« PreviousContinue »
thinks Douglas' superior talent will be needed to resist the revival of the African slave trade. Does Douglas believe an effort to revive that trade is approaching? He has not said so. Does he really think so? But if it is, how can he resist it? For years he has labored to prove it a sacred right of white men to take negro slaves into the new territories. Can be possibly show that it is less a sacred right to buy them where they can be bought cheapest? And unquestionably they can be bought cheaper in Africa than in Virginia. He has done all in his power to reduce the whole question of slavery to one of a mere right of property; and as such, how can he oppose the foreign slave trade-how can he refuse that trade in that 'property' shall be 'perfectly free-unless he does it as a protection to the home production? And as the home producers will probably not ask the protection, he will be wholly without a ground of opposition.
"Senator Douglas holds, we know, that a man may rightfully be wiser to-day than he was yesterday--that he may rightfully change when he finds himself wrong. But can we, for that reason, run ahead, and infer that he will make any particular change of which he himself has given no intimation? Can we safely base our action upon any such vague inference? Now, as ever, I wish not to misrepresent Judge Douglas' position, question his motives, or do aught that can be personally offensive to him. Whenever, if ever, he and we can come together on principle so that our cause may have assistance from his great ability, I hope to have interposed no adventitious obstacle. But clearly, he is not now with us he does not pretend to be-he does not promise ever to be.
"Our cause, then, must be intrusted to, and conducted by, its own undoubted friends-those whose hands are free, whose hearts are in the work—who do care for the result. Two years ago the Republicans of the nation mustered over thirteen hundred thousand strong. We did this under the single impulse of resistance to a common danger, with every external circumstance against us. Of strange, discordant, and even hostile elements, we gathered from the four winds, and formed and fought the battle through, under the constant hot fire of a disciplined, proud and pampered enemy Did we brave all then, to falter now?--now, when that same enemy is wavering, dissevered and belligerent? The result is not doubtful. We shall not fail-if we stand firm, we shall not fail. Wise counsels may accelerate, or mistakes delay it, but, sooner or later, the victory is sure to come.”
The members of the convention carried away with them something to think about. There had been in Mr. Lincoln's speech no appeals to their partisan prejudices, no tricks to catch applause. He had appeared before them as an earnest,
patriotic man, intent only on discussing, in the gravest and most candid manner, the most interesting and momentous political questions.
On the ninth of July, Mr. Douglas made a speech in Chicago. The reception he received was a magnificent one-one which might well have filled him with the gratification which he did not attempt to conceal-which, indeed, he took repeated occasion to express. In this speech he alluded to his efforts to crush the Lecompton fraud, and claimed that the republicans who had fought by his side had indorsed his popular sovereignty doctrine-the right of the people of a territory to form their own institutions.
He then took up the action of the republican convention at Springfield, and spoke at length of Mr. Lincoln and his speech. Of Mr. Lincoln, he said: "I take great pleasure in saying that I have known, personally and intimately, for about a quarter of a century, the worthy gentleman who has been nominated for my place, and I will say that I regard him as a kind, amiable and intelligent gentleman, a good citizen and an honorable opponent; and whatever issue I may have with him will be of principle and not of personalities.' He then read from the opening paragraph of Mr. Lincoln's speech the words: "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 to cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.' The unfairness of his comments upon this simple statement of a conviction may be gathered from the construction which he put upon it in the words "Mr. Lincoln advocates boldly and clearly a war of sections, a war of the North against the South, of the free states against the slave states, a war of extermination, to be continued relentlessly, until the one or the other shall be subdued, and all the states shall either become free or become slave."
Mr. Lincoln foresaw the approaching struggle between freedom and slavery and its inevitable result. He did not be
lieve a dissolution of the Union possible, but he knew that freedom and slavery were irreconcilable enemies. He knew that slavery must die, or become national. He saw the determination of its friends to make it national, and he believed that this attempt would succeed, or that, failing of success, it would end in the universal abolition of slavery. Events have entirely justified his most philosophical view of the subject.
The next point that Mr. Douglas endeavored to make was as illegitimate as his previous one, viz: that Mr. Lincoln desired to reduce the states to a dead uniformity of interests and institutions, contrary to the theory and policy of the fathers. of the republic. In order to do this, he was of course obliged to ignore the fact that Mr. Lincoln had alluded to but one institution, and that, in its nature antagonistic with the principles of the Declaration of Independence, and to recognize slavery as having the same legitimate basis with the other institutions of the country. Having construed Mr. Lincoln's position unfairly, he logically drove to the unjust conclusion that when the uniformity should be attained which Mr. Lincoln desired, the government would have "converted these thirty-two sovereign, independent states, into one consolidated empire, with the uniformity of disposition reigning triumphant throughout the length and breadth of the land.”
