Mr. Chairman, and Fellow Citizens of Mclean County
: To say that I am profoundly touched by the hearty welcome you have extended me, and by the kind and complimentary sentiments you have expressed toward me, is but a feeble expression of the feelings of my heart.
I appear before you this evening for the purpose of vindicating the course which I have felt it my duty to pursue in the Senate of the United States, upon the great public questions which have agitated the country since I last addressed you. I am aware that my Senatorial course has been arraigned, not only by political foes, but by a few men pretending to belong to the Democratic party, and yet acting in alliance with the enemies of that party, for the purpose of electing Republicans to Congress in this State, in place of the present Democratic delegation.
I desire your attention whilst I address you, and then I will ask your verdict, whether I have not in all things acted in entire good faith, and honestly carried out the principles, the professions, and the avowals which I made before my constituents, previous to my going to the Senate.
During the last session of Congress, the great question of, controversy has been the admission of Kansas
into the Union
under the Lecompton Constitution
I need not inform you that from the beginning to the end I took bold, determined, and unrelenting ground in opposition to that Lecompton Constitution.
My reason for that course is contained in the fact that that instrument was not the act and deed of the people of Kansas
, and did not embody their will.
I hold it to be a fundamental principle in all free governments — a principle asserted in the Declaration of Independence
, and underlying the Constitution of the United States
, as well as the Constitution
of every State of the Union
--that every people ought to have the right to form, adopt and ratify the Constitution
under which they arc to live.
When I introduced
bill in the Senate of the United States in 1854, I incorporated in it the provision that it was the true intent and meaning of the bill, not to legislate slavery into any Territory or State, or to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their own domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United States
In that bill the pledge was distinctly made that the people of Kansas
should be left not only free, but perfectly free to form and regulate their own domestic institutions to suit themselves ; and the question arose, when the Lecompton Constitution
was sent into Congress, and the admission of Kansas
not only asked, but attempted to be forced under it, whether or not that Constitution was the free act and deed of the people of Kansas
No man pretends that it embodied their will.
Every man in America
knows that it was rejected by the people of Kansas
, by a majority of over ten thousand, before the attempt was made in Congress to force the Territory
into the Union
under that Constitution.
I resisted, therefore, the Lecompton Constitution
because it was a violation of the great principle of self-government, upon which all our institutions rest.
I do not wish to mislead you, or to leave you in doubt as to the motives of my action.
I did not oppose the Lecompton Constitution
upon the ground of the slavery clause contained in it. I made my speech against that instrument before the vote was taken on the slavery clause.
At the time I made it I did not know whether that clause would be voted in or out; whether it would be included in the Constitution
, or excluded from it, and it made no difference with me what the result of the vote was, for the reason that I was contending for a principle, under which you have no more right to force a free State upon a people against their will, than you have to force a slave State upon them without their consent.
The error consisted in attempting to control the free action of the people of Kansas
in any. respect whatever.
It is no argument with me to say that such and such a clause of the Constitution
was not palatable, that you did not like it ; it is a matter of no consequence whether you in Illinois
like any clause in the Kansas Constitution
or not; it is not a question for you, but it is a question for the people of Kansas
They have the right to make a Constitution in accordance with their own wishes, and if you do not like it you are not bound to go there and live under it. We in Illinois
have made a Constitution to suit ourselves, and we think we have a tolerably good one; but whether we have or not, it is nobody's business but our own. If the people in Kentucky
do not like it, they need not come here to live under it ; if the people of Indiana
are not satisfied with it, what matters it to us?
We, and we alone, have the right to a voice in its adoption or rejection.
Reasoning thus, my friends, my efforts were directed to the vindication of the great principle involving the right of the people of each State and each Territory to form and regulate their own domestic institutions to suit themselves, subject only to the Constitution
of our common country.
I am rejoiced to be enabled to say to you that we fought that battle until we forced the advocates of the Lecompton instrument to abandon the attempt of inflicting it upon the people of Kansas
, without first giving them an opportunity of rejecting it. When we compelled them to abandon that effort, they resorted to a scheme.
They agreed to refer the Constitution
back to the people of Kansas
, thus conceding the correctness of the principle for which I had contended, and granting all I had desired, provided the mode of that reference and the mode of submission to the people had been just, fair and equal.
I did not consider the mode of submission provided, in what is known as the “English
” bill, a fair submission, and for this simple reason, among others : It provided, in effect, that if the people of Kansas
would accept the Lecompton Constitution
, that they might come in with 36,000 inhabitants, but that, if they rejected it, in order that they might form a Constitution agreeable to their own feelings, and conformable to their own principles, that they should not be received into the Union
until they had 93,420 inhabitants.
In other words, it said to the people, if you will come into the Union
as a slaveholding State, you shall be admitted with 35,000 inhabitants, but if you insist on being a free State, you shall not be admitted until you have 93,420.
I was not willing to
discriminate between free States and slave States in this Confederacy.
I will not put a restriction upon a slave State that I would not put upon a free State, and I will not permit, if I can prevent it, a restriction being put upon a free State which is not applied with the same force to the slaveholding States.
Equality among the States is a cardinal and fundamental principle in our Confederacy, and cannot be violated without overturning our system of Government.
Hence I demanded that the free States and the slaveholding States should be kept on an exact equality, one with the other, as the Constitution of the United States
had placed them.
If the people of Kansas
want a slaveholding State, let them have it, and if they want a free State they have a right to it, and it is not for the people of Illinois
, or Missouri
, or New York, or Kentucky
, to complain, whatever the decision of the people of Kansas
may be upon that point.
But while I was not content with the mode of submission contained in the English
bill, and while I could not sanction it for the reason that, in my opinion, it violated the great principle of equality among the different States, yet when it became the law of the land, and under it the question was referred back to the people of Kansas
for their decision, at an election to be held on the first Monday in August next, I bowed in deference, because whatever decision the people shall make at that election must be final and conclusive of the whole question.
If the people of Kansas
accept the proposition submitted by Congress, from that moment Kansas
will become a State of the Union
and there is no way of keeping her out if you should try. The act of admission would become irrepealable ; Kansas
would be a State, and there would be an end of the controversy.
On the other hand, if at that election the people of Kansas
shall reject the proposition, as it is now generally thought will be the case, from that moment the Lecompton Constitution
is dead, and again there is an end of the controversy.
