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SPEECH OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN, OF ILLINOIS.
Delivered at the Cooper Institute, Monday, Feb. 27, 1860.
MR. PRESIDENT AND FELLOW-CITIZENS OF New-YORK: In 1787, still before the Constitution, but while the The facts with which I shall deal this evening are mainly Convention was in session framing it, and while the old and familiar; nor is there anything new in the gene- Northwestern Territory still was the only Territory ral use I shall make of them. If there shall be any owned by the United States--the same question of pronovelty, it will be in the mode of presenting the facts, hibiting Slavery in the Territory again came before the and the inferences and observations following that Congress of the Confederation, and three more of the presentation.
“thirty-nine" who afterward signed the Constitution, In his speech, last autumn, at Columbus, Ohio, as were in that Congress, and voted on the question. They reported in "The New York Times,” Senator Douglas were William Blount, William Few and Abraham Bald. said :
win; and they all voted for the prohibition-thus show * Our fathers, when they framed the Government un ing that, in their understanding, no line dividing local der which we live, understood this question just as well, from feileral authority, nor anything else, properly and even better than we do now."
forbids the Federal Government to control as to Slavery I fully indorse this, and I adopt it as a text for this in federal territory. This time the prohibition became discourse. I so adopt it because it furnishes å precise a law, being part of what is now well known as the and an agreed starting point for a discussion between Ordinance of '87. Republicans and that wing of Democracy headed by The question of federal control of Slavery in the Ter. Senator Duglas. It simply leaves the inquiry : "What ritories, seems not to have been directly before the was the understanding those fathers had of the question Convention which framed the original Constitution; and mentioned ?"
hence it is not recorded that the “ thirty-nine," or any What is the frame of Government under which we of them, while engaged on that instrument, expressed live?
any opinion on that precise question, The answer must be: “ The Constitution of the United In 1789, by the first Congress which sat under the States " That Constitution consists of the original, Constitution, an act was passed to enforce the Ordinance framed in 1737 (and under which the present Govern- of '87, including the prohibition of Slavery in the Northment first went into operation), and twelve subsequen:ly western Territory. The bill for this act was reported by framed amendments, the first ten of which were framed one of the “thirty-nine," Thomas Fitzsimmons, then a in 1789.
member of the House of Representatives from Pennsyl. Who were our fathers that framed the Constitution? vania. It went through all its stages wichout a word of I suppose the “ thirty-nine” who signed the original opposition, and finally passed both branches without instrument may be fairly called our fathers who framed yeas and nays, which is equivalent to a unanimous that part of the present Government. It is almost passage. In this Congress there were sixteen of the exactly true to say they framed it, and it is altogether thirty-nine'' fathers who framed the original Constitutrue to say they fairly represented the opinion and sen- tion. They were John Langdon, Nicholas Gilman, Wm. timent of the whole nation at that time. Their names, S. Johnson, Roger Sherman, Robert Morris, Thomas being familiar to nearly all, and accessible to quite all, Fitzsimmons, William Few, Abraham Baldwin, Rufus need not now be repeated.
King, William Patterson, Gecrge Clymer, Richard BasI take these “thirty-nine," for the present, as being sett, George Read, Pierce Butler, Daniel 'Carroll, James "our fathers who framed the Government under which Madison. we live."
This shows that, in their understanding, no line What is the question which, according to the text, dividing local from federal authority, nor anything in those fathers understood just as well, and even better the Constitution, properly forbade Congress to prohibit than we do now?
Slavery in the federal territory ; else both their fidelity It is this: Does the proper division of local from to correct principle, and their oath to support the Confederal authority, or anything in the Constitution, forbid stitution, would have constrained them to oppose the our Federal Government to control as to Slavery in our prohibition. Federal Territories?
Again, George Washington, another of the “thirtyUpon this, Douglas holds the affirmative, and Republi- nine,” was then President of the United States, and, as cans the negative. This affirmative and denial fo.m an such, approved and signed the bill, thus completing its issue ; and this issue - this question--is precisely what validity as a law, and thus showing that, in his underthe text declares our fathers understood better than we standing, no line dividing local from federal authority,
Let us now inquire whether the "thirty-nine," or any nor anything in the Constitution, forbade the Federal of them, ever acted upon this question; and if they did, Government, to control as to Slavery in federal terrihow they acted upon it-how they expressed that bet- tory. ter understanding.
