Abraham Lincoln.

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

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voted as many times more if he could. Lincoln is the man, in con-
nection with Seward, Chase, Giddings, and other Abolitionists, who
got up that strife that I helped Clay to put down. Henry Clay came-
back to the Senate in 1849, and saw that he must do something to-
restore peace to the country. The Union Whigs and the Unioni
Democrats welcomed him the moment he arrived, as the man for the-
occasion. We believed that he, of all men on earth, had been pre-
served by divine providence to guide us out of our difficulties, and
we Democrats rallied under Clay then, as you Whigs in nullification
times rallied under the banner of old Jackson, forgetting party wheu
the country was in danger, in order that we might, hava a country
first and parties afterward.


And this reminds me that Mr. Lincoln told you that the slavery ques-
tion was the only thing that ever disturbed the peace and harmony
of the Union. Did not nullification once raise its head and disturb
the peace of this Union in 1832? "Was that the slavery question, Mr.
Lincoln? Did not disunion raise its monster head during the last
war with Great Britain? Was that the slavery question, Mr. Lin-
coln? The peace of this country has been disturbed three times,
once during the war with Great Britain, once on the tariff question,
and once on the slavery question. His argument, therefore, that
slavery is the only question that has ever created dissension in the
Union falls to the ground. It is true that agitators are enabled now
to use this slavery question for the purpose of sectional strife. He
admits that, in regard to all things else, the principle that I advocate,
making each State and Territory free to decide for itself, ought to
prevail. He instances the cranberry laws, and the oyster laws, and
he might have gone through the whole list with the same effect. I
say that all these laws are local and domestic, and that local and do-
mestic concerns should be left to each State and Territory to manage
for itself. If agitators would acquiesce in that principle, there never
would be any danger to the peace and harmony of the Union.

Mr. Lincoln tries to avoid the main issue by attacking the truth
of my proposition, that our fathers made this government divided
into free and slave States, recognizing the right of each to decide
all its local questions for itself. Did they not thus make it? It is
true that they did not establish slavery in any of the States, or abol-
ish it in any of them ; but finding thirteen States, twelve of which
were slave and one free, they agreed to form a government uniting
them together, as they stood, divided into free and slave States, and
to guarantee forever to each State the right to do as it pleased on
the slavery question. Having thus made the government, and con-
ferred this right upon each State forever, I assert that this govern-
ment can exist as they made it, divided into free and slave States,
if any one State chooses to retain slavery. He says that he looks
forward to a time when slavery shall be abolished everywhere. I
look forward to the time when each State shall be allowed to do
as it pleases. If it chooses to keep slavery forever, it is not my
business, but its own ; if it chooses to abolish slavery, it is its own
business, not mine. I care more for the great principle of self-
government, the right of the people to rule, than I do for all the
negroes in Christendom. I would not endanger the perpetuity of
this Union; I would not blot out the great inalienable rights of the
white men for all the negi'oes that ever existed. Hence, I say, let
us maintain this government on the principles on which our fathers
made it, recognizing the right of each State to keep slavery as long
as its people determine, or to abolish it when they please. But Mr.
Lincoln says that when our fathers made this government they did
not look forward to the state of things now existing, and therefore
he thinks the doctrine was wrong; and he quotes Brooks, of South
Carolina, to prove that our fathers then thought that probably
slavery would be abolished by each State acting for itself before
this time. Suppose they did ; suppose they did not foresee what


has occurred — does that change the principles of our government?
They did not probably foresee the telegraph that transmits intelli-
gence by lightning ; nor did they foresee the railroads that now
form the bonds of union between the different States ; or the thou-
sand mechanical inventions that have elevated mankind. But do
these things change the principles of the government ? Our fathers,
I say, made this government on the principle of the right of each
State to do as it pleases in its own domestic affairs, subject to the
Constitution, and allowed the people of each to apply to every new
change of circumstances such remedy as they may see fit to improve
their condition. This right they have for all time to come.