So you see that either way, on the 3d of August next, the Lecompton controversy ceases and terminates forever ; and a similar question can never arise unless some man shall attempt to play the Lecompton game over again.
But, my fellow-citizens, I am well convinced that that game will never be attempted again ; it has been so solemnly and thoroughly rebuked during the last session of Congress, that it will find but few advocates in the future.
The President of the United States
, in his annual message, expressly recommends that the example of the Minnesota
case, wherein Congress required the Constitution
to be submitted to the vote of the people for ratification or rejection, shall be followed in all future cases ; and all we have to do is to sustain as one man that recommendation, and the Kansas
controversy can never again arise.
My friends, I do not desire you to understand me as claiming for myself any special merit for the course I have pursued on this question.
I simply did my duty, a duty enjoined by fidelity, by honor, by patriotism; a duty which I could not have shrunk from, in my opinion, without dishonor and faithlessness to my constituency.
Besides, I only did what it was in the power of any one man to do. There were others, men of eminent ability, men of wide reputation, renowned all over America
, who led the van, and are entitled to the greatest share of the credit.
Foremost among them all, as he was head and shoulders above them all, was Kentucky
's great and gallant statesman, John J. Crittenden
By his course upon this question he has shown himself a worthy successor of the immortal Clay
, and well may Kentucky
be proud of him. I will not withhold, either, the meed of praise due the Republican party in Congress for the course which they pursued.
In the language of the New York Tribune
, they came to the Douglas platform, abandoning their own, believing that under the peculiar circumstances they would in that mode best subserve the interests of the country.
My friends, when I am battling for a great principle, I want aid and support from whatever quarter I can get it in order to carry out that principle.
I never hesitate in my course when I find those who on all former occasions differed from me upon the principle finally coming to its support.
Nor is it for me to inquire into the motives which animated the Republican
members of Congress in supporting the Crittenden-Montgomery
It is enough for me that
in that, case they came square up and indorsed the great principle of the Kansas
bill, which declared that Kansas
should be received into the Union
, with slavery or without, as its Constitution should prescribe.
I was the more rejoiced at the action of the Republicans on that occasion for another reason.
I could not forget, you will not soon forget, how unanimous that party was, in 1854, in declaring that never should another slave State be admitted into this Union under any circumstances whatever, and yet we find that during this last winter they came up and voted to a man declaring that Kansas
should come in as a State with slavery under the Lecompton Constitution
, if her people desired it, and that if they did not that they might form a new Constitution, with slavery or without just as they pleased.
I do not question the motive when men do a good act ; I give them credit for the act; and if they will stand by that principle in the future, and abandon their heresy of “no more slave States even if the people want them,” I will then give them still more credit.
I am afraid, though, that they will not stand by it in the future.
If they do; I will freely forgive them all the abuse they heaped upon me in 1854, for having advocated and carried out that same principle in the Kansas
stands proudly forward as a State which early took her position in favor of the principle of popular sovereignty as applied to the Territories
of the United States
When the compromise measure of 1850 passed, predicated upon that principle, you recollect, the excitement which prevailed throughout the northern portion of this State.
I vindicated those measures then, and defended myself for having voted for them, upon the ground that they embodied the principle that every people ought to have the privilege of forming and regulating their own institutions to suit themselves — that each State had that right, and I saw no reason why it should not be extended to the Territories
When the people of Illinois
had an opportunity of passing judgment upon those measures, they indorsed them by a vote of their representatives in the Legislature--sixty-one in the affirmative and only four in the negative — in which they asserted that the principle embodied in the measures was the birthright of freemen, the gift of Heaven, a principle vindicated by our revolutionary fathers, and that no limitation should ever be placed upon it, either in the organization of a Territorial Government, or the admission of a State into the Union
That resolution still stands unrepealed on the journals of the Legislature of Illinois
In obedience to it, and in exact conformity with the principle, I brought in the Kansas
bill, requiring that the people should be left perfectly free in the formation of their institutions, and in the organization of their Government.
I now submit to you whether I have not in good faith redeemed that pledge, that the people of Kansas
should be left perfectly free to form and regulate their institutions to suit themselves.
And yet, while no man can arise in any crowd and deny that I have been faithful to my principles, and redeemed my pledge, we find those who are struggling to crush and defeat me, for the very reason that I have been faithful in carrying out those measures.
We find the Republican
lenders forming an alliance with professed Lecompton
men to defeat every Democratic nominee and elect Republicans in their places, and aiding and defending them in order to help them break down Anti-Lecompton
men, whom they acknowledge did right in their opposition to Lecompton
The only hope that Mr. Lincoln
has of defeating me for the Senate rests in the fact, that I was faithful to my principles, and that he may be able in consequence of that fact to form a coalition with Lecompton
men, who wish to defeat me for that fidelity.
This is one clement of strength upon which he relics to accomplish his object.
He hopes he can secure the few men claiming to be friends of the Lecompton Constitution
, and for that reason you will find he does not say a word against the Lecompton Constitution
or its supporters.
He is as silent as the grave upon that subject.
Behold Mr. Lincoln
votes, in order that he may go to the Senate as the representative of Republican principles!
You know that the alliance exists.
I think you will find that it will ooze out before the contest is over.
Every Republican paper taxes ground with my Lecompton
enemies, encouraging them, stimulating them in their opposition to me and styling my friends bolters from the Democratic party, and their Lecompton
allies the true Democratic party of the country.
If they think that they can mislead and deceive the people of Illinois
, or the Democracy of Illinois
, by that sort of an unnatural and unholy alliance, I think they show very little sagacity, or give the people very little credit for intelligence.
It must be a contest of principle.
Either the radical abolition principles of Mr. Lincoln
must be maintained, or the strong, constitutional, national Democratic principles with which I am identified must be carried out.
There can be but two great political parties in this country.
The contest this year and in 1860 must necessarily be between the Democracy and the Republicans, if we can judge from present indications.
My whole life has been identified with the Democratic party.
I have devoted all of my energies to advocating its principles and sustaining its organization.
In this State the party was never better united or more harmonious than at this time.
The State Convention which assembled on the 2d of April, and nominated Fondey and French was regularly called by the State Central Committee, appointed by the. previous State Convention for that purpose.
