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Mr. Douglas returns to Chicago-Brilliant Reception-Makes his Speech
opening the Campaign-Lays down Principles on which he conducted it.
Soon after Congress adjourned, in June, 1858, Mr. Douglas returned to Illinois to engage in his canvass for reëlection to the Senate, and to vindicate the line of policy which he had felt it his duty to pursue. He arrived at Chicago on the 9th of July, and was welcomed by such a reception as no public man has ever received in this country. The newspapers of that city, of all shades of political opinions, concur in representing it as one of the most magnificent orations on record. Many columns of their sheets were filled with descriptions of the arrangements for the reception, the vast concourse of people—estimated at 30,000—the processions, illumination of houses, fireworks, banners, cannon, etc., etc., which greeted Mr. Douglas' return to his home.
The great event of this imposing pageant, however, was the speech of Mr. Douglas, in reply to the address of wel
After an appropriate and feeling acknowledgment of the honor done him in this grand testimonial, he proceeded to a discussion of the principles involved in the great controversy in which he was engaged. As this was the opening speech of the canvass, and clearly defines the principles on which it was afterward conducted through a series of more than one hundred joint and separate debates, we shall make such copious extracts as may enable the reader to understand the points in issue in that memorable campaign.
PRINCIPLES OF SELF-GOVERNMENT, AS APPLICABLE TO THE
If there is any one principle dearer and more sacred than all others in free governments, it is that which asserts the exclusive right of a free people to form and adopt their own fundamental law, and to manage and regulate their own internal affairs and domestic institutions. (Applause.)
When I found an effort being made, during the recent session of Congress, to force a constitution upon the people of Kansas against their will, and to force that State into the Union with a constitution which her people had rejected by more than 10,000 majority, I felt bound, as a man of honor and a representative of Illinois, bound by every consideration of duty, of fidelity, and of patriotism, to resist to the utmost of my power the consummation of what I deemed fraud. (Cheers.) With others I did resist it, and resisted it successfully until the attempt was abandoned. (Great applause.) We forced them to refer that constitution back to the people of Kansas, to be accepted or rejected, as they shall decide at an election, which is fixed for the first Monday of August next.
It is true that the mode of reference and the form of the submission was not such as I could sanction with my vote, for the reason that it discriminated between free States and slave States; providing that if Kansas consented to come in under the Lecompton constitution it should be received with a population of 35,000; but if she demanded another constitution, more consistent with the sentiments of her people and their feelings, that it should not be received into the Union until she had 93,420 inhabitants. (Cries of “bear, hear," and cheers.) I did not consider that mode of submission fair, for the reason that any election is a mockery which is not free-that any election is a fraud upon the rights of the people which holds out inducements for affirmative votes, and threatens penalties for negative votes. (Hear, hear.) But whilst I was not satisfied with the mode of submission, whilst I resisted it to the last, demanding a fair, a just, a free mode of submission, still, when the law passed placing it within the power of the people of Kansas at that election to reject the Lecompton constitution, and then make another in harmony with their principles and their opinions (Bravo, and applause), I did not believe that either the penalties on the one hand, or the inducements on the other, would prevail on that people to accept a constitution to which they are irreconcilably opposed. (Cries of “glori ous," and renewed applause.) All I can say is, that if their votes can be controlled by such considerations, all the sympathy which has been
STEPHEN A. DOUGLAS.
expended upon them has been nı isplaced, and all the efforts that have been inade in defence of their right to self-government have been made in an unworthy cause. (Cheers.)
