Abraham Lincoln.

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

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law of the Eternal Being for slavery to exist on one side of that
line, have we any sure ground to object to slaves being held on the
other side? Once admit the position that a man rightfully holds
another man as property on one side of the line, and you must, when
it suits his convenience to come to the other side, admit that he has
the same right to hold his property there. Once admit Judge Doug-
las's proposition, and we must all finally give way. Although we
may not bring ourselves to the idea that it is to our interest to have
slaves in this Northern country, we shall soon bring ourselves to
admit that while we may not want them, if any one else does, he has
the moral right to have them. Step by step, south of the judge's
moral climate line in the States, in the Territories everywhere, and
then in all the States — it is thus that Judge Douglas would lead
us inevitably to the nationalization of slavery. Whether by his doc-
trine of squatter sovereignty, or by the ground taken by him in his re-
cent speeches in Memphis and through the South, — that wherever the
climate makes it the interest of the inhabitants to encourage slave
property they will pass a slave code, — whether it is covertly nation-
alized by congressional legislation, or by Dred Scott decision, or by
the sophistical and misleading doctrine he has last advanced, the
same goal is inevitably reached by the one or the other device. It
is only traveling to the same place by different roads.

It is in this direction lies all the danger that now exists to the
great Republican cause. I take it that so far as concerns forcibly
establishing slaverj"^ in the Territories by congressional legislation,
or by virtue of the Dred Scott decision, that day has passed. Our
only serious danger is that we shall be led upon this ground of Judge
Douglas, on the delusive assumption that it is a good way of whipping
our opponents, when in fact it is a way that leads straight to final sur-
render. The Republican party should not dally with Judge Douglas
when it knows where his proposition and his leadership would take
us, nor be disposed to listen to it because it was best somewhere else
to support somebody occupying his ground. That is no just reason
why we ought to go over to Judge Douglas, as we were called upon
to do last year. Never forget that we have before us this whole
matter of the right or wrong of slavery in this Union, though the
immediate question is as to its spreading out into new Territories
and States.

I do not wish to be misunderstood upon this subject of slavery
in this country. I suppose it may long exist; and perhaps the best
way for it to come to an end peaceably is for it to exist for a length
of time. But I say that the spread and strengthening and perpetua-
tion of it is an entirely different proposition. There we should in
every way resist it as a wrong, treating it as a wrong, with the fixed
idea that it must and will come to an end. If we do not allow our-
selves to be allured from the strict path of our duty by such a device
as shifting our ground and throwing us into the rear of a leader
who denies our first principle, denies that there is an absolute wrong
in the institution of slavery, then the future of the Republican cause


is safe, and victory is assured. Tou Republicans of Illinois have
deliberately taken your ground ; you have heard the whole subject
discussed again and again ; you have stated your faith in platforms
laid down in a State convention and in a national convention; you
have heard and talked over and considered it until you are now all
of opinion that you are on a ground of unquestionable right. All
you have to do is to keep the faith, to remain steadfast to the right,
to stand by your banner. Nothing should lead you to leave your
guns. Stand together, ready, with match in hand. Allow nothing
to turn you to the right or to the left. Remember how long you
have been in setting out on the true course; how long you have been
in getting your neighbors to understand and believe as you now do.
Stand by your principles, stand by your guns, and victory, complete
and permanent, is sure at the last.

March 28, 1859.— Letter to W. M. Moreis.

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 differ-
ent audiences during the last month and this ; but I did so under
circumstances which made it a waste of no time whatever.

Yours very trply, A. Lincoln.

April 6, 1859. — Letter to H. L. Pierce and others.

Springfield, III., April 6, 1859.

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 can-
not attend.

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 cele-
brating 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 wiU be
equally interesting to note how completely the two have changed
hands as to the principle upon which they were originally sup-
posed 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 in-
toxicated men engaged in a fight with their great-coats on, which
fight, after a long and rather harmless contest, ended in each hav-
ing 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 generali-
ties." Another bluntly calls them " self-evident lies." And others
insidiously argue that they apply to " superior races." These ex-
pressions, 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 con-
vocation 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. TMs 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 cool-
ness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely 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 reappear-
ing tyranny and oppression. Your obedient servant.
Messes. H. L. Pierce ai^d others. A. Lincoln.

April 16, 1859. — Letter to T. J. Pickett.

Springfield, April 16, 1859.
T. J. Pickett, Esq.

My dear Sir : Yours of the 13th is just received. My engagements
are such that I cannot at any very early day visit Rock Island to
deliver a lecture, or for any other object. As to the other matter you.
kindly mention, I must in candor say I do not think myself fit for
the presidency. I certainl;^ am flattered and gratified that some
partial friends think of me in that connection ; but I really think it
best for our cause that no concerted effort, such as you suggest,,
should be made. Let this be considered confidential.

