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Mr. Douglas. Mr. President, I shall not follow the senator from Maine through his entire speech, but simply notice such points as demand of me some reply. He does not know why I introduced my resolution; he cannot conceive any good motive for it; he thinks there must be some other motive besides the one that has been avowed. There are some men, I know, who cannot conceive that a man can be governed by a patriotic or proper motive; but it is not among that class of men that I look for those who are governed by motives of propriety. I have no impeachment to make of his motives. I brought in this resolution because I thought the time had arrived when we should have a measure of practical legislation. I had seen expressions of opinion against the power from authorities so high that I felt it my duty to bring it to the attention of the Senate. I had heard that the senator from Virginia had intimated some doubt on the question of power, as well as of policy. Other senators discussed the question here for weeks when I was confined to my sick bed. Was there any thing unreasonable in my coming before the Senate at this time, expressing my own opinion and confining myself to the practical legislation indicated in the resolution? Nor, sir, have I in my remarks gone outside of the legitimate argument pertaining to the necessity for this legislation. I first showed that there had been a great outrage; I showed what I believed to be the causes that had produced the outrage, and that the causes which produced it were still in operation; and argued that, so long as the party to which the gentlemen belong remains embodied in full force, those causes will still threaten the country. was all.
The senator from Maine thinks he will vote for the bill that will be proposed to carry out the objects referred to in my resolution. Sir, whenever that senator and his associates on the other side of the chamber will record their votes for a bill of the character described in my resolution and speech, I shall congratulate the country upon the progress they are making towards sound principles. Whenever he and his associates will make it a felony for two or more men to conspire to run off fugitive slaves, and punish the conspirators by confinement in the penitentiary, I shall consider that wonderful changes have taken place in this country. I tell the senator that it is the general tone of sentiment in all those sections of the country where the Republican party predominate, so far as I know, not only not to deem it a crime to rescue a fugitive slave, but to raise mobs to aid in the rescue. He talks about slandering the Republican party when we intimate that they are making a warfare upon the rights guarantied by the Constitution. Sir, where, in the towns and cities with Republican majorities, can you execute the fugitive slave law? Is it in the town where the senator from New York resides? Do you not remember the Jerry rescuers? Is it at Oberlin, where the mob was raised that made the rescue last year and produced the riot?
Mr. Fessenden. I stated, and I believe it was all I said on that matter, that I was disposed to agree with the senator in his views as to the question of power; and that, with my views, I should go very far-far enough to accomplish the purpose-to prevent the forming of conspiracies in one state to attack another. I did not understand the senator to say any thing about conspiracies to run away with slaves; nor did I understand him to say any thing about the fugitive slave law. How I should act in reference to that matter I do not know; I will meet it when it comes; but I ask the senator whether that was a part of his first speech, or whether it is a part of his reply?
Mr. Douglas. The senator will find it several times repeated in my first speech, and the question asked: Why not make it a crime to form conspiracies and combinations to run off fugitive slaves, as well as to run off horses, or any other property? I am talking about conspiracies which are so common in all our northern states, to invade and enter, through their agents, the slave
states, and seduce away slaves and run them off by the underground railroad, in order to send them to Canada. It is these conspiracies to perpetrate crime with impunity that keep up the irritation. John Brown could boast, in a public house in Cleveland, that he and his band had been engaged all the winter in stealing horses and running them off from the slaveholders in Missouri, and that the livery stables were then filled with stolen horses, and yet the conspiracy to do it could not be punished.
Sir, I desire a law that will make it a crime, punishable by imprisonment in the penitentiary, after conviction in the United States court, to make a conspiracy in one state, against the people, property, government, or institutions, of another. Then we shall get at the root of the evil. I have no doubt that gentlemen on the other side will vote for a law which pretends to comply with the guarantees of the Constitution, without carrying any force or efficiency in its provisions. I have heard men abuse the fugitive slave law, and express their willingness to vote for amendments: but when you come to the amendments which they desired to adopt, you found they were such as would never return a fugitive to his master. They would go for any fugitive slave law that had a hole in it big enough to let the negro drop through and escape; but none that would comply with the obligations of the Constitution. So we shall find that side of the chamber voting for a law that will, in terms, disapprove of unlawful expeditions against neighboring states, without being efficient in affording protection.
But the senator says it is a part of the policy of the northern Democracy to represent the Republicans as being hostile to southern institutions. Sir, it is a part of the policy of the northern Democracy, as well as their duty, to speak the truth on that subject. I did not suppose that any man would have the audacity to arraign a brother senator here for representing the Republican party as dealing in denunciation and insult of the institutions of the South. Look to your Philadelphia platform, where you assert the sovereign power of Congress over the territories for their government, and demand that it shall be exerted against those twin relicts of barbarism-polygamy and slavery.