He next took up Mr. Lincoln's criticism of the Dred Scott decision, and, by his treatment of it, fully vindicated the action of the Illinois republicans in their refusal to support him in accordance with the wishes of their eastern friends. No republican could consistently support a man who supported that iniquitous and barbarous decision. If it is said that his course on this question would have been changed by their support, the case is still worse, for no man whose course could be changed by such considerations would be worthy of the support of any party. "I am opposed to this doctrine of Mr. Lincoln," said Mr. Douglas, "by which he proposes to take an appeal from the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States upon this high constitutional question, to a republican caucus sitting in the country. *** I respect the
decisions of that august tribunal; I shall always bow in deference to them. * * * I will sustain the judicial tribunals and constituted authorities, in all matters within the pale of their jurisdiction, as defined by the Constitution." Mr. Douglas did not see fit to allude in this speech to Mr. Lincoln's charge that the Dred Scott decision was a part of that building framed so cunningly by "Stephen, Franklin, Roger and James," in which was to be conserved the power of making slavery universal.
Mr. Douglas went farther than simply to indorse the Dred Scott decision, and to declare his intention to sustain it. "I am equally free," said he, "to say that the reason assigned by Mr. Lincoln for resisting the decision of the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott case does not, in itself, meet my approbation. *** He says it is wrong, because it deprives the negro of the benefit of that clause of the Constitution which says that the citizens of one state shall enjoy all the privileges and immunities of the citizens of the several states; in other words, he thinks it wrong because it deprives the negro of the privileges, immunities and rights of citizenship which pertain, according to that decision, only to the white man. I am free to say to you that, in my opinion, this government of ours is founded on the white basis. It was made for the white man, for the benefit of the white man, to be administered by white men, in such manner as they should determine. It is also true that a negro, an Indian, or any other man of inferior race to a white man should be permitted to enjoy, and humanity requires that he should have, all the rights, privileges and immunities which he is capable of exercising, consistent with the safety of society." What these rights should be, was only legitimately to be determined by the states themselves, in Mr. Douglas' opinion. Illinois had decided for herself what the black man's rights were in Illinois, and New York and Maine had decided for themselves. By inference, Kentucky had a right to say her negroes should be slaves, Illinois that her negroes should not vote, New York that her negroes might vote when qualified by property, and Maine that the negro was equal at the polls to the white man.
These were the main points that Mr. Douglas made in his Chicago speech. Mr. Lincoln sat near him, on the platform, and heard the whole of it. Here, as elsewhere during the campaign which succeeded, he manifested his wonderful good nature under misrepresentation. There were incidents of this campaign which no man cast in the common mould could have passed through without yielding to the severest passions of indignation and anger. He was belied, abused, misrepresented; but he never betrayed a moment's irritation. That he smarted with a sense of wrong, there is abundant evidence; but he was never moved to a single act of resentment.
Mr. Lincoln had taken the speech all in, and, on the following evening, it was announced that he would reply to it. The greeting which he received when he took the stand was quite as enthusiastic as that which Mr. Douglas had met on the previous evening. He was introduced to the audience by Mr. C. L. Wilson of Chicago, and when he came forward, there was such a storm of long-continued applause that he was obliged to extend his hand in deprecation, before he could secure the silence necessary for proceeding. After disposing of some minor matters, he took up the points of Mr. Douglas' speech and treated them fully. Touching the comments upon his own declaration-"a house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free," &c., he said:
"I am not, in the first place, unaware that this Government has endured eighty-two years, half slave and half free. I know that. I am tolerably well acquainted with the history of the country, and I know that it has endured eighty-two years, half slave and half free. I believeand that is what I meant to allude to there—I believe it has endured, because during all that time, until the introduction of the Nebraska bill, the public mind did rest all the time in the belief that slavery was in course of ultimate extinction. That was what gave us the rest that we had through that period of eighty-two years; at least, so I believe. I have always hated slavery, I think, as much as any abolitionist-I have been an old line whig-I have always hated it, but I have always been quiet about it until this new era of the introduction of the Nebraska bill began. I always believed that everybody was against it, and that it was in course of ultimate extinction.