Abraham Lincoln.

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

. (page 64 of 91)
Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 64 of 91)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


the pockets of all the benevolence we have amongst us, without
going abroad in search of negroes, of whose condition we know
nothing. We have enough objects of charity at home, and it is our
duty to take care of our own poor, and our own suffering, before we
go abroad to intermeddle with other people's business.

My friends, I am told that my time is within two minutes of ex-
piring. I have omitted many topics that I would like to have dis-
cussed before you at length. There were many points touched by
Mr. Lincoln that I have not been able to take up for the want of time.
I have hurried over each subject that I have discussed as rapidly as
possible, so as to omit but few; but one hour and a half is not time
sufficient for a man to discuss at length one half of the great ques-
tions which are now dividing the public mind.

In conclusion, I desire to return to you my grateful acknowledg-
ments for the kindness and the courtesy with which you have listened
to me. It is something remarkable that in an audience as vast as
this, composed of men of opposite politics and views, with their pas-
sions highly excited, there should be so much courtesy, kindness, and
respect exhibited not only toward one another, but toward the speak-
ers, and I feel that it is due to you that I should thus express my
gratitude for the kindness with which you have treated me.



480 ADDRESSES AND LETTEKS OF ABEAHAM LINCOLN



Mr. Lincoln's Rejoinder in the Quincy Joint Debate.

My Friends : Since Judge Douglas has said to you in his conclu-
sion that he had not time m an hour and a half to answer all I had
said in an hour, it follows of course that I will not be able to answer
in half an hour aU that he said in an hour and a half.

I wish to return to Judge Douglas my profound thanks for his
public annunciation here to-day to be put on record, that his system
of policy in regard to the institution of slavery contemplates that it

- shall last forever. We are getting a little nearer the true issue of
this controversy, and I am profoundly grateful for this one sentence.
Judge Douglas asts you, " Why cannot the institution of slavery, or

- rather, why cannot the nation, part slave and part free, continue- as
our fathers made it forever 1" In the first place, I insist that our
fathers did not make this nation half slave and half free, or part
slave and part free. I insist that they found the institution of

^ slavery existing here. They did not make it so, but they left it so

- because they knew of no way to get rid of it at that time. When
Judge Douglas undertakes to say that, as a matter of choice, the
fathers of the government made this nation part slave and part free,
he assumes what is historically a falsehood. More than that: when
the fathers of the government cut off the source of slavery by the
abolition of the slave-trade, and adopted a system of restricting it
from the new Territories where it had not existed, I maintain that
they placed it where they understood, and all sensible men under-

_ stood, it was in the course of ultimate extinction; and when Judge
Douglas asks me why it cannot continue as our fathers made it, I ask
him why he and his friends could not let it remain as our fathers
made it?

It is precisely all I ask of him in relation to the institution of
slavery, that it shall be placed upon the basis that our fathers placed
it upon. Mr. Brooks, of South Carolina, once said, and truly said,
that when this government was estabhshed, no one expected "the in-
stitution of slavery to last until this day ; and that the men who
formed this government were wiser and better than the men of
these days; but the men of these days had experience which the
fathers had not, and that experience had taught them the invention
of the cotton-gin, and this had made the perpetuation of the institu-
tion of slavery a necessity in this country. Judge Douglas could
not let it stand upon the basis where our fathers placed it, but re-
moved it, and put it upon the cotton-gin basis. It is a question,
therefore, for him and his friends to answer — why they could not let
it remain where the fathers of the government originally placed it.

I hope nobody has understood me as trying to sustain the doctrine
that we have a right to quarrel with Kentucky or Virginia, or any
of the slave States, about the institution of slavery — thus giving the
judge an opportunity to make himself eloquent and valiant against
us in fightino- for their rights. I expressly declared in my opening
speech that I had neither the inclination to exercise, nor the belief in
the existence of, the right to interfere with the States of Kentucky or



ADDRESSES AND LETTERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN 481

Virginia in doing as they pleased with slavery or any other existing
institution. Then what becomes of all his eloquence in behalf of the
rights of States, which are assailed by no living man ?

