Abraham Lincoln.

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

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Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 46 of 91)
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substantially repealing the Missouri Compromise. That was be-
cause the compromise of 1850 had not repealed it. And now I ask
why he could not have left that compromise alone ? We were quiet
from the agitation of the slavery question. We were making no
fuss about it. All had acquiesced in the compromise measures of
1850. We never had been seriously disturbed by any AboUtion agi-
tation before that period. When he came to form governments for
the Territories north of the line of 36° 30', why could he not have
let that matter stand as it was standing? Was it necessary to the
organization of a Territory ? Not at all. Iowa lay north of the line
and had been organized as a Territory, and came into the Union as a
State without disturbing that compromise. There was no sort of
necessity for destroying it to organize these Territories. But, gen-
tlemen, it would take up aU my time to meet all the little quibbUng
arguments of Judge Douglas to show that the Missouri Compromise
was repealed by the compromise of 1850. My own opinion is that
a careful investigation of all the arguments to sustain the position
that that compromise was virtually repealed by the compromise of
1850 would show that they are the merest fallacies. I have the re-
port that Judge Douglas first brought into Congress at the time of
the introduction of the Nebraska bill, which in its original form did
not repeal the Missouri Compromise, and he there expressly stated
that he had forborne to do so because it had not been done by the
compromise of 1850. I close this part of the discussion on my part
by asking him the question again, "Why, when we had peace under
the Missouri Compromise, could you not have let it alone 1 "


In complaining of what I said in my speech at Springfield, in
which he says I accepted my nomination for the senatorship (_where,
by the way, he is at fault, for if he will examine it, he wiU fmd no
acceptance in it), he again quotes that portion in which I said that
" a house divided against itself cannot stand." Let me say a word
in regard to that matter.

He tries to persuade us that there must be a variety in the differ-
ent institutions of the States of the Union ; that that variety neces-
sarily proceeds from the variety of soil, climate, of the face of the
country, and the difference in the natural features of the States. I
agree to all that. Have these very matters ever produced any diffi-
culty amongst us ? Not at all. Have we ever had any quarrel over
the fact that they have laws in Louisiana designed to regulate the
commerce that springs from the production of sugar? or because
we have a different class relative to the production of flour in this
State? Have they produced any differences? Not at all. They
are the very cements of this Union. They don't make the house a
house divided against itself. They are the props that hold up the
house and sustain the Union.

But has it been so with this element of slavery ? Have we not al-
ways had quarrels and difQculties over it? And when will we cease
to have quarrels over it ? Like causes produce like effects. It is
worth while to observe that we have generally had comparative
peace upon the slavery question, and that there has been no cause
for alarm until it was excited by the effort to spread it into new ter-
ritory. "Whenever it has been limited to its present bounds, and
there has been no effort to spread it, there has been peace. All the
trouble and convulsion has proceeded from efforts to spread it over
more territory. It was thus at the date of the Missouri Compro-
mise. It was so again with the annexation of Texas; so with the
territory acquired by the Mexican war ; and it is so now. Whenever
there has been an effort to spread it there has been agitation and
resistance. Now, I appeal to this audience (very few of whom are
my political friends), as national men, whether we have reason to
expect that the agitation in regard to this subject will cease while
the causes that tend to reproduce agitation are actively at work ?
WiU not the same cause that produced agitation in 1820, when the
Missouri Compromise was formed, — that which produced the agita-
tion upon the annexation of Texas, and at other times, — work out
the same results always? Do you think that the nature of man will
be changed — that the same causes that produced agitation at one
time will not have the same effect at another ?

This has been the result so far as my observation of the slavery
question and my reading in history extend. What right have we
then to hope that the trouble will cease, that the agitation will
come to an end ; until it shall either be placed back where it origi-
nally stood, and where the fathers originally placed it, or, on the other
hand, until it shall entirely master all opposition ? This is the view
I entertain, and this is the reason why I entertained it, as Judge
Douglas has read from my Springfield speech.

