Abraham Lincoln.

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

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knows do not exist in any one Territory in the Union. He tries to
give you to understand that he would allow the people to do as they
please, and yet he dodges the question as to every Territory in the
Union. I now ask why cannot Mr. Lincoln answer to each of these
Territories? He has not done it, and he will not do it. The Aboli-
tionists up North understand that this answer is made with a view
of not committing himself on any one Territory now in existence.
It is so understood there, and you cannot expect an answer from him
on a case that applies to any one Territoi-y, or applies to the new
States which by compact we are pledged to admit out of Texas, when
they have the requisite population and desire admission. I submit
to you whether he has made a frank answer, so that you can tell how
he would vote in any one of these cases. " He would be sorry to be
put in the position." Why would he be sorry to be put in this posi-
tion if his duty required him to give the vote? If the people of a
Territory ought to be permitted to come into the Union as a State,
with slavery or without it, as they pleased, why not give the vote ad-
mitting them cheerfully? If in his opinion they ought not to come
in with slavery, even if they wanted to, why not say that he would
cheerfully vote against their admission ? His intimation is that con-
science would not let him vote "No," and he would be sorry to do
that which his conscience would compel him to do as an honest

In regard to the contract or bargain between Trumbull, the Aboli-
tionists, and him, which he denies, I wish to say that the charge can
be proved by notorious historical facts. Trumbull, Lovejoy, Gid-
dings, Fred Douglass, Hale, and Banks were traveling the State at
that time making speeches on the same side and in the same cause
with him. He contents himself with the same denial that no such
thing occurred. Does he deny that he, and Trumbull, and Breese,
and Griddings, and Chase, and Fred Douglass, and Lovejoy, and all
those Abolitionists and deserters from the Democratic party, did
make speeches all over this State in the same common cause ? Does
he deny that Jim Matheny was then, and is now, his confidential
friend, and does he deny ttat Matheny made the charge of the bar-
gain and fraud in his own language, as I have read it from his printed
speech. Matheny spoke of his own personal knowledge of that bar-
gain existing between Lincoln, Trumbull, and the Abolitionists.
He still remains Lincoln's confidential friend, and is now a candidate
for Congress, and is canvassing the Springfield district for Lincoln.


I assert that I can prove the charge to be true iu detail if I can
ever get it where I can summon and compel the attendance of wit-
nesses. I have the statement of another man to the same effect
as that made by Matheny, which I am not permitted to use yet, but
Jim Matheny is a good witness on that point, and the history of the
country is conclusive upon it. That Lincoln up to that time had been
a Whig, and then undertook to Abolitionize the Whigs and bring
them into the Abolition camp, is beyond denial; that Trumbull up
to that time had been a Democrat, and deserted, and undertook to
Abolitionize the Democracy, and take them into the Abolition camp,
is beyond denial; that they are both now active, leading, distin-
guished members of this Abolition Republican party, in full com-
munion, is a fact that cannot be questioned or denied.

But Lincoln is not willing to be responsible for the creed of his
party. He complains because I hold him responsible, and in order
to avoid the issue he attempts to show that individuals in the Demo-
cratic party, many years ago, expressed Abolition sentiments. It is
true that Tom Campbell, when a candidate for Congress in 1850, pub-
lished the letter which Lincoln read. When I asked Lincoln for the
date of that letter he could not give it. The date of the letter has
been suppressed by other speakers who have used it, though I take
it for granted that Lincoln did not know the date. If he will take
the trouble to examine, he will find that the letter was published
only two days before the election, and was never seen untu after it,
except in one county. Tom Campbell would have been beat to death
by the Democratic party if that letter had been made public in his
district. As to Molony, it is true that he uttered sentiments of the
kind referred to by Mr. Lincoln, and the best Democrats would not
vote for him for that reason. I returned from Washington after the
passage of the compromise measures in 1850, and when I found Mo-
lony running under John Wentworth's tutelage, and on his plat-
form, I denounced him, and declared that he was no Democrat. In
my speech at Chicago, just before the election that year, I went be-
fore the infuriated people of that city and vindicated the compromise
measures of 1850. Remember, the city council had passed resolu-
tions nullifying acts of Congress and instructing the police to with-
hold their assistance from the execution of the laws, and as I was the
only man in the city of Chicago who was responsible for the passage
of the compromise measures, I went before the crowd, justified each
and every one of those measures, and let it be said to the eternal
honor of the people of Chicago, that when they were convinced by my
exposition of those measures that they were right, and they had done
wrong in opposing them, they repealed their nulhfying resolutions,
and declared that they would acquiesce in and support the laws of
the land. These facts are well known, and Mr. Lincoln can only
get up individual instances, dating back to 1849-50, which are con-
tradicted by the whole tenor of the Democratic creed.

