury.

Springfield, July 31, 1858.
Henry Asbury, Esq.

2Iij dear Sir: Yours of the 28th is received. The points you
propose to press upon Douglas he will be very hard to get up to,
but I think you labor under a mistake when you say no one cares
how he answers. This implies that it is ecjual with him whether he
is injured here or at the South. That is a mistake. He cares
nothing for the South ; he knows he is already dead there. He only
leans Southward more to keep the Buchanan party from growing
in niinois. You shall have hard work to get him directly to the
point whether a territorial legislature has or has not the power
to exclude slavery. But if you succeed in bringing him to it —
though he will be compelled to say it possesses no such power — he
will instantly take ground that slavery cannot actually exist in the
Territories unless the people desire it, and so give it protection by
territorial legislation. If this offends the South, he will let it offend
them, as at all events he means to hold on to his chances in Illinois.
You will soon learn by the papers that both the judge and myself
are to be in Quincy on the 13th of October, when and where I expect
the pleasure of seeing you. Yours very truly,

A. Lincoln.

August 21, 1858. — First Joint Debate, at Ottawa, Illinois.

Mr. Douglass Opening Speech.

Ladies and Gentleinen: I appear before you to-day for the pur-
pose of discussing the leading political topics which now agitate th»
public mind. By an arrangement between Mr. Lincoln and myself„
we are present here to-day for the purpose of having a joint discus-
sion, as the representatives of the two great political parties of the
State and Union, upon the principles in issue between those parties ;•
and this vast concourse of people shows the deep feeling which per-
vades the public mind in regard to the questions dividing us>


Prior to 1854 this country was divided into two great political
parties, known as the "Whig and Democratic parties. Both were
national and patriotic, advocating principles that were universal in
their application. An old-line Whi^ could proclaim his principles
in Louisiana and Massachusetts alike. Whig principles had no
boundary sectional line — they were not limited by the Ohio Eiver,
nor by the Potomac, nor by the line of the free and slave States,
but applied and were proclaimed wherever the Constitution ruled or
the American flag waved over the American soil. So it was, and so
it is with the great Democratic party, which, from the days of Jeffer-
son until this period, has proven itself to be the historic party of
this nation. While the Whig and Democratic parties differed in
regard to a bank, the tariff, distribution, the specie circular, and the
subtreasury, they agreed on the great slavery question which now
agitates the Union. I say that the Whig party and the Democia,tic
party agreed on the slavery question, while they differed on those
matters of expediency to which I have referred. The Whig party
and the Democratic party jointly adopted the compromise measures
of 1850 as the basis of a proper and just solution of the slavery
question in aU its forms. Clay was the great leader, with Webster
on his right and Cass on his left, and sustained by the patriots in
the Whig and Democratic ranks who had devised and enacted the
compromise measures of 1850.

In 1851 the Whig party and the Democratic party united in Dii-
nois in adopting resolutions indorsing and approving the principles
of the compromise measures of 1850, as the proper adjustment of
that question. In 1852, when the Whig party assembled in conven-
tion at Baltimore for the purpose of nominating a candidate for the
presidency, the first thing it did was to declare the compromise
measures of 1850, in substance and in principle, a suitable adjust-
ment of that question. [Here the speaker was interrupted by loud
and long-continued applause.] My friends, silence will be more ac-
ceptable to me in the discussion of these questions than applause.
I desire to address myself to your judgment, yoiir understanding,
and your consciences, and not to your passions or your enthusiasm.
When the Democratic convention assembled in Baltimore in the
same year, for the purpose of nominating a Democratic candidate
for the presidency, it also adopted the compromise measures of 1850
as the basis of Democratic action. Thus you see that up to 1853-54,
the Whig party and the Democratic party both stood on the same
platform with regard to the slavery question. That platform was the
right of the people of each State and each Territory to decide their
local and domestic institutions for themselves, subject only to the
Federal Constitution.

During the session of Congress of 1853-54, I introduced into the
Senate of the United States a bill to organize the Territories of
Kansas and Nebraska on that principle which had been adopted in
the compromise measures of 1850, approved by the Wliig party and
the Democratic party in Illinois in 1851, and indorsed by the Whig
party and the Democratic party in national convention in 1852. In
order that there might be no misunderstanding in relation to the


