The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, v2
Abraham Lincoln

Part 4 out of 6

when this very bill was first brought in, it contained no repeal.
But, say they, because the people had demanded, or rather
commanded, the repeal, the repeal was to accompany the
organization whenever that should occur.

Now, I deny that the public ever demanded any such thing--ever
repudiated the Missouri Compromise, ever commanded its repeal. I
deny it, and call for the proof. It is not contended, I believe,
that any such command has ever been given in express terms. It
is only said that it was done in principle. The support of the
Wilmot Proviso is the first fact mentioned to prove that the
Missouri restriction was repudiated in principle, and the second
is the refusal to extend the Missouri line over the country
acquired from Mexico. These are near enough alike to be treated
together. The one was to exclude the chances of slavery from the
whole new acquisition by the lump, and the other was to reject a
division of it, by which one half was to be given up to those
chances. Now, whether this was a repudiation of the Missouri
line in principle depends upon whether the Missouri law contained
any principle requiring the line to be extended over the country
acquired from Mexico. I contend it did not. I insist that it
contained no general principle, but that it was, in every sense,
specific. That its terms limit it to the country purchased from
France is undenied and undeniable. It could have no principle
beyond the intention of those who made it. They did not intend
to extend the line to country which they did not own. If they
intended to extend it in the event of acquiring additional
territory, why did they not say so? It was just as easy to say
that "in all the country west of the Mississippi which we now
own, or may hereafter acquire, there shall never be slavery," as
to say what they did say; and they would have said it if they had
meant it. An intention to extend the law is not only not
mentioned in the law, but is not mentioned in any contemporaneous
history. Both the law itself, and the history of the times, are
a blank as to any principle of extension; and by neither the
known rules of construing statutes and contracts, nor by common
sense, can any such principle be inferred.

Another fact showing the specific character of the Missouri law--
showing that it intended no more than it expressed, showing that
the line was not intended as a universal dividing line between
Free and Slave territory, present and prospective, north of which
slavery could never go--is the fact that by that very law
Missouri came in as a slave State, north of the line. If that
law contained any prospective principle, the whole law must be
looked to in order to ascertain what the principle was. And by
this rule the South could fairly contend that, inasmuch as they
got one slave State north of the line at the inception of the
law, they have the right to have another given them north of it
occasionally, now and then, in the indefinite westward extension
of the line. This demonstrates the absurdity of attempting to
deduce a prospective principle from the Missouri Compromise line.

When we voted for the Wilmot Proviso we were voting to keep
slavery out of the whole Mexican acquisition, and little did we
think we were thereby voting to let it into Nebraska lying
several hundred miles distant. When we voted against extending
the Missouri line, little did we think we were voting to destroy
the old line, then of near thirty years' standing.

To argue that we thus repudiated the Missouri Compromise is no
less absurd than it would be to argue that because we have so far
forborne to acquire Cuba, we have thereby, in principle,
repudiated our former acquisitions and determined to throw them
out of the Union. No less absurd than it would be to say that
because I may have refused to build an addition to my house, I
thereby have decided to destroy the existing house! And if I
catch you setting fire to my house, you will turn upon me and say
I instructed you to do it!

The most conclusive argument, however, that while for the Wilmot
Proviso, and while voting against the extension of the Missouri
line, we never thought of disturbing the original Missouri
Compromise, is found in the fact that there was then, and still
is, an unorganized tract of fine country, nearly as large as the
State of Missouri, lying immediately west of Arkansas and south
of the Missouri Compromise line, and that we never attempted to
prohibit slavery as to it. I wish particular attention to this.
It adjoins the original Missouri Compromise line by its northern
boundary, and consequently is part of the country into which by
implication slavery was permitted to go by that compromise.
There it has lain open ever s, and there it still lies, and yet
no effort has been made at any time to wrest it from the South.
In all our struggles to prohibit slavery within our Mexican
acquisitions, we never so much as lifted a finger to prohibit it
as to this tract. Is not this entirely conclusive that at all
times we have held the Missouri Compromise as a sacred thing,
even when against ourselves as well as when for us?

Senator Douglas sometimes says the Missouri line itself was in
principle only an extension of the line of the Ordinance of '87--
that is to say, an extension of the Ohio River. I think this is
weak enough on its face. I will remark, however, that, as a
glance at the map will show, the Missouri line is a long way
farther south than the Ohio, and that if our Senator in proposing
his extension had stuck to the principle of jogging southward,
perhaps it might not have been voted down so readily.

But next it is said that the compromises of '50, and the
ratification of them by both political parties in '52,
established a new principle which required the repeal of the
Missouri Compromise. This again I deny. I deny it, and demand
the proof. I have already stated fully what the compromises of
'50 are. That particular part of those measures from which the
virtual repeal of the Missouri Compromise is sought to be
inferred (for it is admitted they contain nothing about it in
express terms) is the provision in the Utah and New Mexico laws
which permits them when they seek admission into the Union as
States to come in with or without slavery, as they shall then see
fit. Now I insist this provision was made for Utah and New
Mexico, and for no other place whatever. It had no more direct
reference to Nebraska than it had to the territories of the moon.
But, say they, it had reference to Nebraska in principle. Let us
see. The North consented to this provision, not because they
considered it right in itself, but because they were compensated-
-paid for it.

They at the same time got California into the Union as a free
State. This was far the best part of all they had struggled for
by the Wilmot Proviso. They also got the area of slavery
somewhat narrowed in the settlement of the boundary of Texas.
Also they got the slave trade abolished in the District of

For all these desirable objects the North could afford to yield
something; and they did yield to the South the Utah and New
Mexico provision. I do not mean that the whole North, or even a
majority, yielded, when the law passed; but enough yielded--when
added to the vote of the South, to carry the measure. Nor can it
be pretended that the principle of this arrangement requires us
to permit the same provision to be applied to Nebraska, without
any equivalent at all. Give us another free State; press the
boundary of Texas still farther back; give us another step toward
the destruction of slavery in the District, and you present us a
similar case. But ask us not to repeat, for nothing, what you
paid for in the first instance. If you wish the thing again, pay
again. That is the principle of the compromises of '50, if,
indeed, they had any principles beyond their specific terms--it
was the system of equivalents.

Again, if Congress, at that time, intended that all future
Territories should, when admitted as States, come in with or
without slavery at their own option, why did it not say so?
With such a universal provision, all know the bills could not
have passed. Did they, then--could they-establish a principle
contrary to their own intention? Still further, if they intended
to establish the principle that, whenever Congress had control,
it should be left to the people to do as they thought fit with
slavery, why did they not authorize the people of the District of
Columbia, at their option, to abolish slavery within their

I personally know that this has not been left undone because it
was unthought of. It was frequently spoken of by members of
Congress, and by citizens of Washington, six years ago; and I
heard no one express a doubt that a system of gradual
emancipation, with compensation to owners, would meet the
approbation of a large majority of the white people of the
District. But without the action of Congress they could say
nothing; and Congress said "No." In the measures of 1850,
Congress had the subject of slavery in the District expressly on
hand. If they were then establishing the principle of allowing
the people to do as they please with slavery, why did they not
apply the principle to that people?

Again it is claimed that by the resolutions of the Illinois
Legislature, passed in 1851, the repeal of the Missouri
Compromise was demanded. This I deny also. Whatever may be
worked out by a criticism of the language of those resolutions,
the people have never understood them as being any more than an
indorsement of the compromises of 1850, and a release of our
senators from voting for the Wilmot Proviso. The whole people
are living witnesses that this only was their view. Finally, it
is asked, "If we did not mean to apply the Utah and New Mexico
provision to all future territories, what did we mean when we, in
1852, indorsed the compromises of 1850?"

For myself I can answer this question most easily. I meant not
to ask a repeal or modification of the Fugitive Slave law. I
meant not to ask for the abolition of slavery in the District of
Columbia. I meant not to resist the admission of Utah and New
Mexico, even should they ask to come in as slave States. I meant
nothing about additional Territories, because, as I understood,
we then had no Territory whose character as to slavery was not
already settled. As to Nebraska, I regarded its character as
being fixed by the Missouri Compromise for thirty years--as
unalterably fixed as that of my own home in Illinois. As to new
acquisitions, I said, "Sufficient unto the day is the evil
thereof." When we make new acquisitions, we will, as heretofore,
try to manage them somehow. That is my answer; that is what I
meant and said; and I appeal to the people to say each for
himself whether that is not also the universal meaning of the
free States.

And now, in turn, let me ask a few questions. If, by any or all
these matters, the repeal of the Missouri Compromise was
commanded, why was not the command sooner obeyed? Why was the
repeal omitted in the Nebraska Bill of 1853? Why was it omitted
in the original bill of 1854? Why in the accompanying report was
such a repeal characterized as a departure from the course
pursued in 1850 and its continued omission recommended?

I am aware Judge Douglas now argues that the subsequent express
repeal is no substantial alteration of the bill. This argument
seems wonderful to me. It is as if one should argue that white
and black are not different. He admits, however, that there is a
literal change in the bill, and that he made the change in
deference to other senators who would not support the bill
without. This proves that those other senators thought the
change a substantial one, and that the Judge thought their
opinions worth deferring to. His own opinions, therefore, seem
not to rest on a very firm basis, even in his own mind; and I
suppose the world believes, and will continue to believe, that
precisely on the substance of that change this whole agitation
has arisen.

I conclude, then, that the public never demanded the repeal of
the Missouri Compromise

I now come to consider whether the appeal with its avowed
principles, is intrinsically right. I insist that it is not.
Take the particular case. A controversy had arisen between the
advocates and opponents of slavery, in relation to its
establishment within the country we had purchased of France. The
southern, and then best, part of the purchase was already in as a
slave State. The controversy was settled by also letting
Missouri in as a slave State; but with the agreement that within
all the remaining part of the purchase, north of a certain line,
there should never be slavery. As to what was to be done with
the remaining part, south of the line, nothing was said; but
perhaps the fair implication was, it should come in with slavery
if it should so choose. The southern part, except a portion
heretofore mentioned, afterward did come in with slavery, as the
State of Arkansas. All these many years, since 1820, the
northern part had remained a wilderness. At length settlements
began in it also. In due course Iowa came in as a free State,
and Minnesota was given a territorial government, without
removing the slavery restriction. Finally, the sole remaining
part north of the line--Kansas and Nebraska--was to be organized;
and it is proposed, and carried, to blot out the old dividing
line of thirty-four years' standing, and to open the whole of
that country to the introduction of slavery. Now this, to my
mind, is manifestly unjust. After an angry and dangerous
controversy, the parties made friends by dividing the bone of
contention. The one party first appropriates her own share,
beyond all power to be disturbed in the possession of it, and
then seizes the share of the other party. It is as if two
starving men had divided their only loaf, the one had hastily
swallowed his half, and then grabbed the other's half just as he
was putting it to his mouth.