But Mr. Lincoln does not want to be held responsible for the
Black Republican doctrine of no more slave States. Farnsworth
is the candidate of his party to-day in the Chicago district, and he
made a speech in the last Congress 'in which he called upon God to


palsy his right arm if he ever voted for the admission of another
slave State, whether the people wanted it or not. Lovejoy is
making speeches all over the State for Lincoln now, and taking
ground against any more slave States. Washbume, the Black Re-
publican candidate for Congress in the Galena district^ is making
speeches in favor of this same Abolition platform declaring no more
slave States. "Why are men running for Congress in the northern
districts, and taking that Abolition platform for their guide, when
Mr. Lincoln does not want to be held to it down here in Egypt and
in the center of the State, and objects to it so as to get votes here.
Let me tell Mr. Lincoln that his party in the northern part of the
State hold to that Abolition platform, and that if they do not in the
south and In the center, they present the extraordinary spectacle of
a " house divided against itself," and hence " cannot stand." I now
bring down upon him the vengeance of his own scripture quotation,
and give it a more appropriate application than he did, when I say
to him that his party, Abolition in one end of the State and opposed
to it in the other, is a house divided against itself, and cannot stand,
and ought not to stand, for it attempts to cheat the American peo-
ple out of their votes by disguising its sentiments.

Mr. Lincoln attempts to cover up and get over his Abolitionism
by teUing you that he was raised a little east of you, beyond the
Wabash in Indiana, and he thinks that makes a mighty sound and
good man of him on all these questions. I do not know that the
place where a man is born or raised has much to do with his po-
litical principles. The worst Abolitionists I have ever known in Illi-
nois have been men who have sold their slaves in Alabama and
Kentucky, and have come here and turned Abolitionists while spend-
ing the money got for the negroes they sold, and I do not know
that an Abolitionist from Indiana or Kentucky ought to have any
more credit because he was born and raised among slave-holders.
I do not know that a native of Kentucky is more excusable because
raised among slaves; his father and mother having owned slaves,
he comes to Illinois, turns Abolitionist, and slanders the graves of
his father and mother, and breathes curses upon the institutions
under which he was born, and his father and mother bred. True,
I was not born out West here. I was born away down in Yankee
land; I was bom in a valley in Vermont, with the high moiintains
around me. I love the old green mountains and valleys of Ver-
mont, where I was born, and where I played in my childhood. I
went up to visit them some seven or eight years ago, for the first
time for twenty odd years. When I got there they treated me very
kindly. They invited me to the commencement of their college,
placed me on the seats with their distinguished guests, and con-
ferred upon me the decree of LL. D. in Latin (doctor of laws), the
same as they did Old Hickory, at Cambridge, many years ago, and I
give you my word and honor I understood just as much of the
Latin as he did. When they got through conferring the honorary
degree, they called upon me for a speech, and I got up with my
heart full and swelling with gratitude for their kindness, and I said
to them, " My friends, Vermont is the most glorious spot on the


face of this globe for a man to be born in, provided he emigrates
when he is very young."

I emigrated when I was very young. I came out here when I was
a boy, and found my mind liberalized, and my opinions enlarged
when I got on these broad prairies, with only the heavens to bound
my vision, instead of having them circumscribed by the little narrow
ridges that surrounded the valley where I was born. But I discard
all flings at the land where a man was born. I wish to be judged
by my principles, by those great public measures and constitutional
principles upon which the peace, the happiness, and the perpetuity
of this republic now rest.

Mr. Lincoln has framed another .question, propounded it to me,
and desired my answer. As I have said before, I did not put a ques-
tion to him that I did not first lay a foundation for bv showing that
it was a part of the platform of the party whose votes he is now seek-
ing, adopted in a majority of the counties where he now hopes to
get a majority, and supported by the candidates of his party now
running in those counties. But I will answer his question. It is as
follows : " If the slaveholding citizens of a United States Territory
should need and demand congressional legislation for the protection
of their slave property in such Territory, would you, as a member
of Congress, vote for or against such legislation?" I answer him
that it IS a fundamental article in the Democratic creed that there
should be non-interference and non-intervention by Congress with
slavery in the States or Territories. Mr. Lincoln could have found an
answer to his question in the Cincinnati platform, if he had desired
it. The Democratic party have always stood by that great principle
of non-interference and non-intervention by Congress with slavery in
the States or Territories alike, and I stand on that platform now.

Now I desire to call your attention to the fact that Lincoln did not
define his own position in his own question. How does he stand on
that question ? He put the question to me at Freeport whether or
not I would vote to admit Kansas into the Union before she had
93,420 inhabitants. I answered him at once that it having been de-
cided that Kansas had now population enough for a slave State, she
had population enough for a free State.

