Henry J. (Henry Jarvis) Raymond.

History of the administration of President Lincoln : including his speeches, letters, addresses, proclamations, and messages. With a preliminary sketch of his life online

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Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondHistory of the administration of President Lincoln : including his speeches, letters, addresses, proclamations, and messages. With a preliminary sketch of his life → online text (page 2 of 46)
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to him."

We should need no better proof of the falsity of this
charge than this explicit denial. And it is a noticeable
fact, that during all the remaining joint debates between
Lincoln and Douglas, the latter never repeated the
slander until the last half hour of the last debate, to
which Mr. Lincoln had no opportunity of replying.
Douglas s supporters, however, made vigorous use of
the charge everywhere. The whole foundation of it,
doubtless, was the fact which Mr. Lincoln states, that,
whenever the Democrats tried to get him "to vote that
the war had been righteously begun," he would not do
it. He might have said more than this. He might
have said, as was the fact, that he had been a thorn in
their sides on this very point ; that he had not only re
fused to vote that the war was " righteously begun,"
but had made their efforts to falsify and conceal the
facts, and deceive the people into the belief that it was
"righteously begun," far more difficult. He showed,
in fact, on this point the same clearness and directness,
the same keen eye for the important point in a contro
versy, and the same tenacity in holding it fast and
thwarting his opponent s utmost efforts to obscure it
and cover it up, to draw attention to other points and
raise false issues, which were the marked characteristics
of his great controversy with Judge Douglas at a
subsequent period of their political history.

He saw that the strength of the position of the
administration before the people in reference to the
beginning of the war, was in the point, which they lost


no opportunity of reiterating, viz., that Mexico had
shed the blood of our citizens on our own soil. This
position he believed to be false, and he accordingly
attacked it in a resolution requesting the President to
give the House information on that point ; which Pres
ident Polk would have found as difficult to dodge as
Douglas found it to dodge the questions which Mr.
Lincoln proposed to him.

On the right of petition Mr. Lincoln, of course, held
the right side, voting repeatedly against laying on the
table without consideration petitions in favor of the
abolition of Slavery in the District of Columbia, and
against the slave-trade.

On the question of abolishing Slavery in the District,
he took rather a prominent part. A Mr. Gott had in
troduced a resolution directing the committee for the
District to introduce a bill abolishing the slave-trade in
the District. To this Mr. Lincoln moved an amend
ment instructing them to introduce a bill for the aboli
tion, not of the slave-trade, but of Slavery within the
District. The bill which he proposed prevented any
slave from ever being brought into the District, except
in the case of officers of the Government of the United
States, who might bring the necessary servants for
themselves and their families while in the District on
public business. It prevented any one then resident
within the District, or thereafter born within it, from
being held in Slavery without the District It declared
that all children of slave mothers born in the District
after January 1, 1850, should be free, but should be
reasonably supported and educated by the owners of
their mothers, and that any owner of slaves in the Dis-


trict might be paid their value from the Treasury, and
the slaves should thereupon be free ; and it provided
also for the submission of the act to the people of the
District for their acceptance or rejection.

A bill was afterwards reported by the committee for
bidding the introduction of slaves into the District for
sale or hire. This bill also Mr. Lincoln supported, but
in vain. The time for the success of such measures,
involving to an extent attacks upon Slavery, had not
yet come.

The question of the Territories came up in many
ways. The Wilmot Proviso had made its first appear
ance in the previous session, in the August before, but
it was repeatedly before this Congress also, when efforts
were made to apply it to the territory which we pro
cured from Mexico, and to Oregon. On all occasions
when it was before the House it was supported by Mr.
Lincoln, and he stated during his contest with Judge
Douglas that he had voted for it, "in one way and
another, about forty times." He thus showed himself
in 1847 the same friend of Freedom for the Territories
which he was afterwards during the heats of the Kan
sas struggle.

Another instance in which the Slavery Question was
before the House was in the famous Pacheco case.
This was a bill to reimburse the heirs of Antonio
Pacheco for the value of a slave who was hired by a
United States officer in Florida, but ran away and
joined the Seminoles, and being taken in arms with
them, was sent out of Florida with them when they
were transported to the West. The bill was reported
to the House by the Committee on Military Affairs.


