Abraham Lincoln.

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

. (page 43 of 91)
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will dissolve it^ I want to know of Mr. Lincoln whether he wiU vote
for the admission of another slave State.

He tells you the Union cannot exist unless the States are all free
or all slave ; he tells you that he is opposed to making them all slave,
and hence he is for making them all free, in order that the Union
may exist ; and yet he will not say that he will not vote against
another slave State, knowing that the Union must be dissolved if he
votes for it. I ask you if that is fair dealing ? The true intent and
inevitable conclusion to be drawn from his first Springfield speech
is, that he is opposed to the admission of any more slave States
under any circumstances. If he is so opposed, why not say so ? If he
believes this Union cannot endure divided into free and slave States,
that they must aU become free in order to save the Union, he is
bound as an honest man, to vote against any more slave States. If
he believes it he is bound to do it. Show me that it is my duty in
order to save the Union to do a particular act, and I wiU do it if the
Constitution does not prohibit it. I am not for the dissolution of
the Union under any circumstances. I will pursue no course of con-



328 ADDRifiSfeES AND LETTERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLK

duct that will give just cause for the dissolution of the Union. The
hope of the friends of freedom throughout the world rests upon the
perpetuity of this Union. The downtrodden and oppressed people
who are suffering under European despotism all look with hope and
anxiety to the American Union as the only resting-place and perma-
nent home of freedom and self-government.

Mr. Lincoln says that he believes that this Union cannot continue
to endure with slave States in it, and yet he will not tell you dis-
tinctly whether he will vote for or against the admission of any
more slave States, but says he would not like to be put to the test.
I do not think he will be put to the test. I do not think that the
people of Illinois desire a man to represent them who would not like
to be put to the test on the performance of a high constitutional
duty. I will retire in shame from the Senate of the United States
when I am not wUHng to be put to the test in the performance of my
duty. I have been put to severe tests. I have stood by my princi-
ples in fair weather and in foul, in the sunshine and in the rain. I
have defended the great principles of self -government here among
you when Northern sentiment ran iu a torrent against me, and I
have defended that same great principle when Southern sentiment
came down like an avalanche upon me. I was not afraid of any test
they put to me. I knew I was right — I knew my principles were
sound — I knew that the people would see in the end that I had done
right, and I knew that the Grod of Heaven would smile upon me if I
was faithful in the performance of my duty.

Mr. Lincoln makes a charge of corruption against the Supreme
Court of the United States, and two Presidents of the United States,
and attempts to bolster it up by saying that I did the same against
the Washington " Union." Suppose I did make that charge of cor-
ruption against the "Washington " Union," when it was true, does
that justify him in making a false charge against me and others?
That is the question I would put. He says that at the time the
Nebraska bUl was introduced, and before it was passed, there was a
conspiracy between the judges of the Supreme Court, President
Pierce, President Buchanan, and myself by that bill, and the deci-
sion of the court, to break down the barrier and establish slaveiy all
over the Union. Does he not know that that charge is historically
false as against President Buchanan ? He knows that Mr. Buchanan
was at that time in England, representing this country with distin-
guished ability at the Court of St. James, that he was there for a
long time before, and did not return for a year or more after. He
knows that to be true, and that fact proves his charge to be false as
against Mr. Buchanan. Then again, I wish to call his attention to
the fact that at^ the time the Nebraska biU was passed, the Dred Scott
case was not before the Supreme Court at all ; it was not upon the
docket of the Supreme Court ; it had not been brought there, and
the judges in all probability knew nothing of it. Thus the history
of the country proves the charge to be false as against them. As
to President Pierce, his high character as a man of integrity and
honor is enough to vindicate him from such a charge ; and as to my-
self, I pronounce the charge an infamous He, whenever and wher-



