said that always ; Judge Douglas
has heard me say it — if not quite a hundred times, at least as good as a hundred times ; and when it is said that I am in favor of interfering with slavery where it exists, I know it is unwarranted by anything I have ever intended
, and, as I believe, by anything I have ever said
. If, by any means, I have ever used language which could fairly be so construed (as, however, I believe I never have), I now correct it.
So much, then, for the inference that Judge Douglas
draws, that I am in favor of setting the sections at war with one another.
I know that I never meant any such thing, and I believe that no fair mind can infer any such thing from anything I have ever said.
Now in relation to his inference that I am in favor of a general consolidation, of all the local institutions of the various States.
I will attend to that for a little while, and try to inquire, if I can, how on earth it could be that any man could, draw such an inference from anything I said.
I have said, very many times, in Judge Douglas
's hearing that no man believed more than I in the principle of self-government; that it lies at the bottom of all my ideas of just government, from beginning to end. I have denied that his use of that term applies properly.
But for the thing itself, I deny that any man has ever gone ahead of me in his devotion to the principle, whatever he may have done in efficiency in advocating it. I think that I have said it in your hearing — that I believe each individual is naturally entitled to do as he pleases, with himself and the fruit of his labor, so far as it in no wise interferes with any other man's rights — that each community, as a State, has a right to do exactly as it pleases with all the concerns within that State that interferes with the right of no other State, and that the General Government
, upon principle, has no right to interfere with anything other than that general class of things that does concern the whole.
I have said that at all times.
I have said as illustrations, that I do, not believe in the right of Illinois
to interfere with the cranberry laws of Indiana
, the, oyster laws of Virginia
, or the liquor laws of Maine
I have said these things over and over again, and I repeat them here as my sentiments.
How is it, then, that Judge Douglas
infers, because I hope to see slavery put where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction, that I am in favor of Illinois
going over and interfering with the cranberry laws of Indiana
What can authorize him to draw any such inference?
I suppose there might be one thing that at least enabled him to draw such an inference that would not be true with me or many others, that is, because he looks upon all this matter of slavery as an exceedingly little thing — this matter of keeping one-sixth of the population of the whole nation in a state of oppression and tyranny unequaled in the world.
He looks upon it as being an exceedingly little thing — only equal to the question of the cranberry laws of Indiana
--as something having no moral question in it — as something on a par with the question of whether a man shall pasture his land with, cattle, or plant it with tobacco-so little and so small a thing, that he concludes, if I could desire that if anything should be done to bring about the ultimate extinction of that little thing, I must be in favor of bringing about an amalgamation of all the other little things in the Union
Now, it so happens — and there, I presume, is the foundation of this mistake — that the Judge
thinks thus; and it so happens that there is a vast portion of the American
people that do not look upon that matter as being this very little thing.
They look upon it as a vast moral evil; they can prove it as such by the writings of those who gave us the blessings of liberty which we enjoy, and that they so looked upon it, and not as an evil merely confining itself to the States where it is situated ; and while we agree that, by the Constitution
we assented to, in the States where it exists we have no right to interfere with it, because it is in the Constitution
; and me are by both duty and inclination to stick by that Constitution, in all its letter and spirit, from beginning to end.
So much then as to my disposition-my wish — to have all the State Legislatures
blotted out, and to have one consolidated government, and a uniformity of domestic regulations in all the States, by which I suppose it is meant, if we raise corn here,