Abraham Lincoln.

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

. (page 58 of 91)
Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 58 of 91)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


vailed; suppose Mr. Lincoln himself had been a member of the
convention which framed the Constitution, and that he had risen in
that august body, and, addressing the Father of his Country, had said
as he did at Sprmgfield :

A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government
cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the
Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall, but I do expect
it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.

What do you think would have been the result ? Suppose he had
made that convention believe that doctrine, and they had acted upon
it, what do you think would have been the result 1 Do you believe
that one free State would have outvoted the twelve slaveholding
States, and thus abolished slavery ? On the contrary, would not the
twelve slaveholding States have outvoted the one free State, and
under his doctrine have fastened slavery by an irrevocable constitu-
tional provision upon every inch of the American republic 1 Thus
you see that the doctrine he now advocates, if proclaimed at the
beginning of the government, would have established slavery every-
where throughout the American continent; and are you willing, now
that we have the majority section, to exercise a power which we
never would have submitted to when we were in the minority 1 If
the Southern States had attempted to control our institutions, and
make the States aU slave when they had the power, I ask would you
have submitted to it 1 If you would not, are you willing, now that
we have become the strongest under that great principle of self-
government that allows each State to do as it pleases, to attempt
to control the Southern institutions ? Then, my friends, I say to
you that there is but one path of peace in this republic, and that
IS to administer this government as our fathers made it, divided
into free and slave States, allowing each State to decide for itself



ADDEESSES AND LETTEKS OF ABKAHAM LINCOLN 437

whether it wants slavery or not. If Illinois wiH settle the sla-
very question for herself, and mind her own business and let her
neighbors alone, we wiU be at peace with Kentucky, and every other
Southern State. If every other State in the Union will do the same,
there will be peace between the North and South, and in the whole
Union.

Mr. Lincoln's Reply in the Oaleshurg Joint Debate.

Mtj Fellow-citizens: A very large portion of the speech which
Judge Douglas has addressed to you has previously been delivered
and put in print. I do not mean that for a hit upon the judge at all.
If I had not been interrupted, I was going to say that such an answer
as I was able to make to a very large portion of it, had already been
more than once made and published. There has been an opportu-
nity afforded to the public to see our respective views upon the topics
discussed in a large portion of the speech which he has just delivered.
I make these remarks for the purpose of excusing myself for not
passing over the entire ground that the judge has traversed. I,
however, desire to take up some of the points that he has attended
to, and ask your attention to them, and I shall f oUow him backward
upon some notes which I have taken, reversing the order by begin-
ning where he concluded.

The judge has alluded to the Declaration of Independence, and
insisted that negroes are not included in that Declaration ; and that
it is, a slander upon the framers of that instrument to suppose that
negroes were meant therein; and he asks you: Is it possible to
beueve that Mr. Jefferson, who penned the immortal paper, could
have supposed himself applying the language of that instrument to
the negro race, and yet held a portion of that race in slavery?
Would he not at once have freed them? I only have to remark
upon this part of the judge's speech (and that, too, very briefly, for
I shall not detain myself, or you, upon that point for any great
length of time), that I believe the entire records of the worldj from
the date of the Declaration of Independence up to within three years
ago, may be searched in vain for one single affirmation, from one
single man, that the negro was not included in the Declaration of
Independence ; I think I may defy Judge Douglas to show that he
ever said so, that Washington ever said so, that any president ever
said so, that any member of Congress ever said so, or that any
living man upon the whole earth ever said so, until the necessities of
the present policy of the Democratic party, in regard to slavery, had
to invent that affirmation. And I will remind Judge Douglas and
this audience that while Mr. Jefferson was the owner of slaves, as
undoubtedly he was, in speaking upon this very subject, he used the
strong language that "he trembled for his country when he remem-
bered that G-od was just"; and I wiU. offer the highest premium in
my power to Judge Douglas if he will show that he, in aU his Hf e,
ever uttered a sentiment at all akin to that of Jefferson.

