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The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, v5 by Abraham Lincoln

Part 2 out of 8

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to convict A as the murderer of B, while B was walking alive before

I say, again, if judge Douglas asserts that the men of the Revolution
acted upon principles by which, to be consistent with themselves,
they ought to have adopted his popular sovereignty, then, upon a
consideration of his own argument, he had a right to make you
believe that they understood the principles of government, but
misapplied them, that he has arisen to enlighten the world as to the
just application of this principle. He has a right to try to
persuade you that he understands their principles better than they
did, and, therefore, he will apply them now, not as they did, but as
they ought to have done. He has a right to go before the community
and try to convince them of this, but he has no right to attempt to
impose upon any one the belief that these men themselves approved of
his great principle. There are two ways of establishing a
proposition. One is by trying to demonstrate it upon reason, and the
other is, to show that great men in former times have thought so and
so, and thus to pass it by the weight of pure authority. Now, if
Judge Douglas will demonstrate somehow that this is popular
sovereignty,--the right of one man to make a slave of another,
without any right in that other or any one else to object,-
-demonstrate it as Euclid demonstrated propositions,--there is no
objection. But when he comes forward, seeking to carry a principle
by bringing to it the authority of men who themselves utterly
repudiate that principle, I ask that he shall not be permitted to do

I see, in the judge's speech here, a short sentence in these words:
"Our fathers, when they formed this government under which we live,
understood this question just as well, and even better than, we do
now." That is true; I stick to that. I will stand by Judge Douglas
in that to the bitter end. And now, Judge Douglas, come and stand by
me, and truthfully show how they acted, understanding it better than
we do. All I ask of you, Judge Douglas, is to stick to the
proposition that the men of the Revolution understood this subject
better than we do now, and with that better understanding they acted
better than you are trying to act now.

I wish to say something now in regard to the Dred Scott decision, as
dealt with by Judge Douglas. In that "memorable debate" between
Judge Douglas and myself, last year, the judge thought fit to
commence a process of catechising me, and at Freeport I answered his
questions, and propounded some to him. Among others propounded to
him was one that I have here now. The substance, as I remember it,
is, "Can the people of a United States Territory, under the Dred
Scott decision, in any lawful way, against the wish of any citizen of
the United States, exclude slavery from its limits, prior to the
formation of a State constitution?" He answered that they could
lawfully exclude slavery from the United States Territories,
notwithstanding the Dred Scot decision. There was something about
that answer that has probably been a trouble to the judge ever since.

The Dred Scott decision expressly gives every citizen of the United
States a right to carry his slaves into the United States
Territories. And now there was some inconsistency in saying that the
decision was right, and saying, too, that the people of the Territory
could lawfully drive slavery out again. When all the trash, the
words, the collateral matter, was cleared away from it, all the chaff
was fanned out of it, it was a bare absurdity,--no less than that a
thing may be lawfully driven away from where it has a lawful right to
be. Clear it of all the verbiage, and that is the naked truth of his
proposition,--that a thing may be lawfully driven from the place
where it has a lawful right to stay. Well, it was because the judge
could n't help seeing this that he has had so much trouble with it;
and what I want to ask your especial attention to, just now, is to
remind you, if you have not noticed the fact, that the judge does not
any longer say that the people can exclude slavery. He does not say
so in the copyright essay; he did not say so in the speech that he
made here; and, so far as I know, since his re-election to the Senate
he has never said, as he did at Freeport, that the people of the
Territories can exclude slavery. He desires that you, who wish the
Territories to remain free, should believe that he stands by that
position; but he does not say it himself. He escapes to some extent
the absurd position I have stated, by changing his language entirely.
What he says now is something different in language, and we will
consider whether it is not different in sense too. It is now that
the Dred Scott decision, or rather the Constitution under that
decision, does not carry slavery into the Territories beyond the
power of the people of the Territories to control it as other
property. He does not say the people can drive it out, but they can
control it as other property. The language is different; we should
consider whether the sense is different. Driving a horse out of this
lot is too plain a proposition to be mistaken about; it is putting
him on the other side of the fence. Or it might be a sort of
exclusion of him from the lot if you were to kill him and let the
worms devour him; but neither of these things is the same as
"controlling him as other property." That would be to feed him, to
pamper him, to ride him, to use and abuse him, to make the most money
out of him, "as other property"; but, please you, what do the men who
are in favor of slavery want more than this? What do they really
want, other than that slavery, being in the Territories, shall be
controlled as other property? If they want anything else, I do not
comprehend it. I ask your attention to this, first, for the purpose
of pointing out the change of ground the judge has made; and, in the
second place, the importance of the change,--that that change is not
such as to give you gentlemen who want his popular sovereignty the
power to exclude the institution or drive it out at all. I know the
judge sometimes squints at the argument that in controlling it as
other property by unfriendly legislation they may control it to
death; as you might, in the case of a horse, perhaps, feed him so
lightly and ride him so much that he would die. But when you come to
legislative control, there is something more to be attended to. I
have no doubt, myself, that if the Territories should undertake to
control slave property as other property that is, control it in such
a way that it would be the most valuable as property, and make it
bear its just proportion in the way of burdens as property, really
deal with it as property,--the Supreme Court of the United States
will say, "God speed you, and amen." But I undertake to give the
opinion, at least, that if the Territories attempt by any direct
legislation to drive the man with his slave out of the Territory, or
to decide that his slave is free because of his being taken in there,
or to tax him to such an extent that he cannot keep him there, the
Supreme Court will unhesitatingly decide all such legislation
unconstitutional, as long as that Supreme Court is constructed as the
Dred Scott Supreme Court is. The first two things they have already
decided, except that there is a little quibble among lawyers between
the words "dicta" and "decision." They have already decided a negro
cannot be made free by Territorial legislation.

What is the Dred Scott decision? Judge Douglas labors to show that
it is one thing, while I think it is altogether different. It is a
long opinion, but it is all embodied in this short statement: "The
Constitution of the United States forbids Congress to deprive a man
of his property, without due process of law; the right of property in
slaves is distinctly and expressly affirmed in that Constitution:
therefore, if Congress shall undertake to say that a man's slave is
no longer his slave when he crosses a certain line into a Territory,
that is depriving him of his property without due process of law, and
is unconstitutional." There is the whole Dred Scott decision. They
add that if Congress cannot do so itself, Congress cannot confer any
power to do so; and hence any effort by the Territorial Legislature
to do either of these things is absolutely decided against. It is a
foregone conclusion by that court.

Now, as to this indirect mode by "unfriendly legislation," all
lawyers here will readily understand that such a proposition cannot
be tolerated for a moment, because a legislature cannot indirectly do
that which it cannot accomplish directly. Then I say any legislation
to control this property, as property, for its benefit as property,
would be hailed by this Dred Scott Supreme Court, and fully
sustained; but any legislation driving slave property out, or
destroying it as property, directly or indirectly, will most
assuredly, by that court, be held unconstitutional.

Judge Douglas says if the Constitution carries slavery into the
Territories, beyond the power of the people of the Territories to
control it as other property; then it follows logically that every
one who swears to support the Constitution of the United States must
give that support to that property which it needs. And, if the
Constitution carries slavery into the Territories, beyond the power
of the people, to control it as other property, then it also carries
it into the States, because the Constitution is the supreme law of
the land. Now, gentlemen, if it were not for my excessive modesty, I
would say that I told that very thing to Judge Douglas quite a year
ago. This argument is here in print, and if it were not for my
modesty, as I said, I might call your attention to it. If you read
it, you will find that I not only made that argument, but made it
better than he has made it since.

There is, however, this difference: I say now, and said then, there
is no sort of question that the Supreme Court has decided that it is
the right of the slave holder to take his slave and hold him in the
Territory; and saying this, judge Douglas himself admits the
conclusion. He says if that is so, this consequence will follow; and
because this consequence would follow, his argument is, the decision
cannot, therefore, be that way,--" that would spoil my popular
sovereignty; and it cannot be possible that this great principle has
been squelched out in this extraordinary way. It might be, if it
were not for the extraordinary consequences of spoiling my humbug."

Another feature of the judge's argument about the Dred Scott case is,
an effort to show that that decision deals altogether in declarations
of negatives; that the Constitution does not affirm anything as
expounded by the Dred Scott decision, but it only declares a want of
power a total absence of power, in reference to the Territories. It
seems to be his purpose to make the whole of that decision to result
in a mere negative declaration of a want of power in Congress to do
anything in relation to this matter in the Territories. I know the
opinion of the Judges states that there is a total absence of power;
but that is, unfortunately; not all it states: for the judges add
that the right of property in a slave is distinctly and expressly
affirmed in the Constitution. It does not stop at saying that the
right of property in a slave is recognized in the Constitution, is
declared to exist somewhere in the Constitution, but says it is
affirmed in the Constitution. Its language is equivalent to saying
that it is embodied and so woven in that instrument that it cannot be
detached without breaking the Constitution itself. In a word, it is
part of the Constitution.

Douglas is singularly unfortunate in his effort to make out that
decision to be altogether negative, when the express language at the
vital part is that this is distinctly affirmed in the Constitution.
I think myself, and I repeat it here, that this decision does not
merely carry slavery into the Territories, but by its logical
conclusion it carries it into the States in which we live. One
provision of that Constitution is, that it shall be the supreme law
of the land,--I do not quote the language,--any constitution or law
of any State to the contrary notwithstanding. This Dred Scott
decision says that the right of property in a slave is affirmed in
that Constitution which is the supreme law of the land, any State
constitution or law notwithstanding. Then I say that to destroy a
thing which is distinctly affirmed and supported by the supreme law
of the land, even by a State constitution or law, is a violation of
that supreme law, and there is no escape from it. In my judgment
there is no avoiding that result, save that the American people shall
see that constitutions are better construed than our Constitution is
construed in that decision. They must take care that it is more
faithfully and truly carried out than it is there expounded.

I must hasten to a conclusion. Near the beginning of my remarks I
said that this insidious Douglas popular sovereignty is the measure
that now threatens the purpose of the Republican party to prevent
slavery from being nationalized in the United States. I propose to
ask your attention for a little while to some propositions in
affirmance of that statement. Take it just as it stands, and apply
it as a principle; extend and apply that principle elsewhere; and
consider where it will lead you. I now put this proposition, that
Judge Douglas's popular sovereignty applied will reopen the African
slave trade; and I will demonstrate it by any variety of ways in
which you can turn the subject or look at it.