Mr. Lincoln went on to tell you that he does not at all desire to
interfere with slavery in the States where it exists, nor does his
party. I expected him to say that down here. Let me ask him
then how he expects to put slavery in the course of ultimate extinc-
tion everywhere, if he does not intend to interfere with it in the
States where it exists ? He says that he will prohibit it in all Ter-
ritories, and the inference is, then, that unless they make free States
out of them he will keep them out of the Union; for, mark you, he
did not say whether or not he would vote to admit Kansas with
slavery or not, as her people might apply (he forgot that, as usual) ;
he did not say whether or not he was in favor of bringing the
Territories now in existence into the Union on the principle of
Clay's compromise measures on the slavery question. I told you
that he would not. His idea is that he will prohibit slavery in all
the Territories, and thus force them all to become free States, sur-
rounding the slave States with a cordon of free States and hem-
ming them in, keeping the slaves confined to their present limits
whilst they go on multiplying until the soil on which they live will
no longer feed them, and he wiU thus be able to put slavery in a
course of ultimate extinction by starvation. He will extinguish
slavery in the Southern States as the French general extinguished
the Algerines when he smoked them out. He is going to extin-
guish slavery by surrounding the slave States, hemming in the
slaves, and starving them out of existence, as you smoke a fox out
of his hole. He intends to do that in the name of humanity and
Christianity, in order that we may get rid of the terrible crime and
sin entailed upon our fathers of holding slaves. Mr. Lincoln makes
out that line of policy, and appeals to the moral sense of justice
and to the Christian feeling of the community to sustain him. He
says that any man who holds to the contrary doctrine is in the po-
sition of the king who claimed to govern by divine right. Let us
examine for a moment and see what principle it was that over-
threw the divine right of George III. to govern us. Did not these
colonies rebel because the British parliament had no right to pass
laws concerning our property and domestic and private institu-
tions without our consent? We demanded that the British govern-
ment should not pass such laws unless they gave us representation
in the body passing them — and this the British government insist-
ing on doing, we went to war, on the principle that the home
government should not control and govern distant colonies without


giving them a representation. Now Mr. Lincoln proposes to govern
the Territories without giving them a representation, and calls on
Congress to pass laws controlling their property and domestic con-
cerns without their consent and against their wUl. Thus he asserts
for his party the identical principle asserted by George III. and the
Tories of the Revolution.

I ask you to look into these things, and then tell me whether the
Democracy or the Abolitionists are right. I hold that the people of
a Territory, like those of a State (I use the language of Mr. Buchanan
in his letter of acceptance), have the right to decide for themselves
whether slavery shall or shall not exist within their limits. The point
upon which Chief Justice Taney expresses his opinion is simply this,
that slaves, being property, stand on an equal footing with other
property, and consequently that the owner has the same right to carry
that property into a Territory that he has any other, subject to the
same conditions. Suppose that one of your merchants was to take
fifty or one hundred thousand dollars' worth of liquors to Kansas.
He has a right to go there under that decision, but when he gets
there he finds the Maine liquor-law in force, and what can he do with
his property after he gets it there? He cannot sell it, he cannot use
it, it is subject to the local law, and that law is against him, and the
best thing he can do with it is to bring it back into Missouri or Illi-
nois and sell it. If you take negroes to Kansas, as Colonel Jefferson
Davis said in his Bangor speech, from which I have quoted to-day,
you must take them there subject to the local law. If the people
want the institution of slavery, they will protect and encourage it;
but if they do not want it, they will withhold that protection, and the
absence of local legislation protecting slavery excludes it as com-
pletely as a positive prohibition. You slaveholders of Missouri
might as well understand what you know practically, that you cannot
carry slavery where the people do not want it. All you have a right
to ask is that the people shall do as they please ; if they want slavery,
let them have it; if they do not want it, allow them to refuse to
encourage it.

