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slavery in all the territories of the Union,-South as well as North. Thus was the issue made between slavery and freedom. The Southern leaders well knew that when slavery was limited to existing territory it must begin to die. Limitation of the institution was not only loss of political power, it was abolition in a mild way, but in a way that led to the certain destruction of the system.
The devotion to slavery of one half of the Union for a period of seventy years, and the tolerance of the institution by the other half of the Union will, in a further like period of time, become the marvel of history. Other and not far distant generations of men, in the South as well as in the North, will be unable to comprehend the public sentiment of the age in which we are living. The institution of slavery has passed away; but the traditions, ideas, and habits of life bred by slavery yet linger among us. The Republican party, even, is not free from the influence of those ideas, traditions, and habits of life, and the Democratic party submits itself to their control as in the days of slavery. In large portions of the South the right of the negro to vote is denied practically by the suppression of the vote itself. The remedy of this wrong is within the scope of the original purpose of the Republican party, if its action in regard to slavery in the District of Columbia and in the States can be defended successfully.
It is not good ground for the charge of hypocrisy or insincerity, that a party does not at the outset unfold its purposes. The Revolutionary party did not announce its purpose to secure the independence of the colonies. Indeed, from 1765 to 1770, it asserted the contrary; but when, by long and painful experience, the leaders became convinced that equality of rights could not be secured under the union with Great Britain, they then resolved to destroy that union. Events were their masters.
In 1856 the exclusion of slavery from the territories was the leading issue between the contestants. The controversy over that issue led to secession, war, the abolition of slavery, the constitutional amendments, and the reconstruction of the government upon the basis of those amendments. As these events succeeded each other the Republican party had no choice of ways. It resisted secession, prosecuted the war, overthrew slavery, adopted the amendments to the constitution, and reconstructed the government upon the basis of the equality of men and the equality of States. The old government recognized the equality of States, and disregarded the equality of men. The
new government asserts the doctrine that the equality of men is the only security for the equality of States. The Republican party asserts the equality of men as the only sure basis of the equality of States.
The Democratic party maintains the equality of States, and denies the equality of men. This is the issue, the constitutional issue born of salvery, and its sole survivor. And here again the Republican party has no choice of ways. If it were indifferent to every consideration not purely selfish, it would yet have no choice of ways. It has created a new system of finance, and it has identified itself in its history and in its policy with the doctrine of protection to domestic labor. Into those two policies are woven the interest of every capitalist, and the means of support of every workman in the North, and those policies can never be secure until the equality of men is recognized, and its benefits are enjoyed practically by the former slaves of the South.
In the old Slave States there are one million citizens of the United States whose votes should be received and counted in every State and national election, and it is probable that more than one-half of those men are deprived of their rights, either by force or fraud. This denial of the equality of men destroys the equality of States, and puts in jeopardy the financial and economical prosperity of the country. And thus again is the spirit of selfishness made subservient to the cause of justice.
Upon the repeal of the Missouri Compromise Kansas became the theatre of civil war. To that entertainment, indeed, the country was invited. The Democratic party was in power at Washington, and its influence was given to the scheme of making Kansas a Slave State. The South sent men and money. The North sent men and money. Contests of blood occurred, ruffian raids were tolerated, if not encouraged, towns were burned, hostile legislatures assembled, antagonizing constitutional conventions met, and vain appeals were made for the admission of the territory into the Union as a State. That event was postponed until January, 1861, but these proceedings of disorder and blood compacted and strengthened the Republican party for the struggles and responsibilities that it was soon to meet.
THE SENATORIAL CONTEST OF 1858 IN ILLINOIS, AND THE ELECTION OF MR. LINCOLN IN 1860.
HE Republican party of the State of Illinois held a convention at
the seat in the United States Senate then held by Stephen A. Douglas. The nomination of Mr. Lincoln was anticipated, and he had prepared a speech, which he then delivered. In that speech he set forth the doctrines of the Republican party, arraigned the administration of Mr. Buchanan, and denounced the repeal of the Missouri Compromise under the lead of Senator Douglas. That speech inaugurated a discussion which has no equal in the history of American politics. It introduced Mr. Lincoln to the country generally, and prepared the way for his nomination to the Presidency two years later.
In that speech, Mr. Lincoln made the declaration, then characterized as extravagant, but accepted, finally, as prophetic: "I believe this Government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free."