Now, my friends, there is one other thing that I feel under some


sort of obligation to mention. Judge Douglas lias hero to-day — in
a very rambling way, I was about saying — spoken of the platforms
for which he seeks "to hold me responsible. He says, " Why can't
you come out and make an open avowal of principles in all places
alike ? '' and he reads from an advertisement that he says was used
to notify the people of a speech to be made by Judge Trumbull at
"Waterloo. In commenting on it he desires to know whether we
cannot speak frankly and manfully as he and his friends do ! How,
I ask, do his friends speak out their own sentiments? A conven-
tion of his party in this State met on the 21st of April, at Springfield,
and passed a set of resolutions which they proclaim to the country
as their platform. This does constitute their platform, and it is
because Judge Douglas claims it is his platform — that these are his
principles and purposes — that he has a right to declare that he
speaks his sentiments " frankly and manfully." On the 9th of June,
Colonel John Dougherty, G-overnor Reynolds, and others, calling
themselves National Democrats, met in Springfield, and adopted a set
of resolutions which are as easily understood, as plain and as definite
in stating to the country and to the world what they believed in
and would stand upon, as Judge Douglas's platform. Now, what is
the reason that Judge Douglas is not willing that Colonel Dougherty
and Governor Reynolds should stand upon their own written and
printed platform as well as he upon his 1 Why must he look farther
than their platform when he claims himself to stand bj- his platform '?

Again, in reference to our platform : On the 16th of June the Re-
publicans had their convention and published their platform, which
is as clear and distinct as Judge Douglas's. In it they spoke their
principles as plainly and as definitely to the world. What is the
reason that Judge Douglas is not willing that I should stand upon
that platform ? Why must he go around hunting for some one who
is supporting me, or has supported me at some time in his life, and
who has said something at some time contrary to that platform ?
Does the judge regard that rule as a good one? If it turn out that
the rule is a good one for me, — that I am responsible for any and
every opinion that any man has expressed who is my friend, — then
it is a good rule for him. I ask, is it not as good a rule for him as
it is for me ? In my opinion, it is not a good rule for either of us.
Do you think differently, judge?

Mr. Douglas: I do not.

Mr. Lincoln : Judge Douglas says he does not think differently.
I am glad of it. Then can he tell me why he is looking up resolu-
tions of five or six years ago, and insisting that they were my plat-
form, notwithstanding my protest that they are not, and never
were, my platform, and my pointing out the platform of the State
convention which he delights to say nominated me for the Senate?
I cannot see what he means by parading these resolutions, if it is
not to hold me responsible for them in some way. If he says to
me here, that he does not hold the rule to be good, one way or the
other, I do not comprehend how he could answer me more fully if
he answered me at greater length. I will therefore put in as my
answer to the resolutions that he has hunted up against me what I,


as a lawyer, would call a good plea to a bad declaration. I under-
stand that it is a maxim of law, that a poor plea may be a good plea
to a bad declaration. I think that the opinions the judge brings
from those who support me, yet differ from me, are a bad declaration
against me, but if I can bring the same things against him, I am
putting in a good plea to that kind of declaration, and now I pro-
pose to try it.

At Freeport Judge Douglas occupied a large part of his time in
producing resolutions and documents of various sorts, as I under-
stood, to make me somehow responsible for them ; and I propose
now doing a little of the same sort of thing for him. In 1850 a very
clever gentleman by the name of Thompson Campbell, a personal
friend of Judge Douglas and myself, a political friend of Judge Doug-
las and opponent of mine, was a candidate for Congress in the Galena
district. He was interrogated as to his views on this same slavery
question. I have here before me the interrogatories, and Campbell's
answers to them. I wiU read them:


1. Will you, if elected, vote for and cordially support a bill proMbitiug
slavery in the Territories of the United States?

2. Will you vote for and support a bill abolishing slavery in the District
of Columbia?

3. Will you oppose the admission of any slave States which may be
formed out of Texas or the Territories?

4. Win you vote for and advocate the repeal of the fugitive-slave law
passed at ttie recent session of Congress ?

5. Win you advocate and vote for the election of a Speaker of the
House of Representatives who shall be willing to organize the committees of
that House so as to give the free States their just influence in the business of

6. What are your views, not only as to the constitutional right of Con-
gress to prohibit the slave-trade between the States, but also as to the expe-
diency of exercising that right immediately ?