The next thing to which I wiU ask your attention is the judge's
comments upon the fact, as he assumes it to be, that we cannot call



438 ADDRESSES AJ^D LETTERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN

our public meetings as Republican meetings ; and he instances Taze-
well County as one of the places where the friends of Lincoln have
called a public meeting and have not dared to name it a Republican
meeting. He instances Monroe Coimty as another where Judge
Trumbull and Jehu Baker addressed the persons whom the judge
assumes to be the friends of Lincoln, calling them the "Free Democ-
racy." I have the honor to inform Judge Douglas that he spoke in
that very county of Tazewell last Saturday, and I was there on Tues-
day last, and when he spoke there he spoke under a call not ventur-
ing to use the word "Democrat." [Turning to Judge Douglas.]
What think you of this 1

So, again, there is another thing to which I would ask the judge's
attention upon this subject. In the contest of 1856 his party de-
lighted to call themselves together as the " National Democracy,"
but now, if there should be a notice put up anywhere for a meeting
of the "National Democracy," Judge Douglas and his friends would
not come. They would not suppose themselves invited. They
would understand that it was a call for those hateful postmasters
whom he talks about.

Now a few words in regard to these extracts from speeches of
mine which Judge Douglas has read to you, and which he supposes
are in very great contrast to each other. Those speeches have been
before the piiblic for a considerable time, and if they have any in-
consistency in them, if there is any conflict in them, the public have
been al)le to detect it. When the judge says, in speaking on this
subject, that I make speeches of one sort for the people of the
northern end of the State, and of a different sort for the southern
people, he assumes that I do not understand that my speeches will
be put in print and read north and south. I knew all the whUe that
the speech that I made at Chicago and the one I made at Jonesboro
and the one at Charleston would all be put in print, and all the read-
ing and intelligent men in the community would see them and know
all about my opinions ; and I have not supposed, and do not now
suppose, that there is any conflict whatever between them. But the
judge win have it that if we do not confess that there is a sort of in-
equality between the white and black races which justifies us in
making them slaves, we must, then, insist that there is a degree of
equality that requires lis to make them our wives. Now, I have all
the while taken a broad distinction in regard to that matter ; and
that is all there is in these different speeches which he aways here,
and the entire reading of either of the speeches will show that that
distinction was made. Perhaps by taking two parts of the same
speech he could have got up as much of a conflict as the one he has
found. I have all the while maintained that in so far ns it should
be insisted that there was an equality between the white and black
races that should produce a perfect social and political equality, it
was an impossibility. This you have seen in my printed speeches,
and with it I have said that in their right to "Hfe, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness," as proclaimed in that old Declaration, the in-
ferior races are our equals. And these declarations I have constantly
made in reft-renee to the abstract moral question, to contemplate and



ADDRESSES AND LETTEES OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN 439

consider when we are legislating about any new country which is not
already cursed with the actual presence of the evil — slavery. I have
never manifested any impatience with the necessities that spring
from the actual presence of black people amongst us, and the actual
existence of slavery amongst us where it does already exist ; but I
have insisted that, m legislating for new countries where it does not
exist, there is no just rule other than that -of moral and abstract
right. With reference to those new countries, those maxims as to
the right of a people to " life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness "
were the just rules to be constantly referred to. There is no mis-
understanding this, except by men interested to misunderstand it. I
take it that I have to address an intelligent and reading community
who will peruse what I say, weigh it, and then judge whether I ad-
vance improper or unsound views, or whether I advance hypocritical
and deceptive and contrary views in different portions of the country.
I believe myself to be guilty of no such thing as the latter, though,
of course, I cannot claim that I am entirely free from all error in the
opinions I advance.

