Mizzou journalism faculty criticize MU chancellor for discouraging dissent

The following is a letter signed by 15 University of Missouri journalism faculty and sent to University of Missouri System president and chancellor Mun Choi. The letter came after Choi blocked students from his Twitter account.

Freedom of expression, scrutiny of public
officials and open government are bedrock principles of a democracy and of
institutions of higher learning. These values are central to our mission at the
Missouri School of Journalism.

So, we, the undersigned faculty members, want
to express our disappointment in a series of actions by University of Missouri
System President and MU Chancellor Mun Choi that — intentionally or not —
contradict the “Missouri Method” for which our school is justifiably
famous. His move to block students and others from his Twitter account is the
latest of these.

These actions include discouraging dissent —
publicly and in direct private communications from the chancellor to faculty
members — and singling out two of our colleagues in an interview with local

As the university confronts unprecedented
financial challenges, and the likelihood of further layoffs and
belt-tightening, an implied intolerance of dissent looms as a very real threat.
Already, a few colleagues and students have confided that they fear that speaking
out will put their jobs or scholarships at risk. A number of our colleagues
work in our community newsrooms, which cover the university. Some may have
withheld signatures to avoid the perception of a conflict of interest.

That is why we feel it is important for us to
speak out about the potential for a chilling effect on the campus and on the
professional community news outlets staffed by MU faculty and students. If
President Choi’s actions have not had that effect so far, it’s only due to the
professional standards of the largely untenured School of Journalism faculty
and the courage of their students in upholding those standards — and the First

President Choi reversed his decision to block
students from his Twitter account under threat of a lawsuit. Yet it should not
take eruptions of public outrage to force his compliance with the values of
free speech and public openness that are at the heart of what we stand for — as
a School of Journalism, as a public institution of higher learning and as
inheritors of a great democratic tradition.

Amidst the global crisis of the pandemic,
leadership of the campus that is home to the world’s first school of journalism
should be modelling transparency.

Twitter is not known as a forum for reasoned
and temperate discussion but leaders who choose to use it as a means of
communication should not curb debate. Rather, they should seize the opportunity
to create a teaching moment by modeling responsive governance, open
communication and empathy with students whose lives and routines have been
profoundly disrupted.

More than 100 years ago, Walter Williams, the
founding dean of the Missouri School of Journalism — and future president of
this university — urged members of our profession to be “stoutly independent,
unmoved by pride of opinion or greed of power, constructive, tolerant but never
careless, self-controlled, patient, always respectful…” These words should be
reflected in action, and we urge the administration to be more transparent and
open in the information it shares with the campus and wider community during
the coronavirus crisis. If we are all in this together — and we are — we all
must have a voice in the process. And we all must listen to one another.

Kathy Kiely
Lee Hills Chair in Free Press Studies

Damon Kiesow
Knight Chair in Digital Editing and Producing

Ryan J. Thomas
Associate Professor

Ryan Famuliner
Assistant Professor

Robert Greene
Associate Professor, the Murray Center for Documentary Journalism

Keith Greenwood
Associate Professor

Amanda Hinnant
Associate Professor

Michael W. Kearney
Assistant Professor

Major King
Assistant Professor

Cristina Mislán
Associate Professor

Marty Steffens
SABEW Chair in Business and Financial Journalism

Ron Stodghill
Associate Professor

Tom Warhover
Associate Professor

Alison Young
Curtis B. Hurley Chair in Public Affairs Journalism

Shuhua Zhou
Leonard H. Goldenson Endowed Chair in Radio and Television

Freeport Doctrine helps Douglas win Illinois and lose nation

Freeport, Illinois, Aug, 27

The late August morning brought along a chilly rain. I have dressed the warmest I can, and I find it quite surprising to see such a crowd. Lining the street are Lincoln supporters; some of the crowd still is recovering from Douglas’ arrival the night before.

