The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7


iSpeech

Now, my fellow-citizens, I will detain you only a little while
longer; my time is nearly out. I find a report of a speech made
by Judge Douglas at Joliet, since we last met at Freeport,--
published, I believe, in the Missouri Republican, on the 9th of
this month, in which Judge Douglas says:

"You know at Ottawa I read this platform, and asked him if he
concurred in each and all of the principles set forth in it. He
would not answer these questions. At last I said frankly, I wish
you to answer them, because when I get them up here where the
color of your principles are a little darker than in Egypt, I
intend to trot you down to Jonesboro. The very notice that I was
going to take him down to Egypt made him tremble in his knees so
that he had to be carried from the platform. He laid up seven
days, and in the meantime held a consultation with his political
physicians; they had Lovejoy and Farnsworth and all the leaders
of the Abolition party, they consulted it all over, and at last
Lincoln came to the conclusion that he would answer, so he came
up to Freeport last Friday."

Now, that statement altogether furnishes a subject for
philosophical contemplation. I have been treating it in that
way, and I have really come to the conclusion that I can explain
it in no other way than by believing the Judge is crazy. If he
was in his right mind I cannot conceive how he would have risked
disgusting the four or five thousand of his own friends who stood
there and knew, as to my having been carried from the platform,
that there was not a word of truth in it.

[Judge DOUGLAS: Did n't they carry you off?]

There that question illustrates the character of this man Douglas
exactly. He smiles now, and says, "Did n't they carry you off?"
but he said then "he had to be carried off"; and he said it to
convince the country that he had so completely broken me down by
his speech that I had to be carried away. Now he seeks to dodge
it, and asks, "Did n't they carry you off?" Yes, they did. But,
Judge Douglas, why didn't you tell the truth?" I would like to
know why you did n't tell the truth about it. And then again "He
laid up seven days." He put this in print for the people of the
country to read as a serious document. I think if he had been in
his sober senses he would not have risked that barefacedness in
the presence of thousands of his own friends who knew that I made
speeches within six of the seven days at Henry, Marshall County,
Augusta, Hancock County, and Macomb, McDonough County, including
all the necessary travel to meet him again at Freeport at the end
of the six days. Now I say there is no charitable way to look at
that statement, except to conclude that he is actually crazy.
There is another thing in that statement that alarmed me very
greatly as he states it, that he was going to "trot me down to
Egypt." Thereby he would have you infer that I would not come to
Egypt unless he forced me--that I could not be got here unless
he, giant-like, had hauled me down here. That statement he
makes, too, in the teeth of the knowledge that I had made the
stipulation to come down here and that he himself had been very
reluctant to enter into the stipulation. More than all this:
Judge Douglas, when he made that statement, must have been crazy
and wholly out of his sober senses, or else he would have known
that when he got me down here, that promise--that windy promise--
of his powers to annihilate me, would n't amount to anything.
Now, how little do I look like being carried away trembling? Let
the Judge go on; and after he is done with his half-hour, I want
you all, if I can't go home myself, to let me stay and rot here;
and if anything happens to the Judge, if I cannot carry him to
the hotel and put him to bed, let me stay here and rot. I say,
then, here is something extraordinary in this statement. I ask
you if you know any other living man who would make such a
statement? I will ask my friend Casey, over there, if he would
do such a thing? Would he send that out and have his men take it
as the truth? Did the Judge talk of trotting me down to Egypt to
scare me to death? Why, I know this people better than he does.
I was raised just a little east of here. I am a part of this
people. But the Judge was raised farther north, and perhaps he
has some horrid idea of what this people might be induced to do.
But really I have talked about this matter perhaps longer than I
ought, for it is no great thing; and yet the smallest are often
the most difficult things to deal with. The Judge has set about
seriously trying to make the impression that when we meet at
different places I am literally in his clutches--that I am a
poor, helpless, decrepit mouse, and that I can do nothing at all.
This is one of the ways he has taken to create that impression.
I don't know any other way to meet it except this. I don't want
to quarrel with him--to call him a liar; but when I come square
up to him I don't know what else to call him if I must tell the
truth out. I want to be at peace, and reserve all my fighting
powers for necessary occasions. My time now is very nearly out,
and I give up the trifle that is left to the Judge, to let him
set my knees trembling again, if he can.