principle involved in the Kansas and Nebraska bill, I put forth the
true intent and meaning of the act in these words: "It is the true
intent and meaning of this act not to legislate slavery into any State
or Territory, or to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the people thereof
perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their
own way, subject only to the Federal Constitution." Thus you see
that up to 1854, when the Kansas and Nebraska bill was brought into
Congress for the purpose of carrying out the principles which both
parties had up to that time indorsed and approved, there had been no
division in this country in regard to that principle except the opposi-
tion of the Abolitionists. In the House of Representatives of the Illi-
nois legislature, upon a resolution asserting that principle, every Whig
and every Democrat in the House voted in the affirmative, and only
four men voted against it, and those four were old-line Abolitionists.
In 1854 Mr. Abraham Lincoln and Mr. Lyman Trumbull entered
into an arrangement, one with the other, and each with his respective
friends, to dissolve the Old Whig party on the one hand, and to dis-
solve the old Democratic party on the other, and to connect the
members of both into an Abolition party, under the name and dis-
guise of a Republican party. The terms of that arrangement between
Lincoln and Trumbull have been published by Lincoln's special
friend, James H. Matheny, Esq., and they were that Lincoln should
have General Shields's place in the United States Senate, which was
then about to become vacant, and that Trumbull should have my
seat when my term expired. Lincoln went to work to Abolitionize
the Old Whig party aU over the State, pretending that he was then as

food a Whig as ever; and Trumbull went to work in his part of the
tate preaching Abolitionism in its milder and lighter form, and try-
ing to Abolitionize the Democratic party, and bring old Democrats
handcuffed and bound hand and foot into the Abolition camp. In
pursuance of the arrangement, the parties met at Springfield in Oc-
tober, 1854, and proclaimed their new platform. Lincoln was to
bring into the Abolition camp the old-line Whigs, and transfer them
over to Giddings, Chase, Fred Douglass, and Parson Lovejoy, who
were ready to receive them and christen them in their new faith.
They laid down on that occasion a platform for their new Republican
party, which was thus to be constructed. I have the resolutions of
the State convention then held,which was the first mass State conven-
tion ever held in Illinois by the Black Republican party, and I now
hold them in my hands and wiU read a part of them, and cause the
others to be printed. Here are the most important and material reso-
lutions of this Abolition platform :

1. Resolved, That we believe this truth to be self-evident, that when par-
ties become subversive of the ends for which they are established, or in-
capable of restoring' the government to the true principles of the Constitu-
tion, it is the right and duty of the people to dissolve the political bands
by which they may have been connected therewith, and to organize new par-
ties upon such principles and with such views as the circumstances and
the exigencies of the nation may demand.

2. Resolved, That the times imperatively demand the reorganization of
parties, and, repudiating aU previous party attachments, names and predi-


lections, we unite ourselves together in defense of the liberty and Constitu-
tion of the country, and wiU hereafter cooperate as the Eepubhcan party,
pledged to the accomplishment of the foUowing purposes : To bring the
adnmiistration of the government back to the control of first principles ;
to restore Nebraska and Kansas to the position of free Territories ; that,
as the Constitution of the United States vests in the States, and not in Con-
gress, the power to legislate for the extradition of fugitives from labor, to
repeal and entirely abrogate the fugitive-slave law ; to restrict slavery to
those States in which it exists ; to prohibit the admission of any more slave
States into the Union ; to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia ; to
exclude slavery from all the Territories over which the general government
has exclusive jurisdiction; and to resist the acquirement of any more
Territories unless the practice of slavery therein forever shall have been

3. Sesolved, That in furtherance of these principles we will use such con-
stitutional and lawful means as shall seem best adapted to their accomplish-
ment, and that we wiU support no man for office, under the general or
State government, who is not positively and f uUy committed to the support
of these principles^ and whose personal character and conduct is not a
guaranty that he is reliable, and who shall not have abjured old party
allegiance and ties.

Now, gentlemen, your Black Republicans have cheered every one
of those propositions, and yet I venture to say that you cannot get
Mr. Lincoln to come out and say that he is now in favor of each one
of them. That these propositions, one and aU, constitute the plat-
form of the Black Republican party of this day, I have no doubt ;
and when you were not aware for what purpose I was reading them,
your Black Republicans cheered them as good Black Republican
doctrines. My object in reading these resolutions was to put the
question to Abraham Lincoln this day, whether he now stands and
will stand by each article in that creed, and carry it out. I desire
to know whether Mr. Lincoln to-day stands as he did in 1854, in
favor of the unconditional repeal of the fugitive-slave law. I
desire him to answer whether he stands pledged to-day, as he did in
1854, against the admission of any more slave States into the Union,
even if the people want them. I want to know whether he stands
pledged against the admission of a new State into the Union with
such a constitution as the people of that State may see fit to make.
I want to know whether he stands to-day pledged to the abolition of
slavery in the District of Columbia. I desire him to answer whether
he stands pledged to the prohibition of the slave-trade between the
different States. I desire to know whether he stands pledged to
prohibit slavery in all the Territories of the United States, North as
well as South of the Missouri Compromise line. I desire him to
answer whether he is opposed to the acquisition of any more territory
unless slavery is prohibited therein. I want his answer to these
questions. Your affirmative cheers in favor of this Abolition plat-
form are not satisfactory. I ask Abraham Lincoln to answer these
questions, in order that when I trot him down to lower Egypt, I
may put the same questions to him. My principles are the same
everywhere. I can proclaim them alike in the North, the South,
the Bast, and the West. My principles will apply wherever the


