Learning Lincoln On-line


President Lincoln Portrait READINGS Puzzle--   READING #12



Mural at Ottawa, Illinois


(Photo by Howard Taylor)

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates, 1858





         Popular sovereignty (the right of territories and states to determine whether they have slavery or not by a vote)

         Compromise of 1850 (Compromise of 1850 was one of the most important laws passed during the slavery. This compromise made differences between the North and the South even greater than before. This compromise allowed fugitive slaves to be caught and returned from free states to their owners in the slave states. This made the North unsafe for runaway slaves -they now had to reach Canada to be really free.)

         Fugitive slave law (The law stated that in future any federal marshal who did not arrest an alleged runaway slave could be fined $1,000. People suspected of being a runaway slave could be arrested without warrant and turned over to a claimant on nothing more than his sworn testimony of ownership. A suspected black slave could not ask for a jury trial nor testify on his or her behalf.   Any person aiding a runaway slave by providing shelter, food or any other form of assistance was liable to six months' imprisonment and a $1,000 fine. Those officers capturing a fugitive slave were entitled to a fee and this encouraged some officers to kidnap free Negroes and sell them to slave-owners.)

      http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/97/DredScott.jpg/180px-DredScott.jpgDred Scott Case (Dred Scott was the name of an African-American slave. He was taken by his master, an officer in the U.S. Army, from the slave state of Missouri to the free state of Illinois and then to the free territory of Wisconsin. He lived on free soil for a long period of time.   When the Army ordered his master to go back to Missouri, he took Scott with him back to that slave state, where his master died. In 1846, Scott was helped by Abolitionist (anti-slavery) lawyers to sue for his freedom in court, claiming he should be free since he had lived on free soil for a long time. The case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Roger B. Taney, was a former slave owner from Maryland.   In March of 1857, Scott lost the decision as seven out of nine Justices on the Supreme Court declared no slave or descendant of a slave could be a U.S. citizen, or ever had been a U.S. citizen. As a non-citizen, the court stated, Scott had no rights and could not sue in a Federal Court and must remain a slave.)

         Kansas-Nebraska Act  (In 1854 Congress passed a law that would allow the issue of slavery to be decided by a vote of the people in the territories..  Much violence occurred by the pro- and anti-slavery groups fighting for their side.)

         Missouri Compromise (In 1850, a series of acts to take care of the issue of slavery in the new state of California, Texas, and the nationís capitol.  Washington D.C. was at the time the leading slave-selling center of N. America.  That would end with the Missouri Compromise.  Slavery would be allowed to exist in Washington, but the marketing would end.  Included in this Compromise was the Fugitive Slave Law.)

         Other issues would arise during and before the big presidential election of 1860, but these were the chief ones.




4SAD-- Our fathers knew that the South and the North, so far apart--differing in climate and production, different interests . requiring different institutions. This doctrine of uniformity of Mr. Lincoln's making all of them conform alike, is a new doctrine, never dreamed of by Washington or Madison, or the framers of the Constitution. This government has flourished for seventy years upon the principle of popular sovereignty, recognizing the right of each State to do as it pleases.

5AL-- When he is saying that the negro has no share in the Declaration of Independence, he is going back to the year of our revolution, and, to the extent of his ability, he is muzzling the cannon that thunders its annual joyous return. When he is saying, as he often does, that if any people want slavery they have the right to have it, he is blowing out the moral lights around us. When he says that he doesn't care whether slavery is voted up or down, then, to my thinking, he is, so far as he is able to do so, perverting the human soul and eradicating the light of reason and the love of liberty on the American continent.



3AL-- Can the people of the United States territory in any lawful way, against the wishes of any citizen of the United States, exclude slavery from their limits prior to the formation of a state constitution?

4SAD-- Whatever the Supreme Court may hereafter decide as to the abstract question of whether slavery may go in under the Constitution or not, the people of a Territory have the lawful means to admit it or exclude it as they please, for the reason that slavery cannot exist a day or an hour anywhere unless supported by local police regulations. If the people of the Territory are opposed to slavery they will elect members to the legislature who will adopt unfriendly legislation to it.


3SAD-- We have risen from a weak, feeble power, till we have become the terror and the admiration of the civilized world, and all this had been done under a constitution which Mr. Lincoln says, in substance, is a violation of the law of God, and under a union divided into free and slave States, and Mr. Lincoln says because of such division the house cannot stand.

4AL-- Judge Douglas says why cannot this Union endure permanently, half slave and half free. I say that Judge Douglas and his friends have changed the policy from the way in which our fathers originally place it. I say the way in which our fathers left this subject, slavery was in the course of ultimate extinction. I say that when our government was first established it was the policy of the government to prohibit the spread or extension of slavery into the territories of the United States where it did not then exist.


2AL-- The other way is for us to surrender and let Judge Douglas and his friends plant slavery in all the States, and submit to it as one of the common matters of property among us, like horses and cattle. That would be another way to settle the question, but while it stands in the way of progress as now, I have ventured the opinion that we will have no end to the slavery agitation until it takes one turn or the other.

4SAD-- I am willing to offer my whole public life and my whole private life to the inspection of any man, or of all men, who desire to investigate it and if twenty-five years of residence among you, and nearly the whole time a public man, exposed, perhaps to more assaults and more abuse than any man living of my age, or that ever did live, and if I have survived it all, and commanded your confidence thus far, I am willing to trust to your knowledge of me and my public actions, without making any personal defense against those assaults from my enemies.


http://www.alincolnlearning.us/sa-douglas.jpgSAD-- My friends ,. I say to you there is but one path of peace in this Republic, and that is to administer this Government as our fathers made it, divided into free states and slave States, allowing each State to decide for itself whether it wants slavery or not.

http://www.alincolnlearning.us/beardlessabe.jpgAL-- Now, I think that it is a grave question for the people of this nation to consider, whether, in view of the fact, that this slavery question has been the only one that has ever threatened or menaced a dissolution of the Union, that has ever disturbed us in such a way as to make us fear for our liberty--I say in view of these facts, I think it is an exceedingly important question for this people to consider, whether we shall enter upon a policy of the acquisition of new territory without regard to this question of slavery.


3AL-- Now, I suggest, that that difference of opinion, reduced to its lowest element, is no other than that between the man that thinks slavery wrong and those who do not think it wrong. We, the Republican Party, think it wrong. We think it is a moral, a social, and a political wrong. We think it is a wrong, not confining itself merely to the person or the states where it exists, but it is a wrong in its outspreading, that extends itself to the interest of the whole nation.   Because we think it wrong, we propose a course of policy that shall deal with it as a wrong--we propose to treat it as any other wrong, in so far as we can prevent its growing any larger, and so that in the run of time there may be some promise of an end to it.

4SAD-- It is the duty of every law abiding man to obey the Constitution, and the laws, and the constituted authorities. He, who attempts to stir up violence and rebellion in the country against the constituted authorities, is stimulating the passions of men to resort to violence and mobs, instead of the law. Hence I tell you, I take the decisions of that Court as they have been pronounced, as the law of the land, and I intend to obey them as such.


2SAD-- Mr. Lincoln and I have addressed the people in large numbers in many of the central counties, and in my speeches I held closely to these three propositions--controverting his proposition that this union could not exist as our fathers made it, divided into free and slave states--controverting his proposition of a crusade against the Supreme Court on the Dred Scott decision and controverting his proposition that the Declaration of Independence included and meant negroes as well as white men, when it declared all men to be created equal.

3AL-- That is the real issue! An issue that will continue in this country when these poor tongues of Douglas and myself shall be silent. These are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, "You work and toil and earn bread, and I'll eat it." No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.


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