Page images

fathers made it? They knew when they framed the Constitution that in a country as wide and broad as this, with such a variety of climate, production, and interest, the people necessarily required different laws and institutions in different localities. They knew that the laws and regulations which 5 would suit the granite hills of New Hampshire would be unsuited to the rice plantations of South Carolina, and they therefore provided that each state should retain its own legislature and its own sovereignty, with the full and complete power to do as it pleased within its own limits, in all that was 10 local and not national. One of the reserved rights of the states, was the right to regulate the relations between master and servant, on the slavery question. .

2. We are told by Lincoln that he is utterly opposed to the Dred Scott decision, and will not submit to it, for the reason 15 that he says it deprives the negro of the rights and privileges of citizenship. That is the first and main reason which he assigns for his warfare on the Supreme Court of the United States and its decision. I ask you, are you in favor of conferring upon the negro the rights and privileges of citizenship? 20 Do you desire to strike out of our State Constitution that clause which keeps slaves and free negroes out of the state, and allow the free negroes to flow in, and cover your prairies with black settlements? Do you desire to turn this beautiful state into a free negro colony, in order that when Missouri 25 abolishes slavery she can send one hundred thousand emancipated slaves into Illinois, to become citizens and voters, on an equality with yourselves? If you desire negro citizenship, if you desire to allow them to come into the state and settle with the white man, if you desire them to vote on an equality 30 with yourselves, and to make them eligible to office, to serve on juries, and to adjudge your rights, then support Mr. Lincoln and the Black Republican party, who are in favor of the citizenship of the negro. For one, I am opposed to negro

citizenship in any and every form. I believe this Government was made on the white basis. I believe it was made by white men, for the benefit of white men and their posterity forever,

and I am in favor of confining citizenship to white men, men 5 of European birth and descent, instead of conferring it upon negroes, Indians, and other inferior races.

3. Mr. Lincoln, following the example and lead of all the little abolition orators, who go around and lecture in the base

ments of schools and churches, reads from the Declaration of 10 Independence, that all men were created equal, and then asks,

how can you deprive a negro of that equality which God and the Declaration of Independence award to him? He and they maintain that negro equality is guaranteed by the laws of God,

and that it is asserted in the Declaration of Independence. If 15 they think so, of course they have a right to say so, and so

vote. I do not question Mr. Lincoln's conscientious belief that the negro was made his equal, and hence is his brother; but for my own part, I do not regard the negro as my equal,

and positively deny that he is my brother or any kin to me 20 whatever. Lincoln has evidently learned by heart Parson

Lovejoy's catechism. He can repeat it as well as Farnsworth, and he is worthy of a medal from Father Giddings and Fred Douglass for his abolitionism. He holds that the negro was

born his equal and yours, and that he was endowed with 25 equality by the Almighty, and that no human law can deprive

him of these rights which were guaranteed to him by the Supreme Ruler of the universe. Now, I do not believe that the Almighty ever intended the negro to be the equal of the

white man. If He did, He has been a long time demonstrating 30 the fact. For thousands of years the negro has been a race

upon the earth, and during all that time, in all latitudes and climates, wherever he has wandered or been taken, he has been inferior to the race which he has there met. He belongs to an inferior race, and must always occupy an inferior position.

4. I do not hold that because the negro is our inferior he therefore ought to be a slave. By no means can such a conclusion be drawn from what I have said. On the contrary, I hold that humanity and Christianity both require that the negro shall have and enjoy every right, every privilege, and $ every immunity consistent with the safety of the society in which he lives. On that point, I presume, there can be no diversity of opinion. You and I are bound to extend to our inferior and dependent beings every right, every privilege, every facility and immunity consistent with the public good. 10 The question then arises, what rights and privileges are consistent with the public good? This is a question which each state and each territory must decide for itself. ...

