Abraham Lincoln (18091865). Political Debates Between Lincoln and Douglas 1897.
whether slavery shall or shall not exist in a Territory! I wish to cite for the benefit of the Washington Union and the followers of that sheet, one authority on that point, and I hope the authority will be deemed satisfactory to that class of politicians. I will read from Mr. Buchanans letter accepting the nomination of the Democratic Convention, for the Presidency. You know that Mr. Buchanan, after he was nominated, declared to the Keystone Club, in a public speech, that he was no longer James Buchanan, but the embodiment of the Democratic platform. In his letter to the committee which informed him of his nomination accepting it, he defined the meaning of the Kansas and Nebraska bill and the Cincinnati platform in these words:
The recent legislation of Congress respecting domestic slavery, derived as it has been from the original and pure fountain of legitimate political power, the will of the majority, promises ere long to allay the dangerous excitement. This legislation is founded upon principles as ancient as free government itself, and, in accordance with them has simply declared that the people of a Territory, like those of a State, shall decide for themselves whether slavery shall or shall not exist within their limits.
Thus you see that James Buchanan accepted the nomination at Cincinnati, on the conditions that the people of a Territory, like those of a State, should be left to decide for themselves whether slavery should or should not exist within their limits. I sustained James Buchanan for the Presidency on that platform as adopted at Cincinnati, and expounded by himself. He was elected President on that platform, and now we are told by the Washington Union that on man is a true Democrat who stands on the platform on which Mr. Buchanan was nominated, and which he has explained and expounded himself. We are told that a man is not a Democrat who stands by Clay, Webster, and Cass, and the Compromise measures of 1850, and the Kansas and Nebraska bill of 1854. Whether a man be a Democrat or not on that platform, I intend to stand there as long as I have life. I intend to cling firmly to that principle which declares the right of each State and each Territory to settle the question of slavery, and every other domestic question, for themselves. I hold that if they want a Slave State, they have a right under the Constitution of the United States to make it so, and if they want a Free State, it is their right to have it. But the Union, in advocating