Great Debate Between Lincoln and Douglas at Jonesboro.
September 20, 1858
FOURTEEN HUNDRED PERSONS PRESENT. DOUGLAS REHEARSES THE SAME OLD SPEECH. He "comes to his Milk" Voluntarily and Old Abe takes what he has to Spare. Lincoln Pulverizes his Freeport Answers on the Dred Scott Decision.
The first debate in "Egypt," between Douglas and Lincoln, took place here to-day. As compared with the audiences they had at Ottawa and Freeport, the crowd present at this debate was small, and lacking in enthusiasm. There were not tow thousand people in attendance.
The extra excursion train from Cairo, for the State Fair at Centralia, brought up Senator Douglas and his cannon, this evening. We came up on the same train, and were surprised that notwithstanding the cannon was fired on the arrival at each station, not a solitary cheer was given, nor any sign of enthusiasm manifested, for Douglas, at any of the Stations between Cairo and Jonesboro. We say we were surprised at this, for the reason that we have heard so much about "Egypt," boiling with excitement in favor of the Little Giant. This is not true. Like a thousand other things we read in his organs and hear his fuglers say, it is bogus. There is no enthusiasm -- no excitement, in this region, for Douglas. We say this candidly, and mention it only to show that even in this strong "Democratic" section, where the Douglas cause has been represented as invulnerable and unassailable, the utmost indifference exists regarding him. We are assured by gentlemen residing here, that there is a strong probability that the Buchanan Democrats -- the adamantine "Nationals," are strongly in the ascendant over the Douglas bolters, and that in some localities hereaway, there are even more Lincoln men than Douglas men. Think of that! "Egypt" becoming Republicanized, or as the Douglasite libellers would say, "Abolitionized!" Jonesboro' itself, the very centre of "Egypt," is a Republican town! This shows that the great, patriotic and righteous principles of the Republican party, which Mr. Lincoln so faithfully represents, and so ably advocates and defends before the people, are progressing and finding their way to the popular heart even in regions that Republicans have regarded as hopelessly given over to the worship of false gods. All that the Egyptians, as well as others, require, to bring them into the support of Republicanism is to have our principles, sentiments and objects fairly and fully explained to them, so that they will understand them, and become disabused of the false notions regarding the Republican party, which Douglas and his blowers have, by misrepresentation and falsehood, impressed upon them.
But I must say something about the "reception" Douglas and his cannon were honored with here. It was highly amusing, and to the Senator himself evidently a disappointment. -- When the train arrived at the station; his cannon (he always carries it with him, on an extra wood car attached to the train,) fired his own salute, an a crowd of about a hundred persons rushed to the cars. He stepped forth, waved his hand, and nobody appearing to take any particular notice of him -- (they are a very cool set of people down here, notwithstanding the hot weather they are having) -- he went to a carriage prepared for him; and left. There was no cheering -- no anything. By and by, three boys came along with Douglas banners, and a couple of big men with a big American flag which the senator brought with him in the train and they walked into the middle of the street and halted, expecting "the people" to follow them in procession behind Douglas' carriage. -- But "the people" didn't! The three boys and the two big men, with the banners and the big flag, then concluded to march, and off they went up street, presenting a spectacle that excited the laughter and ridicule of "the people." It being customary for some journalists to ridicule and burlesque the men and the meetings of their opponents, however unjustly, some may think this was written in that spirit, but it is not. In saying that Douglas' "reception" here was the most ludicrous failure that we have ever witnessed in a political campaign, we speak in candor and assert the simple truth, however much, such a fact may surprise those who are laboring under the mistaken notion that "Egypt" is "all for Douglas."
The town was exceedingly quiet, and the people scattered about here and there, until two o'clock, when the crowd gathered in a grove near by, and the debate commenced. Senator Douglas opened in a speech of an hour, was followed by Mr. Lincoln in an hour and a half, and Douglas would up the discussion in a half hour's rejoinder.
Mr. Douglas opened by attempting to prove that in 1850, and prior to 1854, the National Whig party and the National Democratic party stood upon a common platform regarding the subjects of slavery -- that the compromise measures of 1850 were made as the "finality" of the slavery agitation by the National Conventions of both parties. But that in 1854, some of the disappointed leaders of both parties combined to break up both the Democratic party and the Whig party, and consequently inaugurated the "Black Republican" or Abolition organization, making hostility to the rights, interests and institutions of the slave States the great issue of their movements, and forcing into being sectional warfare. This was done he said on the strength of the excitement consequent upon the passage of the Nebraska bill -- and now the only parties in the country are the "Abolitionists" and the "National Democratic" party. The start was made by the Anti Nebraska State Convention in New York, and in Illinois Lincoln and Trumbull unite into combination to inaugurate the same movement, a bargain having previously been made that Lincoln, and Trumbull should be made Senators by the arrangement. This new party adopted ultra "Abolition" platforms in the Northern part of the State. Said Fred Douglas, Lovejoy, Trumbull, Lincoln, Giddings, Sidney Breese, Gov. Reynolds, John Dougherty and John Wentworth were all in the game opposing him (Douglas) but the "combination" was concealed for the sake of policy.