This committee was composed of nine. Five of these
were slaveholders, and these made the majority report.
The others, not being slaveholders, reported against the
bill. The ground taken by the majority was that
slaves were regarded as property by the Constitution,
and when taken for public service should be paid for
as property. The principle involved in the bill, there
fore, was the same one which the slaveholders have
sought in so many ways to maintain. As they sought
afterwards to have it established by a decision of the
Supreme Court, so now they sought to have it recog
nized by Congress, and Mr. Lincoln opposed it in Con
gress as heartily as he afterwards opposed it when it
took the more covert, but no less dangerous shape of a
judicial dictum.

On other great questions which came before Congress
Mr. Lincoln, being a Whig, took the ground which was
held by the great body of his party. He believed in
the right of Congress to make appropriations for the
improvement of rivers and harbors. He was in favor
of giving the public lands, not to speculators, but to
actual occupants and cultivators, at as low rates as pos
sible ; and he was in favor of a protective tariff, and of
abolishing the franking privilege.

In 1848 General Taylor was nominated for the Presi
dency ; Mr. Lincoln was a member of the convention,
at Philadelphia, by which he was nominated, and can
vassed his own State in his favor. He was also in New
England during the campaign, attended the State Con
vention of Massachusetts, and made a speech at New
Bedford, which is still remembered. Illinois, however,
cast her vote for General Cass. In 18-19 Mr. Lincoln


was the Whig candidate in Illinois for United States
Senator, but without success the Democrats having
the control of the State, which they retained until the
conflict arising out of the Nebraska Bill, in 1854

During the intervening period Mr. Lincoln took no
prominent part in politics, but remained at home in
the practice of his profession. We may be sure, how
ever, that he watched closely the course of public
events. He had fought Slavery often enough to know
what it was, and what the animus of its supporters
was. It is not, therefore, likely that he was taken very
much by surprise when the Nebraska Bill was intro
duced, and the proposition was made by Stephen A.
Douglas to repeal that very Missouri Compromise
which he had declared to be "a sacred thing, which
no ruthless hand would ever be reckless enough to

The Nebraska Bill was passed May 22, 1854, and its
passage gave new and increased force to the popular
feeling in favor of freedom which the proposition to
repeal the Missouri Compromise had excited, and
everywhere the friends of freedom gathered themselves
together and rallied round her banner, to meet the con
flict which was plainly now closely impending, forced
upon the people by the grasping ambition of the slave
holders. The political campaign of that year in Illi
nois was one of the severest ever known. It was inten
sified by the fact that a United States Senator was to
be chosen by the Legislature then to be elected, to fill
the place of Shields, who had voted with Douglas in
favor of the Nebraska Bill.

Mr. Lincoln took a prominent part in this campaign.


He met Judge Douglas before the people on two occa
sions, the only ones when the Judge would consent to
such a meeting. The first time was at the State Fair
at Springfield, on October 4th. This was afterwards
considered to have been the greatest event of the whole
canvass. Mr. Lincoln opened the discussion, and in
his clear and eloquent jet homely way exposed the
tergiversations of which his opponent had been guilty,
arid the fallacy of his pretexts for his present course.

Mr. Douglas had always claimed to have voted for
the repeal of the Missouri Compromise because he sus
tained the " great principle" of Popular Sovereignty,
and desired that the inhabitants of Kansas and Ne
braska should govern themselves, as they were well
able to do. The fallacy of drawing from these premi
ses the conclusion that they therefore should have the
right to establish Slavery there was most clearly and
conclusively exposed by Mr. Lincoln, so that no one
could thereafter be misled by it, unless he was a willing
dupe of pro-slavery sophistry.

"My distinguished friend," said he, "says it is an
insult to the emigrants of Kansas and Nebraska to sup
pose that they are not able to govern themselves. We
must not slur over an argument of this kind because it
happens to tickle the ear. It must be met and an
swered. I admit that the emigrant to Kansas and Ne
braska is competent to govern himself, but I deny
his right to govern any other person without that per
son s consent."

