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a few years previous. Mr. Douglas had expressed great confidence in the sober judgment of the people, and at the same time had, rather inconsistently as well as indecently, declared that Providence had saved us from one military administration by the timely removal of Gen. Taylor. To this Mr. Lincoln alluded in his closing paragraph, which is given as a fair sample of the whole :
"Let us stand by our candidate as faithfully as he has always stood by our country, and I much doubt if we do not perceive a slight abatement in Judge Douglas's confidence in Providence, as well as in the people. I suspect that confidence is not more firmly fixed with the judge than it was with the old woman whose horse ran away with her in a buggy. She said she trusted in Providence till the britchin' broke, and then she didn't know what on airth to do.' The chance is, the judge will see the britchin' broke;' and then he can at his leisure bewail the fate of Locofocoism as the victim of misplaced confidence."
On the 4th of January, 1854, Mr. Douglas, Chairman of the Committee on Territories, of the Senate of the United States, reported a bill to establish a territorial government in Nebraska. This bill contained nothing in relation to the Missouri Compromise, which still remained upon the statutebook, although the principle on which it was based had been violated in the Compromise legislation of 1850. A Whig Senator from Kentucky gave notice, that, when the Committee's bill came before the Senate, he would move an amendment repealing the Missouri Compromise. With this admonition in mind, the Committee instructed Mr. Douglas to report a substitute, which he did on the 23d of the same month. The substitute made two Territories out of Nebraska, and called one of them Kansas. It annulled the Missouri Compromise, forbade its application to Kansas, Nebraska, or any other territory, and, as amended and finally passed, fixed the following rules: . . . "It being the true intent and meaning of this act not to legislate slavery into any Territory or State, nor to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the
people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United States." Mr. Douglas had long since denounced his imprecations upon "the ruthless hand that should disturb that ancient compact of peace between the sections; and now he put forth his own ingenious hand to do the deed, and to take the curse, in both of which he was eminently successful. Not that the Missouri Act may not have been repugnant to the Constitution, for no court had ever passed upon it; but it was enacted for a holy purpose, was venerable in age, was consecrated in the hearts of the people by the unsurpassed eloquence of the patriots of a previous generation, and having the authority of law, of reason, and of covenant, it had till then preserved the Union, as its authors designed it should; and, being in truth a sacred thing, it was not a proper subject for the "ruthless interference of mere politicians, like those who now devoted it to destruction. If, upon a regularly heard and decided issue, the Supreme Court should declare it unconstitutional, the recision of the compact could be attributed to no party,neither to slavery nor to antislavery, — and the peace of the country might still subsist. But its repeal by the party that did it a coalition of Southern Whigs and Democrats with Northern Democrats was evidence of a design to carry slavery into the region north of 36° 30′; or the legislation was without a purpose at all. It was the first aggression of the South; but be it remembered in common justice, that she was tempted to it by the treacherous proffers of a restless but powerful Northern leader, who asked no recompense but her electoral votes. In due time he opened her eyes to the nature of the fraud; and, if he carried through the KansasNebraska Act to catch the votes of the South in 1856, it cost him no inconvenience to give it a false and startling construction to catch the votes of the North in 1860. In the repeal of the Compromise, the Northern Democrats submitted with reluctance to the dictation of Douglas and the South. It was the great error of the party, -the one disastrous error of
all its history. The party succeeded in 1856 only by the nomination of Mr. Buchanan, who was out of the country when the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed, and who was known to have opposed it. But the questions which grew out of it, the false and disingenuous construction of the act by its author, the slavery agitations in Kansas and throughout the country, disrupted the party at Charleston, and made possible Mr. Lincoln's election by a minority of the votes cast. And to the Whig party, whose Senators and Representatives from the South voted for the Douglas Bill in a body, the renewal of the slavery agitation, invited and insured by their action, was the signal of actual dissolution.
