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Complete Works of 
Abraham Lincoln 


Being the Second Printing from the Plates 
of the Celebrated 



Complete Works of 

Abraham Lincoln 

Edited by 

John G. Nicolay and John Hay 

With a General Introduction by 

Richard Watson Gilder, and Special Articles 

by Other Eminent Persons 

New and Enlarged Edition 


New York 
Francis D. Tandy Company 



Copyright, 1894, by 

Copyright, 1905, by 

V, '16 



Lincoln and the Race Problem 

IN HIS second inaugural, in a speech which 
will be read as long as the memory of this 
Nation endures, Abraham Lincoln closed 
by saying: 

"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 do all which may achieve and cherish a 
just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all 

Immediately after his re-election he had al- 
ready spoken thus: 

"The strife of the election is but human nature 
practically applied to the facts of the case. What has 
occurred in this case must ever recur in similar cases. 
Human nature will not change. In any future great 
National trial, compared with the men of this, we 
shall have as weak and as strong, as silly and as wise, 
as bad and as good. Let us, therefore, study the inci- 

1 From an address delivered before the Republican Club of 
New York City, February 13, 1905. 


vi Lincoln and the 

dents of this as philosophy to learn wisdom from, 
and none of them as wrongs to be revenged. 
May not all having a common interest reunite in a 
common effort to (serve) our common country? For 
my own part, I have striven and shall strive to avoid 
placing any obstacle in the way. So long as I have 
been here I have not willingly planted a thorn in any 
man's bosom. While I am deeply sensible to the 
high compliment of a re-election, and duly grateful, 
as I trust, to Almighty God for having directed my 
countrymen to a right conclusion, as I think, for their 
own good, it adds nothing to my satisfaction that any 
other man may be disappointed or pained by the 

"May I ask those who have not differed with me 
to join with me in this same spirit toward those who 

This is the spirit in which mighty Lincoln 
sought to bind up the Nation's wounds when its 
soul was yet seething with fierce hatreds, with 
wrath, with rancor, with all the evil and dread- 
ful passions provoked by civil war. Surely this 
is the spirit which all Americans should show 
now, when there is so little excuse for malice or 
rancor or hatred, when there is so little of vital 
consequence to divide brother from brother. 

Lincoln, himself a man of Southern birth, did 
not hesitate to appeal to the sword when he be- 
came satisfied that in no other way could the 

Race Problem vii 

Union be saved, for high though he put peace 
he put righteousness still higher. He warred 
for the Union; he warred to free the slave and 
when he warred he warred in earnest, for it is 
a sign of weakness to be half-hearted when blows 
must be struck. But he felt only love, a love as 
deep as the tenderness of his great and sad heart, 
for all his countrymen alike in the North and in 
the South, and he longed above everything for 
the day when they should once more be knit to- 
gether in the unbreakable bonds of eternal 

We of to-day, in dealing with all our fellow- 
citizens, white or colored, North or South, 
should strive to show just the qualities that Lin- 
coln showed — his steadfastness in striving after 
the right and his infinite patience and forbear- 
ance with those who saw that right less clearly 
than he did; his earnest endeavor to do what 
was best, and yet his readiness to accept the best 
that was practicable when the ideal best was un- 
attainable; his unceasing effort to cure what was 
evil, coupled with his refusal to make a bad sit- 
uation worse by any ill-judged or ill-timed effort 
to make it better. 

The great Civil War, in which Lincoln tow- 
ered as the loftiest figure, left us not only a re- 
united country, but a country which has the 
proud right to claim as its own the glory won 

viii Lincoln and the 

alike by those who wore the blue and by those 
who wore the gray, by those who followed Grant 
and by those who followed Lee ; for both fought 
with equal bravery and with equal sincerity of 
conviction, each striving for the light as it was 
given him to see the light; though it is now clear 
to all that the triumph of the cause of freedom 
and of the Union was essential to the welfare 
of mankind. We are now one people, a people 
with failings which we must not blink, but a 
people with great qualities in which we have the 
right to feel just pride. 

All good Americans who dwell in the North 
must, because they are good Americans, feel the 
most earnest friendship for their fellow-country- 
men who dwell in the South, a friendship all the 
greater because it is in the South that we find in 
its most acute phase one of the gravest problems 
before our people: the problem of so dealing 
with the man of one color as to secure him the 
rights that no one would grudge him if he were 
of another color. To solve this problem it is, 
of course, necessary to educate him to perform 
the duties, a failure to perform which will ren- 
der him a curse to himself and to all around 

Most certainly all clear-sighted and generous 
men in the North appreciate the difficulty and 
perplexity of this problem, sympathize with the 

Race Problem ix 

South in the embarrassment of conditions for 
which she is not alone responsible, feel an hon- 
est wish to help her where help is practicable, 
and have the heartiest respect for those brave 
and earnest men of the South who, in the face 
of fearful difficulties, are doing all that men can 
do for the betterment alike of white and of black. 
The attitude of the North toward the negro is 
far from what it should be, and there is need 
that the North also should act in good faith 
upon the principle of giving to each man what 
is justly due him, of treating him on his worth 
as a man, granting him no special favors, but 
denying him no proper opportunity for labor 
and the reward of labor. But the peculiar cir- 
cumstances of the South render the problem 
there far greater and far more acute. 

Neither I nor any other man can say that any 
given way of approaching that problem will 
present in our times even an approximately per- 
fect solution, but we can safely say that there can 
never be such solution at all unless we approach 
it with the effort to do fair and equal justice 
among all men; and to demand from them in re- 
turn just and fair treatment for others. Our ef- 
fort should be to secure to each man, whatever 
his color, equality of opportunity, equality of 
treatment before the law. As a people striving 
to shape our actions in accordance with the great 

x Lincoln and the 

law of righteousness we can not afford to take 
part in or be indifferent to the oppression or mal- 
treatment of any man who, against crushing dis- 
advantages, has by his own industry, energy, self- 
respect, and perseverance struggled upward to a 
position which would entitle him to the respect 
of his fellows, if only his skin were of a different 

Every generous impulse in us revolts at the 
thought of thrusting down instead of helping 
up such a man. To deny any man the fair treat- 
ment granted to others no better than he is to 
commit a wrong upon him — a wrong sure to re- 
act in the long run upon those guilty of such 
denial. The only safe principle upon which 
'Americans can act is that of "all men up," not 
that of "some men down." If in any communi- 
ty the level of intelligence, morality, and thrift 
among the colored men can be raised, it is, hu- 
manly speaking, sure that the same level among 
the whites will be raised to an even higher de- 
gree; and it is no less sure that the debasement 
of the blacks will in the end carry with it an 
attendant debasement of the whites. 

The problem is so to adjust the relations be- 
tween two races of different ethnic type that the 
rights of neither be abridged nor jeoparded ; that 
the backward race be trained so that it may enter 
into the possession of true freedom while the for- 

Race Problem xi 

ward race is enabled to preserve unharmed the 
high civilization wrought out by its forefathers. 
The working out of this problem must necessarily 
be slow; it is not possible in offhand fashion to 
obtain or to confer the priceless boons of free- 
dom, industrial efficiency, political capacity, and 
domestic morality. Nor is it only necessary to 
train the colored man; it is quite as necessary to 
train the white man, for on his shoulders rests 
a well-nigh unparalleled sociological responsi- 
bility. It is a problem demanding the best 
thought, the utmost patience, the most earnest 
effort, the broadest charity, of the statesman, the 
student, the philanthropist; of the leaders of 
thought in every department of our national life. 
The Church can be a most important factor in 
solving it aright. But above all else we need 
for its successful solution the sober, kindly, 
steadfast, unselfish performance of duty by the 
average plain citizen in his everyday dealings 
with his fellows 

I am speaking on the occasion of the celebra- 
tion of the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, and 
to men who count it their peculiar privilege that 
they have the right to hold Lincoln's memory 
dear, and the duty to strive to work along the 
lines that he laid down. We can pay most fitting 

xii Lincoln and the 

homage to his memory by doing the tasks allotted 
to us in the spirit in which he did the infinitely 
greater and more terrible tasks allotted to him. 

Let us be steadfast for the right; but let us err 
on the side of generosity rather than on the side 
of vindictiveness toward those who differ from 
us as to the method of attaining the right. Let 
us never forget our duty to help in uplifting the 
lowly, to shield from wrong the humble; and let 
us likewise act in a spirit of the broadest and 
frankest generosity toward all our brothers, all 
our fellow-countrymen; in a spirit proceeding 
not from weakness but from strength; a spirit 
which takes no more account of locality than it 
does of class or of creed; a spirit which is res- 
olutely bent on seeing that the Union which 
Washington founded and which Lincoln saved 
from destruction shall grow nobler and greater 
throughout the ages. 

I believe in this country with all my heart and 
soul. I believe that our people will in the end 
rise level to every need, will in the end triumph 
over every difficulty that arises before them. I 
could not have such confident faith in the destiny 
of this mighty people if I had it merely as re- 
gards one portion of that people. Throughout 
our land things on the whole have grown better 
and not worse, and this is as true of one part of 
the country as it is of another. I believe in the 

Race Problem xiii 

Southerner as I believe in the Northerner. I 
claim the right to feel pride in his great qualities 
and in his great deeds exactly as I feel pride in 
the great qualities and deeds of every other 
American. For weal or for woe we are knit 
together, and we shall go up or go down to- 
gether; and I believe that we shall go up and not 
down, that we shall go forward instead of halt- 
ing and falling back, because I have an abiding 
faith in the generosity, the courage, the resolu- 
tion, and the common sense of all my country- 

The Southern States face difficult problems; 
and so do the Northern States. Some of the 
problems are the same for the entire country. 
Others exist in greater intensity in one section, 
and yet others exist in greater intensity in an- 
other section. But in the end they will all be 
solved; for fundamentally our people are the 
same throughout this land; the same in the qual- 
ities of heart and brain and hand which have 
made this Republic what it is in the great to- 
day; which will make it what it is to be in the 
infinitely greater to-morrow. I admire and 
respect and believe in and have faith in the men 
and women of the South as I admire and respect 
and believe in and have faith in the men and 
women of the North. All of us alike, Northern- 
ers and Southerners, Easterners and Westerners, 

xiv Lincoln and the Race Problem 

can best prove our fealty to the Nation's post by 
the way in which we do the Nation's work in 
the present; for only thus can we be sure that 
our children's children shall inherit Abraham 
Lincoln's single-hearted devotion to the great 
unchanging creed that "righteousness exalteth 
a nation." 


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By S. Weir Mitchell 

Chained by stern duty to the rock of state, 
His spirit armed in mail of rugged mirth, 
Ever above, though ever near to earth, 
Yet felt his heart the cruel tongues that sate 

Base appetites, and foul with slander, wait 
Till the keen lightnings bring the awful hour 
When wounds and suffering shall give them power. 
Most was he like to Luther, gay and great, 

Solemn and mirthful, strong of heart and limb. 
Tender and simple too; he was so near 
To all things human that he cast out fear, 

And, ever simpler, like a little child, 

Lived in unconscious nearness unto Him 
Who always on earth's little ones hath smiled. 

1 By special permission of The Century Co. 



Abraham Lincoln Frontispiece 

Photogravure from the original photograph by Hesler in 1857. 


Lincoln's First Home in Illinois xiv 

From a photograph of the original log cabin built by Lincoln 
and his father in 1 83 1. 

Life Mask of Abraham Lincoln 88 

Wood-engraving by Thomas Johnson from the life mask by 

Abraham Lincoln 154 

From a daguerreotype made about 1 858, now in possession of 
Major William H. Lambert. 

Statue of Abraham Lincoln in Chicago . . 264 

Wood-engraving after a photograph of the statue by Augustus 
St. Gaudens. 

