Abraham Lincoln.

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

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colleague, when I was two hundred miles off. Why did he not speak
out as boldly in the Senate of the United States, and cram the lie


down my throat when I denied the charge, first made by Bigler, and
made him take it back ? You all recollect how Bigler assaulted me
when I was engaged in a hand-to-hand fight, resisting a scheme to
force a constitution on the people of Kansas against their will. He
then attacked me with this charge ; but I proved its utter falsity,
nailed the slander to the counter, and made him take the back track.
There is not an honest man in America who read that debate who
will pretend that the charge is true. TrumbuU was then present in
the Senate, face to face with me, and why did he not then rise and
repeat the charge, and say he would cram the lie down my throat? I
tell you that Trumbull then knew it was a lie. He knew that Toombs
denied that there ever was a clause in the biU he brought forward,
calling for and requiring a submission of the Kansas constitution
to the people. I will tell you what the facts of the case were. I in-
troduced a bill to authorize the people of Kansas to form a constitu-
tion and come into the Union as a State whenever they should have
the requisite population for a member of Congress, and Mr. Toombs
proposed a substitute, authorising the people of Kansas, with their
then population of only 25,000, to form a constitution, and come in
at once. The question at issue was, whether we would admit Kansas
with a population of 25,000, or make her wait until she had the ratio
entitling her to a representative in Congress, which was 93,420. That
was the point of dispute in the Committee on Territories, to which
both my bill and Mr. Toombs's substitute had been referred. I was
overruled by a majority of the committee, my proposition rejected,
and Mr. Toombs's proposition to admit Kansas then, with her popu-
lation of 25,000, adopted. Accordingly a bill to carry out his idea of
immediate admission was reported as a substitute for mine — the
only points at issue being, as I have already said, the question of
population, and the adoption of safeguards against frauds at the
election. Trumbull knew this, — the whole Senate knew it, — and
hence he was silent at that time. He waited until I became engaged
in this canvass, and finding that I was showing up Lincoln's Aboli-
tionism and negro-equality doctrines, that I was driving Lincoln to
the wall, and white men would not support his rank Abolitionism, he
came back from the Bast and trumped up a system of charges against
me, hoping that I would be compelled to occupy my entire time in
defending myself, so that I would not be able to show up the enor-
mity of the principles of the Abolitionists. Now the only reason,
and the true rtason, why Mr. Lincoln has occupied the whole of his
first hour in this issue between Trumbull and myselfj is to conceal
from this vast aiidience the real questions which divide the two
great parties.

I am not going to allow them to waste much of my time with
these personal matters. I have lived in this State twenty-five years,
most of that time have been in public life, and my record is open to
you all. If that record is not enough to vindicate me from these
petty, malicious assaults, I despise ever to be elected to ofiftce by slan-
dering my opponents and traducing other men. Mr. Lincoln asks
you to elect him to the United States Senate to-day solely because he
and Trumbull can slander me. Has he given any other reason?


Has he avowed what he was desirous to do in Congress on any one
question? He desires to ride into office, not upon his own merits,
not upon the merits aud soundness of his principles, but upon his
success in fastening a stale old slander upon me.

I wish you to bear in mind that up to the time of the introduction
of the Toombs bill, and after its introduction, there had never been
an act of Congress for the admission of a new State which contained
a clause requiring its constitution to be submitted to the people.
The general rule made the law silent on the subject, taking it for
granted that the people would demand and compel a popular vote
on the ratification of their constitution. Such was the general rule
under Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Jackson, and Polk, under the
Whig presidents and the Democratic presidents from the begin-
ning of the government down, and nobody dreamed that an effort
would ever be made to abuse the power thus confided to the people
of a Territory. For this reason our attention was not called to the
fact of whether there was or was not a clallse in the Toombs bill
compelling submission, but it was taken for granted that the consti-
tution would be submitted to the people whether the law compelled
it or not.

