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trict might be paid their value from the Treasury, and the slaves should thereupon be free; and it provided also for the submission of the act to the people of the District for their acceptance or rejection.
A bill was afterwards reported by the committee forbidding the introduction of slaves into the District for sale or hire. This bill also Mr. Lincoln supported, but in vain. The time for the success of such measures, involving to an extent attacks upon Slavery, had not yet come.
The question of the Territories came up in many ways. The Wilmot Proviso had made its first appearance in the previous session, in the August before, but it was repeatedly before this Congress also, when efforts were made to apply it to the territory which we procured from Mexico, and to Oregon. On all occasions when it was before the House it was supported by Mr. Lincoln, and he stated during his contest with Judge Douglas that he had voted for it, “in one way and another, about forty times.” He thus showed himself in 1847 the same friend of Freedom for the Territories which he was afterwards during the heats of the Kansas struggle.
Another instance in which the Slavery Question was before the House was in the famous Pacheco case. This was a bill to reimburse the heirs of Antonio Pacheco for the value of a slave who was hired by a United States officer in Florida, but ran away and joined the Seminoles, and being taken in arms with them, was sent out of Florida with thèm when they were transported to the West. The bill was reported to the House by the Committee on Military Affairs. This committee was composed of nine. Five of these were slaveholders, and these made the majority report. The others, not being slaveholders, reported against the bill. The ground taken by the majority was that slaves were regarded as property by the Constitution, and when taken for public service should be paid for as property. The principle involved in the bill, therefore, was the same one which the slaveholders have sought in so many ways to maintain. As they sought afterwards to have it established by a decision of the Supreme Court, so now they sought to have it recognized by Congress, and Mr. Lincoln opposed it in Congress as heartily as he afterwards opposed it when it took the more covert, but no less dangerous shape of a judicial dictum.
On other great questions which came before Congress Mr. Lincoln, being a Whig, took the ground which was held by the great body of his party. He believed in the right of Congress to make appropriations for the improvement of rivers and harbors. He was in favor of giving the public lands, not to speculators, but to actual occupants and cultivators, at as low rates as possible; and he was in favor of a protective tariff, and of abolishing the franking privilege.
In 1848 General Taylor was nominated for the Presidency; Mr. Lincoln was a member of the convention, at Philadelphia, by which he was nominated, and canvassed his own State in his favor. He was also in New England during the campaign, attended the State Convention of Massachusetts, and made a speech at New Bedford, which is still remembered. Illinois, however, cast her vote for General Cass. In 1849 Mr. Lincoln
was the Whig candidate in Illinois for United States Senator, but without success--the Democrats having the control of the State, which they retained until the conflict arising out of the Nebraska Bill, in 1854.
During the intervening period Mr. Lincoln took no prominent part in politics, but remained at home in the practice of his profession. We may be sure, however, that he watched closely the course of public events. He had fought Slavery often enough to know what it was, and what the animus of its, supporters
It is not, therefore, likely that he was taken very much by surprise when the Nebraska Bill was introduced, and the proposition was made by Stephen A. Douglas. to repeal that very Missouri Compromise which he had declared to be “a sacred thing, which no ruthless band would ever be reckless enough to disturb."
The Nebraska Bill was passed May 22, 1854, and its passage gave new and increased force to the popular feeling in favor of freedom which the proposition to repeal the Missouri Compromise had excited, and everywhere the friends of freedom gathered themselves together and rallied round her banner, to meet the conflict which was plainly now closely impending, forced upon the people by the grasping ambition of the slaveholders. The political campaign of that year in Illinois was one of the severest ever known. It was intensified by the fact that a United States Senator was to be chosen by the Legislature then to be elected, to fill the place of Shields, who had voted with Douglas in favor of the Nebraska Bill.
Mr. Lincoln took a prominent part in this campaign.
He met Judge Douglas before the people on two occasions, the only ones when the Judge would consent to such a meeting. The first time was at the State Fair at Springfield, on October 4th. This was afterwards considered to have been the greatest event of the whole canvass. Mr. Lincoln opened the discussion, and in his clear and eloquent yet homely way exposed the tergiversations of which his opponent had been guilty, and the fallacy of his pretexts for his present course.
Mr. Douglas had always claimed to have voted for the repeal of the Missouri Compromise because he sustained the “great principle” of Popular Sovereignty, and desired that the inhabitants of Kansas and Nebraska should govern themselves, as they were well able to do. The fallacy of drawing from these premises the conclusion that they therefore should have the right to establish Slavery there was most clearly and conclusively exposed by Mr. Lincoln, so that no one could thereafter be misled by it, unless he was a willing dupe of pro-slavery sophistry.
“My distinguished friend,” said he, “says it is an insult to the emigrants of Kansas and Nebraska to suppose that they are not able to govern themselves. We must not slur over an argument of this kind because it happens to tickle the ear. It must be met and an. swered. I admit that the emigrant to Kansas and Nebraska is competent to govern himself, but I deny his right to govern any other person without that person's consent."
The two opponents met again at Peoria. We believe it is universally admitted that on both of these occasions Mr Lincoln had decidedly the advantage. The result of the election was the defeat of the Democrats and the election of anti-Nebraska men to the Legislature to secure the election of a United States Senator who would be true to freedom, if they could be brought to unite upon a candidate. Mr. Lincoln was naturally the candidate of those who were of Whig antecedents. Judge Trumbull was as naturally the candidate of some who had really come out from the Democratic party—though they still called themselves Free Democrats.
There was danger, of course, in such a posture of affairs, and Mr. Lincoln, in that spirit of patriotism which he has always shown, by his own personal exertions secured the votes of his friends for Judge Trumbull, who was accordingly chosen Senator. The charge was afterwards made by the enemies of both that there had been in this matter a breach of faith on the part of Judge Trumbull, and that Mr. Lincoln had the right to feel and did feel aggrieved at the result. Mr. Lincoln himself, however, expressly denied in his speech at Charleston, Sept. 18, 1858, that there had been any such breach of faith.
The pressure of the Slavery contest at last fully organized the Republican party, which held its first Convention for the nomination of President and VicePresident at Philadelphia on June 17, 1856. John C. Fremont was nominated for President and William L. Dayton for Vice President. Mr. Lincoln's name was prominent before the Convention for the latter office, and on the informal ballot he stood next to Mr. Dayton, receiving 110 votes. Mr. Lincoln's name headed the Republican Electoral ticket in Illinois, and he took an