ADDKESSES AND LETTEBS OF ABBAHAM LINCOLN 329

ever made, and by •whomsoever made. I am willing that Mr. Lincoln
should go and rake up every public act of mine, every measure I have
introduced, report I have made, speech dehvered, and criticize them ;
but when he cnarges upon me a corrupt conspiracy for the purpose
of perverting the institutions of the country, I brand it as it deserves.
I say the history of the country proves it to be false, and that it could
not have been possible at the time. But now he tries to protect him-
self in this charge, because I made a charge against the Washington
" Union." My speech in the Senate against the Washington " Union"
was made because it advocated a revolutionary doctrine, by declaring
that the free States had not the right to prohibit slavery within their
own limits. Because I made that charge against the Washington
"Union," Mr. Lincoln says it was a charge against Mr. Buchanan.
Suppose it was ; is Lincoln the peculiar defender of Mr. Buchanan ?
Is he so iuterested in the Federal administration, and so bound to
it, that he must jump to the rescue and defend it from every attack
that I may make against it ? I understand the whole thing. The
Washington " Union," under that most corrupt of all men, Cornelius
Wendell, is advocating Mr. Lincoln's claim to the Senate. Wendell
was the printer of the last Black Republican House of Representatives ;
he was a candidate before the present Democratic House, but was
ignominiously kicked out, and then he took the money which he had
made out of the public printing by means of the Black Republicans,
bought the Washington " Union," and is nowpublishing it in the name
of the Democratic party, and advocating Mr. Lincoln's election to the
Senate. Mr. Lincoln therefore considers an attack upon Wendell
and his corrupt gang as a personal attack upon him. This only
proves what I have charged, that there is an alliance between Lin-
cobi and his supporters, and the Federal office-holders of this State,
and presidential aspirants out of it, to break me down at home.

Mr. Lincoln feels bound to come in to the rescue of the Wash-
ington "Union." In that speech which I delivered in answer to the
Washington " Union," I made it distinctly against the " Union "
alone. I did not choose to go beyond that. If I have occasion to
attack the President's conduct, I will do it iu language that will not
be misunderstood. When I differed with the President I spoke out
so that you aU heard me. That question passed away ; it resulted
in the triumph of my principle by allowing the people to do as they
please, and there is an end of the controversy. Whenever the great
principle of self-government — the right of the people to make their
own constitution, and come into the Union with slavery or without
it, as they see proper — shall again arise, you will find me standing
firm in defense of that principle, and fighting whoever fights it. IE
Mr. Buchanan stands, as I doubt not he will, by the recommenda-
tion contained in his message, that hereafter all State constitutions
ought to be submitted to the people before the admission of the
State into the Union, he will find me standing by him firmly, shoul-
der to shoulder, in carrying it out. I know Mr. Lincoln's object;
he wants to divide the Democratic party, in order that he may de-
feat me and go to the Senate.

[Mr. Douglas's time here expired, and he stopped on the moment.]



330 ADDRESSES AND LETTERS OP ABRAHAM LINCOLN



Mr. Lincoln's Rejoinder in the Freeport Joint Deiate.

My Friends : It will readily occur to you that I cannot in half an
hour notice all the things that so able a man as Judge Douglas can
say in an hour and a half ; and I hope, therefore, if there be any-
thing that he has said upon which you would like to hear something
from me, but which I omit to comment upon, you will bear in mind
that it would be expecting an impossibility for me to go over his
whole ground. I can but take up some of the points that he has
dwelt upon, and employ my half hour specially on them.

The first thing I have to say to you is a word in regard to Judge
Douglas's declaration about the " vulgarity and blackguardism " in
the audience — that no such thing, as he says, was shown by any
Democrat while I was speaking. Now I only wish, by way of reply
on this subject, to say that while I was speaking I used no " vul-
garity or blackguardism " toward any Democrat.

Now, my friends, I come to all this long portion of the judge's
speech — perhaps half of it — which he has devoted to the various
resolutions and platforms that have been adopted in the different
counties, in the different congressional districts, and in the Illinois
legislature — which he supposes are at variance with the positions
I have assumed before you to-day. It is true that many of these
resolutions are at variance with the positions I have here assumed.
All I have to ask is that we talk reasonably and rationally about it.
I happen to know, the judge's opinion to the contrary notwithstand-
ing, that I have never tried to conceal my opinions, nor tried to
deceive any one in reference to them. He may go and examine aU
the members who voted for me for United States senator in 1855,
after the election of 1854. They were pledged to certain things here
at home, and were determined to have pledges from me, and if he
will find any of these persons who wiU tell him anything inconsis-
tent with what I say now, I will retire from the race, and give him
no more trouble.

