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´╗┐Title: Lincoln's Inaugurals, Addresses and Letters (Selections)
Author: Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865
Language: English
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Longman's English Classics












Copyright, 1910,




REPRINTED, JUNE, 1913, MAY, 1915, MARCH, 1917






  Address to the People of Sangamon County, March 9, 1832
  The Perpetuation of our Political Institutions, January 27, 1837
  Speech at Springfield, Illinois, June 16, 1858
  Second Joint Debate at Freeport, August 27, 1858
  The Cooper Institute Address, Monday, February 27, 1860
  Farewell Address at Springfield, Illinois, February 12, 1861
  Farewell Address at Springfield, Illinois, February 11, 1861
  Address in Independence Hall, Philadelphia, February 22, 1861
  First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861
  Response to Serenade, March 4, 1861
  Letter to Colonel Ellsworth's Parents, May 25, 1861
  Letter to Horace Greeley, August 22, 1862
  Extract from the Second Annual Message to Congress, December 1, 1862
  The Emancipation Proclamation, January 1, 1863
  Thanksgiving Proclamation, July 15, 1863
  Letter to J. C. Conkling, August 26, 1863
  Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863
  Letter to Mrs. Bixby, November 21, 1864
  Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865
  Last Public Address, April 11, 1865

APPENDIX.   Autobiography, December 20, 1859



The facts of Lincoln's early life are best stated in his own words,
communicated in 1859[see Appendix] to Mr. J. W. Fell, of Bloomington,
Illinois.  Unlike many men who have risen from humble surroundings,
Lincoln never boasted of his wonderful struggle with poverty.  His
nature had no room for the false pride of a Mr. Bounderby, even though
the facts warranted the claim.  Indeed, he seldom mentioned his early
life at all.  On one occasion he referred to it as "the short and
simple annals of the poor."  Lincoln himself did not in any way base
his claims to public recognition upon the fact that he was born in a
log cabin and that he had split rails in his youth, although, on the
other hand, he was not ashamed of the facts.  More, perhaps, than any
other man of his time he believed and by his actions realized the truth
of Burns' saying, "The man's the goud, for a' that."  The real lesson
to be drawn from Lincoln's life is that under any conditions real
success is to be won by intelligent, unwavering effort, the degree of
success being determined by the ability and character of the
individual.  Still less profitable is the attempt to contrast the
success of Lincoln with that of Washington, or Jefferson or of any
other American whose early circumstances were more favorable than
Lincoln's.  In each case success has been worthily won, and we
Americans of the present generation should rejoice that our country has
produced so many great men.  True patriotism does not consist in the
recognition of only one type of Americanism, but rather in the grateful
acceptance of every service that advances the fortunes and raises the
reputation of the republic.  Peculiar interest attaches to the
character of Lincoln's early reading and especially to the small number
of books that were accessible to him.  In these days of cheap and
plentiful literature it is hard for us to realize the conditions in
pioneer Kentucky and Indiana, where half a dozen volumes formed a
family library and even newspapers were few and far between.  There was
no room for mental dissipation, and the few precious volumes that could
be obtained were read and re-read until their contents were fully
mastered.  When Sir Henry Irving was asked to prepare a list of the
hundred best books he replied, "Before a hundred books, commend me to
the reading of two, the Bible and Shakespeare."  Fortunately these two
classics came at an early age within the reach of Lincoln and the
frequency with which he quotes from both at all periods of his career,
both in his writings and in his conversation, shows that he had made
good use of them.  The boy Lincoln not only read books, he made copious
extracts from them, often using a smooth shingle in the absence of
paper and depending upon the uncertain light of the log fire in his
father's cabin.  Such use of books makes for intellectual growth, and
much of Lincoln's later success as a writer can be referred back to
this careful method of reading.

Lincoln's later reading shows considerable variety within certain
limits.  He himself once remarked that he liked "little sad songs."
Among, his special favorites in this class of poetry were "Ben Bolt,"
"The Lament of the Irish Emigrant," Holmes' "The Last Leaf," and
Charles Mackay's "The Enquiry."  The poem from which he most frequently
quoted and which seems to have impressed him most was, "Oh, Why Should
the Spirit of Mortal be Proud?"  His own marked tendency to melancholy,
which is reflected in his face, seemed to respond to appeals of this
sort.  Among his favorite poets besides Shakespeare were Burns,
Longfellow, Hood, and Lowell.  Many of the poems in his personal
anthology were picked from the poets' corner of newspapers, and it was
in this way that he became acquainted with Longfellow.  Lincoln was
especially fond of humorous writings, both in prose and verse, a taste
that is closely connected with his lifelong fondness for funny stories.
His favorite humorous writer during the presidential period was
Petroleum V. Nasby (David P. Locke), from whose letters he frequently
read to more or less sympathetic listeners.  It was eminently
characteristic of Lincoln that the presentation to the Cabinet of the
Emancipation Proclamation was prefaced by the reading of the latest
Nasby letter.

Lincoln's statement in the Autobiography that he had picked up the
little advance he had made upon his early education, or rather lack of
education, is altogether too modest.  It is known that after his term
in Congress he studied and mastered geometry; and, like Washington, he
early became a successful surveyor.  His study of the law, too, was
characteristically thorough, and his skill in debate, in which he had
no superior, was the result of careful preparation.  During the
presidential period Lincoln gave evidence of critical ability that is
little short of marvellous in a man whose schooling amounted to less
than a year.  In a letter to the actor Hackett and in several
conversations he analyzed passages from "Hamlet," "Macbeth," and other
plays with an insight and sympathy that have rarely been surpassed even
by eminent literary critics.

At an early age Lincoln's interest was aroused in public speaking and
he soon began to exercise himself in this direction and to attend
meetings addressed by those skilled in the art of oratory.  Many
stories are told of his local reputation as a speaker and story-teller
even before he moved to Illinois, much of his success then as in later
life being due to the singular charm of his personality.  Lincoln never
overcame a certain awkwardness, almost uncouthness of appearance, and
he never acquired the finer arts of oratory for which his rival Douglas
was so conspicuous.  But in spite of these physical difficulties he was
acknowledged by Douglas to be the man whom he most feared in debate;
and Lincoln was able to sway the critical, unfamiliar audience
assembled in Cooper Union as readily as the ruder crowds gathered about
the Illinois stump.

On the subject of Lincoln's religious belief, about which such varying
opinions have been held, it is sufficient to state that, although he
was not a member of any religious body, he had a firm conviction of the
protecting power of Providence and the efficacy of special prayer.
This latter characteristic seems to have been especially developed
during the presidential period.  Both in his proclamations and in many
private interviews and communications he expresses himself clearly and
emphatically upon this subject.  It is probable, too, that Lincoln read
more deeply and more frequently in the Bible during the storm and
stress of the Civil War than at any other period of his life.  There
seems to be no authority for the statement sometimes made that after
the death of his son Willie, Lincoln showed a tendency to believe in
the doctrines of spiritualism.  He was not free, however, from a belief
in the significance of dreams as portending important events.  He was
also not a little of a fatalist, as he himself once stated to his
friend Arnold.

Perhaps the most striking characteristic of Lincoln's personality apart
from his honesty and sincerity was his perfect simplicity and
naturalness.  Frederick A. Douglass, the great leader of the colored
race, once remarked that President Lincoln was the only white man that
he had ever met who never suggested by his manner a sense of
superiority.  Not that Lincoln was lacking in personal dignity.
Neither as a practising lawyer nor as President of the United States,
would he permit anyone to take what he regarded as liberties with him.
But, on the other hand, he did not allow his elevated position to
change his personal relations.  His old Illinois friends found in the
White House the same cordial welcome and simple manners to which they
had been accustomed in the pleasant home at Springfield.

During the first few weeks of the administration it was believed by
many persons, including Mr. Seward himself, that President Lincoln
would be greatly influenced in his policy by the superior experience in
public affairs of his Secretary of State.  Mr. Seward even went so far
as to draw up a plan of action, which he submitted to his chief.
Lincoln soon showed, however, that he was not a follower, but a leader
of men, beneath whose good nature and kindly spirit was a power of
initiative that has rarely been equalled among the statesmen of the
world.  Even the dictatorial Secretary of War found it necessary to
yield to the President on all points that the latter regarded as being
fundamental.  Few other presidents have been so bitterly attacked and
so cruelly misrepresented as Lincoln, but nothing could turn him from
his purpose when that was once formed.  Like the wise man that he was,
Lincoln was always ready to listen to the suggestions of others, but
the conclusion finally reached by him was always his own.  He applied
to questions of state the same methods of careful, impartial inquiry
that had served him so well as a lawyer on the Illinois circuit, and
if, being human, he did not always avoid committing errors, he never
acted from impulse or prejudice.  Lincoln was a strong leader, but he
was at the same time a wise leader.

Turning now from the man to his works, we note first that the
development of Lincoln's style was slow.  One might almost be tempted
to say that Lincoln developed several different styles in succession.
This, however, is hardly true, for in spite of the numerous marked
changes and improvements in Lincoln's manner of writing, certain
fundamental qualities remained, the real expression of his personality,
that is, the real style of Lincoln.  From the beginning to the end we
find an effort to say something and to say it in as clear a manner as
possible, an effort without which there can be no real success in
writing.  After a practice in public speaking of over thirty years
Lincoln as President could still say: "I believe I shall never be old
enough to speak without embarrassment when I have nothing to talk

The first specimen of Lincoln's writings that has been preserved is a
communication to the voters of Sangamon County in 1832, when Lincoln
was for the first time a candidate for the State legislature.  It is
significant of Lincoln's imperfect command of English at that time that
"some of the grammatical errors" were corrected by a friend before the
circular was issued.  Although this circumstance makes it impossible
for us to judge exactly what his style was at this period, we may be
sure that the changes were comparatively slight and that the general
form at least was Lincoln's.  The question naturally arises whether
there is anything in this first specimen of Lincoln's writing that
suggests, however remotely, the Gettysburg Address and the Second
Inaugural.  A little study will discover suggestions at least of the
later manner, just as in the uncouth and awkward young candidate for
the Illinois State Legislature, we can note many traits, intellectual
and moral, that distinguish the mature and well-poised statesman of
thirty years later.  It is the same man, but developed and
strengthened, it is the same style, strengthened and refined.  If
Nicolay and Hay go too far when they say of the address: "This is
almost precisely the style of his later years," it would be quite as
wrong to deny any likeness between the two.  In the first place, we
have the same severely logical treatment of the subject matter, from
which Lincoln, a lawyer and public speaker, never departed.  Lincoln's
grammar may not have been impeccable at this time, but his thinking
powers were already little short of masterly.  This, then, is the first
element in the makeup of Lincoln's style, the ability to think straight
and consequently to write straight.  His legal training, which was then
very meagre, cannot account for his logical thinking; it is more
correct to say that he later became a successful lawyer because of the
logical bent of his mind.

Closely connected with this early development of the form of thinking
was Lincoln's interest in words, and his desire always to use words
with a perfect understanding of their meaning.  Even in his boyhood he
found pleasure in discovering the exact meaning of a new word and in
later life he was constantly adding to his verbal stores.  Shortly
before his inauguration Lincoln remarked to a clergyman, who had asked
him how he had acquired his remarkable power of "putting things": "I
can say this, that among my earliest recollections I remember how, when
a mere child, I used to get irritated when anybody talked to me in a
way I could not understand.  I don't think I ever got angry at anything
else in my life.  But that always disturbed my temper, and has ever
since.  I can remember going to my little bedroom, after hearing the
neighbors talk of an evening with my father, and spending no small part
of the night walking up and down, trying to make out what was the exact
meaning of their, to me, dark sayings."

In this first address we find no loose use of words.  The character of
the address does not of course admit of ornament or figurative
language, but any subject, however simple, admits of digressions and
mental excursions by the illogical and careless writer.  Of these there
is not a trace.  Even in the most informal letters and telegrams,
written at post haste and at times under the most extreme pressure of
business and anxiety, Lincoln shows a natural feeling for the
appropriate expression that is found only in the masters of language.

Five years later, in 1837, the interval being represented by only a few
unimportant letters, Lincoln entered upon a period distinguished by
qualities that are not usually associated with his name, a tendency to
fine writing that we should look for earlier than at the age of
twenty-eight.  The subject of the address is "The Perpetuation of our
Political Institutions," and the complete text is given in this volume.
Here for once Lincoln speaks of an Alexander, a Buonoparte, a
Washington.  The influence of Webster is apparent, in this first purely
oratorical attempt of Lincoln's.  It could hardly have been otherwise
at a time when the great Whig orator was making the whole country ring
with his wonderful speeches.  It is almost certain, too, that Henry
Clay, to whom Lincoln later referred as _beau ideal_ of an orator, had
a part in moulding this early manner, though this is probably less
apparent here than in the later soberer addresses.

But it must not be supposed that this speech consists merely of what
Hamlet would call "words, words, words."  Neither are all the figures
inferior and commonplace.  Although it is more ornate than anything in
the later period, the following description of the passing away of the
heroes of the Revolution is a fine example of the Websterian style:
"They were a forest of giant oaks; but the all-resistless hurricane has
swept over them, and left only here and there a lonely trunk, despoiled
of its verdure, shorn of its foliage, unshading and unshaded, to murmur
in a few more ruder storms, then to sink and be no more."  The closing
sentence of the address is almost wholly, in the later style and might
have served for the close of the First Inaugural, which, in its
original form, did actually contain a Biblical quotation.

That the rhetorical manner had not gained entire possession of Lincoln
at that time, but was simply used by him on what seemed to be
appropriate occasions, is sufficiently shown by a speech delivered in
the legislature early in 1839, in which we find the strictly logical
discussion of the first address.  This speech is especially interesting
because of the fact that it is the earliest encounter of Lincoln and
Douglas that has been preserved.  In a way, therefore, it may be
regarded as the first Lincoln-Douglas debate.

One other rhetorical effort was made, in 1842, and then we find no more
specimens of this class of speaking until the so-called Lost Speech of
1856.  This address of 1842 was delivered before the Springfield
Washingtonian Temperance Society, on Washington's Birthday, and it is
even more inflated than the first specimen.  Combined with the
rhetoric, however, there is a mass of sober argument that again
suggests the later Lincoln.  The arguments, too, are characterized by a
sound common sense that is no less characteristic of the speaker.  The
peroration deserves quotation as being one of the finest and at the
same time one of the least familiar passages in Lincoln's writings:
"This is the one hundredth and tenth anniversary of the birthday of
Washington.  We are met to celebrate this day.  Washington is the
mightiest name of earth: long since mightiest in the cause of civil
liberty, still mightiest in moral reformation.  On that name a eulogy
is expected.  It cannot be.  To add brightness to the sun or glory to
the name of Washington is alike impossible.  Let none attempt it.  In
solemn awe pronounce the name, and in its naked, deathless splendor
leave it shining on."  This approaches very closely the beauty and
strength of the presidential period.

In 1844 Lincoln wrote several poems, which are not without merit.  As a
boy he was famous among his companions for his skill in writing
humorous verses, but these later specimens of his muse are serious,
even melancholy in their tone.

We next come to the congressional period, from 1847 to 1849.  The
best-known speech from this period, Lincoln's introduction to a
national public, is that of July 27, 1848, on General Taylor and the
veto, Taylor being then the Whig candidate for the presidency.  This
speech, which was received with immense applause, owes its special
prominence to the fact that it is the only purely humorous speech by
Lincoln that has been preserved.  The subject of the attack is General
Cass, Taylor's Democratic opponent, whom Lincoln treats in a manner
that somewhat suggests Douglas' later treatment of Lincoln on the
stump.  Its peroration is of peculiar interest, since it consists of a
funny story.

To anyone familiar with Lincoln's habit of story-telling the
introduction of a story at the end of a speech may not seem strange.
But, as a matter of fact, this is the only case of the kind that has
been noted, and a careful reading of the speeches shows either that
they were not fully reported or that as a rule he confined his
story-telling to conversation.  Even in the debates with Douglas, when
he was addressing Illinois crowds from the stump at a time when stories
were even more popular than they are now, Lincoln seldom used this
device to rouse interest or to strengthen his argument.  A partial
explanation of this curious contrast between his conversation and his
writing, so far as the debates are concerned, may be found in a remark
made by Lincoln to a friend who had urged him to treat the subject more
popularly.  Lincoln said; "The occasion is too serious, the issues are
too grave.  I do not seek applause, or to amuse the people, but to
convince them."  With Lincoln the desire to prove his proposition,
whatever it might be, was always uppermost.  In the earliest speeches
were noted the severe logic and the strict adherence to the subject in
hand.  To the end Lincoln never changed this principle of his public

Although the stories, then, have but little direct bearing upon
Lincoln's writings, they are so characteristic a feature of the man
that they cannot be wholly disregarded.  In the two cases already noted
the stories were illustrative, and this appears to be true of all of
Lincoln's anecdotes, whether they occur in his conversation or in his
writings.  He apparently never dragged in stories for their own sake,
as so many conversational bores are in the habit of doing, but the
story was suggested by or served to illustrate some incident or
principle.  Indeed, in aptness of illustration Lincoln has never been
surpassed.  Emerson said of him: "I am sure if this man had ruled in a
period of less facility of printing, he would have become mythological
in a very few years, like Aesop or Pilpay, or one of the Seven Wise
Masters, by his fables and proverbs."  Many of the anecdotes attributed
to Lincoln are undoubtedly to be referred to other sources, but the
number of authentic stories noted, especially during the presidency, is
very large.

The question has often been raised whether Lincoln originated the
stories he told so well.  Fortunately we have his own words in this
matter.  To Noah Brooks he said: "I do generally remember a good story
when I hear it, but I never did invent anything original.  I am only a
retail dealer."  Slightly differing from this, though probably not
contradicting it, is Lincoln's statement to Mr. Chauncey M. Depew: "I
have originated but two stories in my life, but I tell tolerably well
other people's stories."

During the Civil War Lincoln's stories served a special purpose as a
sort of safety valve.  To a Congressman, who had remonstrated with him
for his apparent frivolity in combining funny stories with serious
discussion, he said: "If it were not for these stories I should die."
The addresses of the presidential period, however, with the exception
of a few responses to serenades, are entirely without humorous
anecdotes.  Although Lincoln never hesitated to clear the discussion of
the most momentous questions through the medium of a funny story, his
sense of official and literary propriety made him confine them to
informal occasions.

The Eulogy of Henry Clay of 1852 is of interest as being the only
address of this kind that Lincoln ever delivered.  It might perhaps
better be called an appreciation, and because of its sincerity and deep
sympathy it may be regarded as a model of its kind.  Two years later
Lincoln engaged in his first real debate with Douglas on the burning
question of the day, the repeal of the Missouri Compromise.  From the
purely literary point of view the Peoria Speech is superior to the
better-known debates of four years later.  While it lacks the finish
and poise of the two Inaugurals it is far more imaginative than the
Debates.  One of its most striking features is the comparatively large
number of quotations, both from the Bible and from profane writings.
Although as a rule Lincoln quotes sparingly, this one speech contains
no fewer than twelve quotations, seven of these being from the Bible.
The only other speech that equals this one in the number of quotations
is the so-called Lost Speech of 1856, the authenticity of which is
doubtful.  The very much shorter Second Inaugural, however, with its
four Bible quotations, has a larger proportionate number.  Lincoln's
quotations seem to be suggested emotionally rather than intellectually.
This is indicated by the fact that the most emotional speeches contain
the greatest number of quotations.  The first Inaugural, for example,
which is in the main a sober statement of principles, intended to quiet
rather than to excite passion, is four times as long as the emotional
Second Inaugural, but contains only one quotation to the four of the
other.  We may note in this connection that almost exactly one-half of
the total number of quotations occurring in Lincoln's writings are
taken from the Bible, and that a large proportion of the profane
quotations are from Shakespeare.  Lincoln was also fond of using
proverbial sayings, a habit that emphasized his character as a popular
or national writer.  For most of his proverbs are local and many of
them are intensely homely.  Quotations of this class occur at all
periods of his life, beginning with the first address, and they are
sometimes used in such unexpected places as official telegrams to
officers in the field.  Strange to say, the maxim that is most
frequently associated with Lincoln's name cannot with any certainty be
regarded as having been used by him, either as a quotation or as an
original saying, "You can fool all of the people some of the time, and
some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all
the time."

At the first regular Republican State Convention in Illinois, held at
Bloomington, May 29, 1856, Lincoln delivered an address on the public
issues of the day that roused the enthusiasm of his hearers to such a
degree that the reporters forgot to take notes and therefore failed to
furnish the text to their respective newspapers.  In the course of time
it came to be known as the Lost Speech, and such, in the opinion of
many who were present on the occasion, it continued to be.  Mr. W. C.
Whitney, a young lawyer from the neighboring town of Champaign, later
prepared a version based upon notes, from which some general idea of
the character of the speech can perhaps be gained.

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates furnish perhaps the best example of this
class of public speaking that is available.  Although they were
extempore, as far as the actual language is concerned, they have been
preserved in full.  In spite of the informal style appropriate to the
"stump," these discussions of the Dred Scott decision, Popular
Sovereignty, and the other questions suggested by slavery are marked by
a closeness of reasoning and a readiness of retort that show the great
master in the difficult art of debate.  These qualities are not
confined to the one speaker, for his opponent was no less adroit and
ready.  We may well say in this connection, "there were giants in those

Much of Lincoln's success in these historic debates was due to his
intense conviction of the righteousness of the cause for which he was
pleading.  As lawyer and political speaker Lincoln always felt the
necessity of believing in his case.  He frequently refused to appear in
suits because he could not put his heart into them, and he never
defended a policy from mere party loyalty.  Much of Lincoln's success
as a speaker was due to the fact that his hearers felt that they could
trust him.  This is simply a new application of the old principle that
the chief qualification for success in oratory is character.  In
reading a man's books we may forget his character for the time, but in
listening to an orator we have the man himself constantly before us,
and he himself makes or mars his success.

In 1859 Lincoln delivered his second and last long occasional
address--a discussion of agriculture at the Wisconsin State Fair at
Milwaukee.  This is the only important non-political speech by Lincoln
that has been preserved and it is interesting as showing his ability to
treat a subject of general interest.  Here, as in his discussions of
political questions, Lincoln displayed true statesmanlike insight and
foresight, long before the time when experiment stations and farmers'
institutes began to teach the very principles that he so wisely and
effectively expounded.

In 1860 Lincoln appeared for the first time before a New York audience
and we have his own word for it that he suffered a severe attack of
stage fright on that occasion.  The event showed, however, that he had
no reason to fear the judgment of one of the most critical audiences
that ever assembled in the Cooper Union.  The Hon. Joseph H. Choate,
who was present, writes of his appearance: "When he spoke he was
transformed, his eye kindled, his voice rang, his face shone and seemed
to light up the whole assembly.  For an hour and a half he held his
audience in the hollow of his hand."  This address may be regarded as a
precursor, and a worthy precursor, of the First Inaugural, and by many
competent critics it has been given the first place among the
discussions of the political situation just before the war.  After such
a performance there could be no hesitation on the part of those that
heard it in acknowledging Abraham Lincoln as one of the most powerful
speakers of his day.  Before returning to Illinois Lincoln travelled
through several of the New England States, making speeches in a number
of the larger towns.

The speeches delivered by Lincoln on the journey to Washington, in
1860, beginning with the exquisite Farewell Address at Springfield,
include some of the best of his shorter addresses.  The most
interesting of these is the one delivered in Independence Hall.