As in Ottawa, Douglas arrived with the sound of a booming cannon still attached to his train. Douglas walked in at the head of the procession. This morning nearly five thousand greeted Lincoln at his arrival into the square.

Mr. Lincoln speaks first, the order swapped from the first debate giving Lincoln a chance for rebuttal at the end. Again he exudes that even and calm demeanor presenting an air of knowledge and sensibility. He appears to hold the attention of a crowd of nearly 15,000 people. I am impressed by his presence and it appears Mr. Lincoln’s hub of supporters is less rowdy.

  The town square is so crowded that Mr. Lincoln’s chosen reporter and scribe must be lifted to the stage to sit with the rest of the press pool.

I listen carefully. In the last debate, Mr. Lincoln was left with Judge Douglas asking several questions of him. It was perhaps a devastating blow to Mr. Lincoln not having time to respond. Now Lincoln is listing Douglas’ questions and responding with answers that emphasize his moderation:

“Question 1,” he says, “I desire to know whether Lincoln to-day stands, as he did in 1854, in favor of the unconditional repeal of the Fugitive Slave law?”

Mr. Lincoln’s answer, “I do not now, nor ever did, stand in favor of the unconditional repeal of the Fugitive Slave Law.”

His second question is: “I desire him to answer whether he stands pledged to-day, as he did in 1854, against the admission of any more slave States into the Union, even if the people want them?”

“I do not now, or ever did, stand pledged against the admission of any more slave States into the Union,” he answers.

 “I want to know whether he stands pledged against the admission of a new State into the Union with such a Constitution as the people of that State may see fit to make?”

“I do not stand pledged against the admission of a new State into the Union, with such a Constitution as the people of that State may see fit to make.”

Again there is a loud chorus of people chanting, “good, good.,” With so many people there  it is a nearly unpleasant sound to one’s ears.

Mr. Lincoln continues with the fourth question, “I want to know whether he stands to-day pledged to the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia?”

He answers it as he has does the others, “I do not stand to-day pledged to the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia.”

“I desire him to answer whether he stands pledged to the prohibition of the slave-trade between the different States?”

“I do not stand pledged to the prohibition of the slave-trade between the different States,” he says.

“Question six, I desire to know whether he stands pledged to prohibit slavery in all the Territories of the United States, North as well as South of the Missouri Compromise line?” Mr. Lincoln answers, “I am impliedly, if not expressly, pledged to a belief in the right and duty of Congress to prohibit slavery in all the United States Territories.”

“Question seven, I desire him to answer whether he is opposed to the acquisition of any new territory unless slavery is first prohibited therein?”

“I am not generally opposed to honest acquisition of territory; and, in any given case, I would or would not oppose such acquisition, accordingly as I might think such acquisition would or would not aggravate [sic] the slavery question among ourselves.”

I listen as he explains that he answered those questions as the wording required of them, that Mr. Lincoln in his admittedly short time in politics has not pledged to any cause and promised very little in the way of legislation.  

Mr. Lincoln then turns Judge Douglas’ questioning tactic upon him.  He asks Douglas “could the people of a territory in any lawful way, against the wishes of any citizen of the United States, exclude slavery from their limits prior to formation of a state constitution,”

This puts Judge Douglas in a bind. If he says no he will anger supporters in Illinois and northern Democrats who want to limit the spread of slavery. If he says yes, he will anger southern Democrats.

Douglas tries to find a middle ground saying the legislature may not be able to do it directly – the Dred Scott decision said that – but can refuse to enact laws that enforce slavery. “The people have the lawful means to introduce it, or exclude it as they please, for the reason that slavery cannot exist a day or an hour anywhere, unless it is supported by local police regulations. Those regulations can only be established by the local legislature, and if the people are opposed to slavery they will elect representatives to that body who will by unfriendly legislation effectively prevent the introduction of it into their midst.”

Judge Douglas reiterates his denouncement of the Washington Union, a D.C. newspaper, which argued that “free states had not the right to prohibit slavery within their own limits.” The newspaper’s position could permit slavery in already existing free states.

