Lincoln and Douglass Shared Uncommon Bond : NPR
Historians have traditionally regarded the series of seven debates between Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln during the Illinois. On Aug. 1, , Frederick Douglass wrote a letter in his newspaper announcing his refusal to continue recruiting black troops for the Union. Frederick Douglass first met with Mr. Lincoln in the summer of and as he . in which the President made the case for relationship among emancipation.
It was a delusive trust. Local rivalries forced the selection of an unpopular candidate. They made no nomination. Up to the very day of election they gave no public sign, although they had in the utmost secrecy instructed and drilled their precinct squads. On the morning of election the working Democrats appeared at every poll, distributing tickets bearing the name of a single candidate not before mentioned by any one.
Why Frederick Douglass Despised, Then Loved Abraham Lincoln
They were busy all day long spurring up the lagging and indifferent, and bringing the aged, the infirm, and the distant voters in vehicles. The Whigs were taken completely by surprise, and in a remarkably small total vote, McDaniels, Democrat, was chosen by about sixty majority. The Whigs in other parts of the State were furious at the unlooked-for result, and the incident served greatly to complicate the senatorial canvass. Lincoln had no better luck in the February election for the Senate.
Douglas pushed hard for Shields and Mr. Lincoln had the highest tally on the first ballot, but his block of supporters progressively dwindled until Mr. Lincoln threw his support to anti-Nebraska Democrat Lyman Trumbull. Fremont on the strength of southern votes. Buchanan sought to quiet the slavery issue by encouraging the U.
Supreme Court to quickly rule on the case of Dred Scott, a black slave who sought his freedom as a result of sojourns in states where slavery was illegal. Taney, ruled that Scott was not entitled to freedom and ineligible for citizenship.
Douglas supported the Dred Scott decision even though it undermined popular sovereignty. Lincoln scholar Harry V. He not only accepted the subhuman constitutional status of the Negro asserted by Taney, but also unlike Taney asserted it without qualification.
For Douglas to accept what Taney said about the Negro as property, however, while insisting upon the sovereign authority of the territories or the states to deny slave property protection was a logical, moral, and ultimately a political impossibility.
The nation would indeed have to become all slave if the conception of the Negro as a subhuman chattel prevailed. Lincoln pounded Douglas on this point remorselessly.
It also shifted his political focus from pacification of the South, which had been his purpose in the Kansas-Nebraska legislation to restoring his political popularity in the North. The first concerned the violence that was tearing apart that unfortunate land. The second dealt with the admission of Kansas to statehood. The last involved the adoption of the Lecompton Constitution.
They had almost nothing in common. There was Douglas, young, pushing, aggressive; Douglas, the extrovert; Douglas, to whom thought and action were synonymous; Douglas, whose boundless self-confidence and teeming imagination propelled him at times toward greatness and at time to the brink of folly. Indeed, most observers outside of the partisan Republican ranks in Illinois expected Douglas to win, especially because, with his opposition to the Lecompton constitution, he seemed to be moving toward a nonexpansionist position on slavery in the territories.
Lincoln came in when Mr. Yet prospects for deposing his old rival in initially appeared promising. Discontent with Douglas was high in Illinois, the Buchanan administration was working to undermine him, and the Dred Scott decision and upheaval in Kansas had heightened public receptiveness to Republican criticism of the Slave Power and the Northern Democratic Party.
The uncompromising stand by Douglas, the independent man of the new Northwest, against James Buchanan, the old man of Pennsylvania and supporter of the slave South, could prove disastrous for Douglas and his party in Illinois. He encourages it and invites such men as Wilson, Seward, Burlingame, Parrot; to come and confer with him and they seem wonderfully pleased to go.
Illinois leaders refused to admit the slightest possibility that Douglas was sincere, and were unwilling to walk the plank to strengthen their party national. To talk of such men being anxious to defeat the measure above all things is a mockery. They would sacrifice it Kansas a thousand times rather than forget a party advantage. Lincoln at their state convention in Springfield on June Lincoln directly addressed Senator Douglas and his supporters: They do not tell us, nor has he told us, that he wishes any such object to be effected.
They wish us to infer all, from the facts, that he now has a little quarrel with the present head of the dynasty; and that he has regularly voted with us, on a single point, upon which, he and we, have never differed. Let his be granted. But a living dog is better than a dead lion.
How can he oppose the advances of slavery? He has not said so. Does he really think so? But if it is, how can he resist it? For years he has labored to prove it a sacred right of white men to take negro slaves into the new territories.
Can he possibly show that it is less a sacred right to buy them where they can be bought cheapest? And, unquestionably they can be bought cheaper in Africa than in Virginia.
