The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, Complete
Abraham Lincoln

Part 14 out of 36

"That declaration, whatever may be the extent of its import, was made
by the delegations of the thirteen States. In most of them slavery
existed, and had long existed, and was established by law. It was
introduced and forced upon the colonies by the paramount law of
England. Do you believe that in making that declaration the States
that concurred in it intended that it should be tortured into a
virtual emancipation of all the slaves within their respective
limits? Would Virginia and other Southern States have ever united in
a declaration which was to be interpreted into an abolition of
slavery among them? Did any one of the thirteen colonies entertain
such a design or expectation? To impute such a secret and unavowed
purpose, would be to charge a political fraud upon the noblest band
of patriots that ever assembled in council,--a fraud upon the
Confederacy of the Revolution; a fraud upon the union of those States
whose Constitution not only recognized the lawfulness of slavery, but
permitted the importation of slaves from Africa until the year 1808."

This is the entire quotation brought forward to prove that somebody
previous to three years ago had said the negro was not included in
the term "all men" in the Declaration. How does it do so? In what
way has it a tendency to prove that? Mr. Clay says it is true as an
abstract principle that all men are created equal, but that we cannot
practically apply it in all eases. He illustrates this by bringing
forward the cases of females, minors, and insane persons, with whom
it cannot be enforced; but he says it is true as an abstract
principle in the organization of society as well as in organized
society and it should be kept in view as a fundamental principle.
Let me read a few words more before I add some comments of my own.
Mr. Clay says, a little further on:

"I desire no concealment of my opinions in regard to the institution
of slavery. I look upon it as a great evil, and deeply lament that
we have derived it from the parental government and from our
ancestors. I wish every slave in the United States was in the
country of his ancestors. But here they are, and the question is,
How can they be best dealt with? If a state of nature existed, and
we were about to lay the foundations of society, no man would be more
strongly opposed than I should be to incorporate the institution of
slavery amongst its elements."

Now, here in this same book, in this same speech, in this same
extract, brought forward to prove that Mr. Clay held that the negro
was not included in the Declaration of Independence, is no such
statement on his part, but the declaration that it is a great
fundamental truth which should be constantly kept in view in the
organization of society and in societies already organized. But if I
say a word about it; if I attempt, as Mr. Clay said all good men
ought to do, to keep it in view; if, in this "organized society," I
ask to have the public eye turned upon it; if I ask, in relation to
the organization of new Territories, that the public eye should be
turned upon it, forthwith I am vilified as you hear me to-day. what
have I done that I have not the license of Henry Clay's illustrious
example here in doing? Have I done aught that I have not his
authority for, while maintaining that in organizing new Territories
and societies this fundamental principle should be regarded, and in
organized society holding it up to the public view and recognizing
what he recognized as the great principle of free government?

And when this new principle--this new proposition that no human being
ever thought of three years ago--is brought forward, I combat it as
having an evil tendency, if not an evil design. I combat it as
having a tendency to dehumanize the negro, to take away from him the
right of ever striving to be a man. I combat it as being one of the
thousand things constantly done in these days to prepare the public
mind to make property, and nothing but property, of the negro in all
the States of this Union.

But there is a point that I wish, before leaving this part of the
discussion, to ask attention to. I have read and I repeat the words
of Henry Clay:

"I desire no concealment of my opinions in regard to the institution
of slavery. I look upon it as a great evil, and deeply lament that
we have derived it from the parental government and from our
ancestors. I wish every slave in the United States was in the
country of his ancestors. But here they are, and the question is,
How can they be best dealt with? If a state of nature existed, and
we were about to lay the foundations of society, no man would be more
strongly opposed than I should be to incorporate the institution of
slavery amongst its elements."

The principle upon which I have insisted in this canvass is in
relation to laying the foundations of new societies. I have never
sought to apply these principles to the old States for the purpose of
abolishing slavery in those States. It is nothing but a miserable
perversion of what I have said, to assume that I have declared
Missouri, or any other slave State, shall emancipate her slaves; I
have proposed no such thing. But when Mr. Clay says that in laying
the foundations of society in our Territories where it does not
exist, he would be opposed to the introduction of slavery as an
element, I insist that we have his warrant--his license--for
insisting upon the exclusion of that element which he declared in
such strong and emphatic language was most hurtful to him.

Judge Douglas has again referred to a Springfield speech in which I
said "a house divided against itself cannot stand." The Judge has so
often made the entire quotation from that speech that I can make it
from memory. I used this language:

"We are now far into the fifth year since a policy was initiated with
the avowed object and confident promise of putting an end to the
slavery agitation. Under the operation of this policy, that
agitation has not only not ceased, but has constantly augmented. In
my opinion it will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached
and passed. 'A house divided against itself cannot stand.' I believe
this government cannot endure permanently, half slave and half free.
I do not expect the house to fall, but I do expect it will cease to
be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other. Either
the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and
place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in
the course of ultimate extinction, or its advocates will push it
forward till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as
well as new, North as well as South."

That extract and the sentiments expressed in it have been extremely
offensive to Judge Douglas. He has warred upon them as Satan wars
upon the Bible. His perversions upon it are endless. Here now are
my views upon it in brief:

I said we were now far into the fifth year since a policy was
initiated with the avowed object and confident promise of putting an
end to the slavery agitation. Is it not so? When that Nebraska Bill
was brought forward four years ago last January, was it not for the
"avowed object" of putting an end to the slavery agitation? We were
to have no more agitation in Congress; it was all to be banished to
the Territories. By the way, I will remark here that, as Judge
Douglas is very fond of complimenting Mr. Crittenden in these days,
Mr. Crittenden has said there was a falsehood in that whole business,
for there was no slavery agitation at that time to allay. We were
for a little while quiet on the troublesome thing, and that very
allaying plaster of Judge Douglas's stirred it up again. But was it
not understood or intimated with the "confident promise" of putting
an end to the slavery agitation? Surely it was. In every speech you
heard Judge Douglas make, until he got into this "imbroglio," as they
call it, with the Administration about the Lecompton Constitution,
every speech on that Nebraska Bill was full of his felicitations that
we were just at the end of the slavery agitation. The last tip of
the last joint of the old serpent's tail was just drawing out of
view. But has it proved so? I have asserted that under that policy
that agitation "has not only not ceased, but has constantly
augmented." When was there ever a greater agitation in Congress than
last winter? When was it as great in the country as to-day?

There was a collateral object in the introduction of that Nebraska
policy, which was to clothe the people of the Territories with a
superior degree of self-government, beyond what they had ever had
before. The first object and the main one of conferring upon the
people a higher degree of "self-government" is a question of fact to
be determined by you in answer to a single question. Have you ever
heard or known of a people anywhere on earth who had as little to do
as, in the first instance of its use, the people of Kansas had with
this same right of "self-government "? In its main policy and in its
collateral object, it has been nothing but a living, creeping lie
from the time of its introduction till to-day.

I have intimated that I thought the agitation would not cease until a
crisis should have been reached and passed. I have stated in what
way I thought it would be reached and passed. I have said that it
might go one way or the other. We might, by arresting the further
spread of it, and placing it where the fathers originally placed it,
put it where the public mind should rest in the belief that it was in
the course of ultimate extinction. Thus the agitation may cease. It
may be pushed forward until it shall become alike lawful in all the
States, old as well as new, North as well as South. I have said, and
I repeat, my wish is that the further spread of it may be arrested,
and that it may be where the public mind shall rest in the belief
that it is in the course of ultimate extinction--I have expressed
that as my wish I entertain the opinion, upon evidence sufficient to
my mind, that the fathers of this government placed that institution
where the public mind did rest in the belief that it was in the
course of ultimate extinction. Let me ask why they made provision
that the source of slavery--the African slave-trade--should be cut
off at the end of twenty years? Why did they make provision that in
all the new territory we owned at that time slavery should be forever
inhibited? Why stop its spread in one direction, and cut off its
source in another, if they did not look to its being placed in the
course of its ultimate extinction?

Again: the institution of slavery is only mentioned in the
Constitution of the United States two or three times, and in neither
of these cases does the word "slavery" or "negro race" occur; but
covert language is used each time, and for a purpose full of
significance. What is the language in regard to the prohibition of
the African slave-trade? It runs in about this way:

"The migration or importation of such persons as any of the States
now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by
the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight."

The next allusion in the Constitution to the question of slavery and
the black race is on the subject of the basis of representation, and
there the language used is:

"Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the
several States which may be included within this Union, according to
their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the
whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a
term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all
other persons."

It says "persons," not slaves, not negroes; but this "three-fifths"
can be applied to no other class among us than the negroes.

Lastly, in the provision for the reclamation of fugitive slaves, it
is said:

"No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws
thereof, escaping into another, shall in consequence of any law or
regulation therein be discharged from such service or labor, but
shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or
labor may be due."

There again there is no mention of the word "negro" or of slavery.
In all three of these places, being the only allusions to slavery in
the instrument, covert language is used. Language is used not
suggesting that slavery existed or that the black race were among us.
And I understand the contemporaneous history of those times to be
that covert language was used with a purpose, and that purpose was
that in our Constitution, which it was hoped and is still hoped will
endure forever,--when it should be read by intelligent and patriotic
men, after the institution of slavery had passed from among us,--
there should be nothing on the face of the great charter of liberty
suggesting that such a thing as negro slavery had ever existed among
us. This is part of the evidence that the fathers of the government
expected and intended the institution of slavery to come to an end.
They expected and intended that it should be in the course of
ultimate extinction. And when I say that I desire to see the further
spread of it arrested, I only say I desire to see that done which the
fathers have first done. When I say I desire to see it placed where
the public mind will rest in the belief that it is in the course of
ultimate extinction, I only say I desire to see it placed where they
placed it. It is not true that our fathers, as Judge Douglas
assumes, made this government part slave and part free. Understand
the sense in which he puts it. He assumes that slavery is a rightful
thing within itself,--was introduced by the framers of the
Constitution. The exact truth is, that they found the institution
existing among us, and they left it as they found it. But in making
the government they left this institution with many clear marks of
disapprobation upon it. They found slavery among them, and they left
it among them because of the difficulty--the absolute impossibility--
of its immediate removal. And when Judge Douglas asks me why we
cannot let it remain part slave and part free, as the fathers of the
government made it, he asks a question based upon an assumption which
is itself a falsehood; and I turn upon him and ask him the question,
when the policy that the fathers of the government had adopted in
relation to this element among us was the best policy in the world,
the only wise policy, the only policy that we can ever safely
continue upon that will ever give us peace, unless this dangerous
element masters us all and becomes a national institution,--I turn
upon him and ask him why he could not leave it alone. I turn and ask
him why he was driven to the necessity of introducing a new policy in
regard to it. He has himself said he introduced a new policy. He
said so in his speech on the 22d of March of the present year, 1858.
I ask him why he could not let it remain where our fathers placed it.
I ask, too, of Judge Douglas and his friends why we shall not again
place this institution upon the basis on which the fathers left it.
I ask you, when he infers that I am in favor of setting the free and
slave States at war, when the institution was placed in that attitude
by those who made the Constitution, did they make any war? If we had
no war out of it when thus placed, wherein is the ground of belief
that we shall have war out of it if we return to that policy? Have
we had any peace upon this matter springing from any other basis? I
maintain that we have not. I have proposed nothing more than a
return to the policy of the fathers.

I confess, when I propose a certain measure of policy, it is not
enough for me that I do not intend anything evil in the result, but
it is incumbent on me to show that it has not a tendency to that
result. I have met Judge Douglas in that point of view. I have not
only made the declaration that I do not mean to produce a conflict
between the States, but I have tried to show by fair reasoning, and I
think I have shown to the minds of fair men, that I propose nothing
but what has a most peaceful tendency. The quotation that I happened
to make in that Springfield Speech, that "a house divided against
itself cannot stand," and which has proved so offensive to the judge,
was part and parcel of the same thing. He tries to show that variety
in the democratic institutions of the different States is necessary
and indispensable. I do not dispute it. I have no controversy with
Judge Douglas about that. I shall very readily agree with him that
it would be foolish for us to insist upon having a cranberry law here
in Illinois, where we have no cranberries, because they have a
cranberry law in Indiana, where they have cranberries. I should
insist that it would be exceedingly wrong in us to deny to Virginia
the right to enact oyster laws, where they have oysters, because we
want no such laws here. I understand, I hope, quite as well as Judge
Douglas or anybody else, that the variety in the soil and climate and
face of the country, and consequent variety in the industrial
pursuits and productions of a country, require systems of law
conforming to this variety in the natural features of the country. I
understand quite as well as Judge Douglas that if we here raise a
barrel of flour more than we want, and the Louisianians raise a
barrel of sugar more than they want, it is of mutual advantage to
exchange. That produces commerce, brings us together, and makes us
better friends. We like one another the more for it. And I
understand as well as Judge Douglas, or anybody else, that these
mutual accommodations are the cements which bind together the
different parts of this Union; that instead of being a thing to
"divide the house,"--figuratively expressing the Union,--they tend to
sustain it; they are the props of the house, tending always to hold
it up.

But when I have admitted all this, I ask if there is any parallel
between these things and this institution of slavery? I do not see
that there is any parallel at all between them. Consider it. When
have we had any difficulty or quarrel amongst ourselves about the
cranberry laws of Indiana, or the oyster laws of Virginia, or the
pine-lumber laws of Maine, or the fact that Louisiana produces sugar,
and Illinois flour? When have we had any quarrels over these things?
When have we had perfect peace in regard to this thing which I say is
an element of discord in this Union? We have sometimes had peace,
but when was it? It was when the institution of slavery remained
quiet where it was. We have had difficulty and turmoil whenever it
has made a struggle to spread itself where it was not. I ask, then,
if experience does not speak in thunder-tones telling us that the
policy which has given peace to the country heretofore, being
returned to, gives the greatest promise of peace again. You may say,
and Judge Douglas has intimated the same thing, that all this
difficulty in regard to the institution of slavery is the mere
agitation of office-seekers and ambitious Northern politicians. He
thinks we want to get "his place," I suppose. I agree that there are
office-seekers amongst us. The Bible says somewhere that we are
desperately selfish. I think we would have discovered that fact
without the Bible. I do not claim that I am any less so than the
average of men, but I do claim that I am not more selfish than Judge

But is it true that all the difficulty and agitation we have in
regard to this institution of slavery spring from office-seeking,
from the mere ambition of politicians? Is that the truth? How many
times have we had danger from this question? Go back to the day of
the Missouri Compromise. Go back to the nullification question, at
the bottom of which lay this same slavery question. Go back to the
time of the annexation of Texas. Go back to the troubles that led to
the Compromise of 1850. You will find that every time, with the
single exception of the Nullification question, they sprung from an
endeavor to spread this institution. There never was a party in the
history of this country, and there probably never will be, of
sufficient strength to disturb the general peace of the country.
Parties themselves may be divided and quarrel on minor questions, yet
it extends not beyond the parties themselves. But
does not this question make a disturbance outside of political
circles? Does it not enter into the churches and rend them asunder?
What divided the great Methodist Church into two parts, North and
South? What has raised this constant disturbance in every
Presbyterian General Assembly that meets? What disturbed the
Unitarian Church in this very city two years ago? What has jarred
and shaken the great American Tract Society recently, not yet
splitting it, but sure to divide it in the end? Is it not this same
mighty, deep-seated power that somehow operates on the minds of men,
exciting and stirring them up in every avenue of society,--in
politics, in religion, in literature, in morals, in all the manifold
relations of life? Is this the work of politicians? Is that
irresistible power, which for fifty years has shaken the government
and agitated the people, to be stifled and subdued by pretending that
it is an exceedingly simple thing, and we ought not to talk about it?
If you will get everybody else to stop talking about it, I assure you
I will quit before they have half done so. But where is the
philosophy or statesmanship which assumes that you can quiet that
disturbing element in our society which has disturbed us for more
than half a century, which has been the only serious danger that has
threatened our institutions,--I say, where is the philosophy or the
statesmanship based on the assumption that we are to quit talking
about it, and that the public mind is all at once to cease being
agitated by it? Yet this is the policy here in the North that
Douglas is advocating, that we are to care nothing about it! I ask
you if it is not a false philosophy. Is it not a false statesmanship
that undertakes to build up a system of policy upon the basis of
caring nothing about the very thing that everybody does care the most
about--a thing which all experience has shown we care a very great
deal about?

The Judge alludes very often in the course of his remarks to the
exclusive right which the States have to decide the whole thing for
themselves. I agree with him very readily that the different States
have that right. He is but fighting a man of straw when he assumes
that I am contending against the right of the States to do as they
please about it. Our controversy with him is in regard to the new
Territories. We agree that when the States come in as States they
have the right and the power to do as they please. We have no power
as citizens of the free-States, or in our Federal capacity as members
of the Federal Union through the General Government, to disturb
slavery in the States where it exists. We profess constantly that we
have no more inclination than belief in the power of the government
to disturb it; yet we are driven constantly to defend ourselves from
the assumption that we are warring upon the rights of the Sates.
What I insist upon is, that the new Territories shall be kept free
from it while in the Territorial condition. Judge Douglas assumes
that we have no interest in them,--that we have no right whatever to
interfere. I think we have some interest. I think that as white men
we have. Do we not wish for an outlet for our surplus population, if
I may so express myself? Do we not feel an interest in getting to
that outlet with such institutions as we would like to have prevail
there? If you go to the Territory opposed to slavery, and another
man comes upon the same ground with his slave, upon the assumption
that the things are equal, it turns out that he has the equal right
all his way, and you have no part of it your way. If he goes in and
makes it a slave Territory, and by consequence a slave State, is it
not time that those who desire to have it a free State were on equal
ground? Let me suggest it in a different way. How many Democrats
are there about here ["A thousand"] who have left slave States and
come into the free State of Illinois to get rid of the institution of
slavery? [Another voice: "A thousand and one."] I reckon there are a
thousand and one. I will ask you, if the policy you are now
advocating had prevailed when this country was in a Territorial
condition, where would you have gone to get rid of it? Where would
you have found your free State or Territory to go to? And when
hereafter, for any cause, the people in this place shall desire to
find new homes, if they wish to be rid of the institution, where will
they find the place to go to?