Time expires and Judge Douglas steps back and allows Mr. Lincoln to have his thirty-minute rebuttal.

As he steps back he can’t realize that history will call his response to Lincoln the Freeport Doctrine. Nor can he realize it will shatter Democratic Party and seal the result of the presidential election two years hence, putting Mr. Lincoln in the White House and the nation at war.

 As Mr. Lincoln stands to conclude he reiterates the House Divided doctrine that Douglas has attacked, but with a moderate twist.. “I repeat that I do not believe this Government can endure permanently half slave and half free, yet I do not admit, nor does it at all follow, that the admission of a single slave State will permanently fix the character and establish this as a universal slave nation.”

Lincoln: ‘Physical differences…forever forbid the two races from living together’

Charleston, Illinois, Sept. 18

As fall becomes well and truly upon us so does the frequency of the Lincoln and Douglas public feud. This debate is set to take place on the Coles County Fairgrounds, and it is filled with upwards of ten thousand people, perhaps nearer to fifteen thousand. Eleven railroad cars of people arrived from Indiana.

Again there is much pageantry involved with the arrival of the speakers. It’s said both had begun their trip to Charleston from Mattoon which is about a twelve-mile journey. Once more Judge Douglas’ arrival is noted by the sound of a cannon firing.

Mr. Lincoln comes in with a wagon drawn by an ox. Within Mr. Lincoln’s procession was a wagonful of maidens – and among that there were thirty-two done up to represent the states by wearing sashes, and perhaps it is worth noting that this is perhaps the greatest showing of women being active in these debates thus far, ride in on a wagon bearing the inscription:

Westward the star of empire takes its way;

The Girls link-on to Lincoln

Their mothers were for Clay

At the end of the procession, a woman was wearing a sash, similar to others, marking her as Kansas in statehood, also wearing the banner with the phrase “I WILL” be free.” Quite the controversial statement and I wondered if this would be the topic of the debates today or if Mr. Lincoln would be answering Judge Douglas’ charges about his claims of wanting equality for the races. Or perhaps, Judge Douglas will be so infuriated about the banners displaying a smaller Mr. Lincoln fighting against at giant Judge Douglas or the one calling Douglas the “little giant” and calling Mr. Lincoln “Abe the Giant Killer” that he cannot form a coherent argument.

Following precedent, it will be Mr. Lincoln’s turn speaking first – this afternoon. There is a momentous amount of applause as he rises to speak. While we are still nearer to the heart of the Democrats, I wondered if some of the excitement was perhaps spurred by the idea of a “Lincoln Homecoming.” His father and stepmother once called this town home. He begins his speech by calling for silence.

He then starts by  answering the charges presented by Judge Douglas and perhaps others in the opposing party and maybe within his own that he favors racial equality.

While I was at the hotel to-day, an elderly gentleman called upon me to know whether I was really in favor of producing a perfect equality between the negroes and white people. (Within the audience, there was a roar of laughter at the idea.) While I had not proposed to myself on this occasion to say much on that subject, yet as the question was asked me, I thought I would occupy perhaps five minutes in saying something in regard to it. I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, [applause]-that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.

 I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. [Cheers and laughter.] My understanding is that I can just let her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly never have had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. 

 I will also add to the remarks I have made (for I am not going to enter at large upon this subject,) that I have never had the least apprehension that I or my friends would marry negroes if there was no law to keep them from it, [laughter] but as Judge Douglas and his friends seem to be in great apprehension that they might, if there were no law to keep them from it, [roars of laughter] I give him the most solemn pledge that I will to the very last stand by the law of this State, which forbids the marrying of white people with negroes. [Continued laughter and applause.] 

Once his time is up, Lincoln sits down to a round of applause and Judge Douglas takes the podium. There is a great difference in their bearings and stature that one cannot help but compare when they stand next to each other. Judge Douglas begins his speech with the usual fire that he has presented throughout this journey.

