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Sovereignty. It was not exactly Popular Sovereignty, but Squatter Sovereignty. What do those terras mean? What do those terras mean when used now? And vast credit is taken by our friend, the Judge, in regard to his support of it, when he declares the last years of his life have been, and all the future years of his life shall be, devoted to this matter of popular sovereignty. What is it? Why, it is the sovereignty of the people I What was Squatter Sovereignty? I suppose, if it had any significance at all, it was the right of the people to govern themselves, to be sovereign in their own affairs, while they were squatted down in a country not their own—while they had squatted on a Territory that did not belong to them, in the sense that a State belongs to the people who inhabit it—when it belonged to the nation—such right to govern themselves was called u Squatter Sovereignty."
Now I wish you to mark. What has become of that Squatter Sovereignty? What has become of it? Can you get anybody to tell you now that the people of a Territory have any authority to govern themselves, in regard to this mooted question of slavery, before they form a State Constitution? No such thing at all, although there is a general running fire, and although there has been a hurrah made in every speech on that side, assuming that policy had given the people of a Territory the right to govern themselves upon this question; yet the point is dodged. Today it has been decided—no more than a year ago it was decided by the Supreme Court of the United States, and is insisted upon to-day, that the people of a Territory have no right to exclude slavery from a Territory, that if any one man chooses to take slaves into a Territory, all the rest of the people have no right to keep them out. This being so, and this decision being made one of the points that the Judge approved, and one in the approval of which he says he means to keep me down—put me down I should not say, for I have never been up. He says he is in favor of it, and sticks to it, and expects to win his battle on that decision, which says that there is no such thing as Squatter Sovereignty; but that any one man may take slaves into a Territory, and all the other men in the Territory may be opposed to it, and yet by reason of the Constitution they cannot prohibit it. When that is so, how much is left of this va*t matter of Squatter Sovereignty, I should like to know?
The Lecompton Constitution and its fate were next discussed, and then Mr. Lincoln proceeded to reply to the inferences which his opponent had so characteristically but unwarrantably drawn from the introductory paragraph of his Springfield speech. He said:
In this paragraph which I have quoted in your hearing, and to which I ask the attention of all, Judge Douglas thinks he discovers great political heresy. I want your attention particularly to what he has inferred from it. He says I am in favor of making all the States of this Union uniform in all their internal regulations; that in all their domestic concerns I am in favor of making them entirely uniform. He draws this inference from the language I have quoted to you. He says that I am in favor of making war by the North upon the South for the extinction of slavery; that I am also in favor of inviting (as he expresses it) the South to a war upon the North, for the purpose of nationalizing slavery. Now, it is singular enough, if you will carefully read that passage over, that I did not say that I was in favor of any thing in it. I only said what I expected would take place. I made a prediction only—it may have been a foolish one, perhaps. I did not even say that I desired that slavery should be put in course of ultimate extinction. I do say so now, however, so there need be no longer any difficulty about that. It may be written down in the great speech.
Gentlemen, Judge Douglas informed you that this speech of mine was probably carefully prepared. I admit that it was. I am not master of language; I have not a fine education; I am not capable of entering into a disquisition upon dialectics, as I believe you call it; but I do not believe the language I employed bears any such construction as Judge Douglas puts upon it. But I don't care about a quibble in regard to words. I know what I meant, and I will not leave this crowd in doubt, if lean explain it to them, what I really meant in the use of that paragraph.
I am not, in the first place, unaware that this Government has endured eighty-two years half slave and half free. I know that. I am tolerably well acquainted with the history of the country, and I know that it has endured eighty-two years, half slave and half free. I believe—and that is what I meant to allude to there—I believe it has endured, because during all that time, until the introduction of the Nebraska bill, the public mind did rest all the time in the belief that slavery was in course of ultimate extinction. That was what gave us the rest that we had through that period of eighty-two years; at least, so I believe. I have always hated slavery, I think, as much as any Abolitionist—I have been an Old Line Whig—I have always hated it, but I have always been quiet about it until this new era of the introduction of the Nebraska bill began. I always believed that everybody was against it, and that it was in course of ultimate extinction. [Pointing to Mr. Browning, who stood near by.] Browning thought so; the great mass of the nation have rested in the belief that slavery was in course of ultimate extinction. They had reason so to believe.
The adoption of the Constitution and its attendant history led the people to believe so; and that such was the belief of the framers of the Constitution itself, why did those old men, about the time of the adoption of the Constitution, decree that slavery should not go into the new Territory, where it had not already gone? Why declare that within twenty years the African Slave Trade, by which slaves are supplied, might be cut off by Congress? Why were all these acts? I might enumerate more of these acts—but enough. What were they but a clear indication that the franiers of the Constitution intended and expected the ultimate extinction of that institution? And now, when I say, as I said in my speech that Judge Douglas has quoted from, when I say that I think the opponents of slavery will resist the farther spread of it, and place it where tha public mind shall rest with the belief that it is in course of ultimate extinction, I only mean to say, that they will place it where the founders of this Government originally placed it.
