« 上一页继续 »
"ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL."
(From speech before first Republican State Convention of Illinois, held at Bloom
ington, May 29, 1856.)
W for a right
E are here to stand firmly for a principle,-to stand firmly
for a right. We know that great political and moral wrongs are done and outrages committed, and we denounce those wrongs and outrages. We have come together as representatives of popular opinion against the extension of slavery into territory now free. We have come to demand that Kansas shall be free. I counsel you earnestly to bury all resentment, to sink all personal feeling, make all things work to a common purpose in which we are united and agreed, and which all present will argue is absolutely necessary-slavery must be kept out of Kansas.
We are in a fair way to see this land of boasted freedom converted into a land of slavery in fact. Just open your eyes, and see if this be not so. Almost the entire North, as well as a large following in the border States, is radically opposed to planting of slavery in free territory. Probably nine-tenths of the voters in the free States, and at least one-half in the border States, if they could express their sentiments freely, would vote No on such an issue, and it is safe to say that two-thirds of the votes of the entire nation would be opposed to it. And yet, in spite of this overbalancing of sentiment in this free country, we are in a fair way to see Kansas present itself for admission as a slave State. Indeed, it is a felony, by the local law of Kansas, to deny that slavery exists there even now. By every principle of law, a negro in Kansas is free, yet the bogus legislature makes it an infamous crime to tell him he is free.
Party lash and fear of ridicule will overawe justice and liberty. Men will do things under terror of party lash that they would not on any account or consideration do otherwise. Like the great Juggernaut, party lash crushes everything that comes in its way, and makes—or as I read once, "a slave is a human being who is
legally not a person but a thing.” And if the safeguards of liberty are broken down, as is now attempted, when they have made things of all the free negroes, how long, think you, before they will begin to make things of poor white men? Be not deceived. Revolutions do not go backward. Judge Douglas, with an insignificant wave of the hand, “don't care whether slavery is voted up or voted down.” Now, if slavery is right, he has a right to treat it in this trifling manner. But if it is a moral and political wrong, as all Christendom considers it to be, how can he answer to God for this attempt to spread and fortify it? Judge Douglas avows that the Union was made by white men and for white men and their descendants. The first branch of the proposition is historically true. The government was made by white men, but the cornerstone of the government was the declaration that “all men are created equal,” and all entitled to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
But the framers of the Constitution were particular to keep out of that instrument the word "slave," the reason being that slavery would ultimately come to an end, and they did not wish to have any reminder that in this free country human beings were ever prostituted to slavery. Nor is it any argument that we are superior and the negro inferior, that he has but one talent while we have ten. Let the negro possess the little he has in independence; if he has but one talent, he should be permitted to keep the little he has. But slavery will endure no test of reason or logic; and yet its advocates use a sort of bastard logic, or noisy assumption, it might better be termed, in order to prepare the mind for the gradual, but none the less certain, encroachments of the Moloch of slavery upon the fair domain of freedom. But, however much you may argue upon it, or smother it in soft phrase, slavery can only be maintained by force-by violence. And murderous violence is being used now in order to force slavery on to Kansas. Is there can there be any doubt about this thing? And is there any doubt that we must all lay aside our prejudices and march, shoulder to shoulder, in the great army of Freedom?
Every Fourth of July our young orators all proclaim this to be the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Well, now, when you orators get that off next year, and, maybe, this very year, how would you like some old grizzled farmer to get up in the
grove and deny it? But suppose Kansas comes in as a slave State, and all the "border ruffians" have barbecues about it, and free-State men come trailing back to the dishonored North like whipped dogs, it is evident–isn't it?—that this is no more "the land of the free"; and, if we let it go so, we won't dare to say “home of the brave” out loud.
This shows whither we are tending. This thing of slavery is more powerful than its supporters—even than the high priests that minister at its altar. It yields nothing itself; it keeps all it has and gets all can besides; it debauches even our greatest men. It gathers strength, like a rolling snow-ball, by its own infamy. Monstrous crimes are committed in its name by persons collectively which they would not dare to commit as individuals. Its aggressions and encroachments almost surpass belief. In a despotism, one might not wonder to see slavery advance steadily and remorselessly into new dominions; but is it not wonderful, is it not even alarming, to see its steady advance in a land dedicated to the proposition that "all men are created equal?”
Here in Illinois the early fathers fought the good fight and gained the victory. In 1824, the free men of our State determined that those beautiful groves should never reëcho the dirge of one who has no title to himself. By their resolute determination, the winds that sweep across our broad prairies shall never cool the parched brow, nor shall the unfettered streams that bring joy and gladness to our free soil water the tired feet, of a slave; but so long as those heavenly breezes and sparkling streams bless the land, or the groves and their fragrance or memory remain, the humanity to which they minister shall be forever free! Can we as Christian men, and strong and free ourselves, wield the sledge or hold the iron which is to manacle anew an already oppressed race? “ Woe unto them,” it is written, “that decree unrighteous decrees and that write grievousness which they have prescribed.” Can we afford to sin any more deeply against human liberty?
We have made a good beginning here to-day. While extremists may find fault with the moderation of our platform, they should recollect that “the battle is not always to the strong, nor the race to the swift." We shall grow strong by calmness and moderation, we shall grow strong by the violence and injustice of our adversaries; and, unless truth be a mockery and justice a hollow lie, we shall be in the majority after a while. The battle of freedom is to be fought out on principle. Slavery is a violation of the eternal right. We have temporized with it from the necessities of our condition, but as sure as God reigns and school children read, that black, foul lie can never be consecrated into God's hallowed truth. I will not say that we may not sooner or later be compelled to meet force by force, but the time has not yet come; and, if we are true to ourselves, may never come. Do not mistake that the ballot is stronger than the bullet. Therefore let the legions of slavery use bullets; but let us wait patiently and fire ballots at them in return. Let us appeal to the sense and patriotism of the people. There is both a power and a magic in popular opinion. To that let us now appeal; and, while, in all probability, no resort to force will be needed, our moderation and forbearance will stand us in good stead when, if ever, we must make an appeal to battle and to the God of hosts.
The Union is undergoing a fearful strain. But it is a stout old ship and has weathered many a hard blow, and “the stars in their courses," aye, an invisible power, greater than the puny efforts of men, will fight for us. But we ourselves must not decline the burden of responsibility, nor take counsel of unworthy passions. Whatever duty urges us to do or to omit, must be done or omitted. But we cannot be free men if this is to be a land of slavery. Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it.
The conclusion of all is, we must highly resolve that Kansas must be free. We must reinstate the birthday promise of the Republic. We must reaffirm the Declaration of Independence. We must continue to obey the Constitution and the laws. We must keep step to the music of the Union. We must make this a land of liberty in fact, as it is in name. But in seeking to attain these results—so indispensable if the liberty which is our pride and boast shall endure—we will be loyal to the Constitution and to the "fag of our Union,” and no matter what our grievanceeven though Kansas shall come in as a slave State, and no matter what theirs-we will say to the Southern disunionists, We won't go out of the Union, and you SHAN'T!!
STRUGGLE BETWEEN RIGHT AND WRONG.
[In debate with Douglas at Alton, Illinois, October 15, 1858.]
UDGE DOUGLAS contends that whatever community wants
slaves has a right to have them. So they have, if it is not a wrong. But if it is a wrong, he cannot say people have a right to do wrong. That is the real issue that will continue in this country when these poor tongues of Judge Douglas and myself shall be silent. It is the eternal struggle between these two principlesright and wrong—throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity, and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, “You toil and work and earn bread, and I'll eat it.” No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.