Abraham Lincoln.

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

. (page 57 of 91)
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not consent to make an exception of Kansas, as a punishment for her
obstinacy in demanding the right to do as she pleased in the forma-
tion of her constitution. It is proper that I should remark here that
T^J opposition to the Lecompton constitution did not rest upon the
peculiar position taken by Kansas on the subject of slavery. I held
then, and hold now, that if the people of Kansas want a slave State,
it is their right to make one and be received into the Union under it;
if, on the contrary, they want a free State, it is their right to have it,
and no man should ever oppose their admission because they ask it
under the one or the other. I hold to that great principle of self-
government which asserts the right of every people to decide for
themselves the nature and character of the domestic institutions and
fundamental law under which they are to live.

The effort has been, and is now being, made in this State by cer-
tain postmasters and other federal oiBce-holders, to make a test of
faith on the support of the English bill. These men are now mak-
ing speeches all over the State against me and in favor of Lincoln,
either directly or indirectly, because I would not sanction a dis-
crimination between slave and free States by voting for the English
bill. But while that bill is made a test in Illinois for the purpose of
breaking up the Democratic organization in this State, how is it in
the other States 1 Go to Indiana, and there you find that English him-
self, the author of the English bill, who is a candidate for reelection
to Congress, has been forced by public opinion to abandon his own
darling project, and to give a promise that he wUl vote for the ad-
mission of Kansas at once, whenever she forms a constitution in
pursuance of law, and ratifies it by a majority vote of her people.
Not only is this the case with English himself, but I am informed that
every Democratic candidate for Congress in Indiana takes the same
ground. Pass to Ohio, and there you find that G-roesbeck, and Pen-
dleton, and Cox, and all the other anti-Lecompton men who stood
shoulder to shoulder ivith me against the Lecompton constitution,
but voted for the English bill, now repudiate it and take the same
ground that I do on that question. So it is with the Joneses and
others of Pennsylvania, and so it is with every other Lecompton
Democrat in the free States.

They now abandon even the English bill, and come back to the
true platform which I proclaimed at the time in the Senate, and
upon which the Democracy of Illinois now stand. And yet, not-
withstanding the fact that every Lecompton and anti-Lecompton
Democrat in the free States has abandoned the English bill, you are
told that it is to be made a test upon me, while the power and pa-
tronage of the government are all exerted to elect men to Congress
in the other States who occupy the same position with reference to



430 ADDKESSES AND LETTERS OF ABEAHAM LINCOLN

it that I do. It seems that my political offense consists in the fact
that I did not first vote for the BngUsh bill, and thus pledge myself
to keep Kansas out of the Union until she has a population of
93,420, and then return home, violate that pledge, repudiate the bill,
and take the opposite ground. If I had done this, perhaps the ad-
ministration would now be advocating my reelection, as it is that of
the others who have pursued this course. I did not choose to give
that pledge, for the reason that I did not intend to carry out that
principle. I never will consent, for the sake of conciliating the frowns
of power, to pledge myself to do that which I do not intend to perform.
I now submit the question to you, as my constituency, whether I was
not right — first, in resisting the adoption of the Lecompton constitu-
tion ; and secondly, in resisting the English bill. I repeat that I op-
posed the Lecompton constitution because it was not the act and deed
of the people of Kansas, and did not embody their will. I denied
tbe right of any power on earth, under our system of government,
to force a constitution on an unwilling people. There was a time
when some men could pretend to believe that the Lecompton con-
stitution embodied the will of the people of Kansas, but that time has
passed. The question was referred to the people of Kansas imder the
English bUl last August, and then, at a fair election, they rejected the
Lecompton constitution by a vote of from eight to ten against it to
one in its favor. Since it has been voted down by so overwhelming
a majority, no man can pretend that it was the act and deed of
that people. I submit tlie question to you, whether or not, if it had
not been for me, that constitution would have been crammed down
the throats of the people of Kansas against their consent. While
at least ninety-nine out of every hundred people here present agree
that I was right in defeating that project, yet my enemies use the
fact that I did defeat it by doing right, to break me down and put
another man in the United States Senate in my place. The very
men who acknowledge that I was right in defeating Lecompton now
form an alliance with federal offlce-holders, professed Lecompton
men, to defeat me because I did right.

