Изображения страниц

Republicans insisting that the Declaration of Independence includes ALL men, black as well as white, and forthwith he boldly denies that it includes negroes at all, and proceeds to argue gravely that all who contend it does, do so only because they want to vote, eat and sleep, and marry with negroes! He will have it that they can not be consistent else. Now, I protest against the counterfeit logic which concludes that, because I do not want a black woman for a slave, I must necessarily want her for a wife. I need not have her for either. I can just leave her alone. In some respects she certainly is not my equal; but in her natural right to eat the bread she earns with her own hands, without asking leave of any one else, she is my equal, and the equal of all others.

Chief Justice Taney, in his opinion in the Dred Scott case, admits that the language of the Declaration is broad enough to include the whole human family; but he and Judge Douglas argue that the authors of that instrument did not intend to include negroes, by the fact that they did not at once actually place them on an equality with the whites. Now, this grave argument comes to just nothing at all, by the other fact, that they did not at once, or ever afterward, actually place all white people on an equality with one another. And this is the staple argument of both the Chief Justice and the Senator for doing this obvious violence to the plain, unmistakable language of the Declaration.

I think the authors of that notable instrument intended to include all men, but they did not intend to declare all men equal in all respects. They did not mean to say all were equal in color, size, intellect, moral developments, or social capacity. They defined with tolerable distinctness in what respects they did consider all men created equal-equal with "certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." This they said, and this meant. They did not mean to assert the obvious untruth, that all were then actually enjoying that equality, nor yet, that they were about to confer it immediately upon them. In fact, they had no power to confer such a boon. They meant simply to declare the right, so that the enforcement of it might follow as fast as circumstances should permit.

Mr. Lincoln, in conclusion, pointed out in a clear and forcible manner the real distinction between his own views and those of Mr. Douglas on this question, as he has done in other speeches.

[ocr errors]



The Lecompton Struggle.-The Policy of Douglas Changed.-He Breaks with the Administration and Loses Caste at the South.Republican Sympathies.-Douglas Falters, but Opposes the English Bill.-Passage of that Measure.-Democratic State Convention of Illinois. Douglas Indorsed, and Efforts for his Re-Election Commenced. The Democratic Bolt.-Meeting of the Republican State Convention in June.-Mr. Lincoln named as the First and Only Choice of the Republicans for Senator.-His Great Speech Before the Convention at Springfield.-Douglas and Lincoln at Chicago.— Speeches at Bloomington and Springfield.-Unfairness of the Apportionment Pointed out by Mr. Lincoln.-He Analyzes the Douglas Programme.-Seven Joint Debates.-Douglas Produces a Bogus Platform, and Propounds Interrogatories.--" Unfriendly Legislation."-Lincoln Fully Defines his Position on the Slavery Question.-Result of the Canvass.-The People for Lincoln, the Apportionment for Douglas.-Public Opinion.

[ocr errors]

THE Lecompton Convention did its work according to the programme laid down at Washington. It adopted the Constitution desired, and probably devised, at the national capital, with the design of forcing slavery upon an unwilling people. One of the chief instruments in the execution of this work, so far as it could be consummated at Lecompton, was John Calhoun, an Illinois politician. The act under which that Convention was assembled, had received an unreserved and complete indorsement from Douglas, as "fair and just." He was emphatically committed in advance by his Springfield speech to the action of that Convention, which exercised no powers not distinctly conferred upon it by the act thus indorsed, or not in strict accordance with what was contemplated from the first by its framers. Yet late in the autumn of 1857, a rumor began to be circulated that Douglas was hesitating about sustaining the Lecompton Constitution. Know

ing his previous attitude, people were generally incredulous in regard to this report. After a time, however, some of the leading Democratic papers of Illinois began to break ground. against the Lecompton scheme, and when Congress assembled, in December, there were serious doubts as to whether Douglas did not intend to break with the Admisistration on this subject. Suspense on this point was soon relieved. Immediately after the annual message of Mr. Buchanan was read in the Senate, Douglas took occasion to announce his disagreement with the President on the Kansas question, and this notice was followed up by an elaborate speech the next day, in which he boldly talked against "forcing this Constitution down the throats of the people of Kansas, in opposition to their wishes and in violation of our pledges." He ignored all his recent attempts to charge the responsibility upon the nonvoters if the Constitution did not suit them. He seemed to forget his declaration that the act calling the Lecompton Convention was "just and fair in all its objects and provisions." He now denied the right of the minority represented at Lecompton, in accordance with the well-understood "objects. and provisions" of that act, "to defraud the majority of that people out of their elective franchise.”

