Abraham Lincoln.

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

. (page 78 of 91)
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ever, I shall not be mistaken in assuming as a fact that the people of
Wisconsin prefer free labor, with its natural companion, education.

This leads to the further reflection that no other human occupation
opens so wide a field for the profitable and agreeable combination of
labor with cultivated thought, as agriculture. I know nothing so
pleasant to the mind as the discovery of anything that is at once new


and valuable — nothing that so lightens and sweetens toil as the
hopeful pursuit of such discovery. And how vast and how varied a
field is agrieultm-e for such discovery ! The mind, already trained
to thought in the country school, or higher school, cannot fail to find
there an exhaustless source of enjoyment. Every blade of grass is
a study; and to produce two where there was but one is both a
profit and a pleasure. And not grass alone, but soils, seeds, and
seasons — hedges, ditches, and fences — draining, droughts, and irri-
gation — plowing, hoeing, and harrowing — reaping, mowing, and
threshing — saving crops, pests of crops, diseases of crops, and what
will prevent or cure them — implements, utensils, and machines, their
relative merits, and how to improve them — hogs, horses, and cattle —
sheep, goats, and poultry — trees, shrubs, fruits, plants, and flowers
— the thousand things of which these are specimens — each a world
of study within itself.

In all this, book-learning is available. A capacity and taste for
reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by
others. It is the key, or one of the keys, to the already solved prob-
lems. And not only so : it gives a relish and facility for successfully
pursuing the unsolved ones. The rudiments of science are available,
and highly available. Some knowledge of botany assists in dealing
with the vegetable world — with all growing crops. Chemistry as-
sists in the analysis of soils, selection and application of manures,
and in numerous other ways. The mechanical branches of natural
philosophy are ready help in almost everything, but especially in
reference to implements and machinery.

The thought recurs that education — cultivated thought — can
best be combined with agricultural labor, or any labor, on the prin-
ciple of thorough work; that careless, half performed, slovenly work
makes no place- for such combination; and thorough work, again,
renders sufficient the smallest quantity of ground to each man ; and
this, again, conforms to what must occur in a world less inclined to
wars and more devoted to the arts of peace than heretofore. Popu-
lation must increase rapidly, more rapidly than in former times, and
ere long the most valuable of all arts will be the art of deriving a
comfortable subsistence from the smallest area of soil. No com-
munity whose every member possesses this art, can ever be the victim
of oppression in any of its forms. Such community will be alike
independent of crowned kings, money kings, and land kings.

But, according to your program, the awarding of premiums
awaits the closing of this address. Considering the deep interest
necessarily pertaining to that performance, it would be no wonder
if I am already heard with some impatience. I will detain you but
a moment longer. Some of you will be successful, and such will need
but little philosophy to take them home in cheerful spirits ; others
will be disappointed, and will be in a less happy mood. To such
let it be said, "Lay it not too much to heart." Let them adopt the
maxim, " Better luck next time," and then by renewed exertion make
that better luck for themselves.

And by the successful and unsuccessful let it be remembered that
while occasions like the present bring their sober and durable bene-


fits, the exultations and mfirtiflcations of them are but temporary;
that the victor will soon be vanquished if he relax in his exertion;
and that the vanquished this year may be victor the next, iu spite of
all competition.

It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent
him a sentence to be ever in view, and which should be true and
appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the
words, "And this, too, shall pass away." How much it expresses!
How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths
of aflictiou! "And this, too, shall pass away." And yet, let us
hope, it is not quite true. Let us hope, rather, that by the best
cultivation of the physical world beneath and around us, and the
intellectual and moral world within us, we shall secure an individual,
social, and political prosperity and happiness, whose course shall be
onward and upward, and which, while the earth endures, shall not
pass away.

October 11, 1859. — Letter to Edward Wallace.

Clinton, October 11, 1859.
Dr. Edward "Wallace.