Let me here drop the main argument, to notice what I consider
rather an inferior matter. It is argued that slavery will not go
to Kansas and Nebraska, in any event. This is a palliation, a
lullaby. I have some hope that it will not; but let us not be
too confident. As to climate, a glance at the map shows that
there are five slave States--Delaware, Maryland, Virginia,
Kentucky, and Missouri, and also the District of Columbia, all
north of the Missouri Compromise line. The census returns of
1850 show that within these there are eight hundred and sixty-
seven thousand two hundred and seventy-six slaves, being more
than one fourth of all the slaves in the nation.

It is not climate, then, that will keep slavery out of these
Territories. Is there anything in the peculiar nature of the
country? Missouri adjoins these Territories by her entire
western boundary, and slavery is already within every one of her
western counties. I have even heard it said that there are more
slaves in proportion to whites in the northwestern county of
Missouri than within any other county in the State. Slavery
pressed entirely up to the old western boundary of the State, and
when rather recently a part of that boundary at the northwest was
moved out a little farther west, slavery followed on quite up to
the new line. Now, when the restriction is removed, what is to
prevent it from going still farther? Climate will not, no
peculiarity of the country will, nothing in nature will. Will
the disposition of the people prevent it? Those nearest the
scene are all in favor of the extension. The Yankees who are
opposed to it may be most flumerous; but, in military phrase, the
battlefield is too far from their base of operations.

But it is said there now is no law in Nebraska on the subject of
slavery, and that, in such case, taking a slave there operates
his freedom. That is good book-law, but it is not the rule of
actual practice. Wherever slavery is it has been first
introduced without law. The oldest laws we find concerning it
are not laws introducing it, but regulating it as an already
existing thing. A white man takes his slave to Nebraska now.
Who will inform the negro that he is free? Who will take him
before court to test the question of his freedom? In ignorance
of his legal emancipation he is kept chopping, splitting, and
plowing. Others are brought, and move on in the same track. At
last, if ever the time for voting comes on the question of
slavery the institution already, in fact, exists in the country,
and cannot well be removed. The fact of its presence, and the
difficulty of its removal, will carry the vote in its favor.
Keep it out until a vote is taken, and a vote in favor of it
cannot be got in any population of forty thousand on earth, who
have been drawn together by the ordinary motives of emigration
and settlement. To get slaves into the Territory simultaneously
with the whites in the incipient stages of settlement is the
precise stake played for and won in this Nebraska measure.

The question is asked us: "If slaves will go in notwithstanding
the general principle of law liberates them, why would they not
equally go in against positive statute law--go in, even if the
Missouri restriction were maintained!" I answer, because it takes
a much bolder man to venture in with his property in the latter
case than in the former; because the positive Congressional
enactment is known to and respected by all, or nearly all,
whereas the negative principle that no law is free law is not
much known except among lawyers. We have some experience of this
practical difference. In spite of the Ordinance of '87, a few
negroes were brought into Illinois, and held in a state of quasi-
slavery, not enough, however, to carry a vote of the people in
favor of the institution when they came to form a constitution.
But into the adjoining Missouri country, where there was no
Ordinance of '87,--was no restriction,--they were carried ten
times, nay, a hundred times, as fast, and actually made a slave
State. This is fact-naked fact.

Another lullaby argument is that taking slaves to new countries
does not increase their number, does not make any one slave who
would otherwise be free. There is some truth in this, and I am
glad of it; but it is not wholly true. The African slave trade
is not yet effectually suppressed; and, if we make a reasonable
deduction for the white people among us who are foreigners and
the descendants of foreigners arriving here since 1808, we shall
find the increase of the black population outrunning that of the
white to an extent unaccountable, except by supposing that some
of them, too, have been coming from Africa. If this be so, the
opening of new countries to the institution increases the demand
for and augments the price of slaves, and so does, in fact, make
slaves of freemen, by causing them to be brought from Africa and
sold into bondage.

But however this may be, we know the opening of new countries to
slavery tends to the perpetuation of the institution, and so does
keep men in slavery who would otherwise be free. This result we
do not feel like favoring, and we are under no legal obligation
to suppress our feelings in this respect.

Equal justice to the South, it is said, requires us to consent to
the extension of slavery to new countries. That is to say,
inasmuch as you do not object to my taking my hog to Nebraska,
therefore I must not object to your taking your slave. Now, I
admit that this is perfectly logical if there is no difference
between hogs and negroes. But while you thus require me to deny
the humanity of the negro, I wish to ask whether you of the
South, yourselves, have ever been willing to do as much? It is
kindly provided that of all those who come into the world only a
small percentage are natural tyrants. That percentage is no
larger in the slave States than in the free. The great majority
South, as well as North, have human sympathies, of which they can
no more divest themselves than they can of their sensibility to
physical pain. These sympathies in the bosoms of the Southern
people manifest, in many ways, their sense of the wrong of
slavery, and their consciousness that, after all, there is
humanity in the negro. If they deny this, let me address them a
few plain questions. In 1820 you (the South) joined the North,
almost unanimously, in declaring the African slave trade piracy,
and in annexing to it the punishment of death. Why did you do
this? If you did not feel that it was wrong, why did you join in
providing that men should be hung for it? The practice was no
more than bringing wild negroes from Africa to such as would buy
them. But you never thought of hanging men for catching and
selling wild horses, wild buffaloes, or wild bears.

Again, you have among you a sneaking individual of the class of
native tyrants known as the "slavedealer." He watches your
necessities, and crawls up to buy your slave, at a speculating
price. If you cannot help it, you sell to him; but if you can
help it, you drive him from your door. You despise him utterly.
You do not recognize him as a friend, or even as an honest man.
Your children must not play with his; they may rollick freely
with the little negroes, but not with the slave-dealer's
children. If you are obliged to deal with him, you try to get
through the job without so much as touching him. It is common
with you to join hands with the men you meet, but with the slave-
dealer you avoid the ceremony--instinctively shrinking from the
snaky contact. If he grows rich and retires from business, you
still remember him, and still keep up the ban of non-intercourse
upon him and his family. Now, why is this? You do not so treat
the man who deals in corn, cotton, or tobacco.

And yet again: There are in the United States and Territories,
including the District of Columbia, 433,643 free blacks. At five
hundred dollars per head they are worth over two hundred millions
of dollars. How comes this vast amount of property to be running
about without owners? We do not see free horses or free cattle
running at large. How is this? All these free blacks are the
descendants of slaves, or have been slaves themselves; and they
would be slaves now but for something which has operated on their
white owners, inducing them at vast pecuniary sacrifice to
liberate them. What is that something? Is there any mistaking
it? In all these cases it is your sense of justice and human
sympathy continually telling you that the poor negro has some
natural right to himself--that those who deny it and make mere
merchandise of him deserve kickings, contempt, and death.

And now why will you ask us to deny the humanity of the slave,
and estimate him as only the equal of the hog? Why ask us to do
what you will not do yourselves? Why ask us to do for nothing
what two hundred millions of dollars could not induce you to do?

But one great argument in support of the repeal of the Missouri
Compromise is still to come. That argument is "the sacred right
of self-government." It seems our distinguished Senator has found
great difficulty in getting his antagonists, even in the Senate,
to meet him fairly on this argument. Some poet has said:

"Fools rush in where angels fear to tread."

At the hazard of being thought one of the fools of this
quotation, I meet that argument--I rush in--I take that bull by
the horns. I trust I understand and truly estimate the right of
self-government. My faith in the proposition that each man
should do precisely as he pleases with all which is exclusively
his own lies at the foundation of the sense of justice there is
in me. I extend the principle to communities of men as well as
to individuals. I so extend it because it is politically wise,
as well as naturally just; politically wise in saving us from
broils about matters which do not concern us. Here, or at
Washington, I would not trouble myself with the oyster laws of
Virginia, or the cranberry laws of Indiana. The doctrine of
self-government is right,--absolutely and eternally right,--but
it has no just application as here attempted. Or perhaps I
should rather say that whether it has such application depends
upon whether a negro is or is not a man. If he is not a man, in
that case he who is a man may as a matter of self-government do
just what he pleases with him. But if the negro is a man, is it
not to that extent a total destruction of self-government to say
that he too shall not govern himself? When the white man governs
himself, that is self-government; but when he governs himself and
also governs another man, that is more than self-government--that
is despotism. If the negro is a man, why, then, my ancient faith
teaches me that "all men are created equal," and that there can
be no moral right in connection with one man's making a slave of

Judge Douglas frequently, with bitter irony and sarcasm,
paraphrases our argument by saying: "The white people of Nebraska
are good enough to govern themselves, but they are not good
enough to govern a few miserable negroes!"

Well, I doubt not that the people of Nebraska are and will
continue to be as good as the average of people elsewhere. I do
not say the contrary. What I do say is that no man is good
enough to govern another man without that other's consent. I say
this is the leading principle, the sheet-anchor of American
republicanism. Our Declaration of Independence says:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are
created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights,
governments are instituted among men, DERIVING THEIR JUST POWERS

I have quoted so much at this time merely to show that, according
to our ancient faith, the just powers of government are derived
from the consent of the governed. Now the relation of master and
slave is pro tanto a total violation of this principle. The
master not only governs the slave without his consent, but he
governs him by a set of rules altogether different from those
which he prescribes for himself. Allow all the governed an equal
voice in the government, and that, and that only, is self-

Let it not be said that I am contending for the establishment of
political and social equality between the whites and blacks. I
have already said the contrary. I am not combating the argument
of necessity, arising from the fact that the blacks are already
among us; but I am combating what is set up as moral argument for
allowing them to be taken where they have never yet been--arguing
against the extension of a bad thing, which, where it already
exists, we must of necessity manage as we best can.

