Abraham Lincoln.

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

. (page 49 of 91)
Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 49 of 91)
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was in the plot." I wUl state, without quoting further, for all will
have an opportunity of reading it hereafter, that Judge Trumbull
brings forward what he regards as sufficient evidence to substan-
tiate this charge.

It wUl be perceived Judge Trumbull shows that Senator Bigler,
upon the floor of the Senate, had declared there had been a confer-
ence among the senators, in which conference it was determined to
have an Enabling Act passed for the people of Kansas to form a
constitution under; and in this conference it was agreed among
them that it was best not to have a provision for submitting the con-
stitution to a vote of the people after it should be formed. He then
brings forward evidence to show, and showing, as he deemed, that
Judge Douglas reported the bill back to the Senate with that
clause stricken out. He then shows that there was a new clause
inserted into the bill, which would in its nature prevent a reference
of the constitution back for a vote of the people — if, indeed, upon
a mere silence in the law, it could be assumed that they had the
right to vote upon it. These are the general statements that he
has made.

I propose to examine the points in Judge Douglas's speech, in



372 ADDBESSES AND LETTERS OF ABEAHAM LINCOLN

which he attempts to answer that speech of Judge Trnmbnll's.
When you come to examine Judge Douglas's speech, you will find
that the first point he malses is : " Suppose it were true that there was
such a change in the bill, and that I struck it out — is that a proof of
a plot to force a constitution upon them against their will?" His
striking out such a provision, if there was such a one in the biU, he
argues, does not establish the proof that it was stricken out for the
purpose of robbing the people of that right. I would say, in the first
place, that that would be a most manifest reason for it. It is true, as
Judge Douglas states, that many territorial biUs have passed with-
out having such a provision in them. I believe it is true, though I
am not certain, that in some instances constitutions framed under
such biUs have been submitted to a vote of the people, with the law
silent upon the subject; but it does not appear that they once had
their enabling acts framed with an express provision for submit-
ting the constitution to be framed to a vote of the people, and then
that it was stricken out when Congress did not mean to alter the
effect of the law. That there have been bills which never had the
provision in, I do not question ; but when was that provision taken
out of one that it was in ? More especially does this evidence tend
to prove the proposition that Trumbull advanced, when we remem-
ber that the provision was stricken out of the bill almost simulta-
neously with the time that Bigler says there was a conference among
certain senators, and in which it was agreed that a bill should be
passed leaving that out. Judge Douglas, in answering Trumbull,
omits to attend to the testimony of Bigler, that there was a meeting
in which it was agreed they should so frame the bill that there should
be no submission of the constitution to a vote of the people. The
judge does not notice this part of it. If you take this as one piece
of evidence, and then ascertain that simultaneously Judge Douglas
struck out a provision that did require it to be submitted, and put
the two together, I think it will make a pretty fair show of proof
that Judge Douglas did, as Trumbull says, enter into a plot to put in
force a constitution for Kansas without giving the people any op-
portunity of voting upon it.

But I must hurry on. The next proposition that Judge Douglas
puts is this: " But upon examination it turns out that the Toombs
bill never did contain a clause requiring the constitution to be sub-
mitted." This is a mere question of fact, and can be determined by
evidence. I only want to ask this question — why did not Judge
Douglas say that these words were not stricken out of the Toombs
biU, or this bill from which it is alleged the provision was stricken
out — abill which goes by the name of Toombs, because he originally
brought it forward ? I ask why, if the judge wanted to make a direct
issue with Trumbull, did he not take the exact proposition Trumbull
made in his speech, and say it was not stricken out? , Trumbull has
given the exact words that he says were in the Toombs biU, and he
alleges that when the bill came back, they were stricken out. Judge
Douglas does not say that the words which Trumbull says were
stricken out, were not stricken out, but he says there was no provision
in the Toombs bill to submit the constitution to a vote of the people.