Emancipation Proclamation, July 22, 1862 . 358 

Fac-simile of the original manuscript as first iketched and shown 
to the Cabinet. 

Complete Works of 
Abraham Lincoln 

Volume II 

Complete Works of 
Abraham Lincoln 

Letter to William H. Herndon 

Washington, February 15, 1848. 

DEAR WILLIAM: Your letter of the 
29th of January was received last 
night. Being exclusively a constitu- 
tional argument, I wish to submit some reflec- 
tions upon it in the same spirit of kindness that 
I know actuates you. Let me first state what 
I understand to be your position. It is that if 
it shall become necessary to repel invasion, the 
President may, without violation of the Consti- 
tution, cross the line and invade the territory of 
another country, and that whether such neces- 
sity exists in any given case the President is the 
sole judge. 

Before going further consider well whether 
this is or is not your position. If it is, it is a posi- 
tion that neither the President himself, nor any 
friend of his, so far as I know, has ever taken. 

2 Abraham Lincoln [Feb. 15 

Their only positions are — first, that the soil was 
ours when the hostilities commenced; and sec- 
ond, that whether it was rightfully ours or not, 
Congress had annexed it, and the President for 
that reason was bound to defend it; both of 
which are as clearly proved to be false in fact as 
you can prove that your house is mine. The soil 
was not ours, and Congress did not annex or at- 
tempt to annex it. But to return to your position. 
Allow the President to invade a neighboring na- 
tion whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel 
an invasion, and you allow him to do so when- 
ever he may choose to say he deems it necessary 
for such purpose, and you allow him to make 
war at pleasure. Study to see if you can fix any 
limit to his power in this respect, after having 
given him so much as you propose. If to-day 
he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to 
invade Canada to prevent the British from in- 
vading us, how could you stop him? You may 
say to him, "I see no probability of the British 
invading us;" but he will say to you, "Be silent: 
I see it, if you don't." 

The provision of the Constitution giving the 
war-making power to Congress was dictated, as 
I understand it, by the following reasons : Kings 
had always been involving and impoverishing 
their people in wars, pretending generally, if 
not always, that the good of the people was the 

1848] Letter to Linder 3 

object. This our convention understood to be 
the most oppressive of all kingly oppressions, 
and they resolved to so frame the Constitution 
that no one man should hold the power of bring- 
ing this oppression upon us. But your view de- 
stroys the whole matter, and places our Presi- 
dent where kings have always stood. Write 
soon again. Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln. 

Letter to U. F. Linder 

Washington, February 20, 1848. 
U. F. Linder: ... In law, it is good 
policy to never plead what you need not, lest 
you oblige yourself to prove what you cannot. 
Reflect on this well before you proceed. The 
application I mean to make of this rule is that 
you should simply go for General Taylor, be- 
cause you can take some Democrats and lost no 
Whigs; but if you go also for Mr. Polk, on the 
origin and mode of prosecuting the war, you will 
still take some Democrats, but you will lose more 
Whigs; so that in the sum of the operation, you 
will be the loser. This is at least my opinion; 
and if you will look around, I doubt if you do 
not discover such to be the fact among your own 
neighbors. Further than this : by justifying Mr. 
Polk's mode of prosecuting the war, you put 
yourself in opposition to General Taylor him- 

4 Abraham Lincoln [Mar. g 

self, for we all know he has declared for, and in 
fact originated, the defensive line of policy. 

Report in the United States House of Rep- 
resentatives, March 9, 1848. 

Mr. Lincoln, from the Committee on the 
Post-Office and Post Roads, made the following 

The Committee on the Post-Office and Post 
Roads, to whom was referred the resolution of 
the House of Representatives entitled "An Act 
authorizing Postmasters at county seats of jus- 
tice to receive subscriptions for newspapers and 
periodicals, to be paid through the agency of 
the Post-Office Department, and for other pur- 
poses," beg leave to submit the following re- 

The committee have reason to believe that a 
general wish pervades the community at large, 
that some such facility as the proposed measure 
should be granted by express law, for subscrib- 
ing, through the agency of the Post-Office De- 
partment, to newspapers and periodicals which 
diffuse daily, weekly, or monthly intelligence of 
passing events. Compliance with this general 
wish is deemed to be in accordance with our re- 
publican institutions, which can be best sustained 
by the diffusion of knowledge and the due en- 

1848] Report on Post-Office s 

couragement of a universal, national spirit of 
inquiry and discussion of public events through 
the medium of the public press. The commit- 
tee, however, has not been insensible to its duty 
of guarding the Post-Office Department against 
injurious sacrifices for the accomplishment of 
this object, whereby its ordinary efficacy might 
be impaired or embarrassed. It has therefore 
been a subject of much consideration; but it is 
now confidently hoped that the bill herewith 
submitted effectually obviates all objections 
which might exist with regard to a less matured 

The committee learned, upon inquiry, that the 
Post-Office Department, in view of meeting the 
general wish on this subject, made the experi- 
ment through one of its own internal regulations, 
when the new postage system went into opera- 
tion on the first of July, 1845, and that it was 
continued until the thirtieth of September, 1847. 
But this experiment, for reasons hereafter stated, 
proved unsatisfactory, and it was discontinued 
by order of the Postmaster-General. As far as 
the committee can at present ascertain, the fol- 
lowing seem to have been the principal grounds 
of dissatisfaction in this experiment: 

(1) The legal responsibility of postmasters 
receiving newspaper subscriptions, or of their 
sureties, was not defined. 

6 Abraham Lincoln [Mar. 9 

(2) The authority was open to all postmasters 
instead of being limited to those of specific of- 

(3) The consequence of this extension of au- 
thority was that, in innumerable instances, the 
money, without the previous knowledge or con- 
trol of the officers of the department who are re- 
sponsible for the good management of its 
finances, was deposited in offices where it was 
improper such funds should be placed; and the 
repayment was ordered, not by the financial offi- 
cers, but by the postmasters, at points where it 
was inconvenient to the department so to dis- 
burse its funds. 

(4) The inconvenience of accumulating un- 
certain and fluctuating sums at small offices was 
felt seriously in consequent overpayments to con- 
tractors on their quarterly collecting orders ; and, 
in case of private mail routes, in litigation con- 
cerning the misapplication of such funds to the 
special service of supplying mails. 

(5) The accumulation of such funds on draft 
offices could not be known to the financial clerks 
of the department in time to control it, and too 
often this rendered uncertain all their calcula- 
tions of funds in hand. 

(6) The orders of payment were for the most 
part issued upon the principal offices, such as 
New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, 

1848] Report on Post-Office 7 

etc., where the large offices of publishers are 
located, causing an illimitable and uncontrolla- 
ble drain of the department funds from those 
points where it was essential to husband them 
for its own regular disbursements. In Phila- 
delphia alone this drain averaged $5000 per 
quarter; and in other cities of the seaboard it 
was proportionate. 

(7) The embarrassment of the department was 
increased by the illimitable, uncontrollable, and 
irresponsible scattering of its funds from con- 
centrated points suitable for its distributions, to 
remote, unsafe, and inconvenient offices, where 
they could not be again made available till col- 
lected by special agents, or were transferred at 
considerable expense into the principal disburs- 
ing offices again. 

(8) There was a vast increase of duties thrown 
upon the limited force before necessary to con- 
duct the business of the department; and from 
the delay of obtaining vouchers impediments 
arose to the speedy settlement of accounts with 
present or retired postmasters, causing postpone- 
ments which endangered the liability of sureties 
under the act of limitations, and causing much 
danger of an increase of such cases. 

(9) The most responsible postmasters (at the 
large offices) were ordered by the least responsi- 
ble (at small offices) to make payments upon 

8 Abraham Lincoln [Mar. 9 

their vouchers, without having the means of as- 
certaining whether these vouchers were genuine 
or forged, or if genuine, whether the signers 
were in or out of office, or solvent or default- 

(10) The transaction of this business for sub- 
scribers and publishers at the public expense, 
and the embarrassment, inconvenience, and de- 
lay of the department's own business occasioned 
by it, were not justified by any sufficient remu- 
neration of revenue to sustain the department, 
as required in every other respect with regard to 
its agency. 

The committee, in view of these objections, 
has been solicitous to frame a bill which would 
not be obnoxious to them in principle or in prac- 
tical effect. 

It is confidently believed that by limiting the 
offices for receiving subscriptions to less than 
one tenth of the number authorized by the ex- 
periment already tried, and designating the 
county seat in each county for the purpose, the 
control of the department will be rendered sat- 
isfactory; particularly as it will be in the power 
of the Auditor, who is the officer required by 
law to check the accounts, to approve or disap- 
prove of the deposits, and to sanction not only 
the payment, but to point out the place of pay- 
ment. If these payments should cause a drain 

1848] Report on Post-Office 9 

on the principal offices of the seaboard, it will 
be compensated by the accumulation of funds 
at county seats, where the contractors on those 
routes can be paid to that extent by the depart- 
ment's drafts, with more local convenience to 
themselves than by drafts on the seaboard offices. 

The legal responsibility for these deposits is 
defined, and the accumulation of funds at the 
point of deposit, and the repayment at points 
drawn upon, being known to and controlled by 
the Auditor, will not occasion any such embar- 
rassments as were before felt; the record kept 
by the Auditor on the passing of the certificates 
through his hands will enable him to settle ac- 
counts without the delay occasioned by vouchers 
being withheld; all doubt or uncertainty as to 
the genuineness of certificates, or the propriety 
of their issue, will be removed by the Auditor's 
examination and approval; and there can be no 
risk of loss of funds by transmission, as the cer- 
tificate will not be payable till sanctioned by the 
Auditor, and after his sanction the payor need 
not pay it unless it is presented by the publisher 
or his known clerk or agent. 

The main principle of equivalent for the 
agency of the department is secured by the post- 
age required to be paid upon the transmission of 
the certificates, augmenting adequately the post- 
office revenue. 

io Abraham Lincoln [Mar. 9 

The committee, conceiving that in this report 
all the difficulties of the subject have been fully 
and fairly stated, and that these difficulties have 
been obviated by the plan proposed in the ac- 
companying bill, and believing that the measure 
will satisfactorily meet the wants and wishes of 
a very large portion of the community, beg leave 
to recommend its adoption. 

Report in the United States House of Rep- 
resentatives, March 9, 1848. 

Mr. Lincoln, from the Committee on the 
Post-Office and Post Roads, made the following 

The Committee on the Post-Office and Post 
Roads, to whom was referred the petition of H. 
M. Barney, postmaster at Brimfield, Peoria 
County, Illinois, report: That they have been 
satisfied by evidence, that on the 15th of Decem- 
ber, 1847, said petitioner had his store, with 
some fifteen hundred dollars' worth of goods, 
together with all the papers of the post-office, en- 
tirely destroyed by fire ; and that the specie funds 
of the office were melted down, partially lost and 
partially destroyed; that his large individual loss 
entirely precludes the idea of embezzlement; 
that the balances due the department of former 
quarters had been only about twenty-five dollars; 

1848] Letter to David Lincoln n 

and that owing to the destruction of papers, the 
exact amount due for the quarter ending Decem- 
ber 31, 1847, cannot be ascertained. They there- 
fore report a joint resolution, releasing said pe- 
titioner from paying anything for the quarter 
last mentioned. 

Letter to David Lincoln 

Washington, March 24, 1848. 

Mr. David Lincoln. 

Dear Sir: Your very worthy representative, 
Gov. McDowell, has given me your name and 
address, and as my father was born in Rocking- 
ham, from whence his father, Abraham Lincoln, 
emigrated to Kentucky about the year 1782, I 
have concluded to address you to ascertain 
whether we are not of the same family. I shall 
be much obliged if you will write me, telling 
me whether you in any way know anything of 
my grandfather, what relation you are to him, 
and so on. Also, if you know where your family 
came from when they settled in Virginia, trac- 
ing them back as far as your knowledge extends. 
Very respectfully, 

A. Lincoln. 

12 Abraham Lincoln [Mar. 29 

Remarks in the United States House of 
Representatives, March 29, 1848. 