The First Inaugural Address was not received at the time of its first
publication in the newspapers, even at the North, with the general
enthusiasm that we should now be inclined to assume; and in the South
it was severely criticised for its alleged lack of force and
definiteness.  Its effect, however, upon the immense audience gathered
in front of the Capitol seems to have been immediate.  The document had
been written with great care at Springfield, some changes being made
after the arrival at Washington.  The most important of these were the
substitution for the original closing paragraph of the beautiful
peroration suggested by Secretary Seward.  In beauty of language and
elevation of thought this first public utterance by President Lincoln
may be compared to the great political utterances of Burke.

First among the little classics of the world stands the Gettysburg
Address.  At the time of its delivery it does not seem to have been
generally accepted as a notable utterance.  By many of the newspaper
correspondents it was referred to as "remarks by the President," and
some of the papers contained no comment upon it.  By others it was
dismissed with a few words of mild praise.  Even after the death of
Lincoln there was no general agreement as to its supreme merits as a
part of our national literature.  Conflicting stories still pass
current in books and articles on Lincoln about its composition, and
original reception.  An examination of the testimony shows that the
following facts may be accepted as fairly proved.  The greater part of
the address was written in Washington after very careful preparation,
and profound reflection.  The address was read from MS., but with some
variations that apparently occurred to the speaker at the time of
delivery.  Mr. Everett did not clasp the President's hand while he
expressed a willingness to exchange his hundred pages for the twenty
lines just read.  It is uncertain whether Lincoln said at the time that
the address did not "scour," but if he did use such an expression it
was not because of a consciousness of having failed to make adequate
preparation for the occasion.

One of the best commentaries on the Second Inaugural Address appeared
in an article in the London _Spectator_: "We cannot read it without a
renewed conviction that it is the noblest political document known to
history, and should have for the nation and the statesmen he left
behind him something of a sacred and almost prophetic character."  Carl
Schurz compared it to a sacred poem, and all discriminating readers
agree in placing it by the side of the Gettysburg Address as an almost
perfect specimen of pure English prose.

The other addresses of the presidential period are, with the exception
of the last speech, on the reconstruction of Louisiana, of minor
importance.  They consist in the main of responses to serenades, a form
of address which Lincoln cordially detested and in which as a rule he
achieved only a moderate degree of success.  The cares of his great
office made such cruel demands upon his time and strength that he
declined many requests to speak in public, and whenever he did appear
he confined his remarks within the smallest possible limits.
Furthermore, Lincoln was not a reader speaker and rarely did himself
justice without careful preparation.  Writers on Lincoln have failed to
note the severe criticisms upon Lincoln's impromptu remarks that
appeared in the opposition press and in the English newspapers.  Even
as late as 1863 newspaper writers not opposed to him did not hesitate
to refer to the plainness of the President's public speaking.

The Messages to Congress are distinguished from most documents of that
class by their frequent purple patches.  To the enumeration of dry
facts furnished by the various departments they add an elevation and
breadth of thought of the first order.

In a class by themselves are the various proclamations, some of them of
a purely formal character, such as those announcing blockades, others
of a distinctly literary character, like the announcements of fasts and
feasts.  Midway between these two classes is the most important of all,
the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, which, with the
exception of the concluding sentence, is entirely free from ornament.
Perhaps Lincoln felt here, as with the Debates, that the occasion was
too serious, not only for jesting but even for attempting the mere
graces of language.

Finally, mention should be made of the letters and telegrams written by
President Lincoln.  Although many letters have been preserved from
earlier times, none make special claims to attention outside of the
information that they furnish.  But during the last four years of his
life Lincoln wrote some of the most beautiful letters that have ever
been composed.  One of these, the letter to Mrs. Bixby, has been given
a place on the walls of one of the Oxford colleges, as a model of noble
English.  The Conkling letter and the letter to Horace Greeley are
among the most important statements of Lincoln's policy and are really
short political tracts.

The First Inaugural can be traced through the Cooper Union Address and
the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, the Peoria Speech, and the speeches of
1854 to the seed of 1832, the plain, logical, direct statement of
principles of Lincoln's first address to the public.  The development
of the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural, those supreme
expressions of Lincoln's feelings, is not, in the main, to be traced
through complete speeches, but it must be sought for in isolated
passages, when he left logic for the moment and gave himself up to the
passing emotion.  The real seed of the majestic simplicity of those
addresses is perhaps to be found in those rhetorical speeches of an
early period, so lacking apparently in the qualities that we love and
admire.  In writing, as in so many other things, we reap not what we
sow, but its fruition.  The effect may seem very remotely related to
the cause, but he would be a fool who would deny the relation between


The complete works of Abraham Lincoln have been compiled and edited by
his biographers, John G. Nicolay and John Hay (two vols., Century
Company).  Their life of Lincoln in ten volumes (Century Company) is
the standard authority.  There is also an excellent condensation in one
volume.  Other biographies are by W. H. Herndon, Lincoln's law partner
(two vols., Putnam); by Miss Ida Tarbell (two vols., McClure); by John
T. Morse, Jr., in the American Statesmen Series (Houghton, Mifflin &
Co.); and by Norman Hapgood (Macmillan).

Among the many tributes to Lincoln, are the essays by James Russell
Lowell, Carl Schurz, the address by Emerson; and poems by Stedman,
Bryant, Holmes, Stoddard, Gilder, and Whitman, and the noble lines in
Lowell's Commemoration Ode.

The student of Lincoln's writings should be familiar with the history
of the United States, and should consult the standard histories for
explanation of the references to events in the long struggle which
culminated in the Civil War.


                         BIOGRAPHY.              AMERICAN HISTORY.

 1809. Lincoln born,     1809. Gladstone,        1809. Madison President.
   Feb. 12.                Darwin, Tennyson,
                           Poe, Holmes born.

                         1813. Douglas born.

 1816. Family moved                              1816. Indiana admitted
   to Indiana.                                     as a state.

 1818. Mother died.                              1818. Illinois admitted
                                                   as a state.

 1819. Father married
   Sarah Johnston.

                                                 1820. Missouri Compromise.

                                                 1821. Missouri admitted
                                                   as a state.

                         1822. Grant born.

                                                 1829. Jackson President.

 1830. Family moved      1830. Douglas moved     1830. Speeches of Hayne
   to Illinois.            to New York.            and Webster.

 1831. Settled in                                1831. Publication of
   New Salem.                                      _The Liberatur_.

 1832. Enlisted in the                           1832. Founding of the
   Black Hawk War:                                 New England Anti-Slavery
   unsuccessful                                    Society.
   candidate for the

 1833. Postmaster of     1833. Douglas moved     1833. Founding of the
   New Salem; deputy       to Illinois.            American Anti-Slavery
   surveyor's clerk.                               Society.

 1834. Elected to the    1834. Douglas admitted
   legislature.            to the bar.

                         1835. Douglas elected
                           State's Attorney.

 1836. Reelected to      1836. Douglas elected
   the legislature.        to the legislature.
   Presidential Elector.

 1837. Admitted to       1837. Douglas           1837. Van Buren
   the bar.  Moved         appointed Registrar     President.  Murder
   to Springfield.         of the Land Office;     of Owen Lovejoy.
                           nominated for

 1838. Reelected to
   the legislature.

 1840. Presidential      1840. Douglas
   Elector.                appointed Judge
                           of the Illinois
                           Supreme Court.

                                                 1841. Harrison
                                                   President.  Tyler

 1843. Married to
   Mary Todd.

 1844.  Presidential      1844. Douglas elected
   Elector.                 to Congress.

                                                 1845. Polk President.
                                                   Texas admitted as a

 1846. Elected to                                1846-48. War with Mexico.

                          1847. Douglas elected
                            U.S. Senator; moved
                            to Chicago.

 1848. Presidential

                                                 1849. Taylor President.

                          1850. Death of

                                                 1850. Fillmore President.
                                                   Clay's Compromise

                          1852. Death of Clay
                            and of Webster.

                          1853. Douglas          1853. Pierce President.
                            reelected Senator.

 1854. Reelected to the                          1854. Kansas-Nebraska
   legislature.                                    Bill.

 1855. Resigned from the
   legislature.  Candidate
   for the U. S. Senate.

 1856. Candidate for                             1856. Fremont first
   nomination for                                  Republican candidate for
   Vice-President.                                 the presidency.  Civil
                                                   war in Kansas.

                                                 1857. Buchanan President.
                                                   The Dred Scott Decision.

 1858. Candidate for                             1858. Lincoln-Douglas
   the U. S. Senate.                               Debates.

                          1859. Douglas          1859. Death of John
                            reelected              Brown.
                            to the Senate.

 1860. Cooper Institute   1860. Douglas          1860. South Carolina
   Address.  Elected        Democratic             Ordinance of Secession.
   President.               candidate
                            for the Presidency.

 1861. Left Springfield,  1861. Douglas died,    1861. Fall of Fort Sumter,
   Feb. 11; inaugurated     June 3.                April 12.  Battle
   March 4.                 McClellan              of Bull Run, July 21.
                            Commander-in-Chief.    Kansas admitted as a

 1862. The Preliminary                           1862. Slavery abolished
   Emancipation                                    in the District of
   Proclamation, Sept. 22.                         Columbia, April 16.

 1863. The Final                                 1863. Battle of
   Emancipation                                    Gettysburg, July 1-5.
   Jan. 1.  The
   Gettysburg Address,
   Nov. 19.

 1864. Reelected to        1864. Grant           1864. Battles of the
   the Presidency.           appointed             Wilderness, May 6-7.

 1865. Inaugurated,                              1865. Fall of Richmond,
   Mar. 4.  Assassinated,                          April 3.  Surrender of
   April 14; died April                            Lee, April 9.  Johnson
   15; buried at                                   sworn in as President,
   Springfield, May 4.                             April 15.





FELLOW-CITIZENS: Having become a candidate for the honorable office of
one of your representatives in the next General Assembly of this state,
in accordance with an established custom and the principles of true
republicanism, it becomes my duty to make known to you--the people whom
I propose to represent--my sentiments with regard to local affairs.

Time and experience have verified to a demonstration, the public
utility of internal improvements.  That the poorest and most thinly
populated countries would be greatly benefited by the opening of good
roads, and in the clearing of navigable streams within their limits, is
what no person will deny.  But yet it is folly to undertake works of
this or any other kind, without first knowing that we are able to
finish them--as half finished work generally proves to be labor lost.
There cannot justly be any objection to having railroads and canals,
any more than to other good things, provided they cost nothing.  The
only objection is to paying for them; and the objection to paying
arises from the want of ability to pay.

With respect to the county of Sangamon, some more easy means of
communication than we now possess, for the purpose of facilitating the
task of exporting the surplus products of its fertile soil, and
importing necessary articles from abroad, are indispensably necessary.
A meeting has been held of the citizens of Jacksonville, and the
adjacent country, for the purpose of deliberating and enquiring into
the expediency of constructing a railroad from some eligible point on
the Illinois river, through the town of Jacksonville, in Morgan county,
to the town of Springfield in Sangamon county.  This is, indeed, a very
desirable object.  No other improvement that reason will justify us in
hoping for, can equal in utility the railroad.  It is a never failing
source of communication, between places of business remotely situated
from each other.  Upon the railroad the regular progress of commercial
intercourse is not interrupted by either high or low water, or freezing
weather, which are the principal difficulties that render our future
hopes of water communication precarious and uncertain.  Yet, however
desirable an object the construction of a railroad through our country
may be; however high our imaginations may be heated at thoughts of
it--there is always a heart appalling shock accompanying the account of
its cost, which forces us to shrink from our pleasing anticipations.
The probable cost of this contemplated railroad is estimated at
$290,000;--the bare statement of which, in my opinion, is sufficient to
justify the belief, that the improvement of the Sangamon river is an
object much better suited to our infant resources.

Respecting this view, I think I may say, without the fear of being
contradicted, that its navigation may be rendered completely
practicable, as high as the mouth of the South Fork, or probably
higher, to vessels of from 25 to 30 tons burthen, for at least one half
of all common years, and to vessels of much greater burthen a part of
that time.  From my peculiar circumstances, it is probable that for the
last twelve months I have given as particular attention to the stage of
the water in this river, as any other person in the country.  In the
month of March, 1831, in company with others, I commenced the building
of a flatboat on the Sangamon, and finished and took her out in the
course of the spring.  Since that time, I have been concerned in the
mill at New Salem.  These circumstances are sufficient evidence, that I
have not been very inattentive to the stages of the water.--The time at
which we crossed the milldam, being in the last days of April, the
water was lower than it had been since the breaking of winter in
February, or than it was for several weeks after.  The principal
difficulties we encountered in descending the river, were from the
drifted timber, which obstructions all know is not difficult to be
removed.  Knowing almost precisely the height of water at that time, I
believe I am safe in saying that it has as often been higher as lower

From this view of the subject, it appears that my calculations with
regard to the navigation of the Sangamon, cannot be unfounded in
reason; but whatever may be its natural advantages, certain it is, that
it never can be practically useful to any great extent, without being
greatly improved by art.  The drifted timber, as I have before
mentioned, is the most formidable barrier to this object.  Of all parts
of this river, none will require so much labor in proportion, to make
it navigable as the last thirty or thirty-five miles; and going with
the meanderings of the channel, when we are this distance above its
mouth, we are only between twelve and eighteen miles above Beardstown
in something near a straight direction, and this route is upon such low
ground as to retain water in many places during the season, and in all
parts such as to draw two-thirds or three-fourths of the river water at
all stages.

This route is up on prairieland the whole distance;--so that it appears
to me, by removing the turf, a sufficient width, and damming up the old
channel, the whole river in a short time would wash its way through,
thereby curtailing the distance, and increasing the velocity of the
current very considerably, while there would be no timber upon the
banks to obstruct its navigation in future; and being nearly straight,
the timber which might float in at the head, would be apt to go clear
through.  There are also many places above this where the river, in its
zigzag course, forms such complete peninsulas, as to be easier cut
through at the necks than to remove the obstructions from the
bends--which if done, would also lessen the distance.

What the cost of this work would be, I am unable to say.  It is
probable, however, that it would not be greater than is common to
streams of the same length.  Finally, I believe the improvement of the
Sangamon river, to be vastly important and highly desirable to the
improvement of the county; and if elected, any measure in the
legislature having this for its object, which may appear judicious,
will meet my approbation and shall receive my support.

It appears that the practice of loaning money at exorbitant rates of
interest, has already been opened as a field for discussion; so I
suppose I may enter upon it without claiming the honor, or risking the
danger, which may await its first explorer.  It seems as though we are
never to have an end to this baneful and corroding system, acting
almost as prejudicial to the general interests of the community as a
direct tax of several thousand dollars annually laid on each county,
for the benefit of a few individuals only, unless there be a law made
setting a limit to the rates of usury.  A law for this purpose, I am of
opinion, may be made without materially injuring any class of people.
In cases of extreme necessity there could always be means found to
cheat the law, while in all other cases it would have its intended
effect.  I would not favor the passage of a law upon this subject which
might be very easily evaded.  Let it be such that the labor and
difficulty of evading it could only be justified in cases of greatest

Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or
system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most
important subject which we as a people can be engaged in.  That every
man may receive at least, a moderate education, and thereby be enabled
to read the history of his own and other countries, by which he may
duly appreciate the value of our free institutions, appears to be an
object of vital importance, even on this account alone, to say nothing
of the advantages and satisfaction to be derived from all being able to
read the scriptures and other works, both of a religious and moral
nature, for themselves.  For my part, I desire to see the time when
education, and by its means, morality, sobriety, enterprise and
industry, shall become much more general than at present, and should be
gratified to have it in my power to contribute something to the
advancement of any measure which might have a tendency to accelerate
the happy period.

With regard to existing laws, some alterations are thought to be
necessary.  Many respectable men have suggested that our estray
laws--the law respecting the issuing of executions, the road law, and
some others, are deficient in their present form, and require
alterations.  But considering the great probability that the framers of
those laws were wiser than myself, I should prefer [not] meddling with
them, unless they were first attacked by others, in which case I should
feel it both a privilege and a duty to take that stand, which in my
view, might tend most to the advancement of justice.

But, fellow-citizens, I shall conclude.--Considering the great degree
of modesty which should always attend youth, it is probable I have
already been more presuming than becomes me.  However, upon the
subjects of which I have treated, I have spoken as I thought.  I may be
wrong in regard to any or all of them; but, holding it a sound maxim,
that it is better to be only sometimes right, than at all times wrong,
so soon as I discover my opinions to be erroneous, I shall be ready to
renounce them.

Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition.  Whether it be true or
not, I can say, for one, that I have no other so great as that of being
truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering myself worthy of their
esteem.  How far I shall succeed in gratifying this ambition, is yet to
be developed.  I am young and unknown to many of you.  I was born and
have ever remained in the most humble walks of life.  I have no wealthy
or popular relations to recommend me.  My case is thrown exclusively
upon the independent voters of this county, and if elected they will
have conferred a favor upon me, for which I shall be unremitting in my
labors to compensate.  But, if the good people in their wisdom shall
see fit to keep me in the background, I have been too familiar with
disappointments to be very much chagrined.

  Your friend and fellow-citizen,
            A. LINCOLN.

  NEW SALEM, March 9, 1832.


In the great journal of things happening under the sun, we, the
American People, find our account running under date of the nineteenth
century of the Christian era.--We find ourselves in the peaceful
possession of the fairest portion of the earth, as regards extent of
territory, fertility of soil, and salubrity of climate.  We find
ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions
conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty
than any of which the history of former times tells us.  We, when
mounting the stage of existence, found ourselves the legal inheritors
of these fundamental blessings.  We toiled not in the acquirement or
establishment of them--they are a legacy bequeathed us by a once hardy,
brave, and patriotic, but now lamented and departed, race of ancestors.
Theirs was the task (and nobly they performed it) to possess
themselves, and through themselves us, of this goodly land, and to
uprear upon its hills and its valleys a political edifice of liberty
and equal rights; 'tis ours only to transmit these, the former
unprofaned by the foot of an invader; the latter undecayed by the lapse
of time and untorn by usurpation--to the latest generation that fate
shall permit the world to know.  This task gratitude to our fathers,
justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for our species in
general, all imperatively require us faithfully to perform.

How, then, shall we perform it?--At what point shall we expect the
approach of danger?  By what means shall we fortify against it?  Shall
we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush
us at a blow?  Never!--All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa
combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in
their military chest, with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by
force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a
trial of a thousand years.

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected?  I answer,
If it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us.  It cannot come from
abroad.  If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and
finisher.  As a nation of freemen we must live through all time, or die
by suicide.

I hope I am over wary; but if I am not, there is, even now, something
of ill omen amongst us.  I mean the increasing disregard for law which
pervades the country; the growing disposition to substitute the wild
and furious passions in lieu of the sober judgment of courts; and the
worse than savage mobs, for the executive ministers of justice.  This
disposition is awfully fearful in any community; and that it now exists
in ours, though grating to our feelings to admit, it would be a
violation of truth and an insult to our intelligence to deny.  Accounts
of outrages committed by mobs form the every-day news of the times.
They have pervaded the country from New England to Louisiana;--they are
neither peculiar to the eternal snows of the former nor the burning
suns of the latter; they are not the creature of climate, neither are
they confined to the slave-holding or the non-slave-holding states.
Alike they spring up among the pleasure-hunting masters of Southern
slaves, and the order-loving citizens of the land of steady
habits.--Whatever, then, their cause may be, it is common to the whole

It would be tedious as well as useless to recount the horrors of all of
them.  Those, happening in the State of Mississippi and at St. Louis
are, perhaps, the most dangerous in example and revolting to humanity.
In the Mississippi case they first commenced by hanging the regular
gamblers--a set of men certainly not following for a livelihood a very
useful or very honest occupation; but one which, so far from being
forbidden by the laws, was actually licensed by an act of the
Legislature passed but a single year before.  Next negroes suspected of
conspiring to raise an insurrection were caught up and hanged in all
parts of the State; then, white men supposed to be leagued with the
negroes; and finally, strangers from neighboring States, going thither
on business, were, in many instances, subjected to the same fate.  Thus
went on this process of hanging, from gamblers to negroes, from negroes
to white citizens, and from these to strangers, till dead men were seen
literally dangling from the boughs of trees upon every roadside, and in
numbers almost sufficient to rival the native Spanish moss of the
country, as a drapery of the forest.

Turn, then, to that horror-striking scene at St. Louis.  A single
victim only was sacrificed there.  This story is very short, and is
perhaps the most highly tragic of anything of its length that has ever
been witnessed in real life.  A mulatto man by the name of McIntosh was
seized in the street, dragged to the suburbs of the city, chained to a
tree, and actually burned to death; and all within a single hour from
the time he had been a freeman, attending to his own business and at
peace with the world.

Such are the effects of mob law, and such are the scenes becoming more
and more frequent in this land so lately famed for love of law and
order, and the stories of which have even now grown too familiar to
attract anything more than an idle remark.

But you are perhaps ready to ask, "What has this to do with the
perpetuation of our political institutions?"  I answer, it has much to
do with it.  Its direct consequences are, comparatively speaking, but a
small evil, and much of its danger consists in the proneness of our
minds to regard its direct as its only consequences.  Abstractly
considered, the hanging of the gamblers at Vicksburg was of but little
consequence.  They constitute a portion of population that is worse
than useless in any community; and their death, if no pernicious
example be set by it, is never matter of reasonable regret with any
one.  If they were annually swept from the stage of existence by the
plague or small-pox, honest men would perhaps be much profited by the
operation.--Similar too is the correct reasoning in regard to the
burning of the negro at St. Louis.  He had forfeited his life by the
perpetration of an outrageous murder upon one of the most worthy and
respectable citizens of the city, and had he not died as he did, he
must have died by the sentence of the law in a very short time
afterwards.  As to him alone, it was as well the way it was as it could
otherwise have been.  But the example in either case was fearful.  When
men take it in their heads to-day to hang gamblers or burn murderers,
they should recollect that in the confusion usually attending such
transactions they will be as likely to hang or burn some one who is
neither a gambler nor a murderer as one who is, and that, acting upon
the example they set, the mob of to-morrow may, and probably will, hang
or burn some of them by the very same mistake.  And not only so; the
innocent, those who have ever set their faces against violations of law
in every shape, alike with the guilty fall victims to the ravages of
mob law; and thus it goes on, step by step, till all the walls erected
for the defence of the persons and property of individuals are trodden
down and disregarded.  But all this, even, is not the full extent of
the evil.  By such examples, by instances of the perpetrators of such
acts going unpunished, the lawless in spirit are encouraged to become
lawless in practice; and having been used to no restraint but dread of
punishment, they thus become absolutely unrestrained.  Having ever
regarded government as their deadliest bane, they make a jubilee of the
suspension of its operations, and pray for nothing so much as its total
annihilation.  While, on the other hand, good men, men who love
tranquillity, who desire to abide by the laws and enjoy their benefits,
who would gladly spill their blood in the defence of their country,
seeing their property destroyed, their families insulted, and their
lives endangered, their persons injured, and seeing nothing in prospect
that forebodes a change for the better, become tired of and disgusted
with a government that offers them no protection, and are not much
averse to a change, in which they imagine they have nothing to lose.
Thus, then, by the operation of this mobocratic spirit which all must
admit is now abroad in the land, the strongest bulwark of any
government, and particularly of those constituted like ours, may
effectually be broken down and destroyed--I mean the _attachment_ of
the people.  Whenever this effect shall be produced among us; whenever
the vicious portion of population shall be permitted to gather in bands
of hundreds and thousands and burn churches, ravage and rob
provision-stores, throw printing-presses into rivers, shoot editors,
and hang and burn obnoxious persons at pleasure and with impunity,
depend on it, this government cannot last.  By such things the feelings
of the best citizens will become more or less alienated from it, and
thus it will be left without friends, or with too few, and those few
too weak to make their friendship effectual.  At such a time, and under
such circumstances, men of sufficient talent and ambition will not be
wanting to seize the opportunity, strike the blow, and overturn that
fair fabric which for the last half century as been the fondest hope of
the lovers of freedom throughout the world.

