said that because I supposed, when the public mind shall rest in that belief, we shall have peace on the slavery question.
I have believed-and now believe — the public mind did rest on that belief up to the introduction of the Nebraska
Although I have ever been opposed to slavery, so far I rested in the hope and belief that it was in the course of ultimate extinction.
For that reason, it had been a minor question with me. I might have been mistaken ; but I had believed, and now believe, that the whole public mind, that is, the mind of the great majority, had rested in that belief up to the repeal of the Missouri Compromise
But upon that event, I became convinced that either I had been resting in a delusion, or the institution was being placed on a new basis — a basis for making it perpetual, national and universal.
Subsequent events have greatly confirmed me in that belief.
I believe that bill to be the beginning of a conspiracy for that purpose.
So believing, I have since then considered that question a paramount one.
So believing, I thought the public mind will never rest till the power of Congress to restrict the spread of it shall again be acknowledged and exercised on the one hand, or on the other, all resistance be entirely crushed out. I have expressed that opinion, and I entertain it to-night.
It is denied that there is any tendency to the nationalization of slavery in these States.
, of South Carolina
, in one of his speeches, when they were presenting him canes, silver plate, gold pitchers and the like, for assaulting Senator Sumner
, distinctly affirmed his opinion that when this Constitution was formed, it was the belief of no man that slavery would last to the present day.
He said, what I think, that the framers of our Constitution placed the institution of slavery where the public mind rested in the hope that it was in the course of ultimate extinction.
But he went on to say that the men of the present age, by their experience, have become wiser than the framers of the Constitution
; and the invention of the cotton gin had made the perpetuity of slavery a necessity in this country.
As another piece of evidence tending to this same point : Quite recently in Virginia
, a man — the owner of slaves-made — a will providing that after his death certain of his slaves should have their freedom if they should so choose, and go to Liberia
, rather than remain in slavery.
They chose to be liberated.
But the persons to whom they would descend as property, claimed them as slaves.
A suit was instituted, which finally came to the Supreme Court of Virginia
, and was therein decided against the slaves, upon the ground that a negro cannot make a choice — that they had no legal power to choose-could not perform the condition upon which their freedom depended.
I do not mention this with any purpose of criticising it, but to connect it with the arguments as affording additional evidence of the change of sentiment upon this question of slavery in the direction of making it perpetual and national.
I argue now as I did before, that there is such a tendency, and I am backed not merely by the facts, but by the open confession in the slave States.
And now, as to the Judge
's inference, that because I wish to see slavery placed in the course of ultimate extinction — placed where our fathers originally placed it-I wish to annihilate the State Legislatures
— to force cotton to grow upon the tops of the Green Mountains
— to freeze ice in Florida
--to cut lumber on the broad Illinois
prairies — that I am in favor of all these ridiculous and impossible things.
It seems to me it is a complete answer to all this to ask, if, when Congress did have the fashion of restricting slavery from free territory; when courts did have the fashion of deciding that taking a slave into a free country made him free-I say it is a sufficient answer to ask, if any of this ridiculous nonsense about consolidation, and uniformity, did actually follow?
Who heard of any such thing, because of the Ordinance of 87?
because of the Missouri Restriction
because of the numerous court decisions of that character?
Now, as to the Dred Scott
decision ; for upon that he makes his last point at me. He boldly takes ground in favor of that decision.
This is one-half the onslaught, and one-third of the entire plan of the campaign.
I am opposed to that decision in a certain sense, but not in the sense which he puts