George Washington Smith.

A history of southern Illinois : a narrative account of its historical progress, its people, and its principal interests (Volume v.1) online

. (page 39 of 65)
Online LibraryGeorge Washington SmithA history of southern Illinois : a narrative account of its historical progress, its people, and its principal interests (Volume v.1) → online text (page 39 of 65)
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point as upon any other point they really decided.

Now, my fellow-citizens, I will detain you only a little while longer.
My time is nearly out. I find a report of a speech made by Judge Doug-
las at Joliet, since we last met at Freeport published, I believe, in
the Missouri Republican on the 9th of this month in which Judge
Douglas says:

"You know at Ottawa, I read this platform, and asked him if he
concurred in each and all of the principles set forth in it. He would
not answer these questions. At last I said frankly, I wish you to an-
swer them, because when I get them up here where the color of your
principles are a little darker than in Egypt, I intend to trot you down
to Jonesboro. The very notice that I was going to take him down to
Egypt made him tremble in the knees so that he had to be carried from
the platform. He laid up seven days, and in the meantime held a con-
sultation with his political physicians; they had Lovejoy and Farns-
worth and all the leaders of the Abolition party they consulted it all
over, and at last Lincoln came to the conclusion that he would answer,
so he came up to Freeport last Friday."

Now that statement altogether furnishes a subject for philosophical
contemplation. I have been treating it in that way, and I have really
come to the conclusion that I can explain it in no other way than by
believing the Judge is crazy. If he was in his right mind, I cannot
conceive how he would have risked disgusting the four or five thousand
of his own friends who stood there, and knew, as to my having been
carried from the platform, that there was not a word of truth in it.

Judge Douglas "Didn't they carry you off?"

Mr. Lincoln There ; that question illustrates the character of this
man Douglas, exactly. He smiles now and says, "Didn't they carry
you off?" But he said then, "he had to be carried off;" and he said
it to convince the country that he had so completely broken me down
by his speech that I had to be carried away. Now he seeks to dodge it,
and asks. "Didn't they carry you off?" Yes. they did. But, Judge
Douglas, why didn't you tell the truth? I would like to know why


you didn't tell the truth about it. And then again, "He laid up seven
days." He puts this in print for the people of the country to read as a
serious document. I think if he had been in his sober senses he would
not have risked that barefacedness in the presence of thousands of his
own friends, who knew that I made speeches within six of the seven
days at Henry, Marshall county; Augusta, Hancock county, and Ma-
comb, McDonough county, including all the necessary travel to meet
him again at Freeport at the end of the six days. Now, I say, there is
no charitable way to look at that statement, except to conclude that he
is actually crazy. There is another thing in that statement that
alarmed me very greatly as he states it, that he was going to "trot me
down to Egypt." Thereby he would have you to infer that I would
not come to Egypt unless he forced me that I could not be got here,
unless he, giant-like, had hauled me down here. That statement he
makes, too, in the teeth of the knowledge that I had made the stipulation
to come down here, and that he himself had been very reluctant to
enter into the stipulation. More than all this, Judge Douglas, when
he made that statement, must have been crazy, and wholly out of his
sober senses, or else he would have known that when he got me down
here that promise that windy promise of his powers to annihilate
me, wouldn't amount to anything. Now, how little do I look like being
carried away trembling? Let the Judge go on, and after he is done
with his half hour, I want you all, if I can 't go home myself, to let me
stay and rot here ; and if anything happens to the Judge, if I cannot
carry him to the hotel and put him to bed, let me stay here and rot. I
say, then, there is something extraordinary in this statement. I ask you
if you know any other living man who would make such a statement?
I will ask my friend Casey, over there, if he would do such a thing?
Would he send that out and have his men take it as the truth ? Did the
Judge talk of trotting me down to Egypt to scare me to death ? Why, I
know this people better than he does. I was raised just a little east of
here. I am a part of this people. But the Judge was raised further
north, and perhaps he has some horrid idea of what this people might
be induced to do. But really I have talked about this matter perhaps
longer than I ought, for it is no great thing, and yet the smallest are
often the most difficult things to deal with. The Judge has set about
seriously trying to make the impression that when we meet at different
places I am literally in his clutches that I am a poor, helpless, de-
crepit mouse, and that I can do nothing at all. This is one of the ways
he has taken to create that impression. I don't know any other way
to meet it, except this. I don't want to quarrel with him to call him
a liar but when I come square up to him I don't know n'hat else to
call him if I must tell the truth out. I want to be at peace, and reserve
all my fighting powers for necessary occasions. My time, now, is very
nearly out, and I give up the trifle that is left to the Judge, to let him
set my knees trembling again, if he can.


