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was at once subjected to a dissection and criticism such as do not often follow the winged words of the orator. And this because it contained a plain statement of a truth which all politicians and many statesmen, both North and South, were attempting to stamp down as an untruth. Politically, too, the speech proved to be the first step in Lincoln's progress to the White House. Mr. Chittenden, in his compilation of Lincoln's speeches, says that the following speech, “whether judged by its intrinsic qualities or by its influence upon the fortunes of the Republic, is one of the greatest of all political documents since the Declaration of Independence."

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1. MR. PRESIDENT, AND GENTLEMEN OF THE CONVENTION : If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do, and how to do it. We are now far into the fifth year since a policy was initiated with the avowed object, and confident promise, of putting an end 5 to slavery agitation. Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only not ceased, but has constantly augmented. In my opinion, it will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I believe this government cannot endure 10 permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the 15 public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the states, old as well as new - North as well as South.

2. Have we no tendency to the latter condition? Let any- 20 one who doubts, carefully contemplate that now almost complete legal combination — piece of machinery, so to speak – compounded of the Nebraska doctrine and the Dred Scott decision. Let him consider not only what work the machinery

is adapted to do, and how well adapted; but also, let him study the history of its construction, and trace, if he can, or rather fail, if he can, to trace the evidences of design,

and concert of action, among its chief architects, from the 5 beginning.

3. The new year of 1854 found slavery excluded from more than half the states by state constitutions, and from most of the national territory by Congressional prohibition. Four

days later, commenced the struggle which ended in repealing 10 that Congressional prohibition. This opened all the national territory to slavery, and was the first point gained.

4. But, so far, Congress only had acted ; and an indorsement by the people, real or apparent, was indispensable, to save the

point already gained, and give chance for more. This neces15 sity had not been overlooked ; but had been provided for, as

well as might be, in the notable argument of “squatter sovereignty,” otherwise called “sacred right of self-government,” which latter phrase, though expressive of the only rightful

basis of any government, was so perverted in this attempted 20 use of it as to amount to just this : That if any one man

choose to enslave another, no third man shall be allowed to object. That argument was incorporated into the Nebraska bill itself, in the language which follows: “It being the true

intent and meaning of this act not to legislate slavery into any 25 territory or state, nor to exclude it therefrom; but to leave

the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United States.” Then opened the roar of loose declamation in favor of “squatter sovereignty,” and “sacred right of self-government.” “But,” said opposition members, “let us amend the bill so as to expressly declare that the people of the territory may exclude slavery.” “Not we,” said the friends of the measure; and down they voted the amendment.



5. While the Nebraska bill was passing through Congress, a law case involving the question of a negro's freedom, by reason of his owner having voluntarily taken him first into a free state and then into a territory covered by the Congressional prohibition, and held him as a slave for a long time in each, was 5 passing through the United States Circuit Court for the District of Missouri; and both Nebraska bill and law suit were brought to a decision in the same month of May, 1854. The negro's name was “ Dred Scott,” which name now designates the decision finally made in the case. Before the then next 10 presidential election, the law case came to, and was argued in, the Supreme Court of the United States; but the decision of it was deferred until after the election. Still, before the election, Senator Trumbull, on the floor of the Senate, requested the leading advocate of the Nebraska bill to state his opinion 15 whether the people of a territory can constitutionally exclude slavery from their limits; and the latter answers : “That is a question for the Supreme Court."

6. The election came. Mr. Buchanan was elected, and the indorsement, such as it was, secured. That was the second 20 point gained. The indorsement, however, fell short of a clear popular majority by nearly four hundred thousand votes, and so, perhaps, was not overwhelmingly reliable and satisfactory. The outgoing President, in his last annual message, as impressively as possible echoed back upon the people the weight and 25 authority of the indorsement. The Supreme Court met again ; did not announce their decision, but ordered a re-argument. The presidential inauguration came, and still no decision of the court; but the incoming President in his inaugural address fervently exhorted the people to abide by the forthcoming de- 30 cision, whatever it might be. Then, in a few days, came the decision.

7. The reputed author of the Nebraska bill finds an early occasion to make a speech at this capital indorsing the Dred

Scott decision, and vehemently denouncing all opposition to it. The new President, too, seizes the early occasion of the Silliman letter to indorse and strongly construe that decision,

and to express his astonishment that any different view had 5 ever been entertained !

8. At length a squabble springs up between the President and the author of the Nebraska bill, on the mere question of fact, whether the Lecompton Constitution was or was not, in

any just sense, made by the people of Kansas; and in that 10 quarrel the latter declares that all he wants is a fair vote for

the people, and that he cares not whether slavery be voted down or voted up. I do not understand his declaration that he cares not whether slavery be voted down or voted up, to

be intended by him other than as an apt definition of the 15 policy he would impress upon the public mind — the principle

for which he declares he has suffered so much, and is ready to suffer to the end. And well may he cling to that principle. If he has any parental feeling, well may he cling to it. That

principle is the only shred left of his original Nebraska doc20 trine. Under the Dred Scott decision, " squatter sovereignty"

squatted out of existence, tumbled down like temporary scaffolding — like the mold at the foundry served through one blast and fell back into loose sand — helped to carry an elec

tion, and then was kicked to the winds. His late joint struggle 25 with the Republicans, against the Lecompton Constitution,

involves nothing of the original Nebraska doctrine. That struggle was made on a point — the right of a people to make their own constitution upon which he and the Republicans

have never differed. 30 9. The several points of the Dred Scott decision, in con

nection with Senator Douglas's “care not” policy, constitute the piece of machinery, in its present state of advancement. This was the third point gained. The working points of that machinery are:

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10. First, That no negro slave, imported as such from Africa, and no descendant of such slave, can ever be a citizen of any state, in the sense of that term as used in the Constitution of the United States. This point is made in order to deprive the negro, in every possible event, of the benefit of that 5 provision of the United States Constitution, which declares that “ The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.”

11. Secondly, That, “subject to the Constitution of the United States," neither Congress nor a territorial Legislature 10 can exclude slavery from any United States territory. This point is made in order that individual men may fill up the territories with slaves, without danger of losing them as property, and thus to enhance the chances of permanency to the institution through all the future.

15 12. Thirdly, That whether the holding a negro in actual slavery in a free state, makes him free, as against the holder, the United States courts will not decide, but will leave to be decided by the courts of any slave state the negro may be forced into by the master. This point is made, not to be pressed immedi- 20 ately; but, if acquiesced in for a while, and apparently indorsed by the people at an election, then to sustain the logical conclusion that what Dred Scott's master might lawfully do with Dred Scott, in the free state of Illinois, every other master may lawfully do with any other one, or one thousand slaves, in 25 Illinois, or in any other free state.

13. Auxiliary to all this, and working hand in hand with it, the Nebraska doctrine, or what is left of it, is to educate and mold public opinion, at least Northern public opinion, not to care whether slavery is voted down or voted up. This shows 30 exactly where we now are ; and partially, also, whither we are tending.

14. It will throw additional light on the latter, to go back, and run the mind over the string of historical facts already

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