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own sentiments in his own way. He addressed that meeting that day. It was the first speech ever delivered in the United States by any prominent public man, since the organization of the Know-nothing party, against the proscriptive principles of that party. It was received by the Democracy of Philadelphia with enthusiastic delight. It broke the spell which had apparently hung over the party, and which had closed men's lips and paralyzed their hands respecting the most dangerous and insidious opponents that ever threatened the Democratic party. He spoke out words of condemnation and defiance; and men, taking courage from his bold words, felt relieved, and, giving vent to the feelings so long held in subjection, recognized in the orator the bold and daring statesman who never yet, in any part of his eventful career, paused in defense of the right or condemnation of the wrong to inquire what would be the consequences of his action toward himself personally.
From that day forth Know-nothingism had a stern opponent in the Democratic party, and from that day forth the Democracy never faltered until it had subdued, conquered, and broken up the organization in the Northern States. speech was printed in pamphlet form and widely circulated. Though that part of it relating to the Kansas-Nebraska Bill is in the main a repetition of sentiments advanced by him in the Senate during the pendency of the bill, it is just that it should be here given. It was the first speech made outside of Congress in defense of the bill; and as it is fashionable in some quarters to say that he then represented that bill as meaning something very different to what he now claims for it, it is but just that his exposition then should be placed alongside of his exposition of the same measure now. He said:
Mr. President and Fellow-citizens : While I am profoundly grateful for the generous enthusiasm with which you have received the kind remarks of my friend General Dawson, I know not whether I ought to make my acknowledgments to him for having created in your minds expectations which it is impossible for me to fulfill. I feel that it is good for us to be here on this day. The day and the place are consecrated to liberty. It is a hallowed spot. I enter Independence Square-I approach Independence Hall on the Fourth of July with feelings akin to those of the pilgrim when he approaches the holy places. It is the birthplace of American liberty. Here the Declaration of Independence was first promulgated—here the Constitution of the United States was formed. On this very spot were proclaimed in that declaration and embodied in that Constitution those glorious principles of civil and religious freedom which our fathers have transmitted to us as the most precious of all earthly blessings. [Great applause.]
In these days, when efforts are being made to stir up sectional strife, and organize political parties on geographical lines—when religious intolerance and persecution are being practiced through the agency of secret associations —and when men in high places sacrilegiously deny all obligation to carry into effect the plain and imperative injunctions of the Constitution which they have sworn to support, it is well for good men and true patriots to assemble on our national birthday, at the birthplace of our liberties, and unite their efforts to preserve our republican institutions by perpetuating the principles upon which they rest.
rest. [Applause.] On the 4th of July, '76, from the place where I now stand, our forefathers declared that these “ COLONIES ARE, AND OF RIGHT OUGHT TO BE, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES.” That was the starting-point. Thirteen British colonies were on that day converted into thirteen independent American states. The language is clear and explicit. The causes which led to the separation, and the instructions which the several colonies gave to their delegates in the Congress, prescribing the conditions upon which the Declaration of Independence was to be made, clearly show why this emphatic language was used. The colonies did not, in the first instance, demand independence. They were willing to acknowledge their allegiance to the British crown, provided they were left free to manage and regulate their own internal affairs and domestic concerns in their own way, without the interference or dictation of the imperial government. They were willing to recognize the right of Great Britain to grant colonial charters, like the organic laws of our Territorial governments, by which the people of the colonies might make their own laws through their representatives in their local Legislatures; but they solemnly protested against the right of the imperial Parliament, in which they had no representation, to make laws affecting their persons and property without their consent. Upon this point the separation took place, and the Declaration of Independence which you have just heard read declared the thirteen colonies to be “ free and independent states.” But, before the declaration was made, the colonies gave instructions to their delegates, prescribing the conditions upon which each would consent to such a declaration. These instructions all prescribe the fundamental condition that the people of each colony shall have the right to manage their internal affairs and domestic concerns as to them shall seem meet and proper. [Hearty cheers. ]
[Mr. Douglas recapitulated some facts of history, and then proceeded as follows:]
Crime, in any of its forms and shapes, is a very great evil in any state or Territory; yet Congress has never presumed to enact criminal codes for the Territories and new states—to declare what shall and what shall not be deemed criminal-to prescribe the penalty and point out the mode of punishment. These things have always been left, and, I trust, always will be left, to the people of the different states and Territories, to be determined by them through their local Legislatures in accordance with their sense of right and duty: 'Why should we make an exception of the Slavery question, and apply to it a rule which is admitted to be unsound and subversive of constitutional right when applied to any other matter of local and domestic concern? Are not the people of the Territories capable of self-government ? If not, why give them a Legislature at all-why allow them to make laws upon any subject? If they are capable of self-government, does it require any higher degree of intelligence to legislate for the negro than for the white man, or to prescribe the relations of master and servant than those of husband and wife, and parent and child ?
