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to him to be manifest indications of their design thus to push it forward, and he devoted his speech to showing forth the machinery which they had now almost completed, for the attainment of their purpose ; it only needing that the Supreme Court should say that the. Constitution carried Slavery over the States, as they had already in the Dred Scott decision declared that it was carried over the Territories. And he closed his speech with a sharp attack upon Douglas, as being a party to this plan to legalize Slavery over the Conti
It was plain from the first that the struggle would take the shape of a personal contest between the
Each recognized the other as the embodi ment of principles to which he was in deadly hostility. Judge Douglas was the champion of all sympathizers with Slavery at the North, of those who openly advocated it, and still more of those who took the more plausible and dangerous part of not caring whether it
was voted down or up.” Mr. Lincoln's soul was on fire with love for freedom and for humanity, and with reverence for the Fathers of the Country, and for the principles of freedom for all under the light of which they marched. He felt that the contest was no mere local one, that it was not of any great consequence what man succeeded in the fight, but that it was all-important that the banner of Freedom should be borne with no faltering step, but “full high advanced.” And thus through the whole campaign he sought with all his power to press home to the hearts of the people the principles, the example and the teachings of the men of the Revolution.
The two combatants first met at Chicago, in July.
There was no arrangement then about their speaking against each other, but Judge Douglas having addressed a meeting on the 9th July, it was inevitable that Mr. Lincoln should answer him on the 10th. One week later both spoke in Springfield on the same day, but before different audiences; and one week later Mr. Lincoln addressed a letter to Douglas, challenging him to a series of debates during the campaign.
The challenge was accepted, though not without an attempt to make a little capital out of it, which was quite characteristic.
It was also quite characteristic that the terms which Douglas proposed were such as to give him the decided advantage of having four opening and closing speeches to Mr. Lincoln's three; and that Mr. Lincoln, while noticing the inequality, did not hesitate to accept them.
The seven joint debates were held as follows:--at Ottawa on August 21st; at Freeport on August 27th; at Jonesboro on September 15th ; at Charleston on September 18th; at Galesburg on October 7th; at Quincy on October 13th ; at Alton on October 15th. These seven tournaments raised the greatest excitement throughout the State. They were held in all quarters of the State, from Freeport in the north to Jonesboro in the extreme south. Everywhere the different par.. ties turned out to do honor to their champions. Processions and cavalcades, bands of music and cannonfiring, made every day a day of excitement. But fargreater was the excitement of such oratorical contests between two such skilled debaters, before mixed audiences of friends and foes, to rejoice over every keen thrust at the adversary; to be cast down by each fail
ure to parry the thrust so aimed. We cannot pretend to give more than the barest sketch of these great efforts of Mr. Lincoln's. They are and always will be, to those who are interested in the history of the Slavery contest, most valuable and important documents.
In the first speech at Ottawa, besides defending himself from some points which Douglas had made against him, and among others, explaining and enlarging upon that passage from his Springfield speech, of "A house divided against itself," he took up the charge which he had also made in that speech of the conspiracy to extend Slavery over the northern States, and pressed it bome, citing as proof of its existence a speech which Douglas himself had made on the Lecompton bill, in which he had substantially made the same charge upon Buchanan and others. He then showed again that all that was necessary for the accomplishment of the scheme was a decision of the Supreme Court that no State could exclude Slavery, as the Court had already decided that no Territory could exclude it, and the acquiescence of the people in such a decision, and he told the people that Douglas was doing all in his power to bring about such acquiescence in advance, by declaring that the true position was not to care whether Slavery voted down or up," and by announcing himself in favor of the Dred Scott decision, not because it was right, but because a decision of the Court is to him a "Thus saith the Lord," and thus committing himself to the next decision just as firmly as to this. He closed his speech with the following eloquent words: “Henry Clay, my beau ideal of a Statesman--the man for whom I fought all my humble life once said of a class of
men who would repress all tendencies to liberty and ultimate emancipation, that they must, if they would do this, go back to the era of our Independence and muzzle the cannon which thunders its annual joyous return; they must blow out the moral lights around us; they must penetrate the human soul and eradicate there the love of liberty; and then, and not till then, could they perpetuate Slavery in this country. To my thinking, Judge Douglas is, by his example and vast influence, doing that very thing in this community, when he says that the negro has nothing in the Declara- . tion of Independence. Henry Clay plainly understood the contrary. Judge Douglas is going back to the era of our Revolution, and to the extent of his ability muzzling the cannon which thunders its annual joyous return. When he invites any people, willing to have Slavery, to establish it, he is blowing out the moral lights around us. When he says he cares not whether Slavery is voted down or up'—that it is a sacred right of self-government, he is, in my judgment, penetrating the human soul and eradicating the light of reason and the love of liberty in this American people. And when, by all these means and appliances, he shall succeed in bringing public sentiment to an exact accordance with his own views—when these vast assemblages shall echo back all these sentiments, when they shall come to repeat his views and to avow his principles, and to say all that he says on these mighty questions, then it needs only the formality of the second Dred Scott decision, which he indorses in advance, to make Slavery alike lawful in all the States-old as well as
North as well as South."
In the second debate at Freeport, Mr. Lincoln gave categorical answers to seven questions which Douglas had proposed to him, and in his turn put four questions to Douglas, to which he got but evasive replies. He also pressed home upon his opponent a charge of quoting resolutions as being adopted at a Republican State Convention, which were never so adopted, and again called Douglas's attention to the conspiracy to nationalize Slavery, and he showed that his pretended desire to leave the people of a Territory free to establish Slavery or exclude it, was really only a desire to allow them to establish it, as was shown by his voting against Mr. Chase's amendment to the Nebraska Bill, which gave them leave to exclude it. In the third debate at Jonesboro, Mr. Lincoln showed that Douglas and his friends were trying to change the position of the country on the Slavery question from what it was when the Constitution was adopted, and that the disturbance of the country had arisen from this pernicious effort. He then cited from Democratic speeches and platforms of former days to show that they occupied then the very opposite ground on the question from that which was taken now, and showed up the evasive character of Douglas's answers to the questions which he had proposed, especially the subterfuge of "unfriendly legislation" which he had set forth as the means by which the people of a Territory could exclude Slavery from its limits in spite of the Dred Scott decision.
When Mr. Lincoln was preparing these questions for Douglas, he was urged by some of his friends not to corner him on that point, because he would surely stand by his doctrine of Squatter Sovereignty in defi