The meetings in each county in the State
for the appointment of delegates to the Convention
were regularly called by the county committees, and the proceedings in every county in the State
, as well as in the State Convention, were regular.
in all respects.
No Convention was ever more harmonious in its action, or showed a more tolerant, and just spirit toward brother Democrats.
The leaders of the party there assembled declared their unalterable attachment to the time-honored principles and organization of the Democratic party, and to the Cincinnati
They declared that that platform was the only authoritative exposition of Democratic principles, and that it must so stand until changed by another National Convention ; that in the meantime they would make no new tests, and submit to none; that they would proscribe no Democrat or permit the proscription of Democrats because of their opinion upon Lecomptonism, or upon any other issue which has arisen; but would recognize all men as Democrats who remained inside of the organization, preserved the usages of the party, and supported its nominees.
These bolting Democrats who now claim to be the peculiar friends of the National Administration
, and have formed an alliance with Mr. Lincoln
and the Republicans for the purpose of defeating the Democratic party, have ceased to claim fellowship with the. Democratic organization ; have entirely separated themselves from it, and are endeavouring to build up a faction in the State
, not with the hope or expectation of electing any one man who professes to be a Democrat to office in any county in the State
, but merely to secure the defeat of the Democratic
nominees and the election of Republicans in their places.
What excuse can any honest Democrat have for abandoning the Democratic
organization and joining with the Republicans to defeat our nominees, in view of the platform established by the State Convention?
They cannot pretend that they were proscribed because of their opinions upon Lecompton
or any other question, for the Convention
expressly declared that they recognized all as good Democrats who remained inside of the organization, and abided by the nominations.
If the question is settled or is to be considered as finally disposed of by the vote on the 3d of August, what possible excuse can any good Democrat make for keeping up a division for the purpose of prostrating his party, after that election is over and the controversy has terminated?
It is evident that all who shall keep up this warfare for the purpose of dividing and destroying the pasty, have made up their minds to abandon the Democratic
organization for ever, and to join those for whose benefit they are now trying to distract our party, and elect Republicans in the place of Democratic nominees.
I submit the question to you whether I have been right or wrong in the course I have pursued in Congress.
And I submit, also, whether I have not redeemed in good faith every pledge I have made to you?
Then, my friends, the question recurs, whether I shall be sustained or rejected?
If you are of opinion that Mr.
will advance the interests of Illinois
better than I can; that he will sustain her honor and her dignity higher than it has been in my power to do; that your interests, and the interests of your children, require his election instead of mine, it is your duty to give him your support.
If, on the contrary, you think that my adherence to these great fundamental principles upon which our Government is founded is the true mode of sustaining the peace and harmony of the country, and maintaining the perpetuity of the Republic
, I then ask you to stand by me in the efforts I have made to that end.
And this brings me to the consideration of the two points at issue between Mr. Lincoln
The Republican Convention, when it assembled at Springfield
, did me and the country the honor of indicating the man who was to be their standard-bearer, and the embodiment of their principles in this State.
I owe them my gratitude for thus making up a direct issue between Mr. Lincoln
I shall have no controversies of a personal character with Mr. Lincoln
I have known him well for a quarter of a century.
I have known him, as you all know him, a kindhearted, amiable gentleman, a right good fellow, a worthy citizen, of eminent ability as a lawyer, and I have no doubt, sufficient ability to make a good Senator
The question, then, for you to decide is, whether his principles are more in accordance with the genius of our free institutions, the peace and harmony of the Republic
, than those which I advocate.
He tells you, in his speech made at Springfield
, before the Convention
which gave him his unanimous nomination, that:
A house divided against itself cannot stand.
“ I believe this Government cannot endure permanently, half slave and half free.”
“ I do not expect the Union
to be dissolved — I don't expect the house.
to fall-but I do expect it will cease to be divided.”
“ It will become all one thing or all the other.”
That is the fundamental principle upon which he sets out in this campaign.
Well, I do not suppose you will believe one word of it when you come to examine it carefully, and see its consequences.
Although the Republic
has existed from 1789 to this day, divided into free States and slave States, yet we are told that in the future it cannot endure unless they shall become all free or all slave.
For that reason he says, as the gentleman in the crowd says, that they must be all free.
He wishes to go to the Senate of the United States in order to carry out that line of public policy which will compel all the States in the South
to become free.
How is he going to do it?
Has Congress any power over the subject of slavery in Kentucky
, or Virginia
, or any other State of this Union?
How, then, is Mr. Lincoln
going to carry out that principle which he says is essential to the existence of this Union, to wit: That slavery must be abolished in all the States of the Union
, or must be established in them all?
You convince the South
that they must either establish slavery in Illinois
, and in every other free State, or submit to its abolition in every Southern State, and you invite them to make a warfare upon the Northern
, States in order to establish slavery, for the sake of perpetuating it at home.
Thus, Mr. Lincoln
invites, by his proposition, a war of sections, a war between Illinois
, a war between the free States and the slave States, a war between the North
and the South
, for the purpose of either exterminating slavery in every Southern State, or planting it in every Northern State.
He tells you that the safety of this Republic, that the existence of this Union, depends upon that warfare being carried on until one section or the other shall be entirely subdued.
The States must all be free or slave, for a house divided against itself cannot stand.
That is Mr. Lincoln
's argument upon that question.
My friends, is it possible to preserve peace between the North
and the South
if such a doctrine shall prevail in either section of the Union
Will you ever submit to a warfare waged by the Southern States
to establish slavery in Illinois
What man in Illinois
would not lose the last drop of his heart's blood before he would submit to the institution of slavery being forced upon us by the other States against our will?
And if that be true of us, what Southern man would not shed the last drop of his heart's blood to prevent
, or any other Northern State, from interfering to abolish slavery in his State?
Each of these States is sovereign under the Constitution
; and if we wish to preserve our liberties, the reserved rights and sovereignty of each and every State must be maintained.
I have said on a former occasion, and I here repeat, that it is neither desirable nor possible to establish uniformity in the local and domestic institutions of all the States of this Confederacy.
Because the Constitution of the United States
rests upon the right of every State to decide all its local and domestic institutions for itself.
It is not possible, therefore, to make them conform to each other unless we subvert the Constitution of the United States
No, sir, that cannot be done.
