Nonfiction > Abraham Lincoln > Political Debates Between Lincoln and Douglas > Page 491
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Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865).  Political Debates Between Lincoln and Douglas  1897.
 
Page 491
 
 
of ’87, but without any enforcement of the Ordinance to overthrow the system, there had been a small number of slaves introduced as indentured persons. Owing to this, the clause for the prohibition of slavery was slightly modified. Instead of running like yours, that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except for crime, of which the party shall have been duly convicted, should exist in the State, they said that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude should thereafter be introduced, and that the children of indentured servants should be born free; and nothing was said about the few old French slaves. Out of this fact, that the clause for prohibiting slavery was modified because of the actual presence of it, Douglas asserts again and again that Illinois came into the Union as a Slave State. How far the facts sustain the conclusion that he draws, it is for intelligent and impartial men to decide. I leave it with you, with these remarks, worthy of being remembered, that that little thing, those few indentured servants being there, was of itself sufficient to modify a Constitution made by a people ardently desiring to have a free Constitution; showing the power of the actual presence of the institution of slavery to prevent any people, however anxious to make a Free State, from making it perfectly so.  63
  I have been detaining you longer, perhaps, than I ought to do.  64
  I am in some doubt whether to introduce another topic upon which I could talk awhile. [Cries of “Go on,” and “Give us it.”] It is this, then: Douglas’s Popular Sovereignty, as a principle, is simply this: If one man chooses to make a slave of another man, neither that man or anybody else has a right to object. Apply it to Government, as he seeks to apply it, and it is this: If, in a new Territory into which a few people are beginning to enter for the purpose of making their homes, they choose to either exclude slavery from their limits, or to establish it there, however one or the other may affect the persons to be enslaved, or the infinitely greater number of persons who are afterward to inhabit that Territory, or the other members of the family of communities, of which they are but an incipient member, or the general head of the family of States as parent of all,—however their action may affect one or the other of these, there is no power or right to interfere. That is Douglas’s Popular Sovereignty applied. Now, I think that there is a real Popular
 

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