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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 answered. 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 per
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 Demo
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
active part in the canvass, but the Democrats carried the State, though only by a plurality vote.
We now come to the great Senatorial contest of 1858, which established Mr. Lincoln's reputation before the people of the whole conntry, not only as a very able debater and an eloquent orator, but also as a wise politician, wise enough to hold firm to sound-principles, and to yield nothing of them, even against the judgment of earnest friends.
On the 4th of March, 1857, Mr. Buchanan had taken his seat in the Presidential chair. The struggle between Freedom and Slavery for the possession of Kansas was at its height. A few days after his inauguration, the Supreme Court rendered the Dred Scott decision, which was thought by the friends of Slavery to insure their victory by its holding the Missouri Compromise to be unconstitutional, because the Constitution itself carried Slavery over all the Territories of the United States. In spite of this decision, the friends of Freedom in Kansas maintained their ground. The slaveholders, however, pushed forward their schemes, and in November, 1857, their Constitutional Convention, held at Lecompton, adopted the infamous Lecompton Constitution. The trick by which they submitted to the popular vote only a schedule on the Slavery question, instead of the whole Constitution, compelling every voter, however he voted upon this schedule, to vote for their Constitution, which fixed Slavery upon the State just as surely whether the schedule was adopted or not, will be well remembered, as well as the feeling which so villainous a scheme excited throughout the North. Judge Douglas had sustained the Dred
Scott decision, but he could not sustain this attempt to force upon the people of Kansas a Constitution against their will. He declared that he did not care himself whether the people voted the Slavery clause up or down, but he thought they ought to have the chance to vote for or against the Constitution itself.
The Administration had made the measure their own, and this opposition of Douglas at once excited against him the active hostility of the slaveholders and their friends, with whom he had hitherto acted in concert. bill was finally passed through Congress on April 30th, 1858, under what is known as the English bill, whereby the Constitution was to be submitted to the votes of the people of Kansas, with the offer of heavy bribes to them in the way of donations of land, etc., if they would accept it; and the people, in spite of the bribes, voted it down, by an immense majority.
Judge Douglas's term was on the eve of expiring, and he came home to Illinois after the adjournment of Congress to attend in person to the political campaign, upon the result of which was to depend his re-election to the Senate.
His course on the Lecompton bill had made an open breach between him and the Administration, and he had rendered such good service to the Republicans in their battle with that monstrous infamy, that there were not wanting many among them who were inclined to think it would be wise not to oppose his re-election.
But the Republicans of Illinois thought otherwise. They knew the man. They knew that on the cardinal principle of the Republican party, opposition to the spread of Slavery into the Territories, he was not with
them; for he had declared in the most positive way that he "did not care whether Slavery was voted down or up." They believed that in his action on the Lecompton bill, he was actuated fully as much by the certainty that any other action would be followed by his immediate and utter overthrow at home, as from any other considerations. And they therefore determined, in opposition to the views of some influential Republicans at home as well as in other States, to fight the battle through against him, with all the energy that they could bring to the work. And to this end, on the 17th of June, 1858, at their State Convention at Springfield, they nominated Mr. Lincoln as their candidate for the Senate of the United States.
The speech of Mr. Lincoln to the Convention which had nominated him, was the beginning of the campaign. Its opening sentences contained those celebrated words, which have been often quoted both by friends and enemies: "A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this Government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved-I do not expect the house to fall, but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other." Little idea could he have had then how near the time was when the country should be united upon this point. Still less could he have dreamed through what convulsions it was to pass before it reached that wished-for position-into what an abyss of madness and crime the advocates of Slavery would plunge in their efforts to "push it forward till it should become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new-North as well as South." But there seemed