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Mr. Lincoln, -- and Mr. Douglas commended them to anybody's eating but his own. His desertion was sudden and astonishing; but there was method in it, and a reason for it. The next year Illinois was to choose a senator to fill the vacancy created by the expiration of his own term; and the choice lay between the author of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill and its most conspicuous opponent in that State. The newspapers were not yet done publishing Mr. Lincoln's speech, in which occurred the following paragraph :
“ Three years and a half ago Judge Douglas brought forward his famous Nebraska Bill. The country was at once in a blaze. He scorned all opposition, and carried it through Congress. Since then he has seen himself superseded in a Presidential nomination by one indorsing the general doctrine of his measure, but at the same time standing clear of the odium of its untimely agitation and its gross breach of national faith; and he has seen the successful rival constitutionally elected, not by the strength of friends, but by the division of his adversaries, being in a popular minority of nearly four hundred thousand votes. He has seen his chief aids in his own State, Shields and Richardson, politically speaking, successively tried, convicted, and executed for an offence not their own, but his. And now he sees his own case standing next on the docket for trial.”
LTHOUGH primarily responsible for all that had taken
place in Kansas, Mr. Douglas appeared to be suddenly animated by a new and burning zeal in behalf of the FreeState party in the Territory. It struck him very forcibly, just when he needed most to be struck by a new idea, that the Lecompton Constitution was not “the act and deed of the people of Kansas.”
Accordingly, Mr. Douglas took his stand against Lecompton at the first note of the long conflict in Congress. We shall make no analysis of the debates, nor set out the votes of senators and representatives which marked the intervals of that fierce struggle between sections, parties, and factions which followed. It is enough to say here, that Mr. Douglas was found speaking and voting with the Republicans upon every phase of the question. He had but one or two followers in the Senate, and a mere handful in the House ; yet these were faithful to his lead until a final conference committee and the English Bill afforded an opportunity for some of them to escape. For himself he scorned all compromises, voted against the English Bill, and returned to Illinois to ask the votes of the people upon a winter's record wholly and consistently anti-Democratic. The fact is mentioned, not to obscure the fame of the statesman, nor to impugn the honesty of the politician, but because it had an important influence upon the canvass of the ensuing summer.
During the winter Mr. Douglas held frequent consultations with the leaders of the Republican party. Their meetings were secret, and for that reason the more significant.
Ву this means, harmony of action was secured for the present, and something provided for the future. Mr. Douglas covertly announced himself as a convert to the Republicans, declared his uncompromising enmity to “ the slave power, and said that, however he might be distrusted then, he would be seen " fighting their battles in 1860 ; ” but for the time he thought it wise to conceal his ultimate intentions. He could manage the Democracy more effectually by remaining with them until better opportunities should occur. “He insisted that he would never be driven from the party, but would remain in it until he exposed the administration and the Disunionists; and, when he went out, he would go of his own accord. He was in the habit of remarking, that it was policy for him to remain in the party, in order to hold certain of the rank-and-file; so that, if he went over from the Democracy to any other party, he would be able to take the crowd along with him; and, when he got them all over, he would cut down the bridges, and sink the boats." When asked if he knew precisely where his present course was taking him, he answered repeatedly, “ I do; and I have checked all my baggage, and taken a through ticket.”
He was a proselyte not to be despised: his weight might be sufficient to turn the scale in the Presidential election. The Republicans were naturally pleased with his protestątions of friendship, and more than pleased with his proffers of active service; but he was not content with this alone. He contrived to convince many of his late opponents that the Kansas-Nebraska Bill itself was actually conceived in the interests of antislavery, and that the device was the most cunning of political tricks, intended to give back to “freedom ” all the vast expanse of territory which the Missouri line had dedicated forever to slavery. “ Mr. Douglas's plan for destroying the Missouri line,” said one Republican, “and thereby opening the way for the march of freedom beyond the limits forever prohibited by that line, and the opening up of Free States in territory which it was conceded belonged to the Slave States, and its march westward, embracing the whole line of the Pacific from the British possessions to Mexico, struck me as the most magnificent scheme ever conceived by the human mind. This character of conversation, so frequently employed by Mr. Douglas with those with whom he talked, made the deepest impression upon their minds, enlisted them in his behalf, and changed, in almost every instance, their opinion of the man.” In support of this view, Mr. Douglas could point to Kansas, where the battle under his bill was being fought out. The Free State men had, perhaps from the very beginning, been in a majority, and could take possession of the Territory or the new State, as the case might be, whenever they could secure a fair vote. The laboring classes of the North were the natural settlers of the western Territories. If these failed in numbers, the enormous and increasing European immigration was at their back; and, if both together failed, the churches, aid societies, and antislavery organizations were at hand to raise, arm, and equip great bodies of emigrants, as they would regular forces for a public purpose. The South had no such facilities : its social, political, and material conditions made a sudden exodus of its voting population to new countries a thing impossible. It might send here a man with a few negroes, and there another. It might insist vehemently upon its supposed rights in the common Territories, and be ready to fight for them; but it could never cover the surface of those Territories with cosey farmsteads, or crowd them with intelligent and muscular white men ; and yet these last would inevitably give political character to the rising communities. Such clearly were to be the results of “popular sovereignty," as Mr. Douglas had up to that time maintained it under the Nebraska Bill.
It signified the right of the people of a Territory "to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way when, and not before, they came to frame a State constitution. The Missouri line, on the contrary, had been a sort of convention, which, by common consent, gave all north of it to freedom, and all south of it to slavery. But popular sover
eignty disregarded all previous compacts, all ordinances, and all laws. With this doctrine in practice, the North were sure to be victors in every serious contest. But when Mr. Douglas changed ground again, and popular sovereignty became squatter sovereignty, he had reason to boast himself the most efficient, although the wiliest and coolest, antislavery agitator on the continent. The new doctrine implied the right of a handful of settlers to determine the slavery question in their first Legislature. It made no difference whether they did this by direct or "unfriendly legislation :” the result was the same.
“ Popular sovereignty! popular sovereignty !” said Mr. Lincoln. “ Let us for a moment inquire into this vast matter of popular sovereignty. What is popular sovereignty ? We recollect, that, in an early period in the history of this struggle, there was another name for the same thing, squatter sovereignty. It was not exactly popular sovereignty, --squatter sovereignty. What do these terms mean? What do those terms mean when used now? And vast credit is taken by our friend, the Judge, in regard to his support of it, when he declares the last years of his life have been, and all the future years of his life shall be, devoted to this matter of popular sovereignty. What is it? Why, it is the sovereignty of the people! What was squatter sovereignty? I suppose, if it had any significance at all, it was the right of the people to govern themselves, to be sovereign in their own affairs while they were squatted down in a country not their own, while they had squatted on a territory that did not belong to them ; in the sense that a State belongs to the people who inhabit it, when it belongs to the nation. Such right to govern themselves was called squatter sovereignty.'”
Again, and on another occasion, but still before Mr. Douglas had substituted “squatter” for “popular” sovereignty, a feat which was not performed until September, 1859, — Mr. Lincoln said,
"I suppose almost every one knows, that in this contro