My friends, while I am very grateful to you for the enthusiasm
which you show for me, I will say in all candor, that your quietness
will tie much more agreeable than your applause, inasmuch as you de-
prive me of some part of my time whenever you cheer.


I will commence where Mr. Lincoln left off, and make a remark
upon this serious complaint of his about my speech at Joliet. I did
say there in a playful manner that when I put these questions to Mr.
Lincoln at Ottawa he failed to answer and that he trembled and had
to be carried off the stand, and required seven days to get up his reply.
That he did not walk off from the stand he will not deny. That when
the crowd went away from the stand with me, a few persons carried
him home on their shoulders and laid him down, he will admit. I wish
to say to you that whenever I degrade my friends and myself by allow-
ing them to carry me on their backs along through the public streets,
when I am able to walk, I a.m willing to be deemed crazy. I did not
say whether I beat him or he beat me in the argument. It is true I
put these questions to him, and I put them not as mere idle questions,
but showed that I based them upon the creed of the Black Republican
party as declared by their conventions in that portion of the state
which he depends upon to elect him, and desired to know whether he
indorsed that creed. He would not answer. When I reminded him
that I intended bringing him into Egypt and renewing my questions if
he refused to answer, he then consulted and did get up his answers
one week after, answers which I may refer to in a few minutes and
show you how equivocal they are. My object was to make him avow
whether or not he stood by the platform of his party ; the resolutions
I then read, and upon which I based my questions, had been adopted
by his party in the Galena congressional district, and the Chicago and
Bloomington congressional districts, composing a large majority of the
counties in this state that give Republican or Abolition majorities. Mr.
Lincoln cannot and will not deny that the doctrines laid down in these
resolutions were in substance put forth in Lovejoy's resolutions, which
were voted for by a majority of his party, some of them, if not all,
receiving the support of every man of his party. Hence, I laid a
foundation for my questions to him before I asked him whether that
was or was not the platform of his party. He says that he answered
my questions. One of them was whether he would vote to admit any
more slave states into the Union. The creed of the Republican party
as set forth in the resolutions of their various conventions was, that
they would under no circumstances vote to admit another slave state.
It was put forth in the Lovejoy resolutions in the legislature; it was
put forth and passed in a majority of all the counties of this state
which gave Abolition or Republican majorities, or elect members to the
legislature of that school of politics. I had a right to know whether
he would vote for or against the admission of another slave state in the
event the people wanted it. He first answered that he was not pledged
on the subject, and then said, "In regard to the other question, of
whether I am pledged to the admission of any more slave states into
the Union, I state to you very frankly that I would be exceedingly sorry
ever to be put in the position of having to pass on that question. I
should be exceedingly glad to know that there would never be another
slave state admitted into the Union ; but I must add that if slavery shall
be kept out of the territories during the territorial existence of any
one given territory, and then the people, having a fair chance and clean
field when they come to adopt a constitution, do such an extraordinary
thing as adopt a slave constitution, uninfluenced by the actual presence
of the institution among them, I see no alternative, if we own the
country, but to admit them into the Union."


