of abolition philosophy.
I do not believe that the signers of the Declaration of Independence
had any reference to negroes when they used the expression that all men were created equal, or that they had any reference to the Chinese or Coolies, the Indians, the Japanese, or any other inferior race.
They were speaking of the white race, the European
race on this continent, and their descendants, and emigrants who should come here.
They were speaking only of the white race, and never dreamed that their language would be construed to include the negro.
And now for the evidence of that fact.
At the time the Declaration of Independence
was put forth, declaring the equality of all men, every one of the thirteen colonies was a slaveholding colony, and every man who signed that Declaration represented a slaveholding constituency.
Did they intend, when they put their signatures to that instrument, to declare that their own slaves were on an equality with them; that they were made their equals by Divine law, and that any human law reducing them to an inferior position, was void, as being in violation of Divine law?
Was that the meaning of the signers of the Declaration of Independence
and Henry and Lee
— did any of the signers of that instrument, or all of them, on the day they signed it, give their slaves freedom?
History records that they did not. Did they go further, and put the negro on an equality with the white man throughout the country?
They did not. And yet if they had understood that Declaration as including the negro, which Mr. Lincoln
holds they did, they would have been bound, as conscientious men, to have restored the negro to that equality which he thinks the Almighty intended they should occupy with the white man. They did not do it. Slavery was abolished in only one State before the adoption of the Constitution
in 1789, and then in others gradually, down to the time this abolition agitation began, and it has not been abolished in one since.
The history of the Country shows that neither the signers of the Declaration, or the framers of the Constitution
, ever supposed it possible that their language would be used in an attempt to make this nation a mixed nation of Indians
, negroes, whites and mongrels.
I repeat, that our whole history confirms the proposition, that from the earliest settlement of the colonies down to the Declaration of Independence
and the adoption of the Constitution of the United States
, our fathers proceeded on the white basis, making the white people the governing race, but conceding to the Indian
and negro, and all inferior races, all the rights and all the privileges they could enjoy consistent with the safety of the society in which they lived.
That is my opinion now. I told you that humanity, philanthropy, justice and sound policy required that we should give the negro every right, every privilege, every immunity consistent with the safety and welfare of the State
The question then naturally arises, what are those rights and privileges, and what is the nature and extent of them?
My answer is, that that is a question which each State and each Territory must decide for itself.
We have decided that question.
We have said that in this State the negro shall not be a slave, but that he shall enjoy no political rights-that negro equality shall not exist.
I am content with that position.
My friend Lincoln
is not. He thinks that our policy and our laws on that subject are contrary to the Declaration of Independence
He thinks that the Almighty made the negro his equal and his brother.
For my part I do not consider the negro any kin to me, nor to any other white man; but I would still carry my humanity and my philanthropy to the extent of giving him every privilege and every immunity that he could enjoy, consistent with our own good.
We in Illinois
have the right to decide upon that question for ourselves, and we are bound to allow every other State to do the same.
allows the negro to vote on an equality with the white man. I do not quarrel with our friends in Maine
If they think it wise and proper in Maine
to put the negro on an equality with the white man, and allow him to go to the polls and negative the vote of a white man, it is their business and not mine.
On the other hand, New York permits a