Abraham Lincoln.

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

. (page 60 of 91)
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timents for the Abolition counties, and another set for the counties
opposed to Abolitionism. My point of complaint against him is that



ADDKESSES AND LETTERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN 451

I cannot induce him to hold up the same standard, to carry the same
flag in all parts of the State. He does not pretend, and no other man
will, that I have one set of principles for Galesburg and another for
Charleston. He does not pretend that I hold to one doctrine in
Chicago and an opposite one in Jonesboro. I have proved that he
has a different set of principles for each of these localities. All I
asked of him was that he should deliver the speech that he has made
here to-day in Coles County instead of in old Knox. It would have
settled the question between us in that doubtful county. Here I
understand him to reaffirm the doctrine of negro equality, and to as-
sert that by the Declaration of Independence the negro is declared
equal to the white man. He tells you to-day that the negro was in-
cluded in the Declaration of Independence when it asserted that all
men were created equal. [ " We believe it." ] Very well.

Mr. Lincoln asserts to-day, as he did at Chicago, that the negro was
included in that clause of the Declaration of Independence which says
that all men were created equal, and endowed by the Creator with cer-
tain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit
of happiness. If the negro was made his equal and mine, if that
equality was established by divine law, and was the negro's inalien-
able right, how came he to say at Charleston to the Kentuckians
residing in that section of our State, that the negro was physically
inferior to the white man, belonged to an inferior race, and he was
for keeping him always in that inferior condition. I wish you to
bear these things in mind. At Charleston he said that the negro
belonged to an inferior race, and that he was for keeping him in
that inferior condition. There he gave the people to understand
that there was no moral question involved, because the inferiority
being established, it was only a question of degree and not a ques-
tion of right ; here, to-day, instead of making it a question of degree,
he makes it a moral question, says that it is a great crime to hold the
negro in that inferior condition. [" He 's right."] Is he right now,
or was he right in Charleston ? [" Both."] He is right then, sir, in
your estimation, not because he is consistent, but because he can
trim his principles any way in any section, so as to secure votes.
All I desire of him is that he wiU declare the same principles in the
south that he does in the north.

But did you notice how he answered my position that a man should
hold the same doctrines throughout the length and breadth of this
republic ? He said, " Would Judge Douglas go to Russia and pro -
claim the same principles he does here ? " I would remind him that
Russia is not under the American Constitution. If Russia was a
part of the American republic, under our Federal Constitution, audi
I was sworn to support the Constitution, I would maintain the same
doctrine in Russia that I do in Illinois. The slaveholding States are-
governed by the same Federal Constitution as ourselves, and hence-
a man's principles, in order to be in harmony with the Constitution,
must be the same in the South as they are in the North, the same in
the free States as they are in the slave States. Whenever a man ad-
vocates one set of principles in one section, and another set in another-
section, his opinions are in violation of the spirit of the Constitutioni