Now analyze that answer. In the first place he says he would be
exceedingly sorry to be put in a position where he would have to vote
on the question of the admission of a slave state. Why is he a candi-
date for the senate if he would be sorry to be put in that position? I
trust the people of Illinois will not put him in a position which he
would be so sorry to occupy. The next position he takes is that he
would be glad to know that there would never be another slave state,
yet, in certain contingencies, he might have to vote for one. What is
that contingency ? "If congress keeps slavery out by law while it is a
territory, and then the people should have a fair chance and should
adopt slavery, uninfluenced by the presence of the institution," he
supposed he would have to admit the state. Suppose congress should
not keep slavery out during their territorial existence, then how would
he vote when the people applied for admission into the Union with a
slave constitution? That he does not answer, and that is the condition
of every territory we have now got. Slavery is not kept out of Kansas
by act of congress, and when I put the question to Mr. Lincoln, whether
he will vote for the admission with or without slavery, as her people
may desire, he will not answer, and you have not got an answer from
him. In Nebraska slavery is not prohibited by act of congress, but the
people are allowed, under the Nebraska bill, to do as they please on the
subject; and when I ask him whether he will vote to admit Nebraska
with a slave constitution if her people desire it, he will not answer.
So with New Mexico, Washington territory, Arizona, and the four new
states to be admitted from Texas. You cannot get an answer from him
to these questions. His answer only applies to a given case, to a con-
dition things which he knows do not exist in any one territory in
the Union. He tries to give you to understand that he would allow the
people to do as they please, and yet he dodges the question as to every
territory in the Union. I now ask why cannot Mr. Lincoln answer to
each of these territories? He has not done it, and he will not do it.
The Abolitionists up north understand that this answer is made with
a view of not committing himself on any one territory now in existence.
It is so understood there, and you cannot expect an answer from him
on a case that applies to any one territory, or applies to the new states
which by compact we are pledged to admit out of Texas, when they
have the requisite population and desire admission. I submit to you
whether he has made a frank answer, so that you can tell how he would
vote in any one of these cases. "He would be sorry to be put in the
position." Why would he be sorry to be put in this position if his duty
required him to give the vote? If the people of a territory ought to be
permitted to come into the Union as a state, with slavery or without
it, as they pleased, why not give the vote admitting them cheerfully?
If in his opinion they ought not to come in with slavery, even if they
wanted to, why not say that he would cheerfully vote against their
admission? His intimation is that conscience would not let him vote
"No," and he would be sorry to do that which his conscience would
compel him to do as an honest man.

In regard to the contract or bargain between Trumbull, the Aboli-
tionists and him, which he denies, I wish to say that the charge can be
proved by notorious historical facts. Trumbull, Lovejoy, Giddings, Fred
Douglass, Hale, and Banks, were traveling the state at that time mak-
ing speeches on the same side and in the same cause with him. He


contents himself with the simple denial that no such thing occurred.
Does he deny that he, and Trumbull, and Breese, and Giddings, and
Chase, and Fred Douglass, and Lovejoy, and all those Abolitionists and
deserters from the Democratic party, did make speeches all over this
state in the same common cause? Does he deny that Jim Matheny
was then, and is now, his confidential friend, and does he deny that
Matheny made the charge of the bargain and fraud in his own language,
as I have read it from his printed speech. Matheny spoke of his own
personal knowledge of that bargain existing between Lincoln, Trumbull,
and the Abolitionists. He still remains Lincoln's confidential friend,
and is now a candidate for congress, and is canvassing the Springfield
district for Lincoln. I assert that I can prove the charge to be true in
detail if I can ever get it where I can summon and compel the attendance
of witnesses. I have the statement of another man to the same effect
as that made by Matheny, which I am not permitted to use yet, but Jim
Matheny is a good witness on that point, and the history of the country
is conclusive upon it. That Lincoln up to that time had been a Whig,
and then undertook to abolitionize the Whigs and bring them into the
Abolition camp, is beyond denial ; that Trumbull up to that time had
been a Democrat, and deserted, and undertook to abolitionize the
Democracy, and take them into the Abolition camp, is beyond denial;
that they are both now active, leading, distinguished members of this
Abolition Republican party, in full communion, is a fact that cannot
be questioned or denied.