Bat I have to hurry on, for I have but a half-hour. The judge
has informed me, or informed this audience, that the Washington
"Union" is laboring for my election to the United States Senate.
This is news to me — not very ungrateful news either. [Turning to
Mr. W. H. Carlin, who was on the stand:] I hope that Carlin will be
elected to the State Senate and will vote for me. [Mr. Carlin shook
his head.] Carlin don't fall in, I perceive, and I suppose he will not
do much for me; but I am glad of all the support I can get anywhere,
if I can get it without practising any deception to obtain it. In re-
spect to this large portion of Judge Douglas's speech, in which he
tries to show that in the controversy between himself and the ad-
ministration party he is in the right, I do not feel myself at all com-
petent or inclined to answer him. 1 saj^ to him, Give it to them —
give it to them just all you can ; and, on the other hand, I say to Car-
lin, and Jake Davis, and to this man Wagley up here in Hancock,
Give it to Douglas — just pour it into him.

Now in regard to this matter of the Dred Scott decision, I wish to
say a word or two. After all, the judge will not say whether, if a
decision is made holding that the people of the States cannot ex-
clude slavery, he will support it or not. He obstinately refuses to
say what he will do in that case. The judges of the Supreme Court
as obstinately refused to say what they would do on this subject.
Before this I reminded him that at Galesburg he said the judges
had expressly declared the contrary, and you remember that in my
opening speech I told him I had the book containing that de-
cision here, and I would thank him to lay his finger on the place
where any such thing was said. He has occupied his hour and a
half, and he has not ventured to try to sustain his assertion. He
never will. But he is desirous of knowing how we are going to re-
verse the Dred Scott decision. Judge Douglas ought to know how.
Did not he and his political friends find a way to reverse the deci-
sion of that same court in favor of the constitutionality of the national
bank ? Did n't they find a way to do it so effectually that they have
reversed it as completely as any decision ever was reversed, so far as
its practical operation is concerned? And, let me ask you, did n't
Judge Douglas find a way to reverse the decision of our Supreme
Court, when it decided that Carlin's father — old Governor Carlin
— had not the constitutional power to remove a secretary of state?
Did he not appeal to the " mobs," as he calls them ? Did he not make
speeches in the lobby to show how villainous that decision was, and
how it ought to be overthrown ? Did he not succeed, too, in getting
an act passed by the legislature to have it overthrown? And did n't
he himself sit down on that bench as one of the five added judges
who were to overslaugh the four old ones — getting his name of
" judge " in that way and in no other ? If there is a villainy in using
disrespect or making opposition to Supreme Court decisions, I com-
mend it to Judge Douglas's earnest consideration. I know of no man
in the State of Illinois who ought to know so well about how much
Vol. I.— 31.



482 ADDRESSES AND LETTERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN

villainy it tates to oppose a decision of the Supreme Conrt, as our
honorable friend, Stephen A. Douglas.