The Judge says that the people of the Territories have the right, by
his principle, to have slaves, if they want them. Then I say that
the people in Georgia have the right to buy slaves in Africa, if they
want them; and I defy any man on earth to show any distinction
between the two things,--to show that the one is either more wicked
or more unlawful; to show, on original principles, that one is better
or worse than the other; or to show, by the Constitution, that one
differs a whit from the other. He will tell me, doubtless, that
there is no constitutional provision against people taking slaves
into the new Territories, and I tell him that there is equally no
constitutional provision against buying slaves in Africa. He will
tell you that a people, in the exercise of popular sovereignty, ought
to do as they please about that thing, and have slaves if they want
them; and I tell you that the people of Georgia are as much entitled
to popular sovereignty and to buy slaves in Africa, if they want
them, as the people of the Territory are to have slaves if they want
them. I ask any man, dealing honestly with himself, to point out a

I have recently seen a letter of Judge Douglas's in which, without
stating that to be the object, he doubtless endeavors to make a
distinction between the two. He says he is unalterably opposed to
the repeal of the laws against the African slave trade. And why? He
then seeks to give a reason that would not apply to his popular
sovereignty in the Territories. What is that reason? "The abolition
of the African slave trade is a compromise of the Constitution!" I
deny it. There is no truth in the proposition that the abolition of
the African slave trade is a compromise of the Constitution. No man
can put his finger on anything in the Constitution, or on the line of
history, which shows it. It is a mere barren assertion, made simply
for the purpose of getting up a distinction between the revival of
the African slave trade and his "great principle."

At the time the Constitution of the United States was adopted, it was
expected that the slave trade would be abolished. I should assert and
insist upon that, if judge Douglas denied it. But I know that it was
equally expected that slavery would be excluded from the Territories,
and I can show by history that in regard to these two things public
opinion was exactly alike, while in regard to positive action, there
was more done in the Ordinance of '87 to resist the spread of slavery
than was ever done to abolish the foreign slave trade. Lest I be
misunderstood, I say again that at the time of the formation of the
Constitution, public expectation was that the slave trade would be
abolished, but no more so than the spread of slavery in the
Territories should be restrained. They stand alike, except that in
the Ordinance of '87 there was a mark left by public opinion, showing
that it was more committed against the spread of slavery in the
Territories than against the foreign slave trade.

Compromise! What word of compromise was there about it? Why, the
public sense was then in favor of the abolition of the slave trade;
but there was at the time a very great commercial interest involved
in it, and extensive capital in that branch of trade. There were
doubtless the incipient stages of improvement in the South in the way
of farming, dependent on the slave trade, and they made a proposition
to Congress to abolish the trade after allowing it twenty years,--a
sufficient time for the capital and commerce engaged in it to be
transferred to other channel. They made no provision that it should
be abolished in twenty years; I do not doubt that they expected it
would be, but they made no bargain about it. The public sentiment
left no doubt in the minds of any that it would be done away. I
repeat, there is nothing in the history of those times in favor of
that matter being a compromise of the constitution. It was the
public expectation at the time, manifested in a thousand ways, that
the spread of slavery should also be restricted.

Then I say, if this principle is established, that there is no wrong
in slavery, and whoever wants it has a right to have it, is a matter
of dollars and cents, a sort of question as to how they shall deal
with brutes, that between us and the negro here there is no sort of
question, but that at the South the question is between the negro and
the crocodile, that is all, it is a mere matter of policy, there is a
perfect right, according to interest, to do just as you please,--when
this is done, where this doctrine prevails, the miners and sappers
will have formed public opinion for the slave trade. They will be
ready for Jeff. Davis and Stephens and other leaders of that company
to sound the bugle for the revival of the slave trade, for the second
Dred Scott decision, for the flood of slavery to be poured over the
free States, while we shall be here tied down and helpless and run
over like sheep.

It is to be a part and parcel of this same idea to say to men who
want to adhere to the Democratic party, who have always belonged to
that party, and are only looking about for some excuse to stick to
it, but nevertheless hate slavery, that Douglas's popular sovereignty
is as good a way as any to oppose slavery. They allow themselves to
be persuaded easily, in accordance with their previous dispositions,
into this belief, that it is about as good a way of opposing slavery
as any, and we can do that without straining our old party ties or
breaking up old political associations. We can do so without being
called negro-worshipers. We can do that without being subjected to
the jibes and sneers that are so readily thrown out in place of
argument where no arguement can be found. So let us stick to this
popular sovereignty,--this insidious popular sovereignty.

Now let me call your attention to one thing that has really happened,
which shows this gradual and steady debauching of public opinion,
this course of preparation for the revival of the slave trade, for
the Territorial slave code, and the new Dred Scott decision that is
to carry slavery into the Free States. Did you ever, five years ago,
hear of anybody in the world saying that the negro had no share in
the Declaration of National Independence; that it does not mean
negroes at all; and when "all men" were spoken of, negroes were not

I am satisfied that five years ago that proposition was not put upon
paper by any living being anywhere. I have been unable at any time
to find a man in an audience who would declare that he had ever known
of anybody saying so five years ago. But last year there was not a
Douglas popular sovereign in Illinois who did not say it. Is there
one in Ohio but declares his firm belief that the Declaration of
Independence did not mean negroes at all? I do not know how this is;
I have not been here much; but I presume you are very much alike
everywhere. Then I suppose that all now express the belief that the
Declaration of Independence never did mean negroes. I call upon one
of them to say that he said it five years ago.

If you think that now, and did not think it then, the next thing that
strikes me is to remark that there has been a change wrought in you,-
-and a very significant change it is, being no less than changing the
negro, in your estimation, from the rank of a man to that of a brute.
They are taking him down and placing him, when spoken of, among
reptiles and crocodiles, as Judge Douglas himself expresses it.

Is not this change wrought in your minds a very important change?
Public opinion in this country is everything. In a nation like ours,
this popular sovereignty and squatter sovereignty have already
wrought a change in the public mind to the extent I have stated.
There is no man in this crowd who can contradict it.

Now, if you are opposed to slavery honestly, as much as anybody, I
ask you to note that fact, and the like of which is to follow, to be
plastered on, layer after layer, until very soon you are prepared to
deal with the negro every where as with the brute. If public
sentiment has not been debauched already to this point, a new turn of
the screw in that direction is all that is wanting; and this is
constantly being done by the teachers of this insidious popular
sovereignty. You need but one or two turns further, until your
minds, now ripening under these teachings, will be ready for all
these things, and you will receive and support, or submit to, the
slave trade, revived with all its horrors, a slave code enforced in
our Territories, and a new Dred Scott decision to bring slavery up
into the very heart of the free North. This, I must say, is but
carrying out those words prophetically spoken by Mr. Clay,--many,
many years ago,--I believe more than thirty years, when he told an
audience that if they would repress all tendencies to liberty and
ultimate emancipation they must go back to the era of our
independence, and muzzle the cannon which thundered its annual joyous
return on the Fourth of July; they must blow out the moral lights
around us; they must penetrate the human soul, and eradicate the love
of liberty: but until they did these things, and others eloquently
enumerated by him, they could not repress all tendencies to ultimate

I ask attention to the fact that in a pre-eminent degree these
popular sovereigns are at this work: blowing out the moral lights
around us; teaching that the negro is no longer a man, but a brute;
that the Declaration has nothing to do with him; that he ranks with
the crocodile and the reptile; that man, with body and soul, is a
matter of dollars and cents. I suggest to this portion of the Ohio
Republicans, or Democrats, if there be any present, the serious
consideration of this fact that there is now going on among you a
steady process of debauching public opinion on this subject. With
this, my friends, I bid you adieu.


My Fellow-Citizens of the State of Ohio: This is the first time in
my life that I have appeared before an audience in so great a city as
this: I therefore--though I am no longer a young man--make this
appearance under some degree of embarrassment. But I have found that
when one is embarrassed, usually the shortest way to get through with
it is to quit talking or thinking about it, and go at something else.

I understand that you have had recently with you my very
distinguished friend Judge Douglas, of Illinois; and I understand,
without having had an opportunity (not greatly sought, to be sure) of
seeing a report of the speech that he made here, that he did me the
honor to mention my humble name. I suppose that he did so for the
purpose of making some objection to some sentiment at some time
expressed by me. I should expect, it is true, that judge Douglas had
reminded you, or informed you, if you had never before heard it, that
I had once in my life declared it as my opinion that this government
cannot endure permanently, half slave and half free; that a house
divided against itself cannot stand, and, as I had expressed it, I
did not expect the house to fall, that I did not expect the Union to
be dissolved, but that I did expect that it would cease to be
divided, that it would become all one thing, or all the other; that
either the opponents of slavery would arrest the further spread of
it, and place it where the public mind would rest in the belief that
it was in the course of ultimate extinction, or the friends of
slavery will push it forward until it becomes alike lawful in all the
States, old or new, free as well as slave. I did, fifteen months ago,
express that opinion, and upon many occasions Judge Douglas has
denounced it, and has greatly, intentionally or unintentionally,
misrepresented my purpose in the expression of that opinion.

I presume, without having seen a report of his speech, that he did so
here. I presume that he alluded also to that opinion, in different
language, having been expressed at a subsequent time by Governor
Seward of New York, and that he took the two in a lump and denounced
them; that he tried to point out that there was something couched in
this opinion which led to the making of an entire uniformity of the
local institutions of the various States of the Union, in utter
disregard of the different States, which in their nature would seem
to require a variety of institutions and a variety of laws,
conforming to the differences in the nature of the different States.

Not only so: I presume he insisted that this was a declaration of war
between the free and slave States, that it was the sounding to the
onset of continual war between the different States, the slave and
free States.

This charge, in this form, was made by Judge Douglas on, I believe,
the 9th of July, 1858, in Chicago, in my hearing. On the next
evening, I made some reply to it. I informed him that many of the
inferences he drew from that expression of mine were altogether
foreign to any purpose entertained by me, and in so far as he should
ascribe these inferences to me, as my purpose, he was entirely
mistaken; and in so far as he might argue that, whatever might be my
purpose, actions conforming to my views would lead to these results,
he might argue and establish if he could; but, so far as purposes
were concerned, he was totally mistaken as to me.

When I made that reply to him, I told him, on the question of
declaring war between the different States of the Union, that I had
not said that I did not expect any peace upon this question until
slavery was exterminated; that I had only said I expected peace when
that institution was put where the public mind should rest in the
belief that it was in course of ultimate extinction; that I believed,
from the organization of our government until a very recent period of
time, the institution had been placed and continued upon such a
basis; that we had had comparative peace upon that question through a
portion of that period of time, only because the public mind rested
in that belief in regard to it, and that when we returned to that
position in relation to that matter, I supposed we should again have
peace as we previously had. I assured him, as I now, assure you, that
I neither then had, nor have, or ever had, any purpose in any way of
interfering with the institution of slavery, where it exists. I
believe we have no power, under the Constitution of the United
States, or rather under the form of government under which we live,
to interfere with the institution of slavery, or any other of the
institutions of our sister States, be they free or slave States. I
declared then, and I now re-declare, that I have as little
inclination to interfere with the institution of slavery where it now
exists, through the instrumentality of the General Government, or any
other instrumentality, as I believe we have no power to do so. I
accidentally used this expression: I had no purpose of entering into
the slave States to disturb the institution of slavery. So, upon the
first occasion that Judge Douglas got an opportunity to reply to me,
he passed by the whole body of what I had said upon that subject, and
seized upon the particular expression of mine that I had no purpose
of entering into the slave States to disturb the institution of
slavery. "Oh, no," said he, "he [Lincoln] won't enter into the slave
States to disturb the institution of slavery, he is too prudent a man
to do such a thing as that; he only means that he will go on to the
line between the free and slave States, and shoot over at them. This
is all he means to do. He means to do them all the harm he can, to
disturb them all he can, in such a way as to keep his own hide in
perfect safety."