Judge Douglas responds to Mr. Lincoln’s long remarks about a speech given by Sen. Lyman Trumbull. Trumbull, from Alton, is the other Illinois senator and himself a national figure.

Discussion of Sen. Trumbull has occupied much discussion throughout the debates.  Douglas has accused Lincoln of transforming the Whig party of Sens. Henry Clay and Daniel Webster into an abolitionist party. And he accuses Trumbull of abolitionizing the Democratic Party.

Douglas portrays this as an abandonment of the great slavery compromises of Clay and Webster and an abandonment of the Founding Fathers’ view that the nation could continue half slave and half free. Douglas portrays it as abandoning the Clay-Webster national principles he stands for and adopting abolitionist sectionalism. Douglas put it this way: 

 … no sooner was the sod grown green over the grave of the immortal Clay, no sooner was the rose planted on the tomb of the god-like Webster, than many of the leaders of the Whig party, such as Seward, of New York, and his followers, led off and attempted to abolitionize the Whig party, and transfer all your old Whigs, bound hand and foot, into the Abolition camp. Seizing hold of the temporary excitement produced in this country by the introduction of the Nebraska bill, the disappointed politicians in the Democratic party united with the disappointed politicians in the Whig party, and endeavored to form a new party composed of all the Abolitionists, of abolitionized Democrats and abolitionized Whigs, banded together in an Abolition platform.

And who led that crusade against National principles in this State? I answer, Abraham Lincoln on behalf of the Whigs, and Lyman Trumbull on behalf of the Democrats, formed a scheme by which they would abolitionize the two great parties in this State.

Once more Judge Douglas discusses how Lincoln changes his politics based on what part of the state that it is in.

 “I admired many of the white sentiments contained in Lincoln’s speech at Jonesboro, and could not help but contrast them with the speeches of the same distinguished orator made in the northern part of the State. Down here he denies that the Black Republican party is opposed to the admission of any more slave States, under any circumstances, and says that they are willing to allow the people of each State, when it wants to come into the Union, to do just as it pleases on the question of slavery. In the North, you find Lovejoy, their candidate for Congress in the Bloomington District, Farnsworth, their candidate in the Chicago District, and Washburne, their candidate in the Galena District, all declaring that never will they consent, under any circumstances, to admit another slave State…”

Judge Douglas uses the last of his time to again pursue the argument of black equality and demand Lincoln say whether a black man can be a citizen.

Every where up north he has declared that he was not in favor of the social and political equality of the negro, but he would not say whether or not he was opposed to negroes voting and negro citizenship. I want to know whether he is for or against negro citizenship? He declared his utter opposition to the Dred Scott decision, and advanced as a reason that the court had decided that it was not possible for a negro to be a citizen under the Constitution of the United States. If he is opposed to the Dred Scott decision for that reason, he must be in favor of confering the right and privilege of citizenship upon the negro! I have been trying to get an answer from him on that point, but have never yet obtained one…

Douglas leaves no doubt about his position:

 I say that this Government was established on the white basis. It was made by white men, for the benefit of white men and their posterity forever, and never should be administered by any except white men. I declare that a negro ought not to be a citizen, whether his parents were imported into this country as slaves or not, or whether or not he was born here. It does not depend upon the place a negro’s parents were born, or whether they were slaves or not, but upon the fact that he is a negro, belonging to a race incapable of self-government, and for that reason ought not to be on an equality with white men. (Immense applause.)

Once Mr. Lincoln resumes the podium he replies that Judge Douglas had never asked him on the question of black citizenship.  

I tell him very frankly that I am not in favor of negro citizenship. [Renewed applause.] …Now my opinion is that the different States have the power to make a negro a citizen under the Constitution of the United States if they choose. The Dred Scott decision decides that they do not have that power. If the State of Illinois had that power I should be opposed to the exercise of it. [Cries of “good,” “good,” and applause.] That is all I have to say about it.

