« PreviousContinue »
sire that anything should be done to bring about the ultimate extinction of that little thing, I must be in favor of bringing about an amalgamation of all the other little things in the Union. Now, it so happens-and there, I presume, is the foundation of this mistake that the judge thinks thus; and it so happens that there is a vast portion of the American people that do not look upon that matter as being this very little thing. They look upon it as a vast moral evil; they can prove it as such by the writings of those who gave us the blessings of liberty which we enjoy, and that they so looked upon it, and not as an evil merely confining itself to the States where it is situated, and while we agree that, by the Constitution we assented to, in the States where it exists we have no right to interfere with it, because it is in the Constitution, we are by both duty and inclination to stick by that Constitution in all its letter and spirit from beginning to end.
Another of the issues Judge Douglas says that is to be made with me is upon his devotion to the Dred Scott decision, and my opposition to it.
I have expressed heretofore, and I now repeat, my opposition to the Dred Scott decision; but I should be allowed to state the nature of that opposition, and I ask your indulgence while I do so. What is fairly implied by the term Judge Douglas has used, "resistance to the decision"? I do not resist it. If I wanted to take Dred Scott from his master I would be interfering with property, and that terrible difficulty that Judge Douglas speaks of, of interfering with property, would arise. But I am doing no such thing as that; all that I am doing is refusing to obey it as a political rule. If I were in Congress, and a vote should come up on a question whether slavery should be prohibited in a new Territory, in spite of the Dred Scott decision I would vote that it should.
That is what I would do. Judge Douglas said last night that before the decision he might advance his opinion, and it might be contrary to the decision when it was made; but after it was made he would abide by it until it was reversed. Just so! We let this property abide by the decision, but we will try to reverse that decision. We will try to put it where Judge Douglas would not object, for he says he will obey it until it is reversed. Somebody has to reverse that decision, since it is made; and we mean to reverse it, and we mean to do it peaceably.
We were often, in the course of Judge Douglas's speech last night, reminded that this Government was made for white men. Well, that is putting it into a shape in which no one wants to
deny it; but the judge then goes into his passion for drawing inferences that are not warranted. I protest now and forever against that counterfeit logic which presumes that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave, I do necessarily want her for a wife. My understanding is that I need not have her for either; but, as God made us separate, we can leave one another alone, and do one another much good thereby. There are white. men enough to marry all the white women, and enough black men to marry all the black women, and in God's name let them be so married. The judge regales us with the terrible enormities that take place by the mixture of races; that the inferior race bears the superior down. Why, judge, if we do not let them get together in the Territories, they won't mix there. [A voice: "Three cheers for Lincoln!" The cheers were given with a hearty good will.] I should say at least that that is a self-evident truth
Now, sirs, for the purpose of squaring things with this idea of "don't care if slavery is voted up or voted down," for sustaining the Dred Scott decision, for holding that the Declaration of Independence did not mean anything at all, we have Judge Douglas giving his exposition of what the Declaration of Independence means, and we have him saying that the people of America are equal to the people of England. According to his construction, you Germans are not connected with it. Now I ask you, in all soberness, if all these things, if indulged in, if ratified, if confirmed and indorsed, if taught to our children, and repeated to them, do not tend to rub out the sentiment of liberty in the country, and to transform this Government into a government of some other form? Those arguments that are made, that the inferior race are to be treated with as much allowance as they are capable of enjoying; that as much is to be done for them as their condition will allow-what are these arguments? They are the arguments that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world. You will find that all the arguments in favor of kingcraft were of this class; they always bestrode the necks of the people-not that they wanted to do it, but because the people were better off for being ridden. That is their argument, and this argument of the judge is the same old serpent that says, You work and I eat, you toil and I will enjoy the fruits of it. Turn it whatever way you will-whether it come from the mouth of a king, an excuse for enslaving the people of his country, or from the mouth of men of one race as a reason for enslaving the men of another race, it is all the same old serpent, and I hold if that
course of argumentation that is made for the purpose of convincing the public mind that we should not care about this should be granted, it does not stop with the negro. I should like to know-taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle, and making exceptions to it-where will it stop? If one man says it does not mean a negro, why not another say it does not mean some other man? If that Declaration is not the truth, let us get the statute-book in which we find it, and tear it out! Who is so bold as to do it? If it is not true, let us tear it out [cries of "No, no"]. Let us stick to it, then; let us stand firmly by it, then.
