Abraham Lincoln.

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

. (page 50 of 91)
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in writing or in print purporting to be of certain effect when it is
altogether untrue. If you come forward with my note for one
hundred dollars when I have never given such a note, there is a
forgery. If you come forward with a letter purporting -to be written
by me which I never wrote, there is another forgery. If you pro-
duce anything in writing or in print saying it is so and so, the doc-
ument not being genuine, a forgery has been committed. How do
you make this a forgery when every piece of the evidence is genuine?
If Judge Douglas does say these documents and quotations are false
and forged, he has a full right to do so, but until he does it specifl-



ADDEESSES AND LETTERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN 379

cally, we don't know how to get at him. If he does say they are false
and forged, I will then look further into it, and I presume I can
procure the certificates of the proper officers that they are genuine
copies. I have no doubt each of these extracts will be found exactly
where Trumbull says it is. Then I leave it to you if Judge Douglas,
in making his sweeping chai-ge that Judge Trumbull's evidence is
forged from beginning to end, at all meets the case — if that is the
way to get at the facts. I repeat again, if he will point out which
one is a forgery, I will carefully examine it, and if it proves that any
one of them is really a forgery, it will not be me who will hold to
it any longer. I have always wanted to deal with every one I meet
candidly and honestly. If I have made any assertion not warranted
by facts, and it is pointed out to me, I will withdraw it cheerfully.
But I do not choose to see Judge Trumbull calumniated, and the
evidence he has brought forward branded in general terms "a
forgery from beginning to end." This is not the legal way of meet-
ing a charge, and I submit to all intelligent persons, both friends of
Judge Douglas and of myself, whether it is.

The point upon Judge Douglas is this. The bill that went into his
hands had the provision in it for a submission of the constitution to
the people; and I say its language amounts to an express provision
for a submission, and that he took the provision out. He says it was
known that the Ijill was silent in this particular; but I say. Judge
Douglas, it was not sUent when you got it. It was vocal with the
declaration when you got it, for a submission of the constitution to
the people. And now, my direct question to Judge Douglas is to
answer why, if he deemed the bill silent on this point, he found it
necessary to strike out those particular harmless words. If he had
found the biU silent and without this provision, he might say what he
does now. If he supposes it was implied that the constitution would
be submitted to a vote of the people, how coidd these two lines so en-
cumber the statute as to make it necessary to strike them out? How
could he infer that a submission was still implied, after its express
provision had been stricken from the bill ? I find the bill vocal with
the provision, while he silenced it. He took it out, and although he
took out the other provision preventing a submission to a vote of the
people, I ask, why did you first put it in ? I ask him whether he took
the original provision out, which Trumbull alleges was in the bill ?
If he admits that he did take it, I ask him what he did it for ? It
looks to us as if he had altered the bill. If it looks differently to
him — if he has a different reason for his action from the one we as-
sign him — he can tell it. I insistupon knowing why he made the bill si-
lent upon that point when it was vocal before he put his hands upon it.

I was told, before my last paragraph, that my time was within three
minutes of being oat. I presume it is expired now. I therefore close.



Extract from Mr. TrumhulVs Speech made at Alton, referred to by
Mr. Lincoln in his opening at Charleston.

1 come now to another extract from a speech of Mr. Douglas, made at
Beardstownj and reported in the " Missouri Republican." This extract has



380 ADDKESSES AND LETTERS OF ABEAHAM LINCOLN

reference to a statement made by me at Chicago, wherein I charged that an
agreement had been entered into by the very persons now claiming credit
for opposing a constitution not submitted to the people, to have a constitu-
tion formed and put in force without giving the people of Kansas an oppor-
tunity to pass upon it. Without meeting this charge, which I substantiated
by a reference to the record, my colleague is reported to ha,ve said :

"For when this charge was once made in a much milder form in the
Senate of the United States, I did brand it as a lie in the presence of Mr.
Trumbull, and Mr. Trumbull sat and heard it thus branded, without daring
to say it was true. I tell you he knew it to be false when he uttered it at
Chicago ; and yet he says he is ' going to cram the lie down his throat until
he should cry enough.' The miserable, craven-hearted wretch ! he would
rather have both ears cut off than to use that language in my presence,
where I covdd call him to account. I see the object is to draw me into a per-
sonal controversy, with the hope thereby of concealing from the pubhe the
enormity of the principles to which they are committed. I shall not allow
much of my time in this canvass to be occupied by these personal as-
saults. I have none to make on Mr. Lincoln ; I have none to make on Mr.
Trumbull ; I have none to make on any other political opponent. If I can-
not stand on my own public record, on my own private and pubhc character
as history will record it, I wiH not attempt to rise by traducing the characters
of other men. I will not make a blackguard of myself by imitating the
course they have pursued against me. I have no charges to make against
them."