In support of his application of the doctrine of self-government,
Senator Douglas has sought to bring to his aid the opinions and
examples of our Revolutionary fathers. I am glad he has done
this. I love the sentiments of those old-time men, and shall be
most happy to abide by their opinions. He shows us that when it
was in contemplation for the colonies to break off from Great
Britain, and set up a new government for themselves, several of
the States instructed their delegates to go for the measure,
provided each State should be allowed to regulate its domestic
concerns in its own way. I do not quote; but this in substance.
This was right; I see nothing objectionable in it. I also think
it probable that it had some reference to the existence of
slavery among them. I will not deny that it had. But had it any
reference to the carrying of slavery into new countries? That is
the question, and we will let the fathers themselves answer it.

This same generation of men, and mostly the same individuals of
the generation who declared this principle, who declared
independence, who fought the war of the Revolution through, who
afterward made the Constitution under which we still live--these
same men passed the Ordinance of '87, declaring that slavery
should never go to the Northwest Territory.

I have no doubt Judge Douglas thinks they were very inconsistent
in this. It is a question of discrimination between them and
him. But there is not an inch of ground left for his claiming
that their opinions, their example, their authority, are on his
side in the controversy.

Again, is not Nebraska, while a Territory, a part of us? Do we
not own the country? And if we surrender the control of it, do
we not surrender the right of self-government? It is part of
ourselves. If you say we shall not control it, because it is
only part, the same is true of every other part; and when all the
parts are gone, what has become of the whole? What is then left
of us? What use for the General Government, when there is
nothing left for it to govern?

But you say this question should be left to the people of
Nebraska, because they are more particularly interested. If this
be the rule, you must leave it to each individual to say for
himself whether he will have slaves. What better moral right
have thirty-one citizens of Nebraska to say that the thirty-
second shall not hold slaves than the people of the thirty-one
States have to say that slavery shall not go into the thirty-
second State at all?

But if it is a sacred right for the people of Nebraska to take
and hold slaves there, it is equally their sacred right to buy
them where they can buy them cheapest; and that, undoubtedly,
will be on the coast of Africa, provided you will consent not to
hang them for going there to buy them. You must remove this
restriction, too, from the sacred right of self-government. I am
aware you say that taking slaves from the States to Nebraska does
not make slaves of freemen; but the African slave-trader can say
just as much. He does not catch free negroes and bring them
here. He finds them already slaves in the hands of their black
captors, and he honestly buys them at the rate of a red cotton
handkerchief a head. This is very cheap, and it is a great
abridgment of the sacred right of self-government to hang men for
engaging in this profitable trade.

Another important objection to this application of the right of
self-government is that it enables the first few to deprive the
succeeding many of a free exercise of the right of self-
government. The first few may get slavery in, and the subsequent
many cannot easily get it out. How common is the remark now in
the slave States, "If we were only clear of our slaves, how much
better it would be for us." They are actually deprived of the
privilege of governing themselves as they would, by the action of
a very few in the beginning. The same thing was true of the
whole nation at the time our Constitution was formed.

Whether slavery shall go into Nebraska, or other new Territories,
is not a matter of exclusive concern to the people who may go
there. The whole nation is interested that the best use shall be
made of these Territories. We want them for homes of free white
people. This they cannot be, to any considerable extent, if
slavery shall be planted within them. Slave States are places
for poor white people to remove from, not to remove to. New free
States are the places for poor people to go to, and better their
condition. For this use the nation needs these Territories.

Still further: there are constitutional relations between the
slave and free States which are degrading to the latter. We are
under legal obligations to catch and return their runaway slaves
to them: a sort of dirty, disagreeable job, which, I believe, as
a general rule, the slaveholders will not perform for one
another. Then again, in the control of the government--the
management of the partnership affairs--they have greatly the
advantage of us. By the Constitution each State has two
senators, each has a number of representatives in proportion to
the number of its people, and each has a number of Presidential
electors equal to the whole number of its senators and
representatives together. But in ascertaining the number of the
people for this purpose, five slaves are counted as being equal
to three whites. The slaves do not vote; they are only counted
and so used as to swell the influence of the white people's
votes. The practical effect of this is more aptly shown by a
comparison of the States of South Carolina and Maine. South
Carolina has six representatives, and so has Maine; South
Carolina has eight Presidential electors, and so has Maine. This
is precise equality so far; and of course they are equal in
senators, each having two. Thus in the control of the government
the two States are equals precisely. But how are they in the
number of their white people? Maine has 581,813, while South
Carolina has 274,567; Maine has twice as many as South Carolina,
and 32,679 over. Thus, each white man in South Carolina is more
than the double of any man in Maine. This is all because South
Carolina, besides her free people, has 384,984 slaves. The South
Carolinian has precisely the same advantage over the white man in
every other free State as well as in Maine. He is more than the
double of any one of us in this crowd. The same advantage, but
not to the same extent, is held by all the citizens of the slave
States over those of the free; and it is an absolute truth,
without an exception, that there is no voter in any slave State
but who has more legal power in the government than any voter in
any free State. There is no instance of exact equality; and the
disadvantage is against us the whole chapter through. This
principle, in the aggregate, gives the slave States in the
present Congress twenty additional representatives, being seven
more than the whole majority by which they passed the Nebraska

Now all this is manifestly unfair; yet I do not mention it to
complain of it, in so far as it is already settled. It is in the
Constitution, and I do not for that cause, or any other cause,
propose to destroy, or alter, or disregard the Constitution. I
stand to it, fairly, fully, and firmly.

But when I am told I must leave it altogether to other people to
say whether new partners are to be bred up and brought into the
firm, on the same degrading terms against me, I respectfully
demur. I insist that whether I shall be a whole man or only the
half of one, in comparison with others is a question in which I
am somewhat concerned, and one which no other man can have a
sacred right of deciding for me. If I am wrong in this, if it
really be a sacred right of self-government in the man who shall
go to Nebraska to decide whether he will be the equal of me or
the double of me, then, after he shall have exercised that right,
and thereby shall have reduced me to a still smaller fraction of
a man than I already am, I should like for some gentleman, deeply
skilled in the mysteries of sacred rights, to provide himself
with a microscope, and peep about, and find out, if he can, what
has become of my sacred rights. They will surely be too small
for detection with the naked eye.

Finally, I insist that if there is anything which it is the duty
of the whole people to never intrust to any hands but their own,
that thing is the preservation and perpetuity of their own
liberties and institutions. And if they shall think as I do,
that the extension of slavery endangers them more than any or all
other causes, how recreant to themselves if they submit The
question, and with it the fate of their country, to a mere
handful of men bent only on seif-interest. If this question of
slavery extension were an insignificant one, one having no power
to do harm--it might be shuffled aside in this way; and being, as
it is, the great Behemoth of danger, shall the strong grip of the
nation be loosened upon him, to intrust him to the hands of such
feeble keepers?

I have done with this mighty argument of self-government. Go,
sacred thing! Go in peace.

But Nebraska is urged as a great Union-saving measure. Well, I
too go for saving the Union. Much as I hate slavery, I would
consent to the extension of it rather than see the Union
dissolved, just as I would consent to any great evil to avoid a
greater one. But when I go to Union-saving, I must believe, at
least, that the means I employ have some adaptation to the end.
To my mind, Nebraska has no such adaptation.

"It hath no relish of salvation in it."

It is an aggravation, rather, of the only one thing which ever
endangers the Union. When it came upon us, all was peace and
quiet. The nation was looking to the forming of new bends of
union, and a long course of peace and prosperity seemed to lie
before us. In the whole range of possibility, there scarcely
appears to me to have been anything out of which the slavery
agitation could have been revived, except the very project of
repealing the Missouri Compromise. Every inch of territory we
owned already had a definite settlement of the slavery question,
by which all parties were pledged to abide. Indeed, there was no
uninhabited country on the continent which we could acquire, if
we except some extreme northern regions which are wholly out of
the question.

In this state of affairs the Genius of Discord himself could
scarcely have invented a way of again setting us by the ears but
by turning back and destroying the peace measures of the past.
The counsels of that Genius seem to have prevailed. The Missouri
Compromise was repealed; and here we are in the midst of a new
slavery agitation, such, I think, as we have never seen before.
Who is responsible for this? Is it those who resist the measure,
or those who causelessly brought it forward, and pressed it
through, having reason to know, and in fact knowing, it must and
would be so resisted? It could not but be expected by its author
that it would be looked upon as a measure for the extension of
slavery, aggravated by a gross breach of faith.

Argue as you will and long as you will, this is the naked front
and aspect of the measure. And in this aspect it could not but
produce agitation. Slavery is founded in the selfishness of
man's nature--opposition to it in his love of justice. These
principles are at eternal antagonism, and when brought into
collision so fiercely as slavery extension brings them, shocks
and throes and convulsions must ceaselessly follow. Repeal the
Missouri Compromise, repeal all compromises, repeal the
Declaration of Independence, repeal all past history, you still
cannot repeal human nature. It still will be the abundance of
man's heart that slavery extension is wrong, and out of the
abundance of his heart his mouth will continue to speak.

The structure, too, of the Nebraska Bill is very peculiar. The
people are to decide the question of slavery for themselves; but
when they are to decide, or how they are to decide, or whether,
when the question is once decided, it is to remain so or is to be
subject to an indefinite succession of new trials, the law does
not say. Is it to be decided by the first dozen settlers who
arrive there, or is it to await the arrival of a hundred? Is it
to be decided by a vote of the people or a vote of the
Legislature, or, indeed, by a vote of any sort? To these
questions the law gives no answer. There is a mystery about
this; for when a member proposed to give the Legislature express
authority to exclude slavery, it was hooted down by the friends
of the bill. This fact is worth remembering. Some Yankees in
the East are sending emigrants to Nebraska to exclude slavery
from it; and, so far as I can judge, they expect the question to
be decided by voting in some way or other. But the Missourians
are awake, too. They are within a stone's-throw of the contested
ground. They hold meetings and pass resolutions, in which not
the slightest allusion to voting is made. They resolve that
slavery already exists in the Territory; that more shall go
there; that they, remaining in Missouri, will protect it, and
that abolitionists shall be hung or driven away. Through all
this bowie knives and six-shooters are seen plainly enough, but
never a glimpse of the ballot-box.