No great while after the adoption of the original In 1784—three years before the Constitution--the Constitution, North Carolina ceded to the Federal United States then owning the Northwestern Territory, Government the country now constituting the State of and no other-the Congress of the Confederation had Tennessee ; and a few years later Georgia ceded that before them the question of prohibiting Slavery in that which now constitutes the States of Mississippi and AlaTerritory; and four of the "thirty-nine," who afterward | bama. In both deeds of cession it was made a condition framed the Constitution were in that Congress, and by the ceding States that the Federal Government voted on that question. of these, Roger Sherman, should not prohibit Slavery in the ceded country. Thomas Milin, and Hugh Williamson voted for the Besides this, Slavery was then actually in the ceded prohibition - thus showing that, in their understanding, country. Under these circumstances, Congress, on no line dividing local from federal authority, nor anything taking charge of these countries, did not absolutely else, properly fo.bade the Federal Government to con- prohibit Slavery within them. But they did interfere trol as to Slavery in Federal Territory. The other of the with it-take control of it-even there, to a certain four --James Mcllenry--voted against the prohibition, extent. In 1793, Cong.ess organized the Territory of showing that, for some cause, he thought it improper to Mississippi. In the act of organiz ition they prohibited vote for it.
the bringing of Slaves into the Territory, from any place VIEWS OF “THE FATIIERS" ON SLAVERY
without the United States, by fine, and giving freedom from federal authority, or some provision or principle of to slaves so brought. This act passed both branches of the Constitution, stood in the way; or they may, without Congress without yeas and nays. In that Congress any such question, have voted against the p.ohibition, on were three of the "thirty-nine" who framed the original what appeared to them to be sufficient g.ounds of expeConstitution They were John Langdon, George Read diency. No one who has sworn to support the Constituand Abraham Baldwin. They all, probably, voted for tion, can conscientiously vote for what he understands to it. Certitinly they would have placed their opposition be an unconstitutional measure, however expedient he to it upon record, if, in their understanding, any line may think it; but one may and ought to vote against a dividing local from federal authority, or anything in the measure which he deems constitutional, if, at the same Constitutiou, prope ly forbade the Federal Government time, he deems it inexpedient. It, therefore, would be to control as to Slavery in federal territory.
unsafe to set down even the two who voted against the In 1803, the Federal Government purchased the Louisi- prohibition, as having done so because, in their under. ana country. Our furiner territorial acquisitions came standing, any proper division of local from federal aufrom certain of our own States; but inis Louisiana thority, or anything in the Constitution forbade the country was acquired from a foreign nation. In 1804, Federal Government to control as to Slavery in federal Congress gave a Territorial organization to that part of territory. it which now constiiutes the State of Louisiana. New The remaining sixteen of the “thirty-nine," so far as I Orleans, lying within that part, was an old and compara-have discovered, have left no record of their understand. tively large city. There were other considerable iowns ing upon the direct question of the control of Slavery in and settlements, and Slavery was extensively and the federal territories. But there is much reason to be. thoroughly intermingled with the people. Congress did lieve that their understanding upon that question would not, in the Territorial Act, prohibit Slavery; but they not have appeared different from that of their twentydid interfere with it-take control of it—in a more marked three compeers, had it been manifested at all. and extensive way than they did in the case of Mississippi. For the purpose of adhering rigidly to the text, I have The substance of the provision therein made, in relation purposely omitted whatever understanding may have to siaves, was :
been manifested, by any person, however distinguished, First. That no slave should be imported into the Ter- other than the thirty-nine fathers who framed the original ritory froin foreign parts.
Constitution; and, for the same reason, I have also omitSecond. That no slave should be carried into it who ted whatever understanding may have been manifested had been impori ed into the United States since the first by any of the "thirty nine" even, on any other phase of day of May, 1793.
