Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln's stories and speeches : including early life stories, professional life stories, White House incidents, war reminiscences, etc. ... online

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Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln's stories and speeches : including early life stories, professional life stories, White House incidents, war reminiscences, etc. ... → online text (page 21 of 28)
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as well as South.

In this paragraph which I have quoted in your hearing,
and to which I ask the attention of all. Judge Douglas
thinks he discovered great political heresy. I want your
attention particularly to what he has inferred from it. He
says; Lam in favor of making all the States of the Union
uniforiii. He draws this inference from the language I
have quoted to you.

He says that I am in favor of making war by the North
upon the South for the extinction of slavery; that I am



also in favor of inviting, as he expresses it, the South to a
war upon the North, for the purpose of nationalizing slav-
ery. Now, it is singular enough, if you will carefully
read the passage over, that I did not say that I was in f a-


vorof any such thing in it. I only said what I expected
would take place.

I made a prediction only — it may have been a foolish
one perhaps. I did not even say that I desired that slav-

372 Lincoln's stories and speeches.

ery should be put in course of ultimate extinction. I do^
say so, now, however, so there need be no longer any
difficulty about that. It may be written down in the
next speech.

Gentlemen, Judge Douglas informed you that this
speech of mine was probably carefully prepared. I ad-
mit that it was. I am not master of language; I have-
not a fine education; I am not capable of entering into a
disquisition upon dialects, as I believe you call it; but I
don't believe the language I employed bears any such con-
struction as Judge Douglas puts upon it.

But I don't care about a quibble in regard to words. I
know what I meant, and I will not leave this crowd in
doubt, if I can explain it to them, what I really meant
in the use of that paragraph .

I am not, in the first place, unaware that this govern-
ment has endured eighty-two years half slave and half
free. I know that, I am tolerably well acquainted with
the history of the country, and I know that it has endur-
ed eighty-two years half slave and half free. I believe —
and that is what I meant to allude to here — I believe it
has endured, because during all that time, until the in-
troduction of the Nebraska bill, the public mind did rest
all the time in the belief that slavery was in the course of
ultimate extinction.

That was what gave us the rest that we had during that
j)eriod of eighty-two years; at least, so I believe. I have
always hated slavery, I think, as much as any Abolition-
ist. I have been an old line Whig. I have always hated
it, but I have always been quiet about it until this new
era of the introduction of the Nebraska bill began. I have
always believed that everybody was against it, and that


it was in the course of ultimate extinction. [Pointing to
Mr. Browning, who stood near by:] Browning thought
so; the great mass of the nation have rested in the belief
that slavery was in course of ultimate extinction. They
had reason so to believe.

The adoption of the Constitution and its attendant his-
tory led the people to believe so; and that such was the
(belief of the framers of the Constitution itself.

Why did those old men, about the time of the adop-
tion of the Constitution, decree that slavery should not
..go into the new territory, where it had not already gone.?
Why declare that within twenty years the African slave
trade, by which slaves are supplied, might be cut off by
Congress.' Why were all these acts.'

I might enumerate more of such acts; but enough.

What were they but a clear indication that the framers
'Of the Constitution intended and expected the ultimate
•extinction of that institution.' (Cheers.)

And now when I say, as I said in this speech that
Judge Douglas has quoted from, when I say that I think
the opponents of slavery will resist the further spread of
it, and place it were the public mind shall rest with the
belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction. I
■only meant to say, that they will place it where the
foundation of this Government originally placed it.

I have said a hundred times, I have no inclination to
take it back that I believe there is no right, and ought to
be no inclination of the people of the free States to enter
into the slave States, and to interfere with the question
of slavery at all. I have said that always. Judge Doug-
Jas has heard me say it, if not quite a hundred times, at
/least as good as a hundred times; and when it is said that

374 Lincoln's stories and speeches.

I am in favor of interferiug with slavery where it existSy
I know it is unwarranted by anything I have ever intend-
ed, and, as I believe, by anything I have ever used lan-
guage which could be fairly so constructed (as, however,.
I believe I never have), I now correct it.