Up to this date, Mr. Lincoln's views of slavery, and how they were formed, are as well known to the reader as they can be made known from the materials left behind for a history of them. It is clear that his feelings on the subject were inspired by individual cases of apparent hardship which had come under his observation. John Hanks, on the last trip to New Orleans, was struck by Lincoln's peculiarly active sympathy for the servile race, and insists, that, upon sight of their wrongs, "the iron entered his heart." In a letter to Mr. Speed, which will shortly be presented, Mr. Lincoln confesses to a similar experience in 1841, and speaks with great bitterness of the pain which the actual presence of chained and manacled slaves had given him. Indeed, Mr. Lincoln was not an ardent sympathizer with sufferings of any sort, which he did not witness with the eye of flesh. His compassion might be stirred deeply by an object present, but never by an object absent and unseen. In the former case he would most likely extend relief, with little inquiry into the merits of the case, because, as he expressed it himself, it "took a pain out of his own heart;" and he devoutly believed that every such act of charity or mercy sprung from motives purely selfish. None of his public acts, either before or after he became President, exhibits any special tenderness for the African race, or any extraordinary commiseration of their lot. On the contrary, he invariably, in words and deeds,
postponed the interests of the blacks to the interests of the whites, and expressly subordinated the one to the other. When he was compelled, by what he deemed an overruling necessity, founded on both military and political considerations, to declare the freedom of the public enemy's slaves, he did so with avowed reluctance, and took pains to have it understood that his resolution was in no wise affected by sentiment. He never at any time favored the admission of negroes into the body of electors, in his own State or in the States of the South. He claimed that those who were incidentally liberated by the Federal arms were poor-spirited, lazy, and slothful; that they could be made soldiers only by force, and willing laborers not at all; that they seemed to have no interest in the cause of their own race, but were as docile in the service of the Rebellion as the mules that ploughed the fields or drew the baggage-trains; and, as a people, were useful only to those who were at the same time their masters and the foes of those who sought their good. With such views honestly formed, it is no wonder that he longed to see them transported to Hayti, Central America, Africa, or anywhere, so that they might in no event, and in no way, participate in the government of his country. Accordingly, he was, from the beginning, as earnest a colonizationist as Mr. Clay, and, even during his Presidency, zealously and persistently devised schemes for the deportation of the negroes, which the latter deemed cruel and atrocious in the extreme. He believed, with his rival, that this was purely a "white man's government;" but he would have been perfectly willing to share its blessings with the black man, had he not been very certain that the blessings would disappear when divided with such a partner. He was no Abolitionist in the popular sense; did not want to break over the safeguards of the Constitution to interfere with slavery where it had a lawful existence; but, wherever his power rightfully extended, he was anxious that the negro should be protected, just as women and children and unnaturalized men are pro
tected, in life, limb, property, reputation, and every thing that nature or law makes sacred. But this was all: he had no notion of extending to the negro the privilege of governing him and other white men, by making him an elector. That was a political trust, an office to be exercised only by the superior race.
It was therefore as a white man, and in the interests of white men, that he threw himself into the struggle to keep the blacks out of the Territories. He did not want them there either as slaves or freemen; but he wanted them less as slaves than as freemen. He perceived clearly enough the motives of the South in repealing the Missouri Compromise. It did, in fact, arouse him "like a fire-bell in the night." He felt that a great conflict impended; and, although he had as yet no idea that it was an "irrepressible conflict between opposing and enduring forces," which must end in making all free or all slave, he thought it was serious enough to demand his entire mind and heart; and he freely gave them both.
Mr. Gillespie gives the substance of a conversation with him, which, judging from the context, must have taken place about this time. Prefacing with the remark that the slavery question was the only one "on which he (Mr. Lincoln) would become excited," he says,
"I recollect meeting with him once at Shelbyville, when he remarked that something must be done, or slavery would overrun the whole country. He said there were about six hundred thousand non-slaveholding whites in Kentucky to about thirty-three thousand slaveholders; that, in the convention then recently held, it was expected that the delegates would represent these classes about in proportion to their respective numbers; but, when the convention assembled, there was not a single representative of the nonslaveholding class: every one was in the interest of the slaveholders; and,' said he, the thing is spreading like wildfire over the country. In a few years we will be ready to accept the institution in Illinois, and the whole country