And, really, what is the result of all this? Each party within
having numerous and determined backers without, is it not
probable that the contest will come to blows and bloodshed?
Could there be a more apt invention to bring about collision and
violence on the slavery question than this Nebraska project is?
I do not charge or believe that such was intended by Congress;
but if they had literally formed a ring and placed champions
within it to fight out the controversy, the fight could be no
more likely to come off than it is. And if this fight should
begin, is it likely to take a very peaceful, Union-saving turn?
Will not the first drop of blood so shed be the real knell of the

The Missouri Compromise ought to be restored. For the sake of
the Union, it ought to be restored. We ought to elect a House of
Representatives which will vote its restoration. If by any means
we omit to do this, what follows? Slavery may or may not be
established in Nebraska. But whether it be or not, we shall have
repudiated--discarded from the councils of the nation--the spirit
of compromise; for who, after this, will ever trust in a national
compromise? The spirit of mutual concession--that spirit which
first gave us the Constitution, and which has thrice saved the
Union--we shall have strangled and cast from us forever. And
what shall we have in lieu of it? The South flushed with triumph
and tempted to excess; the North, betrayed as they believe,
brooding on wrong and burning for revenge. One side will
provoke, the other resent. The one will taunt, the other defy;
one aggresses, the other retaliates. Already a few in the North
defy all constitutional restraints, resist the execution of the
Fugitive Slave law, and even menace the institution of slavery in
the States where it exists. Already a few in the South claim the
constitutional right to take and to hold slaves in the free
States, demand the revival of the slave trade, and demand a
treaty with Great Britain by which fugitive slaves may be
reclaimed from Canada. As yet they are but few on either side.
It is a grave question for lovers of the union whether the final
destruction of the Missouri Compromise, and with it the spirit of
all compromise, will or will not embolden and embitter each of
these, and fatally increase the number of both.

But restore the compromise, and what then? We thereby restore
the national faith, the national confidence, the national feeling
of brotherhood. We thereby reinstate the spirit of concession
and compromise, that spirit which has never failed us in past
perils, and which may be safely trusted for all the future. The
South ought to join in doing this. The peace of the nation is as
dear to them as to us. In memories of the past and hopes of the
future, they share as largely as we. It would be on their part a
great act--great in its spirit, and great in its effect. It
would be worth to the nation a hundred years purchase of peace
and prosperity. And what of sacrifice would they make? They
only surrender to us what they gave us for a consideration long,
long ago; what they have not now asked for, struggled or cared
for; what has been thrust upon them, not less to their
astonishment than to ours.

But it is said we cannot restore it; that though we elect every
member of the lower House, the Senate is still against us. It is
quite true that of the senators who passed the Nebraska Bill a
majority of the whole Senate will retain their seats in spite of
the elections of this and the next year. But if at these
elections their several constituencies shall clearly express
their will against Nebraska, will these senators disregard their
will? Will they neither obey nor make room for those who will?

But even if we fail to technically restore the compromise, it is
still a great point to carry a popular vote in favor of the
restoration. The moral weight of such a vote cannot be estimated
too highly. The authors of Nebraska are not at all satisfied
with the destruction of the compromise--an indorsement of this
principle they proclaim to be the great object. With them,
Nebraska alone is a small matter--to establish a principle for
future use is what they particularly desire.

The future use is to be the planting of slavery wherever in the
wide world local and unorganized opposition cannot prevent it.
Now, if you wish to give them this indorsement, if you wish to
establish this principle, do so. I shall regret it, but it is
your right. On the contrary, if you are opposed to the
principle,--intend to give it no such indorsement, let no
wheedling, no sophistry, divert you from throwing a direct vote
against it.

Some men, mostly Whigs, who condemn the repeal of the Missouri
Compromise, nevertheless hesitate to go for its restoration, lest
they be thrown in company with the abolitionists. Will they
allow me, as an old Whig, to tell them, good-humoredly, that I
think this is very silly? Stand with anybody that stands right.
Stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes
wrong. Stand with the abolitionist in restoring the Missouri
Compromise, and stand against him when he attempts to repeal the
Fugitive Slave law. In the latter case you stand with the
Southern disunionist. What of that? You are still right. In
both cases you are right. In both cases you oppose the dangerous
extremes. In both you stand on middle ground, and hold the
ship level and steady. In both you are national, and nothing
less than national. This is the good old Whig ground. To desert
such ground because of any company is to be less than a Whig--
less than a man--less than an American.

I particularly object to the new position which the avowed
principle of this Nebraska law gives to slavery in the body
politic. I object to it because it assumes that there can be
moral right in the enslaving of one man by another. I object to
it as a dangerous dalliance for a free people--a sad evidence
that, feeling prosperity, we forget right; that liberty, as a
principle, we have ceased to revere. I object to it because the
fathers of the republic eschewed and rejected it. The argument
of "necessity" was the only argument they ever admitted in favor
of slavery; and so far, and so far only, as it carried them did
they ever go. They found the institution existing among us,
which they could not help, and they cast blame upon the British
king for having permitted its introduction.

The royally appointed Governor of Georgia in the early 1700's was
threatened by the King with removal if he continued to oppose
slavery in his colony--at that time the King of England made a
small profit on every slave imported to the colonies. The later
British criticism of the United States for not eradicating
slavery in the early 1800's, combined with their tacit support of
the 'Confederacy' during the Civil War is a prime example of the
irony and hypocracy of politics: that self-interest will ever
overpower right.

Before the Constitution they prohibited its introduction into the
Northwestern Territory, the only country we owned then free from
it. At the framing and adoption of the Constitution, they
forbore to so much as mention the word "slave" or "slavery" in
the whole instrument. In the provision for the recovery of
fugitives, the slave is spoken of as a "person held to service or
labor." In that prohibiting the abolition of the African slave
trade for twenty years, that trade is spoken of as "the migration
or importation of such persons as any of the States now existing
shall think proper to admit," etc. These are the only provisions
alluding to slavery. Thus the thing is hid away in the
Constitution, just as an afflicted man hides away a wen or cancer
which he dares not cut out at once, lest he bleed to death,--with
the promise, nevertheless, that the cutting may begin at a
certain time. Less than this our fathers could not do, and more
they would not do. Necessity drove them so far, and farther they
would not go. But this is not all. The earliest Congress under
the Constitution took the same view of slavery. They hedged and
hemmed it in to the narrowest limits of necessity.

In 1794 they prohibited an outgoing slave trade--that is, the
taking of slaves from the United States to sell. In 1798 they
prohibited the bringing of slaves from Africa into the
Mississippi Territory, this Territory then comprising what are
now the States of Mississippi and Alabama. This was ten years
before they had the authority to do the same thing as to the
States existing at the adoption of the Constitution. In 1800
they prohibited American citizens from trading in slaves between
foreign countries, as, for instance, from Africa to Brazil. In
1803 they passed a law in aid of one or two slave-State laws in
restraint of the internal slave trade. In 1807, in apparent hot
haste, they passed the law, nearly a year in advance,--to take
effect the first day of 1808, the very first day the Constitution
would permit, prohibiting the African slave trade by heavy
pecuniary and corporal penalties. In 1820, finding these
provisions ineffectual, they declared the slave trade piracy, and
annexed to it the extreme penalty of death. While all this was
passing in the General Government, five or six of the original
slave States had adopted systems of gradual emancipation, by
which the institution was rapidly becoming extinct within their
limits. Thus we see that the plain, unmistakable spirit of that
age toward slavery was hostility to the principle and toleration
only by necessity.

But now it is to be transformed into a "sacred right." Nebraska
brings it forth, places it on the highroad to extension and
perpetuity, and with a pat on its back says to it, "Go, and God
speed you." Henceforth it is to be the chief jewel of the nation
the very figure-head of the ship of state. Little by little, but
steadily as man's march to the grave, we have been giving up the
old for the new faith. Near eighty years ago we began by
declaring that all men are created equal; but now from that
beginning we have run down to the other declaration, that for
some men to enslave others is a "sacred right of self-
government." These principles cannot stand together. They are as
opposite as God and Mammon; and who ever holds to the one must
despise the other. When Pettit, in connection with his support
of the Nebraska Bill, called the Declaration of Independence "a
self-evident lie," he only did what consistency and candor
require all other Nebraska men to do. Of the forty-odd Nebraska
senators who sat present and heard him, no one rebuked him. Nor
am I apprised that any Nebraska newspaper, or any Nebraska
orator, in the whole nation has ever yet rebuked him. If this
had been said among Marion's men, Southerners though they were,
what would have become of the man who said it? If this had been
said to the men who captured Andre, the man who said it would
probably have been hung sooner than Andre was. If it had been
said in old Independence Hall seventy-eight years ago, the very
doorkeeper would have throttled the man and thrust him into the
street. Let no one be deceived. The spirit of seventy-six and
the spirit of Nebraska are utter antagonisms; and the former is
being rapidly displaced by the latter.