In brief, whatever his motives-and these may be left to himself he had completely changed his attitude during the last few months, and now co-operated with the Republicans in opposing the Lecompton policy to which the President and the Democratic party had become definitely committed before the world. These two facts, however, are undeniable. The re-election of Douglas as Senator was to depend on the coming election in Illinois, and without some definite change of course, from that he had indicated at Springfield in June previous, he would be compelled to yield his place to Abraham Lincoln, as the associate of Lyman Trumbull.

It is not necessary here to follow the history of the desperate struggle which this change cost him during the long session of Congress. He carried with him but two Democratic Senators out of nearly forty, and only a little larger fraction of the Democratic members of the House. He was generally

denounced at the South as a traitor, and this fact, added to the energy with which he carried on his warfare with the Administration against so many odds, gained him not a little sympathy in many Repuhlican quarters. This, however, for the most part, his subsequent course alienated. It is believed that but for the firm stand taken by the lamented Broderick, in opposition to the course intended, Douglas would have made his peace with the Administration by voting for the shabby compromise known as the English Bill. That measure, in spite of his final influence against it, passed both Houses on the 4th of May.

Previous to that date, the Democratic State Convention, of Illinois, had met at Springfield (April 21st), nominated a State ticket and indorsed Douglas and his Anti-Lecompton associates from that State. The issue was thus fairly joined early in the season; and all the influence of the Administration was brought to bear in getting up a counter Democratic organization sustaining the Lecompton policy. However promising for a time, this undertaking was not brilliantly successful. The friends of Douglas had taken time by the forelock, and made the most of their advantage in having the regular organization, with a State ticket early in the field. They spared no labor from this time forward in preparing for the re-election of Douglas. Without expecting the election of their candidates on the State ticket, they hoped, through an unequal apportionment strongly favoring their side, and from the large number of Democratic Senators holding over, to be able, at least, to get the control of the Senate, and to prevent the choice of a Republican successor to Douglas, if they could not accomplish their full purpose.

On the 16th of June-the day on which the session of Congress closed-the Republicans held their State Convention at Springfield. Richard Yates was the temporary, and Gustavus Koerner the permanent President. Nearly every one of the hundred counties of Illinois was duly represented, the delegates numbering over five hundred. Candidates were nominated for State Treasurer and for Superintendent of Public Instruction, and a Platform was adopted essentially the same as that put

forth two years previously at Bloomington, as already quoted. A resolution approving the course of Lyman Trumbull as Senator was carried without opposition. The following resolution was then introduced, which, according to the official report, "was greeted with shouts of applause, and unanimously adopted :"

Resolved, That Abraham Lincoln is the first and only choice of the Republicans of Illinois for the United States Senate, as the successor of Stephen A. Douglas.

Mr. Lincoln had not been present during the Convention, and when called on to speak, at the adjourned evening session, he had no knowledge that such a resolution had been offered. So far was it from being true that his speech on that occasion, as subsequently stated by Douglas, was made on accepting a nomination for the Senatorship, that, of course, he did not allude to that subject. The speech, too, though carefully prepared, as Mr. Lincoln afterward admitted, was never known to any one else than himself until its delivery, notwithstanding the insinuation of Douglas that it was a subject of special consultation among the Republican leaders. It was the result of a broad and profound survey of the slavery question, from the point of view then reached in the progress of parties. It laid down certain propositions as philosophical truths, derived from a close observation of events. Its opening paragraph has already become one of the most celebrated passages in the political literature of the country. However it may be perverted, there is no portion of this speech which can be successfully assailed, when taken in its true meaning. There is a moral sublimity in the rugged honesty and directness with which the grand issues in this whole slavery agitation are presented. The two forces of slavery and free labor in our civil and social system, inevitably antagonistic, so long as they come into collision in our national politics, have each their peculiar tendency, the one to make slavery, and the other to make free labor universal. Until slavery is again reduced to its true local and sectional character, from which Douglas, Buchanan, and other agitators had conspired to raise it into national predominance, the antagonism will not cease. What Douglas

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »