The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol 5 by Abraham Lincoln

This etext was produced by David Widger THE WRITINGS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Volume Five CONSTITUTIONAL EDITION TO SYDNEY SPRING, GRAYVILLE, ILL. SPRINGFIELD, June 19, 1858. SYDNEY SPRING, Esq. MY DEAR SIR:–Your letter introducing Mr. Faree was duly received. There was no opening to nominate him for Superintendent of Public Instruction, but through him Egypt made
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This etext was produced by David Widger




SPRINGFIELD, June 19, 1858.


MY DEAR SIR:–Your letter introducing Mr. Faree was duly received. There was no opening to nominate him for Superintendent of Public Instruction, but through him Egypt made a most valuable contribution to the convention. I think it may be fairly said that he came off the lion of the day–or rather of the night. Can you not elect him to the Legislature? It seems to me he would be hard to beat. What objection could be made to him? What is your Senator Martin saying and doing? What is Webb about?

Please write me.
Yours truly,



SPRINGFIELD, June 24, 1858


DEAR SIR:–Your letter enclosing the attack of the Times upon me was received this morning. Give yourself no concern about my voting against the supplies. Unless you are without faith that a lie can be successfully contradicted, there is not a word of truth in the charge, and I am just considering a little as to the best shape to put a contradiction in. Show this to whomever you please, but do not publish it in the paper.

Your friend as ever,



SPRINGFIELD, June 25, 1858.


MY DEAR SIR:–Yours of the 22nd, inclosing a draft of two hundred dollars, was duly received. I have paid it on the judgment, and herewith you have the receipt. I do not wish to say anything as to who shall be the Republican candidate for the Legislature in your district, further than that I have full confidence in Dr. Hull. Have you ever got in the way of consulting with McKinley in political matters? He is true as steel, and his judgment is very good. The last I heard from him, he rather thought Weldon, of De Witt, was our best timber for representative, all things considered. But you there must settle it among yourselves. It may well puzzle older heads than yours to understand how, as the Dred Scott decision holds, Congress can authorize a Territorial Legislature to do everything else, and cannot authorize them to prohibit slavery. That is one of the things the court can decide, but can never give an intelligible reason for.

Yours very truly,



SPRINGFIELD, June 28, 1858.


MY DEAR SIR:–In 1856 you gave me authority to draw on you for any sum not exceeding five hundred dollars. I see clearly that such a privilege would be more available now than it was then. I am aware that times are tighter now than they were then. Please write me at all events, and whether you can now do anything or not I shall continue grateful for the past.

Yours very truly,



SPRINGFIELD, July 16, 1858.


MY DEAR SIR:–I write this to say that from the specimens of Douglas Democracy we occasionally see here from Madison, we learn that they are making very confident calculation of beating you and your friends for the lower house, in that county. They offer to bet upon it. Billings and Job, respectively, have been up here, and were each as I learn, talking largely about it. If they do so, it can only be done by carrying the Fillmore men of 1856 very differently from what they seem to [be] going in the other party. Below is the vote of 1856, in your district:


Counties. Buchanan. Fremont. Fillmore. Bond ………… 607 153 659 Madison ……… 1451 1111 1658 Montgomery …… 992 162 686 —- —- —-
3050 1426 3003

By this you will see, if you go through the calculation, that if they get one quarter of the Fillmore votes, and you three quarters, they will beat you 125 votes. If they get one fifth, and you four fifths, you beat them 179. In Madison, alone, if our friends get 1000 of the Fillmore votes, and their opponents the remainder, 658, we win by just two votes.

This shows the whole field, on the basis of the election of 1856.

Whether, since then, any Buchanan, or Fremonters, have shifted ground, and how the majority of new votes will go, you can judge better than I.

Of course you, on the ground, can better determine your line of tactics than any one off the ground; but it behooves you to be wide awake and actively working.

Don’t neglect it; and write me at your first leisure. Yours as ever,





MY DEAR SIR:–Your kind and interesting letter of the 19th was duly received. Your suggestions as to placing one’s self on the offensive rather than the defensive are certainly correct. That is a point which I shall not disregard. I spoke here on Saturday night. The speech, not very well reported, appears in the State journal of this morning. You doubtless will see it; and I hope that you will perceive in it that I am already improving. I would mail you a copy now, but have not one [at] hand. I thank you for your letter and shall be pleased to hear from you again.

Yours very truly,





MY DEAR SIR:–Your doleful letter of the 8th was received on my return from Chicago last night. I do hope you are worse scared than hurt, though you ought to know best. We must not lose the district. We must make a job of it, and save it. Lay hold of the proper agencies, and secure all the Americans you can, at once. I do hope, on closer inspection, you will find they are not half gone. Make a little test. Run down one of the poll-books of the Edwardsville precinct, and take the first hundred known American names. Then quietly ascertain how many of them are actually going for Douglas. I think you will find less than fifty. But even if you find fifty, make sure of the other fifty, that is, make sure of all you can, at all events. We will set other agencies to work which shall compensate for the loss of a good many Americans. Don’t fail to check the stampede at once. Trumbull, I think, will be with you before long.

There is much he cannot do, and some he can. I have reason to hope there will be other help of an appropriate kind. Write me again.

Yours as ever,



SPRINGFIELD, Aug. 2, 1858.

Hon. B. C. COOK.

MY DEAR SIR:–I have a letter from a very true and intelligent man insisting that there is a plan on foot in La Salle and Bureau to run Douglas Republicans for Congress and for the Legislature in those counties, if they can only get the encouragement of our folks nominating pretty extreme abolitionists.

It is thought they will do nothing if our folks nominate men who are not very obnoxious to the charge of abolitionism. Please have your eye upon this. Signs are looking pretty fair.

Yours very truly,



SPRINGFIELD, Aug. 5, 1858.


DEAR SIR:–Since we parted last evening no new thought has occurred to [me] on the subject of which we talked most yesterday.

I have concluded, however, to speak at your town on Tuesday, August 31st, and have promised to have it so appear in the papers of to-morrow. Judge Trumbull has not yet reached here.

Yours as ever,



SPRINGFIELD, Aug. 11, 1858.


DEAR SIR:–Yours of the 6th received. If life and health continue I shall pretty likely be at Augusta on the 25th.

Things look reasonably well. Will tell you more fully when I see you.

Yours truly,



OTTAWA, August 22, 1858.


MY DEAR SIR:–Yours of the 18th, signed as secretary of the Republican club, is received. In the matter of making speeches I am a good deal pressed by invitations from almost all quarters, and while I hope to be at Urbana some time during the canvass, I cannot yet say when. Can you not see me at Monticello on the 6th of September?

Douglas and I, for the first time this canvass, crossed swords here yesterday; the fire flew some, and I am glad to know I am yet alive. There was a vast concourse of people–more than could get near enough to hear.

Yours as ever,



August ??, 1858

As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.



SPRINGFIELD, August 2, 1858


MY DEAR SIR:–I have a letter from a very true friend, and intelligent man, writing that there is a plan on foot in La Salle and Bureau, to run Douglas Republican for Congress and for the Legislature in those counties, if they can only get the encouragement of our folks nominating pretty extreme abolitionists. It is thought they will do nothing if our folks nominate men who are not very [undecipherable word looks like “obnoxious”] to the charge of abolitionism. Please have your eye upon this. Signs are looking pretty fair.

Yours very truly,



BLOOMINGTON, Sept. 3, 1858

DEAR DOCTOR:–Yours of the 1st was received this morning, as also one from Mr. Harmon, and one from Hiram Beckwith on the same subject. You will see by the Journal that I have been appointed to speak at Danville on the 22d of Sept.,–the day after Douglas speaks there. My recent experience shows that speaking at the same place the next day after D. is the very thing,–it is, in fact, a concluding speech on him. Please show this to Messrs. Harmon and Beckwith; and tell them they must excuse me from writing separate letters to them.

Yours as ever,


P. S.–Give full notice to all surrounding country. A.L.


SEPT. 8, 1858.

