The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7

And let me ask you, did n’t Judge Douglas find a way to reverse the
decision of our Supreme Court when it decided that Carlin’s father–
old Governor Carlin had not the constitutional power to remove a
Secretary of State? Did he not appeal to the “MOBS,” as he calls
them? Did he not make speeches in the lobby to show how villainous
that decision was, and how it ought to be overthrown? Did he not
succeed, too, in getting an act passed by the Legislature to have it
overthrown? And did n’t he himself sit down on that bench as one of
the five added judges, who were to overslaugh the four old ones,
getting his name of “judge” in that way, and no other? If there is a
villainy in using disrespect or making opposition to Supreme Court
decisions, I commend it to Judge Douglas’s earnest consideration. I
know of no man in the State of Illinois who ought to know so well
about how much villainy it takes to oppose a decision of the Supreme
Court as our honorable friend Stephen A. Douglas.

Judge Douglas also makes the declaration that I say the Democrats are
bound by the Dred Scott decision, while the Republicans are not. In
the sense in which he argues, I never said it; but I will tell you
what I have said and what I do not hesitate to repeat to-day. I have
said that as the Democrats believe that decision to be correct, and
that the extension of slavery is affirmed in the National
Constitution, they are bound to support it as such; and I will tell
you here that General Jackson once said each man was bound to support
the Constitution “as he understood it.” Now, Judge Douglas
understands the Constitution according to the Dred Scott decision,
and he is bound to support it as he understands it. I understand it
another way, and therefore I am bound to support it in the way in
which I understand it. And as Judge Douglas believes that decision
to be correct, I will remake that argument if I have time to do so.
Let me talk to some gentleman down there among you who looks me in
the face. We will say you are a member of the Territorial
Legislature, and, like Judge Douglas, you believe that the right to
take and hold slaves there is a constitutional right The first thing
you do is to swear you will support the Constitution1, and all rights
guaranteed therein; that you will, whenever your neighbor needs your
legislation to support his constitutional rights, not withhold that
legislation. If you withhold that necessary legislation for the
support of the Constitution and constitutional rights, do you not
commit perjury? I ask every sensible man if that is not so? That is
undoubtedly just so, say what you please. Now, that is precisely
what Judge Douglas says, that this is a constitutional right. Does
the Judge mean to say that the Territorial Legislature in legislating
may, by withholding necessary laws, or by passing unfriendly laws,
nullify that constitutional right? Does he mean to say that? Does
he mean to ignore the proposition so long and well established in
law, that what you cannot do directly, you cannot do indirectly?
Does he mean that? The truth about the matter is this: Judge Douglas
has sung paeans to his “Popular Sovereignty” doctrine until his
Supreme Court, co-operating with him, has squatted his Squatter
Sovereignty out. But he will keep up this species of humbuggery
about Squatter Sovereignty. He has at last invented this sort of
do-nothing sovereignty,–that the people may exclude slavery by a
sort of “sovereignty” that is exercised by doing nothing at all. Is
not that running his Popular Sovereignty down awfully? Has it not
got down as thin as the homeopathic soup that was made by boiling the
shadow of a pigeon that had starved to death? But at last, when it
is brought to the test of close reasoning, there is not even that
thin decoction of it left. It is a presumption impossible in the
domain of thought. It is precisely no other than the putting of that
most unphilosophical proposition, that two bodies can occupy the same
space at the same time. The Dred Scott decision covers the whole
ground, and while it occupies it, there is no room even for the
shadow of a starved pigeon to occupy the same ground.

Judge Douglas, in reply to what I have said about having upon a
previous occasion made the speech at Ottawa as the one he took an
extract from at Charleston, says it only shows that I practiced the
deception twice. Now, my friends, are any of you obtuse enough to
swallow that? Judge Douglas had said I had made a speech at
Charleston that I would not make up north, and I turned around and
answered him by showing I had made that same speech up north,–had
made it at Ottawa; made it in his hearing; made it in the Abolition
District,–in Lovejoy’s District,–in the personal presence of
Lovejoy himself,–in the same atmosphere exactly in which I had made
my Chicago speech, of which he complains so much.

