Lincoln and Douglas at Freeport.
Sept. 1, 1858.
There were some 15,000 or 20,000 persons present at Freeport, on Friday last, to hear the discussion between Lincoln and Douglas. We can give only a brief synopsis of the debate. Mr. Lincoln opened the speech; and read and answered the questions propounded to him by Judge Douglas at Ottawa, as follows:
Question 1. "I desire to know whether Lincoln today stands as he did in 1854, in favor of the unconditional repeal of the Fugitive State Law?"
Lincoln's Answer. I do not now, nor ever did, stand in favor of the unconditional repeal of the Fugitive State Law.
Question 2. "I desire him to answer whether he stands pledged to-day as he did in 1854, against the admission of any more Slave States into the Union, even if people want them?"
Lincoln's Answer. "I do not now, nor ever did, stand pledged against the admission of any more Slave States into the Union."
Question 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 the State may see fit to make?"
Lincoln's Answer. I do not stand pledged against the admission of a new State into the Union, with such a constitution as the people of the state may see fit to make.
Question 4. "I want to know whether he stands today pledged to the abolition of Slavery in the District of Columbia?"
Lincoln's Answer. I do not stand pledged to-day to the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia.
Question 5. "I desire him to answer whether he stands pledged to the prohibition of the slave trade between the different States?"
Lincoln's Answer. I do not stand pledged to the prohibition of the slave trade between the different States.
Question 6. "I desire to know whether he stands pledged to prohibit slavery in all territories of United States, South as well as North of the Missouri compromise line?"
Lincoln's Answer. I am implicitly if not expressly, pledged to a belief in the right and duty of Congress to prohibit Slavery in all the United States Territories.
Question 7. "I desire to know whether he is opposed to the acquisition of any more territory, unless slavery is prohibited therein?"
Lincoln's Answer. I am not generally opposed to the honest acquisition of territory; and in any given case, I would or would not oppose such acquisition, according as I might think such acquisition would or would not aggravate the slavery question among ourselves.
Mr. Lincoln then went on to say that he had been pledged to none of the propositions presented by Judge Douglas -- that there were objectionable features in the Fugitive Slave Law that might be modified; but he was not proposed to introduce this matter as a new subject of agitation -- that he would be sorry to be placed in a position to vote for a slave State, for he hoped that no more slave States would be admitted; but if the people of a Territory, by a fairly expressed wish desire to come in as a slave State, he could not constitutionally oppose it -- that he would be glad to see slavery abolished in the District of Columbia, believes Congress has the Constitutional power to do it, but would be in favor of its gradual abolition by submitting the question to a vote of the people of the District, and by granting compensation to the slave-owners -- and that as to the abolition of the slave trade between the slave-holding States themselves, it was a matter that had never been a prominent subject of discussion, but he was not sure that Congress had any jurisdiction over it.
Having answered these questions in an emphatic and clear manner, Mr. Lincoln then put the following pointed propositions to Judge Douglas:
"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 -- ninety-three thousand -- would you vote to admit them?
2. Can the people of United States territory, in any lawful way, against the wish of any citizen of United States, exclude slavery from their limits, prior to the formation of a State constitution?
3. If the Supreme Court of 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 role of political action?
4. Are you in favor of acquiring additional territory, in disregard of how such acquisition may affect the nation on slavery question?"
The answer to these questions was given by Judge Douglas in the following style:
1st. He said he believed that when a territory has population enough for a Slave State, she has also enough for a Free State; but believes, nevertheless, that no Territory ought to be admitted, or apply for admission with a less population than 93,000.
2nd. He said he believes that the people of a Territory can by lawful means prohibit slavery if they see fit, through their Territorial Legislature. The Nebraska Bill, he said, provided that the Legislature of the Territory should have power over all subjects, consistent with the organic act and the Federal Constitution.
3d. He dismissed this interrogatory by saying that he does not believe that the Supreme Court would ever dream of such a thing as deciding that no State has the right to abolish slavery, and therefore consider the question as simply absurd, and a vile imputation upon the character of the Federal Judiciary.
4th. He was in favor of the acquisition of Territory, when he considered it necessary and proper, whether the acquisition is from the north, the south, the east or the west. True, he said, we have Territory enough for the present, but we are a growing nation, and in fifteen years all this territory will be filled up and we must have more. Expansion is the law of this Republic, and the nation would die if we restrict its limits.
As the most prominent points in this discussion, we give these questions and answers to our readers to-day, leaving other matters alluded to by both speakers for future comment.
Mr. Lincoln answered Judge Douglas' propositions candidly and succinctly. He has not been pledged to any one of the measures referred to either by our National or State platform of principles. He has never, at any time, avowed different views from those now expressed. He has not, as the Morris organ of this city states, "repudiated the black republican platform."
But, mark you Douglas' replies, and compare them with his former declarations:
1st. Instead of meeting directly the question of whether he is in favor of the admission of Kansas into the Union now, with a less population than 93,000, he prevaricates and says that "when a Territory has population enough for a slave State, she has also enough for a free State!" a proposition that was not attempted to be controverted; "but believes, nevertheless, that no Territory ought to be admitted or apply for admission with a less population than 93,000."