Let us inquire what Judge Douglas really invented when he introduced the Nebraska Bill? He called it Popular Sovereignty. What does that mean? It means the sovereignty of the people over their own affairs– in other words, the right of the people to govern themselves. Did Judge Douglas invent this? Not quite. The idea of popular sovereignty was floating about several ages before the author of the Nebraska Bill was born–indeed, before Columbus set foot on this continent. In the year 1776 it took form in the noble words which you are all familiar with: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” etc. Was not this the origin of popular sovereignty as applied to the American people? Here we are told that governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. If that is not popular sovereignty, then I have no conception of the meaning of words. If Judge Douglas did not invent this kind of popular sovereignty, let us pursue the inquiry and find out what kind he did invent. Was it the right of emigrants to Kansas and Nebraska to govern themselves, and a lot of “niggers,” too, if they wanted them? Clearly this was no invention of his because General Cass put forth the same doctrine in 1848 in his so called Nicholson letter, six years before Douglas thought of such a thing. Then what was it that the “Little Giant” invented? It never occurred to General Cass to call his discovery by the odd name of popular sovereignty. He had not the face to say that the right of the people to govern “niggers” was the right of the people to govern themselves. His notions of the fitness of things were not moulded to the brazenness of calling the right to put a hundred “niggers” through under the lash in Nebraska a “sacred” right of self-government. And here I submit to you was Judge Douglas’s discovery, and the whole of it: He discovered that the right to breed and flog negroes in Nebraska was popular sovereignty.


SEPTEMBER 8, 1858.

The questions are sometimes asked “What is all this fuss that is being made about negroes? What does it amount to? And where will it end?” These questions imply that those who ask them consider the slavery question a very insignificant matter they think that it amounts to little or nothing and that those who agitate it are extremely foolish. Now it must be admitted that if the great question which has caused so much trouble is insignificant, we are very foolish to have anything to do with it–if it is of no importance we had better throw it aside and busy ourselves with something else. But let us inquire a little into this insignificant matter, as it is called by some, and see if it is not important enough to demand the close attention of every well-wisher of the Union. In one of Douglas’s recent speeches, I find a reference to one which was made by me in Springfield some time ago. The judge makes one quotation from that speech that requires some little notice from me at this time. I regret that I have not my Springfield speech before me, but the judge has quoted one particular part of it so often that I think I can recollect it. It runs I think as follows:

“We are now far into the fifth year since a policy was initiated with the avowed object and confident promise of putting an end to slavery agitation. Under the operation of that policy that agitation has not only not ceased but has constantly augmented. In my opinion it will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and passed.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved. I do not expect the house to fall, but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new, North as well as South.”

Judge Douglas makes use of the above quotation, and finds a great deal of fault with it. He deals unfairly with me, and tries to make the people of this State believe that I advocated dangerous doctrines in my Springfield speech. Let us see if that portion of my Springfield speech of which Judge Douglas complains so bitterly, is as objectionable to others as it is to him. We are, certainly, far into the fifth year since a policy was initiated with the avowed object and confident promise of putting an end to slavery agitation. On the fourth day of January, 1854, Judge Douglas introduced the Kansas-Nebraska bill. He initiated a new policy, and that policy, so he says, was to put an end to the agitation of the slavery question. Whether that was his object or not I will not stop to discuss, but at all events some kind of a policy was initiated; and what has been the result? Instead of the quiet and good feeling which were promised us by the self-styled author of Popular Sovereignty, we have had nothing but ill-feeling and agitation. According to Judge Douglas, the passage of the Nebraska bill would tranquilize the whole country– there would be no more slavery agitation in or out of Congress, and the vexed question would be left entirely to the people of the Territories. Such was the opinion of Judge Douglas, and such were the opinions of the leading men of the Democratic Party. Even as late as the spring of 1856 Mr. Buchanan said, a short time subsequent to his nomination by the Cincinnati convention, that the territory of Kansas would be tranquil in less than six weeks. Perhaps he thought so, but Kansas has not been and is not tranquil, and it may be a long time before she may be so.

We all know how fierce the agitation was in Congress last winter, and what a narrow escape Kansas had from being admitted into the Union with a constitution that was detested by ninety-nine hundredths of her citizens. Did the angry debates which took place at Washington during the last season of Congress lead you to suppose that the slavery agitation was settled?

An election was held in Kansas in the month of August, and the constitution which was submitted to the people was voted down by a large majority. So Kansas is still out of the Union, and there is a probability that she will remain out for some time. But Judge Douglas says the slavery question is settled. He says the bill he introduced into the Senate of the United States on the 4th day of January, 1854, settled the slavery question forever! Perhaps he can tell us how that bill settled the slavery question, for if he is able to settle a question of such great magnitude he ought to be able to explain the manner in which he does it. He knows and you know that the question is not settled, and that his ill-timed experiment to settle it has made it worse than it ever was before.

And now let me say a few words in regard to Douglas’s great hobby of negro equality. He thinks–he says at least–that the Republican party is in favor of allowing whites and blacks to intermarry, and that a man can’t be a good Republican unless he is willing to elevate black men to office and to associate with them on terms of perfect equality. He knows that we advocate no such doctrines as these, but he cares not how much he misrepresents us if he can gain a few votes by so doing. To show you what my opinion of negro equality was in times past, and to prove to you that I stand on that question where I always stood, I will read you a few extracts from a speech that was made by me in Peoria in 1854. It was made in reply to one of Judge Douglas’s speeches.

(Mr. Lincoln then read a number of extracts which had the ring of the true metal. We have rarely heard anything with which we have been more pleased. And the audience after hearing the extracts read, and comparing their conservative sentiments with those now advocated by Mr. Lincoln, testified their approval by loud applause. How any reasonable man can hear one of Mr. Lincoln’s speeches without being converted to Republicanism is something that we can’t account for. Ed.)

Slavery, continued Mr. Lincoln, is not a matter of little importance, it overshadows every other question in which we are interested. It has divided the Methodist and Presbyterian churches, and has sown discord in the American Tract Society. The churches have split and the society will follow their example before long. So it will be seen that slavery is agitated in the religious as well as in the political world.
Judge Douglas is very much afraid in the triumph that the Republican party will lead to a general mixture of the white and black races. Perhaps I am wrong in saying that he is afraid, so I will correct myself by saying that he pretends to fear that the success of our party will result in the amalgamation of the blacks and whites. I think I can show plainly, from documents now before me, that Judge Douglas’s fears are groundless. The census of 1800 tells us that in that year there were over four hundred thousand mulattoes in the United States. Now let us take what is called an Abolition State– the Republican, slavery-hating State of New Hampshire–and see how many mulattoes we can find within her borders. The number amounts to just one hundred and eighty-four. In the Old Dominion–in the Democratic and aristocratic State of Virginia–there were a few more mulattoes than the Census-takers found in New Hampshire. How many do you suppose there were? Seventy-nine thousand, seven hundred and seventy-five–twenty-three thousand more than there were in all the free States! In the slave States there were in 1800, three hundred and forty-eight thousand mulattoes all of home production; and in the free States there were less than sixty thousand mulattoes –and a large number of them were imported from the South.


SEPT. 13, 1858.

I have been requested to give a concise statement of the difference, as I understand it, between the Democratic and Republican parties, on the leading issues of the campaign. This question has been put to me by a gentleman whom I do not know. I do not even know whether he is a friend of mine or a supporter of Judge Douglas in this contest, nor does that make any difference. His question is a proper one. Lest I should forget it, I will give you my answer before proceeding with the line of argument I have marked out for this discussion.