The bill for raising additional military force 
for limited time, etc., was reported from Com- 
mittee on Judiciary; similar bills had been re- 
ported from Committee on Public Lands and 
Military Committee. 

Mr. Lincoln said if there was a general desire 
on the part of the House to pass the bill now he 
should be glad to have it done — concurring, as 
he did generally, with the gentleman from Ar- 
kansas [Mr. Johnson] that the postponement 
might jeopard the safety of the proposition. If, 
however, a reference was to be made, he wished 
to make a very few remarks in relation to the 
several subjects desired by the gentlemen to be 
embraced in amendments to the ninth section of 
the act of the last session of Congress. The first 
amendment desired by members of this House 
had for its only object to give bounty lands to 
such persons as had served for a time as privates, 
but had never been discharged as such, because 
promoted to office. That subject, and no other, 
was embraced in this bill. There were some 
others who desired, while they were legislating 
on this subject, that they should also give bounty 
lands to the volunteers of the War of 1812. His 

1848] Remarks on Bounty Lands 13 

friend from Maryland said there were no such 
men. He [Mr. L.] did not say there were 
many, but he was very confident there were some. 
His friend from Kentucky, near him [Mr. 
Gaines], told him he himself was one. 

There was still another proposition touching 
this matter; that was, that persons entitled to 
bounty land should by law be entitled to locate 
these lands in parcels, and not be required to 
locate them in one body, as was provided by the 
existing law. 

Now he had carefully drawn up a bill em- 
bracing these three separate propositions, which 
he intended to propose as a substitute for all these 
bills in the House, or in Committee of the Whole 
on the State of the Union, at some suitable time. 
If there was a disposition on the part of the 
House to act at once on this separate proposition, 
he repeated that, with the gentleman from Ar- 
kansas, he should prefer it lest they should lose 
all. But if there was to be a reference, he de- 
sired to introduce his bill embracing the three 
propositions, thus enabling the Committee and 
the House to act at the same time, whether fa- 
vorably or unfavorably, upon all. He inquired 
whether an amendment was now in order. 

The Speaker replied in the negative. 

i4 Abraham Lincoln [Apr. 2 

Letter to David Lincoln 

Washington, April 2, 1848. 
Dear Sir: Last evening I was much gratified 
by receiving and reading your letter of the 30th 
of March. There is no longer any doubt that 
your uncle Abraham and my grandfather was 
the same man. His family did reside in Wash- 
ington County, Kentucky, just as you say you 
found them in 1801 or 1802. The oldest son, 
Uncle Mordecai, near twenty years ago removed 
from Kentucky to Hancock County, Illinois, 
where within a year or two afterward he died, 
and where his surviving children now live. His 
two sons there now are Abraham and Mordecai; 
and their post-office is "La Harpe." Uncle Jo- 
siah, farther back than my recollection, went 
from Kentucky to Blue River in Indiana. I 
have not heard from him in a great many years, 
and whether he is still living I cannot say. My 
recollection of what I have heard is that he has 
several daughters and only one son, Thomas — 
their post-office is "Coryden, Harrison County, 
Indiana." My father, Thomas, is still living, 
in Coles County, Illinois, being in the seventy- 
first year of his age — his post-office is "Charles- 
ton, Coles County, Illinois" — I am his only 
child. I am now in my fortieth year; and I live 

1848] Letter to David Lincoln 15 

in Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois. 
This is the outline of my grandfather's family 
in the West. 

I think my father has told me that grandfather 
had four brothers — Isaac, Jacob, John, and 
Thomas. Is that correct? And which of them 
was your father? Are any of them alive? I am 
quite sure that Isaac resided on Watauga, near 
a point where Virginia and Tennessee join; and 
that he has been dead more than twenty, perhaps 
thirty, years; also that Thomas removed to Ken- 
tucky, near Lexington, where he died a good 
while ago. 

What was your grandfather's Christian name? 
Was he not a Quaker? About what time did he 
emigrate from Berks County, Pennsylvania, to 
Virginia? Do you know anything of your fam- 
ily (or rather I may now say our family), far- 
ther back than your grandfather? 

If it be not too much trouble to you, I shall be 
much pleased to hear from you again. Be as- 
sured I will call on you, should anything ever 
bring me near you. I shall give your respects 
to Governor McDowell as you desire. 
Very truly yours, 

A. Lincoln. 

1 6 Abraham Lincoln [Apr. 30 

Letter to E. B. Washburne 

Washington, April 30, 1848. 

Dear Washburne: I have this moment re- 
ceived your very short note asking me if old 
Taylor is to be used up, and who will be the 
nominee. My hope of Taylor's nomination is 
as high — a little higher than it was when you 
left. Still, the case is by no means out of doubt. 
Mr. Clay's letter has not advanced his interests 
any here. Several who were against Taylor, 
but not for anybody particularly, before, are 
since taking ground, some for Scott and some 
for McLean. Who will be nominated neither 
I nor any one else can tell. Now, let me pray 
to you in turn. My prayer is that you let noth- 
ing discourage or baffle you, but that, in spite 
of every difficulty, you send us a good Taylor 
delegate from your circuit. Make Baker, who 
is now with you, I suppose, help about it. He 
is a good hand to raise a breeze. 

General Ashley, in the Senate from Arkansas, 
died yesterday. Nothing else new beyond what 
you see in the papers. 

Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln. 

1848] Letter to Williams 17 

Letter to Archibald Williams 1 

Washington, April 30, 1848. 

Dear Williams: I have not seen in the papers 
any evidence of a movement to send a delegate 
from your circuit to the June convention. I 
wish to say that I think it all-important that a 
delegate should be sent. Mr. Clay's chance for 
an election is just no chance at all. He might 
get New York, and that would have elected in 
1844, but it will not now, because he must now, 
at the least, lose Tennessee, which he had then, 
and in addition the fifteen new votes of Florida, 
Texas, Iowa, and Wisconsin. I know our good 
friend Browning is a great admirer of Mr. Clay, 
and I therefore fear he is favoring his nomina- 
tion. If he is, ask him to discard feeling, and 
try if he can possibly, as a matter of judgment, 
count the votes necessary to elect him. 

In my judgment we can elect nobody but Gen- 
eral Taylor; and we cannot elect him without a 
nomination. Therefore don't fail to send a dele- 
gate. Your friend as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

1 A good example of Lincoln's political shrewdness is afforded 
in this letter to his henchman, Williams. The Browning re- 
ferred to was Orville H. Browning, a life-long friend of Lin- 
coln's, who during his congressional career was eager for the 
emancipation of slaves. It was this, perhaps, that gave point to 
Lincoln's fear that his sympathies might run away with him in 
the case of Clay in 1848. 

1 8 Abraham Lincoln [May u 

Remarks in the United States House of 
Representatives, May n, 1848. 

A BILL for the admission of Wisconsin 
into the Union had been passed. 
Mr. Lincoln moved to reconsider 
the vote by which the bill was passed. He 
stated to the House that he had made this mo- 
tion for the purpose of obtaining an oppor- 
tunity to say a few words in relation to a point 
raised in the course of the debate on this bill, 
which he would now proceed to make if in 
order. The point in the case to which he re- 
ferred arose on the amendment that was sub- 
mitted by the gentleman from Vermont [Mr. 
Collamer] in Committee of the Whole on the 
State of the Union, and which was afterward 
renewed in the House, in relation to the ques- 
tion whether the reserved sections, which, by 
some bills heretofore passed, by which an ap- 
propriation of land had been made to Wiscon- 
sin, had been enhanced in value, should be 
reduced to the minimum price of the public 
lands. The question of the reduction in value 
of those sections was to him at this time a matter 
very nearly of indifference. He was inclined 

1848] Remarks on Public Land 19 

to desire that Wisconsin should be obliged by 
having it reduced. But the gentleman from In- 
diana [Mr. C. B. Smith], the chairman of the 
Committee on Territories, yesterday associated 
that question with the general question, which 
is now to some extent agitated in Congress, of 
making appropriations of alternate sections of 
land to aid the States in making internal im- 
provements and enhancing the price of the sec- 
tions reserved; and the gentleman from Indiana 
took ground against that policy. He did not 
make any special argument in favor of Wiscon- 
sin, but he took ground generally against the 
policy of giving alternate sections of land, and 
enhancing the price of the reserved sections. 
Now he [Mr. Lincoln] did not at this time take 
the floor for the purpose of attempting to make 
an argument on the general subject. He rose 
simply to protest against the doctrine which the 
gentleman from Indiana had avowed in the 
course of what he [Mr. Lincoln] could not but 
consider an unsound argument. 

It might, however, be true, for anything he 
knew, that the gentleman from Indiana might 
convince him that his argument was sound; but 
he [Mr. Lincoln] feared that gentleman would 
not be able to convince a majority in Congress 
that it was sound. It was true the question ap- 
peared in a different aspect to persons in conse- 

20 Abraham Lincoln [May n 

quence of a difference in the point from which 
they looked at it. It did not look to persons 
residing east of the mountains as it did to those 
who lived among the public lands. But, for 
his part, he would state that if Congress would 
make a donation of alternate sections of public 
land for the purpose of internal improvements 
in his State, and forbid the reserved sections be- 
ing sold at $1.25, he should be glad to see the 
appropriation made; though he should prefer 
it if the reserved sections were not enhanced in 
price. He repeated, he should be glad to have 
such appropriations made, even though the re- 
served sections should be enhanced in price. 
He did not wish to be understood as concur- 
ring in any intimation that they would refuse to 
receive such an appropriation of alternate sec- 
tions of land because a condition enhancing the 
price of the reserved sections should be attached 
thereto. He believed his position would now 
be understood; if not, he feared he should not 
be able to make himself understood. 

But, before he took his seat he would remark 
that the Senate during the present session had 
passed a bill making appropriations of land on 
that principle for the benefit of the State in 
which he resided — the State of Illinois. The 
alternate sections were to be given for the pur- 
pose of constructing roads, and the reserved sec- 

1848] Remarks on Public Land 21 

tions were to be enhanced in value in conse- 
quence. When that bill came here for the ac- 
tion of this House — it had been received, and 
was now before the Committee on Public Lands 
— he desired much to see it passed as it was, if 
it could be put in no more favorable form for 
the State of Illinois. When it should be before 
this House, if any member from a section of the 
Union in which these lands did not lie, whose 
interest might be less than that which he felt, 
should propose a reduction of the price of the 
reserved sections to $1.25, he should be much 
obliged; but he did not think it would be well 
for those who came from the section of the 
Union in which the lands lay to do so. He 
wished it, then, to be understood that he did 
not join in the warfare against the principle 
which had engaged the minds of some members 
of Congress who were favorable to the improve- 
ments in the western country. 

There was a good deal of force, he admitted, 
in what fell from the chairman of the Commit- 
tee on Territories. It might be that there was 
no precise justice in raising the price of the 
reserved sections to $2.50 per acre. It might 
be proper that the price should be enhanced to 
some extent, though not to double the usual 
price; but he should be glad to have such an 
appropriation with the reserved sections at 

22 Abraham Lincoln [May n 

$2.50; he should be better pleased to have the 
price of those sections at something less; and he 
should be still better pleased to have them with- 
out any enhancement at all. 

