Page images
PDF
EPUB

On the 28th of July, 1848, the celebrated bill estab. lishing Territorial governments for Oregon, California and new Mexico, the peculiar feature of which was a provi. sion probibiting the Legislatures of California and New Mexico from passing laws in favor of or against slavery, and providing that the laws of the Legislatures should be subject to the sanction of Congress, was argued, and after an exciting debate, laid on the table, Mr. Lincoln voting with Mr. Webster, Mr. Corwin, and other illustrious col. leagues for this disposition of the bill.

On the sixteenth of January, 1849. Mr. Lincoln offered the following substitute for a resolution which he had voted against, not being satisfied with all its provisions :

Resolved, That the Committee on the District of Columbia de instructed to report a bill in substance, as follows:

“ Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Represente tatives of the United States in Congress assembled, 'I'bat no person not now within the District of Columbia, nor now owned by any person or persons now resident within it, nor hereafter born within it, shall ever be held in slavery within said District.

Sec. 2. That no person now within said District, or now owned by any person or persons now resident within the same, or herealter born within it, shall ever be held in slavery without the limits of said District: Provided, That officers of the Government of the United States, being citizens of the slaveholding States, coming into said District on public business, and remaining only so long as may be reasonably necessary for that object, may be attended into and out of said District, and while there, by the necessary servants of themselves and their families, without their right to hold such servants in service being impaired.

“ Sec. 3. That all children born of slave mothers within said District, on or after the 1st day of January, in the year of our Lord 1850, shall be free; but shall be reasonably supported and educated by the respective owners of their mothers, or by their heirs or representatives, and shall serve reasonable service as apprentices to such owners, heirs, or representatives, until they respectively arrive at the age of years, when they shall be entirely free: And the municipal authorities of Washington and Georgetown, within their respective jurisdictional limits, are hereby empowered and required to make all suitable and necessary provision for enforcing obedience to this section, on the part of both masters and apprentices.

“ Sec. 4. That all persons now within this District, lawfully held as slaves, or now owned by any person or persons now resi. dent within said District, shall remain such at the will of their respective owners, their heirs or legal representatives : Pro vided that such owner, or his legal representatives, may at any time receive from the Treasury of the United States the fuld value of his or her slave, of the class in this section mentioned, upon whigh such slave shall be forthwith and forever free: And provided further, That the President of the United States, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of the Treasury, shall be a board for determining the value of such slaves as their owners desire to emancipate under this section, and whose duty it shall be to hold a session for the purpose on the first Monday of eacb calendar month, to receive all applications, and, on satisfactory evidence in each case that the person presented for valuation is a slave, and of the class in the section mentioned, and is owned by the applicant, shall value such slave at his or her full cash value, and give to the applicant an order on the Treasury for the amount, and also to such slave a certificate of freedom.

“ Sec. 5. That the municipal authorities of Washington and Georgetown, within their respective jurisdictional limits, are hereby empowered and required to provide active and efficient means to arrest and deliver up to their owners all fugitive slaves escaping into said District.

“ Sec. 6. That the elective officers within said District of Columbia are hereby empowered and required to open polls at all the usual places of holding elections, on the first Monday of April next, and receive the vote of every free white male citizen above the age of twenty-one years, having resided witbin said District for the period of one year or more next preceding the time of such voting for or against this act, to proceed in taking said votes in all respects not herein specified, as at elections under the municipal laws, and with as little delay as possible to transmit correct statements of the votes so cast to the President of the United States; and it shall be tbe duty of the President to count such votes immediately, and if a majority of them be found to be for this act, to forthwith issae his proclamation giving notice of the fact; and this act shall only be in full force and effect on and after the day of such proclamation.

“ Sec. 7. That involuntary servitude for the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, sball in nowise be prohibited by this act.

“ Sec. 8. That for all purposes of this act, the jurisdictional limits of Washington are extended to all parts of the District of Columbia not included within the present limits of George. , town."

We have given a sufficient record of Mr. Lincoln's ser vices as a Representative in Congress, to show that in his

numerous votes and remarks upon the slavery question, he was uniformly consistent, and a determined opponent to that peculiar institution which, Mr. Corwin truly remarked, was an exotic that blights with its shade the soil in which it is planted. He with almost equal determination opposed the annexation of Texas, and voted more than forty different times in favor of the Wilmot Proviso.

