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upon him the first shaft of the Opposition. When Mr. Lamborn rose to address that meeting that day, he had not the slightest doubt of “killing Douglas” before he concluded. But Douglas was not “killed;” the very means employed to destroy him he used with unequaled power in strengthening and elevating himself. The work attempted by Lamborn on that occasion was taken up by many during those first ten years of Douglas in Illinois, but the men who engaged in it failed, as have all other men who attempted the task. Where are the men who sought his political destruction in those years? They have been forgotten, or, being remembered, are remembered only because they encountered Douglas and were vanquished by him. It is unnecessary to mention names; it is unnecessary to ask what became of the men who, during those years, sought to destroy him in the estimation of the people; the only answer that need be given to such a question is to point to the tombstones that stand conspicuously upon every political battle-field of those ten eventful years. Mr. Douglas, after his ten years' absence, visited, on his way to Congress, his friends at Cleveland and his relatives at Canandaigua. He had redeemed his promise—that he would carve out his own successful career. Unaided and alone he had gone forth; he now returned as the chosen representative of the generous people with whom he had taken up his residence. Since he had last seen his relatives, he had, from the condition of a penniless, homeless youth, been admitted to the bar, chosen state's attorney, register of the land office, secretary of state, judge of the Supreme Court, and now a member of Congress. Had he been idle? had he wasted his talents? had he misapplied his time? Was there one of the hundreds who, surrounded with all the aids of wealth and family influence, had started in life with him, could show a more brilliant or successful career, or more honorable proofs often years' earnest labor?
Since December, 1843, Mr. Douglas has been a representative of Illinois in one or other house of Congress. He took his seat in December, 1843, and again in December, 1845, as a member of the House. In August, 1846, he was again elected to the House; but at the session of the Legislature commencing December, 1846, he was elected to the United States Senate. In January, 1853, he was again elected to the Senate, and in January, 1859—after the memorable contest of 1858– he was a third time elected for a term of six years. After the first convention which nominated him for Congress, there was no opposition to his nomination, the party taking him up as their candidate by universal consent. So with his election to the United States Senate. After the caucus had nominated him in 1847, he was elected as a matter of course; and in 1853 and in 1859 no opposition in his own party was ever urged against his re-election. Perhaps no man, not excepting even the great Clay, Webster, and Benton, has taken a more active part in the debates of Congress during the time that he has been a member, than Mr. Douglas. No branch of the public business has occupied his whole time. He has been an untiring business man upon all the great subjects that have been before Congress since 1843. Upon all these questions he has entered largely into the debates, and the attentive reader of the discussions in Congress will find that Mr. Douglas's speeches are all devoted to the accomplishment of practical ends, to be attained by following fixed principles; and that in no instance has he departed from this policy, even when by so doing he could avoid personal hostility or obtain personal favor. His intrepidity as a statesman has marked every step of his public career, and the stronger and more violent the storm directed against him, the stronger and more unyielding has been his determination to work out the great end he had in view. Another distinguishing mark of Mr. Douglas's career has been that he has NEVER FAILED in any proposition which he has undertaken seriously to have accomplished. He has introduced many measures that he has never pushed to a successful issue; but when the right time arrives for any measure that he deems appropriate and necessary, he never has failed to give to it all his energies, and in such case has never failed in seeing it successful over all opposition. In reviewing the public history of a man who, like Mr. Douglas, has taken such an important part in the legislation of nearly twenty years, covering a period of agitation and excitement never exceeded in the previous history of the country, it is necessary, in a work like this, to condense narratives, when the whole story should be told, and to give the substance only of speeches, when the entire speeches ought to be read.
Much that is valuable in the history of the country, and much that would be useful in forming a true and just estimate of Mr. Douglas's great abilities as a jurist, a statesman, and an orator, is reluctantly yet necessarily omitted in this volume. In preparing the sketch of his services in Congress, it has been found more convenient, and possibly more advantageous to the reader, to arrange them under subjects, without any strict reference to chronological order; and the reader must remember that the subjects treated of in the following pages are not all, but only a few of the leading measures in which he has taken an active part.
It has already been stated that Mr. Douglas's first speech of V a political character in Illinois, and his first public political triumph, was at a public meeting at Jacksonville, in the spring of 1834, where he encountered the ablest of General Jackson's opponents, and in a county where the influence of the bank had paralyzed the Democracy, had silenced the old hero's champions, and was carrying unopposed all political power to the side of the monopoly. Young, inexperienced, unknown to the people, he vindicated the policy of the old veteran, and turned the tide of popular opinion in his favor. That was not the only speech, nor the only time that he encountered the gallant and eloquent orators of the Whig party in the defense of General Jackson. On the circuit while prosecuting attorney, on the stump as candidate for the Legislature, in the Legislature as a member, before the people as a candidate for Congress, on the stump as a Democratic orator, every where, on all occasions, from 1834 until the expiration of General Jackson's term of office in 1837, Mr. Douglas was selected by his political friends, and recognized by his opponents, as the especial champion of the administration, and of the personal and political character of General Andrew Jackson. It has also been stated that in boyhood, when serving as an apprentice in Vermont, he was found in the workshop, and in all congregations of youths of his own age, and even of a larger growth, the de
fender of Jackson. His exploits in tearing down the infamous coffin hand-bills are still remembered. Afterward, while at Canandaigua, he was noted for the fervor with which he espoused the cause of Jackson, and during the canvass of 1832
for the zeal displayed in behalf of Jackson and Marcy.