End of Etext of The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, Vol 3

VOLUME IV

THE LINCOLN-DOUGLAS DEBATES II

LINCOLN AND DOUGLAS FOURTH JOINT DEBATE,

AT CHARLESTON, SEPTEMBER 18, 1858.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:--It will be very difficult for an audience so
large as this to hear distinctly what a speaker says, and
consequently it is important that as profound silence be preserved as
possible.

While I was at the hotel to-day, an elderly gentleman called upon me
to know whether I was really in favor of producing a perfect equality
between the negroes and white people. While I had not proposed to
myself on this occasion to say much on that subject, yet as the
question was asked me I thought I would occupy perhaps five minutes
in saying something in regard to it. I will say, then, that I am
not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the
social and political equality of the white and black races; that I am
not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of
negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry
with white people; and I will say, in addition to this, that there is
a physical difference between the white and black races which I
believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of
social and political equality. And in as much as they cannot so
live, while they do remain together there must be the position of
superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of
having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon
this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have
the superior position the negro should be denied everything. I do
not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I
must necessarily want her for a wife. My understanding is that I can
just let her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly
never have had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. So it
seems to me quite possible for us to get along without making either
slaves or wives of negroes. I will add to this that I have never
seen, to my knowledge, a man, woman, or child who was in favor of
producing a perfect equality, social and political, between negroes
and white men. I recollect of but one distinguished instance that I
ever heard of so frequently as to be entirely satisfied of its
correctness, and that is the case of Judge Douglas's old friend
Colonel Richard M. Johnson. I will also add to the remarks I have
made (for I am not going to enter at large upon this subject), that I
have never had the least apprehension that I or my friends would
marry negroes if there was no law to keep them from it; but as Judge
Douglas and his friends seem to be in great apprehension that they
might, if there were no law to keep them from it, I give him the most
solemn pledge that I will to the very last stand by the law of this
State which forbids the marrying of white people with negroes. I
will add one further word, which is this: that I do not understand
that there is any place where an alteration of the social and
political relations of the negro and the white man can be made,
except in the State Legislature,--not in the Congress of the United
States; and as I do not really apprehend the approach of any such
thing myself, and as Judge Douglas seems to be in constant horror
that some such danger is rapidly approaching, I propose as the best
means to prevent it that the Judge be kept at home, and placed in the
State Legislature to fight the measure. I do not propose dwelling
longer at this time on this subject.

When Judge Trumbull, our other Senator in Congress, returned to
Illinois in the month of August, he made a speech at Chicago, in
which he made what may be called a charge against Judge Douglas,
which I understand proved to be very offensive to him. The Judge was
at that time out upon one of his speaking tours through the country,
and when the news of it reached him, as I am informed, he denounced
Judge Trumbull in rather harsh terms for having said what he did in
regard to that matter. I was traveling at that time, and speaking at
the same places with Judge Douglas on subsequent days, and when I
heard of what Judge Trumbull had said of Douglas, and what Douglas
had said back again, I felt that I was in a position where I could
not remain entirely silent in regard to the matter. Consequently,
upon two or three occasions I alluded to it, and alluded to it in no
other wise than to say that in regard to the charge brought by
Trumbull against Douglas, I personally knew nothing, and sought to
say nothing about it; that I did personally know Judge Trumbull; that
I believed him to be a man of veracity; that I believed him to be a
man of capacity sufficient to know very well whether an assertion he
was making, as a conclusion drawn from a set of facts, was true or
false; and as a conclusion of my own from that, I stated it as my
belief if Trumbull should ever be called upon, he would prove
everything he had said. I said this upon two or three occasions.
Upon a subsequent occasion, Judge Trumbull spoke again before an
audience at Alton, and upon that occasion not only repeated his
charge against Douglas, but arrayed the evidence he relied upon to
substantiate it. This speech was published at length; and
subsequently at Jacksonville Judge Douglas alluded to the matter. In
the course of his speech, and near the close of it, he stated in
regard to myself what I will now read:

"Judge Douglas proceeded to remark that he should not hereafter
occupy his time in refuting such charges made by Trumbull, but that,
Lincoln having indorsed the character of Trumbull for veracity, he
should hold him (Lincoln) responsible for the slanders."

