not destroy the principle that is the charter of our liberties.
Let the charter remain as our standard.
Now I have upon all occasions declared as strongly as Judge Douglas
against the disposition to interfere with the existing institution of slavery.
You hear me read it from the same speech from which he takes garbled extracts for the purpose of proving upon me a disposition to interfere with the institution of slavery, and establish a perfect social and political equality between negroes and white people.
Allow me while upon this subject briefly to present one other extract from a speech of mine, more than a year ago, at Springfield
, in discussing this very same question, soon after Judge Douglas
took his ground that negroes were not included in the Declaration of Independence
I think the authors of that notable instrument intended to include all men, but they did not mean to declare all men equal in all respects. They did not mean to say all men were equal in color, size, intellect, moral development or social capacity.
They defined with tolerable distinctness in what they did consider all men created equal-equal in certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
This they said, and this they meant.
They did not mean to assert the obvious untruth, that all were then actually enjoying that equality, or 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.
They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society which should be familiar to all : constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and even, though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people, of all colors, every where.
There again are the sentiments I have expressed in regard to the Declaration of Independence
upon a former occasion-sentiments which have been put in print and read wherever any body cared to know what so humble an individual as myself chose to say in regard to it.
the other day, I said in answer to Judge Douglas
, that three years ago there never had been a man, so far as I knew or believed, in the whole world, who had said that the Declaration of Independence
did not include negroes in the term “all men.”
I reassert it to-day.
I assert that Judge Douglas
and all his friends may search the whole records of the country, and it will be a matter of great astonishment to me if they shall be able to find that one human being three years ago had ever uttered the astounding sentiment that the term “all men” in the Declaration did not include the negro.
Do not let me be misunderstood.
I know that more then three years ago there were men who, finding this assertion constantly in the way of their schemes to bring about the ascendancy and perpetuation of slavery, denied the truth of it
. I know that Mr. Calhoun
and all the politicians of his school denied the truth of the Declaration.
I know that it ran along in the mouth of some Southern men for a period of years, ending at last in that shameful though rather forcible declaration of Pettit
, upon the floor of the United States Senate, that the Declaration of Independence
was in that respect “a self-evident lie,” rather than a self-evident truth.
But I say, with a perfect knowledge of all this hawking at the Declaration without directly attacking it, that three years ago there never had lived a man who had ventured to assail it in the sneaking way of pretending to believe it and then asserting it did not include the negro.
I believe the first man who ever said it was Chief Justice Taney
in the Dred Scott
case, and the next to him was our friend, Stephen A. Douglas
And now it has become the catch-word of the entire party.
I would like to call upon his friends every where to consider how they have come in so short a time to view this matter in a way so entirely different from their former belief?
to ask whether they are not being borne along by an irresistible current-whither, they know not?
In answer to my proposition at Galesburgh
last week, I see that some man in