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 7 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 7 of 42)
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favor no measure that does not actually concur with the principles of that
decision. We do not propose to be bound by it as a political rule in that
way, because we think it lays the foundation not merely of enlarging
and spreading out what we consider an evil, but it lays the foundation for
spreading that evil into the States themselves. We propose so resisting
it as to have it reversed if we can, and a new judicial rule established
upon this subject.

I will add this, that if there be any man who does not believe that
slavery is wrong in the three aspects which I have mentioned, or in any
one of them, that man is misplaced, and ought to leave us. While, on the
other hand, if there be any man in the Republican party who is impa
tient over the necessity springing from its actual presence, and is impa
tient of the Constitutional guaranties thrown around it, and would act in
disregard of these, he too is misplaced, standing with us. He will find his
place somewhere else ; for we have a due regard, so far as we are capable
of understanding them, for all these things. This, gentlemen, as well as
I can give it, is a plain statement of our principles in all their enormity.

Mr. Douglas replied to Mr. Lincoln in a manner which
proved that he felt the arguments which his antagonist
had advanced to "be actually unanswerable, and in open
ing his rejoinder Mr. Lincoln used this language :

I wish to return to Judge Douglas my profound thanks for his public
annunciation here to-day, to be put on record, that his system of policy
n regard to the institution of slavery contemplates that it shall last for-
* dter. We are getting a little nearer the true issue of this controversy, and
I am profoundly grateful for this one sentence. Judge Douglas asks you,
* Why cannot the institution of slavery, or rather, why cannot the nation,
part slave and part free, continue as our fathers made it forever?" In the
first p^ace, I insist that our fathers did not make this nation half slave
and half free, or part slave and part free. I insist that they found the in
stitution of slavery existing here. They did not make it so, but they left
it so, because they knew of no way to get rid of it at that time. When
Judge Douglas undertakes to say that, as a matter of choice, the fathers
f the Government made this nation part .slave and part free, he assumes
what u historically a falsehood. .More than that : when the fathers


of the Government cut off the source of slavery by the abolition of
the slave-trade, and adopted a system of restricting it from the new
Territories where it had not existed, I maintain that they placed it
where they understood, and all sensible men understood, it was in the
course of ultimate extinction ; and when Judge Douglas asks me why it
cannot continue as our fathers made it, I ask him why he and his friends
could not let it remain as our fathers made it ?

It is precisely all I ask of him in relation to the institution of slavery,
that it shall be placed upon the basis that our fathers placed it upon. Mr.
Brooks, of South Carolina, once said, and truly, said, that when this Gcv-,
ernment was established, no one expected the institution of slavery to
last until this day ; and that the men who formed this Government were
wiser and better than the men of these days ; but the men of these days
had experience which the fathers had not, and that experience had taught
them the invention of the cotton-gin, and this had made the perpetuation
of the institution of slavery a necessity in this country. Judge Douglas
could not let it stand upon the basis on which our fathers placed it, but
removed it, and put it upon the cotton-gin lasis. It is a question, there
fore, for him and his friends to answer why they could not let it remain
where the fathers of the Government originally placed it.

The seventh, and last joint debate took place at Alton,
October 15. According to the schedule previously agreed
upon, Mr. Douglas had the opening speech. Mr. Lincoln,
in his rejoinder, made a thorough and exhaustive review
of the slavery question in its relations to the Democratic
party. He showed that the doctrines of that party, with
reference to this question, were not those held at the time
of the Revolution ; traced the development of the agita
tion which had resulted from the efforts of the Democracy
to put slavery upon a different footing, and sketched the
dangers and difficulties in which this attempt had in
volved the country. He thus expressed his opinion of I
the way in which this agitation might be terminated :

