Изображения страниц





AT SPRINGFIEld, June 17, 1858.

[The following speech was delivered at Springfield, Ill close of the Republican State Convention held at that time a and by which Convention Mr. LINCOLN had been named candidate for United States Senator. Mr. DOUGLAS was not

MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN OF THE CONVENT we could first know where we are, and whither we are we could better judge what to do, and how to do it. We far into the fifth year since a policy was initiated with the object and confident promise of putting an end to slavery tion. Under the operation of that policy, that agitation only not ceased, but has constantly augmented. In my o it will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and "A house divided against itself cannot stand." I belie government cannot endure permanently half slave and ha I do not expect the Union to be dissolved; I do not exp house to fall; but I do expect it will cease to be divided. become all one thing, or all the other. Either the oppon slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it wh public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course mate extinction, or its advocates will push it forward till i become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new, N well as South.

Have we no tendency to the latter condition?

Let any one who doubts, carefully contemplate tha almost complete legal combination-piece of machinery, speak-compounded of the Nebraska doctrine and the Dred decision. Let him consider, not only what work the mach


is adapted to do, and how well adapted, but also let him study the history of its construction, and trace, if he can, or rather fail, if he can, to trace the evidences of design, and concert of action, among its chief architects, from the beginning.

The new year of 1854 found slavery excluded from more than half the States by State Constitutions, and from most of the National territory by Congressional prohibition. Four days later, commenced the struggle which ended in repealing that Congressional prohibition. This opened all the National territory to slavery, and was the first point gained.

But, so far, Congress only had acted, and an indorsement by the people, real or apparent, was indispensable to save the point already gained, and give chance for more.

This necessity had not been overlooked, but had been provided for, as well as might be, in the notable argument of "squatter sovereignty," otherwise called "sacred right of self-government," which latter phrase, though expressive of the only rightful basis of any government, was so perverted in this attempted use of it as to amount to just this: That if any one man choose to enslave another, no third man shall be allowed to object. That argument was incorporated into the Nebraska bill itself, in the language which follows: "It being the true intent and meaning of this Act not to legislate slavery into any Territory or State, nor to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United States." Then opened the roar of loose declamation in favor of "squatter sovereignty," and "sacred right of self-government." "But," said opposition members, "let us amend the bill so as to expressly declare that the people of the Territory may exclude slavery." "Not we," said the friends of the measure; and down they voted the amendment.

While the Nebraska bill was passing through Congress, a law case, involving the question of a negro's freedom, by reason of his owner having voluntarily taken him first into a free State, and then into a territory covered by the Congressional prohibition, and held him as a slave for a long time in each, was passing through the United States Circuit Court for the District of Missouri; and both Nebraska bill and lawsuit were brought to a decision in the same month of May, 1854. The negro's name was "Dred Scott," which name now designates the decision finally made in the case. Before the then next Presidential election, the law case came to, and was argued in, the Supreme Court of the United States; but the decision of it was deferred until after the election. Still, before the election, Senator Trumbull, on the floor of the Senate, requested the leading advocate of the Nebraska bill to state his opinion whether the

people of a Territory can constitutionally exclude slav their limits; and the latter answers: "That is a que the Supreme Court."

The election came. Mr. Buchanan was elected, indorsement, such as it was, secured. That was the point gained. The indorsement, however, fell short of popular majority by nearly four hundred thousand votes perhaps, was not overwhelmingly reliable and satisfactor outgoing President, in his last annual message, as impres possible echoed back upon the people the weight and a of the indorsement. The Supreme Court met again, announce their decision, but ordered a re-argument. TH dential inauguration came, and still no decision of the co the incoming President, in his inaugural address, ferver horted the people to abide by the forthcoming decision, w it might be. Then, in a few days, came the decision,

The reputed author of the Nebraska bill finds a occasion to make a speech at this capital indorsing the Dre decision, and vehemently denouncing all opposition to it new President, too, seizes the early occasion of the Sillima to indorse and strongly construe that decision, and to exp astonishment that any different view had ever been entert

At length a squabble springs up between the Preside the author of the Nebraska bill, on the mere question c whether the Lecompton Constitution was or was not in an sense made by the people of Kansas; and in that quar latter declares that all he wants is a fair vote for the peopl that he cares not whether slavery be voted down or voted up not understand his declaration, that he cares not whether s be voted down or voted up, to be intended by him other t an apt definition of the policy he would impress upon the mind, the principle for which he declares he has suffe much, and is ready to suffer to the end. And well may he to that principle! If he has any parental feeling, well m cling to it. That principle is the only shred left of his or Nebraska doctrine. Under the Dred Scott decision "sq sovereignty" squa.ted out of existence, tumbled down like porary scaffolding; like the mould at the foundry, served the one blast, and fell back into loose sand; helped to carı election, and then was kicked to the winds. His late struggle with the Republicans, against the Lecompton Con tion, involves nothing of the original Nebraska doctrine. struggle was made on a point—the right of a people to their own constitution upon which he and the Republ. have never differed.

[ocr errors]

The several points of the Dred Scott decision, in conne with Senator Douglas's "care not" policy, constitute the

of machinery, in its present state of advancement. This was the third point gained. The working points of that machinery are:

Firstly, That no negro slave, imported as such from Africa, and no descendant of such slave, can ever be a citizen of any State, in the sense of that term as used in the Constitution of the United States. This point is made in order to deprive the negro, in every possible event, of the benefit of that provision of the United States Constitution which declares that "The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States."

Secondly, That, "subject to the Constitution of the United States," neither Congress nor a Territorial Legislature can exclude slavery from any United States Territory. This point is made in order that individual men may fill up the Territories with slaves, without danger of losing them as property, and thus to enhance the chances of permanency to the institution through all the future.

Thirdly, That whether the holding a negro in actual slavery in a free State, makes him free, as against the holder, the United States courts will not decide, but will leave to be decided by the courts of any slave State the negro may be forced into by the master. This point is made, not to be pressed immediately; but, if acquiesced in for awhile, and apparently indorsed by the people at an election, then to sustain the logical conclusion that what Dred Scott's master might lawfully do with Dred Scott in the free State of Illinois, every other master may lawfully do with any other one, or one thousand slaves, in Illinois, or in any other free State.

Auxiliary to all this, and working hand in hand with it, the Nebraska doctrine, or what is left of it, is to educate and mould public opinion; at least Northern public opinion, not to care whether slavery is voted down or voted up. This shows exactly where we now are; and partially, also, whither we are tending.

It will throw additional light on the latter, to go back and run the mind over the string of historical facts already stated. Several things will now appear less dark and mysterious than they did when they were transpiring. The people were to be left "perfectly free," "subject only to the Constitution." What the Constitution had to do with it, outsiders could not then see. Plainly enough now, it was an exactly fitted niche, for the Dred Scott decision to afterward come in, and declare the perfect freedom of the people to be just no freedom at all. Why was the amendment, expressly declaring the right of the people, voted down? Plainly enough now, the adoption of it would have spoiled the niche for the Dred Scott decision. Why was the court decision held up? Why even a Senator's individual opinion withheld, till after the Presidential election? Plainly

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »