Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; online

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in their nature, and therefore proper and convenient to be considered
together. The question of protection is a subject entirely too broad
to be crowded into a few pages only, together with several other
subjects. On that point we therefore content ourselves with giving
the following extracts from the writings of Mr. Jefferson, Gener^
Jackson, and the speech of Mr. Calhoun:

To be independent for the comforts of life, we must fabricate them our-
selves. "We must now place the manufacturer by the side of the agriculturaUst.
The grand inquiry now is, Shall we make our own comforts, or go without
them at the wiU of a foreign nation ? He, therefore, who is now against do-
mestic manufactures must be for reducing us either to dependence on that
foreign nation, or to be clothed in skins and to hve hke wUd beasts in dens
and caverns. I am not one of those ; experience has taught me that manu-
factures are now as necessary to our independence as to our comfort. —
Letter of Mr. Jefferson to Benjamin Austin.

I ask, What is the real situation of the agricidturalist? Where has the
American farmer a market for his surplus produce 9 Except for cotton, he
has neither a foreign nor a home market. Does not this clearly prove, when
there is no market at home or abroad, that there [is] too much labor em-
ployed in agriculture'! Common sense at once points out the remedy. Take
from agriculture six htmdred thousand men, women, and children, and you
will at once give a market for more breadstufifs than all Europe now fur-
nishes. In short, we have been too long subject to the pohcy of British
merchants. It is time we should become a httle more Americanized, and
instead of feeding the paupers and laborers of England, feed our own ; or
else in a short time, by continuing our present pohcy, we shall aU be ren-
dered paupers ourselves. — GeneralJacJcson^s Letter to Dr. Coleman.

When our manufactures are grown to a certain perfection, as they soon
will be, under the fostering care of government, the farmer will find a, ready
market for his surplus produce, and — what is of equal consequence — a cer-
tain and cheap supply of all he wants ; his prosperity will diffuse itself to
every class of the community. — Speech of Hon. J. C. Calhoun on the Tariff.

The question of revenue we will now briefly consider. For
several years past the revenues of the government have been un-
equal to its expenditures, and consequently loan after loan, some-
times direct and sometimes indirect in form, has been resorted to. .
By this means a new national debt has been created, and is still
growing on us with a rapidity fearful to contemplate — a rapidity
only reasonably to be expected in time of war. This state of things
has been produced by a prevailing unwillingness either to increase
the tariff or resort to direct taxation. But the one or the other
must come. Coming expenditures must be met, and the present
debt must be paid; and money cannot always be borrowed for
these objects. The system of loans is but temporary in its nature,
and must soon explode. It is a system not only ruinous while it
lasts, but one that must soon fail and leave us destitute. As an in-


dividual who undertakes to live by borrowing soon finds Ms orig-
inal means devoured by interest, and, next, no one left to borrow
from, so must it be with a government.

We repeat, then, that a tariff sufleient for revenue, or a direct
tax, must soon be resorted to ; and, indeed, we believe this alterna-
tive is now denied by no one. But which system shall be adopted ?
Some of our opponents, in theory, admit the propriety of a tariff
sufiaeient for a revenue ; but even they will not in practice vote for
such a tariff; while others boldly advocate direct taxation. Inas-
much, therefore, as some of them boldly advocate direct taxation,
and all the rest — or so nearly all as to make exceptions needless —
refuse to adopt the tariff, we think it is doing them no injustice to
class them all as advocates of direct taxation. Indeed, we believe
they are only delaying an open avowal of the system till they can
assure themselves that the people will tolerate it. Let us, then,
briefly compare the two systems. The tariff is the cheaper system,
because the duties, being collected in large parcels at a few commer-
cial points, will require comparatively few oflcers in their collec-
tion ; while by the direct-tax system the land must be HteraUy
covered with assessors and collectors, going forth like swarms of
Egyptian locusts, devouring every blade of grass and other green
thing. And, again, by the tariff system the whole revenue is paid
by the consumers of foreign goods, and those chiefly the luxuries,
and not the necessaries, of life. By this system the man who con-
tents himself to live upon the products of his own country pays
nothing at all. And surely that country is extensive enough, and its
products abundant and varied enough, to answer all the real wants
of its people. In short, by this system the burthen of revenue falls
almost entirely on the wealthy and luxurious few, while the sub-
stantial and laboring many who live at home, and upon home prod-
ucts, go entirely free. By the direct tax system none can escape.
However strictly the citizen may exclude from his premises all foreign
luxuries, — fine cloths, fine silks, rich wines, golden chains, and dia-
mond rings, — still, for the possession of his house, his barn, and his
homespun, he is to be perpetually haunted and harassed by the tax-
gatherer. With these views we leave it to be determined whether
we or our opponents ai-e the more truly democratic on the subject.

