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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 Ohioma 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.
Το 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 Me. 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 be tween 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
hundred of this," Mr. Lincoln had said to his friends before the Freeport debate. He saw further than they. He was “killing larger game” than the senatorship, and he certainly did kill, or assist in killing, Judge Douglas, as a southern candidate for the presidency.
These debates of these two champions, respectively of the principles of the Declaration of Independence and of party policy, were published entire as a campaign document in the republican interest, when Mr. Lincoln was nominated for the presidency, without a word of comment, the people being left to form their own conclusions as to the merits of the contro versy, and the relative ability of the men whom it represented.
It is in vain to look for any better presentation of the principles of the republican party, or a better definition of the issues which divided it from the democratic party of the time, than are to be found in these speeches of Mr. Lincoln. They cover the whole ground. They are clear, sound, logical, powerful and exhaustive; and, in connection with two or three speeches made afterwards in Ohio and New York, form the chief material on which his reputation as an orator and a de-bater must rest. The man who shall write the story of the great rebellion on behalf of human slavery must go back to these masterly speeches of an Illinois lawyer to find the clearest and most complete statement of those differences between the
power of slavery and the spirit of freedom-the policy of slavery and the policy of freedom—which ended, after expenditures of uncounted treasure and unmeasured blood, in the final overthrow of the accursed institution.
Mr. Lincoln was beaten in his contest for the seat of Mr. Douglas in the Senate, in consequence of the unfair apportionment of the legislative districts. When it came to a ballot in the legislature, it was found that there were fourteen democrats to eleven republicans in the Senate, and forty democrats to thirty-five republicans in the House. This re-instated Mr. Douglas; and the champion of the republican party was defeated after a contest fought by him with wonderful power and persistence, with unfailing fairness, good nature and mag
nanimity, and with a skill rarely if ever surpassed. He had visited every part of the state, made about sixty speeches, been received by the people everywhere with unbounded enthusiasm, had grown strong with every day's exercise, was conscious that he had worsted his antagonist in the intellectual struggle, and, when defeat came, he could not have been otherwise than disappointed. On being asked by a friend how he felt when the returns came in that insured his defeat, he replied that he felt, he supposed, very much like the stripling who had bruised his toe—“too badly to laugh and too big to cry.” But the battle of 1860 was indeed worth a hundred of that, and to it, events will swiftly lead us.