The plain truth is this. At the introduction of the Nebraska
policy, we believed there was a new era being introduced in the
history of the republic, which tended to the spread and perpetuation
of slavery. But in our opposition to that measure we did not agree
with one another in everything. The people in the north end of
the State were for stronger measures of opposition than we of the
central and southern portions of the State, but we were all opposed
to the Nebraska doctrine. "We had that one feeling and that one
sentiment in common. You at the north end met in your conven-
tions and passed your resolutions. ' We in the middle of the State
and further south did not hold such conventions and pass the same
resolutions, although we had in general a common view and a
common sentiment. So that these meetings which the judge has
alluded to, and the resolutions he has read from, were local,
and did not spread over the whole State. We at last met together
in 1856, from aU parts of the State, and we agreed upon a
common platform. You who held more extreme notions, either



ADDRESSES AND LETTERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN 331

jrielded those notions, or if not wholly yielding them, agreed to yield
them practically, for the sake of embodying the opposition to the
measures which the opposite party were pushing forward at that
time. We met you then, and if there was anything yielded, it was
for practical purposes. We agreed then upon a platform for the
party throughout the entire State of Illinois, and now we are all
bound, as a party, to that platform. And I say here to you, if any
one expects of me, in the ease of my election, that I will do any-
thing not signified by our Republican platform and my answers here
to-day, I tell you very frankly that person will be deceived. I do
not ask for the vote of any one who supposes that I have secret pur-
poses or pledges that I dare not speak out. Cannot the judge be
satisfied? If he fears, in the unfortunate case of my election, that
my going to Washington will enable me to advocate sentiments
contrary to those which I expressed when you voted for and elected
me, I assiire him that his fears are wholly needless and groundless.
Is the judge really afraid of any such thing ? I '11 tell you what he
is afraid of. He is afraid we '11 all puU together. This is what
alarms him more than anything else. For my part, I do hope that
all of us, entertaining a common sentiment in opposition to what
appears to us a design to nationalize and perpetuate slavery, will
waive minor differences on questions which either belong to the dead
pas t or the distant future, and all pull together in this struggle.
What are your sentiments ? If it be true that on the ground which
I occupy — ground which I occupy as frankly and boldly as Judge
Douglas does his — my views, though partly coinciding with yours,
are not as perfectly in accordance with your feelings as his are, I do
say to you in all candor, go for him and not for me. I hope to deal
in all things fairly with Judge Douglas, and with the people of
the State, in this contest. And if I should never be elected to any
office, I trust I may go down with no stain of falsehood upon my rep-
utation, notwithstanding the hard opinions Judge Douglas chooses
to entertain of me.

The judge has again addressed himself to the Abolition tendencies
of a speech of mine, made at Springfield in June last. I have so
often tried to answer what he is always saying on that melancholy
theme, that I almost turn with disgust from the discussion — from
the repetition of an answer to it. I trust that nearly all of this
intelligent audience have read that speech. If you have, I may
venture to leave it to you to inspect it closely, and see whether it
contains any of those " bugaboos " which frighten Judge Douglas.

The judge complains that I did not fully answer his questions.
If I have the sense to comprehend and answer those questions, I
have done so fairly. If it can be pointed out to me how I can more
fully and fairly answer him, I will do it — but I aver I have not the
sense to see how it is to be done. He says I do not declare I would
in any event vote for the admission of a slave State into the Union.
If I have been fairly reported, he will see that I did give an explicit
answer to his interrogatories. I did not merely say that I would dis-
like to be put to the test ; but I said clearly, if I were put to the test,
and a Territory from which slavery had been excluded should pre-



332 ADDRESSES AND LETTEES OF ABEAHAM LINCOLN

sent herself witli a State constitution sanctioning slavery, — a most
extraordinary thing and whoUy unlikely to happen, — I did not see
how I could avoid voting for her admission. But he refuses to un-
derstand that I said so, and he wants this audience to understand
that I did not say so. Yet it wiU be so reported in the printed
speech that he cannot help seeing it.

