« PreviousContinue »
by the legislature then to be elected, to fill the place of Shields, who had voted with Douglas in favor of the Nebraska Bill.
Mr. Lincoln took a prominent part in this campaign. He met Judge Douglas before the people on two occasions, the only ones when the Judge would consent to such a meeting. The first time was at the State Fair at Springfield, on October 4th. This was afterwards considered to have been the greatest event of the whole canvass. Mr. Lincoln opened the discussion ; and in his clear and eloquent, yet homely way, exposed the tergiversations of which his opponent had been guilty, and the fallacy of his pretexts for his present course.
Mr. Douglas had always claimed to have voted for the repeal of the Missouri Compromise because he sustained the "great princine" of popular sovereignty, and desired that the inhabitants of Kansas and Nebraska should govern themselves, as they were well able to do. The fallacy of drawing from these premises the conclusion that they therefore should have the right to establish slavery there, was most clearly and conclusively exposed by Mr. Lincoln, so that no one could thereafter be misled by it, unless he was a willing dupe of pro-slavery sophistry.
"My distinguished friend,” said he', "says it is an insult to the emigrants of Kansas and Nebraska to suppose that they are not able to govern themselves. We must not slur over an argument of this kind because it happens to tickle the ear. It must be met and answered. I admit that the emigrant to Kansas and Nebraska is competent to govern himself, but I deny his right to govern any other person without that person's consent.”
The two opponents met again at Peoria. We believe it is universally admitted that on both of these occasions Mr. Lincoln had decidedly the advantage. The result of the election was the defeat of the Democrats, and the election of anti-Nebraska men to the legislature, to secure the election of a United States Senator who would be true to freedom, if they could be brought to unite upon a can
didate. Mr. Lincoln was naturally the candidate of those who were of Whig antecedents. Judge Trumbull was as naturally the candidate of some who had really come out from the Democratic party—though they still called themselves Free Democrats.
There was danger, of course, in such a posture of affairs, and Mr. Lincoln, in that spirit of patriotism which he has always shown, by his own personal “xertions secured the votes of his friends for Judge Trumbull, who was accordingly chosen Senator. The charge was afterwards made by the enemies of both, that there had been in this matter a breach of faith on the part of Judge Trumbull, and that Mr. Lincoln had the right to feel, and did feel, aggrieved at the result. Mr. Lincoln himself, however, expressly denied, in his speech at Charleston, September 18, 1858, that there had been any such breach of faith.
THE LINCOLN -DOUGLAS DEBATE.
PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN OF 1856.-DOUGLAS AT SPRINGFIELD IN 1857.
LINVOLN'S REPLY.—THE GREAT DEBATE.- ELOQUENT DEFENCE OF THE DOCTRINES OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.—Result OF THE CONTEST.
The pressure of the slavery contest at last fully organized the Republican party, which held its first convention for the nomination of President and Vice-President at Philadelphia, on June 17, 1856. John C. Fremont was nominated for President, and William L. Dayton for Vice-President. Mr. Lincoln's name was prominent before the convention for the latter office, and on the informal ballot he stood next to Mr. Dayton, receiving 110 votes. Mr. Lincoln's name headed the Republican electoral ticket in Illinois, and he took an active part in the canvass, but the Democrats carried the State, though only by a plurality vote.