There was one portion of the argument of the 
gentleman from Indiana, the chairman of the 
Committee on Territories [Mr. Smith], which 
he wished to take occasion to say that he did not 
view as unsound. He alluded to the statement 
that the General Government was interested in 
these internal improvements being made, inas- 
much as they increased the value of the lands 
that were unsold, and they enabled the govern- 
ment to sell the lands which could not be sold 
without them. Thus, then, the government 
gained by internal improvements as well as by 
the general good which the people derived from 
them, and it might be, therefore, that the lands 
should not be sold for more than $1.50 instead 
of the price being doubled. He, however, 
merely mentioned this in passing, for he only 
rose to state, as the principle of giving these 
lands for the purposes which he had mentioned 
had been laid hold of and considered favorably, 
and as there were some gentlemen who had con- 
stitutional scruples about giving money for these 
purchases who would not hesitate to give land, 
that he was not willing to have it understood that 
he was one of those who made war against that 

1848] Letter to J. M. Peck 23 

principle. This was all he desired to say, and 
having accomplished the object with which he 
rose, he withdrew his motion to reconsider. 

Letter to Rev. J. M. Peck 
Rev. J. M. Peck. 

Washington, May 21, 1848. 

Dear Sir: On last evening I received a copy 
of the "Belleville Advocate," with the appear- 
ance of having been sent by a private hand; and 
inasmuch as it contained your oration on the 
occasion of the celebrating of the battle of Buena 
Vista, and is post-marked at Rock Spring, I 
cannot doubt that it is to you I am indebted 
for this courtesy. 

I own that finding in the oration a labored 
justification of the administration on the origin 
of the Mexican war disappointed me, because 
it is the first effort of the kind I have known 
made by one appearing to me to be intelligent, 
right-minded, and impartial. It is this disap- 
pointment that prompts me to address you briefly 
on the subject. I do not propose any extended 
review. I do not quarrel with facts — brief ex- 
hibition of facts. I presume it is correct so far 
as it goes; but it is so brief as to exclude some 
facts quite as material in my judgment to a just 
conclusion as any it includes. For instance, you 

24 Abraham Lincoln [May 21 

say, "Paredes came into power the last of De- 
cember, 1845, and from that moment all hopes 
of avoiding war by negotiation vanished." A 
little further on, referring to this and other pre- 
ceding statements, you say, "All this transpired 
three months before General Taylor marched 
across the desert of Nueces." These two state- 
ments are substantially correct; and you evi- 
dently intend to have it inferred that General 
Taylor was sent across the desert in consequence 
of the destruction of all hopes of peace, in the 
overthrow of Herara by Paredes. Is not that 
the inference you intend? If so, the material 
fact you have excluded is that General Taylor 
was ordered to cross the desert on the 13th of 
January, 1846, and before the news of Herara's 
fall reached Washington — before the adminis- 
tration which gave the order had any knowledge 
that Herara had fallen. Does not this fact cut 
up your inference by the roots? Must you not 
find some other excuse for that order, or give up 
the case? All that part of the three months you 
speak of which transpired after the 13th of Jan- 
uary, was expended in the orders going from 
Washington to General Taylor, in his prepara- 
tions for the march, and in the actual march 
across the desert, and not in the President's wait- 
ing to hear the knell of peace in the fall of Hera- 
ra, or for any other object. All this is to be 

1848] Letter to J. M. Peck 25 

found in the very documents you seem to have 

One other thing. Although you say at one 
point "I shall briefly exhibit facts, and leave 
each person to perceive the just application of 
the principles already laid down to the case in 
hand," you very soon get to making applications 
yourself, — in one instance as follows: "In view 
of all the facts, the conviction to my mind is 
irresistible that the Government of the United 
States committed no aggression on Mexico." 
Not in view of all the facts. There are facts 
which you have kept out of view. It is a fact 
that the United States army in marching to the 
Rio Grande marched into a peaceful Mexican 
settlement, and frightened the inhabitants away 
from their homes and their growing crops. It 
is a fact that Fort Brown, opposite Matamoras, 
was built by that army within a Mexican cotton- 
field, on which at the time the army reached it 
a young cotton crop was growing, and which 
crop was wholly destroyed and the field itself 
greatly and permanently injured by ditches, em- 
bankments, and the like. It is a fact that when 
the Mexicans captured Captain Thornton and 
his command, they found and captured them 
within another Mexican field. 

Now I wish to bring these facts to your notice, 
and to ascertain what is the result of your re- 

26 Abraham Lincoln [June 12 

flections upon them. If you deny that they are 
facts, I think I can furnish proof which shall 
convince you that you are mistaken. If you ad- 
mit that they are facts, then I shall be obliged 
for a reference to any law of language, law of 
States, law of nations, law of morals, law of 
religions, any law, human or divine, in which an 
authority can be found for saying those facts 
constitute "no aggression." 

Possibly you consider those acts too small for 
notice. Would you venture to so consider them 
had they been committed by any nation on earth 
against the humblest of our people? I know 
you would not. Then I ask, is the precept 
"Whatsoever ye would that men should do to 
you, do ye even so to them" obsolete? of no 
force? of no application? 

I shall be pleased if you can find leisure to 
write me. Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln. 

Letter to Archibald Williams 1 

Washington, June 12, 1848. 
Dear Williams: On my return from Phila- 
delphia, where I had been attending the nom- 
ination of "Old Rough," I found your letter in 

1 " Barnburners " was the appellation given by the Conserva- 
tive Democrats to the newly formed anti-slavery party calling 
themselves Free-soilers. The Locofocos were the " Reform Dem- 

1848] Letter to Williams 27 

a mass of others which had accumulated in my 
absence. By many, and often, it had been said 
they would not abide the nomination of Taylor; 
but since the deed has been done, they are fast 
falling in, and in my opinion we shall have a 
most overwhelming, glorious triumph. One un- 
mistakable sign is that all the odds and ends are 
with us — Barnburners, Native Americans, Ty- 
ler men, disappointed office-seeking Locofocos, 
and the Lord knows what. This is important, 
if in nothing else, in showing which way the 
wind blows. Some of the sanguine men have set 
down all the States as certain for Taylor but Illi- 
nois, and it as doubtful. Cannot something be 
done even in Illinois? Taylor's nomination 
takes the Locos on the blind side. It turns the 
war thunder against them. The war is now to 
them the gallows of Haman, which they built 
for us, and on which they are doomed to be 
hanged themselves. 

Excuse this short letter. I have so many to 
write that I cannot devote much time to any 
one. Yours, as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

ocrats " ; the " Native Americans " were the precursors of the 
Know-nothings who later would have restricted the suffrage to 
native born Americans. 

28 Abraham Lincoln [June 20 

Speech in the United States House of Rep- 
resentatives, June 20, 1848. 

IN COMMITTEE of the Whole on the 
State of the Union, on the Civil and Dip- 
lomatic Appropriation Bill: 

Mr. Chairman: I wish at all times in no way 
to practise any fraud upon the House or the 
committee, and I also desire to do nothing which 
may be very disagreeable to any of the members. 
I therefore state in advance that my object in 
taking the floor is to make a speech on the gen- 
eral subject of internal improvements; and if 
I am out of order in doing so, I give the chair 
an opportunity of so deciding, and I will take 
my seat. 

The Chair: I will not undertake to anticipate 
what the gentleman may say on the subject of 
internal improvements. He will, therefore, 
proceed in his remarks, and if any question of 
order shall be made, the chair will then decide 

Mr. Lincoln: At an early day of this session 
the President sent us what may properly be 
called an internal improvement veto message. 
The late Democratic convention, which sat at 

1848] On Internal Improvements 29 

Baltimore, and which nominated General Cass 
for the presidency, adopted a set of resolutions, 
now called the Democratic platform, among 
which is one in these words : 

That the Constitution does not confer upon the 
General Government the power to commence and 
carry on a general system of internal improvements. 

General Cass, in his letter accepting the nom- 
ination, holds this language : 

I have carefully read the resolutions of the Dem- 
ocratic National Convention, laying down the plat- 
form of our political faith, and I adhere to them as 
firmly as I approve them cordially. 

These things, taken together, show that the 
question of internal improvements is now more 
distinctly made — has become more intense — 
than at any former period. The veto message 
and the Baltimore resolution I understand to be, 
in substance, the same thing; the latter being the 
more general statement, of which the former is 
the amplification — the bill of particulars. 
While I know there are many Democrats, on 
this floor and elsewhere, who disapprove that 
message, I understand that all who shall vote for 
General Cass will thereafter be counted as hav- 
ing approved it, — as having indorsed all its doc- 

30 Abraham Lincoln [June 20 

trines. I suppose all, or nearly all, the Demo- 
crats will vote for him. Many of them will do 
so not because they like his position on this ques- 
tion, but because they prefer him, being wrong 
on this, to another whom they consider farther 
wrong on other questions. In this way the in- 
ternal improvement Democrats are to be, by a 
sort of forced consent, carried over and arrayed 
against themselves on this measure of policy. 
General Cass, once elected, will not trouble him- 
self to make a constitutional argument, or per- 
haps any argument at all, when he shall veto a 
river or harbor bill; he will consider it a suf- 
ficient answer to all Democratic murmurs to 
point to Mr. Polk's message, and to the "Dem- 
ocratic Platform." This being the case, the 
question of improvements is verging to a final 
crisis; and the friends of this policy must now 
battle, and battle manfully, or surrender all. In 
this view, humble as I am, I wish to review, and 
contest as well as I may, the general positions 
of this veto message. When I say general posi- 
tions, I mean to exclude from consideration so 
much as relates to the present embarrassed state 
of the treasury in consequence of the Mexican 

Those general positions are: that internal im- 
provements ought not to be made by the General 
Government — First. Because they would over- 

1848] On Internal Improvements 31 

whelm the treasury. Second. Because, while 
their burdens would be general, their benefits 
would be local and partial, involving an obnox- 
ious inequality; and — Third. Because they 
would be unconstitutional. Fourth. Because the 
States may do enough by the levy and collection 
of tonnage duties; or if not — Fifth. That the 
Constitution may be amended. "Do nothing at 
all, lest you do something wrong," is the sum of 
these positions — is the sum of this message. And 
this, with the exception of what is said about 
constitutionality, applying as forcibly to what is 
said about making improvements by State au- 
thority as by the national authority; so that we 
must abandon the improvements of the country 
altogether, by any and every authority, or we 
must resist and repudiate the doctrines of this 
message. Let us attempt the latter. 

The first position is, that a system of internal 
improvements would overwhelm the treasury. 
That in such a system there is a tendency to un- 
due expansion, is not to be denied. Such ten- 
dency is founded in the nature of the subject. A 
member of Congress will prefer voting for a 
bill which contains an appropriation for his dis- 
trict, to voting for one which does not; and when 
a bill shall be expanded till every district shall 
be provided for, that it will be too greatly ex- 
panded is obvious. But is this any more true 

32 Abraham Lincoln I June 20 

in Congress than in a State legislature? If a 
member of Congress must have an appropriation 
for his district, so a member of a legislature 
must have one for his county. And if one will 
overwhelm the national treasury, so the other 
will overwhelm the State treasury. Go where 
we will, the difficulty is the same. Allow it 
to drive us from the halls of Congress, and it 
will, just as easily, drive us from the State legis- 
latures. Let us, then, grapple with it, and test 
its strength. Let us, judging of the future by 
the past, ascertain whether there may not be, 
in the discretion of Congress, a sufficient power 
to limit and restrain this expansive tendency 
within reasonable and proper bounds. The 
President himself values the evidence of the 
past. He tells us that at a certain point of our 
history more than two hundred millions of dol- 
lars had been applied for to make improve- 
ments ; and this he does to prove that the treasury 
would be overwhelmed by such a system. Why 
did he not tell us how much was granted? 
Would not that have been better evidence? Let 
.us turn to it, and see what it proves. In the 
message the President tells us that "during the 
four succeeding years embraced by the admin- 
istration of President Adams, the power not 
only to appropriate money, but to apply it, under 
the direction and authority of the General Gov- 

1848] On Internal Improvements 33 

ernment, as well to the construction of roads as 
to the improvement of harbors and rivers, was 
fully asserted and exercised." 