The difference between the Republican and the Democratic parties on the leading issues of this contest, as I understand it, is that the former consider slavery a moral, social and political wrong, while the latter do not consider it either a moral, a social or a political wrong; and the action of each, as respects the growth of the country and the expansion of our population, is squared to meet these views. I will not affirm that the Democratic party consider slavery morally, socially and politically right, though their tendency to that view has, in my opinion, been constant and unmistakable for the past five years. I prefer to take, as the accepted maxim of the party, the idea put forth by Judge Douglas, that he don’t care whether slavery is voted down or voted up.” I am quite willing to believe that many Democrats would prefer that slavery should be always voted down, and I know that some prefer that it be always voted up”; but I have a right to insist that their action, especially if it be their constant action, shall determine their ideas and preferences on this subject. Every measure of the Democratic party of late years, bearing directly or indirectly on the slavery question, has corresponded with this notion of utter indifference whether slavery or freedom shall outrun in the race of empire across to the Pacific–every measure, I say, up to the Dred Scott decision, where, it seems to me, the idea is boldly suggested that slavery is better than freedom. The Republican party, on the contrary, hold that this government was instituted to secure the blessings of freedom, and that slavery is an unqualified evil to the negro, to the white man, to the soil, and to the State. Regarding it as an evil, they will not molest it in the States where it exists, they will not overlook the constitutional guards which our fathers placed around it; they will do nothing that can give proper offence to those who hold slaves by legal sanction; but they will use every constitutional method to prevent the evil from becoming larger and involving more negroes, more white men, more soil, and more States in its deplorable consequences. They will, if possible, place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in course of ultimate peaceable extinction in God’s own good time. And to this end they will, if possible, restore the government to the policy of the fathers, the policy of preserving the new Territories from the baneful influence of human bondage, as the Northwestern Territories were sought to be preserved by the Ordinance of 1787, and the Compromise Act of 1820. They will oppose, in all its length and breadth, the modern Democratic idea, that slavery is as good as freedom, and ought to have room for expansion all over the continent, if people can be found to carry it. All, or nearly all, of Judge Douglas’s arguments are logical, if you admit that slavery is as good and as right as freedom, and not one of them is worth a rush if you deny it. This is the difference, as I understand it, between the Republican and Democratic parties.

My friends, I have endeavored to show you the logical consequences of the Dred Scott decision, which holds that the people of a Territory cannot prevent the establishment of slavery in their midst. I have stated what cannot be gainsaid, that the grounds upon which this decision is made are equally applicable to the free States as to the free Territories, and that the peculiar reasons put forth by Judge Douglas for indorsing this decision commit him, in advance, to the next decision and to all other decisions corning from the same source. And when, by all these means, you have succeeded in dehumanizing the negro; when you have put him down and made it impossible for him to be but as the beasts of the field; when you have extinguished his soul in this world and placed him where the ray of hope is blown out as in the darkness of the damned, are you quite sure that the demon you have roused will not turn and rend you? What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea coasts, our army and our navy. These are not our reliance against tyranny All of those may be turned against us without making us weaker for the struggle. Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in us. Our defense is in the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism at your own doors. Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage and you prepare your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you. And let me tell you, that all these things are prepared for you by the teachings of history, if the elections shall promise that the next Dred Scott decision and all future decisions will be quietly acquiesced in by the people.


September 30,? 1858.


A sweet plaintive song did I hear
And I fancied that she was the singer. May emotions as pure as that song set astir Be the wont that the future shall bring her.





MY DEAR SIR:–I do not perceive how I can express myself more plainly than I have in the fore-going extracts. In four of them I have expressly disclaimed all intention to bring about social and political equality between the white and black races and in all the rest I have done the same thing by clear implication.

I have made it equally plain that I think the negro is included in the word “men” used in the Declaration of Independence.

I believe the declaration that “all men are created equal “is the great fundamental principle upon which our free institutions rest; that negro slavery is violative of that principle; but that, by our frame of government, that principle has not been made one of legal obligation; that by our frame of government, States which have slavery are to retain it, or surrender it at their own pleasure; and that all others–individuals, free States and national Government– are constitutionally bound to leave them alone about it.

I believe our Government was thus framed because of the necessity springing from the actual presence of slavery, when it was framed.

That such necessity does not exist in the Territories when slavery is not present.

In his Mendenhall speech Mr. Clay says: “Now as an abstract principle there is no doubt of the truth of that declaration (all men created equal), and it is desirable, in the original construction of society, to keep it in view as a great fundamental principle.”

Again, in the same speech Mr. Clay says: “If a state of nature existed and we were about to lay the foundations of society, no man would be more strongly opposed than I should to incorporate the institution of slavery among its elements.”

Exactly so. In our new free Territories, a state of nature does exist. In them Congress lays the foundations of society; and in laying those foundations, I say, with Mr. Clay, it is desirable that the declaration of the equality of all men shall be kept in view as a great fundamental principle, and that Congress, which lays the foundations of society, should, like Mr. Clay, be strongly opposed to the incorporation of slavery and its elements.

But it does not follow that social and political equality between whites and blacks must be incorporated because slavery must not. The declaration does not so require.

Yours as ever,


[Newspaper cuttings of Lincoln’s speeches at Peoria, in 1854, at Springfield, Ottawa, Chicago, and Charleston, in 1858. They were pasted in a little book in which the above letter was also written.]




DEAR SIR:–Since parting with you this morning I heard some things which make me believe that Edmunds and Morrill will spend this week among the National Democrats, trying to induce them to content themselves by voting for Jake Davis, and then to vote for the Douglas candidates for senator and representative. Have this headed off, if you can. Call Wagley’s attention to it and have him and the National Democrat for Rep. to counteract it as far as they can.

Yours as ever,






DEAR SIR:–Yours of the 15th is just received. I wrote you the same day. As to the pecuniary matter, I am willing to pay according to my ability; but I am the poorest hand living to get others to pay. I have been on expenses so long without earning anything that I am absolutely without money now for even household purposes. Still, if you can put in two hundred and fifty dollars for me toward discharging the debt of the committee, I will allow it when you and I settle the private matter between us. This, with what I have already paid, and with an outstanding note of mine, will exceed my subscription of five hundred dollars. This, too, is exclusive of my ordinary expenses during the campaign, all of which, being added to my loss of time and business, bears pretty heavily upon one no better off in [this] world’s goods than I; but as I had the post of honor, it is not for me to be over nice. You are feeling badly,–“And this too shall pass away,” never fear.

Yours as ever,




SPRINGFIELD, November 19, 1858.


DEAR SIR:–Yours of the 13th was received some days ago. The fight must go on. The cause of civil liberty must not be surrendered at the end of one or even one hundred defeats. Douglas had the ingenuity to be supported in the late contest both as the best means to break down and to uphold the slave interest. No ingenuity can keep these antagonistic elements in harmony long. Another explosion will soon come.

Yours truly,




SPRINGFIELD, Nov.20, 1858


MY DEAR SIR:–I wish to preserve a set of the late debates (if they may be called so), between Douglas and myself. To enable me to do so, please get two copies of each number of your paper containing the whole, and send them to me by express; and I will pay you for the papers and for your trouble. I wish the two sets in order to lay one away in the [undecipherable word] and to put the other in a scrapbook. Remember, if part of any debate is on both sides of the sheet it will take two sets to make one scrap-book.

I believe, according to a letter of yours to Hatch, you are “feeling like h-ll yet.” Quit that–you will soon feel better. Another “blow up” is coming; and we shall have fun again. Douglas managed to be supported both as the best instrument to down and to uphold the slave power; but no ingenuity can long keep the antagonism in harmony.

Yours as ever,



SPRINGFIELD, November 30, 1858


MY DEAR SIR :–Being desirous of preserving in some permanent form the late joint discussion between Douglas and myself, ten days ago I wrote to Dr. Ray, requesting him to forward to me by express two sets of the numbers of the Tribune which contain the reports of those discussions. Up to date I have no word from him on the subject. Will you, if in your power, procure them and forward them to me by express? If you will, I will pay all charges, and be greatly obliged, to boot. Hoping to visit you before long, I remain

As ever your friend,



SPRINGFIELD, Dec. 8, 1858.

H. D. SHARPE, Esq.

DEAR SIR:–Your very kind letter of Nov. 9th was duly received. I do not know that you expected or desired an answer; but glancing over the contents of yours again, I am prompted to say that, while I desired the result of the late canvass to have been different, I still regard it as an exceeding small matter. I think we have fairly entered upon a durable struggle as to whether this nation is to ultimately become all slave or all free, and though I fall early in the contest, it is nothing if I shall have contributed, in the least degree, to the final rightful result.

Respectfully yours,



SPRINGFIELD, Dec.12, 1858.


MY DEAR SIR:–I expect the result of the election went hard with you. So it did with me, too, perhaps not quite so hard as you may have supposed. I have an abiding faith that we shall beat them in the long run. Step by step the objects of the leaders will become too plain for the people to stand them. I write merely to let you know that I am neither dead nor dying. Please give my respects to your good family, and all inquiring friends.

Yours as ever,




December [?], 1858.

Legislation and adjudication must follow and conform to the progress of society.

