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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 wero 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.
the lawful means to introduce it, or exclude it as they please, for the reason that slavery cannot exist a day, or an hour, anywhere, unless it is supported by local police regulations. Those police regulations can only be established by the local legislature; and if the people are opposed to slavery, they will elect representatives to that body who will, by unfriendly legislation, effectually prevent the introduction of it into their midst.” The third question 'he answered by stating that a decision of the Supreme Court that states could not exclude slavery from their limits, would“ be an act of moral treason that no man on the bench would ever descend to.” The thing in his view was simply impossible. This left the real question unanswered. Mr. Lincoln had not asked him whether the Supreme Court would or could make such a decision, but had inquired what he would do in the event that it should. To the fourth interrogatory he replied, “Whenever it becomes necessary, in our growth and progress, to acquire more territory, I am in favor of it, without reference to the question of slavery; and when we have acquired it I will leave the people free to do as they please—either to make it slave or free territory as they prefer."
To the answer to the second question Mr. Lincoln responded by charging Mr. Douglas with changing his ground; and referred to the record to prove his charge. He referred to the inquiry made by Judge Trumbull of Judge Douglas in the United States Senate, on this very point, when the former asked the latter whether the people of a territory had the lawful power to exclude slavery, prior to the formation of a constitution. The Judge's reply then was that it was a question to be decided by the Supreme Court. The question has been decided by the Supreme Court, and now the Judge, by saying that the people can exclude slavery if they choose, virtually says that it is not a question for the Supreme Court but a question for the people. The proposition that “slavery cannot exist a day or an hour without local police regulations' is historically false, even in the case of Dred Scott himself, who was held in Minnesota territory not only without police
regulations, but in the teeth of Congressional legislation, supposed to be valid at the time. The absurdity of adhering to the Dred Scott decision and maintaining popular sovereignty at the same time, he put into a single sentence in a subsequent speech, made in Ohio—a sentence which contained the whole argument. It was declaring, he said, “no less than that a thing may lawfully be driven away from a place where it has a lawful right to be.”
It is impossible to follow to their conclusion this series of debates in the pages of this volume. Enough has been written to reveal the ground of the two antagonists, the merits of the questions they discussed and their modes of conducting debate. Into the side questions which sprang up on every fresh occasion, and which were connected with persons and local politics, it is not possible, and, perhaps, not desirable, to follow the debaters. They kept their appointments, and fulfilled the terms of their arrangement. They attracted to them immense crowds, wherever they appeared; and the whole nation looked on with an intense interest. There has never been a local canvass since the formation of the government which so attracted the attention of the politicians of other states as this. It was the key note of the coming presidential campaign. It was a thorough presentation of the issues upon which the next national battle was to be fought. The eyes of all the eastern states were turned to the west where young republicanism and old democracy were establishing the dividing lines of the two parties, and preparing the ground for the great struggle soon to be begun. To say
that Mr. Lincoln was the victor in this contest, morally and intellectually, is simply to record the judgment of the world. To say that he was victor in every way before the people of Illinois, it needs only to be recorded that he received a majority in the popular vote over Mr. Douglas of four thousand eighty-five. There is this to be said, however, in connection with these statements. Whatever the advantages of Mr. Douglas may have been, Mr. Lincoln had the great advantage of belonging to a new and aggressive party, which had started freshly in the strife for power, and had not been corrupted by power. It had not lived long enough to depart from the principles of truth and justice in which it had its birth. Standing on the ground that slavery was wrong and that its perpetuation would be a calamity, and its diffusion through new territory a crime, Mr. Lincoln not only felt, but knew, that he was right. This made him strong. Mr. Douglas was looking for the presidency, and knew that if he should ever reach and grasp the prize before him, he must do it through the aid of the slaveholding states. He knew that he could only secure this support by a certain degree of friendliness, or an entire indifference, to slavery. He intended to ride into power on the back of popular sovereignty, giving at least nominal equality to slavery and freedom in the territories, while, at the same time, endorsing the decision of the Supreme Court as to what the exact rights of slavery were, under the Constitution. His policy was not only that of the democratic party of Illinois, but essentially that of the whole North. He boasted of this on one occasion, upon which Mr. Lincoln retorted the charge of sectionalism. Mr. Douglas had been obliged to defer so much to the spirit of freedom and to the rights of free labor in the territories had been obliged for fear of defeat to go so far from the original path he had marked out for himself-that Mr. Lincoln called his attention to the fact that his speeches would not pass current south of the Ohio so readily as they had formerly done. “Whatever may be the result of this ephemeral contest between Judge Douglas and myself,” said he, “I see the day rapidly approaching when his pill of “sectionalism, which he has been thrusting down the throats of republicans for years past, will be crowded down his own throat.” It was undoubtedly the grand aim of Mr. Lincoln, throughout the whole series of debates, to drive Mr. Douglas into such an open declaration for slavery as to secure his defeat for the senatorial office, or, failing in that, to compel him to such declarations on behalf of freedom as would spoil him as a southern candidate for the presidency. “The battle of 1860 is worth a