Well, now, I did not think, at that time, that that was either a very
dignified or very logical argument but so it was, I had to get along
with it as well as I could.

It has occurred to-me here to-night that if I ever do shoot over the
line at the people on the other side of the line into a slave State,
and purpose to do so, keeping my skin safe, that I have now about the
best chance I shall ever have. I should not wonder if there are some
Kentuckians about this audience--we are close to Kentucky; and
whether that be so or not, we are on elevated ground, and, by
speaking distinctly, I should not wonder if some of the Kentuckians
would hear me on the other side of the river. For that reason I
propose to address a portion of what I have to say to the

I say, then, in the first place, to the Kentuckians, that I am what
they call, as I understand it, a "Black Republican." I think slavery
is wrong, morally and politically. I desire that it should be no
further spread in--these United States, and I should not object if it
should gradually terminate in the whole Union. While I say this for
myself, I say to you Kentuckians that I understand you differ
radically with me upon this proposition; that you believe slavery is
a good thing; that slavery is right; that it ought to be extended and
perpetuated in this Union. Now, there being this broad difference
between us, I do not pretend, in addressing myself to you
Kentuckians, to attempt proselyting you; that would be a vain effort.
I do not enter upon it. I only propose to try to show you that you
ought to nominate for the next Presidency, at Charleston, my
distinguished friend Judge Douglas. In all that there is a
difference between you and him, I understand he is sincerely for you,
and more wisely for you than you are for yourselves. I will try to
demonstrate that proposition. Understand, now, I say that I believe
he is as sincerely for you, and more wisely for you, than you are for

What do you want more than anything else to make successful your
views of slavery,--to advance the outspread of it, and to secure and
perpetuate the nationality of it? What do you want more than
anything else? What--is needed absolutely? What is indispensable to
you? Why, if I may, be allowed to answer the question, it is to
retain a hold upon the North, it is to retain support and strength
from the free States. If you can get this support and strength from
the free States, you can succeed. If you do not get this support and
this strength from the free States, you are in the minority, and you
are beaten at once.

If that proposition be admitted,--and it is undeniable,--then the
next thing I say to you is, that Douglas, of all the men in this
nation, is the only man that affords you any hold upon the free
States; that no other man can give you any strength in the free
States. This being so, if you doubt the other branch of the
proposition, whether he is for you--whether he is really for you, as
I have expressed it,--I propose asking your attention for a while to
a few facts.

The issue between you and me, understand, is, that I think slavery is
wrong, and ought not to be outspread; and you think it is right, and
ought to be extended and perpetuated. [A voice, "Oh, Lord!"] That is
my Kentuckian I am talking to now.

I now proceed to try to show you that Douglas is as sincerely for you
and more wisely for you than you are for yourselves.

In the first place, we know that in a government like this, in a
government of the people, where the voice of all the men of the
country, substantially, enters into the execution--or administration,
rather--of the government, in such a government, what lies at the
bottom of all of it is public opinion. I lay down the proposition,
that Judge Douglas is not only the man that promises you in advance a
hold upon the North, and support in the North, but he constantly
moulds public opinion to your ends; that in every possible way he can
he constantly moulds the public opinion of the North to your ends;
and if there are a few things in which he seems to be against you,-
-a, few things which he says that appear to be against you, and a few
that he forbears to say which you would like to have him say you
ought to remember that the saying of the one, or the forbearing to
say the other, would lose his hold upon the North, and, by
consequence, would lose his capacity to serve you.

Upon this subject of moulding public opinion I call your attention to
the fact--for a well established fact it is--that the Judge never
says your institution of slavery is wrong. There is not a public man
in the United States, I believe, with the exception of Senator
Douglas, who has not, at some time in his life, declared his opinion
whether the thing is right or wrong; but Senator Douglas never
declares it is wrong. He leaves himself at perfect liberty to do all
in your favor which he would be hindered from doing if he were to
declare the thing to be wrong. On the contrary, he takes all the
chances that he has for inveigling the sentiment of the North,
opposed to slavery, into your support, by never saying it is right.
This you ought to set down to his credit: You ought to give him full
credit for this much; little though it be, in comparison to the whole
which he does for you.

Some other, things I will ask your attention to. He said upon the
floor of the United States Senate, and he has repeated it, as I
understand, a great many times, that he does not care whether slavery
is "voted up or voted down." This again shows you, or ought to show
you, if you would reason upon it, that he does not believe it to be
wrong; for a man may say when he sees nothing wrong in a thing; that
he, dues not care whether it be voted up or voted down but no man can
logically say that he cares not whether a thing goes up or goes down
which to him appears to be wrong. You therefore have a demonstration
in this that to Judge Douglas's mind your favorite institution, which
you would have spread out and made perpetual, is no wrong.

Another thing he tells you, in a speech made at Memphis in Tennessee,
shortly after the canvass in Illinois, last year. He there
distinctly told the people that there was a "line drawn by the
Almighty across this continent, on the one side of which the soil
must always be cultivated by slaves"; that he did not pretend to know
exactly where that line was, but that there was such a line. I want
to ask your attention to that proposition again; that there is one
portion of this continent where the Almighty has signed the soil
shall always be cultivated by slaves; that its being cultivated by
slaves at that place is right; that it has the direct sympathy and
authority of the Almighty. Whenever you can get these Northern
audiences to adopt the opinion that slavery is right on the other
side of the Ohio, whenever you can get them, in pursuance of
Douglas's views, to adopt that sentiment, they will very readily make
the other argument, which is perfectly logical, that that which is
right on that side of the Ohio cannot be wrong on this, and that if
you have that property on that side of the Ohio, under the seal and
stamp of the Almighty, when by any means it escapes over here it is
wrong to have constitutions and laws "to devil" you about it. So
Douglas is moulding the public opinion of the North, first to say
that the thing is right in your State over the Ohio River, and hence
to say that that which is right there is not wrong here, and that all
laws and constitutions here recognizing it as being wrong are
themselves wrong, and ought to be repealed and abrogated. He will
tell you, men of Ohio, that if you choose here to have laws against
slavery, it is in conformity to the idea that your climate is not
suited to it, that your climate is not suited to slave labor, and
therefore you have constitutions and laws against it.

Let us attend to that argument for a little while and see if it be
sound. You do not raise sugar-cane (except the new-fashioned
sugar-cane, and you won't raise that long), but they do raise it in
Louisiana. You don't raise it in Ohio, because you can't raise it
profitably, because the climate don't suit it. They do raise it in
Louisiana, because there it is profitable. Now, Douglas will tell
you that is precisely the slavery question: that they do have slaves
there because they are profitable, and you don't have them here
because they are not profitable. If that is so, then it leads to
dealing with the one precisely as with the other. Is there, then,
anything in the constitution or laws of Ohio against raising
sugar-cane? Have you found it necessary to put any such provision in
your law? Surely not! No man desires to raise sugar-cane in Ohio,
but if any man did desire to do so, you would say it was a tyrannical
law that forbids his doing so; and whenever you shall agree with
Douglas, whenever your minds are brought to adopt his argument, as
surely you will have reached the conclusion that although it is not
profitable in Ohio, if any man wants it, is wrong to him not to let
him have it.

In this matter Judge Douglas is preparing the public mind for you of
Kentucky to make perpetual that good thing in your estimation, about
which you and I differ.

In this connection, let me ask your attention to another thing. I
believe it is safe to assert that five years ago no living man had
expressed the opinion that the negro had no share in the Declaration
of Independence. Let me state that again: five years ago no living
man had expressed the opinion that the negro had no share in the
Declaration of Independence. If there is in this large audience any
man who ever knew of that opinion being put upon paper as much as
five years ago, I will be obliged to him now or at a subsequent time
to show it.

If that be true I wish you then to note the next fact: that within
the space of five years Senator Douglas, in the argument of this
question, has got his entire party, so far as I know, without
exception, in saying that the negro has no share in the Declaration
of Independence. If there be now in all these United States one
Douglas man that does not say this, I have been unable upon any
occasion to scare him up. Now, if none of you said this five years
ago, and all of you say it now, that is a matter that you Kentuckians
ought to note. That is a vast change in the Northern public
sentiment upon that question.

Of what tendency is that change? The tendency of that change is to
bring the public mind to the conclusion that when men are spoken of,
the negro is not meant; that when negroes are spoken of, brutes alone
are contemplated. That change in public sentiment has already
degraded the black man in the estimation of Douglas and his followers
from the condition of a man of some sort, and assigned him to the
condition of a brute. Now, you Kentuckians ought to give Douglas
credit for this. That is the largest possible stride that can be
made in regard to the perpetuation of your thing of slavery.

A voice: Speak to Ohio men, and not to Kentuckians!

Mr. LINCOLN: I beg permission to speak as I please.

In Kentucky perhaps, in many of the slave States certainly, you are
trying to establish the rightfulness of slavery by reference to the
Bible. You are trying to show that slavery existed in the Bible
times by divine ordinance. Now, Douglas is wiser than you, for your
own benefit, upon that subject. Douglas knows that whenever you
establish that slavery was--right by the Bible, it will occur that
that slavery was the slavery of the white man, of men without
reference to color; and he knows very well that you may entertain
that idea in Kentucky as much as you please, but you will never win
any Northern support upon it. He makes a wiser argument for you: he
makes the argument that the slavery of the black man; the slavery of
the man who has a skin of a different color from your own, is right.
He thereby brings to your support Northern voters who could not for a
moment be brought by your own argument of the Bible right of slavery.
Will you give him credit for that? Will you not say that in this
matter he is more wisely for you than you are for yourselves?

Now, having established with his entire party this doctrine, having
been entirely successful in that branch of his efforts in your
behalf, he is ready for another.