This is no answer to the question at all. We are as much in the dark as ever, as to whether Douglas is, to-day, in favor of the admission of Kansas into the Union! If he is, why could he not answer plainly and emphatically, Yes! If opposed, why not say No! He prefers to screen himself yet awhile upon this question, but we hope that Lincoln will yet "smoke him out," or, in the Judge's more elegant language, "bring him to his milk."
2d. Mr. Douglas says that he believes "that the people of a Territory can by lawful means prohibit slavery if they see fit; through their Territorial Legislature." In view of past declarations, this is a most remarkable confession; but it should be born in mind that Judge Douglas was speaking at Freeport, which is in the northern part of the State, where the anti-Slavery feeling is very strong.
How does this declaration compare with his course for the past few years? In the Senate of the United States this very same question was propounded to him by Judge Trumbull, just previous to the decision of the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott case. What was his answer then? It is on the record, and confronts him. His reply to the question whether the people of Kansas had the right under the Kansas Nebraska bill, to exclude slavery from the Territory, through their Territorial Legislature, was, that was a question for the Supreme Court to decide! Such was the answer of this shuffling demagogue, when the eyes of Southern men were upon him, and he was sunning himself in their favor. But now when he finds himself repudiated by his former friends, and coadjutors in the repeal of Missouri Compromise, he comes to the people of the North -- to the free States -- and tells them that he does have an opinion of his own upon this question, and believes that the people of a Territory can exclude Slavery if they see fit!
Again: Judge Douglas had endorsed the Dred Scott decision. At Chicago he said he took "direct or distinct issue" with Mr. Lincoln upon the question of the decision of Supreme Court in this case. He said that he respected "the decision of that august tribunal," and that he would "bow in deference to it." At Springfield he said that Lincoln was making war upon the "rights of property," by questioning the justice of this decision; and that such a course would tend to destroy the public security in those rights.
Now, what is that decision? We give an extract from it, not only to show the glaring inconsistency of Judge Douglas, but at the same time to answer the Morris organ in this city, which has denied the truth of what we have said in relation to it. Let the people read and ponder this passage from the opinion of the Supreme Court, in this case, as delivered by Chief Justice Taney:
"We are satisfied into no one who reads attentively the page in Peter's Reports to which we have referred, can suppose that the Court meant in that case to say that Congress had a right to prohibit a citizen of United States from taking any property which he lawfully held into a Territory of United States. And if Congress itself cannot do this -- if it is beyond the powers conferred on the Federal Government -- it will be admitted, we presume, that it could not authorize a Territory Government to exercise them. And if the Constitution recognizes the right of property of the master in a slave, and makes no distinction between that description of property and other property owned by a citizen, no tribunal, acting under the authority of United States, whether it be LEGISLATIVE, executive or judicial, has a right to draw such a distinction, or deny to it the benefit of the provisions and guarantees which have been provided for the protection of private property against the encroachments of the Government." -- [Dred Scott decision delivered by the Chief Justice Taney, p. 451.]
This extract fully and emphatically sets forth the doctrine that the slave holder has the right to take his slaves into a territory, and that "no tribunal acting under the authority of United States," has a right to make a distinction between that or any private property, or deprive it of the same protection! In other words, neither the Legislative, Executive and Judicial tribunal of a Territory has any more power to interfere with your right to hold negroes there, than it has to interfere with your right to hold horses and cattle! They are placed in the same category. And this is the decision to which Judge Douglas bows with deference at Chicago, and approves at Springfield, but repudiates away at Freeport, where the anti-slavery feeling is too strong for the people to swallow such a dose!
In reply to the third interrogatory, Douglas missed it by saying that he did not "believe that the Supreme Court would dream of such a thing as deciding that a State has a right to abolish slavery!" Well we don't think that Thomas Jefferson, or Madison, or Henry Clay, or Daniel Webster ever dreamed that the Supreme Court would decide, at any future day, that the Constitution spread slavery over all the Territories of the Union -- and yet it has done so! This dream may yet be realized, if it has not been, to some extent, already -- and we don't want any man in the Senate Chamber, who, like Judge Douglas, will "bow with deference to the decision of that tribunal," whatever it may be -- towards nationalizing and perpetuating slavery.
In the answer to the fourth question, Douglas declares that "expansion is the law of this Republic, and the nation would die if we restrict its limits!" This is a most remarkable assertion. From whence does Judge Douglas draw his inspiration? Certainly not from the history of the past or the events of the present, and we much doubt whether he can penetrate any farther into the future than the most of us. All experience is in direct opposition to this new dogma of Douglas.
As the canvass progresses, Mr. Douglas, at every step, becomes more and more entangled in inconsistencies and contradictions. The "Russian Bear" has been caught in the net of his own weaving, whose warp is personal ambition, and whose woof is falsehood and deceit.