Fellow-countrymen, Americans, South as well as North, shall we
make no effort to arrest this? Already the liberal party
throughout the world express the apprehension that "the one
retrograde institution in America is undermining the principles
of progress, and fatally violating the noblest political system
the world ever saw." This is not the taunt of enemies, but the
warning of friends. Is it quite safe to disregard it--to despise
it? Is there no danger to liberty itself in discarding the
earliest practice and first precept of our ancient faith? In our
greedy chase to make profit of the negro, let us beware lest we
"cancel and tear in pieces" even the white man's charter of

Our republican robe is soiled and trailed in the dust. Let us
repurify it. Let us turn and wash it white in the spirit, if not
the blood, of the Revolution. Let us turn slavery from its
claims of "moral right," back upon its existing legal rights and
its arguments of "necessity." Let us return it to the position
our fathers gave it, and there let it rest in peace. Let us
readopt the Declaration of Independence, and with it the
practices and policy which harmonize with it. Let North and
South, let all Americans--let all lovers of liberty everywhere
join in the great and good work. If we do this, we shall not
only have saved the Union, but we shall have so saved it as to
make and to keep it forever worthy of the saving. We shall have
so saved it that the succeeding millions of free happy people the
world over shall rise up and call us blessed to the latest

At Springfield, twelve days ago, where I had spoken substantially
as I have here, Judge Douglas replied to me; and as he is to
reply to me here, I shall attempt to anticipate him by noticing
some of the points he made there. He commenced by stating I had
assumed all the way through that the principle of the Nebraska
Bill would have the effect of extending slavery. He denied that
this was intended or that this effect would follow.

I will not reopen the argument upon this point. That such was
the intention the world believed at the start, and will continue
to believe. This was the countenance of the thing, and both
friends and enemies instantly recognized it as such. That
countenance cannot now be changed by argument. You can as easily
argue the color out of the negro's skin. Like the "bloody hand,"
you may wash it and wash it, the red witness of guilt still
sticks and stares horribly at you.

Next he says that Congressional intervention never prevented
slavery anywhere; that it did not prevent it in the Northwestern
Territory, nor in Illinois; that, in fact, Illinois came into the
Union as a slave State; that the principle of the Nebraska Bill
expelled it from Illinois, from several old States, from

Now this is mere quibbling all the way through. If the Ordinance
of '87 did not keep slavery out of the Northwest Territory, how
happens it that the northwest shore of the Ohio River is entirely
free from it, while the southeast shore, less than a mile
distant, along nearly the whole length of the river, is entirely
covered with it?

If that ordinance did not keep it out of Illinois, what was it
that made the difference between Illinois and Missouri? They lie
side by side, the Mississippi River only dividing them, while
their early settlements were within the same latitude. Between
1810 and 1820 the number of slaves in Missouri increased 7211,
while in Illinois in the same ten years they decreased 51. This
appears by the census returns. During nearly all of that ten
years both were Territories, not States. During this time the
ordinance forbade slavery to go into Illinois, and nothing
forbade it to go into Missouri. It did go into Missouri, and did
not go into Illinois. That is the fact. Can any one doubt as to
the reason of it? But he says Illinois came into the Union as a
slave State. Silence, perhaps, would be the best answer to this
flat contradiction of the known history of the country. What are
the facts upon which this bold assertion is based? When we first
acquired the country, as far back as 1787, there were some slaves
within it held by the French inhabitants of Kaskaskia. The
territorial legislation admitted a few negroes from the slave
States as indentured servants. One year after the adoption of
the first State constitution, the whole number of them was--what
do you think? Just one hundred and seventeen, while the
aggregate free population was 55,094,--about four hundred and
seventy to one. Upon this state of facts the people framed their
constitution prohibiting the further introduction of slavery,
with a sort of guaranty to the owners of the few indentured
servants, giving freedom to their children to be born thereafter,
and making no mention whatever of any supposed slave for life.
Out of this small matter the Judge manufactures his argument that
Illinois came into the Union as a slave State. Let the facts be
the answer to the argument.

The principles of the Nebraska Bill, he says, expelled slavery
from Illinois. The principle of that bill first planted it here-
-that is, it first came because there was no law to prevent it,
first came before we owned the country; and finding it here, and
having the Ordinance of '87 to prevent its increasing, our people
struggled along, and finally got rid of it as best they could.

But the principle of the Nebraska Bill abolished slavery in
several of the old States. Well, it is true that several of the
old States, in the last quarter of the last century, did adopt
systems of gradual emancipation by which the institution has
finally become extinct within their limits; but it may or may not
be true that the principle of the Nebraska Bill was the cause
that led to the adoption of these measures. It is now more than
fifty years since the last of these States adopted its system of

If the Nebraska Bill is the real author of the benevolent works,
it is rather deplorable that it has for so long a time ceased
working altogether. Is there not some reason to suspect that it
was the principle of the Revolution, and not the principle of the
Nebraska Bill, that led to emancipation in these old States?
Leave it to the people of these old emancipating States, and I am
quite certain they will decide that neither that nor any other
good thing ever did or ever will come of the Nebraska Bill.

In the course of my main argument, Judge Douglas interrupted me
to say that the principle of the Nebraska Bill was very old; that
it originated when God made man, and placed good and evil before
him, allowing him to choose for himself, being responsible for
the choice he should make. At the time I thought this was merely
playful, and I answered it accordingly. But in his reply to me
he renewed it as a serious argument. In seriousness, then, the
facts of this proposition are not true as stated. God did not
place good and evil before man, telling him to make his choice.
On the contrary, he did tell him there was one tree of the fruit
of which he should not eat, upon pain of certain death. I should
scarcely wish so strong a prohibition against slavery in

But this argument strikes me as not a little remarkable in
another particular--in its strong resemblance to the old argument
for the "divine right of kings." By the latter, the king is to do
just as he pleases with his white subjects, being responsible to
God alone. By the former, the white man is to do just as he
pleases with his black slaves, being responsible to God alone.
The two things are precisely alike, and it is but natural that
they should find similar arguments to sustain them.

I had argued that the application of the principle of self-
government, as contended for, would require the revival of the
African slave trade; that no argument could be made in favor of a
man's right to take slaves to Nebraska which could not be equally
well made in favor of his right to bring them from the coast of
Africa. The Judge replied that the Constitution requires the
suppression of the foreign slave trade, but does not require the
prohibition of slavery in the Territories. That is a mistake in
point of fact. The Constitution does not require the action of
Congress in either case, and it does authorize it in both. And
so there is still no difference between the cases.

In regard to what I have said of the advantage the slave States
have over the free in the matter of representation, the Judge
replied that we in the free States count five free negroes as
five white people, while in the slave States they count five
slaves as three whites only; and that the advantage, at last, was
on the side of the free States.

Now, in the slave States they count free negroes just as we do;
and it so happens that, besides their slaves, they have as many
free negroes as we have, and thirty thousand over. Thus, their
free negroes more than balance ours; and their advantage over us,
in consequence of their slaves, still remains as I stated it.

In reply to my argument that the compromise measures of 1850 were
a system of equivalents, and that the provisions of no one of
them could fairly be carried to other subjects without its
corresponding equivalent being carried with it, the Judge denied
outright that these measures had any connection with or
dependence upon each other. This is mere desperation. If they
had no connection, why are they always spoken of in connection?
Why has he so spoken of them a thousand times? Why has he
constantly called them a series of measures? Why does everybody
call them a compromise? Why was California kept out of the Union
six or seven months, if it was not because of its connection with
the other measures? Webster's leading definition of the verb "to
compromise" is "to adjust and settle a difference, by mutual
agreement, with concessions of claims by the parties." This
conveys precisely the popular understanding of the word

We knew, before the Judge told us, that these measures passed
separately, and in distinct bills, and that no two of them were
passed by the votes of precisely the same members. But we also
know, and so does he know, that no one of them could have passed
both branches of Congress but for the understanding that the
others were to pass also. Upon this understanding, each got
votes which it could have got in no other way. It is this fact
which gives to the measures their true character; and it is the
universal knowledge of this fact that has given them the name of
"compromises," so expressive of that true character.

I had asked: "If, in carrying the Utah and New Mexico laws to
Nebraska, you could clear away other objection, how could you
leave Nebraska 'perfectly free' to introduce slavery before she
forms a constitution, during her territorial government, while
the Utah and New Mexico laws only authorize it when they form
constitutions and are admitted into the Union?" To this Judge
Douglas answered that the Utah and New Mexico laws also
authorized it before; and to prove this he read from one of their
laws, as follows: "That the legislative power of said Territory
shall extend to all rightful subjects of legislation, consistent
with the Constitution of the United States and the provisions of
this act."

Now it is perceived from the reading of this that there is
nothing express upon the subject, but that the authority is
sought to be implied merely for the general provision of "all
rightful subjects of legislation." In reply to this I insist, as
a legal rule of construction, as well as the plain, popular view
of the matter, that the express provision for Utah and New Mexico
coming in with slavery, if they choose, when they shall form
constitutions, is an exclusion of all implied authority on the
same subject; that Congress having the subject distinctly in
their minds when they made the express provision, they therein
expressed their whole meaning on that subject.

The Judge rather insinuated that I had found it convenient to
forget the Washington territorial law passed in 1853. This was a
division of Oregon, organizing the northern part as the Territory
of Washington. He asserted that by this act the Ordinance of
'87, theretofore existing in Oregon, was repealed; that nearly
all the members of Congress voted for it, beginning in the House
of Representatives with Charles Allen of Massachusetts, and
ending with Richard Yates of Illinois; and that he could not
understand how those who now opposed the Nebraska Bill so voted
there, unless it was because it was then too soon after both the
great political parties had ratified the compromises of 1850, and
the ratification therefore was too fresh to be then repudiated.

Now I had seen the Washington act before, and I have carefully
examined it since; and I aver that there is no repeal of the
Ordinance of '87, or of any prohibition of slavery, in it. In
express terms, there is absolutely nothing in the whole law upon
the subject--in fact, nothing to lead a reader to think of the
subject. To my judgment it is equally free from everything from
which repeal can be legally implied; but, however this may be,
are men now to be entrapped by a legal implication, extracted
from covert language, introduced perhaps for the very purpose of
entrapping them? I sincerely wish every man could read this law
quite through, carefully watching every sentence and every line
for a repeal of the Ordinance of '87, or anything equivalent to

Another point on the Washington act: If it was intended to be
modeled after the Utah and New Mexico acts, as Judge Douglas
insists, why was it not inserted in it, as in them, that
Washington was to come in with or without slavery as she may
choose at the adoption of her constitution? It has no such
provision in it; and I defy the ingenuity of man to give a reason
for the omission, other than that it was not intended to follow
the Utah and New Mexico laws in regard to the question of

The Washington act not only differs vitally from the Utah and New
Mexico acts, but the Nebraska act differs vitally from both. By
the latter act the people are left "perfectly free" to regulate
their own domestic concerns, etc.; but in all the former, all
their laws are to be submitted to Congress, and if disapproved
are to be null. The Washington act goes even further; it
absolutely prohibits the territorial Legislature, by very strong
and guarded language, from establishing banks or borrowing money
on the faith of the Territory. Is this the sacred right of self-
government we hear vaunted so much? No, sir; the Nebraska Bill
finds no model in the acts of '50 or the Washington act. It
finds no model in any law from Adam till to-day. As Phillips
says of Napoleon, the Nebraska act is grand, gloomy and peculiar,
wrapped in the solitude of its own originality, without a model
and without a shadow upon the earth.