Constitution prevails and the American flag waves. I desire to know
whether Mr. Lincoln's principles will bear transplanting from Ot-
tawa to Jonesboro ? I put these questions to him to-day distinctly,
and ask an answer. I have a right to an answer, for I quote from
the platform of the Republican party, made by himself and others
at the time that party was formed, and the bargain made by Lincoln
to dissolve and kill the Old Whig party, and transfer its members,
bound hand and foot, to the Abolition party, under the direction of
Giddings and Fred Douglass. In the remarks I have made on this
platform, and the position of Mr. Lincoln upon it, I mean nothing
personally disrespectful or unkind to that gentleman. I have known
him for nearly twenty-five years. There were many points of sym-
pathy between us when we first got acquainted. We were both
comparatively boys, and both struggling with poverty in a strange
land. I was a school-teacher in the town of Winchester, and he a
flourishing grocery-keeper in the town of Salem. He was more suc-
cessful in his occupation than I was in mine, and hence more fortu-
nate in this world's goods. Lincoln is one of those peculiar men who
perform with admirable skill everything which they undertake. I
made as good a school-teacher as I could, and when a cabinet-maker
I made a good bedstead and tables, although my old boss said I
succeeded better with bureaus and secretaries than with anything
else ; but I believe that Lincoln was always more successful in bus-
iness than I, for his business enabled him to get into the legislature.
I met him there, however, and had sj^mpathy with him, because of
the up-hiU struggle we both had in life. He was then just as good
at telling an anecdote as now. He could beat any of the boys
wrestling, or running a foot-race, in pitching quoits or tossing a
copper ; could ruin more liquor than all the boys of the town together,
and the dignity and impartiality with which he presided at a horse-
race or fist-fight excited the admiration and won the praise of
everybody that was present and participated. I sympathized with
him because he was struggling with difficulties, and so was I. Mr.
Lincoln served with me m the legislature in 1836, when we both
retired, and he subsided, or became submerged, and he was lost sight
of as a public man for some years. In 1846, when Wilmot intro-
duced his celebrated proviso, and the Abolition tornado swept over
the country, Lincoln again turned up as a member of Congress from
the Sangamon district. I was then in the Senate of the United
States, and was glad to welcome my old friend and companion.
Whilst in Congress, he distinguished himself by his opposition to the
Mexican war, taking the side of the common enemy against his own
country ; and when he returned home he found that the indignation
of the people followed him everywhere, and he was again submerged
or obliged to retire into private life, forgotten by his former friends.
He came up again in 1854, just in time to make this Abolition or
Black Republican platform, in company with Giddings, Lovejoy,
Chase, and Fred Douglass, for the Republican party to stand upon.
Trumbull, too, was one of our own contemporaries. He was born
and raised in old Connecticut, was bred a Federalist, but remov-
ing to Georgia^ turned Nullifier when nullification was popular, and


as soon as lie disposed of his clocks and wound up his business,
migrated to Illinois, turned politician and lawyer here, and made
his appearance iu 1841 as a member of the legislature. He became
noted as the author of the scheme to repudiate a large portion of
the State debt of Illinois, which, if successful, would have brought
infamy and disgrace upon the fair escutcheon of our glorious State.
The odium attached to that measure consigned him to oblivion for
a time. I helped to do it. I walked into a public meeting in the
hall of the House of Eepresentatives, and repUed to his repudiating
speeches, and resolutions were carried over his head denouncing
repudiation, and asserting the moral and legal obligation of Illinois
to pay every dollar of the debt she owed and every bond that bore
her seal. Trumbull's malignity has followed me since I thus defeated
his infamous scheme.