My political opponent, Mr. Lincoln, has no hope on earth, and has
never dreamed that he had a chance of success, were it not for the
aid that he is receiving from federal office-holders, who are using
their influence and the patronage of the government against me in
revenge for my having defeated the Lecompton constitution. What
do you Republicans think of a political organization that will try to
make an unholy and unnatural combination with its professed foes
to beat a man merely because he has done right? You know such
is the fact with regard to your own party. You know that the ax
of decapitation is suspended over every man in oJBfice in Illinois, and
the terror of proscription is threatened every Democrat by the
present administration, unless he supports the Repiiblican ticket in
preference to my Democratic associates and myself. I could find an
instance in the postmaster of the city of G-alesburg, and in every
other postmaster in this vicinity, all of whom have been stricken
down simply because they discharged the duties of their ofiiees
honestly, and supported the regular Democratic ticket in this State



ADDEESSES AND LETTERS OP ABEAHAM LINCOLN 431

in the right. The Republican party is availing itself of every
unworthy means in the present contest to carry the election, because
its leaders know that if they let this chance slip they will never have
another, and their hopes of making this a Republican State will be
blasted forever.

Now, let me ask you whether the country has any interest in sus-
taining this organization known as the Republican party. That
party is unlike all other political organizations in this country. All
other parties have been national in their character — have avowed
their principles alike in the slave and free States, in Kentucky as
well as Illinois, in Louisiana as well as in Massachusetts. Such was
the case with the Old Whig party, and such was and is the case with
the Democratic party. "Whigs and Democrats could proclaim their
principles boldly and fearlessly in the North and in the South, in the
East and in the West, wherever the Constitution ruled and the
American flag waved over American soil.

But now you have a sectional organization, a party which
appeals to the Northern section of the Union against the South-
ern, a party which appeals to Northern passion, Northern pride.
Northern ambition, and Northern prejudices, against Southern
people, the Southern States, and Southern institutions. The lead-
ers of that party hope that they will be able to unite the Northern
States in one great sectional party, and inasmuch as the North
is the stronger section, that they will thus be enabled to outvote,
conquer, govern, and control the South. Hence you find that they
now make speeches advocating principles and measures which can-
not be defended in any slave-holding State of this Union. Is there
a Republican residing in Galesburg who can travel into Ken-
tucky, and carry his principles with him across the Ohio '? What
Republican from Massachusetts can visit the Old Dominion with-
out leaving his principles behind him when he crosses Mason's
and Dixon's line! Permit me to say to you in perfect good hu-
mor, but in all sincerity, that no political creed is sound which
cannot be proclaimed fearlessly in every State of this Union where
the Federal Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Not only
is this Republican party unable to proclaim its principles alike in
the North and in the South, in the free States and in the slave States,
but it cannot even proclaim them in the same forms and give them
the same strength and meaning in all parts of the same State. My
friend Lincoln finds it extremely difficult to manage a debate in
the central part of the State, where there is a mixture of men from
the North and the South. In the extreme northern part of Illinois
he can proclaim as bold and radical Abolitionism as ever Giddings,
Lovejoy, or Garrison enunciated; but when he gets down a little
further south he claims that he is an old-line Whig, a disciple of
Henry Clay, and declares that he still adheres to the old-line Whig
creed, and has nothing whatever to do with Abolitionism, or negro
equality, or negro citizenship. I once before hinted this of Mr.
Lincoln in a public speech, and at Charleston he defied me to show
that there was any difference between his speeches in the north and
in the south, and "that they were not in strict harmony. I wiU now



432 ADDRESSES AND LETTERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN

call your attention to two of them, and you can then say whether
you would be apt to believe that the same man ever uttered both. In
a speech in reply to me at Chicago in July last, Mr. Lincoln, in speak-
ing of the equality of the negro with the white man, used the following
language :

I should like to know if, taking this old Declaration of Independence,
which declares that all men are equal upon principle, and making excep-
tions to it, where will it stop 1 If one man says it does not mean a negro,
why may not another man say it does not mean another man ? If the Decla-
ration is not the truth, let us get the statute-book in which we find it and
tear it out. Who is so bold as to do it ? If it is not true, let us tear it out.