the gene. al question of Slavery. If we should look into Third. That no slave shall be carried into it except by their acts and declarations on those other phases, as the the owner, and for his own use as a settler; the penalty foreign slave-trade, and the morality and policy of in all the cases being a fine upon the violator of the law, Slavery generally, it would appear to us that on the diand freedom to the slave,
rect question of federal control of Slavery in federal This act also was passed without yeas and nays. In territo.ies, the sixteen, if they had acted at all, would the Congress which passed it, there were two of the probably have acted just as the twenty-three did. " thirty-nine." They were Abraham Baldwin and Jona- Among that sixteen were several of the most noted antithan Daylon. As stated in the case of Mississippi, it is slave. y men of those times--as Dr. Franklin, Alexander probable they both voted for it. They would not have Hamilton, and Gouverneur Morris--while there was not allowed it to pass without recording their opposition to one now known to have been otherwise, unless it may be it, if, in their under: tanding, it violated either the line John Rutledge, of South Carolina. proper dividing local from federal authority or any pro- The sum of the whole is, that of our “thirty-nine" vision of the Constitution.
fathers who framed the original Constitution, twenty: In 1819–2, came and passed the Missouri question. one-a clear majority of the whole-cer inly understood Many votes were taken by yeas and nays, in both that no proper division of local from federal authority branches of Congress, upon the various phases of the nor any part of the Constitution, forbade the Federal general question. Two of the "thirty-nine”-Rufus King Government to control Slavery in the federal territories, and Charles Pinckney-were members of that Congress. while all the rest probably had the same understanding. Mr. King steadily voted for Slavery prohibition and Such, unquestionably, was the understanding of our against all compromises, while Mr. Pinckney as steadily fathers who framed the original Constitution, and the voted ag inst Slavery prohibition and against all compro- text affirms that they understood the question beiter mises. By this Mr. King showed that, in his understand than we. ing, no line dividing local froin federal authority, nor But, so far, I have been considering the understanding anything in the Constitution, was violated by Congress of the question manifested by the framers of the original prohibiting Slavery in federal territory; while Mr. Pinck- Constitution. In and by the original instrument, a mode ney, by his voies, showed that in his understanding there was provided for amending it; and, as I have already was sufficient reason for opposing such prohibition in stated, the present frame of Government under which that case.
we live consists of that original, and twelve amendatory The cases I have mentioned are the only acts of the articles framed and adopted since. Those who now insist " thirty-nine," or of any of them, upon the direct issue, that federal control of Slavery in federal territories viowhich I have been able to discover.
lates the Constitution, point us to the provisions which To enumerate the persons who thus acted, as being four they suppose it thus violates; and, as I understand, they in 1784, three in 1737, seventeen in 1789, three in 1793, all fix upon provisions in these amendatory articles, and two in 1804, and two in 1819–20—there would be thirty- not in the original instrument. The Supreme Court, in one of thein. But this wou'd be counting John Langdon, the Died Scott case, plant themselves upon the fiftb Roger Sherinan, Wiliam Few, Rufus King, and George amendinent, which provides that “no person shall be de Read, each twice, and Abraham Baldwin four times. The prived of property without due process of law;" while true number of those of the thirty-nine" whom I have Senator Douglas and his peculiar adherents plant them. shown to have acted upon the question, which, by the selves upon the tenth amendment, providing that “the text they understood better than we, is twenty-three, powers not granted by the Constitution, are reserved to leaving sixteen not shown to have acted upon it in any the States respectively, and to the people." way.
Now, it so happens that these amendinents were framed Here, then, we have twenty-three out of our “thirty- b; the first Congress which sat under the Constitutionnine" fathers who framed the Governinent under which the identical Congress whick passed the act already men. we live, who have, upon their official responsibility and tioned, enforcing the prohibition of Slavery in the norththeir corporal oaths, acted upon the very question which western Territory. Not only was it the same Congress, the text affirms they understood just as well, and even but they were the identical, same individual men, who, better than we do now;" and twenty-one of them-a at the same session, and at the same time within the ses. clear majority of the whole “ thirty-nine"-50 acting up- sion, had under consideration, and in progress toward on it as to make thein guilty of gross political impropriety, maturity, these Constitutional amendments, and this act and willful perjury, if, in their understanding, any proper prohibiting Slavery in all the Territory the nation then division between local and federal authority, or anything owned. The Constitutional amendments were introduced in the Constitution they had made themselves, and sworn before, and passed after the act enforcing the Ordinance, to support, forbade the Federal Government to control as of '87 ; so that during the whole pendency of the act to to Siavery in the federal territories. Thus the twenty-enforce the ordinance, the Constitutional amendments one acted; and, ils actions speak louder than words, so were also pending actions under such responsibility speak still louder.