This, then, was the period of greatest enorm- 
ity. These, if any, must have been the days of 
the two hundred millions. And how much do 
you suppose was really expended for improve- 
ments during that four years? Two hundred 
millions? One hundred? Fifty? Ten? Five? 
No, sir; less than two millions. As shown by 
authentic documents, the expenditures on im- 
provements during 1825, 1826, 1827, and 1828 
amounted to one million eight hundred and 
seventy-nine thousand six hundred and twenty- 
seven dollars one cent. These four years were 
the period of Mr. Adams's administration, 
nearly and substantially. This fact shows that 
when the power to make improvements "was 
fully asserted and exercised," the Congress did 
keep within reasonable limits; and what has 
been done, it seems to me, can be done again. 

Now for the second portion of the message — ■ 
namely, that the burdens of improvements 
would be general, while their benefits would 
be local and partial, involving an obnoxious in- 
equality. That there is some degree of truth 
in this position, I shall not deny. No com- 
mercial object of government patronage can be 
so exclusively general as to not be of some pe- 

34 Abraham Lincoln [June 20 

culiar local advantage. The navy, as I under- 
stand it, was established, and is maintained at 
a great annual expense, partly to be ready for 
war when war shall come, and partly also, and 
perhaps chiefly, for the protection of our com- 
merce on the high seas. This latter object is, 
for all I can see, in principle the same as internal 
improvements. The driving a pirate from the 
track of commerce on the broad ocean, and the 
removing a snag from its more narrow path in 
the Mississippi River, cannot, I think, be dis- 
tinguished in principle. Each is done to save 
life and property, and for nothing else. 

The navy, then, is the most general in its bene- 
fits of all this class of objects; and yet even the 
navy is of some peculiar advantage to Charles- 
ton, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and 
Boston, beyond what it is to the interior towns 
of Illinois. The next most general object I can 
think of would be improvements on the Missis- 
sippi River and its tributaries. They touch 
thirteen of our States — Pennsylvania, Virginia, 
Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, 
Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, 
Wisconsin, and Iowa. Now I suppose it will 
not be denied that these thirteen States are a 
little more interested in improvements on that 
great river than are the remaining seventeen. 
These instances of the navy and the Mississippi 

1848] On Internal Improvements 35 

River show clearly that there is something of 
local advantage in the most general objects. But 
the converse is also true. Nothing is so local 
as to not be of some general benefit. Take, for 
instance, the Illinois and Michigan Canal. 
Considered apart from its effects, it is perfectly 
local. Every inch of it is within the State of 
Illinois. That canal was first opened for busi- 
ness last April. In a very few days we were all 
gratified to learn, among other things, that sugar 
had been carried from New Orleans through 
this canal to Buffalo in New York. This sugar 
took this route, doubtless, because it was cheaper 
than the old route. Supposing benefit of the 
reduction in the cost of carriage to be shared 
between seller and buyer, the result is that the 
New Orleans merchant sold his sugar a little 
dearer, and the people of Buffalo sweetened 
their coffee a little cheaper, than before, — a ben- 
efit resulting from the canal, not to Illinois, 
where the canal is, but to Louisiana and New 
York, where it is not. In other transactions 
Illinois will, of course, have her share, and per- 
haps the larger share too, of the benefits of the 
canal ; but this instance of the sugar clearly 
shows that the benefits of an improvement are by 
no means confined to the particular locality of 
the improvement itself. 

The just conclusion from all this is that if 

36 Abraham Lincoln [June 20 

the nation refuse to make improvements of the 
more general kind because their benefits may 
be somewhat local, a State may for the same 
reason refuse to make an improvement of a local 
kind because its benefits may be somewhat gen- 
eral. A State may well say to the nation, "If 
you will do nothing for me, I will do nothing 
for you." Thus it is seen that if this argument 
of "inequality" is sufficient anywhere, it is suf- 
ficient everywhere, and puts an end to improve- 
ments altogether. I hope and believe that if 
both the nation and the States would, in good 
faith, in their respective spheres do what they 
could in the way of improvements, what of in- 
equality might be produced in one place might 
be compensated in another, and the sum of the 
whole might not be very unequal. 

But suppose, after all, there should be some 
degree of inequality. Inequality is certainly 
never to be embraced for its own sake; but is 
every good thing to be discarded which may be 
inseparably connected with some degree of it? 
If so, we must discard all government. This 
Capitol is built at the public expense, for the 
public benefit; but does any one doubt that it 
is of some peculiar local advantage to the prop- 
erty-holders and business people of Washington? 
Shall we remove it for this reason? And if so, 
where shall we set it down, and be free from the 

1848] On Internal Improvements 37 

difficulty? To make sure of our object, shall 
we locate it nowhere, and have Congress here- 
after to hold its sessions, as the loafer lodged, 
"in spots about"? I make no allusion to the 
present President when I say there are few 
stronger cases in this world of "burden to the 
many and benefit to the few," of "inequality," 
than the presidency itself is by some thought to 
be. An honest laborer digs coal at about sev- 
enty cents a day, while the President digs ab- 
stractions at about seventy dollars a day. The 
coal is clearly worth more than the abstrac- 
tions, and yet what a monstrous inequality 
in the prices! Does the President, for this 
reason, propose to abolish the presidency? 
He does not, and he ought not. The true 
rule, in determining to embrace or reject 
anything, is not whether it have any evil in 
it, but whether it have more of evil than of good. 
There are few things wholly evil or wholly good. 
Almost everything, especially of government 
policy, is an inseparable compound of the two; 
so that our best judgment of the preponderance 
between them is continually demanded. On 
this principle the President, his friends, and the 
world generally act on most subjects. Why not 
apply it, then, upon this question? Why, as to 
improvements, magnify the evil, and stoutly re- 
fuse to see any good in them? 

38 Abraham Lincoln [June 20 

Mr. Chairman, on the third position of the 
message — the constitutional question — I have 
not much to say. Being the man I am, and 
speaking where I do, I feel that in any attempt at 
an original constitutional argument, I should not 
be, and ought not to be, listened to patiently. 
The ablest and the best of men have gone over 
the whole ground long ago. I shall attempt but 
little more than a brief notice of what some of 
them have said. In relation to Mr. Jefferson's 
views, I read from Mr. Polk's veto message: 

President Jefferson, in his message to Congress in 
1806, recommended an amendment of the Constitu- 
tion, with a view to apply an anticipated surplus in 
the Treasury " to the great purposes of the public 
education, roads, rivers, canals, and such other ob- 
jects of public improvements as it may be thought 
proper to add to the constitutional enumeration of 
the federal powers"; and he adds: "I suppose an 
amendment to the Constitution, by consent of the 
States, necessary, because the objects now recom- 
mended are not among those enumerated in the Con- 
stitution, and to which it permits the public moneys 
to be applied." In 1825, he repeated in his pub- 
lished letters the opinion that no such power has 
been conferred upon Congress. 

I introduce this not to controvert just now the 
constitutional opinion, but to show that, on the 
question of expediency, Mr. Jefferson's opinion 

1848] On Internal Improvements 39 

was against the present President — that this 
opinion of Mr. Jefferson, in one branch at least, 
is in the hands of Mr. Polk like McFingal's gun 
— "bears wide and kicks the owner over." 

But to the constitutional question. In 1826 
Chancellor Kent first published his "Commen- 
taries" on American law. He devoted a portion 
of one of the lectures to the question of the au- 
thority of Congress to appropriate public 
moneys for internal improvements. He men- 
tions that the subject had never been brought 
under judicial consideration, and proceeds to 
give a brief summary of the discussion it had 
undergone between the legislative and executive 
branches of the government. He shows that the 
legislative branch had usually been for, and the 
executive against, the power, till the period of 
Mr. J. Q. Adams's administration, at which 
point he considers the executive influence as 
withdrawn from opposition, and added to the 
support of the power. In 1844 the chancellor 
published a new edition of his "Commentaries," 
in which he adds some notes of what had trans- 
pired on the question since 1826. I have not 
time to read the original text on the notes; but 
the whole may be found on page 267, and the 
two or three following pages, of the first volume 
of the edition of 1844. As to what Chancellor 

4° Abraham Lincoln [June 20 

Kent seems to consider the sum of the whole, I 
read from one of the notes: 

Mr. Justice Story, in his commentaries on the 
Constitution of the United States, Vol. II., pp. 429- 
440, and again pp. 519-538, has stated at large the 
arguments for and against the proposition that Con- 
gress have a constitutional authority to lay taxes, 
and to apply the power to regulate commerce as a 
means directly to encourage and protect domestic 
manufactures; and without giving any opinion of his 
own on the contested doctrine, he has left the reader 
to draw his own conclusions. I should think, how- 
ever, from the arguments as stated, that every mind 
which has taken no part in the discussion, and felt 
no prejudice or territorial bias on either side of the 
question, would deem the arguments in favor of the 
Congressional power vastly superior. 

It will be seen that in this extract the power 
to make improvements is not directly mentioned ; 
but by examining the context, both of Kent and 
Story, it will be seen that the power mentioned 
in the extract, and the power to make improve- 
ments, are regarded as identical. It is not to 
be denied that many great and good men have 
been against the power; but it is insisted that 
quite as many, as great and as good, have been 
for it; and it is shown that, on a full survey of 
the whole, Chancellor Kent was of opinion that 
the arguments of the latter were vastly superior. 

1848] On Internal Improvements 41 

This is but the opinion of a man; but who was 
that man? He was one of the ablest and most 
learned lawyers of his age, or of any age. It is 
no disparagement to Mr. Polk, nor indeed to 
any one who devotes much time to politics, to 
be placed far behind Chancellor Kent as a law- 
yer. His attitude was most favorable to correct 
conclusions. He wrote coolly, and in retire- 
ment. He was struggling to rear a durable 
monument of fame; and he well knew that truth 
and thoroughly sound reasoning were the only 
sure foundations. Can the party opinion of a 
party President on a law question, as this purely 
is, be at all compared or set in opposition to that 
of such a man, in such an attitude, as Chancellor 
Kent? This constitutional question will prob- 
ably never be better settled than it is, until it 
shall pass under judicial consideration; but I 
do think no man who is clear on the questions of 
expediency need feel his conscience much 
pricked upon this. 

Mr. Chairman, the President seems to think 
that enough may be done, in the way of improve- 
ments, by means of tonnage duties under State 
authority, with the consent of the General Gov- 
ernment. Now I suppose this matter of tonnage 
duties is well enough in its own sphere. I sup- 
pose it may be efficient, and perhaps sufficient, 
to make slight improvements and repairs in har- 

42 Abraham Lincoln [June 20 

bors already in use and not much out of repair. 
But if I have any correct general idea of it, it 
must be wholly inefficient for any general benef- 
icent purposes of improvement. I know very 
little, or rather nothing at all, of the practical 
matter of levying and collecting tonnage duties; 
but I suppose one of its principles must be to 
lay a duty for the improvement of any particular 
harbor upon the tonnage coming into that har- 
bor; to do otherwise — to collect money in one 
harbor, to be expended on improvements in an- 
other — would be an extremely aggravated form 
of that inequality which the President so much 
deprecates. If I be right in this, how could we 
make any entirely new improvement by means 
of tonnage duties? How make a road, a canal, 
or clear a greatly obstructed river? The idea 
that we could involves the same absurdity as the 
Irish bull about the new boots. "I shall niver 
git 'em on," says Patrick, "till I wear 'em a day 
or two, and stretch 'em a little." We shall never 
make a canal by tonnage duties until it shall 
already have been made awhile, so the tonnage 
can get into it. 

After all, the President concludes that pos- 
sibly there may be some great objects of im- 
provements which cannot be effected by tonnage 
duties, and which it therefore may be expedient 
for the General Government to take in hand. 