452 ADDRESSES AND LETTERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN

which he has sworn to support. When Mr. Lincoln went to Congress
in 1847, and, laying his hand upon the Holy Evangelists, made a solemn
vow in the presence of high Heaven that he would be f aithfiol to the
Constitution — what did he mean? the Constitution as he expounds
it in Gralesburg, or the Constitution as he expounds it iu Charleston.
Mr. Lincoln has devoted considerable time to the circumstance
that at Ottawa I read a series of resolutions as having been adopted
at Springfield, in this State, on the 4th or 5th of October, 1854, which
happened not to have been adopted there. He has used hard names ;
has dared to talk about fraud, about forgery, and has insinuated
that there was a conspiracy between Mr. Lanphier, Mr. Harris, and
myself to perpetrate a forgery. Now, bear in mind that he does not
deny that these resolutions were adopted in a majority of all the
Republican counties of this State in that year ; he does not deny that
they were declared to be the platform of this Republican party in
the first congressional district, in the second, in the third, and
in many counties of the fourth, and that they thus became the
platform of his party in a majority of the counties upon which he
now rehes for support ; he does not deny the truthfulness of the res-
olutions, but takes exception to the spot on which they were adopted.
He takes to himself great merit because he thinks they were not
adopted on the right spot for me to use them against him, just as he
was very severe in Congress upon the government of his country,
when he thought that he had discovered that the Mexican war was
not begun in the right spot, and was therefore unjust. He tries
very hard to make out that there is something very extraordinary in
the place where the thing was done, and not in the thing itself. I
never believed before that Abraham Lincoln would be guilty of what
he has done this day in regard to those resolutions. In the first
place, the moment it was intimated to me that they had been adopted
at Aurora and Rockford instead of Springfield, I did not wait for
him to call my attention to the fact, but led off and explained in my
first meeting after the Ottawa debate, what the mistake was and how
it had been made. I supposed that for an honest man, conscious of
his own rectitude, that explanation would be sufficient. I did not
wait for him, after the mistake was made, to call my attention to it,
but frankly explained it at once as an honest man woidd. I also
gave the authority on which I had stated that these resolutions were
adopted by the Springfield Repubhean convention ; that I had seen
them quoted by Major Harris ia a debate in Congress, as having
been adopted by the first Republican State convention in Illinois,
and that I had written to him and asked him for the authority as to
the time and place of their adoption ; that Major Harris being ex-
tremely iU, Charles H. Lanphier had written to me for him that they
were adopted at Springfield, on the 5th of October, 1854, and had
sent me a copy of the Springfield paper containing them. I read
them from the newspaper just as Mr. Lincoln reads the proceedings
of meetin(;s held years ago from the newspapers. After giving that
explanation, I did not think there was an honest man in the State of
Illinois who doubted that I had been led into the error, if it was such,
innocently, in the way I detailed ; and I will now say that I do not



ADDRESSES AND LETTEES OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN 453

now believe that there is an honest man on the face of the globe who
wiU not regard with abhorrence and disgust Mr. Lincoln's insinua-
tions of my complicity in that forgery, if it was a forgery. Does Mr.
Lincoln wish to push these things to the point of personal difficulties
here I I commenced this contest by treating him c(nirteously and
kindly ; I always spoke of him in words of resipect, and in return he
has sought, and is now seeking, to divert public attention from the
enormity of his revolutionary principles by impeaching men's sin-
cerity and integrity, and inviting personal quarrels.

I desired to conduct this contest with him like a gentleman, but I
spurn the insinuation of complicity and fraud made upon the simple
circumstance of an editor of a newspaper having made a mistake as
to the place where a thing was done, but not as to the thing itself.
These resolutions were the platform of this Republican party of Mr.
Lincoln's of that year. They were adopted in a majority of the Repub-
lican counties in the State ; and when I asked him at Ottawa whether
they formed the platform upon which he stood, he did not answer,
and I could not get an answer out of him. He then thotight, as I
thought, that those resolutions were adopted at the Springfield con-
vention, but excused himself by saying that he was not there when
they were adopted, but had gone to Tazewell court in order to avoid
being present at the convention. He saw them published as having
been adopted at Springfield, and so did I, and he knew that if there
was a mistake in regard to them, that I had nothing under heaven to
do with it. Besides, you find that in aU these northern counties
where the Republican candidates are running pledged to him, that
the conventions which nominated them adopted that identical plat-
form. One cardinal point ia that platform which he shrinks from is
this — that there shall be no more slave States admitted into the
Union, even if the people want them. Lovejoy stands pledged against
the admission of any more slave States. ["Right; so do we."J So
do you, you say. Farnsworth stands pledged against the admission
of any more slave States. Washburne stands pledged the same way.
The candidate for the legislature who is running on Lincoln's ticket
in Henderson and Warren stands committed by his vote in the legis-
lature to the same thing, and I am informed, but do not know of
the fact, that your candidate here is also so pledged. [" Hurrah for
him ! Good ! "] Now, you Republicans all hurrah for him, and for the
doctrine of " no more slave States," and yet Lincoln tells you that his
conscience wiH not permit him to sanction that doctrine, and com-
plains because the resolutions I read at Ottawa made him, as a mem-
ber of the party, responsible for sanctioning the doctrine of no more
slave States. You are one way, you confess, and he is or pretends to
be the other, and yet you are both governed by principle in support-
ing one another. If it be true, as I have shown it is, that the whole
Repubhcan party in the northern part of the State stands committed
to the doctrine of no more slave States, and that this same doctrine
is repudiated by the Republicans in the other part of the State, I
wonder whether Mr. Lincoln and his party do not present the case
which he cited from the Scriptures, of a house divided against itself
which cannot stand ! I desire to know what are Mr. Lincoln's princi-



