Henry J. (Henry Jarvis) Raymond.

Lincoln, his life and time : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages and proclamations and closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 1) online

. (page 5 of 42)
Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and time : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages and proclamations and closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 1) → online text (page 5 of 42)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

as to expressly declare that the people of the Territory may exclude
slavery." "Not we," said the friends of the measure; and down they
voted the amendment.

"While the Nebraska bill was passing through Congress, a law-case, in
volving the question of a negro s freedom, by reason of his owner having
voluntarily taken him" first into a free State and then into a Territory cov
ered by the Congressional prohibition, and held him as a slave for a long
time in each, was passing through the United States Circuit Court for the
District of Missouri ; and both Nebraska bill and lawsuit were brought
to a decision in the same month of May, 1854. The negro s name was
" Dred Scott," which name now designates the decision finally made in
the case. Before the then next presidential election, the law-case canio
to, and was argued in, the Supreme Court of the United States ; but the
decision of it was deferred until after the election. Still, before the elec
tion, Senator Trumbull, on the floor of the Senate, requested the leading
advocate of the Nebraska bill to state his opinion whether the people of a
Territory can constitutionally exclude slavery from their limits; and tho
latter answers: "That is a question for the Supreme Court."

The election came. Mr. Buchanan was elected, and the indorsement,
such as it was, secured. That was the second point gained. The in
dorsement, however, fell short of a clear popular majority by nearly
four hundred thousand votes, and so, perhaps, was not overwhelmingly
reliable and satisfactory. The outgoing president, in his last annual
message, as impressively as possible echoed back upon the people tho
weight and authority of the indorsement. The Supreme Court met again ;
did not announce their decision, but ordered a re- argument. The presi
dential inauguration came, and still no decision of the court; but the
incoming President, in his inaugural address, fervently exhorted the
people to abide by the forthcoming decision, whatever it might be.
Then, in a few days, came the decision.

The reputed author of the Nebraska bill finds an early occasion to innK
a speech at this capital, indorsing the Dred Scott decision, and vehemently
denouncing all opposition to it. The new president, too, seizes the earh


occasion of the Sillirnai letter to indorse end strongly construe thai
decision, and to express his astonishment that any different view had
ever been entertained.

At length a squabble springs up between the President and the author
of the Nebraska bill, on the mere question of fact, whether the Lecomp-
ton Constitution was or was not, in any just sense, made by the people
of Kansas; and in that quarrel the latter declares that all he wants is a
fair vote for the people, and that he cares not whether slavery be voted
fcwn or voted ?//?. I do not understand his declaration tha* he cares not
whether slavery be voted down or voted up, to be intended by him other
than as an apt definition of the policy he would impress upon the public
mind the principle for which he declares he has suffered so much, and
is ready to suffer to the end. And well may he cling to that principle. If
he has any parental feeling, well may he cling to it. That principle is the
only shred left of his original Nebraska doctrine. Under the Dred Scott
decision "squatter sovereignty" squatted out of existence, tumbled down,
like temporary scaffolding like the mould at the foundry served through
one blast and fell back into loose sand helped to carry an election, and
then was kicked to the winds. His late joint struggle with the Republi
cans, against the Lecompton Constitution, involves nothing of the origi
nal Nebraska doctrine. That struggle was made on a point the right of
a people to make their own constitution upon which he and the Repub
licans 1 ave never differed.

The several points of the Dred Scott decision, in connection with Sena
tor Douglas s " care not" policy, constitute the piece of machinery, in its
present state of advancement. This was the third point gained. The
working points of that machinery are :

First. That no negro slave, imported as such from Africa, and no
descendant of such slave, can ever be a citizen of any State, in the seasn of
that term as used in the Constitution of the United States. This point is
made in order to deprive the negro, in every possible event, of the beneft
of that provision of the United States Constitution, which declares that
The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immuni
ties of citizens in the several States."

Secondly. That, "subject to the Constitution of the United States,"
neither Congress nor a Territorial Legislature can exclude slavery from
any United States territory. This point is made in order that individual
men may fill up the Territories with slaves without danger of losing them
as property, and thus to enhance the chances of permanency to the insti
tution through all the future.

Thirdly. That whether the holding a negro in actual slavery in a free
State makes him free, as against the holder, the United States courts will
not decide, but will leave to be decided by the courts of any slave State
the negro may be forced into by the master. This point is made, not to
r* pressed immediately , but, if cquiesoed in for awhile, and apparent y


indorsed by the people at an election, then to sustain the logical coiu !u-
sion that what Dred Scott s master might lawfully do with Dred Scott,
tu the free State of Illinois, every other master may law fully do with
any othei one, or one thousand slaves, in Illinois, or in any other free

Auxiliary to all this, and working hand in hand with it, the Nebraska
doctrine, or what is left of it, is to educate and mould public opinion, at
*east Northern public opinion, not to care whether slavery is voted down
or voted up. This shows exactly where we now are ; and partially, also^
wlntl er we are tending.

