The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7

Senator Douglas holds, we know, that a man may rightfully be
wiser to-day than he was yesterday; that he may rightfully change
when he finds himself wrong. But can we, for that reason, run
ahead, and infer that he will make any particular change, of
which he himself has given no intimation? Can we safely base our
action upon any such vague inference? Now, as ever, I wish not
to misrepresent Judge Douglas’s position, question his motives,
or do aught that can be personally offensive to him. Whenever,
if ever, he and we can come together on principle so that our
cause may have assistance from his great ability, I hope to have
interposed no adventitious obstacles. But clearly he is not now
with us; he does not pretend to be,–he does not promise ever to

Our cause, then, must be intrusted to, and conducted by, its own
undoubted friends,–those whose hands are free, whose hearts are
in the work, who do care for the result. Two years ago the
Republicans of the nation mustered over thirteen hundred thousand
strong. We did this under the single impulse of resistance to a
common danger, with every external circumstance against us. Of
strange, discordant, and even hostile elements we gathered from
the four winds, and formed and fought the battle through, under
the constant hot fire of a disciplined, proud, and pampered
enemy. Did we brave all then to falter now,–now, when that same
enemy is wavering, dissevered, and belligerent? The result is
not doubtful. We shall not fail; if we stand firm, we shall not
fail. Wise counsels may accelerate, or mistakes delay it, but,
sooner or later, the victory is sure to come.





[Mr. LINCOLN was introduced by C. L. Wilson, Esq., and as he made
his appearance he was greeted with a perfect storm of applause.
For some moments the enthusiasm continued unabated. At last,
when by a wave of his hand partial silence was restored, Mr.
LINCOLN said,]

MY FELLOW-CITIZENS:–On yesterday evening, upon the occasion of
the reception given to Senator Douglas, I was furnished with a
seat very convenient for hearing him, and was otherwise very
courteously treated by him and his friends, and for which I thank
him and them. During the course of his remarks my name was
mentioned in such a way as, I suppose, renders it at least not
improper that I should make some sort of reply to him. I shall
not attempt to follow him in the precise order in which he
addressed the assembled multitude upon that occasion, though I
shall perhaps do so in the main.

There was one question to which he asked the attention of the
crowd, which I deem of somewhat less importance–at least of
propriety–for me to dwell upon than the others, which he brought
in near the close of his speech, and which I think it would not
be entirely proper for me to omit attending to, and yet if I were
not to give some attention to it now, I should probably forget it
altogether. While I am upon this subject, allow me to say that I
do not intend to indulge in that inconvenient mode sometimes
adopted in public speaking, of reading from documents; but I
shall depart from that rule so far as to read a little scrap from
his speech, which notices this first topic of which I shall
speak,–that is, provided I can find it in the paper:

“I have made up my mind to appeal to the people against the
combination that has been made against me; the Republican leaders
having formed an alliance, an unholy and unnatural alliance, with
a portion of unscrupulous Federal office-holders. I intend to
fight that allied army wherever I meet them. I know they deny
the alliance; but yet these men who are trying to divide the
Democratic party for the purpose of electing a Republican Senator
in my place are just as much the agents and tools of the
supporters of Mr. Lincoln. Hence I shall deal with this allied
army just as the Russians dealt with the Allies at Sebastopol,–
that is, the Russians did not stop to inquire, when they fired a
broadside, whether it hit an Englishman, a Frenchman, or a Turk.
Nor will I stop to inquire, nor shall I hesitate, whether my
blows shall hit the Republican leaders or their allies, who are
holding the Federal offices, and yet acting in concert with

Well, now, gentlemen, is not that very alarming? Just to think
of it! right at the outset of his canvass, I, a poor, kind,
amiable, intelligent gentleman,–I am to be slain in this way!
Why, my friend the Judge is not only, as it turns out, not a dead
lion, nor even a living one,–he is the rugged Russian Bear!

But if they will have it–for he says that we deny it–that there
is any such alliance, as he says there is,–and I don’t propose
hanging very much upon this question of veracity,–but if he will
have it that there is such an alliance, that the Administration
men and we are allied, and we stand in the attitude of English,
French, and Turk, he occupying the position of the Russian, in
that case I beg that he will indulge us while we barely suggest
to him that these allies took Sebastopol.

Gentlemen, only a few more words as to this alliance. For my
part, I have to say that whether there be such an alliance
depends, so far as I know, upon what may be a right definition of
the term alliance. If for the Republican party to see the other
great party to which they are opposed divided among themselves,
and not try to stop the division, and rather be glad of it,–if
that is an alliance, I confess I am in; but if it is meant to be
said that the Republicans had formed an alliance going beyond
that, by which there is contribution of money or sacrifice of
principle on the one side or the other, so far as the Republican
party is concerned,–if there be any such thing, I protest that I
neither know anything of it, nor do I believe it. I will,
however, say,–as I think this branch of the argument is lugged
in,–I would before I leave it state, for the benefit of those
concerned, that one of those same Buchanan men did once tell me
of an argument that he made for his opposition to Judge Douglas.
He said that a friend of our Senator Douglas had been talking to
him, and had, among other things, said to him:

“…why, you don’t want to beat Douglas?” “Yes,” said he, “I do
want to beat him, and I will tell you why. I believe his
original Nebraska Bill was right in the abstract, but it was
wrong in the time that it was brought forward. It was wrong in
the application to a Territory in regard to which the question
had been settled; it was brought forward at a time when nobody
asked him; it was tendered to the South when the South had not
asked for it, but when they could not well refuse it; and for
this same reason he forced that question upon our party. It has
sunk the best men all over the nation, everywhere; and now, when
our President, struggling with the difficulties of this man’s
getting up, has reached the very hardest point to turn in the
case, he deserts him and I am for putting him where he will
trouble us no more.”

