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Q. 6. - "I desire to know whether he stands pledged to prohibit slavery in all the Territories of the United States, north as well as south of the Missouri Compromise line.”
A.-I am impliedly, if not expressly, pledged to a belief in the right and duty of Congress to prohibit slavery in all the United States Territories. [Great applause.]
Q 7.- “I desire him to answer whether he is opposed to the acquisition of any new territory unless slavery is first prohibited therein.”
A. - I am not generally opposed to honest acquisition of territory; and, in any given case, I would or would not oppose such acquisition, accordingly as I might think such acquisition would or would not agitate the slavery question among ourselves.
Now, my friends, it will be perceived, upon an examination of these questions and answers, that so far I have only answered that I was not pledged to this, that, or the other. The judge has not framed his interrogatories to ask me any thing more than this, and I have answered in strict accordance with the interrogatories, and have answered truly that I am not pledged at all upon any of the points to which I have answered. But I am not disposed to hang upon the exact form of his interrogatory. I am rather disposed to take up at least some of these questions, and state what I really think upon them.
As to the first one, in regard to the Fugitive-Slave Law, I have never hesitated to say, and I do not now hesitate to say, that I think, under the Constitution of the United States, the people of the Southern States are entitled to a congressional slave law. Having said that, I have had nothing
in regard to the existing Fugitive-Slave Law, further than that I think it should have been framed so as to be free from some of the objections that pertain to it, without lessening its efficiency. And inasmuch as we are not now in an agitation in regard to an alteration or modification of that law, I would not be the man to introduce it as a new subject of agitation upon the general question of slavery.
In regard to the other question, of whether I am pledged to the admission of any more Slave States into the Union, I state to you very frankly, that I would be exceedingly sorry ever to be put in a position of having to pass upon that question. I should be exceedingly glad to know that there would never be another Slave State admitted into the Union ; but I must add, that, if slavery shall be kept out of the Territories during the Territorial existence of any one given Territory, and then the people shall, having a fair chance and a clear field, when they come to adopt the constitution, do such an extraordinary thing as to adopt a slave constitution, uninfluenced by the actual presence of the institution among them, I see no alternative, if we own the country, but to admit them into the Union. [Applause.]
The third interrogatory is answered by the answer to the second, it being, as I conceive, the same as the second.
The fourth one is in regard to the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia. In relation to that, I have my mind very distinctly made up. I should be exceedingly glad to see slavery abolished in the District of Columbia. I believe that Congress possesses the constitutional power to abolish it. Yet, as a member of Congress, I should not, with my present views, be in favor of endeavoring to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, unless it would be upon these conditions: First, that the abolition should be gradual; Second, That it should be on a vote of the majority of qualified voters in the District; and Third, That compensation should be made to unwilling
With these three conditions, I confess I would be exceedingly glad to see Congress abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, and, in the language of Henry Clay, “sweep from our capital that foul blot upon our nation."
In regard to the fifth interrogatory, I must say here, that as to the question of the abolition of the slave-trade between the different States, I can truly answer, as I have, that I am pledged to nothing about it. It is a subject to which I have not given that mature consideration that would make me feel authorized to state a position so as to hold myself entirely bound by it. In other words, that question has never been prominently enough before me to induce me to investigate whether we really have the constitutional power to do it. I could investigate it if I had sufficient time to bring myself to a conclusion upon that subject; but I have not done so, and I say so frankly to you here and to Judge Douglas. I must say, however, that, if I should be of opinion that Congress does possess the constitutional power to abolish slave-trading among the different States, I should still not be in favor of the exercise of that power unless upon some conservative principle as I conceive it, akin to what I have said in relation to the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia.
My answer as to whether I desire that slavery should be prohibited in all Territories of the United States is full and explicit within itself, and cannot be made clearer by any comments of mine. So I suppose, in regard to the question whether I am opposed to the acquisition of any more territory unless slavery is first prohibited therein, my answer is such that I could add nothing by way of illustration, or making myself better understood, than the answer which I have placed in writing.
Now, in all this the Judge has me, and he has me on the record. I suppose he had flattered himself that I was really entertaining one set of opinions for one place, and another set for another place, that I was afraid to say at one place what I uttered at another. What I am saying here I suppose
I say to a vast audience as strongly tending to abolitionism as any audience in the State of Illinois ; and I believe I am saying that which, if it would be offensive to any persons, and render them enemies to myself, would be offensive to persons in this audience.