This is a singular statement, taken altogether. After indulging in lan-
guage which would disgrace a loafer in the filthiest purlieus of a fish-
market, he winds up by saying that he wiU not make a blackguard of
himself, that he has no charges to make against me. So I suppose he con-
siders that to say of another that he knew a thing to be false when he
uttered it, that he was a "miserable craven -hearted wretch," does not
amount to a personal assault, and does not make a man a blackguard. A
discriminating public will judge of that for themselves ; but as he says he
has "no charges to make on Mr. Trumbull," I suppose politeness requires
I should beheve him. At the risk of again offending this mighty man of
war, and losing something more than my ears, I shall have the audacity
to again read the record upon him, and prove and pin Tipon him, so that he
cannot escape it, the truth of every word 1 uttered at Chicago. You, fel-
low-citizens, are the judges to determine whether I do this. My colleague
says he is willing to stand on his public record. By that he shall be tried,
and if he had been able to discriminate between the exposure of a pubhc
act by the record, and a personal attack upon the individual, he would have
discovered that there was nothing personal in my Chicago remarks, unless
the condemnation of himself by his own pubhc record is personal, and then
you must judge who is most to blame for the torture his public record in-
flicts upon him, he for making, or I for reading it after it was made. As
an individual 1 care very little about Judge Douglas one way or the other.
It is his public acts with which I have to do^ and if they condemn, disgrace,
and consign him to oblivion, he has only himself, not me, to blame.

Now, the charge is that there was a plot entered into to have a constitu-
tion formed for Kansas, and put in force, without giving the people an
opportunity to pass upon it, and that Mr. Douglas was in the plot. This
is as susceptible of proof by the record as is the fact that the State of Min-
nesota was admitted into the Union at the last session of Congress.

On the 25tb of June, 1856, a biU was pending in the United States Senate
to authorize the people of Kansas to form a constitution and come into the
Union. On that day Mr. Toombs offered an amendment which he intended



ADDRESSES AND LETTERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN 381

to propose to the bill, whicli was ordered to be printed, and, with the original
bill and other amendments, recommended to the Committee on Territories,
of which Mr. Douglas was chairman. This amendment of Mr. Toombs,
printed by order of the Senate, and a copy of which I have heie present,
provided for the appointment of commissioners, who were to take a census
of Kansas, divide the Territory into election districts, and supeiintend the
election of delegates to form a constitution, and contains a clause in the
18th section which I will read to you, requiring the constitution which
should be formed to be submitted to the people for adoption. It 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
obligatory upon the United States, and upon the said State of Kansas," etc.

It has been contended by some of the newspaper press that this section
did not require the constitution which should be formed to be submitted
to the people for approval, and that it was only the land propositions which
were to be submitted. You will observe the language is that the proposi-
tions are to be "ratified hy the people at the election for the adoption of
the constitution." Would it have been possible to ratify the land propo-
sitions " at the election for the adoption of the constitution," unless such
an election was to be held 1

When one thing is required by a contract or law to be done, the doing
of which is made dependent upon, and cannot be performed without, the
doing of some other thing, is not that other thing just as much requii-ed by
the contract or law as the first 1 It matters not in what part of the act,
nor in what phraseolo^, the intention of the legislature is expressed, so
you can clearly ascertain what it is ; and whenever that intention is ascer-
tained from an examination of the language used, such intention is part of
and a requirement of the law. Can any candid, fair-minded man read the
section I have quoted, and say that the intention to have the constitution
which should be formed submitted to the people for their adoption is not
clearly expressed? In my judgment there can be no controversy among
honest men upon a proposition so plain as this. Mr. Douglas has never
pretended to deny, so far as I am aware, that the Toombs amendment, as
originally introduced, did require a submission of the constitution to the
people. This amendment of Mr. Toombs was referred to the committee of
which Mr. Douglas was chairman, and reported back by him on the 30th
of June, with the words "and ratified by the people at the election for
the adoption of the constitution " stricken out. I have here a copy of the
bin as reported back by Mr. Douglas to substantiate the statement I make.
Various other alterations were also made in the biU to which I shall pres-
ently have occasion to call attention. There was no other clause in the
original Toombs biU requiring a submission of the constitution to the peo-
ple than the one I have read, and there was no clause whatever, after that
was struck out, in the biU, as reported back by Judge Douglas, requiring
a submission. I will now introduce a witness whose testimony cannot be
impeached, he acknowledging himself to have been one of the conspirators,
and privy to the fact about which he testifies.