Now, irrespective of the moral aspect of this question as to whether
there is a right or wrong in enslaving a negro, I am still in favor
of our new Territories being in such a condition that white men may
find a home,--may find some spot where they can better their
condition; where they can settle upon new soil and better their
condition in life. I am in favor of this, not merely (I must say it
here as I have elsewhere) for our own people who are born amongst us,
but as an outlet for free white people everywhere the world over--in
which Hans, and Baptiste, and Patrick, and all other men from all the
world, may find new homes and better their conditions in life.

I have stated upon former occasions, and I may as well state again,
what I understand to be the real issue in this controversy between
Judge Douglas and myself. On the point of my wanting to make war
between the free and the slave States, there has been no issue
between us. So, too, when he assumes that I am in favor of producing
a perfect social and political equality between the white and black
races. These are false issues, upon which Judge Douglas has tried to
force the controversy. There is no foundation in truth for the
charge that I maintain either of these propositions. The real issue
in this controversy--the one pressing upon every mind--is the
sentiment on the part of one class that looks upon the institution of
slavery as a wrong, and of another class that does not look upon it
as a wrong. The sentiment that contemplates the institution of
slavery in this country as a wrong is the sentiment of the Republican
party. It is the sentiment around which all their actions, all their
arguments, circle, from which all their propositions radiate. They
look upon it as being a moral, social, and political wrong; and while
they contemplate it a, such, they nevertheless have due regard for
its actual existence among us, and the difficulties of getting rid of
it in any satisfactory way, and to all the constitutional obligations
thrown about it. Yet, having a due regard for these, they desire a
policy in regard to it that looks to its not creating any more
danger. They insist that it should, as far as may be, be treated as
a wrong; and one of the methods of treating it as a wrong is to make
provision that it shall grow no larger. They also desire a policy
that looks to a peaceful end of slavery at some time. These are the
views they entertain in regard to it as I understand them; and all
their sentiments, all their arguments and propositions, are brought
within this range. I have said, and I repeat it here, that if there
be a man amongst us who does not think that the institution of
slavery is wrong in any one of the aspects of which I have spoken, he
is misplaced, and ought not to be with us. And if there be a man
amongst us who is so impatient of it as a wrong as to disregard its
actual presence among us and the difficulty of getting rid of it
suddenly in a satisfactory way, and to disregard the constitutional
obligations thrown about it, that man is misplaced if he is on our
platform. We disclaim sympathy with him in practical action. He is
not placed properly with us.

On this subject of treating it as a wrong, and limiting its spread,
let me say a word. Has anything ever threatened the existence of
this Union save and except this very institution of slavery? What is
it that we hold most dear amongst us? Our own liberty and
prosperity. What has ever threatened our liberty and prosperity,
save and except this institution of slavery? If this is true, how do
you propose to improve the condition of things by enlarging slavery,
by spreading it out and making it bigger? You may have a wen or
cancer upon your person, and not be able to cut it out, lest you
bleed to death; but surely it is no way to cure it, to engraft it and
spread it over your whole body. That is no proper way of treating
what you regard a wrong. You see this peaceful way of dealing with
it as a wrong, restricting the spread of it, and not allowing it to
go into new countries where it has not already existed. That is the
peaceful way, the old-fashioned way, the way in which the fathers
themselves set us the example.

On the other hand, I have said there is a sentiment which treats it
as not being wrong. That is the Democratic sentiment of this day. I
do not mean to say that every man who stands within that range
positively asserts that it is right. That class will include all who
positively assert that it is right, and all who, like Judge Douglas,
treat it as indifferent and do not say it is either right or wrong.
These two classes of men fall within the general class of those who
do not look upon it as a wrong. And if there be among you anybody
who supposes that he, as a Democrat, can consider himself "as much
opposed to slavery as anybody," I would like to reason with him. You
never treat it as a wrong. What other thing that you consider as a
wrong do you deal with as you deal with that? Perhaps you say it is
wrong--but your leader never does, and you quarrel with anybody who
says it is wrong. Although you pretend to say so yourself, you can
find no fit place to deal with it as a wrong. You must not say
anything about it in the free States, because it is not here. You
must not say anything about it in the slave States, because it is
there. You must not say anything about it in the pulpit, because
that is religion, and has nothing to do with it. You must not say
anything about it in politics, because that will disturb the security
of "my place." There is no place to talk about it as being a wrong,
although you say yourself it is a wrong. But, finally, you will
screw yourself up to the belief that if the people of the slave
States should adopt a system of gradual emancipation on the slavery
question, you would be in favor of it. You would be in favor of it.
You say that is getting it in the right place, and you would be glad
to see it succeed. But you are deceiving yourself. You all know
that Frank Blair and Gratz Brown, down there in St. Louis, undertook
to introduce that system in Missouri. They fought as valiantly as
they could for the system of gradual emancipation which you pretend
you would be glad to see succeed. Now, I will bring you to the test.
After a hard fight they were beaten, and when the news came over
here, you threw up your hats and hurrahed for Democracy. More than
that, take all the argument made in favor of the system you have
proposed, and it carefully excludes the idea that there is anything
wrong in the institution of slavery. The arguments to sustain that
policy carefully exclude it. Even here to-day you heard Judge
Douglas quarrel with me because I uttered a wish that it might
sometime come to an end. Although Henry Clay could say he wished
every slave in the United States was in the country of his ancestors,
I am denounced by those pretending to respect Henry Clay for uttering
a wish that it might sometime, in some peaceful way, come to an end.
The Democratic policy in regard to that institution will not tolerate
the merest breath, the slightest hint, of the least degree of wrong
about it. Try it by some of Judge Douglas's arguments. He says he
"don't care whether it is voted up or voted down" in the Territories.
I do not care myself, in dealing with that expression, whether it is
intended to be expressive of his individual sentiments on the
subject, or only of the national policy he desires to have
established. It is alike valuable for my purpose. Any man can say
that who does not see anything wrong in slavery; but no man can
logically say it who does see a wrong in it, because no man can
logically say he don't care whether a wrong is voted up or voted
down. He may say he don't care whether an indifferent thing is voted
up or down, but he must logically have a choice between a right thing
and a wrong thing. He contends that whatever community wants slaves
has a right to have them. So they have, if it is not a wrong. But
if it is a wrong, he cannot say people have a right to do wrong. He
says that upon the score of equality slaves should be allowed to go
in a new Territory, like other property. This is strictly logical if
there is no difference between it and other property. If it and
other property are equal, this argument is entirely logical. But if
you insist that one is wrong and the other right, there is no use to
institute a comparison between right and wrong. You may turn over
everything in the Democratic policy from beginning to end, whether in
the shape it takes on the statute book, in the shape it takes in the
Dred Scott decision, in the shape it takes in conversation, or the
shape it takes in short maxim-like arguments,--it everywhere
carefully excludes the idea that there is anything wrong in it.

That is the real issue. That is the issue that will continue in this
country when these poor tongues of Judge Douglas and myself shall be
silent. It is the eternal struggle between these two principles--
right and wrong--throughout the world. They are the two principles
that have stood face to face from the beginning of time, and will
ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity,
and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in
whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says,
"You work and toil and earn bread, and I'll eat it." No matter in
what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to
bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their
labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another
race, it is the same tyrannical principle. I was glad to express my
gratitude at Quincy, and I re-express it here, to Judge Douglas,--
that he looks to no end of the institution of slavery. That will
help the people to see where the struggle really is. It will
hereafter place with us all men who really do wish the wrong may have
an end. And whenever we can get rid of the fog which obscures the
real question, when we can get Judge Douglas and his friends to avow
a policy looking to its perpetuation,--we can get out from among that
class of men and bring them to the side of those who treat it as a
wrong. Then there will soon be an end of it, and that end will be
its "ultimate extinction." Whenever the issue can be distinctly
made, and all extraneous matter thrown out so that men can fairly see
the real difference between the parties, this controversy will soon
be settled, and it will be done peaceably too. There will be no war,
no violence. It will be placed again where the wisest and best men
of the world placed it. Brooks of South Carolina once declared that
when this Constitution was framed its framers did not look to the
institution existing until this day. When he said this, I think he
stated a fact that is fully borne out by the history of the times.
But he also said they were better and wiser men than the men of these
days, yet the men of these days had experience which they had not,
and by the invention of the cotton-gin it became a necessity in this
country that slavery should be perpetual. I now say that, willingly
or unwillingly--purposely or without purpose, Judge Douglas has been
the most prominent instrument in changing the position of the
institution of slavery,--which the fathers of the government expected
to come to an end ere this, and putting it upon Brooks's cotton-gin
basis; placing it where he openly confesses he has no desire there
shall ever be an end of it.

