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 8 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 8 of 42)
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ask you to note that fact, and the like of which is to follow, to D
plastered on, layer after layer, until very soon you are prepared to
deal with the negro everywhere as with the brute. If public sen
timent has not been debauched already to this point, a new turn of
the screw in that direction is all that is wanting; and this is con
stantly being done by the teachers of this insidious popular sovereignty.
You need but one or two turns further until your minds, now ripening
under these teachings, will be ready for all these things, and you will r
ceive and support, or submit to, thu slave-trade, revived with all ii-
horrors, a slave-code enforced in our Territories, and a new Dred Sr ott
decision to bring slavery up into the very heart of the free North. This,
I must say, is but carrying out those words prophetically spoken by Mr.
Clay, many, many years ago I believe more than thirty years, when he
told an audience that if they would repress all tendencies to liberty and
ultimate emancipation, th sy must go back to the era of our independence,
and muzzle the cannon which thundered its annual joyous return on the
Fourth of July ; they must blow out the moral lights around us ; they
must penetrate the human soul and eradicate the love of liberty ; but until
they did these things, and others eloquently enumerated by him, they
could not repress all tendencies to ultimate emancipation.

I ask attention to the fact that in a pre-eminent degree these popular
sovereigns are at this work; blowing out the moral lights around us;
teaching that the negro is no longer a man, but a brute ; that the Declara
tion has nothing to do with him ; that he ranks with the crocodile and
the reptile ; that man, with body and soul, is a matter of dollars and
cents. I suggest to this portion of the Ohio Republicans, or Democrats,
if there be any present, the serious consideration of this fact, that there ia
now going on among you a steady process of debauching public opinion
on this subject. With this, my friends, I bid you adieu.

In his speech at Cincinnati, Mr. Lincoln addressed him
self particularly to the Kentuckians whom he supposed
to "be among his hearers, and after advising them to nom
inate Mr. Douglas as their candidate for the Presidency
at the approaching Charleston Convention, showed them
how by so doing they would the most surely protect their
cherished institution of slavery. In the course of his
argument he expressed this shrewd opinion, which may
now be classed as a prophecy :

It ia but my opinion; I give it to you without a fee. It is my opinion



that it is for you to take him ["MY. Douglas] or be defeated ; and that il
you do take him, you may be bca cii. You \vill surely be beaten it you
do uot take him. We, the Republicans and others forming the opposition
of the country, intend to " stand by our guns/ to bo patient and linn, and
in the long run to beat you, whether you take him or not, We know that
before we fairly beat you, we have to beat you both together. We know
that you are u all of a feather," and that we have to beat you altogether,
and we expect ro do it. We don t intend to be very impatient about it.
Wo mean to be as deliberate and calm about it as it is possible to be, bufc
.as firm and resolved as it is possible for men to be. When we do as we
say, beat you, you perhaps want to know what we will do with yon.
} I will tell you, so far as I am authorized to speak for the opposition,
what we mean to do with you. We mean to treat you, as near as WQ
possibly can, as Washington, Jefferson, and Madison treated you. We
mean to leave you alone, and in no way to interfere with your institution ;
to abide by all and every compromise of the Constitution, and, in a word,
coming back to the original proposition, to treat you, so far as degener
ated men (if we have degenerated) may, accc rding to the examples ol
those noble fathers Washington, Jefferson, and Madison. We mean to
remember that you are as good as we ; that there is no difference between
us other than the difference of circumstances. We mean to recognize and
bear in mind always that you have as good hearts in your bosoms as other
people, or as we claim to have, and treat you accordingly. We mean to
marry your girls when we have a chance the white ones, I mean, and I
have the honor to inform you that I once did have a chance in that way.
I have told you what we mean to do. I want to know, now, when
that thing takes place, what do you mean to do? I often hear it inti
mated that you mean to divide the Union whenever a Republican, or any
thing like it, is elected President of the United States. [A voice " That
is so."] " That is so," one of them says ; I wonder if he is aKentuckian ?
[A voice " He is a Douglas mau."J Well, then, I want to know what
you are going to do with your half of it? Are you going to split tho
Ohio down through, and push your half off a piece ? Or are you going to
keep it right alongside of us outrageous fellows ? Or are you going to
build up a wall some way between your country and ours, by which thai
movable property of yours can t come over here any more, to the danger
of your losing it ? Do you think you can better yourselves on that sub
ject, by leaving us here under no obligation whatever to return thos
specimens of your movable property that come hither? You have divided
the Union because we would not do right with you, as you think, upon,
that subject; when we cease to be under obligations to do any thing for
you, low much better off do you think you will be ? Will you make war
upon us and kill us all ? Why, gentlemen, I think you are as gallant and
as brave men as live ; that you can fight as bravely in a good cause, inai;
foi man, as any other people liviiug; that you have shown youraehae


