The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7


iSpeech

At Jonesboro, on our third meeting, I insisted to the Judge that I
was in no way rightfully held responsible for the proceedings of this
local meeting or convention, in which I had taken no part, and in
which I was in no way embraced; but I insisted to him that if he
thought I was responsible for every man or every set of men
everywhere, who happen to be my friends, the rule ought to work both
ways, and he ought to be responsible for the acts and resolutions of
all men or sets of men who were or are now his supporters and
friends, and gave him a pretty long string of resolutions, passed by
men who are now his friends, and announcing doctrines for which he
does not desire to be held responsible.

This still does not satisfy Judge Douglas. He still adheres to his
proposition, that I am responsible for what some of my friends in
different parts of the State have done, but that he is not
responsible for what his have done. At least, so I understand him.
But in addition to that, the Judge, at our meeting in Galesburgh,
last week, undertakes to establish that I am guilty of a species of
double dealing with the public; that I make speeches of a certain
sort in the north, among the Abolitionists, which I would not make in
the south, and that I make speeches of a certain sort in the south
which I would not make in the north. I apprehend, in the course I
have marked out for myself, that I shall not have to dwell at very
great length upon this subject.

As this was done in the Judge's opening speech at Galesburgh, I had
an opportunity, as I had the middle speech then, of saying something
in answer to it. He brought forward a quotation or two from a speech
of mine delivered at Chicago, and then, to contrast with it, he
brought forward an extract from a speech of mine at Charleston, in
which he insisted that I was greatly inconsistent, and insisted that
his conclusion followed, that I was playing a double part, and
speaking in one region one way, and in another region another way. I
have not time now to dwell on this as long as I would like, and wish
only now to requote that portion of my speech at Charleston which the
Judge quoted, and then make some comments upon it. This he quotes
from me as being delivered at Charleston, and I believe correctly:

"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 will forever forbid the two races living
together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as
they cannot so live while they do remain together, there must be the
position of superior and inferior. I am as much as any other man in
favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race."

This, I believe, is the entire quotation from Charleston speech, as
Judge Douglas made it his comments are as follows:

"Yes, here you find men who hurrah for Lincoln, and say he is right
when he discards all distinction between races, or when he declares
that he discards the doctrine that there is such a thing as a
superior and inferior race; and Abolitionists are required and
expected to vote for Mr. Lincoln because he goes for the equality of
races, holding that in the Declaration of Independence the white man
and negro were declared equal, and endowed by divine law with
equality. And down South, with the old-line Whigs, with the
Kentuckians, the Virginians and the Tennesseeans, he tells you that
there is a physical difference between the races, making the one
superior, the other inferior, and he is in favor of maintaining the
superiority of the white race over the negro."

Those are the Judges comments. Now, I wish to show you that a month,
or only lacking three days of a month, before I made the speech at
Charleston, which the Judge quotes from, he had himself heard me say
substantially the same thing It was in our first meeting, at Ottawa-
-and I will say a word about where it was, and the atmosphere it was
in, after a while--but at our first meeting, at Ottawa, I read an
extract from an old speech of mine, made nearly four years ago, not
merely to show my sentiments, but to show that my sentiments were
long entertained and openly expressed; in which extract I expressly
declared that my own feelings would not admit a social and political
equality between the white and black races, and that even if my own
feelings would admit of it, I still knew that the public sentiment of
the country would not, and that such a thing was an utter
impossibility, or substantially that. That extract from my old
speech the reporters by some sort of accident passed over, and it was
not reported. I lay no blame upon anybody. I suppose they thought
that I would hand it over to them, and dropped reporting while I was
giving it, but afterward went away without getting it from me. At
the end of that quotation from my old speech, which I read at Ottawa,
I made the comments which were reported at that time, and which I
will now read, and ask you to notice how very nearly they are the
same as Judge Douglas says were delivered by me down in Egypt. After
reading, I added these words:

"Now, gentlemen, I don't want to read at any great length; but this
is the true complexion of all I have ever said in regard to the
institution of slavery or the black race, and this is the whole of
it: anything that argues me into his idea of perfect social and
political equality with the negro, is but a specious and fantastical
arrangement of words by which a man can prove a horse-chestnut to be
a chestnut horse. I will say here, while upon this subject, that I
have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the
institution in the States where it exists. I believe I have no right
to do so. I have no inclination to do so. I have no purpose to
introduce political and social equality between the white and black
races. There is a physical difference between the two which, in my
judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together on the
footing of perfect equality; and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity
that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in
favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position. I
have never said anything to the contrary, but I hold that,
notwithstanding all this, there is no reason in the world why the
negro is not entitled to all the rights enumerated in the Declaration
of Independence,--the right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness. I hold that he is as much entitled to these as the white
man. I agree with Judge Douglas that he is not my equal in many
respects, certainly not in color, perhaps not in intellectual and
moral endowments; but in the right to eat the bread, without the
leave of anybody else, which his own hand earns, he is my equal and
the equal of Judge Douglas, and the equal of every other man."