My dear Sir : I am here just now attending court. Yesterday,
before I left Springfield, your brother. Dr. William S. Wallace,
showed me a letter of yours, in which you kindly mention my name,
inquire for my tarifiE views, and suggest the propriety of my writing
a letter upon the subject. I was an old Henry Clay-Tai'iff-Whig.
In old times I made more speeches on that subject than any other.

I have not since changed my views. I believe yet, if we could have
a moderate, carefully adjusted protective tariff, so far acquiesced in
as not to be a perpetual subject of pohtical strife, squabbles, changes,
and uncertainties, it would be better for us. Still it is my opinion
that just now the revival of that question will not advance the cause
itself, or the man who revives it.

I have not thought much on the subject recently, but my general
impression is that the necessity for a protective tariff will ere long
force its old opponents to take it up ; and then its old friends can
join in and establish it on a more firm and durable basis. We, the
Old Whigs, have been entirely beaten out on the tariff question, and
we shall not be able to reestablish the policy until the absence of it
shall have demonstrated the necessity for it in the minds of men here-
tofore opposed to it. With this view, I should prefer to not now
write a public letter on the subject. I therefore wish this to be con-
sidered confidential. I shall be very glad to receive'a letter from you.

Yours truly, A. Lincoln.

November 1, 1859. — Letter to W. E. Frazer.

Springfield, Illinois, November 1, 1859.
W. E. Fra^iee, Esq.

Dear Sir: Yours of the 24th ult. was forwarded to me from
Chicago. It certainly is important to secure Pennsylvania for the


Eepublicans iu the next presidential contest, and not unimportant
to also secure Illinois. As to the ticket you name, I shall be heartily
for it after it shaU have been fairly nominated by a Republican na-
tional convention; and I cannot be committed to it before. For my
single self, I have enlisted for the permanent success of the Repub-
lican cause ; and for this object I shall labor faithfully in the ranks,
unless, as I think not probable, the judgment of the party shall as-
sign me a different position. If the Republicans of the great State
of Pennsylvania shall present Mr. Cameron as their candidate for
the presidency, sucK an indorsement for his fitness for the place
could scarcely be deemed insufficient. Still, as I would not like the
public to know, so I would not like myself to know, I had entered a
combination with any man to the prejudice of all others whose
friends respectively may consider them preferable.

Yours truly, A. Lincoln.

November 13, 1859. — Letter to Jambs A. Briggs.

Danville, Illinois, November 13, 1859.
James A. Briggs, Esq.

Bear Sir : Yours of the 1st, closing with my proposition for com-
promise, was duly received. I will be on hand, and in due time will
notify you of the exact day. I believe, after all, I shall make a polit-
ical speech of it. You have no objection ? I would like to know in
advance whether I am also to speak or lecture in New York. Very,
very glad your election went right. Yours truly,

A. Lincoln.

December 1-5, 1859. — Speeches in Kansas.

[In response to invitations from Republicans of the then Territory,
Mr. Lincoln made a visit to Kansas in December, 1859, and made
speeches at Elwood (opposite St. Joseph, Mo.)^ at Troy, Doniphan,
Atchison, and Leavenworth, Kansas. Among his papers were a num-
ber of disconnected sheets of autograph manuscript, which contained
internal evidence that they were portions of the addresses made by
him on these occasions. Though the fragments seem to belong to
difiEerent addresses, the topics treated in them justify their presenta-
tion in the order here arranged, as the general line of argument fol-
lowed by him.]


Purpose of the Bepublican organization. — The Republican party
believe there is danger that slavery will be further extended, and
ultimately made national in the United States ; and to prevent this
incidental and final consummation, is the purpose of this organi-

Chief danger to that purpose. — A congressional slave code for the
Territories, and the revival of the African trade, and a second Dred
Scott decision, are not just now the chief danger to our purpose.


These will press us in due time, but they are not quite ready yet —
they know that, as yet, we are too strong for them. The insidious
Douglas popular sovereignty, which prepares the way for this ulti-
mate danger, it is which just now constitutes our chief danger.

