The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7


iSpeech

Then Trumbull follows on:

"In speaking of this meeting again on the 21st December, 1857
[Congressional Globe, same vol., page 113], Senator Bigler said:

"'Nothing was further from my mind than to allude to any social or
confidential interview. The meeting was not of that character.
Indeed, it was semi-official, and called to promote the public good.
My recollection was clear that I left the conference under the
impression that it had been deemed best to adopt measures to admit
Kansas as a State through the agency of one popular election, and
that for delegates to this Convention. This impression was stronger
because I thought the spirit of the bill infringed upon the doctrine
of non-intervention, to which I had great aversion; but with the hope
of accomplishing a great good, and as no movement had been made in
that direction in the Territory, I waived this objection, and
concluded to support the measure. I have a few items of testimony as
to the correctness of these impressions, and with their submission I
shall be content. I have before me the bill reported by the senator
from Illinois on the 7th of March, 1856, providing for the admission
of Kansas as a State, the third section of which reads as follows:

"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."

The bill read in his place by the senator from Georgia on the 25th of
June, and referred to the Committee on Territories, contained the
same section word for word. Both these bills were under
consideration at the conference referred to; but, sir, when the
senator from Illinois reported the Toombs bill to the Senate with
amendments, the next morning, it did not contain that portion of the
third section which indicated to the Convention that the constitution
should be approved by the people. The words "and ratified by the
people at the election for the adoption of the constitution" had been
stricken out.'"

Now, these things Trumbull says were stated by Bigler upon the floor
of the Senate on certain days, and that they are recorded in the
Congressional Globe on certain pages. Does Judge Douglas say this is
a forgery? Does he say there is no such thing in the Congressional
Globe? What does he mean when he says Judge Trumbull forges his
evidence from beginning to end? So again he says in another place
that Judge Douglas, in his speech, December 9, 1857 (Congressional
Globe, part I., page 15), stated:

"That during the last session of Congress, I (Mr. Douglas] reported a
bill from the Committee on Territories, to authorize the people of
Kansas to assemble and form a constitution for themselves.
Subsequently the senator from Georgia [Mr. Toombs] brought forward a
substitute for my bill, which, after having been modified by him and
myself in consultation, was passed by the Senate."

Now, Trumbull says this is a quotation from a speech of Douglas, and
is recorded in the Congressional Globe. Is it a forgery? Is it
there or not? It may not be there, but I want the Judge to take
these pieces of evidence, and distinctly say they are forgeries if he
dare do it.

[A voice:"He will."]

Well, sir, you had better not commit him. He gives other
quotations,--another from Judge Douglas. He says:

"I will ask the senator to show me an intimation, from any one member
of the Senate, in the whole debate on the Toombs bill, and in the
Union, from any quarter, that the constitution was not to be
submitted to the people. I will venture to say that on all sides of
the chamber it was so understood at the time. If the opponents of
the bill had understood it was not, they would have made the point on
it; and if they had made it, we should certainly have yielded to it,
and put in the clause. That is a discovery made since the President
found out that it was not safe to take it for granted that that would
be done, which ought in fairness to have been done."

Judge Trumbull says Douglas made that speech, and it is recorded.
Does Judge Douglas say it is a forgery, and was not true? Trumbull
says somewhere, and I propose to skip it, but it will be found by any
one who will read this debate, that he did distinctly bring it to the
notice of those who were engineering the bill, that it lacked that
provision; and then he goes on to give another quotation from Judge
Douglas, where Judge Trumbull uses this language:

"Judge Douglas, however, on the same day and in the same debate,
probably recollecting or being reminded of the fact that I had
objected to the Toombs bill when pending that it did not provide for
a submission of the constitution to the people, made another
statement, which is to be found in the same volume of the Globe, page
22, in which he says:
'That the bill was silent on this subject was true, and my attention
was called to that about the time it was passed; and I took the fair
construction to be, that powers not delegated were reserved, and that
of course the constitution would be submitted to the people.'

"Whether this statement is consistent with the statement just before
made, that had the point been made it would have been yielded to, or
that it was a new discovery, you will determine."

