Lincoln and Douglas at Charleston
September 24, 1858.
The special train left Terre-Haute on the morning of the 18th, with about 100 persons or upwards, desirous of hearing the discussion between the two distinguished candidates at the head of this article, for a seat in the U. S. Senate. When it arrived at this place, quite a large crowd were in waiting, eager to find place in the cars. There must have been near four hundred who went aboard at this place; and we know not what number came aboard at the three intermediate points, but we understood the cars were all excessively crowded, and that, altogether there could have been but little under 600 persons upon the train. Arrived at the Charleston depot, two processions were formed, one under a Lincoln banner, the other under a Douglas banner. Those following the Lincoln banner were much more numerous than those following the other--perhaps two to one. Both these banners were made at this place. The one for Lincoln, was inscribed--"OLD EDGAR FOR THE ‘TALL SUCKER,’" and contained 32 stars. The other was quite a striking index to the system of tactics adopted by the man to whose service it was dedicated. It was inscribed--"EDGAR COUNTY 500 MAJORITY FOR THE LITTLE GIANT"--but had ne'er a star upon it. Since Douglas himself has not scrupled at falsehood and fraud to bolster up his falling fortunes, no one need be surprised at the falsehoods painted upon his banners, nor at any attempt which may be made to import voters into this State for this election. Both the candidates were received in Charleston by Committees appointed for the occasion. The reception speech for Mr. Lincoln, was delivered by H. P. H. Bromwell, Esq., and was a beautiful speech, to which Mr. L. made an appropriate reply. The speech to Mr. Douglas was delivered by ex-Hon. O. B. Ficklin, and as it and Douglas' reply were made according to programme, we presume they were the very things called for in the bills.
About 1 o'clock, the large mass of people began to move from the streets to the Fair Ground, about a mile west. The stream continued to flow in until the audience swelled to some twelve or fifteen thousand. One of the greatest attractions we noticed in the crowd a large and commodious Republican Car, constructed in Charleston, which contained thirty-two handsome young ladies, with flags representing the States, followed by one on horseback; representing persecuted Kansas. The other party had a car laden with sweet looking little misses, forming a handsome little group, which would have been much admired had they not been brought into contrast with the magnificent car load of charming young ladies, just ripened into womanhood. We couldn't help sympathizing with the sweet little innocents, who were doomed to a seat in the Douglas car, and driven into competition with that splendid and overwhelming array of ripe beauty, in the Republican car. We venture to say they won't get those little girls into another such a snap. Among the banners, we noticed one representing Abe Lincoln as the giant killer. Another was one devised by some slow-witted Douglasite, representing a white man with a black wife and mulatto child. As the Republicans passed this banner, they were forcibly reminded of the political strifes of other days, and almost involuntarily said that must be a picture of Col. Johnson of Ky., and a part of his family, whom the Democracy use to love to honor. He was once their Vice President of the U. S. But, possibly, thought we, it might have been designed by some shrewder head, to illustrate Robinson's declaration that he "would rather sleep with a nigger than a Republican." Either, however, was abundantly appropriate for the leaders of a party who feel such a keen desire to propagate slavery with its concomitant amalgamation. But, the most amusing of them all, was the banner representing the "Tall Sucker" spanking the brat Squatter Sovereignty. Doug. thinks that spanking was rather personal and one of Lincoln's fundamental errors. In Charleston both parties had flags suspended over one of the principal streets by ropes stretched from the cupola of the Courthouse to the tops of houses on the west side of the square. The Republicans had a large canvass painting representing Lincoln in his youth, driving an ox-team. In addition to these, there were many flags of various sizes hoisted at private houses, throughout the town, most of which were for Lincoln.
To return to the Fair Ground. At about 2 1/2 o'clock, P. M., Mr. Lincoln was introduced to the large audience, and was greeted with three hearty cheers. He remarked, that whilst at the Hotel, he was asked by some elderly man whether he was in favor of negro equality. Mr. Lincoln stated so distinctly, that no man of ordinary intelligence could misunderstand him--that he is not now and never has been in favor of negro equality, either socially or politically, and that he was not in favor of conferring upon them the privilege of voting or holding office. He thinks the difference between the two races will always forbid such social and political equality. He again protested against the false logic of his opponent, who argues that he must necessarily want a negro woman for a wife, because he does not want her for a slave. He chose to have nothing to do with her, either as wife or slave; and he thought that he and his friends had no disposition to intermarry with negroes even if there were no law prohibiting such alliance. But he thought it would be well, if those opposed to him apprehended any danger of their marrying negroes, or amalgamating with them, as Col. R. M. Johnson of Ky., had done in his life time, to keep Mr. Douglas at home, and elect him to the State Legislature, so that he could make laws sufficiently stringent to avert such a great evil.
