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nists in the eyes of the civilized world in withdrawing their allegiance from the British crown, and dissolving their connection with the mother country.'
My good friends, read that carefully over some leisure hour, and ponder well upon it; see what a mere wreck-mangled ruin—it makes of our once glorious Declaration.
“They were speaking of British subjects on this continent being equal to British subjects born and residing in Great Britain!" Why, according to this, not only negroes but white people outside of Great Britain and America were not spoken of in that instrument. The English, Irish, and Scotch, along with white Americans, were included, to be sure, but the French, Germans, and other white people of the world are all gone to pot along with the judge's inferior races !
I had thought the Declaration promised something better than the condition of British subjects; but no, it only meant that we should be equal to them in their own oppressed and unequal condition. According to that, it gave no promise that, having kicked off the king and lords of Great Britain, we should not at once be saddled with a king and lords of our own.
I had thought the Declaration contemplated the progressive improvement in the condition of all men everywhere; but no, it merely "was adopted for the purpose of justifying the colonists in the eyes of the civilized world in with
drawing their allegiance from the British crown, and dissolving their connection with the mother country." Why, that object having been effected some eighty years ago, the Declaration is of no practical use now-mere rubbish-old wadding left to rot on the battle-field after the victory is won.
I understand you are preparing to celebrate the "Fourth," to-morrow week. What for? The doings of that day had no reference to the present; and quite half of you are not even descendants of those who were referred to at that day. But I suppose you will celebrate, and will even go so far as to read the Declaration. Suppose, after you read it once in the old-fashioned way, you read it once more with Judge Douglas's version. It will then run thus: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all British subjects who were on this continent eighty-one years ago, were created equal to all British subjects born and then residing in Great Britain."
And now I appeal to all-to Democrats as well as others—are you really willing that the Declaration shall thus be frittered away?—thus left no more, at most, than an interesting memorial of the dead past?-thus shorn of its vitality and practical value, and left without the germ or even the suggestion of the individual rights of man in it?
June 16, 1858
Speech delivered at Springfield, Illinois, at the close of the Republican State Convention by which Mr. Lincoln had been named as their candidate for United States Senator.
[The opening paragraph of this speech was prepared with the most extreme care, and probably did more to influence Lincoln's political future than anything he ever wrote. His best friends thought it impolitic to utter the sentiment that the " government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free."
For the immediate purpose of that campaign they were right, for this paragraph, in the opinion of many good judges, was the cause of Lincoln's defeat by Douglas. But the constant discussion of those sentences in the great series of joint debates with Douglas during the summer and autumn brought Lincoln's views before the whole country, and was an important element in his selection as the Republican candidate for the Presidency in 1860. The entire speech, read in the light of subsequent history, affords remarkable evidence not only of Lincoln's shrewdness as a party leader, but of his political wisdom in the highest sense.]
Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Convention: If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better
judge what to do, and how to do it. We are now far into the fifth year since a policy was initiated with the avowed object and confident promise of putting an end to slavery agitation. Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only not ceased, but has constantly augmented. In my opinion, it will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. A house divided against itself cannot stand." I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved-I do not expect the house to fall -but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all
one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new, North as well as South.
Have we no tendency to the latter condition?
Let any one who doubts carefully contemplate that now almost complete legal combination-piece of machinery, so to speak-compounded of the Nebraska doctrine and the Dred Scott decision. Let him consider not only what work the machinery is adapted to do, and how well adapted; but also let him study the history of its construction, and trace, if he can, or rather fail, if he can, to trace the evidences of
design and concert of action among its chief architects, from the beginning.
The new year of 1854 found slavery excluded from more than half the States by State constitutions, and from most of the national territory by congressional prohibition. Four days later commenced the struggle which ended in repealing that congressional prohibition. This opened all the national territory to slavery, and was the first point gained.
But, so far, Congress only had acted; and an indorsement by the people, real or apparent, was indispensable to save the point already gained and give chance for more.
This necessity had not been overlooked, but had been provided for, as well as might be, in the notable argument of squatter sovereignty," otherwise called " sacred right of selfgovernment," which latter phrase, though expressive of the only rightful basis of any government, was so perverted in this attempted use of it as to amount to just this: That if any one man choose to enslave another, no third man shall be allowed to object. That argument was incorporated into the Nebraska bill itself, in the language which follows: It being the true intent and meaning of this act not to legislate slavery into any Territory or State, nor to exclude it therefrom; but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United States."