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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Incivil Debate

Lincoln's rejoinder in Quincy during the 6th debate with Douglas:

I wish to return Judge Douglas my profound thanks for his public annunciation here to-day, to be put on record, that his system of policy in regard to the institution of slavery contemplates that it shall last forever. [Great cheers, and cries of 'Hit him again.'] I am profoundly grateful for this one sentence. Judge Douglas asks you 'why cannot the institution of slavery, or rather, why cannot the nation, part slave and part free, continue as our fathers made it forever? In the first place, I insist that they found the institution of slavery existing here. They did not make it so, but they left it so because they knew of no way to get rid of it at that time. ['Good,' 'Good,' 'That's true.']

When Judge Douglas undertakes to say that as a matter of choice the fathers of the government made this nation part slave trade, adopted a system of restricting it from the new Territories where it had not existed, I maintain that they placed it where they understood, and all sensible men understood, it was in the course of ultimate extinction [that's so']; and when Judge Douglas asks me why it cannot continue as our fathers made it, I ask him why he and his friends could not let it remain as our fathers made it? [Tremendous cheering.]


But I have to hurry on, for I have but a half hour. The Judge has informed, or informed this audience, that the Washington Union is laboring for my election to the United States Senate. [Cheers and laughter.] That is news to me — not very ungrateful news either. [Turning to Mr. Wm. H. Carlin, who was on the stand] — I hope that Carlin will be elected to the State Senate and will vote for me. [Mr. Carlin shook his head.] Carlin don't fall in, I perceive, and I suppose he will not do much for me [laughter], but I am glad of all the support I can get anywhere, if I can get it without practicing any deception to obtain it. 

Described by one observer:

Douglas was the demagogue all the way through. There was no trick of presentation that he did not use. He suppressed facts, twisted conclusions, and perverted history. He wriggled and turned and dodged; he appealed to prejudices; in short, it was evident that what he was laboring for was Douglas and nothing else. The cause he professed was lost sight of in the claims of its advocate.


Lincoln admitted frankly all the weak points in the position of his party in the most open way, and that simple honesty carried conviction with it. His admissions of weakness, where weakness was visible, strengthened his position on points where he was strong. He knew that the people had intelligence enough to strike the average correctly. His great strength was in his trusting the people instead of considering them as babes in arms. He did not profess to know everything. The audience admired Douglas, but they respected his simple-minded opponent.

You know, just because...


October 13, 2012 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink


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