Mr. Fessenden. Let me suggest to the senator that he is entirely changing the issue between him and me. I did not desire to say, and I did not say, that the Republicans of the North were not unfriendly to the institution of slavery. I admitted myself that I was; I trust they all are. It is not in that respect that I accuse the Democracy of the North of misrepresenting the position of the Republican party. It was in representing that they desired to interfere with the institution in the southern states. That is the ground-that they were opposed to southern rights. That they do not think well of slavery, as it exists in this country, I do not undertake to deny. I do not know that southern gentlemen expect us to be friendly to it. I apprehend that they would not think very well of us if we pretended to be friendly to it. If we were friendly to the institution, we should try to adopt, we certainly should not oppose it; but what I charged upon the northern Democracy was, that they misrepresented our position. That we were opposed to the extension of slavery over free territory, that we called it a relic of barbarism, I admit; but I do deny that the Republican party, or the Republicans generally, have ever exhibited a desire or made a movement towards interfering with the right of southern men the states, or any constitutional rights that they have any where. That is the charge I made.
Mr. Douglas. Mr. President, for what purpose does the Republican party appeal to northern passions and northern prejudices against southern institutions and the southern people, unless it is to operate upon those institutions? They represent southern institutions as no better than polygamy; the slaveholder as no better than the polygamist; and complain that we should intimate that they did not like to associate with the slaveholder any better than
with the polygamist. I can see a monstrous lowering of the flag in the senator's speech and explanation. I would respect the concession, if the fact was acknowledged. This thing of shrinking from position that every northern man knows to be true, and arraigning men for slander for telling the truth to them
Mr. Fessenden. I know it not to be true.
Mr. Douglas. You may know it down in Maine, but you do not know it in Illinois. I have always noted that those men who were so far off from the slave states that they did not know any thing about them, are most anxious for the fate of the poor slave. Those men who are so far off that they do not know what a negro is, are distressed to death about the condition of the poor negro. (Laughter.) But, sir, go into the border states, where we associate across the line, where the civilities of society are constantly interchanged; where we trade with each other, and have social and commercial intercourse, and there you will find them standing by each other like a band of brothers. Take southern Illinois, southern Indiana, southern Ohio, and that part of Pennsylvania bordering on Maryland, and there you will find social intercourse, commercial intercourse, good feeling; because those people know the condition of the slave on the opposite side of the line; but just in proportion as you recede from the slave states, just in proportion as the people are ignorant of the facts, just in that proportion party leaders can impose on their sympathies and honest prejudices.
Sir, I know it is the habit of the Republican party, as a party, wherever I have met them, to make the warfare in such a way as to try to rally the whole north on sectional grounds against the south. I know that is to be the issue, and it is proven by the speech of the senator from New York, which I quoted before, and that of Mr. Lincoln, so far as they are authority. I happen to have those speeches before me. The senator from Maine has said that neither of these speeches justified the conclusion that they asserted that the free states and the slave states cannot coëxist permanently in the same Republic. Let us see whether they do or not. Mr. Lincoln says:
"A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently, half slave and half free."
Then he goes on to say they must all be one thing or all the other, or else the Union cannot endure. What is the meaning of that language, unless it is that the Union cannot permanently exist, half slave and half free-that it must all become one thing or all become the other? That is the declaration. The declaration is that the North must combine as a sectional party, and carry on the agitation so fiercely, up to the very borders of the slaveholding states, that the master dare not sleep at night for fear that the robbers, the John Browns, will come and set his house on fire, and murder the women and children, before morning. It is to surround the slaveholding states by a cordon of free states, to use the language of the senator; to hem them in, in order that you may smother them out. The senator avowed, in his speech to-day, their object to be to hem in the slave states, in order that slavery may die out. How die out? Confine it to its present limits; let the ratio of increase go on by the laws of nature; and just in proportion as the lands in the slaveholding states wear out, the negroes increase, and you will soon reach that point where the soil will not produce enough to feed the slaves; then hem them in, and let them starve out-let them die out by starvation. That is the policy-hem them in, and starve them out. Do as the French did in Algeria, when the Arabs took to the caverns-smoke them out, by making fires at the mouths of the caverns, and keep them burning until they die. The policy is, to keep up this agitation along the line; make slave property insecure in the border states; keep the master constantly in apprehension of assault, till he will consent to abandon his native country, leaving
his slaves behind him, or to remove them further south. If you can force Kentucky thus to abolish slavery, you make Tennessee the border state, and begin the same operation upon her.
But, sir, let us see whether the senator from New York did not proclaim the doctrine that free states and slave states cannot permanently exist in the same Republic. He said:
"It is an irrepressible conflict between opposing and enduring forces; and it means that the United States must and will, sooner or later, become either entirely a slaveholding nation or entirely a free labor nation."
