Douglas on the Stump.
Tuesday, September 14, 1858.
Douglas pompously declares that he never conceals his sentiments, he is as open as the day, he wished every voter to know his position – yet he constantly dodges and seeks to evade an honest avowal of his opinions, by crying out "Nigger!" or throwing himself upon his dignity and averring that a man is a fool to ask him the question he is afraid to answer. As he dodged Lincoln's questions at Freeport, so he declined to answer questions relative to his political position, at the Junction.
At Pontiac he pursued the same course. – He solicited questions from the audience, and the following was propounded:
1st. You say in your speech at Freeport that the people of a Territory have the power to exclude slavery by non-action. Do you mean by "excluding" slavery they have, though their Territorial Legislature, the power to declare that slaves brought in voluntarily by their masters, shall, by that act, become free? If not, how can they exclude slavery; and if so, how will that tally with the Supreme Court decision?
Douglas flew into a passion and said that his interrogator only asked the question "to create confusion!" The only reply he made was that he "had answered it at Freeport," and then abused the gentleman who interrogated him. The editor of the Sentinel says:
"Seeing that Mr. McDowell, who propounded the first, was unwilling to ask any more questions, not desiring to be abused any further, we stepped upon the platform and propounded the following:
If a person holds a slave in a Territory by virtue of the Constitution of the United States, in which there are no "police regulations" enforcing his right to hold such property, and that slave goes into a Free State, can he be recovered as a Fugitive Slave, under the provisions of the fugitive slave law?
When we put this question to him, he looked at us as though he would take perfect delight in eating us up, or would derive exquisite pleasure in knocking the daylights out of us. Approaching us, with upraised hand and flashing eye, shaking his shaggy locks, and fairly trembling with rage, he answered: "Yes, sir; he can be recaptured under the Fugitive Slave Law!" He then commenced a volley of billingsgate which would make a fishmonger blush, calling us an Abolitionist; that we were in the habit of going round lecturing in church basements, making abolition harangues, after the fashion of Lovejoy and other pincushion lecturers."
His tormentors would not let him up, however and popped the following:
Would not the spirit of the Dred Scott Decision annul all the acts of the Territorial Legislature in case they enacted laws "unfriendly to the holding of slaves in a Territory while a Territory."
The Sentinel says that Douglas fairly roared, and exclaimed that "no gentleman would ask such a question," and said he would answer no more interrogatories. He is a man, doubtless, of great ability as a politician; but any man would fall who endeavored to be consistent in the support of "Popular Sovereignty" and the Dred Scott dicta. The little giant is doomed; and the apprehension of this fact, we presume, causes him to use the passionate and insulting language for which he has become so noted in the present canvass.