Judge Douglas also makes the declaration that I say the Demo-
crats are bound by the Dred Scott decision, while the Repubhcans
are not. In the sense in which he argues, I never said it ; but I will
tell you what I have said and what I do not hesitate to repeat to-day.
I have said that, as the Democrats believe that decision to be correct,
and that the extension of slavery is affirmed in the National Consti-
tution, they are bound to support it as such ; and I will tell you here
that General Jackson once said each man was bound to support the
Constitution, " as he understood it." Now, Judge Douglas under-
stands the Constitution according to the Dred Scott decision, and
he is bound to support it as he understands it. I understand it an-
other way, and therefore I am bound to support it in the way in
which I understand it. And as Judge Douglas believes that decision
to be correct, I will remake that argument if I have time to do so.
Let me talk to some gentleman down there among you who looks
me in the face. "We will say you are a member of the territorial
legislature, and, like Judge Douglas, you believe that the right to
take and hold slaves there is a constitutional right. The first thing
you do is to swear you will support the Constitution and all rights
guaranteed therein ; that you will, whenever your neighbor needs
your legislation to support his constitutional rights, not withhold
that legislation. If you withhold that necessary legislation for
the support of the Constitution and constitutional rights, do you
not commit perjury? I ask every sensible man if that is not
so? That is undoubtedly just so, say what you please. Now, that
is precisely what Judge Douglas says — that this is a constitutional
right. Does the judge mean to say that the territorial legislature in
legislating may, by withholding necessary laws or by passing un-
friendly laws, nullify that constitutional right ? Does he mean to say
that! Does he mean to ignore the proposition, so long and well estab-
lished in law, that what you cannot do directly, you cannot do indi-
rectly? Does he mean that? The truth about the matter is this: Judge
Douglas has sung pseans to his " popular sovereignty " doctrine until
his Supreme Court, cooperating with him, has squatted his squatter
sovereignty out. But he will keep up this species of humbuggeiy
about squatter sovereignty. He has at last invented this sort of do-
nothing sovereignty — that the people may exclude slavery by a
sort of " sovereignty" that is exercised by doing nothing at all. Is
not that running his popular sovereignty down awfully? Has it
not got down as thin as the homeopathic soup that was made by boil-
ing the shadow of a pigeon that had starved to death ? But at last,
when it is brought to the test of close reasoning, there is not even
that thin decoction of it left. It is a presumption impossible in the
domain of thought. It is precisely no other than the putting of that
most unphilosophical proposition, that two bodies can occupy the
same space at the same time. The Dred Scott decision covers the
whole ground, and while it occupies it, there is no room even for
the shadow of a starved pigeon to occupy the same ground.

Judge Douglas, in reply to what I have said about having upon a



ADDEESSES AND LETTEKS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN 483

previous occasion made the same speecli at Ottawa as the one he took
an extract from at Charleston, says it only shows that I practised
the deception twice. Now, my friends, are any of you obtuse
enough to swallow that? Judge Douglas had said I had made
a speech at Charleston that I would not make up north, and I turned
around and answered him by showing I had made that same speech
up north — had made it at Ottawa — made it in his hearing — made it
in the Abolition district — in Lovejoy's district — in the personal
presence of Lovejoy himself — in the same atmosphere exactly in
which I had made my Chicago speech, of which he complains so much.
Now, in relation to my not having said anything about the quo-
tation from the Chicago speech. He thinks that is a terrible sub-
ject for me to handle. Why, gentlemen, I can show you that the
substance of the Chicago speech I delivered two years ago in
"Egypt," as he calls it. It was down at Springfield. That speech
is here in this book, and I could turn to it and read it to you but
for the lack of time. I have not now the time to read it. [" Read
it, read it."] No, gentlemen, I am obliged to use discretion in dis-
posing most advantageously of my brief time. The judge has taken
great exception to my adopting the heretical statement in the Declar-
ation of Independence, that "all men are created equal," and he has a
great deal to say about negro equality. I want to say that in some-
times alluding to the Declaration of Independence, I have onlyuttered
the sentiments that Henry Clay used to hold. Allow me to occupy
your time a moment with what he said. Mr. Clay was at one time
called upon in Indiana, and in a way that I suppose was very insult-
ing, to liberate his slaves, and he made a written reply to that appli-
cation, and one portion of it is in these words :

What is the foundation of this appeal to me in Indiana to liberate the
slaves under my care in Kentucky f It is a general declaration in the act
announcing to the world the independence of the thirteen American
colonies, that "men are created equal." Now, as an abstract principle,
there is no doubt of the truth of that declaration, and it is desirable in the
original construction of society, and in organized societies, to keep it in.
view as a great fundamental principle.

When I sometimes, in relation to the organization of new societies
in new countries, where the soil is clean and clear, insist that we
should keep that principle in view. Judge Douglas wUl have it that
I want a negro wife. He never can be brought to understand that
there is any middle ground on this subject. I have lived until my
fiftieth year, and have never had a negro woman either for a slave
or a wife, and I think I can live fifty centuries, for that matter, with-
out having had one for either. I maintain that you may take Judge
Douglas's quotations from my Chicago speech, and from my Charles-
ton speech, and the Galesburg speech, — in his speech of to-day, — and
compare them over, and I am willing to trust them with you upon
his proposition that they show rascality or double-dealing. I deny
that they do.