My friends, if, as I have said before, we wiU only live up to this
great fundamental principle, there will be peace between the North
and the South. Mr. Lincoln admits that under the Constitution, on
all domestic questions except slavery, we ought not to interfere with
the people of each State. What right have we to interfere with
slavery any more than we have to interfere with any other question?
He says that this slavery question is now the bone of contention.
Why? Simply because agitators have combined in all the free States
to make war upon it. Suppose the agitators in the States should
combine in one half of the Union to make war upon the railroad sys-
tem of the other half. They would thus be driven to the same sec-
tion al strife. Suppose on e section makes war upon any other peculiar
institution of the opposite section, and the same strife is produced.
The only remedy and safety is that we shall stand by the Constitution
as our fathers made it, obey the laws as they are passed, while they
stand the proper test, and sustain the decisions of the Supreme Court
and the constituted authorities.


[October 15?] 1858. — Fragment. Opinion on Election Laws op


It is made a question whether, under our laws, a person offering
to vote, and being challenged, and having taken the oath prescribed
by the act of 1849, is then absolutely entitled to vote, or whether
his oath may be disproved, and his vote thereon lawfully rejected.
In Purple's Statutes, Volume I, all our existing election laws are
brought together, commencing on page 514 and extending to page
532. They consist of acts and parts of acts passed at different times.
The true way of reading so much of the law as applies to the above
question, is to first read (64) section x, including the form of the
oath on page 528. Then turn back and read (19) section xix, on
page 518. If it be said that the section last mentioned is not now
in force, turn forward to (75) section xxi, on page 530, where it is
expressly declared to be in force.

The result is that when a person has taken the oath, his oath may
still be proved to be false, and his vote thereupon rejected. It may
be proved to be false by cross-examining the proposed voter himself,
or by any other person, or competent testimony known to the gen-
eral law of evidence. On page 532 is an extract of a Supreme Court
decision on the very section xix, on page 518, in which, among other
things, the court says: "If such person takes the oath prescribed
by law, the judges must receive his vote^ unless the oath be proved
false." Something of a definition of residence is therein given.

October 30, 1858. — Letter to E. Lusk.

Springfield, October 30, 1858.
Edward Lusk, Esq.

Bear Sir: I understand the story is still being told and insisted
upon that I have been a Know-nothing. I repeat what I stated in
a public speech at Meredosia, that I am not, nor ever have been, con-
nected with the party called the Know-nothing party, or party call-
ing themselves the Ajnerican party. Certainly no man of truth, and
I believe no man of good character for truth, can be found to say on
his own knowledge that I ever was connected with that party.

Yours very truly, A. Lincoln.

November 4, 1858. — Letter to J. J. Crittenden.

Springpield, November 4, 1858.
Hon. J. J. Crittenden.

My dear Sir : Yours of the 27th was taken from the office by
my law partner, and in the confusion consequent upon the recent
election, was handed to me only this moment. I am sorry the allu-
sion made in the "Missouri Republican" to the private correspon-
dence between yourself and me has given you any pain. It gave me
scarcely a thought, perhaj)S for the reason that, being away from
home, I did not see it until only two days before the election. It


never occurred to me to cast any blame upon you. I have been told
that the correspondence has been alluded to in the "Missouri Eepiib-
liean" several times; but I only saw one of the allusions made, in
which it was stated, as I remember, that a gentleman of St. Louis
had seen a copy of your letter to me. As I have given no copy, nor
ever shown the original, of course I inferred he had seen it in your
hands; but it did not occur to me to blame you for showing what
you had written yourself. It was not said that the gentleman had
seen a copy, or the original, of my letter to you.

The emotions of defeat at the close of a struggle in which I felt

more than a merely selfish interest, and to which defeat the use of

your name contributed largely, are fresh upon me; but even in this

mood I cannot for a moment suspect you of anything dishonorable.

