Recollection by Horace White, Galesburg Debate, October 7, 1858

    Source citation
    Horace White, The Lincoln and Douglas Debates: An Address Before the Chicago Historical Society, February 17, 1914 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1914), 26.
    Date Certainty
    Adapted by David Park, Dickinson College
    Transcription date
    The following transcript has been adapted from The Lincoln and Douglas Debates: An Address Before the Chicago Historical Society, February 17, 1914 (1914).

    The Galesburg meeting came on October 7, the largest of the series in point of numbers in attendance. Douglas made the opening speech but it was only a repetition of his set speech about his doctrine of Popular Sovereignty and what he called Lincoln's doctrine of negro equality. Enlarging upon the odious features of the latter, he had something to say about Thomas Jefferson and the words used by Jefferson in writing the Declaration of Independence, "that all men are created equal," etc. He affirmed that as Jefferson himself a slave-holder he never could have intended to include negroes in that phrase. This gave Lincoln the opportunity to unbosom himself on the subject of the Declaration of Independence, a theme that always brought out his best powers. The Declaration was to him as Holy Writ. He regarded it as the moral bedrock and foundation stone of our whole system of government. Nobody could question its sacredness in his presence without arousing his hot indignation. In reply to Douglas' remarks on this theme he said:

    I believe the entire records of the world, from the date of the Declaration of Independence up to within three years ago, may be searched in vain for one single affirmation from one single man that the negro was not included in the Declaration of Independence; I think I may defy Judge Douglas to show that he ever said so, that Washington ever said so, that any president ever said so, that any member of Congress ever said so, until the necessities of the Democratic party in regard to slavery had to invent that affirmation. And I will remind Judge Douglas and this audience that while Mr. Jefferson was the owner of slaves, as undoubtedly he was, in speaking upon this very subject he used the strong language that he trembled for his country when he remembered that God was just; and I will offer the highest premium in my power to Judge Douglas if he will show that he, in all his life, ever uttered a sentiment at all akin to that of Jefferson.

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