Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

OS

Judge Douglas is going back to the cra of our Revolution, and, to the ex. tent of his ability, muzzling the cannon which thunders its annual joyous return. When lie invites any people, willing to have slavery, to establish it, he is blowing out the moral lights around us. When he says, he care not whether slavery js voted down or voted up,"—that it is a sacred right of self-government,-he is, in my judgment, penetrating the human soul, and eradicating the light of reason and the love of liberty in this American people. And now I will only say, that when, by all these means and appliances, Judge Douglas shall succeed in bringing public sen timent to an exact accordance with his own views—when these vast assemblages shall echo back all these sentiments when they shall come to repeat bis views and to avow his principles, and to say all that he says on. these mighty questions-then it needs only the formality of the second Dred Scott decision, which he indorses in advance, to make slavery alike lawful in all the States-old as well as new, North as well as South.

The debate at Freeport—the second of the series—took place August 27, and was marked by Mr. Lincoln answering a series of seven questions proposed by his opponent. We give the interrogatories and the replies, as follows:

Question 1. I desire to know whether Lincoln to-diny stands, as he did in 1554, in favor of the unconditional repeal of the Fugitive Slave law ?

Answer. I do not now, nor ever did, stand in favor of the unconditional repeal of the Fugitive Slave law.

Q. 2. I desire him to answer whether he stands pledged to-day, as he did in 1854, against the admission of any inore slave States into the Union, even if the people want them?

A. I do not now, or ever did, stand pledged against the admission of any more slave States into the Union.

Q. 3. I want to know whether he stands pledged against the admission of a new State into the Union with such a Constitution as the people of that State may see fit to make ?

A. I do not stand pledged against the admission of a new State into the Union, with such a Constitution as the people of that State may see fit to make.

Q. 4. I want to know whether he stands to-day pledged to the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia ?

A. I do not stand to-day pledged to the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia.

Q. 5. I desire him to answer whether he stands pledged to the prohibition of the slave-trade between the different States ?

A. I do not stand pledged to the prohibition of the slave-trade be tween the different States.

Q. 6. I desire to know whether he stands pledged to prohibit slavery in all the Territories of the United States, North as well as South of the Vissouri Compromise line?

A. I am impliedly, if not expressly, pledged to a belief in the right and duty of Congress to prohibit slavery in all the United States Territories.

Q. 7. I desire him to answer whether he is opposed to the acquisition of any new territory unless slavery is first prohibited therein ?

A. I am not generally opposed to honest acquisition of territory; and, in any given case, I would or would not oppose such acquisition, accordingly as I might think such acquisition would or would not aggravate the slavery question among ourselves.

Before answering these questions, Mr. Lincoln notified Mr. Douglas that he should insist upon the right to propound an equal number to him, if he desired to do so, and before closing submitted these four interrogatories :

Question 1. If the people of Kansas shall, by means entirely unobjectionable in all other respects, adopt a State Constitution, and ask admission into the Union under it, before they have the requisite number of inhabitants according to the English bill—some ninety-three thousand -will you rote to adınit them?

Q. 2. Cau the people of a United States Territory, in any lawful way, against the wish of any citizen of the United States, exclude slavery from its limits prior to the formation of a State Constitution?

Q. 3. If the Supreme Court of the United States shall decide that States cannot exclude slavery from their limits, are you in favor of acquiescing in, adopting, and following such decision as a rule of political action ?

Q. 4. Are you in favor of acquiring additional territory, in disregard of how such acquisition may affect the nation on the slavery question ?

To these questions he received, as he undoubtedly expected, only evasive replies. He also, in the course of the debate, pressed home upon his opponent a charge of quoting resolutions as having been adopted at a Republican State Convention which were never so adopted, and again called Douglas's attention to the conspiracy to nationalize slavery, and showed that his pretended desire to leave the people of a Territory free to establish slavery or exclude it, was really only a desire to allow them to establish it, as was shown by his voting against Mr. Chase's amendment to the Nebraska bill, which gave the leave to exclude it.

In the third debate, which took place at Jonesboro, Mr. Lincoln showed that Douglas and his friends were trying to change the position of the country on the slavery question from what it was when the Constitution was adopted, and that the disturbance of the country had arisen from this pernicious effort. He then cited from Democratic speeches and platforms of former days to prove that they occupied then the very opposite ground on the question from that which was taken at the time he was speaking. He also brought out in strong relief the (vasive character of Douglas's answers to the questions which he had proposed, especially the subterfuge of “unfriendly legislation," which he had set forth as the means by which the people of a Territory could exclude slavery from its limits in spite of the Dred Scott decision.

It is a noteworthy fact that when Mr. Lincoln was preparing these questions for Douglas, he was urged by some of his friends not to corner him on this last point, because he would surely stand by his doctrine of Squatter Sovereignty in defiance of the Dred Scott decision, “and that,” said they, “will make him Senator.” “That may be," said Mr. Lincoln, with a twinkle in his eye, “but if he takes that shoot he never can be President."