I have intimated that I thought the agitation would not cease until a
crisis should have been reached and passed. I have stated in what way I
thought it would be reached and passed. I have said that it might go
one way or the other. We might, by arresting the further spread of it,
and placing it where the fathers originally placed it, put it where Jie pub
lic mind should rest in the belief that it was in the course of ultimate ex
tinction. Thus the agitation may cease. It may be pushed forward until
It shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new, North a*
well as South. I have said, and I repeat, my wish is that the furthei


spread of it may be arrested, and that it may be placed where the public
mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction.
I have expressed that as my wish. I entertain the opinion, upon eridence
sufficient to my mind, that the fathers of this Government placed that in
stitution where the public mind did rest in the belief that it was in the
course of ultimate extinction. Let me ask why they made provision that
the source of slavery the African slave-trade should be cut off at the
j end of twenty years ? Why did they make provision that in all the new
territory we owned at that thne, slavery should be forever inhibited?
Why stop its spread in one direction and cut off its source in another, il
they did not look to its being placed in the course of ultimate extinction 1

Mr. Lincoln then demonstrated that the whole contro
versy turned upon the vital question whether slavery
was wrong or not, and proved that the sentiment of the
Democratic party, as it then existed, was that it was not
wrong, and that Douglas and those who sympathized
with him did not desire or ever expect to see the country
freed from this gigantic evil. Upon this point he said :

The sentiment that contemplates the institution of slavery in this coun
try as a wrong is the sentiment of the Republican party. It is the senti
ment around which all their actions all their arguments circle from
which all their propositions radiate. They look upon it as being a moral,
social, and political wrong; and while they contemplate it as such, they
nevertheless have due regard for its actual existence among us, and the
difficulties of getting rid of it in any satisfactory way, and to all the con
stitutional obligations thrown about it. Yet, having a due regard foi
these, they desire a policy in regard to it that looks to its not creating
iny more danger. They insist that it should, as far as may be, be treated
. < a wrong, and one of the metnods of treating it as a wrong is to make
provision that it shall grow no larger. They also desire a policy that
looks to a peaceful end of slavery at some time, as being wrong. These
tre the views they entertain in regard to it, as I understand them ; and all
their sentiments all their arguments and propositions are brought within
this range. I have said, and I repeat it here, that if there be a man amongst
us who does not think that the institution of slavery is wrong, in any one
of the aspects of which I have spoken, he is misplaced, and ought not to be
with us. And if there be a man amongst us who is so impatient of it as a
wrong as to disregard its actual presence among us, and the difficulty of
getting rid of it suddenly in a satisfactory way, and to disregard the con
stitutional obligations thrown about it, that man is misplaced, if he is on
our platform. We disclaim sympathy with him in practical action. H$
\ not placed properly with us,.


On this subject of treating it as a wrong, and limiting its spread, let
Die say a word. lias any thing ever threatened the existence of this Union,
save and except this very institution of slavery? "What is it that we hold
most dear amongst us? Our o\vn liberty and prosperity. What lias ever
threatened our liberty and prosperity, save and except this institution of
slavery? If this is true, how do you propose to improve the condition of
things by enlarging slavery by spreading it out and making it bigger
You may have a wen or cancer upon your person and not be able to cu s
it out lest you bleed to death ; but surely it is no way to cure it, to en v
graft it and spread it over your whole body. That is no proper way 01
treating what you regard a wrong. You see this peaceful way of dealing
with it as a wrong restricting the spread of it, and not allowing it to go
iato new countries where it has not already existed. That is the peaceful
way, the old-fashioned way, the way in which the fathers themselves set
us the example.

On the other hand, I have said there is a sentiment which treats it as
not being wrong. That is the Democratic sentiment of this day. I do
not mean to say that every man who stands within that range positively
asserts that it is right. That class will include all who positively assert
that it is right, and all who, like Judge Douglas, treat it as indifferent, and
do not say it is either right or wrong. These two classes of men fall
within the general class of those who do not look upon it as a wrong.
Aoid if there be among you anybody who supposes that he, as a Demo
crat, can consider himself "as much opposed to slavery as anybody," I
would like to reason with him. You never treat it as a wrong. What
other thing that you consider as a wrong, do you deal with as you deal
with that? Perhaps you say it is wrong, but your leader never does, and
f ou quarrel with anybody who says it is wrong. Although you pretend
to say so yourself, you can find no fit place to deal with it as a wrong.
You must not say any thing about it in the free States, because it is not
here. You must not say any thing about it in the slave States, because it;
its there. You must not say any thing about it in the pulpit, because that
b religion, and has nothing to do with it. You must not say any thing
about it in politics, because that will disturb the security of "my place."
There is no place to talk about it as being a wrong, although you say
yourself it is a wrong. But, finally, you will screw yourself up to the be
lief that if the people of the slave States should adopt a system of grad
ual emancipation on the slavery question, you would be in favor of it.
Ton would be in favor of it. You say that is getting it in the right p^ce,
und you would be glad to see it succeed. But you are deceiving yourself.
Tou all know that Frank Blair and Gratz Brown, down there in St. Louis,
ondertook to introduce that system into Missouri. They fought as vali
antly as they could for the system of gradual emancipation which you
pretend you would be glad to see succeed. Now I will bring you to the
teat. After a hard fight they were beaten, and when the news came over


here you threw up yonr hats and hurrahed for Democracy. More th&a
that; tai:e all the arguments made in favor of the system you hav 7 e pro>-
posed, and it carefully excludes the idea that there is any thingr wrong in
the institution of slavery. The arguments to sustain that policy carefully
excluded it. Even here to-day you heard Judge Douglas quarrel with me
because I uttered a wish that it might sometime come to an end. Al
though Henry Clay could say he wished every slave in the United State*
was in the country of his ancestors, I am denounced by those pretending
to respect Henry Clay for uttering a wish that it might sometime, in some
peaceful way, come to an end. The Democratic policy in regard to that
institution will not tolerate the merest breath, the slightest hint, of the
least degree of wrong about it.

Besides the speeches made in the course of these seven
joint debates, Mr. Lincoln delivered at least fifty other
addresses to the people, in all parts of the State, during
the canvass, everywhere expounding his views and de
claring his sentiments with the same frankness and man
liness. The chief interest of the contest, however, cen
tred in their joint debates, and with every succeed
ing encounter the feeling in the State, and through
out the country, became more intense. As the day
for final decision approached, Illinois fairly blazed
with the excitement. While Mr. Douglas fully sus
tained his previous reputation, and justified the estimate
his friends had placed upon his abilities, he labored un
der the comparative disadvantage of being much better
known to the country at large than was his antagonist
During his long public career, people had become par
tially accustomed to his manner of presenting arguments
and enforcing them. The novelty and freshness of Mr.
Lincoln s addresses, on the other hand, the homeliness
and force of his illustrations, their wonderful pertinence,
his exhaustless humor, his confidence in his own re
sources, engendered by his firm belief in the justice of
the cause he so ably advocated, never once rising, how
ever, to the point of arrogance or superciliousness, fast
ened upon him the eyes of the people everywhere, frienda
and opponents alike. It was not strange that more than
once, during the course of the unparalleled excitement


which marked this canvass, Mr. Douglas should have
been thrown off his guard by the singular self-possession
displayed by his antagonist, and by the imperturbable firm
ness with which he maintained and defended a posi
tion once assumed. The unassuming confidence which
marked Mr. Lincoln s conduct was early imparted to his
aip porters, and each succeeding encounter added largely
to the number of his friends, until they began to indulge
the hope that a triumph might be secured in spite of the
adverse circumstances under which the struggle was com
menced. And so it would have been, had party lines
been more strictly drawn. But the action of Mr. Doug
las with reference to the Lecompton Constitution when it
was before the United States Senate, and the bitter hos
tility of the southern wing of the Democratic party to
wards him, had led very many Republicans, and some of
fiigh consideration and influence in other States, to favor
bis return to the Senate. They deemed this due to the
seal and efficiency with which he had resisted the attempt
to force slavery into Kansas against the will of the peo
ple, and as important in encouraging other Democratic
leaders to imitate the example of Douglas in throwing off
the yoke of the slaveholding aristocracy. This feeling
proved to be of much weight against Mr. Lincoln in the