Popular Sovereignty. — I say Douglas popular sovereignty; for
there is a broad distinction between real popular sovereignty and
Douglas popular sovereignty. That the nation shall control what
concerns it; that a State, or any minor political community, shall con-
trol what exclusively concerns it; and that an individual shall con-
trol what exclusively concerns him, — is a real'popular sovereignty,
which no Republican opposes.

But this is not Douglas popular sovereignty. Douglas popular
sovereignty, as a matter of principle, simply is: "If one man would
enslave another, neither that other nor any third man has a right
to object."

Douglas popular sovereignty, as he practically applies it, is: "If
any organized political community, however new and small, would
enslave men or forbid their being enslaved within its own territorial
limits; however the doing the one or the other may affect the men,
sought to be enslaved, or the vastly superior number of men who
are afterward to come within those limits, or the family of com-
munities of which it is but a member, or the head of that family,
as the present and common guardian of the whole — however any
or aU these are to be affected, neither any nor all may interfere."

This is Douglas popular sovereignty. He has great difficulty with
it. His speeches and letters and essays and explanations explana-
tory of explanations explained upon it, are legion. The most
lengthy, and as I suppose the most maturely considered, is that
recently published in "Harper's Magazine." It has two leading
objects: the first, to appropriate the authority and reverence due
the great and good men of the Revolution to his popular sover-
eignty; and, secondly, to show that the Dred Scott decision has not
entirely squelched his popular sovereignty.

Before considering these main objects, I wish to consider a few
minor points of the copyright essay.

Last year Governor Seward and myself, at different times and
occasions, expressed the opinion that slavery is a durable element
of discord, and that we shall not have peace with it until it either
masters or is mastered by the free principle. This gave great offense
to Judge Douglas, and his denunciations of it, and absurd infer-
ences from it. have never ceased. Almost at the very beginning
of the copyright essay he quotes the language respectively of
Seward and myself — not quite accurately, but substantially, in my
case — upon this point, and repeats his absurd and extravagant
inference. For lack of time I omit much which I might say here
with propriety, and content myself with two remarks only upon this
point. The first is, that inasmuch as Douglas in this very essay
tolls us slavery agitation began in this country in 1699, and has not
yet ceased; has lasted through a hundred and sixty years, through
ten entire generations of men, — it might have occurred to even him
that slavery in its tendency to agitation and discord has something


slightly durable about it. The second remark is that Judge Doug-
las might have noted, if he would, while he was diving so deeply
into history, the historical fact that the only comparative peace we
have had with slavery during that hundred and sixty yeai's was in
the period from the Revolution to 1820, precisely the period through
which we were closing out the African slave-trade, abolishing slavery
in several of the States, and restraining the spread of it into new
ones by the ox-dinance of '87, precisely the period in which the
public mind had reason to rest, and did rest, in the belief that
slavery was in course of ultimate extinction.

Another point, which for the present I shall touch only hastily, is
Judge Douglas's assumption that the States and Territories differ
only in the fact that the States are in the Union, and the Territories
are not in it. But if this be the only difference, why not instantly
bring the Territories in 1 Why keep them out ? Do you say they
are unfitted for it ? What unfits them ? Especially what unfits them
for any duty in the Union, after they are fit, if they choose, to plant
the soil they sparsely inhabit with slavery, beyond the power of their
milUons of successors to eradicate it, and to the durable discord of
the Union ? What function of sovereignty, out of the Union or in it,
is so portentoiis as this ? What function of government requires
such perfect maturity, in numbers and everything else, among those
who exercise it ? It is a concealed assumption of Douglas's popular
sovereignty that slavery is a little, harmless, indifferent thing, having
no wrong in it, and no power for mischief about it. If aU men looked
upon it as he does, his policy in regard to it might do. But neither
all, nor half the world, so look upon it.