So much, then, for the inference that Judge Douglas
draws, that I am in favor of setting the sections at war
with one another . I know that I never meant any such
thing, and I believe that no fair mind can infer any such
thing, from anything I have ever said.


Now in relation to his inference that I am in favor of a
general consolidation of all the various institutions of the
various States, I will attend to that for a little while,
and try to inquire, if I can, how on earth it could be that
any man could draw such an inference from anything I

I have said, very many times, in Judge Douglas hear-
ing, that no man believed more than I in the principle of
self-government, from beginningto end. I have denied
his use of that term applied properly. But for the
thing itself, I deny that any man has gone ahead of me
in his devotion to the principle, whatever he may have
done in efficiency in advocating it.

I think that I have said in your hearing — that I be-
lieve each individual' is naturally entitled to do as he
pleases with himself and the fruit of his labor, so far as it
in no wise interferes with any other man's rights — [ap-
plause] that each community, or a State, has a right to
do exactly as it pleases with the concerns within that
State that interfere with the right of no other State, and


that the General Government, upon principle, has no
right to interfere with anything other than that general
class of things that does concern the whole. I have said
that at all times.

I have said as illustrations, that I do not believe in the
right of Illinois to interfere with the cranberry laws of
Indiana, the oyster laws of Virginia, or the liquor laws of
Maine. , I have said these things over ana over again,
and I repeat them here as my sentiments.

So much then as to my disposition, my wish, to have all
the State Legislatures blotted out, and a uniformity of
domestic regulations in all the States; by which I suppose
it is meant, if we raise corn here, we must make sugar-
cane too, and we must make those which grow North
grow in the South. All this I suppose he understands, I
am in favor of doing.

Now so much for all this nonsense; for I must call it
so. The Judge can have no issue with me on a question
of established uniformity in the domestic regulations of
the State.


A little now on the other point; the Dred Scott decis-
ion. Another of the issues he says that is to be made
with me, is upon his devotion to the Dred Scott decis-
ion, and my opposition to it.

I have expressed heretofore, and I now repeat my op-
position to the Dred Scott decision, but I should be al-
lowed to state the nature of that opposition, and I ask
your indulgence while I do so. What is fairly iniplied
by the term which Judge Douglas has used, ' 'resistance
to the decision?" I do not resist it. If I wanted to take

376 Lincoln's stqr[es and speeches.

Dred Scott from his master, I would be interfering with
property, and thrft terrible difficulty that Judge Douglas
speaks of, of interfering with property would arise.

But I am doing no such thing as that, but all that I am
doing is refusing to obey it as a political rule. If I were
in Congress and a vote should come up on a question
whether slavery should be prohibited in a new Territory,
in spite of the Dred Scott decision, I would vote that
it should.

That is what I would do. Judge Douglas said last
night, that before the decision he might advance his
opinion, and it might be contrary to the decision when it
was made; but after it was made he would abide by it
until it was reversed. Just so! We let this property
abide by the decision, but we will try to reverse that de-
cision. (Loud applause.)

We will try to put it where Judge Douglas will not ob-
ject, for he says he will obey it until it is reversed.
Somebody has to reverse that decision, since it was made,
and we mean to reverse it, and we mean to do it peace-

What are the uses of decisions of courts.' They have
two uses. As rules of property they have two uses.
First ; they decide upon the question before the court.
They decide in this case that Dred Scott is a slave.
Nobody resists that. Not only that, but they say to
everybody else, that persons standing just as Dred Scott
stands, is as he is. That is, that when a question comes
up upon another person, it will be so decided again un-
less the court decides in another way, unless the court
overrules its decision. (Renewed applause.) Well, we


mean to do what we can to have the court decide the
other way. That is one thing we mean to try to do.