Once Lincoln has closed his speech, like Judge Douglas he is greeted with a great round of applause and even a smattering of chants for additional speeches, which is a likely thing with the celebration tonight at the bonfire. If one were to judge the winner by the applause, there would be no clear victor.

Lincoln: Granting negro equality as fantastical as proving ‘horse-chesnut to be a chesnut horse’

Quincy, Illinois,Oct. 13

The Lincoln Douglas debate moves to downtown Quincy. It could be assumed that this city is a fan of Lincoln. Quincy is a city of Whigs, Mr. Lincoln’s former political party. Today is a clear sky and without any of the cold and bracing wind of Galesburg. The Quincy Whig published a programme for the speech.

Judge Douglas arrived the prior night in a parade or torches and tapestry. He was escorted to the Quincy house by a group of 3,000 Democrats. Mr. Lincoln arrived at half-past nine and he was met by a large crowd of Republicans and the Steig’s brass band.

There are 12,000 people in attendance, and many of them are part of the former Whig party. The debate begins early afternoon. Mr. Lincoln begins his speech by explaining he never attended a Republican Party meeting that passed abolitionist positions that Douglas has blamed on him. 

As in previous debates, Lincoln counters Douglas’ claim that he says one thing in Egypt in southern Illinois and another when he comes north. He points out he had said four years earlier exactly what he said at recent debate at Charleston – that his “own feelings would not admit a social and political equality between the white and black races, and that even if my own feelings would admit of it, I still knew that the public sentiment of the country would not, and that such a thing was an utter impossibility…”

Lincoln adds:

“Now, gentlemen, I don’t want to read at any great length, but this is the true complexion of all I have ever said in regard to the institution of slavery or the black race, and this is the whole of it; any thing that argues me into his idea of perfect social and political equality with the negro, is but a specious and fantastical arrangement of words by which a man can prove a horse-chestnut to be a chestnut horse. I will say here, while upon this subject, that I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution in the States where it exists. I believe I have no right to do so. I have no inclination to do so. I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together on the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position.” [Cheers, “That’s the doctrine.”] “I have never said any thing to the contrary, but I hold that notwithstanding all this, there is no reason in the world why the negro is not entitled to all the rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence-the right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I hold that he is as much entitled to these as the white man. I agree with Judge Douglas that he is not my equal in many respects, certainly not in color-perhaps not in intellectual and moral endowments; but in the right to eat the bread without the leave of any body else which his own hand earns, he is my equal and the equal of Judge Douglas, and the equal of every other man.” [Loud cheers.]

Lincoln  pushes the question of the Dred Scott decision again and whether or not Judge Douglas would stand by such a choice.

From the beginning of the debates, Lincoln has said that applying the Dred Scott decision to the whole nation would mean free states could not ban slavery because the court said the Constitution protects the slaveholder’s property right in slave ownership. Lincoln says Douglas has dodged the question:

At Galesburg, I tried to show that by the Dred Scott decision, pushed to its legitimate consequences, slavery would be established in all the States as well as in the Territories. I did this because, upon a former occasion, I had asked Judge Douglas whether, if the Supreme Court should make a decision declaring that the States had not the power to exclude slavery from their limits, he would adopt and follow that decision as a rule of political action; and because he had not directly answered that question, but had merely contented himself with sneering at it, I again introduced it, and tried to show that the conclusion that I stated followed inevitably and logically from the proposition already decided by the court…. I give him this third chance to say yes or no. He is not obliged to do either-probably he will not do either- [laughter] but I give him the third chance. 

Mr. Lincoln concludes his speech by arguing the difference with Judge Douglas is a matter of right or wrong. 