I understand I have ten minutes yet. I will employ it in saying
something about this argument Judge Douglas uses, while he sustains
the Dred Scott decision, that the people of the Territories can still
somehow exclude slavery. The first thing I ask attention to is the
fact that Judge Douglas constantly said, before the decision, that
whether they could or not, was a question for the Supreme Court. But
after the court had made the decision he virtually says it is not a
question for the Supreme Court, but for the people. And how is it he
tells us they can exclude it? He says it needs "police regulations,"
and that admits of "unfriendly legislation." Although it is a right
established by the Constitution of the United States to take a slave
into a Territory of the United States and hold him as property, yet
unless the Territorial Legislature will give friendly legislation,
and more especially if they adopt unfriendly legislation, they can
practically exclude him. Now, without meeting this proposition as a
matter of fact, I pass to consider the real constitutional
obligation. Let me take the gentleman who looks me in the face
before me, and let us suppose that he is a member of the Territorial
Legislature. The first thing he will do will be to swear that he
will support the Constitution of the United States. His neighbor by
his side in the Territory has slaves and needs Territorial
legislation to enable him to enjoy that constitutional right. Can he
withhold the legislation which his neighbor needs for the enjoyment
of a right which is fixed in his favor in the Constitution of the
United States which he has sworn to support? Can he withhold it
without violating his oath? And, more especially, can he pass
unfriendly legislation to violate his oath? Why, this is a monstrous
sort of talk about the Constitution of the United States! There has
never been as outlandish or lawless a doctrine from the mouth of any
respectable man on earth. I do not believe it is a constitutional
right to hold slaves in a Territory of the United States. I believe
the decision was improperly made and I go for reversing it. Judge
Douglas is furious against those who go for reversing a decision.
But he is for legislating it out of all force while the law itself
stands. I repeat that there has never been so monstrous a doctrine
uttered from the mouth of a respectable man.

I suppose most of us (I know it of myself) believe that the people of
the Southern States are entitled to a Congressional Fugitive Slave
law,--that is a right fixed in the Constitution. But it cannot be
made available to them without Congressional legislation. In the
Judge's language, it is a "barren right," which needs legislation
before it can become efficient and valuable to the persons to whom it
is guaranteed. And as the right is constitutional, I agree that the
legislation shall be granted to it, and that not that we like the
institution of slavery. We profess to have no taste for running and
catching niggers, at least, I profess no taste for that job at all.
Why then do I yield support to a Fugitive Slave law? Because I do
not understand that the Constitution, which guarantees that right,
can be supported without it. And if I believed that the right to
hold a slave in a Territory was equally fixed in the Constitution
with the right to reclaim fugitives, I should be bound to give it the
legislation necessary to support it. I say that no man can deny his
obligation to give the necessary legislation to support slavery in a
Territory, who believes it is a constitutional right to have it
there. No man can, who does not give the Abolitionists an argument
to deny the obligation enjoined by the Constitution to enact a
Fugitive State law. Try it now. It is the strongest Abolition
argument ever made. I say if that Dred Scott decision is correct,
then the right to hold slaves in a Territory is equally a
constitutional right with the right of a slaveholder to have his
runaway returned. No one can show the distinction between them. The
one is express, so that we cannot deny it. The other is construed to
be in the Constitution, so that he who believes the decision to be
correct believes in the right. And the man who argues that by
unfriendly legislation, in spite of that constitutional right,
slavery may be driven from the Territories, cannot avoid furnishing
an argument by which Abolitionists may deny the obligation to return
fugitives, and claim the power to pass laws unfriendly to the right
of the slaveholder to reclaim his fugitive. I do not know how such
an arguement may strike a popular assembly like this, but I defy
anybody to go before a body of men whose minds are educated to
estimating evidence and reasoning, and show that there is an iota of
difference between the constitutional right to reclaim a fugitive and
the constitutional right to hold a slave, in a Territory, provided
this Dred Scott decision is correct, I defy any man to make an
argument that will justify unfriendly legislation to deprive a
slaveholder of his right to hold his slave in a Territory, that will
not equally, in all its length, breadth, and thickness, furnish an
argument for nullifying the Fugitive Slave law. Why, there is not
such an Abolitionist in the nation as Douglas, after all!




SPRINGFIELD, June 19, 1858.


MY DEAR SIR:--Your letter introducing Mr. Faree was duly received.
There was no opening to nominate him for Superintendent of Public
Instruction, but through him Egypt made a most valuable contribution
to the convention. I think it may be fairly said that he came off the
lion of the day--or rather of the night. Can you not elect him to the
Legislature? It seems to me he would be hard to beat. What
objection could be made to him? What is your Senator Martin saying
and doing? What is Webb about?

Please write me.
Yours truly,



SPRINGFIELD, June 24, 1858


DEAR SIR:--Your letter enclosing the attack of the Times upon me was
received this morning. Give yourself no concern about my voting
against the supplies. Unless you are without faith that a lie can be
successfully contradicted, there is not a word of truth in the
charge, and I am just considering a little as to the best shape to
put a contradiction in. Show this to whomever you please, but do not
publish it in the paper.

Your friend as ever,



SPRINGFIELD, June 25, 1858.


MY DEAR SIR:--Yours of the 22nd, inclosing a draft of two hundred
dollars, was duly received. I have paid it on the judgment, and
herewith you have the receipt. I do not wish to say anything as to
who shall be the Republican candidate for the Legislature in your
district, further than that I have full confidence in Dr. Hull. Have
you ever got in the way of consulting with McKinley in political
matters? He is true as steel, and his judgment is very good. The
last I heard from him, he rather thought Weldon, of De Witt, was our
best timber for representative, all things considered. But you there
must settle it among yourselves. It may well puzzle older heads than
yours to understand how, as the Dred Scott decision holds, Congress
can authorize a Territorial Legislature to do everything else, and
cannot authorize them to prohibit slavery. That is one of the things
the court can decide, but can never give an intelligible reason for.

Yours very truly,



SPRINGFIELD, June 28, 1858.


MY DEAR SIR:--In 1856 you gave me authority to draw on you for any
sum not exceeding five hundred dollars. I see clearly that such a
privilege would be more available now than it was then. I am aware
that times are tighter now than they were then. Please write me at
all events, and whether you can now do anything or not I shall
continue grateful for the past.

Yours very truly,



SPRINGFIELD, July 16, 1858.


MY DEAR SIR:--I write this to say that from the specimens of Douglas
Democracy we occasionally see here from Madison, we learn that they
are making very confident calculation of beating you and your friends
for the lower house, in that county. They offer to bet upon it.
Billings and Job, respectively, have been up here, and were each as I
learn, talking largely about it. If they do so, it can only be done
by carrying the Fillmore men of 1856 very differently from what they
seem to [be] going in the other party. Below is the vote of 1856, in
your district:


Counties. Buchanan. Fremont. Fillmore.
Bond ............ 607 153 659
Madison ......... 1451 1111 1658
Montgomery ...... 992 162 686
---- ---- ----
3050 1426 3003

By this you will see, if you go through the calculation, that if they
get one quarter of the Fillmore votes, and you three quarters, they
will beat you 125 votes. If they get one fifth, and you four fifths,
you beat them 179. In Madison, alone, if our friends get 1000 of the
Fillmore votes, and their opponents the remainder, 658, we win by
just two votes.

This shows the whole field, on the basis of the election of 1856.

Whether, since then, any Buchanan, or Fremonters, have shifted
ground, and how the majority of new votes will go, you can judge
better than I.

Of course you, on the ground, can better determine your line of
tactics than any one off the ground; but it behooves you to be wide
awake and actively working.

Don't neglect it; and write me at your first leisure.
Yours as ever,





MY DEAR SIR:--Your kind and interesting letter of the 19th was duly
received. Your suggestions as to placing one's self on the offensive
rather than the defensive are certainly correct. That is a point
which I shall not disregard. I spoke here on Saturday night. The
speech, not very well reported, appears in the State journal of this
morning. You doubtless will see it; and I hope that you will
perceive in it that I am already improving. I would mail you a copy
now, but have not one [at] hand. I thank you for your letter and
shall be pleased to hear from you again.

