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Speech in Congress. The Presidency. Mexican War.
distinguished, you have had them. Through suffering and death, by disease and in battle, they have endured, and fought, and fallen with you. Clay and Webster each gave a son, never to be returned. From the State of my own residence, besides other worthy but less known Whig names, we sent Marshall, Morrison, Baker, and Hardin; they all fought, and one fell, and in the fall of that one, we lost our best Whig man. Nor were the Whigs few in number, or laggard in the day of danger. In that fearful, bloody, breathless struggle at Buena Vista, where each man's hard task was to beat back five foes, or die himself, of the five high officers who perished, four were Whigs. “In speaking of this, I mean no odious comparison between the lion-hearted Whigs and Democrats who fought there. On other occasions, and among the lower officers and privates on that occasion, I doubt not the proportion was different. I wish to do justice to all. I think of all those brave men as Americans, in whose proud fame, as an American, I too have a share. Many of them, Whigs and Democrats, are my constituents and personal friends; and I thank them—more than thank them—one and all, for the high, imperishable honor they have conferred on our common State. “But the distinction between the cause of the President in beginning the war, and the cause of the country after it was begun, is a distinction which you can not perceive. To you, the President and the country seem to be all one. You are interested to see no distinction between them; and I venture to suggest that possibly your interest blinds you a little. We see the distinction, as we think, clearly enough ; and our friends, who have fought in the war, have no difficulty in seeing it also. What those who have fallen would say, were they alive and here, of course we can never know; but with those who have returned there is no difficulty. Colonel Haskell and Major Gaines, members here, both fought in the war; and one of them underwent extraordinary perils and
Speech in Congress. Speech at Springfield, Ill. "
hardships; still they, like all other Whigs here, vote on the record that the war was unnecessarily and unconstitutionally commenced by the President. And even General Taylor himself, the noblest Roman of them all, has declared that, as a citizen, and particularly as a soldier, it is sufficient for him to know that his country is at war with a foreign nation, to do all in his power to bring it to a speedy and honorable termination, by the most vigorous and energetic operations, without inquiring about its justice, or any thing else connected with it. “Mr. Speaker, let our Democratic friends be comforted with the assurance that we are content with our position, content with our company, and content with our candidate ; and that although they, in their generous sympathy, think we ought to be miserable, we really are not, and that they may dismiss the great anxiety they have on our account.”
SPEECH IN REPLY TO MR. DOUGLAS, ON KANSAS, THE DRED SCOTT DECISION, AND THE UTAH QUESTION.
(Delivered at Springfield, Ill., June 26, 1857.)
“FELLow-CITIZENs :—I am here, to-night, partly by the invitation of some of you, and partly by my own inclination. Two weeks ago Judge Douglas spoke here, on the several subjects of Kansas, the Dred Scott decision, and Utah. I listened to the speech at the time, and have read the report of it since. It was intended to controvert opinions which I hink just, and to assail (politically, not personally) those men who, in common with me, entertain those opinions. For this reason I wished then, and still wish to make some answer to it, which I now take the opportunity of doing. “I begin with Utah. If it prove to be true, as is probable, that the people of Utah are in open rebellion against the United States, then Judge Douglas is in favor of repealing
Speech at Springfield. Reply to Judge Douglas. Kansas.