The progress of society now begins to produce cases of the transfer for debts of the entire property of railroad corporations; and to enable transferees to use and enjoy the transferred property, legislation and adjudication begin to be necessary.

Shall this class of legislation just now beginning with us be general or special?

Section Ten of our Constitution requires that it should be general, if possible. (Read the section.)

Special legislation always trenches upon the judicial department; and in so far violates Section Two of the Constitution. (Read it.)

Just reasoning–policy–is in favor of general legislation–else the Legislature will be loaded down with the investigation of smaller cases–a work which the courts ought to perform, and can perform much more perfectly. How can the Legislature rightly decide the facts between P. & B. and S.C.

It is said that under a general law, whenever a R. R. Co. gets tired of its debts, it may transfer fraudulently to get rid of them. So they may–so may individuals; and which–the Legislature or the courts–is best suited to try the question of fraud in either case?

It is said, if a purchaser have acquired legal rights, let him not be robbed of them, but if he needs legislation let him submit to just terms to obtain it.

Let him, say we, have general law in advance (guarded in every possible way against fraud), so that, when he acquires a legal right, he will have no occasion to wait for additional legislation; and if he has practiced fraud let the courts so decide.


The 11th Section of the Act of Congress, approved Feb. 11, 1805, prescribing rules for the subdivision of sections of land within the United States system of surveys, standing unrepealed, in my opinion, is binding on the respective purchasers of different parts of the same section, and furnishes the true rule for surveyors in establishing lines between them. That law, being in force at the time each became a purchaser, becomes a condition of the purchase.

And, by that law, I think the true rule for dividing into quarters any interior section or sections, which is not fractional, is to run straight lines through the section from the opposite quarter section corners, fixing the point where such straight lines cross, or intersect each other, as the middle or centre of the section.

Nearly, perhaps quite, all the original surveys are to some extent erroneous, and in some of the sections, greatly so. In each of the latter, it is obvious that a more equitable mode of division than the above might be adopted; but as error is infinitely various perhaps no better single rules can be prescribed.

At all events I think the above has been prescribed by the competent authority.

SPRINGFIELD, Jany. 6, 1859.



SPRINGFIELD, March 4, 1859.


MY DEAR SIR: Your second letter in relation to my being with you at your Republican convention was duly received. It is not at hand just now, but I have the impression from it that the convention was to be at Leavenworth; but day before yesterday a friend handed me a letter from Judge M. F. Caraway, in which he also expresses a wish for me to come, and he fixes the place at Ossawatomie. This I believe is off of the river, and will require more time and labor to get to it. It will push me hard to get there without injury to my own business; but I shall try to do it, though I am not yet quite certain I shall succeed.

I should like to know before coming, that while some of you wish me to come, there may not be others who would quite as lief I would stay away. Write me again.

Yours as ever,



SPRINGFIELD, March 28, 1859.

W. M. MORRIS, Esq.

DEAR SIR:–Your kind note inviting me to deliver a lecture at Galesburg is received. I regret to say I cannot do so now; I must stick to the courts awhile. I read a sort of lecture to three different audiences during the last month and this; but I did so under circumstances which made it a waste of no time whatever.

Yours very truly,



GENTLEMEN:–Your kind note inviting me to attend a festival in Boston, on the 28th instant, in honor of the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, was duly received. My engagements are such that I cannot attend.

Bearing in mind that about seventy years ago two great political parties were first formed in this country, that Thomas Jefferson was the head of one of them and Boston the headquarters of the other, it is both curious and interesting that those supposed to descend politically from the party opposed to Jefferson should now be celebrating his birthday in their own original seat of empire, while those claiming political descent from him have nearly ceased to breathe his name everywhere.

Remembering, too, that the Jefferson party was formed upon its supposed superior devotion to the personal rights of men, holding the rights of property to be secondary only, and greatly inferior, and assuming that the so-called Democracy of to-day are the Jefferson, and their opponents the anti-Jefferson, party, it will be equally interesting to note how completely the two have changed hands as to the principle upon which they were originally supposed to be divided. The Democracy of to-day hold the liberty of one man to be absolutely nothing, when in conflict with another man’s right of property; Republicans, on the contrary, are for both the man and the dollar, but in case of conflict the man before the dollar.

I remember being once much amused at seeing two partially intoxicated men engaged in a fight with their great-coats on, which fight, after a long and rather harmless contest, ended in each having fought himself out of his own coat and into that of the other. If the two leading parties of this day are really identical with the two in the days of Jefferson and Adams, they have performed the same feat as the two drunken men.

But soberly, it is now no child’s play to save the principles of Jefferson from total overthrow in this nation. One would state with great confidence that he could convince any sane child that the simpler propositions of Euclid are true; but nevertheless he would fail, utterly, with one who should deny the definitions and axioms. The principles of Jefferson are the definitions and axioms of free society. And yet they are denied and evaded, with no small show of success. One dashingly calls them “glittering generalities.” Another bluntly calls them “self-evident lies.” And others insidiously argue that they apply to “superior races.” These expressions, differing in form, are identical in object and effect– the supplanting the principles of free government, and restoring those of classification, caste, and legitimacy. They would delight a convocation of crowned heads plotting against the people. They are the vanguard, the miners and sappers, of returning despotism. We must repulse them, or they will subjugate us. This is a world of compensation; and he who would be no slave must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and, under a just God, cannot long retain it. All honor to Jefferson to the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a mere revolutionary document an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to embalm it there that to-day and in all coming days it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of reappearing tyranny and oppression.

Your obedient servant,



SPRINGFIELD, May 17, 1859.


DEAR SIR:–Your note asking, in behalf of yourself and other German citizens, whether I am for or against the constitutional provision in regard to naturalized citizens, lately adopted by Massachusetts, and whether I am for or against a fusion of the Republicans and other opposition elements for the canvass of 1860, is received.

Massachusetts is a sovereign and independent State; and it is no privilege of mine to scold her for what she does. Still, if from what she has done an inference is sought to be drawn as to what I would do, I may without impropriety speak out. I say, then, that, as I understand the Massachusetts provision, I am against its adoption in Illinois, or in any other place where I have a right to oppose it. Understanding the spirit of our institutions to aim at the elevation of men, I am opposed to whatever tends to degrade them. I have some little notoriety for commiserating the oppressed negro; and I should be strangely inconsistent if I could favor any project for curtailing the existing rights of white men, even though born in different lands, and speaking different languages from myself. As to the matter of fusion, I am for it if it can be had on Republican grounds; and I am not for it on any other terms. A fusion on any other terms would be as foolish as unprincipled. It would lose the whole North, while the common enemy would still carry the whole South. The question of men is a different one. There are good, patriotic men and able statesmen in the South whom I would cheerfully support, if they would now place themselves on Republican ground, but I am against letting down the Republican standard a hairsbreadth.

I have written this hastily, but I believe it answers your questions substantially.

Yours truly,




In reply to your inquiry; requesting our written opinion as to what your duty requires you to do in executing the latter clause of the Seventh Section of “An Act in relation to the payment of the principal and interest of the State debt,” approved Feb’y 22, 1859, we reply that said last clause of said section is certainly indefinite, general, and ambiguous in its description of the bonds to be issued by you; giving no time at which the bonds are to be made payable, no place at which either principal or interest are to be paid, and no rate of interest which the bonds are to bear; nor any other description except that they are to be coupon bonds, which in commercial usage means interest-paying bonds with obligations or orders attached to them for the payment of annual or semiannual interest; there is we suppose no difficulty in ascertaining, if this act stood alone, what ought to be the construction of the terms “coupon bonds” and that it, would mean bonds bearing interest from the time of issuing the same. And under this act considered by itself the creditors would have a right to require such bonds. But your inquiry in regard to a class of bonds on which no interest is to be paid or shall begin to run until January 1, 1860, is whether the Act of February 18, 1857, would not authorize you to refuse to give bonds with any coupons attached payable before the first day of July, 1860. We have very maturely considered this question and have arrived at the conclusion that you have a right to use such measures as will secure the State against the loss of six months’ interest on these bonds by the indefiniteness of the Act of 1859. While it cannot be denied that the letter of the laws favor the construction claimed by some of the creditors that interest-bearing bonds were required to be issued to them, inasmuch as the restriction that no interest is to run on said bonds until 1st January, 1860, relates solely to the bonds issued under the Act of 1857. And the Act of 1859 directing you to issue new bonds does not contain this restriction, but directs you to issue coupon bonds. Nevertheless the very indefiniteness and generality of the Act of 1859, giving no rate of interest, no time due, no place of payment, no postponement of the time when interest commences, necessarily implies that the Legislature intended to invest you with a discretion to impose such terms and restrictions as would protect the interest of the State; and we think you have a right and that it is your duty to see that the State Bonds are so issued that the State shall not lose six months’ interest. Two plans present themselves either of which will secure the State. 1st. If in literal compliance with the law you issue bonds bearing interest from 1st July, 1859, you may deduct from the bonds presented three thousand from every $100,000 of bonds and issue $97,000 of coupon bonds; by this plan $3000 out of $100,000 of principal would be extinguished in consideration of paying $2910 interest on the first of January, 1860–and the interest on the $3000 would forever cease; this would be no doubt most advantageous to the State. But if the Auditor will not consent to this, then, 2nd. Cut off of each bond all the coupons payable before 1st July, 1860.