At this same meeting at Memphis he declared that in all contests
between the negro and the white man he was for the white man, but
that in all questions between the negro and the crocodile he was for
the negro. He did not make that declaration accidentally at Memphis.
He made it a great many times in the canvass in Illinois last year
(though I don't know that it was reported in any of his speeches
there, but he frequently made it). I believe he repeated it at
Columbus, and I should not wonder if be repeated it here. It is,
then, a deliberate way of expressing himself upon that subject. It
is a matter of mature deliberation with him thus to express himself
upon that point of his case. It therefore requires deliberate

The first inference seems to be that if you do not enslave the negro,
you are wronging the white man in some way or other, and that whoever
is opposed to the negro being enslaved, is, in some way or other,
against the white man. Is not that a falsehood? If there was a
necessary conflict between the white man and the negro, I should be
for the white man as much as Judge Douglas; but I say there is no
such necessary conflict. I say that there is room enough for us all
to be free, and that it not only does not wrong the white man that
the negro should be free, but it positively wrongs the mass of the
white men that the negro should be enslaved; that the mass of white
men are really injured by the effects of slave labor in the vicinity
of the fields of their own labor.

But I do not desire to dwell upon this branch of the question more
than to say that this assumption of his is false, and I do hope that
that fallacy will not long prevail in the minds of intelligent white
men. At all events, you ought to thank Judge Douglas for it; it is
for your benefit it is made.

The other branch of it is, that in the struggle between the negro and
the crocodile; he is for the negro. Well, I don't know that there is
any struggle between the negro and the crocodile, either. I suppose
that if a crocodile (or, as we old Ohio River boatmen used to call
them, alligators) should come across a white man, he would kill him
if he could; and so he would a negro. But what, at last, is this
proposition? I believe it is a sort of proposition in proportion,
which may be stated thus: "As the negro is to the white man, so is
the crocodile to the negro; and as the negro may rightfully treat the
crocodile as a beast or reptile, so the white man may rightfully
treat the negro as a beast or a reptile." That is really the "knip"
of all that argument of his.

Now, my brother Kentuckians, who believe in this, you ought to thank
Judge Douglas for having put that in a much more taking way than any
of yourselves have done.

Again, Douglas's great principle, "popular sovereignty," as he calls
it, gives you, by natural consequence, the revival of the slave trade
whenever you want it. If you question this, listen awhile, consider
awhile what I shall advance in support of that proposition.

He says that it is the sacred right of the man who goes into the
Territories to have slavery if he wants it. Grant that for
argument's sake. Is it not the sacred right of the man who don't go
there equally to buy slaves in Africa, if he wants them? Can you
point out the difference? The man who goes into the Territories of
Kansas and Nebraska, or any other new Territory, with the sacred
right of taking a slave there which belongs to him, would certainly
have no more right to take one there than I would, who own no slave,
but who would desire to buy one and take him there. You will not say
you, the friends of Judge Douglas but that the man who does not own a
slave has an equal right to buy one and take him to the Territory as
the other does.

A voice: I want to ask a question. Don't foreign nations interfere
with the slave trade?

Mr. LINCOLN: Well! I understand it to be a principle of Democracy to
whip foreign nations whenever, they interfere with us.

Voice: I only asked for information. I am a Republican myself.

Mr. LINCOLN: You and I will be on the best terms in the world, but
I do not wish to be diverted from the point I was trying to press.

I say that Douglas's popular sovereignty, establishing his sacred
right in the people, if you please, if carried to its logical
conclusion gives equally the sacred right to the people of the States
or the Territories themselves to buy slaves wherever they can buy
them cheapest; and if any man can show a distinction, I should like
to hear him try it. If any man can show how the people of Kansas
have a better right to slaves, because they want them, than the
people of Georgia have to buy them in Africa, I want him to do it.
I think it cannot be done. If it is "popular sovereignty" for the
people to have slaves because they want them, it is popular
sovereignty for them to buy them in Africa because they desire to do

I know that Douglas has recently made a little effort, not seeming to
notice that he had a different theory, has made an effort to get rid
of that. He has written a letter, addressed to somebody, I believe,
who resides in Iowa, declaring his opposition to the repeal of the
laws that prohibit the Africa slave trade. He bases his opposition
to such repeal upon the ground that these laws are themselves one of
the compromises of the Constitution of the United States. Now, it
would be very interesting to see Judge Douglas or any of his friends
turn, to the Constitution of the United States and point out that
compromise, to show where there is any compromise in the
Constitution, or provision in the Constitution; express or implied,
by which the administrators of that Constitution are under any
obligation to repeal the African slave trade. I know, or at least I
think I know, that the framers of that Constitution did expect the
African slave trade would be abolished at the end of twenty years, to
which time their prohibition against its being abolished extended.
there is abundant contemporaneous history to show that the framers of
the Constitution expected it to be abolished. But while they so
expected, they gave nothing for that expectation, and they put no
provision in the Constitution requiring it should be so abolished.
The migration or importation of such persons as the States shall see
fit to admit shall not be prohibited, but a certain tax might be
levied upon such importation. But what was to be done after that
time? The Constitution is as silent about that as it is silent,
personally, about myself. There is absolutely nothing in it about
that subject; there is only the expectation of the framers of the
Constitution that the slave trade would be abolished at the end of
that time; and they expected it would be abolished, owing to public
sentiment, before that time; and the put that provision in, in order
that it should not be abolished before that time, for reasons which I
suppose they thought to be sound ones, but which I will not now try
to enumerate before you.

But while, they expected the slave trade would be abolished at that
time, they expected that the spread of slavery into the new
Territories should also be restricted. It is as easy to prove that
the framers of the Constitution of the United States expected that
slavery should be prohibited from extending into the new Territories,
as it is to prove that it was expected that the slave trade should be
abolished. Both these things were expected. One was no more
expected than the other, and one was no more a compromise of the
Constitution than the other. There was nothing said in the
Constitution in regard to the spread of slavery into the Territory.
I grant that; but there was something very important said about it by
the same generation of men in the adoption of the old Ordinance of
'87, through the influence of which you here in Ohio, our neighbors
in Indiana, we in Illinois, our neighbors in Michigan and Wisconsin,
are happy, prosperous, teeming millions of free men. That generation
of men, though not to the full extent members of the convention that
framed the Constitution, were to some extent members of that
convention, holding seats at the same time in one body and the other,
so that if there was any compromise on either of these subjects, the
strong evidence is that that compromise was in favor of the
restriction of slavery from the new Territories.

But Douglas says that he is unalterably opposed to the repeal of
those laws because, in his view, it is a compromise of the
Constitution. You Kentuckians, no doubt, are somewhat offended with
that. You ought not to be! You ought to be patient! You ought to
know that if he said less than that, he would lose the power of
"lugging" the Northern States to your support. Really, what you
would push him to do would take from him his entire power to serve
you. And you ought to remember how long, by precedent, Judge Douglas
holds himself obliged to stick by compromises. You ought to remember
that by the time you yourselves think you are ready to inaugurate
measures for the revival of the African slave trade, that sufficient
time will have arrived, by precedent, for Judge Douglas to break
through, that compromise. He says now nothing more strong than he
said in 1849 when he declared in favor of Missouri Compromise,--and
precisely four years and a quarter after he declared that Compromise
to be a sacred thing, which "no ruthless hand would ever daze to
touch," he himself brought forward the measure ruthlessly to destroy
it. By a mere calculation of time it will only be four years more
until he is ready to take back his profession about the sacredness of
the Compromise abolishing the slave trade. Precisely as soon as you
are ready to have his services in that direction, by fair
calculation, you may be sure of having them.

But you remember and set down to Judge Douglas's debt, or discredit,
that he, last year, said the people of Territories can, in spite of
the Dred Scott decision, exclude your slaves from those Territories;
that he declared, by "unfriendly legislation" the extension of your
property into the new Territories may be cut off, in the teeth of the
decision of the Supreme Court of the United States.

He assumed that position at Freeport on the 27th of August, 1858. He
said that the people of the Territories can exclude slavery, in so
many words: You ought, however, to bear in mind that he has never
said it since. You may hunt in every speech that he has since made,
and he has never used that expression once. He has never seemed to
notice that he is stating his views differently from what he did
then; but by some sort of accident, he has always really stated it
differently. He has always since then declared that "the
Constitution does not carry slavery into the Territories of the
United States beyond the power of the people legally to control it,
as other property." Now, there is a difference in the language used
upon that former occasion and in this latter day. There may or may
not be a difference in the meaning, but it is worth while considering
whether there is not also a difference in meaning.

What is it to exclude? Why, it is to drive it out. It is in some
way to put it out of the Territory. It is to force it across the
line, or change its character so that, as property, it is out of
existence. But what is the controlling of it "as other property"?
Is controlling it as other property the same thing as destroying it,
or driving it away? I should think not. I should think the
controlling of it as other property would be just about what you in
Kentucky should want. I understand the controlling of property means
the controlling of it for the benefit of the owner of it. While I
have no doubt the Supreme Court of the United States would say "God
speed" to any of the Territorial Legislatures that should thus
control slave property, they would sing quite a different tune if, by
the pretence of controlling it, they were to undertake to pass laws
which virtually excluded it,--and that upon a very well known
principle to all lawyers, that what a Legislature cannot directly do,
it cannot do by indirection; that as the Legislature has not the
power to drive slaves out, they have no power, by indirection, by
tax, or by imposing burdens in any way on that property, to effect
the same end, and that any attempt to do so would be held by the Dred
Scott court unconstitutional.

Douglas is not willing to stand by his first proposition that they
can exclude it, because we have seen that that proposition amounts to
nothing more nor less than the naked absurdity that you may lawfully
drive out that which has a lawful right to remain. He admitted at
first that the slave might be lawfully taken into the Territories
under the Constitution of the United States, and yet asserted that he
might be lawfully driven out. That being the proposition, it is the
absurdity I have stated. He is not willing to stand in the face of
that direct, naked, and impudent absurdity; he has, therefore,
modified his language into that of being "controlled as other

The Kentuckians don't like this in Douglas! I will tell you where it
will go. He now swears by the court. He was once a leading man in
Illinois to break down a court, because it had made a decision he did
not like. But he now not only swears by the court, the courts having
got to working for you, but he denounces all men that do not swear by
the courts, as unpatriotic, as bad citizens. When one of these acts
of unfriendly legislation shall impose such heavy burdens as to, in
effect, destroy property in slaves in a Territory, and show plainly
enough that there can be no mistake in the purpose of the Legislature
to make them so burdensome, this same Supreme Court will decide that
law to be unconstitutional, and he will be ready to say for your
benefit "I swear by the court; I give it up"; and while that is going
on he has been getting all his men to swear by the courts, and to
give it up with him. In this again he serves you faithfully, and, as
I say, more wisely than you serve yourselves.