CampbelVs Meply.

To the first and second interrogatories, I answer unequivocally in the

To the tMrd interrogatory, I reply that I am opposed to the admission of
any more slave States into the Union, that may be formed out of Texan or
any other territory.

To the fourth and fifth interrogatories, I unhesitatingly answer in the af-

To the sixth interrogatory, I reply that so long as the slave States continue
to treat slaves as articles of commerce, the Constitution confers power on
Congress to pass laws regulating that pecuhar commerce, and that the pro-
tection of human rights imperatively demands the interposition of every
constitutional means to prevent this most inhuman and iniquitous traffic.

T. Campbell.

I want to say here that Thompson Campbell was elected to Con-

fress on that platform, as the Democratic candidate in the Galena
istrict, against Martin P. Sweet.
Judge Douglas : Give me the date of the letter.


Mr. Lincoln: The time Campbell ran was in 1850. I have not
the exact date here. It was some time in 1850 that tlu'se interroga-
tories were put and the answer given. Campbell was elected to Con-
gress, and served out his term. I think a second election came up
before he served out his term, and he was not reelected. Whether
defeated or not nominated, I do not know. [Mr. Campbell was nom-
inated for reelection by the Democratic party, by acclamation.] At
the end of his term his very good friend. Judge Douglas^ got him a
high office from President Pierce, and sent him off to California. Is
not that the fact ? Just at the end of his term in Congress it appears
that our mutual friend Judge Douglas got our mutual friend Camp-
bell a good office, and sent him to California upon it. And not only
so, but on the 27th of last month, when Judge Douglas and myself
spoke at Freeport in joint discussion, there was his same friend
Campbell, come all the way from California, to help the judge beat
me; and there was poor Martin P. Sweet standing on the platform,
trying to help poor me to be elected. That is true of one of Judge
Douglas's friends.

So again, in that same race of 1850, there was a congressional
convention assembled at Joliet, and it nominated R. S. Molony for
Congress, and unanimously adopted the following resolution :

Besolved, That we are tincompromisingly opposed to the extension of
slavery ; and wlule we would not make such opposition a ground of inter-
ference with the interests of the States where it exists, yet we moderately
but firmly insist that it is the duty of Congress to oppose its extension into
territory now free by all means compatible with the obUgations of the Con-
stitution, and with good faith to our sister States; that these principles were
recognized by the ordinance of 1787, which received the sanction of Thomas
Jefferson^ who is acknowledged by all to be the great oracle and expounder
of our faith.

Subsequently the same interrogatories were propounded to Dr.
Molony which had been addressed to Campbell, as above, with the
exception of the sixth, respecting the interstate slave-trade, to which
Dr. Molony, the Democratic nominee for Congress, replied as follows:

I received the interrogatories this day, and as you will see by the La Salle
" Democrat" and Ottawa "Free Trader," I took at Peru on the 5th and at
Ottawa on the 7th, the affirmative side of interrogatories 1st and 2d ; and
in relation to the admission of any more slave States from free territory,
my position taken at these meetings, as correctly reported in said papers,
was emphatically and distinctly opposed to it. In relation to the admission
of any more slave States from Texas, whether I shall go against it or not
will depend upon the opinion that I may hereafter form of the true mean-
ing and nature of the resolutions of annexation. H by said resolutions the
honor and good faith of the nation is pledged to admit more slave States
from Texas when she (Texas) may apply for admission of such State, then
I should, if in Congress, vote for their admission. But if not so pledged and
bound by sacred contract, then a bill for the admission of more slave States
from Texas would never receive my vote.

To your fourth interrogatory I answer most decidedly in the affirmative,
and for reasons set forth in my reported remarks at Ottawa last Monday.