The two opponents met again at Peoria. We believe
it is universally admitted that on both of these occa
sions Mr. Lincoln had decidedly the advantage. The


result of the election was the defeat of the Democrats
and the election of anti-Nebraska men to the Legis
lature to secure the election of a United States Senator
who would "be true to freedom, if they could be brought
to unite upon a candidate. Mr. Lincoln was naturally
the candidate of those who were of Whig antecedents.
Judge Trumbull was as naturally the candidate of
some who had really come out from the Democratic
party though they still called themselves Free Demo

There was danger, of course, in such a posture of
affairs, and Mr. Lincoln, in that spirit of patriotism
which he has always shown, by his own personal exer
tions secured the votes of his friends for Judge Trum
bull, who was accordingly chosen Senator. The charge
was afterwards made by the enemies of both that there
had been in this matter a breach of faith on the part of
Judge Trumbull, and that Mr. Lincoln had the right to
feel and did feel aggrieved at the result. Mr. Lincoln
himself, however, expressly denied in his speech at
Charleston, Sept. 18, 1858, that there had been any
such breach of faith.

The pressure of the Slavery contest at last fully
organized the Eepublican party, which held its first
Convention for the nomination of President and Vice-
President at Philadelphia on June 17, 1856. John C.
Fremont was nominated for President and William L.
Dayton for Vice President. Mr. Lincoln s name was
prominent before the Convention for the latter office,
and on the informal ballot he stood next to Mr. Dayton,
receiving 110 votes. Mr. Lincoln s name headed the
Republican Electoral ticket in Illinois, and he took an


active part in the canvass, but the Democrats carried
the State, though only by a plurality vote.

We now come to the great Senatorial contest of 1858,
which established Mr. Lincoln s reputation before the
people of the whole country, not only as a very able
debater and an eloquent orator, but also as a wise poli
tician, wise enough to hold firm to sound principles,
and to yield nothing of them, even against the judg
ment of earnest friends.

On the 4th of March, 1857, Mr. Buchanan had taken
his seat in the Presidential chair. The struggle be
tween Freedom and Slavery for the possession of Kan
sas was at its height A few days after his inaugura
tion, the Supreme Court rendered the Dred Scott
decision, which was thought by the friends of Slavery
to insure their victory by its holding the Missouri Com
promise to be unconstitutional, because the Constitution
itself carried Slavery over all the Territories of the
United States. In spite of this decision, the friends of
Freedom in Kansas maintained their ground. The
slaveholders, however, pushed forward their schemes,
and in November, 1857, their Constitutional Conven
tion, held at Lecompton, adopted the infamous Lecomp-
ton Constitution. The trick by which they submitted
to the popular vote only a schedule on the Slavery
question, instead of the whole Constitution, compelling
every voter, however he voted upon this schedule, to
vote for their Constitution, which fixed Slavery upon
the State just as surely whether the schedule was
adopted or not, will be well remembered, as well as the
feeling which so villainous a scheme excited through
out the North. Judge Douglas had sustained the Dred


Scott decision, but lie could not sustain this attempt to
force upon the people of Kansas a Constitution against
their will, lie declared that he did not care himself
whether the people voted the Slavery clause up or
down, but he thought they ought to have the chance
to vote for or against the Constitution itself.

The Administration had made the measure their own,
and this opposition of Douglas at once excited against him
the active hostility of the slaveholders and their friends,
with whom he had hitherto acted in concert. The
bill was finally passed through Congress on April 30th,
1858, under what is known as the English bill, whereby
the Constitution was to be submitted to the votes of
the people of Kansas, with the offer of heavy bribes to
them in the way of donations of land, etc., if they
would accept it ; and the people, in spite of the bribes,
voted it down, by an immense majority.

Judge Douglas s term was on the eve of expiring,
and he came home to Illinois after the adjournment of
Congress to attend in person to the political campaign,
upon the result of which was to depend his re-election
to the Senate.