The opposing conflict is between the States; the Union can not remain as it now is, part free and part slave. The conflict between free states and slave states must go on until there is not a slave state left, or until they are all slave states. That is the declaration of the senator from New York. The senator from Maine tried to make the senate believe that I had misrepresented the senator from New York and Mr. Lincoln, of Illinois, in stating that they referred to a conflict between states. He said that all they meant was that it was a conflict between free labor and slave labor in the same state. Now, sir, let me submit to that man's candor whether he will insist on that position. They both say the contest will go on until the states become all free or all slave. Then, when is the contest going to end? When they become all slave? Will there not be the same conflict between free labor and slave labor, after every state has become a slave state, that there is now? If that was the meaning, would the conflict between slave labor and free labor cease even when every state had become slaveholding? Have not all the slaveholding states a large number of free laborers within their limits; and if there is an irrepressible conflict between free labor and slave labor, will you remove that conflict by making the states all slave? Yet, the senator from New York says they must become all slave or all free before the conflict ceases. Sir, that shows that the senator from New York meant what I represented him as meaning. It shows that a man who knows the meaning of words, and has the heart to express them as they read, can not fail to know that that was the meaning of those senators. The boldness with which a charge of misrepresentation may be made in this body will not give character to it when it is contradicted by the facts. I dislike to have to repel these charges of unfairness and misrepresentation; yet the senator began with a series of inuendoes, with a series of complaints of misrepresentation, showing that he was afraid to meet the real issues of his party, and would make up for that by personal assaults and inuendos against the opposite party.
He goes back to a speech of mine in opposition to the Lecompton Constitution, in which I said that if you would send that Constitution back and let the people of Kansas vote for or against it, if they voted for a free state or a slave state I would go for it without caring whether they voted slavery up or down. He thinks it is a great charge against me that I do not care whether the people vote it up or vote it down.
Mr. Fessenden. The senator is mistaken as to the speech to which I referred. It was one of his speeches made on his southern tour that I referred to.
Mr. Douglas. The idea is taken from a speech in the Senate the first speech I made against the Lecompton Constitution. It was quoted all over Illinois by Mr. Lincoln in the canvass, and I repeated the sentiment each time it was quoted against me, and repeated it in the South as well as the North. I say this: if the people of Kansas want a slave state, it is their business and not mine; if they want a free state, they have a right to have it; and hence, I do not care, so far as regards my action, whether they make it a free state or not; it is none of my business. But the senator says he
does care, he has a preference between freedom and slavery. How long would this preference last if he was a sugar planter in Louisiana, residing on his estate, instead of living in Maine? Sir, I hold the doctrine that a wise statesman will adapt his laws to the wants, conditions, and interests of the people to be governed by them. Slavery may be very essential in one climate and totally useless in another. If I were a citizen of Louisiana I would vote for retaining and maintaining slavery, because I believe the good of that people would require it. As a citizen of Illinois I am utterly opposed to it, because our interests would not be promoted by it. I should like to see the Abolitionist who would go and live in a southern country that would not get over his scruples very soon and have a plantation as quickly as he could get the money to buy it.
I have said and repeat that this question of slavery is one of climate, of political economy, of self-interest, not a question of legislation. Wherever the climate, the soil, the health of the country are such that it can not be cultivated by white labor, you will have African labor, and compulsory labor at that. Wherever white labor can be employed cheapest and most profitably, there African labor will retire and white labor will take its place.
You cannot force slavery by all the acts of Congress you may make on one inch of territory against the will of the people, and you cannot by any law you can make keep it out from one inch of American territory where the people want it. You tried it in Illinois. By the ordinance of 1787 slavery was prohibited, and yet our people, believing that slavery would be profitable to them, established hereditary servitude in the territory by territorial legislation, in defiance of your Federal ordinance. We maintained slavery there just so long as Congress said we should not have it, and we abolished it at just the moment you recognized us as a state, with the right to do as we pleased. When we established it, it was on the supposition that it was our interest to do so. When we abolished it, we did so because experience proved that it was not our interest to have it. I hold that slavery is a question of political economy, to be determined by climate, by soil, by production, by self-interest, and hence the people to be affected by it are the most impartial jury to try the fact whether their interest requires them to have it or
But the senator thinks it is a great crime for me to say that I do not care whether they have it or not. I care just this far: I want every people to have that kind of government, that system of laws, that class of institutions, which will best promote their welfare, and I want them to decide for themselves; and so that they decide it to suit themselves, I am satisfied, without stopping to inquire or caring which way they decide it. That is what I meant by that declaration, and I am ready to stand by it.
The senator has made the discovery-I suppose it is very new, for he would not repeat anything that was old, after calling me to account for expressing an idea that had been heard of before-that I re-opened the agitation by bringing in the Nebraska Bill in 1854; and he tries to put the responsibility of the crimes perpetrated by his political friends, and in violation of the law, upon the provisions of the law itself. We passed a bill to allow the people of Kansas to form and regulate their own institutions to suit themselves. No sooner had we placed that law on the statute book, than his political friends formed conspiracies and combinations in the different New England states to import a set of desperadoes into Kansas to control the elections and the institutions of that country in fraud of the laws of Congress. Sir, I desire to make the legislation broad enough to reach conspiracies and combinations of that kind; and I would also include combinations and conspiracies on the other side. My object is to establish firmly the doctrine that each state is to do its own voting, establish its own institutions, make