The third resolution declares the necessity and propriety of a
national bank. During the last fifty years so much has been said
and written both as to the constitutionality and expediency of such
an institution, that we could not hope to' improve in the least on
former discussions of the subject, were we to undertake it. We,
therefore, upon the question of constitutionality content ourselves
with remarking the facts that the first national bank was estab-
lished chiefly by the same men who formed the Constitution, at a
time when that instrument was but two years old, and receiving
the sanction, as president, of the immortal Washington ; that the
second received the sanction, as president, of Mr. Madison, to whom
common consent has awarded the proud title of " Father of the Con-
stitution"; and subsequently the sanction of the Supreme Court,
the most enlightened judicial tribunal in the world. Upon the


question of expediency, we only ask you to examine the history of
the times during the existence of the two banks, and compare those
times with the miserable present.

The fourth resolution declares the expediency of Mr. Clay's Land
Bill. Much incomprehensible jargon is often used against the con-
stitutionality of this measure. We forbear, in this place, attempt-
ing an answer to it, simply because, in our opinion, those who urge
it are through party zeal resolved not to see or acknowledge the
truth. The question of expediency, at least so far as Illinois is con-
cerned, seems to us the clearest imaginable. By the bill we are to
receive annually a large sum of money, no part of which we other-
wise receive. The precise annual sum cannot be known in advance ; it
doubtless wiU vary in different years. Still it is something to know
that in the last year — a year of almost unparalleled pecuniary press-
ure — it amounted to more than forty thousand dollars. This an-
nual income, in the midst of our almost insupportable diflculties,
in the days of our severest necessity, our political opponents
are furiously resolAdng to take and keep from us. And for what ?
Many silly reasons are given, as is usual in cases where a single
good one is not to be found. One is that by giving us the pro-
ceeds of the lands, we impoverish the national treasury, and thereby
render necessary an increase of the tariff. This may be true ; but
if so, the amount of it only is that those whose pride, whose abund-
ance of means, prompt them to spurn the manufactures of our
country, and to strut in British cloaks and coats and pantaloons,
may have to pay a few cents more on the yard for the cloth that
makes them. A terrible evil, truly, to the Ilhnois farmer, who
never wore, nor ever expects to wear, a single yard of British goods
in his whole life. Another of their reasons is that by the passage
and continuance of Mr. Clay's bill, we prevent the passage of a bill
which would give us more. This, if it were sound in itself, is wag-
ing destructive war with the former position ; for if Mr. Clay's bUl
impoverishes the treasury too much, what shall be said of one that
impoverishes it still more ? But it is not sound in itself. It is not
true that Mr. Clay's bill prevents the passage of one more favorable
to us of the new States. Considering the strength and opposite in-
terest of the old States, the wonder is that they ever permitted one
to pass so favorable as Mr. Clay's, The last twenty-odd years' ef-
forts to reduce the price of the lands, and to pass graduation bills and
cession bills, prove the assertion to be truej and if there were no
experience in support of it, the reason itself is plain. The States in
which none, or few, of the public lands lie, and those consequently
interested against parting with them except for the best price, are
the majority ; and a moment's reflection will show that they must
ever continue the majority, because by the time one of the original
new States (Ohio, for example) becomes populous and gets weight in
Congress, the public lands in her limits are so nearly sold out that
in every point material to this question she becomes an old State.
She does not wish the price reduced, because there is none left for
her citizens to buy ; she does not wish them ceded to the States in
which they lie, because they no longer lie in her limits, and she will


