upon the public mind sufficiently to give promise that such a decision can be

Upon the public mind sufficiently to give promise

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upon the public mind sufficiently to give promise that such a decision can be maintained when made.1 1 8 Lincoln then concluded by linking the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Douglas's moral indifference to slavery, and Dred Scott into one large conspiracy in which "Stephan [Douglas] and Franklin [Pierce] and Roger [Taney] and James [Buchanan] all understood one another .... and all worked upon a common plan or draft before the first lick was struck."' 19 Because of his fear that if he didn't take his case to his constituents and prove the Republicans wrong, the Democrats might not prevail, Douglas reluctantly agreed to a series of seven debates with the obscure Springfield lawyer who was his opponent.1 2 And just as Lincoln had devoted more than 80 per cent of his House Divided speech to criticizing Taney's decision, r2 so, too, did the debates focus on that ruling. When one considers all the important economic and social issues the candidates could have debated' , the fact that the debates centered around that Supreme Court case is just one more indication of how it had become THE issue of the day. Indeed, the Dred Scott decision pervaded the debates so thoroughly that in one, "a Douglas supporter shouted from the audience to Lincoln: 'Give us something besides Dred Scott. ' 123 Quick as a cat, 116. Abraham Lincoln, A House Divided, Address Before the Republican State Convention (June 6, 1858), in 2 THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN, at 461-62 (Roy P. Basler et al. eds., 1953), available at . 117. Id. at 461-67. 118. Id. at 467. 119. Id. at 466. 120. FEHRENBACHER, supra note 3, at 485-86. 121. Id. at486. 122. Id. 123. Id. at 491. 2007]
NORTHERN KENTUCKY LAW REVIEW Lincoln responded: 'Yes; no doubt you want to hear something that don't hurt.' 124 While both candidates tried to portray the other as an extremist- Lincoln accusing Douglas of supporting the southern plot to nationalize slavery and Douglass portraying Lincoln as an abolitionist dedicated to negro equality, 25-it was Douglas' support of Taney's decision that did him in. The key debate took place at Freeport, Illinois on August 27, 1858. As Don E. Fehrenbacher noted, the "growing northern hostility to the slaveholding South, as distinguished from hostility to southern slavery" was seen by Republicans as the key to their success, "thus constituting the main causal connection between the Dred Scott decision and the coming of the Civil War. ' 2 6 And Lincoln's second question during that debate becomes "one of those decisive moments on which destiny turns." 127 On August 27, after responding to a series of questions Douglas had raised during their first debate, Lincoln asked his opponent four questions. 1 28 The second directly related to the Dred Scott decision and the Republican argument that it was the first step in nationalizing slavery. 29 Lincoln inquired: "Can the people of a United States Territory, in any lawful way, against the wish of any citizen of the United States, exclude slavery from its limits prior to the formation of a State Constitution?" ' 13 0 Douglas answered assuredly that they could.

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