Abraham Lincoln (18091865). Political Debates Between Lincoln and Douglas 1897.
States in this confederacy. I will not put a restriction upon a Slave State that I would not put upon a Free State. I will not permit, if I can prevent it, a restriction being put upon a Free State which is not applied with the same force to the slaveholding States. Equality among the States is a cardinal and fundamental principle in our confederacy, and cannot be violated without overturning our system of government. Hence I demanded that the Free States and the slaveholding States should be kept on an exact equality, one with the other, as the Constitution of the United States had placed them. If the people of Kansas want a slaveholding State, let them have it; and if they want a Free State they have a right to it; and it is not for the people of Illinois, or Missouri, or New York, or Kentucky, to complain, whatever the decision of the people of Kansas may be upon that point.
But while I was not content with the mode of submission contained in the English bill, and while I could not sanction it for the reason that, in my opinion, it violated the great principle of equality among the different States, yet when it became the law of the land, and under it the question was referred back to the people of Kansas for their decision, at an election to be held on the first Monday in August next, I bowed in deference, because whatever decision the people shall make at that election must be final and conclusive of the whole question. If the people of Kansas accept the proposition submitted by Congress, from that moment Kansas will become a State of the Union, and there is no way of keeping her out if you should try. The act of admission would become irrepealable; Kansas would be a State, and there would be an end of the controversy. On the other hand, if at that election the people of Kansas shall reject the proposition, as it is now generally thought will be the case, from that moment the Lecompton Constitution is dead, and again there is an end of the controversy. So you see that either way, on the 3rd of August next, the Lecompton controversy ceases and terminates forever; and a similar question can never arise unless some man shall attempt to play the Lecompton game over again. But, my fellow-citizens, I am well convinced that that game will never be attempted again; it has been so solemnly and thoroughly rebuked during the last session of Congress, that it will find