So I say. I do not know whether Judge Douglas will dispute this, and
yet maintain his position that Trumbull's evidence "was forged from
beginning to end." I will remark that I have not got these
Congressional Globes with me. They are large books, and difficult to
carry about, and if Judge Douglas shall say that on these points
where Trumbull has quoted from them there are no such passages there,
I shall not be able to prove they are there upon this occasion, but I
will have another chance. Whenever he points out the forgery and
says, "I declare that this particular thing which Trumbull has
uttered is not to be found where he says it is," then my attention
will be drawn to that, and I will arm myself for the contest, stating
now that I have not the slightest doubt on earth that I will find
every quotation just where Trumbull says it is. Then the question
is, How can Douglas call that a forgery? How can he make out that it
is a forgery? What is a forgery? It is the bringing forward
something in writing or in print purporting to be of certain effect
when it is altogether untrue. If you come forward with my note for
one hundred dollars when I have never given such a note, there is a
forgery. If you come forward with a letter purporting to be written
by me which I never wrote, there is another forgery. If you produce
anything in writing or in print saying it is so and so, the document
not being genuine, a forgery has been committed. How do you make
this forgery when every piece of the evidence is genuine? If Judge
Douglas does say these documents and quotations are false and forged,
he has a full right to do so; but until he does it specifically, we
don't know how to get at him. If he does say they are false and
forged, I will then look further into it, and presume I can procure
the certificates of the proper officers that they are genuine copies.
I have no doubt each of these extracts will be found exactly where
Trumbull says it is. Then I leave it to you if Judge Douglas, in
making his sweeping charge that Judge Trumbull's evidence is forged
from beginning to end, at all meets the case,--if that is the way to
get at the facts. I repeat again, if he will point out which one is
a forgery, I will carefully examine it, and if it proves that any one
of them is really a forgery, it will not be me who will hold to it
any longer. I have always wanted to deal with everyone I meet
candidly and honestly. If I have made any assertion not warranted by
facts, and it is pointed out to me, I will withdraw it cheerfully.
But I do not choose to see Judge Trumbull calumniated, and the
evidence he has brought forward branded in general terms "a forgery
from beginning to end." This is not the legal way of meeting a
charge, and I submit it to all intelligent persons, both friends of
Judge Douglas and of myself, whether it is.

The point upon Judge Douglas is this: The bill that went into his
hands had the provision in it for a submission of the constitution to
the people; and I say its language amounts to an express provision
for a submission, and that he took the provision out. He says it was
known that the bill was silent in this particular; but I say, Judge
Douglas, it was not silent when you got it. It was vocal with the
declaration, when you got it, for a submission of the constitution to
the people. And now, my direct question to Judge Douglas is, to
answer why, if he deemed the bill silent on this point, he found it
necessary to strike out those particular harmless words. If he had
found the bill silent and without this provision, he might say what
he does now. If he supposes it was implied that the constitution
would be submitted to a vote of the people, how could these two lines
so encumber the statute as to make it necessary to strike them out?
How could he infer that a submission was still implied, after its
express provision had been stricken from the bill? I find the bill
vocal with the provision, while he silenced it. He took it out, and
although he took out the other provision preventing a submission to a
vote of the people, I ask, Why did you first put it in? I ask him
whether he took the original provision out, which Trumbull alleges
was in the bill. If he admits that he did take it, I ask him what he
did it for. It looks to us as if he had altered the bill. If it
looks differently to him,--if he has a different reason for his
action from the one we assign him--he can tell it. I insist upon
knowing why he made the bill silent upon that point when it was vocal
before he put his hands upon it.

I was told, before my last paragraph, that my time was within three
minutes of being out. I presume it is expired now; I therefore
close.

Mr. LINCOLN'S REJOINDER.

FELLOW-CITIZENS: It follows as a matter of course that a half-hour
answer to a speech of an hour and a half can be but a very hurried
one. I shall only be able to touch upon a few of the points
suggested by Judge Douglas, and give them a brief attention, while I
shall have to totally omit others for the want of time.