He says if I should vote for the admission of a slave State I would
be voting for a dissolution of the Union, because I hold that the
Union cannot permanently exist half slave .and half free. I repeat
that I do not believe this government can endure permanently half
slave and half free, yet I do not admit, nor does it at all follow,
that the admission of a single slave State wHL permanently fix the
character and establish this as a universal slave nation. The judge
is very happy indeed at working up these quibbles. Before leaving
the subject of answering questions, I aver as my confident belief,
when you come to see our speeches in print, that you will find every
question which he has asked me more fairly and boldly and fully
answered than he has answered those which I put to him. Is not
that so ? The two speeches may be placed side by side ; and I will
venture to leave it to impartial judges whether his questions have
not been more directly and circumstantially answered than mine.

Judge Douglas says he made a charge upon the editor of the
Washington "Union," alone, of entertaining a purpose to rob the
States of their power to exclude slavery from their limits. I under-
take to say, and I make the direct issue, that he did not make his
charge against the editor of the "Union" alone. I will undertake to
prove by the record here that he made that charge against more and
higher dignitaries than the editor of the "Washington " Union." I
am quite aware that he was shirking and dodging around the form
in which he put it, but I can make it manifest that he leveled his
"fatal blow" against more persons than this Washington editor.
WiQ he dodge it now by alleging that I am trying to defend Mr,
Buchanan against the charge! Not at all. Am I not making the
same charge myself? I am trying to show that you, Judge Douglas,
are a witness on my side. I am not defending Buchanan, and I will
tell Judge Douglas that in my opinion when he made that charge he
had an eye farther north than he was to-day. He was then fighting
against people who called him a Black Republican and an Abolitionist,
It is mixed all through his speech, and it is tolerably manifest that
his eye was a great deal farther north than it is to-day. The judge
says that though he made this charge, Toombs got up and declared
there was not a man in the United States, except the editor of the
"Union," who was in favor of the doctrines put forth in that article.
And thei'cupon I understand that the judge withdrew the charge.
Although he had taken extracts from the newspaper, and then from
the Lecompton constitution, to show the existence of a conspiracy to
bring about a "fatal blow," by which the States were to be deprived of
the right of excluding slavery, it aU went to pot as soon as Toombs got
up and told him it was not true. It reminds me of the story that John
Phoenix, the California railroad surveyor, tells. He says they started
out from the Plaza to the Mission of Dolores. They had two ways



ADDRESSES AND LETTEKS OF ABEAHAM LINCOLN 333

of determining distances. One was hj a chain and pins taken over
the ground ; the other was by a " go-it-ometer," — an invention of
his own, — a three-legged instrument, with which he computed a
series of triangles between the points. At night he turned to the
chain-man to ascertain what distance they had come, and found that
by some mistake he had merely dragged the chain over the ground
without keeping any record. By the "go-it-ometer" he found h
had made ten miles. Being skeptical about this, he asked a dray
man who was passing how far it was to the Plaza. The draymai
replied it was just hsSf a mile, and the surveyor put it down m hi,
book — just as Judge Douglas says, after he had made his calcula
tions and computations, he took Toombs's statement. I have no
doubt that after Judge Douglas had made his charge, he was as
easily satisfied aboiit its truth as the surveyor was of the draj'-
man's statement of the distance to the Plaza. Yet it is a fact that
the man who put forth all that matter which Douglas deemed a
"fatal blow" at State sovereignty, was elected by the Democrats as
public printer.

