The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7


iSpeech

And I say here to you, if any one expects of me--in case of my
election--that I will do anything not signified by our Republican
platform and my answers here to-day, I tell you very frankly that
person will be deceived. I do not ask for the vote of any one
who supposes that I have secret purposes or pledges that I dare
not speak out. Cannot the Judge be satisfied? If he fears, in
the unfortunate case of my election, that my going to Washington
will enable me to advocate sentiments contrary to those which I
expressed when you voted for and elected me, I assure him that
his fears are wholly needless and groundless. Is the Judge
really afraid of any such thing? I'll tell you what he is afraid
of. He is afraid we'll all pull together. This is what alarms
him more than anything else. For my part, I do hope that all of
us, entertaining a common sentiment in opposition to what appears
to us a design to nationalize and perpetuate slavery, will waive
minor differences on questions which either belong to the dead
past or the distant future, and all pull together in this
struggle. What are your sentiments? If it be true that on the
ground which I occupy--ground which I occupy as frankly and
boldly as Judge Douglas does his,--my views, though partly
coinciding with yours, are not as perfectly in accordance with
your feelings as his are, I do say to you in all candor, go for
him, and not for me. I hope to deal in all things fairly with
Judge Douglas, and with the people of the State, in this contest.
And if I should never be elected to any office, I trust I may go
down with no stain of falsehood upon my reputation,
notwithstanding the hard opinions Judge Douglas chooses to
entertain of me.

The Judge has again addressed himself to the Abolition tendencies
of a speech of mine made at Springfield in June last. I have so
often tried to answer what he is always saying on that melancholy
theme that I almost turn with disgust from the discussion,--from
the repetition of an answer to it. I trust that nearly all of
this intelligent audience have read that speech. If you have, I
may venture to leave it to you to inspect it closely, and see
whether it contains any of those "bugaboos" which frighten Judge
Douglas.

The Judge complains that I did not fully answer his questions.
If I have the sense to comprehend and answer those questions, I
have done so fairly. If it can be pointed out to me how I can
more fully and fairly answer him, I aver I have not the sense to
see how it is to be done. He says I do not declare I would in
any event vote for the admission of a slave State into the Union.
If I have been fairly reported, he will see that I did give an
explicit answer to his interrogatories; I did not merely say that
I would dislike to be put to the test, but I said clearly, if I
were put to the test, and a Territory from which slavery had been
excluded should present herself with a State constitution
sanctioning slavery,--a most extraordinary thing, and wholly
unlikely to happen,--I did not see how I could avoid voting for
her admission. But he refuses to understand that I said so, and
he wants this audience to understand that I did not say so. Yet
it will be so reported in the printed speech that he cannot help
seeing it.

He says if I should vote for the admission of a slave State I
would be voting for a dissolution of the Union, because I hold
that the Union cannot permanently exist half slave and half free.
I repeat that I do not believe this government can endure
permanently half slave and half free; yet I do not admit, nor
does it at all follow, that the admission of a single slave State
will permanently fix the character and establish this as a
universal slave nation. The Judge is very happy indeed at
working up these quibbles. Before leaving the subject of
answering questions, I aver as my confident belief, when you come
to see our speeches in print, that you will find every question
which he has asked me more fairly and boldly and fully answered
than he has answered those which I put to him. Is not that so?
The two speeches may be placed side by side, and I will venture
to leave it to impartial judges whether his questions have not
been more directly and circumstantially answered than mine.