The sacredness that Judge Douglas throws around this
decision, is a degree of sacredness that has never been
before thrown around any other decision. I have never
heard of such a thing. Why, decisions n apparently con-
trary to that decision, or good lawyers thought were con-
trary to that decision, have been made by that very
court before. It is the first of its kind; it is an astonish-
er in legal history. It is a new wonder of the world, it
is based on falsehoods in the main as to the facts; alle-
gations of facts upon which it stands are not facts at all
in many instances, and no decision made on any ques-
tion; the first instance of a decision made under so many
unfavorable circumstances; thus placed, has ever been
held by the profession as law, and it has always needed
"onfirmation before the lawyers regarded it as law. But
judge Douglas would have it that all hands must take
this extraordinary decision, made under these extraordin-
ary circumstances, and give their vote in congress in ac-
cori^nce with it, yield to it and obey it in every possible

Circumstances alter cases. Do not gentlemen here re-
member the case of that Supreme Court, twenty-five ol
thirty years ago, deciding that a National Bank was Con-
stitutional.'' I ask, if somebody does not remember that
a National Bank was declared to be Constitutional?
Such is the truth, whether it be remembered or not. The
bank charter ran out, and a re-charter was granted.
That re-charter was laid before General Jackson.

It was urged upon him, when he d&niiBd-^lie constitu-
tionality of the bank, that the Supreme Court had decid-

378 Lincoln's stories and speeches.

edthat it was constitutional; and that General Jackson
then said that the Supreme Court had no right to lay
down a rule to govern a co-ordinate branch of the Gov-
ernment, the members of which have sworn to support
the Constitution; that each member had sworn to sup-
port that Constitution as he understood it.

I will venture here to say, that I have heard Judge
Douglas say that he approved of General Jackson for that

act. What has now become of all his tirade about
sistence to the Supreme Court?"



We were often; more than Qnce, at least; in the course
ef Jiidge Douglas' speech last night, reminded that this
Government was made for white men; that he believed


it was made for white men. Well that is putting it into
a shape in which no one wants to deny it; but the Judge-
then goes into his passion for drawing inferences that are
not warranted.

I protest, now and forever, against that counterfeit
logic which presumes that because I did not want a
negro woman for a slave, I do not necessarily want her
for a wife. My understanding is that I need not have
her for either; but as God made us separate, we can leave-
one another alone, and do one another much good

There are white men enough to marry all the white
women, and enough black men to marry all the black,
women, and in God's name let them be so married. The-
Judge regales us with the terrible enormities that take
place by the mixture of races; that the inferior race bears
the superior down. Why, Judge, if you do not let themi
get together in the Territories they won't mix there!

A voice; "Three cheers for Lincoln." (The cheers
were given with a hearty good will.

Mr. L. — I should say at least that this is a self evident

Now, it happens that we meet together once every
year some time about the Fourth of July, for some rea-
son or other . These Fourth of July gatherings I sup-
pose have their uses. If you will indulge me, I will state
what 1 suppose to be some of them.


We are now a mighty nation; we are thirty; or about
thirty millions of people, and we own and inhabit about
one-fifteenth part of the dry land of the whole earth.

38o Lincoln's stories and speeches.

We run our memory back over the pages of history for
about eighty-two years, and we discover that we were
then a very small people in point of numbers, vastly in-
ferior to what we are now, with a vastly less extent of
■country, with vastly less of everything we deem desirable
among men; we look upon the change as exceedingly ad-
vantageous to us and to our prosterity, and we fix upon
something that happened away back, as in some way or
other being connected with this rise of prosperity.

We find a race of men living in that day whom we
■claim as our fathers and grandfathers; they were iron
men; they fought for the principle that they were con-
tending for; and we understood that by what they then
-did it has followed that the degree of prosperity which we ■
now enjoy has come to us.