Yours very truly,





MY DEAR SIR:--Your doleful letter of the 8th was received on my
return from Chicago last night. I do hope you are worse scared than
hurt, though you ought to know best. We must not lose the district.
We must make a job of it, and save it. Lay hold of the proper
agencies, and secure all the Americans you can, at once. I do hope,
on closer inspection, you will find they are not half gone. Make a
little test. Run down one of the poll-books of the Edwardsville
precinct, and take the first hundred known American names. Then
quietly ascertain how many of them are actually going for Douglas. I
think you will find less than fifty. But even if you find fifty,
make sure of the other fifty, that is, make sure of all you can, at
all events. We will set other agencies to work which shall
compensate for the loss of a good many Americans. Don't fail to
check the stampede at once. Trumbull, I think, will be with you
before long.

There is much he cannot do, and some he can. I have reason to hope
there will be other help of an appropriate kind. Write me again.

Yours as ever,



SPRINGFIELD, Aug. 2, 1858.

Hon. B. C. COOK.

MY DEAR SIR:--I have a letter from a very true and intelligent man
insisting that there is a plan on foot in La Salle and Bureau to run
Douglas Republicans for Congress and for the Legislature in those
counties, if they can only get the encouragement of our folks
nominating pretty extreme abolitionists.

It is thought they will do nothing if our folks nominate men who are
not very obnoxious to the charge of abolitionism. Please have your
eye upon this. Signs are looking pretty fair.

Yours very truly,



SPRINGFIELD, Aug. 5, 1858.


DEAR SIR:--Since we parted last evening no new thought has occurred
to [me] on the subject of which we talked most yesterday.

I have concluded, however, to speak at your town on Tuesday, August
31st, and have promised to have it so appear in the papers of
to-morrow. Judge Trumbull has not yet reached here.

Yours as ever,



SPRINGFIELD, Aug. 11, 1858.


DEAR SIR:--Yours of the 6th received. If life and health continue I
shall pretty likely be at Augusta on the 25th.

Things look reasonably well. Will tell you more fully when I see

Yours truly,



OTTAWA, August 22, 1858.


MY DEAR SIR:--Yours of the 18th, signed as secretary of the
Republican club, is received. In the matter of making speeches I am
a good deal pressed by invitations from almost all quarters, and
while I hope to be at Urbana some time during the canvass, I cannot
yet say when. Can you not see me at Monticello on the 6th of

Douglas and I, for the first time this canvass, crossed swords here
yesterday; the fire flew some, and I am glad to know I am yet alive.
There was a vast concourse of people--more than could get near enough
to hear.

Yours as ever,



August ??, 1858

As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This
expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the
extent of the difference, is no democracy.



SPRINGFIELD, August 2, 1858


MY DEAR SIR:--I have a letter from a very true friend, and
intelligent man, writing that there is a plan on foot in La Salle and
Bureau, to run Douglas Republican for Congress and for the
Legislature in those counties, if they can only get the encouragement
of our folks nominating pretty extreme abolitionists. It is thought
they will do nothing if our folks nominate men who are not very
[undecipherable word looks like "obnoxious"] to the charge of
abolitionism. Please have your eye upon this. Signs are looking
pretty fair.

Yours very truly,



BLOOMINGTON, Sept. 3, 1858

DEAR DOCTOR:--Yours of the 1st was received this morning, as also one
from Mr. Harmon, and one from Hiram Beckwith on the same subject.
You will see by the Journal that I have been appointed to speak at
Danville on the 22d of Sept.,--the day after Douglas speaks there.
My recent experience shows that speaking at the same place the next
day after D. is the very thing,--it is, in fact, a concluding speech
on him. Please show this to Messrs. Harmon and Beckwith; and tell
them they must excuse me from writing separate letters to them.

Yours as ever,


P. S.--Give full notice to all surrounding country.


SEPT. 8, 1858.

Let us inquire what Judge Douglas really invented when he introduced
the Nebraska Bill? He called it Popular Sovereignty. What does that
mean? It means the sovereignty of the people over their own affairs--
in other words, the right of the people to govern themselves. Did
Judge Douglas invent this? Not quite. The idea of popular
sovereignty was floating about several ages before the author of the
Nebraska Bill was born--indeed, before Columbus set foot on this
continent. In the year 1776 it took form in the noble words which
you are all familiar with: "We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men are created equal," etc. Was not this the origin of
popular sovereignty as applied to the American people? Here we are
told that governments are instituted among men deriving their just
powers from the consent of the governed. If that is not popular
sovereignty, then I have no conception of the meaning of words. If
Judge Douglas did not invent this kind of popular sovereignty, let us
pursue the inquiry and find out what kind he did invent. Was it the
right of emigrants to Kansas and Nebraska to govern themselves, and a
lot of "niggers," too, if they wanted them? Clearly this was no
invention of his because General Cass put forth the same doctrine in
1848 in his so called Nicholson letter, six years before Douglas
thought of such a thing. Then what was it that the "Little Giant"
invented? It never occurred to General Cass to call his discovery by
the odd name of popular sovereignty. He had not the face to say that
the right of the people to govern "niggers" was the right of the
people to govern themselves. His notions of the fitness of things
were not moulded to the brazenness of calling the right to put a
hundred "niggers" through under the lash in Nebraska a "sacred" right
of self-government. And here I submit to you was Judge Douglas's
discovery, and the whole of it: He discovered that the right to breed
and flog negroes in Nebraska was popular sovereignty.


SEPTEMBER 8, 1858.

The questions are sometimes asked "What is all this fuss that is
being made about negroes? What does it amount to? And where will it
end?" These questions imply that those who ask them consider the
slavery question a very insignificant matter they think that it
amounts to little or nothing and that those who agitate it are
extremely foolish. Now it must be admitted that if the great
question which has caused so much trouble is insignificant, we are
very foolish to have anything to do with it--if it is of no
importance we had better throw it aside and busy ourselves with
something else. But let us inquire a little into this insignificant
matter, as it is called by some, and see if it is not important
enough to demand the close attention of every well-wisher of the
Union. In one of Douglas's recent speeches, I find a reference to
one which was made by me in Springfield some time ago. The judge
makes one quotation from that speech that requires some little notice
from me at this time. I regret that I have not my Springfield speech
before me, but the judge has quoted one particular part of it so
often that I think I can recollect it. It runs I think as follows:

"We are now far into the fifth year since a policy was initiated with
the avowed object and confident promise of putting an end to slavery
agitation. Under the operation of that policy that agitation has not
only not ceased but has constantly augmented. In my opinion it will
not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and passed.

"A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this
government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do
not expect the Union to be dissolved. I do not expect the house to
fall, but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become
all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will
arrest the further spread of it and place it where the public mind
shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate
extinction; or its advocates will push it forward till it shall
become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new, North as
well as South."

Judge Douglas makes use of the above quotation, and finds a great
deal of fault with it. He deals unfairly with me, and tries to make
the people of this State believe that I advocated dangerous doctrines
in my Springfield speech. Let us see if that portion of my
Springfield speech of which Judge Douglas complains so bitterly, is
as objectionable to others as it is to him. We are, certainly, far
into the fifth year since a policy was initiated with the avowed
object and confident promise of putting an end to slavery agitation.
On the fourth day of January, 1854, Judge Douglas introduced the
Kansas-Nebraska bill. He initiated a new policy, and that policy, so
he says, was to put an end to the agitation of the slavery question.
Whether that was his object or not I will not stop to discuss, but at
all events some kind of a policy was initiated; and what has been the
result? Instead of the quiet and good feeling which were promised us
by the self-styled author of Popular Sovereignty, we have had nothing
but ill-feeling and agitation. According to Judge Douglas, the
passage of the Nebraska bill would tranquilize the whole country--
there would be no more slavery agitation in or out of Congress, and
the vexed question would be left entirely to the people of the
Territories. Such was the opinion of Judge Douglas, and such were
the opinions of the leading men of the Democratic Party. Even as
late as the spring of 1856 Mr. Buchanan said, a short time subsequent
to his nomination by the Cincinnati convention, that the territory of
Kansas would be tranquil in less than six weeks. Perhaps he thought
so, but Kansas has not been and is not tranquil, and it may be a long
time before she may be so.

We all know how fierce the agitation was in Congress last winter, and
what a narrow escape Kansas had from being admitted into the Union
with a constitution that was detested by ninety-nine hundredths of
her citizens. Did the angry debates which took place at Washington
during the last season of Congress lead you to suppose that the
slavery agitation was settled?

An election was held in Kansas in the month of August, and the
constitution which was submitted to the people was voted down by a
large majority. So Kansas is still out of the Union, and there is a
probability that she will remain out for some time. But Judge
Douglas says the slavery question is settled. He says the bill he
introduced into the Senate of the United States on the 4th day of
January, 1854, settled the slavery question forever! Perhaps he can
tell us how that bill settled the slavery question, for if he is able
to settle a question of such great magnitude he ought to be able to
explain the manner in which he does it. He knows and you know that
the question is not settled, and that his ill-timed experiment to
settle it has made it worse than it ever was before.

