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this more complete exposure became inevitable. This interest in his course was the more lively, for the reason that his Senatorial term had nearly expired, and that, without some remarkable change of affairs, or some ingenious device, the curse he had himself pronounced in advance upon the disturber of the Missouri compact, was to be most signally realized.
Meantime, the machinery had been put in motion for a Convention at Lecompton, which was to ratify a Constitution prepared at Washington, under Administration auspices, and to secure the great purpose intended by the Southern supporters of the Kansas-Nebraska scheme. How grossly unjust and unequal were the provisions of the act calling this Convention, and how deliberate was its design of excluding the free State men from any effectual voice in determining "the domestic institutions" of a State in which the party of free labor comprised about four-fifths of the people, as had already been distinctly indicated, need not be here rehearsed. To Douglas, at least, the real facts were not unknown. That these iniquities must all ultimately come out, and receive the condemnation of the people, he can not have seriously questioned. Yet, in spite of these facts, it is undeniably true, and is clearly of record, that he committed himself in advance— not at all uncertain, most assuredly, as to what it was substantially to be-in favor of the Lecompton Constitution. John Calhoun the chosen instrument of the Administration for carrying out its plot to defeat "Popular Sovereignty" in Kansas, was one of the special friends of Douglas, and understood to share his intimate confidence. And when, in his speech at Springfield, in June, 1857, Mr. Douglas substantially indorsed the Lecompton Convention and its doings, beforehand, no one had any reason to doubt that he intended fully to sustain the Administration in attempting to force a slave Constitution on the people of Kansas- a process for which his "organic act" had prepared the way. In the course of his remarks on that occasion, he said:
Kansas is about to speak for herself, through her delegates. assembled in convention, to form a Constitution, preparatory to her admission into the Union on an equal footing with the
original States. Peace and prosperity now prevail throughout her borders. The law under which her delegates are about to be elected is believed to be just and fair in all its objects and provisions. There is every reason to hope and believe that the law will be fairly interpreted and impartially executed, so as to insure every bona fide inhabitant the free and quiet exercise of the elective franchise. If any portion of the inhabitants, acting under the advice of political leaders in distant States, shall choose to absent themselves from the polls, and withhold their votes, with a view of leaving the Free State Democrats in a minority, and thus securing a pro-slavery Constitution in opposition to the wishes of a majority of the people living under it, let the responsibility rest on those who, for partisan purposes, will sacrifice the principles they profess to cherish and promote. Upon them, upon the political party for whose benefit and under the direction of whose leaders they act, let the blame be visited of fastening upon the people of a new State institutions repugnant to their feelings and in violation of their wishes.
Words could not have more positively indicated his purpose of sustaining all the acts of the Lecompton Convention, or that he anticipated the formation of a pro-slavery Constitution, for which he meant to charge the blame upon the Free State men and upon the Republican party in general, anticipating then that the non-voting policy would be adopted. In a subsequent part of this same speech, he still more fully and unreservedly indorsed the act providing for the Lecompton Constitutional Convention, committing himself to all its legitimate consequences. He said:
The present election law in Kansas is acknowledged to be fair and just-the rights of the voters are clearly definedand the exercise of those rights will be efficiently and scrupulously protected. Hence, if the majority of the people of Kansas desire to have it a free State (and we are told by the Republican party that nine-tenths of the people of that Territory are free State men), there is no obstacle in the way of bringing Kansas into the Union as a free State, by the votes and voice of her own people, and in conformity with the great principles of the Kansas-Nebraska act; provided all the Free State men will go to the polls, and vote their principles in accordance with their professions. If such is not the result, let the consequences be visited upon the heads of those whose policy it is to produce strife, anarchy and bloodshed in Kansas, that their party may profit by slavery agitation in the Northern States of
this Union. That the Democrats in Kansas will perform their duty fearlessly and nobly, according to the principles they cherish, I have no doubt, and that the result of the struggle will be such as will gladden the heart and strengthen the hopes of every friend of the Union, I have entire confidence.
The Lecompton Convention was to settle the whole Kansas controversy, "peacefully and satisfactorily," according to the professed faith of Mr. Douglas. He fully indorsed it in its origin, and committed himself to abide by its results, which were accomplished through the instrumentality of one of his warmest personal friends. And what these results would be, in his opinion, he clearly foreshadowed in the extracts above given from his speech. He expected a pro-slavery Constitution, and he repeatedly approved, without any reservation, the convention-act which, by its regular carrying-out, accomplished that expectation. He declared, substantially, that the will of the people could be fully and fairly expressed in forming a Constitution at Lecompton, under that act; and that if they did not obtain such a Constitution as they desired, it would be their own fault-plainly implying that they must submit to such action as should be taken. He left himself scarcely a loophole of retreat, whatever might come of the Lecompton Convention.