In the election which took place on November 2d, the
popular vote stood as follows :

Republican . 126,084

Douglas Democrat 121,940

Lecompton Democrat 5,091

Mr. Lincoln, therefore, had the people been permitted
to decide the question directly, would have been returned
to the Senate, since he had a plurality of four thousand
one hundred and forty- four votes over Mr. Douglas ; but
the State legislature was the tribunal that was to pass
finally upon it ; and there, fortunately for the country,
as the future showed, but unfortunately for Mr. Lincoln


at that time, the Democrats had secured an advantage, by
means of an unfair districting of the State, which it was
impossible to overcome. Notwithstiindiug the immense
gains made by the Republicans, their opponents had, in
the upper branch of this body, fourteen members to their
eleven, while in the lower House these two parties stood
forty Democrats to thirty-live Republicans. This state
of affairs secured Mr. Douglas a re-election, although the
fact that he was fairly beaten on the popular vote, robbed
his triumph of much of its lustre. An overruling Prov
idence, the workings of which can now be clearly traced,
but which were then inscrutable, by securing this result,
ultimately gave the nation for its chief magistrate the
man best fitted to carry it saMy through the most trying
period of its history.





CHEERFULLY resigning himself to the fortunes of politi
cal warfare, Mr. Lincoln, upon the close of this canvass,
returned to the practice of his profession. But he was
not long allowed to remain in retirement. In the autumn
of 1859 the Democrats of Ohio nominated Mr. Pugh aa
their candidate for governor, and to repay the fidelity
with which he had followed his standard, as well as in
the hope of securing important advantages for the democ
racy, Mr. Douglas was enlisted in the canvass. The
Republicans at once appealed to Mr. Lincoln to come to
their assistance. He promptly responded to the invita
tion to meet his eld antagonist, and more than sustained
his great reputation by two speeches, one delivered at
Columbus and the other at Cincinnati. Not fully satis
fied with the position in which the close of the canvass in
Illinois had left his favorite doctrine of Popular Sover
eignty, Mr. Douglas had secured the insertion in Harper s
Magazine of an elaborate and carefully prepared article
explaining his views at length. Mr. Lincoln s speech at
Columbus was a most masterly review of this paper.
After replying briefly to the identically stale charges
which Mr. Douglas had so often repeated during the can
vass in Illinois, and which he had reiterated in a speech
delivered at Columbus a few days previously, Mr. Lin
coln addressed himself to the task he had in hand, as fol
lows :

The Republican party, as I understand its principles and policy, believe
that there is great danger of the institution of slavery being spread out


and extended, until it is ultimately made alike lawful in ail the States of
this Union ; so believing, to prevent that incidental and ultimate omisuiu
mation, is the original and chief purpose of the Republican organization.
I say " chief purpose" of the Republican organization ; for it is certainly
true that if the National House shall fall into the hands of the Republicans,
they will have to attend to all the other matters of national house-keep
ing as well as this. The chief and real purpose of the Republican party
is eminently conservative. It proposes nothing save and except to restore
this Government to its original tone in regard to this element of slavery,
and there to maintain it, looking for no further change in reference to it
than that which the original framers of the Government themselves ex
pected and looked forward to.

