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Speech at Chicago. Reply to Senator Douglas. Fourth of July Gatherings
“Now, it happens that we meet together once erery year, some time about the Fourth of July, for some reason or other. These Fourth of July gatherings I suppose have their uses. If you will indulge me, I will state what I suppose to be some of them.
We are now a mighty nation; we are thirty, or about thirty millions of people, and we own and inhabit about onefifteenth part of the dry land of the whole earth. We run our memory back over the pages of history for about eightytwo years, and we discover that we were then a very small people in point of numbers, vastly inferior to what we are nów, with a vastly less extent of country, with vastly less of every thing we deem desirable among men—we look upon the change as exceedingly advantageous to us and to our posterity, and we fix upon something that happened away back, as in some way or other being connected with this rise of posterity. We find a race of men living in that day whom we claim as our fathers and grandfathers; they were iron men; they fought for the principle that they were contending for; and we understood that by what they then did it has followed that the degree of prosperity which we now enjoy has come to us. We hold this annual celebration to remind ourselves of all the good done in this process of time, of how it was done and who did it, and how we are historically connected with it; and we go from these meetings in better humor with ourselves—we feel more attached the one to the other, and more firmly bound to the country we inhabit. In every way we are better men in the age, and race, and country in which we live, for these celebrations. But after we have done all this, we have not yet reached the whole. There is something else connected with it. We have, besides these– men descended by blood from our ancestors—those among us perhaps, half our people, who are not descendants at all of these men; they are men who have come from Europe—
German, Irish, French, and Scandinavian—men that have
Reply to Douglas. Chicago, July 10, 1858.
come from Europe themselves, or whose ancestors have come hither and settled here, finding themselves our equals in all things. If they look back through this history to trace their connection with those days by blood, they find they have none; they cannot carry themselves back into that glorious epoch and make themselves feel that they are part of us; but when they look through that old Declaration of Independence, they find that those old men say that “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” and then they feel that that moral sentiment, taught on that day, evidences their relation to those men, that it is the father of all moral principle in them, and that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood and flesh of the desh of the men who wrote that Declaration, and so they are. That is the electric cord in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world. “Now, sirs, for the purpose of squaring things with this idea of don't care if slavery is voted up or voted down,” for sustaining the Dred Scott decision, for holding that the Declaration of Independence did not mean any thing at all, we have Judge Douglas giving his exposition of what the Declaration of Independence means, and we have him saying that the people of America are equal to the people of England. According to his construction, you Germans are not connected with it. Now I ask you in all soberness, if all these things, if indulged in, if ratified, if confirmed and indorsed, if taught to our children and repeated to them, do not tend to rub out the sentiment of liberty in the country, and to transform this Government into a government of some other form. These arguments that are made, that the inferior race are to be treated with as much allowance as they are capable of enjoying ; that as much is to be done for them as their condition will allow—what are these arguments 2 They are the argu
Reply to Judge Douglas. Declaration of Independence.
ments that Kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world. You will find that all the arguments in favor of King-craft were of this class; they always bestrode the necks of the people, not that they wanted to do it, but because the people were better off for being ridden. That is their argument, and this argument of the Judge is the same old serpent that says: You work, and I eat, you toil and I will enjoy the fruits of it. Turn it whatever way you will— whether it come from the mouth of a King, an excuse for enslaving the people of his country, or from the mouth of men of one race as a reason for enslaving the men of another race, it is all the same old serpent, and I hold if that course of argumentation that is made for the purpose of convincing the public mind that we should not care about this, should be granted, it does not stop with the negro. I should like to know if, taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle, you begin making exceptions to it, where you will stop 7 If one man says it does not mean a negro, why not another say it does not mean some other man 2 If that declaration is not the truth, let us get the statute book, in which we find it, and tear it out ! Who is so bold as to do it 2 If it is not true, let us tear it out ! [cries of ‘no, no,']; let us stick to it then; let us stand firmly by it then.
“It may be argued that there are certain conditions that make necessities and impose them upon us, and to the extent that a necessity is imposed upon a man, he must submit to it I think that was the condition in which we found ourselves when we established this Government. We had slaves among us; we could not get our Constitution unless we permitted them to remain in slavery; we could not secure the good we did secure if we grasped for more; and having, by necessity, submitted to that much, it does not destroy the principle that is the charter of our liberties. Let that charter stand as our standard.
Reply to Judge Douglas. Ali Men Created Equal.
“My friend has said to me that I am a poor hand to quote Scripture. I will try it again, however. It is said in one of the admonitions of our Lord : “As your Father in heaven is perfect, be ye also perfect.’ The Saviour, I suppose, did not expect that any human creature could be perfect as the Father in Heaven; but He said: “As your Father in Heaven is perfect, be ye also perfect." He set that up as a standard, and he who did most toward reaching that standard, attained the highest degree of moral perfection. So I say in relation to the principle that all men are created equal, let it be as nearly reached as we can. If we cannot give freedom to every creature, let us do nothing that will impose slavery upon any other creature. Let us then turn this Government back into the channel in which the framers of the Constitution originally placed it. Let us stand firmly by each other. If we do not do so we are turning in the contrary direction, that our friend Judge Douglas proposes—not intentionally—as working in the traces tends to make this one universal slave nation. He is one that runs in that direction, and as such I resist him.
“My friends, I have detained you about as long as I desired to do, and I have only to say, let us discard all this quibbling about this man and the other man—this race and that race and the other race being inferior, and therefore they must be placed in an inferior position—discarding our standard that we have left us. Let us discard all these things, and unite as one people throughout this land, until we shall once more stand up declaring that all men are created equal.
“My friends, I could not, without launching off upon some new topic, which would detain you too long, continue to-night. I thank you for this most extensive audience that you have furnished me to-night. I leave you, hoping that the lamp of liberty will burn in your bosems until there shall no longer be a doubt that all me, are created free and equal.”
Speech at Freeport. Interrogatories Answered.
OPENING PASSAGES OF HIS SPEECH AT FREEPORT.
“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:—On Saturday last, Judge Douglas and myself first met in public discussion. He spoke one hour, I an hour and a half, and he replied for half an hour. The order is now reversed. I am to speak an hour, he an hour and a half, and then I am to reply for half an hour. I propose to devote myself during the first hour to the scope of what was brought within the range of his halfhour speech at Ottawa. Of course there was brought within the scope of that half-hour's speech something of his own opening speech. In the course of that opening argument Judge Douglas proposed to me seven distinct interrogatories. In my speech of an hour and a half, I attended to some other parts of his speech, and incidentally, as I thought, answered one of the interrogatories then. I then distinctly intimated to him that I would answer the rest of his interrogatories on condition only that he should agree to answer as many for me. He made no intimation at the time of the proposition, nor did he in his reply allude at all to that suggestion of mine. I do him no injustice in saying that he occupied at least half of his reply in dealing with me as though I had refused to answer his interrogatories. I now propose that I will answer any of the interrogatories, upon condition that he will answer questions from me not exceeding the same number. I give him an opportunity to respond. The judge remains silent. I now say that I will answer his interrogatories, whether he answers mine or not; and that after I have done so, I shall propound mine to him. - s
“I have supposed myself, since the organization of the Republican party at Bloomington, in May, 1856, bound as a party man by the platforms of the party, then and since. If in any interrogatories which I shall answer, I go beyond the scope of what is within these platforms, it will be perceived that no one is responsible but myself.