Yours very truly, A. Lincoln.


May 14, 1859.— Letter to M. W. Delahay.

May 14, 1859.
M. W. Delahay.

. . . Yoii will probably adopt resolutions in tbe nature of a
platform. I think the only temptation will be to lower the Repub-
lican standard in order to gather recruits. In my judgment such a
step would be a serious mistake, and open a gap through which more
would pass out than pass in. And this would be the same wbether
the letting down sbould be in deference to Douglasism or to the
Southern opposition element; either would surrender the object of
the Republican organization — the preventing of the spread and na-
tionalization of slavery. This object surrendered, the organization
would go to pieces. I do not mean by this that no Southern man
must be placed upon our national ticket in 1860. There are many
men in the slave States for any one of whom I could cheerfully vote
to be either President or Vice-President, provided he would enable
me to do so with safety to the Republican cause, without lowering
the Republican standard. This is the indispensable condition of a
union with us ; it is idle to talk of any other. Any other would be
as fruitless to the South as distasteful to tbe North, the whole
ending in common defeat. Let a union be attempted on the basis of
ignoring the slavery question, and magnifying other questions which
the people are just now not caring about, and it will result in gain-
ing no single electoral vote in the South, and losing every one in
the North. . . .

May 17, 1859. — Letter to T. Canisius.

Springfield, May 17, 1859.
Dr. Theodore Canisius.

Dear Sir: Your note asking, in behalf of yourself and other Ger-
man citizens, whether I am for or against the constitutional provi-
sion in regard to naturalized citizens, lately adopted by Massachu-
setts, 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 cur-
tailing 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 sup-
port, if they would now place themselves on Republican ground,
but I am against letting down the Republican standard a haii-'s-

I have written this hastily, but I believe it answers your ques-
tions substantially. Tours truly,

A. Lincoln.

July 6, 1859. — Letter to Schuyler Colfax.

Springfield, III., July 6, 1859.
Hon. Schuyler Colfax.

My dear Sir : I much regret not seeing you while you were here
among us. Before learning that you were to be at Jacksonville on
the 4th, I had given my word to be at another place. Besides a
strong desire to make your personal acquaintance, I was anxious to
speak with you on politics a little more fully than I can well do in
a letter. My main object in such conversation would be to hedge
against divisions in the Republican ranks generally, and particularly
for the contest of 1860. The point of danger is the temptation in
different localities to " platform " for something which will be popu-
lar just there, biit which, nevertheless, wiU be a firebrand elsewhere,
and especially in a national convention. As instances, the move-
ment against foreigners in Massachusetts ; in New Hampshire, to
make obedience to the fugitive-slave law punishable as a crime ; in
Ohio, to repeal the fugitive-slave law ; and squatter sovereignty, in
Kansas. In these things there is explosive matter enough to blow
up half a dozen nationtd conventions, if it gets into them ; and what
gets very rife outside of conventions is very likely to find its way into
them. What is desirable, if possible, is that in every local convoca-
tion of Republicans a point should be made to avoid everything
which win disturb Republicans elsewhere. Massachusetts Republi-
cans should have looked beyond their noses, and then they could not
have failed to see that tilting against foreigners would ruin us in
the whole Northwest. New Hampshire and Ohio should forbear
tilting against the furtive-slave law in such a way as to utterly
overwhelm xis in Illinois with the charge of enmity to the Constitu-
tion itself. Kansas, in her confidence that she can be saved to free-
dom on " squatter sovereignty," ought not to forget that to prevent
the spread and nationalization of slavery is a national concern, and
must be attended to by the nation. In a word, in every locality we
should look beyond our noses ; and at least say nothing on points
where it is probable we shall disagree. I write this for your eye
only ; hoping, however, if you see danger as I think I do, you will
do what j^ou can to avert it. Could not suggestions be made to lead-
ing men in the State and congressional conventions, and so avoid,
to some extent at least, these apples of discord 1

Yours very truly, A. Lincoln.


July 11, 1859. — Letter to James Miller, Treasurer op the
State of Illinois.

Springpield, III., July 11, 1859.
Hon. James Miller.