It will throw additional light on the latter, to go back, and run the
rr.iud over the string of historical facts already stated. Several things
will now appear less dark and mysterious than they did when they were
transpiring. The people were to be left "perfectly free," "subject only
to the Constitution." "What the Constitution had to do with it, outsiders
could not then see. Plainly enough now, it was an exactly fitted niche
for the Dred Scott decision to afterward come in, and declare the perfect
freedom of the people to be just no freedom at all. Why was the amend
ment, expressly declaring the right of the people, voted down ? Plainly
enough now: the adoption of it would have spoiled the niche for the
Dred Scott decision. Why was the court decision held up? Why even
a Senator s individual opinion withheld till after the presidential election ?
Plainly enough now : the speaking out then would have damaged the
perfectly free argument upon which the election was to be carried. Why
the outgoing President s felicitation on the indorsement? Why the delay
of a re-argument ? Why the incoming President s advance exhortation in
favor of the decision ? These things look like the cautious patting and
petting of a spirited horse preparatory to mounting him, when it ia
dreaded that he may give the rider a fall. And why the hasty after-
indorsement of the decision by the President and others ?

We cannot absolutely know that all these exact adaptations are the
result of preconcert. But when we see a lot of framed timbers, different
portions of which we know have been gotten out at different times and
places, and by different workmen Stephen, Franklin, Roger, and James,
for instance and when we see these timbers joined together, and aeo
they exactly make the frame of a house or a mill, all the tenons and
mortices exactly fitting, and all the lengths and proportions of the differ
ent pieces exactly adapted to their respective places, and not a piece too
many or too few not omitting even scaffolding or, if a single piece be
lacking, we see the place in the frame exactly fitted and prepared yet to
bring such piece in in such a case, we find it impossible not to believe
that Stephen and Franklin and Roger and James oil understood one
another from the beginning, and all worked upon a common plan or
draft drawn up before the first blow was struck.

Tt should not be overlooked that, by the Nebraska bill, th people of a


State, as well as Territory, were to be left " perfectly free," " subject
only to the Constitution." Why mention a State ? They were legislating
for Territories, and not for or about States. Certainly, the people of a
State are and ought to be subject to the Constitution of the United
States; but why is mention of this lugged into this merely territorial
law? Why are the people of a Territory and the people of a State
therein lumped together, and their relation to the Constitution therein
treated as being precisely the same? While the opinion of the court, by
Ulief Justice Taney, in the Dred Scott case, and the separate opinions of
nil the concurring Judges, expressly declare that the Constitution of the
United States neither permits Congress nor a territorial legislature tc
exclude slavery from any United States Territory, they all omit to declare
whether or not the same Constitution permits a State, or the people of a
State, to exclude it. Possibly, this is a mere omission; tut A T ho can be
quite sure, if McLean or Curtis had sought to get into tiie opinion a
declaration of unlimited power in the people of a State to exclude slavery
from their limits, just as Chase and Mace sought to get such declara
tion, in behalf of the people of a Territory, into the Nebraska bul; *.
ask, who can be quite sure that it would not have been voted down in
the one case, as it had been in the other? The nearest approach to the
point of declaring the power of a State over slavery, is made by Judge
Nelson. He approaches it more than once, using the precise idea, and
almost the language, too, of the Nebraska act. On one occasion, his
exact language is, " except in cases where the power is restrained by the
Constitution of the United States, the law of the State is supreme over
the subject of slavery within its jurisdiction." In what cases the power
of the States is so restrained by the United States Constitution, is left an
open question, precisely as the same question, as to the restraint on the
power of the Territories, was left open in the Nebraska act. Put this
and that together, and we have another nice little niche, which we may,
ere long, see filled with another Supreme Court decision, declaring that
the Constitution of the United States does not permit a State to exclude
lavery from its limits. And this may especially be expected, if the doc
trine of "care not whether slavery be voted down or voted up," ska!)
gain upon the public mind sufficiently to give promise that such a decision
can be maintained when made.

