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LINCOLN'S SPRINGFIELD SPEECH, JUNE, 1858.
all the tenons and mortices exactly fitting, and all the lengths and proportions of the different pieces exactly adapted to their respective places, and not a piece too many or too few-not omitting even scaffolding-or, if a single piece be lacking, we see the place in the frame exactly fitted and prepared yet to bring such piece in-in such a case, we find it impossible not to believe that Stephen, and Franklin, and Roger, and James, all understood one another from the beginning, and all worked upon a common plan or draft drawn up before the first blow was struck. It should not be overlooked that, by the Nebraska bill, the people of a State as well as Territory, were to be left "perfectly free," "subject only to the Constitution." Why mention a State? They were legislating for Territories, and not for or about States. Certainly the people of a State are and ought to be subject to the Constitution of the United States; but why is mention of this, lugged into this merely Territorial law? Why are the people of a Territory and the people of a State therein lumped together, and their relation to the Constitution therein treated as being precisely the same? While the opinion of the court, by Chief Justice Taney, in the Dred Scott case, and the separate opinions of all the concurring Judges, expressly declare that the Constitution of the United States neither permits Congress nor a Territorial Legislature to exclude slavery from any United States Territory, they all omit to declare whether or not the same Constitution permits a State, or the people of a State, to exclude it. Possibly, this is a mere omission; but who can be quite sure, if Mr. McLean or Curtis had sought to get into the opinion a declaration of unlimited power in the people of a State to exclude slavery from their limits, just as Chase and Mace sought to get such declaration, in behalf of the people of a Territory, into the Nebraska bill; -I ask who can be quite sure that it would not have been voted down in the one case as it had been in the other? The nearest approach to the point of declaring the power of a State over slavery, is made by Judge Nelson. He approaches it more than once, using the precise idea, and almost the language, too, of the Nebraska act. On one occasion, his exact language is, "except in cases where the power is restrained by the Constitution of the United States, the law of the State is supreme over the subject of slavery within its jurisdiction." In what cases the power of the States is so restrained by the United States Constitution, is left an open question, precisely as the same question, as to the restraint on the power of the Territories, was left open in the Nebraska act. Put this and that together, and we have another nice little niche, which we may, ere long, see filled with another Supreme Court decision, declaring that the Constitution of the United States does not permit a State to exclude slavery from its limits. And this may especially be expected if the doctrine of "care not whether slavery be voted down or voted up," shall gain upon the public mind sufficiently to give promise that such a decision can be maintained when made.
Such a decision is all that slavery now lacks of being alike lawful in all the States. Welcome, or unwelcome, such decision is probably coming, and will soon be upon us, unless the power of the present political dynasty shall be met and overthrown. We shall lie down pleasantly dreaming that the people of Missouri are on the verge of making their State free, and we shall awake to the reality instead, that the Supreme Court has made Illinois a slave State. To meet and overthrow the power of that dynasty, is the work now before all those who would prevent that consummation. That is what we have to do. How can we best do it? There are those who denounce us openly to their own friends, and yet whisper to us softly, that Senator Douglas is the aptest instrument there is with which to effect that object. They wish us to infer all, from the fact that he now has a little quarrel with the present head of the dynasty; and that he has regularly voted with us on a single point, upon which he and we have never differed. They remind us that be is a great man, and that the largest of us are very small ones. Let this be granted. But "a living dog is better than a dead lion." Judge Douglas, if not a dead lion for this work, is at least a caged and toothless one. How can he oppose the advances of slavery? He dont care anything about it. His avowed mission is impressing the "public heart" to care nothing about it. A leading Douglas democratic newspaper 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 he 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 aud 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.
There is a tone of solemnity and deep apprehension in this speech of Lincoln. After describing in words so clear and simple that none could misunderstand, the conspiracy to extend slavery to all the States, he says: "We shall lie down, pleasantly dreaming that the people of Missouri are on the eve of making that a free State, and we shall awake to the reality instead, that the Supreme Court has made Illinois a slave State. To meet and overthrow the power of that dynasty, is the work of all who would prevent that consummation. This is what we have to do."
To this work his life was henceforth devoted. He brought to the tremendous struggle, physical strength and endurauce almost superhuman; an intellect trained to present and discuss political questions to the comprehension of the American mind, and with a success never equalled by any other American orator or statesman.
In allusion to the disposition manifested outside of Illinois, and especially by the New York Tribune, to sustain Douglas, he said, "our cause must be entrusted to, and conducted by, its
LINCOLN'S SPEECH AT SPRINGFIELD, JUNE, 1858.
own undoubted friends; those whose hands are free, and whose hearts are in the work. We do care' for the result, alluding to Douglas' statement, that he "did not care whether slavery was voted up or voted down."
He concludes in the language of hopeful prophesy. "We shall not fail, wise counsels may accelerate or mistakes delay it, but sooner or later, victory is sure to come."