ADDEESSES AND LETTERS OF ABEAHAM LINCOLN 373

We see at once that he is merely making an issue upon the meaning
of the words. He has not undertaken to say that Trumbull tells a
lie about these words being stricken out; but he is really, when
pushed up to it, only taking an issue upon the meaning of the words.
Now, then, if there be any issue upon the meaning of the words, or
if there be upon the question of fact as to whether these words were
stricken out, I have before me what I suppose to be a genuine copy
of the Toombs bill, in which it can be shown that the words Trumbull
says were in it, were, in fact, originally there. If there be any dis-
pute upon the fact, I have got the documents here to show they were
there. If there be any controversy upon the sense of the words —
whether these words which were stricken Out really constituted a j)ro-
vision for submitting the matter to a vote of the people, as that is a
matter of argument, I think I may as well use Trumbull's own argu-
ment. He says that the proposition is in these words:

That the following propositions be, and the same are hereby, offered to the
said convention of the people of Kansas, when formed, for their free ac-
ceptance or rejection; which, if accepted by the convention and ratified by
the people at the election for the adoption of the constitution, shall bo
obUgatory upon the United States and the said State of Kansas.

Now, Trumbull alleges that these last words were stricken out of
the bill when it came back, and he said this was a provision for
submitting the constitution to a vote of the people, and his argu-
ment is this: "Would it have been possible to ratify the land
propositions at the election for the adoption of the constitution,
unless such an election was to be held ? " That is Trumbull's argu-
ment. Now, Judge Douglas does not meet the charge at all, but
stands up and says there was no such proposition in that bill for
submitting the constitution to be framed to a vote of the people.
Trumbull admits that the language is not a direct provision for sub-
mitting it, but it is a provision necessarily implied from another
provision. He asks you how it is possible to ratify the land propo-
sition at the election for the adoption of the constitution, if there was
no election to be held for the adoption of the constitution. And he
goes on to show that it is not any less a law because the provision
is put in that indirect shape than it would be if it was put directly.
But I presume I have said enough to draw attention to this point,
and I pass it by also.

Another one of the points that Judge Douglas makes upon
TrumbuU, and at very great length, is that Trumbull, while the
bill was pending, said in a speech in the Senate that he supposed
the constitution to be made would have to be submitted to the peo-
ple. He asks, if Trumbull thought so then, what ground is there for
anybody thinking otherwise now ? FeUow-citLzens, this much may be
said in reply : That bill had been in the hands of a party to which
Trumbull difl not belong. It had been in the hands of the com-
mittee at the head of which Judge Douglas stood. Trumbull per-
haps had a printed copy of the original Toombs bill. I have not
the evidence on that point, except a sort of inference I draw from
the general course of business there. What alterations, or what



374 ADDEESSES AND LETTEES OF ABEAHAM LINCOLN

provisions in the way of altering, were going on in committee,
Trumbull had no means of knowing, until the altered bill was re-
ported back. Soon afterward, when it was reported back, there
was a discussion over it, and perhaps Trumbull in reading it hastily
in the altered form did not perceive all the bearings of the alterar
tions. He was hastily borne into the debate, and it does not follow
that because there was something in it Trumbull did not perceive,
that something did not exist. More than this, is it true that what
Trumbull did can have any effect on what Douglas did f Suppose
Trumbull had been in the plot with these other men, would that let
Douglas out of it? Would it exonerate Douglas that Trumbull
did n't then perceive he was in the plot ? He also asks the question :
Why did n't Trumbull propose to amend the bill if he thought it
needed any amendment 1 Why, I believe that everything Judge
Trumbull had proposed, particularly in connection with this ques-
tion of Kansas and Nebraska, since he had been on the floor of the
Senate, had been promptly voted down by Judge Douglas and his
friends. He had no promise that an amendment offered by him to
anything on this subject would receive the slightest consideration.
Judge Trumbull did bring the notice of the Senate at that time to
the fact that there was no provision for submitting the constitution
about to be made for the people of Kansas, to a vote of the people.
I believe I may venture to say that Judge Douglas made some re-
ply to this speech of Judge Trumbull's, but he never noticed that
part of it at all. And so the thing passed by. I think, then, the
fact that Judge Trumbull offered no amendment, does not throw
much blame upon him ; and if it did, it does not reach the question
of fact as to what Judge Douglas was doing. I repeat that if
Trumbull had himself been in the plot, it would not at all relieve
the others who were in it from blame. If I should be indicted for
murder, and upon the trial it should be discovered that I had been
implicated in that murder, but that the prosecuting witness was
guilty too, that would not at all touch the question of my crime. It
would be no relief to my neck that they discovered this other man
who charged the crime upon me to be guilty too.