God forbid that any man should ever make the attempt.
Let that Constitution ever be trodden under foot and destroyed, and there will not be wisdom and patriotism enough left to make another that will work half so well.
Our safety, our liberty, depends upon preserving the Constitution of the United States
as our fathers made it, inviolate, at the same time maintaining the reserved rights and the sovereignty of each State over its local and domestic institutions, against Federal authority, or any outside interference.
The difference between Mr. Lincoln
and myself upon this point is, that he goes for a combination of the Northern States
, or the organization of a sectional political party in the free States, to make war on the domestic institutions of the Southern States
, and to prosecute that war until they shall all be subdued, and made to conform to such rules as the North
shall dictate to them.
I am aware that Mr. Lincoln
, on Saturday night last, made a speech at Chicago
for the purpose, as he said, of explaining his position on this question.
I have read that speech with great care, and will do him the justice to say that it is marked by eminent ability and great success in concealing what he did mean to say in his Springfield
His answer to this point, which I have been arguing, is, that he never did mean, and that I ought to know that he never intended to convey the idea, that he wished the “people of the free States to enter into the Southern States
and interfere with slavery.”
Well, I never did suppose that he ever dreamed of entering into Kentucky
, to make war upon her institutions ; nor will any Abolitionist ever enter into Kentucky
to wage such war. Their mode of making.
war is not to enter into those States where slavery exists, and there interfere, and render themselves responsible for the consequences.
They stand on this side of the Ohio river
and shoot across.
They stand in Bloomington
, and shake their fists at the people of Lexington
; they threaten South Carolina
And they call that bravery!
But they are very particular, as Mr. Lincoln
says, not to enter into those States for the purpose of interfering with the institution of slavery there.
I am not only opposed to entering into the slave States, for the purpose of interfering with their institutions, but I am opposed to a sectional agitation to control the institutions of other States.
I am opposed to organizing a sectional party, which appeals to Northern pride, and Northern passion and prejudice, against Southern institutions, thus stirring up ill feeling and hot blood between brethren of the same Republic.
I am opposed to that whole system of sectional agitation, which can produce nothing but strife, but discord, but hostility, and finally, disunion.
And yet Mr. Lincoln
asks you to send him to the Senate of the United States, in order that he may carry out that great principle of his, that all the States must be slave or all must be free.
I repeat, how is he to carry it out when he gets to the Senate?
Does he intend to introduce a bill to abolish slavery in Kentucky
Does he intend to introduce a bill to interfere with slavery in Virginia
How is he to accomplish what he professes must be done in order to save the Union
is a lawyer, sagacious and able enough to tell you how he proposes to do it. I ask Mr. Lincoln
how it is that he proposes ultimately to bring about this uniformity in each and all the States of the Union
There is but one possible mode which I can see, and perhaps Mr. Lincoln
intends to pursue it; that is, to introduce a proposition into the Senate to change the Constitution of the United States
, in order that all the State Legislatures
may be abolished, State sovereignty blotted out, and the power conferred upon
Congress to make local laws and establish the domestic institutions and police regulations uniformly throughout the United States
Are you prepared for such a change in the institutions of your country?
Whenever you shall have blotted out the State
sovereignties, abolished the State Legislatures
, and consolidated all the power in the Federal Government
, you will have established a consolidated Empire as destructive to the liberties of the people and the rights of the citizen as that of Austria
; or Russia
, or any other despotism that rests upon the necks of the people.
How is it possible for Mr. Lincoln
to carry out his cherished principle of abolishing slavery everywhere or establishing it everywhere, except by the mode which I have pointed out-by an amendment to the Constitution
to the effect that I have suggested?
There is no other possible mode.
intends resorting to that, or else he means nothing by the great principle upon which he desires to he elected.
My friends, I trust that we will be able to get him to define what ho does mean by this Scriptural quotation that “A house divided against itself cannot, stand ;” that the Government
cannot endure permanently, half slave and half free ; that it must be all one thing or all the other.
Who among you expects to live, or have his children live, until slavery shall be established in Illinois
or abolished in South Carolina
Who expects to see that occur during the lifetime of ourselves or our children?
There is but one possible way in which slavery can be abolished, and that is by leaving a State, according to the principle of the Kansas
bill, perfectly free to form and regulate its institutions in its own way. That was the principle upon which this Republic was founded, and it is under the operation of that principle that we have been able to preserve the Union
thus far. Under its operations, slavery disappeared from New Hampshire
, from Rhode Island
, from Connecticut
, from New York, from New Jersey
, from Pennsylvania
, from six of the twelve original slaveholding States ; and this gradual system of emancipation went on quietly, peacefully and steadily, so long as we in the free States minded our own business, and left our neighbors alone.
But the moment the Abolition Societies
were organized throughout the North
, preaching a violent crusade against slavery in the Southern States
, this combination necessarily caused a counter-combination in the South
, and a sectional line was drawn which was a barrier to any further emancipation.
Bear in mind that emancipation has not taken place in any one State since the Freesoil party was organized as a political party in this country.
Emancipation went on gradually in State after State so long as the free States were content with managing their own affairs and leaving the South
perfectly free to do as they pleased; but the moment the North
said we are powerful enough to control you of the South
, the moment the North
proclaimed itself the determined master of the South
, that moment the South
combined to resist the attack, and thus sectional parties were formed and gradual emancipation ceased in all the Northern
And yet Mr. Lincoln
; in view of these historical facts, proposes to keep up this sectional agitation, band all the Northern States
together in one political party, elect a President by Northern votes alone, and then, of course, make a Cabinet composed of Northern men, and administer the Government
by Northern men only, denying all the Southern States
of this Union any participation in the administration of affairs whatsoever.
I submit to you, my fellow-citizens, whether such a line of policy is consistent with the peace and harmony of the country?
Can the Union
endure under such a system of policy?
He has taken his position in favor of sectional agitation and sectional warfare.
I have taken mine in favor of securing peace, harmony and good — will among all the States, by permitting each to mind its own business, and discountenancing any attempt at interference on the part of one State with the domestic concerns of the others.
makes another issue with me, and he wishes to confine the contest to these two issues.
I accept the other as readily as the one to which I have already referred.
The other issue is a crusade against the Supreme Court of the United States
, because of its decision in the Dred Scott
My fellow-citizens, I have no
issue to make with the Supreme Court.
I have no crusade to preach against that august body.
I have no warfare to make upon it. I receive the decision of the Judges
of that Court, when pronounced, as the final adjudication upon all questions within their jurisdiction.
It would be perfectly legitimate and proper for Mr. Lincoln
, myself, or any other lawyer, to go before the Supreme Court and argue any question that might arise there, taking either side of it, and enforcing it with all our ability, zeal, and energy, but when the decision is pronounced, that decision becomes the law of the land, and he, and you, and myself, and every other good citizen, must bow to it, and yield obedience to it. Unless we respect and bow in deference to the final decisions of the highest judicial tribunal in our country, we are driven at once to anarchy, to violence to mob law, and there is no security left for our property, or our own civil rights.
What protects your property but the law, and who expounds the law but the judicial tribunals ; and if an appeal is to be taken from the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States
, in all cases where a person does not like the adjudication, to whom is that appeal to be taken?
Are we to appeal from the Supreme Court to a county meeting like this?
And shall we here re-argue the question and reverse the decision?
If so, how are we to enforce our decrees after we have pronounced them?
Does Mr. Lincoln
intend to appeal from the decision of the Supreme Court to a Republican caucus, or a town meeting?
To whom is he going to appeal? [ “To Lovejoy
,” and shouts of laughter.] Why, if I understand aright, Lincoln
are co-appellants in a joint suit, and inasmuch as they are so, he would not certainly appeal from the Supreme Court to his own partner to decide the cast for him.
tells you that he is opposed to the decision of the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott
Well, suppose he is ; what is he going to do about it?
I never got beat in a law suit in my life that I was not opposed to the decision, and if I had it before the Circuit Court I took it up to the Supreme Court, where, if I got beat again, I thought it better to say no more about it, as I did not know of any lawful mode of reversing the decision of the highest tribunal on earth.
To whom is Mr. Lincoln
going to appeal?
Why, he says he is going to appeal to Congress.
Let us see how he will appeal to Congress.
He tells us that on the 8th of March, 1820, Congress passed a law called the Missouri Compromise
, prohibiting slavery forever in all the territory West
of the Mississippi
of the Missouri
line of thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes, that Dred Scott
, a slave in Missouri
, was taken by his master to Fort Snelling in the present State of Minnesota
situated on the West
branch of the Mississippi river
, and consequently in the Territory
where slavery was prohibited by the Act of 1820, and that when Dred Scott
appealed for his freedom in consequence of having been taken into a free Territory, the Supreme Court of the United States
decided that Dred Scott
did not become free by being taken into that Territory, but that having been carried back to Missouri
, was yet a slave.
is going to appeal from that decision and reverse it. He does not intend to reverse it as to Dred Scott
But he will reverse it so that it shall not stand as a rule in the future.
How will he do it?
He says that if he is elected to the Senate, he will introduce and pass a law just like the Missouri Compromise
, prohibiting slavery again in all the Territories
Suppose he does reenact the same law which the Court
has pronounced unconstitutional, will that make it constitutional?
If the Act of 1820 was unconstitutional in consequence of Congress having no power to pass it, will Mr. Lincoln
make it constitutional by passing it again?
What clause of the Constitution of the United States
provides for an appeal from the decision of the Supreme Court to Congress?
If my reading of that instrument is correct, it is to the effect that that Constitution and all laws made in pursuance of it are of the supreme law of the land, anything in the Constitution
or laws of a State to the contrary notwithstanding.
Hence, you will find that only such acts of Congress are laws as are made in pursuance of the Constitution
When Congress has passed an act, and put it on the statute book as law, who is to decide whether that act is in conformity with the Constitution
The Constitution of
the United States
tells you. It has provided that the judicial power of the United States
shall be vested in a Supreme Court, and such inferior Courts as Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.
Thus, by the Constitution
, the Supreme Court is declared, in so many words, to be the tribunal, and the only tribunal, which is competent to adjudicate upon the constitutionality of an act of Congress.
He tells you that that Court has adjudicated the question, and decided that an act of Congress prohibiting slavery in the Territory
is unconstitutional and void ; and yet he says he is going to pass another like it. What for?
Will it be any more valid?
Will he be able to convince the Court
that the second act is valid when the first is invalid and void?
What good does it do to pass a second act?
Why, it will have the effect to arraign the Supreme Court before the people, and to bring them into all the political discussions of the country.
Will that do any good?
Will it inspire any more confidence in the judicial tribunals of the country?
What good can it do to wage this war upon the Court
, arraying it against Congress, and Congress against the Court
The Constitution of the United States
has said that this Government shall be divided into three separate and distinct branches, the executive, the legislative and the judicial, and of course each one is supreme and independent of the other within the circle of its own powers.
The functions of Congress are to enact the statutes, the province of the Court
is to pronounce upon their validity, and the duty of the Executive
is to carry the decision into effect when rendered by the Court
And yet, notwithstanding the Constitution
makes the decision of the Court
final in regard to the validity of an act of Congress, Mr. Lincoln
is going to reverse that decision by passing another act of Congress.
When he has become convinced of the folly of the proposition, perhaps he will resort to the same subterfuge that I have found others of his party resort to, which is to agitate and agitate until he can change the Supreme Court and put other men in the places of the present incumbents.
I wonder whether Mr. Lincoln
is right sure that he can accomplish that reform.
He certainly will not be able to get rid of the present Judges until they die, and from present appearances I think they have as good security of life as he has himself.
I am afraid that my friend Lincoln
would not accomplish this task during his own lifetime, and yet he wants to go to Congress to do it all in six years. Do you think that he can persuade nine Judges or a majority of them, to die in that six years, just to accommodate him?
They are appointed Judges for life, and according to the present organization, new ones cannot be appointed during that time ; but he is going to agitate until they die, and then have the President
appoint good Republicans in their places.
He had better be quite sure that he gets a Republican President
at the same time to appoint them.
He wants to have a Republican President
elected by Northern votes, not a Southern man participating, and elected for the purpose of placing none but Republicans on the bench, and consequently, if he succeeds in electing that President
, and succeeds in persuading the present Judges to die, in.order that their vacancies may be filled, that the President
will then appoint their successors.
