Abraham Lincoln, a History — Volume 02 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 452 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, a History — Volume 02.

  [Sidenote] Lincoln-Douglas Debates, p. 95.

The next question propounded to me by Mr. Lincoln is, Can the people of a Territory in any lawful way, against the wish of any citizen of the United States, exclude slavery from their limits, prior to the formation of a State constitution?  I answer emphatically, as Mr. Lincoln has heard me answer a hundred times from every stump in Illinois, that in my opinion the people of a Territory can, by lawful means, exclude slavery from their limits, prior to the formation of a State constitution.  Mr. Lincoln knew that I had answered that question over and over again.  He heard me argue the Nebraska bill on that principle all over the State in 1854, in 1855, and in 1856, and he has no excuse for pretending to be in doubt as to my position on that question.  It matters not 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.  If, on the contrary, they are for it, their legislation will favor its extension.  Hence, no matter what the decision of the Supreme Court may be on that abstract question, still the right of the people to make a slave Territory or a free Territory is perfect and complete under the Nebraska bill.  I hope Mr. Lincoln deems my answer satisfactory on that point.

[Illustration:  STEPHEN A. DOUGLAS.]

The remarkable theory here proposed was immediately taken up and exhaustively discussed by the leading newspapers in all parts of the Union, and thereby became definitely known under the terms “unfriendly legislation” and “Freeport doctrine.”  Mr. Lincoln effectually disposed of it in the following fashion in the joint debate at Alton: 

  [Sidenote] Lincoln-Douglas Debates, pp. 234-5.

I understand I have ten minutes yet.  I will employ it in saying something about this argument Judge Douglas uses, while he sustains the Dred Scott decision, that the people of the Territories can still somehow exclude slavery.  The first thing I ask attention to is the fact that Judge Douglas constantly said, before the decision, that whether they could or not, was a question for the Supreme Court.  But after the court has made the decision he virtually says it is not a question for the Supreme Court, but for the people.  And how is it he tells us they can exclude it?  He said it needs “police regulations,” and that admits of “unfriendly legislation.”  Although it is a right established by the Constitution
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Abraham Lincoln, a History — Volume 02 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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