I suggest that the difference of opinion, reduced to its lowest terms, is no other than the difference between the men who think slavery a wrong and those who do not think it wrong. The Republican party think it wrong-we think it is a moral, a social and a political wrong. We think it as a wrong not confining itself merely to the persons or the States where it exists, but that it is a wrong in its tendency, to say the least, that extends itself to the existence of the whole nation. Because we think it wrong, we propose a course of policy that shall deal with it as a wrong. We deal with it as with any other wrong, in so far as we can prevent its growing any larger, and so deal with it that in the run of time there may be some promise of an end to it. We have a due regard to the actual presence of it amongst us and the difficulties of getting rid of it in any satisfactory way, and all the Constitutional obligations thrown about it. I suppose that in reference both to its actual existence in the nation, and to our Constitutional obligations, we have no right at all to disturb it in the States where it exists, and we profess that we have no more inclination to disturb it than we have the right to do it.

Judge Douglas then takes his stand to a roar of applause. Again he calls for silence for his presentation. He begins established what he calls the facts of the Republican party:

That platform declared that the Republican party was pledged never to admit another slave State into the Union, and also that it pledged to prohibit slavery in all the Territories of the United States, not only all that we then had, but all that we should thereafter acquire, and to repeal unconditionally the Fugitive Slave law, abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, and prohibit the slave-trade between the different States. These and other articles against slavery were contained in this platform and unanimously adopted by the Republican Congressional Convention in that District. 

He continues to follow up on Mr. Lincoln’s rhetoric hitting hard upon the question that he asked in Freeport and again in Ottawa about adding more slave states into the union.

In answer to my question whether he indorsed the Black Republican principle of “no more slave States,” he answered that he was not pledged against the admission of any more slave States, but that he would be very sorry if he should ever be placed in a position where he would have to vote on the question; that he would rejoice to know that no more slave States would be admitted into the Union…”

Judge Douglas doubles down that Mr. Lincoln will not answer about admitting slave states “as the people of the people of the territory wish.”

He would not answer my question directly, because up North, the abolition creed declares that there shall be no more slave States, while down south, in Adams county, in Coles, and in Sangamon, he and his friends are afraid to advance that doctrine. Therefore, he gives an evasive and equivocal answer, to be construed one way in the south and another way in the north, which, when analyzed, it is apparent is not an answer at all with reference to any territory now in existence…

Then Judge Douglas explains why he won’t say whether he thinks slavery is right or wrong.

“He (Lincoln) tells you that I will not argue the question whether slavery is right or wrong. I tell you why I will not do it. I hold that under the Constitution of the United States, each State of this Union has a right to do as it pleases on the subject of slavery. In Illinois we have exercised that sovereign right by prohibiting slavery within our own limits. I approve of that line of policy. … It is none of our business whether slavery exists in Missouri or not. Missouri is a sovereign State of this Union, and has the same right to decide the slavery question for herself that Illinois has to decide it for herself…. He is going to discuss the rightfulness of slavery when Congress cannot act upon it either way. 

He begins to discuss the Dred Scott decision bringing attention to how Mr. Lincoln would reverse the decision. Judge Douglas makes the statement that the territories should protect the slave owner’s “property.” 

I ask him whether the decision of the Supreme Court is not binding upon him as well as on me? If so, and he holds that he would be perjured if he did not vote for a slave code under it, I ask him whether, if elected to Congress, he will so vote? I have a right to his answer, and I will tell you why. He put that question to me down in Egypt, and did it with an air of triumph. This was about the form of it: “In the event of a slaveholding citizen of one of the Territories should need and demand a slave code to protect his slaves, will you vote for it? 

He (Lincoln) wishes to discuss the merits of the Dred Scott decision when, under  the Constitution, a Senator has no right to interfere with the decision of judicial tribunals.I have never yet learned how or where an appeal could be taken from the Supreme Court of the United States! The Dred Scott decision was pronounced by the highest tribunal on earth. From that decision there is no appeal this side of Heaven. Yet, Mr. Lincoln says he is going to reverse that decision. By what tribunal will he reverse it? Will he appeal to a mob? Does he intend to appeal to violence, to Lynch law? Will he stir up strife and rebellion in the land and overthrow the court by violence? …But, I will not be drawn off into an argument upon the merits of the Dred Scott decision. It is enough for me to know that the Constitution of the United States created the Supreme Court for the purpose of deciding all disputed questions touching the true construction of that instrument, and when such decisions are pronounced, they are the law of the land, binding on every good citizen.