I know the American People are much attached to their government; I
know they would suffer much for its sake; I know they would endure
evils long and patiently before they would ever think of exchanging it
for another.  Yet, notwithstanding all this, if the laws be continually
despised and disregarded, if their rights to be secure in their persons
and property are held by no better tenure than the caprice of a mob,
the alienation of their affections from the government is the natural
consequence; and to that, sooner or later, it must come.

Here, then, is one point at which danger may be expected.

The question recurs, "How shall we fortify against it?"  The answer is
simple.  Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well-wisher
to his posterity swear by the blood of the Revolution never to violate
in the least particular the laws of the country, and never to tolerate
their violation by others.  As the patriots of seventy-six did to the
support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the
Constitution and Laws let every American pledge his life, his property,
and his sacred honor:--let every man remember that to violate the law
is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of
his own and his children's liberty.  Let reverence for the laws be
breathed by every American mother to the lisping babe that prattles on
her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges;
let it be written in primers, spelling books, and in almanacs; let it
be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and
enforced in courts of justice.  And, in short, let it become the
political religion of the nation; and let the old and the young, the
rich and the poor, the grave and the gay of all sexes and tongues and
colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling such as this shall universally or even
very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every
effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

When I so pressingly urge a strict observance of all the laws, let me
not be understood as saying there are no bad laws, or that grievances
may not arise for the redress of which no legal provisions have been
made.  I mean to say no such thing.  But I do mean to say that although
bad laws, if they exist, should be repealed as soon as possible, still
they continue in force, for the sake of example they should be
religiously observed.  So also in unprovided cases.  If such arise, let
proper legal provisions be made for them with the least possible delay,
but, till then, let them, if not too intolerable, be borne with.

There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.  In
any case that may arise, as, for instance, the promulgation of
abolitionism, one of two positions is necessarily true--that is, the
thing is right within itself, and therefore deserves the protection of
all law and all good citizens, or, it is wrong, and therefore proper to
be prohibited by legal enactments; and in neither case is the
interposition of mob law either necessary, justifiable, or excusable.

But it may be asked, why suppose danger to our political institutions?
Have we not preserved them for more than fifty years?  And why may we
not for fifty times as long?

We hope there is _no sufficient_ reason.  We hope all dangers may be
overcome; but to conclude that no danger may ever arise would itself be
extremely dangerous.  There are now, and will hereafter be, many
causes, dangerous in their tendency, which have not existed heretofore,
and which are not too insignificant to merit attention.  That our
government should have been maintained in its original form, from its
establishment until now, is not much to be wondered at.  It had many
props to support it through that period, which now are decayed and
crumbled away.  Through that period it was felt by all to be an
undecided experiment; now it is understood to be a successful
one.--Then, all that sought celebrity and fame and distinction expected
to find them in the success of that experiment.  Their _all_ was staked
upon it; their destiny was _inseparably_ linked with it.  Their
ambition aspired to display before an admiring world a practical
demonstration of the truth of a proposition which had hitherto been
considered at best no better than problematical--namely, _the
capability of a people to govern themselves_.  If they succeeded they
were to be immortalized; their names were to be transferred to
counties, and cities, and rivers, and mountains; and to be revered and
sung, toasted through all time.  If they failed, they were to be called
knaves, and fools, and fanatics for a fleeting hour; then to sink and
be forgotten.  They succeeded.  The experiment is successful, and
thousands have won their deathless names in making it so.  But the game
is caught; and I believe it is true that with the catching end the
pleasures of the chase.  This field of glory is harvested, and the crop
is already appropriated.  But new reapers will arise, and _they_ too
will seek a field.  It is to deny what the history of the world tells
us is true, to suppose that men of ambition and talents will not
continue to spring up amongst us.  And, when they do, they will as
naturally seek the gratification of their ruling passion as others have
done before them.  The question then is, Can that gratification be
found in supporting and maintaining an edifice that has been erected by
others?  Most certainly it cannot.  Many great and good men,
sufficiently qualified for any task they should undertake, may ever be
found whose ambition would aspire to nothing beyond a seat in Congress,
a gubernatorial or a presidential chair; but _such belong not to the
family of the lion, or the tribe of the eagle_.  What! think you these
places would satisfy an Alexander, a Caesar, or a Napoleon?  Never!
Towering genius disdains a beaten path.  It seeks regions hitherto
unexplored.  It sees no distinction in adding story to story upon the
monuments of fame erected to the memory of others.  It _denies_ that it
is glory enough to serve under any chief.  It _scorns_ to tread in the
footsteps of _any_ predecessor, however illustrious.  It thirsts and
burns for distinction; and if possible, it will have it, whether at the
expense of emancipating slaves or enslaving freemen.  Is it
unreasonable then, to expect that some man possessed of the loftiest
genius, coupled with ambition sufficient to push it to its utmost
stretch, will at some time spring up among us?  And when such a one
does, it will require the people to be united with each other, attached
to the government and laws, and generally intelligent, to successfully
frustrate his designs.

Distinction will be his paramount object, and, although he would as
willingly, perhaps more so, acquire it by doing good as harm, yet, that
opportunity being past, and nothing left to be done in the way of
building up, he would set boldly to the task of pulling down.

Here then is a probable case, highly dangerous, and such an one as
could have well existed heretofore.

Another reason which _once was_, but which, to the same extent, is _now
no more_, has done much in maintaining our institutions thus far, I
mean the powerful influence which the interesting scenes of the
Revolution had upon the _passions_ of the people as distinguished from
their judgment.  By this influence, the jealousy, envy, and avarice
incident to our nature, and so common to a state of peace, prosperity,
and conscious strength, were for the time in a great measure smothered
and rendered inactive, while the deep-rooted principles of _hate_, and
the powerful motive of _revenge_, instead of being turned against each
other, were directed exclusively against the British nation.  And thus,
from the force of circumstances, the basest principles of our nature
were either made to lie dormant, or to become the active agents in the
advancement of the noblest of causes--that of establishing and
maintaining civil and religious liberty.

But this state of feeling _must fade, is fading, has faded_, with the
circumstances that produced it.

I do not mean to say that the scenes of the Revolution _are now_ or
_ever will be_ entirely forgotten, but that, like everything else, they
must fade upon the memory of the world, and grow more and more dim by
the lapse of time.  In history, we hope, they will be read of, and
recounted, so long as the Bible shall be read; but even granting that
they will, their influence _cannot_ be what it heretofore has been.
Even then they _cannot_ be so universally known nor so vividly felt as
they were by the generation just gone to rest.  At the close of that
struggle, nearly every adult male had been a participator in some of
its scenes.  The consequence was that of those scenes, in the form of a
husband, a father, a son, or a brother, a _living history_ was to be
found in every family--a history bearing the indubitable testimonies of
its own authenticity, in the limbs mangled, in the scars of wounds
received, in the midst of the very scenes related--a history, too, that
could be read and understood alike by all, the wise and the ignorant,
the learned and the unlearned.--But _those_ histories are gone.  They
can be read no more forever.  They _were_ a fortress of strength; but
what invading foeman could _never do_, the silent artillery of time
_has done_--the levelling of its walls.  They are gone.  They _were_ a
forest of giant oaks; but the all-restless hurricane has swept over
them, and left only here and there a lonely trunk, despoiled of its
verdure, shorn of its foliage, unshading and unshaded, to murmur in a
few more gentle breezes, and to combat with its mutilated limbs a few
more ruder storms, then to sink and be no more.

They _were_ pillars of the temple of liberty; and now that they have
crumbled away that temple must fall unless we, their descendants,
supply their places with other pillars, hewn from the solid quarry of
sober reason.  Passion has helped us, but can do so no more.  It will
in future be our enemy.  Reason--cold, calculating, unimpassioned
reason--must furnish all the materials for our future support and
defence.  Let those materials be moulded into _general intelligence,
sound morality_, and, in particular, _a reverence for the Constitution
and laws_; and that we improved to the last, that we remained free to
the last, that we revered his name to the last, that during his long
sleep we permitted no hostile foot to pass over or desecrate his
resting-place, shall be that which to learn the last trump shall awaken

Upon these let the proud fabric of freedom rest, as the rock of its
basis, and, as truly as has been said of the only greater institution,
"_the gates of hell shall not prevail against it_."


Mr. President, and Gentlemen of the Convention: If we could first know
where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to
do, and how to do it.  We are now far into the fifth year since a
policy was initiated with the avowed object and confident promise of
putting an end to slavery agitation.  Under the operation of that
policy, that agitation has not only not ceased, but has constantly
augmented.  In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have
been reached and passed.  "A house divided against itself cannot
stand."  I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave
and half free.  I do not expect the Union to be dissolved--I do not
expect the house to fall--but I do expect it will cease to be divided.
It will become all one thing or all the other.  Either the opponents of
slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the
public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of
ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it
shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new,--North
as well as South.

Have we no tendency to the latter condition?

Let any one who doubts carefully contemplate that now almost complete
legal combination---piece of machinery, so to speak--compounded of the
Nebraska doctrine and the Dred Scott decision.  Let him consider not
only what work the machinery is adapted to do, and how well adapted;
but also let him study the history of its construction, and trace, if
he can, or rather fail, if he can, to trace the evidences of design and
concert of action among its chief architects, from the beginning.

The new year of 1854 found slavery excluded from more than half the
States by State constitutions, and from most of the national territory
by Congressional prohibition.  Four days later commenced the struggle
which ended in repealing that Congressional prohibition.  This opened
all the national territory to slavery, and was the first point gained.

But, so far, Congress only had acted, and an indorsement by the people,
real or apparent, was indispensable, to save the point already gained,
and give chance for more.

This necessity had not been overlooked, but had been provided for, as
well as might be, in the notable argument of "squatter sovereignty,"
otherwise called "sacred right of self-government," which latter
phrase, though expressive of the only rightful basis of any government,
was so perverted in this attempted use of it as to amount to just this:
That if any _one_ man choose to enslave _another_, no _third_ man shall
be allowed to object.  That argument was incorporated into the Nebraska
bill itself, in the language which follows: "It being the true intent
and meaning of this act not to legislate slavery into any Territory or
State, nor to exclude it therefrom; but to leave the people thereof
perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in
their own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United States."
Then opened the roar of loose declamation in favor of "Squatter
Sovereignty" and "sacred right of self-government."  "But," said
opposition members, "let us amend the bill so as to expressly declare
that the people of the Territory may exclude slavery."  "Not we," said
the friends of the measure; and down they voted the amendment.

While the Nebraska bill was passing through Congress, a _law case_
involving the question of a negro's freedom, by reason of his owner
having voluntarily taken him first into a free State and then into a
Territory covered by the Congressional prohibition, and held him as a
slave for a long time in each, was passing through the United States
Circuit Court for the District of Missouri; and both Nebraska bill and
lawsuit were brought to a decision in the same month of May, 1854.  The
negro's name was "Dred Scott," which name now designates the decision
finally made in the case.  Before the then next presidential election,
the law case came to and was argued in the Supreme Court of the United
States; but the decision of it was deferred until after the election.
Still, before the election, Senator Trumbull, on the floor of the
Senate, requested the leading advocate of the Nebraska bill to state
_his opinion_ whether the people of a Territory can constitutionally
exclude slavery from their limits; and the latter answers: "That is a
question for the Supreme Court."

The election came.  Mr. Buchanan was elected, and the indorsement, such
as it was, secured.  That was the second point gained.  The
indorsement, however, fell short of a clear popular majority by nearly
four hundred thousand votes, and so, perhaps, was not overwhelmingly
reliable and satisfactory.  The out-going President, in his last annual
message, as impressively as possible echoed back upon the people the
weight and authority of the indorsement.  The Supreme Court met again;
did not announce their decision, but ordered a reargument.  The
presidential inauguration came, and still no decision of the court; but
the incoming President in his inaugural address fervently exhorted the
people to abide by the forthcoming decision, whatever it might be.
Then, in a few days, came the decision.

The reputed author of the Nebraska bill finds an early occasion to make
a speech at this capital indorseing the Dred Scott decision, and
vehemently denouncing all opposition to it.  The new President, too,
seizes the early occasion of the Silliman letter to indorse and
strongly construe that decision, and to express his astonishment that
any different view had ever been entertained!

At length a squabble springs up between the President and the author of
the Nebraska bill, on the mere question of _fact_, whether the
Lecompton Constitution was or was not, in any just sense, made by the
people of Kansas; and in that quarrel the latter declares that all he
wants is a fair vote for the people, and that he cares not whether
slavery be voted _down_ or voted _up_.  I do not understand his
declaration that he cares not whether slavery be voted down or voted up
to be intended by him other than as an apt definition of the policy he
would impress upon the public mind--the principle for which he declares
he has suffered so much, and is ready to suffer to the end.  And well
may he cling to that principle.  If he has any parental feeling, well
may he cling to it.  That principle is the only shred left of his
original Nebraska doctrine.  Under the Dred Scott decision "squatter
sovereignty" squatted out of existence, tumbled down like temporary
scaffolding--like the mould at the foundry served through one blast and
fell back into loose sand,--helped to carry an election, and then was
kicked to the winds.  His late joint struggle with the Republicans
against the Lecompton Constitution involves nothing of the original
Nebraska doctrine.  That struggle was made on a point--the right of a
people to make their own constitution--upon which he and the
Republicans have never differed.

The several points of the Dred Scott decision, in connection with
Senator Douglas's "care not" policy, constitute the piece of machinery
in its present state of advancement.  This was the third point gained.
The working points of that machinery are:

(1) That no negro slave, imported as such from Africa, and no
descendant of such slave, can ever be a citizen of any State, in the
sense of that term as used in the Constitution of the United States.
This point is made in order to deprive the negro, in every possible
event, of the benefit of that provision of the United States
Constitution which declares that "the citizens of each State shall be
entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the
several States."

(2) That, "subject to the Constitution of the United States," neither
Congress nor a Territorial Legislature can exclude slavery from any
United States Territory.  This point is made in order that individual
men may fill up the Territories with slaves, without danger of losing
them as property, and thus to enhance the chances of permanency to the
institution through all the future.

(3) That whether the holding a negro in actual slavery in a free State
makes him free as against the holder, the United States courts will not
decide, but will leave to be decided by the courts of any slave State
the negro may be forced into by the master.  This point is made, not to
be pressed immediately; but, if acquiesced in for a while, and
apparently indorsed by the people at an election, then to sustain the
logical conclusion that what Dred Scott's master might lawfully do with
Dred Scott, in the free State of Illinois, every other master may
lawfully do with any other one, or one thousand slaves, in Illinois, or
in any other free State.

Auxiliary to all this, and working hand in hand with it, the Nebraska
doctrine, or what is left of it, is to educate and mould public
opinion, at least Northern public opinion, not to care whether slavery
is voted down or voted up.  This shows exactly where we now are; and
partially, also, whither we are tending.

It will throw additional light on the latter, to go back and run the
mind over the string of historical facts already stated.  Several
things will now appear less dark and mysterious than they did when they
were transpiring.  The people were to be left "perfectly free,"
"subject only to the Constitution."  What the Constitution had to do
with it outsiders could not then see.  Plainly enough now, it was an
exactly fitted niche for the Dred Scott decision to afterward come in,
and declare the perfect freedom of the people to be just no freedom at
all.  Why was the amendment, expressly declaring the right of the
people, voted down?  Plainly enough now, the adoption of it would have
spoiled the niche for the Dred Scott decision.  Why was the court
decision held up?  Why even a Senator's individual opinion withheld
till after the presidential election?  Plainly enough now, the speaking
out then would have damaged the perfectly free argument upon which the
election was to be carried.  Why the outgoing President's felicitation
on the indorsement?  Why the delay of a reargument?  Why the incoming
President's advance exhortation in favor of the decision?  These things
look like the cautious patting and petting of a spirited horse
preparatory to mounting him, when it is dreaded that he may give the
rider a fall.  And why the hasty after-indorsement of the decision by
the President and others?

We cannot absolutely know that all these exact adaptations are the
result of preconcert.  But when we see a lot of framed timbers,
different portions of which we know have been gotten out at different
times and places and by different workmen,--Stephen, Franklin, Roger,
and James, for instance--and we see these timbers joined together, and
see they exactly make the frame of a house or a mill, all the tenons
and mortices exactly fitting, and all the lengths and proportions of
the different pieces exactly adapted to their respective places, and
not a piece too many or too few, not omitting even scaffolding--or, if
a single piece be lacking, we see the place in the frame exactly fitted
and prepared yet to bring such piece in--in such a case we find it
impossible not to believe that Stephen and Franklin and Roger and James
all understood one another from the beginning, and all worked upon a
common plan or draft drawn up before the first blow was struck.

It should not be overlooked that, by the Nebraska bill, the people of a
_State_ as well as Territory were to be left "perfectly free," "subject
only to the Constitution."  Why mention a State?  They were legislating
for Territories, and not for or about States.  Certainly the people of
a State are and ought to be subject to the Constitution of the United
States; but why is mention of this lugged into this merely Territorial
law?  Why are the people of a Territory and the people of a State
therein lumped together, and their relation to the Constitution therein
treated as being precisely the same?  While the opinion of the court,
by Chief Justice Taney, in the Dred Scott case, and the separate
opinions of all the concurring judges, expressly declare that the
Constitution of the United States neither permits Congress nor a
Territorial Legislature to exclude slavery from any United States
Territory, they all omit to declare whether or not the same
Constitution permits a State, or the people of a State, to exclude it.
Possibly, this is a mere omission; but who can be quite sure, if McLean
or Curtis had sought to get into the opinion a declaration of unlimited
power in the people of a State to exclude slavery from their limits,
just as Chase and Mace sought to get such declaration, in behalf of the
people of a Territory, into the Nebraska bill--I ask, who can be quite
sure that it would not have been voted down in the one case as it had
been in the other?  The nearest approach to the point of declaring the
power of a State over slavery is made by Judge Nelson.  He approaches
it more than once, using the precise idea, and almost the language too,
of the Nebraska act.  On one occasion his exact language is: "except in
cases where the power is restrained by the Constitution of the United
States, the law of the State is supreme over the subject of slavery
within its jurisdiction."  In what cases the power of the States is so
restrained by the United States Constitution is left an open question,
precisely as the same question as to the restraint on the power of the
Territories was left open in the Nebraska act.  Put this and that
together, and we have another nice little niche, which we may, ere
long, see filled with another Supreme Court decision declaring that the
Constitution of the United States does not permit a _State_ to exclude
slavery from its limits.  And this may especially be expected if the
doctrine of "care not whether slavery be voted down or voted up" shall
gain upon the public mind sufficiently to give promise that such a
decision can be maintained when made.

Such a decision is all that slavery now lacks of being alike lawful in
all the States.  Welcome, or unwelcome, such decision is probably
coming, and will soon be upon us, unless the power of the present
political dynasty shall be met and overthrown.  We shall lie down
pleasantly dreaming that the people of Missouri are on the verge of
making their State free, and we shall awake to the reality instead that
the Supreme Court has made Illinois a slave State.  To meet and
overthrow the power of that dynasty is the work now before all those
who would prevent that consummation.  That is what we have to do.  How
can we best do it?

There are those who denounce us openly to their own friends, and yet
whisper us softly that Senator Douglas is the aptest instrument there
is with which to effect that object.  They wish us to _infer_ all from
the fact that he now has a little quarrel with the present head of the
dynasty; and that he has regularly voted with us on a single point,
upon which he and we have never differed.  They remind us that he is a
great man, and that the largest of us are very small ones.  Let this be
granted.  But "a living dog is better than a dead lion."  Judge
Douglas, if not a dead lion for this work, is at least a caged and
toothless one.  How can he oppose the advances of slavery?  He don't
care anything about it.  His avowed mission is impressing the "public
heart" _to care nothing about it_.  A leading Douglas Democratic
newspaper thinks Douglas's superior talent will be needed to resist the
revival of the African slave-trade.  Does Douglas believe an effort to
revive that trade is approaching?  He has not said so.  Does he really
think so?  But if it is, how can he resist it?  For years he has
labored to prove it a sacred right of white men to take negro slaves
into the new Territories.  Can he possibly show that it is less a
sacred right to buy them where they can be bought cheapest?  And
unquestionably they can be bought cheaper in Africa than in Virginia.
He has done all in his power to reduce the whole question of slavery to
one of a mere right of property; and, as such, how can he oppose the
foreign slave-trade--how can he refuse that trade in that "property"
shall be "perfectly free"--unless he does it as a protection to the
home production?  And as the home producers will probably not ask the
protection, he will be wholly without a ground of opposition.

Senator Douglas holds, we know, that a man may rightfully be wiser
to-day than he was yesterday--that he may rightfully change when he
finds himself wrong.  But can we, for that reason, run ahead, and infer
that he will make any particular change, of which he himself has given
no intimation?  Can we safely base our action upon any such vague
inference?  Now, as ever, I wish not to misrepresent Judge Douglas's
position, question his motives, or do aught that can be personally
offensive to him.  Whenever, if ever, he and we can come together on
principle so that our great cause may have assistance from his great
ability, I hope to have interposed no adventitious obstacle.  But
clearly he is not now with us--he does not pretend to be--he does not
promise ever to be.

Our cause, then, must be intrusted to, and conducted by, its own
undoubted friends--those whose hands are free, whose hearts are in the
work, who do care for the result.  Two years ago the Republicans of the
nation mustered over thirteen hundred thousand strong.  We did this
under the single impulse of resistance to a common danger, with every
external circumstance against us.  Of strange, discordant, and even
hostile elements, we gathered from the four winds, and formed and
fought the battle through, under the constant hot fire of a
disciplined, proud, and pampered enemy.  Did we brave all then to
falter now?--now, when that same enemy is wavering, dissevered, and
belligerent?  The result is not doubtful.  We shall not fail--if we
stand firm, we _shall not fail_.  Wise counsels may accelerate or
mistakes delay it, but, sooner or later, the victory is sure to come.


Ladies and Gentlemen; On Saturday last, Judge Douglas and myself first
met in public discussion.  He spoke one hour, I an hour and a half, and
he replied for half an hour.  The order is now reversed.  I am to speak
an hour, he an hour and a half, and then I am to reply for half an
hour.  I propose to devote myself during the first hour to the scope of
what was brought within the range of his half-hour speech at Ottawa.
Of course, there was brought within the scope of that half-hour's
speech something of his own opening speech.  In the course of that
opening argument Judge Douglas proposed to me seven distinct
interrogatories.  In my speech of an hour and a half, I attended to
some other parts of his speech, and incidentally, as I thought,
answered one of the interrogatories then.  I then distinctly intimated
to him that I would answer the rest of his interrogatories on condition
only that he should agree to answer as many for me.  He made no
intimation at the time of the proposition, nor did he in his reply
allude at all to that suggestion of mine.  I do him no injustice in
saying that he occupied at least half of his reply in dealing with me
as though I had _refused_ to answer his interrogatories.  I now propose
that I will answer any of the interrogatories, upon condition that he
will answer questions from me not exceeding the same number.  I give
him an opportunity to respond.  The Judge remains silent.  I now say
that I will answer his interrogatories, whether he answers mine or not;
and that after I have done so, I shall propound mine to him.

I have supposed myself, since the organization of the Republican party
at Bloomington, in May, 1856, bound as a party man by the platforms of
the party, then and since.  If in any interrogatories which I shall
answer I go beyond the scope of what is within these platforms, it will
be perceived that no one is responsible but myself.

Having said thus much, I will take up the Judge's interrogatories as I
find them printed in the Chicago _Times_, and answer them _seriatim_.
In order that there may be no mistake about it, I have copied the
interrogatories in writing, and also my answers to them.  The first one
of these interrogatories is in these words:

Question 1.  "I desire to know whether Lincoln today stands as he did
in 1854, in favor of the unconditional repeal of the Fugitive Slave

Answer.  I do not now, nor ever did, stand in favor of the
unconditional repeal of the Fugitive Slave Law.

Q. 2.  "I desire him to answer whether he stands pledged to-day as he
did in 1854, against the admission of any more slave States into the
Union, even if the people want them?"

A.  I do not now, nor ever did, stand pledged against the admission of
any more slave States into the Union.

Q. 3.  "I want to know whether he stands pledged against the admission
of a new State into the Union with such a constitution as the people of
that State may see fit to make?"

A.  I do not stand pledged against the admission of a new State into
the Union with such a constitution as the people of that State may see
fit to make.

Q. 4.  "I want to know whether he stands to-day pledged to the
abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia?"

A.  I do not stand to-day pledged to the abolition of slavery in the
District of Columbia.

Q. 5.  "I desire him to answer whether he stands pledged to the
prohibition of the slave-trade between the different States?"

A.  I do not stand pledged to the prohibition of the slave-trade
between the different States.

Q. 6.  "I desire to know whether he stands pledged to prohibit slavery
in all the Territories of the United States, North as well as South of
the Missouri Compromise line?"

A.  I am impliedly, if not expressly, pledged to a belief in the
_right_ and _duty_ of Congress to prohibit slavery in all the United
States Territories.

Q. 7.  "I desire him to answer whether he is opposed to the acquisition
of any new territory unless slavery is first prohibited therein?"

A.  I am not generally opposed to honest acquisition of territory; and,
in any given case, I would or would not oppose such acquisition,
accordingly as I might think such acquisition would or would not
aggravate the slavery question among ourselves.

Now, my friends, it will be perceived upon an examination of these
questions and answers, that so far I have only answered that I was not
_pledged_ to this, that, or the other.  The Judge has not framed his
interrogatories to ask me anything more than this, and I have answered
in strict accordance with the interrogatories, and have answered truly
that I am not _pledged_ at all upon any of the points to which I have
answered.  But I am not disposed to hang upon the exact form of his
interrogatory.  I am really disposed to take up at least some of these
questions, and state what I really think upon them.

As to the first one, in regard to the Fugitive Slave law, I have never
hesitated to say, and I do not now hesitate to say, that I think, under
the Constitution of the United States, the people of the Southern
States are entitled to a Congressional Fugitive Slave law.  Having said
that, I have had nothing to say in regard to the existing Fugitive
Slave law, further than that I think it should have been framed so as
to be free from some of the objections that pertain to it, without
lessening its efficiency.  And inasmuch as we are now not in an
agitation in regard to an alteration or modification of that law, I
would not be the man to introduce it as a new subject of agitation upon
the general question of slavery.

In regard to the other question, of whether I am pledged to the
admission of any more slave States into the Union, I state to you very
frankly that I would be exceedingly sorry ever to be put in a position
of having to pass upon that question.  I should be exceedingly glad to
know that there would never be another slave State admitted into the
Union; but I must add, that if slavery shall be kept out of the
Territories during the territorial existence of any one given
Territory, and then the people shall, having a fair chance and a clear
field, when they come to adopt the Constitution, do such an
extraordinary thing as to adopt a slave Constitution, uninfluenced by
the actual presence of the institution among them, I see no
alternative, if we own the country, but to admit them into the Union.

The third interrogatory is answered by the answer to the second, it
being, as I conceive, the same as the second.

The fourth one is in regard to the abolition of slavery in the District
of Columbia.  In relation to that, I have my mind very distinctly made
up.  I should be exceedingly glad to see slavery abolished in the
District of Columbia.  I believe that Congress possesses the
constitutional power to abolish it.  Yet, as a member of Congress, I
should not, with my present views, be in favor of endeavoring to
abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, unless it would be upon
these conditions; First, that the abolition should be gradual; second,
that it should be on a vote of the majority of qualified voters in the
District; and third, that compensation should be made to unwilling
owners.  With these three conditions, I confess I would be exceedingly
glad to see Congress abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, and,
in the language of Henry Clay, "sweep from our Capital that foul blot
upon our nation."

In regard to the fifth interrogatory, I must say here that as to the
question of the abolition of the slave-trade between the different
States, I can truly answer, as I have, that I am pledged to nothing
about it.  It is a subject to which I have not given that mature
consideration that would make me feel authorized to state a position so
as to hold myself entirely bound by it.  In other words, that question
has never been prominently enough before me to induce me to investigate
whether we really have the constitutional power to do it.  I could
investigate it if I had sufficient time to bring myself to a conclusion
upon that subject, but I have not done so, and I say so frankly to you
here and to Judge Douglas.  I must say, however, that if I should be of
opinion that Congress does possess the constitutional power to abolish
the slave-trade among the different States, I should still not be in
favor of the exercise of that power unless upon some conservative
principle, as I conceive it, akin to what I have said in relation to
the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia.

My answer as to whether I desire that slavery should be prohibited in
all the Territories of the United States is full and explicit within
itself, and cannot be made clearer by any comments of mine.  So I
suppose in regard to the question whether I am opposed to the
acquisition of any more territory unless slavery is first prohibited
therein, my answer is such that I could add nothing by way of
illustration, or making myself better understood, than the answer which
I have placed in writing.

Now in all this the Judge has me, and he has me on the record.  I
suppose he had flattered himself that I was really entertaining one set
of opinions for one place and another set for another place--that I was
afraid to say at one place what I uttered at another.  What I am saying
here I suppose I say to a vast audience as strongly tending to
Abolitionism as any audience in the State of Illinois, and I believe I
am saying that which, if it would be offensive to any persons and
render them enemies to myself, would be offensive to persons in this

I now proceed to propound to the Judge the interrogatories, so far as I
have framed them.  I will bring forward a new instalment when I get
them ready.  I will bring them forward now, only reaching to number

The first one is:

Question 1.  If the people of Kansas shall, by means entirely
unobjectionable in all other respects, adopt a State Constitution, and
ask admission into the Union under it, before they have the requisite
number of inhabitants according to the English bill,--some ninety-three
thousand,--will you vote to admit them?

Q. 2.  Can the people of a United States Territory, in any lawful way,
against the wish of any citizen of the United States, exclude slavery
from its limits prior to the formation of a State Constitution?

Q. 3.  If the Supreme Court of the United States shall decide that
States cannot exclude slavery from their limits, are you in favor of
acquiescing in, adopting, and following such decision as a rule of
political action?

Q. 4.  Are you in favor of acquiring additional territory, in disregard
of how such acquisition may affect the nation on the slavery question?

As introductory to these interrogatories which Judge Douglas propounded
to me at Ottawa, he read a set of resolutions which he said Judge
Trumbull and myself had participated in adopting, in the first
Republican State Convention, held at Springfield, in October, 1854.  He
insisted that I and Judge Trumbull, and perhaps the entire Republican
party, were responsible for the doctrines contained in the set of
resolutions which he read, and I understand that it was from that set
of resolutions that he deduced the interrogatories which he propounded
to me, using these resolutions as a sort of authority for propounding
those questions to me.  Now I say here to-day that I do not answer his
interrogatories because of their springing at all from that set of
resolutions which he read.  I answered them because Judge Douglas
thought fit to ask them.  I do not now, nor ever did, recognize any
responsibility upon myself in that set of resolutions.  When I replied
to him on that occasion, I assured him that I never had anything to do
with them.  I repeat here to-day, that I never in any possible form had
anything to do with that set of resolutions.  It turns out, I believe,
that those resolutions were never passed at any convention held in
Springfield.  It turns out that they were never passed at any
convention or any public meeting that I had any part in.  I believe it
turns out, in addition to all this, that there was not, in the fall of
1854, any convention holding a session in Springfield calling itself a
Republican State convention; yet it is true there was a convention, or
assemblage of men calling themselves a convention, at Springfield, that
did pass _some_ resolutions.  But so little did I really know of the
proceedings of that convention, or what set of resolutions they had
passed, though having a general knowledge that there had been such an
assemblage of men there, that when Judge Douglas read the resolutions,
I really did not know but that they had been the resolutions passed
then and there.  I did not question that they were the resolutions
adopted.  For I could not bring myself to suppose that Judge Douglas
could say what he did upon this subject without _knowing_ that it was
true.  I contented myself, on that occasion, with denying, as I truly
could, all connection with them, not denying or affirming whether they
were passed at Springfield.  Now it turns out that he had got hold of
some resolutions passed at some convention or public meeting in Kane
County.  I wish to say here, that I don't conceive that in any fair and
just mind this discovery relieves me at all.  I had just as much to do
with the convention in Kane County as that at Springfield.  I am just
as much responsible for the resolutions at Kane County as those at
Springfield, the amount of the responsibility being exactly nothing in
either case; no more than there would be in regard to a set of
resolutions passed in the moon.

I allude to this extraordinary matter in this canvass for some further
purpose than anything yet advanced.  Judge Douglas did not make his
statement upon that occasion as matters that he believed to be true,
but he stated them roundly as _being true_, in such form as to pledge
his veracity for their truth.  When the whole matter turns out as it
does, and when we consider who Judge Douglas is,--that he is a
distinguished Senator of the United States; that he has served nearly
twelve years as such; that his character is not at all limited as an
ordinary Senator of the United States, but that his name has become of
world-wide renown,--it is _most extraordinary_ that he should so far
forget all the suggestions of justice to an adversary, or of prudence
to himself, as to venture upon the assertion of that which the
slightest investigation would have shown him to be wholly false.  I can
only account for his having done so upon the supposition that that evil
genius which has attended him through his life, giving to him an
apparent astonishing prosperity, such as to lead very many good men to
doubt there being any advantage in virtue over vice--I say I can only
account for it on the supposition that that evil genius has at last
made up its mind to forsake him.

And I may add that another extraordinary feature of the Judge's conduct
in this canvass--made more extraordinary by this incident--is, that he
is in the habit, in almost all the speeches he makes, of charging
falsehood upon his adversaries, myself and others.  I now ask whether
he is able to find in anything that Judge Trumbull, for instance, has
said, or in anything that I have said, a justification at all compared
with what we have, in this instance, for that sort of vulgarity.

I have been in the habit of charging as a matter of belief on my part,
that, in the introduction of the Nebraska bill into Congress, there was
a conspiracy to make slavery perpetual and national.  I have arranged
from time to time the evidence which establishes and proves the truth
of this charge.  I recurred to this charge at Ottawa.  I shall not now
have time to dwell upon it at very great length; but, inasmuch as Judge
Douglas in his reply of half an hour made some points upon me in
relation to it, I propose noticing a few of them.

The Judge insists that, in the first speech I made, in which I very
distinctly made that charge, he thought for a good while I was in
fun!--that I was playful--that I was not sincere about it--and that he
only grew angry and somewhat excited when he found that I insisted upon
it as a matter of earnestness.  He says he characterized it as a
falsehood as far as I implicated his _moral character_ in that
transaction.  Well, I did not know, till he presented that view, that I
had implicated his moral character.  He is very much in the habit, when
he argues me up into a position I never thought of occupying, of very
cozily saying he has no doubt Lincoln is "conscientious" in saying so.
He should remember that I did not know but what _he_ was ALTOGETHER
"CONSCIENTIOUS" in that matter.  I can conceive it possible for men to
conspire to do a good thing, and I really find nothing in Judge
Douglas's course of arguments that is contrary to or inconsistent with
his belief of a conspiracy to nationalize and spread slavery as being a
good and blessed thing, and so I hope he will understand that I do not
at all question but that in all this matter he is entirely

But to draw your attention to one of the points I made in this case,
beginning at the beginning.  When the Nebraska bill was introduced, or
a short time afterward, by an amendment, I believe, it was provided
that it must be considered "the true intent and meaning of this act not
to legislate slavery into any State or Territory, or to exclude it
therefrom, but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and
regulate their own domestic institutions in their own way subject only
to the Constitution of the United States."  I have called his attention
to the fact that when he and some others began arguing that they were
giving an increased degree of liberty to the people in the Territories
over and above what they formerly had on the question of slavery, a
question was raised whether the law was enacted to give such
unconditional liberty to the people; and to test the sincerity of this
mode of argument, Mr. Chase, of Ohio, introduced an amendment, in which
he made the law--if the amendment were adopted--expressly declare that
the people of the Territory should have the power to exclude slavery if
they saw fit.  I have asked attention also to the fact that Judge
Douglas, and those who acted with him, voted that amendment down,
notwithstanding it expressed exactly the thing they said was the true
intent and meaning of the law.  I have called attention to the fact
that in subsequent times a decision of the Supreme Court has been made
in which it has been declared that a Territorial Legislature has no
constitutional right to exclude slavery.  And I have argued and said
that for men who did intend that the people of the Territory should
have the right to exclude slavery absolutely and unconditionally, the
voting down of Chase's amendment is wholly inexplicable.  It is a
puzzle--a riddle.  But I have said that with men who did look forward
to such a decision, or who had it in contemplation, that such a
decision of the Supreme Court would or might be made, the voting down
of that amendment would be perfectly rational and intelligible.  It
would keep Congress from coming in collision with the decision when it
was made.  Anybody can conceive that if there was an intention or
expectation that such a decision was to follow, it would not be a very
desirable party attitude to get into for the Supreme Court--all or
nearly all its members belonging to the same party--to decide one way,
when the party in Congress had decided the other way.  Hence it would
be very rational for men expecting such a decision to keep the niche in
that law clear for it.  After pointing this out, I tell Judge Douglas
that it looks to me as though here was the reason why Chase's amendment
was voted down.  I tell him that as he did it, and knows why he did it,
if it was done for a reason different from this, _he knows what that
reason was, and can tell us what it was_.  I tell him, also, it will be
vastly more satisfactory to the country for him to give some other
plausible, intelligible reason why it was voted down than to stand upon
his dignity and call people liars.  Well, on Saturday he did make his
answer, and what do you think it was?  He says if I had only taken upon
myself to tell the whole truth about that amendment of Chase's, no
explanation would have been necessary on his part--or words to that
effect.  Now, I say here that I am quite unconscious of having
suppressed anything material to the case, and I am very frank to admit
if there is any sound reason other than that which appeared to me
material, it is quite fair for him to present it.  What reason does he
propose?  That when Chase came forward with his amendment expressly
authorizing the people to exclude slavery from the limits of every
Territory, General Cass proposed to Chase, if he (Chase) would add to
his amendment that the people should have the power to _introduce_ or
exclude, they would let it go.  This is substantially all of his reply.
And because Chase would not do that they voted his amendment down.
Well, it turns out, I believe, upon examination, that General Cass took
some part in the little running debate upon that amendment, _and then
ran away and did not vote on it at all_.  Is not that the fact?  So
confident, as I think, was General Cass that there was a snake
somewhere about, he chose to run away from the whole thing.  This is an
inference I draw from the fact that, though he took part in the debate,
his name does not appear in the ayes and noes.  But does Judge
Douglas's reply amount to a satisfactory answer?  [Cries of "Yes,"
"Yes," and "No," "No."]  There is some little difference of opinion
here.  But I ask attention to a few more views bearing on the question
of whether it amounts to a satisfactory answer.  The men who were
determined that that amendment should not get into the bill, and spoil
the place where the Dred Scott decision was to come in, sought an
excuse to get rid of it somewhere.  One of these ways--one of these
excuses--was to ask Chase to add to his proposed amendment a provision
that the people might _introduce_ slavery if they wanted to.  They very
well knew Chase would do no such thing--that Mr. Chase was one of the
men differing from them on the broad principle of his insisting that
freedom was _better_ than slavery--a man who would not consent to enact
a law, penned with his own hand, by which he was made to recognize
slavery on the one hand and liberty on the other as _precisely equal_;
and when they insisted on his doing this, they very well knew they
insisted on that which he would not for a moment think of doing, and
that they were only bluffing him.  I believe--I have not, since he made
his answer, had a chance to examine the journals or _Congressional
Globe_, and therefore speak from memory--I believe the state of the
bill at that time, according to parliamentary rules, was such that no
member could propose an additional amendment to Chase's amendment.  I
rather think this the truth--the Judge shakes his head.  Very well.  I
would, like to know then, _if they wanted Chase's amendment fixed over,
why somebody else could not have offered to do it_.  If they wanted it
amended, why did they not offer the amendment?  Why did they stand
there taunting and quibbling at Chase?  Why did they not put it in
themselves?  But, to put it on the other ground: suppose that there was
such an amendment offered and Chase's was an amendment to an amendment;
until one is disposed of by parliamentary law, you cannot pile another
on.  Then all these gentlemen had to do was to vote Chase's on, and
then, in the amended form in which the whole stood, add their own
amendment to it if they wanted to put it in that shape.  This was all
they were obliged to do, and the ayes and noes show that there were
thirty-six who voted it down, against ten who voted in favor of it.
The thirty-six held entire sway and control.  They could in some form
or other have put that bill in the exact shape they wanted.  If there
was a rule preventing their amending it at the time, they could pass
that, and then, Chase's amendment being merged, put it in the shape
they wanted.  They did not choose to do so, but they went into a
quibble with Chase to get him to add what they knew he would not add,
and because he would not, they stand upon that flimsy pretext for
voting down what they argued was the meaning and intent of their own
bill.  They left room thereby for this Dred Scott decision, which goes
very far to make slavery national throughout the United States.

I pass one or two points I have because my time will very soon expire,
but I must be allowed to say that Judge Douglas recurs again, as he did
upon one of two other occasions, to the enormity of Lincoln--an
insignificant individual like Lincoln--upon his _ipse dixit_ charging a
conspiracy upon a large number of members of Congress, the Supreme
Court, and two Presidents, to nationalize slavery.  I want to say that,
in the first place, I have made no charge of this sort upon my _ipse
dixit_.  I have only arrayed the evidence tending to prove it, and
presented it to the understanding of others, saying what I think it
proves, but giving you the means of judging whether it proves it or
not.  This is precisely what I have done.  I have not placed it upon my
_ipse dixit_ at all.  On this occasion, I wish to recall his attention
to a piece of evidence which I brought forward at Ottawa on Saturday,
showing that he had made substantially the _same charge_ against
substantially the _same persons_, excluding his dear self from the
category.  I ask him to give some attention to the evidence which I
brought forward, that he himself had discovered a "fatal blow being
struck" against the right of the people to exclude slavery from their
limits, which fatal blow he assumed as in evidence in an article in the
Washington _Union_, published "by authority."  I ask by whose
authority?  He discovers a similar or identical provision in the
Lecompton Constitution.  Made by whom?  The framers of that
constitution.  Advocated by whom?  By all the members of the party in
the nation who advocated the introduction of Kansas into the Union
under the Lecompton Constitution.

I have asked his attention to the evidence that he arrayed to prove
that such a fatal blow was being struck, and to the facts which he
brought forward in support of that charge--being identical with the one
which he thinks so villainous in me.  He pointed it not at a newspaper
editor merely, but at the President and his Cabinet, and the members of
Congress advocating the Lecompton Constitution, and those framing that
instrument.  I must again be permitted to remind him, that although my
_ipse dixit_ may not be as great as his, yet it somewhat reduces the
force of his calling my attention to the enormity of my making a like
charge against him.

Go on, Judge Douglas.


Mr. President and Fellow-Citizens of New York: The facts with which I
shall deal this evening are mainly old and familiar; nor is there
anything new in the general use I shall make of them.  If there shall
be any novelty, it will be in the mode of presenting the facts, and the
inferences and observations following that presentation.

In his speech last autumn, at Columbus, Ohio, as reported in the New
York Times, Senator Douglas said:

Our fathers, when they framed the Government under which we live,
understood this question just as well, and even better, than we do now.

I fully indorse this, and I adopt it as a text for this discourse.  I
so adopt it because it furnishes a precise and agreed starting point
for a discussion between Republicans and that wing of the Democracy
headed by Senator Douglas.  It simply leaves the inquiry:

"What was the understanding those fathers had of the question

What is the frame of Government under which we live?

The answer must be, "The Constitution of the United States."  That
Constitution consists of the original, framed in 1787 (and under which
the present Government first went into operation), and twelve
subsequently framed amendments, the first ten of which were framed in

Who were our fathers that framed the Constitution?  I suppose the
"thirty-nine" who signed the original instrument may be fairly called
our fathers who framed that part of the present Government.  It is
almost exactly true to say they framed it, and it is altogether true to
say they fairly represented the opinion and sentiment of the whole
nation at that time.  Their names, being familiar to nearly all, and
accessible to quite all, need not now be repeated.

I take these "thirty-nine," for the present, as being "our fathers who
framed the Government under which we live."

What is the question which, according to the text, those fathers
understood "just as well, and even better, than we do now?"

It is this: Does the proper division of local from Federal authority,
or anything in the Constitution, forbid our Federal Government to
control as to slavery in our Federal Territories?

Upon this, Senator Douglas holds the affirmative, and Republicans the
negative.  This affirmation and denial form an issue; and this
issue--this question--is precisely what the text declares our fathers
understood "better than we."

Let us now, inquire whether the "thirty-nine," or any of them, ever
acted upon this question; and if they did, how they acted upon it--how
they expressed that better understanding.

In 1784, three years before the Constitution, the United States then
owning the Northwestern Territory, and no other, the Congress of the
Confederation had before them the question of prohibiting slavery in
that Territory; and four of the "thirty-nine" who afterward framed the
Constitution were in that Congress, and voted on that question.  Of
these, Roger Sherman, Thomas Mifflin, and Hugh Williamson voted for the
prohibition, thus showing that, in their understanding, no line
dividing local from Federal authority, nor anything else, properly
forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in Federal
territory.  The other of the four--James McHenry--voted against the
prohibition, showing that for some cause he thought it improper to vote
for it.

In 1787, still before the Constitution, but while the Convention was in
session framing it, and while the Northwestern Territory still was the
only territory owned by the United States, the same question of
prohibiting slavery in the Territory again came before the Congress of
the Confederation; and three more of the "thirty-nine" who afterward
signed the Constitution were in that Congress, and voted on the
question.  They were William Blount, William Few, and Abraham Baldwin;
and they all voted for the prohibition--thus showing that, in their
understanding, no line dividing local from Federal authority, nor
anything else, properly forbade the Federal Government to control as to
slavery in Federal territory.  This time the prohibition became a law,
being part of what is now well known as the Ordinance of '87.