Such a decision is all that slavery now lacks of being alike lawful in
all the States. Welcome or unwelcome, such decision is probably
coming, and will soon ba upon us, unless the power of the present politi
cal dynasty shall be met and overthrown. We shall lie down pleasantly
dreaming that the people of Missouri are on the verge of making their
State free, and we shall awake to the reality instead, that the Supreme
Court has made Illinois a slave State. To meet and overthrow the power
of that dynasty, is the work now before all those who would prevent
Uiai> consummation. That is what we have to do. How can we best do it \


There are those who denounce us openly to their own friends, and yet
wfcisper us softly, that Senator Duuglu.s is the aptest instrument there \
with which to effect that object. They wish us to infer ail, from the
fact that he now has a little quarrel with the present head of the dynasty;
and that he has regularly voted with us on a single point, upon which he
und we have never differed. They remind us that he is a great man, au<l
that the largest of us are very small ones. Let this he granted. But "a
living dog is better than a dead lion." Judge Douglas, if not a dead lion,
for this work, is at least a caged and toothless one. How can he oppose
the advances of slavery? He don t care any thing about it. His avowed
mission is impressing the " public heart" to care nothing about it. A
leading Douglas democratic newspaper thinks Douglas s superior talent
will be needed to resist the revival of the African slave-trade. Does
Douglas believe an effort to revive that trade is approaching? Pie
has not said so. Does he really think so ? But if it is, how can he resist
it ? For years he has labored to prove it a sacred right of white men to
take negro slaves into the new Territories. Can he possibly show that it
is less a sacred right to buy them where they can be bought cheapest ?
And unquestionably they can be bought cheaper in Africa than in Vir
ginia. He has done all in his power to reduce the whole question of
slavery to one of a mere right of property; and as such, how can he op
pose the foreign slave-trade how can he refuse that trade in that "prop
erty" shall be " perfectly free" unless he does it as a protection to the
home production? And as the home producers will probably not ask the
protection, he will be wholly without a ground of opposition.

Senator Dcfuglas holds, we know, that a man may rightfully be wiser
to-day than he was yesterday that he may rightfully change when he
finds himself wrong. But can we, for that reason, run ahead, and infer
that he will make any particular change, of which he himself has given
no intimation? Can we safely base our action upon any such vague in
ference ? Now, as ever, I wish not to misrepresent Judge Douglas s
position, questioL his motives, or do aught that can be personally often
sive to him. Whenever, if ever, he and we can come together on princi
ple, so that our cause may have assistance from his great ability, I hope
to have interposed no adventitious obstacle. But, clearly, he is not now
with us he does not pretend to be he does not promise ever to be.

Our cause, then, must be intrusted to, and conducted by, its own
uc doubted friends those whose hands are free, whose hearts are in the
work who do care for the result. Two years ago, the Kepublicans of
the nation mustered over thirteen hundred thousand strong. We did
this under the single impulse of resistance to a common danger, with
every external circumstance against us. Of strange, discordant, and
even hostile elements, we gathered from the four winds, and formed and
fought the battle through, under the constant hot fire of a disciplined,
proud, and pampered enemy. Did we brave all then, to falter now? -


now, when that same enemy & wavering, dissevered, and belligerent 1
The result is not doubtful. We shall not fail if we stand firm, we shall
not fail. Wise counsels may accelerate, or mistakes delay it; but, soonei
or later, the victory is snre to come.

The first paragraph of this speech has become famous
in our political history, and the whole address, with its
bold utterance of truths which many, even of Mr. Lin
coln s supporters, did not at that time care to face, was a
fitting prelude to the great contest which was to follow.
Although, as its author admitted, it had been carefully
prepared, he had not consulted with any of his friends
regarding it, and none of them, even those with whom he
was the most intimate, knew of the positions which he
intended to take, until they heard them enunciated from
the platform in Springfield, on that memorable June 17.
Three weeks later (July 9), Senator Douglas arrived in
Chicago, where his friends welcomed him with the most
ostentatious demonstrations. On the same day he made
a speech, reviewing Mr. Lincoln s address to the Spring
field Convention. He spoke of Mr. Lincoln as "a kind>
amiable, and intelligent gentleman, a good citizen and an
honorable opponent," and then proceeded to reply to
the speech in question, assuming a tone of superiority
almost amounting to superciliousness. He was especially
severe upon the introductory passage of Mr. Lincoln s
address, in which he asserted his belief that the Govern
ment could not endure half slave anc half free. Mr,
Lincoln was himself present during the delivery of
Senator Douglas s speech, and on the next evening took
occasion to reply to it before an immense assemblage,
specially convened for that purpose. After a few intro
ductory remarks, Mr. Lincoln thus alluded to the famous
phrase which had become the watch-word of the Demo
cratic party for the campaign :

Popular sovereignty ! everlasting popular sovereignty! Let us fora
moment inquire into this vast matter of popular sovereignty. What is
popular sovereignty? We roeollect that at an early period in the history
&f this struggle, there was another name for the same thing


Sovereignty. It was not exactly Popular Sovereignty, but Squatter
Sovereignty. What do those terms mean ? What do those terms mean
when used now ? And vast credit is taken by our friend, the Judge, in
regard to his support of it, when he declares the last years of his life have
been, and all the future years of his life shall be, devoted to this matter
of popular sovereignty. "What is it? Why, it is the sovereignty of tba
people! What was Squatter Sovereignty? I suppose, if it had any sig
nificance at all, it was the right of the people to govern themselves, to bt
sovereign in their own affairs, while they were squatted down in n
country not their own while they had squatted on a Territory that did
not belong to them, in the sense that a State belongs to the people who
inhabit it when it belonged to the nation such right to govern them
selves was called u Squatter Sovereignty."

