Abraham Lincoln.

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

. (page 41 of 91)
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Congress, the Supreme Court, and two Presidents, to nationalize
slavery. I want to say that, in the first place, I have made no charge
of this sort upon my ipse dixit. I have only arrayed the evidence
tending to prove it, and presented it to the understanding of others,
saying what I think it proves, but giving you the means of judging
whether it proves it or not. This is precisely what 1 have done. I
have not placed it upon my ipse dixit at all. On this occasion, I
wish to recall his attention to a piece of evidence which I brought
forward at Ottawa on Saturday, showing that he had made substan-
tially the same charge against substantially the same persons, ex-
cluding his dear self from the category. I ask him to give some
attention to the evidence which I brought forward, that he himself
had discovered a " fatal blow being struck " against the right of the
people to excliide slavery from their limits, which fatal blow he as-
sumed as in evidence in an article in the Washington " Union," pub-
lished " by authority." I ask by whose authority ? He discovers a
similar or identical provision in the Lecompton constitution. Made
by whom ? The f ramers of that constitution . Advocated by whom ?
By all the members of the party in the nation, who advocated the intro-
duction of Kansas into the Union under the Lecompton constitution.

I have asksd his attention to the evidence that he arrayed to
prove that such a fatal blow was being struck, and to the facts
which he brought forward in support of that charge — being identi-
cal with the one which he thinks so villainous in me. He pointed
it not at a newspaper editor merely, but at the President and his
cabinet, and the members of Congress advocating the Lecompton
constitution, and those framing that instrument. I must again be
permitted to remind him, that although my ipse dixit may not be as
great as his, yet it somewhat reduces the force of his calling my at-
tention to the enormity of my making a like charge against him.

Gro on, Judge Douglas.

Mr. Douglas's Reply in the Freeport Joint Debate.

Ladies and Gentlemen : The silence with which you have listened
to Mr. Lincoln during his hour is creditable to this vast audience.



314 ADDEESSES AND LETTERS OP ABRAHAM LINCOLN

composed of men of various political parties. Nothing is more hon-
orable to any large mass of people assembled for the purpose of a
fair discussion, than that kind and respectful attention that is yielded
not only to your political friends, but to those who are opposed to
you in politics.

I am glad that at last I have brought Mr. Lincoln to the conclu-
sion that he had better define his position on certain political ques-
tions to which I called his attention at Ottawa. He there showed no
disposition, no inclination, to answer them. I did not present idle
questions for him to answer merely for my gratification. I laid the
foundation for those interrogatories by showing that they constituted
the platform of the party whose nominee he is for the Senate. I did
not presume that I had the right to catechize him as I saw proper,
unless I showed that his party, or a majority of it, stood upon the
platform, and were in favor of the propositions upon which my ques-
tions were based. I desired simply to know, inasmuch as he had
been nominated as the first, last, and only choice of his party, whether
he concurred in the platform which that party had adopted for its
government. In a few moments I will proceed to review the answers
which he has given to these interrogatories, but in order to relieve
his anxiety T will first respond to these which he has presented to me.
Mark you, he has not presented inteiTogatories which have ever re-
ceived the sanction of the party with which I am acting, and hence
he has no other foundation for them than his own curiosity.

First, he desires to know if the people of Kansas shall form a
constitution by means entirely proper and unobjectionable and ask
admission into the Union as a State, before they have the requisite
population for a member of Congress, whether Iwillvote for that
admission. Well, now, I regret exceedingly that he did not answer
that interrogatory himself before he put it to me, in order that we
might understand, and not be left to infer, on which side he is. Mr.
Trumbull, during the last session of Congress, voted from the begin-
ning to the end against the admission of Oregon, although a free
State, because she had not the requisite population for a member of
Congress. Mr. Trumbnll would not consent, under any circumstances,
to let a State, free or slave, come into the Union until lit had the re-
quisite population. As Mr. Trumbull is in the field, fighting for Mr.
Lincoln, I would like to have Mr. Lincoln answer his own question
and tell me whether he is fighting Trumbull on that issue or not.
But I will answer his question. In reference to Kansas, it is my
opinion that as she has population enough to constitute a slave
State, she has people enough for a free State. I will not make Kansas
an exceptional case to the other States of the Union. I hold it to be
a sound rule of universal apphcation to require a Territory to contain
the requisite population for a member of Congress, before it is ad-
mitted as a State into the Union. I made that proposition in the
Senate in 1856, and I renewed it during the last session, in abiU pro-
viding that no Territory of the United States should form a consti-
tution and apply for admission until it had the requisite population.
On another occasion I proposed that neither Kansas, nor any other
Territory, should be admitted until it had the requisite population.