NO RIGHT TO FORCE EVEN A GOOD THING ON AN UNWILLING
I will be entirely frank with you. My object was to secure the right of the people of each State and of each Territory, North or South, to decide the question for themselves, to have slavery or not, just as thoy choose ; and my opposition to the Lecompton constitution was not predicated upon the ground that it was a pro-slavery Constitution (cheers), nor would my action have been different had it been a free-soil Constitution. My speech against it was made on the 9th of December, while the vote on the slavery clause in that Constitution was not taken until the 21st of the same month, nearly two weeks after. I made my speech solely on the ground that it was a violation of the fundamental principles of free government; on the ground that it was not the act and deed of the people of Kansas; that it did not embody their will; that they were averse to it; and hence I denied the right of Congress to force it upon them, either as a free State or a slave State. (Bravo.) I deny the right of Congress to force a slaveholding State upon an unwilling people. (Cheers.) I deny their right to force a free State upon an unwilling people. (Cheers.) I deny their right to force a good thing upon a people who are unwilling to receive it. (Cries of “Good, good,” and cheers.) The great principle is the right of every community to judge and decide for itself whether a thing is right or wrong, whether it would be good or evil for them to adopt it; and the right of free action, the right of free thought, the right of free judgment upon the question is dearer to every true American than any other under a free government. My objection to the Lecompton contrivance was that it undertook to put a constitution on the people of Kansas against their will, in opposition to their wishes, and thus violated the great principle upon which all our institutions rest. It is no answer to this argument to say that slavery is an evil, and hence should not be tolerated. You must allow the people to decide for themselves whether it is a good or an evil. You allow them to decide for themselves whether they desire a Maine liquor law or not; you allow them to decide for them. selves what kind of common schools they will have; what system of banking they will adopt, or whether they will adopt any at all; you allow them to decide for themselves the relations between husband and wife, parent and child, and guardian and ward; in fact, you allow them to de. cide for themselves all other questions, and why not upon this ques. tion ? (Cheers.) Whenever you put a limitation upon the right of any people to decide what laws they want, you have destroyed the fundamental principle of self-government. (Cheers).
ORIGIN OF THE IRREPRESSIBLE CONFLICT.
The Republican convention which nominated Mr. Lincoln for United States senator in opposition to Mr. Douglas, was held in the city of Springfield, on the 15th of June, 1858. Immediately after Mr. Lincoln's unanimous nomination was announced, he read to the convention a carefully elaborated speech accepting the nomination which he had prepared in anticipation of that event, and which was published for circulation by order of the convention, as an authoritative exposition of the principles of the læpublican party. Mr. Douglas referring to this speech, said:
Mr. Lincoln made a speech before that Republican convention which unanimously nominated him for the Senate-a speech evidently well prepared and carefully written-in which he states the basis upon which he proposes to carry on the campaign during this summer. In it he lays dowi two distinct propositions which I shall notice, and upon which I shall take a direct and bold issue with him. (Cries of “Good, good," and great applause).
His first and main proposition I will give in his own language, Scripture quotation and all (laughter). I give his exact language :
“In my opinion it (the slavery agitation) will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. A house divided against itself cannot stand.' I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not 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. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction, or its advocates will push forward till it shall become alike lawful in all the States-old as well as new, North as well as South."
In other words, Mr. Lincoln asserts as a fundamental principle of this government, that there must be uniformity in the local laws and domestic institutions of each and all the States of the Union; and he therefore in. vites all the non-slaveholding States to band together, organize as one body, and make war upon slavery in Kentucky, upon slavery in Virginia, upon slavery in the Carolinas, upon slavery in all the slaveholding States in this Union, and to persevere in that war until it shall be exterminated. He then notified the slaveholding States to stand together as a unit and make an aggressive war upon the free States of this Union with a view of establishing slavery in them all ; of forcing it upon Illinois, of forcing it upon New York, upon New England, and upon every other free State, and that they shall keep up the warfare until it has been formally established in them all. In other words, Mr. Lincoln advocates boldly and clearly a war of sections, a war of the North against the South, of the free States against the slave States—a war of extermination—to be continued relentlessly, until the one or the other shall be subdued and all the States shall either become free or become slave.
Now, my friends, I must say to you frankly, that I take bold, unqualified issue with him upon that principle. I assert that it is neither desirable nor possible that there should be uniformity in the local institutions and domestic regulations of the different States of this Union. The framers of our government never contemplated uniformity in its internal concerns. The fathers of the Revolution, and the sages who made the Constitution, well understood that the laws and domestic institutions which would suit the granite hills of New Hampshire, would be totally unfit for the rice plantations of South Carolina (cheers); they well understood that the laws which would suit the agricultural districts of Pennsylvania and New York, would be totally unfit for the large mining regions of the Pacific, or the lumber regions of Maine. (Bravo.) They well understood that the great varieties of soil, of production, and of interests, in a republic as large as this, required different local and domestic regulations in each locality, adapted to the wants and interests of each separate State (cries of "bravo" and "good,”) and for that reason it was provided in the federal Constitution that the thirteen original States should remain sovereign and supreme within their own limits in regard to all that was local, and internal, and domestic, while the Federal Government should have certain specified powers which were general and national, and could be exercised ouly by the federal authority. (Cheers).