Another one of the points Judge Douglas makes upon Judge
Trumbull is that when he spoke in Chicago he made his charge
to rest upon the fact that the bill had the provision in it for submit-
ting the constitution to a vote of the people, when it went into his
(Judge Douglas's) hands, that it was missing when he reported it to
the Senate, and that in a public speech he had subsequently said the
alteration in the bill was made while it was in committee, and that
they were made in consultation between him (Judge Douglas) and
Toombs. And Judge Douglas goes on to comment upon the fact of
Trumbull's adducing in his Alton speech the proposition that the bill
not only came back with that proposition stricken out, but with
another clause and another provision in it saying that "until the
complete execution of this act there shall be no election in said Ter-
ritory," which Trumbull argued was not only taking the provision
for submitting to a vote of the people out of the bill, but was adding
an affirmative one, in that it prevented the people from exercising



ADDRESSES AND LETTERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN 375

the right under a bill that was merely silent on the question. Now
in regard to what he says, that Trumbull shifts the issue— that he
shifts his ground — and I believe he uses the term that "it being
proven false, he has changed ground," — I call upon all of you when
you come to examine that portion or Trumbull's speech (for it will
make a part of mine), to examine whether Trumbull has shifted his
ground or not. I say he did not shift his ground, but that he
brought forward his original charge, and the evidence to sustain it
yet more fully, but precisely as he originally made it. Then, in addi-
tion thereto, he brought in a new piece of evidence. He shifted
no ground. He brought no new piece of evidence inconsistent with
his former testimony, but he brought a new piece tending, as he
thought, and as I think, to prove his proposition. To illustrate: A
man brings an accusation against another, and on trial the man
making the charge introduces A and B to prove the accusation. At
a second ti-ial he introduces the same witnesses, who tell the same
story as before, and a third witness who tells the same thing, and
in addition gives further testimony corroborative of the charge. So
with Trumbull. There was no shifting of ground, nor inconsistency
of testimony between the new piece of evidence and what he origi-
nally introduced.

But Judge Douglas says that he himself moved to strike out that
last provision of the bill, and that on his motion it was stricken out
and a substitute inserted. That I presume is the truth. I presume
it is true that that last proposition was stricken out by Judge Doug-
las. Trumbull has not said it was not. Trumbull has himself said
that it was so stricken out. He says : " I am speaking of the bUl as
Judge Douglas reported it back. It was amended somewhat in the
Senate before it passed, but I am speaking of it as he brought it
back." Now, when Judge Douglas parades the fact that the provision
was stricken out of the bill when it came back, he asserts nothing
contrary to what Trumbull alleges. Trumbull has only said that he
originally put it in — not that he did not strike it out. Trumbull
says it was not in the bill when it went to the committee. When it
came back it was in, and Judge Douglas said the alterations were
made by him in consultation with Toombs. Trumbull alleges there-
fore, as his conclusion, that Judge Douglas put it in. Then if Doug-
las wants to contradict Trumbull and call him a liar, let him say he
did not put it in, and not that he did n't take it out again. It is said
that a bear is sometimes hard enough pushed to drop a cub, and so
I presume it was in this case. I presume the truth is that Douglas
put it in and afterward took it out. That, I take it, is the truth about
it. Judge Trumbull says one thing ; Douglas says another thing,
and the two don't contradict one another at all. The question is,
what did he put it in for ? In the first place, what did he take the
other provision out of the bill for? — the provision which Trumbull
argued was necessary for submitting the constitution to a vote of
the people ? "What did he take that out for ? and having taken it
out, what did he put this in for ? I say that, in the run of things, it is
not unlikely forces conspired to render it vastly expedient forjudge
Douglas to take that latter clause out again. The question that



376 ADDRESSES AND LETTEES OP ABEAHAM LINCOLN

TrumbiiU has made is that Judge Douglas put it in, and he don't
meet Trumbull at all unless he denies that.