ADDRESSES AND LETTERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN 315

Congress did not adopt any of my propositions containing this gen-
eral rule, but did make an exception of Kansas. I will stand by
that exception. Either Kansas must come in as a free State, with
whatever population she may have, or the rule must be applied to all
the other Territories alike, f therefore answer at once that, it having
been decided that Kansas has people enough for a slave State, I hold
that slie has enough for a free State. I hope Mr. Lincoln is satisfied
with my answer ; and now I would like to get his answer to his own
interrogatory — whether or not he will vote to admit Kansas before
slie has the requisite population. I want to know whether he will
vote to admit Oregon before that Territory has the requisite popula-
tion. Mr. Trumbull will not, and the same reason that commits Mr.
Trumbull against the admission of Oregon commits him against
Kansas, even if she should apply for admission as a free State. If
there is any sincerity, any truth, in the argument of Mr. Trumbull in
the Senate, against the admission of Oregon because she had not
93,420 people, although her population was larger than that of Kan-
sas, he stands pledged against the admission of both Oregon and
Kansas until they have 93,420 inhabitants. I would like Mr. Lincoln
to answer this question. I would like him to take his own medicine.
If he differs with Mr. Trumbull, let him answer his argument against
the admission of Oregon, instead of poking questions at me.

The next question propounded to me by Mr. Lincoln is: Can the
people of a Territory in any lawful way, against the wishes of any
citizen of the United States, exclude slavery from their limits prior
to the formation of a State constitution? I answer emphatically, as
Mr. Lincoln has heard me answer a hundred times from every stump
in Illinois, that in my opinion the people of a Territory can, by law-
ful means, exclude slavery from their limits prior to the formation
of a State constitution. Mr. Lincoln knew that I had answered that
question over and over again. He heard me argue the Nebraska
bUl on that principle all over the State in 18.54, in 18.55, and in 1856,
and he has no excuse for pretending to be in doubt as to my posi-
tion on that question. It matters not what way the Supreme Court
may hereafter decide as to the abstract question whether slavery may
or may not go into a Territory under the Constitution, the people
have the lawful means to introduce it or exclude it as they please, for
the reason that slavery cannot exist a day or an hour anywhere un-
less it is supported by local police regulations. Those police regu-
lations can only be established by the local legislature, and if the
people are opposed to slavery they will elect representatives to that
body who will by unfriendly legislation effectually prevent the in-
troduction of it into their midst. If, on the contrary, they are for
it, their legislation will favor its extension. Hence, no matter what
the decision of the Supreme Court may be on that abstract question,
still the right of the people to make a slave Territory or a free Ter-
ritory is perfect and complete under the Nebraska bill. I hope Mr.
Lincoln deems my answer satisfactory on that point.

In this connection I will notice the charge which he has introduced
in relation to Mr. Chase's amendment. I thought that I had chased
that amendment out of Mr. Lincoln's brain at Ottawa; but it seems



316 ADDEESSES AND LETTEES OF AEEAHAM lilNCOLN

that still haunts his imagination, and he is not yet satisfied. I had
supposed that he would be ashamed to press that question further.
He is a lawyer, and has been a member of Congress, and has occu-
pied his time and amused you by telling you about. parliamentary
proceedings. He ought to have known better than to try to palm
off his miserable impositions upon this intelligent audience. The
Nebraska biU provided that the legislative power and authority of
the said Territory should extend to all rightful subjects of legislation
consistent with the organic act and the Constitution of the United
States. It did not make any exception as to slavery, but gave all
the power that it was possible for Congress to give, without violat-
ing the Constitution, to the territorial legislature, with no exception
or limitation on the subject of slavery at all. The language of that
bill which I have quoted gave the full power and the full authority
over the subject of slavery, afQrmatively and negatively, to intro-
duce it or exclude it, so far as the Constitution of the United States
would permit. What more could Mr. Chase give by his amendment ?
Nothing. He offered his amendment for the identical purpose for
which Mr. Lincoln is using it, to enable demagogues in the country
to try and deceive the people.