One of these plans would undoubtedly have been prescribed by the Legislature if its attention had been directed to this question.

May 28, 1859.



SPRINGFIELD, December 25, 1858.


MY DEAR SIR:–I have just received yours of the 23rd inquiring whether I received the newspapers you sent me by express. I did receive them, and am very much obliged. There is some probability that my scrap-book will be reprinted, and if it shall, I will save you a copy.

Your friend as ever,





SPRINGFIELD, ILL., July 28, 1859.


MY DEAR SIR:–Your very complimentary, not to say flattering, letter of the 23d inst. is received. Dr. Reynolds had induced me to expect you here; and I was disappointed not a little by your failure to come. And yet I fear you have formed an estimate of me which can scarcely be sustained on a personal acquaintance.

Two things done by the Ohio Republican convention–the repudiation of Judge Swan, and the “plank” for a repeal of the Fugitive Slave Law–I very much regretted. These two things are of a piece; and they are viewed by many good men, sincerely opposed to slavery, as a struggle against, and in disregard of, the Constitution itself. And it is the very thing that will greatly endanger our cause, if it be not kept out of our national convention. There is another thing our friends are doing which gives me some uneasiness. It is their leaning toward “popular sovereignty.” There are three substantial objections to this: First, no party can command respect which sustains this year what it opposed last. Secondly, Douglas (who is the most dangerous enemy of liberty, because the most insidious one) would have little support in the North, and by consequence, no capital to trade on in the South, if it were not for his friends thus magnifying him and his humbug. But lastly, and chiefly, Douglas’s popular sovereignty, accepted by the public mind as a just principle, nationalizes slavery, and revives the African slave trade inevitably.

Taking slaves into new Territories, and buying slaves in Africa, are identical things, identical rights or identical wrongs, and the argument which establishes one will establish the other. Try a thousand years for a sound reason why Congress shall not hinder the people of Kansas from having slaves, and, when you have found it, it will be an equally good one why Congress should not hinder the people of Georgia from importing slaves from Africa.

As to Governor Chase, I have a kind side for him. He was one of the few distinguished men of the nation who gave us, in Illinois, their sympathy last year. I never saw him, but suppose him to be able and right-minded; but still he may not be the most suitable as a candidate for the Presidency.

I must say I do not think myself fit for the Presidency. As you propose a correspondence with me, I shall look for your letters anxiously.

I have not met Dr. Reynolds since receiving your letter; but when I shall, I will present your respects as requested.

Yours very truly,




SPRINGFIELD, ILL. Sept. 6, 1859.


DEAR SIR:–Yours of the 3d is just received. There is some mistake about my expected attendance of the U.S. Court in your city on the 3d Tuesday of this month. I have had no thought of being there.

It is bad to be poor. I shall go to the wall for bread and meat if I neglect my business this year as well as last. It would please me much to see the city and good people of Keokuk, but for this year it is little less than an impossibility. I am constantly receiving invitations which I am compelled to decline. I was pressingly urged to go to Minnesota; and I now have two invitations to go to Ohio. These last are prompted by Douglas going there; and I am really tempted to make a flying trip to Columbus and Cincinnati.

I do hope you will have no serious trouble in Iowa. What thinks Grimes about it? I have not known him to be mistaken about an election in Iowa. Present my respects to Col. Carter, and any other friends, and believe me

Yours truly,



SEPTEMBER 16, 1859.

FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE STATE OF OHIO: I cannot fail to remember that I appear for the first time before an audience in this now great State,–an audience that is accustomed to hear such speakers as Corwin, and Chase, and Wade, and many other renowned men; and, remembering this, I feel that it will be well for you, as for me, that you should not raise your expectations to that standard to which you would have been justified in raising them had one of these distinguished men appeared before you. You would perhaps be only preparing a disappointment for yourselves, and, as a consequence of your disappointment, mortification to me. I hope, therefore, that you will commence with very moderate expectations; and perhaps, if you will give me your attention, I shall be able to interest you to a moderate degree.

Appearing here for the first time in my life, I have been somewhat embarrassed for a topic by way of introduction to my speech; but I have been relieved from that embarrassment by an introduction which the Ohio Statesman newspaper gave me this morning. In this paper I have read an article, in which, among other statements, I find the following:

“In debating with Senator Douglas during the memorable contest of last fall, Mr. Lincoln declared in favor of negro suffrage, and attempted to defend that vile conception against the Little Giant.”

I mention this now, at the opening of my remarks, for the purpose of making three comments upon it. The first I have already announced,– it furnishes me an introductory topic; the second is to show that the gentleman is mistaken; thirdly, to give him an opportunity to correct it.

In the first place, in regard to this matter being a mistake. I have found that it is not entirely safe, when one is misrepresented under his very nose, to allow the misrepresentation to go uncontradicted. I therefore propose, here at the outset, not only to say that this is a misrepresentation, but to show conclusively that it is so; and you will bear with me while I read a couple of extracts from that very “memorable” debate with Judge Douglas last year, to which this newspaper refers. In the first pitched battle which Senator Douglas and myself had, at the town of Ottawa, I used the language which I will now read. Having been previously reading an extract, I continued as follows:

“Now, gentlemen, I don’t want to read at any greater length, but this is the true complexion of all I have ever said in regard to the institution of slavery and the black race. This is the whole of it; and anything that argues me into his idea of perfect social and political equality with the negro, is but a specious and fantastic arrangement of words, by which a man can prove a horse-chestnut to be a chestnut horse. I will say here, while upon this subject, that I have no purpose directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and the black races. There is a physical difference between the two which, in my judgment, will probably forbid their ever living together upon the footing of perfect equality; and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position. I have never said anything to the contrary, but I hold that, notwithstanding all this, there is no reason in the world why the negro is not entitled to all the natural rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence,–the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I hold that he is as much entitled to these as the white man. I agree with judge Douglas, he is not my equal in many respects,–certainly not in color, perhaps not in moral or intellectual endowments. But in the right to eat the bread, without leave of anybody else, which his own hand earns, he is my equal, and the equal of Judge Douglas, and the equal of every living man.”

Upon a subsequent occasion, when the reason for making a statement like this occurred, I said:

“While I was at the hotel to-day an elderly gentleman called upon me to know whether I was really in favor of producing perfect equality between the negroes and white people. While I had not proposed to myself on this occasion to say much on that subject, yet, as the question was asked me, I thought I would occupy perhaps five minutes in saying something in regard to it. I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races; that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, or intermarry with the white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they can not so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I, as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position, the negro should be denied everything. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave, I must necessarily want her for a wife. My understanding is that I can just let her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly never have had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. So it seems to me quite possible for us to get along without making either slaves or wives of negroes. I will add to this that I have never seen, to my knowledge, a man, woman, or child, who was in favor of producing perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men. I recollect of but one distinguished instance that I ever heard of so frequently as to be satisfied of its correctness, and that is the case of Judge Douglas’s old friend Colonel Richard M. Johnson. I will also add to the remarks I have made (for I am not going to enter at large upon this subject), that I have never had the least apprehension that I or my friends would marry negroes, if there was no law to keep them from it; but as judge Douglas and his friends seem to be in great apprehension that they might, if there were no law to keep them from it, I give him the most solemn pledge that I will to the very last stand by the law of the State which forbids the marrying of white people with negroes.”