The chief danger to this purpose of the Republican party is not just
now the revival of the African slave-trade, or the passage of a Congres
sional slave-code, or the declaring of a second Dred Scott decision, making
slavery lawful in all the States. These are not pressing as just now.
They are not quite ready yet. The authors of these measures know that
we are too strong for them; but they will be upon us in due time, and w
will be grappling with them hand to hand, if they are not now headed ofl.
They are not now the chief danger to the purpose of the Republican
organization; but the most imminent danger that now threatens that pur
pose is that insidious Douglas Popular Sovereignty. This is the mine!
and sapper. While it does not propose to revive the African slave-trade,
noi- to pas- a slave - code, nor to umke a second Dred Scott decision, it ij
preparing us for the onslaught and charge of these ultimate enemies when
they shall be ready to come on, and the word of command for them to
advance shall be given. I say this Douglas Popular Sovereignty for
there is a broad distinction, as I now understand it, between that article
and a genuine Popular Sovereignty.

I believe there is a genuine popular sovereignty. I think a definition
of genuine popular sovereignty, in the abstract, would be about this:;
That each man shall do precisely as he pleases with himself, uid with all
those things which exclusively concern him. Applied to Government,
this principle would be, that a General Government shall do all those
things which pertain to it, and all the local Governments shall do pre
cisely as they please in respect to those matters which exclusively concern
them. I understand that this Government of the United States, under
which we live, is based upon this principle ; and I am misunderstood il
it is supposed that I have any war to make upon that principle.

Now, what is Judge Douglas s Popular Sovereignty ? It is, as a prin
ciple, nc other than that, if one man chooses to make a s^ve of another
man, neither that other man nor anybody else has a right to object
Applied in Government, as he seeks to apply it, it is this : If, in a new
Territory into which a few people are beginning to enter for the purpose
01 making their homes, they choose to either exclude slavery from their


limits or to establish it there, however one or the other may affect tli
persons to be enslaved, or the infinitely greater number of persons who
are afterward to inhabit that Territory, or the other members of the fami
lies of communities, of which they are but an incipient member, or tho
general head of the family of States, as parent of all however their action
may affect one or the other of these, there is no power or right to ictcr-
fore. That is Douglas s Popular Sovereignty applied.

ile has a good deal of trouble with Popular Sovereignty. His explana
uus explanatory of explanations explained are interminable. The most
lengthy, and, as I suppose, the most maturely considered of his long seriei
of explanations, is his great essay in Harper s Magazine.

This exordium was followed Ly a speech which will
rank among the ablest efforts of Mr. Lincoln. In an
argument in which great sarcasm and humor were charac
teristically intermingled, he thoroughly exposed the
fallacy of the positions taken by Mr. Douglas, and in
conclusion, after again warning his hearers against the
iasidious dangers of this doctrine of popular sovereignty,
p/iid :

Did you ever, five years *go, hear of anybody in the world ying that
>>e negro had no share m the Declaration of National Independence ; that
t did not mean negroes at all ; arid when " all men " were spoken of,
negroes were not included ?

I am satisfied *hat five years ago that proposition was not put upon
paper by any living being anywhere. I have been unable at any time
to find a man in an audience who would declare that he had ever known
of anybody saying so five years ago. But last year there was not a
Douglas popular sovereign in Illinois who did not say it. Is there one in
Ohio but declares his firm belief that the Declaration of Independence did
not mean negroes at all ? I do not know how this ia ; I have not been
Uere much ; but I presume you are very much alike everywhere. Then
I suppose that all now express the belief that the Declaration of Inde
pendence never did mean negroes. I call upon one of them to say that
he said it live years ago.

If you think that now, and did not think it then, tne next tnlng that
strikes me is to remark that there has been a change wrought in you, and
a very significant change it is, being no less than changing the negro, in
your estimation, from the rank of a man to that of a brute. They me
taking him down, and placing him, when spoken of, among reptiles and
crocodiles, as Judge Douglas himself expresses it.

Is not this change wrought in your mmas a very important change ?
Public opinion in this country is ever/ thing. In a nation like ours, tbis
popular sovereignty aud squatter sovereignty have already wrought a


change in the public mind to the extent I have stated. There is no nan
in this crowJ who can contradict it.

Now, if you are opposed to slavery honestly, as much as anybody, i

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 7 of 42)