And now let me say a few words in regard to Douglas's great hobby of
negro equality. He thinks--he says at least--that the Republican
party is in favor of allowing whites and blacks to intermarry, and
that a man can't be a good Republican unless he is willing to elevate
black men to office and to associate with them on terms of perfect
equality. He knows that we advocate no such doctrines as these, but
he cares not how much he misrepresents us if he can gain a few votes
by so doing. To show you what my opinion of negro equality was in
times past, and to prove to you that I stand on that question where I
always stood, I will read you a few extracts from a speech that was
made by me in Peoria in 1854. It was made in reply to one of Judge
Douglas's speeches.

(Mr. Lincoln then read a number of extracts which had the ring of the
true metal. We have rarely heard anything with which we have been
more pleased. And the audience after hearing the extracts read, and
comparing their conservative sentiments with those now advocated by
Mr. Lincoln, testified their approval by loud applause. How any
reasonable man can hear one of Mr. Lincoln's speeches without being
converted to Republicanism is something that we can't account for.

Slavery, continued Mr. Lincoln, is not a matter of little importance,
it overshadows every other question in which we are interested. It
has divided the Methodist and Presbyterian churches, and has sown
discord in the American Tract Society. The churches have split and
the society will follow their example before long. So it will be
seen that slavery is agitated in the religious as well as in the
political world.
Judge Douglas is very much afraid in the triumph that the Republican
party will lead to a general mixture of the white and black races.
Perhaps I am wrong in saying that he is afraid, so I will correct
myself by saying that he pretends to fear that the success of our
party will result in the amalgamation of the blacks and whites. I
think I can show plainly, from documents now before me, that Judge
Douglas's fears are groundless. The census of 1800 tells us that in
that year there were over four hundred thousand mulattoes in the
United States. Now let us take what is called an Abolition State--
the Republican, slavery-hating State of New Hampshire--and see how
many mulattoes we can find within her borders. The number amounts to
just one hundred and eighty-four. In the Old Dominion--in the
Democratic and aristocratic State of Virginia--there were a few more
mulattoes than the Census-takers found in New Hampshire. How many do
you suppose there were? Seventy-nine thousand, seven hundred and
seventy-five--twenty-three thousand more than there were in all the
free States! In the slave States there were in 1800, three
hundred and forty-eight thousand mulattoes all of home production;
and in the free States there were less than sixty thousand mulattoes
--and a large number of them were imported from the South.


SEPT. 13, 1858.

I have been requested to give a concise statement of the difference,
as I understand it, between the Democratic and Republican parties, on
the leading issues of the campaign. This question has been put to me
by a gentleman whom I do not know. I do not even know whether he is
a friend of mine or a supporter of Judge Douglas in this contest, nor
does that make any difference. His question is a proper one. Lest I
should forget it, I will give you my answer before proceeding with
the line of argument I have marked out for this discussion.

The difference between the Republican and the Democratic parties on
the leading issues of this contest, as I understand it, is that the
former consider slavery a moral, social and political wrong, while
the latter do not consider it either a moral, a social or a political
wrong; and the action of each, as respects the growth of the country
and the expansion of our population, is squared to meet these views.
I will not affirm that the Democratic party consider slavery morally,
socially and politically right, though their tendency to that view
has, in my opinion, been constant and unmistakable for the past five
years. I prefer to take, as the accepted maxim of the party, the
idea put forth by Judge Douglas, that he don't care whether slavery
is voted down or voted up." I am quite willing to believe that many
Democrats would prefer that slavery should be always voted down, and
I know that some prefer that it be always voted up"; but I have a
right to insist that their action, especially if it be their constant
action, shall determine their ideas and preferences on this subject.
Every measure of the Democratic party of late years, bearing directly
or indirectly on the slavery question, has corresponded with this
notion of utter indifference whether slavery or freedom shall outrun
in the race of empire across to the Pacific--every measure, I say, up
to the Dred Scott decision, where, it seems to me, the idea is boldly
suggested that slavery is better than freedom. The Republican party,
on the contrary, hold that this government was instituted to secure
the blessings of freedom, and that slavery is an unqualified evil to
the negro, to the white man, to the soil, and to the State.
Regarding it as an evil, they will not molest it in the States where
it exists, they will not overlook the constitutional guards which our
fathers placed around it; they will do nothing that can give proper
offence to those who hold slaves by legal sanction; but they will use
every constitutional method to prevent the evil from becoming larger
and involving more negroes, more white men, more soil, and more
States in its deplorable consequences. They will, if possible, place
it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in
course of ultimate peaceable extinction in God's own good time. And
to this end they will, if possible, restore the government to the
policy of the fathers, the policy of preserving the new Territories
from the baneful influence of human bondage, as the Northwestern
Territories were sought to be preserved by the Ordinance of 1787, and
the Compromise Act of 1820. They will oppose, in all its length and
breadth, the modern Democratic idea, that slavery is as good as
freedom, and ought to have room for expansion all over the continent,
if people can be found to carry it. All, or nearly all, of Judge
Douglas's arguments are logical, if you admit that slavery is as good
and as right as freedom, and not one of them is worth a rush if you
deny it. This is the difference, as I understand it, between the
Republican and Democratic parties.

My friends, I have endeavored to show you the logical consequences of
the Dred Scott decision, which holds that the people of a Territory
cannot prevent the establishment of slavery in their midst. I have
stated what cannot be gainsaid, that the grounds upon which this
decision is made are equally applicable to the free States as to the
free Territories, and that the peculiar reasons put forth by Judge
Douglas for indorsing this decision commit him, in advance, to the
next decision and to all other decisions corning from the same
source. And when, by all these means, you have succeeded in
dehumanizing the negro; when you have put him down and made it
impossible for him to be but as the beasts of the field; when you
have extinguished his soul in this world and placed him where the ray
of hope is blown out as in the darkness of the damned, are you quite
sure that the demon you have roused will not turn and rend you? What
constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is
not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea coasts, our army and
our navy. These are not our reliance against tyranny All of those
may be turned against us without making us weaker for the struggle.
Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in us.
Our defense is in the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of
all men, in all lands everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have
planted the seeds of despotism at your own doors. Familiarize
yourselves with the chains of bondage and you prepare your own limbs
to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you
have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit
subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you. And let me
tell you, that all these things are prepared for you by the teachings
of history, if the elections shall promise that the next Dred Scott
decision and all future decisions will be quietly acquiesced in by
the people.


September 30,? 1858.


A sweet plaintive song did I hear
And I fancied that she was the singer.
May emotions as pure as that song set astir
Be the wont that the future shall bring her.





MY DEAR SIR:--I do not perceive how I can express myself more plainly
than I have in the fore-going extracts. In four of them I have
expressly disclaimed all intention to bring about social and
political equality between the white and black races and in all the
rest I have done the same thing by clear implication.

I have made it equally plain that I think the negro is included in
the word "men" used in the Declaration of Independence.

I believe the declaration that "all men are created equal "is the
great fundamental principle upon which our free institutions rest;
that negro slavery is violative of that principle; but that, by our
frame of government, that principle has not been made one of legal
obligation; that by our frame of government, States which have
slavery are to retain it, or surrender it at their own pleasure; and
that all others--individuals, free States and national Government--
are constitutionally bound to leave them alone about it.

I believe our Government was thus framed because of the necessity
springing from the actual presence of slavery, when it was framed.

That such necessity does not exist in the Territories when slavery is
not present.

In his Mendenhall speech Mr. Clay says: "Now as an abstract principle
there is no doubt of the truth of that declaration (all men created
equal), and it is desirable, in the original construction of society,
to keep it in view as a great fundamental principle."

Again, in the same speech Mr. Clay says: "If a state of nature
existed and we were about to lay the foundations of society, no man
would be more strongly opposed than I should to incorporate the
institution of slavery among its elements."

Exactly so. In our new free Territories, a state of nature does
exist. In them Congress lays the foundations of society; and in
laying those foundations, I say, with Mr. Clay, it is desirable that
the declaration of the equality of all men shall be kept in view as a
great fundamental principle, and that Congress, which lays the
foundations of society, should, like Mr. Clay, be strongly opposed to
the incorporation of slavery and its elements.

But it does not follow that social and political equality between
whites and blacks must be incorporated because slavery must not. The
declaration does not so require.

Yours as ever,


[Newspaper cuttings of Lincoln's speeches at Peoria, in 1854, at
Springfield, Ottawa, Chicago, and Charleston, in 1858. They were
pasted in a little book in which the above letter was also written.]




DEAR SIR:--Since parting with you this morning I heard some things
which make me believe that Edmunds and Morrill will spend this week
among the National Democrats, trying to induce them to content
themselves by voting for Jake Davis, and then to vote for the Douglas
candidates for senator and representative. Have this headed off, if
you can. Call Wagley's attention to it and have him and the National
Democrat for Rep. to counteract it as far as they can.