There, my friends, you have briefly what I have, upon former occasions, said upon this subject to which this newspaper, to the extent of its ability, has drawn the public attention. In it you not only perceive, as a probability, that in that contest I did not at any time say I was in favor of negro suffrage, but the absolute proof that twice–once substantially, and once expressly–I declared against it. Having shown you this, there remains but a word of comment upon that newspaper article. It is this, that I presume the editor of that paper is an honest and truth-loving man, and that he will be greatly obliged to me for furnishing him thus early an opportunity to correct the misrepresentation he has made, before it has run so long that malicious people can call him a liar.

The Giant himself has been here recently. I have seen a brief report of his speech. If it were otherwise unpleasant to me to introduce the subject of the negro as a topic for discussion, I might be somewhat relieved by the fact that he dealt exclusively in that subject while he was here. I shall, therefore, without much hesitation or diffidence, enter upon this subject.

The American people, on the first day of January, 1854, found the African slave trade prohibited by a law of Congress. In a majority of the States of this Union, they found African slavery, or any other sort of slavery, prohibited by State constitutions. They also found a law existing, supposed to be valid, by which slavery was excluded from almost all the territory the United States then owned. This was the condition of the country, with reference to the institution of slavery, on the first of January, 1854. A few days after that, a bill was introduced into Congress, which ran through its regular course in the two branches of the national legislature, and finally passed into a law in the month of May, by which the Act of Congress prohibiting slavery from going into the Territories of the United States was repealed. In connection with the law itself, and, in fact, in the terms of the law, the then existing prohibition was not only repealed, but there was a declaration of a purpose on the part of Congress never thereafter to exercise any power that they might have, real or supposed, to prohibit the extension or spread of slavery. This was a very great change; for the law thus repealed was of more than thirty years’ standing. Following rapidly upon the heels of this action of Congress, a decision of the Supreme Court is made, by which it is declared that Congress, if it desires to prohibit the spread of slavery into the Territories, has no constitutional power to do so. Not only so, but that decision lays down principles which, if pushed to their logical conclusion,–I say pushed to their logical conclusion,–would decide that the constitutions of free States, forbidding slavery, are themselves unconstitutional. Mark me, I do not say the judges said this, and let no man say I affirm the judges used these words; but I only say it is my opinion that what they did say, if pressed to its logical conclusion, will inevitably result thus.

Looking at these things, the Republican party, as I understand its principles and policy, believes that there is great danger of the institution of slavery being spread out and extended until it is ultimately made alike lawful in all the States of this Union; so believing, to prevent that incidental and ultimate consummation is the original and chief purpose of the Republican organization. I say “chief purpose” of the Republican organization; for it is certainly true that if the National House shall fall into the hands of the Republicans, they will have to attend to all the other matters of national house-keeping, as well as this. The chief and real purpose of the Republican party is eminently conservative. It proposes nothing save and except to restore this government to its original tone in regard to this element of slavery, and there to maintain it, looking for no further change in reference to it than that which the original framers of the Government themselves expected and looked forward to.

The chief danger to this purpose of the Republican party is not just now the revival of the African slave trade, or the passage of a Congressional slave code, or the declaring of a second Dred Scott decision, making slavery lawful in all the States. These are not pressing us just now. They are not quite ready yet. The authors of these measures know that we are too strong for them; but they will be upon us in due time, and we will be grappling with them hand to hand, if they are not now headed off. They are not now the chief danger to the purpose of the Republican organization; but the most imminent danger that now threatens that purpose is that insidious Douglas popular sovereignty. This is the miner and sapper. While it does not propose to revive the African slave trade, nor to pass a slave code, nor to make a second Dred Scott decision, it is preparing us for the onslaught and charge of these ultimate enemies when they shall be ready to come on, and the word of command for them to advance shall be given. I say this “Douglas popular sovereignty”; for there is a broad distinction, as I now understand it, between that article and a genuine popular sovereignty.

I believe there is a genuine popular sovereignty. I think a definition of “genuine 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 to 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. I understand that this government of the United States, under which we live, is based upon this principle; and I am misunderstood if it is supposed that I have any war to make upon that principle.

Now, what is judge Douglas’s popular sovereignty? It is, as a principle, no other than that if one man chooses to make a slave of another man neither that other man nor anybody else has a right to object. Applied in government, as he seeks to apply it, 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 afterwards to inhabit that Territory, or the other members of the families 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.

He has a good deal of trouble with popular sovereignty. His explanations explanatory of explanations explained are interminable. The most lengthy, and, as I suppose, the most maturely considered of this long series of explanations is his great essay in Harper’s Magazine. I will not attempt to enter on any very thorough investigation of his argument as there made and presented. I will nevertheless occupy a good portion of your time here in drawing your attention to certain points in it. Such of you as may have read this document will have perceived that the judge early in the document quotes from two persons as belonging to the Republican party, without naming them, but who can readily be recognized as being Governor Seward of New York and myself. It is true that exactly fifteen months ago this day, I believe, I for the first time expressed a sentiment upon this subject, and in such a manner that it should get into print, that the public might see it beyond the circle of my hearers; and my expression of it at that time is the quotation that Judge Douglas makes. He has not made the quotation with accuracy, but justice to him requires me to say that it is sufficiently accurate not to change the sense.

The sense of that quotation condensed is this: that this slavery element is a durable element of discord among us, and that we shall probably not have perfect peace in this country with it until it either masters the free principle in our government, or is so far mastered by the free principle as for the public mind to rest in the belief that it is going to its end. This sentiment, which I now express in this way, was, at no great distance of time, perhaps in different language, and in connection with some collateral ideas, expressed by Governor Seward. Judge Douglas has been so much annoyed by the expression of that sentiment that he has constantly, I believe, in almost all his speeches since it was uttered, been referring to it. I find he alluded to it in his speech here, as well as in the copyright essay. I do not now enter upon this for the purpose of making an elaborate argument to show that we were right in the expression of that sentiment. In other words, I shall not stop to say all that might properly be said upon this point, but I only ask your attention to it for the purpose of making one or two points upon it.

If you will read the copyright essay, you will discover that judge Douglas himself says a controversy between the American Colonies and the Government of Great Britain began on the slavery question in 1699, and continued from that time until the Revolution; and, while he did not say so, we all know that it has continued with more or less violence ever since the Revolution.

Then we need not appeal to history, to the declarations of the framers of the government, but we know from judge Douglas himself that slavery began to be an element of discord among the white people of this country as far back as 1699, or one hundred and sixty years ago, or five generations of men,–counting thirty years to a generation. Now, it would seem to me that it might have occurred to Judge Douglas, or anybody who had turned his attention to these facts, that there was something in the nature of that thing, slavery, somewhat durable for mischief and discord.

There is another point I desire to make in regard to this matter, before I leave it. From the adoption of the Constitution down to 1820 is the precise period of our history when we had comparative peace upon this question,–the precise period of time when we came nearer to having peace about it than any other time of that entire one hundred and sixty years in which he says it began, or of the eighty years of our own Constitution. Then it would be worth our while to stop and examine into the probable reason of our coming nearer to having peace then than at any other time. This was the precise period of time in which our fathers adopted, and during which they followed, a policy restricting the spread of slavery, and the whole Union was acquiescing in it. The whole country looked forward to the ultimate extinction of the institution. It was when a policy had been adopted, and was prevailing, which led all just and right-minded men to suppose that slavery was gradually coming to an end, and that they might be quiet about it, watching it as it expired. I think Judge Douglas might have perceived that too; and whether he did or not, it is worth the attention of fair-minded men, here and elsewhere, to consider whether that is not the truth of the case. If he had looked at these two facts,–that this matter has been an element of discord for one hundred and sixty years among this people, and that the only comparative peace we have had about it was when that policy prevailed in this government which he now wars upon, he might then, perhaps, have been brought to a more just appreciation of what I said fifteen months ago,–that “a house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe that this government cannot endure permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the house to fall, I do not expect the Union to dissolve; but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind will rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction, or its advocates will push it forward until it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new, North as well as South.” That was my sentiment at that time. In connection with it, I said: “We are now far into the fifth year since a policy was inaugurated with the avowed object and confident promise of putting an end to slavery agitation. Under the operation of the policy that agitation has not only not ceased, but has constantly augmented.” I now say to you here that we are advanced still farther into the sixth year since that policy of Judge Douglas–that popular sovereignty of his–for quieting the slavery question was made the national policy. Fifteen months more have been added since I uttered that sentiment; and I call upon you and all other right-minded men to say whether that fifteen months have belied or corroborated my words.