And by what process will he appoint them?
He first looks for a man who has the legal qualifications, perhaps he takes Mr. Lincoln
, and says, “Mr. Lincoln
, would you not like to go on the Supreme
“Yes,” replies Mr. Lincoln
. “Well,” returns the Republican President
, “I cannot appoint you until you give me a pledge as to how you will decide in the event of a particular question coming before you.”
What would you think of Mr. Lincoln
if he would consent to give that pledge?
And yet he is going to prosecute a war until he gets the present Judges out, and then catechise each man and require a pledge before his appointment as to how he will decide each question that may arise upon points affecting the Republican party.
Now, my friends, suppose this scheme was practical, I ask you what confidence you would have in a Court thus constituted a Court composed of partisan Judges, appointed on political grounds, selected with a view to the decision of questions in a particular way, and pledged in regard to a decision before the argument) and without reference to the peculiar state of the facts.
Would such a Court command the respect of the country?
If the Republican party cannot trust Democratic.
Judges, how can they expect us to trust Republican Judges, when they have been selected in advance for the purpose of packing a decision· in the event of a case arising?
My fellow-citizens, whenever partisan politics shall be carried on to the bench ; whenever the Judges
shall be arraigned upon the stump, and their judicial conduct reviewed in town meetings and caucuses; whenever the independence and integrity of the judiciary shall be tampered with to the extent of rendering them partial, blind and suppliant tools, what security will you have for your rights and your liberties?
I therefore take issue with Mr. Lincoln
directly in regard to this warfare upon the Supreme Court of the United States
I accept the decision of that Court as it was pronounced.
Whatever my individual opinions may be, I, as a good citizen, am bound by the laws of the land, as the Legislature makes them, as the Court
expounds them, and as the executive officers administer them.
I am bound by our Constitution as our fathers made it, and as it is our duty to support it. I am bound, as a good citizen, to sustain the constituted authorities, and to resist, discourage, and beat down, by all lawful and peaceful means, all attempts at exciting mobs, or violence; or any other revolutionary proceedings against the Constitution
and the constituted authorities of the country.
is alarmed for fear that, under the Dred Scott
decision, slavery will go into all the Territories
of the United States
All I have to say is that, with or without that decision, slavery will go just where the people want it, and not one inch further.
You have had experience upon that subject in the case of Kansas
You have been told by the Republican party that, from 1854, when the Kansas
bill passed, down to last winter, that slavery was sustained and supported in Kansas
by the laws of what they called a “bogus” Legislature.
And how many slaves were there in the Territory
at the end of last winter?
Not as many at the end of that period as there were on the day the Kansas
There was quite a number of slaves in Kansas
, taken there under the Missouri Compromise
, and in spite of it, before the Kansas
bill passed, and now it is asserted that there are not as many there as there were before the passage of the bill, notwithstanding that they had local laws sustaining and encouraging it, enacted, as the Republicans say, by a “bogus” Legislature, imposed upon Kansas
by an invasion from Missouri
Why has not slavery obtained a foothold in Kansas
under these circumstances?
Simply because there was a majority of her people opposed to slavery, and every slaveholder knew that if he took his slaves there, the moment that majority got possession of the ballot-boxes, and a fair election was held, that moment slavery would be abolished and he would lose them.
For that reason, such owners as took their slaves there brought them back to Missouri
, fearing that if they remained they would he emancipated.
Thus you see that under the principle of popular sovereignty, slavery has been kept out of Kansas
, notwithstanding the fact that for the first three years they had a Legislature in that Territory favorable to it. I tell you, my friends, it is impossible under our institutions to force slavery on an unwilling people.
I f this principle of popular sovereignty asserted in the Nebraska
bill be fairly carried out, by letting the people decide the question for themselves, by a fair vote, at a fair election, and with honest returns, slavery will never exist one day, or one hour, in any Territory against the unfriendly legislation of an unfriendly people.
I care not how the Dred Scott
decision may have settled the abstract question so far as the practical result is concerned ; for, to use the language of an eminent Southern Senator
, on this very question:
I do not care a fig which way the decision shall be, for it is of no particular consequence ; slavery cannot exist a day or an hour, in any Territory or State, unless it has affirmative laws sustaining and supporting, it, furnishing police regulations and remedies, and an omission to furnish them would be as fatal as a constitutional prohibition.
Without affirmative legislation in its favor, slavery could not exist any longer than a new-born infant could survive under the heat of the sun, on a barren rock, without protection.
It would wilt and die for the want of support.
Hence, if the people of a Territory want slavery, they will encourage it by passing affirmatory laws, and the necessary police regulations, patrol laws and slave code; if they do not want it they will withhold that legislation, and by withholding it slavery is as dead as if it was prohibited by a constitutional prohibition, especially if, in addition, their legislation is unfriendly, as it would be if they were opposed to it. They could pass such local laws and police regulations as would drive slavery out in one day, or one hour, if they were opposed to it, and therefore, so far as the question of slavery in the Territories
is concerned, so far as the principle of popular sovereignty is concerned, in its practical operation, it matters not how the Dred Scott
case may be decided with reference to the Territories
My own opinion on that law point is well known.
It is shown by my votes and speeches in Congress.
But be it as it may, the question was an abstract question, inviting no practical results, and whether slavery shall exist or shall not exist in any State or Territory, will depend upon whether the people are for or against it, and which ever way they shall decide it in any Territory or in any State, will be entirely satisfactory to me.
But I must now bestow a few words upon Mr. Lincoln
's main, objection to the Dred Scott
He is not going to submit to it. Not that he is going to make war upon it with force of arms.
But he is going to appeal and reverse it in some way ; he cannot tell us how. I reckon not by a writ of error, because I do not know where he would prosecute that, except before an Abolition Society.
And when he appeals, he does not exactly tell us to whom he will appeal, except it be the Republican party, and I have yet to learn that the Republican party, under the Constitution
, has judicial powers; but he is going to appeal from it and reverse it, either by an act of Congress, or by turning out the judges, or in some other way. And why?
Because he says that that decision deprives the negro of the benefits of that clause of the Constitution of the United States
which entitles the citizens of each State to all the privileges and immunities of citizens of the several States.
Well, it is very true that the decision does have that effect.
