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 6 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 6 of 42)
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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 any thing I have ever said.

These speeches in Chicago and those that had preceded
them made it evident that the struggle was to take the
shape of a personal contest between the two men, and in
every respect, physically, mentally, and politically,
they were thoroughly antagonistic to each other. Each,
moreover, recognized the other as the embodiment 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 advocated it,
and still more of those who took the more plausible and
dangerous part of not caring whether it was v oted 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 com
paratively of little consequence which man succeeded iu


the fight, but that it was all-important 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 tc the hearts
of the people the principles, the example, and the teach
ings of the men of the Revolution.

At the time of the delivery of the speeches in Chicago,
to which we have already alluded, there was no under
standing regarding joint discussions. One week later, how
ever, both spoke in Springfield on the same day, but be
fore different audi Alices ; 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, and arrangements were at
once made for the meetings. The terms proposed by Mr.
Douglas whether intentionally or unintentionally does
not appear were such as to give him the decided advan
tage of having four opening and closing speeches to Mr.
Lincoln s three ; but Mr. Lincoln, while noticing the in
equality, did not hesitate to accept them.

The seven joint debates were held as follows : at Ot
tawa, on August 21st ; at Freeport, on August 27th ; at
Jonesboro, on September 15th ; at Charleston, on Septem
ber 18th ; at Galesburg, on October 7th ; at Quincy, on Oc
tober 13th ; at Alton, on October 15th. These seven tour
naments 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 parties turned out to do hoiioi
10 tiieir champions. Processions and cavalcades, bands of
music and cannon-firing, made every day a day of excite
ment. But far greater was the excitement of such orator
ical contests between two such skilled debaters, before
mixed audiences of friends and foes, to rejoice over every
keen thrust at the adversary, to be cast down by each
failure to parry the thrust so aimed. It is impossible to
present here any thing more than the barest sketch of
these great efforts of Mr. Lincoln. They are, and always


be, to those who are interested in the history of the
slavery contest, most valuable and important documents.
In the first of these joint debates, which took place at
Ottawa, Mr. Douglas again rung the changes upon the
introductory passage of Mr. Lincoln s Springfield speech,
" a house divided against itself," etc. Mr. Lincoln reitera
ted his assertion, and defended it in effect, as he did
in his speech at Chicago. Then he took up the charge
which he had previously made, of the existence of a con
spiracy to extend slavery over the Northern States, and
pressed it home, citing as proof a speech which Mr.
Douglas himself had made on the Lecompton bill, in
which lie had substantially made the same charge against
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 de
cided that no Territory could exclude it, and the acquies
cence of the people in such a decision ; and he told his
hearers that Douglas was doing all in his power to bring
about &r<.ck 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 I red 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 de
cision 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 fonght
all my humble life Henry Clay once said of a class of men who would
repress all tendencies to liberty and ultimate emancipation, that they
must, if t ley would do this, go back to the era of our independence, and
muzzle tlo 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 trey perpetuate slavery in this country ! To my thinking, Judge
DouglM is, by his example and vast influence, doing that very thing in
this o"Tnmunity, when he says that the negro has nothing in the Declara
tion tf Independence. Henry Clay pkinly understood tlje contrary


Judge Douglas is going back to the era of our Revolution, and, to the ex
tent 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 u cares
not whether slavery is voted down or voted up," that it is a sacred
right of self-goverument, ho is, in my judgment, penetrating the human
ooul, and eradicating the light of reason and the love of liberty in thii
American people. And now I will only say, that when, by all those
means and appliances, Judge Douglas shall succeed in bringing public sen
timent to an exact accordance with his own views when these vast as
semblages shall echo back all these sentiments when they shall come to
epeat his views and to avow his principles, and to say all that he says ou
tfiese 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.

The debate at Freeport the second of the series took
place August 27, and was marked by Mr. Lincoln answer
ing a series of seven questions proposed by his opponent.
We give the interrogatories and the replies, as follows :

Question 1. I desire to know whether Lincoln to-day stands, as he did
in 154, in favor of the unconditional repeal of the 1 ugitive Slave law ?

Answer. I do not now, nor ever did, stand in favor of the uncondi
tional repeal of the Fugitive Slave law.

Q. 2. I desire him to answer whether he stands pledged to-day, as h
did in 1854, against the admission of any more slave States into the Union,
even if the people want them ?

A. I do not now, or ever did, stand pledged against the admission of
any more slave States into the Union.

Q. 3. I want to know whether he stands pledged against the admis
sion of a new State into the Union with such a Constitution as the people
of that State may see fit to make ?