Now, in relation to my not having said anything about the quotation
from the Chicago speech: he thinks that is a terrible subject for me
to handle. Why, gentlemen, I can show you that the substance of the
Chicago speech I delivered two years ago in “Egypt,” as he calls it.
It was down at Springfield. That speech is here in this book, and I
could turn to it and read it to you but for the lack of time. I have
not now the time to read it. [“Read it, read it.”] No, gentlemen, I
am obliged to use discretion in disposing most advantageously of my
brief time. The Judge has taken great exception to my adopting the
heretical statement in the Declaration of Independence, that “all men
are created equal,” and he has a great deal to say about negro
equality. I want to say that in sometimes alluding to the
Declaration of Independence, I have only uttered the sentiments that
Henry Clay used to hold. Allow me to occupy your time a moment with
what he said. Mr. Clay was at one time called upon in Indiana, and
in a way that I suppose was very insulting, to liberate his slaves;
and he made a written reply to that application, and one portion of
it is in these words:

“What is the foundation of this appeal to me in Indiana to liberate
the slaves under my care in Kentucky? It is a general declaration in
the act announcing to the world the independence of the thirteen
American colonies, that men are created equal. Now, as an abstract
principle, there is no doubt of the truth of that declaration, and it
is desirable in the original construction of society, and in
organized societies, to keep it in view as a great fundamental

When I sometimes, in relation to the organization of new societies in
new countries, where the soil is clean and clear, insisted that we
should keep that principle in view, Judge Douglas will have it that I
want a negro wife. He never can be brought to understand that there
is any middle ground on this subject. I have lived until my fiftieth
year, and have never had a negro woman either for a slave or a wife,
and I think I can live fifty centuries, for that matter, without
having had one for either. I maintain that you may take Judge
Douglas’s quotations from my Chicago speech, and from my Charleston
speech, and the Galesburgh speech,–in his speech of to-day,–and
compare them over, and I am willing to trust them with you upon his
proposition that they show rascality or double-dealing. I deny that
they do.

The Judge does not seem at all disposed to have peace, but I find he
is disposed to have a personal warfare with me. He says that my oath
would not be taken against the bare word of Charles H. Lanphier or
Thomas L. Harris. Well, that is altogether a matter of opinion. It
is certainly not for me to vaunt my word against oaths of these
gentlemen, but I will tell Judge Douglas again the facts upon which I
“dared” to say they proved a forgery. I pointed out at Galesburgh
that the publication of these resolutions in the Illinois State
Register could not have been the result of accident, as the
proceedings of that meeting bore unmistakable evidence of being done
by a man who knew it was a forgery; that it was a publication partly
taken from the real proceedings of the Convention, and partly from
the proceedings of a convention at another place, which showed that
he had the real proceedings before him, and taking one part of the
resolutions, he threw out another part, and substituted false and
fraudulent ones in their stead. I pointed that out to him, and also
that his friend Lanphier, who was editor of the Register at that time
and now is, must have known how it was done. Now, whether he did it,
or got some friend to do it for him, I could not tell, but he
certainly knew all about it. I pointed out to Judge Douglas that in
his Freeport speech he had promised to investigate that matter.
Does he now say that he did not make that promise? I have a right
to ask why he did not keep it. I call upon him to tell here to-day
why he did not keep that promise? That fraud has been traced up so
that it lies between him, Harris, and Lanphier. There is little room
for escape for Lanphier. Lanphier is doing the Judge good service,
and Douglas desires his word to be taken for the truth. He desires
Lanphier to be taken as authority in what he states in his newspaper.
He desires Harris to be taken as a man of vast credibility; and when
this thing lies among them, they will not press it to show where the
guilt really belongs. Now, as he has said that he would investigate
it, and implied that he would tell us the result of his
investigation, I demand of him to tell why he did not investigate it,
if he did not; and if he did, why he won’t tell the result. I call
upon him for that.