l'hat Congress, consisting in all of seventy-six memTwo of the twenty-three voted against Congressional bers, including sixteen of the framers of the original Conprobibition of Slavery in the federal Territories in the institution, as before stated, were preëininently our fathers stances in which they acted upon the question. But for who frained that part of the Goverument under which we what reason they so voted is not known. They may have live, which. is now claimed as forbidding the Federal done so because they thought a proper division of local Government to control Slavery in the Federal Territories It is not a little presumptuous in any one at this day to licans." In all your contentions with one another, each afirm that the two things which that Congress deliber- of you deems an unconditional condemnation of “Black ately framed, and carried to maturity at the same time, Republicanism” as the tirst thing to be attended to. Inare absolutely inconsistent with each other? And does deed such condemnation of us seems to be an indispensa. not such affirmation become impudently absurd when ble prerequisite-license, so to speak, among you to ce ach coupled with the other affirmation, from the same mouth, bitted or permitted to speak at all. tiat those who did the two things alleged to be inconsis- Now, can you, or not, be prevailed upon to pause and to tent understood whether they really were inconsistent consider whether this is quite just to us, or even to yourbetter than we-better than he who affirms that they are selves? inconsistent ?
Bring forward your charges and specifications, and then It is surely safe to assume that the “ thirty-nine" be patient long enough to hear us deny or justify, frainers of the original Constitution, and the seventy-six You say we are sectional. We deny it. That makes an pernbers of the Cougress which framed the amendments issue: and the burden of proof is upon you. You prothereto, taken together, do certainly include those who duce your proof; and what is it? Why, that our party may be fairly called “our fathers who framed the Gov- has no existence in your section-gets no votes in your ernment under which we live.” And so assuming, I section. The fact is substantially true; but does it prove dely any man to show that any one of them ever, in his the issue ? If it does, then in case we should, without whole life, declared that, in his understanding, any change of principle, begin to get votes in your section, we proper division of local from federal authority, or any should thereby cease to be sectional. You cannot escape part of the Constitution, forbade the Federal Govern- this conclusion; and yet, are you willing to abide by it? inent to control as to Slavery in the federal territories. If you are, you will probably soon find that we have I go a step further. I defy any one to show that any ceased to be sectional, for we shall get votes in your secliving man in the whole world ever did, prior to the be- tion this very year. You will then begin to discover, as ginning of the present century (and I might almost say the truth plainly is, that your proof does not touch the prior to the beginning of the last half of the present cen- issue. The fact that we get no votes in your section is a tury) declare that, in his understanding, any proper fact of your making, and not of ours. And if there be division of local from federal authority, or any part of fault in that fact, that fault is primarily yours, and rethe Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to mains so until you show that we repel you by some wrong control as to Slavery in the federal territories. To those principle or practice. If we do repel you by any wrong who now so declare, I give, not only " our fathers who principle or practice, the fault is ours; but this brings you framed the Governmeat under which we live.” but with to where you ought to have started--to a discussion of the them ail other living men within the century in which it right or wrong of our principle. If our principle, put in Was framed, among whom to search, and they shall not be practice, would wrong your section for the benefit of ours, able to find the evidence of a single man agreeing with or for any other object, then our principle, and we with it, then.
are sectional, and are justly opposed and denounced as Now, and here, let me guard a little against being mis- such. Meet us, then, on the question of whether our prinanderstood. I do not mean to say we are bound to follow ciple, put in piactice, would wrong your section; and so implicitly in whatever our fathers did. To do so, would be meet it as if it were possible that something may be said to discard all the lights of current experience—to reject on our side. Do you accept the challenge? No? Then all progress-all improvement. What I do say is, that if you really believe that the principle which our fathers who we would supplant the opinions and policy of our fathers framed the Government under which we live thought so in any case, we should do so upon evidence so conclusive, clearly right as to adopt it, and indorse it again and and argument so clear, that even their great authority, again, upon their official oaths, is, in fact, so clearly fairiy considered and weighed, cannot stand; and most wrong as to demand your condemnation without a mosurely not in a case whereof we ourselves decl they ment's consideration. understood the question better than we.