I answered the question unequivocally, and then I asked him
whether he would vote for or against the admission of Kansas before
she had 93,420 inhabitants, and he would not answer me. To-day he
has called attention to the fact that, in his opinion, my answer on that
question was not quite plain enough, and yet he has not answered it
himself. He now puts a question in relation to congressional inter-
ference in the Territories to me, I answer him direct, and yet he has
not answered the question himself. I ask you whether a man has
any right, in common decency^ to put questions, in these public dis-
cussions, to his opponent, which he will not answer himself when
they are pressed home to him. I have asked him three times, whether
he would vote to admit Kansas whenever the people applied with a
constitution of their own making and their own adoption, under cir-
cumstances that were fair, just, and unexceptionable, but I cannot
get an answer from him. Nor will he answer the question which he


put to me, and which I have just answered, in relation to congres-
sional interference in the Territories, by making a slave code there.
It is true that he goes on to answer the question by arguing that
under the decision of the Supreme Court it is the duty of a man to
vote for a slave code in the Territories. He says that it is his duty,
under the decision that the court has made, and if he believes in that
decision he would be a perjured man if he did not give the vote. I
want to know whether he is not bound to a decision which is con-
trary to his opinions just as much as to one in accordance with his '
opinions. If the decision of the Supreme Court, the tribunal created
by the Constitution to decide the question, is final and binding, is he
not bound by it just as strongly.as if he was for it instead of against
it originally? Is every man in this land allowed to resist decisions
he does not like, and only support those that meet his approval?
What are important courts worth unless their decisions are binding
on all good citizens ? It is the fundamental principle of the judi-
ciary that its decisions are final. It is created for that purpose, so
that when you cannot agree among yourselves on a disputed point
you appeal to the judicial tribunal^ which steps in and decides for
you, and that decision is then binding on every good citizen. It is
the law of the land just as much with Mr. Lincoln against it as for
it. And yet he says if that decision is binding he is a perjured man
if he does not vote for a slave code in the different Territories of this
Union. Well, if you [turning to Mr. Lincoln] are not going to re-
sist the decision, if you obey it, and do not intend to array mob law
against the constituted authorities, then according to your own state-
ment, you will be aperjured man if you do not vote to establish slavery
in these Territories. My doctrine is, that even taking Mr. Lincoln's
view that the decision recognizes the right of a man to carry his slaves
into the Territories of the United States, if he pleases, yet after he gets
there he needs affirmative law to make that nght of any value. The
same doctrine not only applies to slave property, but all other kinds of
property. Chief Justice Taney places it upon the ground that slave
property is on an equal footing with other property. Suppose one of
vour merchants should move to Kansas and open a liquor-store ; he
has a right to take groceries and liquors there, but the mode of selling
them, and- the circumstances under which they shall be sold, and all
the remedies, must be prescribed by local legislation, and if that is
unfriendly it will drive him oiit just as effectually as if there was a
constitutional provision against the sale of liquor. So the absence
of local legislation to encourage and support slave property in a
Territory excludes it practically just as effectually as if there was
a positive constitutional provision against it. Hence I assert that
under the Dred Scott decision you cannot maintain slavery a day in
a Territory where there is an unwilling people and unfriendly legis-
lation. If the people are opposed to it, our right is a barren, worth-
less, useless right; and if they are for it, they will support and
encourage it. We come ri^ht back, therefore, to the practical ques-
tion, if the people of a Territory want slavery they will have it, and
if they do not want it you cannot force it on them. And this is the
practical question, the great principle, upon which our institutions


. I am williug to take the decision of the Supreme Court as it
pronounced by that august tiibunal, without-stopping to inquire
ither I would have decided that way or not. I have had many
icision made against me on questions of law wliich I did not like,
I was bound by them just as much as if I had had a hand in
dug them, and approved them. Did you ever see a lawyer or
lent lose his case that he approved tlie decision of the court?
sy always think the decision unjust when it is given against them.
I government of laws like ours we must sustain the Constitution
)ur fathers made it, and maintain the rights of the States as they
guaranteed under the Constitution, and then we will have peace
.harmony between the different States and sections of this
rious Union.

[September 16?] 1858. — Fragment. Notes fob Speeches.

believe the declaration that " all men are created equal " is the
at fundamental principle upon which our free institutions rest,
it negro slavery is violative of that principle ; but that by our
m of government that principle has not been made one of legal
igation. That by our form of goverument the States which have
?ery are to retain or disuse it, at their own pleasure ; and that all
ers — individuals, free States, and National Government — are
istitutionaUy bound to leave them alone about it. That our gov-
ment was thus framed because of the necessity springing from

actual presence of slavery when it was formed.

leptember 18, 1858. — Fourth Joint Debate at Charleston,


Mr. Lincoln's Opening Speech.

