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THE RIGHT OF SELF
From a speech delivered at Peoria, Illinois, October 16, 1854, in reply to Senator Douglas.
BUT one great argument in support of the repeal of the Missouri Compromise is still to come. That argument is "the sacred right of self-government.' It seems our distinguished senator has found great difficulty in getting his antagonists, even in the Senate, to meet him fairly on this argument. Some poet has said : Fools rush in where angels fear to
tread. At the hazard of being thought one of the fools of this quota
tion, I meet that argument-1 rush in- I take that bull by the horns. I trust I understand and truly estimate the right of self-government. My faith in the proposition that each man should do precisely as he pleases with all which is exclusively his own lies at the foundation of the sense of justice there is in me.
I extend the principle to communities of men as well as to individuals. I so extend it because it is politically wise as well as naturally just: politically wise in saving us from broils about matters which do not concern us. Here, or at Washington, I would not trouble myself with the oyster laws of Virginia, or the cranberry laws of Indiana.
The doctrine of self-government is right,-absolutely and eternally right, but it has no
just application as here at. tempted. Or perhaps I should rather say that whether it has such application depends upon whether a negro is not or is a
If he is not a man, in that case he who is a man may, as a matter of self-government, do just what he pleases with him. But if the
is man, is it not to that extent a total destruction of self-government to say that he too shall not govern himself? When the white man
governs himself, that is self-government; but when he governs himself and also governs another man, that is more than self-governmentthat is despotism. If the negro is a man, why then my ancient faith teaches me that
all men are created equal,” and that there can be no moral right in connection with one man's making a slave of another.
Judge Douglas frequently, with bitter irony and sarcasm, paraphrases our argument by saying: “The white people of Nebraska are good enough to govern themselves, but they are not good enough to govern a few miserable negroes!”
Well! I doubt not that the people of Nebraska are and will continue to be as good as the average of people elsewhere. I do not say the contrary. What I do say is that no man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent.
I say this is the leading principle, the sheetanchor, of American republi. canism.
TION OF INDEPENDENCE
From a speech delivered at Springfield, Illi
nois, June 26, 1857.
CHIEF JUSTICE TANEY, in his opinion in the Dred Scott case, admits that the language of the Declaration is broad enough to include the whole human, family, but he and Judge Douglas argue that the authors of that instrument did not intend to include negroes, by the fact that they did not at once actually place them on an equality with the whites.
Now this grave argument comes to just nothing at all, by the other fact that they did not