Abraham Lincoln.

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

. (page 79 of 91)
Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 79 of 91)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

ington, editing the "S.tates" newspaper as his especial organ.

This brings us to see that in Douglas's view this opinion is a
" fatal heresy " when expressed by men wishing to have the nation
all free, and it is no heresy at all when expressed by men wishing to
have it all slave. Douglas has cause to complain that the South will
not note this and give him credit for it.

At Memphis Douglas told his audience that he was for the negro
against the crocodile, but for the white man against the negro. This
was not a sudden thought hastily thrown off at Memphis. He said
the same thing many times in Illinois last summer and autumn,
though I am not sure it was reported then.

It is a carefully formed illustration of the estimate he places upon
the negro and the manner he would have him dealt ^ith. It is
a sort of proposition in proportion. "As the negro is to the croco-
dile, so the white man is to the negro." As the negro ought to treat
the crocodile as a beast, so the white man ought to treat the negro as
a beast. (Tcntlemen of the South, is not that satisfactory "? Will you
give Douglas no credit for impressing that sentiment on the North-
ern mind for your benefit ? Why, you should magnify him to the
utmost, in order that he may impress it the more deeply, broadly,
and surely.


A hope is often expressed that all the elements of opposition to
the so-caUed Democracy may unite in the next presidential election;
and to favor this it is suggested that at least one candidate on the
opposition national ticket must be resident in the slave States. I
strongly sympathize '\\dth this hope; and the particular suggestion
presents no difficulty to me. There are very many men in the
slave States who as men and statesmen and patriots are quite accept-
able to me for either President or Vice-President. But there is a
difficulty of another sort; and I think it most prudent for us to face
that difficulty at once. Will those good men of the South occupy any
ground upon which we of the free States can vote for them f There
is the rub. They seem to labor under a huge mistake in regard to
us. They say they are tired of slavery agitation. We think the
slaves, and free white laboring-men too, have more reason to be
tired of slavery than masters have to be tired of agitation about it.
In Kentucky a Democratic candidate for Congress takes ground
against a congressional slave-code for the Territories, whereupon
his opponent, in full hope to unite with Republicans in 1860, takes
ground in favor of such slave-code. Such hope, under such circum-
stances, is delusion gross as insanity itself. Rational men can only
entertain it in the strange belief that Republicans are not in earnest
for their principles ; that they are really devoted to no principle of
their own, but are ready for, and anxious to jump to, any position
not occupied by the Democracy. This mistake must be dispelled.
For the sake of their priaciples, in forming their party, they broke
and sacrificed the strongest mere party ties and advantages which
can exist. Republicans believe that slavery is wrong; and they insist,
and will continue to insist, upon a national policy which recognizes
it and deals with it as a wrong. There can be no letting down about
this. Simultaneously with such letting down the Republican organ-
ization would go to pieces, and half its elements would go in a
different direction, leaving an easy victory to the common enemy.
No ingenuity of political trading could possibly hold it together.
Abotit this there is no joke, and can be no trifling. Understanding
this, that RepubUeanism can never mix with territorial slave-codes
becomes self-evident.

In this contest mere men are nothing. We could come down to
Douglas quite as weL. as to any other man standing with him, and
better than to any other standing below or beyond him. The simple
problem is : will any good and capable man of the South allow the
Republicans to elect him on their own platform 1 If such man can
be found, I believe the thing can be done. It can be done in no
other way.

What do we gain, say some, by such a union ? Certainly not
everything ; but still something, and quite all that we for our lives
can possibly give. In jdelding a share of the high honors and
offices to you, you gain the assurance that ours is not a mere strug-
gle to secure those honors and offices for one section. You gain the
assurance that we mean no more than we say in our platforms, else
we would not intrust you to execute them. You gain the assurance
that we intend no invasion of your rights or your honor, else we


would not make one of you the executor of the laws and commander
of the army and navy.

As a matter of mere partizan policy, there is no reason for and
much against any letting down of the Republican party in order to
form a union with the Southern opposition. By no possibility can a
union ticket secure a simple electoral vote in the South, unless the
Republican platform be so far let down as to lose every electoral
vote in the North ; and even at that, not a single vote would be se-
cured in the South, unless by bare possibility those of Maryland.
There is no successful basis of union but for some good Southern
man to allow us of the North to elect him square on our platform.
Plainly it is that or nothing.