Mr. Lincoln then passed on to the consideration of the charge which Senator Trumbull has so ably sustained against Mr. Douglas, with regard to the latter's complicity in the attempt to force a slave Constitution upon the people of Kansas against their consent. As Mr. Douglas has said he would not reply to Mr. Trumbull, but would hold Mr. Lincoln responsible for the charge, he, Mr. Lincoln, was willing to take the responsibility, and proceeded to discuss some of the matters which Mr. Douglas has urged in his defense. To the excuse which Mr. Douglas had made at Jacksonville, perhaps for striking out from the Toombs bill, the clause submitting the Constitution to the people, that other enabling acts had been passed by Congress without sulci clause, Mr. Lincoln remarked that while that was so, yet there never had before been one passed, from which a clause submitting the Constitution to the people, had been stricken out, after it had once been inserted in the bill. Mr. Lincoln commented with great clearness upon the fact that Douglas had not only consented to the striking out of the Toombs bill the clause requiring the Constitution when formed, to be submitted to the people of Kansas, but that he inserted a new clause into the bill, absolutely prohibited the Convention from submitting their Constitution to the people for approval, even if they desired to do so. Admitting that Mr. Douglas may afterwards have stricken out this latter clause, before the bill passed, Mr. Lincoln said it did not prove that Mr. D. had not put it there in the first place; but only proved that he, like the Bear, might sometimes be hard enough pressed in the chase, to drop a cub. Mr. Lincoln arrayed the evidence adduced against him is all a forgery. The documents are there to show for themselves, and however painful to Mr. Douglas, they prove to every candid and impartial mind, that at the same time that he was claiming to be the great champion of popular sovereignty, he was conspiring with Toombs and others, against the exercise of popular sovereignty by the oppressed people of Kansas. We do not pretend to give all that Mr. L. said in his hour, nor to give his exact language in what we have briefly noticed. This charge against Mr. Douglas was so ably argued by Mr. Trumbull, in his Alton speech, which we have already published, that we need not dwell longer upon this subject. When Mr. L. closed has first speech, three cheers were given with such hearty good will for the speaker, as showed that a large majority of the vast assemblage were for him.
Judge Douglas took the stand, and after a few preliminary remarks, tried to make an impression upon the minds of the people, that Mr. Lincoln had spent his entire time in reading Trumbull's speech, and discussing matters not pertinent to the canvass, and with which the public have nothing to do. He labored hard to excite sympathy in his favor, by asserting that Trumbull and Lincoln are waging a personal warfare against him-that they are attacking his private character. It is true, they have gone a little behind the Congressional curtain, which he hoped would screen a portion of his acts form public observation, and have brought some things to light in the North, which he had designed for the South alone; but it strikes us that he is bringing his complaints to a poor market, when he brings them to the people he deceived. What is the great private wrong inflicted upon him by Lincoln and Trumbull? Why, Mr. Douglas is a member of the United States Senate, and after the two great parties of the nation had solemnly settled the great agitating question of slavery, and declared, in their platforms, that the settlement which had happily been effected, should be a finality, in which the Senator himself had taken a prominent part, he stretched forth his ruthless hand to disturb the peaceful compromise, and again renewed the fierce struggle for the purpose, as he alleged, of settling the question forever. To reconcile the people to the great outrage he had perpetrated in the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, and the desecration of that of 1850, he pretended ot give to the people of the Territories, he is detected in aiding and abetting the scheme to force slavery into the Territories, in direct opposition to the will of the people, and notwithstanding he has forced this question upon the country, he would now have everybody's mouth stopped upon it, but his own; and the exposure of his wicked duplicity, is a great outrage upon his private rights! He boasts of a part of his Senatorial acts and claims a renewal of his lease upon a seat in the Senate, for the part he holds up to public admiration; but when others choose to examine other acts of his Senatorial career, they trespass upon his private character and become personal! The great absurdity of his position must be apparent to every intelligent man upon a moment's reflection.
He said he knew the object of his opponent in urging these personal charges, was to throw him upon the defensive; but that he would not consume his time in defending himself. But, notwithstanding, he did consume a large proportion of his time in trying to ward off the blow. He also said he had no charges to make against Mr. Trumbull or Mr. Lincoln, and almost in the next breath commenced making false charges against both of them; and hurled very abusive epithets at them. We feel constrained to say that Stephen A. Douglas is a very ambitious and dangerous demagogue. He does not scruple at the use of any means which he considers adapted to the ends he has in view.
His speech at Charleston was, in the main, a rehash of some of his former speeches, and must have disappointed the expectations of his friends. He cannot satisfy any rational man, that the charges brought against him and so ably sustained, are irrelevant, because they are the very essence of the issues of the campaign; and his failure--his marked failure to meet them with something better than mere abuse, will open the eyes of those who are not disposed to follow the man Douglas, in opposition to principles which they used to hold sacred. During the time he was speaking, he was frequently applauded by his friends; but there appeared to be so much system in the thing, that we could not help thinking it was done in accordance with a programme long since prepared for all such occasions in which Douglas figures.
Lincoln's half-hour rejoinder was admitted by every unprejudiced person we heard express an opinion (and they were not few) to be one of his ablest efforts. We tried to take notes of his concluding speech; but Judge Douglas and some of his friends who were near us, continued talking nearly the whole time, so that it was impossible for us to hear much of what Mr. Lincoln was saying. Great a demagogue as we knew him to be, from reading and hearing his speeches, we were not prepared for such an exhibition of ill manners in Judge Douglas. But as there were regular Reporters there who were more accustomed to his manners, we hope they succeeded in taking down the entire debate, and if so, we shall yet have the pleasure of presenting Lincoln's rejoinder to our readers.
At the conclusion of that rejoinder, the applause was so great that there was no mistaking the fact that an overwhelming majority of that large audience were for Lincoln. Judging from the indications we could gather, we came to the conclusion that nearly two-thirds were for him. The prospect was truly cheering.