Lincoln and Douglas at Ottawa.
Tuesday, August 31, 1858.
From the Chicago Journal of the 23d.
These two champions of their respective parties met in joint debate at Ottawa on Saturday, agreeable to previous arrangement – An immense concourse was present, numbering many thousands. As agreed upon, Senator Douglas opened the debate, speaking one hour, Mr. Lincoln following, an hour and a half being allowed for his reply, and Senator Douglas speaking half an hour in rejoinder.
Senator Douglas devoted a greater part of both his speeches to a series of resolutions that he alleged was passed at Springfield in 1854, on the organization of the Republican party, and charged Mr. Lincoln with having advocated them there, but disavowing their sentiments now. He said:
"I now hold them in my hand, and will read a part of the resolutions and cause the others to be printed. Here is one of the resolutions, and the most material one of this Abolition platform, under the new name of Republicanism.
Resolved, That the times impuratively demand the re-organization of the parties, and repudiating all previous party attachments, names and predilections, we unite ourselves together in defence of the liberty and constitution of the country, and will hereafter co-operate as the Republican party, pledged to the accomplishment of the following purposes: To bring the administration of the government back to the control of first principles; to restore Nebraska and Kansas to the position of free territories, that, as the Constitution of the United States vests in the States, and not in Congress, the power to legislate for the extradition of fugitives from labor, to repeal and entirely abrogate the fugitive slave law; to restrict slavery to those States in which it exists; to prohibit the admission of any more slave states into the Union; to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia; to exclude slavery from all the territories over which the government has exclusive jurisdiction; and to resist the acquirement of any more territories unless the practice of slavery therein forever shall have been prohibited."
Now these resolutions, which Senator Douglas read and commented on ARE BASE FORGERIES. No such resolutions were passed at the Springfield Convention in October 1854.
On referring to our files, we find that on Oct. 5th, 1854, the Republican State Convention met at Springfield and nominated Hon. John E. McClun for State Treasurer, and passed the following, and no other resolutions:
WHEREAS, That the present Congress, by a majority of the members elected to the House, has deliberately and wantonly re-opened the controversy respecting the extension of slavery under our national jurisdiction, which a majority of the people had understood to be closed forever by the successive compromises of 1820 and 1850; and
WHEREAS, This Congress, aided and impelled by the Federal Executive, has, by the act currently known as the Nebraska bill, designedly subverted so much of the compact commonly termed the Missouri Compromise as excluded slavery from that vast region of our continent stretching from the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains, and from the parallel of 36 deg. 30 min. to the northern boundary of our Union, the State of Missouri alone being excepted; therefore
Resolved, That the State of Illinois affirms and maintains the right and the duty of the general government to prohibit and preclude the extension, establishment or perpetuation of human slavery in any and every Territory of the United States, and in any territory, possession and country over which this country now has or may hereafter require exclusive jurisdiction.
Resolved, That the doctrine affirmed by the Nebraska bill, and gilded over by its advocates with the specious phrases of non-intervention and popular sovereignty, is really and clearly a complete surrender of all the ground hereto asserted and maintained by the federal government, with respect in the limitation of Slavery, is a plain confession of the right of the slaveholder to transfer his human chattels to any part of the public domain; and there hold them as slaves as long as inclination of interest may dictate; that this is an attempt totally to reverse the doctrine hereto uniformally held by statesmen and jurists, that Slavery is the creature of local and State law, and to make it a national institution.
Resolved, That as freedom is national and slavery sectional and local, the absence of all law upon the subject of slavery presumes the existence of a state of freedom alone, while slavery exists only by virtue of a positive law.
Resolved, That Slavery can exist in territory only by usurpation and violation of law, and we believe that Congress has the right, and should prohibit its extension into such territory, so long as it remains under the guardianship of the general government.
Resolved, That we willingly concede to neighboring States all the legal rights on our soil included in the sacred compact of the Constitution, but we regard the trial by jury and the writ of habeas corpus, as safeguards of personal liberty so necessary, that no interests of any citizen of our State ever or can be permitted to suspend them, and therefore no citizens of other States can fairly ask us to consent to their abrogation.
Resolved, That we recognize no antagonism of national interests between us and the citizens of Southern States, nor do we entertain any feelings of hostiltity towards them, but we recognise them as kindred and brethrens of the same national family, having a common origin, and we hope a common and glorious destiny.
Resolved, That in that fraternal spirit we call upon them to aid us in restoring the action of the Government to its primative usage under which we have so long enjoyed prosperity and peace as the only guarantee of future harmony, and a certain, if not he only means of perpetuation of the union.
Resolved, That the river and harbor improvements, when necessary to the safety and convenience of commerce with foreign nations, or among the several States, are objects of national concern, and it is the duty of Congress, in the exercise of its constitutional power, to provide for the same.
Resolved, That we heartily approve the course of the freemen of Connecticut, Vermont, Iowa, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, New York, Michigan and Maine, postponing or disregarding their minor difference of opinion or preferences, and acting together cordially and trustingly in the same cause of freedom, of free labor and free soil, and we commend their spirit to the freemen of this and other States, exhorting each to renounce his party whenever and wherever that party proves unfaithful to human freedom.
What effrontery in Senator Douglas to rise before an intelligent audience, and read the resolution he did, and avow, that it was taken from the Springfield Platform of 1854?
To show the villainy of the thing still further, we copy the opening of the reply of Senator Douglas, copied from the Times report:
Fellow Citizens – I will now occupy the half hour allotted to me in replying to Mr. Lincoln. The first point on which I will call your attention is, as to what I said about the organization of the Republican party in 1854, and the platform that was formed on the 5th of October, of that year, and I will then put the question to Mr. Lincoln whether or not he approves of each article in that platform, and ask for a specific answer. I did not charge him with being a member of the committee which reported that platform. I charged that the platform was the platform of the Republican party adopted by them. The fact that it was the platform of the Republican party is not denied, but Mr. Lincoln now says, that although his name was on the committee which reported it; that he does not think he was there, but thinks he was in Tazewell, holding court. Gentlemen, I ask your silence, and no interruption. Now, I want to remind Mr. Lincoln that he was at Springfield, when that convention was held, and those resolutions adopted.
The point I am going to remind Mr. Lincoln of is this: that after I had made my speech in 1854, during the fair, he gave me notice that he was going to reply to me the next day. I was sick at the time, but I staid over in Springfield to hear his reply, and to reply to him. On that day this very convention was to meet in the Senate Chamber.
We have not patience with such an unmitigated libeler of the Republican party. We cannot believe that such wanton falsehoods will obtain for their author consideration from honorable men, or entitle him to decent respect from those whose good opinions are worth having.