Mr. Douglas had presented his interrogatories on the 21st of August, and Mr. Lincoln did not answer them until the 27th. They had no meetings between those days; and Mr. Lincoln had ample time to ponder his replies, and consult his friends. But he did more: he improved the opportunity to prepare a series of insidious questions, which he felt sure Mr. Douglas could not possibly answer without utterly ruining his political prospects. Mr. Lincoln struggled for a great prize, unsuspected by the common mind, but the thought of which was ever present to his own. Mr. Douglas was a standing candidate for the Presidency; but as yet Mr. Lincoln was a very quiet one, nursing hopes which his modesty prevented him from obtruding upon others. He was wise enough to keep the fact of their existence to himself, and in the mean time to dig pitfalls and lay obstructions in the way of his most formidable competitors. His present purpose was not only to defeat Mr. Douglas for the Senate, but to " kill him," -- to get him out of the way finally and forever. If he could make him evade the Dred-Scott Decision, and deny the right of a Southern man to take his negroes into a Territory, and keep them there while it was a Territory, he would thereby sever him from the body of the Democratic party, and leave him the leader of merely a little half-hearted antislavery faction. Under such circumstances, Mr. Douglas could never be the candidate of the party at large; but he might serve a very useful purpose by running on a separate ticket, and dividing the great majority of conservative votes, which would inevitably elect a single nominee.
Mr. Lincoln went to Chicago, and there intimated to some of his friends what he proposed to do. They attempted to dissuade him, because, as they insisted, if Mr. Douglas should answer that the Dred-Scott Decision might be evaded by the people of a Territory, and slavery prohibited in the face of it, the answer would draw to him the sympathies of the antislavery voters, and probably, of itself, defeat Mr. Lincoln. But, so long as Mr. Douglas held to the decision in good faith, he had no hope of more aid from that quarter than he had
already received. It was therefore the part of wisdom to let him alone as to that point. Mr. Lincoln, on the contrary, looked forward to 1860, and was determined that the South should understand the antagonism between Mr. Douglas's latest conception of “squatter sovereignty,” on the one hand, and the Dred-Scott Decision, the Nebraska Bill, and all previous platforms of the party, on the other. Mr. Douglas taught strange doctrines and false ones; and Mr. Lincoln thought the faithful, far and near, should know it. If Mr. Douglas was a schismatic, there ought to be a schism, of which the Republicans would reap the benefit; and therefore he insisted upon his questions. 6. That is no business of yours," said his friends.
“ Attend exclusively to your senatorial race, and let the slaveholder and Douglas fight out that question among themselves and for themselves. If you put the question to him, he will answer that the Dred-Scott Decision is simply an abstract rule, having no practical application.' “ If he answers that way, he's a dead cock in the pit," responded Mr. Lincoln. “ But that,” said they, “is none of your business: you are concerned only about the senatorship.” — “ No," continued Mr. Lincoln,“ not alone exactly:I am killing larger game. The great battle of 1860 is worth a thousand of this senatorial race."
He did accordingly propound the interrogatories as follows:
1. If the people of Kansas shall, by means entirely unobjectionable in all other respects, adopt a State constitution, and ask admission into the Union under it, before they have the requisite number of inhabitants according to the English Bill,
some ninety-three thousand, will you vote to admit them ?
2. Can the people of a United States Territory, in any lawful way, against the wish of any citizen of the United States, exclude slavery from its limits ?
3. If the Supreme Court of the United States shall decide that States cannot exclude slavery from their limits, are you in favor of acquiescing in, adopting, and following such decision as a rule of political action ?
4. Are you in favor of acquiring additional territory, in disregard of how such acquisition may affect the nation on the slavery question ?
The first and fourth questions Mr. Douglas answered substantially in the affirmative. To the third he replied, that no judge would ever be guilty of the “moral treason” of making such a decision. But to the second — the main question, to which all the others were riders and make-weights-he answered as he was expected to answer.
6. It matters not,” said he, “ what way the Supreme Court may hereafter decide as to the abstract question whether slavery may or may not go
into a Territory under the Constitution : the people have the lawful means to introduce it or exclude it, as they please, for the reason that slavery cannot exist a day or an hour anywhere, unless it is supported by local police regulations. Those police regulations can only be established by the local Legislature; and, if the people are opposed to slavery, they will elect representatives to that body who will, by unfriendly legislation, effectually prevent the introduction of it into their midst."
The reply was more than enough for Mr. Lincoln's purpose. It cut Mr. Douglas off from his party, and put him in a state of perfect antagonism to it. He firmly denied the power of Congress to restrict slavery; and he admitted, that, under the Dred-Scott Decision, all Territories were open to its entrance. But he held, that, the moment the slaveholder passed the boundary of a Territory, he was at the mercy of the squatters, a dozen or two of whom might get together in a legislature, and rob him of the property which the Constitution, the Supreme Court, and Mr. Douglas himself said he had an indefeasible right to take there. Mr. Lincoln knew that the Southern people would feel infinitely safer ' in the hands of Congress than in the hands of the squatters. If they regarded the Republican mode of excluding slavery as a barefaced usurpation, they would consider Mr. Douglas's system of confiscation by “unfriendly legislation ” mere plain stealing. The Republicans said to them, “ We will regulate