Again: I have alluded in the beginning of these remarks to the fact
that Judge Douglas has made great complaint of my having expressed
the opinion that this government "cannot endure permanently, half
slave and half free." He has complained of Seward for using
different language, and declaring that there is an "irrepressible
conflict" between the principles of free and slave labor. [A voice:
" He says it is not original with Seward. That it is original with
Lincoln."] I will attend to that immediately, sir. Since that time,
Hickman of Pennsylvania expressed the same sentiment. He has never
denounced Mr. Hickman: why? There is a little chance,
notwithstanding that opinion in the mouth of Hickman, that he may yet
be a Douglas man. That is the difference! It is not unpatriotic to
hold that opinion if a man is a Douglas man.

But neither I, nor Seward, nor Hickman is entitled to the enviable or
unenviable distinction of having first expressed that idea. That
same idea was expressed by the Richmond Enquirer, in Virginia, in
1856,--quite two years before it was expressed by the first of us.
And while Douglas was pluming himself that in his conflict with my
humble self, last year, he had "squelched out" that fatal heresy, as
he delighted to call it, and had suggested that if he only had had a
chance to be in New York and meet Seward he would have "squelched" it
there also, it never occurred to him to breathe a word against Pryor.
I don't think that you can discover that Douglas ever talked of going
to Virginia to "squelch" out that idea there. No. More than that.
That same Roger A. Pryor was brought to Washington City and made the
editor of the par excellence Douglas paper, after making use of that
expression, which, in us, is so unpatriotic and heretical. From all
this, my Kentucky friends may see that this opinion is heretical in
his view only when it is expressed by men suspected of a desire that
the country shall all become free, and not when expressed by those
fairly known to entertain the desire that the whole country shall
become slave. When expressed by that class of men, it is in nowise
offensive to him. In this again, my friends of Kentucky, you have
Judge Douglas with you.

There is another reason why you Southern people ought to nominate
Douglas at your convention at Charleston. That reason is the
wonderful capacity of the man,--the power he has of doing what would
seem to be impossible. Let me call your attention to one of these
apparently impossible things:

Douglas had three or four very distinguished men of the most extreme
anti-slavery views of any men in the Republican party expressing
their desire for his re-election to the Senate last year. That
would, of itself, have seemed to be a little wonderful; but that
wonder is heightened when we see that Wise of Virginia, a man exactly
opposed to them, a man who believes in the divine right of slavery,
was also expressing his desire that Douglas should be reelected; that
another man that may be said to be kindred to Wise, Mr. Breckinridge,
the Vice-President, and of your own State, was also agreeing with the
anti-slavery men in the North that Douglas ought to be re-elected.
Still to heighten the wonder, a senator from Kentucky, whom I have
always loved with an affection as tender and endearing as I have ever
loved any man, who was opposed to the anti-slavery men for reasons
which seemed sufficient to him, and equally opposed to Wise and
Breckinridge, was writing letters into Illinois to secure the
reelection of Douglas. Now, that all these conflicting elements
should be brought, while at daggers' points with one another, to
support him, is a feat that is worthy for you to note and consider.
It is quite probable that each of these classes of men thought, by
the re-election of Douglas, their peculiar views would gain
something: it is probable that the anti-slavery men thought their
views would gain something; that Wise and Breckinridge thought so
too, as regards their opinions; that Mr. Crittenden thought that his
views would gain something, although he was opposed to both these
other men. It is probable that each and all of them thought that
they were using Douglas; and it is yet an unsolved problem whether he
was not using them all. If he was, then it is for you to consider
whether that power to perform wonders is one for you lightly to throw

There is one other thing that I will say to you, in this relation. It
is but my opinion, I give it to you without a fee. It is my opinion
that it is for you to take him or be defeated; and that if you do
take him you may be beaten. You will surely be beaten if you do not
take him. We, the Republicans and others forming the opposition of
the country, intend to "stand by our guns," to be patient and firm,
and in the long run to beat you, whether you take him or not. We
know that before we fairly beat you we have to beat you both
together. We know that you are "all of a feather," and that we have
to beat you all together, and we expect to do it. We don't intend to
be very impatient about it. We mean to be as deliberate and calm
about it as it is possible to be, but as firm and resolved as it is
possible for men to be. When we do as we say,--beat you,--you
perhaps want to know what we will do with you.

I will tell you, so far as I am authorized to speak for the
opposition, what we mean to do with you. We mean to treat you, as
near as we possibly can, as Washington, Jefferson, and Madison
treated you. We mean to leave you alone, and in no way interfere
with your institution; to abide by all and every compromise of the
Constitution, and, in a word, coming back to the original
proposition, to treat you, so far as degenerated men (if we have
degenerated) may, according to the examples of those noble fathers,
Washington, Jefferson, and Madison. We mean to remember that you are
as good as we; that there is no difference between us other than the
difference of circumstances. We mean to recognize and bear in mind
always that you have as good hearts in your bosoms as other people,
or as we claim to have, and treat you accordingly. We mean to marry
your girls when we have a chance, the white ones I mean; and I have
the honor to inform you that I once did have a chance in that way.

I have told you what we mean to do. I want to know, now, when that
thing takes place, what do you mean to do? I often hear it intimated
that you mean to divide the Union whenever a Republican, or anything
like it, is elected President of the United States. [A voice: "That
is so."] "That is so," one of them says; I wonder if he is a
Kentuckian? [A voice: "He is a Douglas man."] Well, then, I want to
know what you are going to do with your half of it? Are you going to
split the Ohio down through, and push your half off a piece? Or are
you going to keep it right alongside of us outrageous fellows? Or
are you going to build up a wall some way between your country and
ours, by which that movable property of yours can't come over here
any more, to the danger of your losing it? Do you think you can
better yourselves, on that subject, by leaving us here under no
obligation whatever to return those specimens of your movable
property that come hither? You have divided the Union because we
would not do right with you, as you think, upon that subject; when we
cease to be under obligations to do anything for you, how much better
off do you think you will be? Will you make war upon us and kill us
all? Why, gentlemen, I think you are as gallant and as brave men as
live; that you can fight as bravely in a good cause, man for man, as
any other people living; that you have shown yourselves capable of
this upon various occasions: but, man for man, you are not better
than we are, and there are not so many of you as there are of us. You
will never make much of a hand at whipping us. If we were fewer in
numbers than you, I think that you could whip us; if we were equal,
it would likely be a drawn battle; but being inferior in numbers, you
will make nothing by attempting to master us.

But perhaps I have addressed myself as long, or longer, to the
Kentuckians than I ought to have done, inasmuch as I have said that
whatever course you take we intend in the end to beat you. I propose
to address a few remarks to our friends, by way of discussing with
them the best means of keeping that promise that I have in good faith

It may appear a little episodical for me to mention the topic of
which I will speak now. It is a favorite position of Douglas's that
the interference of the General Government, through the Ordinance of
'87, or through any other act of the General Government never has
made or ever can make a free State; the Ordinance of '87 did not make
free States of Ohio, Indiana, or Illinois; that these States are free
upon his "great principle" of popular sovereignty, because the people
of those several States have chosen to make them so. At Columbus,
and probably here, he undertook to compliment the people that they
themselves have made the State of Ohio free, and that the Ordinance
of '87 was not entitled in any degree to divide the honor with them.
I have no doubt that the people of the State of Ohio did make her
free according to their own will and judgment, but let the facts be

In 1802, I believe, it was you who made your first constitution, with
the clause prohibiting slavery, and you did it, I suppose, very
nearly unanimously; but you should bear in mind that you--speaking of
you as one people--that you did so unembarrassed by the actual
presence of the, institution amongst you; that you made it a free
State not with the embarrassment upon you of already having among you
many slaves, which if they had been here, and you had sought to make
a free State, you would not know what to do with. If they had been
among you, embarrassing difficulties, most probably, would have
induced you to tolerate a slave constitution instead of a free one,
as indeed these very difficulties have constrained every people on
this continent who have adopted slavery.

Pray what was it that made you free? What kept you free? Did you
not find your country free when you came to decide that Ohio should
be a free State? It is important to inquire by what reason you found
it so. Let us take an illustration between the States of Ohio and
Kentucky. Kentucky is separated by this River Ohio, not a mile wide.
A portion of Kentucky, by reason of the course of the Ohio, is
farther north than this portion of Ohio, in which we now stand.
Kentucky is entirely covered with slavery; Ohio is entirely free from
it: What made that difference? Was it climate? No. A portion of
Kentucky was farther north than this portion of Ohio. Was it soil?
No. There is nothing in the soil of the one more favorable to slave
than the other. It was not climate or soil that mused one side of the
line to be entirely covered with slavery, and the other side free of
it. What was it? Study over it. Tell us, if you can, in all the
range of conjecture, if there be anything you can conceive of that
made that difference, other than that there was no law of any sort
keeping it out of Kentucky, while the Ordinance of '87 kept it out of
Ohio. If there is any other reason than this, I confess that it is
wholly beyond my power to conceive of it. This, then, I offer to
combat the idea that that Ordinance has never made any State free.

I don't stop at this illustration. I come to the State of Indiana;
and what I have said as between Kentucky and Ohio, I repeat as
between Indiana and Kentucky: it is equally applicable. One
additional argument is applicable also to Indiana. In her
Territorial condition she more than once petitioned Congress to
abrogate the Ordinance entirely, or at least so far as to suspend its
operation for a, time, in order that they should exercise the
"popular sovereignty" of having slaves if they wanted them. The men
then controlling the General Government, imitating the men of the
Revolution, refused Indiana that privilege. And so we have the
evidence that Indiana supposed she could have slaves, if it were not
for that Ordinance; that she besought Congress to put that barrier
out of the way; that Congress refused to do so; and it all ended at
last in Indiana being a free State. Tell me not then that the
Ordinance of '87 had nothing to do with making Indiana a free State,
when we find some men chafing against, and only restrained by, that

Come down again to our State of Illinois. The great Northwest
Territory, including Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and
Wisconsin, was acquired first, I believe, by the British Government,
in part at least, from the French. Before the establishment of our
independence it became a part of Virginia, enabling Virginia
afterward to transfer it to the General Government. There were
French settlements in what is now Illinois, and at the same time
there were French settlements in what is now Missouri, in the tract
of country that was not purchased till about 1803. In these French
settlements negro slavery had existed for many years, perhaps more
than a hundred; if not as much as two hundred years,--at Kaskaskia,
in Illinois, and at St. Genevieve, or Cape Girardeau, perhaps, in
Missouri. The number of slaves was not very great, but there was
about the same number in each place. They were there when we
acquired the Territory. There was no effort made to break up the
relation of master and slave, and even the Ordinance of 1787 was not
so enforced as to destroy that slavery in Illinois; nor did the
Ordinance apply to Missouri at all.