Tour obedient servant, A. Lincoln.

November 15, 1858. — Letter to N. B. Judd.

Springfield, November 15, 1858.
Hon. N. B. Judd.

My dear Sir : I have the pleasure to inform you that I am con-
valescent, and hoping these lines may find you in the same improv-
ing state of health. Doubtless you have suspected for some time
that I entertain a personal wish for a term in the United States
Senate ; and had the suspicion taken the shape of a direct charge, I
think I could not have truthfully denied it. But let the past as
nothing be. For the future, my view is that the fight must go on.
The returns here are not yet completed ; but it is believed that
Dougherty's vote wUl be slightly greater than Miller's majority over
Tracy. We have some hundred and twenty thousand clear Kepub-
lican votes. That pUe is worth keeping together. It wUl elect a
State treasurer two years lience.

In that day I shall fight in the ranks, but I shall be in no one's
way for any of the places. I am especially for Trumbull's reelec-
tion ; and, by the way, this brings me to the principal object of this
letter. Can you not take your draft of an apportionment law, and
carefuUy revise it till it shall be strictly and obviously just in all par-
ticulars, and then by an early and persistent effort get enough of the
enemy's men to enable you to pass it 1 I believe if you and Peck
make a job of it, begin early, and work earnestly and quietly, you can
succeed in it. Unless something be done, Trumbull is eventually
beaten two years hence. Take this into serious consideration.

Tours as ever, A. Lincoln.

November 16, 1858. — Letter to N. B. Judd.

Spbingpield, November 16, 1858.
Hon. N. B. Judd.

Bear Sir : Tours of the 15th is just received. I wrote you the
same day. As to the pecuniary matter, I am willing to pay accord-
ing 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
discnarging the debt of the committee, I will allow it when you aud
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. Tours as ever,

A. Lincoln.

November 19, 1858. — Letter to H. Asbury.

Springfield, November 19, 1858.
Henry Asbury, Esq.

Bear 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 explo-
sion will soon come. Tours truly,

A. Lincoln.

November 19, 1858. — Letter to A. G. Henry.

Springfield, Illinois, November 19, 1858.
Dr. a. Gr. Henry.

My deal- Sir : Yours of the 27th of September was received two
days ago. I was at Oquawka, Henderson County, on the 9th of
October; and I may then have seen Major A. N. Armstrong; but
having nothing then to fix my attention, I do not remember such a
man. I have concluded, as the best way of serving you, to inclose
your letter to E. A. Paine, Esq., of Monmouth, 111., a reliable law-
yer, asking him to do what you ask of me. If a suit is to be
brought, he will correspond directly with you.

You doubtless have seen ere this the result of the election here.
Of course I wished, but I did not much expect, a better result.
The popular vote of the State is with us ; so that the seat in the

(Lower portion of page cut off.)

whole canvass. On the contrary, John and George "Weber, and
several such old Democrats, were furiously for me. As a general
rule, out of Sangamon as well as in it, much of the plain old De-
mocracy is with us, while nearly all the old exclusive silk-stocking
"Whiggery is against us. I don't mean nearly all the Old Whig party,
but nearly all of the nice exclusive sort. And why not? There


has been nothing in politics since the Revolution so congenial to
their nature as the present position of the great Democratic party.
I am glad I made the late race. It gave me a hearing on the
great and durable question of the age, which I could have had in
no other way ; and though I now sink out of view, and shall be for-
gotten, I beheve I have made some marks which wiU tell for the
cause of civil liberty long after I am gone. Mary joins me in send-
ing our best wishes to Mrs. Henry and others of your family.

November 25, 1858. — Letter to J. A. Matteson.

Springpield, November 25, 1858.
Hon. Joel A. Matteson.

