« PreviousContinue »
the white man that the negro should be free, but it positively wrongs the mass of the white men that the negro should be enslaved; that the mass of white men are really injured by the effects of slave-labor in the vicinity of the fields of their own labor.
But I do not desire to dwell upon this branch of the question more than to say that this assumption of his is false, and I do hope that that fallacy will not long prevail in the minds of intelligent white men. At all events, you ought to thank Judge Douglas for it. It is for your benefit it is made.
The other branch of it is, that in a struggle between the negro and the crocodile, he is for the negro. Well, I don't know that there is any struggle between the negro and the crocodile, either. I suppose that if a crocodile (or, as we old Ohio River boatmen used to call them, alligators) should come across a white man, he would kill him if he could, and so he would a negro. But what, at last, is this proposition? I believe that it is a sort of proposition in proportion, which may be stated thus: "As the negro is to the white man, so is the crocodile to the negro; and as the negro may rightfully treat the crocodile as a beast or reptile, so the white man may rightfully treat the negro as a beast or reptile." That is really the point of all that argument of his.
Now, my brother Kentuckians, who believe in this, you ought to thank Judge Douglas for having put that in a much more taking way than any of yourselves have done.
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 we 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 degenerated men (if we have degenerated) may, according to the example of those noble fathersWashington, 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 intimated that you mean to divide the Union whenever a Republican or anything 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 a Kentuckian? [A voice: "He is a Douglas man."] Well, then, I want to know what you are going to do with your half of it? Are you going to split the 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 that 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 subject by leaving us here under no obligation whatever to return those 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 anything for you, how 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, man for man, as any other people living; that you have shown yourselves capable of this upon various occasions; but man for man, you are not better than we are, and there are not so many of you as there are of us. You will never make much of a hand at whipping us. If we were fewer in numbers than you, I think that you could whip us; if we were equal it would likely be a drawn battle; but being inferior in numbers, you will make nothing by attempting to master us.
[From notes for speeches delivered in Kansas, 1-5 December 1859.]
I say Douglas popular sovereignty; for there is a broad distinction between real popular sovereignty and Douglas popular sovereignty. That the nation shall control what concerns it; that a State, or any minor political community, shall control what exclusively concerns it; and that an individual shall control what exclusively concerns him, is a real popular sovereignty, which no Republican opposes.
But this is not Douglas popular sovereignty. Douglas popular sovereignty, as a matter of principle, simply is: "If one man would enslave another, neither that other nor any third man has a right to object."
Douglas popular sovereignty, as he practically applies it, is: "If any organized political community, however new and small, would enslave men or forbid their being enslaved within its own territorial limits, however the doing the one or the other may affect the men sought to be enslaved, or the vastly superior number of men who are afterward to come within those limits, or the family of communities of which it is but a member, or the head of that family, as the present and common guardian of the whole-however any
or all these are to be affected, neither any nor all may interfere."
This is Douglas popular sovereignty. He has great difficulty with it. His speeches and letters and essays and explanations explanatory of explanations explained upon it, are legion. The most lengthy, and as I suppose the most maturely considered, is that recently published in "Harper's Magazine." It has two leading objects: the first, to appropriate the authority and reverence due the great and good men of the Revolution to his popular sovereignty; and, secondly, to show that the Dred Scott decision has not entirely squelched his popular sovereignty.
Before considering these main objects, I wish to consider a few minor points of the copyright essay.
Last year Governor Seward and myself, at different times and occasions, expressed the opinion that slavery is a durable element of discord, and that we shall not have peace with it until it either masters or is mastered by the free principle. This gave great offense to Judge Douglas, and his denunciations of it, and absurd inferences from it, have never ceased. Almost at the very beginning of the copyright essay he quotes the language respectively of Seward and myself—not quite accurately, but substantially, in my case-upon this point, and repeats his absurd and extravagant inference. For lack of time I omit much which I might say here with propriety, and content myself with two remarks only upon this point. The first is, that inasmuch as Douglas in this very essay tells us slavery agitation began in this country in 1699, and has not yet ceased; has lasted through a hundred and sixty years, through ten entire generations of men,-it might have occurred to even him that slavery in its tendency to agitation and discord has something slightly durable about it. The second remark is that Judge Douglas might have noted, if he would, while he
was diving so deeply into history, the historical fact that the only comparative peace we have had with slavery during that hundred and sixty years was in the period from the Revolution to 1820, precisely the period through which we were closing out the African slave-trade, abolishing slavery in several of the States, and restraining the spread of it into new ones by the ordinance of '87, precisely the period in which the public mind had reason to rest, and did rest, in the belief that slavery was in course of ultimate extinction.
Another point, which for the present I shall touch only hastily, is Judge Douglas's assumption that the States and Territories differ only in the fact that the States are in the Union, and the Territories are not in it. But if this be the only difference, why not instantly bring the Territories in? Why keep them out? Do you say they are unfitted for it? What unfits them? Especially what unfits them for any duty in the Union, after they are fit, if they choose, to plant the soil they sparsely inhabit with slavery, beyond the power of their millions of successors to eradicate it, and to the durable discord of the Union? What function of sovereignty, out of the Union or in it, is so portentous as this? What function of government requires such perfect maturity, in numbers and everything else, among those who exercise it? It is a concealed assumption of Douglas's popular sovereignty that slavery is a little, harmless, indifferent thing, having no wrong in it, and no power for mischief about it. If all men looked upon it as he does, his policy in regard to it might do. But neither all nor half the world so look upon it.
Near the close of the essay in "Harper's Magazine" Douglas tells us that his popular sovereignty pertains to a people only after they are regularly organized into a political community; and that Congress in its discretion must