1848] On Internal Improvements 43 

Accordingly he suggests, in case any such be 
discovered, the propriety of amending the Con- 
stitution. Amend it for what? If, like Mr. 
Jefferson, the President thought improvements 
expedient, but not constitutional, it would be 
natural enough for him to recommend such an 
amendment. But hear what he says in this very 
message : 

In view of these portentous consequences, I can- 
not but think that this course of legislation should 
be arrested, even were there nothing to forbid it in 
the fundamental laws of our Union. 

For what, then, would he have the Constitu- 
tion amended? With him it is a proposition to 
remove one impediment merely to be met by 
others which, in his opinion, cannot be removed, 
— to enable Congress to do what, in his opinion, 
they ought not to do if they could. 

Here Mr. Meade of Virginia inquired if Mr. 
Lincoln understood the President to be opposed, 
on grounds of expediency, to any and every im- 

Mr. Lincoln answered: In the very part of 
his message of which I am speaking, I under- 
stand him as giving some vague expression in 
favor of some possible objects of improvement; 
but in doing so I understand him to be directly 
on the teeth of his own arguments in other parts 

44 Abraham Lincoln [June 20 

of it. Neither the President nor any one can 
possibly specify an improvement which shall not 
be clearly liable to one or another of the objec- 
tions he has urged on the score of expediency. 
I have shown, and might show again, that no 
work — no object — can be so general as to dis- 
pense its benefits with precise equality; and this 
inequality is chief among the "portentous con- 
sequences" for which he declares that improve- 
ments should be arrested. No, sir. When the 
President intimates that something in the way 
of improvements may properly be done by the 
General Government, he is shrinking from the 
conclusions to which his own arguments would 
force him. He feels that the improvements of 
this broad and goodly land are a mighty interest 
and he is unwilling to confess to the people, 
or perhaps to himself, that he has built an ar- 
gument which, when pressed to its conclusions, 
entirely annihilates this interest. 

I have already said that no one who is satisfied 
of the expediency of making improvements 
needs be much uneasy in his conscience about 
its constitutionality. I wish now to submit a few 
remarks on the general proposition of amend- 
ing the Constitution. As a general rule, I think 
we would much better let it alone. No slight 
occasion should tempt us to touch it. Better 
not take the first step, which may lead to a habit 


1848] On Internal Improvements 45 

of altering it. Better, rather, habituate our- 
selves to think of it as unalterable. It can 
scarcely be made better than it is. New pro- 
visions would introduce new difficulties, and 
thus create and increase appetite for further 
change. No, sir; let it stand as it is. New 
hands have never touched it. The men who 
made it have done their work, and have passed 
away. Who shall improve on what they did? 

Mr. Chairman, for the purpose of reviewing 
this message in the least possible time, as well as 
for the sake of distinctness, I have analyzed its 
arguments as well as I could, and reduced them 
to the propositions I have stated. I have now 
examined them in detail. I wish to detain the 
committee only a little while longer with some 
general remarks upon the subject of improve- 
ments. That the subject is a difficult one, can- 
not be denied. Still it is no more difficult in 
Congress than in the State legislatures, in the 
counties, or in the smallest municipal districts 
which anywhere exist. All can recur to in- 
stances of this difficulty in the case of county 
roads, bridges, and the like. One man is offend- 
ed because a road passes over his land, and an- 
other is offended because it does not pass over 
his; one is dissatisfied because the bridge for 
which he is taxed crosses the river on a different 
road from that which leads from his house to 

46 Abraham Lincoln [June 20 

town ; another cannot bear that the county should 
be got in debt for these same roads and bridges; 
while not a few struggle hard to have roads lo- 
cated over their lands, and then stoutly refuse 
to let them be opened until they are first paid 
the damages. Even between the different wards 
and streets of towns and cities we find this same 
wrangling and difficulty. Now these are no 
other than the very difficulties against which, 
and out of which, the President constructs his 
objections of "inequality," "speculation," and 
"crushing the treasury." There is but a single 
alternative about them: they are sufficient, or 
they are not. If sufficient, they are sufficient 
out of Congress as well as in it, and there is the 
end. We must reject them as insufficient, or lie 
down and do nothing by any authority Then, 
difficulty though there be, let us meet and en- 
counter it. "Attempt the end, and never stand 
to doubt; nothing so hard, but search will find it 
out." Determine that the thing can and shall 
be done, and then we shall find the way. The 
tendency to undue expansion is unquestionably 
the chief difficulty. 

How to do something, and still not do too 
much, is the desideratum. Let each contribute 
his mite in the way of suggestion. The late 
Silas Wright, in a letter to the Chicago conven- 
tion, contributed his, which was worth some- 

1848] On Internal Improvements 47 

thing; and I now contribute mine, which may 
be worth nothing. At all events, it will mislead 
nobody, and therefore will do no harm. I would 
not borrow money. I am against an overwhelm- 
ing, crushing system. Suppose that, at each ses- 
sion, Congress shall first determine how much 
money can, for that year, be spared for improve- 
ments; then apportion that sum to the most im- 
portant objects. So far all is easy; but how 
shall we determine which are the most import- 
ant? On this question comes the collision of 
interests. I shall be slow to acknowledge that 
your harbor or your river is more important 
than mine, and vice versa. To clear this diffi- 
culty, let us have that same statistical informa- 
tion which the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Vin- 
ton] suggested at the beginning of this session. 
In that information we shall have a stern, un- 
bending basis of facts — a basis in no wise subject 
to whim, caprice, or local interest. The pre- 
limited amount of means will save us from do- 
ing too much, and the statistics will save us from 
doing what we do in wrong places. Adopt and 
adhere to this course, and, it seems to me, the 
difficulty is cleared. 

One of the gentlemen from South Carolina 
[Mr. Rhett] very much deprecates these statis- 
tics. He particularly objects, as I understand 
him, to counting all the pigs and chickens in 

48 Abraham Lincoln [June 22 

the land. I do not perceive much force in the 
objection. It is true that if everything be enum- 
erated, a portion of such statistics may not be 
very useful to this object. Such products of the 
country as are to be consumed where they are 
produced need no roads or rivers, no means of 
transportation, and have no very proper connec- 
tion with this subject. The surplus — that which 
is produced in one place to be consumed in an- 
other; the capacity of each locality for produ- 
cing a greater surplus; the natural means of 
transportation, and their susceptibility of im- 
provement; the hindrances, delays, and losses of 
life and property during transportation, and the 
causes of each, would be among the most valu- 
able statistics in this connection. From these it 
would readily appear where a given amount of 
expenditure would do the most good. These 
statistics might be equally accessible, as they 
would be equally useful, to both the nation and 
the States. In this way, and by these means, let 
the nation take hold of the larger works, and the' 
States the smaller ones; and thus, working in a 
meeting direction, discreetly, but steadily and 
firmly, what is made unequal in one place may 
be equalized in another, extravagance avoided, 
and the whole country put on that career of pros- 
perity which shall correspond with its extent of 
territory, its natural resources, and the intelli- 
gence and enterprise of its people. 

1848] Letter to Herndon 49 

Letter to William H. Herndon 

Washington, June 22, 1848. 

DEAR WILLIAM: Last night I was 
attending a sort of caucus of the Whig 
members, held in relation to the com- 
ing presidential election. The whole field of 
the nation was scanned, and all is high hope 
and confidence. Illinois is expected to better 
her condition in this race. Under these circum- 
stances, judge how heartrending it was to come 
to my room and find and read your discourag- 
ing letter of the 15th. We have made no gains, 
but have lost "H. R. Robinson, Turner, Camp- 
bell, and four or five more." Tell Arney to 
reconsider, if he would be saved. Baker and 
I used to do something, but I think you attach 
more importance to our absence than is just. 
There is another cause. In 1840, for instance, 
we had two senators and five representatives 
in Sangamon; now we have part of one senator 
and two representatives. With quite one-third 
more people than we had then, we have only 
half the sort of offices which are sought by 
men of the speaking sort of talent. This, I 
think, is the chief cause. Now, as to the young 

50 Abraham Lincoln [June 22 

men. You must not wait to be brought forward 
by the older men. For instance, do you sup- 
pose that I should ever have got into notice if I 
had waited to be hunted up and pushed forward 
by older men? You young men get together 
and form a "Rough and Ready Club," and have 
regular meetings and speeches. Take in every- 
body you can get. Harrison Grimsley, L. A. 
Enos, Lee Kimball, and C. W. Matheny will do 
to begin the thing; but as you go along gather 
up all the shrewd, wild boys about town, 
whether just of age or a little under age, — Chris. 
Logan, Reddick Ridgely, Lewis Zwizler, and 
hundreds such. Let every one play the part he 
can play best, — some speak, some sing, and all 
"holler." Your meetings will be of evenings; 
the older men, and the women, will go to hear 
you; so that it will not only contribute to the 
election of "Old Zach," but will be an interest- 
ing pastime, and improving to the intellectual 
faculties of all engaged. Don't fail to do this. 

You ask me to send you all the speeches made 
about "Old Zach," the war, etc. Now this 
makes me a little impatient. I have regularly 
sent you the "Congressional Globe" and "Ap- 
pendix," and you cannot have examined them, 
or you would have discovered that they contain 
every speech made by every man in both houses 
of Congress, on every subject, during the session. 

1848] Letter to Herndon 51 

Can I send any more? Can I send speeches that 
nobody has made? Thinking it would be most 
natural that the newspapers would feel inter- 
ested to give at least some of the speeches to their 
readers, I at the beginning of the session made 
arrangements to have one copy of the "Globe" 
and "Appendix" regularly sent to each Whig 
paper of the district. And yet, with the excep- 
tion of my own little speech, which was pub- 
lished in two only of the then five, now four, 
Whig papers, I do not remember having seen 
a single speech, or even extract from one, in 
any single one of those papers. With equal and 
full means on both sides, I will venture that the 
"State Register" has thrown before its readers 
more of Locofoco speeches in a month than all 
the Whig paper of the district has done of Whig 
speeches during the session. 

If you wish a full understanding of the war, 
I repeat what I believe I said to you in a letter 
once before, that the whole, or nearly so, is to be 
found in the speech of Dixon of Connecticut. 
This I sent you in pamphlet as well as in the 
"Globe." Examine and study every sentence of 
that speech thoroughly, and you will understand 
the whole subject. You ask how Congress came 
to declare that war had existed by the act of 
Mexico. Is it possible you don't understand 
that yet? You have had at least twenty speeches 

52 Abraham Lincoln [June 22 

in your possession that fully explain it. I will, 
however, try it once more. The news reached 
Washington of the commencement of hostilities 
on the Rio Grande, and of the great peril of 
General Taylor's army. Everybody, Whigs and 
Democrats, was for sending them aid, in men 
and money. It was necessary to pass a bill for 
this. The Locos had a majority in both houses, 
and they brought in a bill with a preamble say- 
ing: Whereas, War exists by the act of Mexico, 
therefore we send General Taylor money. The 
Whigs moved to strike out the preamble, so that 
they could vote to send the men and money, 
without saying anything about how the war com- 
menced; and being in the minority, they were 
voted down, and the preamble was retained. 
Then, on the passage of the bill, the question 
came upon them, Shall we vote for preamble and 
bill together, or against both together? They 
did not want to vote against sending help to Gen- 
eral Taylor, and therefore they voted for both 
together. Is there any difficulty in understand- 
ing this? Even my little speech shows how this 
was; and if you will go to the library, you may 
get the "Journal" of 1845-46, in which you will 
find the whole for yourself. 

We have nothing published yet with special 
reference to the Taylor race; but we soon will 
have, and then I will send them to everybody. 