But Lincoln is not willing to be responsible for the creed of his
party. He complains because I hold him responsible, and in order
to avoid the issue, he attempts to show that individuals in the Dem-
ocratic party, many years ago, expressed Abolition sentiments. It is
true that Tom Campbell, when a candidate for congress in 1850,
published the letter which Lincoln read. When I asked Lincoln for
the date of that letter he could not give it. The date of the letter has
been suppressed by other speakers who have used it, though I take
it for granted that Lincoln did not know the date. If he will take
the trouble to examine, he will find that the letter was published
only two days before the election, and was never seen until after it,
except in one county. Tom Campbell would have been beat to death
by the Democratic party if that letter had been made public in his
district. As to Molony, it is true he uttered sentiments of the kind
referred to by Mr. Lincoln, and the best Democrats would not vote
for him for that reason. I returned from Washington after the pas-
sage of the compromise measures in 1850, and when I found Mo-
lony running under John Wentworth's tutelage, and on his platform,
I denounced him, and declared that he was no Democrat. In my
speech at Chicago, just before the election that year, I went before
the infuriated people of that city and vindicated the compromise
measures of 1850. Remember the city council had passed resolutions
nullifying acts of congress and instructing the police to withold their as-
sistance from the execution of the laws, and as I was the only man in the
city of Chicago who was responsible for the passage of the compromise
measures, I went before the crowd, justified each and every one of
those measures, and let it be said to the eternal honor of the people
of Chicago, that when they were convinced by my exposition of
those measures that they were right and they had done wrong in


opposing them, they repealed their nullifying resolutions and de-
clared that they would acquiesce in and support the laws of the land.
These facts are well known, and Mr. Lincoln can only get up indi-
vidual instances, dating back to 1849- '50, which are contradicted
by the whole tenor of the Democratic creed.

But Mr. Lincoln does not want to be held responsible for the
Black Republican doctrine of no more slave states. Farnsworth is
the candidate of his party to-day in the Chicago district, and he made
a speech in the last congress in which he called upon God to palsy
his right arm if he ever voted for the admission of another slave
state, whether the people wanted it or not. Lovejoy is making
speeches all over the state for Lincoln now, and taking ground
against any more slave states. Washburne, the Black Republican
candidate for congress in the Galena district, is making speeches in
favor of this same Abolition platform declaring no more slave states.
Why are men running for congress in the northern districts, and
taking that Abolition platform for their guide, when Mr. Lincoln
does not want to be held to it down here in Egypt and in the center
of the state, and objects to it so as to get votes here. Let me tell
Mr. Lincoln that his party in the northern part of the state hold to
that Abolition platform, and that if they do not in the south and in
the center they present the extraordinary spectacle of a "house di-
vided against itself," and hence "cannot stand." I now bring down
upon him the vengeance of his own scriptural quotation, and give
it a more appropriate application than he did, when I say to him
that his party, Abolition in one end of the state and opposed to it in
the other, is a house divided against itself, and cannot stand, and
ought not to stand, for it attempts to cheat the American people out
of their votes by disguising its sentiments.

Mr. Lincoln attempts to cover up and get over his Abolitionism
by telling you that he was raised a little east of you, beyond the
Wabash in Indiana, and he thinks that makes a mighty sound and
good man of him on all these questions. I do not know that the
place where a man is born or raised has much to do with his political
principles. The worst Abolitionist I have ever known in Illinois have
been men who have sold their slaves in Alabama and Kentucky, and
have come here and turned Abolitionists whilst spending the money
got for the negroes they sold, and I do not know that an Abolition-
ist from Indiana or Kentucky ought to have any more credit because
he was born and raised among slaveholders. I do not know that a
native of Kentucky is more excusable because raised among slaves,
his father and mother having owned slaves, he comes to Illinois, turns
Abolitionist, and slanders the graves of his father and mother, and
breathes curses upon the institutions under which he was born, and
his father and mother bred. True, I was not born out west here. I
was born away down in Yankee land, I was born in a valley in Ver-
mont, with the high mountains around me. I love the old green
mountains and valleys of Vermont, where I was born, and where I
played in my childhood. I went up to visit them some seven or eight
years ago, for the first time for twenty odd years. When I got there
they treated me very kindly. They invited me to the commence-
ment of their college, placed me on the seats with their distinguished
guests, and conferred upon me the degree of LL. D. in Latin (doctor