Judge Douglas says he made a charge upon the editor of the
Washington Union, alone, of entertaining a purpose to rob the
States of their power to exclude slavery from their limits. I
undertake to say, and I make the direct issue, that he did not
make his charge against the editor of the Union alone. I will
undertake to prove by the record here that he made that charge
against more and higher dignitaries than the editor of the
Washington Union. I am quite aware that he was shirking and
dodging around the form in which he put it, but I can make it
manifest that he leveled his "fatal blow" against more persons
than this Washington editor. Will he dodge it now by alleging
that I am trying to defend Mr. Buchanan against the charge? Not
at all. Am I not making the same charge myself? I am trying to
show that you, Judge Douglas, are a witness on my side. I am not
defending Buchanan, and I will tell Judge Douglas that in my
opinion, when he made that charge, he had an eye farther north
than he has to-day. He was then fighting against people who
called him a Black Republican and an Abolitionist. It is mixed
all through his speech, and it is tolerably manifest that his eye
was a great deal farther north than it is to-day. The Judge says
that though he made this charge, Toombs got up and declared there
was not a man in the United States, except the editor of the
Union, who was in favor of the doctrines put forth in that
article. And thereupon I understand that the Judge withdrew the
charge. Although he had taken extracts from the newspaper, and
then from the Lecompton Constitution, to show the existence of a
conspiracy to bring about a "fatal blow," by which the States
were to be deprived of the right of excluding slavery, it all
went to pot as soon as Toombs got up and told him it was not
true. It reminds me of the story that John Phoenix, the
California railroad surveyor, tells. He says they started out
from the Plaza to the Mission of Dolores. They had two ways of
determining distances. One was by a chain and pins taken over
the ground. The other was by a "go-it-ometer,"--an invention of
his own,--a three-legged instrument, with which he computed a
series of triangles between the points. At night he turned to
the chain-man to ascertain what distance they had come, and found
that by some mistake he had merely dragged the chain over the
ground, without keeping any record. By the "go-it-ometer," he
found he had made ten miles. Being skeptical about this, he
asked a drayman who was passing how far it was to the Plaza. The
drayman replied it was just half a mile; and the surveyor put it
down in his book,--just as Judge Douglas says, after he had made
his calculations and computations, he took Toombs's statement. I
have no doubt that after Judge Douglas had made his charge, he
was as easily satisfied about its truth as the surveyor was of
the drayman's statement of the distance to the Plaza. Yet it is
a fact that the man who put forth all that matter which Douglas
deemed a "fatal blow" at State sovereignty was elected by the
Democrats as public printer.

Now, gentlemen, you may take Judge Douglas's speech of March 22,
1858, beginning about the middle of page 21, and reading to the
bottom of page 24, and you will find the evidence on which I say
that he did not make his charge against the editor of the Union
alone. I cannot stop to read it, but I will give it to the
reporters. Judge Douglas said:

"Mr. President, you here find several distinct propositions
advanced boldly by the Washington Union editorially, and
apparently authoritatively, and every man who questions any of
them is denounced as an Abolitionist, a Free-soiler, a fanatic.
The propositions are, first, that the primary object of all
government at its original institution is the protection of
persons and property; second, that the Constitution of the United
States declares that the citizens of each State shall be entitled
to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several
States; and that, therefore, thirdly, all State laws, whether
organic or otherwise, which prohibit the citizens of one State
from settling in another with their slave property, and
especially declaring it forfeited, are direct violations of the
original intention of the Government and Constitution of the
United States; and, fourth, that the emancipation of the slaves
of the Northern States was a gross outrage on the rights of
property, in as much as it was involuntarily done on the part of
the owner.

"Remember that this article was published in the Union on the
17th of November, and on the 18th appeared the first article
giving the adhesion of the Union to the Lecompton Constitution.
It was in these words:

"'KANSAS AND HER CONSTITUTION.--The vexed question is settled.
The problem is solved. The dead point of danger is passed. All
serious trouble to Kansas affairs is over and gone...."

"And a column, nearly, of the same sort. Then, when you come to
look into the Lecompton Constitution, you find the same doctrine
incorporated in it which was put forth editorially in the Union.
What is it?

"'ARTICLE 7, Section i. The right of property is before and
higher than any constitutional sanction; and the right of the
owner of a slave to such slave and its increase is the same and
as invariable as the right of the owner of any property
whatever.'

"Then in the schedule is a provision that the Constitution may be
amended after 1864 by a two-thirds vote.

"'But no alteration shall be made to affect the right of property
in the ownership of slaves.'

"It will be seen by these clauses in the Lecompton Constitution
that they are identical in spirit with this authoritative article
in the Washington Union of the day previous to its indorsement of
this Constitution.

"When I saw that article in the Union of the 17th of November,
followed by the glorification of the Lecompton Constitution on
the 18th of November, and this clause in the Constitution
asserting the doctrine that a State has no right to prohibit
slavery within its limits, I saw that there was a fatal blow
being struck at the sovereignty of the States of this Union."