Senator Bigler, alluding to the Toombs biU, as it was called, and which,
after sundry amendments, passed the Senate, and to the propriety of sub-
mitting the constitution which should be formed to a vote of the people,
made the following statement in his place in the Senate, December 9,
1857. I read from Part I, "Congressional Globe" of last session, para-
graph 21 :



382 ADDEESSES AND LETTERS OP ABRAHAM LINCOLN

"I was present 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 be submitted to a vote of the people. It
was held by the most intelHgent on the subject that in view of all the di£B-
culties surrounding that Territory, [and] the danger of any experiment at
that time of a popular vote, it would be better that there should be no such
_ provision in the Toombs biU ; and it is my understanding, in all theinter-
" course I had, that the convention would make a constitution and send it here
without submitting it to the popular vote."

In speaking of this meeting again on the 21st of Decemberj 1857 ("Con-
gressional Globe," same volume, page 113), Senator Bigler said :

" Nothing was farther from my mind than to allude to any social or con-
fidential interview. The meeting was not of that character. Indeed, it was
semi-oflcial, and called to promote the pubKc 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 the convention. This im-
pression was the stronger because I thought the spirit of the biU infringed
upon the doctrine of non-intervention, to which I had great aversion; but
with the hope of accomphshing great good, and as no movement had been
made in that direction in the Territory, I waived this objection, and con-
cluded to support the measure. I 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 March, 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 upon the said State of Kansas.'

" The bill read in place by the senator from Georgia, on the 25th of June,
and referred to the Committee on Territories, contained the same section,
word for word. Both these bills were under consideration at the confer-
ence referred to ; but, sir, when the senator from Illinois reported the
Toombs bill 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."

I am not now seeking to prove that Douglas was in the plot to force a
constitution upon Kansas without allowing the people to vote directly upon
it. I shall attend to that branch of the subject by and by. My object now
is to prove the existence of the plot, what the design was, and I ask if I have
not already done so. Here are the facts :

The introduction of a bill on the 7th of March, 1856, providing for the
calling of a convention in Kansas to form a State constitution, and pro-
viding that the constitution should be submitted to the people for adoption;
an amendment to this bill, proposed by Mr. Toombs, containing the same
reqtiirement ; a reference of these various bills to the Committee on Terri-
tories ; a consultation of senators to determine whether it was advisable to
have the constitution submitted for ratification ; the determination that it
was not advisable ; and a report of the biU back to the Senate next morning,
with the clause providing for the submission stricken out — could evidence
be more complete to establish the first part of the charge I have made of a



ADDEESSES AND LETTERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN 383

plot having been entered into by somebody to have a constitution adopted
without submitting it to the people?

Now, for the other pai-t of the charge. That Judi;e Douglas was in this plot,
whether knowingly or ignorantl}-, is not material to my purpose. The
charge is that he was an instrument cooperating in the project to have a
constitution formed and put into operation without affording the people an
opportunity to pass upon it. The first evidence to sustain the charge is the
fact that he reported back the Toombs amendment with the clause provid-
ing for the submission stricken out: this, in connection with his speech in
the Senate on the 9th of December, 1857 ("Congressional Globe," Part I,
page li), wherein he stated:

"That during the last Congress, I [Jlr. Douglas] reported a biU from the
Committee on Ten-itories, to authorize the people of Kansas to assemble
and form a constitution for themselves. Subsequently the senator from
Georgia [Mr. Toombs] brought forward a substitute for my bill, which, after
having been modified by him and myself in consultation, was passed by the
Senate."

This of itself ought to be suf&cient to show that my colleague was an in-
strument in the plot to have a constitution put in force without submitting
it to the people, and to forever close his mouth from attempting to deny.
No man can reconcile his acts and former declarations with his present de-
nial, and the only charitable conclusion would be that he was being used by
others without knowing it. Whether he is entitled to the benefit of even
this excuse, you must judge on a candid hearing of the facts I shall present.
When the charge was first made in the United States Senate, by Mr. Bigler,
that my colleague had voted for an Enabling Act which put a government
in operation without submitting the constitution to the people, my colleague
("Congressional Globe," last session, Part I, page 24) stated:

" 1 will ask the senator to show me an intimation from any one member of
the Senate, in the whole debate on the Toombs bUl, and in the Union from
any quarter, that the constitution was not to be submitted to the people. I
will venture to say 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 certainly 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."