Some of you delight to flaunt in our faces the warning any man, at this day, sincerely believes that a against sectional parties given by Washington in his proper division of local from federal authority, or any Farewell Address. Less than eight years before Washipart of the Constitution, forbids the Federal Government ington gave that warning he had, as President of the 10 control as to Slavery in the federal territories, he is United States, approved and signed an act of Congress enright to say so, and to enforce his position by all truthful forcing the prohibition of Slavery in the northwestern 'Terrievidence and fair argument which he can. But he has no tory, which act embodied the policy of the Government right to mislead others, who have less access to history upon that subject, up to and at the very moment he and less leisure to study it, into the false belief that “ our penned that warning; and about one year after he penned fathers, who framed the Government under which we it he wrote Lafayette, that he considered that jonivition live,” were of the same opinion-thus substituting false- a wise measure, expressing in the same connection his hood and deception for truthful evidence and fair argu- hope that we should sometime have a confederacy of free ment. If any man at this day sincerely believes “our States. fathers, who framed the Government under which we Bearing this in mind, and seeing that sectionalism has live," used and applied principles, in other cases, which since arisen upon this same subject, is that warning a ougut to have led them to understand that a proper weapon in your hands against us, or, in our hands, against division of local from federal authority or some part of the you? Could Washington himself speak, would he cast the Constitution, forbids the federal government to control blame of that sectionalism upon us, who sustain his policy, as to Slavery in the Federal Territories, he is right to say or upon you, who repudiate it? We respect that warning
But he should, at the same time, brave the responsi- of Washington, and we commend it to you, together with bility of declaring that, in his opinion, he understands his example pointing to the right application of it. their principles better than they did themselves ; and But you say you are conservative-eminently conservaespecially should he not shirk that responsibility by as- tive-while we are revolutionary, destructive, or someserting that they “understood the question just as well, thing of the sort. What is conservatism? Is it not adand even better, than we do now."
herence to the old and tried, against the new and untried ? But enough. Let all who believe that “our fathers, We stick to, contend for, the identical old policy on the who framed the Government under wbich we live, under- point in controversy which was adopted by our fathers stood the question just as well, and even better, than we who framed the Government under which we live; while do now,'' speak as they spoke, and act as they acted upon you, with one accord, reject, and scout, and spit upon that it. This is all Republicans ask--all Republicans desire- old policy, and insist upon substituting something new. in relation to Slavery. As those fathers marked it. so let True, you disagree among yourselves as to what that subit be again inarked, as an evil not to be extended, but to be stitute shall be. You have considerable variety of new tolerated and protected only because of and so far as its propositions and plans, but you are unanimous in rejecting actual presence among us makes that toleration and pro- and denouncing the old policy of the fathers. Some of tection a necessity. Let all the guaranties those fathers you are for reviving the foreign slave-trade; some for a congave it, be not grudgingly, but fully and fairly, main. gressional slave-code for the Territories; some for Contained. For this Republicans contend, and with this, so gress forbidding the Territories to prohibit Slavery within far as I know or believe, they w.ll be content.
their limits; some for maintaining Slavery in the TerritaAnd now, if they would listen, as I suppose they will ries through the judiciary; some for the “gur-reat pur-rin. not, I would address a few words to the southern peo- ciple" that “ if one man would enslave another, no third ple.
person should object," fantastically called “Popular SoI would say to them: You consider yourselves a reason- ! vereignty;" but never a man among you in favor of fede able and a just people; and I consider that in the general ral prohibition of Slavery in Federal Territories, according qualities of reason and justice you are not inferior to any to the practice of our fathers who framed the Government other people. Still, when you speak of us Republicans, under which we live. Not one of all your various plane you do so only to denounce us as reptiles, or, at the best, can show a precedent or an advocate in the century with As no better than outlaws. You will grant á hearing to in which our Government originated. Consider, then, pirates or murderers, but nothing like it to “Black Bepub- ' whether your claim of conservatism for yourselves, and
your charge of destructiveness against us, are hased on ago," it is still in our power to direct the process of emanthe most clear and stable foundations.
