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What I shall point out, though not showing the whole plan, are, nevertheless, the main points, as I suppose.
They are not very numerous. The first is Popular Sovereignty. The second and third are attacks upon my speech made on the 16th of June. Out of these three points-drawing within the range of Popular Sovereignty the question of the Lecompton Constitution-he makes his principal assault. Upon these his successive speeches are substantially one and the same. On this matter of Popular Sovereignty, I wish to be a little careful. Auxiliary to these main points, to be sure, are their thunderings of cannon, their marching and music, their fizzle-gigs and fire-works; but I will not waste time with them. They are but the little trappings of the campaign
Coming to the substance the first point-"Popular Sovereignty." It is to be labeled upon the cars in which he travels; put upon the hacks he rides in; to be flaunted upon the arches he passes under, and the banners which wave over him. It is to be dished up in as many varieties as a French cook can produce soups from potatoes. Now, as this is so great a staple of the plan of the campaign, it is worth while to examine it carefully; and if we examine only a very little, and do not allow ourselves to be misled, we shall be able to see that the whole thing is the most arrant Quixotism that was ever enacted before a community. What is this matter of Popular Sovereignty? The first thing, in order to understand it, is to get a good definition of what it is, and after that to see how it is applied.
I suppose almost every one knows, that in this controversy, whatever has been said has had reference to the question of negro slavery. We have not been in a controversy about the right of the people to govern themselves in the ordinary matters of domestic concern in the States and Territories. Mr. Buchanan, in one of his late messages (I think when he sent up the Lecompton Constitution), urged that the main point to which the public attention had been directed, was not in regard to the great variety of small domestic matters, but it was directed to the question of negro slavery; and he asserts that if the people had had a fair chance to vote on that question, there was no reasonable ground of objection in regard to minor questions. Now, while I think that the people had not had given, or offered them, a fair chance upon that slavery question; still, if there had been a fair submission to a vote upon that main question, the President's proposition would have been true to the uttermost. Hence, when hereafter I speak
of Popular Sovereignty, I wish to be understood as applying what I say to the question of slavery only, not to other minor domestic matters of a Territory or a State.
Does Judge Douglas, when he says that several of the past years of his life have been devoted to the question of "Popular Sovereignty," and that all the remainder of his life shall be devoted to it, does he mean to say that he has been devoting his life to securing to the people of the Territories the right to exclude slavery from the Territories? If he means so to say, he means to deceive; because he-and every one knows that the decision of the Supreme Court, which he approves and makes an especial ground of attack upon me for disapprovingforbids the people of a Territory to exclude slavery. This covers the whole ground, from the settlement of a Territory till it reaches the degree of maturity entitling it to form a State Constitution. So far as all that ground is concerned, the Judge is not sustaining Popular Sovereignty, but absolutely opposing it. He sustains the decision which declares that the popular will of the Territories has no constitutional power to exclude slavery during their Territorial existence. [Cheers.] This being so, the period of time, from the first settlement of a Territory till it reaches the point of forming a State Constitution, is not the thing that the Judge has fought for, or is fighting for, but, on the contrary, he has fought for, and is fighting for, the thing that annihilates and crushes out that same Popular Sovereignty.
Well, so much being disposed of, what is left? Why, he is contending for the right of the people, when they come to make a State Constitution, to make it for themselves, and pre cisely as best suits themselves. I say again, that is Quixotic. I defy contradiction, when I declare that the Judge can find no one to oppose him on that proposition. I repeat, there is nobody opposing that proposition on principle. Let me not be misunderstood. I know that, with reference to the Lecompton Constitution, I may be misunderstood; but when you understand me correctly, my proposition will be true and accurate. Nobody is opposing, or has opposed, the right of the people, when they form a Constitution, to form it for themselves. Mr. Buchanan and his friends have not done it; they, too, as well as the Republicans and the Anti-Lecompton Democrats, have not done it; but, on the contrary, they together have insisted on the right of the people to form a Constitution for themselves. The difference between the Buchanan men, on the one hand, and the Douglas men and the Republicans on the other, has not been on a question of principle, but on a question of fact.
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 opposes? [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 delegates 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 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