The judge has also detained us awhile in regard to the distinction
between his party and our pai'ty. His he assumes to be a national
party — ours a sectional one. He does this in asking the question
whether this country has any interest in the maintenance of the
Republican party? He assumes that our party is "altogether sec-
tional — that the party to which he adheres is national; and the
argument is that no party can be a rightful party — can be based
upon rightful principles — unless it can announce its principles
everywhere. I presume that Judge Doiiglas could not go into Rus-
sia and announce the doctriue of our national Democracy; he could
not denounce the doctriue of kings and emperors and monarchies in
Russia ; and it may be true of this country, that in some places we
may not be able to proclaim a doctrine as clearly true as the truth
of Democracy, because there is a section so directly opposed to it
that they will not tolerate us in doing so. Is it the true test of the
soundness of a doctrine, that in some places people won't let you
proclaim it? Is that the way to test the truth of any doctrine?
Why, I understand that at one time the people of Chicago would
not let Judge Douglas preach a certain favorite doctrine of his. I
commend to his consideration the question, whether he takes that as
a test of the unsoundness of what he wanted to preach.

There is another thing to which I wish to ask attention for a little
while on this occasion. What has always been the evidence brought
forward to prove that the Republican party is a sectional party?
The main one was that in the Southern portion of the Union the
people did not let the Republicans proclaim their doctrines amongst
them. That has been the main evidence brought forward — that
they had no supporters, or substantially none, in the slave States.
The South have not taken hold of our principles as we announce
them ; nor does Judge Douglas now grapple with those principles.
We have a Republican State platform, laid down in Springfield in
June last, stating our position all the way through the questions be-
fore the country. We are now far advanced in this canvass. Judge



440 ADDRESSES AND LETTERS OF ABRAHAM LENCOLN

Douglas and I have made perhaps forty speeches apiece, and we have
now for the fifth time met face to face in debate, and up to this day I
have not found either Judge Douglas or any friend of his taking hold
of the Republican platform or laying his finger upon anything in it
that is wi"ong. I ask y'du aU to recollect that. Judge Douglas turns
away from the platform of principles to the fact that he can find peo-
ple somewhere who will not allow us to announce those principles.
If he had great confidence that our principles were wrong, he would
take hold of them and demonstrate them to be wrong. But he does
not do so. The only evidence he has of their being wrong is in the
fact that there are people who won't allow us to preach them. I ask
again is that the way to test the soundness of a doctrine ?

I ask his attention also to the fact that by the rule of nationality he
is himself fast becoming sectional. I ask his attention to the fact that
his speeches would not go as current now south of the Ohio River
as they have formerly gone there. I ask his attention to the fact
that he felicitates himself to-day that all the Democrats of the free
States are agreeing with him, while he omits to teU us that the Demo-
crats of any slave State agree with him. If he has not thought of
this, I commend to his consideration the evidenise in his own declarar
tion, on this day, of his becoming sectional too. I see it rapidly ap-
proaching. Whatever may be the result of this ephemeral contest
between Judge Douglas and myself, I see the day rapidly approach-
ing when his pUl of sectionalism, which he has been thrusting down
the throats of Republicans for years past, will be crowded down his
own throat.

Now in regard to what Judge Douglas said (in the beginning of
his speech) about the compromise of 1850 containing the principle
of the Nebraska bill ; although I have often presented my views upon
that subject, yet as I have not done so ia this canvass, I will, if you
please, detain you a little with them. I have always maintained so
far as I was able that there was nothing of the priaciple of the Ne-
braska bni in the compromise of 1850 at all — nothing whatever.
Where can you find the principle of the Nebraska bill in that com-
promise ? If anywhere, in the two pieces of the compromise organ-
izing the Territories of New Mexico and Utah. It was expressly
provided in these two acts that, when they came to be admitted into
the Union, they should be admitted with or without slavery, as they
should choose, by their own constitutions. Nothing was said in
either of those acts as to what was to be done in relation to slavery
during the territorial existence of those Territories, while Henry
Clay constantly made the declaration (Judge Douglas recognizing
him as a leader) that, in his opinion, the old Mexican laws would
control that question during the territorial existence, and that these
old Mexican laws excluded slavery. How can that be used as a
principle for declaring that during the territorial existence, as well
as at the time of frammg the constitution, the people, if you please,
might have slaves H they wanted them ? I am not discussing the
question whether it is right or wrong ; but how are the New Mexican
and Utah laws patterns for the Nebraska bill f I maintain that the
organization of Utah and New Mexico did not establish a general