Yours as ever,






DEAR SIR:--Yours of the 15th is just received. I wrote you the same
day. As to the pecuniary matter, I am willing to pay according to my
ability; but I am the poorest hand living to get others to pay. I
have been on expenses so long without earning anything that I am
absolutely without money now for even household purposes. Still, if
you can put in two hundred and fifty dollars for me toward
discharging the debt of the committee, I will allow it when you and I
settle the private matter between us. This, with what I have already
paid, and with an outstanding note of mine, will exceed my
subscription of five hundred dollars. This, too, is exclusive of my
ordinary expenses during the campaign, all of which, being added to
my loss of time and business, bears pretty heavily upon one no better
off in [this] world's goods than I; but as I had the post of honor,
it is not for me to be over nice. You are feeling badly,--"And this
too shall pass away," never fear.

Yours as ever,




SPRINGFIELD, November 19, 1858.


DEAR SIR:--Yours of the 13th was received some days ago. The fight
must go on. The cause of civil liberty must not be surrendered at
the end of one or even one hundred defeats. Douglas had the
ingenuity to be supported in the late contest both as the best means
to break down and to uphold the slave interest. No ingenuity can
keep these antagonistic elements in harmony long. Another explosion
will soon come.

Yours truly,




SPRINGFIELD, Nov.20, 1858


MY DEAR SIR:--I wish to preserve a set of the late debates (if they
may be called so), between Douglas and myself. To enable me to do
so, please get two copies of each number of your paper containing the
whole, and send them to me by express; and I will pay you for the
papers and for your trouble. I wish the two sets in order to lay one
away in the [undecipherable word] and to put the other in a
scrapbook. Remember, if part of any debate is on both sides of the
sheet it will take two sets to make one scrap-book.

I believe, according to a letter of yours to Hatch, you are "feeling
like h-ll yet." Quit that--you will soon feel better. Another "blow
up" is coming; and we shall have fun again. Douglas managed to be
supported both as the best instrument to down and to uphold the slave
power; but no ingenuity can long keep the antagonism in harmony.

Yours as ever,



SPRINGFIELD, November 30, 1858


MY DEAR SIR :--Being desirous of preserving in some permanent form
the late joint discussion between Douglas and myself, ten days ago I
wrote to Dr. Ray, requesting him to forward to me by express two
sets of the numbers of the Tribune which contain the reports of those
discussions. Up to date I have no word from him on the subject.
Will you, if in your power, procure them and forward them to me by
express? If you will, I will pay all charges, and be greatly obliged,
to boot. Hoping to visit you before long, I remain

As ever your friend,



SPRINGFIELD, Dec. 8, 1858.

H. D. SHARPE, Esq.

DEAR SIR:--Your very kind letter of Nov. 9th was duly received. I
do not know that you expected or desired an answer; but glancing over
the contents of yours again, I am prompted to say that, while I
desired the result of the late canvass to have been different, I
still regard it as an exceeding small matter. I think we have fairly
entered upon a durable struggle as to whether this nation is to
ultimately become all slave or all free, and though I fall early in
the contest, it is nothing if I shall have contributed, in the least
degree, to the final rightful result.

Respectfully yours,



SPRINGFIELD, Dec.12, 1858.


MY DEAR SIR:--I expect the result of the election went hard with you.
So it did with me, too, perhaps not quite so hard as you may have
supposed. I have an abiding faith that we shall beat them in the
long run. Step by step the objects of the leaders will become too
plain for the people to stand them. I write merely to let you know
that I am neither dead nor dying. Please give my respects to your
good family, and all inquiring friends.

Yours as ever,




December [?], 1858.

Legislation and adjudication must follow and conform to the progress
of society.

The progress of society now begins to produce cases of the transfer
for debts of the entire property of railroad corporations; and to
enable transferees to use and enjoy the transferred property,
legislation and adjudication begin to be necessary.

Shall this class of legislation just now beginning with us be general
or special?

Section Ten of our Constitution requires that it should be general,
if possible. (Read the section.)

Special legislation always trenches upon the judicial department; and
in so far violates Section Two of the Constitution. (Read it.)

Just reasoning--policy--is in favor of general legislation--else the
Legislature will be loaded down with the investigation of smaller
cases--a work which the courts ought to perform, and can perform much
more perfectly. How can the Legislature rightly decide the facts
between P. & B. and S.C.

It is said that under a general law, whenever a R. R. Co. gets tired
of its debts, it may transfer fraudulently to get rid of them. So
they may--so may individuals; and which--the Legislature or the
courts--is best suited to try the question of fraud in either case?

It is said, if a purchaser have acquired legal rights, let him not be
robbed of them, but if he needs legislation let him submit to just
terms to obtain it.

Let him, say we, have general law in advance (guarded in every
possible way against fraud), so that, when he acquires a legal right,
he will have no occasion to wait for additional legislation; and if
he has practiced fraud let the courts so decide.


The 11th Section of the Act of Congress, approved Feb. 11, 1805,
prescribing rules for the subdivision of sections of land within the
United States system of surveys, standing unrepealed, in my opinion,
is binding on the respective purchasers of different parts of the
same section, and furnishes the true rule for surveyors in
establishing lines between them. That law, being in force at the
time each became a purchaser, becomes a condition of the purchase.

And, by that law, I think the true rule for dividing into quarters
any interior section or sections, which is not fractional, is to run
straight lines through the section from the opposite quarter section
corners, fixing the point where such straight lines cross, or
intersect each other, as the middle or centre of the section.

Nearly, perhaps quite, all the original surveys are to some extent
erroneous, and in some of the sections, greatly so. In each of the
latter, it is obvious that a more equitable mode of division than the
above might be adopted; but as error is infinitely various perhaps no
better single rules can be prescribed.

At all events I think the above has been prescribed by the competent

SPRINGFIELD, Jany. 6, 1859.



SPRINGFIELD, March 4, 1859.


MY DEAR SIR: Your second letter in relation to my being with you at
your Republican convention was duly received. It is not at hand just
now, but I have the impression from it that the convention was to be
at Leavenworth; but day before yesterday a friend handed me a letter
from Judge M. F. Caraway, in which he also expresses a wish for me to
come, and he fixes the place at Ossawatomie. This I believe is off
of the river, and will require more time and labor to get to it. It
will push me hard to get there without injury to my own business; but
I shall try to do it, though I am not yet quite certain I shall

I should like to know before coming, that while some of you wish me
to come, there may not be others who would quite as lief I would stay
away. Write me again.

Yours as ever,



SPRINGFIELD, March 28, 1859.

W. M. MORRIS, Esq.

DEAR SIR:--Your kind note inviting me to deliver a lecture at
Galesburg is received. I regret to say I cannot do so now; I must
stick to the courts awhile. I read a sort of lecture to three
different audiences during the last month and this; but I did so
under circumstances which made it a waste of no time whatever.

Yours very truly,



GENTLEMEN:--Your kind note inviting me to attend a festival in
Boston, on the 28th instant, in honor of the birthday of Thomas
Jefferson, was duly received. My engagements are such that I cannot

Bearing in mind that about seventy years ago two great political
parties were first formed in this country, that Thomas Jefferson was
the head of one of them and Boston the headquarters of the other, it
is both curious and interesting that those supposed to descend
politically from the party opposed to Jefferson should now be
celebrating his birthday in their own original seat of empire, while
those claiming political descent from him have nearly ceased to
breathe his name everywhere.

Remembering, too, that the Jefferson party was formed upon its
supposed superior devotion to the personal rights of men, holding the
rights of property to be secondary only, and greatly inferior, and
assuming that the so-called Democracy of to-day are the Jefferson,
and their opponents the anti-Jefferson, party, it will be equally
interesting to note how completely the two have changed hands as to
the principle upon which they were originally supposed to be divided.
The Democracy of to-day hold the liberty of one man to be absolutely
nothing, when in conflict with another man's right of property;
Republicans, on the contrary, are for both the man and the dollar,
but in case of conflict the man before the dollar.

I remember being once much amused at seeing two partially intoxicated
men engaged in a fight with their great-coats on, which fight, after
a long and rather harmless contest, ended in each having fought
himself out of his own coat and into that of the other. If the two
leading parties of this day are really identical with the two in the
days of Jefferson and Adams, they have performed the same feat as the
two drunken men.

But soberly, it is now no child's play to save the principles of
Jefferson from total overthrow in this nation. One would state with
great confidence that he could convince any sane child that the
simpler propositions of Euclid are true; but nevertheless he would
fail, utterly, with one who should deny the definitions and axioms.
The principles of Jefferson are the definitions and axioms of free
society. And yet they are denied and evaded, with no small show of
success. One dashingly calls them "glittering generalities."
Another bluntly calls them "self-evident lies." And others
insidiously argue that they apply to "superior races." These
expressions, differing in form, are identical in object and effect--
the supplanting the principles of free government, and restoring
those of classification, caste, and legitimacy. They would delight a
convocation of crowned heads plotting against the people. They are
the vanguard, the miners and sappers, of returning despotism. We
must repulse them, or they will subjugate us. This is a world of
compensation; and he who would be no slave must consent to have no
slave. Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for
themselves, and, under a just God, cannot long retain it. All honor
to Jefferson to the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle
for national independence by a single people, had the coolness,
forecast, and capacity to introduce into a mere revolutionary
document an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and
so to embalm it there that to-day and in all coming days it shall be
a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of reappearing
tyranny and oppression.