I have chiefly introduced this for the purpose of meeting the Judge's
charge that the quotation he took from my Charleston speech was what
I would say down South among the Kentuckians, the Virginians, etc.,
but would not say in the regions in which was supposed to be more of
the Abolition element. I now make this comment: That speech from
which I have now read the quotation, and which is there given
correctly--perhaps too much so for good taste--was made away up North
in the Abolition District of this State par excellence, in the
Lovejoy District, in the personal presence of Lovejoy, for he was on
the stand with us when I made it. It had been made and put in print
in that region only three days less than a month before the speech
made at Charleston, the like of which Judge Douglas thinks I would
not make where there was any Abolition element. I only refer to this
matter to say that I am altogether unconscious of having attempted
any double-dealing anywhere; that upon one occasion I may say one
thing, and leave other things unsaid, and vice versa, but that I have
said anything on one occasion that is inconsistent with what I have
said elsewhere, I deny, at least I deny it so far as the intention is
concerned. I find that I have devoted to this topic a larger portion
of my time than I had intended. I wished to show, but I will pass it
upon this occasion, that in the sentiment I have occasionally
advanced upon the Declaration of Independence I am entirely borne out
by the sentiments advanced by our old Whig leader, Henry Clay, and I
have the book here to show it from but because I have already
occupied more time than I intended to do on that topic, I pass over
it.

At Galesburgh, I tried to show that by the Dred Scott decision,
pushed to its legitimate consequences, slavery would be established
in all the States as well as in the Territories. I did this because,
upon a former occasion, I had asked Judge Douglas whether, if the
Supreme Court should make a decision declaring that the States had
not the power to exclude slavery from their limits, he would adopt
and follow that decision as a rule of political action; and because
he had not directly answered that question, but had merely contented
himself with sneering at it, I again introduced it, and tried to show
that the conclusion that I stated followed inevitably and logically
from the proposition already decided by the court. Judge Douglas had
the privilege of replying to me at Galesburgh, and again he gave me
no direct answer as to whether he would or would not sustain such a
decision if made. I give him his third chance to say yes or no. He
is not obliged to do either, probably he will not do either; but I
give him the third chance. I tried to show then that this result,
this conclusion, inevitably followed from the point already decided
by the court. The Judge, in his reply, again sneers at the thought
of the court making any such decision, and in the course of his
remarks upon this subject uses the language which I will now read.
Speaking of me, the Judge says:

"He goes on and insists that the Dred Scott decision would carry
slavery into the free States, notwithstanding the decision itself
says the contrary." And he adds:

"Mr. Lincoln knows that there is no member of the Supreme Court that
holds that doctrine. He knows that every one of them in their
opinions held the reverse.

I especially introduce this subject again for the purpose of saying
that I have the Dred Scott decision here, and I will thank Judge
Douglas to lay his finger upon the place in the entire opinions of
the court where any one of them "says the contrary." It is very hard
to affirm a negative with entire confidence. I say, however, that I
have examined that decision with a good deal of care, as a lawyer
examines a decision and, so far as I have been able to do so, the
court has nowhere in its opinions said that the States have the power
to exclude slavery, nor have they used other language substantially
that, I also say, so far as I can find, not one of the concurring
judges has said that the States can exclude slavery, nor said
anything that was substantially that. The nearest approach that any
one of them has made to it, so far as I can find, was by Judge
Nelson, and the approach he made to it was exactly, in substance, the
Nebraska Bill,--that the States had the exclusive power over the
question of slavery, so far as they are not limited by the
Constitution of the United States. I asked the question, therefore,
if the non-concurring judges, McLean or Curtis, had asked to get an
express declaration that the States could absolutely exclude slavery
from their limits, what reason have we to believe that it would not
have been voted down by the majority of the judges, just as Chase's
amendment was voted down by Judge Douglas and his compeers when it
was offered to the Nebraska Bill.