But, in order to excuse themselves for so palpable a repudiation of the great principle of self-government, the Abolitionists tell us that slavery is a violation of the law of God, and therefore the people of the Territories and
new states should not be intrusted with the decision of the question as provided in the Nebraska Bill. Without stopping to inquire into the sinfulness of slavery as a religious question, I do maintain that the mode provided in the Nebraska Bill for determining the controversy of its existence or exclusion, by referring it to the decision of the people, who are immediately interested and alone responsible, is strictly in accordance with the divine law. When God created man, He placed before him good and evil, and endowed him with the capacity to decide for himself, and held him responsible for the consequences of the choice he might make. [Tremendous applause and cheers.]
This is the divine origin of the great principle of self-government. [Applause.] The Almighty breathed the principle into the nostrils of the first man in the garden of Eden, and empowered him and his descendants in all time to choose their own form of government, and to bear the evils and enjoy the blessings of their own deeds. The principle applies to communities, and Territories, and states, as well as to individual men. The principle applies to Kansas as well as to Pennsylvania—to Nebraska as well as to Virginia. The Constitution of the United States is in perfect accord with this divine principle, leaving each state, and the people thereof, at liberty to govern themselves and reap the harvest of the seed they may sow. [İmmense applause--cries, “That is right,” “that is right.”]
I repeat, therefore, that the Constitution of the United States does not establish slavery, nor abolish it any where; nor does it either enlarge or diminish its area. It recognizes and protects all the institutions of the different states, however dissimilar or whatever their character, provided they are not in conflict with any of its provisions. Wherever slavery exists in any state by virtue of the local law, there the Constitution recognizes and protects the institution; and wherever slavery is prohibited by the local law, the Constitution recognizes and protects the prohibition in such state. The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land, to which all must yield implicit obedience. [Applause.]
It authorizes Congress to legislate upon the subject of slavery in two cases only: first, for the suppression of the foreign slave-trade; and, second, for the surrender of fugitives from service. Congress has exerted in good faith the full measures of its authority in both cases. The Abolitionists avow their willingness to abide by the Constitution and law in the one case, where the introduction of any more slaves into the United States is prohibited, for the reason that the result is in harmony with their views. But in the other case, where the act of Congress was passed for the express purpose of carrying into effect a plain provision of the Constitution, by returning the slave to his master, these same Abolitionists say they will not abide by the law they will trample upon the Constitution—they will set at defiance the constituted authorities, and bear aloft the standard of rebellion against the federal government, for the reason that this clause of the Constitution and the law for carrying it into effect do not harmonize with their views. Their doctrine is that they will abide by and claim the benefit of the Constitution and laws whenever and wherever they tend to advance their peculiar theories and opinions ; and, on the contrary, they will resist both the Constitution and laws, with force and violence, whenever that line of policy is necessary to the accomplishment of their philanthropic views upon the subject of slavery.
KNOW-NOTHINGISM. Efforts are now being made to organize a new party—a great Northern, sectional party—upon the abolition platform, and carry on an offensive war against the local and domestic institutions of one half of the states of the Union, under a banner which shall proclaim to the world that they claim for
themselves the protection of the Constitution which they deny to those upon whose rights they make war-that the Constitution is binding upon their opponents, but not upon themselves—and that they hold themselves at liberty at all times to obey or resist it, as may best suit their purposes. Whatever name shall be given to this new political organization-whether it shall be called Whig, Abolition, Free-soil, or Know-nothing—it will still be the antagonism of the Democratic party. Whatever may be the nature of the contest or the prospects of success, the Democracy of the nation must stand firmly by the Constitution as it is, yielding implicit obedience to all of its obligations, and carrying into faithful execution all of its provisions. [Cheers and continued applause.] We must maintain the supremacy of the laws, put down resistance and
violence wherever they may occur, and be ready to punish the traitors whenever the overt act of treason shall be committed. [Tremendous cheers and applause.]
Fellow-citizens, it has been said that in the bosom of this new political organization there is a secret society bound together by the most solemn and terrible oaths— I know not its name—[Laughter.] Inquire of whom you may, and the answer will be, “I don't know.” [Roars of laughter.] And from all the information I can get, I am inclined to believe that "knownothings” is their name. [Tremendous roars of laughter.]
