Abraham Lincoln (18091865). Political Debates Between Lincoln and Douglas 1897.
Fourth Joint Debate at Charleston
Extract from Mr. Trumbulls Speech Made at Alton, Referred to by Mr. Lincoln in His Opening at Charleston
(September 18, 1858)
I COME now to another extract from a speech of Mr. Douglas, made at Beardstown, and reported in the Missouri Republican. This extract has reference to a statement made by me at Chicago, wherein I charged that an agreement had been entered into by the very persons now claiming credit for opposing a constitution not submitted to the people, to have a constitution formed and put in force without giving the people of Kansas an opportunity to pass upon it. Without meeting this charge, which I substantiated by a reference to the record, my colleague is reported to have said:
For when this charge was once made in a much milder form, in the Senate of the United States, I did brand it as a lie in the presence of Mr. Trumbull, and Mr. Trumbull sat and heard it thus branded, without daring to say it was true. I tell you he knew it to be false when he uttered it at Chicago; and yet he says he is going to cram the lie down his throat until he should cry enough. The miserable, craven-hearted wretch! he would rather have both ears cut off than to use that language in my presence, where I could call him to account. I see the object is to draw me into a personal controversy, with the hope thereby of concealing from the public the enormity of the principles to which they are committed. I shall not allow much of my time in this canvass to be occupied by these personal assaults; I have none to make on Mr. Lincoln; I have none to make on Mr. Trumbull; I have none to make on any other political opponent. If I cannot stand on my own public record, on my own private and public character as history will record it, I will not attempt to rise by traducing the character of other men. I will not make a blackguard of myself by imitating the course they have pursued against me. I have no charges to make against them.
This is a singular statement, taken altogether. After indulging in language which would disgrace a loafer in the filthiest purlieus of a fish-market, he winds up by saying that he will not make a blackguard of himself, that he has no charges to make against me. So I suppose he considers that to say of another that he knew a thing to be false when he uttered it, that he was a miserable, craven-hearted wretch, does not amount to a personal assault, and does not make a man a blackguard. A discriminating public will judge of that for themselves; but as he says he has