capable of this upon various occasions; but, man for man, you are not
better than we are, and there are not so ninny of you as there are of na.
You will never make much of a hand at whipping us. If we were fewer
in numbers than you, 1 think that you could whip us; if we were equal,
it would likely be a drawn battle ; but, being inferior in numbers, you wU
make nothing by attempting to master us.

But perhaps I have addressed myself as long, or longer, to the Keu-
tuckians than I ought to have done, inasmuch as I have said that what
ever coarse you take, we intend in the end to beat you.

The rest of this address was mainly occupied with a
discussion of the policy which the Republican party
should pursue in the Presidential campaign then about to
open. The following passage from this part of the speech
is among the most notable of Mr. Lincoln s many noble
utterances :

In order to beat our opponents, I think we want and must have a
national policy in regard to the institution of slavery, that acknowledge*
and deals with that institution as being wrong. Whoever desires the pre
vention of the spread of slavery, and the nationalization of that institution,
yields ail when he yields to any policy that either recognizes slavery af
being right, or as being an indifferent thing. Nothing will make you sue
cessful but setting up a policy which shall treat the thing as being wrong
When I say this, I do not mean to say that this General Government la
charged with the duty of redressing or preventing all the wrongs in tlio
world; but do think that it is charged with preventing and redressing
all wrongs which are wrongs to itself. This Government is expressly
charged with the duty of providing for the general welfare. We believe
that the spreading out and perpetuity of the institution of slavery impairs
the general welfare. We believe nay, we know, that that is the only
thing that has ever threatened the perpetuity of the Union itself. The
only thing which has ever menaced the destruction of the government
under which we live, is this very thing.

To repress this thing, we think, is providing for the general welfare.
Our friends in Kentucky differ from us. We need not make our argu
ment for them, but we who think it is wrong in all its relations, or in
some of them at least, must decide as to our own actions, and our owa
course, upon our own judgment.

I say that we must not interfere with the institution of slavery in thf
States where it exists, because the Constitution for^^e it, and the general
welfare does not require us to do so. We must not withhold an efficient
Fugitive Slave law, because the Constitution requires us, as I understand
it, uot to withhold such a law. But we must prevent the outspreading
of the institution, because neither the Constitution nor the general welfare


requires us to extend it. "We must prevent the revival of the African blave
trade, aiid the enacting by Congress of a Territorial slave-code. We in us!
prevent each of these things being done by either Congresses or courts.
The people of these United States are the rightful masters of both Con
gresses and courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow
the men who pervert the Constitution.

To do these things we must employ instrumentalities. "We must hold
conventions ; we must adopt platforms, if we conform to ordinary custom ;
we must nominate candidates, and we must carry elections. In all these
things, I think that we ought to keep in view our real purpose, and in
none do any thing that stands adverse to our purpose. If we shall adopt
u platform that fails to recognize or express our purpose, or elect u man
that declares himself inimical to our purpose, we not only take nothing
by oar success, but we tacitly admit that wo act upon no other principle
than a desire to have " the loaves and fishes," by which, in the end, our
apparent success is really an injury to us.