The St. Louis " Intelligencer " is out in favor of a good man for
President, to be run without a platform. Well, I am not wedded to
the formal written platform system; but a thousand to one the edi-
tor is not himself in favor of his plan, except with the quahfleation
that he and his sort are to select and name the " good man." To
bring him to the test, is he willing to take Seward without a plat-
form f Oh, no ; Seward's antecedents exclude him, say you. Well, is
your good man without antecedents 1 If he is, how shall the nation
know that he is a good man 1 The sum of the matter is that, in the
absence of formal written platforms, the antecedents of candidates
become their platforms. On just such platforms all our earlier and
better Presidents were elected, but this by no means facilitates a
union of men who differ in principles.

Nor do I believe we can ever advance our principles by supporting
men who oppose our principles. Last year, as you know, we Repub-
licans in Illinois were advised by numerous and respectable outsiders
to reelect Douglas to the Senate by our votes. I never questioned
the motives of such advisers, nor the devotion to the Republican
cause of such as professed to be Republicans. But I never for a mo-
ment thought of following the advice, and have never yet regretted
that we did not follow it. True, Douglas is back in the Senate in
spite of us ; but we are clear of him and his principles, and we are
uncrippled and ready to fight both him and them straight along till
they shall be finally " closed out." Had we followed the advice, tiiere
would now be no Republican party in lUinois, and none to speak of
anywhere else. The whole thing would now be floundering along
after Douglas upon the Dred Scott and crocodile theory. It wotild
have been the grandest "haul" for slavery ever yet made. Our
principles would stUl live, and ere long womd produce a party ; but
we should have lost all our past labor and twenty years of time by
the foUy.

Take an illustration. About a year ago all the Republicans in
Congress voted for what was called the Crittenden-Montgomery bill ;
and forthwith Douglas claimed, and stiU claims, that they were all
committed to his " gur-reat pur-rinciple." And Republicans have
been so far embarrassed by the claim that they have ever since
been protesting that they were not so committed, and trying to explain
why. Some of the very newspapers which advised Douglas's return
to the Senate by Republican votes have been largely and contin-



uoiisly engaged in these protests and explanations. For such let us
state a question in the rule of three. If voting for the Crittenden-
Montgomery bOl entangle the Repiiblicans with Douglas's dogmas
for one year, how long would voting for Douglas himself so entangle

It is nothing to the contrary that Repubhcans gained something
by electing Haskins, Hickman, and Davis. They were comparatively
small men. I mean no disrespect; they may have large merit; but
Republicans can dally with them, and absorb or expel them at pleas-
ure. If they daUy with Douglas, he absorbs them.

"We want, and must have, a national policy as to slavery which
deals with it as being a wrong. Whoever would prevent slavery
becoming national and perpetual yields all when he yields to a
pohCT which treats it either as being right, or as being a matter of

We admit that the United States G-eneral Government is not charged
with the duty of redressing or preventing all the wrongs in the
world. But the government rightfully may, and subject to the Con-
stitution ought to, redress and prevent aU wrongs which are wrongs
to the nation itself. It is expressly charged with the duty of pro-
viding for the general welfare. We think slavery impairs and en-
dangers the general welfare. Those who do not think this are not
of us, and we cannot agree with them. We must shape our own
course by our own judgment.

We must not disturb slavery in the States where it exists, because
the Constitution and the peace of the country both forbid us. We
must not withhold an efftcient fugitive-slave law, because the Con-
stitution demands it.

But we must, by a national policy, prevent the spread of slavery
into new Territories, or free States, because the Constitution does
not forbid us, and the general welfare does demand such prevention.
We must prevent the revival of the African slave-trade, because the
Constitution does not forbid us, and the general welfare does require
the prevention. We must prevent these things being done by either
congresses or courts. The people — the people — are the rightful mas-
ters of both congresses and courts, — not to ovei-thi'ow the Constitu-
tion, but to overthrow the men who pervert it.