cipation, and deportation, peaceably, and in such slow Again, you say we have made the Slavery question degrees, as that the evil will wear off insensibly; and their more prominent than it formerly was. We deny it. We places be, pari passu, filled up by free white laborers. admit that it is more prominent, but we deny that we If, on the contrary, it is left to force itself on, human namade it so. It was not we, but you, who discarded the ture must shudder at the prospect held up." old policy of the fathes. We resisted, and still resist, Mr. Jefferson did not mean to say, nor do I, that the your innovation; and thence comes the greater promi- power of emancipation is in the Federal Government. He nence of the question. Would you have that question re- spoke of Virginia ; and, as to the power of emancipation, duced to its former proportions ? Go back to that old I speak of the slaveholding States only. policy. What has been will be again, under the same The Federal Government, however, as we insist, has the conditions. If you would have the peace of the old power of restraining the extension of the institution—the times, re-adopt the precepts and policy of the old times. power to insure that a slave insurrection shall never occur
You charge that we stir up insurrections among your on any American soil which is now free from Slavery. slaves. We deny it; and what is your proof? Harper's John Brown's effort was peculiar. It was not a slave inFerry! John Brown! John Brown was no Republican; surrection. It was an attempt by white men to get up a and you have failed to implicate a single Republican in revolt among slaves, in which the slaves refused to particihis Harper's Ferry enterprise. If any member of our pate. In fact, it was so absurd that the slaves, with all party is guilty in that matter, you know it, or you do not their ignorance, saw plainly enough it could not succeed. know it. If you do know it, you are inexcusable to not That affair, in its philosophy, corresponds with many atdesignate the man, and prove the fact. If you do not tempts, related in history, at the assassination of Kings and know it, you are inexcusable to assert it, and especially Emperors. An enthusiast broods over the oppression of a to persist in the assertion after you have tried and failed people till he fancies himself commissioned by Heaven to to make the proof. You need not be told that persisting liberate them. He ventures the attempt, which ends in in a charge which one does not know to be true, is sim- little else than in his own execution. Orsini's attempt on piy a malicious slander.
Louis Napoleon, and John Brown's attempt at Harper's Some of you admit that no Republican designedly Ferry, were, in their philosophy, precisely the same. The aided or encouraged the Harper's Ferry affair ; but still eagerness to cast blame on old England in the one case, insist that our doctrines and declarations necessarily and on New England in the other, does not disprove the lead to such results. We do not believe it. We know sameness of the two things. we hold to no doctrine, and make no declarations, which And how much would it avail you, if you could, by the were not held to and made by our fathers who framed use of John Brown, Helper's book, and the like, break up the Government under which we live. You never dealt the Republican organization? Human action can be mod. fairly by us in relation to this affair. When it occurred, ified to some extent, but human nature cannot be changed. some important State elections were near at hand, and There is a judgment and a feeling against Slavery in this you were in evident glee with the belief that, by charg- nation, which cast at least a million and a half of votes. ing the blame upon us, you could get an advantage of us You cannot destroy that judgment and feeling--that, senin those elections. The elections came, and your ex- timent-by breaking up the political organization which pectations were not quite fulfilled. Every Republican rallies around it. You can scarcely scatter and disperse man knew that, as to himself at least, your charge was a an army which has been formed into order in the face of slander, and he was not much inclined by it to cast his your heaviest fire, but if you could, how much would you vote in your favor. Republican doctrines and declara- gain by forcing the sentiment which created it out of the tions are accompanied with a continual protest against peaceful channel of the ballot box, into some other chanany interference whatever with your slaves, or with you nel? What would that other channel probably be? Would about your slaves. Surely, this does not encourage them the number of John Browns be lessened or enlarged by the to revolt. True, we do, in common with our fathers, who operation ? framed the Government under which we live, declare But you will break up the Union rather than submit to a our belief that Slavery is wrong; but the slaves do not denial of your constitutional rights. hear us declare even this. For anything we say or do, That has a somewhat reckless sound; but it would be the slaves would scarcely know there is a Republican palliated, if not fully justified, were we proposing, by the party. I believe they would not, in fact, generally know mere force of numbers, to deprive you of some right, it but for your misrepresentations of us, in their hearing. plainly written down in the Constitution. But we are proIn your political contests among yourselves, each fac- posing no such thing. tion charges the other with sympathy with Black Re- When you make these declarations, you have a specific publicanism; and then, to give point to the charge, and well-understood allusion to an assumed constitutional defines Black Republicanism to simply be insurrection, right of yours, to take slaves into the federal territories, blood and thunder among the slaves.