The question of Federal control of slavery in the Territories seems not
to have been directly before the convention which framed the original
Constitution; and hence it is not recorded that the "thirty-nine," or
any of them, while engaged on that instrument, expressed any opinion on
that precise question.

In 1789, by the first Congress which sat under the Constitution, an act
was passed to enforce the Ordinance of '87, including the prohibition
of slavery in the Northwestern Territory.  The bill for this act was
reported by one of the "thirty-nine," Thomas Fitzsimmons, then a member
of the House of Representatives from Pennsylvania.  It went through all
its stages without a word of opposition, and finally passed both
branches without ayes and nays, which is equivalent to an unanimous
passage.  In this Congress there were sixteen of the "thirty-nine"
fathers who framed the original Constitution.  They were John Langdon,
Nicholas Gilman, Wm. S. Johnson, Roger Sherman, Robert Morris, Thos.
Fitzsimmons, William Few, Abraham Baldwin, Rufus King, William
Patterson, George Clymer, Richard Bassett, George Read, Pierce Butler,
Daniel Carroll, and James Madison.

This shows that, in their understanding, no line dividing local from
Federal authority, nor anything in the Constitution, properly forbade
Congress to prohibit slavery in the Federal territory; else both their
fidelity to correct principle, and their oath to support the
Constitution, would have constrained them to oppose the prohibition.

Again, George Washington, another of the "thirty-nine," was then
President of the United States, and as such, approved and signed the
bill, thus completing its validity as a law, and thus showing that, in
his understanding, no line dividing local from Federal authority, nor
anything in the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to control
as to slavery in Federal territory.

No great while after the adoption of the original Constitution, North
Carolina ceded to the Federal Government the country now constituting
the State of Tennessee; and a few years later Georgia ceded that which
now constitutes the States of Mississippi and Alabama.  In both deeds
of cession it was made a condition by the ceding States that the
Federal Government should not prohibit slavery in the ceded country.
Besides this, slavery was then actually in the ceded country.  Under
these circumstances, Congress, on taking charge of these countries, did
not absolutely prohibit slavery within them.  But they did interfere
with it--take control of it--even there, to a certain extent.  In 1798,
Congress organized the Territory of Mississippi.  In the act of
organization they prohibited the bringing of slaves into the Territory
from any place without the United States, by fine, and giving freedom
to slaves so brought.  This act passed both branches of Congress
without yeas and nays.  In that Congress were three of the
"thirty-nine" who framed the original Constitution.  They were John
Langdon, George Read, and Abraham Baldwin.  They all probably voted for
it.  Certainly they would have placed their opposition to it upon
record if, in their understanding, any line dividing local from Federal
authority, or anything in the Constitution, properly forbade the
Federal Government to control as to slavery in Federal territory.

In 1803, the Federal Government purchased the Louisiana country.  Our
former territorial acquisitions came from certain of our own States;
but this Louisiana country was acquired from a foreign nation.  In
1804, Congress gave a territorial organization to that part of it which
now constitutes the State of Louisiana.  New Orleans, lying within that
part, was an old and comparatively large city.  There were other
considerable towns and settlements, and slavery was extensively and
thoroughly intermingled with the people.  Congress did not, in the
Territorial Act, prohibit slavery; but they did interfere with it--take
control of it--in a more marked and extensive way than they did in the
case of Mississippi.  The substance of the provision therein made in
relation to slaves was:

First.  That no slave should be imported into the Territory from
foreign parts.

Second.  That no slave should be carried into it who had been imported
into the United States since the first day of May, 1798.

Third.  That no slave should be carried into it, except by the owner,
and for his own use as a settler; the penalty in all the cases being a
fine upon the violator of the law, and freedom to the slave.

This act also was passed without ayes and nays.  In the Congress which
passed it there were two of the "thirty-nine."  They were Abraham
Baldwin and Jonathan Dayton.  As stated in the case of Mississippi, it
is probable they both voted for it.  They would not have allowed it to
pass without recording their opposition to it if, in their
understanding, it violated either the line properly dividing local from
Federal authority, or any provision of the Constitution.

In 1819-20 came and passed the Missouri question.  Many votes were
taken, by yeas and nays, in both branches of Congress, upon the various
phases of the general question.  Two of the "thirty-nine"--Rufus King
and Charles Pinckney--were members of that Congress.  Mr. King steadily
voted for slavery prohibition and against all compromises, while Mr.
Pinckney as steadily voted against slavery prohibition and against all
compromises.  By this, Mr. King showed that, in his understanding, no
line dividing local from Federal authority, nor anything in the
Constitution, was violated by Congress prohibiting slavery in Federal
territory; while Mr. Pinckney, by his votes, showed that, in his
understanding, there was some sufficient reason for opposing such
prohibition in that case.

The cases I have mentioned are the only acts of the "thirty-nine," or
of any of them, upon the direct issue, which I have been able to

To enumerate the persons who thus acted as being four in 1784, three in
1787, seventeen in 1789, three in 1798, two in 1804, and two in
1819-20, there would be thirty of them.  But this would be counting
John Langdon, Roger Sherman, William Few, Rufus King, and George Read
each twice, and Abraham Baldwin three times.  The true number of those
of the "thirty-nine" whom I have shown to have acted upon the question
which, by the text, they understood better than we, is twenty-three,
leaving sixteen not shown to have acted upon it in any way.

Here, then, we have twenty-three out of our "thirty-nine" fathers "who
framed the government under which we live," who have, upon their
official responsibility and their corporal oaths, acted upon the very
question which the text affirms they "understood just as well, and even
better, than we do now;" and twenty-one of them--a clear majority of
the whole "thirty-nine"--so acting upon it as to make them guilty of
gross political impropriety and wilful perjury if, in their
understanding, any proper division between local and Federal authority,
or anything in the Constitution they had made themselves, and sworn to
support, forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in the
Federal Territories.  Thus the twenty-one acted; and, as actions speak
louder than words, so actions under such responsibility speak still

Two of the twenty-three voted against Congressional prohibition of
slavery in the Federal Territories, in the instances in which they
acted upon the question.  But for what reasons they so voted is not
known.  They may have done so because they thought a proper division of
local from Federal authority, or some provision or principle of the
Constitution, stood in the way; or they may, without any such question,
have voted against the prohibition on what appeared to them to be
sufficient grounds of expediency.  No one who has sworn to support the
Constitution can conscientiously vote for what he understands to be an
unconstitutional measure, however expedient he may think it; but one
may and ought to vote against a measure which he deems constitutional
if, at the same time, he deems it inexpedient.  It, therefore, would be
unsafe to set down even the two who voted against the prohibition as
having done so because, in their understanding, any proper division of
local from Federal authority, or anything in the Constitution, forbade
the Federal Government to control as to slavery in Federal territory.

The remaining sixteen of the "thirty-nine," so far as I have
discovered, have left no record of their understanding upon the direct
question of Federal control of slavery in the Federal Territories.  But
there is much reason to believe that their understanding upon that
question would not have appeared different from that of their
twenty-three compeers, had it been manifested at all.

For the purpose of adhering rigidly to the text, I have purposely
omitted whatever understanding may have been manifested by any person,
however distinguished, other than the thirty-nine fathers who framed
the original Constitution; and, for the same reason, I have also
omitted whatever understanding may have been manifested by any of the
"thirty-nine" even on any other phase of the general question of
slavery.  If we should look into their acts and declarations on those
other phases, as the foreign slave-trade, and the morality and policy
of slavery generally, it would appear to us that on the direct question
of Federal control of slavery in Federal Territories, the sixteen, if
they had acted at all, would probably have acted just as the
twenty-three did.  Among that sixteen were several of the most noted
anti-slavery men of those times,--as Dr. Franklin, Alexander Hamilton,
and Gouverneur Morris,--while there was not one now known to have been
otherwise, unless it may be John Rutledge, of South Carolina.

The sum of the whole is that of our "thirty-nine" fathers who framed
the original Constitution, twenty-one--a clear majority of the
whole--certainly understood that no proper division of local from
Federal authority, nor any part of the Constitution, forbade the
Federal Government to control slavery in the Federal Territories; while
all the rest probably had the same understanding.  Such,
unquestionably, was the understanding of our fathers who framed the
original Constitution; and the text affirms that they understood the
question "better than we."

But, so far, I have been considering the understanding of the question
manifested by the framers of the original Constitution.  In and by the
original instrument, a mode was provided for amending it; and, as I
have already stated, the present frame of "the government under which
we live" consists of that original, and twelve amendatory articles
framed and adopted since.  Those who now insist that Federal control of
slavery in Federal Territories violates the Constitution, point us to
the provisions which they suppose it thus violates; and, I understand,
they all fix upon provisions in these amendatory articles, and not in
the original instrument.  The Supreme Court, in the Dred Scott case,
plant themselves upon the fifth amendment, which provides that "no
person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due
process of law;" while Senator Douglas and his peculiar adherents plant
themselves upon the tenth amendment, providing that "the powers not
delegated to the United States by the Constitution are reserved to the
States respectively, or to the people."

Now, it so happens that these amendments were framed by the first
Congress which sat under the Constitution--the identical Congress which
passed the act already mentioned, enforcing the prohibition of slavery
in the Northwestern Territory.  Not only was it the same Congress, but
they were the identical, same individual men who, at the same session,
and at the same time within the session, had under consideration, and
in progress toward maturity, these constitutional amendments, and this
act prohibiting slavery in all the territory the nation then owned.
The constitutional amendments were introduced before, and passed after,
the act enforcing the Ordinance of '87; so that, during the whole
pendency of the act to enforce the Ordinance, the constitutional
amendments were also pending.

That Congress, consisting in all of seventy-six members, including
sixteen of the framers of the original Constitution, as before stated,
were preeminently our fathers who framed that part of "the Government
under which we live," which is now claimed as forbidding the Federal
Government to control slavery in the Federal Territories.

Is it not a little presumptuous in any one at this day to affirm that
the two things which that Congress deliberately framed, and carried to
maturity at the same time, are absolutely inconsistent with each other?
And does not such affirmation become impudently absurd when coupled
with the other affirmation, from the same mouth, that those who did the
two things, alleged to be inconsistent, understood whether they really
were inconsistent better than we--better than he who affirms that they
are inconsistent?

It is surely safe to assume that the thirty-nine framers of the
original Constitution, and the seventy-six members of the Congress
which framed the amendments thereto, taken together, do certainly
include those who may be fairly called "our fathers who framed the
government under which we live."  And so assuming, I defy any man to
show that any one of them ever, in his whole life, declared that, in
his understanding, any proper division of local from Federal authority,
or any part of the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to
control as to slavery in the Federal Territories.  I go a step further.
I defy any one to show that any living man, in the whole world ever
did, prior to the beginning of the present century (and I might almost
say prior to the beginning of the last half of the present century),
declare that, in his understanding, any proper division of local from
Federal authority, or any part of the Constitution, forbade the Federal
Government to control as to slavery in the Federal Territories.  To
those who now so declare I give not only "our fathers who framed the
Government under which we live," but with them all other living men
within the century in which it was framed, among whom to search, and
they shall not be able to find the evidence of a single man agreeing
with them.

Now, and here let me guard a little against being misunderstood.  I do
not mean to say we are bound to follow implicitly in whatever our
fathers did.  To do so would be to discard all the lights of current
experience--to reject all progress, all improvement.  What I do say is,
that if we would supplant the opinions and policy of our fathers in any
case, we should do so upon evidence so conclusive, and argument so
clear, that even their great authority, fairly considered and weighed,
cannot stand; and most surely not in a case whereof we ourselves
declare they understood the question better than we.

If any man at this day sincerely believes that a proper division of
local from Federal authority, or any part of the Constitution, forbids
the Federal Government to control as to slavery in the Federal
Territories, he is right to say so, and to enforce his position by all
truthful evidence and fair argument which he can.  But he has no right
to mislead others, who have less access to history, and less leisure to
study it, into the false belief that "our fathers who framed the
Government under which we live" were of the same opinion--thus
substituting falsehood and deception for truthful evidence and fair
argument.  If any man at this day sincerely believes "our fathers who
framed the Government under which we live" used and applied principles,
in other cases, which ought to have led them to understand that a
proper division of local from Federal authority, or some part of the
Constitution, forbids the Federal Government to control as to slavery
in the Federal Territories, he is right to say so.  But he should, at
the same time, brave the responsibility of declaring that, in his
opinion, he understands their principles better than they did
themselves; and especially should he not shirk that responsibility by
asserting that they "understood the question just as well, and even
better, than we do now."

But enough.  Let all who believe that "our fathers who framed the
government under which we live understood this question just as well,
and even better, than we do now," speak as they spoke, and act as they
acted upon it.  This is all Republicans ask--all Republicans desire--in
relation to slavery.  As those fathers marked it, so let it be again
marked, as an evil not to be extended, but to be tolerated and
protected only because of and so far as its actual presence among us
makes that toleration and protection a necessity.  Let all the
guaranties those fathers gave it be not grudgingly, but fully and
fairly, maintained.  For this Republicans contend, and with this, so
far as I know or believe, they will be content.

And now, if they would listen--as I suppose they will not--I would
address a few words to the Southern people.

I would say to them: You consider yourselves a reasonable and a just
people; and I consider that in the general qualities of reason and
justice you are not inferior to any other people.  Still, when you
speak of us Republicans, you do so only to denounce us as reptiles, or,
at the best, as no better than outlaws.  You will grant a hearing to
pirates or murderers, but nothing like it to "Black Republicans."  In
all your contentions with one another, each of you deems an
unconditional condemnation of "Black Republicanism" as the first thing
to be attended to.  Indeed, such condemnation of us seems to be an
indispensable prerequisite--license, so to speak--among you to be
admitted or permitted to speak at all.

Now, can you, or not, be prevailed upon to pause and to consider
whether this is quite just to us, or even to yourselves?

Bring forward your charges and specifications, and then be patient long
enough to hear us deny or justify.

You say we are sectional.  We deny it.  That makes an issue; and the
burden of proof is upon you.  You produce your proof; and what is it?
Why, that our party has no existence in your section--gets no votes in
your section.  The fact is substantially true; but does it prove the
issue?  If it does, then in case we should, without change of
principle, begin to get votes in your section, we should thereby cease
to be sectional.  You cannot escape this conclusion; and yet, are you
willing to abide by it?  If you are, you will probably soon find that
we have ceased to be sectional, for we shall get votes in your section
this very year.  You will then begin to discover, as the truth plainly
is, that your proof does not touch the issue.  The fact that we get no
votes in your section is a fact of your making, and not of ours.  And
if there be fault in that fact, that fault is primarily yours, and
remains so until you show that we repel you by some wrong principle or
practice.  If we do repel you by any wrong principle or practice, the
fault is ours; but this brings you to where you ought to have
started--to discussion of the right or wrong of our principle.  If our
principle, put in practice, would wrong your section for the benefit of
ours, or for any other object, then our principle, and we with it, are
sectional, and are justly opposed and denounced as such.  Meet us,
then, on the question of whether our principle, put in practice, would
wrong your section; and so meet us as if it were possible that
something may be said on our side.  Do you accept the challenge?  No?
Then you really believe that the principle which "our fathers who
framed the Government under which we live" thought so clearly right as
to adopt it, and indorse it again and again, upon their official oaths,
is in fact so clearly wrong as to demand your condemnation without a
moment's consideration.

Some of you delight to flaunt in our faces the warning against
sectional parties given by Washington in his Farewell Address.  Less
than eight years before Washington gave that warning, he had, as
President of the United States, approved and signed an act of Congress
enforcing the prohibition of slavery in the Northwestern Territory,
which act embodied the policy of the Government upon that subject up to
and at the very moment he penned that warning; and about one year after
he penned it, he wrote Lafayette that he considered that prohibition a
wise measure, expressing in the same connection his hope that we should
at some time have a confederacy of free States.

Bearing this in mind, and seeing that sectionalism has since arisen
upon this same subject, is that warning a weapon in your hands against
us, or in our hands against you?  Could Washington himself speak, would
he cast the blame of that sectionalism upon us, who sustain his policy,
or upon you, who repudiate it?  We respect that warning of Washington,
and we commend it to you, together with his example pointing to the
right application of it.

But you say you are conservative--eminently conservative--while we are
revolutionary, destructive, or something of the sort.  What is
conservatism?  Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the
new and untried?  We stick to, contend for, the identical old policy on
the point in controversy which was adopted by "our fathers who framed
the Government under which we live;" while you with one accord reject,
and scout, and spit upon that old policy, and insist upon substituting
something new.  True, you disagree among yourselves as to what that
substitute shall be.  You are divided on new propositions and plans,
but you are unanimous in rejecting and denouncing the old policy of the
fathers.  Some of you are for reviving the foreign slave-trade; some
for a congressional slave-code for the Territories; some for Congress
forbidding the Territories to prohibit slavery within their limits;
some for maintaining slavery in the Territories through the judiciary;
some for the "gur-reat pur-rinciple" that "if one man would enslave
another, no third man should object," fantastically called "Popular
Sovereignty;" but never a man among you is in favor of Federal
prohibition of slavery in Federal Territories, according to the
practice of "our fathers who framed the Government under which we
live."  Not one of all your various plans can show a precedent or an
advocate in the century within which our Government originated.
Consider, then, whether your claim of conservatism for yourselves, and
your charge of destructiveness against us, are based on the most clear
and stable foundations.

Again, you say we have made the slavery question more prominent than it
formerly was.  We deny it.  We admit that it is more prominent, but we
deny that we made it so.  It was not we, but you, who discarded the old
policy of the fathers.  We resisted, and still resist, your innovation;
and thence comes the greater prominence of the question.  Would you
have that question reduced to its former proportions?  Go back to that
old policy.  What has been will be again, under the same conditions.
If you would have the peace of the old times, readopt the precepts and
policy of the old times.

You charge that we stir up insurrections among your slaves.  We deny
it; and what is your proof?  Harper's Ferry!  John Brown!!  John Brown
was no Republican; and you have failed to implicate a single Republican
in his Harper's Ferry enterprise.  If any member of our party is guilty
in that matter, you know it, or you do not know it.  If you do know it,
you are inexcusable for not designating the man and proving the fact.
If you do not know it, you are inexcusable to assert it, and especially
to persist in the assertion after you have tried and failed to make the
proof.  You need not be told that persisting in a charge which one does
not know to be true, is simply malicious slander.

Some of you admit that no Republican designedly aided or encouraged the
Harper's Ferry affair, but still insist that our doctrines and
declarations necessarily lead to such results.  We do not believe it.
We know we hold no doctrine, and make no declaration, which were not
held to and made by "our fathers who framed the Government under which
we live."  You never dealt fairly by us in relation to this affair.
When it occurred, some important State elections were near at hand, and
you were in evident glee with the belief that, by charging the blame
upon us, you could get an advantage of us in those elections.  The
elections came, and your expectations were not quite fulfilled.  Every
Republican man knew that, as to himself at least, your charge was a
slander, and he was not much inclined by it to cast his vote in your
favor.  Republican doctrines and declarations are accompanied with a
continual protest against any interference whatever with your slaves,
or with you about your slaves.  Surely, this does not encourage them to
revolt.  True, we do, in common with "our fathers who framed the
Government under which we live," declare our belief that slavery is
wrong; but the slaves do not hear us declare even this.  For anything
we say or do, the slaves would scarcely know there is a Republican
party.  I believe they would not, in fact, generally know it but for
your misrepresentations of us in their hearing.  In your political
contests among yourselves, each faction charges the other with sympathy
with Black Republicanism; and then, to give point to the charge,
defines Black Republicanism to simply be insurrection, blood, and
thunder among the slaves.

Slave insurrections are no more common now than they were before the
Republican party was organized.  What induced the Southampton
insurrection, twenty-eight years ago, in which at least three times as
many lives were lost as at Harper's Ferry?  You can scarcely stretch
your very elastic fancy to the conclusion that Southampton was "got up
by Black Republicanism."  In the present state of things in the United
States, I do not think a general, or even a very extensive, slave
insurrection is possible.  The indispensable concert of action cannot
be obtained.  The slaves have no means of rapid communication; nor can
incendiary freemen, black or white, supply it.  The explosive materials
are everywhere in parcels; but there neither are, nor can be supplied,
the indispensable connecting trains.

Much is said by Southern people about the affection of slaves for their
masters and mistresses; and a part of it, at least, is true.  A plot
for an uprising could scarcely be devised and communicated to twenty
individuals before some one of them, to save the life of a favorite
master or mistress, would divulge it.  This is the rule; and the slave
revolution in Hayti was not an exception to it, but a case occurring
under peculiar circumstances.  The gunpowder plot of British history,
though not connected with slaves, was more in point.  In that case,
only about twenty were admitted to the secret; and yet one of them, in
his anxiety to save a friend, betrayed the plot to that friend, and, by
consequence, averted the calamity.  Occasional poisonings from the
kitchen, and open or stealthy assassinations in the field, and local
revolts extending to a score or so will continue to occur as the
natural results of slavery; but no general insurrection of slaves, as I
think, can happen in this country for a long time.  Whoever much fears,
or much hopes, for such an event, will be alike disappointed.

In the language of Mr. Jefferson, uttered many years ago, "It is still
in our power to direct the process of emancipation and deportation
peaceably, and in such slow degrees, as that the evil will wear off
insensibly; and their places be, _pari passu_, filled up by free white
laborers.  If, on the contrary, it is left to force itself on, human
nature must shudder at the prospect held up."

Mr. Jefferson did not mean to say, nor do I, that the power of
emancipation is in the Federal Government.  He spoke of Virginia; and,
as to the power of emancipation, I speak of the slaveholding States

The Federal Government, however, as we insist, has the power of
restraining the extension of the institution--the power to insure that
a slave insurrection shall never occur on any American soil which is
now free from slavery.

John Brown's effort was peculiar.  It was not a slave insurrection.  It
was an attempt by white men to get up a revolt among slaves, in which
the slaves refused to participate.  In fact, it was so absurd that the
slaves, with all their ignorance, saw plainly enough it could not
succeed.  That affair, in its philosophy, corresponds with the many
attempts, related in history, at the assassination of kings and
emperors.  An enthusiast broods over the oppression of a people till he
fancies himself commissioned by Heaven to liberate them.  He ventures
the attempt, which ends in little else than in his own execution.
Orsini's attempt on Louis Napoleon, and John Brown's attempt at
Harper's Ferry, were, in their philosophy, precisely the same.  The
eagerness to cast blame on old England in the one case, and on New
England in the other, does not disprove the sameness of the two things.

And how much would it avail you, if you could, by the use of John
Brown, Helper's Book, and the like, break up the Republican
organization?  Human action can be modified to some extent, but human
nature cannot be changed.  There is a judgment and a feeling against
slavery in this nation, which cast at least a million and a half of
votes.  You cannot destroy that judgment and feeling--that
sentiment--by breaking up the political organization which rallies
around it.  You can scarcely scatter and disperse an army which has
been formed into order in the face of your heaviest fire; but if you
could, how much would you gain by forcing the sentiment which created
it out of the peaceful channel of the ballot-box into some other
channel?  What would that other channel probably be?  Would the number
of John Browns be lessened or enlarged by the operation?

But you will break up the Union rather than submit to a denial of your
Constitutional rights.

That has a somewhat reckless sound; but it would be palliated, if not
fully justified, were we proposing, by the mere force of numbers, to
deprive you of some right plainly written down in the Constitution.
But we are proposing no such thing.