We hold this annual celebration to remind ourselves of
all the good done in this process of time, of how it was
done and who did it, and how we are historically con-
nected with it; and we go from these meetings in better
ihumor with ourselves; we feel more attached the one to
the other, and" more firmly bound to the country we

In every way we are better men ift the age, and race,
and country in which we live, for these celebrations.
But after we have done all this, we have not yet reached
the whole. There is something else connected with it. "

We have, besides these; men descended by blood from
■our ancestors; those among us, perhaps half our people,
who are not descendents at all of these men; they are men
who have come from Europe; German, Irish, French and
Scandinavian; men thatvhave come from Europe them-
selves," or whose ancestors who have come hither and


settled here, finding themselves our equals in all things.
If they look back through this history to trace their
connection with those days of blood, they find they have
none, they cannot carry themselves back into that glor-
ious epoch and make themselves feel they are part of us;
but when they look through that old Declaration of In-
dependence, they find that those old men say that "We
hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are
created equal, " and then they feel that that moral senti-
ment, taught on that day, evidences' their relation to.
those men, that it is the father of all moral principle in
them, and that they have a right to claim it as though
they were the blood of the blood and flesh of the flesh of
the men who wrote that Declaration [loud and long con-
tinued applause], and so they were.

That is the electric cord in that Declaration that links
the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together,
that will link those patriotic hearts as long as' the love of
freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world.
(Applause. )


Now, sirs, for the purpose of squaring things with this
idea of "don't care if slavery is voted up or voted down,"
for sustaining the Dred Scott decision, for holding that
the Declaration of Independence did not mean anything
at all, we have Judge Douglas^ giving his exposition of
what the Declaration of Independence means and we have
him saying that the pebple of America are equal to the
people of England. According to his construction, you
Germans are not connected with it.

Now I ask you in all soberness, if all these things, if

382 Lincoln's stories and speeches.

indulged in, if ratified, if confirmed and indorsed, if taught
to our children and repeated to them, do not tend to rub
out the sentiment of liberty in the country, and to trajis-
iorm this Government into a government of some other

These arguments that are made that the inferior race
are to be treated with as much allowance as they are
-capable of enjoying; that as much is to be done for thenj as
■'their condition will allow; what are these arguments?
they are the arguments that Kings have made for enslav-
ing the people in all ages of the world.

You will find that all arguments in favor of King-craft
Tvere of this class; they always bestrode the necks of the
people, not that they wanted to do it. but because the
[people were .better off for being ridden.

That is their argument, and this argument of the Judge
is the same old serpent that says: You work and I eat;
■you toil and I will enjoy the fruits of it.

Turn it whatever way you will: whether it comes from
the mouth of a King, an excuse for enslaving the people
■of his country, or from the mouth of men from one race
as the reason for enslaving- the men of another race, it is
-alltlje same old serpent, and I hold if that course of
■argumentation that is made for the purpose of convincing
the public mind that we should not care about this, should
be granted, it does not stop with the negro.

I should like to know, if taking this old Declaration
of Independence, which declares that all men are equal
■upon principle, you begin making exceptions to it, where
you will stop.' If one man says it does not mean a ne-
■gro, why not another man say it does not mean some
'Other man! If that declaration is not the trnth, let us


get the statute book, in which we find it, and tear it out?
If it is not true, let us tear it out! [cries of "no, no'"]; let
us stick to it then; let us stand by it then. (Applause.)
It may be argued that there are certain conditions that
make necessities and impose them upon us, and to the
extent that a necessity is imposed upon a man, he must
submit to it. I think that was the condition in which we
found ourselves when we established this Government.
We have slaves among us; we could not get our Consti-,
tution unless we permitted them to remain in slavery; we
could not secure the good we did secure if we grasped for
more: and having; by necessity, submitted to that much,
it does not destroy the principle that is the charter of our
liberties. Let that charter stand as our standard.


My friend has said to me that I ani a poor hand to
quote Scripture. I will try it again, however. It is said
in one of the admonitions of our Lord: "As your Father
in Heaven is perfect, be ye also perfect."

