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true, and that he was so far from having had anything to do with the convention to which the Senator had alluded that he was attending court, off in Tazewell County, when it was held. That was all there was of Mr. Douglas' charges. They had not an inch of truth to stand upon; and it was discovered immediately after the debate that the resolutions which Mr. Douglas had quoted had not been passed in Springfield at all, by any convention, and that, although they had been uttered by a local convention in the town of Aurora, they were, for the purposes used, and under the circumstances, essentially a forgery, for which Mr. Douglas or his friends were guiltily responsible. The charge that Mr. Lincoln was in the convention, that he made a bargain with Mr. Trumbull, that he was responsible for a certain set of anti-slavery resolutions, and that the resolutions which he read were passed by the convention that was held at Springfield, was false in every particular. Did Mr. Douglas know it to be so? Perhaps the only reply that it is proper to make to this question is that he ought to have known it to be so.
In Mr. Lincoln's reply, he quoted from his Peoria speech made in 1854, to which allusion has been made in this history, to show his exact position on the subject of slavery in the states where it existed. He said in that speech that he had no prejudice against the southern people. They were just what we should be under their circumstances. "If slavery did not now exist among them, they would not introduce it. If it did now exist among us, we should not instantly give it up." He understood how difficult it was to get rid of slavery, and he did not blame them for not doing what he should not know how to do himself. He acknowledged his constitutional obligations, and went so far as to say that he would be willing to give them a law for reclaiming fugitives, provided a law could be made which would not be more likely to carry a free man into slavery than our ordinary criminal laws are to hang an innocent one. This, notwithstanding he hated slavery for the monstrous injustice of slavery itself, and for its disgrace to democratic institutions. But all these facts had no effect upon
his mind when he came to consider the question of extending slavery over territory now free. There was no more excuse, in his opinion, for permitting slavery to go into free territory, than for reviving the African slave-trade by law. "The law which forbids the bringing a slave from Africa," said Mr. Lincoln, "and that which has so long forbidden the taking of them to Nebraska, can hardly be distinguished, on any moral principle." The principal point urged against Judge Douglas in this speech touched his devotion to Supreme Court decisions. A decision of this Court was to him a "Thus saith the Lord." There was no appeal from it; and the next decision of this same Court, whatever it might be, was indorsed in advance. It is simply for the Supreme Court to say that no state under the Constitution can exclude slavery, and he must bow to the decision, just as when it says no territory can thus exclude it. Mr. Lincoln closed his remarks on this point by an argumentum ad hominem, equally characteristic and clever:
"The next decision, as much as this, will be a Thus saith the Lord There is nothing that can divert or turn him away from this decision. It is nothing that I point out to him that his great prototype, General Jackson, did not believe in the binding force of decisions. It is nothing to him that Jefferson did not so believe. I have said that I have often heard him approve of Jackson's course in disregarding the decision of the Supreme Court pronouncing a national bank constitutional. He says I did not hear him say so He denies the accuracy of my recollection I say he ought to know better than I, but I will make no question about this thing, though it still seems to me that I heard him say it twenty times. I will tell him though, that he now claims to stand on the Cincinnati platform, which affirms that Congress cannot charter a national bank, in the teeth of that old standing decision that Congress can charter a bank. And I remind him of another piece of history on the question of respect for judicial decisions, and it is a piece of Illinois history, belonging to a time when the large party to which Judge Douglas belonged were displeased with a decision of the Supreme Court of Illinois, because they had decided that a Governor could not remove a Secretary of State. You will find the whole story in Ford's History of Illinois; and I know that Judge Douglas will not deny that he was then in favor of overslaughing that decision by the mode of adding five new Judges, so as to vote down the four old ones. Not only so, but it ended in the Judge's sitting down on that very bench as one of the five new Judges to break
down the four old ones. It was in this way precisely that he got his title of Judge. Now, when the Judge tells me that men appointed conditionally to sit as members of a court, will have to be catechised beforehand upon some subject, I say, 'You know, Judge; you have tried it.' When he says a court of this kind will lose the confidence of all men, will be prostituted and disgraced by such a proceeding, I say, 'You know best, Judge; you have been through the mill.' But I cannot shake Judge Douglas' teeth loose from the Dred Scott decision. Like some obstinate animal (I mean no disrespect,) that will hang on when he has once got his teeth fixed; you may cut off a leg, or you may tear away an arm, still he will not relax his hold. And so I may point out to the Judge, and say that he is bespattered all over, from the beginning of his political life to the present time, with attacks upon judicial decisions-I may cut off limb after limb of his public record, and strive to wrench him from a single dictum of the court-yet I cannot divert him from it. He hangs, to the last, to the Dred Scott decision. These things show there is a purpose strong as death and eternity for which he adheres to this decision, and for which he will adhere to all other decisions of the same court."