Now I wUl read from the report by me as chairman of the Com-
mittee on Territories at the time I reported back the Toombs sub-
stitute to the Senate. It contained several things which I had voted
against in committee, but had been overruled by a majority of the
members, and it was my duty as chairman of the committee to re-
port the bill back as it was agreed upon by them. The main point
upon which I had been overruled was the question of population.
In my report accompanying the Toombs bill, I said :

In the opinion of your committee, whenever a constitution shall be formed
in any Territory, preparatory to its admission into the Union as a State,
justice, the genius of our institutions, the whole theory of our republican
system, imperatively demand that the voice of the people shall be fairly
expressed, and their will embodied in that fundamental law, without fraud,
or violence, or intimidation, or any other improper or unlawful influence,
and subject to no other restrictions than those imposed by the Constitution
of the United States.

There you find that we took it for granted that the constitution
was to be submitted to the people, whether the bill was silent on the
subject or not. Suppose I had reported it so, following the example
of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Adams, Jack-
son, Van Buren, Harrison, Tyler, Polk, Taylor, Fillmore, and Pierce,
would that fact have been evidence of conspiracy to force a constitu-
tion upon the people of Kansas against their will? If the charge
which Mr. Lincoln makes be true against me, it is true against
Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, and every Whig president, as well
as every Democratic president, and against Henry Clay, who, in the
Senate or House, for forty years advocated bills similar to the one
I reported, no one of them containing a clause compelling the sub-
mission of the constitution to the people. Are Mr. Lincoln and Mr.
Trumbiill prepared to charge upon all those eminent men from the


beginning of the government down to the present day, that the ab-
sence of a provision compelling submission, in the various biUs
passed by them, authorizing the people of Territories to form State
constitutions, is evidence of a corrupt design on their part to force a
constitution upon an unwiUing people ?

I ask you to reflect on these things, for I tell you that there is
a conspiracy to carry this election for the Black Republicans by
slander, and not by fair means. Mr. Lincoln's speech this day is
conclusive evidence of the fact. He has devoted his entire time to
an issue between Mr. Trumbull and myself, and has not uttered a
word about the politics of the day. Are you going to elect Mr.
Trumbull's colleague upon an issue between Mr. Trumbull and me?
I thought I was running against Abraham Lincoln, that he claimed
to be my opponent, had challenged me to a discussion of the public
questions of the day with him, and was discussing these questions
with me; but it turns out that his only hope is to ride into office on
Trumbull's back, who will carry him by falsehood.

Permit me to pursue this subject a little further. An examination
of the record proves that Trumbull's charge — that the Toombs bill
originally contained a clause requiring the constitution to be sub-
mitted to the people — is false. The printed copy of the bill which
Mr. Lincoln held up before you, and which he pretends contains such
a clause, merely contains a clause requiring a submission of the land
grant, and there is no clause in it requiring a submission of the
constitution. Mr. Lincoln cannot find such a clause in it. My report
shows that we took it for granted that the people would require a
submission of the constitution, and secure it for themselves. There
never was a clause in the Toombs bill requiring the constitution to
be submitted ; Trumbull knew it at the time, and his speech made
on the night of its passage discloses the fact that he knew it was
silent on the subject ; Lincoln pretends, and tells you that Trumbull
has not changed his evidence in support of his charge since he made
his speech in Chicago. Let us see. The Chicago " Times " took up
Trumbull's Chicago speech, compared it with the official records of
Congress, and proved that speech to be false in its charge that the
original Toombs bill required a submission of the constitution to the
people. Trumbull then saw that he was caught, and his falsehood
exposed, and he went to Alton, and, under the very walls of the
penitentiary, made a new speech, in which he predicated his assault
upon me in the allegation that I had caused to be voted into the
Toombs bill a clause which prohibited the convention from submit-
ting the constitution to the people, and quoted what he pretended
was the clause. Now, has not Mi*. Trumbull entirely changed the
evidence on which he bases his charge 1 The clause which he quoted
in his Alton speech (which he has published and circulated broadcast
over the State) as having been put into the Toombs bill by me, is in
the following words : "And until the complete execution of this act,
no other election shall be held in said Territory."

