The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, Complete
Abraham Lincoln

Part 15 out of 36

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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
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


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