His course on the Lecompton bill had made an open
breach between him and the Administration, and he
had rendered such good service to the Republicans in
their battle with that monstrous infamy, that there were
not wanting many among them who were inclined to
think it would be wise not to oppose his re-election.

But the Republicans of Illinois thought otherwise.
They knew the man. They knew that on the cardinal
principle of the Republican party, opposition to the
spread of Slavery into the Territories, he was not with


them ; for he had declared in the most positive way
that he " did not care whether Slavery was voted down
or up." They believed that in his action on the Le-
compton bill, he was actuated fully as much by the cer
tainty that any other action would be followed by his
immediate and utter overthrow at home, as from any
other considerations. And they therefore determined,
in opposition to the views of some influential Kepubli-
cans at home as well as in other States, to fight the bat
tle through against him, with all the energy that they
could bring to the work. And to this end, on the 17th
of June, 1858, at their State Convention at Springfield,
they nominated Mr. Lincoln as their candidate for the
Senate of the United States.

The speech of Mr. Lincoln to the Convention which
had nominated him, was the beginning of the campaign.
Its opening sentences contained those celebrated words,
which have been often quoted both by friends and ene
mies : "A house divided against itself cannot stand. I
believe this Government cannot endure permanently
half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to
be dissolved I do not expect the house to fall, but I
do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become
all one thing or all the other." Little idea could he have
had then how near the time was when the country
should be united upon this point. Still less could he
have dreamed through what convulsions it was to pass
before it reached that wished-for position into what
an abyss of madness and crime the advocates of Slavery
would plunge in their efforts to " push it forward till it
should become alike lawful in all the States, old as well
as new North as well as South. But there seemed


to him to be manifest indications of their design thus
to push it forward, and he devoted his speech to show
ing forth the machinery which they had now almost
completed, for the attainment of their purpose ; it only
needing that the Supreme Court should say that the
Constitution carried Slavery over the States, as they
had already in the Dred Scott decision declared that
it was carried over the Territories. And lie closed his
speech with a sharp attack upon Douglas, as being a
party to this plan to legalize Slavery over the Conti
nent. It was plain from the first that the struggle
would take the shape of a personal contest between the
two men. Each recognized the other as the .embodi
ment of principles to which he was in deadly hostility.
Judge Douglas was the champion of all sympathizers
with Slavery at the North, of those who openly advo
cated it, and still more of those who took the more
plausible and dangerous part of not caring whether it
" was voted down or up." Mr. Lincoln s soul was on
fire with love for freedom and for humanity, and with
reverence for the Fathers of the Country, and for the
principles of freedom for all under the light of which
they marched. He felt that the contest was no mere
local one, that it was not of any great consequence what
man succeeded in the fight, but that it was all-impor
tant that the banner of Freedom should be borne with
no faltering step, but " full high advanced." And thus
through the whole campaign he sought with all his
power to press home to the hearts of the people the
principles, the example and the teachings of the men
of the Revolution.

The two combatants first met at Chicago, in July.


There was no arrangement then about their speaking
against each other, but Judge Douglas having addressed
a meeting on the 9th July, it was inevitable that Mr.
Lincoln should answer him on the 10th. One week later
both spoke in Springfield on the same day, but before
different audiences ; and one week later Mr. Lincoln
addressed a letter to Douglas, challenging him to a series
of debates during the campaign.

The challenge was accepted, though not without an
attempt to make a little capital out of it, which was
quite characteristic. It was also quite characteristic
that the terms which Douglas proposed were such as to
give him the decided advantage of having four opening
and closing speeches to Mr. Lincoln s three ; and that
Mr. Lincoln, while noticing the inequality, did not hesi
tate to accept them.