Dear Sir: We suppose you are persistently urged to pay some-
tMng upon the new McCallister and Stebbins bonds. As friends of
yours and of the people, we advise you to pay nothing upon them
under any possible circumstances. The holders of them did a great
wrong, and are now persisting in it in a way which deserves severe
punishment. They know the legislature has again and again refused
to fully recognize the old bonds. Seizing upon an act never in-
tended to apply to them, they besieged Governor Bissell more than
a year ago to fund the old bonds ; he refused. They sought a man-
damus upon him from the Supreme Court; the court refused. Again
they besieged the governor last winter; he sought to have them go
before the legislature ; they refused. Still they persisted, and dogged
him in his afflicted condition till they got from him what the agent in
New York acted upon and issued the new bonds. Now they refuse
to surrender them, hoping to force an acquiescence, for Governor
Bissell's sake. " That cock won't fight," and they may as well so
understand at once. If the news of the surrender of the new bonds
does not reach here in ten days from this date, we shall do what we
can to have them repudiated in toto, finally and forever. If they
were less than demons they would at once relieve Governor Bissell
from the painful position they have dogged him into ; and if they
still persist, they shall never see even the twenty-six cents to the
dollar, if we can prevent it. Tours very truly,

A. Lincoln,
S. T. Logan,
0. M. Hatch.

July 27, 1859.— Letter to S. Galloway.

Springfield, III., July 27, 1859.
Hon. Samuel Galloway.

My dear Sir: Your letter in relation to the claim of Mr. Ambos
for the Columbus Machine Manufacturing Company against Barret
and others is received. This has been a somewhat disagreeable mat-
ter to me. As I remember, you first wrote me on the general subject,
Barret having then had a credit of four or five hundred dollars, and
there was some question about his taking the machinery. I think
you inquired as to Barret's responsibility ; and that I answered I
considered him an honest and honorable man, having a great deal of
property, owing a good many debts, and hard pressed for ready cash.
I was a'little surprised soon after to learn that they had enlarged
the credit to near ten thousand dollars, more or less. They
wrote me to take notes and a mortgage, and to hold on to the notes
awhUe to fix amounts. I inferred the notes and mortgage were both
to be held up for a time, and did so ; Barret gave a second mortgage


on part of the premises, which was first recorded, and then I was
blamed some for not having recorded the other mortgage when first
executed. My chief annoyance with the case now is that the parties
at Columbus seem to think it is by my neglect that they do not get
their money. There is an older mortgage on the real estate mort-
gaged, though not on the machinery. I got a decree of foreclosure
in this present month ; but I consented to delay advertising for sale
till September, on a reasonable prospect that something will then be
paid on a collateral Barret has put in my hands. When we come to
seU on the decree, what will we do about the older mortgage ? Bar-
ret has offered one or two other good notes — that is, notes on good
men — if we would take them, pro tanto, as payment, but I notified
Mr. Ambos, and he declined. My impression is that the whole of
the money cannot be got very soon, anyway, but that it all will
be ultimately collected, and that it could be got faster by turning in
every little parcel we can, than by trying to force it through by the
law in a lump. There are no special personal relations between Bar-
ret and myself. We are personal friends in a general way — no
business transactions between us — not akin, and opposed on politics.

Yours truly, A. Lincoln.

July 28, 1859. — Letter to S. Galloway.

Spkingpield, III., July 28, 1859.
Hon. Samuel Galloway.

My dear Sir : Tour 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 repudi-
ation 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 sus-
tains 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 cap-
ital to trade on in the South, if it were not for his friends thus mag-
nifying 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 argu-
ment 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
G-eorgia 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 sj'^mpathy last j^ear. 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 saj' 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.

Tours very truly, A. LmcoLN.

September 16, 1859. — Speech at Columbus, Ohio.

Fellotv-citizetis 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 Cor-
win, and Chase, and Wade, and many other renowned men ; and re-
membering 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 distin-
guished men appeared before you. You would perhaps be only pre-
paring 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 hfe, 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 following :

In debating with Senator Douglas during the memorable contest last fall,
Mr. Lincoln declared in favor of negro suffrage, and attempted to defend
that vile conception against the Little Giant.

I mention this now, at the opening of my remarks, for the purpose
of making three comments upon it. The first I have alreadj^ an-
nounced — it furnished me an introductory topic; the second is to
show that the gentleman is mistaken ; thirdly, to give him an op-
portunity to correct it.

In the first place, in regard to this matter being a mistake. I
have found that it is not entirely safe, when one is misrepresented
under his very nose, to allow the misrepresentation to go uncontra-
dicted. I therefore propose, here at the outset, not only to say- that


this is a misrepresentation, but to show concliisively that it is so ;
and you will bear with me while I read a couple of extracts from
that very "memorable" debate with Judge Douglas last year, to
which this newspaper refers. In the first pitched battle which
Senator Douglas and myself had, at the town of Ottawa, I used
the language which I will now read. Having been previously read-
ing an extract, I continued as follows:

Now, gentlemen, I don't want to read at any greater length, but this is
the true complexion of all I have ever said in regard to the institution of
slavery and the black race. This is the whole of it, and anything that
argues me into his idea of perfect social and political equaUty with the
negro is but a specious and fantastic arrangement of words, by which a
man can prove a horse-chestnut to be a chestnut horse. I wiH say here,

Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 71 of 91)