He charged that the Republicans dare not adopt the same creed and fight under the same name in the Northern as in the Southern part of the State. They adopt different titles and avow different sentiments, in order to deceive the people into voting with them. The new party succeeded in 1854, electing a Legislature, which, the first thing, "struck down the brave an gallant Gen. Shields." He read the resolutions introduced by Lovejoy into the Legislature, and asserted that Lincoln and Trumbull stood upon the platform -- that Lincoln was cheated by Trumbull violation an agreement that he (Lincoln) should be the Senator in Shields' place, an read an extract purporting to be from the speech of Colonel Matheny, of Springfield, charging the violation of faith towards Lincoln. Now it has been agreed that the promise shall be redeemed, and Lincoln elected in his (Douglas') place -- and so the Republican Convention at Springfield declared him to be their "first, last and only choice." Exclaims, "Now suppose Lincoln should die -- what would they do?" Thinks they "will have a nice time when they get through," but hopes to prevent Lincoln's being cheated again. He then quoted from Mr. Lincoln's speech, made at the Republican State Convention at Springfield, in regard to "a house being divided against itself," not being able to stand, and attempted to show that Lincoln was in favor of the dissolution of the Union. He repeated his sentiments in regard to "uniformity" and "diversity" of institutions, charging, as often heretofore, that Lincoln was necessarily in favor of "uniformity." He was for "diversity," believing that the Government was framed on that principle.
He repeated the sentiments of his Chicago speech in regard to the Dred Scott decision, endorsing it fully and completely. "I have no war to make against that decision," he said, "it is a law of the land, and as such I accept it." Again charges Lincoln with being in favor of "negro equality," and again declares his belief that the government was made by white men, for white men. It does not follow that because a man is black he must be a slave, but is willing to let each State decided the negro question for itself. The Dred Scott decision covers this whole question, he said, and he abided by that decision. He then launched forth into an eloquent eulogium upon the doctrine of "State Rights, State Sovereignty" and "Popular Sovereignty," which was cut short by the expiration of his hour.
Mr. Lincoln's Reply.
Three cheers were given for Lincoln when he arose, and that gentlemen then proceeded, saying that he most cordially approved of Mr. Douglas' sentiments in regard to the "State Rights" and "State Sovereignty," and that he had tried long and often to induce Douglas to believe that he (Lincoln) never had entertained any sentiments on this subject other than that every State in the Union has the right to attend to its own affairs.
He then replied to Douglas' strictures and charges in regard to "uniformity." Judge Douglas asks, he said, "why we do not leave the Union as our fathers made it" -- that is, Judge, what I desire to do. Our fathers when they formed the Government, were of opinion that slavery was in the course of ultimate extinction, and he believed it is our duty to bring the country back to that belief -- to limit slavery in its present limits by keeping it out of the new territories. To change this wise policy of our fathers, Douglas has been principally instrumental.
In regard to the charge of a "combination" between himself, Trumbull and the Abolitionists, he said there is not a word of truth in it.
The Judge (said Mr. Lincoln) has gone over a long account of old Whig and the Democratic parties, and it connects itself with this charge against Trumbull and myself. He says that they agreed upon a compromise in regard to the slavery question in 1850; that in a National Democratic Convention resolution here passed to abide by that compromise as a finality upon the slavery question. He also says that the Whig party in National Convention agreed to abide by and regard as a finality, the compromise of 1850. I understand the Judge to be altogether right about that; I understand that part of the history of the country as stated by him to be correct. I recollect that I, as a member of that party, acquiesced in that compromise. I recollect in the Presidential election which followed, when we had General Scott up for the Presidency, Judge Douglas was around berating the Whigs as Abolitionists, precisely as he does to-day -- not a bit of difference. I have often heard him. We could do nothing together when the old Whig party was alive that was not Abolitionism, but it has got an extremely good name since it passed away [Laughter.]