The Savior, I suppose, did not expect that any human
creature could be as perfect as the Father in Heaven; but
He said: As your Father in Heaven is perfect, be ye
also perfect.

He set that up as a standard, arid he who did most
toward reaching that standard, attained the highest de-

384 Lincoln's stories and speeches.

gree of moral perfection. So I say in relation to the
principle that all men are created equal, let it be as near-
ly reached as we can. If we cannot give freedom to
every creature, let us do nothing that will impose slavery
upon any other creature. (Applause.) Let us then
turn this Government back into the channel in which the


framers of the Constitution originally placed it . Let us
stand firmly by each other. If we do not do so we are
turning in the contrary direction, that our friend Judge
Douglas proposes; not intentionally; as working in the
traces tends to make this one universal slave nation.
He is one that runs in that direction, and as suclj I resist


My friends, I have detained you about as long as I de-
sire 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 through-
out this land, until we shall once more stand up declaring
that all men are created equal.

My friends, I could not, without launching off upon
some new topic, which would detain you too. long, con-
tinue to-night. I thank you for this most extensive , au-
dience that you have furnished me to-night. I leave you,
hoping that the lamp of liberty will burn in your bosoms
until there shall no longer be a dbnbt that all men are
created free and equal.

' 386 Lincoln's stories and speeches.


Lincoln's Position Defined on the Questions of
the Day.

[Delivered at Freeport, 111., July, 1858.]

Ladies and Gentlemen: — On Saturday last. Judge
Douglas and myself first met in public discussion. He
spoke one hour, I an hour and a half, and he replied for
half an hour. The order is now reversed. I am to speak
an hour, he an hour and a half, and then I am to reply
for half on hour. I propose to devote myself during the
first hour to the scope of what was brought within the
range of his half hour speech at Ottawa. Of course
there was brought within the scope of that half-hour's
speech something of his own opening speech. In the
course of that opening argiiment, Judge Douglas propos-
ed to nie seven different interrogatories.

In my speech of an hour and a half, I attended to some
other parts of his speech; and incidentally, as I thought,
answered one of the interrogatories then. I then dis-
tinctly intimated to him that I would answer the rest of
his interrogatories on condition only that he should agree

Douglas' questions answered. 38.7

to answer as many for me. He made no intimation at
the time of the proposition, nor did he in his reply al-
lude at all to that suggestion of mine. I do him no in-
justice in saying that he occupied at least half of his re-
ply in dealing with me as though I had refused to answer
his interrogatories. I now propose that I will answer
any of the interrogatories, upon condition that he will
answer questions from me not exceeding the same num-
ber, I give him an opportunity to respond. I now say
that I will answer his interrogatories, whether he answers
mine or not [applause]; and that after I have done so, I
will propound mine to him. [Applause.]

I have supposed myself, since the organization of the
Republican party at Bloomington, in May, 1856, bound
as a party man by the platform of the pa'rty, then and
since. If in any interrogatories which I shall answer I
go beyond the scope of what is in these platforms, it
will be perceived that no one is responsible but my-

Having said this much, I will take up the Judge's in-
terrogatories as I find them printed in the Chicago Times,
.and answer them seriatim. In order that there may be
no mistake about it, I have copied the interrogatories in
writing, and also my answers to them. The first one of
these interrogatories is in these words:

Q. I. "I desire to know whether Lincoln to-day
stands, as he did in 1854, iji favor of the unconditional
repeal of the Fugitive Slave Law.?"

A. I do not now, nor never did, stand in favor of the
•unconditional repeal of the Fugutive Slave Law.

Q. 2. I desire him to answer whether he stands
pledged to-day, as he did in 1854, against any more

388 Lincoln's stories and speeches.

slave States into the Union, even if the people want

A. I do not now, nor never did, stand pledged
against the admission of any more slave States into the

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Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln's stories and speeches : including early life stories, professional life stories, White House incidents, war reminiscences, etc. ... → online text (page 21 of 28)