and to hold them there as property. But no such right is Slave insurrections are no more common now than specifically written in the Constitution. That instrument they were before the Republican party was organized. is literally silent about any such right. We, on the conWhat induced the Southampton insurrection, twenty- trary, deny that such a right has any existence in the Coneight years ago, in which, at least, three times as many stitution, even by implication. lives were lost as at Harper's Ferry? You can scarcely Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is, that you will stretch your very elastic fancy to the conclusion that destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to conSouthampton was got up by Black Republicanism. In strue and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all the present state of things in the United States, I do not points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or think a general, or even a very extensive slave insurrec- ruin in all events. tion, is possible. The indispensable concert of action This, plainly stated, is your language to us. Perhaps cannot be attained. The slaves have no means of rapid you will say the Supreme Court has decided the disputed communication; nor can incendiary free men, black or Constitutional question in your favor. Not quite so. white, supply it. The explosive materials are every. But waiving the lawyer's distinction between dictum and where in parcels; but there neither are, nor can be sup- decision, the Courts have decided the question for you plied, the indispensable connecting trains.
in a sort of way. The Courts have substantially said, it Much is said by Southern people about the affection of is your Constitutional right to take slaves into the slaves for their masters and mistresses; and a part of it, federal territories, and to hold them there as property. at least, is true. A plot for an uprising could scarcely be When I say the decision was made in a sort of way, I devised and communicated to twenty individuals before mean it was made in a divided Court by a bare majority some one of them, to save the life of a favorite master or of the Judges, and they not quite agreeing with one mistress, would divulge it. This is the rule; and the another in the reasons for making it; that it is so made slave-revolution in Hayti was not an exception to it, but a as that its avowed supporters disagree with one another case occurring under peculiar circumstances. The gun- about its meaning, and that it was mainly based upon a powder plot of British history, though not connected with mistaken statement of fact—the statement in the opinion slaves, was more in point. In that case, only about twenty that "the right of property in a slave is distinctly and were admitted to the secret; and yet one of them, in his expressly affirmed in the Constitution.”. anxiety to save a friend, betrayed the plot to that friend, An inspection of the Constitution will show that the and, by consequence, averted the calamity. Occasional right of property in a slave is not distinctly and expressly poisonings from the kitchen, and open or stealthy assassi- affirmed in it. Bear in mind the Judges do not pledge nations in the field, and local revolts extending to a score their judicial opinion that such is right is impliedly aror so, will continue to occur as the natural results of Sla-firmed in the Constitution; but they pledge their veracity very; but no general insurrection of slaves, as I think, can that it is distinctly and expressly affirmed there--"dishappen in this country for a long time. Whoever much tinctly," that is, not mingled with anything else—"exfears, or much hopes, for such an event, will be alike dis-pressly,” that is, in words meaning just that, without the appointed.
aid of any inference, and susceptible of no other meaning. Ir the language of Mr. Jefferson, uttered many years If they had only pledged their judicial opinion that
such right is affirmed in the instrument by implication, These natural, and apparently adequate means all fall. it would be open to others to show that neither the word ing, what will convince them? This, and this only: "slave" nor ** Slavery” is to be found in the Constitu- cease to call Slavery wrong, and join them in calling it tion, nor the word "property" even, in any connection right. And this must be done thoroughly-done in acts with the language alluding to the things slave. or Slavery, as well as in words. Silence will not be tolerated-we and that wherever in that inst:ument the slave is alluded must place ourselves avowedly with them. Douglas's to, he is called a “person;" and wherever his master's new sedition law must be enacted and enforced, suppresslegal right in relation to him is alluded to, it is spoken of ing all declarations that Slavery is wrong, whether made
service or labor due," as a "debt" payable in in politics, in presses, in pulpits, or in private. We must service or labor. Also, it would be open to show, by arrest and return their fugitive slaves with greedy contemporaneous history, that this mode of alluding to pleasure. We must pull down our Free State constitutions. slaves and Slavery, instead of speaking of them, was en- The whole atmosphere must be disinfected from all taint ployed on purpose to exclude from the Constitution the of opposition to Slavery, before they will cease to believe idea that there could be property ir man.
that all their troubles proceed from us. To show all this is easy and certain.