Now I wish you to mark. What has become of tlmt Squatter Sover
eignty ? What has become of it ? Can you get anybody to tell you now
that the people of a Territory have any authority to govern themselves,
in regard to this mooted question of slavery, before they form a State
Constitution? No such thing at all, although there is a general running
fire, and although there has been a hurrah made in every speech on that
side, assuming that policy had given the people of a Territory the right
to govern themselves upon this question ; yet the point is dodged. To
day it has been decided no more than a year ago it was decided by the
Supreme Court of the United States, and is insisted upon to-day, that the
people of a Territory have no right to exclude slavery from a Territory,
that if any one man chooses to take slaves into a Territory, all the rest
of the people have n<L right to keep them out. This being so, and this
decision being made one of the points that the Judge approved, and one
in the approval of which he says he means to keep me down put me
down I should not say, for I have never been up. He says he is in favor
of it, and sticks to it, and expects to win his battle on that decision .
which says that there is no such thing as Squatter Sovereignty; but that
nj one man may take slaves into A Territory, and all the other men JL
the Territory may be opposed to it, and yet by reason of the Con^titulioc
they cannot prohibit it. When that is so, how much is left of this vast
matter of Squatter Sovereignty, I should like to know ?

The Lecompton Constitution and its fate were next dis
cussed, and then Mr. Lincoln proceeded to reply to the
inferences which his opponent had so characteristically
but unwarrantably drawn from the introductory para
graph of his Springfield speech. He said :

In this paragraph which I have quoted in your hearing, and to which 1
&#k he attention of all, Judge D^^eclas thinks he discovers great political


heresy. I want your attention particularly to what he has icferred from
it. He says I am in favor of making all the States of this Union uniform
in all their internal regulations; that in all their domestic concerns I am
in favor of making them entirely uniform. He draws this inference from
the language I have quoted to you. He says that I am in favor of making
\var 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 slavery. Now, it is singular enough,
i you will carefully read that passage over, that I did not say that I was la
flavor of any 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 slavery should be put in course of ulti
mate extinction, I do say so now, however, so there need be no longer
any difficulty about that. It may be written down iu. the great speech.

Gentlemen, Judge Douglas informed you that this speech of mine was
probably carefully prepared. I admit 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 dialectics, as I believe you call it ; but I do * t believe
the language I employed bears any such construction as Juage Douglas
puts upon it. But I don t care about a quibblo in regard to words. I
know what I meant, and I will not leave this crowd in doubt, if lean
explain it to them, what I really meant in the use of that paragraph.

I am not, in the first place, unaware that this Government 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
endured eighty-two years, half slave and half free. I lielieve and that is
what I meant to allude to there I believe it has endured, because during
all that time, until the introduction of the Nebraska bill, the public mind
did rest all the time in the belief that slavery was in course of ultimate
extinction. That was what gave us the rest that we had through that
period of eighty-two years; at least, so I believe. I have always hated
slavery, I think, as much as any Abolitionist I have been an Old Line
ft" rag I have always hated it, but I have always been quiet about it un-
iil this new era of the introduction of the Nebraska bill began. I always
believed that everybody was against it, and that it was in course of ulti
mate 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 history 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 adoption
of the Constitution, decree that slavery should not go into the new Terri
tory, 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 mor*
of these acts but enough. What were they but a clear indication that
the trainers of the Constitution intended and expected the ultimate ex
tinction of that institution? And now, when I say, as I said in my speech
that Judge Douglas has quoted from, when I say that 1 think the oppo
nents of slavery will resist the farther spread of it, and place it where the
public mind shall rest with the belief that it is in course of ultimate ex
tinction, I only mean to say, that they will place it where the founders
cf this Government originally placed it.

I have said a hundred times, and I have now no inclination to take it
back, that I believe there is no right, and ought to be no inclination in
the people of the free States to enter into the slave States, and interfere
with the question of slavery at all. I have sJd that always; Judge
Douglas 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 I am in favor of
interfering with slavery where it exists, I know it is unwarranted by
any thing I have ever intended, and, as I believe, by any thing I have ever
said. If, by any means, I have ever used language which could fairly be
BO construed (as, however, I believe I never have), I now correct it.

So much, then, for the inference that Judge Douglas draws, that I am

Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and time : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages and proclamations and closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 1) → online text (page 5 of 42)