It may be argued that there are certain conditions that make necessities and impose them upon us, and to the extent that a necessity is imposed upon a man he must submit to it. I think that was the condition in which we found ourselves when we established this Government. We had slaves among us; we could not get our Constitution unless we permitted them to remain in slavery; we could not secure the good we did secure if we grasped for more; but, having by necessity submitted to that much, it does not destroy the principle that is the charter of our liberties. Let that charter stand as our standard.
It is said in one of the admonitions of our Lord, "Be ye perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." The Saviour, I suppose, did not expect that any human creature could be perfect as the Father in heaven; but he set up this standard, and he who did most toward reaching it attained the highest degree of moral perfection. So I say in relation to the principle that all men are created equal, let it be as nearly reached as we can. If we cannot give freedom to every creature let us do nothing that will impose slavery upon any other creature. Let us then turn this Government back into the channel in which the framers of the Constitution originally placed it. If we do not do so we are tending in the contrary direction that our friend Judge Douglas proposes-not intentionally— working in the traces that tend to make this one universal slave nation. He is one that runs in that direction, and as such I resist him.
On July 24 Mr. Lincoln challenged Senator Douglas to a debate before the same audiences. Senator Douglas accepted the challenge and stipulated that the de
bates be held in central towns in each congressional district in the State. To this arrangement Lincoln agreed.
The national importance of this contest is indicated by the fact that newspapers from as far away from the arena as New York sent special representatives to report the debates. One of these, Chester P. Dewey, of the New York Evening Post, thus described the contestants as they appeared at the first debate at Ottawa, August 21:
"LITTLE DUG" AND "LONG ABE"
Two men presenting wider contrasts could hardly be found, as the representatives of the two great parties. Everybody knows Douglas, a short, thick-set, burly man with large, round head, heavy hair, dark complexion, and fierce bulldog look. Strong in his own real power and skilled by a thousand conflicts in all the strategy of a hand-to-hand or a general fight; of towering ambition, restless in his determined desire for notoriety, proud, defiant, arrogant, audacious, unscrupulous, "Little Dug" ascended the platform and looked out impudently and carelessly on the immense throng which surged and struggled before him. A native of Vermont, reared on a soil where no slave stood, he came to Illinois a teacher, and from one post to another had risen to his present eminence. Forgetful of the ancestral hatred of slavery to which he was the heir, he had come . . to owe much of his fame to continued subservience to Southern influence.
The other-Lincoln-is a native of Kentucky, of poor white parentage, and, from his cradle, has felt the blighting influence of the dark and cruel shadow which rendered labor dishonorable and kept the poor in poverty, while it advanced the rich in their possessions. In every relation of life, socially and to the State, Mr. Lincoln has been always the pure and honest man. In physique he is the opposite to Douglas. Built on the Kentucky type, he is very tall, slender, and angular, awkward even in gait and attitude. His face is sharp, large-featured, and unprepossessing. His eyes are deep-set under heavy brows, his forehead is high and retreating, and his hair is dark and heavy. In repose I must confess that "Long Abe's" appearance is not comely. But stir him up and the fire of his genius plays on every feature. His eye glows and sparkles; every lineament,
now so ill-formed, grows brilliant and expressive, and you have before you a man of rare power and of strong magnetic influence. He takes the people every time, and there is no getting away from his sturdy good sense, his unaffected sincerity, and
the unceasing play of his good humor, which accompanies his close logic and smoothes the way to conviction. Listening to him on Saturday, calmly and unprejudiced, I was convinced that he had no superior as a stump-speaker. He is clear, concise, and logical, his language is eloquent and at perfect command. He is altogether a more fluent speaker than Douglas, and