I knew, at the time this statement was made, that I had urged the very
objection to the Toombs biU. two years before, that it did not provide for
the submission of the constitution. You wiU find my remarks, made on the
2d of Jidy, 1856, in the appendix to the " Congressional Globe " of that year,
page 179, urging this very objection. Do you ask why I did not expose him
at the time ? I will tell you. Mr. Douglas was then doing good service
against the Lecompton iniquity. The Eepublicans were then engaged in a
hand-to-hand fight with the National Democracy, to prevent the bringing
of Kansas into the Union as a slave State against the wishes of its inhabi-
tants, and of course I was unwilling to turn our guns from the common
enemy to strike down an ally. Judge Douglas, however, on the same day,
and in the same debate, probably recollecting, or being reminded of the
fact, that I had objected to the Toombs bill, when pending, that it did not
provide for the submission of the constitution to the people, made another
statement, which is to be found in the same volume of the " Congressional
Globe," page 22, in which he says :

" That the bill was silent on the subject is true, and my attention was
called to that about the time it was passed ; and I took the fair construction



384 ADDRESSES AND LETTERS- OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN

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 ; for if the public records do not
convict and condemn him, he may go uncondenmed, so far as I am con-
cerned. I make no use here of the testimony of Senator Bigler to show
that Judge Douglas must have been privy to the consultation held at his
house, when it was determined not to submit the constitution to the people,
because Judge Douglas denies it, and I wish to use his own acts and decla-
rations, which are abundantly sufficient for my purpose.

I come to a piece of testimony which disposes of aU these various pre-
tenses which have been set up for striking out of the origuial Toombs proposi-
tion the clause requiring a submission of the constitution to the people, and
shows that it was not done either by accident, by inadvertence, or because
it was believed that the bill, being silent on the subject, the constitution
would necessarily be submitted to the people for approval. What will you
think^ after listening to the facts already presented to show that there was
a design with those who concocted the Toombs biQ, as amended, not to sub-
mit the constitution to the people, if I now bring before you the amended
biQ as Judge Douglas reported it back, and show the clause of the original
biU requiring submission was not only struck out, but that other clauses
were inserted in the biU putting it absolutely out of the power of the con-
vention to submit the constitution to the people for approval, had they
desired to do so ? If I can produce such evidence as that, will you not all
agree that it clinches and estabhshes forever all I charged at Chicago, and
more too 1

I propose now to furnish that evidence. It will be remembered that Mr.
Toombs's bill provided for holding an election for delegates to form a con-
stitution under the supervision of commissioners to be appointed by the
President, and in the bill, as reported back by Judge Douglas, these words,
not to be found in the original biU, are inserted at Qie close of the 11th sec-
tion, viz.:

"And until the complete execution of this act no other election shall be
held in said Territory."

This clause put it out of the power of the convention to refer to the people
for adoption ; it absolutely prohibited the holding of any other election than
that for the election of delegates, till that act was completely executed,
which would not have been until Kansas was admitted as a State, or, at all
events, tiQ her constitution was f uRy prepared and ready for submission to
Congress for admission. Other amendments reported by Judge Douglas
to the original Toombs biU clearly show that the intention was to enable
Kansas to become a State without any further action than simply a resolu-
tion of admission. The amendment reported by Mr. Douglas, that " until
the next congressional apportionment the said State shall have one repre-
sentative," clearly shows this, no such provision being contained in the
original Toombs bill. For what other earthly purpose could the clause to
prevent any other election in Kansas, except that of delegates, till it was
admitted as a State, have been inserted except to prevent a submission of
the constitution, when formed, to the people ?

The Toombs bill did not pass in the exact shape in which Judge Douglas
reported it. Several amendments were made to it in the Senate. I am now
dealing with the action of Judge Douglas as connected with that bill, and
speak of the bill as he recommended it. The facts I have stated in regard
to this matter appear upon the records, which I have here present to show
to any man who wishes to look at them. They establish, beyond the power



ADDRESSES AKD LETTERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN 385

of controversy, all the eharges I have made, and show that Judge Douglas
■was made use of as an instrument by others, or else knowingly was a party
to the scheme to have a government put in force over the people of Kansas,
■without ^■ving them an opportunity to pass upon it. That others high in
position in the so-called Democratic party were parties to such a scheme is
confessed by Governor Bigler ; and the only reason why the scheme 'was
not carried, and Kansas long ago forced into the Union as a slave State, is
the fact that the Republicans were sufficiently strong in the House of Rep-
resentatives to defeat the measure.

Extract from Mr. Douglases Speech made at Jacksonville, and referred to



Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 50 of 91)