What I want to ask your attention to; at this point, is that Illinois
and Missouri came into the Union about the same time, Illinois in the
latter part of 1818, and Missouri, after a struggle, I believe
sometime in 1820. They had been filling up with American people
about the same period of time; their progress enabling them to come
into the Union about the same time. At the end of that ten years, in
which they had been so preparing (for it was about that period of
time), the number of slaves in Illinois had actually decreased; while
in Missouri, beginning with very few, at the end of that ten years
there were about ten thousand. This being so, and it being
remembered that Missouri and Illinois are, to a certain extent, in
the same parallel of latitude, that the northern half of Missouri and
the southern half of Illinois are in the same parallel of latitude,
so that climate would have the same effect upon one as upon the
other, and that in the soil there is no material difference so far as
bears upon the question of slavery being settled upon one or the
other,--there being none of those natural causes to produce a
difference in filling them, and yet there being a broad difference to
their filling up, we are led again to inquire what was the cause of
that difference.

It is most natural to say that in Missouri there was no law to keep
that country from filling up with slaves, while in Illinois there was
the Ordinance of The Ordinance being there, slavery decreased during
that ten years; the Ordinance not being in the other, it increased
from a few to ten thousand. Can anybody doubt the reason of the

I think all these facts most abundantly prove that my friend Judge
Douglas's proposition, that the Ordinance of '87, or the national
restriction of slavery, never had a tendency to make a free State, is
a fallacy,--a proposition without the shadow or substance of truth
about it.

Douglas sometimes says that all the States (and it is part of this
same proposition I have been discussing) that have become free have
become so upon his "great principle"; that the State of Illinois
itself came into the Union as a slave State, and that the people,
upon the "great principle" of popular sovereignty, have since made it
a free State. Allow me but a little while to state to you what facts
there are to justify him in saying that Illinois came into the Union
as a slave State.

I have mentioned to you that there were a few old French slaves
there. They numbered, I think, one or two hundred. Besides that,
there had been a Territorial law for indenturing black persons.
Under that law, in violation of the Ordinance of '87, but without any
enforcement of the Ordinance to overthrow the system, there had been
a small number of slaves introduced as indentured persons. Owing to
this, the clause for the prohibition of slavery was slightly
modified. Instead of running like yours, that neither slavery nor
involuntary servitude, except for crime, of which the party shall
have been duly convicted, should exist in the State, they said that
neither slavery nor involuntary servitude should thereafter be
introduced; and that the children of indentured servants should be
born free; and nothing was said about the few old French slaves. Out
of this fact, that the clause for prohibiting slavery was modified
because of the actual presence of it, Douglas asserts again and again
that Illinois came into the Union as a slave State. How far the
facts sustain the conclusion that he draws, it is for intelligent and
impartial men to decide. I leave it with you, with these remarks,
worthy of being remembered, that that little thing, those few
indentured servants being there, was of itself sufficient to modify a
constitution made by a people ardently desiring to have a free
constitution; showing the power of the actual presence of the
institution of slavery to prevent any people, however anxious to make
a free State, from making it perfectly so.

I have been detaining you longer, perhaps, than I ought to do.

I am in some doubt whether to introduce another topic upon which I
could talk a while. [Cries of "Go on," and "Give us it."] It is this,
then: Douglas's Popular sovereignty, as a principle, is simply this:
If one man chooses to make a slave of another man, neither that man
nor anybody else has a right to object. Apply it to government, as
he seeks to apply it, and it is this: If, in a new Territory into
which a few people are beginning to enter for the purpose of making
their homes, they choose to either exclude slavery from their limits,
or to establish it there, however one or the other may affect the
persons to be enslaved, or the infinitely greater number of persons
who are afterward to inhabit that Territory, or the other members of
the family of communities of which they are but an incipient member,
or the general head of the family of States as parent of all, however
their action may affect one or the other of these, there is no power
or right to interfere. That is Douglas's popular sovereignty
applied. Now, I think that there is a real popular sovereignty in
the world. I think the definition of popular sovereignty, in the
abstract, would be about this: that each man shall do precisely as he
pleases with himself, and with all those things which exclusively
concern him. Applied in government, this principle would be that a
general government shall do all those things which pertain to it, and
all the local governments shall do precisely as they please in
respect to those matters which exclusively concern them.

Douglas looks upon slavery as so insignificant that the people must
decide that question for themselves; and yet they are not fit to
decide who shall be their governor, judge, or secretary, or who shall
be any of their officers. These are vast national matters in his
estimation; but the little matter in his estimation is that of
planting slavery there. That is purely of local interest, which
nobody should be allowed to say a word about.

Labor is the great source from which nearly all, if not all, human
comforts and necessities are drawn. There is a difference in opinion
about the elements of labor in society. Some men assume that there
is necessary connection between capital and labor, and that
connection draws within it the whole of the labor of the community.
They assume that nobody works unless capital excites them to work.
They begin next to consider what is the best way. They say there are
but two ways: one is to hire men, and to allure them to labor by
their consent; the other is to buy the men, and drive them, to it,
and that is slavery. Having assumed that, they proceed to discuss
the question of whether the laborers themselves are better off in the
condition of slaves or of hired laborers, and they usually decide
that they are better off in the condition of slaves.

In the first place, I say that the whole thing is a mistake. That
there is a certain relation between capital and labor, I admit. That
it does exist, and rightfully exists, I think is true. That men who
are industrious, and sober, and honest in the pursuit of their own
interests should after a while accumulate capital, and after that
should be allowed to enjoy it in peace, and also, if they should
choose, when they have accumulated it, to use it to save themselves
from actual labor, and hire other people to labor for them, is right.
In doing so they do not wrong the man they employ, for they find men
who have not of their own land to work upon, or shops to work in, and
who are benefited by working for others, hired laborers, receiving
their capital for it. Thus a few men, that own capital, hire a few
others, and these establish the relation of capital and labor
rightfully, a relation of which I make no complaint. But I insist
that that relation, after all, does not embrace more than one eighth
of the labor of the country.

[The speaker proceeded to argue that the hired laborer, with his
ability to become an employer, must have every precedence over him
who labors under the inducement of force. He continued:]

I have taken upon myself in the name of some of you to say that we
expect upon these principles to ultimately beat them. In order to do
so, I think we want and must have a national policy in regard to the
institution of slavery that acknowledges and deals with that
institution as being wrong. Whoever desires the prevention of the
spread of slavery and the nationalization of that institution yields
all when he yields to any policy that either recognizes slavery as
being right or as being an indifferent thing. Nothing will make you
successful but setting up a policy which shall treat the thing as
being wrong: When I say this, I do not mean to say that this General
Government is charged with the duty of redressing or preventing all
the wrongs in the world, but I do think that it is charged with
preventing and redressing all wrongs which are wrongs to itself.
This Government is expressly charged with the duty of providing for
the general welfare. We believe that the spreading out and
perpetuity of the institution of slavery impairs the general welfare.
We believe--nay, we know--that that is the only thing that has ever
threatened the perpetuity of the Union itself. The only thing which
has ever menaced the destruction of the government under which we
live is this very thing. To repress this thing, we think, is,
Providing for the general welfare. Our friends in Kentucky differ
from us. We need not make our argument for them, but we who think it
is wrong in all its relations, or in some of them at least, must
decide as to our own actions and our own course, upon our own

I say that we must not interfere with the institution of slavery in
the States where it exists, because the Constitution forbids it, and
the general welfare does not require us to do so. We must not
withhold an efficient Fugitive Slave law, because the Constitution
requires us, as I understand it, not to withhold such a law. But we
must prevent the outspreading of the institution, because neither the
Constitution nor general welfare requires us to extend it. We must
prevent the revival of the African slave trade, and the enacting by
Congress of a Territorial slave code. We must prevent each of these
things being done by either Congresses or courts. The people of
these United States are the rightful masters of both Congresses and
courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men
who pervert the Constitution.

To do these things we must employ instrumentalities. We must hold
conventions; we must adopt platforms, if we conform to ordinary
custom; we must nominate candidates; and we must carry elections. In
all these things, I think that we ought to keep in view our real
purpose, and in none do anything that stands adverse to our purpose.
If we shall adopt a platform that fails to recognize or express our
purpose, or elect a man that declares himself inimical to our
purpose, we not only take nothing by our success, but we tacitly
admit that we act upon no other principle than a desire to have "the
loaves and fishes," by which, in the end, our apparent success is
really an injury to us.

I know that this is very desirable with me, as with everybody else,
that all the elements of the opposition shall unite in the next
Presidential election and in all future time. I am anxious that that
should be; but there are things seriously to be considered in
relation to that matter. If the terms can be arranged, I am in favor
of the union. But suppose we shall take up some man, and put him
upon one end or the other of the ticket, who declares himself against
us in regard to the prevention of the spread of slavery, who turns up
his nose and says he is tired of hearing anything more about it, who
is more against us than against the enemy, what will be the issue?
Why, he will get no slave States, after all,--he has tried that
already until being beat is the rule for him. If we nominate him
upon that ground, he will not carry a slave State; and not only so,
but that portion of our men who are high-strung upon the principle we
really fight for will not go for him, and he won't get a single
electoral vote anywhere, except, perhaps, in the State of Maryland.
There is no use in saying to us that we are stubborn and obstinate
because we won't do some such thing as this. We cannot do it. We
cannot get our men to vote it. I speak by the card, that we cannot
give the State of Illinois in such case by fifty thousand. We would
be flatter down than the "Negro Democracy" themselves have the heart
to wish to see us.

After saying this much let me say a little on the other side. There
are plenty of men in the slave States that are altogether good enough
for me to be either President or Vice-President, provided they will
profess their sympathy with our purpose, and will place themselves on
the ground that our men, upon principle, can vote for them. There
are scores of them, good men in their character for intelligence and
talent and integrity. If such a one will place himself upon the
right ground, I am for his occupying one place upon the next
Republican or opposition ticket. I will heartily go for him. But
unless he does so place himself, I think it a matter of perfect
nonsense to attempt to bring about a union upon any other basis; that
if a union be made, the elements will scatter so that there can be no
success for such a ticket, nor anything like success. The good old
maxims of the Bible axe applicable, and truly applicable, to human
affairs, and in this, as in other things, we may say here that he who
is not for us is against us; he who gathereth not with us,
scattereth. I should be glad to have some of the many good and able
and noble men of the South to place themselves where we can confer
upon them the high honor of an election upon one or the other end of
our ticket. It would do my soul good to do that thing. It would
enable us to teach them that, inasmuch as we select one of their own
number to carry out our principles, we are free from the charge that
we mean more than we say.

But, my friends, I have detained you much longer than I expected to
do. I believe I may do myself the compliment to say that you have
stayed and heard me with great patience, for which I return you my
most sincere thanks.



CLINTON, October 11, 1859


MY DEAR SIR:--I am here just now attending court. Yesterday, before
I left Springfield, your brother, Dr. William S. Wallace, showed me a
letter of yours, in which you kindly mention my name, inquiring for
my tariff views, and suggest the propriety of my writing a letter
upon the subject. I was an old Henry-Clay-Tariff Whig. In old times
I made more speeches on that subject than any other.

