reason it was provided in the Federal Constitution
that the thirteen original States should remain sovereign and supreme within their own limits in regard to all that was local, and internal, and domestic, while the Federal Government
should have certain specified powers which were general and national, and could be exercised, only by federal authority.
The framers of the Constitution
well understood that each locality, having separate and distinct interests, required separate and distinct laws, domestic institutions, and police regulations adapted to its own wants and its own condition ; and they acted on the presumption, also, that these laws and institutions would be as diversified and as dissimilar as the States would be numerous, and that no two would be precisely alike, because the interests of no two would be precisely the same.
Hence I assert, that the great fundamental principle which underlies our complex system of State and Federal Governments, contemplated diversity and dissimilarity in the local institutions and domestic affairs of each and every State then in the Union
, or thereafter to be admitted into the Confederacy
I therefore conceive that my friend, Mr. Lincoln
, has totally misapprehended the great principles upon which our government rests.
Uniformity in local and domestic affairs would be destructive of State rights, of State sovereignty, of personal liberty and personal freedom.
Uniformity is the parent of despotism the world over, not only in politics, but in religion.
Wherever the doctrine of uniformity is proclaimed, that all the States must be free or all slave, that all labor must be white or all black, that all the citizens of the different States must have the same privileges or be governed by the same regulations, you have destroyed the greatest safeguard which our institutions have thrown around the rights of the citizen.
How could this uniformity be accomplished, if it was desirable and possible?
There is but one mode in which it could be obtained, and that must be by abolishing the State Legislatures
, blotting out State sovereignty, merging the rights and sovereignty of the States in one consolidated empire, and vesting Congress with the plenary power to make all the police regulations, domestic and local laws, uniform throughout the limits of the Republic
When you shall hare done this, you will have uniformity.
Then the States will all be slave or all be free; then negroes will vote everywhere or nowhere; then you will have a Maine liquor law in every State or none; then you will have uniformity in all things, local and domestic, by the authority of the Federal Government
But when you attain that uniformity, you will have converted these thirty-two sovereign, independent States into one consolidated empire, with the uniformity of disposition reigning triumphant throughout the length and breadth of the land.
From this view of the case, my friends, I am driven irresistibly to the conclusion that diversity, dissimilarity, variety in all our local and domestic institutions, is the great safeguard of our liberties ; and that the framers of our institutions were wise, sagacious, and patriotic, when they made this government a confederation of sovereign States, with a Legislature for each, and conferred upon each Legislature the power to make all local and domestic institutions to suit the people it represented, without interference from any other State or from the general Congress of the Union
If we expect to maintain our liberties, we must preserve the rights and sovereignty of the States ; we must maintain and carry out that great principle of self-government incorporated in the compromise measures of 1850 ; indorsed.
by the Illinois Legislature in 1851 ; emphatically embodied and carried out in the Kansas
bill, and vindicated this year by the refusal to bring Kansas
into the Union
with a Constitution distasteful to her people.
The other proposition discussed by Mr. Lincoln
in his speech consists in a crusade against the Supreme Court of the United States
on account of the Dred Scott
On this question, also, I desire to say to you unequivocally, that I take direct and distinct issue with him. I have no warfare to make on the Supreme Court: of the United States
, either on account of that or any other decision which they have pronounced from that bench.
The Constitution of the United States
has provided that