And as the home producers will probably not ask the protection, he will be wholly without a ground of opposition. But, can we for that reason, run ahead, and infer that he will make any particular change, of which he, himself, has given no intimation? Can we safely base our action upon any such vague inference? Whenever, if ever, he and we can come together on principle so that our great cause may have assistance from his great ability, I hope to have interposed no adventurous obstacle.
The result is not doubtful. We shall not fail—if we stand firm, we shall not fail. He had often expressed a moral revulsion against slavery, but as a child of the upland South, and, indeed, of his times, he considered the Negro race inferior, and was painfully aware of the problems which would accompany the disappearance of the institution. He had no discernible ambition to tamper with South at the risk of further sectional conflict, but up until the Kansas-Nebraska act he had apparently found comfort in a faith that at some point in the distant future some new set of circumstances would permit its peaceful destruction.
Lincoln asserts, as a fundamental principle of this government, that there must be uniformity in the local laws and domestic institutions of each and all the States of the Union; and he therefore invites all the non-slaveholding States to band together, organize as one body, and make war upon slavery in Kentucky, upon slavery in Virginia, upon the Carolinas, upon slavery in all of the slaveholding States in this Union, and to persevere in that war until it shall be exterminated.
He then notifies the slaveholding States to stand together as a unit and make an aggressive war upon the free States of this Union with a view of establishing slavery in them all; of forcing it upon Illinois, of forcing it upon New York, upon New England, and upon every other free State, and that they shall keep up the warfare until it has been formally established in them all. In other words, Mr.
Lincoln advocates boldly and clearly a war of sections, a war of the North against the South, of the free States against the slave States — a war of extermination — to be continued relentlessly until the one or the other shall be subdued, and all the States shall either become free or become slave.
He was, for the first time that I never saw him so, well dressed; he evidently was gotten up for some occasion. I joined him in the street, and I recollect that we walked as far as Market street; thence to Randolph, and so on to my office in the Metropolitan Block. In this walk, we passed the naked lot where the celebrated wigwam was afterward located; in which, two years later, he was nominated for the Presidency. He informed me that his business there, was, to argue a motion for a new trial against Judge Lyle T.
Dickey, before Judge Drummond, the next morning. This was, however, evidently, only one-half truth: Douglas was to reach Chicago on that day from the East, amid a great flourish of trumpets, to commence his canvass for the new term of the senatorship; and I have no doubt that he designed to put himself in his way for a political tournament.
Lincoln was also perturbed by the failure of a fellow attorney to show for a court appearance that morning. Speaking in Springfield on July 17, Douglas said: I do not doubt that he in his conscience, believes that the Almighty made the negro equal to the white man.
He thinks that the negro is his brothers. I do not think the negro is any kin o mine at all. And here is the difference between us. Douglas shamelessly appealed to racial prejudice. Lincoln accepted the validity of racial supremacy and denied that he had ever advocated or believed in political or social equality for Negroes. There was, however, a strong difference in the tone of the two racial philosophies, however similar, and Lincoln at least contradicted himself occasionally by insisting that all men regardless of race or color should have an equal right to earn a living.
By contrast, Lincoln discerned progressive possibilities in Republican racial doctrine and antislavery policy. Their essence was a strict Popular Sovereignty position. Whatever leanings he might once have had toward Republicanism had been cast aside.
The Republicans did not know whether to be pleased or concerned over his failure to use his Lecompton record to win Republican votes. During July and early August, Mr. Lincoln often appeared in the same towns as Douglas.
Fellow attorney Lawrence Weldon recalled that he asked Mr. Lincoln to visit Clinton when Senator Douglas was scheduled to speak shortly after his Springfield speech. Douglas spoke over three hours to an immense audience, and made one of the most forcible political speeches I ever heard. But I reckon some of the boys have told him I am here. Lincoln stood up on one of the rough seats and was quickly recognized with cheers.
He told the crowd: I have no right, therefore, no disposition to interfere. But you ladies and gentlemen desire to hear what I have to say on these questions, and will meet me this evening at the courthouse yard, east side, I will try to answer the gentleman. Both became posed in a tableau of majestic power. The scene was a meeting of giants, a contest of great men; and the situation was dramatic in the extreme.
Lincoln made a speech that evening which in volume did not equal the speech of Douglas, but for sound and cogent argument was the superior.
Lincoln told Ohio journalist David Ross Locke: The subject with which he was charged was crowding for utterance all the time; it was always enlarging as he went on from place to place. Lincoln was thoughtful of the proprieties and careful to do nothing which Mr.
Douglas might think discourteous. It was a cool day. The rain fell steadily. But he spoke from under an umbrella for more than an hour to over a thousand people.