ADDEESSES AND LETTERS OF ABKAHAM LINCOLN 441

principle at all. It had no feature establishing a general princi-
ple. The acts to which I have referred were a part of a general sys-
tem of compromises. They did not lay down what was proposed as
a regular policy for the Territories ; only an a^eement in this par-
ticular case to do in that way, because other things were done that
were to be a compensation for it. They were allowed to come in in
that shape, because in another way it was paid for — considering that
as a part of that system of measures called the compromise of 1850,
which finally included half a dozen acts. It included the admission
of California as a free State, which was kept out of the Union for
half a year because it had formed a free constitution. It included
the settlement of the boundary of Texas, which had been undefined
before, which was in itself a slavery question ; for if you pushed the
line further west, you made Texas larger, and made more slave Ter-
ritory ; while if you di'ew the line toward the east, you narrowed the
boundary and diminished the domain of slavery, and by so much
increased free Territory. It included the abolition of the slave-trade
in the District of Colimibia. It included the passage of a new fugitive-
slave law. All these things were put together, and though passed
in separate acts, were nevertheless m legislation (as the speeches at
the time will show) made to depend upon each other. Each got
votes, with the understanding that the other measures were to pass,
and by this system of compromise, in that series of measures, those
two bills — the New Mexico and Utah biUs — were passed ; and I say
for that reason they could not be taken as models, framed upon their
own intrinsic principle, for all future Territories. And I have the
evidence of this in the fact that Judge Douglas, a year afterward,
or more than a year afterward perhaps, when he first introduced
bills for the purpose of framing new Territories, did not attempt to
follow these bills of New Mexico and Utah ; and even when he intro-
duced this Nebraska bill, I think you will discover that he did not
exactly follow them. But I do not wish to dwell at great length
upon this branch of the discussion. My own opinion is that a thorough
investigation will show most plainly that the New Mexico and Utah
bills were part of a system of compromise, and not designed as
patterns for future territorial legislation, and that this Nebraska bill
did not follow them as a pattern at aU.

The Judge tells us, in proceeding, that he is opposed to making any
odious distinctions between free and slave States. I am altogether
unaware that the Republicans are in favor of making any odious
distinctions between the free and slave States. But there still is a
difference, I think, between Judge Douglas and the Republicans in
this. I suppose that the real difference between Judge Douglas and
his friends and the Repubheans, on the contrary, is that the judge
is not in favor of maMng any difEerence between slavery and lib-
erty — that he is in favor of eradicating, of pressing out of view,
the questions of preference in this country for free or slave institu-
tions ; and consequently every sentiment he utters discards the idea
that there is any wrong in slavery. Everything that emanates from
him or his coadjutors in their course of policy carefuUy excludes
the thought that there is anything wrong in slavery. AU their