You find that Mr. Lincoln there proposed that if the doctrine of
the Declaration of Independence, declaring all men to be bom equal,
did not include the negro and put him on an equality with the white
man, that we should take the statute-book and tear it out. He there
took the ground that the negro race is included in the Declaration
of Independence as the equal of the white race, and that there could
be no such thing as a distinction in the races, making one superior
and the other inferior. I read now from the same speech :

My friends [he says] , I have detained you about as long as I desire to do,
and I have only to say let us discard all this quibbling about this man and
the other man — this race and that race and the other race being inferior,
and therefore they must be placed in an inferior position, discarding our
standard that we have left us. Let us discard all these things, and unite
as one people throughout this land, until we shall once more stand up de-
claring that all men are created equal.

[" That 's right," etc.]

Yes, I have no doubt that you think it is right, but the Lincoln
men down in Coles, Tazewell^ and Sangamon counties do not think
it is right. In the conclusion of the same speech, talking to the
Chicago Abolitionists, he said : " I leave you, hoping that the lamp
of liberty will burn in your bosoms until there shall no longer be a
doubt that all men are created free and equal." ["Good, good!"]
Well, you say good to that, and you are going to vote for Lincoln
because he holds that doctrine. I wiU not blame you for support-
ing him on that ground, but I will show you, in immediate contrast
with that doctrine, what Mr. Lincoln said down in Egypt in order
to get votes in that locality where they do not hold to such a doc-
trine. In a joint discussion between Mr. Lincoln and myself, at
Charleston, I think, on the 18th of last month, Mr. Lincoln, refer-
ring to this subject, used the following language :

I will say, then, that I am not nor ever have been in favor of bringing
about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black
races; that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters of the
free negroes, or jurors, or qualifying them to hold oflce, or having them
to many with white people. I will say in addition, that there is a physi-
cal difference between the white and black races, which, I suppose, will
forever forbid the two races living together upon terms of social and
political equality, and inasmuch as they cannot so hve, that while they do



ADDKESSES AND LETTERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN 433

remain together, there must be the position of superior and inferior, that
I as much as any other man am in favor of the superior position being
assigned to the white man.

[/'Good for Lincoln!"]

Fellow-citizens, here you find men hurrahing for Lincoln, and say-
ing that he did right when in one part of the State he stood up for
negro equality, and in another part, for political effect, discarded the
doctrine, and declared that there always must be a superior and
inferior race. Abolitionists up north are expected and required to
vote for Lincoln because he goes for the equality of the races, hold-
ing that by the Declaration of Independence the white man and the
negro were created equal, and endowed by the divine law with that
equality, and down south he teUs the Old Whigs, the Kentuckians,
Virginians, and Tennesseeans that there is a physical difference in the
races, making one superior and the other inferior, and that he is in
favor of maintaining the superiority of the white race over the negro.
Now, how can you reconcile those two positions of Mr. Lincoln 1
He is to be voted for in the south as a pro-slavery man, and he is to
be voted for in the north as an Abolitionist. Up here he thinks it
is all nonsense to talk about a difference between the races, and
says that we must " discard all quibbling about this race and that
race and the other race being inferior, and therefore they must be
placed in an inferior position." Down south he makes this " quib-
ble " about this race aud that race and the other race being inferior
as the creed of his party, and declares that the negro can never be
elevated to the position of the white man. You find that his politi-
cal meetings are called by different names in different counties in
the State. Here they are called Republican meetings, but in old
Tazewell, where Lincoln made a speech last Tuesday, he did not
address a Republican meeting, but " a grand rally of the Lincoln
men." There are very few Republicans there, because Tazewell
County is filled with old Virginians and Kentuckians, all of whom
ai-e Whigs or Democrats, and if Mr. Lincoln had called an Abolition
or Republican meeting there, he would not get many votes. Go
down into Egypt, and you will find that he and his party are operat-
ing under an alias there, which his friend Trumbull has given them,
• in order that they may cheat the people. When I was down in
Monroe County a few weeks ago addressing the people, I saw hand-
bills posted announcing that Mr. Trumbull was going to speak in
behalf of Lincoln, and what do you think the name of his party was
there? Why, the "Free Democracy." Mr. Trumbull and Mr. Jehu
Baker were announced to address the Free Democracy of Monroe
County, and the bill was signed " Many Free Democrats." The rea-
son that Mr. Lincoln and his party adopted the name of " Free De-
mocracy" down there was because Monroe County has always been
an old-fashioned Democratic county, and hence it was necessary to
make the people believe that they were Democrats, sympathized
with them, and were fighting for Lincoln as Democrats. Come up
to Springfield, where Lincoln now lives and always has lived, and
you find that the convention of his party which assembled to nomi-
nate candidates for the legislature, who are expected to vote for him
Vol. L— 28.