To your fifth interrogatory I also reply in the afftrmative most cordially,
and that I will use my utmost exertions to secure the nomination and elec-
VOL. I.— 23.


tion of a man who will accomplisli the objects of said interrogatories. I
most cordially approve of the resolutions adopted at the union meeting held
at Princeton on the 27th September ult. Yours, etc.,

E. S. MoLOSfY.

All I have to say in regard to Dr. Molony is that he was the reg-
ularly nominated Democratic candidate for Congress in his district ;
was elected at that time ; at the end of his term was appointed to a
land-ofQee at Danville. (I never heard anything of Judge Douglas's
instrumentality in this.) He held this offtce a considerable time,
and when we were at Preeport the other day, there were handbills
scattered about notifying the public that after our debate was over
R. S. Molony would make a Democratic speech in favor of Judge
Douglas. That is all I know of my own personal knowledge. It is
added here to this resolution (and truly, I believe) that "among
those who participated in the Joliet convention, and who supported
its nominee, with his platform as laid down in the resolution of the
convention, and in his reply as above given, we caU at random the
following names, all of which are recognized at this day as leading
Democrats: Cook County — E. B. Williams, Charles McDoneU,
Arno Voss, Thomas Hoyne, Isaac Cook," — I reckon we ought to
except Cook,— "P. C. Sherman. Will — Joel A. Matteson, S. W.
Bowen. Kane — B. P. Hall, G. W. Ren wick, A. M. Herrington,
Elijah Wilcox. McHenry — W. M. Jackson, Enos W. Smith, Neil
Donnelly. La Salle — John Hise, William Reddick"— William Red-
diek— another one of Judge Douglas's friends that stood on the
stand with him at Ottawa at the time the judge says my knees
trembled so that I had to be carried away! The names are all
here : " DuPage — Nathan Allen. DeKalb — Z. B. Mayo."

Here is another set of resolutions which I think are apposite to the
matter in hand.

On the 28th of Pebruary of the same year, a Democratic district
convention was held at Naperville, to nominate a candidate for cir-
cuit judge. Among the delegates were Bowen and Kelly, of Will-
Captain Naper, H. H. Cody, Nathan Allen, of DuPage ; W. M. Jack-
son, J. M. Strode, P. W. Piatt, and Enos W. Smith, of McHenry;
J. Horsman and others, of Winnebago. Colonel Strode presided
over the convention. The following resolutions were unanimously
adopted— the first on motion of P. W. Piatt, the second on mo-
tion of William M. Jackson :

Besolved, That this convention is in favor of the Wilmot proviso, both in
principle and practice, and that we know of no good reason why any per-
son should oppose the largest latitude in free soU, free territory, and free

Besolved, That in the opinion of this convention, the time has arrived
when all men should be. free, whites as well as others.

Judge Douglas: What is the date of those resolutions?

Mr. Lincoln: I understand it was in 1850, but I do not know it.
I do not state a thing and say I know it when I do not. But I have
the highest belief that this is so. I know of no way to arrive at the
conclusion that there is an error in it. I mean to put a case no


stronger than the trnth will allow. But what I was goinfi^ to com-
ment upon is au extract from a newspaper ia DeKalb County, and
it strikes me as being rather singular, I confess, under the ciivum-
stances. There is a Judge Mayo in that county, who is a candidate
for the legislature, for the purpose, if he secures his election, of
helping to reelect Judge Douglas. He is the editor of a newspaper
[DeKalb County '' Sentinel "], and in that paper I iind theextract I
am going to read. It is part of an editorial article in which he was
electioneering as fiercely as he could for Judge Douglas and against
me. It was a curious thing, I think, to be in such a paper. I will
agree to that, and the judge may make the most of it :

Our education has been such that we have ever been rather in favor of
the equality of the blacks ; that is, that they should enjoy all the privileges
of the whites where they reside. We are aware that this is not a very popu-
lar doctrine. We have had many a confab with some who are now strong
" Republicans," we taking the broad ground of equahty and they the oppo-
site ground.

