Abraham Lincoln, Volume I eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 286 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume I.
his hold upon the South.  He told Southerners that by his happy theory of “popular sovereignty” he had educated the public mind, and accomplished the repeal of the Missouri Compromise.  When the Dred Scott decision took the life out of his “popular sovereignty,” he showed his wonted readiness in adapting himself to the situation.  To the triumphant South he graciously admitted the finality of a decision which sustained the most extreme Southern doctrine.  To the perturbed and indignant North he said cheeringly that the decision was of no practical consequence whatsoever!  For every one knew that slavery could not exist in any community without the aid of friendly legislation; and if any anti-slavery community should by its anti-slavery legislature withhold this essential friendly legislation, then slavery in that State might be lawful but would be impossible.  So, he said, there is still in fact “popular sovereignty."[73] When the pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution came up for consideration Douglas decided not to rest content with the form of popular approval, but to stand out for the substance.  He quarreled with Buchanan, and in an angry interview they exchanged threats and defiance.  Douglas felt himself the greater man of the two in the party, and audaciously indicated something like contempt for the rival who was not leader but only President.  Conscience, if one may be allowed gravely to speak of the conscience of a professional politician, and policy were in comfortable unison in commending this choice to Douglas.  For his term as senator was to expire in 1858, and reelection was not only in itself desirable, but seemed essential to securing the presidency in 1860.  Heretofore Illinois had been a Democratic State; the southern part, peopled by immigrants from neighboring slave States, was largely pro-slavery; but the northern part, containing the rapidly growing city of Chicago, had been filled from the East, and was inclined to sympathize with the rest of the North.  Such being the situation, an avowal of Democratic principles, coupled with the repudiation of the Lecompton fraud, seemed the shrewd and safe course in view of Douglas’s political surroundings, also the consistent, or may we say honest, course in view of his antecedent position.  If, in thus retaining his hold on Illinois, he gave to the Southern Democracy an offense which could never be forgotten or forgiven, this misfortune was due to the impracticable situation and not to any lack of skillful strategy on his part.  In spite of him the bill passed the Senate, but in the House twenty-two Northern Democrats went over to the opposition, and carried a substitute measure, which established that the Lecompton Constitution must again be submitted to popular vote.  Though this was done by the body of which Douglas was not a member, yet every one felt that it was in fact his triumph over the administration.  A Committee of Conference then brought in the “English bill.”  Under this the Kansans were to vote, August 3, 1858, either
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Abraham Lincoln, Volume I from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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