The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7


iSpeech

But I must hurry on. The next proposition that Judge Douglas puts is
this:

"But upon examination it turns out that the Toombs bill never did
contain a clause requiring the constitution to be submitted."

This is a mere question of fact, and can be determined by evidence.
I only want to ask this question: Why did not Judge Douglas say that
these words were not stricken out of the Toomb's bill, or this bill
from which it is alleged the provision was stricken out,--a bill
which goes by the name of Toomb's, because he originally brought it
forward? I ask why, if the Judge wanted to make a direct issue with
Trumbull, did he not take the exact proposition Trumbull made in his
speech, and say it was not stricken out? Trumbull has given the
exact words that he says were in the Toomb's bill, and he alleges
that when the bill came back, they were stricken out. Judge Douglas
does not say that the words which Trumbull says were stricken out
were not so stricken out, but he says there was no provision in the
Toomb's bill to submit the constitution to a vote of the people. We
see at once that he is merely making an issue upon the meaning of the
words. He has not undertaken to say that Trumbull tells a lie about
these words being stricken out, but he is really, when pushed up to
it, only taking an issue upon the meaning of the words. Now, then,
if there be any issue upon the meaning of the words, or if there be
upon the question of fact as to whether these words were stricken
out, I have before me what I suppose to be a genuine copy of the
Toomb's bill, in which it can be shown that the words Trumbull says
were in it were, in fact, originally there. If there be any dispute
upon the fact, I have got the documents here to show they were there.
If there be any controversy upon the sense of the words,--whether
these words which were stricken out really constituted a provision
for submitting the matter to a vote of the people,--as that is a
matter of argument, I think I may as well use Trumbull's own
argument. He says that the proposition is in these words:

"That the following propositions be and the same are hereby offered
to the said Convention of the people of Kansas when formed, for their
free acceptance or rejection; which, if accepted by the Convention
and ratified by the people at the election for the adoption of the
constitution, shall be obligatory upon the United States and the said
State of Kansas."

Now, Trumbull alleges that these last words were stricken out of the
bill when it came back, and he says this was a provision for
submitting the constitution to a vote of the people; and his argument
is this:

"Would it have been possible to ratify the land propositions at the
election for the adoption of the constitution, unless such an
election was to be held?"

This is Trumbull's argument. Now, Judge Douglas does not meet the
charge at all, but he stands up and says there was no such
proposition in that bill for submitting the constitution to be framed
to a vote of the people. Trumbull admits that the language is not a
direct provision for submitting it, but it is a provision necessarily
implied from another provision. He asks you how it is possible to
ratify the land proposition at the election for the adoption of the
constitution, if there was no election to be held for the adoption of
the constitution. And he goes on to show that it is not any less a
law because the provision is put in that indirect shape than it would
be if it were put directly. But I presume I have said enough to draw
attention to this point, and I pass it by also.

Another one of the points that Judge Douglas makes upon Trumbull, and
at very great length, is, that Trumbull, while the bill was pending,
said in a speech in the Senate that he supposed the constitution to
be made would have to be submitted to the people. He asks, if
Trumbull thought so then, what ground is there for anybody thinking
otherwise now? Fellow-citizens, this much may be said in reply: That
bill had been in the hands of a party to which Trumbull did not
belong. It had been in the hands of the committee at the head of
which Judge Douglas stood. Trumbull perhaps had a printed copy of
the original Toomb's bill. I have not the evidence on that point
except a sort of inference I draw from the general course of business
there. What alterations, or what provisions in the way of altering,
were going on in committee, Trumbull had no means of knowing, until
the altered bill was reported back. Soon afterwards, when it was
reported back, there was a discussion over it, and perhaps Trumbull
in reading it hastily in the altered form did not perceive all the
bearings of the alterations. He was hastily borne into the debate,
and it does not follow that because there was something in it
Trumbull did not perceive, that something did not exist. More than
this, is it true that what Trumbull did can have any effect on what
Douglas did? Suppose Trumbull had been in the plot with these other
men, would that let Douglas out of it? Would it exonerate Douglas
that Trumbull did n't then perceive he was in the plot? He also asks
the question: Why did n't Trumbull propose to amend the bill, if he
thought it needed any amendment? Why, I believe that everything
Judge Trumbull had proposed, particularly in connection with this
question of Kansas and Nebraska, since he had been on the floor of
the Senate, had been promptly voted down by Judge Douglas and his
friends. He had no promise that an amendment offered by him to
anything on this subject would receive the slightest consideration.
Judge Trumbull did bring to the notice of the Senate at that time the
fact that there was no provision for submitting the constitution
about to be made for the people of Kansas to a vote of the people. I
believe I may venture to say that Judge Douglas made some reply to
this speech of Judge Trumbull's, but he never noticed that part of it
at all. And so the thing passed by. I think, then, the fact that
Judge Trumbull offered no amendment does not throw much blame upon
him; and if it did, it does not reach the question of fact as to what
Judge Douglas was doing. I repeat, that if Trumbull had himself been
in the plot, it would not at all relieve the others who were in it
from blame. If I should be indicted for murder, and upon the trial
it should be discovered that I had been implicated in that murder,
but that the prosecuting witness was guilty too, that would not at
all touch the question of my crime. It would be no relief to my neck
that they discovered this other man who charged the crime upon me to
be guilty too.