We were brought up in a State where blacks were voters, and we do not
know of any inconvenience resulting from it, though perhaps it would not
work so well where the blacks are more numerous. We have no doubt of
the right of the whites to guard against such an evil, if it is one. Our
opinion is that it wotdd be best for all concerned to have the colored popu-
lation in a State by themselves [in this I agree with him] ; but if within
the JTuisdiction of the United States, we say by all means they should liave
the right to have their senators and their representatives in C'ongress, and
to vote for President. With us "worth makes the man, iuid want of it the
fellow." We have seen many a "nigger" that we thought more of than
some white men.

That is one of Judge Douglas's friends. Now I do not want to
leave myself in an attitude where I can be misrepresented, so I will
say I do not think the judge is responsible for this article ; but he
is quite as responsible for it as I would be if one of my friends had
said it. I think that is fair enough.

I have here also a set of resolutions passed by a Democratic State
convention in Judge Douglas's own good old State of Vermont, and
that, I think, ought to be good for him too.

Besolved, That liberty is a right inherent and inalienable in man, and
that herein all men are equal.

Resolved, That we claim no authority in the Federal Government to
abohsh slavery in the several States. But we do claim for it constitutional
power perpetually to prohibit the introduction of slavery into territory
now free, and abolish it wherever, under the jurisdiction of Congress, it

Resolved, That this power ought immediately to be exercised in prohib-
iting the introduction and existence of slavery in New Mexico and Cali-
fornia, in abolishing slavery and the slave-trade in the District of Columbia,
on the high seas, and wherever else, under the Constitution, it can be

Resolved, That no more slave States sho\dd be admitted into the Federal

Resolved, That the government ought to return to its ancient pohcy, not
to extend, nationahze, or encourage, but to hmit, localize, and discourage


At Freeport I answered several interrogatories that had been pro-
pounded to me by Judge Douglas at the Ottawa meeting. The judge
has yet not seen fit to find any fault with the position that I took in
regard to those seven interrogatories, which were certainly broad
enough, in all conscience, to cover the entire ground. In my an-
swers, which have been printed, and all have had the opportunity
of seeing, I take the ground that those who elect me must expect
that I will do nothing which will not be in accordance with those
answers. I have some right to assert that Judge Douglas has no
fault to find with them. But he chooses to still try to thrust me
upon different ground without paying any attention to my answers,
the obtaining of which from me cost him so much troiible and con-
cern. At the same time, I propounded four interrogatories to him,
claiming it as a right that he should answer as many interrogatories
for me as I did for him, and I would reserve myself for a future in-
stalment when I got them ready. The judge, in answering me upon
that occasion, put in what I suppose he intends as answers to all four
of my interrogatories. The first one of these inteiTOgatories I have
before ine, and it is in these words :

Question 1. If the people of Kansas sliaU,.by means entirely unobjection-
able in all other respects, adopt a State constitution, and ask admission into
the Union under it, before they have the requisite number of inhabitants
according to the English bill, — some ninety-three thousand, — will you vote
to admit them 1

As I read the judge's answer in the newspaper, and as I remember
it as pronounced at the time, he does not give any answer which is
equivalent to yes or no — I will or I won't. He answers at very con-
siderable length, rather quarreling with me for asking the question,
and insisting that Judge Trumbull had done something that I ought
to say something about ; and finally getting out such statements as
induce me to infer that he means to be. understood he will, in that
supposed case, vote for the admission of Kansas. I only bring this
forward now for the purpose of saying that, if he chooses* to put a
different construction upon his answer, he may do it. But if he does
not, I shall from this time forward assume that he will vote for the
admission of Kansas in disregard of the English bill. He has the
right to remove any misunderstanding I may have. I only mention
it now that I may hereafter assume this to be the true construction
of his answer, if he does not now choose to correct me.

The second interrogatory that I propounded to him was this :

Question 2. Can the people of a United States Territory, in any lawful
way, against the wish of any citizen of the United States, exclude slavery
irom its limits prior to the formation of a State constitution?

To this Judge Douglas answered that they can lawfully exclude
t^avery from the Territory prior to the formation of a constitution.
He goes on to tell us how it can be done. As I understand him, he
iolds that it can be done by the territorial legislature refusing to
make any enactments for the protection of slavery in the Territory,

Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 46 of 91)