To effect our main object we have to employ auxiliary means.
We must hold conventions, adopt platforms, select candidates, and
carry elections. At every step we must be true to the main purpose.
If we adopt a platform falling short of our principle, or elect a man
rejecting our principle, we not only take nothing affirmative by our
success, but we draw upon us the positive embarrassment of seeming
ourselves to have abandoned our principle.

That our principle, however baffled or delayed, will finally tri-
umph, I do not permit myself to doubt. Men will pass away — die,
die politically and naturally; but the principle will hve, and live
forever. Organizations rallied around that principle may, by their
own dereliction, go to pieces, thereby losing all their time and labor ;
but the principle will remain, and wiU reproduce another, and
another, till the final triumph wiU come.
Vol. I.— 38.


But to bring it soon, we must save our labor ab-eady performed —
our organization, which has cost us so much time and toil to create.
We must keep our principle constantly in view, and never be false
to it.

And as to men for leaders, we must remember that " He that is
not for us is against us ; and he that gathereth not with us scat-

December 9, 1859. — Letter to N. B. Judd.

Springfield, December 9, 1859.
Hon. N. B. Judd.

3Iy dear <S'»' ; I have just reached home from Kansas and found
your long letter of the 1st inst. It has a tone of blame toward
myself which I think is not quite just; but I will not stand upon
that, but wiU consider a day or two, and put something in the
best shape I can, and send it to you. A great difficidty is that
they make no distinct charge against you which I can contradict.
You did vote for Trumbull against me; and, although I thiak,
and have said a thousand times, that was no injustice to me, I
cannot change the fact, nor compel people to cease speaking of
it. Ever since that matter occurred, I have constantly labored,
as I believe you know, to have all recollection of it dropped.

The vague charge that you played me false last year I believe to
be false and outrageous ; but it seems I can make no impression by
expressing that belief. I made a special job of trying to impress
that upon Baker, Bridges, and Wilson here last winter. They aU
well know that I believe no such charge against you. But they
chose to insist that they know better about it than I do.

As to the charge of your intriguing for Trumbull against me,
I believe as little of that as any other charge. If Trumbull and
I were candidates for the same of&ce, you would have a right to
prefer him, and I should not blame you for it; but all my acquain-
tance with you induces me to believe you would not pretend to be for
me while really for him. But I do not understand Trumbull and
myself to be rivals. You know I am pledged to not enter a strug-
gle with him for the seat in the Senate now occupied by him;
and yet I would rather have a fuU term in the Senate than in the
pi-esidency. Your friend as ever,

A. Lincoln.

P. S. — I omitted to say that I have, in no single instance, per-
mitted a charge such as aUuded to above to go uncontradicted when
made in my presence. A. L.

December 14, 1859. — Letter to N. B. Judd.

Springfield, December 14, 1859.

Dear Judd : Herewith is the letter of our old Whig friends, and

my answer, sent as you requested. I showed both to Dubois, and he

feared the clause about leave to publish, in the answer, would not

be quite satisfactory to you. I hope it will be satisfactory, as I


would rather not seem to come before the public as a volunteer ; stiK
if, after considering this, you still deem it important, you may sub-
stitute the inclosed sUp by pasting it down over the (iriginal clause.

I find some of our friends here attach more consequence to
getting the national convention into our State than I did, or do.
Some of them made me promise to say so to you. As to the time, it
must certainly be after the Charleston fandango; and I think, within
bounds of reason, the later the better.

As to that matter about the committee, in relation to appointing
delegates by general convention, or by districts, I shall attend to it
as well as I know how, which, God knows, will not be very well.
Write me if you can find anything to write. Yom's as ever,

A. Lincoln.

Springfield, Illinois, December 14, 1859.

Messes. George W. Dole, G. S. Hubbard, and W. H. Brown.

Gentlemen : Your letter of the 12th instant is received. To your
question : "In the election of senator in 1854 [1855 you mean], when
Mr. Trumbull was the successful candidate, was there any unfairness
in the conduct of Mr. Judd toward you, or anything blamable on
his parti " I answer, I have never beheved, and do not now believe,
that on that occasion there was any unfairness in the conduct of Mr.
Judd toward me, or anything blamable on his part. Without de-
ception, he preferred Judge Trumbull to myself, which was his clear
right, morally as well as legally.