Such was the high philosophic appreciation by Lincoln, of the conflict then pending before the American people. The first battle was to be the intellectual combat between him and Senator Douglas; a contest made in the watchful, anxious view of all the people of the Union. Liberty against slavery was the clearly defined issue. The Senatorial debate between Webster and Hayne, is historical; that involved questions of Constitutional construction, State rights, and theories of Government.
The contest between Lincoln and Douglas involved the triumph of freedom in Kansas, and in the Union. It was not a single debate, but extended through a whole campaign. The great political parties throughout the country, paused to watch its progress, and looked with eager solicitude upon every movement of the champions.
Mr. Douglas arrived at Chicago, from Washington, on the 9th of July, and was recieved with the most enthusiastic demonstrations by his friends. He addressed himself to reply to Mr. Lincoln's Springfield speech. Lincoln was present and heard the speech of Douglas, and replied to it the evening afterward. On the 16th of July, Mr. Douglas spoke at Bloomington, and Mr. Lincoln was present. Douglas again addressed the people at Springfield, on the 17th of July, to which Mr. Lincoln replied in the evening. Thereupon Mr. Lincoln addressed to Mr. Douglas the following note, challenging him to the joint debate:
Hon. S. A. DOUGLAS,
CHICAGO, July 24th, 1858.
My Dear Sir: Will it be agreeable to you to make an arrangement to divide time, and address the same audience, during the present canvass? etc. Mr. Judd is authorized to receive your answer, and if agreeable to you, to enter into the terms of such agreement, etc. Your ob't serv't, A. LINCOLN.
The challenge was accepted, and it was arranged that there should be seven joint debates; each champion alternately opening and closing the discussion; the opening speech to occupy one hour, the reply one hour and a half, and the close a half hour, so that each debate should occupy three hours. They were to speak at Ottawa, August 21st; Freeport, August 27th; Jonesboro, September 15th; Charleston, September 18th; Galesburg, October 7th; Quincy, October 13th; Alton, October 15th. These debates, held in different sections of the State, and in the open air, called together vast crowds of people. There was every motive to stimulate the champions to the exertion of their utmost power. Each entertained a sincere conviction, that in the principles he advocated was involved the safety, and perhaps the life of the Republic. The debates, with one exception, were conducted with the dignity and courtesy which were becoming the
The Senatorship was the immediate personal prize for the victor, and in the future, the Presidency, for which Douglas had been long an aspirant. They discussed all the great political questions of the day, but each felt instinctively, that the vital question, the question of questions, was slavery. The question of slavery in the territories, the Dred Scott decision, the fugitive slave law, the opinions of the Fathers, above all the meaning of the Declaration of Independence enumerating the inalienable rights of man, were the topics of discussion. Douglas went through this canvass with the manner and bearing of a conquering hero. There was something grand, exciting, and magnetic, in the boldness with which he threw himself into the discussion, and dealt his blows right and left against the republican party on one side, and the administration of Buchanan, which sought his defeat, on the other. Buchanan sought, by the use of Executive patronage and power, to defeat Douglas. He succeeded in seducing a few, but the mass of the party stood firmly by the Senator. Douglas and his friends were most liberal in their expenditures. He had his special trains of cars, his bands of music, his processions with banners and cannon, and all the paraphanalia of a great leader. Lincoln on the contrary, conducted the canvass in a
THE LINCOLN AND DOUGLAS DEBATE.
plain, simple, frugal unostentatious manner. Some idea of the simplicity of the man and his manners, may be gathered from a remark he made at the close of the debates, in which he said to a friend, "I don't believe I have expended in this canvass one cent less than five hundred dollars in cash."
Senator Douglas was at this time, undoubtedly the leading debater in the United States Senate. For years he had been accustomed to meet the trained leaders of the Nation in Congress; and never, either in single combat, or recieving the fire of a whole party, had he been discomfited. His style was bold, defiant, aggressive, vigorous. He was fertile in resources, terrible in denunciation, familiar with political history, and handled with readiness and facility, all the controversial weapons of debate; of indomitable physical and moral courage, and unquestionably the most formidable man in the Nation on the stump. The friends of Lincoln were not without anxiety when the challenge for a campaign on the stump was given and accepted. Lincoln was candid, cool, truthful, logical, philosophical; never betrayed into an unfair statement. The criticism upon him as a lawyer, was verified and illustrated in these debates. "On the right side of a case, Lincoln is an overwhelming giant, on the wrong side, his sense of justice and right, makes him weak." Douglas' ardour always made him, for the time, believe that the side he adopted was right. Lincoln argued the side of freedom with the most profound conviction that its triumph was necessary to the existence of his country. It was wonderful, how strongly in these discussions, as in all the acts of his public life, he impressed the people with his fairness, honesty, and truthfulness; every hearer in the vast crowds which thronged to these discussions, whatever his political views, went away with the conviction, "Lincoln believes what he says, he is candid, he would not mistate a fact, or take an unfair advantage to secure a triumph."
He had one advantage over Douglas, he was always goodhumoured; he had always an apt and happy story for illustration, and while Douglas was sometimes irritable, Lincoln never lost his temper. Douglas carried away the most popular applause, but Lincoln made the deeper and more lasting