Ladies and Gentlemen: It wiU be very difficult for an audience so
ge as this to hear distinctly what a speaker says, and consequently
s important that as profound silence be preserved as possible.
While I was at the hotel to-day, an elderly gentleman called upon
I to know whether I was really in favor of producing a perfect
lality between the negroes and white people. "While I had not
jposed to myself on this occasion to say much on that subject, yet
the question was asked me I thought 1 would occupy perhaps five
antes in saying something in regard to it. I will say then that I
. not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way
! social and political equality of the white and black races — that
m not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors
negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold ofl&ce, nor to intermarry
;h white people ; and I will say in addition to this that there is a
ysical difference between the white and black races which I believe
1 forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social
i political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while
ly do remain together there must be the -position of superior aad
Vol. I.— 24.


inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the
superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion
I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior
position the negro should be denied everything. I do not understand
that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must neces-
sarily want her for a wife. My understanding is that I can just let
her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly never have
had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. So it seems to me
quite possible for us to get along without making either slaves or
wives of negroes. I will add to this that I have never seen, to my
knowledge, a man, woman, or child who was in favor of producing a
perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men.
I recollect of but one distinguished instance that I ever heard of so
frequently as to be entirely satisfied of its correctness, and that is
the case of Judge Douglas's old friend Colonel Richard M. Johnson.
I will also add to the remarks I have made (for I am not going to
enter at large upon this subject), that I have never had the least
apprehension that I or my friends would marry negroes if there was
no law to keep them from it ; but as Judge Douglas and his friends
seem to be in great apprehension that they might, if there were no
law to keep them from it, I give him the most solemn pledge that I
will to the very last stand by the law of this State, which forbids the
marrying of white people with negroes. I will add one further word,
which is this: that I do not understand that there is any place where
an alteration of the social and political relations of the negro and the
white man can be made except in the State legislature — not in the
Cougress of the United States; and as I do not really apprehend
the approach of any such thing myself, and as Judge Douglas seems
to be in constant horror that some such danger is rapidly approach-
ing, I propose, as the best means to prevent it, that the judge be kept
at home and placed in the State legislature to fight the measure. I
do not propose dwelling longer at this time on the subject.

When Judge Trumbull, our other senator in Congress, returned to
Illinois in the month of August, he made a speech at Chicago, in
which he made what may be called a charge against Judge Douglas,
which I understand proved to be very offensive to him. The judge
was at that time out upon one of his speaking tours through the
country, and when the news of it reached him, as I am informed,
he denounced Judge Trumbull in rather harsh terms for having said
what he did in regard to that matter. I was traveling at that time,
and speaking at the same places with Judge Douglas on subsequent
days, and when I heard of what Judge Trumbull had said of Doug-
las, and what Douglas had said back again, I felt that I was in a posi-
tion where I could not remain entirely silent in regard to the matter.
Consequently, upon two or three occasions I alluded to it, and al-
luded to it in no other wise than to say that in regard to the charge
brought by Trumbull against Douglas, I personally knew nothing,
and sought to say nothing about it — that I did personally know
Judge Trumbull — that I believed him to be a man of veracity —
that I believed him to be a man of capacity sufBcient to know very
well whether an assertion he was making, as a conclusion drawn


from a set of facts, was true or false; and as a conclusion of my own
from that, I stated it as my belief, if Trumbull should ever be called
upon, he would prove everything he had said. I said this upon two
or three occasions. Upon a subsequent occasion. Judge Trumbull
spoke again before an audience at Alton, and upon that occasion not
only repeated his charge against Douglas, but arrayed the evidence
he relied upon to substantiate it. This speech was published at
length, and subsequently at Jacksonville Judge Douglas alluded to
the matter. In the course of his speech, and near the close of it, he
stated in regard to myself what I will now read: "Judge Douglas
proceeded to remark that he should not hereafter occupy his time in
refuting such charges made by Trumbull, but that Lincoln having
indorsed the character of Trumbull for veracity, he should hold him
(Lincoln) responsible for the slanders." I have done simply what I
have told you, to subject me to this invitation to notice the charge.
I now wish to say that it had not originally been my purpose to dis-
cuss that matter at all. But inasmuch as it seems to be the wish of
Judge Douglas to hold me responsible for it, then for once in my
life I win play General Jackson, and to the just extent I take the

I wish to say at the beginning that I will hand to the reporters
that portion of Judge Trumbull's Alton speech which was devoted
to this matter, and also that portion of Judge Douglas's speech
made at Jacksonville in answer to it. I shall thereby furnish the
readers of this debate with the complete discussion between Trum-
bull and Douglas. I cannot now read them, for the reason that it
would take half of my first hour to do so. I can only make some
comments upon them. Trumbull's charge is in the following words :
" Now, the charge is, that there was a plot entered into to have a
constitution formed for Kansas, and put in force, without giving
the people an opportunity to vote upon it, and that Mr. Douglas

Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 48 of 91)