In the course of his reply Senator Douglas remarked in substance
that he had always considered this government was made for the
white people and not for the negroes. Why, in point of mere
fact, I think so too. But in this remark of the Judge there is a
significance which I think is the key to the great mistake (if
there is any such mistake) which he has made in this Nebraska
measure. It shows that the Judge has no very vivid impression
that the negro is human, and consequently has no idea that there
can be any moral question in legislating about him. In his view
the question of whether a new country shall be slave or free is a
matter of as utter indifference as it is whether his neighbor
shall plant his farm with tobacco or stock it with horned cattle.
Now, whether this view is right or wrong, it is very certain that
the great mass of mankind take a totally different view. They
consider slavery a great moral wrong, and their feeling against
it is not evanescent, but eternal. It lies at the very
foundation of their sense of justice, and it cannot be trifled
with. It is a great and durable element of popular action, and I
think no statesman can safely disregard it.

Our Senator also objects that those who oppose him in this matter
do not entirely agree with one another. He reminds me that in my
firm adherence to the constitutional rights of the slave States I
differ widely from others who are cooperating with me in opposing
the Nebraska Bill, and he says it is not quite fair to oppose him
in this variety of ways. He should remember that he took us by
surprise--astounded us by this measure. We were thunderstruck
and stunned, and we reeled and fell in utter confusion. But we
rose, each fighting, grasping whatever he could first reach--a
scythe, a pitchfork, a chopping-ax, or a butcher's cleaver. We
struck in the direction of the sound, and we were rapidly closing
upon him. He must not think to divert us from our purpose by
showing us that our drill, our dress, and our weapons are not
entirely perfect and uniform. When the storm shall be past he
shall find us still Americans, no less devoted to the continued
union and prosperity of the country than heretofore.

Finally, the Judge invokes against me the memory of Clay and
Webster, They were great men, and men of great deeds. But where
have I assailed them? For what is it that their lifelong enemy
shall now make profit by assuming to defend them against me,
their lifelong friend? I go against the repeal of the Missouri
Compromise; did they ever go for it? They went for the
Compromise of 1850; did I ever go against them? They were
greatly devoted to the Union; to the small measure of my ability
was I ever less so? Clay and Webster were dead before this
question arose; by what authority shall our Senator say they
would espouse his side of it if alive? Mr. Clay was the leading
spirit in making the Missouri Compromise; is it very credible
that if now alive he would take the lead in the breaking of it?
The truth is that some support from Whigs is now a necessity with
the Judge, and for this it is that the names of Clay and Webster
are invoked. His old friends have deserted him in such numbers
as to leave too few to live by. He came to his own, and his own
received him not; and lo! he turns unto the Gentiles.

A word now as to the Judge's desperate assumption that the
compromises of 1850 had no connection with one another; that
Illinois came into the Union as a slave State, and some other
similar ones. This is no other than a bold denial of the history
of the country. If we do not know that the compromises of 1850
were dependent on each other; if we do not know that Illinois
came into the Union as a free State,--we do not know anything.
If we do not know these things, we do not know that we ever had a
Revolutionary War or such a chief as Washington. To deny these
things is to deny our national axioms,--or dogmas, at least,--and
it puts an end to all argument. If a man will stand up and
assert, and repeat and reassert, that two and two do not make
four, I know nothing in the power of argument that can stop him.
I think I can answer the Judge so long as he sticks to the
premises; but when he flies from them, I cannot work any argument
into the consistency of a mental gag and actually close his mouth
with it. In such a case I can only commend him to the seventy
thousand answers just in from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana.



CLINTON, De WITT Co., Nov. 10, 1854

DEAR SIR:--You used to express a good deal of partiality for me,
and if you are still so, now is the time. Some friends here are
really for me for the U.S. Senate, and I should be very grateful
if you could make a mark for me among your members. Please write
me at all events, giving me the names, post-offices, and
"political position" of members round about you. Direct to

Let this be confidential.

Yours truly,




November 27, 1854


MY DEAR SIR:--It has come round that a whig may, by possibility,
be elected to the United States Senate, and I want the chance of
being the man. You are a member of the Legislature, and have a
vote to give. Think it over, and see whether you can do better
than to go for me.

Write me, at all events; and let this be confidential.

Yours truly,



SPRINGFIELD, Dec. 1, 1854.

DEAR SIR:--I have really got it into my head to try to be United
States Senator, and, if I could have your support, my chances
would be reasonably good. But I know, and acknowledge, that you
have as just claims to the place as I have; and therefore I
cannot ask you to yield to me, if you are thinking of becoming a
candidate, yourself. If, however, you are not, then I should
like to be remembered affectionately by you; and also to have you
make a mark for me with the Anti-Nebraska members down your way.

If you know, and have no objection to tell, let me know whether
Trumbull intends to make a push. If he does, I suppose the two
men in St. Clair, and one, or both, in Madison, will be for him.
We have the Legislature, clearly enough, on joint ballot, but the
Senate is very close, and Cullom told me to-day that the Nebraska
men will stave off the election, if they can. Even if we get
into joint vote, we shall have difficulty to unite our forces.
Please write me, and let this be confidential.

Your friend, as ever,




SPRINGFIELD, ILL., December 6, 1854.

SIR:--I understand it is in contemplation to displace the present
clerk and appoint a new one for the Circuit and District Courts
of Illinois. I am very friendly to the present incumbent, and,
both for his own sake and that of his family, I wish him to be
retained so long as it is possible for the court to do so.

In the contingency of his removal, however, I have recommended
William Butler as his successor, and I do not wish what I write
now to be taken as any abatement of that recommendation.

William J. Black is also an applicant for the appointment, and I
write this at the solicitation of his friends to say that he is
every way worthy of the office, and that I doubt not the
conferring it upon him will give great satisfaction.

Your ob't servant,



SPRINGFIELD, December 15. 1854


DEAR SIR:--Yours of the 11th was received last night, and for
which I thank you. Of course I prefer myself to all others; yet
it is neither in my heart nor my conscience to say I am any
better man than Mr. Williams. We shall have a terrible struggle
with our adversaries. They are desperate and bent on desperate
deeds. I accidentally learned of one of the leaders here writing
to a member south of here, in about the following language:

We are beaten. They have a clean majority of at least nine, on
joint ballot. They outnumber us, but we must outmanage them.
Douglas must be sustained. We must elect the Speaker; and we
must elect a Nebraska United States Senator, or "elect none at
all." Similar letters, no doubt, are written to every Nebraska
member. Be considering how we can best meet, and foil, and beat
them. I send you, by mail, a copy of my Peoria speech. You may
have seen it before, or you may not think it worth seeing now.

Do not speak of the Nebraska letter mentioned above; I do not
wish it to become public, that I received such information.

Yours truly,





SPRINGFIELD, February 9, 1855


I began with 44 votes, Shields 41, and Trumbull 5,--yet Trumbull
was elected. In fact 47 different members voted for me,--getting
three new ones on the second ballot, and losing four old ones.
How came my 47 to yield to Trumbull's 5? It was Governor
Matteson's work. He has been secretly a candidate ever since
(before, even) the fall election.

All the members round about the canal were Anti-Nebraska, but
were nevertheless nearly all Democrats and old personal friends
of his. His plan was to privately impress them with the belief
that he was as good Anti-Nebraska as any one else--at least could
be secured to be so by instructions, which could be easily

The Nebraska men, of course, were not for Matteson; but when they
found they could elect no avowed Nebraska man, they tardily
determined to let him get whomever of our men he could, by
whatever means he could, and ask him no questions.

The Nebraska men were very confident of the election of Matteson,
though denying that he was a candidate, and we very much
believing also that they would elect him. But they wanted first
to make a show of good faith to Shields by voting for him a few
times, and our secret Matteson men also wanted to make a show of
good faith by voting with us a few times. So we led off. On the
seventh ballot, I think, the signal was given to the Nebraska men
to turn to Matteson, which they acted on to a man, with one
exception. . . Next ballot the remaining Nebraska man and one
pretended Anti went over to him, giving him 46. The next still
another, giving him 47, wanting only three of an election. In
the meantime our friends, with a view of detaining our expected
bolters, had been turning from me to Trumbull till he had risen
to 35 and I had been reduced to 15. These would never desert me
except by my direction; but I became satisfied that if we could
prevent Matteson's election one or two ballots more, we could not
possibly do so a single ballot after my friends should begin to
return to me from Trumbull. So I determined to strike at once,
and accordingly advised my remaining friends to go for him, which
they did and elected him on the tenth ballot.

Such is the way the thing was done. I think you would have done
the same under the circumstances.

I could have headed off every combination and been elected, had
it not been for Matteson's double game--and his defeat now gives
me more pleasure than my own gives me pain. On the whole, it is
perhaps as well for our general cause that Trumbull is elected.
The Nebraska men confess that they hate it worse than anything
that could have happened. It is a great consolation to see them
worse whipped than I am.

Yours forever,





GENTLEMEN:--Yours of the 5th is received, as also was that of
15th Dec, last, inclosing bond of Clift to Pray. When I received
the bond I was dabbling in politics, and of course neglecting
business. Having since been beaten out I have gone to work

As I do not practice in Rushville, I to-day open a correspondence
with Henry E. Dummer, Esq., of Beardstown, Ill., with the view
of getting the job into his hands. He is a good man if he will
undertake it.

Write me whether I shall do this or return the bond to you.

Yours respectfully,



SPRINGFIELD, March 23, 1855.