At the close of the half hour which Mr. Douglas employed. in his reply to Mr. Lincoln, the latter was literally borne away upon the shoulders of his friends, in a frenzy of enthu siasm, a fact to which Mr. Douglas made playful allusion a few days afterwards, in the statement that Mr. Lincoln was so much frightened that he had to be taken from the stand, and was laid up for seven days. Mr. Lincoln was too simple, too much in earnest, and too sensitive, to take this badinage gracefully. He really supposed there might be persons who would believe it, as appeared in a subsequent speech, in which he made it a matter of complaint.
At the Freeport meeting, Mr. Lincoln had the opening speech, and commenced by answering the interrogatories which Mr. Douglas had addressed to him at Ottawa, based upon the declarations of the Aurora resolutions. Mr. Douglas asked him if he stood pledged now to the same details of policy that he did in 1854-details which he drew from the resolutions he had read; and to his questions Mr. Lincoln made these replies, seriatim: that he was not then, and never had been pledged to the unconditional repeal of the fugitive slave law;
that he was not then, and had never been, pledged against the admission of any more slave states; that he did not stand pledged against the admission of a new state into the Union. with such a constitution as the people of that state may see fit to make; that he did not stand pledged to the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia; that he did not stand pledged to the prohibition of the slave trade between the different states; and that he was pledged to a belief in the right and duty of Congress to prohibit slavery in all the United States territories. After saying that he had replied in terms to the Judge, and that he was not "pledged" to any of these principles or measures, he further said that he would not hang upon the form of the questions, but utter what he did think on all the subjects involved in them. He believed the southern people were entitled, under the Constitution, to a congressional fugitive slave law; said that he should be very sorry to see 'any more slave states applying for admission to the Union, and declared that he would not only be glad to see slavery abolished in the District of Columbia, but he believed that Congress had the constitutional power to abolish it there. Having answered Mr. Douglas' questions-these and the remainder in accordance with opinions with which the reader is already familiar, he was ready to turn questioner, and give the Judge something to do, in the same line of effort. He had already consulted with his friends concerning the matter, and, in his conversation on the subject, had dropped an expression which showed that he was looking beyond the senatorial contest for the grand results of the discussion. In Mr. Lincoln's view the principal point of debate was Mr. Douglas' doctrine of popular sovereignty, in connection with the Dred Scott decision-the two things in his judgment being in direct antagonism, and being, in reality, a shameful fraud. This antagonism Mr. Lincoln proposed to present in the form of interrogatories, but his friends remonstrated. "If you put that question to him," they said, "he will perceive that an answer, giving practical force and effect to the Dred Scott decision in the territories, inevitably loses him the battle; and he will
therefore reply by offering the decision as an abstract principle, but denying its practical application." But," said Mr. Lincoln, "if he does that, he can never be President." His friends replied, "that is not your lookout; you are after the senatorship." "No, gentlemen," said he, "I am killing larger game. The battle of 1860 is worth a hundred of this."*
Whether Mr. Lincoln then expected to be the republican candidate for the presidency in 1860, there are no means of judging; but that he intended the discussion to damage Mr. Douglas' presidential prospects there is no doubt. So Mr. Lincoln put his questions, which, in their order, were as they follow:
"1. If the people of Kansas shall, by means entirely unobjectionable in all other respects, adopt a state constitution, and ask admission into the Union under it, before they have the requisite number of inhabitants according to the English bill-some ninety-three thousand—will you vote to admit them?
"2. Can the people of a United States territory, in any lawful way, against the wish of any citizen of the United States, exclude slavery from its limits prior to the formation of a state constitution?
"3. If the Supreme Court of the United States shall decide that states cannot exclude slavery from their limits, are you in favor of acquiescing in, adopting and following such decision, as a rule of political action?
"4. Are you in favor of acquiring additional territory, in disregard of how such acquisition may affect the nation on the slavery question?"
To the first question Mr. Douglas replied that he held it a sound rule, of universal application, to require a territory to contain the requisite population for a member of Congress, before it is admitted as a state into the Union; but it having been decided by Congress that Kansas had population enough for a slave state, he held that she had enough for a free state. His answer to the second question was in brief, this: "It matters not what way the Supreme Court may hereafter decide, as to the abstract question whether slavery may or may not go into a territory under the Constitution, the people have
*Scripps, p. 28.