The judge does not seem disposed to have peace, but I find he is
disposed to have a personal warfare with me. He says that my oath
would not be taken against the bare word of Charles H. Lanphier



484 ADDRESSES AND LETTEES OF ABEAHAM LIKCOLN

or Thomas L. Harris. Well, that is altogether a matter of opinion.
It is certainly not for me to vaunt my word against the oaths of
these gentlemen, but I wiU tell Judge Douglas again the facts upon
which I "dared" to say they proved a forgery. I pointed out at
Galesburg that the publication of these resolutions in the Illinois
" State Register" could not have been the result of accident, as the
proceedings of that meeting bore unmistakable evidence of being
done by a man who knew it was a forgery; that it was a publication
partly taken fromlhe real proceedings of the convention, and partly
from the proceedings of a convention at another place; which showed
that he had the real proceedings before him, and, taking one part of
the resolutions, he threw out another part, and substituted false and
fraudulent ones in their stead. I pointed that out to him, and also
that his friend Lanphier, who was editor of the " Register" at that
time and now is, must have known how it was done. Now whether
he did it, or got some friend to do it for him, I could not tell, but he
certainly knew all about it. I pointed out to Judge Douglas that in
his Freeport speech he had promised to investigate that matter.
Does he now say he did not make that promise? I have a right to
ask why he did not keep it? I call upon him to tell here to-day why
he did not keep that promise ? That fraud has been traced up so that
it lies between him, Harris, and Lanphier. There is little room for
escape for Lanphier. Lanphier is doing the judge good service, and
Douglas desires his word to be taken for the truth. He desires Lan-
phier to be taken as authority in what he states in his newspaper.
He desires Harris to be taken as a man of vast credibility, and when
this thing lies among them, they will not press it to show where the
guilt really belongs. Now, as he has said that he would investigate
it, and implied that he would tell us the result of his investigation, I
demand of him to tell why he did not investigate it, if he did not;
and if he did, why he won't tell the result. I call upon him for that.

This is the third time that Judge Douglas has assumed that he
learned about these resolutions by Harris's attempting to use them
against Norton on the floor of Congress. I tell Judge Douglas the
public records of the country show that he himself attempted it
upon Trumbull a month before Harris tried them on Norton — that
Harris had the opportunity of learning it from him, rather than he
from Harris. I now ask his attention to that part of the record on
the case. My friends, I am not disposed to detain you longer in
regard to that matter.

I am told that I still have five minutes left. There is another
matter I wish to call attention to. He says, when he discovered there
was a mistake in that case, he came forward magnanimously, with-
out my calling his attention to it, and explained it. I will tell you
how he became so magnanimous. When the newspapers of our side
had discovered and published it, and put it beyond his power to
deny it, then he came forward and made a virtue of necessity by
acknowledging it. Now he argues that all the point there was in
those resolutions, although never passed at Springfield, is retained
by their being passed at other localities. Is that true? He said
I had a hand in passing them, in his opening speech; that I was in



ADDRESSES AND LETTERS OF ABEAHAM LINCOLN 485

bhe convention, and helped to pass them. Do the resolutions touch
me at all 1 It strikes me there is some difference between holding
a man responsible for an act which he has not done, and holding him
responsible for an act that he has done. You will judge whether
there is any difference in the " spots." And he has taken credit for
great magnanimity in coming forward and acknowledging what is
proved on him beyond even the capacity of Judge Douglas to deny,
and he has more capacity in that way than any other living man.