434 ADDRESSES AND LETTEES OF ABEAHAM LINCOLlSr

if elected, dare not adopt the name of Republiean,bnt assembled under
the title of " All opposed to the Democracy." Thus you find that Mr.
Lincoln's creed cannot travel through even one half of the counties
of this State, but that it changes its hues, and becomes lighter and
lighter as it travels from the extreme north, until it is nearly white
when it reaches the extreme south end of the State. I ask you, my
friends, why cannot Republicans avow their principles alike every-
where? I would despise myself if I thought that I was procuring
your votes by concealing my opinions, and by avoTring one set of
principles in one part of the State, and a different set in another
part.

If I do not truly and honorably represent your feelings and prin-
ciples, then I ought not to be your senator; and I will never conceal
my opinions, or modify or change them a hair's-breadth, in order to
get votes. I tell you that this Chicago doctrine of Lincoln's — de-
claring that the negro and the white man are made equal by the Dec-
laration of Independence and by Divine Providence — is a monstrous
heresy. The signers of the Declaration of Independence never
dreamed of the negro when they were writing that document. They
referred to white men, to men of European birth and European de-
scent, when they declared the equality of all men. I see a gentleman
there in the crowd shaking his head. Let me remind him that when
Thomas Jefferson wrote that document he was the owner, and so
continued until his death, of a large number of slaves. Did he in-
tend to say in that Declaration that his negro slaves, which he held
and treated as property, were created his equals by divine law, and
that he was violating the law of God every day of his life by holding
them as slaves ? It must be borne in mind that when that Declara-
tion was put forth, every one of the thirteen colonies were slave-
holding colonies, and every man who signed that instrument repre-
sented a slaveholding constituency. Recollect, also, that no one of
them emancipated his slaves, much less put them on an equality with
himself, after he signed the Declaration. On the contrary, they all
continued to hold their negroes as slaves during the Revolutionary
War. Now, do you believe — are you willing to have it said — that
every man who signed the Declaration of Independence declared the
negro his equal^ and then was hypocrite enough to continue to hold
him as a slave, m violation of what he believed to be the divine law?
And yet when you say that the Declaration of Independence includes
the negro, you charge the signers of it with hypocrisy.

I say to you frankly, that in my opinion this government was
made by our fathers on the white basis. It was made by white men
for the benefit of white men and their posterity forever, and was
intended to be administered by white men in all time to come. But
while I hold that under our Constitution and political system the
negro is not a citizen, cannot be a citizen, and ought not to be a
citizen, it does not follow by any means that he should be a slave.
On the contrary, it does follow that the negro as an inferior race
ought to possess every right, every privilege, every immunity which
he can safely exercise consistent with the safety of the society in'
which he lives. Humanity requires, and Christianity commands, that.



y?"