During the latter part of that year (1859) Mr. Lincoln also
visited Kansas, and was greeted with enthusiastic cordial
ity "by the people, whose battles he had fought with such
masterly ability and skill. In February, 1860, in response
to an invitation from the Young Men s Republican Club,
he came to ISTew York, to deliver an address upon some
topic appropriate to the crisis which it was evident was ap
proaching. Tuesday evening, February 27th, was the hour,
and Cooper Institute was the place, selected for the first
appearance of the future President before the New York
public ; and a curiosity to see the man who had so ably
combated the " Little Giant" of the West, as well as aa
earnest desire to hear an expression of his views upon the
questions which were then so rapidly developing in im
portance, and beginning to agitate the public mind so
deeply, filled the large hall named to overflowing, with
an audience which comprised many ladies. William
Cullen Bryant presided, assisted by numerous prominent
politicians. He presented Mr. Lincoln to the audience
with a few appropriate remarks. Mr. Lincoln was quite
warmly received, and delivered an address which at times
excited uncontrollable enthusiasm. It was at once accepted
as one of the most important contributions to the current
political literature of the day, and now stands among the


enduring monuments to Mr. Lincoln s memory. We ap
pend it in full :

svJiU-h I shall deal this evening are mainly old and familiar; nor is thero
\i\y thing new in the general use I shall make of them. If there shall be
, my novelty, it will be in the mode of presenting the facts, and the infer
ences and observations following that presentation.

In his speech last autumn, at Columbus, Ohio, as reported in the "New
York Times," Senator Douglas said:

" Our fathers, when they framed the Government under which ice live,
understood this question just as well, and even letter than we do now."

I fully indorse this, and I adopt it as a text for this discourse. I so adopt-
it because it furnishes a precise and an agreed starting-point for a discus
lion between Republicans and that wing of the Democracy headed bj
Senator Douglas. It simply leaves the inquiry: " Wliat was the under
funding those fathers had of the question mentioned . ? "

What is the frame of Government under which we live ?

The answer must be : " The Constitution of the United States." Thai
Constitution consists of the original, framed in 1787 (and under which th<
present government first went into operation), and twelve subsequent!}
framed amendments, the first ten of which were framed in 1789.

Who were our fathers that framed the Constitution ? I suppose the
" thirty-nine " who signed the original instrument may be fairly called
our fathers who framed that part of the present Government. It is almost
exactly true to say they framed it, and it is altogether true to say they fair
ly represented the opinion arid sentiment of the whole nation at that time.

Their names, being familiar to nearly all. and accessible to quite all,
need not now be repeated.

I take these "thirty-nine," for the present, as being our "fathers who
framed the Government under which we live."

What is the question which, according to the text, those fathers under
stood "just as well, and even better than we do now ?"

It is this : Does the proper division of local from federal authority, 01
ai y thing in the Constitution, forbid our Federal Government to control
a* to slavery in our Federal Territories f

Upon this Senator Douglas holds the affirmative, and Republican* th
negative. This affirmation and denial form an issue, and this issue this
question is precisely what the text declares our fathers understood " bet
ter than we."

Let us now inquire whether the "thirty-nine," or any of them,
acted npon this question ; and if they did, how they acted upon it how
they expressed that better understanding?

In 178-4, three years before the Constitution tho United States tlwi!
cwnjngthe > y orth western Territory, and no other the Coagress of the Cou


federation had before them {ho question of prohibiting slavery in that Ter
ritory; and four of the "thirty nine," who afterward framed the Consti
tution, were in that Congress and voted on that question. Of these,
Roger Sherman, Thomas Mifflin, and II ugh Williamson voted for the pro
hibition, thus showing that, in their understanding, no line dividing local
from Federal authority, nor any thing else, properly forbade the Federal
Gt vernrnent to control as to slavery in Federal territory. The other of
the four James M Henry voted against the prohibition, showing thar.
tur some cause, he thought it improper to vote for it.