Trumbull says that the object of that amendment was to prevent
the convention from submitting the constitution to a vote of the


Now I will show you that when Trumbull made that statement at
Alton he knew it to be untrue. I read from Trumbull's speech in
the Senate on the Toombs bill on the night of its passage. He
then said:

There is nothing said in this bUl, so far as I have discovered, about sub-
mitting the constitution, which is to be formed, to the people for their
sanction or rejection. Perhaps the convention will have the right to submit
it, if it should think proper ; but it is certainly not compelled to do so accord-
ing to the provisions of the bUl.

Thus you see that TrumbuU, when the bill was on its passage in
the Senate, said that it was silent on the subject of submission, and
that there was nothing in the bill one way or the other on it. In his
Alton speech he says there was a clause in the bill preventing its
submission to the people, and that I had it voted in as an amend-
ment. Thus I convict him of falsehood and slander by quoting from
him on the passage of the Toombs bill in the Senate of the United
States, his own speech, made on the night of July 2, 1856, and
reported in the " Congressional Globe " for the first session of the
Thirty-fourth Congress, Vol. XXXIII. What will you think of a man
who makes a false charge and falsifies the records to prove it ? I wUl
now show you that the clause which Trumbull says was put in the
bUl on my motion, was never put in at all by me, but was stricken
out on my motion and another substituted in its place. I call your
attention to the same volume of the " Congressional Globe " to which
I have already referred, page 795, where you will find the following
report of the proceedings of the Senate :

Mr. Douglas : I have an amendment to offer from the Committee on Ter-
ritories. On page 8, section 11, strike out the words " until the complete exe-
cution of this act, no other election shall be held in said Territory," and
insert the amendment which I hold in my hand.

You see from this that I moved to strike out the very words that
TrumbuU says I put in. The Committee on Territories overruled me
in committee, and put the clause in ; but as soon as I got the bill back
into the Senate, I moved to strike it out, and put another clause in
its place. On the same page you will find that my amendment was
agreed to unanimously. I then offered another amendment, recog-
nizing the right of the people of Kansas, under the Toombs bill, to
order just such elections as they saw proper. You can find it on page
796 of the same volume. I will read it :

Mr. Douglas : I have another amendment to offer from the committee,
to follow the amendment which has been adopted. The bill reads now:
"And until the complete execution of this act, no other election shall be
held ia said Territory." It has been suggested that it should be modified in
this way: "And to avoid conflict in the complete execution of this act, all
other elections in said Territory are hereby postponed until such time as
said convention shall appoint": so that they can appoint the day in the
event that there should be a failure to come into the Union.

The amendment was unanimously agreed to — clearly and dis-
tinctly recognizing the right of the convention to order just as many


elections as they saw proper in the execution of the act. Trumbull
concealed in his Alton speech the fact that the clause he quoted had
been stricken out on my motion, and the other fact that this other
clause was put in the bill on my motion, and made the false charge
that I incorporated into the bill a clause preventing submission, in
the face of the fact that, on my motion, the bill was so amended be-
fore it passed as to recognize in express words the right and duty of

On this record that I have produced before you, I repeat-my charge
that Trumbull did falsify the public records of the country, in order
to make his charge against me, and I tell Mr. Abraham Lincoln that
if he win examine these records, he will then know what I state is
true. Mr. Lincoln has this day indorsed Mr. Trumbull's veracity
after he had my word for it that that veracity was proved to be
violated and forfeited by the public records. It will not do for Mr.
Lincoln, in parading his calumnies against me, to put Mr. Trum-
bull between him and the odium and responsibility which justly
attach to such calumnies. I tell him that I am as ready to prose-
cute the indorser as the maker of a forged note. I regret the neces-
sity of occupying my time with these petty personal matters. It is
unbecoming the dignity of a canvass for an office of the character
for which we are candidates. When I commenced the canvass at
Chicago, I spoke of Mr. Lincoln in terms of kindness, as an old friend ;
I said that he was a good citizen, of unblemished character, against
whom I had nothing to say. I repeated these complimentary re-
marks about him in my successive speeches, until he became the
indorser for these and other slanders against me. If there is any-
thing personally disagreeable, uneourteous, or disreputable in these
personalities, the sole responsibility rests on Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Trum-
bull, and their backers.

