The Ottawa Fraud – How Lincoln is to be Assailed.


Tuesday, August 31, 1858.

From the Chicago Press and Tribune of the 24th.

The shameless effrontery which impelled SENATOR DOUGLAS to falsify the record, in his Ottawa speech – to read his auditors a series of resolutions passed by a district convention in Aurora, Kane County, as the Platform of the Republican party, adopted in Springfield, in 1854 – to connect Lincoln's name with the radical sentiments therein expressed, reacted upon him yesterday, with tremendous effect – Our prompt exposure of the lie and fraud was an unexpected bombshell in the Douglas camp. Officers and soldiers alike stood aghast at the hardihood of their chief. His speech was left without a bone or a muscle in it, and his blindest worshipers admitted that the dodger for once was cornered and beaten. The particularity of his notice – his giving the name and date – his appeal to circumstances which seemed to corroborate his words – left his followers no chance to shirk or skulk. There is the lie told with circumstantiality and evidently for a damning purpose. For instance he says:

In pursuance of that arrangement, the parties met AT SPRINGFIELD IN OCTOBER, 1854, and proclaimed their new platform. Mr. Lincoln was to bring into the Abolition camp the old line Whigs, and transfer them over to Giddings and Chase, Fred Douglas, Lovejoy and Farnsworth, who were then ready to receive and christen them into Abolitionists. They laid down ON THAT OCCASION a platform for this new Republican party, which was to be constructed out of the old Whig party and the old Democratic party, by Abolitionizing both and transferring them to Abolitionism. I have the resolutions of THAT CONVENTION, which was the first Mass State Convention ever held in Illinois by the Republican party. I now hold them in my hand, and will read a part of the resolutions and cause the others to be printed. Here is one of the resolutions, and the most material one of THIS Abolition platform, under the new name of Republicanism:

2. "Resolved, That times imperatively demand the reorganization of parties, and repudiating all previous party attachments, names and predilections; we unite ourselves together in defence of the liberty and constitution of the country, and will hereafter co-operate as the Republican party, pledged to the accomplishment of the following purposes: To bring the administration of the government back to the control of the first principles; to restore Nebraska and Kansas to the position of free Territories; that as the Constitution of the United States vests in the States, and not in Congress, the power to legislate for the extradition of fugitives from labor, to repeal and entirely abrogate the Fugitive Slave Law, to restrict slavery to the States in which it exists; to prohibit the admission of any more slave States in to the Union; to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia; to exclude slavery from all the Territories over which the Government has exclusive jurisdiction; and to resist the acquirement of any more Territories unless the practice of slavery therein forever shall have been prohibited.

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I have a right to answer upon these, for I quote them from the platform of the Republican party – the platform MADE BY HIMSELF and others at the time the Republican party was first formed, and the bargain was made to dissolve and kill off and destroy the old Whig and Democratic parties, and transfer each of their members, bound hand and foot, into the Abolition party, under the directions of Giddings and Chase.

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I will now occupy the half hour allotted to me in reply to Mr. Lincoln. The first point to which I will call your attention is to what I said about the organization of the Republican party in 1854, and the platform that was formed ON THE FIFTH OCTOBER OF THAT YEAR, and then put the question to Mr. Lincoln whether or not he approved of each article of that platform. I have told him that I should call for a specific answer to each of these interrogatories. I do not charge him with being a member of the committee that reported the platform. I charge that that platform was the platform of the Republican party, and adopted by them. The fact that it was the platform of the Republican party is not now denied; but Mr. Lincoln now says that although his name was on the committee, that he don't think he was there. He thinks he was in Tazewell, holding court. (Disturbance.) I ask your silence, and no interruption. I want to remind Mr. Lincoln of the fact that he was there, and I will remind him of the fact. The point is this: that after I had made my speech in Springfield in '54, during that fair, he gave me notice that he was going to reply to me the next day after the notice. I was sick at the time, and stayed over to hear his reply to me, and to reply to him. On that day this very convention of which he speaks was to meet in the Senate Chamber, while he was speaking in the House; and when he got through this speech, my recollection is distinct, that Mr. Codding walked in as I took the stand to reply, and give notice that the Republican Convention would meet instantly in the Senate Chamber, and called upon the Republicans to go into this very convention instead of listening to me.

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But whether he knows or not my point is this, and I will yet BRING HIM TO HIS MILK ON THIS POINT. In the first place Mr. Lincoln was selected by the very men who made the Republican organization THAT day, to make a speech in reply to me – a speech for that party. He was the leader of that party, and on the very day he made his speech there, in reply to me, preaching up the same doctrine of the Declaration of Independence that niggers are equal to white men – that very day this Republican Convention met there. That Convention waited on him after its time of meeting to hear Mr. Lincoln's speech, and then Codding, the leading man, marched in and gave notice the moment Lincoln was through, that they would proceed, for they did not want to hear me in reply.

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Again, this platform which was made at Springfield by his own party, when he was its acknowledged head, proves that they will go for abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia. I asked Mr. Lincoln, specifically, whether he will do that or not, yet did you get an answer from him? He is afraid to answer. HE KNOWS I WILL TROT HIM DOWN TO EGYPT. I intend to make him answer there as well as here, and I intend to show the people of Illinois that his object is not to answer these points.

Here is no opportunity for escape. "At Springfield," "on the 5th of October," "made my "speech that very day." & c., &c., – phrases like these leave no loop hole open. The indictment is full and explicit as to time, place, and circumstance. But there is not a word of truth in it from beginning to end. It is a lie made out of whole cloth. As attributed to the Springfield Convention, the resolution read is a rank and palpable forgery. No such resolution was introduced. No such resolution was passed. No such resolution was ever printed in the proceedings. No such was every heard of in connection with the memorable assemblage, until Mr. Douglas' desperation drove him to adopt it at Ottawa. We have not the charity to attribute the offence to ignorance. Mr. Douglas knows the political history of the State. He was no inattentive observer of the events which followed his Nebraska bill. The torrent of popular indignation poured in upon him through the press, and from the stump has kept his memory of the year 1854 fresh. He has watched, carefully and earnestly, the beginning, progress and crystalization of the opposition which is now about to overwhelm him; and he could not have made the "mistake" by which his friends excuse him. No! This is one of the pre-determined incidents of the campaign; and it is on a par and of a piece with the general tactics with which he conducts it! It was a bold move; but characteristic of the man. If the fraud had passed, he would have taken something by the motion. But it is detected – exposed – spread before the people – and now he must of necessity invent something else.

What shall we say of the cause that needs the support of such a desperate expedient as that which we have detected? What of the man, who, indebted to the people of Illinois for everything that he has been and is, attempts to delude and mislead them by a cheat? How much more to his credit, had he, in the outset, attempted the single-hearted honesty, the plain uprightness of purpose, and the unaffected modesty of his opponent. He has, unfortunately for his reputation, for the decencies of the canvass, and for the elucidation of the truth, chosen to be identified by other characteristics. In this case, we ought not to complain. But Republicans, wherever he speaks, be on your guard! The mendacity that invented and perpetuated the Ottawa fraud is not yet exhausted. Now will the lie be retracted? Or like the other lie of Lincoln's opposition to the Mexican war, will it be shamelessly repeated on every platform on which the Senator appears? Will it continue to be the weapon with which he will attempt, as he threatens, to "bring Mr. Lincoln to his milk?"