Meanwhile, Senator Douglas embraced every opportunity to keep himself and his doctrines before the people, but whichever way he turned, he found his vigilant antagonist constantly in his front. For twenty years the two had been so invariably opposed to each other in politics, that whenever Mr. Douglas made a speech, the people instinctively anticipated a reply from Mr. Lincoln ; and there was a special Providence in thus opposing to the wily, deceptive sophistries of the former the clear, incisive common sense of the latter, which the multitude could not avoid comprehending. Early in June, 1857, Senator Douglas made his famous speech in . Springfield, which was universally accepted as a declaration that he meant to sustain all the acts of the Lecompton Convention, even though a pro-slavery constitution
should be formed, the responsibility for the adoption of which he meant to fasten upon the Republican party, since it was anticipated that the members of that organization in the Territory would refrain from voting. He further indorsed the Dred Scott decision in this same speech, and, in discussing the Utah rebellion, proposed to end the difficulty by annulling the act establishing the Territory. Mr. Lincoln promptly took issue with him upon all these points, in a speech also deliver.d at Springfield, two weeks later. He declared himself in favor of " (Ocrcing" the people of Utah into obedience, and while he “did not admit or deny that the Judge's method of coercing them might not be as good as any," he showed how Mr. Douglas abandoned his principles, and shis much-vaunted doctrine of self-government for the Territories,” by suggesting such a plan. He then defended the course of action which the Republicans in Kansas had adopted, and ridiculed mercilessly the mythical “ Free State Democrats," vi whom so much had been said. Next he discussed the Dred Scott decision, and showed that, in denouncing it, he had not gone so far as Mr. Douglas himself had done in applauding General Jackson for disregarding the decision of the same tribunal upon the constitutionality of the National Bank. Quoting from the Dred Scott decision some expressions in which Chief-Justice Taney intimated that the public estimate of the black man was more favorable then than it was in the days of the revolution, Mr. Lincoln replied to the implication in the following forcible manner :
This assumption is a mistake. In some trifling particulars the condition of that race has been amelioratel; but, as a whole, in this country, the change between then and now is decidedly the other way; and their ultimate destiny has never appeared so hopeless as in the last three or four years. In two of the five States, New Jersey and North Carolina, that then gave the free negro the right of voting, the right has since been taken away; and in the third-New York-it has been greatly abridged, while it has not been extended, so far as I know, to a single ad litional State, though the number of the States has more than doubled. In those lays, as I understand, masters could, at their own pleasure, emancipate their slaves; but, since then, such legal restra:uts have been made upon
emancipation as to amount almost to prohibition. In those days, legislatures held the unquestioned power to abolish slavery in their respective States; but now it is becoming quite fashionable for State constitutions to withhold that power froin the legislatures. In those days, by common consent, the spread of the black man's bondage to the new countries was prohibited; but now, Congress decides that it will not continue the prohibition, and the Supreme Court decides that it could not, if it would. In those days, our Declaration of Independence was held sacred by all, and thought to include all; but now, to aid in making the bondage of the negro universal and eternal, it is assailed, sneered at, construed, hawked at, and torn, till, if its framers could rise from their graves, they could not at all recognize it. All the powers of earth seem rapidly combining against him. Mammon is after him; ambition follows, philosophy follows, and the theology of the day is fast joining the cry. They have him in his prison-house; they have searched his person, and left no prying instrument with him. One after another they bave closed the heavy iron doors upon him; and now they have him, as it were, bolted in with a lock of a hundred keys, which can never be unlocked without the concurrence of every key; the keys in the hands of a hundred different men, and they scattered to a hundred different and distant places; and they stand musing as to what invention, in all the dominions of mind and inatter, can be produced to make the impossibility of his escape moro complete than it is.
It is grossly incorrect to say or assume that the public estimate of the negro is more favorable now than it was at the origin of the Government.
No one would have been more surprised than Mr. Lincoln himself, could the fact have been revealed to him, when uttering these words, that through him as an humble instrument in the hands of Providence, and in the brief space of eight years, a vast change would be brought about in the status of that class, whose sufferings and wrongs he thus eloquently depicted.
In this same speech Mr. Lincoln turned from the course of his argument for a moment, to demolish, in his characteristic manner, the absurd charge which his opponent had demeaned himself by repeating, that, in laboring to secure the negro his rights, the Republicans desired to place him on a complete political and social equality with themselves. He said :
There is a natural disgust, in the minds of nearly all white people, to the idea of an indiscriminate amalgamation of the white and black races;