of laws), the same as they did old Hickory, at Cambridge, many
years ago, and I give you my word and honor I understood just as
much of the Latin as he did. When they got through conferring
the honorary degree, they called upon me for a speech, and I got up
with my heart full and swelling with gratitude for their kindness,
and I said to them, "My friends, Vermont is the most glorious spot
on the face of this globe for a man to be born in, provided he emi-
grates when he is very young."

I emigrated when I was very young. I came out here when I
was a boy, and I found my mind liberalized, and my opinions en-
larged when I got on these broad prairies, with only the heavens to
bound my vision, instead of having them circumscribed by the little
narrow ridges that surrounded the valley where I was born. But,
I discard all flings of the land where a man was born. I wish to be
judged by my principles, by those great public measures and con-
stitutional principles upon which the peace, the happiness and the
perpetuity of this republic now rest.

Mr. Lincoln has framed another question, propounded it to me^
and desired my answer. As I have said before, I did not put a
question to him that I did not first lay a foundation for by showing
that it was a part of the platform of the party whose votes he is now
seeking, adopted in a majority of the counties where he now hopes
to get a majority, and supported by the candidates of his party now
running in those counties. But I will answer his question. It is as
follows: "If the slaveholding citizen of a United States territory
should need and demand congressional legislation for the protection
of their slave property in such territory, would you, as a member of
congress, vote for or against such legislation?" I answer him that it
is a fundamental article in the Democratic creed that there should be
non-interference and non-intervention by congress with slavery in the
states or territories. Mr. Lincoln could have found an answer to his
question in the Cincinnati platform, if he had desired it. The Demo-
cratic party have always stood by that great principle of non-interfer-
ence and non-intervention by congress with slavery in the states ana
territories alike, and I stand on that platform now.

Now I desire to call your attention to the fact that Lincoln did not
define his own position in his own question. How does he stand on that
question? He put the question to me at Freeport whether or not I
would vote to admit Kansas into the Union before she had 93,420 in-
habitants. I answered him at once that it having been decided that
Kansas had now population enough for a slave state, she had popula-
tion enough for a free state.

I answered the question unequivocally, and then I asked him whether
he would vote for or against the admission of Kansas before she had
93.420 inhabitants, and he would not answer me. To-day he has called
attention to the fact that, in his opinion, my answer on that question
was not quite plain enough, and yet he has not answered it himself. He
now puts a question in relation to congressional interference in the ter-
ritories to me. I answer him direct, and yet he has not answered the
question himself. I ask you whether a man has any right, in common
decency, to put questions in these public discussions, to his opponent,
which he will not answer himself, when they are pressed home to him.
I have asked him three times, whether he would vote to admit Kansas


whenever the people applied with a constitution of their own making
and their own adoption, under circumstances that were fair, just and
unexceptional, but I cannot get an answer from him. Nor will he an-
swer the question which he put to me, and which I have just answered
in relation to congressional interference in the territories, by making
a slave code there.

It is true that he goes on to answer the question by arguing that
under the decision of the supreme court it is the duty of a man to vote
for a slave code in the territories. He says that it is his duty, under
the decision that the court has made, and if he believes in that deci-
sion he would be a perjured man if he did not give the vote. I want to
know whether he is not bound to a decision which is contrary to his
opinions just as much as to one in accordance with his opinions. If the
decision of the supreme court, the tribunal created by the constitu-

Online LibraryGeorge Washington SmithA history of southern Illinois : a narrative account of its historical progress, its people, and its principal interests (Volume v.1) → online text (page 39 of 65)