Judge Douglas has said to you that he has not been able to get from
me an answer to the question whether I am in favor of negro
citizenship. So far as I know the Judge never asked me the question
before. He shall have no occasion to ever ask it again, for I tell
him very frankly that I am not in favor of negro citizenship. This
furnishes me an occasion for saying a few words upon the subject. I
mentioned in a certain speech of mine, which has been printed, that
the Supreme Court had decided that a negro could not possibly be made
a citizen; and without saying what was my ground of complaint in
regard to that, or whether I had any ground of complaint, Judge
Douglas has from that thing manufactured nearly everything that he
ever says about my disposition to produce an equality between the
negroes and the white people. If any one will read my speech, he
will find I mentioned that as one of the points decided in the course
of the Supreme Court opinions, but I did not state what objection I
had to it. But Judge Douglas tells the people what my objection was
when I did not tell them myself. Now, my opinion is that the
different States have the power to make a negro a citizen under the
Constitution of the United States if they choose. The Dred Scott
decision decides that they have not that power. If the State of
Illinois had that power, I should be opposed to the exercise of it.
That is all I have to say about it.

Judge Douglas has told me that he heard my speeches north and my
speeches south; that he had heard me at Ottawa and at Freeport in the
north and recently at Jonesboro in the south, and there was a very
different cast of sentiment in the speeches made at the different
points. I will not charge upon Judge Douglas that he wilfully
misrepresents me, but I call upon every fair-minded man to take these
speeches and read them, and I dare him to point out any difference
between my speeches north and south. While I am here perhaps I ought
to say a word, if I have the time, in regard to the latter portion of
the Judge's speech, which was a sort of declamation in reference to
my having said I entertained the belief that this government would
not endure half slave and half free. I have said so, and I did not
say it without what seemed to me to be good reasons. It perhaps
would require more time than I have now to set forth these reasons in
detail; but let me ask you a few questions. Have we ever had any
peace on this slavery question? When are we to have peace upon it,
if it is kept in the position it now occupies? How are we ever to
have peace upon it? That is an important question. To be sure, if
we will all stop, and allow Judge Douglas and his friends to march on
in their present career until they plant the institution all over the
nation, here and wherever else our flag waves, and we acquiesce in
it, there will be peace. But let me ask Judge Douglas how he is
going to get the people to do that? They have been wrangling over
this question for at least forty years. This was the cause of the
agitation resulting in the Missouri Compromise; this produced the
troubles at the annexation of Texas, in the acquisition of the
territory acquired in the Mexican War. Again, this was the trouble
which was quieted by the Compromise of 1850, when it was settled
"forever " as both the great political parties declared in their
National Conventions. That "forever" turned out to be just four
years, when Judge Douglas himself reopened it. When is it likely to
come to an end? He introduced the Nebraska Bill in 1854 to put
another end to the slavery agitation. He promised that it would
finish it all up immediately, and he has never made a speech since,
until he got into a quarrel with the President about the Lecompton
Constitution, in which he has not declared that we are just at the
end of the slavery agitation. But in one speech, I think last
winter, he did say that he did n't quite see when the end of the
slavery agitation would come. Now he tells us again that it is all
over and the people of Kansas have voted down the Lecompton
Constitution. How is it over? That was only one of the attempts at
putting an end to the slavery agitation--one of these "final
settlements." Is Kansas in the Union? Has she formed a constitution
that she is likely to come in under? Is not the slavery agitation
still an open question in that Territory? Has the voting down of
that constitution put an end to all the trouble? Is that more likely
to settle it than every one of these previous attempts to settle the
slavery agitation? Now, at this day in the history of the world we
can no more foretell where the end of this slavery agitation will be
than we can see the end of the world itself. The Nebraska-Kansas
Bill was introduced four years and a half ago, and if the agitation
is ever to come to an end we may say we are four years and a half
nearer the end. So, too, we can say we are four years and a half
nearer the end of the world, and we can just as clearly see the end
of the world as we can see the end of this agitation. The Kansas
settlement did not conclude it. If Kansas should sink to-day, and
leave a great vacant space in the earth's surface, this vexed
question would still be among us. I say, then, there is no way of
putting an end to the slavery agitation amongst us but to put it back
upon the basis where our fathers placed it; no way but to keep it out
of our new Territories,--to restrict it forever to the old States
where it now exists. Then the public mind will rest in the belief
that it is in the course of ultimate extinction. That is one way of
putting an end to the slavery agitation.

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