I am quite aware they do not state their case precisely When this obvious mistake of the Judges shall be in this way. Most of them would probably say to us, brought to their notice, it is not reasonable to expect “Let us alone, do nothing to us, and say what you please that they will withdraw the mistaken statement, and
about Slavery. But we do let them alone-have never reconsider the conclusion based upon it ?
disturbed them--so that, after all, it is what we say, And then it is to be remembered that our fathers, who which dissatisfies them. They will continue to accuse us framed the Government under which we live"-the men of doing, until we cease saying. who made the Constitution -decided this same Constitu- I ain also aware they have not, as yet, in terms, tional question in our favor, long ago - decided it without demanded the overthrow of our Free State Constitutions, a division among themselves, when making the decision;
Yet those constitutions declare the wrong of Slavery, without division among themselves about the meaning with more solemn emphasis, than do all other sayings of it after it was made, and so far as any evidence is against it; and when all these other sayings shall have left, without basing it upon any mistaken statement of been silenced, the overthrow of these constitutions will facts.
be demanded, and nothing be left to resist the demand. Under all these circumstances, do you really feel It is nothing to the contrary, that they do not demand the yourselves justified to break up this Government, un- whole of this just now. Demanding what they do, and less such a court decision as yours is shall be at once for the reason they do, they can voluntarily stop nowhere submitted to as a conclusive and final rule of political short of this consummation. Holding, as they do, that action?
Slavery is morally right, and socially elevating, they can.
crime of Nor can we justifiably withhold this, on any ground having destroyed it will be upon us ?
savu our cởnviction that Slavery is wrong. If Slavery is That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, right, all words, acts, laws, and constitutions against it, and mutters through his teeth, “stand and deliver, or I are themselves wrong, and should be silenced, and swept shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer !"
away. If it is right, we cannot justly object to its nationTo be sure, what the robber demanded of me-my ality-its universality; if it is wrong, they cannot justly money-was my own; and I had a clear right to keep insist upon its extension—its enlargement. All they ask, it; but it was no more my own than my vote is my own; we could readily grant, if we thought Slavery right; all and the threat of death to me to extort my money, aud we ask, they could as readily grant, if they thought it the threat of destruction to the Union, to extortiny wrong. Their thinking it rignt, and our thinking it vote, can scarcely be distinguished in principle.
wrong, is the precise fact upon which depends the whole A few words now to Republicans. It is exceedingly controversy. Thinking it right, as they do, they are not desirable that all parts of this great Confederacy shall to blame for desiring its full recognition, as being right; be at peace, and in harmony, one with another. Let us but, thinking it wrong, as we do, can we yield to them? Republicans do our part to have it so. Even though Can we cast our votes with their view, and against our much provoked, let us do nothing through passion and In view of our moral, social, and political respon. ill temper. Even though the southern people will not so sibilities, can we do this? much as listen to us, let us calmly consider their Wrong as we think Slavery is, we can yet afford to let demands, and yield to them if, in our deliberate view of it alone where it is, because that much is due to the our duty, we possibly can. Judging by all they say and necessity arising from its actual presence in the nation; do, and by the subject and natura of their controversy but can we, while our votes will prevent it, allow it to with us, let us determine, if we can, what will satisfy them? spread into the National Territories, and to overrun us
Will they be satistied if the Territories be unconditione here in these Free States ? ally surrendered to them? We know they will not. In If our sense of duty forbids this, then let us stand by all their present complaints against us, the Territories are our duty, fearlessly and effectively. Let us be diverted hy scarcely inentioned. Invasions and insurrections are the none of those sophistical contrivances wherewith we are rage now. Will it satisfy them if, in the future, we have so industriously plied and belabored-contrivances such nothing to do with invasions and insurrections? We as groping for some middle ground between the right and know it will not. We so know because we know we never the wrong, vain as the search for a man who should be nad anything to do with invasions and insurrections; neither a living man nor a dead man-such as a policy and yet this total abstaining does not exempt us from the of“ don't care" on a question about which all true men charge and the denunciation.
do care-such as Union appeals beseeching true Union The question recurs, what will satisfy them ? Simply men to yield to Disunionists, reversing the divine rule, this: We must not only let them alone, but we must, and calling, not the sinners, but the righteous to repentsomehow, convince them that we do let them alone. This, ance-such as invocations to Washington, imploring men we kuow by experience, is no easy task. We have been to unsay what Washington said, and undo what Washing. so trying to convince them, from the very beginning of
ton did. our organization, but with no success. In all our plat- Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false forms and speeches we have constantly protested our pur- accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces pose to let them alone; but this has had no tendency to of destruction to the Government, nor of dungeons to convince thein. Alike unavailing to convince thein is ourselves. Let us have faith that right makes might, and the fact that they have never detected a man of in in that faith, let us, to ho end, dare to do our duty, as any attempt to disturb them.
we understand it.