Now, gentlemen, you may take Judge Douglas's speech of March
22, 1858, beginning about the middle of page 21, and reading to the
bottom of page 24, and you will find the evidence on which I say
that he did not make his charge against the editor of the " Union "
alone. I cannot stop to read it, but I will give it to the reporters.
Judge Douglas said :

Mr. President, you here find several distinct propositions advanced
boldly by the Washington " Union " editorially, and apparently authori-
tatively, and every man who questions any of them is denounced as an
Abolitionist, a Free-soiler, a fanatic. The propositions are : first, that the
primary object of all government at its original institution is the protection
of persons and property; second, that the Constitution of the United States
declares that the citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges
and immunities of citizens in the several States; and that, therefore,
thirdly, aU State laws, whether organic or otherwise, which prohibit the
citizens of one State from settling in another with their slave property, and
especially declaring it forfeited, are direct violations of the original mten-
tion of the government and Constitution of the United States ; and fourth,
that the emancipation of the slaves of the Northern States was a gross out-
rage on the rights of property, inasmuch as it was involuntarily done on the
part of the owner.

Remember that this article was published in the " Union " on the 17th of
November, and on the 18th appeared the first article giving the adhesion of
the " Union " to the Lecompton constitution. It was in these words :

" BLansas A2TO HER CONSTITUTION. — The vexed question is settled. The
problem is solved. The dead point of danger is passed. AU serious trouble
to Kansas affairs is over and gone."

And a column, nearly, of the same sort. Then, when you come to look
into the Lecompton constitution, you find the same doctrine incorporated
in it which was put forth editorially in the " Union." What is it ?

" Article 7, Section 1. The right of property is before and higher than
any constitutional sanction ; and the ri^ht of the owner of a slave to such
slave and its mcrease is the same and as mvariable as the right of the owner
of any property whatever."



334 ADDKESSES AND LETTEKS OF ABEAHAM LnSTCOLN

Then in the schedule is a provision that the constitution may be amended
after 1864 by a two-thirds vote.

" But no alteration shall be made to affect the right of property in the
ownership of slaves."

It win be seen by these clauses in the Lecompton constitution that they
are identical in spirit with this authoritative article in the Washington
" Union" of the day previous to its indorsement of this constitution.

When I saw that article in the " Union" of the 17th of November, fol-
lowed by the gloriflcation of the Lecompton constitution on the 18th of
November, and this clause in the constitution asserting the doctrine that a
State has no right to prohibit slavery within its limits, I saw that there was
a fatal blow being struck at the sovereignty of the States of this Union.

Here he says, "Mr. President, you here find several distinct
propositions advanced boldly, and apparently authoritatively." By
"whose authority. Judge Douglas ? Again, he says in another place,
" It will be seen by these clauses in the Lecompton constitution that
they are identical in spirit with this authoritative article." By whose
authority ? Who do you mean to say authorized the publication of
these articles ? He knows that the Washington " Union " is consid-
ered the organ of the administration'. I demand of Judge Douglas
by whose authority he meant to say those articles were published,
if not by the authority of the President of the United States and
his cabinet? I defy him to show whom he referred to, if not to
these high functionaries in the Federal Government. More than
this, he says the articles in that paper and the provisions of the
Lecompton constitution are " identical," and being identical, he argues
that the authors are cooperating and conspiring together. He does
not use the word " conspiring," but what other construction can you
put upon it ? He winds up with this :

When I saw that article in the " Union " of the 17th of November, fol-
lowed by the gloriflcation of the Lecompton constitution on the 18th of
November, and this clause in the constitution asserting the doctrine that
a State has no right to prohibit slavery within its limits, I saw that there
was a fatal blow being struck at the sovereignty of the States of this Union.

I ask him if all this fuss was made over the editor of this news-
paper. It would be a terribly "fatal blow" indeed which a single
man could strike, when no President, no cabinet officer, no member of
Congress, was giving strength and efficiency to the movement. Out
of respect to Judge Douglas's good sense I must believe he did n't
manufacture his idea of the "fatal" character of that blow out of
such a miserable scapegrace as he represents that editor to be. But
the judge's eye is farther south now. Then, it was very peculiarly
and decidedly north. His hope rested on the idea of enlisting the
great " Black Republican " party, and making it the tail of his new
kite. He knows he was then expecting from day to day to turn Re-
publican and place himself at the head of our organization. He has



Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 43 of 91)