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stated. Several things will now appear less dark and mysterious than they did when they were transpiring. The people were to be left “perfectly free," “subject only to the Constitution.”
What the Constitution had to do with it, outsiders could not 5 then see. Plainly enough now: it was an exactly fitted niche
for the Dred Scott decision to afterward come in and declare the perfect freedom of the people to be just no freedom at all. Why was the amendment, expressly declaring the right of the
people, voted down? Plainly enough now: the adoption of it 10 would have spoiled the niche for the Dred Scott decision.
Why was the court decision held up? Why even a Senator's individual opinion withheld, till after the Presidential election? Plainly enough now : the speaking out then would have dam
aged the perfectly free argument upon which the election was 15 to be carried. Why the outgoing President's felicitation on
the indorsement? Why the delay of a re-argument? Why the incoming President's advance exhortation in favor of the decision? These things look like the cautious patting and petting
of a spirited horse preparatory to mounting him, when it is 20 dreaded that he may give the rider a fall. And why the hasty after-indorsement of the decision by the President and others?
15. We cannot absolutely know that all these exact adaptations are the result of préconcert. But when we see a lot of
framed timbers, different portions of which we know have been 25 gotten out at different times and places and by different work
men-Stephen, Franklin, Roger, and James, for instance-and when we see these timbers joined together, and see they exactly make the frame of a house or a mill, all the tenons and mor
tises exactly fitting, and all the lengths and proportions of the 30 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 but why
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.
16. It should not be overlooked that, by the Nebraska bill, the people of a state as well as territory, were to be left “per- 5 fectly 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; is mention of this lugged into this merely territorial law? Why 10 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 15 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 20 be quite sure, if 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 25 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 30 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
state 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 5
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 10 voted up” shall gain upon the public mind sufficiently to give promise that such a decision can be maintained when made.
17. 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 15 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 20 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?
18. There are those who denounce us openly to their own friends, and yet whisper us softly that Senator Douglas is the 25 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 he is a great 30 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 don't care anything about it. His avowed
mission is impressing the “public heart” to care nothing about it. A leading Douglas Democratic newspaper thinks Douglas's 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? 5 5 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 to 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? 15 And as the home producers will probably not ask the protection, he will be wholly without a ground of opposition.
19. 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, 20 for that reason, run ahead, and infer that he will ma
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's position, question his motives, or do aught that can 25 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. 30
20. 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 5 formed and 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 10 fail. Wise counsels may accelerate, or mistakes delay it, but,
sooner or later, the victory is sure to come.
[The foregoing speech was the precursor of the famous LincolnDouglas Debates. It furnished the texts for those Debates, and little new matter on any material issue was added by either Lincoln or Douglas. The issues raised in this speech were replied to by Douglas in the first joint debate at Ottawa, Illinois, August 21, 1858, and re-replied to by Lincoln. In order that the reader may gain an idea of the matter and style of the subsequent arguments, the following extracts are appended.]
REPLY BY DOUGLAS
1. Mr. Lincoln says that this Government cannot endure permanently in the same condition in which it was made by its
framers - divided into free and slave states. He says that it 15 has existed for about seventy years thus divided, and yet he
tells you that it cannot endure permanently on the same principles and in the same relative condition in which our fathers made it. Why can it not exist divided into free and slave
states? Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, Hamilton, 20 Jay, and the great men of that day, made this Government
divided into free states and slave states, and left each state perfectly free to do as it pleased on the subject of slavery. Why can it not exist on the same principles on which our