454 ADDRESSES AKD LETTERS OP ABRAHAM LINCOLN

pies and the principles of Ms party. I hold, and the party with
which I am identified holds, that the people of each State, old and
new, have the right to decide the slavery question for themselves,
and when I used the remark that I did not care whether slavery was
voted up or down, I used it in the connection that I was for allowing
Kansas to do just as she pleased on the slavery question. I said that
I did not care whether they voted slavery up or down, because they
had the right to do as they pleased on the question, and therefore my
action would not be controlled by any such consideration. Why can-
not Abraham Lincoln, and the party with which he acts, speak out
their principles so that they may be understood ? Why do they claim
to be one thing in one part of the State and another in the other part?
Whenever I allude to the Abolition doctrines, which he considers a
slander to be charged with being in favor of, you aU indorse them,
and hurrah for them, not knowing that your candidate is ashamed to
acknowledge them.

I have a few words to say upon the Dred Scott decision, which
has troubled the brain of Mr. Lincoln so much. He insists that that
decision would carry slavery into the free States, notwithstanding
that the decision says directly the opposite; and goes into along
argument to make you believe that I am in favor of, and would sanc-
tion, the doctrine that would allow slaves to be brought here and held
as slaves contrary to our constitution and laws. Mr. Lincoln knew
better when he asserted this ; he knew that one newspaper, and so
far as is within my knowledge but one, ever asserted that doctrine,
and that I was the first man in either House of Congress that read
that article in debate, and denounced it on the floor of the Senate as
revolutionary. When the Washington "Union," on the 17th of last
November, published an article to that effect, I branded it at once,
and denounced it, and hence the "Union" has iDeen pursuing me ever
since. Mr. Toombs, of Greorgia, rephed to me, and said that there
was not a man in any of the slave States south of the Potomac River
that held any such doctrine. Mr. Lincoln knows that there is not a
member of "the Supreme Court who holds that doctrine ; he knows
that every one of them, as shown by their opinions, holds the reverse.
Why this attempt, then, to bring the Supreme Court into disrepute
among the people ? It looks as if there was an effort being made to de-
stroy pubhc confidence in the highest judicial tribunal on earth. Siip-
pose he succeeds in destroying public confidence in the com-t, so that
the people will not respect its decisions, but will feel at liberty to dis-
regard them, and resist the laws of the land, what will he have gained'?
He will have changed the government from one of laws into that of
a mob, in which the strong arm of violence will he substituted for the
decisions of the courts of justice. He complains because I did not go
into an argument reviewing Chief Justice Taney's opinion, and the
other opinions of the different judges, to determine whether their
reasoning is right or wrong on the questions of law. What use would
that be 1 He wants to take an appeal from the Supreme Court to this
meeting to determine whether the questions of law were decided
properly. He is going to appeal from the Supreme Court of the
United States to every town meeting, in the hope that he can excite



ADDKESSES AND LETTERS OF ABEAHAM LIKCOLN 455

a prejudice against that court, and on the wave of that prejudice ride
into the Senate of the United States, when he could not get there on
his own principles, or his own merits. Suppose he should succeed
in getting into the Senate of the United States, what then will he
have to do with the decision of the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott
case ? Can he reverse that decision when he gets there f Can he act
upon it? Has the Senate any right to reverse it or revise it? He
win not pretend that it has. Then why drag the matter into this con-
test, unless for the purpose of making a false issue, by which he can
divert public attention from the real issue.