While I am here upon this subject, I cannot but express gratitude that this true view of this element of discord among us–as I believe it is–is attracting more and more attention. I do not believe that Governor Seward uttered that sentiment because I had done so before, but because he reflected upon this subject and saw the truth of it. Nor do I believe because Governor Seward or I uttered it that Mr. Hickman of Pennsylvania, in, different language, since that time, has declared his belief in the utter antagonism which exists between the principles of liberty and slavery. You see we are multiplying. Now, while I am speaking of Hickman, let me say, I know but little about him. I have never seen him, and know scarcely anything about the man; but I will say this much of him: Of all the anti-Lecompton Democracy that have been brought to my notice, he alone has the true, genuine ring of the metal. And now, without indorsing anything else he has said, I will ask this audience to give three cheers for Hickman. [The audience responded with three rousing cheers for Hickman.]

Another point in the copyright essay to which I would ask your attention is rather a feature to be extracted from the whole thing, than from any express declaration of it at any point. It is a general feature of that document, and, indeed, of all of Judge Douglas’s discussions of this question, that the Territories of the United States and the States of this Union are exactly alike; that there is no difference between them at all; that the Constitution applies to the Territories precisely as it does to the States; and that the United States Government, under the Constitution, may not do in a State what it may not do in a Territory, and what it must do in a State it must do in a Territory. Gentlemen, is that a true view of the case? It is necessary for this squatter sovereignty, but is it true?

Let us consider. What does it depend upon? It depends altogether upon the proposition that the States must, without the interference of the General Government, do all those things that pertain exclusively to themselves,–that are local in their nature, that have no connection with the General Government. After Judge Douglas has established this proposition, which nobody disputes or ever has disputed, he proceeds to assume, without proving it, that slavery is one of those little, unimportant, trivial matters which are of just about as much consequence as the question would be to me whether my neighbor should raise horned cattle or plant tobacco; that there is no moral question about it, but that it is altogether a matter of dollars and cents; that when a new Territory is opened for settlement, the first man who goes into it may plant there a thing which, like the Canada thistle or some other of those pests of the soil, cannot be dug out by the millions of men who will come thereafter; that it is one of those little things that is so trivial in its nature that it has nor effect upon anybody save the few men who first plant upon the soil; that it is not a thing which in any way affects the family of communities composing these States, nor any way endangers the General Government. Judge Douglas ignores altogether the very well known fact that we have never had a serious menace to our political existence, except it sprang from this thing, which he chooses to regard as only upon a par with onions and potatoes.

Turn it, and contemplate it in another view. He says that, according to his popular sovereignty, the General Government may give to the Territories governors, judges, marshals, secretaries, and all the other chief men to govern them, but they, must not touch upon this other question. Why? The question of who shall be governor of a Territory for a year or two, and pass away, without his track being left upon the soil, or an act which he did for good or for evil being left behind, is a question of vast national magnitude; it is so much opposed in its nature to locality that the nation itself must decide it: while this other matter of planting slavery upon a soil,–a thing which, once planted, cannot be eradicated by the succeeding millions who have as much right there as the first comers, or, if eradicated, not without infinite difficulty and a long struggle, he considers the power to prohibit it as one of these little local, trivial things that the nation ought not to say a word about; that it affects nobody save the few men who are there.

Take these two things and consider them together, present the question of planting a State with the institution of slavery by the side of a question who shall be Governor of Kansas for a year or two, and is there a man here, is there a man on earth, who would not say the governor question is the little one, and the slavery question is the great one? I ask any honest Democrat if the small, the local, and the trivial and temporary question is not, Who shall be governor? while the durable, the important, and the mischievous one is, Shall this soil be planted with slavery?

This is an idea, I suppose, which has arisen in Judge Douglas’s mind from his peculiar structure. I suppose the institution of slavery really looks small to him. He is so put up by nature that a lash upon his back would hurt him, but a lash upon anybody else’s back does not hurt him. That is the build of the man, and consequently he looks upon the matter of slavery in this unimportant light.

Judge Douglas ought to remember, when he is endeavoring to force this policy upon the American people, that while he is put up in that way, a good many are not. He ought to remember that there was once in this country a man by the name of Thomas Jefferson, supposed to be a Democrat,–a man whose principles and policy are not very prevalent amongst Democrats to-day, it is true; but that man did not take exactly this view of the insignificance of the element of slavery which our friend judge Douglas does. In contemplation of this thing, we all know he was led to exclaim, “I tremble for my country when I remember that God is just!” We know how he looked upon it when he thus expressed himself. There was danger to this country,–danger of the avenging justice of God, in that little unimportant popular sovereignty question of judge Douglas. He supposed there was a question of God’s eternal justice wrapped up in the enslaving of any race of men, or any man, and that those who did so braved the arm of Jehovah; that when a nation thus dared the Almighty, every friend of that nation had cause to dread his wrath. Choose ye between Jefferson and Douglas as to what is the true view of this element among us.

There is another little difficulty about this matter of treating the Territories and States alike in all things, to which I ask your attention, and I shall leave this branch of the case. If there is no difference between them, why not make the Territories States at once? What is the reason that Kansas was not fit to come into the Union when it was organized into a Territory, in Judge Douglas’s view? Can any of you tell any reason why it should not have come into the Union at once? They are fit, as he thinks, to decide upon the slavery question,–the largest and most important with which they could possibly deal: what could they do by coming into the Union that they are not fit to do, according to his view, by staying out of it? Oh, they are not fit to sit in Congress and decide upon the rates of postage, or questions of ad valorem or specific duties on foreign goods, or live-oak timber contracts, they are not fit to decide these vastly important matters, which are national in their import, but they are fit, “from the jump,” to decide this little negro question. But, gentlemen, the case is too plain; I occupy too much time on this head, and I pass on.

Near the close of the copyright essay, the judge, I think, comes very near kicking his own fat into the fire. I did not think, when I commenced these remarks, that I would read that article, but I now believe I will:

“This exposition of the history of these measures shows conclusively that the authors of the Compromise measures of 1850 and of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, as well as the members of the Continental Congress of 1774., and the founders of our system of government subsequent to the Revolution, regarded the people of the Territories and Colonies as political communities which were entitled to a free and exclusive power of legislation in their provisional legislatures, where their representation could alone be preserved, in all cases of taxation and internal polity.”

When the judge saw that putting in the word “slavery” would contradict his own history, he put in what he knew would pass synonymous with it, “internal polity.” Whenever we find that in one of his speeches, the substitute is used in this manner; and I can tell you the reason. It would be too bald a contradiction to say slavery; but “internal polity” is a general phrase, which would pass in some quarters, and which he hopes will pass with the reading community for the same thing.

“This right pertains to the people collectively, as a law-abiding and peaceful community, and not in the isolated individuals who may wander upon the public domain in violation of the law. It can only be exercised where there are inhabitants sufficient to constitute a government, and capable of performing its various functions and duties,–a fact to be ascertained and determined by “who do you think? Judge Douglas says “by Congress!” “Whether the number shall be fixed at ten, fifteen or twenty thousand inhabitants, does not affect the principle.”

Now, I have only a few comments to make. Popular sovereignty, by his own words, does not pertain to the few persons who wander upon the public domain in violation of law. We have his words for that. When it does pertain to them, is when they are sufficient to be formed into an organized political community, and he fixes the minimum for that at ten thousand, and the maximum at twenty thousand. Now, I would like to know what is to be done with the nine thousand? Are they all to be treated, until they are large enough to be organized into a political community, as wanderers upon the public land, in violation of law? And if so treated and driven out, at what point of time would there ever be ten thousand? If they were not driven out, but remained there as trespassers upon the public land in violation of the law, can they establish slavery there? No; the judge says popular sovereignty don’t pertain to them then. Can they exclude it then? No; popular sovereignty don’t pertain to them then. I would like to know, in the case covered by the essay, what condition the people of the Territory are in before they reach the number of ten thousand?