Also, at Galesburgh, I said something in regard to those Springfield
resolutions that Judge Douglas had attempted to use upon me at
Ottawa, and commented at some length upon the fact that they were, as
presented, not genuine. Judge Douglas in his reply to me seemed to
be somewhat exasperated. He said he would never have believed that
Abraham Lincoln, as he kindly called me, would have attempted such a
thing as I had attempted upon that occasion; and among other
expressions which he used toward me, was that I dared to say forgery,
that I had dared to say forgery [turning to Judge Douglas]. Yes,
Judge, I did dare to say forgery. But in this political canvass the
Judge ought to remember that I was not the first who dared to say
forgery. At Jacksonville, Judge Douglas made a speech in answer to
something said by Judge Trumbull, and at the close of what he said
upon that subject, he dared to say that Trumbull had forged his
evidence. He said, too, that he should not concern himself with
Trumbull any more, but thereafter he should hold Lincoln responsible
for the slanders upon him. When I met him at Charleston after that,
although I think that I should not have noticed the subject if he had
not said he would hold me responsible for it, I spread out before him
the statements of the evidence that Judge Trumbull had used, and I
asked Judge Douglas, piece by piece, to put his finger upon one piece
of all that evidence that he would say was a forgery! When I went
through with each and every piece, Judge Douglas did not dare then to
say that any piece of it was a forgery. So it seems that there are
some things that Judge Douglas dares to do, and some that he dares
not to do.

[A voice: It is the same thing with you.]

Yes, sir, it is the same thing with me. I do dare to say forgery
when it is true, and don't dare to say forgery when it is false. Now
I will say here to this audience and to Judge Douglas I have not
dared to say he committed a forgery, and I never shall until I know
it; but I did dare to say--just to suggest to the Judge--that a
forgery had been committed, which by his own showing had been traced
to him and two of his friends. I dared to suggest to him that he had
expressly promised in one of his public speeches to investigate that
matter, and I dared to suggest to him that there was an implied
promise that when he investigated it he would make known the result.
I dared to suggest to the Judge that he could not expect to be quite
clear of suspicion of that fraud, for since the time that promise was
made he had been with those friends, and had not kept his promise in
regard to the investigation and the report upon it. I am not a very
daring man, but I dared that much, Judge, and I am not much scared
about it yet. When the Judge says he would n't have believed of
Abraham Lincoln that he would have made such an attempt as that he
reminds me of the fact that he entered upon this canvass with the
purpose to treat me courteously; that touched me somewhat. It sets
me to thinking. I was aware, when it was first agreed that Judge
Douglas and I were to have these seven joint discussions, that they
were the successive acts of a drama, perhaps I should say, to be
enacted, not merely in the face of audiences like this, but in the
face of the nation, and to some extent, by my relation to him, and
not from anything in myself, in the face of the world; and I am
anxious that they should be conducted with dignity and in the good
temper which would be befitting the vast audiences before which it
was conducted. But when Judge Douglas got home from Washington and
made his first speech in Chicago, the evening afterward I made some
sort of a reply to it. His second speech was made at Bloomington, in
which he commented upon my speech at Chicago and said that I had used
language ingeniously contrived to conceal my intentions, or words to
that effect. Now, I understand that this is an imputation upon my
veracity and my candor. I do not know what the Judge understood by
it, but in our first discussion, at Ottawa, he led off by charging a
bargain, somewhat corrupt in its character, upon Trumbull and
myself,--that we had entered into a bargain, one of the terms of
which was that Trumbull was to Abolitionize the old Democratic party,
and I (Lincoln) was to Abolitionize the old Whig party; I pretending
to be as good an old-line Whig as ever. Judge Douglas may not
understand that he implicated my truthfulness and my honor when he
said I was doing one thing and pretending another; and I
misunderstood him if he thought he was treating me in a dignified
way, as a man of honor and truth, as he now claims he was disposed to
treat me. Even after that time, at Galesburgh, when he brings
forward an extract from a speech made at Chicago and an extract from
a speech made at Charleston, to prove that I was trying to play a
double part, that I was trying to cheat the public, and get votes
upon one set of principles at one place, and upon another set of
principles at another place,--I do not understand but what he
impeaches my honor, my veracity, and my candor; and because he does
this, I do not understand that I am bound, if I see a truthful ground
for it, to keep my hands off of him. As soon as I learned that Judge
Douglas was disposed to treat me in this way, I signified in one of
my speeches that I should be driven to draw upon whatever of humble
resources I might have,--to adopt a new course with him. I was not
entirely sure that I should be able to hold my own with him, but I at
least had the purpose made to do as well as I could upon him; and now
I say that I will not be the first to cry "Hold." I think it
originated with the Judge, and when he quits, I probably will. But I
shall not ask any favors at all. He asks me, or he asks the
audience, if I wish to push this matter to the point of personal
difficulty. I tell him, no. He did not make a mistake, in one of
his early speeches, when he called me an "amiable" man, though
perhaps he did when he called me an "intelligent" man. It really
hurts me very much to suppose that I have wronged anybody on earth.
I again tell him, no! I very much prefer, when this canvass shall be
over, however it may result, that we at least part without any bitter
recollections of personal difficulties.

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