In 1787, still before the Constitution, but while the Convention was in
session framing it, and while the Northwestern Territory still was the orJy
territory owned by the United States, the same question of prohibiting
slavery in the territory again came before the Congress of the Confedera
tion ; and two more of the " thirty-nine " who afterward signed the Con
stitution were in that Congress, and voted on the question. They were
William Blount and William Few ; and they both voted for the prohibi
tion thus showing that, in their understanding, no line dividing local
from Federal authority, nor any thing else, properly forbade the Federal
Government to control as to slavery in Federal territory. This time tho
prohibition became a law, being part of what is now well known as the
Ordinance of 87.

The question of Federal control of slavery in the territories, seems not
to have been directly before the Convention which framed the original
Constitution ; and hence it is not recorded that the " thirty-nine," or any
of them, while engaged en that instrument, expressed any opinion on that
precise question.

In 1789, by the first Congress which sat under the Constitution, an act
was passed to enforce the Ordinance of 87, including the prohibition of
slavery in the Northwestern Territory. The bill for this act was reported
by one of the " thirty -nine," Thomas Fitzsimmons, then a member of the
House of Representatives from Pennsylvania. It went through all it?
stages without a word of opposition, and finally passed both branches with
out ye-a* and nays, which is equivalent to a unanimous passage. In this
Congress there were sixteen of the thirty -nine fathers who framed the
original Constitution. They were John Langdon, Nicholas Gilrnan, Wm.
S. Johnson, Roger Sherman, Robert Morris, Thos. Fitzsimmons, William
few, Abraham Baldwin, Rufus King, William Paterson, George Clymer,
Richard Bassett, George Read, Pierce Butler, Daniel Carroll, James Madi

This shows that, in their understanding, no line dividing local from Fed
eral authority, nor any thing in the Constitution, properly forbade Con
gress to prohibit slavery in the Federal territory ; else both their fidelity
to correct principles, and their oath to support the Constitution, would
have constrained them to oppose the prohibition.

Again: George Washington, another of the "thirty-nine," was thai


President of the United States, and, as such, approved and signed the bill ;
thus completing its validity as a law, and thus showing that, in his under
standing, no line dividing local from Federal authority, nor any thing in
the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery
in Federal territory.

No great while after the adoption of the original Constitution, North
Carolina ceded to tl e Federal Government the country now constituting
the State of Tennessee ; and, a few years later, Georgia ceded that which
now constitutes the States of Mississippi and Alabama. In both deeds of
cession it was made a condition by the ceding States that the Federal
] Government should not prohibit slavery in the ceded country. Beside*
jthis, slavery was then actually in the ceded country. Under these cir
cumstances, Congress, on taking charge of these countries, did not abso
lutely prohibit slavery within them. But they did interfere with it take
control of it even there, to a certain extent. In 1798, Congress organ
ized the Territory of Mississippi. In the act of organization, they prohib
ited the bringing of slaves into the Territory, from any place without the
United States, by fine, and giving freedom to slaves so brought. This act
passed both branches of Congress without yeas and nays. In that Con
gress were three of the "thirty-nine 1 who framed the original Constitu
tion. They were John Langdon, George Read, and Abraham Baldwin.
They all, probably, voted for it. Certainly they would have placed their
opposition to it upon record, if, in their understanding, any line dividing
local from Federal authority, or any thing in the Constitution, properly for
bade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in Federal territory.

In 1803, the Federal Government purchased the Louisiana country.
Our former territorial acquisitions came from certain of our own States ;
out this Louisiana country was acquired from a foreign nation. In 1804,
Congress gave a territorial organization to that part of it which now con
stitutes the State of Louisiana. New Orleans, lying within that part, wai
an old and comparatively large city. There were other considerable
towns and settlements, and slavery was extensively and thoroughly inter
mingled with the people. Congress did not, in the Territorial Act, pro-
I ibit slavery; but they did interfere with it take control of it in a
i lore marked and extensive way than they did in the case of Mississippi.
Ilie substance of the provision therein made in relation to slaves was:

First. That no slave should be imported into the territory from foreign
p arts.