To your question : " During the canvass of last year, did he do his
whole duty toward you and the KepubHcan party?" I answer, I
have always believed, and now believe, that during that canvass he
did his whole duty toward me and the Republican party.

To your question : " Do you know of anything unfair in his con-
duet toward yourself in any way 1" I answer, I neither know nor
suspect anything unfair in has conduct toward myself in any way.

I take pleasm-e in adding that of all the avowed friends I had in
the canvass of last year, I do not suspect a single one of having acted
treacherously to me, or to our cause ; and that there is not one of them
in whose honor and integrity I have more confidence to-day than in
that of Mr. Judd.

You can use your discretion as to whether you make this public.
Yours very truly, A. Lincoln.

December 19, 1859. — Letter to G. M. Parsons and Others.
Springfield, Illinois, December 19, 1859.

Messrs. G. M. Parsons, and Others, Central Executive Gom-

mittee, etc.

Gentlemen: Your letter of the 7th instant, accompanied by a similar
one from the governor-elect, the Republican State officers, and the


Republican members of the State Board of Equalization of Ohio,
both requesting of me, for publication in permanent form, copies of
the political debates between Senator Douglas and myself last year,
has been received. With my grateful acknowledgments to both you
and them for the very flattering terms in which the request is com-
municated, I transmit you the copies. The copies I send you are
as reported and printed by the respective friends of Senator Douglas
and myself, at the time — that is, his by his friends, and mine by mine.
It would be an unwarrantable liberty for us to change a word or
a letter in his, and the changes I have made in mine, you perceive,
are verbal only, and very few in number. I wish the reprint to be
precisely as the copies I send, without any comment whatever.

Yours very truly, A. Lincoln.

December 20, 1859. — Letter to J. "W. Fell.

Springfield, December 20, 1859.
J. W. Fell, Esq.

My dear Sir : Herewith is a little sketch, as you requested. There
is not much of it, for the reason, I suppose, that there is not much
of me. If anything be made out of it, I wish it to be modest, and
not to go beyond the material. If it were thought necessary to in-
corporate anything from any of my speeches, I suppose there would
be no objection. Of course it must not appear to have been written
by myself. Tours very truly,

A. Les^goln.

I was born February 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky. My
parents were both born in Virginia, of undistinguished families —
second families, perhaps I should say. My mother, who died in my
tenth year, was of a family of the name of Hanks, some of whom
now reside in Adams, and others in Macon County, Illinois. My
paternal grandfather, Abraham Lincoln, emigrated from Rocking-
ham County, Virginia, to Kentucky about 1781 or 1782, where a year
or two later he was killed by the Indians, not in battle, but by stealth,
when he was laboring to open a farm in the forest. His ancestors,
who were Quakers, went to Virginia from Berks County, Pennsylva-
nia. An effort to identify them with the New England family of
the same name ended in nothing more definite than a similarity of
Christian names in both families, such as Enoch, Levi, Mordecai, Solo-
mon, Abraham, and the Uke.

My father, at the death of his father, was but six years of age, and
he grew up literally without education. He removed from Kentucky
to what is now Spencer County, Indiana, in my eighth year. We
reached our new home about the time the State came into the Union.
It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still
in the woods. There I grew up. There were some schools, so called,
but no qualification was ever required of a teacher beyond " readin',
writin', and cipherin' " to the rule of three. If a straggler supposed to
understand Latin happened to sojourn in the neighborhood, he was
looked upon as a wizard. There was absolutely nothing to excite


ambition for education. Of course, when I came of age I did not
know much. StUl, somehow, I could read, write, and cipher to the
rule of three, but that was aU. I have not been to school since.
The little advance I now have upon this store of education, I ha^•e
picked up from time to time under the pressure of necessity.