I have not since changed my views. I believe yet, if we could have a
moderate, carefully adjusted protective tariff, so far acquiesced in
as not to be a perpetual subject of political strife, squabbles
changes, and uncertainties, it would be better for us. Still it is
my opinion that just now the revival of that question will not
advance the cause itself, or the man who revives it.

I have not thought much on the subject recently, but my general
impression is that the necessity for a protective tariff will ere
long force its old opponents to take it up; and then its old friends
can join in and establish it on a more firm and durable basis. We,
the Old Whigs, have been entirely beaten out on the tariff question,
and we shall not be able to re-establish the policy until the absence
of it shall have demonstrated the necessity for it in the minds of
men heretofore opposed to it. With this view, I should prefer to not
now write a public letter on the subject. I therefore wish this to
be considered confidential. I shall be very glad to receive a
letter from you.

Yours truly,



SPRINGFIELD, November, 2, 1859.


DEAR SIR:--Yours of October 27 is received. When a mortgage is given
to secure two notes, and one of the notes is sold and assigned, if
the mortgaged premises are only sufficient to pay one note, the one
assigned will take it all. Also, an execution from a judgment on the
assigned note may take it all; it being the same thing in substance.
There is redemption on execution sales from the United States Court
just as from any other court.

You did not mention the name of the plaintiff or defendant in the
suit, and so I can tell nothing about it as to sales, bids, etc.
Write again.

Yours truly,



............. But you Democrats are for the Union; and you greatly
fear the success of the Republicans would destroy the Union. Why? Do
the Republicans declare against the Union? Nothing like it. Your own
statement of it is that if the Black Republicans elect a President,
you "won't stand it." You will break up the Union. If we shall
constitutionally elect a President, it will be our duty to see that
you submit. Old John Brown has been executed for treason against a
State. We cannot object, even though he agreed with us in thinking
slavery wrong. That cannot excuse violence, bloodshed and treason.
It could avail him nothing that he might think himself right. So, if
we constitutionally elect a President, and therefore you undertake to
destroy the Union, it will be our duty to deal with you as old John
Brown has been dealt with. We shall try to do our duty. We hope and
believe that in no section will a majority so act as to render such
extreme measures necessary.


SPRINGFIELD, Dec. 14, 1859


GENT.:--Your favor of the 12th is at hand, and it gives me pleasure
to be able to answer it. It is not my intention to take part in any
of the rivalries for the gubernatorial nomination; but the fear of
being misunderstood upon that subject ought not to deter me from
doing justice to Mr. Judd, and preventing a wrong being done to him
by the use of nay name in connection with alleged wrongs to me.

In answer to your first question, as to whether Mr. Judd was guilty
of any unfairness to me at the time of Senator Trumbull's election, I
answer unhesitatingly in the negative; Mr. Judd owed no political
allegiance to any party whose candidate I was. He was in the Senate,
holding over, having been elected by a Democratic Constituency. He
never was in any caucus of the friends who sought to make me U. S.
Senator, never gave me any promises or pledges to support me, and
subsequent events have greatly tended to prove the wisdom,
politically, of Mr. Judd's course. The election of Judge Trumbull
strongly tended to sustain and preserve the position of that lion of
the Democrats who condemned the repeal of the Missouri Compromise,
and left them in a position of joining with us in forming the
Republican party, as was done at the Bloomington convention in 1856.

During the canvass of 1858 for the senatorship my belief was, and
still is, that I had no more sincere and faithful friend than Mr.
Judd--certainly none whom I trusted more. His position as chairman
of the State Central Committee led to my greater intercourse with
him, and to my giving him a larger share of my confidence, than with
or to almost any other friend; and I have never suspected that that
confidence was, to any degree, misplaced.

My relations with Mr. Judo since the organization of the Republican
party, in, our State, in 1856, and especially since the adjournment
of the Legislature in Feb., 1857, have been so very intimate that I
deem it an impossibility that he could have been dealing
treacherously with me. He has also, at all times, appeared equally
true and faithful to the party. In his position as chairman of the
committee, I believe he did all that any man could have done. The
best of us are liable to commit errors, which become apparent by
subsequent developments; but I do not know of a single error, even,
committed by Mr. Judd, since he and I have acted together

I, had occasionally heard these insinuations against Mr. Judd, before
the receipt of your letter; and in no instance have I hesitated to
pronounce them wholly unjust, to the full extent of my knowledge and
belief. I have been, and still am, very anxious to take no part
between the many friends, all good and true, who are mentioned as
candidates for a Republican gubernatorial nomination; but I can not
feel that my own honor is quite clear if I remain silent when I hear
any one of them assailed about matters of which I believe I know more
than his assailants.

I take pleasure in adding that, of all the avowed friends I had in
the canvass of last year, I do not suspect any of having acted
treacherously to me, or to our cause; and that there is not one of
them in whose honesty, honor, and integrity I, today, have greater
confidence than I have in those of Mr. Judd.

I dislike to appear before the public in this matter; but you are at
liberty to make such use of this letter as you may think justice

Yours very truly,



SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, December 19, 1859.


GENTLEMEN:--Your letter of the 7th instant, accompanied by a similar
one from the governor-elect, the Republican State officers, and the
Republican members of the State Board of Equalization of Ohio, both
requesting of me, for publication in permanent form, copies of the
political debates between Senator Douglas and myself last year, has
been received. With my grateful acknowledgments to both you and them
for the very flattering terms in which the request is communicated, I
transmit you the copies. The copies I send you are as reported and
printed by the respective friends of Senator Douglas and myself, at
the time--that is, his by his friends, and mine by mine. It would be
an unwarrantable liberty for us to change a word or a letter in his,
and the changes I have made in mine, you perceive, are verbal only,
and very few in number. I wish the reprint to be precisely as the
copies I send, without any comment whatever.

Yours very truly,




SPRINGFIELD, December 20, 1859.

J. W. FELL, Esq.

MY DEAR SIR:--Herewith is a little sketch, as you requested. There
is not much of it, for the reason, I suppose, that there is not much
of me. If anything be made out of it, I wish it to be modest, and
not to go beyond the material. If it were thought necessary to
incorporate anything from any of my speeches I suppose there would be
no objection. Of course it must not appear to have been written by

Yours very truly,


I was born February 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky. My parents
were both born in Virginia, of undistinguished families--second
families, perhaps I should say. My mother, who died in my tenth
year, was of a family of the name of Hanks, some of whom now reside
in Adams, and others in Macon County, Illinois. My paternal
grandfather, Abraham Lincoln, emigrated from Rockingham County,
Virginia, to Kentucky about 1781 or 1782, where a year or two later
he was killed by the Indians, not in battle, but by stealth, when he
was laboring to open a farm in the forest. His ancestors, who were
Quakers, went to Virginia from Berks County, Pennsylvania. An effort
to identify them with the New England family of the same name ended
in nothing more definite than a similarity of Christian names in both
families, such as Enoch, Levi, Mordecai, Solomon, Abraham, and the

My father, at the death of his father, was but six years of age, and
he grew up literally without education. He removed from Kentucky to
what is now Spencer County, Indiana, in my eighth year. We reached
our new home about the time that State came into the Union. It was a
wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the
woods. There I grew up. There were some schools, so called, but no
qualification was ever required of a teacher beyond "readin',
writin', and cipherin"' to the Rule of Three. If a straggler
supposed to understand Latin happened to sojourn in the neighborhood
he was looked upon as a wizard. There was absolutely nothing to
excite ambition for education. Of course, when I came of age I did
not know much. Still, somehow, I could read, write, and cipher to
the Rule of Three, but that was all. I have not been to school
since. The little advance I now have upon this store of education I
have picked up from time to time under the pressure of necessity.

I was raised to farm work, which I continued till I was twenty-two.
At twenty-one I came to Illinois, Macon County. Then I got to New
Salem, at that time in Sangamon, now in Menard County, where I
remained a year as a sort of clerk in a store. Then came the Black
Hawk war; and I was elected a captain of volunteers, a success which
gave me more pleasure than any I have had since. I went the
campaign, was elected, ran for the Legislature the same year (1832),
and was beaten--the only time I ever have been beaten by the people.
The next and three succeeding biennial elections I was elected to the
Legislature. I was not a candidate afterward. During this
legislative period I had studied law, and removed to Springfield to
practice it. In 1846 I was once elected to the lower House of
Congress. Was not a candidate for re-election. From 1849 to 1854,
both inclusive, practiced law more assiduously than ever before.
Always a Whig in politics; and generally on the Whig electoral
tickets, making active canvasses. I was losing interest in politics
when the repeal of the Missouri Compromise aroused me again. What I
have done since then is pretty well known.

If any personal description of me is thought desirable, it may be
said I am, in height, six feet four inches, nearly; lean in flesh,
weighing on an average one hundred and eighty pounds; dark
complexion, with coarse black hair and gray eyes. No other marks or
brands recollected.

Yours truly,



To N. B. JUDD.



DEAR Sir:--I am not in a position where it would hurt much for me to
not be nominated on the national ticket; but I am where it would hurt
some for me to not get the Illinois delegates. What I expected when
I wrote the letter to Messrs. Dole and others is now happening.
Your discomfited assailants are most bitter against me; and they
will, for revenge upon me, lay to the Bates egg in the South, and to
the Seward egg in the North, and go far toward squeezing me out in
the middle with nothing. Can you help me a little in this matter in
your end of the vineyard. I mean this to be private.

Yours as ever,



FEBRUARY 27, 1860

I shall deal this evening are mainly old and familiar; nor is there
anything new in the general use I shall make of them. If there shall
be any novelty, it will be in the mode of presenting the facts, and
the inferences and observations following that presentation.

In his speech last autumn at Columbus, Ohio, as reported in the New
York Times, Senator Douglas said:

"Our fathers, when they framed the Government under which we live,
understood this question just as well, and even better than we do

I fully indorse this, and I adopt it as a text for this discourse.
I so adopt it because it furnishes a precise and an agreed starting-
point for a discussion between Republicans and that wing of the
Democracy headed by Senator Douglas. It simply leaves the inquiry:
What was the understanding those fathers had of the question

What is the frame of Government under which we live?

The answer must be--the Constitution of the United States. That
Constitution consists of the original, framed in 1787 (and under
which the present Government first went into operation), and twelve
subsequently framed amendments, the first ten of which were framed in

Who were our fathers that framed the Constitution? I suppose the
"thirty-nine" who signed the original instrument may be fairly called
our fathers who framed that part of the present Government. It is
almost exactly true to say they framed it, and it is altogether true
to say they fairly represented the opinion and sentiment of the whole
nation at that time.

