purpose of getting up a distinction between the revival of the African slave-trade and his “great principle.”
At the time the Constitution of the United States
was adopted it was expected that the slave-trade would be abolished.
I should assert, and insist upon that, if Judge Douglas
denied it. But I know that it was equally expected that slavery would be excluded from the Territories
, and I can show by history, that in regard to these two things, public opinion was exactly alike, while in regard to positive action, there was more done in the Ordinance of ‘87 to resist the spread of slavery than was ever done to abolish the foreign slave-trade.
Lest I be misunderstood, I say again that at the time of the formation of the Constitution
, public expectation was that the slave-trade would be abolished, but no more so than the spread of slavery in the Territories
should be restrained.
They stand alike, except that in the Ordinance of 87 there was a mark left by public opinion, showing that it was more committed against the spread of slavery in the Territories
than against the foreign slave-trade.
Compromise! What word of compromise was there about it. Why, the public sense was then in favor of the abolition of the slave-trade ; but there was at the time a very great commercial interest involved in it and extensive capital in that branch of trade.
There were doubtless the incipient stages of improvement in the South
in the wily of farming, dependent on the slave-trade, and they made a proposition to Congress to abolish the trade after allowing it twenty years, a sufficient time for the capital and commerce engaged in it to be transferred to other channels.
They made no provision that it should be abolished in twenty years ; I do not doubt that they expected it would be ; but they made no bargain about it. The public sentiment left no doubt in the minds of any that it would be done away.
I repeat, there is nothing in the history of those times in favor of that matter being a compromise
of the Constitution
It was the public expectation at the time, manifested in a thousand ways, that the spread of slavery should also be restricted.
Then I say if this principle is established, that there is no wrong in slavery, and whoever wants it has a right to have it, is a matter of dollars and cents, a sort of question as to how they shall deal with brutes, that between us and the negro here there is no sort of question, but that at the South
the question is between the negro and the crocodile.
That is all. It is a mere matter of policy; there is a perfect right according to interest to do just as you please-when this is done, where this doctrine prevails, the miners and sappers will have formed public opinion for the slave-trade.
They will be ready for Jeff. Davis
and other leaders of that company, to sound the bugle for the revival of the slave-trade, for the second Dred Scott
decision, for the flood of slavery to be poured over the free States, while we shall be here tied down and helpless and run over like sheep.
It is to be a part and parcel of this same idea, to say to men who want to adhere to the Democratic party, who have always belonged to that party, and are only looking about for some excuse to stick to it, but nevertheless hate slavery, that Douglas
's popular sovereignty is as good a way as any to oppose slavery.
They allow themselves to be persuaded easily in accordance with their previous dispositions, into this belief, that it is about as good a way of opposing slavery as any, and we can do that without straining our old party ties or breaking up old political associations.
We can do so without being called negro worshipers.
We can do that without being subjected to the jibes and sneers that are so readily thrown out in place of argument where no argument am be found.
So let us stick to this popular sovereignty-this insidious popular sovereignty.
Now let me call your attention to one thing that has really happened, which shows this gradual and steady debauching of public opinion, this course of preparation for the revival of the slave-trade, for the territorial slave code, and the new Dred Scott
decision that is to carry slavery into the free States.
Did you ever, five years ago, hear of any body in the world saying that the negro had no share in the Declaration of National Independence; that it did not