When that compromise was made it did not repeal the old Missouri Compromise. It left a region of United States territory half as large as the present territory of the United States, north of the line of 36'30; in which slavery was prohibited by acts of Congress. This compromise did not repeal that one. It did not affect of propose to repeal it. But at last it became Judge Douglas' duty, as he thought, (and I find no fault with him,) as Chairman of the Committee on Territories, to bring in a bill for the organization of a territorial government -- first of one, then of two territories north of that line. When he did so, it ended in his inserting a provision substantially repealing the Missouri Compromise. That was because the compromise of 1850 had not repealed it. And now I ask why he could not have let that compromise alone? We were quiet from the agitation of the slavery question. We were making no fuss about it. All had acquiesced in the compromise measures of 1850. We had never been seriously disturbed by any abolition agitation before that period. When he came to form governments for the territories north of the line of 36'30', why could he not have let that matter stand as it was standing? [Applause.] Was it necessary to the organization of a territory? Not at all. Iowa lay north of the line, and had been organized as a territory and had come into the Union as a State without disturbing the Compromise. There was no sort of necessity for destroying it to organize these territories. But, gentlemen, it would take up all my time to meet al the little quibbling arguments of Judge Douglas to show that the Missouri Compromise was repealed by the Compromise of 1850. My own opinion is that a careful investigation of all the arguments to sustain the position that the Compromise was virtually repealed by the Compromise of 1850 would show that they are the merest fallacies. I have the report that Judge Douglas first brought into Congress at the time of the introduction of the Nebraska bill, which in its original form did not repeal the Missouri Compromise, and he there expressly stated that the had forborne to do so because it had not been done by the Compromise of 1850. I close this part of the discussion on my part by asking him the question again, "Why when we had peace under the Missouri Compromise could you not have let it along?"
In complaining of what I said in my speech at Springfield, in which he says I accept my nomination for the Senatorship, (where by the way he is at fault, or if he will examine it he will find no acceptance in it,) he again quotes that portion in which I said that "a house divided against itself cannot stand." Let me say a word in regard to that matter.
He tries to persuade us that there must be a variety in the different institutions of the States of the Union; that that variety necessarily proceeds from the variety of soil, climate, of the face of the country and the difference in the natural features of the States. I agree to all that. Have these very matters ever produced any difficulty amongst us? Not at all. Have we ever had any quarrel over the fact that they have laws in Louisiana designed to regulate the commerce that springs from the production of sugar? Or because we have a different class relative to the production of flour in this State? Have they produced any differences? Not at all. They are the very cements of this Union. They don't make the house a house divided against itself. They are the props that hold up the house and sustain the Union.
But has it been so with this element of slavery? Have we not always had quarrels and difficulties over it? And when will we cease to have quarrels over it? Like causes produce like effects. It is worth while to observe that we have generally had comparative peace upon the slavery question and that there has been no cause for alarm until it was excited by the effort to spread it into new territory. Whenever it has been limited to its present bounds and there has been no effort to spread it , there has been peace. All the trouble and convulsion has proceeded from efforts to spread it over more territory. It was thus at the date of the Missouri Compromise. It was so again with the annexation of Texas; so with the territory acquired by the Mexican war, it is so now. Whenever there has been an effort to spread it there has been agitation and resistance. Now I appeal to this audience, (very few of whom are my political friends,) as national men, whether we have reason to expect that the agitation in regard to this subject will cease while the causes that tend to produce agitation are actively at work? Will not the same cause that produced agitation in 1820 when the Missouri Compromise was formed -- that which produced the agitation upon the annexation of Texas and at other times -- work out the same results always? Do you think that the nature of man will be changed -- that the same causes that produced agitation at one time will not have the same effect at another.
This has been the result so far as my observation of the slavery question and my reading in history extends. What right have we then to hope that the trouble will cease -- that the agitation will come to an end -- until it shall either be placed back where it originally stood and where the fathers originally placed it, or on the other hand until it shall entirely master all opposition. This is the view I entertain, and this is the reason I entertained it, as Judge Douglas has read from my Springfield speech.
Now, my friends, there is one other thing that I feel myself under some sort of obligation to mention. Judge Douglas has here to-day -- in a very rambling way, I was about saying -- spoken of the platforms for which he seeks to hold me responsible. He says, "Why can't you come out and make an open avowal of principles in all places alike?" and he reads from an advertisement that he says was used to notify the people of a speech to be made by Judge Trumbull at Waterloo. In commenting on it he desires to know whether we cannot speak frankly and manfully as he and his friends do! How, I ask, do his friends speak out their own sentiments? A convention of his party in this State met on the 21st of April, at Springfield, and passed a set of resolutions which they proclaim to the country as their platform. This does constitute their platform, and it is because Judge Douglas claims it as his platform -- that these are his principles and purposes -- that he has a right to declare he speaks his sentiments "frankly and manfully." On the 9 th of June Col. Dougherty, Gov. Reynolds and others, calling themselves National Democrats, met in Springfield and adopted a set of resolutions which are as easily understood, as plain and as definite in stating to the country and to the world what they believed in and would stand upon, a Judge Douglas' platform. Now, what is the reason that Judge Douglas is not willing that Col. Dougherty and Gov. Reynolds should stand upon their own written and printed platform as well as he upon his? Why must he look farther than their platform when he claims himself to stand by his platform?