Mr. Lincoln's sagacity did not fail him here. This position which Douglas took of “unfriendly legislation," was a stumbling-block which he was never able to get over ; and if the contest between them had brought out no other good result, the compelling Douglas to take this ground was a most important point gained.

In the fourth joint debate at Charleston, Mr. Lincoln brought forward and spoke at length upon the evidence of a charge previously made by Judge Trumbull against Douglas, of being himself reponsible for a clause in the Kansas bill which would have deprived the people of Kansas of the right to vote upon their own Constitution.

He stated this point as follows:

The bill that went into his (Mr. Douglas's) hands had the provision in it for a submission of the Constitution to the people, and I say its language amounts to an express provision for a submission, and that he took the provision out. He says it was known that the bill was silent in this particular; but I say, Judge Douglas, it was not silent when you got it. It was vocal with the declaration, when you got it, for a submission of the Constitution to the people. And now, my direct question to Judge Douglas is, to answer why, if he deemed the bill silent on this point, he

had found the bill silent and without this provision, he might say what he dues now. If he supposes it was implied that the Constitution would be submitted to a vote of the people, how could these two lines 80 encumber the statute as to make it necessary to strike them out? How could he infer that a submission was still implied, after its express provision had been stricken from the bill? I find the bill vocal with the provision, while he silenced it. He took it out, and although he took out the other provision preventing a submission to a vote of the people, I ask, why did you first put it in? I ask him whether he took the original provision out, which Trumbull alleges was in the bill? If he admits that he did take it out, I ask him what he did it for? It looks to us as if he had altered the bill. If it looks differently to him—if he has a different reason for his action from the one we assign him--he can tell it. I insist upon knowing why he made the bill silent upon that point, when it was vocal before he put his hands upon it.

Mr. Douglas, it is needless to say, could not parry this home thrust. In his efforts to do so (for Mr. Lincoln gave him several opportunities subsequently to explain his position), he invariably lost his temper.

In view of the discussions now in progress in many parts of the country, the following passage from Mr. Lincoln's final rejoinder to Mr. Douglas, in this debate at Charleston, possesses peculiar interest.

me

Judge Douglas has said to you that he has not been able to get from me an answer to the question whether I am in favor of negro citizenship. So far as I know, the Judge never asked me the question before. He shall have no occasion to ever ask it again, for I tell him very frankly that I am not in favor of negro citizenship. This furnishes me an occasion for saying a few words upon the subject. I mentioned in a certain speech of mine which has been printed, that the Supreme Court had decided that a negro could not possibly be made a citizen; and without saying what was my gronnd of complaint in regard to that, or whether I had any ground of complaint, Judge Douglas has from that

[ocr errors]

thing manufactured nearly every thing that he ever says about my disposition to produce an equality between the negroes and the white people. If any one will read my speech, he will find I mentioned that as one of the points decided in the course of the Supreme Court opinions, but I did

ate what objection I had to it. But Judge Douglas tells the people what my objection was, when I did not tell them myself. Now my opinion is that the different States have the power to make a negro a citizen under the Constitution of tho United States, if they choose. The Dred Scott decision decides that they have not that power. If the State of Illinois had that power I should be opposed to the exercise of it. That is all I have to say about it.

In the fifth joint debate, that at Galesburg, Mr. Lincoln defended the Republican party from the charge of being sectional, and in the course of liis speech he thus pointedly sketched the difference between the supporters of Mr. Douglas and their opponents, as regarded the manner in which they respectively looked upon the free and slave States :

The Judge tells, in proceeding, that he is opposed to making any odions distinctions between free and slave States. I am altogether unaware that the Republicans are in favor of making any odious distinctions between the free and slave States. But there still is a difference, I think, between Judge Douglas and the Republicans in this. I suppose that the real difference between Judge Douglas and his friends, and the Republicans on the contrary, is, that the Judge is not in favor of making any difference between slavery and liberty-tbat he is in favor of eradicating, of pressing out of view, the questions of preference in this country for free or slave institutions; and consequently every sentiment he utters discards the idea that there is any wrong in slavery. Every thing that emanates from him or his coadjutors in their course of policy, carefully excludes the thought that there is any thing wrong in slavery. All their arguments, if you will consider them, will be seen to exclude the thought that there is any thing whatever wrong in slavery. If you will take the Judge's speeches, and select the short and pointed sentences expressed by him-as his . declaration that he “don't care whether slavery is voted up or down"you will see at once that this is perfectly logical, if you do not admit that slavery is wrong. If you do admit that it is wrong, Judge Douglas cannot logically say he don't care whether a wrong is voted up or voted down. Judge Douglas declares that if any community want slavery they have a right to have it. He can say that logically, if he says that there is no wrong in slavery; but if you admit that there is a wrong in it, he cannot logically say that anybody has a right to do wrong. He insists that, upon the score of equality, the owners of slaves and the owners of property

« AnteriorContinuar »