1848] Letter to Horace Greeley 53 

I made an internal-improvement speech day be- 
fore yesterday, which I shall send home as soon 
as I can get it written out and printed, — and 
which I suppose nobody will read. 

Your friend as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

Letter to Horace Greeley 

Washington, June 27, 1848. 
Friend Greeley: In the "Tribune" of yester- 
day I discovered a little editorial paragraph in 
relation to Colonel Wentworth of Illinois, in 
which, in relation to the boundary of Texas, you 
say: "All Whigs and many Democrats having 
ever contended it stopped at the Nueces." Now 
this is a mistake which I dislike to see go un- 
corrected in a leading Whig paper. Since I 
have been here, I know a large majority of such 
Whigs of the House of Representatives as have 
spoken on the question have not taken that posi- 
tion. Their position, and in my opinion the true 
position, is that the boundary of Texas extended 
just so far as American settlements taking part 
in her revolution extended; and that as a matter 
of fact those settlements did extend, at one or 
two points, beyond the Nueces, but not anywhere 
near the Rio Grande at any point. The "stu- 
pendous desert" between the valleys of those two 

54 Abraham Lincoln [June 28 

rivers, and not either river, has been insisted 
on by the Whigs as the true boundary. 

Will you look at this? By putting us in the 
position of insisting on the line of the Nueces, 
you put us in a position which, in my opinion, 
we cannot maintain, and which therefore gives 
the Democrats an advantage of us. If the de- 
gree of arrogance is not too great, may I ask 
you to examine what I said on this very point in 
the printed speech I send you. Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln. 

Remarks in the United States House of 
Representatives, June 28, 1848 

Discussion as to salary of judge of western 
Virginia. — Wishing to increase it from $1800 
to $2500. 

Mr. Lincoln said he felt unwilling to be either 
unjust or ungenerous, and he wanted to under- 
stand the real case of this judicial officer. The 
gentleman from Virginia had stated that he had 
to hold eleven courts. Now everybody knew 
that it was not the habit of the district judges 
of the United States in other States to hold any- 
thing like that number of courts; and he there- 
fore took it for granted that this must happen 
under a peculiar law which required that large 
number of courts to be holden every year; and 
these laws, he further supposed, were passed at 


1848] Fragment 55 

the request of the people of that judicial district. 
It came, then, to this : that the people in the west- 
ern district of Virginia had got eleven courts 
to be held among them in one year, for their own 
accommodation; and being thus better accom- 
modated than their neighbors elsewhere, they 
wanted their judge to be a little better paid. In 
Illinois there had been, until the present season, 
but one district court held in the year. There 
were now to be two. Could it be that the west- 
ern district of Virginia furnished more business 
for a judge than the whole State of Illinois? 

Fragment, [July 1?] 1848 

The following paper was written by Lincoln 
in 1848 as being what he thought General Taylor 
ought to say: 

The question of a national bank is at rest. 
Were I President, I should not urge its reagita- 
tion upon Congress; but should Congress see fit 
to pass an act to establish such an institution, I 
should not arrest it by the veto, unless I should 
consider the subject to some constitutional objec- 
tion from which I believe the two former banks 
to have been free. 

It appears to me that the national debt created 
by the war renders a modification of the existing 
tariff indispensable; and when it shall be modi- 
fied I should be pleased to see it adjusted with 

56 Abraham Lincoln [July 10 

a due reference to the protection of our home 
industry. The particulars, it appears to me, 
must and should be left to the untrammeled dis- 
cretion of Congress. 

As to the Mexican war, I still think the de- 
fensive line policy the best to terminate it. In 
a final treaty of peace, we shall probably be un- 
der a sort of necessity of taking some territory; 
but it is my desire that we shall not acquire any 
extending so far south as to enlarge and aggra- 
vate the distracting question of slavery. Should 
I come into the presidency before these questions 
shall be settled, I should act in relation to them 
in accordance with the views here expressed. 

Finally, were I President, I should desire the 
legislation of the country to rest with Congress, 
uninfluenced by the executive in its origin or 
progress, and undisturbed by the veto unless in 
very special and clear cases. 

Letter to William H. Herndon 

Washington, July 10, 1848. 
Dear William: Your letter covering the 
newspaper slips was received last night. The 
subject of that letter is exceedingly painful to 
me; and I cannot but think there is some mis- 
take in your impression of the motives of the old 
men. I suppose I am now one of the old men; 
and I declare, on my veracity, which I think is 

1848] Letter to Herndon 57 

good with you, that nothing could afford mc 
more satisfaction than to learn that you and 
others of my young friends at home are doing 
battle in the contest, and endearing themselves 
to the people, and taking a stand far above any 
I have ever been able to reach in their admira- 
tion. I cannot conceive that other old men feel 
differently. Of course I cannot demonstrate 
what I say; but I was young once, and I am sure 
I was never ungenerously thrust back. I hardly 
know what to say. The way for a young man 
to rise is to improve himself every way he can, 
never suspecting that anybody wishes to hinder 
him. Allow me to assure you that suspicion and 
jealousy never did help any man in any situation. 
There may sometimes be ungenerous attempts 
to keep a young man down ; and they will suc- 
ceed, too, if he allows his mind to be diverted 
from its true channel to brood over the attempted 
injury. Cast about, and see if this feeling has 
not injured every person you have ever known 
to fall into it. 

Now, in what I have said, I am sure you will 
suspect nothing but sincere friendship. I would 
save you from a fatal error. You have been a 
laborious, studious young man. You are far 
better informed on almost all subjects than I 
have been. You cannot fail in any laudable ob- 
ject, unless you allow your mind to be improp- 

58 Abraham Lincoln [July 10 

erly directed. I have somewhat the advantage 
of you in the world's experience, merely by being 
older; and it is this that induces me to advise. 
You still seem to be a little mistaken about the 
" Congressional Globe " and " Appendix." 
They contain all of the speeches that are pub- 
lished in any way. My speech and Dayton's 
speech, which you say you got in pamphlet form, 
are both, word for word, in the " Appendix." I 
repeat again, all are there. 

Your friend, as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

*Letter to S. A. Hurlbut 1 

Washington, July io, 1848. 
Friend Hurlbut: Your letter of a recent 
date was duly received. I could think of no bet- 
ter way of fitting you out, than by sending you 
the Battery, the first number of which, together 
with the prospectus, I send by this mail. If 
it strikes you as giving promise of being a good 
campaign paper, please get as many subscribers 
as you can and send them on. I have put you 
down for one copy, the subscription for which 
T will pay myself, if you are not satisfied with it. 
Yours truly, A. LINCOLN. 

1 I his was written on a prospectus of a new Whig paper called 
the Battery, published in Washington, with a view to promote 
the election of Gen. Zachary Taylor to the Presidency, and Mil- 
lard Fillmore to the Vice-Presidency of the United States. 

1848] Speech in Congress 59 

Speech in the United States House of Rep- 
resentatives, July 27, 1848 1 

General Taylor and the Veto. 

MR. SPEAKER, our Democratic friends 
seem to be in great distress because 
they think our candidate for the presi- 
dency don't suit us. Most of them cannot find 
out that General Taylor has any principles at 
all; some, however, have discovered that he has 
one, but that one is entirely wrong. This one 
principle is his position on the veto power. 
The gentleman from Tennessee [Mr. Stanton] 
who has just taken his seat, indeed, has said 
there is very little, if any difference on this ques- 
tion between General Taylor and all the presi- 
dents; and he seems to think it sufficient de- 
traction from General Taylor's position on it 

1 Though delivered in Congress this was practically a " stump 
speech " and presaged the enthusiasm with which Lincoln threw 
himself into the campaign for Taylor. It is the only one of 
Lincoln's popular speeches preserved entire of that period, and 
fairly embodies the manner and spirit of the politics of 1848. 
Reading it will convince one how effective the orator must have 
been as a canvasser in out of the way districts of his State where 
a political meeting was the greatest form of public entertain- 

60 Abraham Lincoln [July 27 

that it has nothing new in it. But all others 
whom I have heard speak assail it furiously. 
A new member from Kentucky [Mr. Clark], 
of very considerable ability, was in particular 
concerned about it. He thought it altogether 
novel and unprecedented for a president or a 
presidential candidate to think of approving 
bills whose constitutionality may not be entirely 
clear to his own mind. He thinks the ark of 
our safety is gone unless presidents shall always 
veto such bills as in their judgment may be of 
doubtful constitutionality. However clear Con- 
gress may be on their authority to pass any par- 
ticular act, the gentleman from Kentucky thinks 
the President must veto it if he has doubts about 
it. Now I have neither time nor inclination to 
argue with the gentleman on the veto power 
as an original question; but I wish to show that 
General Taylor, and not he, agrees with the 
earlier statesmen on this question. When the bill 
chartering the first Bank of the United States 
passed Congress, its constitutionality was ques- 
tioned. Mr. Madison, then in the House of 
Representatives, as well as others, had opposed 
it on that ground. General Washington, as 
President, was called on to approve or reject it. 
He sought and obtained on the constitutionality 
question the separate written opinions of Jeffer- 
son, Hamilton, and Edmund Randolph, — they 

1848] Speech in Congress 61 

then being respectively Secretary of State, Sec- 
retary of the Treasury, and Attorney-General. 
Hamilton's opinion was for the power; while 
Randolph's and Jefferson's were both against it. 
Mr. Jefferson, after giving his opinion deciding 
only against the constitutionality of the bill, 
closes his letter with the paragraph which I now 

It must be admitted, however, that unless the Pres- 
ident's mind, on a view of everything which is urged 
for and against this bill, is tolerably clear that it is 
unauthorized by the Constitution, — if the pro and 
con, hang so even as to balance his judgment, — a 
just respect for the wisdom of the legislature would 
naturally decide the balance in favor of their opin- 
ion. It is chiefly for cases where they are clearly 
misled by error, ambition, or interest, that the Con- 
stitution has placed a check in the negative of the 

Thomas Jefferson. 

February 15, 1791. 

General Taylor's opinion, as expressed in his 
Allison letter, is as I now read: 

The power given by the veto i& a high conserva- 
tive power; but, in my opinion, should never be ex- 
ercised except in cases of clear violation of the Con- 
stitution, or manifest haste and want of considera- 
tion by Congress. 

62 Abraham Lincoln [July 27 

It is here seen that, in Mr. Jefferson's opinion, 
if on the constitutionality of any given bill the 
President doubts, he is not to veto it, as the gen- 
tleman from Kentucky would have him do, but 
is to defer to Congress and approve it. And if 
we compare the opinion of Jefferson and Taylor, 
as expressed in these paragraphs, we shall find 
them more exactly alike than we can often find 
any two expressions having any literal difference. 
None but interested faultfinders, I think, can 
discover any substantial variation. 

Taylor on Measures of Policy. 

But gentlemen on the other side are unani- 
mously agreed that General Taylor has no other 
principles. They are in utter darkness as to his 
opinions on any of the questions of policy which 
occupy the public attention. But is there any 
doubt as to what he will do on the prominent 
questions if elected? Not the least. It is not 
possible to know what he will or would do in 
every imaginable case, because many questions 
have passed away, and others doubtless will arise 
which none of us have yet thought of; but on 
the prominent questions of currency, tariff, in- 
ternal improvements, and Wilmot proviso, Gen- 
eral Taylor's course is at least as well defined 
as is General Cass's. Why, in their eagerness 
to get at General Taylor, several Democratic 

1848] Speech in Congress 63 

members here have desired to know whether, in 
case of his election, a bankrupt law is to be estab- 
lished. Can they tell us General Cass's opinion 
on this question? [Some member answered, 
11 He is against it." ] Aye, how do you know he 
is? There is nothing about it in the platform, 
nor elsewhere, that I have seen. If the gentle- 
man knows of anything which I do not, he can 
show it. But to return. General Taylor, in 
his Allison letter, says: 

Upon the subject of the tariff, the currency, the im- 
provement of our great highways, rivers, lakes, and 
harbors, the will of the people, as expressed through 
their representatives in Congress, ought to be re- 
spected and carried out by the executive. 