Again, in reference to our platform; on the 16th of June the Republicans had their convention and published their platform, which is as clear and distinct as Judge Douglas'. In it they spoke their principles as plainly and as definitely to the world. What is the reason that Judge Douglas is not willing I should stand upon that platform? Why must he go round hunting for someone who is supporting me, or has supported me at some time in his life, and who has said something at some time contrary to that platform? Does the Judge regard that rule as a good one? If it turn out that the rule is a good one for me -- that I am responsible for any and every opinion that any man has expressed who is my friend -- then it is a good rule for him. I ask, is it as not good a rule for him as it is for me? In my opinion, it is not a good rule for either of us? Do you think differently, Judge?
Mr. DOUGLAS -- I do not.
Mr. LINCOLN -- Judge Douglas says he does not think differently. I am glad of it. Then can he tell me why he is looking up resolution of five or six years ago, and insisting that they were my platform, notwithstanding my protest that they are not, and never were my platform, and my pointing out the platform of the State Convention which he delights to say nominated me for the Senate? I cannot see what he means by parading these resolutions, if it not to hold me responsible for them in some way. If he says to me here, that he does not hold the rule to be good, one way or the other, I do not comprehend how he could answer me more fully if he answered me at greater length. I will therefore put in as my answer to the resolutions that he has hunted up against me, what I as a lawyer, would call a good plea to a bad declaration. [Laughter.] I understand that it is a maxim of law, that a poor plea may be a good plea to a bad declaration. I think that the opinions the Judge brings from those who support me, yet differ from me, is a bad declaration against me; but if I can bring the same things against him, I am putting in a good plea to that kind of declaration, and now I propose to try it.
At Freeport Judge Douglas occupied a large part of his time in producing resolutions and documents of various sorts, as I understood to make me somehow responsible for them; and I propose now doing a little of the same sort of thing for him. In 1850 a very clever gentleman by the name of Thompson Campbell, a personal friend of Judge Douglas and myself, a political friend of Judge Douglas and opponent of mine, was a candidate for Congress in the Galena District. He was interrogated as to his views on this same slavery question. I have here before me the interrogatories and Campbell's answers to them. I will read them:
1st. Will you, if elected, vote for and cordially support a bill prohibiting slavery in the Territories of the United States?
2d. Will you vote for and support a bill abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia?
3d. Will you oppose the admission of any slave States which may be formed out of Texas or the Territories?
4th. Will you vote for and advocate the repeal of the fugitive slave law passed at the recent session of Congress?
5th. Will you advocate and vote for the election of a Speaker of the House of Representatives who shall be willing to organize the Committees of that House, so as to give the Free States their just influence in the business of legislation?
6th. What are your views not only as to the constitutional right of Congress to prohibit the slave trade between the States, but also as to the expediency of exercising that right immediately.
To the first and second interrogatories, I answer unequivocally in the affirmative.
To the third interrogatory I reply, that I am opposed to the admission of any more slave States into the Union, that may be formed out of Texas or any other Territory.
To the fourth and fifth interrogatories I unhesitatingly answer in the affirmative.
To the sixth interrogatory I reply, that so long as the slave States continue to treat slaves as articles of commerce, the Constitution confers power on Congress to pass laws regulating that peculiar COMMERCE, and that the protection of Human Rights imperatively demands the interposition of every constitutional means to prevents this most inhuman and iniquitous traffic.
I want to say here that Thompson Campbell was elected to Congress on that platform as the Democratic candidate in the Galena District, against Martin P. Sweet.
Mr. LINCOLN. -- The time Campbell ran was in 1850. I have not the exact date here. It was some time in 1850 that these interrogatories were put and the answer given. Campbell was elected to Congress, and served out his term. I think a second election came up before he served out his term, and he was not reëlected. Whether defeated or not nominated I do not know. [Mr. Campbell was nominated for reëlection by the Democratic party, by acclamation]. At the end of his term his very good friend, Judge Douglas, got him a high office from President Pierce, and sent him off to California. Is not that the fact? Just at end of his term in Congress it appears that our mutual friend Judge Douglas go our mutual friend Campbell and sent him to California upon it. And not only so, but on the 27th of last month, when Judge Douglas and myself spoke at Freeport in joint discussion, there was his same friend Campbell, come all the way from California, to help the Judge beat me; and there was poor Martin P. Sweet standing on the platform, trying to help poor me to be elected. [Laughter.] That is true of one of Judge Douglas' friends.
So again, in that same race of 1850, there was a Congressional Convention assembled at Joliet, and it nominated R. S. Molony, for Congress, and unanimously adopted the following resolutions:
Resolved, That we are uncompromisingly opposed to the extension of slavery; and while we would not make such opposition a ground of interference with the interests of the States where it exists, yet we moderately but firmly insist that it is the duty of Congress to oppose its extension into Territory now free, by all means compatible with the obligations of the constitution, and with good faith to our sister States; that these principles were recognized by the Ordinance of 1787, which received the sanction of Thomas Jefferson, who is acknowledged by all to be the great oracle and expounder of our faith.
Subsequently the same interrogatories were propounded to Dr. Molony which had been addressed to Campbell, as above, with the exception of the 6th respecting the inter-State slave trade, to which Dr. Molony, the Democratic nominee for Congress, replied as follows;
I received the writing interrogatories this day, and as you will see by the LaSalle Democrat and Ottawa Free Trader, I Took at Peru on the 5th and at Ottawa on the 7th, the affirmative side of interrogatories 1st and 2d, and in relation to the admission of any more slave States from free territory, my position taken at these meetings, all correctly reported in said papers, was emphatically and distinctly opposed to it. In relation to the admission of any more slave States from Texas, whether I shall go against it or not will depend upon the opinion that I may hereafter form of the true meaning and nature of the resolutions of annexation. If, by said resolutions, the honor and good faith of the nation is pledged to admit more slave States from Texas when she (Texas) may apply for the admission of such State, then I should, if in Congress, vote for their admission. But if not so PLEDGED and bound by sacred contract, then a bill for the admission of more slave States from Texas would never receive my vote.
To your 4th interrogatory I answer most decidedly in the affirmative, and for reasons set forth in my reported remarks at Ottawa last Monday.
To your 5th interrogatory I also reply in the affirmative most cordially, and that I will use my utmost exertions to secure the nomination and election of a man who will accomplish the objects of said interrogatories. I most cordially approve of the resolutions adopted at the union meeting held at Princeton on the 27th September ult.
R. S. MOLONY.
All I have to say in regard to Dr. Molony, is that he was the regularly nominated Democratic candidate for Congress in his District -- was elected at that time, at the end of his term was appointed to a Land Office at Danville, (I never heard anything of Judge Douglas' instrumentality in this.) He held this office a considerable time, and when we were at Freeport the other day, there were hand bills scattered about notifying the public that after our debate was over, R. S. Maloney would make a Democratic speech in favor of Judge Douglas. That is all I know of my own personal knowledge. It is added here to this resolution, and truly I believe that --
"Among those who participated in the Joliet Convention, and who supported its nominee, with his platform as laid down in the resolution of the Convention and in his reply as above given, we call at random the following names, all of which are recognized at this day as leading Democrats:"
COOK COUNTY. — E. B. Williams, Charles McDonell, Arno Voss, Thomas Hoyne, Isaac Cook.
I reckon we ought to except Cook. [Laughter.]
F. C. Sherman.
WILL — Joel A. Matteson, S. W. Bowen.
KANE — B. F. Hall, G. W. Renwick, A. M. Herrington, Elijah Wilcox.
McHENRY — W. M. Jackson, Enos W. Smith, Neil Donnelly.
La SALLE — John Hise, William Reddick.
William Reddick! Another one of Judge Douglas' friends that stood on the stand with him at Ottawa, at the time the Judge says my knees trembled so that I had to be carried away. [Laughter.] The names are all here:
Du PAGE — Nathan Allen.
De KALB — Z. B. Mayo.
Here is another set of resolutions which I think are opposite to the matter in hand.
On the 28th of February of the [unknown], a Democratic District Convention was held at Naperville, to nominate a candidate for Circuit Judge. Among the delegates were Bowen and Kelly, of Will; Captain Naper. H. H. Cody, Nathan Allen, of Du Page; W. M. Jackson, J. M. Strode, P. W. Platt and Enos W. Smith, of McHenry; J. Horsman and others, of Winnebago. Col. Strode presided over the Convention. The following resolutions were unanimously adopted — the first on motion of P. W. Platt, the second on motion of William M. Jackson.
Resolved, That the Convention is in favor of the Wilmot Proviso, both in Principle and Practice, and that we know of no good reason why any person should oppose the largest latitude in Free Soil, Free Territory and Free Speech.
Resolved, That in the opinion of this Convention the time has arrived when all men should be free, whites as well as others.
Judge Douglas — What is the date of those resolutions?
Mr. Lincoln — I understand it was in 1850, but I do not know it. I do not state a thing and say I know it, when I do not. But I have the highest belief that this is so. I know of no way to arrive at the conclusion that there is an error in it. I mean to put a case no stronger than the truth will allow. But what I was going to comment upon is an extract from a newspaper in DeKalb County, and it strikes me as being rather singular, I confess under the circumstances. There is a Judge Mayo in that county, who is a candidate for the Legislature, for the purpose if he secures his election, of helping to reëlect Judge Douglas. He is the editor of a newspaper [DeKalb county Sentinel], and in that paper I find the extract I am going to read. It is part of an editorial article in which he was electioneering as fiercely as he could for Judge Douglas and against me. It was a curious thing, I think, to be in such a paper. I will agree to that, and the Judge may make the most of it:
"Our education has been such that we have ever been rather in favor of the equality of the blacks; that is, that the should enjoy all the privileges of the whites where they reside. We are aware that this is not a very popular doctrine. We have had many a confab with some who are now strong ‘Republicans,’ we taking the broad ground of equality and they the opposite ground.
"We were brought up in a State where blacks were voters, and we do not know of any inconvenience resulting from it, though perhaps it would not work as well where the blacks are more numerous. We have no doubt of the right of the whites to guard against such an evil, it if is one. Our opinion is that it would be best for all concerned to have the colored population in a State by themselves. [In this I agree with him]; but if within the jurisdiction of the United States we say by all means they should have the right to have their Senators and Representatives in Congress, and to vote for President. With us ‘worth makes the man, and want of it the fellow.’ We have seen many a ‘nigger’ that we thought more of than some white men."
That is one of Judge Douglas' friends. Now I do not want to leave myself in an attitude where I can be misrepresented, so I will say I do not think the Judge is responsible for this article; but he is quite as responsible for it as I would be if one of my friends had said it. I think that is fair enough. [Cheers.]
I have here also a set of resolutions passed by a Democratic State Convention of Judge Douglas' own good old State of Vermont, that I think ought to be good for him too:
Resolved, That liberty is a right inherent and inalienable in man, and that herein all men are equal.
Resolved, That we claim no authority in the Federal Government to abolish slavery in the several States, but we do claim it for constitutional power perpetually to prohibit the introduction of slavery into territory now free, and abolish it wherever, under the jurisdiction of Congress it exists.
Resolved, That this power ought immediately to be exercised prohibiting the introduction and existence of slavery in New Mexico and California, in abolishing slavery and the slave trade in the District of Columbia, on the high seas, and wherever else, under the Constitution, it can be reached.
Resolved, That no more slave States should be admitted into the Federal Union.
Resolved, That the Government ought to return to its ancient policy, not to extend, nationalize or encourage but to limit, localize and discourage slavery.
At Freeport I answered several interrogatories that had been propounded to me by Judge Douglas at the Ottawa meeting. The Judge has yet not seen fit to find any fault with the position that I took in regard to those seven interrogatories, which were certainly broad enough, in all conscience, to cover the entire ground. In my answers, which have been printed, and all have had the opportunity of seeing, I take the ground that those who elect me must expect that I will do nothing which is not in accordance with those answers. I have some right to assert that Judge Douglas has no fault to find with them. But he chooses to still try to thrust me upon different ground without paying any attention to my answers, the obtaining of which from me cost him so much trouble and concern. At the same time, I propounded four interrogatories to him, claiming it as a right that he should answer as many interrogatories for me as I did for him, and I would reserve myself for a future installment when I got them ready. The Judge in answering me upon that occasion, put in what I suppose he intends as answers to all four of my interrogatories.
The second interrogatory that I propounded to him, was this:
"Q. 2. Can 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."
To this Judge Douglas answered that they can lawfully exclude slavery from the Territory prior to the formation of a constitution. He goes on to tell us how it can be done. As I understand him, he holds that it can be done by the Territorial Legislature refusing to make any enactments for the protection of slavery in the Territory, and especially by adopting unfriendly legislation to it. For the sake of clearness I state it again; that they can exclude slavery from the Territory, 1st , by withholding what he assumes to be an indispensable assistance to it in the way of legislation; and 2d, by unfriendly legislation. If I rightly understand him, I wish to ask your attention for a while to his position.