But the main point I wish to ask attention to is, that the question as to when they shall have reached a sufficient number to be formed into a regular organized community is to be decided “by Congress.” Judge Douglas says so. Well, gentlemen, that is about all we want. No, that is all the Southerners want. That is what all those who are for slavery want. They do not want Congress to prohibit slavery from coming into the new Territories, and they do not want popular sovereignty to hinder it; and as Congress is to say when they are ready to be organized, all that the South has to do is to get Congress to hold off. Let Congress hold off until they are ready to be admitted as a State, and the South has all it wants in taking slavery into and planting it in all the Territories that we now have or hereafter may have. In a word, the whole thing, at a dash of the pen, is at last put in the power of Congress; for if they do not have this popular sovereignty until Congress organizes them, I ask if it at last does not come from Congress? If, at last, it amounts to anything at all, Congress gives it to them. I submit this rather for your reflection than for comment. After all that is said, at last, by a dash of the pen, everything that has gone before is undone, and he puts the whole question under the control of Congress. After fighting through more than three hours, if you undertake to read it, he at last places the whole matter under the control of that power which he has been contending against, and arrives at a result directly contrary to what he had been laboring to do. He at last leaves the whole matter to the control of Congress.

There are two main objects, as I understand it, of this Harper’s Magazine essay. One was to show, if possible, that the men of our Revolutionary times were in favor of his popular sovereignty, and the other was to show that the Dred Scott decision had not entirely squelched out this popular sovereignty. I do not propose, in regard to this argument drawn from the history of former times, to enter into a detailed examination of the historical statements he has made. I have the impression that they are inaccurate in a great many instances,–sometimes in positive statement, but very much more inaccurate by the suppression of statements that really belong to the history. But I do not propose to affirm that this is so to any very great extent, or to enter into a very minute examination of his historical statements. I avoid doing so upon this principle,–that if it were important for me to pass out of this lot in the least period of time possible, and I came to that fence, and saw by a calculation of my known strength and agility that I could clear it at a bound, it would be folly for me to stop and consider whether I could or not crawl through a crack. So I say of the whole history contained in his essay where he endeavored to link the men of the Revolution to popular sovereignty. It only requires an effort to leap out of it, a single bound to be entirely successful. If you read it over, you will find that he quotes here and there from documents of the Revolutionary times, tending to show that the people of the colonies were desirous of regulating their own concerns in their own way, that the British Government should not interfere; that at one time they struggled with the British Government to be permitted to exclude the African slave trade,–if not directly, to be permitted to exclude it indirectly, by taxation sufficient to discourage and destroy it. From these and many things of this sort, judge Douglas argues that they were in favor of the people of our own Territories excluding slavery if they wanted to, or planting it there if they wanted to, doing just as they pleased from the time they settled upon the Territory. Now, however his history may apply and whatever of his argument there may be that is sound and accurate or unsound and inaccurate, if we can find out what these men did themselves do upon this very question of slavery in the Territories, does it not end the whole thing? If, after all this labor and effort to show that the men of the Revolution were in favor of his popular sovereignty and his mode of dealing with slavery in the Territories, we can show that these very men took hold of that subject, and dealt with it, we can see for ourselves how they dealt with it. It is not a matter of argument or inference, but we know what they thought about it.

It is precisely upon that part of the history of the country that one important omission is made by Judge Douglas. He selects parts of the history of the United States upon the subject of slavery, and treats it as the whole, omitting from his historical sketch the legislation of Congress in regard to the admission of Missouri, by which the Missouri Compromise was established and slavery excluded from a country half as large as the present United States. All this is left out of his history, and in nowise alluded to by him, so far as I can remember, save once, when he makes a remark, that upon his principle the Supreme Court were authorized to pronounce a decision that the act called the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional. All that history has been left out. But this part of the history of the country was not made by the men of the Revolution.

There was another part of our political history, made by the very men who were the actors in the Revolution, which has taken the name of the Ordinance of ’87. Let me bring that history to your attention. In 1784, I believe, this same Mr. Jefferson drew up an ordinance for the government of the country upon which we now stand, or, rather, a frame or draft of an ordinance for the government of this country, here in Ohio, our neighbors in Indiana, us who live in Illinois, our neighbors in Wisconsin and Michigan. In that ordinance, drawn up not only for the government of that Territory, but for the Territories south of the Ohio River, Mr. Jefferson expressly provided for the prohibition of slavery. Judge Douglas says, and perhaps is right, that that provision was lost from that ordinance. I believe that is true. When the vote was taken upon it, a majority of all present in the Congress of the Confederation voted for it; but there were so many absentees that those voting for it did not make the clear majority necessary, and it was lost. But three years after that, the Congress of the Confederation were together again, and they adopted a new ordinance for the government of this Northwest Territory, not contemplating territory south of the river, for the States owning that territory had hitherto refrained from giving it to the General Government; hence they made the ordinance to apply only to what the Government owned. In fact, the provision excluding slavery was inserted aside, passed unanimously, or at any rate it passed and became a part of the law of the land. Under that ordinance we live. First here in Ohio you were a Territory; then an enabling act was passed, authorizing you to form a constitution and State Government, provided it was republican and not in conflict with the Ordinance of ’87. When you framed your constitution and presented it for admission, I think you will find the legislation upon the subject will show that, whereas you had formed a constitution that was republican, and not in conflict with the Ordinance of ’87, therefore you were admitted upon equal footing with the original States. The same process in a few years was gone through with in Indiana, and so with Illinois, and the same substantially with Michigan and Wisconsin.

Not only did that Ordinance prevail, but it was constantly looked to whenever a step was taken by a new Territory to become a State. Congress always turned their attention to it, and in all their movements upon this subject they traced their course by that Ordinance of ’87. When they admitted new States, they advertised them of this Ordinance, as a part of the legislation of the country. They did so because they had traced the Ordinance of ’87 throughout the history of this country. Begin with the men of the Revolution, and go down for sixty entire years, and until the last scrap of that Territory comes into the Union in the form of the State of Wisconsin, everything was made to conform with the Ordinance of ’87, excluding slavery from that vast extent of country.

I omitted to mention in the right place that the Constitution of the United States was in process of being framed when that Ordinance was made by the Congress of the Confederation; and one of the first Acts of Congress itself, under the new Constitution itself, was to give force to that Ordinance by putting power to carry it out in the hands of the new officers under the Constitution, in the place of the old ones, who had been legislated out of existence by the change in the Government from the Confederation to the Constitution. Not only so, but I believe Indiana once or twice, if not Ohio, petitioned the General Government for the privilege of suspending that provision and allowing them to have slaves. A report made by Mr. Randolph, of Virginia, himself a slaveholder, was directly against it, and the action was to refuse them the privilege of violating the Ordinance of ’87.

This period of history, which I have run over briefly, is, I presume, as familiar to most of this assembly as any other part of the history of our country. I suppose that few of my hearers are not as familiar with that part of history as I am, and I only mention it to recall your attention to it at this time. And hence I ask how extraordinary a thing it is that a man who has occupied a position upon the floor of the Senate of the United States, who is now in his third term, and who looks to see the government of this whole country fall into his own hands, pretending to give a truthful and accurate history o the slavery question in this country, should so entirely ignore the whole of that portion of our history–the most important of all. Is it not a most extraordinary spectacle that a man should stand up and ask for any confidence in his statements who sets out as he does with portions of history, calling upon the people to believe that it is a true and fair representation, when the leading part and controlling feature of the whole history is carefully suppressed?

But the mere leaving out is not the most remarkable feature of this most remarkable essay. His proposition is to establish that the leading men of the Revolution were for his great principle of nonintervention by the government in the question of slavery in the Territories, while history shows that they decided, in the cases actually brought before them, in exactly the contrary way, and he knows it. Not only did they so decide at that time, but they stuck to it during sixty years, through thick and thin, as long as there was one of the Revolutionary heroes upon the stage of political action. Through their whole course, from first to last, they clung to freedom. And now he asks the community to believe that the men of the Revolution were in favor of his great principle, when we have the naked history that they themselves dealt with this very subject matter of his principle, and utterly repudiated his principle, acting upon a precisely contrary ground. It is as impudent and absurd as if a prosecuting attorney should stand up before a jury and ask them