Page images
PDF
EPUB

The dispute was upon the question of fact, whether the Lecompton Constitution had been fairly formed by the people, or not. Mr. Buchanan and his friends have not contended for the contrary principle, any more than the Douglas men or the Republicans. They have insisted, that whatever of small irregularities existed in getting up the Lecompton Constitution, were such as happen in the settlement of all new Territories. The question was, was it a fair emanation of the people? It was a question of fact, and not of principle. As to the principle, all were agreed. Judge Douglas voted with the Republicans upon that matter of fact.

He and they, by their voices and votes, denied that it was a fair emanation of the people. The Administration affirmed that it was. With respect to the evidence bearing upon that question of fact, I readily agree that Judge Douglas and the Republicans had the right on their side, and that the Administration was wrong. But I state again that, as a matter of principle, there is no dispute upon the right of a people in a Territory, merging into a State, to form a Constitution for themselves, without outside interference from any quarter. This being so, what is Judge Douglas going to spend his life for? Is he going to spend his life in maintaining a principle that nobody on earth opposés ? [Cheers.] Does he expect to stand up in majestic dignity, and go through his apotheosis

, and become a god, in the maintaining of a principle which neither man nor mouse, in all God's creation, is opposing? [Great applause.]

THE LECOMPTON ISSUE. How will he prove that we have ever occupied a different position in regard to the Lecompton Constitution, or any principle in it? He says he did not make his opposition on the ground as to whether it was a free or a slave Constitution, and he would have you understand that the Republicans made their opposition because it ultimately became a slave Constitution. To make proof in favor of himself on this point, he reminds us that he opposed Lecompton before the vote was taken declaring whether the State was to be free or slave. But he forgets to say, that our Republican Senator, Trumbull, made a speech against Lecompton even before he did.

Why did he oppose it? Partly, as he declares, because the members of the Convention who framed it were not fairly elected by the people; that the people were not allowed to vote unless they had been registered; and that the people of whole counties, in some instances, were not registered. For these reasons he declares the Constitution was not an emanation, in

any true sense, from the people. He also has an additional objection as to the mode of submitting the Constitution back to the people. But bearing on the question of whether the dele. gates were fairly elected, a speech of his made something more than twelve months ago, from this stand, becomes important. It was made a little while before the election of the delegates who made Lecompton. In that speech he declared there was every reason to hope and believe the election would be fair; and if any one failed to vote it would be his own fault.

I, a few days after, made a sort of answer to that speech. In that answer, I made, substantially, the very argument with which he combated his Lecompton adversaries in the Senate last winter. I pointed to the fact that the people could not vote without being registered, and that the time for registering had gone by. I commented on it as wonderful that Judge Douglas could be ignorant of these facts, which every one else in the nation so well knew.

[Mr. Lincoln then proceeded to notice the attacks made by Douglas on the 6th of June speech of the former. In substance, it is like his reply at Chicago. Some of its more striking passages are here subjoined.]

He charges, in substance, that I invite a war of sections ; that I propose that all the local institutions of the different States shall become consolidated and uniform. What is there in the language of that speech which expresses such purpose, or bears such construction? I have again and again said that I would not enter into any of the States to disturb the institution of slavery. Judge Douglas said, at Bloomington, that I used language most able and ingenious for concealing what I really meant; and that, while I had protested against entering into the slave States, I nevertheless did mean to go on the banks of the Ohio and throw missiles into Kentucky, to disturb the people there in their domestic institutions.

I said in that speech, and I meant no more, that the institution of slavery ought to be placed in the very attitude where the framers of this Government placed it, and left it. I do not understand that the framers of our Constitution left the people of the free States in the attitude of firing bombs or shells into the slave States. I was not using that passage

for the purpose for which he infers I did use it. * * * Now you all see, from that quotation, I did not express my wish on anything. In that passage I indicated no wish or purpose of my own; I simply expressed my expectation.

[Further on, Mr. Lincoln said :)

Mr. Brooks, of South Carolina, in one of his speeches, when they were presenting him canes, silver plate, gold pitchers and the like, for assaulting Senator Sumner, distinctly affirmed his opinion that when this Constitution was formed, it was the belief of no man that slavery would last to the present day.

He said, what I think, that the framers of our Constitution placed the institution of slavery where the public mind rested in the hope that it was in the course of ultimate extinction. But he went on to say that the men of the present age, by their experience, have become wiser than the framers of the Constitution ; and the invention of the cotton-gin had made the perpetuity of slavery a necessity in this country.