On this phrase Mr. Douglas based many arguments, in the vain attempt to prove that Mr. Lincoln was a disunionist. The context showed that Mr. Lincoln attempted only to establish the proposition that a tendency towards freedom, or a tendency towards slavery, must, in the nature of the case, be developed, and that the Union would in time become all slave or all free.
In that speech, and in the debate that followed, he characterized the repeal of the Missouri Compromise as a step towards making the Union all slave, and he contrasted the act with the ordinance of 1787 for the government of the Northwestern Territory, by which all the unoccupied lands within the jurisdiction of the old Confederacy were made forever free.
Mr. Lincoln claimed, and claimed justly, that at the formation of the Union the opinion was entertained generally that the institution of slavery was temporary. The ordinance of 1787 made it local. The magnitude of the surrender under the lead of Mr. Douglas may be best expressed in the statement that at the time of the adoption of the Constitution there was not one foot of territory outside the jurisdiction of the thirteen States that was not dedicated to freedom; and that after the passage of the act for the organization of Kansas, there was not one foot of territory within the jurisdiction of the United States that was not open to slavery.
Mr. Lincoln's first fame rests on that great debate. was an experienced politician and a skillful debater. He had already taken a place amongst the able men of his time. In the month of June Mr. Lincoln was unknown outside of Illinois and Indiana. In September his character was understood and his ability was recognized in all the non-slave-holding States of the Union. His mastery over Douglas had been complete. His logic was unanswerable, his ridicule was fatal, and every position taken by him was defended successfully. At the end Douglas had but one recourse. He misstated Lincoln's positions, and then assailed them; but Lincoln was ever ready to expose the fallacies, and to hold up their author to the derision or condemnation of his hearers.
In the month of September Mr. Lincoln delivered a speech at Cincinnati, in reply to Mr. Douglas. In that speech he addressed himself to the citizens of Kentucky, and advocated the nomination of Mr. Douglas to the Presidency, upon the ground that he was more devoted to the South than were the Southern leaders themselves, and that he was wiser in methods for defending their rights. This was a form of attack which Douglas did not anticipate, and which he could neither resent nor answer.
In all that debate it was the constant effort of Mr. Douglas to present Mr. Lincoln as the opponent of the Constitution and the Union. That effort led Mr. Lincoln to place himself conspicuously upon Constitutional, Union ground. The sentiments that he thus expressed and taught were woven into all the platforms of the party in every section of the country. To those sentiments he adhered when he became President, and in every step of his great career he tested his acts by the fundamental law. He aided in the organization of the Republican party, and to him more than to any one else is the party indebted for its character, its measures, its success. He is the first
personage of its history, and the second personage in the history of the Republic.
The nomination of Mr. Lincoln at Chicago in May, 1860, was not accomplished without a severe contest, nor without doubts and misgivings on the part of many members of the convention. Mr. Seward was the recognized leader of the party, and he was supported by the State of New York. The State of Ohio presented Mr. Chase, who in standing and influence was second only to Mr. Seward. The votes of Pennsylvania were given for General Cameron, and thus the three leading Republican States were divided.
After several ballots, the nomination of Mr. Lincoln was made. The result was received with enthusiasm in the Northwestern States, with feelings of disappointment in New York, but with hope and confidence elsewhere. By the month of September all disappointments had been allayed, and the party was not united merely, it was compacted as firmly as was ever any military organization. It was sustained by its principles and rendered enthusiastic by the certainty of success.
The declarations made at Chicago were aggressive, and in many particulars the platform of 1860 was a contrast to, rather than a growth from, that of 1856. It asserted that the normal condition of all the territory of the United States was that of freedom; it denounced the outrages in Kansas, and demanded its immediate admission into the Union with her Constitution as a free State; it branded the re-opening of the African slave-trade as a crime, and in expressing the abhorrence of the Republican party to all schemes of disunion, the Democratic party was arraigned for its silence in the presence of threats of secession made by its own members. The doctrine of encouragement to domestic industry was announced, the sale of the public lands was condemned, the coming measure of securing homesteads for the landless was approved, and a pledge of protection was given to all citizens, whether native or naturalized, and whether at home or abroad.
The party was again pledged to the construction of a railway to the Pacific Ocean, and to the improvement of the rivers and harbors of the country.
In the primary declaration, the platform asserted the necessity for the existence of the Republican party, coupled with the assurance of its permanency.
It was assumed in the platform that the Republican party was soon