Shortly before closing, Douglas foresees slavery existing forever.

Let each State stand firmly by that great Constitutional right, let each State mind its own business and let its neighbors alone, and there will be no trouble on this question. If we will stand by that principle, then Mr. Lincoln will find that this Republic can exist forever divided into free and slave States, as our fathers made it and the people of each State have decided. Stand by that great principle, and we can go on as we have done, increasing in wealth, in population, in power, and in all the elements of greatness, until we shall be the admiration and terror of the world.

Lincoln in his answer immediately jumps on Douglas’ remark.

I wish to return to Judge Douglas my profound thanks for his public annunciation here to-day, to be put on record, that his system of policy in regard to the institution of slavery contemplates that it shall last forever. [Great cheers, and cries of “Hit him again.”]We are getting a little nearer the true issue of this controversy, and I am profoundly grateful for this one sentence. Judge Douglas asks you, “Why cannot the institution of slavery, or rather, why cannot the nation, part slave and part free, continue as our fathers made it forever?” In the first place, I insist that our fathers did not make this nation half slave and half free, or part slave and part free. I insist that they found the institution of slavery existing here. They did not make it so, but they left it so because they knew of no way to get rid of it at that time. When Judge Douglas undertakes to say that, as a matter of choice, the fathers of the Government made this nation part slave and part free, he assumes what is historically a falsehood. More than that: when the fathers of the Government cut off the source of slavery by the abolition of the slave-trade, and adopted a system of restricting it from the new Territories where it had not existed, I maintain that they placed it where they understood, and all sensible men understood, it was in the course of ultimate extinction. As Mr. Lincoln closes out the rest of his time, the crowds melt away hurrahing for their chosen candidates until their voice cracked and went hoarse. 

Douglas: ‘I’m in favor of confining citizenship to white men’

Ottawa, Illinois, Aug. 21

The stage for the first debate has been erected on the edge of the canal. It is constructed in a manner that allows for impermanence due to the nature of these debates. To stir people up for the election and then to be torn away at the end of it all. I suppose there is a charm to it, to live in the moment of history. Ottawa itself, in the far north of the state, boasts only a population of 3,000. From the early hours of the morning, people have been gathering to attend these festivities, this meeting of the minds. Or maybe the separating of the minds. Perhaps there will be 10,000 people, maybe more.

It was an honor to see both Judge Douglas and Mr. Lincoln. It stirs one’s soul. They could not be as different as men as cats and dogs. Where Judge Douglas is a stout man, nearer to round than any other shape, Mr. Lincoln has grown in length. He is a very tall man.

They could not be further apart in ideology as well.

Mr. Lincoln is escorted by his supporters from the railway. Many sing his praises and while some may remain skeptical of this new Republican party one cannot argue the fact that this county and region favor Mr. Lincoln over Judge Douglas.

That is not to say that Judge Douglas arrived to a cold shoulder. He and his people arrive in a massive collation of folks on horseback. A cannon rings out to announce his arrival and his crowd only grows as he travels from Peru. People hang out of their window to catch a view of the rising star judge.

Their arrival stirs up the dirt in the air, which hangs heavy in the late summer heat. People gather to watch this speech, which isn’t to take place until late afternoon and will continue until early evening – and as I said they were arriving with the first rays of sunlight.

Wm. H.H. Cushman is the man who delivers the opening remarks with some favorability to the sitting senator, Douglas:

“For the honor you have impressed upon your constituents the people of the State of Illinois by your firm, consistent, and patriotic insisting in the councils of this nation for Democratic principles (applause) asserting the ability, and the right of the people to be the sole judges of the acts of the legislative bodies themselves what institutions they will found and under what laws they can best sustain the great principles of self-government.” 