By deciding that a negro is not a citizen, of course it denies to him the rights and privileges awarded to citizens of the United States
It is this that Mr. Lincoln
will not submit to. Why?
For the palpable reason that he wishes to confer upon the negro all the rights, privileges and immunities of citizens of the several States.
I will not quarrel with Mr. Lincoln
for his views on that subject.
I have no doubt he is conscientious in them.
I have not the slightest idea but that he conscientiously believes that a negro ought to enjoy and exercise all the rights and privileges given to white men ; but I do not agree with him, and hence I cannot concur with him. I believe that this Government of ours was founded on the white basis.
I believe that it was established by white men; by men of European
birth, or descended of European
races, for the benefit of white men and their posterity in all time to come.
I do not believe that it, was the design or intention of the signers of the Declaration of Independence
or the framers of the Constitution
to include negroes, Indians
, or other inferior races, with white man, as citizens.
Our fathers had at that day seen the evil consequences of conferring civil and political rights upon the Indian
and negro in the Spanish
colonies on the American
continent and the adjacent islands.
, in Central America
, in South America
and in the West India Islands
, where the Indian
, the negro and men of all colors and all races are put on an equality by law, the effect of political amalgamation can be seen.
Ask any of those gallant young men in your own county, who went to Mexico
to fight the battles of their country, in what friend Lincoln
considers an unjust and unholy war, and hear what they will tell you in regard to the amalgamation of races in that country.
Amalgamation there, first political, then social, has led to demoralization and degradation, until it has reduced that people below the point of capacity for self-government.
Our fathers knew what the effect of it would be, and from the time they planted foot on the American
continent, not only those who landed at Jamestown
, but at Plymouth Rock
and all other points on the coast, they pursued the policy of confining
civil and political rights to the white race, and excluding the negro in all cases.
Still Mr. Lincoln
conscientiously believes that it is his duty to advocate negro citizenship.
He wants to give the negro the privilege of citizenship.
He quotes Scripture again, and says: “As your Father in Heaven is perfect, be ye also perfect.”
And he applies that Scriptural quotation to all classes ; not that he expects us all to be as perfect as our Master, but as nearly perfect as possible.
In other words, he is willing to give the negro an equality under the law, in order that, he may approach as near perfection, or an equality with the white man, as possible.
To this same end he quotes the Declaration of Independence
in these words : “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men were created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among which are life liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;” and goes on to argue that the negro was included, or intended to be included in that Declaration by the signers of the paper.
He says that by the Declaration of Independence
, therefore, all kinds of men, negroes included, were created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and further, that the right of the negro to be on an equality with the white man is a Divine right conferred by the Almighty and rendered inalienable according to the Declaration of Independence
Hence no human law or constitution can deprive the negro of that equality with the white man to which he is entitled by Divine law. [ “Higher law.” ] higher law. Now, I do not question Mr. Lincoln
's sincerity on this point.
He believes that the negro, by the Divine law, is created the equal of the white man, and that no human law can deprive him of that equality, thus secured ; and he contends that the negro ought therefore to have all the rights and privileges of citizenship on an equality with the white man. In order to accomplish this, the first thing that would have to be done in this State would be to blot out of our State Constitution that clause which prohibits negroes from coming into this State, and making it an African colony, and permit them to come and spread over these charming prairies until in midday they shall look black as night.
When our friend Lincoln
gets all his colored brethren around him here, he will then raise them to perfection as fast as possible, and place them on an equality with the white man, first removing all legal restrictions, because they are our equals by Divine law, and there should be no such restrictions.
He wants them to vote.
I am opposed to it. If they had a vote, I reckon they would all vote for him in preference to me, entertaining the views I do. But that matters not. The position he has taken on this question not only presents him as claiming for them the right to vote, but their right under the Divine law and the Declaration of Independence
to be elected to office to become members of the Legislature, to go to Congress to become Governors, or United States Senators
, or Judges
of the Supreme Court; and I suppose that when they control that court, they will probably reverse the Dred Scott
He is going to bring negroes here, and give them the right of citizenship, the right of voting, and the right of holding office and sitting on juries, and what else?
Why, he would permit them to marry, would he not?
And if he gives them that right, I suppose he will let them marry whom they please, provided they marry their equals.
If the Divine law declares that the white man is the equal of the negro woman — that they are on a perfect equality, I suppose he admits the right of the negro woman to marry the white man. In other words, his doctrine that the negro, by Divine law, is placed on a perfect equality with the white man, and that that equality is recognized by the Declaration of Independence
leads him necessarily to establish negro equality under the law ; but whether even then they would be so in fact would depend upon the degree of virtue and intelligence they possessed, and certain other qualities that are matters of taste rather than of law I do not understand Mr. Lincoln
as saying that he expects to make them our equals socially, or by intelligence, nor in fact as citizens, but that he wishes to make them our equals under the law, and then say to them, “as your Master in Heaven is perfect, be ye also perfect.”
Well, I confess to you, my fellow-citizens, that I am utterly opposed to that system
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
negro to vote, provided he owns $250 worth of property.
New York thinks that a negro ought to be permitted to vote, provided he is rich, but not otherwise.
They allow the aristocratic negro to vote there.
I never saw the wisdom, the propriety or the justice of that decision on the part of New York, and yet it never occurred to me that I had a right to find fault with that State.
It is her business ; she is a sovereign State, and has a right to do as she pleases, and if she will take care of her own negroes, making such regulations concerning them as suit her, and let us alone, I will mind my business, and not interfere with her. In Kentucky
they will not give a negro any political or any civil rights.
I shall not argue the question whether Kentucky
in so doing has decided right or wrong, wisely or unwisely.
It is a question for Kentucky
to decide for herself.
I believe that the Kentuckians have consciences as well as ourselves; they have as keen a perception of their religious, moral and social duties as we have, and I am willing that they shall decide this slavery question for themselves, and be accountable to their God for their action.
It is not for me to arraign them for what they do. I will not judge them lest I shall be judged.
mind her own business, and take care of her negroes, and we attend to our own affairs, and take care of our negroes, and we will be the best of friends ; but if Kentucky
attempts to interfere with us, or we with her, there will be strife, there will be discord, there will be relentless hatred, there will be everything but fraternal feeling and brotherly love.