MY DEAR SIR:--Your letter to Judge Logan has been shown to us by
him; and, with his consent, we answer it. When it became
probable that there would be a vacancy on the Supreme Bench,
public opinion, on this side of the river, seemed to be
universally directed to Logan as the proper man to fill it. I
mean public opinion on our side in politics, with very small
manifestation in any different direction by the other side. The
result is, that he has been a good deal pressed to allow his name
to be used, and he has consented to it, provided it can be done
with perfect cordiality and good feeling on the part of all our
own friends. We, the undersigned, are very anxious for it; and
the more so now that he has been urged, until his mind is turned
upon the matter. We, therefore are very glad of your letter,
with the information it brings us, mixed only with a regret that
we can not elect Logan and Walker both. We shall be glad, if you
will hoist Logan's name, in your Quincy papers.

Very truly your friends,



SPRINGFIELD, June 7, 1855.


MY DEAR SIR:--Your note containing election news is received; and
for which I thank you. It is all of no use, however. Logan is
worse beaten than any other man ever was since elections were
invented--beaten more than twelve hundred in this county. It is
conceded on all hands that the Prohibitory law is also beaten.

Yours truly,




SPRINGFIELD, August 24, 1855

DEAR SPEED:--You know what a poor correspondent I am. Ever since
I received your very agreeable letter of the 22d of May, I have
been intending to write you an answer to it. You suggest that in
political action, now, you and I would differ. I suppose we
would; not quite as much, however, as you may think. You know I
dislike slavery, and you fully admit the abstract wrong of it.
So far there is no cause of difference. But you say that sooner
than yield your legal right to the slave, especially at the
bidding of those who are not themselves interested, you would see
the Union dissolved. I am not aware that any one is bidding you
yield that right; very certainly I am not. I leave that matter
entirely to yourself. I also acknowledge your rights and my
obligations under the Constitution in regard to your slaves. I
confess I hate to see the poor creatures hunted down and caught
and carried back to their stripes and unrequited toil; but I bite
my lips and keep quiet. In 1841 you and I had together a tedious
low-water trip on a steamboat from Louisville to St. Louis. You
may remember, as I well do, that from Louisville to the mouth of
the Ohio there were on board ten or a dozen slaves shackled
together with irons. That sight was a continued torment to me,
and I see something like it every time I touch the Ohio or any
other slave border. It is not fair for you to assume that I have
no interest in a thing which has, and continually exercises, the
power of making me miserable. You ought rather to appreciate how
much the great body of the Northern people do crucify their
feelings, in order to maintain their loyalty to the Constitution
and the Union. I do oppose the extension of slavery because my
judgment and feeling so prompt me, and I am under no obligations
to the contrary. If for this you and I must differ, differ we
must. You say, if you were President, you would send an army and
hang the leaders of the Missouri outrages upon the Kansas
elections; still, if Kansas fairly votes herself a slave State
she must be admitted or the Union must be dissolved. But how if
she votes herself a slave State unfairly, that is, by the very
means for which you say you would hang men? Must she still be
admitted, or the Union dissolved? That will be the phase of the
question when it first becomes a practical one. In your
assumption that there may be a fair decision of the slavery
question in Kansas, I plainly see you and I would differ about
the Nebraska law. I look upon that enactment not as a law, but
as a violence from the beginning. It was conceived in violence,
is maintained in violence, and is being executed in violence. I
say it was conceived in violence, because the destruction of the
Missouri Compromise, under the circumstances, was nothing less
than violence. It was passed in violence because it could not
have passed at all but for the votes of many members in violence
of the known will of their constituents. It is maintained in
violence, because the elections since clearly demand its repeal;
and the demand is openly disregarded.

You say men ought to be hung for the way they are executing the
law; I say the way it is being executed is quite as good as any
of its antecedents. It is being executed in the precise way
which was intended from the first, else why does no Nebraska man
express astonishment or condemnation? Poor Reeder is the only
public man who has been silly enough to believe that anything
like fairness was ever intended, and he has been bravely

That Kansas will form a slave constitution, and with it will ask
to be admitted into the Union, I take to be already a settled
question, and so settled by the very means you so pointedly
condemn. By every principle of law ever held by any court North
or South, every negro taken to Kansas is free; yet, in utter
disregard of this,--in the spirit of violence merely,--that
beautiful Legislature gravely passes a law to hang any man who
shall venture to inform a negro of his legal rights. This is the
subject and real object of the law. If, like Haman, they should
hang upon the gallows of their own building, I shall not be among
the mourners for their fate. In my humble sphere, I shall
advocate the restoration of the Missouri Compromise so long as
Kansas remains a Territory, and when, by all these foul means, it
seeks to come into the Union as a slave State, I shall oppose it.
I am very loath in any case to withhold my assent to the
enjoyment of property acquired or located in good faith; but I do
not admit that good faith in taking a negro to Kansas to be held
in slavery is a probability with any man. Any man who has sense
enough to be the controller of his own property has too much
sense to misunderstand the outrageous character of the whole
Nebraska business. But I digress. In my opposition to the
admission of Kansas I shall have some company, but we may be
beaten. If we are, I shall not on that account attempt to
dissolve the Union. I think it probable, however, we shall be
beaten. Standing as a unit among yourselves, You can, directly
and indirectly, bribe enough of our men to carry the day, as you
could on the open proposition to establish a monarchy. Get hold
of some man in the North whose position and ability is such that
he can make the support of your measure, whatever it may be, a
Democratic party necessity, and the thing is done. Apropos of
this, let me tell you an anecdote. Douglas introduced the
Nebraska Bill in January. In February afterward there was a
called session of the Illinois Legislature. Of the one hundred
members composing the two branches of that body, about seventy
were Democrats. These latter held a caucus in which the Nebraska
Bill was talked of, if not formally discussed. It was thereby
discovered that just three, and no more, were in favor of the
measure. In a day or two Douglas's orders came on to have
resolutions passed approving the bill; and they were passed by
large majorities!!!! The truth of this is vouched for by a
bolting Democratic member. The masses, too, Democratic as well
as Whig, were even nearer unanimous against it; but, as soon as
the party necessity of supporting it became apparent, the way the
Democrats began to see the wisdom and justice of it was perfectly

You say that if Kansas fairly votes herself a free State, as a
Christian you will rejoice at it. All decent slaveholders talk
that way, and I do not doubt their candor. But they never vote
that way. Although in a private letter or conversation you will
express your preference that Kansas shall be free, you would vote
for no man for Congress who would say the same thing publicly.
No such man could be elected from any district in a slave State.
You think Stringfellow and company ought to be hung; and yet at
the next Presidential election you will vote for the exact type
and representative of Stringfellow. The slave-breeders and
slave-traders are a small, odious, and detested class among you;
and yet in politics they dictate the course of all of you, and
are as completely your masters as you are the master of your own
negroes. You inquire where I now stand. That is a disputed
point. I think I am a Whig; but others say there are no Whigs,
and that I am an Abolitionist. When I was at Washington, I voted
for the Wilmot Proviso as good as forty times; and I never heard
of any one attempting to un-Whig me for that. I now do no more
than oppose the extension of slavery. I am not a Know-Nothing;
that is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the
oppression of negroes be in favor of degrading classes of white
people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty
rapid. As a nation we began by declaring that "all men are
created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created
equal, except negroes." When the Know-Nothings get control, it
will read "all men are created equal, except negroes and
foreigners and Catholics." When it comes to this, I shall prefer
emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving
liberty,--to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken
pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.

Mary will probably pass a day or two in Louisville in October.
My kindest regards to Mrs. Speed. On the leading subject of
this letter I have more of her sympathy than I have of yours; and
yet let me say I am,

Your friend forever,





SPRINGFIELD, February 13, 1856.


Says Tom to John, "Here's your old rotten wheelbarrow. I've
broke it usin' on it. I wish you would mend it, 'case I shall
want to borrow it this arternoon." Acting on this as a
precedent, I say, "Here's your old 'chalked hat,--I wish you
would take it and send me a new one, 'case I shall want to use it
the first of March."

Yours truly,


(A 'chalked hat' was the common term, at that time, for a
railroad pass.)



[From the Report by William C. Whitney.]

(Mr. Whitney's notes were made at the time, but not written out
until 1896. He does not claim that the speech, as here reported,
is literally correct only that he has followed the argument, and
that in many cases the sentences are as Mr. Lincoln spoke them.)

Mr. CHAIRMAN AND GENTLEMEN: I was over at [Cries of "Platform!"
"Take the platform!"]--I say, that while I was at Danville Court,
some of our friends of Anti-Nebraska got together in Springfield
and elected me as one delegate to represent old Sangamon with
them in this convention, and I am here certainly as a sympathizer
in this movement and by virtue of that meeting and selection.
But we can hardly be called delegates strictly, inasmuch as,
properly speaking, we represent nobody but ourselves. I think it
altogether fair to say that we have no Anti-Nebraska party in
Sangamon, although there is a good deal of Anti-Nebraska feeling
there; but I say for myself, and I think I may speak also for my
colleagues, that we who are here fully approve of the platform
and of all that has been done [A voice, "Yes!,"], and even if we
are not regularly delegates, it will be right for me to answer
your call to speak. I suppose we truly stand for the public
sentiment of Sangamon on the great question of the repeal,
although we do not yet represent many numbers who have taken a
distinct position on the question.

We are in a trying time--it ranges above mere party--and this
movement to call a halt and turn our steps backward needs all the
help and good counsels it can get; for unless popular opinion
makes itself very strongly felt, and a change is made in our
present course, blood will flow on account of Nebraska, and
brother's hands will be raised against brother!

[The last sentence was uttered in such an earnest, impressive, if
not, indeed, tragic, manner, as to make a cold chill creep over
me. Others gave a similar experience.]

I have listened with great interest to the earnest appeal made to
Illinois men by the gentleman from Lawrence [James S. Emery] who
has just addressed us so eloquently and forcibly. I was deeply
moved by his statement of the wrongs done to free-State men out
there. I think it just to say that all true men North should
sympathize with them, and ought to be willing to do any possible
and needful thing to right their wrongs. But we must not promise
what we ought not, lest we be called on to perform what we
cannot; we must be calm and moderate, and consider the whole
difficulty, and determine what is possible and just. We must not
be led by excitement and passion to do that which our sober
judgments would not approve in our cooler moments. We have
higher aims; we will have more serious business than to dally
with temporary measures.