His amendment was to this effect. It provided that the legis-
lature should have the power to exclude slavery; and General
Cass suggested, " Why not give the power to introduce as well as
exclude ? " The answer was, they have the power already in the bill
to do both. Chase was afraid his amendment would be adopted if
he put the alternative proposition and so make it fair both ways,
but would not yield. He offered it for the purpose of having it re-
jected. He offered it, as he has himself avowed over and over again,
simply to make capital out of it for the stump. He expected that
it would be capital for small politicians in the country, and that
they would make an effort to deceive the people with it; and he was
not mistaken, for Lincoln is carrying out the plan admirably. Lin-
coln knows that the Nebraska bOl, without Chase's amendment, gave
all the power which the Constitution would permit. Could Congress
confer any more? Could Congress go beyond the Constitution of
the country ? We gave all — a full grant, with no exception in regard
to slavery one way or the other, we left that question as we left
all others, to be decided by the people for themselves, just as they
pleased. I will not occupy my time on this question. I have argued
it before all over Illinois. I have argued it in this beautiful city of
Freeport ; I have argued it in the North, the South, the East, and
the West, avowing the same sentiments and the same principles. I
have not been afraid to avow my sentiments up here for fear I would
be trotted down into Egypt.

The third question which Mr. Lincoln presented is, if the Supreme
Court of the United States shall decide that a State of this Union
cannot exclude slavery from its own limits, will I submit to it ? I
am amazed that Lincoln should ask such a question. ["A school-
boy knows better."] Yes, a school-boy does know better. Mr. Lin-
coln's object is to cast an imputation upon the Supreme Court. He"
knows that there never was but one man in America claiming any



ADDEESSES AND LETTEES OF ABEAHAM LINCOLN 317

degree of intelligence or decency, who ever for a moment pretended
such a thing. It is true that the Washington " Union," iu an article
published on the 17th of last December, did put forth that doctrine,
and I denounced the article on the floor of the Semite, in a speech
which Mr. Lincoln now pretends was against the President. The
'■ Union " had claimed that slavery had a right to go into the free
States, and that any provision in the constitution or laws of the free
States to the contrary was null and void. I denounced it in the
Senate, as I said before, and I was the first man who did. Lincoln's
friends, Trumbull, and Seward, and Hale, and Wilson, and the
whole Black Republican side of the Senate were silent. They left it
to me to denounce it. And what was the reply made to me on that
occasion 1 Mr. Toombs, of Georgia, got up and undertook to lecture
me on the ground that I ought not to have deemed the article wor-
thy of notice, and ought not to have replied to it ; that there was
not one man, woman, or child south of the Potomac, in any slave
State, who did not repudiate any such pretension. Mr. Lincoln
knows that that reply was made on the spot, and yet now he asks
this question. He might as well ask me, suppose Mr. Lincoln should
steal a horse, would I sanction it ? and it would be as genteel in me
to ask him, in the event he stole a horse, what ought to be done with
him. He casts an imputation upon the Supreme Court of the United
States by supposing that they would violate the Constitution of the
United States. I tell him that such a thing is not possible. It
would be an act of moral treason that no man on the bench could
ever descend to. Mr. Lincoln himself would never in his partizan
feelings so far forget what was right as to be guilty of such an act.

The fourth question of Mr. Lincoln is : Are you in favor of acq[uir-
ing additional territory, in disregard as to how such acquisition
may affect the Union on the slavery question ? This question is
very ingeniously and cunningly put.