Dear Sir: Last summer, when a movement was made in court
against your road, you engaged us to be on your side. It has so
happened that, so far, we have performed no service in the case ;
but we lost a cash fee offered us on the other side. Now, being hard
run, we propose a little compromise. We will claim nothing for the
matter just mentioned, if you will relieve us at once from the old
matter at the Marine and Fire Insurance Company, and be greatly
obliged to boot. Can you not do it?

Yours truly, A. Lincoln.

[February 22] 1859. — Lectxtee on " Discoveries, Inventions, and
Improvements," delivered k Neighboring Towns in 1859, and
before the springfreld library association, springpield,
Illinois, February 22, 1860.

From autograph manuscript in the Lincoln Collection of Charles F.
Gunther, Esq., Chicago, Illinois.

We have all heard of Young America. He is the most cuiTent
youth of the age. Some think him conceited and arrogant ; but has
he not reason to entertain a rather extensive opinion of himself?
Is he not the inventor and owner of the present, and sole hope of
the future ? Men and things, everywhere, are ministering unto him.
Look at his apparel, and you shall see cotton fabrics from Man-
chester and LoweU ; flax linen from Ireland ; wool cloth from Spain ;
silk from France ; furs from the arctic region ; with a buffalo-robe
from the Rocky Mountains, as a general outsider. At his table, be-
sides plain bread and meat made at home, are sugar from Louisiana,
coffee and fruits from the tropics, salt from Turk's Island, fish from
Newfoundland, tea from China, and spices from the Indies. The
whale of the Pacific furnishes his candle-light, he has a diamond ring
from Brazil, a gold watch from California, and a Spanish cigar from
Havana. He not only has a present supply of all these, and much
more ; but thousands of hands are engaged in producing fresh sup-
plies, and other thousands in bringing them to him. The iron horse
is panting and impatient to carry him everywhere in no time ; and the
lightning stands ready harnessed to take and bring his tidings in a


trifle less than no time. He owns a large part of the world, by right
of possessing it, and all the rest by right of wanting it, and intend-
ing to have it. As Plato had for the immortality of the soul, so
Young America has "a pleasing hope, a fond desire — a longing
after " territory. He has a great passion — a perfect rage — for the
" new"; particularly new men for office, and the new eai-th mentioned
in the Revelations, in which, being no more sea, there must be about
three times as much land as in the present. He is a great friend of
humanity ; and his desire for land is not selfish, but merely an im-
pulse to extend the area of freedom. He is very anxious to fight
for the liberation of enslaved nations and colonies, provided, always,
they have land, and have not any liking for his interference. As to
those who have no land, and would be glad of help from any quarter,
he considers they can afford to wait a few hundred years longer. In
knowledge he is particularly rich. He knows all that can possibly
be known; inclines to believe in spiritual rappings, and is the un-
questioned inventor of " Manifest Destiny." His horror is for all
that is old, particularly " Old Fogy " ; and if there be anything old
■which he can endure, it is only old whisky and old tobacco.

If the said Young America really is, as he claims to be, the owner
of all present, it must be admitted that he has considerable advan-
tage of Old Fogy. Take, for instance, the first of all fogies, Father
Adam. There he stood, a very perfect physical man, as poets and
painters inform us ; but he must have been very ignorant, and sim-
ple in his habits. He had had no sufficient time to learn much by
observation, and he had no near neighbors to teach him anything.
No part of his breakfast had been brought from the other side of
the world ^ and it is quite probable he had no conception of the
world having any other side. In all these things, it is very plain, he
was no equal of Young America; the most that can be said is, that
according to his chance he may have been quite as much of a man
as his very self-complacent descendant. Little as was what he
knew, let the youngster discard all he has learned from others, and
then show, if he can, any advantage on his side. In the way of land
and live-stock, Adam was quite in the ascendant. He had dominion
over all the earth, and all the living things upon and round about it.
The land has been sadly divided out since; but never fret, Young
America will re-annex it.

The great difference between Young America and Old Fogy is the
result of discoveries, inventions, and improvements. These, in turn,

Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 69 of 91)