Then he wants to know why I won't withdraw the charge in re-
gard to a conspiracy to make slavery national, as he had withdrawn
the one he made. May it please his worship, I will withdraw it when
it is proven false on me as that was proven false on him. I will add
a httle more than that. I will withdraw it whenever a reasonable
man shall be brought to believe that the charge is not true. I have
asked Judge Douglas's attention to certain matters of fact tending
to prove the charge of a conspiracy to nationalize slavery, and he
says he convinces me that this is all untrue, because Buchanan was
not in the country at that time, and because the Dred Scott case had
not then got into the Supreme Coiirt; and he says that I say the
Democratic owners of Dred Scott got up the case. I never did say
that. I defy Judge Douglas to show that I ever said so, for I never
uttered it. [One of Mr. Douglas's reporters gesticulated affirma-
tively at Mr. Lincoln.] I don't care if your hireling does say I did.
I teli you myself that I never said the " Democratic " owners of Dred
Scott got up the case. I have never pretended to know whether
Dred Scott's owners were Democrats or Abolitionists, Free-soilers or
Border Ruffians. I have said that there is evidence about the case
tending to show that it was a made-up case for the purpose of get-
ting that decision. I have said that that evidence was very strong in
the fact that when Dred Scott was declared to be a slave, the owner
of him made him free, showing that he had had the case tried, and
the question settled, for such nse as could be made of that decision ;
he cared nothing about the property thus declared to be his by that
decision. But my time is out, and I can say no more.

October 15, 1858. — The Seventh and Last Joint Debate,
AT Alton, Illinois.

Senator Douglas's Opening Speech.

Ladies and Gentlemen: It is now nearly four months since the
canvass between Mr. Lincoln and myself commenced. On the 16th
of June the Republican convention assembled at Springfield, and
nominated Mr. Lincoln as their candidate for the United States
Senate, and he, on that occasion, delivered a speech in which he laid
down what he understood to be the Republican creed, and the plat-
form on which he proposed to stand during the contest. The prin-
cipal points in that speech of Mr. Lincoln's were : First, that this
government could not endure permanently divided into free and
slave States, as our fathers made it; that they must all become free
or all become slave; aU become one thing or all become the other.



^\



486 ADDEESSES AND LETTERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN

otherwise this UBion could not continue to exist. I give you his
opinions almost in the identical language he used. His second prop-
osition was a crusade against the Supreme Court of the United
States, because of the Dred Scott decision; urging as an especial
reason for his opposition to that decision that it deprived the negroes
of the rights and benefits of that clause in the Constitution of the
United States which guarantees to the citizens of each State all the
rights, privileges, and immunities of the citizens of the several States.
On the 10th of July I returned home, and delivered a speech to the
people of Chicago, in which I announced it to be my purpose to ap-
peal to the people of Illinois to sustain the course 1 had pursued in
Congress. In that speech I joined issue with Mr. Lincoln on the
points which he had presented. Thus there was an issue clear and
distinct made up between us on these two propositions laid down in
the speech of Mr. Lincoln at Springfield, and controverted by me in
my reply to him at Chicago. On the next day, the 11th of July, Mr.
Lincoln replied to me at Chicago, explaining at some length, and re-
affirming the positions which he had taken in his Springfield speech.
In that Chicago speech he even went further than he had before, and
uttered sentiments in regard to the negro being on an equality with
the white man. He adopted in support of this position the argument
which Lovejoy, and Codding, and other Abolition lecturers had made
familiar in the northern and central portions of the State, to wit:
that the Declaration of Independence having declared all men free
and equal by Divine law, negro equality was also an inalienable
right, of which they could not be deprived. He insisted, in that
speech, that the Declaration of Independence included the negro in
the clause asserting that all men were created equal, and went so far
as to say that if one man was allowed to take the position that it did
not include the negro, others might take the position that it did not
include other men. He said that all these distinctions between this
man and that man, this race and the other race, must be discarded,
and we must all stand by the Declaration of Independence, declaring
that all men were created equal.

The issue thus being made up between Mr. Lincoln and myself
on three points, we went before the people of the State. During
the following seven weeks, between the Chicago speeches and our
first meeting at Ottawa, he and I addressed large assemblages of the
people in many of the central counties. In my speeches iconfined
myself closely to those three positions which he had taken, contro-
verting his proposition that this Union could not exist as our fathers
made it, divided into free and slave States, controverting his prop-
osition of a crusade against the Supreme Court because of the Dred
Scott decision, and controverting his proposition that the Declara-
tion of Independence included and meant the negroes as well as the
white men, when it declared all men to be created equal. I supposed



Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 64 of 91)