The seven joint debates were held as follows : at
Ottawa on August 21st ; at Freeport on August 27th ;
at Jonesboro on September 15th ; at Charleston on Sep
tember 18th ; at Galesburg on October 7th ; at Quincy
on October 13th ; at Alton on October 15th. These
seven tournaments raised the greatest excitement
throughout the State. They were held in all quarters
of the State, from Freeport in the north to Jonesboro
in the extreme south. Everywhere the different par
ties turned out to do honor to their champions. Pro
cessions and cavalcades, bands of music and cannon-
firing, made every day a day of excitement But fax-
greater was the excitement of such oratorical contests
between two such skilled debaters, before mixed audi
ences of friends and foes, to rejoice over every keen
thrust at the adversary ; to be cast down by each fail-


ure to parry the thrust so aimed. We cannot pretend
to give more than the barest sketch of these great efforts
of Mr. Lincoln s. They are and always will be, to those
who are interested in the history of the Slavery contest,
most valuable and important documents.

In the first speech at Ottawa, besides defending him
self from some points which Douglas had made against
him, and among others, explaining and enlarging upon
that passage from his Springfield speech, of " A house
divided against itself," he took up the charge which he
had also made in that speech of the conspiracy to ex
tend Slavery over the northern States, and pressed it
home, citing as proof of its existence a speech which
Douglas himself had made on the Lecompton bill, in
which he had substantially made the same charge upon
Buchanan and others. He then showed again that all
that was necessary for the accomplishment of the scheme
was a decision of the Supreme Court that no State
could exclude Slavery, as the Court had already decided
that no Territory could exclude it, and the acquiescence
of the people in such a decision, and he told the people
that Douglas was doing all in his power to bring about
such acquiescence in advance, by declaring that the
true position was not to care whether Slavery " was
voted down or up," and by announcing himself in
favor of the Dred Scott decision, not because it was
right, but because a decision of the Court is to him
a " Thus saith the Lord," and thus committing himself
to the next decision just as firmly as to this. He closed
his speech with the following eloquent words : " Henry
Clay, my beau ideal of a Statesman the man for whom
I fought all my humble life once said of a class of


men who would repress all tendencies to liberty and
ultimate emancipation, that they must, if they would
do this, go l>ack to the era of our Independence and
muzzle the cannon which thunders its annual joyous
return ; they must blow out the moral lights around
us ; they must penetrate the human soul and eradicate
there the love of liberty ; and then, and not till then,
could they perpetuate Slavery in this country. To my
thinking, Judge Douglas is, by his example and vast
influence, doing that very thing in this community,
when he says that the negro has nothing in the Declara
tion of Independence. Henry Clay plainly understood
the contrary. Judge Douglas is going back to the era
of our Keyolution, and to the extent of his ability
muzzling the cannon which thunders its annual joyous
return. When he invites any people, willing to have
Slavery, to establish it, he is blowing out the moral
lights around us. When he says he cares not whether
Slavery is voted down or up that it is a sacred right
of self-government, he is, in my judgment, penetrating
the human soul and eradicating the light of reason and
the love of liberty in this American people. And
when, by all these means and appliances, he shall suc
ceed in bringing public sentiment to an exact accord
ance with his own views when these vast assemblages
shall echo back all these sentiments, when they shall
come to repeat his views and to avow his principles,
and to say all that he says on these mighty questions
then it needs only the formality of the second Dred
Scott decision, which he indorses in advance, to make
Slavery alike lawful in all the States old as well as
new, North as well as South."


In the second debate at Freeport, Mr. Lincoln gave
categorical answers to seven questions which Douglas
had proposed to him, and in his turn put four questions
to Douglas, to which he got but evasive replies. lie
also pressed home upon his opponent a charge of
quoting resolutions as being adopted at a Eepublican
State Convention, which were never so adopted, and again
called Douglas s attention to the conspiracy to national
ize Slavery, and he showed that his pretended desire to
leave the people of a Territory free to establish Slavery
or exclude it, was really only a desire to allow them to
establish it, as was shown by his voting against Mr.
Chase s amendment to the Nebraska Bill, which gave
them leave to exclude it. In the third debate at Jones-
boro, Mr. Lincoln showed that Douglas and his friends
were trying to cbange the position of the country on
the Slavery question from what it was when the Consti
tution was adopted, and that the disturbance of the
country had arisen from this pernicious effort. He

Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondHistory of the administration of President Lincoln : including his speeches, letters, addresses, proclamations, and messages. With a preliminary sketch of his life → online text (page 2 of 46)