get nothing by the cession. In the nature of things, the States in-
terested in the reduction of price, in graduation, in cession, and in
all similar projects, never can be the majority. Nor is there reason
to hope that any of them can ever succeed as a Democratic party
measure, because we have heretofore seen that party in full power,
year after year, with many of their leaders making loud professions
in favor of these projects, and yet doing nothing. What reason,
then, is there to believe they will hereafter do better? In every
light in which we can view this question, it amounts simply to this:
Shall we accept our share of the proceeds under Mr. Clay's bill, or
shall we rather reject that and get nothing ?

The fifth resolution recommends that a Whig candidate for Con-
gress be run in every district, regardless of the chances of success.
We are aware that it is sometimes a temporary gratification, when
a friend cannot succeed, to be able to choose between opponents ;
but we believe that that gratification is the seed-time which never
fails to be followed by a most abundant harvest of bitterness. By
this policy we entangle ourselves. By voting for our opponents, such
of us as do it in some measure estop ourselves to complain of their
acts, however glaringly wrong we may believe them to be. By this
policy no one portion of our friends can ever be certain as to what
course another portion may adopt; and by this want of mutual
and perfect understanding our poUtical identity is partially frittered
away and lost. And, again, those who are thus elected by our aid
ever become our bitterest persecutors. Take a few prominent ex-
amples. In 1830 Reynolds was so elected governor; in 1835 we
exerted our whole strength to elect Judge Young to the United
States Senate, which effort, though failing, gave him the promi-
nence that sulDsequently elected him ; in 1836 General Swing was
so elected to the United States Senate ; and yet let us ask what three
men have been more perseveringly vindictive in their assaults upon
all our men and measures than they ? During the last summer the
whole State was covered with pamphlet editions of misrepresenta-
tions against us, methodized into chapters and verses, written by
two of these same men, — Reynolds and Young, — in which they did
not stop at charging us with error merely, but roundly denounced
us as the designing enemies of human liberty itseK. If it be
the will of Heaven that such men shall politically live, be it so ;
but never, never again permit them to draw a particle of their sus-
tenance from us.

The sixth resolution recommends the adoption of the convention
system for the nomination of candidates. This we believe to be of
the very first importance. Whether the system is right in itself we
do not stop to inquire ; contenting ourselves with trying to show
that while our opponents use it, it is madness in us not to defend our-
selves with it. Experience has shown that we cannot successfully
defend ourselves without it. For examples, look at the elections of
last year. Our candidate for governor, with the approbation of a
large portion of the party, took the field without a nomination, and
in open opposition to the system. Wherever in the counties the
Whigs had held conventions and nominated candidates for the legis-


lature, the aspirants who were not nominated were induced to rebel
against the nominations, and to become candidates, ns is said, " on
their own hook." And, go where you would into a large Whig
county, you were sure to find the Whigs not contending shoulder
to shoulder against the common enemy, but divided into factions,
and fighting furiously with one another. The election came, and
what was the result? The governor beaten — the Whig vote being
decreased many thousands since 1840, although the Democratic vote
had not increased any. Beaten almost everywhere for members of
the legislature, — TazeweU, with her four hundred Whig majority,
sending a delegation half Democratic; Vermillion, with her five
hundred, doing the same; Coles, with her four hundred, sending
two out of three; and Morgan, with her two hundred and fifty,
sending three out of four, — and this to say nothing of the numer-
ous other less glaring examples ; the whole winding up with the ag-
gregate number of twenty-seven Democratic representatives sent
from Whig counties. As to the senators, too, the result was of the
same character. And it is most worthy to be remembered that of
all the Whigs in the State who ran against the regular nominees, a
single one only was elected. Although they succeeded in defeating
the nominees almost by scores, they too were defeated, and the spoils
chucklingly borne off by the common enemy ?