In the first place, the Supreme Court of the United States has decided that any Congressional prohibition of slavery in the Territories is unconstitutional — that they have reached this proposition as a conclusion from their former proposition that the Constitution of the United States expressly recognizes property in slaves, and from that other constitutional provision that no person shall be deprived of property without due process of law. Hence they reach the conclusion that as the Constitution of the Untied States expressly recognizes property in slaves, and prohibits any person from being deprived of property without due process of law, to pass an act of Congress by which a man who owned a slave on one side of a line would be deprived of him if he took him on the other side, is depriving him of that property without due process of law. That I understand to be the decision of the Supreme Court. I understand also that Judge Douglas adheres most firmly to that decision; and the difficulty is, how is it possible for any power to exclude slavery from the Territory unless in violation of that decision? That is the difficulty.
In the Senate of the United States, in 1856, Judge Trumbull in a speech, substantially if not directly , put the same interrogatory to Judge Douglas, as to whether the people of a Territory had the lawful power to exclude slavery prior to the formation of the constitution? Judge Douglas then answered at considerable length, and his answer will be found in the Congressional Globe, under date of June 9th, 1856. The Judge said that whether the people could exclude slavery prior to the formation of a constitution or not was a question to be decided by the Supreme Court. He put that proposition, as will be seen by the Congressional Globe, in a variety of forms, all running to the same thing in substance — that it was a question for the Supreme Court. I maintain that when he says, after the Supreme Court have decided the question, that the people may yet exclude slavery by any means whatever, he does virtually say, that it is no a question of the Supreme Court [Applause.] He shifts his ground. I appeal to you whether he did not say it was a question for the Supreme Court. Has not the Supreme Court decided that question? When he now says the people may exclude slavery, does he not make it a question for the people? Does he not virtually shift his ground and say that it is not a question for the Court, but for the people? This is a very simple proposition — a very plain and naked one. It seems to me that there is no difficulty in deciding it. In a variety of ways he said that it was a question for the Supreme Court. He did not stop then to tell us that whatever the Supreme Court decides the people can by withholding necessary "police regulations" keep slavery out. He did not make any such answer. I submit to you now, whether the new state of the case has not induced the Judge to sheer away from his original ground. [Applause.] Would not this be the impression of every fairminded man?
I hold that the proposition that slavery cannot enter a new country without police regulations is historically false. It is not true at all. I hold that the history of this country shows that the institution of slavery was originally planted upon this continent without these "police regulations" which the Judge now thinks necessary for the actual establishment of it. Not only so, but is there not another fact — how came this Dred Scott Decision to be made? It was made upon the case of a negro being taken and actually held in slavery in Minnesota Territory, claiming his freedom because the act of Congress prohibited his being so held there. Will the Judge pretend that Dred Scott was not held there without police regulations? There is at least one matter of record as to his having been held in slavery in the Territory, not only without police regulations, but in the teeth of Congressional legislation supposed to be valid at the time. This shows that there is vigor enough in Slavery to plant itself in a new country even against unfriendly legislation. It takes not only law but the enforcement of law to keep it out. That is the history of this country upon the subject.
I wish to ask one other question. It being understood that the Constitution of the United States guarantees property in slaves in the Territories, if there is any infringement of the right of that property, would not the United States Courts, organized for the government of the Territory, apply such remedy as might be necessary in that case? It is a maxim held by the Courts, that there is not wrong without its remedy; and the Courts have a remedy for whatever is acknowledged and treated as a wrong.
Again: I will ask you my friends, if you were elected members of the Legislature, what would be the first thing you would have to do before entering upon your duties? Swear to support the Constitution of the United States Suppose you believe, as Judge Douglas does, that the Constitution of the United States, guarantees to your neighbor the right to hold slaves in that Territory — that they are his property — how can you clear your oaths unless you give him such legislation as is necessary to enable him to enjoy that property? What do you understand by supporting the Constitution of a State or of the United States? Is it not to give such constitutional helps to the rights established by that Constitution as may be practically needed? Can you, if you swear to support the Constitution, and believe that the Constitution establishes a right, clear your oath, without giving it support? Do you support the Constitution if, knowing or believing there is a right established under it which needs specific legislation, you withhold that legislation? Do you not violate and disregard you oath? I can conceive of nothing plainer in the world. There can be nothing in the words "support the constitution," if you may run counter to it by refusing support to any right established under the constitution. And what I say here will hold with still more force against the Judge's doctrine of "unfriendly legislation." How could you, having sworn to support the Constitution, and believing it guaranteed the right to hold slaves in the Territories, assist in legislation intended to defeat that right? That would be violating your own view of the constitution. Not only so, but if you were to do so, how long would it take the courts to hold you votes unconstitutional and void? Not a moment.