I have said a hundred times, and I have now no inclination to take it back, that I believe there is no right, and ought to be no inclination in the people of the free States to enter into the slave States, and interfere with the question of slavery at all. I have said that always; Jud^e Douglas has heard me say it—if not quite a hundred times, at least as good as a hundred times; and when it is said that I am in favor of interfering with slavery where it exists, I know it is unwarranted by anything I have ever intended, and, as I believe, by any thing I have ever said. If, by any means, I have ever used language which could fairly be so construed (as, however, I believe I never have), I now correct it.
So much, then, for the inference that Judge Douglas draws, that I am m favor of setting the sections at war with one another. I know that I never meant any such thing, and I believe that no fair mind can infer any such thing from any thing I have ever said.
These speeches in Chicago and those that had preceded them made it evident that the struggle was to take the shape of a personal contest between the two men, and in every respect,—physically, mentally, and politically,— they were thoroughly antagonistic to each other. Each, moreover, recognized the other as the embodiment of principles to which he was in deadly hostility. Judire Douglas was the champion of all sympathizers with slavery at the North—of those who openly advocated it, and still more of those who took the more plausible and dangerous part of not caring whether it "was voted down or up." Mr. Lincoln's soul was on fire with love for freedom and for humanity, and with reverence for the Fathers of the country, and for the principles of freedom for all, under the light of which they marched. He felt that the contest was no mere local one; that it was comparatively of little consequence which man succeeded in the fight, but that it was all-important that the banner of freedom should be borne with no faltering step, but "full high advanced." And thus through the whole campaign he sought with all his power to press home to the hearts of the people the principles, the example, and the teachings of the men of the Revolution.
At the time of the delivery of the speeches in Chicago, to which we have already alluded, there was no understanding regarding joint discussions. One week later,however, both spoke in Springfield on the same day, but before different audiences; and one week later, Mr. Lincoln addressed a letter to Douglas, challenging him to a series of debates during the campaign.
The challenge was accented, and arrangements were at once made for the meetings. The#terms proposed by Mr. Douglas—whether intentionally or unintentionally does not appear—were such as to give him the decided advantage of having four opening and closing speeches to Mr, Lincoln's three; but Mr. Lincoln, while noticing the inequality, did not hesitate to accept them.
The seven joint debates were held as follows :—at Ottawa, on August 21st; at Freeport, on August 27th; at Jonesboro, on September 15th; at Charleston, on September 18th; at Galesburg, on October 7th; at Quincy, on October 13th ; at Alton, on October 15th. These seven tournaments raised the greatest excitement throughout the State. They were held in all quarters of the State, from Freeport in the north to Jonesboro in the extreme south. Everywhere the different parties turned out to do honor to their champions. Processions and cavalcades, bands of music and cannon-firing, made every day a day of excitement. But far greater was the excitement of such oratorical contests between two such skilled debaters, before mixed audiences of friends and foes, to rejoice over every keen thrust at the adversary, to be cast down by each failure to parry the thrust so aimed. It is impossible to present here any thing more than the barest sketch of these great efforts of Mr. Lincoln. They are, and always will be, to those who are interested in the history of the slavery contest, most valuable and important documents. In the first of thes<> joint debates, which took place at Ottawa, Mr. Douglas again rung the changes upon the introductory passage of Mr. Lincoln's Springfield speech, "a house divided against itself,'1 etc. Mr. Lincoln reiterated his assertion, and defended it in effect, as he did in his speech at Chicago. Then he took up the charge which he had previously made, of the existence of a conspiracy to extend slavery over the Northern States, and pressed it home, citing as proof a speech which Mr. Douglas himself had made on the Lecompton bill, in which he had substantially made the same charge against Buchanan and others. He then showed again, that all that was necessary for the accomplishment of the scheme was a decision of the Supreme Court that no State could exclude slavery, as the court had already decided that no Territory could exclude it, and the acquiescence of the people in such a decision; and he told his hearers that Douglas was doing all in his power to bring about such acquiescence in advance, by declaring that the true position was, not to care whether slavery "was voted down or up," and by announcing himself in favor of the Dred Scott decision, not because it was right, but because a decision of the court is to him a w'Thus saith the Lord," and thus committing himself to the next decision just as firmly as to this. He closed his speech with the following eloquent words :—
Henry Clay, my beau-ideal of a statesman, the man for whom I fought all my humble life—Henry Clay once said of a class of men who would repress all tendencies to liberty and ultimate emancipation, that they must, if they would do this, go back to the era of our independence, and muzzle the cannon which thunders its annual joyous return; they must blow out the moral lights around us; they must penetrate the human soul, and eradicate there the love of liberty; and then, and not till then, could they perpetuate slavery in this country! To my thinking, Judge Douglas is, by his example and vast influence, doing that very thing in this community, when he says that the negro has nothing in the Declara tion of Independence. Henry Clay plainly understood the contrary