These two men having formed this combination to Abolitionize
the Old Whig party and the old Democratic party, and put them-
selves into the Senate of the United States, in pursuance of their
bargain, are now carrying out that arrangement. Matheny states
that Trumbull broke faith ; that the bargain was that Lincoln should
be the senator in Shields's place, and Trumbull was to wait for mine :
and the story goes that Trumbull cheated Lincoln, having control
of four or five Abolitionized Democrats who were holding over in
the Senate ; he would not let them vote for Lincoln, which obliged
the rest of the Abolitionists to support him in order to secure an
Abolition senator. There are a number of authorities for the truth
of this besides Matheny, and I suppose that even Mr. Lincoln wiU
not deny it.

Mr. Lincoln demands that he shall have the place intended for
Trumbull, as TrumbuU cheated him and got his, and Trumbull is
stumping the State traducing me for the purpose of securing the
position for Lincoln, in order to quiet him. It was in consequence
of this arrangement that the Eepublican convention was impan-
eled to instruct for Lincoln and nobody else, and it was on this ac-
count that they passed resolutions that he was their first, their last,
and their only choice. Archy Williams was nowhere, Browning
was nobody, Wentworth was not to be considered; they had no
man in the Eepublican party for the place except Lincoln, for the
reason that he demanded that they should carry out the arrangement.

Having formed this new party for the benefit of deserters from
Whiggery and deserters from Democracy, and having laid down
the Abolition platform which I have read, Lincoln now takes his
stand and proclaims his Abolition doctrines. Let me read a part of
them. In his speech at Springfield to the convention which nomi-
nated him for the Senate, he said :

In my opinion it will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached
and passed. "A house divided against itself cannot stand." I beheve this
government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do
not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall —
but I do expect it wiU 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 pubhc mind shaU rest in the behef that it is in


the coiu'se of ultimate extinction, or its advocates will push it forward till
it shall become alike lawful in all the States — old as wull as new, North as
well as South. [" Good," "good," and cheers.]

I am delighted to heai- you Black Republicans say "good." J
have no doubt that doctrine expresses your sentiments, and I wiP
prove to you now, if you will listen to me, that it is revolutionary,
and destructive of the existence of this government. Mr. Lincoln,
in the extract from which I have read, says that this governmenf
cannot endure permanently in the same condition in which it was
made by its framers — divided into free and slave States. He says
that it has existed for about seventy years thus divided, and yet he
tells you that it cannot endure permanently on the same principles
and in the same relative condition in which our fathers made it.
Why can it not exist divided into free and slave States "? Washing-
ton, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, Hamilton, Jay, and the great men
of that day made this government divided into free States and slave
States, and left each State perfectly free to do as it pleased on the
subject of slavery. Why can it not exist on the same principles on
which our fathers made it ? They knew when they framed the Con-
stitution that in a country as wide and broad as this, with such a
variety of climate, production, and interest^ the people necessarily
required different laws and institutions in different localities. They
knew that the laws and regulations which would suit the granite
hills of New Hampshire would be unsuited to the rice-plantations of
South Carolina, and they therefore provided that each State should
retain its own legislature and its own sovereignty, with the full and
complete power to do as it pleased within its own limits, in all that
was local and not national. One of the reserved rights of the States
was the right to regulate the relations between master and ser-
vant, on the slavery question. At the time the Constitution was
framed, there were thirteen States in the Union, twelve of which
were slaveholding States and one a free State. Suppose this doctrine
of uniformity preached by Mr. Lincoln, that the States should all
be free or all be slave, had prevailed, and what would have been the re-
sult ? Of course, the twelve slaveholding States would have over-
ruled the one free State, and slavery would have been fastened by a
constitutional provision on every inch of the American republic, in-
stead of being left, as our fathers wisely left it, to each State to de-
cide for itself. Here I assert that uniformity in the local laws and
institutions of the different States is neither possible nor desir-
able. If uniformity had been adopted when the government was
established, it must inevitably have been the uniformity of slavery
everywhere, or else the uniformity of negro citizenship and negro
equality everywhere.

We are told by Lincoln that he is utterly opposed to the Dred
Scott decision, and will not submit to it, for the reason that he says
it deprives the negro of the rights and privileges of citizenship.
That is the first and main reason which he assigns for his warfare
on the Supreme Court of the United States and its decision. I ask
you, are you ia favor of conferring upon the negro the rights and


privileges of citizenship 1 Do you desire to strike ont of our State
constitution that clause which keeps slaves and free negroes out of
the State, and allow the free negroes to flow in, and cover your
prairies with black settlements f Do you desire to turn this beauti-
ful State into a free negro colony, in order that when Missouri
abolishes slavery she can send one hundred thousand emancipated
slaves into Illinois, to become citizens and voters, on an equality with
yourselves ? If you desire negro citizenship, if you desire to allow

Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 36 of 91)