When you make these declarations you have a specific and well
understood allusion to an assumed constitutional right of yours to take
slaves into the Federal Territories, and to hold them there as
property.  But no such right is specifically written in the
Constitution.  That instrument is literally silent about any such
right.  We, on the contrary, deny that such a right has any existence
in the Constitution, even by implication.

Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the
Government, unless you be allowed to construe and force the
Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and
us.  You will rule or ruin in all events.

This, plainly stated, is your language.  Perhaps you will say the
Supreme Court has decided the disputed Constitutional question in your
favor.  Not quite so.  But waiving the lawyer's distinction between
dictum and decision, the court has decided the question for you in a
sort of way.  The court has substantially said, it is your
constitutional right to take slaves into the Federal Territories, and
to hold them there as property.

When I say the decision was made in a sort of way, I mean it was made
in a divided court, by a bare majority of the judges, and they not
quite agreeing with one another in the reasons for making it; that it
is so made as that its avowed supporters disagree with one another
about its meaning, and that it was mainly based upon a mistaken
statement of fact--the statement in the opinion that "the right of
property in a slave is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the

An inspection of the Constitution will show that the right of property
in a slave is not "distinctly and expressly affirmed" in it.  Bear in
mind, the judges do not pledge their judicial opinion that such right
is impliedly affirmed in the Constitution; but they pledge their
veracity that it is "distinctly and expressly" affirmed
there--"distinctly," that is, not mingled with anything
else--"expressly," that is, in words meaning just that, without the aid
of any inference, and susceptible of no other meaning.

If they had only pledged their judicial opinion that such right is
affirmed in the instrument by implication, it would be open to others
to show that neither the word "slave" nor "slavery" is to be found in
the Constitution, nor the word "property" even, in any connection with
language alluding to the things slave, or slavery; and that wherever in
that instrument the slave is alluded to, he is called a "person;" and
wherever his master's legal right in relation to him is alluded to, it
is spoken of as "service or labor which may be due"--as a debt payable
in service or labor.  Also it would be open to show, by contemporaneous
history, that this mode of alluding to slaves and slavery, instead of
speaking of them, was employed on purpose to exclude from the
Constitution the idea that there could be property in man.

To show all this is easy and certain.

When this obvious mistake of the judges shall be brought to their
notice, is it not reasonable to expect that they will withdraw the
mistaken statement, and reconsider the conclusion based upon it?

And then it is to be remembered that "our fathers who framed the
Government under which we live"--the men who made the
Constitution--decided this same Constitutional question in our favor
long ago: decided it without a division among themselves when making
the decision; without division among themselves about the meaning of it
after it was made, and so far as any evidence is left, without basing
it upon any mistaken statement of facts.

Under all these circumstances, do you really feel yourself justified to
break up this Government unless such a court decision as yours is shall
be at once submitted to as a conclusive and final rule of political

But you will not abide the election of a Republican president!  In that
supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union; and then, you say,
the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us!

That is cool.  A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters
through his teeth, "Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then
you will be a murderer!"

To be sure, what the robber demanded of me--my money--was my own; and I
had a clear right to keep it; but it was no more my own than my vote is
my own; and the threat of death to me, to extort my money, and the
threat of destruction to the Union, to extort my vote, can scarcely be
distinguished in principle.

A few words now to Republicans.  It is exceedingly desirable that all
parts of this great Confederacy shall be at peace, and in harmony one
with another.  Let us Republicans do our part to have it so.  Even
though much provoked, let us do nothing through passion and ill temper.
Even though the Southern people will not so much as listen to us, let
us calmly consider their demands, and yield to them if, in our
deliberate view of our duty, we possibly can.  Judging by all they say
and do, and by the subject and nature of their controversy with us, let
us determine if we can, what will satisfy them.

Will they be satisfied if the Territories be unconditionally
surrendered to them?  We know they will not.  In all their present
complaints against us, the Territories are scarcely mentioned.
Invasions and insurrections are the rage now.  Will it satisfy them if,
in the future, we have nothing to do with invasions and insurrections?
We know it will not.  We so know, because we know we never had anything
to do with invasions and insurrections; and yet this total abstaining
does not exempt us from the charge and the denunciation.

The question recurs, What will satisfy them?  Simply this: we must not
only let them alone, but we must somehow convince them that we do let
them alone.  This, we know by experience, is no easy task.  We have
been so trying to convince them from the very beginning of our
organization, but with no success.  In all our platforms and speeches
we have constantly protested our purpose to let them alone; but this
has had no tendency to convince them.  Alike unavailing to convince
them is the fact that they have never detected a man of us in any
attempt to disturb them.

These natural and apparently adequate means all failing, what will
convince them?  This, and this only: cease to call slavery _wrong_, and
join them in calling it _right_.  And this must be done
thoroughly--done in _acts_ as well as in _words_.  Silence will not be
tolerated--we must place ourselves avowedly with them.  Senator
Douglas's new sedition law must be enacted and enforced, suppressing
all declarations that slavery is wrong, whether made in politics, in
presses, in pulpits, or in private.  We must arrest and return their
fugitive slaves with greedy pleasure.  We must pull down our Free-State
constitutions.  The whole atmosphere must be disinfected from all taint
of opposition to slavery, before they will cease to believe that all
their troubles proceed from us.

I am quite aware they do not state their case precisely in this way.
Most of them would probably say to us, "Let us alone; do nothing to us,
and say what you please about slavery."  But we do let them
alone,--have never disturbed them,--so that, after all, it is what we
say which dissatisfies them.  They will continue to accuse us of doing,
until we cease saying.

I am also aware they have not as yet in terms demanded the overthrow of
our Free-State constitutions.  Yet those constitutions declare the
wrong of slavery with more solemn emphasis than do all other sayings
against it; and when all these other sayings shall have been silenced,
the overthrow of these constitutions will be demanded, and nothing be
left to resist the demand.  It is nothing to the contrary that they do
not demand the whole of this just now.  Demanding what they do, and for
the reason they do, they can voluntarily stop nowhere short of this
consummation.  Holding, as they do, that slavery is morally right and
socially elevating, they cannot cease to demand a full national
recognition of it as a legal right and a social blessing.

Nor can we justifiably withhold this on any ground save our conviction
that slavery is wrong.  If slavery is right, all words, acts, laws, and
constitutions against it are themselves wrong, and should be silenced
and swept away.  If it is right, we cannot justly object to its
nationality--its universality; if it is wrong, they cannot justly
insist upon its extension--its enlargement.  All they ask we could
readily grant, if we thought slavery right; all we ask they could as
readily grant, if they thought it wrong.  Their thinking it right and
our thinking it wrong is the precise fact upon which depends the whole
controversy.  Thinking it right, as they do, they are not to blame for
desiring its full recognition as being right; but thinking it wrong, as
we do, can we yield to them?  Can we cast our votes with their view,
and against our own?  In view of our moral, social, and political
responsibilities, can we do this?

Wrong as we think slavery is, we can yet afford to let it alone where
it is, because that much is due to the necessity arising from its
actual presence in the nation; but can we, while our votes will prevent
it, allow it to spread into the national Territories, and to overrun us
here in these free States?  If our sense of duty forbids this, then let
us stand by our duty fearlessly and effectively.  Let us be diverted by
none of those sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so
industriously plied and belabored--contrivances such as groping for
some middle ground between the right and the wrong: vain as the search
for a man who should be neither a living man nor a dead man; such as a
policy of "don't care" on a question about which all true men do care;
such as Union appeals beseeching true Union men to yield to
Disunionists, reversing the divine rule, and calling, not the sinners,
but the righteous to repentance; such as invocations to Washington,
imploring men to unsay what Washington said and undo what Washington

Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against
us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the government,
nor of dungeons to ourselves.  Let us have faith that right makes
might, and in that faith let us to the end dare to do our duty as we
understand it.


My Friends: No one not in my position can appreciate the sadness I feel
at this parting.  To this people I owe all that I am.  Here I have
lived more than a quarter of a century; here my children were born, and
here one of them lies buried.  I know not how soon I shall see you
again.  A duty devolves upon me which is, perhaps, greater than that
which has devolved upon any other man since the days of Washington.  He
never could have succeeded except for the aid of Divine Providence,
upon which he at all times relied.  I feel that I cannot succeed
without the same Divine Aid which sustained him; and in the same
Almighty Being I place my reliance for support; and I hope you, my
friends, will all pray that I may receive that Divine Assistance,
without which I cannot succeed, but with which success is certain.
Again I bid you all an affectionate farewell.


My Friends: No one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of
sadness at this parting.  To this place, and the kindness of these
people, I owe everything.  Here I have lived a quarter of a century,
and have passed from a young to an old man.  Here my children have been
born and one is buried.  I now leave, not knowing when or whether ever
I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon
Washington.  Without the assistance of that Divine Being who ever
attended him, I cannot succeed.  With that assistance, I cannot fail.
Trusting in Him, who can go with me and remain with you, and be
everywhere for good; let us confidently hope that all will yet be well.
To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend
me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.


Mr. Cutler: I am filled with deep emotion at finding myself standing in
this place, where were collected together the wisdom, the patriotism,
the devotion to principle, from which sprang the institutions under
which we live.  You have kindly suggested to me that in my hands is the
task of restoring peace to our distracted country.  I can say in
return, sir, that all the political sentiments I entertain have been
drawn, so far as I have been able to draw them, from the sentiments
which originated in and were given to the world from this hall.  I have
never had a feeling politically, that did not spring from the
sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence.  I have often
pondered over the dangers which were incurred by the men who assembled
here and framed and adopted that Declaration.  I have pondered over the
toils that were endured by the officers and soldiers of the army who
achieved that independence.  I have often inquired of myself what great
principle or idea it was that kept this Confederacy so long together.
It was not the mere matter of the separation of the colonies from the
motherland, but that sentiment in the Declaration of Independence which
gave liberty not alone to the people of this country, but hope to all
the world, for all future time.  It was that which gave promise that in
due time the weights would be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and
that all should have an equal chance.  This is the sentiment embodied
in the Declaration of Independence.  Now, my friends, can this country
be saved on that basis?  If it can, I will consider myself one of the
happiest men in the world if I can help to save it.  If it cannot be
saved upon that principle, it will be truly awful.  But if this country
cannot be saved without giving up that principle, I was about to say I
would rather be assassinated on this spot than surrender it.  Now, in
my view of the present aspect of affairs, there is no need of bloodshed
and war.  There is no necessity for it.  I am not in favor of such a
course; and I may say in advance that there will be no bloodshed unless
it is forced upon the government.  The government will not use force,
unless force is used against it.

My friends, this is wholly an unprepared speech.  I did not expect to
be called on to say a word when I came here.  I supposed I was merely
to do something toward raising a flag.  I may, therefore, have said
something indiscreet.  [Cries of "No, no."]  But I have said nothing
but what I am willing to live by, and, if it be the pleasure of
Almighty God, to die by.


Fellow Citizens of the United States: In compliance with a custom as
old as the government itself, I appear before you to address you
briefly, and to take in your presence the oath prescribed by the
Constitution of the United States to be taken by the President "before
he enters on the execution of his office."

I do not consider it necessary at present for me to discuss those
matters of administration about which there is no special anxiety or
excitement.  Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the
Southern States that, by the accession of a Republican administration,
their property and their peace and personal security are to be
endangered.  There has never been any reasonable cause for such
apprehension.  Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all
the while existed and been open to their inspection.  It is found in
nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you.  I do
but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that "I have no
purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of
slavery in the States where it exists.  I believe I have no lawful
right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so."  Those who
nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge that I had made
this and many similar declarations, and had never recanted them.  And,
more than this, they placed in the platform for my acceptance, and as a
law to themselves and to me, the clear and emphatic resolution which I
now read:

_Resolved_, That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States,
and especially the right of each State to order and control its own
domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is
essential to that balance of power on which the perfection and
endurance of our political fabric depend, and we denounce the lawless
invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no
matter under what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes.

I now reiterate these sentiments; and, in doing so, I only press upon
the public attention the most conclusive evidence of which the case is
susceptible, that the property, peace, and security of no section are
to be in any wise endangered by the now incoming administration.  I
add, too, that all the protection which, consistently with the
Constitution and the laws, can be given, will be cheerfully given to
all the States when lawfully demanded, for whatever cause--as
cheerfully to one section as to another.

There is much controversy about the delivering up of fugitives from
service or labor.  The clause I now read is as plainly written in the
Constitution as any other of its provisions:

No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws
thereof, escaping into another, shall in consequence of any law or
regulation therein be discharged from such service or labor, but shall
be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may
be due.

It is scarcely questioned that this provision was intended by those who
made it for the reclaiming of what we call fugitive slaves; and the
intention of the lawgiver is the law.  All members of Congress swear
their support to the whole Constitution--to this provision as much as
to any other.  To the proposition, then, that slaves whose cases come
within the terms of this clause "shall be delivered up," their oaths
are unanimous.  Now, if they would make the effort in good temper,
could they not with nearly equal unanimity frame and pass a law by
means of which to keep good that unanimous oath?

There is some difference of opinion whether this clause should be
enforced by National or by State authority; but surely that difference
is not a very material one.  If the slave is to be surrendered, it can
be of but little consequence to him or to others by which authority it
is done.  And should any one in any case be content that his oath shall
go unkept on a merely unsubstantial controversy as to how it shall be

Again, in any law upon this subject, ought not all the safeguards of
liberty known in civilized and humane jurisprudence to be introduced,
so that a free man be not, in any case, surrendered as a slave?  And
might it not be well at the same time to provide by law for the
enforcement of that clause in the Constitution which guarantees that
"the citizen of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and
immunities of citizens in the several States?"

I take the official oath to-day with no mental reservations, and with
no purpose to construe the Constitution or laws by any hypercritical
rules.  And while I do not choose now to specify particular acts of
Congress as proper to be enforced, I do suggest that it will be much
safer for all, both in official and private stations, to conform to and
abide by all those acts which stand unrepealed, than to violate any of
them, trusting to find impunity in having them held to be

It is seventy-two years since the first inauguration of a President
under our National Constitution.  During that period fifteen different
and greatly distinguished citizens have, in succession, administered
the executive branch of the government.  They have conducted it through
many perils, and generally with great success.  Yet, with all this
scope of precedent, I now enter upon the same task for the brief
constitutional term of four years under great and peculiar difficulty.

A disruption of the Federal Union, heretofore only menaced, is now
formidably attempted.  I hold that, in contemplation of universal law
and of the constitution, the Union of these States is perpetual.
Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all
national governments.  It is safe to assert that no government proper
ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination.
Continue to execute all the express provisions of our National
Constitution, and the Union will endure forever--it being impossible to
destroy it except by some action not provided for in the instrument

Again, if the United States be not a government proper, but an
association of States in the nature of contract merely, can it, as a
contract, be peaceably unmade by less than all the parties who made it?
One party to a contract may violate it--break it, so to speak; but does
it not require all to lawfully rescind it?

Descending from these general principles, we find the proposition that,
in legal contemplation the Union is perpetual confirmed by the history
of the Union itself.  The Union is much older than the Constitution.
It was formed, in fact, by the Articles of Association in 1774.  It was
matured and continued by the Declaration of Independence in 1776.  It
was further matured, and the faith of all the then thirteen States
expressly plighted and engaged that it should be perpetual, by the
Articles of Confederation in 1778.  And, finally, in 1787 one of the
declared objects for ordaining and establishing the Constitution was
"to form a more perfect Union."  But if the destruction of the Union by
one or by a part only of the States be lawfully possible, the Union is
less perfect than before the Constitution, having lost the vital
element of perpetuity.

It follows from these views that no State upon its own mere motion can
lawfully get out of the Union; that resolves and ordinances to that
effect are legally void; and that acts of violence, within any State or
States, against the authority of the United States, are insurrectionary
or revolutionary, according to circumstances.

I therefore consider that, in view of the Constitution and the laws,
the Union is unbroken; and to the extent of my ability I shall take
care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the
laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the States.  Doing this
I deem to be only a simple duty on my part; and I shall perform it so
far as practicable, unless my rightful masters, the American people,
shall withhold the requisite means, or in some authoritative manner
direct the contrary.  I trust this will not be regarded as a menace,
but only as the declared purpose of the Union that it will
constitutionally defend and maintain itself.

In doing this there needs to be no bloodshed or violence; and there
shall be none, unless it be forced upon the national authority.  The
power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the
property and places belonging to the government, and to collect the
duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects,
there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the
people anywhere.  Where hostility to the United States, in any interior
locality, shall be so great and universal as to prevent competent
resident citizens from holding the Federal offices, there will be no
attempt to force obnoxious strangers among the people for that object.
While the strict legal right may exist in the government to enforce the
exercise of these offices, the attempt to do so would be so irritating,
and so nearly impracticable withal, that I deem it better to forego for
the time the uses of such offices.

The mails, unless repelled, will continue to be furnished in all parts
of the Union.  So far as possible, the people everywhere shall have
that sense of perfect security which is most favorable to calm thought
and reflection.  The course here indicated will be followed unless
current events and experience shall show a modification or change to be
proper, and in every case and exigency my best discretion will be
exercised according to circumstances actually existing, and with a view
and a hope of a peaceful solution of the national troubles and the
restoration of fraternal sympathies and affections.

That there are persons in one section or another who seek to destroy
the Union at all events, and are glad of any pretext to do it, I will
neither affirm nor deny; but if there be such, I need address no word
to them.  To those, however, who really love the Union may I not speak?

Before entering upon so grave a matter as the destruction of our
national fabric, with all its benefits, its memories, and its hopes,
would it not be wise to ascertain precisely why we do it?  Will you
hazard so desperate a step while there is any possibility that any
portion of the ills you fly from have no real existence?  Will you,
while the certain ills you fly to are greater than all the real ones
you fly from--will you risk the commission of so fearful a mistake?

All profess to be content in the Union if all constitutional rights can
be maintained.  Is it true, then, that any right, plainly written in
the Constitution, has been denied?  I think not.  Happily the human
mind is so constituted that no party can reach to the audacity of doing
this.  Think, if you can, of a single instance in which a plainly
written provision of the Constitution has ever been denied.  If by the
mere force of numbers a majority should deprive a minority of any
clearly written constitutional right, it might, in a moral point of
view, justify revolution--certainly would if such a right were a vital
one.  But such is not our case.  All the vital rights of minorities and
of individuals are so plainly assured to them by affirmations and
negations, guarantees and prohibitions, in the Constitution, that
controversies never arise concerning them.  But no organic law can ever
be framed with a provision specifically applicable to every question
which may occur in practical administration.  No foresight can
anticipate, nor any document of reasonable length contain, express
provisions for all possible questions.  Shall fugitives from labor be
surrendered by national or by State authority?  The Constitution does
not expressly say.  _May_ Congress prohibit slavery in the Territories?
The Constitution does not expressly say.  _Must_ Congress protect
slavery in the Territories?  The Constitution does not expressly say.

From questions of this class spring all our constitutional
controversies, and we divide upon them into majorities and minorities.
If the minority will not acquiesce, the majority must, or the
government must cease.  There is no other alternative; for continuing
the government is acquiescence on one side or the other.

If a minority in such case will secede rather than acquiesce, they make
a precedent which in turn will divide and ruin them; for a minority of
their own will secede from them whenever a majority refuses to be
controlled by such minority.  For instance, why may not any portion of
a new confederacy a year or two hence arbitrarily secede again,
precisely as portions of the present Union now claim to secede from it?
All who cherish disunion sentiments are now being educated to the exact
temper of doing this.

Is there such perfect identity of interests among the States to compose
a new Union, as to produce harmony only, and prevent renewed secession?

Plainly, the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy.  A
majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations,
and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions
and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people.  Whoever
rejects it does, of necessity, fly to anarchy or to despotism.
Unanimity is impossible; the rule of a minority, as a permanent
arrangement, is wholly inadmissible; so that, rejecting the majority
principle, anarchy or despotism in some form is all that is left.

I do not forget the position, assumed by some, that constitutional
questions are to be decided by the Supreme Court; nor do I deny that
such decisions must be binding, in any case, upon the parties to a
suit, as to the object of that suit, while they are also entitled to
very high respect and consideration in all parallel cases by all other
departments of the government.  And while it is obviously possible that
such decision may be erroneous in any given case, still the evil effect
following it, being limited to that particular case, with the chance
that it may be overruled and never become a precedent for other cases,
can better be borne than could the evils of a different practice.  At
the same time, the candid citizen must confess that if the policy of
the government, upon vital questions affecting the whole people, is to
be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant
they are made, in ordinary litigation between parties in personal
actions, the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to
that extent practically resigned their government into the hands of
that eminent tribunal.  Nor is there in this view any assault upon the
court or the judges.  It is a duty from which they may not shrink to
decide cases properly brought before them, and it is no fault of theirs
if others seek to turn their decisions to political purposes.

One section of our country believes slavery is right, and ought to be
extended, while the other believes it is wrong, and ought not to be
extended.  This is the only substantial dispute.  The fugitive-slave
clause of the Constitution, and the law for the suppression of the
foreign slave-trade, are each as well enforced, perhaps as any law can
ever be in a community where the moral sense of the people imperfectly
supports the law itself.  The great body of the people abide by the dry
legal obligation in both cases, and a few break over in each.  This, I
think, cannot be perfectly cured; and it would be worse in both cases
after the separation of the sections than before.  The foreign
slave-trade, now imperfectly suppressed, would be ultimately revived,
without restriction, in one section, while fugitive slaves, now only
partially surrendered, would not be surrendered at all by the other.

Physically speaking, we cannot separate.  We cannot remove our
respective sections from each other, nor build an impassable wall
between them.  A husband and wife may be divorced, and go out of the
presence and beyond the reach of each other; but the different parts of
our country cannot do this.  They cannot but remain face to face, and
intercourse either amicable or hostile, must continue between them.  Is
it possible, then, to make that intercourse more advantageous or more
satisfactory after separation than before?  Can aliens make treaties
easier than friends can make laws?  Can treaties be more faithfully
enforced between aliens than laws can among friends?  Suppose you go to
war, you cannot fight always; and when, after much loss on both sides,
and no gain on either, you cease fighting, the identical old questions
as to terms of intercourse are again upon you.

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit
it.  Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they
can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their
revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.  I cannot be ignorant
of the fact that many worthy and patriotic citizens are desirious of
having the National Constitution amended.  While I make no
recommendation of amendments, I fully recognize the rightful authority
of the people over the whole subject, to be exercised in either of the
modes prescribed in the instrument itself; and I should, under existing
circumstances, favor rather than oppose a fair opportunity being
afforded the people to act upon it.  I will venture to add that to me
the convention mode seems preferable, in that it allows amendments to
originate with the people themselves, instead of only permitting them
to take or reject propositions originated by others not especially
chosen for the purpose, and which might not be precisely such as they
would wish to either accept or refuse.  I understand a proposed
amendment to the Constitution--which amendment, however, I have not
seen--has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government
shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States,
including that of persons held to service.  To avoid misconstruction of
what I have said, I depart from my purpose not to speak of particular
amendments so far as to say that, holding such a provision to now be
implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made
express and irrevocable.

The chief magistrate derives all his authority from the people, and
they have conferred none upon him to fix terms for the separation of
the States.  The people themselves can do this also if they choose: but
the executive, as such, has nothing to do with it.  His duty is to
administer the present government, as it came to his hands, and to
transmit it, unimpaired by him, to his successor.

Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of
the people?  Is there any better or equal hope in the world?  In our
present differences is either party without faith of being in the
right?  If the Almighty Ruler of Nations, with his eternal truth and
justice, be on your side of the North, or on yours of the South, that
truth and that justice will surely prevail by the judgment of this
great tribunal of the American people.

By the frame of the government under which we live, this same people
have wisely given their public servants but little power for mischief;
and have, with equal wisdom, provided for the return of that little to
their own hands at very short intervals.  While the people retain their
virtue and vigilance, no administration, by any extreme of wickedness
or folly, can very seriously injure the government in the short space
of four years.

My countrymen, one and all, think calmly and well upon this whole
subject.  Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time.  If there be an
object to hurry any of you in hot haste to a step which you would never
take deliberately, that object will be frustrated by taking time; but
no good object can be frustrated by it.  Such of you as are now
dissatisfied, still have the old Constitution unimpaired, and, on the
sensitive point, the laws of your own framing under it; while the new
administration will have no immediate power, if it would, to change
either.  If it were admitted that you who are dissatisfied hold the
right side in the dispute, there still is no single good reason for
precipitate action.  Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm
reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still
competent to adjust in the best way all your present difficulties.

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is
the momentous issue of civil war.  The government will not assail you.
You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors.  You
have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the government, while I
shall have the most solemn one to "preserve, protect, and defend it."

I am loath to close.  We are not enemies, but friends.  We must not be
enemies.  Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds
of affection.  The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every
battle-field and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone
all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when
again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our


Fellow Citizens: I thank you for this visit.  I thank you that you call
upon me, not in any sectional spirit, but that you come, without
distinction of party, to pay your respects to the President of the
United States.  I am informed that you are mostly citizens of New York.
[Cries of "all," "all."]  You all appear to be very happy.  May I hope
that the public expression which I have this day given to my
sentiments, may have contributed in some degree to your happiness.
[Emphatic exclamations of assent.]  As far as I am concerned, the loyal
citizens of every State, and of every section, shall have no cause to
feel any other sentiment.  [Cries of "good," "good."]  As towards the
disaffected portions of our fellow-citizens, I will say, as every good
man throughout the country must feel, that there will be more rejoicing
over one sheep that is lost, and is found, than over the ninety and
nine which have not gone astray.  [Great cheering.]  And now, my
friends, as I have risen from the dinner-table to see you, you will
excuse me for the brevity of my remarks, and permit me again to thank
you heartily and cordially for the pleasant visit, as I rejoin those
who await my return.


Washington, D.C., May 25, 1861.

To the Father and Mother of Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth:

My dear Sir and Madam: In the untimely loss of your noble son, our
affliction here is scarcely less than your own.  So much of promised
usefulness to one's country, and of bright hopes for one's self and
friends, have rarely been so suddenly dashed as in his fall.  In size,
in years, and in youthful appearance a boy only, his power to command
men was surpassingly great.  This power, combined with a fine
intellect, an indomitable energy, and a taste altogether military,
constituted in him, as seemed to me, the best natural talent in that
department I ever knew.

And yet, he was singularly modest and deferential in social
intercourse.  My acquaintance with him began less than two years ago;
yet through the latter part of the intervening period it was as
intimate as the disparity of our ages and my engrossing engagements
would permit.  To me he appeared to have no indulgences or pastimes;
and I never heard him utter a profane or an intemperate word.  What was
conclusive of his good heart, he never forgot his parents.  The honors
he labored for so laudably, and for which in the sad end he so
gallantly gave his life, he meant for them no less than for himself.

In the hope that it may be no intrusion upon the sacredness of your
sorrow, I have ventured to address you this tribute to the memory of my
young friend and your brave and early fallen child.

May God give you that consolation which is beyond all earthly power.

Sincerely your friend in a common affliction,



Executive Mansion, Washington, August 22, 1862.

Hon. Horace Greeley:

Dear Sir:  I have just read yours of the 19th, addressed to myself
through the N. Y. _Tribune_.  If there be in it any statements or
assumptions of fact which I may know to be erroneous, I do not now and
here controvert them.  If there be in it any inferences which I may
believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here argue against them.
If there be perceptible in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I
waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always
supposed to be right.

As to the policy I "seem to be pursuing," as you say, I have not meant
to leave any one in doubt.

I would save the Union.  I would save it in the shortest way under the

The sooner the National authority can be restored, the nearer the Union
will be "the Union as it was."

If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the
same time _save_ Slavery, I do not agree with them.  If there be those
who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time
_destroy_ Slavery, I do not agree with them.  My paramount object in
this struggle is to save the Union, and is _not_ either to save or to
destroy Slavery.  If I could save the Union without freeing _any_
slave, I would do it; if I could save it by freeing _all_ the slaves, I
would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others
alone, I would also do that.  What I do about Slavery and the colored
race, I do because I believe it helps to save this Union; and what I
forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the
Union.  I shall do _less_ whenever I shall believe that what I am doing
hurts the cause, and I shall do _more_ whenever I shall believe doing
more will help the cause.  I shall try to correct errors when shown to
be errors; and I shall adopt new views as fast as they shall appear to
be true views.

I have here stated my purpose according to my views of _official_ duty;
and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed _personal_ wish that
all men, everywhere could be free.  Yours,



A Nation may be said to consist of its territory, its people, and its
laws.  The territory is the only part which is of certain durability.
"One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh, but the
earth abideth forever."  It is of the first importance to duly consider
and estimate this ever-enduring part.  That portion of the earth's
surface which is owned and inhabited by the people of the United States
is well adapted to be the home of one national family, and it is not
well adapted for two or more.  Its vast extent and its variety of
climate and productions are of advantage in this age for one people
whatever they might have been in former ages.  Steam, telegraphs, and
intelligence have brought these to be an advantageous combination for
one united people.

In the Inaugural Address I briefly pointed out the total inadequacy of
disunion as a remedy for the differences between the people of the two
sections.  I did so in language which I cannot improve and which,
therefore, I beg to repeat:

One section of our country believes slavery is right and ought to be
extended, while the other believes it is wrong and ought not to be
extended.  This is the only substantial dispute.  The fugitive-slave
clause of the Constitution and the law for the suppression of the
foreign slave-trade are each as well enforced, perhaps, as any law can
ever be in a community where the moral sense of the people imperfectly
supports the law itself.  The great body of the people abide by the dry
legal obligation in both cases, and a few break over in each.  This, I
think, cannot be perfectly cured; and it would be worse in both cases
after the separation of the sections than before.  The foreign
slave-trade, now imperfectly suppressed, would be ultimately revived
without restriction in one section; while fugitive slaves, now only
partially surrendered, would not be surrendered at all by the other.

Physically speaking, we cannot separate.  We cannot remove our
respective sections from each other, nor build an impassable wall
between them.  A husband and wife may be divorced and go out of the
presence and beyond the reach of each other; but the different parts of
our country cannot do this.  They cannot but remain face to face; and
intercourse, either amicable or hostile, must continue between them.
Is it possible, then, to make that intercourse more advantageous or
more satisfactory after separation than before?  Can aliens make
treaties easier than friends can make laws?  Can treaties be more
faithfully enforced between aliens than laws can among friends?
Suppose you go to war, you cannot fight always; and when, after much
loss on both sides and no gain on either, you cease fighting, the
identical old questions as to terms of intercourse are again upon you.

There is no line, straight or crooked, suitable for a national boundary
upon which to divide.  Trace through, from east to west, upon the line
between the free and slave country, and we shall find a little more
than one-third of its length are rivers, easy to be crossed, and
populated, or soon to be populated, thickly upon both sides; while
nearly all its remaining length are merely surveyors' lines, over which
people may walk and back forth without any consciousness of their
presence.  No part of this line can be made any more difficult to pass
by writing it down on paper or parchment as a national boundary.  The
fact of separation, if it comes, gives up on the part of the seceding
section the fugitive-slave clause along with all other constitutional
obligations upon the section seceded from, while I should expect no
treaty stipulation would be ever made to take its place.

But there is another difficulty.  The great interior region, bounded
east by the Alleghanies, north by the British dominions, west by the
Rocky Mountains, and south by the line along which the culture of corn
and cotton meets, and which includes part of Virginia, part of
Tennessee, all of Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin,
Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, and the Territories of
Dakota, Nebraska, and part of Colorado, already has above ten millions
of people, and will have fifty millions within fifty years if not
prevented by any political folly or mistake.  It contains more than one
third of the country owned by the United States--certainly more than
one million of square miles.  Once half as populous as Massachusetts
already is, it would have more than seventy-five millions of people.  A
glance at the map shows that, territorially speaking, it is the great
body of the republic.  The other parts are but marginal borders to it,
the magnificent region sloping west from the Rocky Mountains to the
Pacific being the deepest and also the richest in undeveloped
resources.  In the production of provisions, grains, grasses, and all
which proceed from them, this great interior region is naturally one of
the most important in the world.  Ascertain from the statistics the
small proportion of the region which has, as yet, been brought into
cultivation, and also the large and rapidly increasing amount of its
products, and we shall be overwhelmed with the magnitude of the
prospect presented; and yet this region has no seacoast, touches no
ocean anywhere.  As part of one nation, its people now find, and may
forever find, their way to Europe by New York, to South America and
Africa by New Orleans, and to Asia by San Francisco.  But separate our
common country into two nations, as designed by the present rebellion,
and every man of this great interior region is thereby cut off from
some one or more of these outlets--not, perhaps, by a physical barrier,
but by embarrassing and onerous trade regulations.

And this is true wherever a dividing or boundary line may be fixed.
Place it between the now free and slave country, or place it south of
Kentucky or north of Ohio, and still the truth remains that none south
of it can trade to any port or place north of it, and none north of it
can trade to any port or place south of it except upon terms dictated
by a government foreign to them.  These outlets, east, west, and south,
are indispensable to the well-being of the people inhabiting, and to
inhabit, this vast interior region.  Which of the three may be the
best, is no proper question.  All are better than either; and all of
right belong to that people and to their successors forever.  True to
themselves, they will not ask where a line of separation shall be, but
will vow rather that there shall be no such line.  Nor are the marginal
regions less interested in these communications to and through them to
the great outside world.  They, too, and each of them, must have access
to this Egypt of the West without paying toll at the crossing of any
national boundary.

Our national strife springs not from our permanent part, not from the
land we inhabit, not from our national homestead.  There is no possible
severing of this but would multiply, and not mitigate, evils among us.
In all its adaptations and aptitudes it demands union and abhors
separation.  In fact, it would ere long force reunion, however much of
blood and treasure the separation might have cost.

Our strife pertains to ourselves--to the passing generations of men;
and it can without convulsion be hushed forever with the passing of one
generation. . . .

I do not forget the gravity which should characterize a paper addressed
to the Congress of the nation by the Chief Magistrate of the nation.
Nor do I forget that some of you are my seniors, nor that many of you
have more experience than I in the conduct of public affairs.  Yet I
trust that in view of the great responsibility resting upon me, you
will perceive no want of respect to yourselves in any undue earnestness
I may seem to display.

Is it doubted, then, that the plan I propose, if adopted, would shorten
the war, and thus lessen its expenditure of money and of blood?  Is it
doubted that it would restore the national authority and national
prosperity, and perpetuate both indefinitely?  Is it doubted that we
here--Congress and Executive--can secure its adoption?  Will not the
good people respond to a united and earnest appeal from us?  Can we,
can they, by any other means so certainly or so speedily assure these
vital objects?  We can succeed only by concert.  It is not "Can any of
us imagine better?" but, "Can we all do better?"  Object whatsoever is
possible, still the question occurs, "Can we do better?"  The dogmas of
the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present.  The occasion is
piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion.  As our
case is new, so we must think anew and act anew.  We must disenthral
ourselves, and then we shall save our country.

Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history.  We of this Congress and
this administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves.  No
personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us.
The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down, in honor or
dishonor, to the latest generation.  We say we are for the Union.  The
world will not forget that we say this.  We know how to save the Union.
The world knows we do know how to save it.  We--even we here--hold the
power and bear the responsibility.  In giving freedom to the slave, we
assure freedom to the free--honorable alike in what we give and what we
preserve.  We shall nobly save or meanly lose the last, best hope of
earth.  Other means may succeed; this could not fail.  The way is
plain, peaceful, generous, just--a way which, if followed, the world
will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.


Washington, Dec. 1, 1862.


Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord
one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by
the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the
following, to wit:--

"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand
eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any
State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be
in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward,
and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States,
including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and
maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to
repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for
their actual freedom.

"That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by
proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in
which the people thereof respectively shall then be in rebellion
against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people
thereof, shall on that day be in good faith represented in the Congress
of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a
majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated,
shall in the absence of strong countervailing testimony be deemed
conclusive evidence that such State and the people thereof are not then
in rebellion against the United States."

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by
virtue of the power in me vested as commander-in-chief of the army and
navy of the United States, in time of actual armed rebellion against
the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and
necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first
day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and
sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do, publicly
proclaimed for the full period of 100 days from the day first above
mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States
wherein the people thereof, respectively, are this day in rebellion
against the United States, the following, to wit:--

Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana (except the parishes of St. Bernard,
Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James, Ascension,
Assumption, Terre Bonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans,
including the city of New Orleans), Mississippi, Alabama, Florida,
Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia (except the
forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties
of Berkeley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann,
and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth), and which
excepted parts are for the present left precisely as if this
proclamation were not issued.

And by virtue of the power and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order
and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated
States and parts of States are, and henceforward shall be, free; and
that the executive government of the United States, including the
military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the
freedom of said persons.

And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain
from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence, and I recommend to
them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for
reasonable wages.

And I further declare and make known that such persons of suitable
condition will be received into the armed service of the United States
to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man
vessels of all sorts in said service.

And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice,
warranted by the Constitution upon military necessity, I invoke the
considerate judgment of mankind and the gracious favor of Almighty God.


It has pleased Almighty God to hearken to the supplications and prayers
of an afflicted people, and to vouchsafe to the army and navy of the
United States victories on land and on the sea so signal and so
effective as to furnish reasonable grounds for augmented confidence
that the union of these States will be maintained, their Constitution
preserved, and their peace and prosperity permanently restored.  But
these victories have been accorded not without sacrifices of life,
limb, health, and liberty, incurred by brave, loyal, and patriotic
citizens.  Domestic affliction in every part of the country follows in
the train of these fearful bereavements.  It is meet and right to
recognize and confess the presence of the Almighty Father, and the
power of His hand equally in these triumphs and in these sorrows.

Now, therefore, be it known that I do set apart Thursday, the 6th day
of August next, to be observed as a day for national thanksgiving,
praise, and prayer, and I invite the people of the United States to
assemble on that occasion in their customary places of worship, and, in
the forms approved by their own consciences, render the homage due to
the Divine Majesty for the wonderful things He has done in the nation's
behalf, and invoke the influence of His Holy Spirit to subdue the anger
which has produced and so long sustained a needless and cruel
rebellion, to change the hearts of the insurgents, to guide the
counsels of the government with wisdom, adequate to so great a national
emergency, and to visit with tender care and consolation throughout the
length and breadth of our land all those who, through the vicissitudes
of marches, voyages, battles, and sieges have been brought to suffer in
mind, body, or estate, and finally to lead the whole nation through the
paths of repentance and submission to the Divine Will back to the
perfect enjoyment of union and fraternal peace.


Executive Mansion,

Washington, August 26, 1863.

Hon. James C. Conkling:

My dear Sir: Your letter inviting me to attend a mass-meeting of
unconditional Union men, to be held at the capital of Illinois on the
3d day of September, has been received.  It would be very agreeable to
me to thus meet my old friends at my own home; but I cannot just now be
absent from here so long as a visit there would require.

The meeting is to be of all those who maintain unconditional devotion
to the Union; and I am sure my old political friends will thank me for
tendering, as I do, the nation's gratitude to those and other noble men
whom no partizan malice or partizan hope can make false to the nation's

There are those who are dissatisfied with me.  To such I would say: You
desire peace, and you blame me that we do not have it.  But how can we
attain it?  There are but three conceivable ways:  First, to suppress
the rebellion by force of arms.  This I am trying to do.  Are you for
it?  If you are, so far we are agreed.  If you are not for it, a second
way is to give up the Union.  I am against this.  Are you for it?  If
you are, you should say so plainly.  If you are not for force, nor yet
for dissolution, there only remains some imaginable compromise.  I do
not believe that any compromise embracing the maintenance of the Union
is now possible.  All I learn leads to a directly opposite belief.  The
strength of the rebellion is its military, its army.  That army
dominates all the country and all the people within its range.  Any
offer of terms made by any man or men within that range, in opposition
to that army, is simply nothing for the present, because such man or
men have no power whatever to enforce their side of a compromise, if
one were made with them.

To illustrate: Suppose refugees from the South and peace men of the
North get together in convention, and frame and proclaim a compromise
embracing a restoration of the Union.  In what way can that compromise
be used to keep Lee's army out of Pennsylvania?  Meade's army can keep
Lee's army out of Pennsylvania, and, I think, can ultimately drive it
out of existence.  But no paper compromise to which the controllers of
Lee's army are not agreed can at all affect that army.  In an effort at
such compromise we should waste time which the enemy would improve to
our disadvantage; and that would be all.  A compromise, to be
effective, must be made either with those who control the rebel army,
or with the people first liberated from the domination of that army by
the success of our own army.  Now, allow me to assure you that no word
or intimation from that rebel army, or from any of the men controlling
it, in relation to any peace compromise, has ever come to my knowledge
or belief.  All charges and insinuations to the contrary are deceptive
and groundless.  And I promise you that if any such proposition shall
hereafter come, it shall not be rejected and kept a secret from you.  I
freely acknowledge myself the servant of the people, according to the
bond of service,--the United States Constitution,--and that, as such, I
am responsible to them.

But to be plain.  You are dissatisfied with me about the negro.  Quite
likely there is a difference of opinion between you and myself upon
that subject.  I certainly wish that all men could be free, while I
suppose you do not.  Yet I have neither adopted nor proposed any
measure which is not consistent with even your views, provided you are
for the Union.  I suggested compensated emancipation, to which you
replied you wished not to be taxed to buy negroes.  But I had not asked
you to be taxed to buy negroes, except in such way as to save you from
greater taxation to save the Union exclusively by other means.

You dislike the Emancipation Proclamation, and perhaps would have it
retracted.  You say it is unconstitutional.  I think differently.  I
think the Constitution invests its commander-in-chief with the law of
war in time of war.  The most that can be said--if so much--is, that
slaves are property.  Is there, has there ever been, any question that,
by the law of war, property, both of enemies and friends, may be taken
when needed? And is it not needed whenever taking it helps us or hurts
the enemy?  Armies, the world over, destroy enemies' property when they
cannot use it, and even destroy their own to keep it from the enemy.
Civilized belligerents do all in their power to help themselves or hurt
the enemy, except a few things regarded as barbarous or cruel.  Among
the exceptions are the massacre of vanquished foes and non-combatants,
male and female.

But the Proclamation, as law, either is valid or is not valid.  If it
is not valid, it needs no retraction.  If it is valid, it cannot be
retracted any more than the dead can be brought to life.  Some of you
profess to think its retraction would operate favorably for the Union.
Why better after the retraction than before the issue?  There was more
than a year and a half of trial to suppress the rebellion before the
Proclamation issued, the last one hundred days of which passed under an
explicit notice that it was coming, unless averted by those in revolt
returning to their allegiance.  The war has certainly progressed as
favorably for us since the issue of the Proclamation as before.

I know, as fully as one can know the opinions of others, that some of
the commanders of our armies in the field who have given us our most
important successes, believe the emancipation policy and the use of
colored troops constitute the heaviest blow yet dealt to the rebellion,
and that at least one of these important successes could not have been
achieved when it was but for the aid of black soldiers.  Among the
commanders holding these views are some who have never had any affinity
with what is called "Abolitionism," or with "Republican party
politics," but who hold them purely as military opinions.  I submit
their opinions as being entitled to some weight against the objections
often urged that emancipation and arming the blacks are unwise as
military measures, and were not adopted as such in good faith.

You say you will not fight to free negroes.  Some of them seem willing
to fight for you; but no matter.  Fight you, then, exclusively, to save
the Union.  I issued the Proclamation on purpose to aid you in saving
the Union.  Whenever you shall have conquered all resistance to the
Union, if I shall urge you to continue fighting, it will be an apt time
then for you to declare you will not fight to free negroes.

I thought that in your struggle for the Union, to whatever extent the
negroes should cease helping the enemy, to that extent it weakened the
enemy in his resistance to you.  Do you think differently?  I thought
that whatever negroes can be got to do as soldiers, leaves just so much
less for white soldiers to do in saving the Union.  Does it appear
otherwise to you?  But negroes, like other people, act upon motives.
Why should they do anything for us if we will do nothing for them?  If
they stake their lives for us they must be prompted by the strongest
motive, even the promise of freedom.  And the promise being made, must
be kept.

The signs look better.  The Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the
sea.  Thanks to the great Northwest for it.  Nor yet wholly to them.
Three hundred miles up they met New England, Empire, Keystone, and
Jersey, hewing their way right and left.  The sunny South, too, in more
colors than one, also lent a hand.  On the spot, their part of the
history was jotted down in black and white.  The job was a great
national one, and let none be banned who bore an honorable part in it.
And while those who have cleared the great river may well be proud,
even that is not all.  It is hard to say that anything has been more
bravely and well done than at Antietam, Murfreesboro, Gettysburg, and
on many fields of lesser note.  Nor must Uncle Sam's webfeet be
forgotten.  At all the watery margins they have been present.  Not only
on the deep sea, the broad bay, and the rapid river, but also up the
narrow, muddy bayou, and wherever the ground was a little damp, they
have been and made their tracks.  Thanks to all,--for the great
Republic, for the principle it lives by and keeps alive, for man's vast
future,--thanks to all.

Peace does not appear so distant as it did.  I hope it will come soon,
and come to stay; and so come as to be worth the keeping in all future
time.  It will then have been proved that among freemen there can be no
successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet, and that they who take
such appeal are sure to lose their case and pay the cost.  And then
there will be some black men who can remember that with silent tongue,
and clenched teeth, and steady eye, and well-poised bayonet, they have
helped mankind on to this great consummation, while I fear there will
be some white ones unable to forget that with malignant heart and
deceitful speech they strove to hinder it.

Still, let us not be over-sanguine of a speedy, final triumph.  Let us
be quite sober.  Let us diligently apply the means, never doubting that
a just God, in His own good time, will give us the rightful result.

Yours very truly,



Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this
continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the
proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation,
or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.  We are
met on a great battle-field of that war.  We have come to dedicate a
portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave
their lives that that nation might live.  It is altogether fitting and
proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate--we cannot consecrate--we
cannot hallow--this ground.  The brave men, living and dead, who
struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or
detract.  The world will little note nor long remember what we say
here, but it can never forget what they did here.  It is for us, the
living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they
who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.  It is rather for us
to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from
these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which
they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly
resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation,
under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of
the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the


Executive Mansion,

Washington, Nov. 21, 1864.

To Mrs. Bixby, Boston, Mass.

Dear Madam: I have been shown in the files of the War Department a
statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the
mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.  I
feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should
attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming.  But I
cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found
in the thanks of the republic they died to save.  I pray that our
Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave
you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn
pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the
altar of freedom.