Near the close of the essay in " Harper's Magazine " Douglas tells
us that his popular sovereignty pertains to a people only after they
are regularly organized into a political community ; and that Con-
gress in its discretion must decide when they are fit in point of num-
bers to be so organized. Now I should hke for him to point out in
the Constitution any clause conferring that discretion upon Congress,
which, when pointed out, will not be equally a power in Congress to
govern them, in its discretion, till they are admitted as a State. Will
he try ? He intimates that before the exercise of that discretion,
their number must be ten, fifteen, or twenty thousand. Well, what
is to be done for them, or with them, or by them, before they number
ten thousand ? If any one of them desires to have slaves, is any other
one bound to help him, or at liberty to hinder him 1 Is it his plan
that any time before they reach the required numbers, those who are
on hand shall be driven out as trespassers 1 If so, it will probably
be a good while before a sufficient number to organize will get in.

But plainly enough this conceding to Congress the discretion as
to when a community shall be organized, is a total surrender of his
popular sovereignty. He says himself it does not pertain to a peo-
ple until they are organized ; and that when they shall be organized
is in the discretion of Congress. Suppose Congress shall choose to
not organize them until they are numerous enough to come into
the Union as a State. By his own rule, his popular sovereignty is
derived from Congress, and cannot be exercised by the people till


Congress cliooses to confer it. After toiling througli nineteen mor-
tal pages of " Harper," to show that Congress cannot keep the people
of a new country from excluding slavery, in a single closing para-
graph he makes the whole thing depend on Congress at last. And
should Congress refuse to organize, how will that affect the question
of planting slavery in a new country? If individuals choose to
plant it, the people cannot prevent them, for they are not yet clothed
with popular sovereignty. If it be said that it cannot he planted, in
fact, withoiit protective law, that assertion is already falsified by
history; for it was origiaaRy planted on this continent without
protective law.

And, by the way, it is probable that no act of territorial organi-
zation could be passed by the present Senate ; and almost certainly
not by both the Senate and House of Representatives. If an act de-
clared the right of Congress to exclude slavery, the Republicans
would vote for it, and both wings of the Democracy agaiust it. If it
denied the power to either exclude or protect it, the Douglasites would
vote for it, and both the Republicans and slave-coders against it. If
it denied the power to exclude, and asserted the power to protect,
the slave-coders would vote for it, and the Republicans and Douglas-
ites against it.

You are now a part of a people of a Territory, but that Territory
is soon to be a State of the Union. Both in your individual and
collective capacities, you have the same interest in the past, the pres-
ent, and the future of the United States as any other portion of the
people. Most of you came from the States, and all of you soon will
be citizens of the common Union. What I shaR now address to you
wiR have neither greater nor less appRcation to you than to any
other people of the Union.

You are gathered to-day as a RepubRcan convention — RepubRean
in the party sense, and, as we hope, in the true, original sense of the
word repubRcan.

I assume that RepubRcans throughout the nation beReve they are
right, and are earnest and determined in their cause.

Let them then keep constantly in view that the chief object of
their organization is to prevent the spread and nationalization of
slavery. With this ever distinctly before us, we can always better
see at what point our cause is most in danger.

We are, as I think, in the present temper or state of pubRc sen-
timent, in no danger from the open advocates of a congressional
slave code for the Territories, and of the revival of the African slave-
trade. As yet we are strong enough to meet and master any com-
bination openly formed on those grounds. It is only the insidious
position of Douglas that endangers our cause. That position is
simply an ambuscade. By entering into contest with our open ene-
mies, we are to be lured into his train ; and then, having lost our
own organization and arms, we are to be turned over to those same
open enemies.

Douglas's position leads to the nationaRzation of slavery as surely
as does that of Jeff Davis and Mason of Virginia. The two posi-
tions are but slightly different roads to the same place — with this


difference, that the nationalization of slavery can be reached by
Douglas's route, and never can be by the other.