It is not necessary that you should enter Kentucky
and interfere in that State, to use the language of Mr. Lincoln
It is just as offensive to interfere from this State, or send your missiles over there.
I care not whether an enemy, if he is going to assault us, shall actually come into our State, or come along the line, and throw his bomb-shells over to explode in our midst.
should plant a battery on the Canadian
side of the Niagara river
, opposite Buffalo
, and throw bomb-shells over, which would explode in Main street, in that city, and destroy the buildings, and that, when we protested, she would say, in the language of Mr. Lincoln
, that she never dreamed of coming into the United States
to interfere with us, and that she was just throwing her bombs over the line from her own side, which she had a right to do, would that explanation satisfy us?
So it is with Mr. Lincoln
He is not going into Kentucky
, but he will plant his batteries on this side of the Ohio
, where he is safe and secure for a retreat, and will throw his bomb-shells-his abolition documents-over the river, and will carry on a political warfare, and get up strife between the North
and the South
until he elects a sectional President
, reduces the South
to the condition of dependent colonies, raises the negro to an equality, and forces the South
to submit to the doctrine that a house divided against itself cannot stand — that the Union
divided into half slave States and half free cannot endure — that they must all be slave or they must all be free, and that as we in the North
are in the majority, we will not permit them to be all slave, and therefore they in the South
must consent to the States all being free.
Now, fellow-citizens, I submit to you whether these doctrines are consistent with the peace and harmony of this Union?
I submit to you whether they are consistent with our duties as citizens of a common confederacy; whether they are consistent with the principles which ought to govern brethern of the same family?
I recognize all the people of these States, North and South, East and West, old or new, Atlantic or Pacific, as our brethren, flesh of one flesh, and I will do no act unto them that I would not be willing they should do unto us. I would apply the same Christian rule to the States of this Union that we are taught to apply to individuals, “do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” and this would secure peace.
Why should this slavery agitation be kept up?
Does it benefit the white man or the slave?
Who does it benefit except the Republican
politicians, who use it as their hobby to ride into office?
Why, I repeat, should it he continued?
Why cannot we be content to administer this Government as it was made — a confederacy of sovereign and independent States?
Let us recognize the sovereignty and independence of each State, refrain from
interfering with the domestic institutions and regulations of other States, permit the Territories
and new States to decide their institutions for themselves, as we did when we were in their condition; blot out these lines of North and South, and resort back to these lines of State boundaries which the Constitution
has marked out, and engraved upon the face of the country; have no other dividing lines but these, and we will be one united, harmonious people, with fraternal feelings, and no discord or dissension.
These are my views and these are the principles to which I have devoted all my energies since 1850, when I acted side by side with the immortal Clay
and the godlike Webster
in that memorable struggle in which Whigs and Democrats united upon a common platform of patriotism and the Constitution
, throwing aside partisan feelings in order to restore peace and harmony to a distracted country.
And when I stood beside the death-bed of Mr. Clay
, and heard him refer with feelings and emotions of the deepest solicitude to the welfare of the country, and saw that he looked upon the principle embodied in the great Compromise measures of 1550, the principle of the Nebraska
bill, the doctrine of leaving each State and Territory free to decide its institutions for itself, as the only means by which the peace of the country could be preserved and the Union
perpetuated,--I pledged him, on that death-bed of his, that so long as I lived my energies should be devoted to the vindication of that principle, and of his fame as connected with it. I gave the same pledge to the great expounder of the Constitution
, he who has been called the “god-like Webster
I looked up to Clay
and him as a son would to a father, and I call upon the people of Illinois
, and the people of the whole Union, to bear testimony, that never since the sod has been laid upon the graves of these eminent statesmen have I failed, on any occasion, to vindicate the principle with which the last great, crowning acts of their lives were identified, or to vindicate their names whenever they have been assailed; and now my life and energy are devoted to this great work as the means of preserving this Union.
This Union can only be preserved by maintaining the fraternal feeling between the North
and the South
, the East
and the West
If that good feeling can be preserved, the Union
will be as perpetual as the fame of its great founders.
It can be maintained by preserving the sovereignty of the States, the right of each State and each Territory to settle its domestic concerns for itself; and the duty of each to refrain from interfering with the other in any of its local or domestic institutions.
Let that be done, and the Union
will be perpetual ; let that be done, and this Republic, which began with thirteen States, and which now numbers thirty-two, which, when it began, only extended from the Atlantic
to the Mississippi
, but now reaches to the Pacific
, may yet expand, North and South, until it covers the whole Continent, and becomes one vast ocean-bound confederacy.
Then, my friends, the path of duty, of honor, of patriotism, is plain.
There are a few simple principles to be preserved.
Bear in mind the dividing line between State rights and Federal authority; let us maintain the great principles of popular sovereignty, of State rights, and of the Federal Union as the Constitution
has made it, and this Republic will endure forever.
I thank you kindly for the patience with which you have listened to me. I fear I have wearied you. I have a heavy day's work before me to-morrow.
I have several speeches to make.
My friends, in whose hands I am, are taxing me beyond human endurance, but I shall take the helm and control them hereafter.
I am profoundly grateful to the people of McLean
for the reception they have given me, and the kindness with which they have listened to me. I remember that when I first came among you here, twenty-five years ago, that I was prosecuting attorney in this district, and that my earliest efforts were made here, when my deficiencies were too apparent, I am afraid, to be concealed from any one.
I remember the courtesy and kindness with which I was uniformly treated by you all, and whenever I can recognize the face of one of your old citizens, it is like meeting an old and cherished friend.
I come among you with a heart filled with gratitude for past
I have been with you but little for the past few years on account of my official duties.
I intend to visit you again before the campaign is over.
I wish to speak to your whole people.
I wish them to pass judgment upon the correctness of my course, and the soundness of the principles which I have proclaimed.
If you do not approve my principles, I cannot ask your support.
If you believe that the election of Mr. Lincoln
would contribute more to preserve the harmony of the country, to perpetuate the Union
, and more to the prosperity and the honor and glory of the State
, then it is your duty to give him the preference.
If, on the contrary, you believe that I have been faithful to my trust, and that by sustaining me you will give greater strength and efficiency to the principles which I have expounded, I shall then be grateful for your support.
I renew my profound thanks for your attention.