We are here to stand firmly for a principle--to stand firmly for
a right. We know that great political and moral wrongs are done,
and outrages committed, and we denounce those wrongs and
outrages, although we cannot, at present, do much more. But we
desire to reach out beyond those personal outrages and establish
a rule that will apply to all, and so prevent any future

We have seen to-day that every shade of popular opinion is
represented here, with Freedom, or rather Free Soil, as the
basis. We have come together as in some sort representatives of
popular opinion against the extension of slavery into territory
now free in fact as well as by law, and the pledged word of the
statesmen of the nation who are now no more. We come--we are
here assembled together--to protest as well as we can against a
great wrong, and to take measures, as well as we now can, to make
that wrong right; to place the nation, as far as it may be
possible now, as it was before the repeal of the Missouri
Compromise; and the plain way to do this is to restore the
Compromise, and to demand and determine that Kansas shall be
free! [Immense applause.] While we affirm, and reaffirm, if
necessary, our devotion to the principles of the Declaration of
Independence, let our practical work here be limited to the
above. We know that there is not a perfect agreement of
sentiment here on the public questions which might be rightfully
considered in this convention, and that the indignation which we
all must feel cannot be helped; but all of us must give up
something for the good of the cause. There is one desire which
is uppermost in the mind, one wish common to us all, to which no
dissent will be made; and I counsel you earnestly to bury all
resentment, to sink all personal feeling, make all things work to
a common purpose in which we are united and agreed about, and
which all present will agree is absolutely necessary--which must
be done by any rightful mode if there be such:
Slavery must be kept out of Kansas! [Applause.] The test--the
pinch--is right there. If we lose Kansas to freedom, an example
will be set which will prove fatal to freedom in the end. We,
therefore, in the language of the Bible, must "lay the axe to the
root of the tree." Temporizing will not do longer; now is the
time for decision--for firm, persistent, resolute action.

The Nebraska Bill, or rather Nebraska law, is not one of
wholesome legislation, but was and is an act of legislative
usurpation, whose result, if not indeed intention, is to make
slavery national; and unless headed off in some effective way, we
are in a fair way to see this land of boasted freedom converted
into a land of slavery in fact. [Sensation.] Just open your two
eyes, and see if this be not so. I need do no more than state,
to command universal approval, that almost the entire North, as
well as a large following in the border States, is radically
opposed to the planting of slavery in free territory. Probably
in a popular vote throughout the nation nine tenths of the voters
in the free States, and at least one-half in the border States,
if they could express their sentiments freely, would vote NO on
such an issue; and it is safe to say that two thirds of the votes
of the entire nation would be opposed to it. And yet, in spite
of this overbalancing of sentiment in this free country, we are
in a fair way to see Kansas present itself for admission as a
slave State. Indeed, it is a felony, by the local law of Kansas,
to deny that slavery exists there even now. By every principle
of law, a negro in Kansas is free; yet the bogus Legislature
makes it an infamous crime to tell him that he is free!

Statutes of Kansas, 1555, chapter 151, Sec. 12: If any free
person, by speaking or by writing, assert or maintain that
persons have not the right to hold slaves in this Territory, or
shall introduce into this Territory, print, publish, write,
circulate . . . any book, paper, magazine, pamphlet, or
circular containing any denial of the right of persons to hold
slaves in this Territory such person shall be deemed guilty of
felony, and punished by imprisonment at hard labor for a term of
not less than two years.
Sec. 13. No person who is conscientiously opposed to holding
slaves, or who does not admit the right to hold slaves in this
Territory, shall sit as a juror on the trial of any prosecution
for any violation of any Sections of this Act.

The party lash and the fear of ridicule will overawe justice and
liberty; for it is a singular fact, but none the less a fact, and
well known by the most common experience, that men will do things
under the terror of the party lash that they would not on any
account or for any consideration do otherwise; while men who will
march up to the mouth of a loaded cannon without shrinking will
run from the terrible name of "Abolitionist," even when
pronounced by a worthless creature whom they, with good reason,
despise. For instance--to press this point a little--Judge
Douglas introduced his Nebraska Bill in January; and we had an
extra session of our Legislature in the succeeding February, in
which were seventy-five Democrats; and at a party caucus, fully
attended, there were just three votes, out of the whole seventy-
five, for the measure. But in a few days orders came on from
Washington, commanding them to approve the measure; the party
lash was applied, and it was brought up again in caucus, and
passed by a large majority. The masses were against it, but
party necessity carried it; and it was passed through the lower
house of Congress against the will of the people, for the same
reason. Here is where the greatest danger lies that, while we
profess to be a government of law and reason, law will give way
to violence on demand of this awful and crushing power. Like the
great Juggernaut--I think that is the name--the great idol, it
crushes everything that comes in its way, and makes a [?]--or, as
I read once, in a blackletter law book, "a slave is a human being
who is legally not a person but a thing." And if the safeguards
to liberty are broken down, as is now attempted, when they have
made things of all the free negroes, how long, think you, before
they will begin to make things of poor white men? [Applause.] Be
not deceived. Revolutions do not go backward. The founder of
the Democratic party declared that all men were created equal.
His successor in the leadership has written the word "white"
before men, making it read "all white men are created equal."
Pray, will or may not the Know-Nothings, if they should get in
power, add the word "Protestant," making it read "all Protestant
white men...?"

Meanwhile the hapless negro is the fruitful subject of reprisals
in other quarters. John Pettit, whom Tom Benton paid his
respects to, you will recollect, calls the immortal Declaration
"a self-evident lie"; while at the birthplace of freedom--in the
shadow of Bunker Hill and of the "cradle of liberty," at the home
of the Adamses and Warren and Otis--Choate, from our side of the
house, dares to fritter away the birthday promise of liberty by
proclaiming the Declaration to be "a string of glittering
generalities"; and the Southern Whigs, working hand in hand with
proslavery Democrats, are making Choate's theories practical.
Thomas Jefferson, a slaveholder, mindful of the moral element in
slavery, solemnly declared that he trembled for his country when
he remembered that God is just; while Judge Douglas, with an
insignificant wave of the hand, "don't care whether slavery is
voted up or voted down." Now, if slavery is right, or even
negative, he has a right to treat it in this trifling manner.
But if it is a moral and political wrong, as all Christendom
considers it to be, how can he answer to God for this attempt to
spread and fortify it? [Applause.]

But no man, and Judge Douglas no more than any other, can
maintain a negative, or merely neutral, position on this
question; and, accordingly, he avows that the Union was made by
white men and for white men and their descendants. As matter of
fact, the first branch of the proposition is historically true;
the government was made by white men, and they were and are the
superior race. This I admit. But the corner-stone of the
government, so to speak, was the declaration that "all men are
created equal," and all entitled to "life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness." [Applause.]

And not only so, but the framers of the Constitution were
particular to keep out of that instrument the word "slave," the
reason being that slavery would ultimately come to an end, and
they did not wish to have any reminder that in this free country
human beings were ever prostituted to slavery. [Applause.] Nor
is it any argument that we are superior and the negro inferior--
that he has but one talent while we have ten. Let the negro
possess the little he has in independence; if he has but one
talent, he should be permitted to keep the little he has.
[Applause:] But slavery will endure no test of reason or logic;
and yet its advocates, like Douglas, use a sort of bastard logic,
or noisy assumption it might better be termed, like the above, in
order to prepare the mind for the gradual, but none the less
certain, encroachments of the Moloch of slavery upon the fair
domain of freedom. But however much you may argue upon it, or
smother it in soft phrase, slavery can only be maintained by
force--by violence. The repeal of the Missouri Compromise was by
violence. It was a violation of both law and the sacred
obligations of honor, to overthrow and trample under foot a
solemn compromise, obtained by the fearful loss to freedom of one
of the fairest of our Western domains. Congress violated the
will and confidence of its constituents in voting for the bill;
and while public sentiment, as shown by the elections of 1854,
demanded the restoration of this compromise, Congress violated
its trust by refusing simply because it had the force of numbers
to hold on to it. And murderous violence is being used now, in
order to force slavery on to Kansas; for it cannot be done in any
other way. [Sensation.]

The necessary result was to establish the rule of violence--
force, instead of the rule of law and reason; to perpetuate and
spread slavery, and in time to make it general. We see it at
both ends of the line. In Washington, on the very spot where the
outrage was started, the fearless Sumner is beaten to
insensibility, and is now slowly dying; while senators who claim
to be gentlemen and Christians stood by, countenancing the act,
and even applauding it afterward in their places in the Senate.
Even Douglas, our man, saw it all and was within helping
distance, yet let the murderous blows fall unopposed. Then, at
the other end of the line, at the very time Sumner was being
murdered, Lawrence was being destroyed for the crime of freedom.
It was the most prominent stronghold of liberty in Kansas, and
must give way to the all-dominating power of slavery. Only two
days ago, Judge Trumbull found it necessary to propose a bill in
the Senate to prevent a general civil war and to restore peace in

We live in the midst of alarms; anxiety beclouds the future; we
expect some new disaster with each newspaper we read. Are we in
a healthful political state? Are not the tendencies plain? Do
not the signs of the times point plainly the way in which we are
going? [Sensation.]

In the early days of the Constitution slavery was recognized, by
South and North alike, as an evil, and the division of sentiment
about it was not controlled by geographical lines or
considerations of climate, but by moral and philanthropic views.
Petitions for the abolition of slavery were presented to the very
first Congress by Virginia and Massachusetts alike. To show the
harmony which prevailed, I will state that a fugitive slave law
was passed in 1793, with no dissenting voice in the Senate, and
but seven dissenting votes in the House. It was, however, a wise
law, moderate, and, under the Constitution, a just one. Twenty-
five years later, a more stringent law was proposed and defeated;
and thirty-five years after that, the present law, drafted by
Mason of Virginia, was passed by Northern votes. I am not, just
now, complaining of this law, but I am trying to show how the


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