Lastly, I would ask: is not Congress, itself, under obligation to give legislative support to any right that is established under the United States Constitution? I repeat the question: is not Congress, itself, bound to give legislative support to any right that is established in the United States Constitution? A member of Congress swears to support the Constitution of the United States, and if he sees a right established by that Constitution which needs specific legislative protection, can he clear his oath without giving that protection? Let me ask you why many of us who are opposed to slavery upon principle give our acquiescence to a fugitive slave law? Why do we hold ourselves under obligations to pass such a law, and abide by it when it is passed? Because the Constitution makes provision that the owners of slaves shall have the right to reclaim them. It gives the right to reclaim slaves, and that right is, as Judge Douglas says, a barren right, unless there is legislation that will enforce it.
The mere declaration "No person held to service or labor in one State under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall in consequence of any law or regulation therein be discharged from such service or labor may be due" is powerless without specific legislation to inforce it. Now on what ground would a member of Congress who is opposed to slavery in the abstract vote for a fugitive slave law, as I would deem it my duty to do? Because there is a Constitutional right which needs legislation to enforce it. And although it is distasteful to me. I have sworn to support the Constitution, and having so sworn I cannot conceive that I do support it if I withheld from that right any necessary legislation to make it practical. And if that is true in regard to a fugitive slave law, is the right to have fugitive slaves reclaimed any better fixed in the Constitution than the right to hold slaves in the Territories? For this decision is a just exposition of the Constitution as Judge Douglas thinks. Is the one right any better than the other? Is there any man who while a member of Congress would give support to the one any more than the other? If I wished to refuse to give legislative support to slave property in the Territories, if a member of Congress, I could not do it holding the view that the Constitution establishes that right. If I did it at all, it would be because I deny that this decision properly construes the Constitution. But if I acknowledge with Judge Douglas that this decision properly construes the Constitution, I cannot conceive that I would be less than a perjured man if I should refuse in congress to give such protection to the property as in its nature it needed.
At the end of what I have said here I propose to give the Judge my fifth interrogatory which he may take and answer at this leisure. My fifth interrogatory is this. If the slave-holding citizens of a United States Territory should need and demand a Congressional legislation for the protection of their slave property in such territory, would you, as a member of Congress, vote for or against such legislation?
In conclusion Mr. Lincoln read an extract from a published report of Douglas' late speech at Joliet, in which he declared that Lincoln was afraid to answer his questions at Ottawa, and that his lips trembled so that he had to be carried off the platform -- and that when he threatened to "trot him down into Egypt, and bring him to his milk," he consulted with his friends and concluded to answer the questions at Freeport. Truly, said he "this affords a subject for philosophical contemplation." The only way which I can account for Douglas making such an assertion, is by supposing him to be crazy. He must be crazy, or he could not venture to utter what he knows to be so untrue. Did he suppose that I was to be frightened by a threat that he would "trot me into Egypt?" Did he suppose that I was to be forced into Egypt because I was afraid of the people down here? I happen to know the people here better than he does. The Judge has set about seriously trying to make the impression that when we meet at different places I am literally in his clutches -- that I am a poor, helpless, decrepit mouse, and that I can do nothing at all. This is one of the ways he has taken to create that impression. -- I don't know any other way to meeting it, except this. I don't want to quarrel with him -- to call him a liar -- but when I come square up to him I don't know what else to call him I must tell the truth out. [Cheers and Laughter.] I want to be at peace, and reserve all my fighting powers for necessary occasions.
Amid applause Mr. Lincoln then sat down.
Mr. Douglas then concluded the debate. He admitted that he did say at Joliet that Lincoln had to be carried from the platform at Ottawa, when the threatened to "trot" him into "Egypt," but it was only "in a playful manner."
He repeated his Freeport nonsense about the adoption of ultra abolition resolutions by local conventions in 1854, and declared that Lincoln had not answered the question he had asked him at Freeport, whether he would vote for the admission of a Slave State!
He disposed of Lincoln's citations of Abolition sentiments, having been "avowed by the Democrats in the Northern districts, by asserting that they are only "individual instances," and not the sentiments of the Democracy.
The only other points in Douglas' rejoinder were his answer to Mr. Lincoln's fifth interrogatory, and his second attempt to answer one of his Freeport questions. In answer to the fifth question, above quoted, he simply said that "it is a fundamental article of the Democratic creed that there shall be no interference in the affairs of States and Territories;" and in regard to the Freeport question of Mr. Lincoln, whether he would vote for the admission of Kansas with a less population than 93,000, he repeated that he thinks "if Kansas has enough population for a slave State, she also has enough for a free State."
There was no attempt made to interfere with either of the speakers, and all went orderly and well.
After the debate, cheers were given for Lincoln and for Douglas; and Gen. Linder being loudly called for, mounted the stand and made a short Douglas speech. Hon. John Dougherty was also called on, and made a stirring Buchanan speech, denouncing Douglas in the strongest possible terms.