5. Now, my friends, if we will only act conscientiously and rigidly upon this great principle of popular sovereignty, 15 which guarantees to each state and territory the right to do as it pleases on all things, local and domestic, instead of asking Congress to interfere, we will continue at peace one with another. Why should Illinois be at war with Missouri, or Kentucky with Ohio, or Virginia with New York, merely because 20 their institutions differ ? Our fathers intended that our institutions should differ. They knew that the North and the South, having different climates, productions, and interests, required different institutions. This doctrine of Mr. Lincoln, of uniformity among the institutions of the different states, is a new 25 doctrine, never dreamed of by Washington, Madison, or the framers of this Government. Mr. Lincoln and the Republican party set themselves up as wiser than these men who made this Government, which has flourished for seventy years under the principle of popular sovereignty, recognizing the right of 30 each state to do as it pleased. Under that principle, we have grown from a nation of three or four millions to a nation of about thirty millions of people; we have crossed the Allegheny Mountains and filled up the whole Northwest, turning the

prairie into a garden, and building up churches and schools, thus spreading civilization and Christianity where before there was nothing but savage barbarism. Under that principle we

have become, from a feeble nation, the most powerful on the 5 face of the earth; and if we only adhere to that principle, we

can go forward increasing in territory, in power, in strength, and in glory, until the Republic of America shall be the North Star that shall guide the friends of freedom throughout the

civilized world. And why can we not adhere to the great prin10 ciple of self-government, upon which our institutions were

originally based ? I believe that this new doctrine preached by Mr. Lincoln and his party will dissolve the Union if it șucceeds. They are trying to array all the Northern states in one

body against the South, to excite a sectional war between the 15 free states and the slave states, in order that the one or the other may

be driven to the wall.



[Reading from his speech at Peoria, Illinois, of October 16, 1854.]

“When Southern people tell us they are no more responsible for the origin of slavery than we, I acknowledge the fact.

When it is said that the institution exists, and that it is very 20 difficult to get rid of it in any satisfactory way, I can under

stand and appreciate the saying. I surely will not blame them for not doing what I should not know how to do myself. If all earthly power were given me, I should not know what to do

as to the existing institution. My first impulse would be to free 25 all the slaves, and send them to Liberia — to their own native

land. But a moment's reflection would convince me, that whatever of high hope (as I think there is) there may be in this, in the long run, its sudden execution is impossible. If they were all landed there in a day, they would all perish in the next ten


days; and there are not surplus shipping and surplus money enough in the world to carry them there in many times ten days. What then? Free them all, and keep them among us as underlings? Is it quite certain that this betters their condition? I think I would not hold one in slavery at any rate ; yet 5 the point is not clear enough to me to denounce people upon. What next? Free them, and make them politically and socially our equals? My own feelings will not admit of this; and if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of white people will not. Whether this feeling accords with justice and 10 sound judgment, is not the sole question, if, indeed, it is any part of it. A universal feeling, whether well or ill founded, cannot be safely disregarded. We cannot, then, make them equals. It does seem to me that systems of gradual emancipation might be adopted; but for their tardiness in this, I will not undertake 15 to judge our brethren of the South.

“When they remind us of their constitutional rights, I acknowledge them, not grudgingly, but fully and fairly; and I would give them any legislation for the reclaiming of their fugitives, which should not, in its stringency, be more likely to 20 carry a free man into slavery than our ordinary criminal laws are to hang an innocent one.

3. “ But all this, to my judgment, furnishes no more excuse for permitting slavery to go into our own free territory, than it would for reviving the African slave trade by law. The law which 25 forbids the bringing of slaves from Africa, and that which has so long forbid the taking of them to Nebraska, can hardly be distinguished on any moral principle ; and the repeal of the former could find quite as plausible excuses as that of the latter."

4. Now, Gentlemen, I don't want to read at any greater 30 length, but this is the true complexion of all I have ever said in regard to the institution of slavery and the black race. This is the whole of it, and anything that argues me into his idea of perfect social and political equality with the negro, is but a

« PreviousContinue »