Their names, being familiar to nearly all, and accessible to quite
all, need not now be repeated.

I take these "thirty-nine," for the present, as being our "fathers
who framed the Government under which we live."

What is the question which, according to the text, those fathers
understood "just as well, and even better than we do now"?

It is this: Does the proper division of local from Federal authority,
or anything in the Constitution, forbid our Federal Government to
control as to slavery in our Federal Territories?

Upon this Senator Douglas holds the affirmative, and Republicans the
negative. This affirmation and denial form an issue, and this issue-
-this question is precisely what the text declares our fathers
understood "better than we."

Let us now inquire whether the "thirty-nine," or any of them, acted
upon this question; and if they did, how they acted upon it--how they
expressed that better understanding.

In 1784, three years before the Constitution--the United States then
owning the Northwestern Territory, and no other--the Congress of the
Confederation had before them the question of prohibiting slavery in
that Territory; and four of the "thirty nine" who afterward framed
the Constitution were in that Congress and voted on that question.
Of these, Roger Sherman, Thomas Mifflin, and Hugh Williamson voted
for the prohibition, thus showing that, in their understanding, no
line dividing local from Federal authority, nor anything else,
properly forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in
Federal territory. The other of the four--James McHenry voted
against the prohibition, showing that, for some cause, he thought it
improper to vote for it.

In 1787, still before the Constitution, but while the convention was
in session framing it, and while the Northwestern Territory still was
the only Territory owned by the United States, the same question of
prohibiting slavery in the Territory again came before the Congress
of the Confederation; and two more of the "thirty-nine" who afterward
signed the Constitution were in that Congress, and voted on the
question. They were William Blount and William Few; and they both
voted for the prohibition thus showing that, in their understanding,
no line dividing local from Federal authority, nor anything else,
properly forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in
Federal territory. This time the prohibition became a law, being part
of what is now well known as the Ordinance of '87.

The question of Federal control of slavery in the Territories seems
not to have been directly before the convention which framed the
original Constitution; and hence it is not recorded that the
"thirty-nine," or any of them, while engaged on that instrument,
expressed any opinion on that precise question.

In 1789, by the first Congress which sat under the Constitution, an
act was passed to enforce the Ordinance of '87, including the
prohibition of slavery in the Northwestern Territory. The bill for
this act was reported by one of the "thirty-nine," Thomas
Fitzsimmons, then a member of the House of Representatives from
Pennsylvania. It went through all its stages without a word of
opposition, and finally passed both branches without yeas and nays,
which is equivalent to a unanimous passage. In this Congress there
were sixteen of the thirty-nine fathers who framed the original
Constitution. They were John Langdon, Nicholas Gilman, Wm. S.
Johnnson, Roger Sherman, Robert Morris, Thos. Fitzsimmons, William
Few, Abraham Baldwin, Rufus King, William Paterson, George Claimer,
Richard Bassett, George Read, Pierce Butler, Daniel Carroll, James

This shows that, in their understanding, no line dividing local from
Federal authority, nor anything in the Constitution, properly forbade
Congress to prohibit slavery in the Federal territory; else both
their fidelity to correct principles and their oath to support the
Constitution would have constrained them to oppose the prohibition.

Again: George Washington, another of the "thirty nine," was then
President of the United States, and, as such, approved and signed the
bill; thus completing its validity as a law, and thus showing that,
in his understanding, no line dividing local from Federal authority,
nor anything in the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to
control as to slavery in Federal territory.

No great while after the adoption of the original Constitution, North
Carolina ceded to the Federal Government the country now constituting
the State of Tennessee; and, a few years later, Georgia ceded that
which now constitutes the States of Mississippi and Alabama. In both
deeds of cession it was made a condition by the ceding States that
the Federal Government should not prohibit slavery in the ceded
country. Besides this, slavery was then actually in the ceded
country. Under these circumstances, Congress, on taking charge of
these countries, did not absolutely prohibit slavery within them.
But they did interfere with it--take control of it--even there, to a
certain extent. In 1798, Congress organized the Territory of
Mississippi: In the act of organization they prohibited the bringing
of slaves into the Territory from any place without the United
States, by fine and giving freedom to slaves so brought. This act
passed both branches of Congress without yeas and nays. In that
Congress were three of the "thirty-nine" who framed the original
Constitution. They were John Langdon, George Read, and Abraham
Baldwin. They all, probably, voted for it. Certainly they would have
placed their opposition to it upon record, if, in their
understanding, any line dividing local from Federal authority, or
anything in the Constitution, properly forbade the Federal Government
to control as to slavery in Federal territory.

In 1803, the Federal Government purchased the Louisiana country. Our
former territorial acquisitions came from certain of our own States;
but this Louisiana country was acquired from a foreign nation. In
1804, Congress gave a territorial organization to that part of it
which now constitutes the State of Lousiana. New Orleans, lying
within that part, was an old and comparatively large city. There
were other considerable towns and settlements, and slavery was
extensively and thoroughly intermingled with the people. Congress
did not, in the Territorial Act, prohibit slavery; but they did
interfere with it take control of it--in a more marked and extensive
way than they did in the case of Mississippi. The substance of the
provision therein made in relation to slaves was:

First. That no slave should be imported into the Territory from
foreign parts.

Second. That no slave should be carried into it who had been imported
into the United States since the first day of May, 1798.

Third. That no slave should be carried into it except by the owner,
and for his own use as a settler; the penalty in all the cases being
a fine upon the violator of the law, and freedom to the slave.

This act also was passed without yeas and nays. In the Congress which
passed it there were two of the "thirty-nine." They were Abraham
Baldwin and Jonathan Dayton. As stated in the case of Mississippi,
it is probable they both voted for it. They would not have allowed it
to pass without recording their opposition to it, if, in their
understanding, it violated either the line properly dividing local
from Federal authority, or any provision of the Constitution.

In 1819-20 came and passed the Missouri question. Many votes were
taken, by yeas and nays, in both branches of Congress, upon the
various phases of the general question. Two of the "thirty-nine"-
-Rufus King and Charles Pinckney were members of that Congress. Mr.
King steadily voted for slavery prohibition and against all
compromises, while Mr. Pinckney as steadily voted against slavery
prohibition, and against all compromises. By this, Mr. King showed
that, in his understanding, no line dividing local from Federal
authority, nor anything in the Constitution, was violated by Congress
prohibiting slavery in Federal territory; while Mr. Pinckney, by his
vote, showed that in his understanding there was some sufficient
reason for opposing such prohibition in that case.

The cases I have mentioned are the only acts of the "thirty-nine," or
of any of them, upon the direct issue, which I have been able to

To enumerate the persons who thus acted, as being four in 1784, two
in 1787, seventeen in 1789, three in 1798, two in 1804, and two in
1819-20--there would be thirty of them. But this would be counting,
John Langdon, Roger Sherman, William Few, Rufus King, and George
Read, each twice, and Abraham Baldwin three times. The true number
of those of the "thirty-nine" whom I have shown to have acted upon
the question which, by the text, they understood better than we, is
twenty-three, leaving sixteen not shown to have acted upon it in any

Here, then, we have twenty-three out of our thirty-nine fathers "who
framed the Government under which we live," who have, upon their
official responsibility and their corporal oaths, acted upon the very
question which the text affirms they "understood just as well, and
even better than we do now"; and twenty-one of them--a clear majority
of the whole "thirty-nine"--so acting upon it as to make them guilty
of gross political impropriety and wilful perjury, if, in their
understanding, any proper division between local and Federal.
authority, or anything in the Constitution they had made themselves,
and sworn to support, forbade the Federal Government to control as to
slavery in the Federal Territories. Thus the twenty-one acted; and,
as actions speak louder than words, so actions under such
responsibilities speak still louder.

Two of the twenty-three voted against Congressional prohibition of
slavery in the Federal Territories, in the instances in which they
acted upon the question. But for what reasons they so voted is not
known. They may have done so because they thought a proper division
of local from Federal authority, or some provision or principle of
the Constitution, stood in the way; or they may, without any such
question, have voted against the prohibition on what appeared to them
to be sufficient grounds of expediency. No one who has sworn to
support the Constitution can conscientiously vote for what he
understands to be an unconstitutional measure, however expedient he
may think it; but one may and ought to vote against a measure which
he deems constitutional, if, at the same time, he deems it
inexpedient. It therefore would be unsafe to set down even the two
who voted against the prohibition as having done so because, in their
understanding, any proper division of local from Federal authority,
or anything in the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to
control as to slavery in Federal territory.

The remaining sixteen of the "thirty-nine," so far as I have
discovered, have left no record of their understanding upon the
direct question of Federal control on slavery in the Federal
Territories. But there is much reason to believe that their
understanding upon that question would not have appeared different
from that of their twenty-three compeers, had it been manifested at

For the purpose of adhering rigidly to the text, I have purposely
omitted whatever understanding may have been manifested by any
person, however distinguished, other than the thirty-nine fathers who
framed the original Constitution; and, for the same reason, I have
also omitted whatever understanding may have been manifested by any
of the "thirty tine" even on any other phase of the general question
of slavery. If we should look into their acts and declarations on
those other phases, as the foreign slave trade, and the morality and
policy of slavery generally, it would appear to us that on the direct
question of Federal control of slavery in Federal Territories, the
sixteen, if they had acted at all, would probably have acted just as
the twenty-three did. Among that sixteen were several of the most
noted anti-slavery men of those times--as Dr. Franklin, Alexander
Hamilton, and Gouverneur Morris while there was not one now known to
have been otherwise, unless it may be John Rutledge, of South

The sum of the whole is, that of our thirty-nine fathers who framed
the original Constitution, twenty-one--a clear majority of the
whole--certainly understood that no proper division of local from
Federal authority, nor any part of the Constitution, forbade the
Federal Government to control slavery in the Federal Territories;
whilst all the rest probably had the same understanding. Such,
unquestionably, was the understanding of our fathers who framed the
original Constitution; and the text affirms that they understood the
question "better than we."

But, so far, I have been considering the understanding of the
question manifested by the framers of the original Constitution. In
and by the original instrument, a mode was provided for amending it;
and, as I have already stated, the present frame of "the Government
under which we live" consists of that original, and twelve amendatory
articles framed and adopted since. Those who now insist that Federal
control of slavery in Federal Territories violates the Constitution,
point us to the provisions which they suppose it thus violates; and,
as I understand, they all fix upon provisions in these amendatory
articles, and not in the original instrument. The Supreme Court, in
the Dred Scott case, plant themselves upon the fifth amendment, which
provides that no person shall be deprived of "life, liberty, or
property without due process of law"; while Senator Douglas and his
peculiar adherents plant themselves upon the tenth amendment,
providing that "the powers not delegated to the United States by the
Constitution" "are reserved to the States respectively, or to the

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