In the same speech, Mr. Douglas spoke at length in indorsement of the dogmas embraced in what is popularly called the Dred Scott decision, and particularly of the one which denies the power of Congress to exclude slavery from the Territories. He tried, also, to convey the impression that the Republican party was in favor of negro equality, because dissenting in general to a judicial opinion, of which one of the details is a denial to the negro race of any legal redress for wrongs in the higher courts.
A third subject of this speech was the Utah rebellion, which Mr. Douglas proposed to end by annulling the act establishing the Territory of Utah.
To this speech Mr. Lincoln replied at Springfield, two weeks later. It is noticeable that the first two of the topics of Mr. Douglas's speech formed leading subjects of the great canvass of the next year. It is not impossible that this prompt joining
of issues may have had its influence in inducing Mr. Douglas so completely to change front, before another twelve-month had passed. In any event, these two speeches have a rare interest, from their immediate relations to the coming contest, of which they are properly the prelude. We give Mr. Lincoln's remarks at length:
SPEECH OF MR. LINCOLN, IN REPLY TO MR. DOUGLAS, ON KANSAS, THE DRED SCOTT DECISION, AND THE UTAH QUESTION. (Delivered at Springfield, Illinois, June 26, 1857.
FELLOW-CITIZENS: I am here to-night, partly by invitation of some of you, and partly by my own inclination. Two weeks ago Judge Douglas spoke here, on the several subjects of Kansas, the Dred Scott decision, and Utah. I listened to the speech at the time, and have read the report of it since. It was intended to controvert opinions which I think just, and to assail (politically, not personally) those men who, in common with me, entertain those opinions. For this reason I wished then, and still wish to make some answer to it, which I now take the opportunity of doing.
I begin with Utah. If it prove to be true, as is probable, that the people of Utah are in open rebellion against the United States, then Judge Douglas is in favor of repealing their territorial organization, and attaching them to the adjoining States for judicial purposes. I say, too, if they are in rebellion, they ought to be somehow coerced to obedience; and I am not now prepared to admit or deny, that the Judge's mode of coercing them is not as good as any. The Republicans can fall in with it, without taking back anything they have ever said. To be sure, it would be a considerable backing down by Judge Douglas, from his much vaunted doctrine of self-government for the territories; but this is only additional proof of what was very plain from the beginning, that that doctrine was a mere deceitful pretence for the benefit of slavery. Those who could not see that much in the Nebraska act itself, which forced Governors, and Secretaries, and Judges on the people of the Territories, without their choice or consent, could not be made to see, though one should rise from the dead.
But in all this, it is very plain the Judge evades the only question the Republicans have ever pressed upon the Democracy in regard to Utah. That question the Judge well knew to be this: "If the people of Utah shall peacefully form a State Constitution tolerating polygamy, will the Democracy admit them into the Union ?" There is nothing in the United States Constitution or law against polygamy; and why is it
not a part of the Judge's "sacred right of self-government" for the people to have it, or rather to keep it, if they choose? These questions, so far as I know, the Judge never answers. It might involve the Democracy to answer them either way, and they go unanswered.
As to Kansas. The substance of the Judge's speech on ansas is an effort to put the Free State men in the wrong for not voting at the election of delegates to the Constitutional Convention. He says: "There is every reason to hope and believe that the law will be fairly interpreted and impartially executed, so as to insure to every bona fide inhabitant the free and quiet exercise of the elective franchise."
It appears extraordinary that Judge Douglas should make such a statement. He knows that, by the law, no one can vote who has not been registered; and he knows that the Free State men place their refusal to vote on the ground that but few of them have been registered. It is possible this is not true, but Judge Douglas knows it is asserted to be true in letters, newspapers and public speeches, and borne by every mail, and blown by every breeze to the eyes and ears of the world. He knows it is boldly declared, that the people of many whole counties, and many whole neighborhoods in others, are left unregistered; yet, he does not venture to contradict the declaration, or to point out how they can vote without being registered; but he just slips along, not seeming to know there is any such question of fact, and complacently declares, “There is every reason to hope and believe that the law will be fairly and impartially executed, so as to insure to every bona fide inhabitant the free and quiet exercise of the elective franchise."
I readily agree that if all had a chance to vote, they ought to have voted. If, on the contrary, as they allege, and Judge Douglas ventures not particularly to contradict, few only of the Free State men had a chance to vote, they were perfectly right in staying from the polls in a body.
By the way, since the Judge spoke, the Kansas election has come off. The Judge expressed his confidence that all the Democrats in Kansas would do their duty-including "Free State Democrats" of course. The returns received here, as yet, are very incomplete; but, so far as they go, they indicate that only about one-sixth of the registered voters have really voted; and this, too, when not more, perhaps, than one-half of the rightful voters have been registered, thus showing the thing to have been altogether the most exquisite farce ever enacted. I am watching with considerable interest, to ascertain what figure the "Free State Democrats" cut in the concern. Of course they voted-all Democrats do their duty—