A. I do not stand pledged against the admission of a new State into
the Union, with such a Constitution as the people of that State may se
fit to make.

Q. 4. I want to know whether he stands to-day pledged to the aboli
tion of slavery in the District of Columbia ?

A. I do not stand to-day pledged to the abolition of slavery in the
District of Columbia.

Q. 5. I desire him to answer whether he stands pledged to the pro
hibition of the slave-trade between the different States ?

A. I do not stand pledged to the prohibition of the slave-trade be
tween the different States.

Q, 0. I desire to know whether he stands pledged to prohibit


in all the Territories of the United States, North a? well as South of the
Missouri Compromise line ?

A. I am impliedly, if not expressly, pledged to a belief in the riyht
and duty of Congress to prohibit slavery in all the United States Terri

Q. 7. I desire him to answer whether he is opposed to the acquisition
of any new territory unless slavery is first prohibited therein ?

A. I am not generally opposed to honest acquisition of territory; and,
in any given case, I would or would not oppose such acquisition, accord
ingly as I might think such acquisition would or would not aggravate the
slavery question among ourselves.

Before answering these questions, Mr. Lincoln notified
Mr. Douglas that lie should insist upon the right to pro
pound an equal number to him, if he desired to do so,
and before closing submitted these four interrogatories :

Question 1. If the people of Kansas shall, by means entirely unob
jectionablo m all other respects, adopt a State Constitution, and ask
admission into the Union under it, before they have the requisite number
of inhabitants according to the English bill some ninety-three thousand
will you vote to admit them ?

Q. 2. Can the people of a United States Territory, in any lawful way,
against the wish of any citizen of the United States, exclude slavery from
its limits prior to the formation of a State Constitution ?

Q. 3. If the Supreme Court of the United States shall decide that
States cannot exclude slavery from their limits, are you in favor of ac
quiescing in, adopting, and following such decision as a rule o f politics!
action ?

Q. 4. Are you in favor of acquiring additional territory, in disregard
of how such acquisition may affect the nation on the slavery question ?

To these questions he received, as he undoubtedly ex
pected, only evasive replies. He also, in the course of
the debate, pressed home upon his opponent a charge of
quoting resolutions as having been adopted at a Repub
lican State Convention which were never so adopted, and
again called Douglas s attention to the conspiracy to
nationalize slavery, and 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 show^i by his voting against Mr,


Chase s amendment to the Nebraska bill, which gave
the leave to exclude it.

In the third debate, which took place at Jonesboro, Mr.
Lincoln showed that Douglas and his friends were hying
to- change the position of the country on the slavery
question from what it was when the Constitution was
adopted, and that the disturbance of the country had
arisen from tliis pernicious effort. He then cited from
^Democratic speeches and platforms of formtr days to
prove that they occupied then the very opposite ground
on the question from that which was taken at the time he
was speaking. He also brought out in strong relief the
evasive character of Douglas s answers to the questions
which he had proposed, especially the subterfuge of "un
friendly legislation," which he had set forth as the means
by which the people of a Territory could exclude slavery
from itb limits in spite of the Dred Scott decision.

It is a noteworthy fact that when Mr. Lincoln was pre
paring these questions for Douglas, he was urged by some
of his friends not to corner him on this last point, because
he would surely stand by his doctrine of Squatter Sov
ereignty in defiance of the Dred Scott decision, "and
that, said they, "will make him Senator." "That may
be," said Mr. Lincoln, with a twinkle in his eye, " but if
he takes that shoot he never can be President."

Mr. Lincoln s sagacity did not fail him here. This posi
tion which Douglas took of "unfriendly legislation,"
was a stumbling-block which lie was never able to get
wer ; and if the contest between them had brought out
MO other good result, the compelling Douglas to take this
ground was a most important point gained.

In the fourth joint debate at Charleston, Mr. Lincoln
brought forward and spoke at length upon the evidence
of a charge previously made by Judge Trumbull against
Douglas, of being himself reponsible for a clause in the
Kansas bill which would have deprived the people of
Kansas of the right to vote upon their own Constitution

He stated this point as follows :



Tfce bill that went into his (Mr. Douglas s) hands had the provision in it
for submission of the Constitution to the people ; and I say its language
amounts to an express provision for a submission, and that he took the
provision out. He says it was known that the bill was silent in this
particular; but I say. Judge, Don y lux. it was not silent when you got it.
It was vocal with the declaration, when you got it, for a submission of
the Constitution to tne people. And now, my direct question to Judga
Douglas is, to answer why, if he deemed the bill silent on this point, he
found it necessary to strike out those particular harmless words. If r*
Lad found the bill silent and without this provision, he might say wl At
>e h/es now. If he supposes it was implied that the Constitution would
o submitted to a vote of the people, how could these two lines so cn-
tumber the statute us to make it necessary to strike them out ? How
tould he infer that a submission was still implied, after its express provi
sion had been stricken from the bill? I find the bill vocal with the pro
vision, -while he silenced it. He took it out, and although he took out
the other provision preventing a submission to a vote of the people, I ask,
IT//?/ did you firzt put it in? I ask him w nether he took the original
provision oat, which Trmnbull alleges was in the bill ? If he admits that he
did take it out, / ask him what he did it for? It looks to us as if he had
altered the bill. If it looks differently to him if he has a different reason
for his action from the one we assign him he can tell it. I insist upon
Knowing why he made the bill silent upon that point, when it was vocal
before he put his hands upon it.

Mr. Douglas, it is needless to say, could not parry this
home thrust. In Ms efforts to do so (for Mr. Lincoln gave
him several opportunities subsequently to explain his
position), he invariably lost his temper.

In view of the discussions now in progress in many
parts of the country, the following passage from Mr. Lin
coln s final rejoinder to Mr. Douglas, in this debate at
Charleston, possesses peculiar interest.

Judge Douglas has said to you that he has not been able to get from
me an answer to the question whether I am in favor of negro citizenship.
So far. as I know, the Judge never asked rne the question before. He
shall have no occasion to ever ask it again, for I tell him very frankly
that I am not in favor of negro citizenship. This furnishes me an occa
sion for saying a few words upon the subject. I mentioned in a certain
speech of mine which has been printed, that the Supreme Court had
decided that a negro could not possibly be made a citizen; and with
out saying what was my ground of complaint in regard to that, oi
whether I had any ground of complaint, Judge Douglas has from thai


thing manufactured nearly every thing that he ever says about nay dispo
sition to produce an equality between the negroes and the white people.
If any one will read my speech, he will find I mentioned that as one of
the points decided in the course of the Supreme Court opinions, but 1 did
not state what objection I had to it. But Judge Douglas tells the people
what my objection was, when I did not tell them myself. Now my opinion
is that the different States have the power to make a negro a citizen under
the Constitution of the United States, if they choose. The Dred Scott
decision decides that they have not that power. If the State of lllinoii
had that power I should be opposed to the exercise of it. That is all I
have to say about it.

In the fifth joint debate, that at Galesburg, Mr. Lincoln
defended the Republican party from the charge of being
sectional, and in the course of his speech he thus pointedly
sketched the difference between the supporters of Mr.
Douglas and their opponents, as regarded the manner in
which they respectively looked upon the free and slave
States :

The Judge tells, in proceeding, that he is opposed to making any odious
distinctions between free and slave States. I am altogether unaware that
the Republicans are in favor of making any odious distinctions between
the free and slave States. But there still is a difference, I think, between
Judge Douglas and the Republicans in this. I suppose that the real dif
ference between Judge Douglas and his friend*, and the Republicans on
the contrary, is, that the Judge is not in favor of making any difference
between slavery and liberty that he is in favor of eradicating, of pressing
out of view, the questions of preference in this country for free or slave
institutions; and consequently every sentiment he utters discards the idea
that there is any wrong in slavery. Every thing that emanates from him
or his coadjutors in their course of policy, carefully excludes the thought
that there is any thing wrong in slavery. All their arguments, if you
will consider them, will be seen to exclude the thought that there is any
thing whatever wrong in slavery. If you will take the Judge s speech^,
and select the short and pointed sentences expressed by him as !-,
declaration that he "don t care whether slavery is voted up or down"
you will see at once that this is perfectly logical, if you do not admit that
slavery is wrong. If you do admit that it is wrong, Judge Douglas cannot
logically say he don t care whether a wrong is voted up or voted down.
Judge Douglas declares that if any community want slavery they have &
right to have it. He can say that logically, if he says that there is no
wrong in slavery ; but if you admit that there is a wrong in it, he cannot
logically Ray that anybody has a right to do wrong. He insists that,
upon the score of equality, the owners of slaves aiid the owners of property