Nor was his advocacy of the principles of General Jackson terminated by the retirement of the old hero from the presidency. In Mr. Van Buren's administration, and in the trials and vicissitudes that attended its earlier days in financial matters, the old hero's cause was tried over and over again. During 1837, 8, and 9, Mr. Douglas was indefatigable on the stump and in convention in the defense of the financial policy adopted by the party. In these matters he occupied the very first position as an orator before the people of his state.
In December, 1843, he took his seat in Congress. For several years preceding there had been a struggle over a bill proposing to refund to General Jackson the fine of $1000 imposed upon him by Judge Hall, at New Orleans, during the defense of that city. Some of the best minds in Congress had considered the question, and it had been, as was thought, thoroughly discussed. The bill had never become a law. Early in the session of 1843–4 a bill was introduced, and the subject was again debated. General Jackson was extolled on all sides; most of the friends of the bill supported it as a measure of gratitude—a boon due by a grateful country to her patriotic and successful defender. On this ground it was mainly supported by its friends. On the 7th of January, 1844, Mr. Douglas obtained the floor. He was then unknown to Congress. His was a new face, and his was a strange voice in those halls. He did not follow the beaten path in his advocacy of the bill. He at once took high and strong ground in defense of General Jackson's conduct. He denied the legality of Judge Hall's judgment. This position was a bold one; the speaker attracted attention; and, as he warmed with his subject, he soon obtained the ear of the House. His speech was a success. It established his character as a lawyer and as a debater. From that time to the present day he has never been compelled to address empty benches, or an impatient, inattentive audience. As a monument to indicate his starting-point in the parlia
mentary history of the country, the speech is here inserted in full.
Mr. Douglas said:
When this bill was introduced by the learned gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. C. J. Ingersoll), I entertained the hope that it would be permitted to pass without discussion and without opposition. But the character of the amendment submitted by the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Stephens), and the debate which has taken place upon it and the original bill, have been of such a nature as to justify and require the friends of the bill to go into a discussion of the whole subject. For one, I am not disposed to shrink from the investigation of any question connected with this subject, nor am I prepared to acquiesce silently in the correctness of the imputations cast upon the friends of this measure by gentlemen in the Opposition. They have been pleased to stigmatize this act of justice to the distinguished patriot and hero as a humbug—a party trick—a political movement, intended to operate upon the next Presidential election. These imputations are as unfounded as they are uncourteous, and I hurl them back, in the spirit which they deserve, upon any man who is capable of harboring, much less expressing, such a sentiment. It ill becomes gentlemen to profess to be the real friends of General Jackson, and the exclusive guardians of his fame, and to characterize our effort as sinister and insincere, while in the same breath they charge him with violating the Constitution and laws, and trampling with ruthless violence upon the judiciary of the country. They seem to act upon the principle that the most successful mode of blackening the character of a great and good man is to profess to be his friends while making unfounded admissions against him, which, if true, would blast his reputution forever. If these are to be taken as the kind offering of friendship, well may the old hero pray God to deliver him from the hands of his friends, and leave him to take care of his enemies. I insist that this bill has been brought forward and supported in good faith as an act of justice—strict, rigid, impartial justice to the American people, as well as their bravest defender. The country has an interest in the character of her public men—their unsullied fame gives brilliancy to her glory. The history of General Jackson is so inseparably connected with the history of this country, that the slightest blot upon the one would fix an indelible stain upon the other. Hence the duty, the high and patriotic duty, of the representatives of the people to efface every unjust stigma from the spotless character of that truly great man, and transmit his name to posterity adorned with all the charms which the light of truth will impart to it. The charge of exerting arbitrary power and lawless violence over courts, and Legislatures, and civil institutions, in derogation of the Constitution and laws, and without the sanction of rightful authority, have been so often made and reiterated for political effect, that doubtless many candid men have been disposed to repose faith in their correctness, without taking the pains to examine carefully the grounds upon which they rest. A question involving the right of the country to use the means necessary to its defense from foreign invasion in times of imminent and impending danger is too vitally important to be yielded without an inquiry into the nature and source of the fatal restriction which is to deprive a nation of the power of self-preservation. The proposition contended for by the Opposition is, that the general in command, to whose protection are committed the country, and the lives, property, and liberties of the citizens within his district, may not declare martial law when it is ascertained that its exercise, and it alone, can save all from total destruction. It is gravely contended that in such an aw– ful conjuncture of circumstances, the general must abandon all to the mercy of the enemy, because he is not authorized to elevate the military above the civil authorities, and that, too, when it is certain that nothing but the power of the military law can save the civil laws and the Constitution of the country from complete annihilation. If these are not the positions assumed by