In the clause of Judge Douglas's speech upon this subject he uses
this language toward Judge Trumbull. He says: "He forges his
evidence from beginning to end, and by falsifying the record he en-
deavors to bolster up his false charge." WeU, that is a pretty serious
statement. Trumbull forges his evidence from beginning to end.
Now upon my own authority I say that it is not true. What is a
forgery? Consider the evidence that Trumbull has brought for-
ward. When you come to read the speech, as you will be able to,
examine whether the evidence is a forgery from beginning to end.
He had the bill or document in his hand like that [holding up a pa-
per]. He says that is a copy of the Toombs bill — the amendment
offered by Toombs. He says that is a copy of the bill as it was
introduced and went into Judge Douglas's hands. Now, does Judge
Douglas say that is a forgery? That is one thing Trumbull brought
forward. Judge Douglas says he forged it from beginning to end !
That is the " beginning," we will say. Does Douglas say that is a
forgery? Let him say it to-day, and we wiU have a subsequent ex-
amination upon this subject. TrumbuU then holds up another docu-
ment like this, and says that is an exact copy of the bDl as it came
back in the amended form out of Judge Douglas's hands. Does
Judge Douglas say that is a forgery? Does he say.it in his sweeping
charge ? Does he say so now ? If he does not, then take this Toombs
bill and the biU in the amended form, and it only needs to compare
them to see that the provision is in the one and not in the other ;
it leaves the inference inevitable that it was taken out.

But while I am dealing with this question, let us see what Trum-
bull's other evidence is. One other piece of evidence I will read.
Trumbull says there are in this original Toombs bill these words :
" That the following propositions be, and the same are hereby, offered
to the said convention of the people of Kansas, when formed, for
their free acceptance or rejection j which, if accepted by the conven-
tion and ratified by the people at the election for the adoption of the
constitution, shall be obligatory upon the United States and the said
State of Kansas." Now, if it is said that this is a forgery, we will
open the paper here and see whether it is or not. Again, Trumbull
says^ as he goes along, that Mr. Bigler made the following statement
in his place in the Senate, December 9, 1857 :

I was j)reseiit when that subject was discussed by senators before the
bill was introduced, and the question was raised and discussed, whether
the constitution, when formed, should he submitted to a vote of the people.
It was held by those most iateUigent on the subject, that in view of all the
difficulties surrounding that Territory, [and] the danger of any experiment at
that time of a popular vote, it would be better there should be no such pro-
vision in the Toombs bill; and it was my understanding, in all the inter-
course I had, that the convention would make n constitution, and send it
here without submitting it to the popular vote.

Then Trumbull f oUows on :

In speaking of this meeting agaia on the 21st December, 1857 ["Con-
gressional Globe," same volume, page 113] , Senator Bigler said : "Nothing was



ADDRESSES AND LETTERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN 377

further from my mind than to allude to any social or confidential interview.
The meetmg was not of that character. Indeed, it was semi-oflcial and
called to promote the public good. My recollection was clear that I left the
conference under the impression that it had been deemed best to adopt
measures to admit Kansas as a State through the agency of one popular
election, and that for delegates to this convention. This impression was
stronger because I thought the spii-it of the bUl infringed upon the doctrine
of non-intervention, to which I had gi-eat aversion ; but with the hope of
accomplishing a great good, and as no movement had been made in that
direction in the Territory, I waived this objection, and concluded to support
the measure. 1 have a few items of testimony as to the correctness of these
impressions, and with their submission I shall be content. I have before
me the bill reported by the senator from Illinois on the 7th of Marchj 1856,
providing for the admission of Kansas as a State, the third section of
which reads as follows :

" ' That the following propositions be, and the same are hereby, offered to
the said convention of the people of Kansas, when formed, for their free
acceptance or rejection ; which, if accepted by the convention and ratified
by the people at the election for the adoption of the constitution, shall be
obhgatory upon the United States and the said State of Kansas.'