ADDKESSES AND LETTERS OF ABEAHAM LINCOLN 435

you shall extend to every inferior being, and every dependent being,
all the privileges, immunities, and advantages which can be granted
to them consistent with the safety of society. If you ask me the
nature and extent of these privileges, I answer that that is a ques-
tion which the people of each State must decide for themselves.
Illinois has decided that question for herself. We have said that in
this State the negro shall not be a slave, nor shall he be a citizen.
Kentucky holds a different doctrine. New York holds one different
from either, and Maine one different from all. Virginia, in her
policy on this question, differs in many respects from the others, and
so on, until there are hardly two States whose policy is exactly alike
in regard to the relation of the white man and the negro. Nor can
you reconcile them and make them alike. Bach State must do as it
pleases. Illinois had as much right to adopt the policy which we
have on that subject as Kentucky had to adopt a different policy.
The great principle of this government is that each State has the
right to do as it pleases on aU these questions, and no other State or
power on earth has the right to interfere with us, or complain of us
merely because our system differs from theirs. In the compromise
measures of 1850, Mr. Clay declared that this great principle ought
to exist in the Territories as well as in the States, and I reasserted
his doctrine in the Kansas and Nebraska bill in 1854.

But Mr. Lincoln cannot be made to understand, and those who
are determined to vote for him, no matter whether he is a pro-
slavery man in the south and a negro-equality advocate in the
north, cannot be made to understand, how it is that in a Territory
the people can do as they please on the slavery question under the
Dred Scott decision. Let us see whether I cannot explain it to the
satisfaction of all impartial men. Chief Justice Taney has said, in
his opinion in the Dred Scott case, that a negro slave, being property,
stands on an equal footing with other property, and that the owner
may carry them into United States territory the same as he does
other property. Suppose any two of you neighbors shall conclude
to go to Kansas, one carrying $100,000 worth of negro slaves and
the other $100,000 worth of mixed merchandise, including quantities
of liquors. You both agree that under that decision you may carry
your property to Kansas, but when you get it there, the merchant
who is possessed of the liquors is met by the Maine liquor law, which
prohibits the sale or use of his property, and the owner of the slaves
is met by equally unfriendly legislation, which makes his property
worthless after he gets it there. What is the right to carry your prop-
erty into the Territory worth to either, when unfriendly legislation
in the Territory renders it worthless after you get it there ? The
slaveholder, when he gets his slaves there, finds that there is no local
law to protect him in holding them, no slave code, no police regula-
tion maintaining and supporting him in his right, and he discovers
at once that the absence of such friendly legislation excludes his prop-
erty from the Territory just as irresistibly as if there was a positive
constitutional prohibition excluding it.

- Thus you find it is with any kind of property in a Territory ; it de-
pends for its protection on the local and municipal law. If the peo-



436 ADDRESSES AND LETTERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN

pie of a Territory want slavery, they make friendly legislation to
introduce it, but n they do not want it, they withhold all protection
from it, and then it cannot exist there. Such was the view taken on
the subject by different Southern men when the Nebraska bill passed.
See the speech of Mr. Orr, of South Carolina, the present Speaker of
the House of Representatives of Congress, made at that time, and
there you will find this whole doctrine argued out at full length.
Read the speeches of other Southern congressmen, senators, and repre-
sentatives, made in 1854, and you will find that they took the same
view of the subject as Mr. Orr — that slavery could never be forced
on a people who did not want it. I hold that in this country there
is no power on the face of the globe that can force any iastitution on
an unwilling people. The great fundamental principle of our gov-
ernment is that the people of each State and each Territory shall be
left perfectly free to decide for themselves what shall be the nature
and character of their institutions. When this government was made,
it was based on that principle. At the time of its formation there
were twelve slaveholding States, and one free State, in this Union.
Suppose this doctrine of Mr. Lincoln and the Republicans, of uni-
formity of laws of all the States on the subject of slavery, had pre-



Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 57 of 91)