BECOMES A DELEGATE TO THE NATIONAL

CONVENTION OF 1948. In the Wbig National Convention of 1848, he was an active delegate, and earnestly advocated the selection of General Zachary Taylor as the nominee for the Presidency, and during the canvass wbich followed, he traversed the States of Indiana and Illinois, speaking in behalf of his favorite candidate and the choice of his party.

HE IS NOMINATED FOR UNITED STATES

SENATOR, BUT WITHDRAWS. In 1849 he was a candidate before the Legislature of Illinois for United States Senator, but his political opponents being in the majority, General Shields was chosen. From that time until 1854, he confined himself almost exclusively to the practice of his profession, but in that year he again entered the political arena, and battled indefatigably in the celebrated campaign which resulted in victory for the first time to the opposition of the Democratic party in Illinois, and gave that State a Republican Legislature, and sent Mr. Trumbull to the United States Senate. During the canvass, Mr. Lincoln was frequently brought into controversy upon the stand with Stephen A. Douglas, one of the discussions, that was held on the fourth of October, 1854, during the progress of the annual State Fair, being particularly remarkable as the great discussion of the campaign.

At the election of United States Senator, nine-tenths of the majority were Whigs and in favor of Mr. Lincoln, and the other tenth were Democrats, but not in favor of voting for a Whig, and for the purpose of securing the success of a man whom he knew was opposed to the Nebraska bil!, and thus preventing the election of a third person who had little or nothing in common with the Republican party, which was then in its conception, he entreated his friends to vote for Mr. Trumbull. Mr. Lincoln was subsequently offered the nomination for Governor of Illinois, but declined the honor in favor of Mr. Bissell; was also presented, but ineffectually, at the first Republican National Convention for Vice-President; and at the next Presidential election headed the Fremont electoral ticket, and labored industriously in support of that candidate.

AGAIN NOMINATED FOR THE SENATE-HIS SPEECHES IN THE CELEBRATED LINCOLNDOUGLAS CAMPAIGN.

On the second of June, 1858, the Republican State Convention met at Springfield, and nominated Mr. Lincoln as their candidate for the United States Senate. At the close of their proceedings the honored recipient of their suffrage delivered a speech, which was a forcible exposition of the views and aims of the party of which he was to be the standard-bearer.

The contest which followed was one of the most exciting and remarkable ever witnessed in this country. Mr Stephen A. Douglas, his opponent, had few superiors as a political debater, and while he had made many enemies by his course upon the Nebraska bill, his personal popularity had been greatly increased by his independence, and by the opposition manifested to him by the Administration. His re-election, however, to the Senate would have been equivalen; to an indorsement of his acts and

views by his Commonwealth, and at the same time would have promoted his prospects for the Presidential nomination. The Republicans, therefore, determined to defeat him if possible, and to increase the probabilities of success in the movement, selected Mr. Lincoln as the man who was most certain of securing the election. Illinois was stumped throughout its length and breadth by both candidates and their respective advocates, and the people of the entire country watched with interest the struggle. From county to county, township to township, and village to village, the two leaders travelled, frequently in the same car or carriage, and in the presence of immense crowds of men, women and children—for the wives and daughters of the hardy yeomanry were naturally interested-face to face, these two opposing champions argued the important points of their political belief, and contended nobly for the mastery.

During the campaign, Mr. Lincoln paid the following tribute to the Declaration of Independence

“ These communities, (the thirteen colonies,) by their representatives in old Independence Hall, said to the world of men, .We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are born equal ; that they are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the parsuit of happiness.' This was their majestic interpretation of the economy of the universe. This was their lofty, and wise, and noble understanding of the justice of the Creator to His creatures. Yes, gentlemen, to all His creatures, to the whole great family of man. In their enlightened belief, nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded, and imbruted by its fellows. They grasped not only the race of men then living, but they reached forward and seized upon the furthest posterity. They created a beacon to guide their children and their children's childreu, and the countless myriads who should inhabit the earth in other ayes. Wise statesmen as they were, they knew the tendency of prosperity to breed tyrants, and so they established these great self-evident truths that when, in the distant future, some man, some faction, some interest, should set up the doctrine that none but rich men, or none but white men, or none but Anglo-Saxon

« PreviousContinue »