I was about to say, and I presume that the facts connected with your recent election in this city have furnished you with sufficient evidence upon the subject-I have been informed that there exists in the bosom of this new political organization a secret political society, bound together by the most terrible oaths, to proscribe every man, whether naturalized or not, or whatever his political or religious sentiments, who had the misfortune to be born in a foreign clime, and, like our ancestors, driven by political or religious persecutions to flee from their native land and seek an asylum in America. Is there such an organization among you? [Cries of “Yes," "yes.” “There is,”
" " there is.”] 'It is also said, and with how much truth you have much better opportunities of knowing than I, for of this I know nothing (roars of laughter], that this secret society, which controls the nominations and directs the movements of the allied forces against the Democracy, binds its members by the most solemn obligations to proscribe every man who worships God according to the Roman Catholic faith, no matter to what race he may belong, or where he was born. [Cries “ That is it,” “They do.”] It is also said that your recent city election was controlled by this society; that your city government is now being managed under its auspices, and that the whole patronage of the city is distributed under its direction and in accordance with its principles of proscription. [Cries “That is so,” “It is,” “it is,” from all sides.]
This secret society, whose members profess to "know nothing" with the view of concealing their political designs, are said to have their branches and auxiliary societies in every city, town, and village, and to be in alliance with this great northern sectional party, which proclaims open war upon the institutions of one half of the states and upon the Constitution of the United States. It is not surprising that a political society, whose efficient secret organization enables them to conceal their plans while they hold out inducements of power and patronage to persons to assume their proscriptive obligations, with the assurance that they can conceal the hand which strikes the blow, and thus avoid the odium and responsibility of the act, while they revel in the spoils of victory—I say it is not surprising that such a political organization should prove formidable and even irresistible in its first efforts, when the specific objects and principles of the society were unknown to the community, and before the people could be aroused to a just sense of their danger. I speak of the society and of its principles of action here and wherev
'er else they have triumphed in the recent elections; for I am not aware that I am personally acquainted with any one man who has taken upon himself their obligations and enrolled his name upon their books.
No principle of political action could have been devised more hostile to the genius of our institutions, more repugnant to the Constitution than those which are said to form the test of membership in this society of “Knownothings.” To proscribe a man in this country on account of his birthplace or religious faith is subversive of all our ideas and principles of civil and religious freedom. It is revolting to our sense of justice and right. It is derogatory to the character of our forefathers, who were all emigrants from the Old World, some at an earlier and some at a later period. They once bore allegiance to the crowned heads of Europe. They, too, suffered the torments of civil and religious persecution, the fury of which tore them from their native homes, and forced them to seek new ones on the shores of America. Indeed, the settlement of this continent, the development of the thirteen united colonies, the Declaration of Independence, and the establishment of this glorious republic, may all be traced back to the accursed spirit of persecution. The Pilgrim fathers fled before their persecutors from England to Holland, and thence to Plymouth Rock, that they might be permitted to worship God agreeably to their own faith. The same spirit compelled the Quakers to seek refuge in the wilderness under William Penn, whose name they imparted to the country they inhabited, and from which the good old commonwealth of Pennsylvania has arisen in her glory and majesty.
Your own beautiful city of Philadelphia stands a living monument, and I trust it may stand an eternal monument, of their gratitude to God for having removed them from the scenes of their troubles to a quiet and peaceful home on the banks of the Delaware, which, in the fullness of their hearts, and in faith that the spirit of religious persecution would never again reach them nor spring up among them, they called the “ CITY OF BROTHERLY LOVE. [Cheers and applause.]
The Catholics, who in turn were oppressed and pursued by those who had felt the rod of their power, found an asylum upon the banks of the Chesapeake, and called their little colony after their favorite Queen Mary, to which circumstance the State of Maryland owes her name and her origin.
The gallant Cavaliers, who, after having persecuted the Pilgrims and driven them from the kingdom under Charles I., were in turn routed and pursued by Cromwell, with his invincible army of Roundheads, until they fled to Virginia, where they established the Church of England.
The Huguenots, who settled in South Carolina, were also refugees from religious persecution. Thus it will be seen that the different colonies were the representatives of the various religious sects in Europe, who had each been persecuted, and had nearly all persecuted each other in turn, until, by the strange vicissitudes of fortune, they were driven from their native land and forced to seek an asylum upon this continent, where each could be protected in the worship of God in accordance with the faith he had embraced. In proportion as they became tolerant and just in matters of religion, they became liberal and enlightened in respect to the true principles of civil government. When the Revolution broke out, in defense of their civil and political rights each and all of these colonies rallied under the banner of their common country. The Revolution established their independence by converting the dependent colonies into distinct sovereign states, yet it was not until the adoption of the Constitution of the United States that their liber ties were consolidated and placed on a firm and sure basis. In the Constitution it was provided that “NO RELIGIOUS TEST SHALL EVER BE REQUIRED AS A QUALIFICATION TO ANY OFFICE OR PUBLIC TRUST UNDER THE UNITED STATES.” [Immense applause.]