[Recurring to the Dred Scott case, after citing Jefferson's views on judicial decisions, and alluding to the course of the Democracy, Douglas included, in regard to the National Bank decision, Mr. Lincoln said :)

Now, I wish to know what the Judge can charge upon me with respect to decisions of the Supreme Court, which does not lie in all its length, breadth and proportions at his own door. The plain truth is simply this: Judge Douglas is for Supreme Court decisions when he likes, and against them when he does not like them. He is for the Dred Scott decision because it tends to nationalize slavery—because it is part of the original combination for that object. It so happened, singularly enough, that I never stood opposed to a decision of the Supreme Court till this. On the contrary, I have no recollection that he was ever particularly in favor of one till this. He never was in favor of any, nor I opposed to any, till the present one, which helps to nationalize slavery.

Free men of Sangamon-free men of Illinois—free men everywhere-judge ye between him and me, upon this issue.

Near the close of July, various speeches having been made by each at different points, an arrangement for one joint discussion in each of the seven Congressional districts, in which they had not already both spoken, was agreed upon. At this stage of the canvass, the people of the whole country were beginning to take a lively interest in this contest, and the reports of the first debate at Ottawa were eagerly sought for and read, at the East and at the West. The friends of Mr. Lincoln, and the Republicans in general, were well pleased

with the manner in which he acquitted himself in this joint discussion. At each succeeding encounter of this sort, the impression was strengthened, throughout the country, that Mr. Lincoln was obtaining decided advantages over his opponent. At Freeport, he forced Douglas into an attempted reconciliation of the hitherto unexplained inconsistencies between his squatter sovereignty theory, and his support of the Dred Scott decision, which utterly excludes squatter sovereignty in practice. His “unfriendly legislation" device, on that occasion, cost Douglas the loss of the last possibility of any reconciliation with the Southern Democracy. While this answer, most unwillingly given, perhaps, yet announced with apparent alacrity, contributed something toward effecting his immediate temporary purpose, it undoubtedly destroyed all his remoter chances as the Presidential candidate of a united Democracy.

In the Ottawa debate, Mr. Douglas produced a series of “ultra " resolutions adopted at a small local convention held long before the Republican party was organized in that State, representing them as the platform adopted by “ the first mass State Convention ever held in Illinois by the Republican party." On these resolutions, to which he assumed to believe that Mr. Lincoln was committed, Douglas based a series of interrogatories, which the former, after duly exposing the mis. representation, frankly and very explicitly answered at Freeport, the scene of the second debate, as follows:

OPENING PASSAGES OF MR. LINCOLN'S FREEPORT SPEECH. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN :-On Saturday last, Judge Douglas and myself first met in public discussion. He spoke one hour, I an hour and a half, and he replied for half an hour. The order is now reversed. I am to speak an hour, he an hour and a half, and then I am to reply for half an hour. I propose to devote myself during the first hour to the scope of what was brought within the range of his half-hour specch at Ottawa. Of course there was brought within the scope of that half-hour's speech something of his own opening speech. In the course of that opening argument, Judge Douglas proposed to me seven distinct interrogatories. In my speech of

an hour and a half, I attended to some other parts of his speech, and incidentally, as I thought, answered one of the interrogatories then. I then distinctly intimated to him that I would answer the rest of his interrogatories on condition only that he should agree to answer as many for me.

He made no intimation at the time of the proposition, nor did he in his reply allude at all to that suggestion of mine. I do him no injustice in saying that he occupied at least half of his reply in dealing with me as though I had refused to answer his interrogatories. I now propose that I will answer any of the interrogatories, upon condition that he will answer questions from me not exceeding the same number. I give him an opportunity to respond. The Judge remains silent. I now say that I will answer his interrogatories, whether he answers mine or not (applause]; and that after I have done so, I shall propound mine to him. [Applause.]

I have supposed myself, since the organization of the Republican party at Bloomington, in May, 1856, bound as a party man by the platforms of the party, then and since. If in any interrogatories which I shall answer I go beyond the scope of what is within these platforms, it will be perceived that no one is responsible but myself.

Having said thus much, I will take up the Judge's interrogatories as I find them printed in the Chicago l'imes, and answer them seriatim. In order that there may be no mistake about it, I have copied the interrogatories in writing, and also my answers to them.

The first one of these interrogatories is in these words:

Question 1. “I desire to know whether Lincoln to-day stands, as he did in 1854, in favor of the unconditional repeal of the Fugitive Slave law ?"

Answer. I do not now, nor ever did, stand in favor of the unconditional repeal of the Fugitive Slave law.

Q. 2. “I desire him to answer whether he stands pledged to-day, as he did in 1854, against the admission of any more slave States into the Union, even if the people want them ?”.

A. I do not now, nor ever did, stand pledged against the admission of any more slave States into the Union.

Q. 3. “I want to know whether he stands pledged against the admission of a new State in the Union, with such a Constitution as the people of that State may see fit to make.”

A. I do not stand pledged against the admission of a new State into the Union, with such a Constitution as the people of that State may see fit to make.

Q. 4. “I want to know whether he stands to-day pledged to the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia ?”

« PreviousContinue »