The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7


iSpeech

The other way is for us to surrender and let Judge Douglas and his
friends have their way and plant slavery over all the States; cease
speaking of it as in any way a wrong; regard slavery as one of the
common matters of property, and speak of negroes as we do of our
horses and cattle. But while it drives on in its state of progress
as it is now driving, and as it has driven for the last five years, I
have ventured the opinion, and I say to-day, that we will have no end
to the slavery agitation until it takes one turn or the other. I do
not mean that when it takes a turn toward ultimate extinction it will
be in a day, nor in a year, nor in two years. I do not suppose that
in the most peaceful way ultimate extinction would occur in less than
a hundred years at least; but that it will occur in the best way for
both races, in God's own good time, I have no doubt. But, my
friends, I have used up more of my time than I intended on this
point.

Now, in regard to this matter about Trumbull and myself having made a
bargain to sell out the entire Whig and Democratic parties in 1854:
Judge Douglas brings forward no evidence to sustain his charge,
except the speech Matheny is said to have made in 1856, in which he
told a cock-and-bull story of that sort, upon the same moral
principles that Judge Douglas tells it here to-day. This is the
simple truth. I do not care greatly for the story, but this is the
truth of it: and I have twice told Judge Douglas to his face that
from beginning to end there is not one word of truth in it. I have
called upon him for the proof, and he does not at all meet me as
Trumbull met him upon that of which we were just talking, by
producing the record. He did n't bring the record because there was
no record for him to bring. When he asks if I am ready to indorse
Trumbull's veracity after he has broken a bargain with me, I reply
that if Trumbull had broken a bargain with me I would not be likely
to indorse his veracity; but I am ready to indorse his veracity
because neither in that thing, nor in any other, in all the years
that I have known Lyman Trumbull, have I known him to fail of his
word or tell a falsehood large or small. It is for that reason that
I indorse Lyman Trumbull.

[Mr. JAMES BROWN (Douglas postmaster): "What does Ford's History say
about him?"]

Some gentleman asks me what Ford's History says about him. My own
recollection is that Ford speaks of Trumbull in very disrespectful
terms in several portions of his book, and that he talks a great deal
worse of Judge Douglas. I refer you, sir, to the History for
examination.

Judge Douglas complains at considerable length about a disposition on
the part of Trumbull and myself to attack him personally. I want to
attend to that suggestion a moment. I don't want to be unjustly
accused of dealing illiberally or unfairly with an adversary, either
in court or in a political canvass or anywhere else. I would despise
myself if I supposed myself ready to deal less liberally with an
adversary than I was willing to be treated myself. Judge Douglas in
a general way, without putting it in a direct shape, revives the old
charge against me in reference to the Mexican War. He does not take
the responsibility of putting it in a very definite form, but makes a
general reference to it. That charge is more than ten years old. He
complains of Trumbull and myself because he says we bring charges
against him one or two years old. He knows, too, that in regard to
the Mexican War story the more respectable papers of his own party
throughout the State have been compelled to take it back and
acknowledge that it was a lie.

[Here Mr. LINCOLN turned to the crowd on the platform, and, selecting
HON. ORLANDO B. FICKLIN, led him forward and said:]

I do not mean to do anything with Mr. FICKLIN except to present his
face and tell you that he personal1y knows it to be a lie! He was a
member of Congress at the only time I was in Congress, and [FICKLIN] knows that whenever there was an attempt to procure a vote of mine
which would indorse the origin and justice of the war, I refused to
give such indorsement and voted against it; but I never voted against
the supplies for the army, and he knows, as well as Judge Douglas,
that whenever a dollar was asked by way of compensation or otherwise
for the benefit of the soldiers I gave all the votes that FICKLIN or
Douglas did, and perhaps more.

[Mr. FICKLIN: My friends, I wish to say this in reference to the
matter: Mr. Lincoln and myself are just as good personal friends as
Judge Douglas and myself. In reference to this Mexican War, my
recollection is that when Ashmun's resolution [amendment] was offered
by Mr. Ashmun of Massachusetts, in which he declared that the Mexican
War was unnecessary and unconstitutionally commenced by the President
-my recollection is that Mr. Lincoln voted for that resolution.]

That is the truth. Now, you all remember that was a resolution
censuring the President for the manner in which the war was begun.
You know they have charged that I voted against the supplies, by
which I starved the soldiers who were out fighting the battles of
their country. I say that FICKLIN knows it is false. When that
charge was brought forward by the Chicago Times, the Springfield
Register [Douglas's organ] reminded the Times that the charge really
applied to John Henry; and I do know that John Henry is now making
speeches and fiercely battling for Judge Douglas. If the Judge now
says that he offers this as a sort of setoff to what I said to-day in
reference to Trumbull's charge, then I remind him that he made this
charge before I said a word about Trumbull's. He brought this
forward at Ottawa, the first time we met face to face; and in the
opening speech that Judge Douglas made he attacked me in regard to a
matter ten years old. Is n't he a pretty man to be whining about
people making charges against him only two years old!

The Judge thinks it is altogether wrong that I should have dwelt upon
this charge of Trumbull's at all. I gave the apology for doing so in
my opening speech. Perhaps it did n't fix your attention. I said
that when Judge Douglas was speaking at place--where I spoke on the
succeeding day he used very harsh language about this charge. Two or
three times afterward I said I had confidence in Judge Trumbull's
veracity and intelligence; and my own opinion was, from what I knew
of the character of Judge Trumbull, that he would vindicate his
position and prove whatever he had stated to be true. This I
repeated two or three times; and then I dropped it, without saying
anything more on the subject for weeks--perhaps a month. I passed it
by without noticing it at all till I found, at Jacksonville, Judge
Douglas in the plenitude of his power is not willing to answer
Trumbull and let me alone, but he comes out there and uses this
language: "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." What was Lincoln to do? Did he not
do right, when he had the fit opportunity of meeting Judge Douglas
here, to tell him he was ready for the responsibility? I ask a
candid audience whether in doing thus Judge Douglas was not the
assailant rather than I? Here I meet him face to face, and say I am
ready to take the responsibility, so far as it rests on me.