Here he says, "Mr. President, you here find several distinct
propositions advanced boldly, and apparently authoritatively."
By whose authority, Judge Douglas? Again, he says in another
place, "It will be seen by these clauses in the Lecompton
Constitution that they are identical in spirit with this
authoritative article." By whose authority,--who do you mean to
say authorized the publication of these articles? He knows that
the Washington Union is considered the organ of the
Administration. I demand of Judge Douglas by whose authority he
meant to say those articles were published, if not by the
authority of the President of the United States and his Cabinet?
I defy him to show whom he referred to, if not to these high
functionaries in the Federal Government. More than this, he says
the articles in that paper and the provisions of the Lecompton
Constitution are "identical," and, being identical, he argues
that the authors are co-operating and conspiring together. He
does not use the word "conspiring," but what other construction
can you put upon it? He winds up:

"When I saw that article in the Union of the 17th of November,
followed by the glorification of the Lecompton Constitution on
the 18th of November, and this clause in the Constitution
asserting the doctrine that a State has no right to prohibit
slavery within its limits, I saw that there was a fatal blow
being struck at the sovereignty of the States of this Union."

I ask him if all this fuss was made over the editor of this
newspaper. It would be a terribly "fatal blow" indeed which a
single man could strike, when no President, no Cabinet officer,
no member of Congress, was giving strength and efficiency to the
movement. Out of respect to Judge Douglas's good sense I must
believe he did n't manufacture his idea of the "fatal" character
of that blow out of such a miserable scapegrace as he represents
that editor to be. But the Judge's eye is farther south now.
Then, it was very peculiarly and decidedly north. His hope
rested on the idea of visiting the great "Black Republican"
party, and making it the tail of his new kite. He knows he was
then expecting from day to day to turn Republican, and place
himself at the head of our organization. He has found that these
despised "Black Republicans" estimate him by a standard which he
has taught them none too well. Hence he is crawling back into
his old camp, and you will find him eventually installed in full
fellowship among those whom he was then battling, and with whom
he now pretends to be at such fearful variance.

THIRD JOINT DEBATE, AT JONESBORO,

SEPTEMBER 15, 1858

Mr. LINCOLN'S REPLY.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:--There is very much in the principles that
Judge Douglas has here enunciated that I most cordially approve,
and over which I shall have no controversy with him. In so far
as he has insisted that all the States have the right to do
exactly as they please about all their domestic relations,
including that of slavery, I agree entirely with him. He places
me wrong in spite of all I can tell him, though I repeat it again
and again, insisting that I have no difference with him upon this
subject. I have made a great many speeches, some of which have
been printed, and it will be utterly impossible for him to find
anything that I have ever put in print contrary to what I now say
upon this subject. I hold myself under constitutional
obligations to allow the people in all the States, without
interference, direct or indirect, to do exactly as they please;
and I deny that I have any inclination to interfere with them,
even if there were no such constitutional obligation. I can only
say again that I am placed improperly--altogether improperly, in
spite of all I can say--when it is insisted that I entertain any
other view or purposes in regard to that matter.

While I am upon this subject, I will make some answers briefly to
certain propositions that Judge Douglas has put. He says, "Why
can't this Union endure permanently half slave and half free?" I
have said that I supposed it could not, and I will try, before
this new audience, to give briefly some of the reasons for
entertaining that opinion. Another form of his question is, "Why
can't we let it stand as our fathers placed it?" That is the
exact difficulty between us. I say that Judge Douglas and his
friends have changed it from the position in which our fathers
originally placed it. I say, in the way our father's originally
left the slavery question, the institution was in the course of
ultimate extinction, and the public mind rested in the belief
that it was in the course of ultimate extinction. I say when
this government was first established it was the policy of its
founders to prohibit the spread of slavery into the new
Territories of the United States, where it had not existed. But
Judge Douglas and his friends have broken up that policy, and
placed it upon a new basis, by which it is to become national and
perpetual. All I have asked or desired anywhere is that it
should be placed back again upon the basis that the fathers of
our government originally placed it upon. I have no doubt that
it would become extinct, for all time to come, if we but
readopted the policy of the fathers, by restricting it to the
limits it has already covered, restricting it from the new
Territories.

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