I will show you another charge made by Mr, Lincoln against me,
as an offset to his determination of willingness to take back anything
that is incorrect, and to correct any false statement he may have
made. He has several times charged that the Supreme Court,
President Pierce, President Buchanan, and myself, at the time I
introduced the Nebraska bill, in January, 1854, at "Washington,
entered into a conspiracy to establish slavery all over this country. I
branded this charge as a falsehood, and then he repeated it, asked me
to analyze its truth, and answer it. I told him, "Mr. Lincoln, I know
what you are after ; you want to occupy my time in personal matters,
to prevent me from showing up the revolutionary principles which
the Abolition party — whose candidate you are — have proclaimed to
the world." But he asked me to analyze his proof, and I did so. I
called his attention to the fact that at the time the Nebraska bill was
introduced, there was no such case as the Dred Scott case pending in
the Supreme Court, nor was it brought there for years afterward, and
hence that it was impossible there could have been any such con-
spiracy between the judges of the Supreme Court and the other
parties involved. I proved by the record that .the charge was false,
and what did he answer ? Did he take it back like an honest man
and say he had been mistaken ? No ; he repeated the charge, and


said, that although there was no such case pending that year, there
was an understanding between the Democratic owners of Dred Scott
and the judges of the Supreme Court and other parties involved, that
the case should be brought up. I then demanded to know who those
Democratic owners of Dred Scott were. He could not or would not
teU; he did not know. In truth, there were no Democratic owners
of Dred Scott on the face of the land. Dred Scott was owned at that
time by the Rev. Dr. Chaffee, an Abolition member of Congress
from Springfield, Massachusetts, and his wife ; and Mr. Lincoln ought
to have known that Dred Scott was so owned, for the reason that as
soon as the decision was announced by the court. Dr. Chaffee and
his wife executed a deed emancipating him, and put that deed on

It was a matter of public record, therefore, that at the time the
case was taken to the Supreme Court, Dred Scott was owned by an
Abolition member of Congress, a friend of Lincoln's, and a leading
man of his pai-ty, while the defense was conducted by Abolition
lawyers; and thus the Abolitionists managed both sides of the case.
I have exposed these facts to Mr. Lincoln, and yet he will not with-
draw his charge of conspiracy. I now submit to you whether you
can place any confidence in a man who continues to make a charge
when its utter falsity is proven by the public records. I will state
another fact to show how utterly reckless and unscrupulous this
charge against the Supreme Court, President Pierce, President
Buchanan, and myself is. Lincoln says that President Buchanan
was in the conspiracy at "Washington in the winter of 1854, when the
Nebraska bill was introduced. The history of this country 'shows that
James Buchanan was at that time representing this country at the
Court of St. James, Great Britain, with distinguished ability and
usefulness, that he had not been in the United States for nearly a
year previous, and that he did not return until about three years
after. Yet Mr. Lincoln keeps repeating this charge of conspiracy
against Mr. Buchanan when the public records prove it to be untrue.
Having proved it to be false as far as the Supreme Court and Presi-
dent Buchanan are concerned, I drop it, leaving the public to say
whether I, by myself, without their concuri-ence, could have gone into
a conspiracy with them. My friends, you see that the object clearly
is to conduct the canvass on personal matters, and hunt me down
with charges that are proven to be false by the public records of the
country. I am willing to throw open my whole public and private
life to the inspection of any man, or all men who desire to investigate
it. Having resided among you twenty-five years, during nearly the
whole of which time a public man, exposed to more assaults, perhaps
more abuse, than any man living of my age, or who ever did live, and
having survived it all and still commanded your confidence, I am
willing to trust to your knowledge of me and my public conduct
without making any more defense against these assaults.