Your obedient servant,



SPRINGFIELD, May 17, 1859.


DEAR SIR:--Your note asking, in behalf of yourself and other German
citizens, whether I am for or against the constitutional provision in
regard to naturalized citizens, lately adopted by Massachusetts, and
whether I am for or against a fusion of the Republicans and other
opposition elements for the canvass of 1860, is received.

Massachusetts is a sovereign and independent State; and it is no
privilege of mine to scold her for what she does. Still, if from
what she has done an inference is sought to be drawn as to what I
would do, I may without impropriety speak out. I say, then, that, as
I understand the Massachusetts provision, I am against its adoption
in Illinois, or in any other place where I have a right to oppose it.
Understanding the spirit of our institutions to aim at the elevation
of men, I am opposed to whatever tends to degrade them. I have some
little notoriety for commiserating the oppressed negro; and I should
be strangely inconsistent if I could favor any project for curtailing
the existing rights of white men, even though born in different
lands, and speaking different languages from myself. As to the
matter of fusion, I am for it if it can be had on Republican grounds;
and I am not for it on any other terms. A fusion on any other terms
would be as foolish as unprincipled. It would lose the whole North,
while the common enemy would still carry the whole South. The
question of men is a different one. There are good, patriotic men
and able statesmen in the South whom I would cheerfully support, if
they would now place themselves on Republican ground, but I am
against letting down the Republican standard a hairsbreadth.

I have written this hastily, but I believe it answers your questions

Yours truly,




In reply to your inquiry; requesting our written opinion as to what
your duty requires you to do in executing the latter clause of the
Seventh Section of "An Act in relation to the payment of the
principal and interest of the State debt," approved Feb'y 22, 1859,
we reply that said last clause of said section is certainly
indefinite, general, and ambiguous in its description of the bonds to
be issued by you; giving no time at which the bonds are to be made
payable, no place at which either principal or interest are to be
paid, and no rate of interest which the bonds are to bear; nor any
other description except that they are to be coupon bonds, which in
commercial usage means interest-paying bonds with obligations or
orders attached to them for the payment of annual or semiannual
interest; there is we suppose no difficulty in ascertaining, if this
act stood alone, what ought to be the construction of the terms
"coupon bonds" and that it, would mean bonds bearing interest from
the time of issuing the same. And under this act considered by
itself the creditors would have a right to require such bonds. But
your inquiry in regard to a class of bonds on which no interest is to
be paid or shall begin to run until January 1, 1860, is whether the
Act of February 18, 1857, would not authorize you to refuse to give
bonds with any coupons attached payable before the first day of July,
1860. We have very maturely considered this question and have arrived
at the conclusion that you have a right to use such measures as will
secure the State against the loss of six months' interest on these
bonds by the indefiniteness of the Act of 1859. While it cannot be
denied that the letter of the laws favor the construction claimed by
some of the creditors that interest-bearing bonds were required to be
issued to them, inasmuch as the restriction that no interest is to
run on said bonds until 1st January, 1860, relates solely to the
bonds issued under the Act of 1857. And the Act of 1859 directing
you to issue new bonds does not contain this restriction, but directs
you to issue coupon bonds. Nevertheless the very indefiniteness and
generality of the Act of 1859, giving no rate of interest, no time
due, no place of payment, no postponement of the time when interest
commences, necessarily implies that the Legislature intended to
invest you with a discretion to impose such terms and restrictions as
would protect the interest of the State; and we think you have a
right and that it is your duty to see that the State Bonds are so
issued that the State shall not lose six months' interest. Two plans
present themselves either of which will secure the State. 1st. If in
literal compliance with the law you issue bonds bearing interest from
1st July, 1859, you may deduct from the bonds presented three
thousand from every $100,000 of bonds and issue $97,000 of coupon
bonds; by this plan $3000 out of $100,000 of principal would be
extinguished in consideration of paying $2910 interest on the first
of January, 1860--and the interest on the $3000 would forever cease;
this would be no doubt most advantageous to the State. But if the
Auditor will not consent to this, then, 2nd. Cut off of each bond
all the coupons payable before 1st July, 1860.

One of these plans would undoubtedly have been prescribed by the
Legislature if its attention had been directed to this question.

May 28, 1859.



SPRINGFIELD, December 25, 1858.


MY DEAR SIR:--I have just received yours of the 23rd inquiring
whether I received the newspapers you sent me by express. I did
receive them, and am very much obliged. There is some probability
that my scrap-book will be reprinted, and if it shall, I will save
you a copy.

Your friend as ever,





SPRINGFIELD, ILL., July 28, 1859.


MY DEAR SIR:--Your very complimentary, not to say flattering, letter
of the 23d inst. is received. Dr. Reynolds had induced me to expect
you here; and I was disappointed not a little by your failure to
come. And yet I fear you have formed an estimate of me which can
scarcely be sustained on a personal acquaintance.

Two things done by the Ohio Republican convention--the repudiation of
Judge Swan, and the "plank" for a repeal of the Fugitive Slave Law--I
very much regretted. These two things are of a piece; and they are
viewed by many good men, sincerely opposed to slavery, as a struggle
against, and in disregard of, the Constitution itself. And it is the
very thing that will greatly endanger our cause, if it be not kept
out of our national convention. There is another thing our friends
are doing which gives me some uneasiness. It is their leaning toward
"popular sovereignty." There are three substantial objections to
this: First, no party can command respect which sustains this year
what it opposed last. Secondly, Douglas (who is the most dangerous
enemy of liberty, because the most insidious one) would have little
support in the North, and by consequence, no capital to trade on in
the South, if it were not for his friends thus magnifying him and his
humbug. But lastly, and chiefly, Douglas's popular sovereignty,
accepted by the public mind as a just principle, nationalizes
slavery, and revives the African slave trade inevitably.

Taking slaves into new Territories, and buying slaves in Africa, are
identical things, identical rights or identical wrongs, and the
argument which establishes one will establish the other. Try a
thousand years for a sound reason why Congress shall not hinder the
people of Kansas from having slaves, and, when you have found it, it
will be an equally good one why Congress should not hinder the people
of Georgia from importing slaves from Africa.

As to Governor Chase, I have a kind side for him. He was one of the
few distinguished men of the nation who gave us, in Illinois, their
sympathy last year. I never saw him, but suppose him to be able and
right-minded; but still he may not be the most suitable as a
candidate for the Presidency.

I must say I do not think myself fit for the Presidency. As you
propose a correspondence with me, I shall look for your letters

I have not met Dr. Reynolds since receiving your letter; but when I
shall, I will present your respects as requested.

Yours very truly,




SPRINGFIELD, ILL. Sept. 6, 1859.


DEAR SIR:--Yours of the 3d is just received. There is some mistake
about my expected attendance of the U.S. Court in your city on the 3d
Tuesday of this month. I have had no thought of being there.

It is bad to be poor. I shall go to the wall for bread and meat if I
neglect my business this year as well as last. It would please me
much to see the city and good people of Keokuk, but for this year it
is little less than an impossibility. I am constantly receiving
invitations which I am compelled to decline. I was pressingly urged
to go to Minnesota; and I now have two invitations to go to Ohio.
These last are prompted by Douglas going there; and I am really
tempted to make a flying trip to Columbus and Cincinnati.

I do hope you will have no serious trouble in Iowa. What thinks
Grimes about it? I have not known him to be mistaken about an
election in Iowa. Present my respects to Col. Carter, and any other
friends, and believe me

Yours truly,



SEPTEMBER 16, 1859.

FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE STATE OF OHIO: I cannot fail to remember that
I appear for the first time before an audience in this now great
State,--an audience that is accustomed to hear such speakers as
Corwin, and Chase, and Wade, and many other renowned men; and,
remembering this, I feel that it will be well for you, as for me,
that you should not raise your expectations to that standard to which
you would have been justified in raising them had one of these
distinguished men appeared before you. You would perhaps be only
preparing a disappointment for yourselves, and, as a consequence of
your disappointment, mortification to me. I hope, therefore, that
you will commence with very moderate expectations; and perhaps, if
you will give me your attention, I shall be able to interest you to a
moderate degree.

Appearing here for the first time in my life, I have been somewhat
embarrassed for a topic by way of introduction to my speech; but I
have been relieved from that embarrassment by an introduction which
the Ohio Statesman newspaper gave me this morning. In this paper I
have read an article, in which, among other statements, I find the

"In debating with Senator Douglas during the memorable contest of


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