Second. That no slave should be carried into it who had been imported
into the United States since the first day of May, 1708.

Third. That no slave should be carried into it except by the owner,
and for his own use as a settler; the penalty in all the cases being a fine
upon the violator of the law, and freedom to the slave.

This act also was passed without yeas and nays. In the Congress
which passed it, there were two of the u thirty -nine." They were Abra-

88 THE LIFE, PUBLIC SERVICES, AND Baldwin ind Jonathan Dayton. As stated in the case of Mississippi,
it is provable they both voted for it. They would not have allowed it to
pass without recording their opposition to it, if, in their understanding,
it violated either the line properly dividing local from Federal authority,
or any provision of the Constitution.

In 1819-20, came and passed the Missouri question. Many votes were
riiken, by yeas and nays, in both branches of Congress, upon the various
phases of the general question. Two of the "thirty-nine" Rufus King
and Charles Pinckney were members of that Congress. Mr. King
steadily voted for slavery prohibition and against all compromises, while
Mr. Pinckney as steadily voted against slavery prohibition, and against
all compromises. By this, Mr. King showed that, in his understanding,
no line dividing local from Federal authority, nor any thing in the Consti
tution, was violated by Congress prohibiting slavery in Federal territory;
while Mr. Pinckney, by his vote, showed that, in his understanding, there
was so - ae sufficient reason for opposing such prohibition in that case.

The cases I have mentioned are the only acts of the "thirty-nine," or
^f anj of them, upon the direct issue, which I have been able to discover.

To enumerate the persons who thus acted, as being four in 1784, two
In 1787, seventeen in 1789, three in 1798, two in 1804, and two in 1819-
20 there would be thirty of them. But this would be counting John
Langdon, Roger Sherman, William Few, Rufus King, and George Read,
each twice, and Abraham Baldwin, three times. The true number of
those of the " thirty-nine " whom I have shown to have acted upon the
question which, by the text, they understood better than we, is twenty-
three, leaving sixteen not shown to have acted upon it in any way.

Here, then, we have twenty-three out of our thirty-nine fathers "who
framed the Government under which we live," who have, upon their
official responsibility and their corporal oaths, acted upon the very ques
tion which the text affirms they " understood just as well, and even bet
ter than we do now;" and twenty-one of them a clear majority of the
whole " thirty-nine " so acting upon it as to make them guilty of grcss
jK)litical impropriety and wilful perjury, if, in their understanding, any
proper division between local and Federal authority, or any thing in the
Constitution they had made themselves, and sworn to support, forbade
the Federal Government to control as to slavery in the Federal territories.
Thus the twenty-one acted ; and, as actions speak louder than words, so
actions, under such responsibility, speak still louder.

Two of the twenty-three voted against Congressional prohibition of
slavery in the Federal territories, in the instances in winch they acted
upon the question. But for what reasons they so voted is not known.
They may have done so because they thought a proper division of local
from Federal authority, or some provision or priuciple of the Constitution,
tood in the way ; or they may, without any such question, have voted
the prohibition on what appeared to them to be sufficient grounds


of expediency. No one who has sworn to support the Constitution, can
conscientiously vote for what he understands to be an unconstitutional
measure, however expedient he may think it; but one may and ought to
vote against a measure which he deems constitutional, if, at the same time,
he deems it inexpedient. It therefore would be unsafe to set down even
the two who voted against the prohibition, as having done so because, in
their understanding, any proper division of local from Federal authority,
or any thing in the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to con
trol as to slavery in Federal territory.

The remaining sixteen of the " thirty -nine," so far as I have discovered,
have left no record of their understanding upon the direct question of
Federal control on slavery in the Federal territories. But there is much
reason to believe that their understanding upon that question would not
have appeared different from that of their twenty-three compeers, had it
been manifested at all.

For the purpose of adhering rigidly to the text, I have purposely omit
ted whatever understanding may have been manifested by any person,
however distinguished, other than the thirty-nine fathers who framed the

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 8 of 42)