I have done simply what I have told you, to subject me to this
invitation to notice the charge. I now wish to say that it had not
originally been my purpose to discuss that matter at all But in-as-
much as it seems to be the wish of Judge Douglas to hold me
responsible for it, then for once in my life I will play General
Jackson, and to the just extent I take the responsibility.

I wish to say at the beginning that I will hand to the reporters that
portion of Judge Trumbull's Alton speech which was devoted to this
matter, and also that portion of Judge Douglas's speech made at
Jacksonville in answer to it. I shall thereby furnish the readers of
this debate with the complete discussion between Trumbull and
Douglas. I cannot now read them, for the reason that it would take
half of my first hour to do so. I can only make some comments upon
them. Trumbull's charge is in the following words:

"Now, the charge is, that there was a plot entered into to have a
constitution formed for Kansas, and put in force, without giving the
people an opportunity to vote upon it, and that Mr. Douglas was in
the plot."

I will state, without quoting further, for all will have an
opportunity of reading it hereafter, that Judge Trumbull brings
forward what he regards as sufficient evidence to substantiate this
charge.

It will be perceived Judge Trumbull shows that Senator Bigler, upon
the floor of the Senate, had declared there had been a conference
among the senators, in which conference it was determined to have an
enabling act passed for the people of Kansas to form a constitution
under, and in this conference it was agreed among them that it was
best not to have a provision for submitting the constitution to a
vote of the people after it should be formed. He then brings forward
to show, and showing, as he deemed, that Judge Douglas reported the
bill back to the Senate with that clause stricken out. He then shows
that there was a new clause inserted into the bill, which would in
its nature prevent a reference of the constitution back for a vote of
the people,--if, indeed, upon a mere silence in the law, it could be
assumed that they had the right to vote upon it. These are the
general statements that he has made.

I propose to examine the points in Judge Douglas's speech in which he
attempts to answer that speech of Judge Trumbull's. When you come to
examine Judge Douglas's speech, you will find that the first point he
makes is:

"Suppose it were true that there was such a change in the bill, and
that I struck it out,--is that a proof of a plot to force a
constitution upon them against their will?"

His striking out such a provision, if there was such a one in the
bill, he argues, does not establish the proof that it was stricken
out for the purpose of robbing the people of that right. I would
say, in the first place, that that would be a most manifest reason
for it. It is true, as Judge Douglas states, that many Territorial
bills have passed without having such a provision in them. I believe
it is true, though I am not certain, that in some instances
constitutions framed under such bills have been submitted to a vote
of the people with the law silent upon the subject; but it does not
appear that they once had their enabling acts framed with an express
provision for submitting the constitution to be framed to a vote of
the people, then that they were stricken out when Congress did not
mean to alter the effect of the law. That there have been bills
which never had the provision in, I do not question; but when was
that provision taken out of one that it was in? More especially does
the evidence tend to prove the proposition that Trumbull advanced,
when we remember that the provision was stricken out of the bill
almost simultaneously with the time that Bigler says there was a
conference among certain senators, and in which it was agreed that a
bill should be passed leaving that out. Judge Douglas, in answering
Trumbull, omits to attend to the testimony of Bigler, that there was
a meeting in which it was agreed they should so frame the bill that
there should be no submission of the constitution to a vote of the
people. The Judge does not notice this part of it. If you take this
as one piece of evidence, and then ascertain that simultaneously
Judge Douglas struck out a provision that did require it to be
submitted, and put the two together, I think it will make a pretty
fair show of proof that Judge Douglas did, as Trumbull says, enter
into a plot to put in force a constitution for Kansas, without giving
the people any opportunity of voting upon it.

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