Another one of the points Judge Douglas makes upon Judge Trumbull is,
that when he spoke in Chicago he made his charge to rest upon the
fact that the bill had the provision in it for submitting the
constitution to a vote of the people when it went into his Judge
Douglas's) hands, that it was missing when he reported it to the
Senate, and that in a public speech he had subsequently said the
alterations in the bill were made while it was in committee, and that
they were made in consultation between him (Judge Douglas) and
Toomb's. And Judge Douglas goes on to comment upon the fact of
Trumbull's adducing in his Alton speech the proposition that the bill
not only came back with that proposition stricken out, but with
another clause and another provision in it, saying that "until the
complete execution of this Act there shall be no election in said
Territory,"--which, Trumbull argued, was not only taking the
provision for submitting to a vote of the people out of the bill, but
was adding an affirmative one, in that it prevented the people from
exercising the right under a bill that was merely silent on the
question. Now, in regard to what he says, that Trumbull shifts the
issue, that he shifts his ground,--and I believe he uses the term
that, "it being proven false, he has changed ground," I call upon all
of you, when you come to examine that portion of Trumbull's speech
(for it will make a part of mine), to examine whether Trumbull has
shifted his ground or not. I say he did not shift his ground, but
that he brought forward his original charge and the evidence to
sustain it yet more fully,
but precisely as he originally made it. Then, in addition thereto,
he brought in a new piece of evidence. He shifted no ground. He
brought no new piece of evidence inconsistent with his former
testimony; but he brought a new piece, tending, as he thought, and as
I think, to prove his proposition. To illustrate: A man brings an
accusation against another, and on trial the man making the charge
introduces A and B to prove the accusation. At a second trial he
introduces the same witnesses, who tell the same story as before, and
a third witness, who tells the same thing, and in addition gives
further testimony corroborative of the charge. So with Trumbull.
There was no shifting of ground, nor inconsistency of testimony
between the new piece of evidence and what he originally introduced.

But Judge Douglas says that he himself moved to strike out that last
provision of the bill, and that on his motion it was stricken out and
a substitute inserted. That I presume is the truth. I presume it is
true that that last proposition was stricken out by Judge Douglas.
Trumbull has not said it was not; Trumbull has himself said that it
was so stricken out. He says: "I am now speaking of the bill as
Judge Douglas reported it back. It was amended somewhat in the
Senate before it passed, but I am speaking of it as he brought it
back." Now, when Judge Douglas parades the fact that the provision
was stricken out of the bill when it came back, he asserts nothing
contrary to what Trumbull alleges. Trumbull has only said that he
originally put it in, not that he did not strike it out. Trumbull
says it was not in the bill when it went to the committee. When it
came back it was in, and Judge Douglas said the alterations were made
by him in consultation with Toomb's. Trumbull alleges, therefore, as
his conclusion, that Judge Douglas put it in. Then, if Douglas wants
to contradict Trumbull and call him a liar, let him say he did not
put it in, and not that he did n't take it out again. It is said
that a bear is sometimes hard enough pushed to drop a cub; and so I
presume it was in this case. I presume the truth is that Douglas put
it in, and afterward took it out. That, I take it, is the truth
about it. Judge Trumbull says one thing, Douglas says another thing,
and the two don't contradict one another at all. The question is,
what did he put it in for? In the first place, what did he take the
other provision out of the bill for,--the provision which Trumbull
argued was necessary for submitting the constitution to a vote of the
people? What did he take that out for; and, having taken it out,
what did he put this in for? I say that in the run of things it is
not unlikely forces conspire to render it vastly expedient for Judge
Douglas to take that latter clause out again. The question that
Trumbull has made is that Judge Douglas put it in; and he don't meet
Trumbull at all unless he denies that.

In the clause of Judge Douglas's speech upon this subject he uses
this language toward Judge Trumbull. He says:

"He forges his evidence from beginning to end; and by falsifying the
record, he endeavors to bolster up his false charge."

Well, that is a pretty serious statement--Trumbull forges his
evidence from beginning to end. Now, upon my own authority I say
that it is not true. What is a forgery? Consider the evidence that
Trumbull has brought forward. When you come to read the speech, as
you will be able to, examine whether the evidence is a forgery from
beginning to end. He had the bill or document in his hand like that
[holding up a paper]. He says that is a copy of the Toomb's bill,--
the amendment offered by Toomb's. He says that is a copy of the bill
as it was introduced and went into Judge Douglas's hands. Now, does
Judge Douglas say that is a forgery? That is one thing Trumbull
brought forward. Judge Douglas says he forged it from beginning to
end! That is the "beginning," we will say. Does Douglas say that is
a forgery? Let him say it to-day, and we will have a subsequent
examination upon this subject. Trumbull then holds up another
document like this, and says that is an exact copy of the bill as it
came back in the amended form out of Judge Douglas's hands. Does
Judge Douglas say that is a forgery? Does he say it in his general
sweeping charge? Does he say so now? If he does not, then take this
Toomb's bill and the bill in the amended form, and it only needs to
compare them to see that the provision is in the one and not in the
other; it leaves the inference inevitable that it was taken out.

But, while I am dealing with this question, let us see what
Trumbull's other evidence is. One other piece of evidence I will
read. Trumbull says there are in this original Toomb's bill these
words:

"That the following propositions be and the same are hereby offered
to the said Convention of the people of Kansas, when formed, for
their free acceptance or rejection; which, if accepted by the
Convention and ratified by the people at the election for the
adoption of the constitution, shall be obligatory upon the United
States and the said State of Kansas."

Now, if it is said that this is a forgery, we will open the paper
here and see whether it is or not. Again, Trumbull says, as he goes
along, that Mr. Bigler made the following statement in his place in
the Senate, December 9, 1857:

"I was present when that subject was discussed by senators before the
bill was introduced, and the question was raised and discussed,
whether the constitution, when formed, should be submitted to a vote
of the people. It was held by those most intelligent on the subject
that, in view of all the difficulties surrounding that Territory, the
danger of any experiment at that time of a popular vote, it would be
better there should be no such provision in the Toomb's bill; and it
was my understanding, in all the intercourse I had, that the
Convention would make a constitution, and send it here, without
submitting it to the popular vote."

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