Having done so I ask the attention of this audience to the question
whether I have succeeded in sustaining the charge, and whether Judge
Douglas has at all succeeded in rebutting it? You all heard me call
upon him to say which of these pieces of evidence was a forgery.
Does he say that what I present here as a copy of the original Toombs
bill is a forgery? Does he say that what I present as a copy of the
bill reported by himself is a forgery, or what is presented as a
transcript from the Globe of the quotations from Bigler's speech is a
forgery? Does he say the quotations from his own speech are
forgeries? Does he say this transcript from Trumbull's speech is a
forgery?

["He didn't deny one of them."]

I would then like to know how it comes about that when each piece of
a story is true the whole story turns out false. I take it these
people have some sense; they see plainly that Judge Douglas is
playing cuttle-fish, a small species of fish that has no mode of
defending itself when pursued except by throwing out a black fluid,
which makes the water so dark the enemy cannot see it, and thus it
escapes. Ain't the Judge playing the cuttle-fish?

Now, I would ask very special attention to the consideration of Judge
Douglas's speech at Jacksonville; and when you shall read his speech
of to-day, I ask you to watch closely and see which of these pieces
of testimony, every one of which he says is a forgery, he has shown
to be such. Not one of them has he shown to be a forgery. Then I
ask the original question, if each of the pieces of testimony is
true, how is it possible that the whole is a falsehood?

In regard to Trumbull's charge that he Douglas] inserted a provision
into the bill to prevent the constitution being submitted to the
people, what was his answer? He comes here and reads from the
Congressional Globe to show that on his motion that provision was
struck out of the bill. Why, Trumbull has not said it was not
stricken out, but Trumbull says he [Douglas] put it in; and it is no
answer to the charge to say he afterwards took it out. Both are
perhaps true. It was in regard to that thing precisely that I told
him he had dropped the cub. Trumbull shows you that by his
introducing the bill it was his cub. It is no answer to that
assertion to call Trumbull a liar merely because he did not specially
say that Douglas struck it out. Suppose that were the case, does it
answer Trumbull? I assert that you [pointing to an individual] are
here to-day, and you undertake to prove me a liar by showing that you
were in Mattoon yesterday. I say that you took your hat off your
head, and you prove me a liar by putting it on your head. That is
the whole force of Douglas's argument.

Now, I want to come back to my original question. Trumbull says that
Judge Douglas had a bill with a provision in it for submitting a
constitution to be made to a vote of the people of Kansas. Does
Judge Douglas deny that fact? Does be deny that the provision which
Trumbull reads was put in that bill? Then Trumbull says he struck it
out. Does he dare to deny that? He does not, and I have the right
to repeat the question ,--Why Judge Douglas took it out? Bigler has
said there was a combination of certain senators, among whom he did
not include Judge Douglas, by which it was agreed that the Kansas
Bill should have a clause in it not to have the constitution formed
under it submitted to a vote of the people. He did not say that
Douglas was among them, but we prove by another source that about the
same time Douglas comes into the Senate with that provision stricken
out of the bill. Although Bigler cannot say they were all working in
concert, yet it looks very much as if the thing was agreed upon and
done with a mutual understanding after the conference; and while we
do not know that it was absolutely so, yet it looks so probable that
we have a right to call upon the man who knows the true reason why it
was done to tell what the true reason was. When he will not tell
what the true reason was, he stands in the attitude of an accused
thief who has stolen goods in his possession, and when called to
account refuses to tell where he got them. Not only is this the
evidence, but when he comes in with the bill having the provision
stricken out, he tells us in a speech, not then but since, that these
alterations and modifications in the bill had been made by HIM, in
consultation with Toombs, the originator of the bill. He tells us
the same to-day. He says there were certain modifications made in
the bill in committee that he did not vote for. I ask you to
remember, while certain amendments were made which he disapproved of,
but which a majority of the committee voted in, he has himself told
us that in this particular the alterations and modifications were
made by him, upon consultation with Toombs. We have his own word
that these alterations were made by him, and not by the committee.
Now, I ask, what is the reason Judge Douglas is so chary about coming
to the exact question? What is the reason he will not tell you
anything about How it was made, BY WHOM it was made, or that he
remembers it being made at all? Why does he stand playing upon the
meaning of words and quibbling around the edges of the evidence? If
he can explain all this, but leaves it unexplained, I have the right
to infer that Judge Douglas understood it was the purpose of his
party, in engineering that bill through, to make a constitution, and
have Kansas come into the Union with that constitution, without its
being submitted to a vote of the people. If he will explain his
action on this question, by giving a better reason for the facts that
happened than he has done, it will be satisfactory. But until he
does that--until he gives a better or more plausible reason than he
has offered against the evidence in the case--I suggest to him it
will not avail him at all that he swells himself up, takes on
dignity, and calls people liars. Why, sir, there is not a word in
Trumbull's speech that depends on Trumbull's veracity at all. He has
only arrayed the evidence and told you what follows as a matter of
reasoning. There is not a statement in the whole speech that depends
on Trumbull's word. If you have ever studied geometry, you remember
that by a course of reasoning Euclid proves that all the angles in a
triangle are equal to two right angles. Euclid has shown you how to
work it out. Now, if you undertake to disprove that proposition, and
to show that it is erroneous, would you prove it to be false by
calling Euclid a liar? They tell me that my time is out, and
therefore I close.

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