442 ADDEESSES AND LEXTEES OF ABEAHAM LINCOLN

arguments, if you will consider them, will be seen to exclude the
thought that there is anything whatever wrong in slaverj^- If you
will take the judge's speeches, and select the short and pointed sen-
tences expressed by him, — as his declaration that he "don't care
whether slavery is voted up or down," — you will see at once that
this is perfectly logical^ if you do not admit that slavery is wrong.
If you do admit that it is wrong. Judge Douglas cannot logically say
he don't care whether a wrong is voted up or voted down. Judge
Douglas declares that if any community wants slavery they have a
right to have it. He can say that logically, if he says that there is
no wrong in slavery; but if you admit that there is a wrong in it, he
cannot logically say that anybody has a right to do wrong. He in-
sists that, upon the score of equality, the owners of slaves and
owners of property — of horses and every other sort of property —
should be alike, and hold them alike in a new Territory. That is
perfectly logical, if the two species of property are alike, and are
equally founded in right. But if you admit that one of them is
wrong, you cannot institute any equality between right and wrong.
And from this difference of sentiment — the belief on the part of
one that the institution is wrong, and a policy springing from that
belief which looks to the arrest of the enlargement of that wrong ;
and this other sentiment, that it is no wrong, and a policy sprung from
that sentiment which will tolerate no idea of preventing that wrong
from growing larger, and looks to there never being an end of it
through all the existence of things — arises the real difference be-
tween Judge Douglas and his friends on the one hand, and the
Republicans on the other. Now, I confess myself as belonging to
that class in the country who contemplate slavery as a moral, social,
and political evil, having due regard for its actual existence amongst
us, and the difficulties of getting rid of it in any satisfactory way,
and to aU. the constitutional obligations which have been thrown
about it ; but who, nevertheless, desire a policy that looks to the pre-
vention of it as a wrong, and looks hopefully to the time when as a
Avrong it may come to an end.

Judge Douglas has again, for, I believe, the fifth time, if not the
seventh, in my presence, reiterated his charge of a conspiracy or com-
bination between the National Democrats and Republicans. What
evidence Judge Douglas has iipon this subject I know not, inasmuch
as he never favors us with any. I have said upon a former occasion,
and I do not choose to suppress it now, that I have no objection to the
division in the judge's party. He got it up himself. It was all his
and their work. He had, I think, a great deal more to do with the
steps that led to the Leeompton constitution than Mr. Buchanan
had ; though at last, when they reached it, they quarreled o^-er it,
and their friends divided upon it. I am very free to confess to Judge
Douglas that I have no objection to the division; biit I defy the
judge to show any evidence that I have in any way promoted that
division, unless he insists on being a witness himself in merely say-
ing so. I can give all fair friends of Judge Douglas here to under-
stand exactly the view that Republicans take in regard to that
division. Don't you remember how two years ago the opponents



ADDEESSES AND LETTERS OE ABRAHAM LINCOLN 443

of the Democratic party were divided between Fremont and Fill-
more 1 I guess you do. Any Democrat who remembers that divi-
sion win remember also that he was at the time very glad of it, and
then he will be able to see aU there is between the National Demo-
crats and the Republicans. "What we now think of the two divisions
of Democrats, you then thought of the Fremont and Fillmore divi-
sions. That is all there is of it.

But if the judge continues to put forward the declaration that
there is an unholy, unnatural alliance between the Republicans and
the National Democrats, I now want to enter my protest against
receiving him as an entirely competent witness upon that subject.
I want to caU to the judge's attention an attack he made upon me
in the first one of these debates, at Ottawa, on the 21st of August. In
order to fix extreme Abolitionism upon me. Judge Douglas read a
set of resolutions which he declared had been passed by a Republican
State convention, in October, 1854, at Springfield, Illinois, and he
declared I had taken part in that convention. It turned out that
although a few men calling themselves an anti-Nebraska State con-
vention had sat at Springfield about that time, yet neither did I take
any part in it, nor did it pass the resolutions or any such resolutions
as Judge Douglas read. So apparent had it become that the resolu-
tions which he read had not been passed at Springfield at aU, nor by
any State convention in which I had taken part, that seven days
afterward, at Freeport, Judge Douglas declared that he had been
misled by Charles H. Lanphier, editor of the " State Register," and
Thomas L. Harris, member of Congress in that district, and he
promised in that speech that when he went to Springfield he would
investigate the matter. Since then Judge Douglas has been to
Springfield, and I presume has made the investigation; but a
month has passed since he has been there, and so far as I know,
he has made no report of the result of his investigation. I have
waited as I think a sufficient time for the report of that investiga-
tion, and I have some curiosity to see and hear it. A fraud, an
absolute f orgerj^, was committed, and the perpetration of it was traced
to the three — Lanphier, Harris, and Douglas. Whether it can be
narrowed in any way, so as to exonerate any one of them, is what



Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 58 of 91)