Abraham Lincoln (18091865). Political Debates Between Lincoln and Douglas 1897.
the claims of Lincoln over me to the Senate, lays down two unpardonable heresies which it says I advocate. The first is the right of the people of a Territory, the same as a State, to decide for themselves the question whether slavery shall exist within their limits, in the language of Mr. Buchanan; and the second is, that a Constitution shall be submitted to the people of a Territory for its adoption or rejection before their admission as a State under it. It so happens that Mr. Buchanan is pledged to both these heresies, for supporting which the Washington Union has read me out of the Democratic church. In his annual message he said he trusted that the example of the Minnesota case would be followed in all future cases, requiring a submission of the Constitution; and in his letter of acceptance, he said that the people of a Territory, the same as a State, had the right to decide for themselves whether slavery should exist within their limits. Thus you find that this little corrupt gang who control the Union, and wish to elect Lincoln in preference to me,because, as they say, of these two heresies which I support,denounce President Buchanan when they denounce me, if he stands now by the principles upon which he was elected. Will they pretend that he does not now stand by the principles on which he was elected? Do they hold that he has abandoned the Kansas-Nebraska bill, the Cincinnati platform, and his own letter accepting his nomination, all of which declare the right of the people of a Territory, the same as a State, to decide the slavery question for themselves? I will not believe that he has betrayed or intends to betray the platform which elected him; but if he does, I will not follow him. I will stand by that great principle, no matter who may desert it. I intend to stand by it, for the purpose of preserving peace between the North and the South, the Free and the Slave States. If each State will only agree to mind its own business and let its neighbors alone, there will be peace forever between us. We in Illinois tried slavery when a Territory, and found it was not good for us in this climate, and with our surroundings, and hence we abolished it. We then adopted a Free State Constitution, as we had a right to do. In this State we have declared that a negro shall not be a citizen, and we have also declared that he shall not be a slave. We had a right to adopt that policy. Missouri has just as good a right to adopt the other policy. I am