The Black Republican creed lays it down expressly, that under no
circumstances shall we acquire any more territory unless slavery is
first prohibited in the country. I ask Mr. Lincoln whether he is in
favor of that proposition. Are you [addressing Mr. Lincoln] op-
posed to the acquisition of any more territory, under any circum-
stances, unless slavery is prohibited in it '? That he does not like
to answer. When I ask him whether he stands up to that article in
the platform of his party, he turns, Yankee-fashion, and, without
answering it, asks me whether I am in favor of acquiring territory
without regard to how it may affect the Union on the slavery ques-
tion. I answer that whenever it becomes necessary, in our growth
and progress, to acquire more territory, that I am in favor of it, with-
out reference to the question of slavery, and when we have acquired
it, I will leave the people free to do as they please, either to make it
slave or free territory, as they prefer. It is idle to tell me or you
that we have territory enough. Our fathers supposed that we had
enough when our territory extended to the Mississippi River, but a
few years' growth and expansion satisfied them that we needed
more, and the Louisiana territory, from the west branch of the
Mississippi to the British possessions, was acquired. Then we ac-



318 ADDRESSES AND LETTERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN

quired Oregon, then California and New Mexico. "We have enough
now for the present, but this is a young and a growing nation. It
swarms as often as a hive of bees, and as new swarms are turned
out each year, there must be hives in which they can gather and
make their honey. In less than fifteen years, if the same progress
that has distinguished this country for the last fifteen years con-
tinues, every foot of vacant land between this and the Pacific ocean,
owned by the United States, wiU be occupied. Will you not con-
tinue to increase at the end of fifteen years as well as now ? I tell
you, increase, and multiply, and expand, is the law of this nation's
existence. You cannot limit this great republic by mere boundary
lines, saying, " Thus far shalt thou go, and no further." Any one of
you gentlemen might as well say to a son twelve years old that he
IS big enough, and must not grow any larger, and in order to pre-
vent his growth put a hoop around him to keep him to his present
size. What would be the result 1 Either the hoop must burst and
be rent asunder, or the child must die. So it would be with this
great nation. With our natural increase, growing with a rapidity
unknown in any other part of the globe, with the tide of emigration
that is fleeing from despotism in the Old World to seek refuge in our
own, there is a constant torrent pouring into this country that re-
quires more land, more territory upon which to settle, and just as
fast as our interests and our destiny require additional territory in
the North, in the South, or on the islands of the ocean, I am for it,
and when we acqidre it, wiU leave the people, according to the
Nebraska bUl, free to do as they please on the subject of slavery
and every other question.

I trust now that Mr. Lincoln will deem himself answered on his
four points. He racked his brain so much in devising these four
questions that he exhausted himself, and had not strength enough
to invent the others. As soon as he is able to hold a council with
his advisers, Lovejoy, Farnsworth, and Fred Douglass, he will frame
and propound others. [" Grood, good."] You Black Eepublicans who
say good, I have no doubt think that they are all good men. I have
reason to recollect that some people in this country think that Fred
Douglass is a very good man. The last time I came here to make a
speech, while talking from the stand to you, people of Freeport, as
I am doing to-day, I saw a carriage, and a magnificent one it was,
drive up and take a position on the outside of the crowd ; a beautiful
young lady was sitting on the box-seat, whilst Fred Douglass and
her mother reclined inside, and the owner of the carriage acted as
driver. I saw this in your ov/n town. ["What of it?"] AUIhave
to say of it is this, that if you Black Republicans think that the
negro ought to be on a social equality with your wives and daugh-
ters, and ride in a carriage with your wife, whilst you drive the team,
you have perfect right to do so. I am told that one of Fred Doug-
lass's kinsmen, another rich black negro, is now traveling in this part
of the State making speeches for his friend Lincoln as the champion
of black men. ["What have you to say against it?"] AH I have
to say on that subject is, that those of you who believe that the negro
is your equal and ought to be on an equality with you socially, po-



ADDRESSES AND LETTERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN 319

litically, and legally, have a right to eutertain those opinions, and
of course will vote for Mr. Lincoln.