He has cited G-eneral Jackson ia justification of the war he is
making on the decision of the court. Mr. Lincoln misunderstands
the history of the country if he believes there is any parallel ia the
two cases. It is true that the Supreme Court once decided that if a
bank of the United States was a necessary fiscal agent of the govern-
ment it was constitutional, and if not, that it was unconstitutional,
and also, that whether or not it was necessary for that purpose was
a political question for Congress, and not a judicial one for the courts
to determine. Hence the court would not determine the bank uncon-
stitutional. Jackson respected the decision, obeyed the law, executed
it, and carried it iato effect during its existence ; but after the char-
ter of the bank expired, and a proposition was made to create a new
bank. General Jackson said: "It is unnecessary and improper, and
therefore I am against it on constitutional grounds as well as those
of expediency." Is Congress bound to pass every act that is con-
stitutional'? Why, there are a thousand things that are constitu-
tional, but yet are inexpedient and unnecessary, and you surely would
not vote for them merely because you had the right to ? And because
G-eneral Jackson would not do a thing which he had a right to do, but
did not deem expedient or proper, Mr. Lincoln is going to justify
himself in doing that which he has no right to do. I ask him whether
he is not bound to respect and obey the decisions of the Supreme
Court as well as I? The Constitution has created that court to
decide aU constitutional questions in the last resort, and when such
decisions have been made they become the law of the land, and you,
and he, and myself, and every other good citizen are bound by them.
Yet he argues that I am bound by their decisions, and he is not. He
says that their decisions are binding on Democrats, but not on Re-
publicans. Are not Republicans bound by the laws of the land as
well as Democrats ? And when the court has fixed the construction
of the Constitution on the validity of a given law, is not their deci-
sion binding upon Republicans as well as upon Democrats ? Is it pos-
sible that you Republicans have the right to raise your mobs and
oppose the laws of the land and the constituted authorities, and yet
hold us Democrats bound to obey them ? My time is within half a
minute of expiring, and all I have to say is that I stand by the laws
of the land. I stand by the Constitution as our fathers made it, by
the laws as they are enacted, and by the decisions of the court upon
all points within their jurisdiction as they are pronounced by the
highest tribunal on earth ; and any man who resists these must re-
sort to mob-law and violence to overturn the government of laws.



456 ADDEESSES AND LETTEES OF ABBAHAM LINCOLN

October 13, 1858. — Sixth Jolvt Debate, at Quincy, Illinois.
2Ir. Lincoln's Opening Speech.

Ladies and Gentlemen : I have had no immediate conference with
Judge Douglas, but I will venture to say that he and I will perfectly
agree that your entire silence, both when I speak and when he speaks,
will be most agreeable to us.

In the month of May, 18-56, the elements in the State of Illinois
which have since been consolidated into the Republican party assem-
bled together in a State convention at Bloomington. They adopted
at that time what, in political language, is called a platform. In
June of the same year, the elements of the RepubHcan party in the
nation assembled together in a national convention at Philadelphia.
They adopted what is called the national platform. In June, 1858, —
the present year, — the Republicans of Illinois reassembled at Spring-
field in State convention, and adopted again their platform, as I
suppose, not differing in any essential particular from either of the
former ones, but perhaps adding something in relation to the new
developments of political progress in the country.

The convention that assembled in June last did me the honor, if it
be one, and I esteem it such, to nominate me as their candidate for
the United States Senate. I have supposed that, in entering upon
this canvass, I stood generally upon these platforms. We are now
met together on the 13th of October of the same year, only four
months from the adoption of the last platform, and I am unaware
that in this canvass, from the beginning until to-day, any one of our
adversaries has taken hold of our platforms, or laid his finger upon
anji;huig he calls wi-ong in them.