their territorial organization, and attaching them to the adjoining States for judicial purposes. I say, too, if they are in rebellion, they ought to be somehow coerced to obedience; and I am not now prepared to admit or deny, that the Judge's mode of coercing them is not as good as any. The Republicans can fall in with it, without taking back any thing they have ever said. To be sure, it would be a considerable backing down by Judge Douglas, from his much vaunted doctrine of self-government for the territories; but this is only additional proof of what was very plain from the beginning, that that doctrine was a mere deceitful pretence for the benefit of slavery. Those who could not see that much in the Nebraska act itself, which forced Governors, and Secretaries, and Judges on the people of the territories, without their choice or consent, could not be made to see, though one "should rise from the dead. “But in all this, it is very plain the Judge evades the only question the Republicans have ever pressed upon the Democracy in regard to Utah. That question the Judge well knew to be this: ‘If the people of Utah shall peacefully form a State Constitution tolerating polygamy, will the Democracy admit them into the Union ?” There is nothing in the United States Constitution or law against polygamy; and why is it not a part of the Judge's “sacred right of self-government' for the people to have it, or rather to keep it, if they choose ? These questions, so far as I know, the Judge never answers. It might involve the Democracy to answer them either way, and they go unanswered. “As to Kansas. The substance of the Judge's speech on Kansas, is an effort to put the Free State men in the wrong for not voting at the election of delegates to the Constitutional Convention. He says: “There is every reason to hope and believe that the law will be fairly interpreted and impartially executed, so as to insure to every bona fide inhabitant the free and quiet exercise of the elective franchise.”
Speech at Springfield. Reply to Judge Douglas. Kansas Elections.
“It appears extraordinary that Judge Douglas should make such a statement. He knows that, by the law, no one can vote who has not been registered; and he knows that the I'ree State men place their refusal to vote on the ground that but few of them have been registered. It is possible this is not true, but Judge Douglas knows it is asserted to be true in letters, newspapers, and public speeches, and borne by every mail, and blown by every breeze to the eyes and ears of the world. He knows it is boldly declared, that the people of many whole counties, and many whole neighborhoods in others, are left unregistered ; yet he does not venture to contradict the declaration, or to point out how they can vote without being registered ; but he just slips along, not seeming to know there is any such question of fact, and complacently declares, ‘There is every reason to hope and believe that the law will be fairly and impartially executed, so as to insure to every bona fide inhabitant the free and quiet exercise of the elective franchise.”
“I readily agree that if all had a chance to vote, they ought to have voted. If, on the contrary, as they allege, and Judge Douglas ventures not particularly to contradict, few only of the Free State men had a chance to vote, they were perfectly right in staying from the polls in a body.
“By the way, since the Judge spoke, the Kansas election has come off. The Judge expressed his confidence that all the Democrats in Kansas would do their duty—including ‘Free State Democrats' of course. The returns received here, as yet, are very incomplete; but, so far as they go, they indicate that only about one-sixth of the registered voters, have really voted; and this, too, when not more, perhaps, than one-half of the rightful voters have been registered, thus showing the thing to have been altogether the most exquisite farce ever enacted. I am watching with considerable interest, to ascertain what figure ‘the Free State Democrats' cut in the concern. Of course they voted—all Democrats do their
Speech at Springfield. Reply to Judge Douglas. Dred Scott Decision.
duty—and of course they did not vote for Slave State candidates. We soon shall know how many delegates they elected, how many candidates they have pledged to a free State, and how many votes were cast for them. “Allow me to barely whisper my suspicion, that there were no such things in Kansas as ‘Free State Democrats'— that they were altogether mythical, good only to figure in newspapers and speeches in the free States. If there should prove to be one real, living free State Democrat in Kansas, I suggest that it might be well to catch him, and stuff and preserve his skin, as an interesting specimen of that soon to be extinct variety of the genus Democrat. “And now, as to the Dred Scott decision. That decision declares two propositions—first, that a negro cannot sue in the United States Courts; and secondly, that Congress can not prohibit slavery in the Territories. It was made by a divided court—dividing differently on the different points. Judge Douglas does not discuss the merits of the decision, and in that respect, I shall follow his example, believing I could no more improve upon McLean and Curtis, than he could on Taney. “He denounces all who question the correctness of that decision, as offering violent resistance to it. But who resists it? Who has, in spite of the decision, declared Dred Scott free, and resisted the authority of his master over him 7 “Judicial decisions have two uses—first, to absolutely determine the case decided; and secondly to indicate to the public how other similar cases will be decided when they arise. For the latter use, they are called ‘precedents' and ‘authorities.” “We believe as much as Judge Douglas (perhaps more) in obedience to, and respect for the judicial department of Government. We think its decisions on Constitutional ques tions, when fully settled, should control, not only the partic ular cases decided, but the general policy of the country