I have a word to say on Mr. Lincoln's answer to the interrogato-
ries contained in my speech at Ottawa, and which he has pretended
to reply to here to-day. Mr. Lincoln makes a great parade of the fact
that I quoted a platform as having been adopted by the Black Repub-
lican party at Springfield in 1854, which, it turns out, was adopted
at another place. Mr. Lincoln loses sight of the thing itself in his ec-
stasies over the mistake I made in stating the place where it was done.
He thinks that that platform was not adopted on the right '' spot."

When I put the direct questions to Mr. Lincoln to ascertain
whether he now stands pledged to that creed — to the unconditional
repeal of the fugitive-slave law, a refusal to admit any more slave
States into the Union even if the people want them, a determination
to apply the Wilmot proviso, not only to all the territory we nowhave,
but all that we may hereafter acquire — he refused to answer, and his
followers say, in excuse, that the resolutions upon which I based my
interrogatories were not adopted at the right " spot." Lincoln and
his political friends are great on " spots." In Congress, as a repre-
sentative of this State, he declared the Mexican war to be unjust and
infamous, and would not support it, or acknowledge his own country
to be right in the contest^ because he said that American blood was
not shed on American soil in the right " spot." And now he cannot
answer the questions I put to him at Ottawa because the resolutions
I read were not adopted at the right " spot." It may be possible that
I was led into an error as to the spot on which the resolutions I then
read were proclaimed, but I was not, and am not in error as to the
fact of their forming the basis of the creed of the Republican party
when that party was first organized. I will state to you the evidence
I had, and upon which I relied for my statement that the resolutions
in question were adopted at Springfield on the 5th of October, 1854.
Although I was aware that such resolutions had been passed in this
district, and nearly all the northern congressional districts and
county conventions, I had not noticed whether or not they had been
adopted by any State convention. In 1856 a debate arose in Con-
gress between Major Thomas L. Harris, of the Springfield district,
and Mr. Norton, of the Joliet district, on political matters connected
with our State, in the course of which Major Harris quoted those
resolutions as having been passed by the first Republican State con-
vention that ever assembled in Illinois. I knew that Major Harris
was remarkable for his accuracy, that he was a very conscientious
and sincere man, and I also noticed that Norton did not question the
accuracy of this statement. I therefore took it for granted that it
was so, and the other day when I concluded to use the resolutions at
Ottawa, I wrote to Charles H. Lanphier, editor of the " State Regis-
ter," at Springfield, calling his attention to them, telling him that I
had been informed that Major Harris was lying sick at Springfield,
and desiring him to call upon him and ascertain all the facts con-
cerning the resolutions, the time and the place where they were
adopted. In reply Mr. Lanphier sent me two copies of his paper,
which I have here. The first is a copy of the " State Register," pub-



320 ADDRESSES AND LETTERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN

lished at Springfield, Mr. Lincoln's own town, on the 16tli of October,
1854, only eleven days after the adjournment of the convention, from
which I desire to read the following:

Dui'ing tte late discussions in this city, Lincoln made a speech, to which
Judge Douglas replied. In Lincohi's speech he took the broad ground that,
according to the Declaration of Independence, the whites and blacks are
equal. From this he drew the conclusion, which he several times repeated,
that the white man had no right to pass laws for the government of the
black man without the nigger's consent. This speech of Lincoln's was
heard and applauded by all the Abohtionists assembled in Springfield. So
soon as Mr. Lincoln was done speaking, Mr. Codding arose and requested
aU the delegates to the Black Eepubhcan convention to withdraw into the
Senate chamber. They did so, and after long dehberation, they laid down
the following AboUtion platform as the platform on which they stood. We
call the particular attention of our readers to it.

Then follows the identical platform, word for word, which I read
at Ottawa. Now, that was published in Mr. Lincoln's own town,
eleven days after the convention was held, and it has remained on
record up to this day never contradicted.

When I quoted the resolutions at Ottawa and questioned Mr, Lin-
coln in relation to them, he said that his name was on the committee
that reported them, but he did not serve, nor did he think he served,
because he was, or thought he was, in Tazewell County at the time
the convention was in session. He did not deny that the resolutions
were passed by the Springfield convention. He did not know better,
and evidently thought that they were, but afterward his friends
declared that they had discovered that they varied in some respects



Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 41 of 91)