" The bin read in his place by the senator from Georgia, on the 25th of
June, and referred to the committee on Tenitories, contained the same sec-
tion word for word. Both these bills were under consideration at the
conference referred to ; but, sir, when the senator from lUinois reported the
Toombs biU to the Senate with amendments the next morning, it did not
contain that portion of the third section which indicated to the convention
that the constitution should be approved by the people. The words, ' and
ratified by the people at the election for the adoption of the constitution,'
had been stricken out."

Now these things Trumbull says were stated by Bigler upon the
floor of the Senate on certain days, and that they are recorded in the
" Congressional Globe " on certain pages. Does Judge Douglas say
this is a forgery ? Does he say there is no such thing in the " Con-
gressional Globe " ? What does he mean when he says Judge Trum-
bull forges his evidence from beginning to end? So again he says,
in another place, that Judge Douglas, in his speech December 9, 1857
[" Congressional Globe," Part I, page 15], stated :

That during the last session of Congress, I [Mr. Douglas] reported a bill
from the committee on Territories, to authorize the people of Kansas to assem-
ble and form a constitution for themselves. Subsequently the senator from
Georgia [Mr. Toombs] brought forward a substitute for my bUl, which, after
being modified by him and myself in consultation, was passed by the Senate.

Now TrumbuU says this is a quotation from a speech of Douglas,
and is recorded in the " Congressional Globe." Is it a forgery ? Is
it there or not 1 It may not be there, but I want the judge to take
these pieces of evidence, and distinctly say they are forgeries if he
dare do it. [A voice: "He will."] Well, sir, you had better not
commit hini. He gives other quotations — another from Judge
Douglas. He says :

I will ask the senator to show me an intimation, from any one member of
the Senate, in the whole debate on the Toombs bill, and in the Union, from
any quarter, that the constitution was not to be submitted to the pubUc. I



378 ADDKESSES AND LETTERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN

will venture to sajr. that on all sides of the chamber it was so understood at
the time. If the opponents of the bill had understood it was not, they
would have made the point on it ; and if they had made it, we should cer-
tainly have yielded to it, and put in the clause. That is a discovery made
since the President found out that it was not safe to take it for granted that
that would be done which ought in fairness to have been done.

Judge Trumbull says Douglas made that speech, and it is recorded.
Does Judge Douglas say it is a forgery, and was not true? Trum-
bull says somewhere, and I propose to skip it, but it will be found by
any one who will read this debate, that he did distinctly bring it to
the notice of those who were engineering the bill, that it lacked that
provision, and then he goes on to give another quotation from Judge
Douglas, where Judge Trumbull uses this language:

Judge Douglas, however, on the same day and in the same debate, prob-
ably recollecting or being reminded of the fact that I had objected to the
Toombs bill, when pending, that it did not provide for a submission of the
constitution to the people, made another statement, which is to be found in
the same volume of the " Globe," page 22, in which he says :

" That the bill was silent on this subject was true, and my attention was
called to that about the time it was passed; and I took the fair construction
to be, that powers not delegated were reserved, and that of course the con-
stitution would be submitted to the people."

"Whether this statement is consistent with the statement just before made,
that had the point been made it would have been yielded to, or that it was
a new discovery, you will determine.

So I say. I do not know whether Judge Douglas will dispute this,
and yet maintain his position that Trumbull's evidence " was forged
from beginning to end." I wiU remark that I have not got these
" Congressional Globes" with me. They are large books and difficult
to carry about, and if Judge Douglas shall say that on these points
where Trumbull has quoted from them, there are no such passages
there, I shall not be able to prove they are there upon this occasion,
but I will have another chance. Whenever he points out the forgery
and says, " I declare that this particular thing which TrumbuU has
uttered is not to be found where he says it is," then my attention will
be drawn to that, and I will arm myself for the contest — stating
now that I have not the slightest doubt on earth that I will find every
quotation just where Trumbull says it is. Then the question is, how
can Douglas call that a forgery ? How can he make out that it is a
forgery ? What is a forgery ? It is the bringing forward something



Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 49 of 91)