Fellow-citizens, I came here for the purpose of discussing the
leading political topics which now agitate the country. I have no
charges to make against Mr. Lincoln, none against Mr. Trumbull,
and none against any man who is a candidate, except in repelling


their assaults upon me. If Mr. Lincoln is a man of bad character, I
leave you to find it out; if his votes in the past are not satisfactory,
I leave others to ascertain the fact ; if his course on the Mexican war
was not in accordance with your notions of patriotism and fidelity to
our own coiintry as against a public enemy, I leave you to ascertain
the fact. I have no assaults to make upon him, except to trace his
course on the questions that now divide the country and engross so
much of the people's attention.

You know that prior to 1854 this country was divided into two
great political parties, one the Whig, the other the Democratic. I,
as a Democrat for twenty years prior to that time, had been in
public discussions in this State as an advocate of Democratic prin-
ciples, and I can appeal with confidence to every old-line Whig within
the hearing of my voice to bear testimony that during all that period
I fought you Whigs like a man on every qxiestion that separated the
two parties. I had the highest respect for Henry Clay as a gallant
party-leader, as an eminent statesman, and as one of the bright orna-
ments of this country ; but I conscientiously believed that the Demo-
cratic party was right on the questions which separated theDemocrats
from the Whigs. The man does not live who can say that I ever
personally assailed Henry Clay or Daniel Webster, or any one of the
leaders of that great party, whilst I combated with all my energy the
measures they advocated. What did we differ about in those days?
Did Whigs and Democrats differ about this slavery question? On
the contrary, did we not, in 1850, unite to a man in favor of that
system of compromise measures which Mr. Clay introduced, Web-
ster defended, Cass supported, and Fillmore approved and made the
law of the land by his signature. While we agreed on these com-
promise measures, we differed about a bank, the tariff, distribution,
the specie circular, the subtreasury, and other questions of that
description. Now, let me ask you, which one of those questions on
which Whigs and Democrats then differed now remains to divide
the two great parties? Every one of those questions which divided
Whigs and Democrats has passed away; the country has outgrown
them ; they have passed into history. Hence it is immaterial whether
you were right or I was right on the bank, the subtreasury, and
other questions, because they no longer continue living issues.
What, then, has taken the place of those questions about which we
once differed? The slavery question has now become the leading
and controlling issue; that question on which you and I agreed, on
which the Whigs and Democrats united, has now become the lead-
ing issue between the National Democracy on the one side, and the
Republican or Abolition party on the other.

Just recollect for a moment the memorable contest of 1850, when
this country was agitated from its center to its circumference by the
slavery agitation. All eyes in this nation were then turned to the
three great lights that survived the days of the Revolution. They
looked to Clay, then in retirement at Ashland, and to Webster and
Cass in the United States Senate. Clay had retired to Ashland,
having, as he supposed, performed his mission on earth, and was pre-
paring himself for a better sphere of existence in another world. In


that retirement he heard the discordant, harsh, and grating sounds
of sectional strife and disunion; and he aroused and came forth and
resumed his seat in the Senate, that great tlieator of his great deeds.
From the moment that Clay arrived among us he became the leader
of all the Union men, whether Whigs or Democrats. For nine months
we each assembled, each day, in the council-chamber, Clay in the
chaii', with Cass upon his right hand and Webster upon his left, and
the Democrats and Whigs gathered around, forgetting differences,
and only animated by one common patriotic sentiment, to devise
means and measures by which we could defeat the mad and revolu-
tionary scheme of the Northern Abolitionists and Southern disunion-
ists. We did devise those means. Clay brought them forward, Cass
advocated them, the Union Democrats and Union Whigs voted for
them, Fillmore signed them, and they gave peace and quiet to the
country. Those compromise measures of 1850 were founded upon
the great fundamental principle that the people of each State and

Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 52 of 91)