of horses and every other sort of property should be alike, and hold
them alike in a new Territory. That is perfectly logical, if the two
species of property are alike, and are equally founded in right. But if you
admit that one of them is wrong, you cannot institute any equality be
tween right and wrong. And from this difference of sentiment the belief
on the part of one that the institution is wrong, and a policy springing
from that belief which looks to the arrest of the enlargement of that
wrong ; and this other sentiment, that it is no wrong, and a policy sprung
from that sentiment which will tolerate no idea of preventing that wrong
from growing larger, and looks to there never being an end of it through
all the existence of things arises the real difference between Judge
Doughs and his friends on the one hand, and the Eepublicans on the
other. Now, I confess myself as belonging to that class in the country
who contemplate slavery as a moral, social, and political evil, having due
regard for its actual existence amongst us, and the difficulties of getting
rid of it in any satisfactory way, and to all the Constitutional obligations
which have been thrown about it ; but, nevertheless, desire a policy that
looks to the prevention of it as a wrong, and looks hopefully to the time
when, as a wrong, it may come to an end.

Mr. Lincoln also, after again calling attention to the
fraudulent resolutions, and giving strong proof that Doug
las himself was a party to the imposition, showed that he
had failed to answer his question about the acceptance
of the new Dred Scott decision, which, he said, was " just
as sure to "be made as to-morrow is to come, if the Demo
cratic party shall be sustained" in the elections. He then
discussed the policy of acquiring more territory, and the
importance of deciding upon any such acquisition, by the
effect which it would have upon the Slavery question
among ourselves.

In the next debate, at Quincy, besides making some
personal points as to the mode in which Douglas had con -
ducted the previous discussions, he stated clearly and
briefly what were the principles of the Republican party,
what they proposed to do, and what they did not propose
to do.

This exposition is at once so lucid and succinct that
we give the passage at length. Mr. Lincoln alluded to the
assertion made by Judge Douglas at Galesburg, that he
(Mr, Lincoln) desired to avoid the responsibility attach


ing to the " enormity" of the principles he advocated, and
said that he would heartily state those principles, as well
as it was in his power to do, " in all their enormity,
which he did as follows :

We have in this nation this element of domestic slavery. It is a matter
of absolute certainty that it is a disturbing element. It is the opinion of !
all the great men who have expressed an opinion upon it, that it is a dan !
gerous element. We keep up a controversy in regard to it. That contro
versy necessarily springs from difference of opinion, and if we can learn
exactly can reduce to the lowest elements what that difference of opinion
is. we perhaps shall be better prepared for discussing the different systems
of policy that we would propose in regard to that disturbing element.
I suggest that the difference of opinion, reduced to its lowest terms, is no
other than the difference between the men who think slavery a wrong
and those who do not think it wrong. The Republican party think it
a wrong w r e think it is a moral, a social, and a political wrong. We
think it is a wrong not confining itself merely to the persons or the states
where it exists, but that it is a wrong in its tendency, to say the least, that
extends itself to the existence of the whole nation. Because we think it
wrong, we propose a course of policy that shall deal with it as a wrong.
We deal with it as with any other wrong, in so far as we can prevent its
growing any larger, and so deal with it that in the run of time there may
be some promise of an end to it. We have a due regard to the actual
presence of it amongst us, and the difficulties of getting rid of it in any
satisfactory way, and all the Constitutional obligations thrown about it.
I suppose that in reference both to its actual existence in the n ition, and
to our Constitutional obligations, we have no right at all to disturb it in
the States where it exists, and we profess that we have no more inclina
tion to disturb it than we have the right to do it. We go further than
that; we don t propose to disturb it where, in one instance, we think the
Constitution would permit us. We think the Constitution would permit
33 to disturb it in the District of Columbia. Still we do not propose to
lo that, unless it should be in terms which I don t suppose the nation is
very likely soon to agree to the terms of making the emancipation
gradual, and compensating the unwilling owners. Where we suppose we
have the Constitutional right, we restrain ourselves in reference to the
actual existence of the institution and the difficulties thrown about it.
We also oppose it as an evil, so far as it seeks to spread itself. We insist
on the policy that shall restrict it to its present limits. We don t suppose
that in doing this we violate any thing due to the actual presence of the
institution, or an/ thing due to the Constitutional guaranties thrown
around it.

"We oppose the Dred Scott decision in a certain way, upon which I


ought perhaps to address you a few \vorcK "We do not propose that
rhen Dred Scott has been decided to be a slave by the court, wo, as a
mob, will decide him to be free. We do not propose that, when any
other one, or one thousand, shall be decided by that court to be slaves,
we will in any violent way disturb the rights of property thus settled ;
but we nevertheless do oppose that decision as a political rule, which
shall bo binding on the voter to vote for nobody who thinks it wrong,
which shall be binding on the members of Congress or the President to

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 6 of 42)