In the very first one of these joint discussions between Senator
Douglas and myself. Senator Douglas, without alluding at aU to
these platforms, or to any one of them, of which I have spoken, at-
tempted to hold me responsible for a set of resolutions passed long
before the meeting of either one of these conventions of which I have
spoken. And as a ground for holding me responsible for these res-
olutions, he assumed that they had been passed at a State conven-
tion of the Republican party, and that I took part in that convention.
It was discovered afterward that this was erroneous, that the resolu-
tions which he endeavored to hold me responsible for had not been
passed by any State convention anywhere, had not been passed
at Springfield, where he supposed they had, or assumed that they
had, and that they had been passed in no convention in which I had
taken part. The judge, nevertheless, was not willing to give vip the
point that he was endeavoring to make upon me, and he therefore
thought to stUl hold me to the point that he was endeavoring to
make, by showing that the resolutions that he read had been passed
at a local convention in the northern part of the State, although it
was not a local convention that embraced my residence at all, nor
one that reaehed, as I suppose, nearer than one hundred and fifty or
two hundred miles of where I was when it met, nor one in which I
took any part at all. He also introduced other resolutions, passed



ADDRESSES AND liETTEKS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN 457

at other meetings, and by combining the whole, although they were
all antecedent to the two State conventions, and the one national
convention I have mentioned, still he insisted and now insists, as I
understand, that I am in some way responsible for them.

At Jonesboro, on our third meeting, I insisted to the judge that I
was in no way rightfully held responsible for the proceedings of this
local meeting or convention in wluch I had taken no part, and in
which I was m no way embraced ; but I insisted to him that if he
thought I was responsible for everj- man or every set of men everj -
where, who happen to be my friends, the rule ought to work both
ways, and he ought to be responsible for the acts and resolutions of
all men or sets of men who were or are now his supporters and
friends, and gave him a pretty long string of resolutions, passed liy
men who are now his friends, and announcing doctrines for which
he does not desire to be held responsible.

This stiU does not satisfy Judge Douglas. He still adheres to his
proposition, that I am responsible for what some of my friends in
different parts of the State have done; but that he is not responsible
for what his have done. At least, so I understand him. But, in ad-
dition to that, the judge, at our meeting in Gralesburg last week,
undertakes to establish that I am guilty of a species of double-deal-
ing with the public — that I make speeches of a certain sort in the
North, among the Abolitionists, which I would not make in the South,
and that I make speeches of a certain sort in the South which I would
not make in the North. I apprehend, in the course I have marked
out for myself, that I shall not have to dweU. at very great length upon
this subject.

As this was done in the judge's opening speech at Galesburg, I
had an opportunity, as I had the middle speech then, of saying some-
thing in answer to it. He brought forward a quotation or two from
a speech of mine, delivered at Chicago, and then, to contrast with it,
he brought forward an extract from a speech of mine at Charleston,
in which he insisted that I was greatly inconsistent, and insisted that
his conclusion followed that I was playing a double part, and speak-
ing in one region one way, and in another region another way. I have
not time now to dwell on this as long as I would Uke, and wish only
now to requote that portion of my speech at Charleston, which the
judge quoted, and then make some comments upon it. This he quotes
from me as being delivered at Charleston, and I believe correctly :

I will say, then,^ that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing
about in any way the social and pohtical equahty of the white and black
races — that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors
of negroes, nor of qiialif3riag them to hold office, nor to intermarry with
white people ; and I wiU say ia addition to this that there is a physical differ-
ence between the white and black races which will ever forbid the two races
Uving together on terms of social and pohtical equality. And inasmuch as
they cannot so live, while they do remain together, there must be the posi-
tion of superior and inferior, and I, as much as any other man, am in favor
of having the superior position assigned to the white race.

This, I believe, is the entire quotation from the Charleston speech,
as Judge Douglas made it. His comments are as follows :



458 ADDRESSES AND LETTEES OF ABEAHAM LINCOLN

Yes, here you find men wlio hurrah, for Lincoln, and say he is right when
he discards all distinction between races, or when he declares that he discards
the doctrine that there is such a thing as a superior and inferior race ; and
AboUtionists are required and expected to vote for Mr. Lincoln because he
goesfor the equality of races, holding that in the Declaration of Lidependence
the white man and negro were declared equal, and endowed by divine law



Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 60 of 91)