  Douglas is the leading national advocate of “popular sovereignty” – the idea that people in the territories should decide whether to enter the union slave or free. Mr. Lincoln has already given a famous speech on what he thinks about that. “A House divided against itself cannot stand.”

             Judge Douglas begins the first hour of speech as impassioned as the bulldog many describe him as resembling. His face is red as he hurls through his oratory shouting and hollering at his opponent, cutting with harsh wit. It is nearly impossible to hear the words far from the stage through the din of the crowd and perhaps a few spooked horses and the speculation of fistfights at the fringe of the crowd.

There’s a whispered rumor that part of the stage had collapsed on the head of the Douglas delegation, but from my position I can not tell if this is true.  

Mr. Lincoln seems to lose some of his famed composure, holding his shoulders close together as Judge Douglas rips into the goals of the “black Republican” party. Douglas shouts about abolition and great violations of states’ rights and paints the picture of hundreds of thousands of freed Missouri slaves turning the prairie land of Illinois into a “Negro colony.” The crowd jeers and cheers at the appropriate moments, and perhaps the debate has already been won without the return speech and rebuttal. Says Douglas:

If you desire negro citizenship, if you desire to allow them to come into the State and settle with the white man, if you desire them to vote on an equality with yourselves, and to make them eligible to office, to serve on juries, and to adjudge your rights, then support Mr. Lincoln and the Black Republican party, who are in favor of the citizenship of the negro. (“Never, never.”) For one, I am opposed to negro citizenship in any and every form. (Cheers.) I believe this Government was made on the white basis. (“Good.”) I believe it was made by white men for the benefit of white men and their posterity forever, and I am in favor of confining citizenship to white men, men of European birth and descent, instead of conferring it upon negroes, Indians, and other inferior races. (“Good for you.” “Douglas forever.”)

When Mr. Lincoln stands to speak, despite the disheartened spirit that seems to have taken over his supporters, they cheer with such vigor and length that for many minutes Mr. Lincoln cannot speak if he hopes to be heard. He speaks completely differently from Judge Douglas. Not only about issues, but his tone is even and measured. His passion is no less than Douglas, but it is restrained and expresses himself in his movements, measured but emboldened. His cadence carries each response with grace.

Mr. Lincoln says that the Kansas-Nebraska Act and popular sovereignty is the end of the Missouri Compromise.

This is the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. The foregoing history may not be precisely accurate in every particular; but I am sure it is sufficiently so for all the uses I shall attempt to make of it, and in it we have before us, the chief materials enabling us to correctly judge whether the repeal of the Missouri Compromise is right or wrong. I think, and shall try to show, that it is wrong; wrong in its direct effect, letting slavery into Kansas and Nebraska-and wrong in its prospective principle, allowing it to spread to every other part of the wide world, where men can be found inclined to take it.

This declared indifference, but, as I must think, covert real zeal for the spread of slavery, I cannot but hate. I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world-enables the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to taunt us as hypocrites-causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity, and especially because it forces so many really good men amongst ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty-criticizing the Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right principle of action but self-interest.

Still, Mr. Lincoln says of freed slaves, “We can’t….make equals of them.”

In the end, the cheers again prevent anyone from speaking. There’s a tumultuous yell that if the horses were not spooked from before, they would be now. Judge Douglas seems to lose himself into his vigor, and his rebuttal of half an hour is pure anger.

Once both have concluded, I catch a glimpse of Mr. Lincoln being carried off on the shoulders of his supporters, long enough that his feet drag behind him as he is celebrated. From the reaction, one might guess that Mr. Lincoln has won the debate and even in the morning, it seems that many newspapers from the Chicago Times to the Chicago Daily Journal are in agreement, that at least on this stage Judge Douglas has no hope of winning.