Abraham Lincoln (18091865). Political Debates Between Lincoln and Douglas 1897.
I should like to hear him try it. If any man can show how the people of Kansas have a better right to slaves, because they want them, than the people of Georgia have to buy them in Africa, I want him to do it. I think it cannot be done. If it is Popular Sovereignty for the people to have slaves because they want them, it is Popular Sovereignty for them to buy them in Africa because they desire to do so.
I know that Douglas has recently made a little effort,not seeming to notice that he had a different theory,has made an effort to get rid of that. He has written a letter, addressed to somebody, I believe, who resides in Iowa, declaring his opposition to the repeal of the laws that prohibit the African slave-trade. He bases his opposition to such repeal upon the ground that these laws are themselves one of the compromises of the Constitution of the United States. Now, it would be very interesting to see Judge Douglas or any of his friends turn to the Constitution of the United States and point out that compromise, to show where there is any compromise in the Constitution, or provision in the Constitution, express or implied, by which the administrators of that Constitution are under any obligation to repeal the African slave-trade. I know, or at least I think I know, that the framers of that Constitution did expect that the African slave-trade would be abolished at the end of twenty years, to which time their prohibition against its being abolished extended. I think there is abundant contemporaneous history to show that the framers of the Constitution expected it to be abolished. But while they so expected, they gave nothing for that expectation, and they put no provision in the Constitution requiring it should be so abolished. The migration or importation of such persons as the States shall see fit to admit shall not be prohibited, but a certain tax might be levied upon such importation. But what was to be done after that time? The Constitution is as silent about that as it is silent, personally, about myself. There is absolutely nothing in it about that subject; there is only the expectation of the framers of the Constitution that the slave-trade would be abolished at the end of that time; and they expected it would be abolished, owing to public sentiment, before that time; and they put that provision in, in order that it should not be abolished before that time, for reasons