I was raised to farm work, which I continued tUl I was twenty-
two. At twenty-one I came to Illinois, Macon County. Then I got
to New Salem, at that time in Sangamon, now in Menard County,
where I remained a year as a sort of clerk in a store. Then came
the Black Hawk war ; and I was elected a captain of volunteers, a
success which gave me more pleasure than any I have had since.
I went the campaign, was elated, ran for the legislature the same
year (1832), and was beaten — ^the only time I ever have been beaten
by the people. The next and three succeeding biennial elections I
was elected to the legislature. I was not a candidate afterward.
During this legislative period I had studied law, and removed to
Springfield to practise it. In 1846 I was once elected to the lower
House of Congress. Was not a candidate for reelection. From 1849
to 1854, both inclusive, practised law more assiduously than ever
before. Always a Whig in politics ; and generally on the Whig
electoral tickets, making active canvasses. 1 was losing interest in
politics when the repeal of the Missouri compromise aroused me
again. What I have done since then is pretty well known.

If any personal description of me is thought desirable, it may be
said I am, in height, six feet four inches, nearly ; lean in flesh, weigh-
ing on an average one hundred and eighty pounds ; dark com-
plexion, with coarse black hair and gray eyes. No other marks or
brands recollected. Yours ta-uly,

Hon. J. W. Fell. A. Lincoln.

January 24, 1860. — Letter to J. W. Sheahan.

Spkingpield, January 24, 1860.
James W. Sheahan, Esq.

Dear Sir : Yours of the 21st, requesting copies of my speeches
now in progress of publication in Ohio, is received. I have no such
copies now at my control, having sent the only set I ever had to
Ohio. Mr. George M. Parsons has taken an active part among
those who have the matter in charge in Ohio; and I understand
Messrs. Follett, Foster & Co. are to be the publishers. I make no-
objection to any satisfactory arrangement you may make with Mr.
Parsons and the publishers; and if it will facilitate you, you are at
liberty to show them this note.

You labor under a mistake somewhat injurious to me, if you sup-
pose I have revised the speeches in any just sense of the word. I
only made some small verbal corrections, mostly such as an intelli-
gent reader would make for himself, not feeling justified to do more
when republishing the speeches along with those of Senator Doug-
las, his and mine being mutually answers and replies to one another.

Yours truly, A. Lincoln..


February 5, 1860. — Letter to N. B. Judd.

SPRrNGPiELD, February 5, 1860.
Hon. N. B. Judd.

My dear Sir : Your two letters were duly received. Whether Mr.
Storrs shaU come to Illinois and assist in our approaching campaign,
is a question of dollars and cents. Can we pay him ? If we can, that
is the sole question. I consider his services very valuable.

A day or so before you wrote about Mr. Herndon, Dubois told me
that he (Herndon) had been talking to William Jayne in the way you
iiidicate. At first sight afterward, I mentioned it to him ; he rather
denied the charge, and I did not press him about the past, but got
his solemn pledge to say nothing of the sort in the future. I had
done this before I received your letter. I impressed upon him as
well as I could, fii'st, that such [sic] was untrue and unjust to you; and,
second, that I would be held responsible for what he said. Let this
be private.

Some folks are pretty bitter toward me about the Dole, Hubbard,
and Brown letter. Yours as ever, , LmroT n

February 9, 1860. — Letter to N. B. Judd.

Springfield, Februaiy 9, 1860.
Hon. N. B. Judd.

Dear Sir : I am not in a position where it would hurt much for
me to not be nominated on the national ticket ; but I am where it
would hurt some for me to not get the Illinois delegates. What I
expected when I wrote the letter to Messrs. Dole and others is now
happening. Your discomfited assailants are most bitter against me;
and they will, for revenge upon me, lay to the Bates egg in the
South, and to the Seward egg in the North, and go far toward
squeezing me out in the middle with nothing. Can you not help me
a little in this matter in your end of the vineyard ? I mean this to
be private. Yours as ever, ^ Lincoln.

February 9, 1860. — Letter to J. M. Lucas.

SpRiNGPrELD, February 9, 1860.
J. M. Lucas, Esq.

My dear Sir: Your late letter, suggesting, among other things,
that I might aid your election as postmaster, by writing to Mr,
Burlingame, was duly received the day the Speaker was elected;
so that I had no hope a letter of mine could reach Mr. B. before
your fiise would be decided, as it tiirned out in fact it could not.

Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 79 of 91)