We do not mention the fact of many of the Whigs opposing the
convention system heretofore for the purpose of censuring them.
Far from it. We expressly protest against such a conclusion. We
know they were generally, perhaps universally, as good and true
Whigs as we ourselves claim to be. We mention it merely to draw
attention to the disastrous result it produced, as an example forever
hereafter to be avoided. That " union is strength " is a truth that
has been known, illustrated, and declared in various ways and forms
in all ages of the world. That great fabulist and philosopher, .^sop,
illustrated it by his fable of the bundle of sticks ; and he whose
wisdom surpasses that of all philosophers has declared that "a house
divided against itself cannot stand." It is to induce our friends to
act upon this important and universally acknowledged truth that
we urge the adoption of the convention system. Reflection will
prove that there is no other way of practically applying it. In its
application we know there will be incidents temporarily painful; but,
after all, those incidents will be fewer and less intense with than with-
out the system. If two friends aspire to the same office it is certain
that both cannot succeed. Would it not, then, be much less painful
to have the question decided by mutual friends some time before,
than to snarl and quarrel until the day of election, and then both be
beaten by the common enemy ?

Before leaving this subject, we think proper to remark that we do
not understand the resolution as intended to recommend the appli-
cation of the convention system to the nomination of candidates for
the small offices no way connected with politics ; though we must
say we do not perceive that such an application of it would be

The seventh resolution recommends the holding of district con-


ventions in May next, for the purpose of nominating candidates for
Congress. The propriety of this rests upon the same reasons with
that of the sixth, and therefore needs no further discussion.

The eighth and ninth also relate merely to the practical applica-
tion of the foregoing, and therefore need no discussion.

Before closing, permit us to add a few reflections on the present
condition and future prospects of the "Whig party. In almost all
the States we have fallen into the minority, and despondency seems
to prevail universally among us. Is there just cause for this ? In
1840 we carried the nation by more than a hundred and forty thou-
sand majority. Our opponents charged that we did it by fraudulent
voting ; but whatever they may have believed, we know the charge
to be untrue. Where, now, is that mighty host ? Have they gone
over to the enemy? Let the results of the late elections answer.
Every State which has fallen off from the "Whig cause since 1840
has done so not by giving more Democratic votes than they did
then, but by giving fewer "Whig. Bouck, who was elected Demo-
cratic governor of New York last fall by more than 15,000 majority,
had not then as many votes as he had in 1840, when he was beaten
by seven or eight thousand. And so has it been in all the other
States which have fallen emaj from our cause. From this it is evi-
dent that tens of thousands in the late elections have not voted at
all. "Who and what are they ? is an important question, as respects
the future. They can come forward and give us the victory again.
That aU, or nearly all, of them are Whigs is most apparent. Our
opponents, stung to madness by the defeat of 1840, have ever since
rallied with more than their usual unanimity. It has not been they
that have been kept from the polls. These facts show what the re-
sult must be, once the people again rally in their entire strength.
Proclaim these facts, and predict this result; and although unthink-
ing opponents may smile at us, the sagacious ones will " believe and
tremble." And why shall the Whigs not all rally again? Are their
principles less dear now than in 1840? Have any of their doctrines
since then been discovered to be untrue ? It is true, the victory of
1840 did not produce the happy results anticipated; but it is equally
true, as we believe, that the unfortunate death of Greneral Harrison
was the cause of the failure. It was not the election of General
Harrison that was expected to produce happy effects, but the mea-
sures to be adopted by his administration. By means of his death,
and the unexpected course of his successor, those measures were
never adopted. How could the fruits follow ? The consequences
we always predicted would follow the failure of those measures have
followed, and are now upon us in all their horrors. By the course
of Mr. Tyler the policy of our opponents has continued in operation,
still leaving them with the advantage of charging all its evils upon
us as the results of a "Whig administration. Let none be deceived
by this somewhat plausible, though entirely false charge. If they
ask us for the sufficient and sound currency we promised, let them
be answered that we only promised it through the medium of a na-
tional bank, which they, aided by Mr. Tyler, prevented our estab-
lishing. And let them be reminded, too, that their own policy in