Now, gentlemen, that is not my argument; that is not my argument
at all. I have only been stating to you the argument of a
Buchanan man. You will judge if there is any force in it.

Popular sovereignty! Everlasting popular sovereignty! Let us
for a moment inquire into this vast matter of popular
sovereignty. What is popular sovereignty? We recollect that at
an early period in the history of this struggle there was another
name for the same thing,–“squatter sovereignty.” It was not
exactly popular sovereignty, but squatter sovereignty. What do
those terms mean? What do those terms mean when used now? And
vast credit is taken by our friend the Judge in regard to his
support of it, when he declares the last years of his life have
been, and all the future years of his life shall be, devoted to
this matter of popular sovereignty. What is it? Why, it is the
sovereignty of the people! What was squatter sovereignty? I
suppose, if it had any significance at all, it was the right of
the people to govern themselves, to be sovereign in their own
affairs while they were squatted down in a country not their own,
while they had squatted on a Territory that did not belong to
them, in the sense that a State belongs to the people who inhabit
it, when it belonged to the nation; such right to govern
themselves was called “squatter sovereignty.”

Now, I wish you to mark: What has become of that squatter
sovereignty? what has become of it? Can you get anybody to tell
you now that the people of a Territory have any authority to
govern themselves, in regard to this mooted question of slavery,
before they form a State constitution? No such thing at all;
although there is a general running fire, and although there has
been a hurrah made in every speech on that side, assuming that
policy had given the people of a Territory the right to govern
themselves upon this question, yet the point is dodged. To-day
it has been decided–no more than a year ago it was decided–by
the Supreme Court of the United States, and is insisted upon
to-day that the people of a Territory have no right to exclude
slavery from a Territory; that if any one man chooses to take
slaves into a Territory, all the rest of the people have no right
to keep them out. This being so, and this decision being made
one of the points that the Judge approved, and one in the
approval of which he says he means to keep me down,–put me down
I should not say, for I have never been up,–he says he is in
favor of it, and sticks to it, and expects to win his battle on
that decision, which says that there is no such thing as squatter
sovereignty, but that any one man may take slaves into a
Territory, and all the other men in the Territory may be opposed
to it, and yet by reason of the Constitution they cannot prohibit
it. When that is so, how much is left of this vast matter of
squatter sovereignty, I should like to know?

When we get back, we get to the point of the right of the people
to make a constitution. Kansas was settled, for example, in
1854. It was a Territory yet, without having formed a
constitution, in a very regular way, for three years. All this
time negro slavery could be taken in by any few individuals, and
by that decision of the Supreme Court, which the Judge approves,
all the rest of the people cannot keep it out; but when they come
to make a constitution, they may say they will not have slavery.
But it is there; they are obliged to tolerate it some way, and
all experience shows it will be so, for they will not take the
negro slaves and absolutely deprive the owners of them. All
experience shows this to be so. All that space of time that runs
from the beginning of the settlement of the Territory until there
is sufficiency of people to make a State constitution,–all that
portion of time popular sovereignty is given up. The seal is
absolutely put down upon it by the court decision, and Judge
Douglas puts his own upon the top of that; yet he is appealing to
the people to give him vast credit for his devotion to popular

Again, when we get to the question of the right of the people to
form a State constitution as they please, to form it with slavery
or without slavery, if that is anything new, I confess I don’t
know it. Has there ever been a time when anybody said that any
other than the people of a Territory itself should form a
constitution? What is now in it that Judge Douglas should have
fought several years of his life, and pledge himself to fight all
the remaining years of his life for? Can Judge Douglas find
anybody on earth that said that anybody else should form a
constitution for a people? [A voice, “Yes.”] Well, I should like
you to name him; I should like to know who he was. [Same voice,
“John Calhoun.”]

No, sir, I never heard of even John Calhoun saying such a thing.
He insisted on the same principle as Judge Douglas; but his mode
of applying it, in fact, was wrong. It is enough for my purpose
to ask this crowd whenever a Republican said anything against it.
They never said anything against it, but they have constantly
spoken for it; and whoever will undertake to examine the
platform, and the speeches of responsible men of the party, and
of irresponsible men, too, if you please, will be unable to find
one word from anybody in the Republican ranks opposed to that
popular sovereignty which Judge Douglas thinks that he has
invented. I suppose that Judge Douglas will claim, in a little
while, that he is the inventor of the idea that the people should
govern themselves; that nobody ever thought of such a thing until
he brought it forward. We do not remember that in that old
Declaration of Independence it is said that:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are
created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights,
governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers
from the consent of the governed.”

There is the origin of popular sovereignty. Who, then, shall
come in at this day and claim that he invented it?

The Lecompton Constitution connects itself with this question,
for it is in this matter of the Lecompton Constitution that our
friend Judge Douglas claims such vast credit. I agree that in
opposing the Lecompton Constitution, so far as I can perceive, he
was right. I do not deny that at all; and, gentlemen, you will
readily see why I could not deny it, even if I wanted to. But I
do not wish to; for all the Republicans in the nation opposed it,
and they would have opposed it just as much without Judge
Douglas’s aid as with it. They had all taken ground against it
long before he did. Why, the reason that he urges against that
constitution I urged against him a year before. I have the
printed speech in my hand. The argument that he makes, why that
constitution should not be adopted, that the people were not
fairly represented nor allowed to vote, I pointed out in a speech
a year ago, which I hold in my hand now, that no fair chance was
to be given to the people. [“Read it, Read it.”] I shall not
waste your time by trying to read it. [“Read it, Read it.”] Gentlemen, reading from speeches is a very tedious business,
particularly for an old man that has to put on spectacles, and
more so if the man be so tall that he has to bend over to the

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