Lincoln had prepared diligently for this confrontation with Douglas. Lincoln in addition to the seven meetings with Douglas, filled thirty-one appointments made by the State Central Committee, besides speaking at many others times and places not previously advertised. In his trips to and from over the States, between meetings, he would stop at Springfield sometimes, to consult with his friends or to post himself up on questions that occurred during the canvass.
He kept me busy hunting up old speeches and gathering facts and statistics at the State library. I made liberal clippings bearing in any way on the questions of the hour from every newspaper I happened to see, and kept him supplied with them; and on one or two occasions, in answer to letters and telegrams, I sent books forward to him.
He had a little leather bound book, fastened in front with a clasp, in which he and I both kept inserting newspaper slips and newspaper comments until the canvas opened.
He was strongly regular; he was distinct; he paused between sentences; he used short sentences; he rarely exceeded words a minute.
Every syllable was distinct. But his delivery was puzzling to stenographers. He would speak several words with great rapidity, come to the word or phrase he wished to emphasize and let his voice linger and bear hard on that; and that he would rush to the end of the sentence like lightning. To impress the idea on the minds of his hearers was his aim; not to charm the ear with smooth, flowing words. It was very easy to understand Lincoln; he spoke with great clearness.
But his delivery was very irregular. He would devote as much time to the word or two which he wished to emphasize as he did to half a dozen less important words following it. An out-and-out political brawl was what he loved.
Though Lincoln, too, knew all the tricks of the hustings, it was in the realm of the ethical that his genius and strength lay. Lincoln needed his barbed wit to debate with Douglas.
For example, in the Ottawa Debate on August 21,Mr. Lincoln was queried from the crowd about popular sovereignty. I do not mean that if this vast concourse of people were in a Territory of the United States, any one of them would be obliged to have a slave if he did not want one; but I do say that, as I understand the Dred Scott decision, if any one man wants slaves, all the rest have no way of keeping that one man from holding them.
Any suggestion that slavery should ultimately be extinguished was utterly unacceptable to Southern Democrats whom Douglas needed for the presidential contest in On the other hand, any suggestion that the expansion of slavery into the territories ought to be guaranteed by the federal government, which Southerners were demanding, was utterly unacceptable to free-soil opinion in the North.
Lincoln, played a pivotal role in the conflict between Senator Douglas and Mr. He delivered a rousing speech in early August, in which he charged that Douglas had conspired to word the Kansas-Nebraska Act so as to deprive Kansas of a referendum between slavery and freedom. The time wasthe occasion the Toombs bill, originally providing for submitting to the people any constitution which might be framed.
So much of the Douglas attention and newspaper comment became centered upon Trumbull that Lincoln considered himself ignored and without delay, he sought to counteract that influence by securing a series of joint debates with Douglas.
Trumbull would not consent, under any circumstances, to let a State, free or slave, come into the Union until it had the requisite population. Trumbull is in the field, fighting for Mr. Lincoln, I would like to have Mr. Lincoln answer his own question and tell me whether he is fighting Trumbull on that issue or not.
He knew the risks. He knew from prior experiences in that Mr. Lincoln was a formidable speaker — less flamboyant than himself but a practitioner of closer logic. And his experience in July demonstrated that he could not shake his Republican opponent from the campaign trail. Lincoln was bound and determined to follow him around the state and deliver his competing message.
Forney about the upcoming campaign with Lincoln. Douglas really had very little choice in facing his Republican opponent since Mr. Douglas was the idol of his party, and justly so, for he was a man of great ability. I soon found that my simple denial carried no weight against the imperious and emphatic style of his oratory.
Night after night Douglas reiterated that while I was in Congress, I had voted against the Mexican War and against all recognition of the gallant conduct of those who had imperiled their lives in it. I knew it was useless to reply till I could adduce such proof as would settle the question forever.
As the better-known candidate, he had nothing to gain by debating, and he risked disappointing supporters whose invitations for him to speak would be preempted by the debates.APUSH Review: The Lincoln-Douglas Debates
On the other hand, the frontier West had long employed stump speaking and debates, and Douglas risked serious loss of face if he declined a challenge. Although he usually won the argument, he sometimes lost the campaign. Illinois editor Jeriah Bonham wrote: The battleground was central Illinois.
Just after his first debate at Ottawa, Mr. Lincoln was worn out. He confessed his exhaustion to the Rev. I know that if Mr. Reporting on the Senate contest, Chester P. Dewey of the New York Evening Post wrote: He is stumping the state, everywhere present and everywhere appealing to his old lieges to stand by him. Never did feudal baron fight more desperately against the common superior of himself and his retainers.
His senatorial nomination has sent him to the field, and he is working with an energy and zeal which counter-balance the spirit and dogged resolution of his opponent.
Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas
Lincoln is battling for the right and Douglas is desperately struggling to save himself from utter political ruin. He is losing strength daily, while Lincoln is surely gaining upon him. The parties were rallied, as one man, to the enthusiastic support of their respective candidates, and it is hard for any one not in the State at the time to measure the excitement which everywhere prevailed. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I can not remember when I did not so think, and feel.
And yet I have never understood that the Presidency conferred upon me an unrestricted right to act officially upon this judgment and feeling. It was in the oath I took that I would, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. Without that compromise, the Constitution could never have been ratified. A stark example of the dilemma Lincoln was placed in by his commitment to the Constitution can be seen in his personal anguish concerning the Fugitive Slave Law of No doubt it is ungodly!
But it is the law of the land, and we must obey it as we find it. Lincoln made this understanding of his Constitutional responsibilities official policy in his first inaugural address, saying: I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. Lincoln's cane Cane given by Mary Todd Lincoln to Frederick Douglass after her husband's death Source Douglass, The Firebrand Despises Lincoln, the Pragmatist To a firebrand like Frederick Douglass, this refusal of the new president to mount a campaign against human bondage was nothing less than craven capitulation to the slave states for the sake of trying to hold them in the Union.
Why Frederick Douglass Despised, Then Loved Abraham Lincoln | Owlcation
This denial of all feeling against slavery, at such a time and in such circumstances, is wholly discreditable to the head and heart of Mr. Aside from the inhuman coldness of the sentiment, it was a weak and inappropriate utterance.
Should Lincoln have acted sooner to end slavery? Slavery was morally wrong, and Lincoln should have ended it immediately. Slavery was wrong, but Lincoln had to wait until the Northern public was ready for emancipation. Slavery was a states rights issue, and Lincoln should have left it alone. Fremont issued, on his own authority, a proclamation of emancipation freeing all slaves in Missouri belonging to owners who did not swear allegiance to the Union.
In his annual message to Congress, given on December 3,the president made his policy explicit: The Union must be preserved, and hence, all indispensable means must be employed.
We should not be in haste to determine that radical and extreme measures, which may reach the loyal as well as the disloyal, are indispensable. Frederick Douglass was incensed, and his disgust with Lincoln and his policies knew no bounds.
As far as Douglass was concerned, "the friends of freedom, the Union, and the Constitution, have been most basely betrayed. That was the day President Lincoln announced the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. He did so not because of his personal anti-slavery convictions, but as a war measure to deprive the Confederacy of its slave labor force.
Frederick Douglass was overjoyed. Douglass was even happier when Lincoln released the final Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, The president had added a provision calling for enlistment of black soldiers into the U. This was a step Douglass had been fervently urging since the beginning of the war, proclaiming: Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letter, U. Douglass immediately started traveling throughout the North to encourage recruitment in African American communities.
Two of his own sons enlisted. On August 1,he announced in his newspaper that he would no longer recruit black soldiers for the Union. Confederate policy, as decreed by Jefferson Davis and the Southern Congress, was to treat captured black soldiers not as prisoners of war, but as insurrectionary runaways to be re-enslaved or even executed. Black soldiers, all of whom were relegated to segregated units under white officers, had no hope of being promoted to officer status, no matter how meritorious their service.
Douglass knew there was only one man in the country who could definitively address these issues. So, he determined to seek a face to face interview with Abraham Lincoln. Stanton, who offered Douglass a commission as an Army officer to facilitate his efforts at recruiting black soldiers. From there, Douglass and Pomeroy walked the short distance to the White House.
Douglass was very apprehensive about how he would be received. Douglass later recorded his thoughts on that important day: The distance then between the black man and the white American citizen, was immeasurable. I was an ex-slave, identified with a despised race; and yet I was to meet the most exalted person in this great Republic… I could not know what kind of a reception would be accorded me.
I might be told to go home and mind my own business, and leave such questions as I had come to discuss to be managed by the men wisely chosen by the American people to deal with them, or I might be refused an interview altogether. Referring to the large group of people already waiting to see the President, Douglass went on to say: Douglass; I know who you are; Mr.
Lincoln listened with earnest attention and with very apparent sympathy, and replied to each point in his own peculiar, forcible way. Since most whites still believed blacks would not make good soldiers, to push immediately for equal pay would be to move faster than public opinion would allow.
Douglass, that in the end they shall have the same pay as white soldiers. By the end of the war about black officers had been commissioned.
- Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass
- Lincoln and Douglass Shared Uncommon Bond
- Lincoln-Douglas Debates
Yet, the meeting was far from unproductive. Lincoln Asks for Douglass's Help By August of Northern morale concerning the progress of the war was at its lowest point.