relation to the currency has till the time been, and still is, in full op-
eration. Let us then again come forth in our inifjht, and by a sec-
ond victory accomplish that which death only prevented in the first.
We can do it. When did the Whigs ever fail if they were fully
aroused and united? Even in single States and districts, under
such circumstances, defeat seldom overtakes them. CaU to mind
the contested elections within the last few years, and particularly
those of Moore and Letcher from Kentucky,' Newland and Graham
from North Carolina, and the famous New Jersey case. In all
these districts Locofocoism had stalked omnipotent before ; but
when the whole people were aroused by its enormities on those oc-
casions, they put it down never to rise again.

We declare it to be our solemn conviction, that the Whigs are al-
ways a majority of this nation ; and that to make them always suc-
cessful needs but to get them all to the polls and to vote unitedly.
This is the great desideratum. Let us make every effort to attain
it. At every election, let every Whig act as though he knew the
result to depend upon his action. In the great contest of 1840,
some more than twenty-one hundred thousand votes were cast, and
so surely as there shall be that many, with the ordinary increase
added, cast in 1844, that surely will a Whig be elected President of
the United States.

A. Lincoln,
S. T. Logan,

March 4, 1843. A. T. Bledsoe.

March 24, 1843. — Letter to Joshua P. Speed.

Springfield, March 24, 1843.
Bear Speed: . . . We had a meeting of the Whigs of the county
here on last Monday to appoint delegates to a district convention ;
and Baker beat me, and got the delegation instructed to go for him.
The meeting, in spite of my attempt to decline it, appointed me one
of the delegates : so that in getting Baker the nomination I shall be
fixed a good deal like a fellow who is made a groomsman to a man
that has cnt him out and is marrying his own dear "gal." About
the prospects of your having a namesake at our town, can't say ex-
actly yet,

A. Lincoln.

March 26, 1843. — Letter to Martin M. Morris.

Speingpield, Illinois, March 26, 1843.
Friend Morris : Your letter of the 23d was received on yesterday
morning, and for which (instead of an excuse, which you thought
proper to ask) I tender you my sincere thanks. It is truly gratify-
ing to me to learn that while the people of Sangamon have cast me
off, my old friends of Menard, who have known me longest and


best, stick to me. It would astonish, if not amuse, the older citi-
zens to learn that I (a stranger, friendless, uneducated, penniless
boy, working on a flatboat at ten dollars per month) have been put
down here as the candidate of pride, wealth, and aristocratic family
distinction. Yet so, chiefly, it was. There was, too, the strangest
combination of church influence against me. Baker is a CampbeU-
ite ; and therefore, as I suppose, with few exceptions got aU that
church. My wife has some relations in the Presbyterian churches,
and some with the Episcopal churches ; and therefore, wherever it
would tell, I was set down as either the one or the other, while it
was everywhere contended that no Christian ought to go for me, be-
cause I belonged to no church, was suspected of being a deist, and
had talked about fighting a duel With all these things, Baker, of
course, had nothing to do. Nor do I complain of them. As to his
own church going for him, I think that was right enough, and as to
the influences I have spoken of in the other, though they were very
strong, it would be grossly untrue and unjust to charge that they
acted upon them in a body, or were very near so. I only mean
that those influences levied a tax of a considerable per cent, upon
my strength throughout the religious controversy. But enough of

You say that in choosing a candidate for Congress you have an
equal right with Sangamon, and in this you are undoubtedly cor-
rect. In agreeing to withdraw if the Whigs of Sangamon should go
against me, I did not mean that they alone were worth consulting,
but that if she, with her heavy delegation, should be against me, it
would be impossible for me to succeed, and therefore I had as well
decline. And in relation to Menard having rights, permit me fully
to recognize them, and to express the opinion, that if she and Mason
act circumspectly, they win in the convention be able so far to en-

Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 10 of 91)