Yours very sincerely and respectfully,



Fellow-countrymen: At this second appearing to take the oath of the
presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address
than there was at the first.  Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of
a course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper.  Now, at the
expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been
constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest
which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the
nation, little that is new could be presented.  The progress of our
arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the
public as to myself; and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and
encouraging to all.  With high hope for the future, no prediction in
regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts were
anxiously directed to an impending civil war.  All dreaded it--all
sought to avert it.  While the inaugural address was being delivered
from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war,
insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without
war--seeking to dissolve the Union, and divide effects, by negotiation.
Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than
let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let
it perish.  And the war came.

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed
generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it.
These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest.  All knew
that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war.  To strengthen,
perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the
insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government
claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial
enlargement of it.

Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which
it has already attained.  Neither anticipated that the cause of the
conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should
cease.  Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less
fundamental and astounding.  Both read the same Bible, and pray to the
same God; and each invokes his aid against the other.  It may seem
strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in
wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us
judge not, that we be not judged.  The prayers of both could not be
answered--that of neither has been answered fully.

The Almighty has his own purposes.  "Woe unto the world because of
offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man
by whom the offence cometh."  If we shall suppose that American slavery
is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs
come, but which, having continued through his appointed time, he now
wills to remove, and that he gives to both North and South this
terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall
we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the
believers in a living God always ascribe to him?  Fondly do we
hope--fervently do we pray--that this mighty scourge of war may
speedily pass away.  Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the
wealth piled by the bondman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited
toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash
shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three
thousand years ago, so still it must be said, "The judgments of the
Lord are true and righteous altogether."

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the
right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the
work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who
shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do
all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among
ourselves, and with all nations.


We meet this evening not in sorrow, but in gladness of heart.  The
evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond, and the surrender of the
principal insurgent army, give hope of a righteous and speedy peace,
whose joyous expression cannot be restrained.  In the midst of this,
however, He from whom all blessings flow, must not be forgotten.  A call
for a national thanksgiving is being prepared, and will be duly
promulgated.  Nor must those whose harder part give us the cause of
rejoicing be overlooked.  Their honors must not be parcelled out with
others.  I myself was near the front, and had the high pleasure of
transmitting much of the good news to you; but no part of the honor for
plan or execution is mine.  To General Grant, his skilful officers and
brave men, all belongs.  The gallant navy stood ready, but was not in
reach to take active part.

By these recent successes the reinauguration of the national
authority--reconstruction--which has had a large share of thought from
the first, is pressed much more closely upon our attention.  It is
fraught with great difficulty.  Unlike a case of war between
independent nations, there is no authorized organ for us to treat with.
No one man has authority to give up the rebellion for any other man.
We simply must begin with and mold from disorganized and discordant
elements.  Nor is it a small additional embarrassment that we, the
loyal people, differ among ourselves as to the mode, manner, and
measure of reconstruction.

As a general rule, I abstain from reading the reports of attacks upon
myself, wishing not to be provoked by that to which I cannot properly
offer an answer.  In spite of this precaution, however, it comes to my
knowledge that I am much censured for some supposed agency in setting
up and seeking to sustain the new State Government of Louisiana.  In
this I have done just so much as, and no more than, the public knows.
In the annual message of December, 1863, and in the accompanying
proclamation, I presented a plan of reconstruction, as the phrase goes,
which I promised, if adopted by any State, should be acceptable to and
sustained by the executive government of the nation.  I distinctly
stated that this was not the only plan which might possibly be
acceptable, and I also distinctly protested that the executive claimed
no right to say when or whether members should be admitted to seats in
Congress from such States.  This plan was, in advance, submitted to the
then Cabinet, and distinctly approved by every member of it.  One of
them suggested that I should then and in that connection apply the
Emancipation Proclamation to the theretofore excepted parts of Virginia
and Louisiana; that I should drop the suggestion about apprenticeship
for freed people, and that I should omit the protest against my own
power in regard to the admission of members to Congress.  But even he
approved every part and parcel of the plan which has since been
employed or touched by the action of Louisiana.

The new Constitution of Louisiana, declaring emancipation for the whole
State, practically applies the proclamation to the part previously
excepted.  It does not adopt apprenticeship for freed people, and it is
silent, as it could not well be otherwise, about the admission of
members to Congress.  So that, as it applies to Louisiana, every member
of the cabinet fully approved the plan.  The message went to Congress,
and I received many commendations of the plan, written and verbal, and
not a single objection to it from any professed emancipationist came to
my knowledge until after the news reached Washington that the people of
Louisiana had began to move in accordance with it.  From about July,
1862, I had corresponded with different persons supposed to be
interested [in] seeking a reconstruction of a State government for
Louisiana.  When the message of 1863, with the plan before mentioned,
reached New Orleans, General Banks wrote me he was confident that the
people, with his military cooperation, would reconstruct substantially
on that plan.  I wrote him and some of them to try it.  They tried it,
and the result is known.  Such only has been my agency in getting up
the Louisiana government.  As to sustaining it, my promise is out, as
before stated.  But as bad promises are better broken than kept, I
shall treat this as a bad promise, and break it whenever I shall be
convinced that keeping it is adverse to the public interest; but I have
not yet been so convinced.

I have been shown a letter on this subject, supposed to be an able one,
in which the writer expresses regret that my mind has not seemed to be
definitely fixed on the question whether the seceded States, so called,
are in the Union or out of it.  It would, perhaps, add astonishment to
his regret were he to learn that since I have found professed Union men
endeavoring to make that question, I have _purposely_ forborne any
public expression upon it.  As appears to me, that question has not
been, nor yet is, a practically material one, and that any discussion
of it, while it thus remains practically immaterial, could have no
effect other than the mischievous one of dividing our friends.  As yet,
whatever it may hereafter become, that question is bad as the basis of
a controversy, and good for nothing at all--a merely pernicious

We all agree that the seceded States, so called, are out of their
proper practical relation with the Union, and that the sole object of
the government, civil and military, in regard to those States is to
again get them into that proper practical relation.  I believe that it
is not only possible, but in fact easier, to do; this without deciding
or even considering whether these States have ever been out of the
Union, than with it.  Finding themselves safely at home, it would be
utterly immaterial whether they had ever been abroad.  Let us all join
in doing the acts necessary to restoring the proper practical relations
between these States and the Union, and each forever after innocently,
indulge his own opinion whether in doing the acts he brought the States
from without into the Union, or only gave them proper assistance, they
never having been out of it.

The amount of constituency, so to speak, on which the new Louisiana
government rests, would be more satisfactory to all if it contained
50,000, or 30,000, or even 20,000, instead of only about 12,000, as it
really does.  It is also unsatisfactory to some that the elective
franchise is not given to the colored man.  I would myself prefer that
it were now conferred on the very intelligent, and on those who serve
our cause as soldiers.  Still, the question is not whether the
Louisiana government, as it stands, is quite all that is desirable.
The question is, will it be wiser to take it as it is and help to
improve it, or to reject and disperse it?  Can Louisiana be brought
into proper practical relation with the Union sooner by sustaining or
by discarding her new State government?

Some twelve thousand voters in the heretofore slave State of Louisiana
have sworn allegiance to the Union, assumed to be the rightful
political power of the State, held elections, organized a State
government, adopted a free-State constitution, giving the benefit of
public schools equally to black and white, and empowering the
Legislature to confer the elective franchise upon the colored man.
Their Legislature has already voted to ratify the constitutional
amendment recently passed by Congress, abolishing slavery throughout
the nation.  These twelve thousand persons are thus fully committed to
the Union and to perpetual freedom in the State--committed to the very
things, and nearly all the things, the nation wants--and they ask the
nation's recognition and its assistance to make good their committal.

Now, if we reject and spurn them, we do our utmost to disorganize and
disperse them.  We, in effect, say to the white man: You are worthless
or worse; we will neither help you, nor be helped by you.  To the
blacks we say: This cup of Liberty which these, your old masters, hold
to your lips we will dash from you, and leave you to the chances of
gathering the spilled and scattered contents in some vague and
undefined when, where, and how.  If this course, discouraging and
paralyzing both white and black, has any tendency to bring Louisiana
into proper practical relations with the Union, I have so far been
unable to perceive it.  If, on the contrary, we recognize and sustain
the new government of Louisiana, the converse of all this is made true.
We encourage the hearts and nerve the arms of the twelve thousand to
adhere to their work, and argue for it, and proselyte for it, and fight
for it, and feed it, and grow it, and ripen it to a complete success.
The colored man too, in seeing all united for him, is inspired with
vigilance, and energy, and daring, to the same end.  Grant that he
desires the elective franchise, will he not attain it sooner by saving
the already advanced steps toward it than by running backward over
them?  Concede that the new government of Louisiana is only to what it
should be as the egg is to the fowl, we shall sooner have the fowl by
hatching the egg than by smashing it.

Again, if we reject Louisiana we also reject one vote in favor of the
proposed amendment to the national Constitution.  To meet this
proposition it has been argued that no more than three-fourths of those
States which have not attempted secession are necessary to validly
ratify the amendment.  I do not commit myself against this further than
to say that such a ratification would be questionable, and sure to be
persistently questioned, while a ratification by three-fourths of all
the States would be unquestioned and unquestionable.  I repeat the
question: Can Louisiana be brought into proper practical relation with
the Union sooner by sustaining or by discarding her new State
government?  What has been said of Louisiana will apply generally to
other States.  And yet so great peculiarities pertain to each State,
and such important and sudden changes occur in the same State, and
withal so new and unprecedented is the whole case that no exclusive and
inflexible plan can safely be prescribed as to details and collaterals.
Such exclusive and inflexible plan would surely become a new
entanglement.  Important principles may and must be inflexible.

In the present situation, as the phrase goes, it may be my duty to make
some new announcement to the people of the South.  I am considering,
and shall not fail to act when satisfied that action will be proper.


I was born February 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky.  My parents
were 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 Rockingham 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, Pennsylvania.  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, Solomon, Abraham, and the like.

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.  Still,
somehow, I could read, write, and cipher to the rule of three, but that
was all.  I have not been to school since.  The little advance I now
have upon this store of education I have picked up from time to time
under the pressure of necessity.

I was raised to farm work, which I continued till 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 re-election.  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.  I 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, weighing
on an average one hundred and eighty pounds; dark complexion, with
coarse black hair and gray eyes.  No other marks or brands recollected.



This announcement of political principles appeared in the Sangamon
_Journal_, at that time the only newspaper published in Springfield.
The present text, which differs in some details from that found in the
various editions of Lincoln's works, follows the original, except in
changing the spelling of Sangamo to Sangamon.


On the close of the address resolutions were passed requesting the
author to furnish a copy to the press, but for some unexplained reason
it was not published until a year later.  The present text is taken
from the Sangamon Journal.  Lincoln was one of the organizers of the

All through his life Lincoln showed a marked respect for the law, and
the present warning against the consequences of lawlessness, so
rhetorically sounded by the young orator of twenty-eight, was a
perfectly sincere expression of a profound conviction.

"_The gates of hell_."  Matthew xvi. 18.  This quotation was repeated
in a speech delivered at Indianapolis twenty-four years later, when
civil war was threatening.


During the summer of 1858 Lincoln delivered two important anti-slavery
speeches at Springfield.  The first and more important of these was
made June 16,[*] at the close of the Republican State Convention, at
which Lincoln was declared the party candidate for the United States
Senate.  The second, delivered a month later, is in part a defence and
explanation of the earlier speech, which had been severely criticised
by Lincoln's old opponent Judge Douglas.  The first Springfield speech
was very carefully prepared and the MS. was submitted to several of
Lincoln's friends, all of whom objected to the opening statement as
being impolitic and sure to lose the speaker the position for which he
was a candidate.  Lincoln refused to make any change, however, saying
that he preferred to go down linked with truth, if that was necessary.

[*]By Herndon the date is given as June 17.

"_A house divided against itself_."  Suggested by Matthew xii. 25, and
Mark iii. 25.  This quotation had already been used in 1843 in a Whig
circular signed by Lincoln and two others, and in a letter written in
1863 Lincoln speaks of the government as a house divided against itself.

_Nebraska doctrine_.  The doctrine of "squatter sovereignty" was
recognized in the bill, introduced in the Senate January 4, 1854, by
Douglas, to give territorial government to the district west of
Missouri and Iowa known as Nebraska.  A similar bill had been
introduced the year before by Douglas.  In its original form the bill
contained no reference to the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, but in
the form in which it was passed it declared the Missouri Compromise to
be null and void.  Under the terms of this compromise slavery had been
restricted to the territory south of 36 degrees 30 minutes.

_Dred Scott decision_.  This decision was rendered March 6, 1857.

_Silliman letter_.  A statement on the situation in Kansas by the
electors of Connecticut, which received its name from Professor
Silliman of Yale College, by whom it was in the main drawn up.

_Lecompton Constitution_.  In 1857 a convention was held at Lecompton,
Kan., to draw up a state constitution.  In this convention the
advocates of slavery were in the majority and the instrument was so
prepared as not to interfere with slavery wherever it already existed
in the territory.  The free-soil advocates refused to accept this
constitution.  When the question of admitting Kansas under the
Lecompton Constitution was presented before Congress, Douglas, in
accordance with his principles of popular sovereignty, broke with his
party and opposed the effort.  From our present point of view Lincoln
does not seem to do Douglas justice.

_Stephen, Franklin, etc._  The reference is to Stephen A. Douglas,
President Franklin Pierce, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, and James
Buchanan.  Lincoln's perfectly sincere belief in a deliberate
conspiracy among these men to perpetuate slavery, which was shared by
many Republicans of that time, is not sustained by the impartial
investigations of later historians.

_McLean or Curtis_.  John McLean and Benjamin R. Curtis were the only
justices who were strongly opposed to the Dred Scott decision.  Curtis,
who was a Whig from Massachusetts and who resigned the same year, wrote
a minority decision.

_Chase and Mace_.  Salmon P. Chase was at that time Senator from Ohio.
Daniel Mace was a Democrat representative, who was opposed to the
Nebraska Bill.

_Judge Nelson_.  Samuel Nelson, a justice of the Supreme Court.

"_A living dog is better than a dead lion_."  Ecclesiastes ix. 4.


The Lincoln-Douglas Joint Debates took place in seven towns in various
parts of Illinois between August 21 and October 15, 1858.  The proposal
for these meetings was made by Lincoln in a note addressed to Douglas.
The length of each debate and the division of time between the speakers
are stated in the opening sentence of the speech given in the text.
The speeches, which were all extempore, as far as the actual form is
concerned, were later collected from the newspaper reports, and after
some slight revision by the authors were published in 1860 in Columbus,
Ohio.  This volume, from which the present text is taken, contained in
addition a number of speeches delivered by Lincoln and Douglas earlier
in 1858 and two speeches made by Lincoln in Ohio in 1859.  Lincoln's
statement at the close of a letter to the publishers, accompanying the
copy for the book, is characteristic and interesting: "I wish the
reprint to be precisely as the copies I send, without any comment
whatever."  This Columbus issue was used as a Republican campaign
document and large numbers were sold.

The Freeport Debate, the second in the series, was held on the
afternoon of August 27.  With the exception of the Galesburg Debate, it
was the most largely attended of the seven meetings, and in its effect
upon the campaign it is now regarded as the most important.

_Judge Douglas and myself_.  In the informal speeches Lincoln
frequently committed errors of speech like this.  Even during the
presidential period he shows a marked tendency to use the cleft
infinitive.  But in the carefully written addresses the language is
almost always correct.

_Fugitive Slave law_.  This statute was passed in 1850 for the stricter
regulation of the return of escaped slaves to their owners.  In his
answer to this question Lincoln showed clearly that he was not an
Abolitionist, as that term was then understood.

_Question 2_.  Douglas' reply to this question was as follows: "I
answer emphatically, as Mr. Lincoln has heard me answer a hundred times
from every stump in Illinois that in my opinion the people of a
territory can, by lawful means, exclude slavery from their limits prior
to the formation of a State Constitution."  It is claimed that this
question was put by Lincoln in spite of the protests of several of his
friends, who believed that it would give Douglas an advantage.  But
here, as in the equally feared Springfield Speech, Lincoln proved his
superior sagacity.  Douglas' affirmative answer probably gained him the
senatorship, but it certainly lost him the presidency two years later.

_First Republican State Convention_.  The reference is to a meeting
held in Springfield, which was addressed by Owen Lovejoy.  Lincoln was
not present on this occasion.  Recent investigation seems to show that
there was no foundation for the charge that this was exclusively a
meeting of Abolitionists, but that it included many men who held the
same political views as Lincoln.  Douglas honestly believed that the
resolutions read by him at the Ottawa meeting were genuine and he was
greatly chagrined at the mistake.

_By an amendment_.  This amendment was offered by Douglas.


This address, Lincoln's first important direct message to the people of
the East, was very carefully prepared.  The text in this volume is
taken from _The Tribune Tract_, issued as a campaign document.

The Northwestern Territory.  The district comprising the present States
of Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, had been ceded to
the national government by the original States.

"_Black Republicans_."  Douglas constantly referred to his opponents
under this title.  In the Ottawa Debate he affirmed that in 1854
Lincoln and Trumbull had arranged to form "an Abolition party, under
the name and disguise of a Republican party."

"_Popular sovereignty_."  This principle is defined by Douglas as
follows: "My principle is to recognize each State of the Union as
independent, sovereign, and equal in its sovereignty."

_Harper's Ferry! John Brown!_  John Brown was a New Englander, who had
taken an active part in the Kansas disorders in 1856.  During the
summer of 1859 he engaged in an attempt to free the slaves of Virginia.
After capturing the Arsenal at Harper's Ferry, he was overpowered by a
body of marines and with the survivors of his "army," was hanged.  By
the extreme anti-slavery people he was regarded as a martyr, the best
expression of this spirit being given by Mrs. Julia Ward Howe's "Battle
Hymn of the Republic."  In a speech in Congress of January 16, 1860,
Senator Douglas had stated his "firm and deliberate conviction that the
Harper's Ferry crime was the natural, logical, inevitable result of the
doctrines and teachings of the Republican party."

_The Southampton insurrection_.  The reference is to a slave
insurrection which occurred in 1831 in Southampton, Va.

_Helper's Book_.  Hinton P. Helper, a North Carolinian of the so-called
poor white class, was the author of a book on the effects of slavery,
entitled _The Impending Crisis in the South_.  The special reference is
to the recent agreement among sixty-four Republican representatives to
publish a compendium of the book for circulation in doubtful States.


This beautiful little address was delivered from the platform of the
car that bore the President-elect away from his old home.  It has been
preserved in two slightly differing versions, neither of which probably
exactly reproduces the words used.  The Springfield papers, which were
followed by Herndon, gave an inaccurate report that robbed the speech
of much of its rare beauty.


The First Inaugural was carefully written in Springfield a month before
its delivery.  Contrary to his usual practice in public speaking,
Lincoln read from the MS.  The address was enthusiastically received by
an immense audience assembled front of the Capitol and the general
impression produced at the North was favorable.  By the Southern and
the Abolition press it was severely criticised, both with regard to its
form and its content.

_The mystic chords of memory_.  This passage was suggested by Mr.
Seward, to whom the address had been submitted for criticism.  The
customary usury of genius was paid for the verbal loan.


This speech was delivered before a delegation of New Yorkers, who
called at the White House on the evening of March 4.  Two other similar
responses have been preserved from the same day.  The present address
is reprinted here for the first time, from the New York _Times_.


Greeley's letter of August 19, which was headed "The Prayer of Twenty
Millions," began as follows: "I do not intrude to tell you--for you
must know already--that a great proportion of those who triumphed in
your election, and of all who desire the unqualified suppression of the
Rebellion now desolating our country, are sorely disappointed and
deeply pained by the policy you seem to be pursuing."  That Lincoln had
good reason to complain of "an impatient and dictatorial tone" is
sufficiently shown by the closing sentence, "I entreat you to render
hearty and unequivocal obedience to the laws of the land."  The
following issue of the _Tribune_ contained a long editorial on the same
subject.  The influence of the _Tribune_ in the Northern States was
immense, and Lincoln realized the importance of making a clear
statement of his policy to its readers.


After a long statement about the conditions of the finances and of the
different departments, the President devoted the remainder of the space
to the discussion of compensated emancipation, on which he had already
made a recommendation earlier in the year in a special message to
Congress.  The concluding paragraph is in the elevated style of the


The first draft of the Proclamation was submitted to the Cabinet in the
preceding July, with the remark that he had fully determined to issue
it immediately.  Secretary Seward suggested that its issue be postponed
until it could be given to the country supported by some military
success.  The President saw the force of the suggestion and waited
until after the battle of Antietam.  The Preliminary Proclamation was
dated September 22, 1862.  In a reply to a serenade two days later the
President said: "I can only trust in God I have made no mistake."

_Upon military necessity_.  This phrase was inserted in the concluding
sentence, which had been suggested by Secretary Chase, as furnishing
the only authority by which the President felt that he could free the
slaves of the enemy.  The Proclamation did not refer to those slaves
held by persons who were not in rebellion.


Mr. Conkling was a personal friend of the President, and the formal
letter was accompanied by the following note:


"I cannot leave here now.  Herewith is a letter instead.  You are one
of the best public readers.  I have but one request--read it very
slowly and now God bless you, and all good Union men."

In spite of precautions, the letter was published in the New York
_Evening Post_ several days before the meeting.

I know as fully as one can know.  The portion of the paragraph from
these words to the end was not in the original letter, but was added by


The standard text of the address does not agree exactly either with the
original written form or with the form in which it was delivered, but
it is a combination of these, made by Lincoln a few days later.  In the
contemporary newspaper reports it was variously referred to as an
address, a speech, and remarks.

_Government of the people_.  The thought contained in this sentence was
not original with Lincoln, but it has been traced back through several
centuries.  It was probably suggested to Lincoln by the following
passage in an address by Theodore Parker, which he is known to have
read: "Democracy is direct self-government over all the people, for all
the people, by all the people."


This address is in marked contrast, both in length and character, to
President Lincoln's first official communication.  Some of the main
thoughts and two of the Biblical quotations occur in a letter written
May 30, 1864.

_Let us judge not, that we be not judged_.  Adapted from Matthew vii. 1.

"_Woe unto the world_."  Matthew xviii. 7.

_Fondly do we hope_.  The accidental rhyme in this passage is the only
blemish that has been objected to in the address, and it is not serious.

"_The judgments of the Lord_."  Psalms xix. 9.  The opening words of
the last paragraph are the best expression ever given of the spirit of
Lincoln, who on another occasion said, "I have never willingly planted
a thorn in any man's bosom."


This address, the longest of the presidential period with the exception
of the First Inaugural, was delivered before a great crowd gathered in
front of the White House, four days before Lincoln's assassination.
The evening before, on a similar occasion, he had requested the people
to wait until he could prepare his remarks, adding that he wished to be
careful, as everything he said got into print.  The newspaper reports
of the following day state that it was received with great enthusiasm.
The address is of special interest as indicating the attitude of the
President toward the difficult question of Reconstruction.

_The evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond_.  April 2 and 3
respectively.  General Lee surrendered April 9.

_The new constitution of Louisiana_.  The constitution was adopted
September 5, 1861.

_The proposed amendment_.  The thirteenth amendment, abolishing slavery
throughout the United States, was proposed in 1864, but failed to
receive the necessary two-thirds vote in the House of Representatives.
It was passed in 1865, and after receiving the endorsement of the
necessary number of States went into effect December 15 of the same

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