I have said that in our present moral tone and temper we are
strong enough for our open enemies, and so we are. But the chief
effect of Douglasism is to change that tone and temper. Men who
support the measures of a political leader do, almost of necessity, adopt
the reasoning and sentiments the leader advances in support of them.
The reasoning and sentiments advanced by Douglas m support of
his policy as to slavery all spring from the view that slavery is not
wrong. In the first place, he never says it is wrong. He says he
does not care whether it shall be voted down or voted up. He says
whoever wants slavery has a right to have it. He says the question
whether people will have it or not is simply a question of dollars
and cents. He says the Almighty has drawn a line across the con-
tinent, on one side of which the soil must be cultivated by slave

Now let the people of the free States adopt these sentiments, and
they will be unable to see a single reason for maintaining their pro-
hibitions of slavery in their own States. " What ! do you mean to
say that anything in these sentiments requires us to believe it will
be the interest of Northern States to' have slavery! " No. But I do
mean to say that although it is not the interest of Northern States
to grow cotton, none of them have, or need, any law against it ; and
it would be tyranny to deprive any one man of the privilege to grow
cotton in Illinois. There are many individual men in aU the free
States who desire to have slaves ; and if you admit that slavery is
not wrong, it is also but tj-ranny to deny them the privilege. It is
no just function of government to prohibit what is not wrong.

Again, if slavery is right — ordained by the Almighty — on one side
of a line dividing sister States of a common Union, then it is posi-
tively wrong to harass and bedevil the owners of it with constitu-
tions and laws and prohibitions of it on the other side of the line.
In short, there is no Justification for prohibiting slavery anywhere,
save only in the assumption that slavery is wrong ; and whenever
the sentiment that slavery is wrong shall give way in the North, all
legal prohibitions of it will also give way.

If it be insisted that men may support Douglas's measures with-
out adopting his sentiments, let it be tested by what is actually pass-
ing before us. You can even now find no Douglas man who will
disavow any one of these sentiments ; and none but will actually in-
dorse them if pressed to the point.

Five years ago no living man had placed on record, nor, as I believe,
verbally expressed, a denial that negroes have a share in the Declarar
tion of Independence. Two or three years since, Douglas began to
deny it ; and now every Douglas man in the nation denies it.

To the same effect is the absurdity compounded of support to the
Dred Scott decision, and le^slation unfriendly to slavery by the Ter-
ritories — the absurdity which asserts that a thing may be lawfully
driven from a place, at which place it has a lawful right to remain.
That absurd position will not be long maintained by any one. The
Dred Scott half of it will soon master the other half. The process will


probably be about this : some territorial legislature will adopt un-
friendly legislation ; the Supreme Court will decide that legislation
to be unconstitutional, and then the advocates of the present com-
pound absurdity will acquiesce in the decision. The only effect of
that position now is to prepare its advocates for such acquiescence
when the time comes. Like wood for ox-bows, they are merely being
soaked in it preparatory to the bending. The advocates of a slave
code are not now strong enough to master us ; and they never will
be, unless recruits enough to make them so be tolled in through the
gap of Douglasism. Douglas, on the sly, is effecting more for them
than all their open advocates. He has reason to be provoked that
they will not understand him, and recognize him as their best friend.
He cannot be more plain, without being so plain as to lure no one
into their trap — so plain as to lose his power to serve them profit-
ably. Take other instances. Last year both Governor Seward and
myself expressed the belief that this government cannot endure per-
manently half slave and half free. This gave great offense to Doug-
las, and after the fall election in Illiaois he became quite rampant
upon it. At Chicago, St. Louis, Memphis, and New Orleans, he de-
nounced it as a "fatal heresy." With great pride he claimed that he
had crushed it in Illinois, and inodestly regretted that he could not
have been in New York to crush it there too. How the heresy is
fatal to anything, or what the thing is to which it is fatal, he has
never paused to tell us. At all events, it is a fatal heresy in Ms view
when expressed by a Northern man. Not so when expressed by men
of the South. In 1856, Roger A. Pryor, editor of the Richmond " En-
quirer," expressed the same belief in that paper, quite two years
before it was expressed by either Seward or me. But Douglas
perceived no "heresy" in him — talked not of going to Virginia to
crush it out ; nay, more, he now has that same Mr. Pryor at "Wash-

Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 78 of 91)