This is the third time that Judge Douglas has assumed that he learned
about these resolutions by Harris’s attempting to use them against
Norton on the floor of Congress. I tell Judge Douglas the public
records of the country show that he himself attempted it upon
Trumbull a month before Harris tried them on Norton; that Harris had
the opportunity of learning it from him, rather than he from Harris.
I now ask his attention to that part of the record on the case. My
friends, I am not disposed to detain you longer in regard to that

I am told that I still have five minutes left. There is another
matter I wish to call attention to. He says, when he discovered
there was a mistake in that case, he came forward magnanimously,
without my calling his attention to it, and explained it. I will
tell you how he became so magnanimous. When the newspapers of our
side had discovered and published it, and put it beyond his power to
deny it, then he came forward and made a virtue of necessity by
acknowledging it. Now he argues that all the point there was in
those resolutions, although never passed at Springfield, is retained
by their being passed at other localities. Is that true? He said I
had a hand in passing them, in his opening speech, that I was in the
convention and helped to pass them. Do the resolutions touch me at
all? It strikes me there is some difference between holding a man
responsible for an act which he has not done and holding him
responsible for an act that he has
done. You will judge whether there is any difference in the “spots.”
And he has taken credit for great magnanimity in coming forward and
acknowledging what is proved on him beyond even the capacity of Judge
Douglas to deny; and he has more capacity in that way than any other
living man.

Then he wants to know why I won’t withdraw the charge in regard to a
conspiracy to make slavery national, as he has withdrawn the one he
made. May it please his worship, I will withdraw it when it is
proven false on me as that was proven false on him. I will add a
little more than that, I will withdraw it whenever a reasonable man
shall be brought to believe that the charge is not true. I have
asked Judge Douglas’s attention to certain matters of fact tending to
prove the charge of a conspiracy to nationalize slavery, and he says
he convinces me that this is all untrue because Buchanan was not in
the country at that time, and because the Dred Scott case had not
then got into the Supreme Court; and he says that I say the
Democratic owners of Dred Scott got up the case. I never did say
that I defy Judge Douglas to show that I ever said so, for I never
uttered it. [One of Mr. Douglas’s reporters gesticulated
affirmatively at Mr. Lincoln.] I don’t care if your hireling does say
I did, I tell you myself that I never said the “Democratic” owners of
Dred Scott got up the case. I have never pretended to know whether
Dred Scott’s owners were Democrats, or Abolitionists, or Freesoilers
or Border Ruffians. I have said that there is evidence about the
case tending to show that it was a made-up case, for the purpose of
getting that decision. I have said that that evidence was very
strong in the fact that when Dred Scott was declared to be a slave,
the owner of him made him free, showing that he had had the case
tried and the question settled for such use as could be made of that
decision; he cared nothing about the property thus declared to be his
by that decision. But my time is out, and I can say no more.




LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:–I have been somewhat, in my own mind,
complimented by a large portion of Judge Douglas’s speech,–I mean
that portion which he devotes to the controversy between himself and
the present Administration. This is the seventh time Judge Douglas
and myself have met in these joint discussions, and he has been
gradually improving in regard to his war with the Administration. At
Quincy, day before yesterday, he was a little more severe upon the
Administration than I had heard him upon any occasion, and I took
pains to compliment him for it. I then told him to give it to them
with all the power he had; and as some of them were present, I told
them I would be very much obliged if they would give it to him in
about the same way. I take it he has now vastly improved upon the
attack he made then upon the Administration. I flatter myself he has
really taken my advice on this subject. All I can say now is to
re-commend to him and to them what I then commended,–to prosecute
the war against one another in the most vigorous manner. I say to
them again: “Go it, husband!–Go it, bear!”

«- Previous | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 | View All | Next -»