Now this is the whole matter. In substance, 
it is this. The people say to General Taylor, 
" If you are elected, shall we have a national 
bank? " He answers, " Your will, gentlemen, 
not mine." " What about the tariff? " " Say 
yourselves." " Shall our rivers and harbors be 
improved?" "Just as you please. If you de- 
sire a bank, an alteration of the tariff, internal 
improvements, any or all, I will not hinder you. 
If you do not desire them, I will not attempt 
to force them on you. Send up your members 
of Congress from the various districts, with opin- 
ions according to your own, and if they are for 

64 Abraham Lincoln [July 27 

these measures, or any of them, I shall have 
nothing to oppose; if they are not for them, I 
shall not, by any appliances whatever, attempt 
to dragoon them into their adoption." Now 
can there be any difficulty in understanding this? 
To you Democrats it may not seem like prin- 
ciple; but surely you cannot fail to perceive the 
position plainly enough. The distinction be- 
tween it and the position of your candidate is 
broad and obvious ; and I admit you have a clear 
right to show it is wrong if you can ; but you have 
no right to pretend you cannot see it at all. We 
see it, and to us it appears like principle, and 
the best sort of principle at that — the principle 
of allowing the people to do as they please with 
their own business. My friend from Indiana 
[C. B. Smith] has aptly asked, " Are you willing 
to trust the people?" Some of you answered 
substantially, " We are willing to trust the peo- 
ple; but the President is as much the representa- 
tive of the people as Congress." In a certain 
sense, and to a certain extent, he is the represent- 
ative of the people. He is elected by them, as 
well as Congress is; but can he, in the nature of 
things, know the wants of the people as well 
as three hundred other men, coming from all 
the various localities of the nation? If so, where 
is the propriety of having a Congress? That the 
Constitution gives the President a negative on 

1848] Speech in Congress 65 

legislation, all know; but that this negative 
should be so combined with platforms and other 
appliances as to enable him, and in fact almost 
compel him, to take the whole of legislation into 
his own hands, is what we object to, is what 
General Taylor objects to, and is what consti- 
tutes the broad distinction between you and us. 
To thus transfer legislation is clearly to take it 
from those who understand with minuteness the 
interests of the people, and give it to one who 
does not and cannot so well understand it. I 
understand your idea that if a presidential can- 
didate avow his opinion upon a given question, 
or rather upon all questions, and the people, with 
full knowledge of this, elect him, they thereby 
distinctly approve all those opinions. By means 
of it, measures are adopted or rejected contrary 
to the wishes of the whole of one party, and often 
nearly half of the other. Three, four, or half 
a dozen questions are prominent at a given time; 
the party selects its candidate, and he takes his 
position on each of these questions. On all but 
one his positions have already been indorsed at 
former elections, and his party fully committed 
to them; but that one is new, and a large portion 
of them are against it. But what are they to do? 
The whole was strung together; and they must 
take all, or reject all. They cannot take what 
they like, and leave the rest. What they are 

66 Abraham Lincoln [July 27 

already committed to being the majority, they 
shut their eyes, and gulp the whole. Next elec- 
tion, still another is introduced in the same way. 
If we run our eyes along the line of the past, 
we shall see that almost if not quite all the arti- 
cles of the present Democratic creed have been 
at first forced upon the party in this very way. 
And just now, and just so, opposition to internal 
improvements is to be established if General 
Cass shall be elected. Almost half the Demo- 
crats here are for improvements; but they will 
vote for Cass, and if he succeeds, their vote will 
have aided in closing the doors against improve- 
ments. Now this is a process which we think 
is wrong. We prefer a candidate who, like 
General Taylor, will allow the people to have 
their own way, regardless of his private opin- 
ions; and I should think the internal-improve- 
ment Democrats, at least ought to prefer such a 
candidate. He would force nothing on them 
which they don't want, and he would allow them 
to have improvements which their own candi- 
date, if elected, will not. 

Mr. Speaker, I have said General Taylor's 
position is as well defined as is that of General 
Cass. In saying this, I admit I do not certainly 
know what he would do on the Wilmot pro- 
viso. I am a Northern man, or rather a West- 
ern free-State man, with a constituency I believe 

1848] Speech in Congress 67 

to be, and with personal feelings I know to be, 
against the extension of slavery. As such, and 
with what information I have, I hope and be- 
lieve General Taylor, if elected, would not veto 
the proviso. But I do not know it. Yet if 
I knew he would, I still would vote for him. I 
should do so because, in my judgment, his elec- 
tion alone can defeat General Cass; and because, 
should slavery thereby go to the territory we 
now have, just so much will certainly happen 
by the election of Cass, and, in addition a course 
of policy leading to new wars, new acquisitions 
of territory and still further extensions of 
slavery. One of the two is to be President. 
IWhich is preferable? 

But there is as much doubt of Cass on im- 
provements as there is of Taylor on the proviso. 
I have no doubt myself of General Cass on this 
question; but I know the Democrats differ 
among themselves as to his position. My 
internal-improvement colleague [Mr. Went- 
worth] stated on this floor the other day that he 
was satisfied Cass was for improvements, be- 
cause he had voted for all the bills that he [Mr. 
Wentworth] had. So far so good. But Mr. 
Polk vetoed some of these very bills. The Bal- 
timore convention passed a set of resolutions, 
among other things, approving these vetoes, and 
General Cass declares, in his letter accepting 

68 Abraham Lincoln [July 27 

the nomination, that he has carefully read these 
resolutions, and that he adheres to them as firmly 
as he approves them cordially. In other words, 
General Cass voted for the bills, and thinks the 
President did right to veto them ; and his friends 
here are amiable enough to consider him as 
being on one side or the other, just as one or 
the other may correspond with their own re- 
spective inclinations. My colleague admits 
that the platform declares against the consti- 
tutionality of a general system of improvements; 
and that General Cass indorses the platform; 
but he still thinks General Cass is in favor of 
some sort of improvements. Well, what are 
they? As he is against general objects, those 
he is for must be particular and local. Now 
this is taking the subject precisely by the wrong 
end. Particularity — expending the money of 
the whole people for an object which will 
benefit only a portion of them — is the greatest 
real objection to improvements, and has been 
so held by General Jackson, Mr. Polk, and all 
others, I believe, till now. But now, behold, 
the objects most general — nearest free from this 
objection — are to be rejected, while those most 
liable to it are to be embraced. To return: I 
cannot help believing that General Cass, when 
he wrote his letter of acceptance, well under- 
stood he was to be claimed by the advocates of 

1848] Speech in Congress 69 

both sides of this question, and that he then 
closed the door against all further expressions 
of opinion purposely to retain the benefits of 
that double position. His subsequent equivo- 
cation at Cleveland, to my mind, proves such 
to have been the case. 

One word more, and I shall have done with 
this branch of the subject. You Democrats, 
and your candidate, in the main are in favor of 
laying down in advance a platform — a set of 
party positions — as a unit, and then of forcing 
the people, by every sort of appliance, to ratify 
them, however unpalatable some of them may 
be. We and our candidate are in favor of mak- 
ing presidential elections, and the legislation 
of the country distinct matters; so that the peo- 
ple can elect whom they please, and afterward 
legislate just as they please, without any hin- 
drance, save only so much as may guard against 
infractions of the Constitution, undue haste, and 
want of consideration. The difference between 
us is clear as noon-day. That we are right we 
cannot doubt. We hold the true Republican 
position. In leaving the people's business in 
their hands, we cannot be wrong. We are will- 
ing, and even anxious, to go to the people on this 

yo Abraham Lincoln [July 27 

Old Horses and Military Coat-tails. 
But I suppose I cannot reasonably hope to 
convince you that we have any principles. The 
most I can expect is to assure you that we think 
we have, and are quite contented with them. 
The other day one of the gentlemen from 
Georgia [Mr. Iverson], an eloquent man, and a 
man of learning, so far as I can judge, not be- 
ing learned myself, came down upon us aston- 
ishingly. He spoke in what the "Baltimore 
American" calls the "scathing and withering 
style." At the end of his second severe flash I 
was struck blind, and found myself feeling with 
my fingers for an assurance of my continued ex- 
istence. A little of the bone was left, and I 
gradually revived. He eulogized Mr. Clay 
in high and beautiful terms, and then declared 
that we had deserted all our principles, and had 
turned Henry Clay out, like an old horse, to 
root. This is terribly severe. It cannot be 
answered by argument — at least I cannot so an- 
swer it. I merely wish to ask the gentleman 
if the Whigs are the only party he can think of 
who sometimes turn old horses out to root. Is 
not a certain Martin Van Buren an old horse 
which your own party have turned out to root? 
and is he not rooting a little to your discomfort 
about now? But in not nominating Mr. Clay 
we deserted our principles, you say. Ah! In 

1848] Speech in Congress 71 

what? Tell us, ye men of principle, what prin- 
ciple we violated. We say you did violate prin- 
ciple in discarding Van Buren, and we can tell 
you how. You violated the primary, the car- 
dinal, the one great living principle of all demo- 
cratic representative government — the principle 
that the representative is bound to carry out 
the known will of his constituents. A large 
majority of the Baltimore convention of 1844 
were, by their constituents, instructed to procure 
Van Buren's nomination if they could. In vio- 
lation — in utter glaring contempt — of this, you 
rejected him — rejected him, as the gentleman 
from New York [Mr. Birdsall] the other day 
expressly admitted, for availability — that same 
"general availability" which you charge upon 
us, and daily chew over here, as something ex- 
ceedingly odious and unprincipled. But the 
gentleman from Georgia [Mr. Iverson] gave 
us a second speech yesterday, all well considered 
and put down in writing, in which Van Buren 
was scathed and withered a "few" for his present 
position and movements. I cannot remember 
the gentleman's precise language; but I do re- 
member he put Van Buren down, down, till he 
got him where he was finally to "stink" and 

Mr. Speaker, it is no business or inclination 
of mine to defend Martin Van Buren in the war 

72 Abraham Lincoln [July 27 

of extermination now waging between him and 
his old admirers. I say, "Devil take the hind- 
most" — and the foremost. But there is no mis- 
taking the origin of the breach; and if the curse 
of "stinking" and "rotting" is to fall on the first 
and greatest violators of principle in the matter, 
I disinterestedly suggest that the gentleman 
from Georgia and his present co-workers are 
bound to take it upon themselves. But the gen- 
tleman from Georgia further says we have de- 
serted all our principles, and taken shelter under 
General Taylor's military coat-tail, and he seems 
to think this is exceedingly degrading. Well, 
as his faith is, so be it unto him. But can he 
remember no other military coat-tail under 
which a certain other party have been sheltering 
for near a quarter of a century? Has he no 
acquaintance with the ample military coat-tail 
of General Jackson? Does he not know that his 
own party have run the five last presidential 
races under that coat-tail? And that they are 
now running the sixth under the same cover? 
Yes, sir, that coat-tail was used not only for 
General Jackson himself, but has been clung 
to, with the grip of death, by every Democratic 
candidate since. You have never ventured, and 
dare not now venture, from under it. Your 
campaign papers have constantly been "Old 
I Eickories," with rude likenesses of the old gen- 

1848] Speech in Congress 73 

eral upon them; hickory poles and hickory 
brooms your never-ending emblems; Mr. Polk 
himself was "Young Hickory," "Little Hick- 
ory," or something so; and even now your cam- 
paign paper here is proclaiming that Cass and 
Butler are of the true "Hickory stripe." Now, 
sir, you dare not give it up. Like a horde of 
hungry ticks you have stuck to the tail of the 
Llermitage lion to the end of his life; and you 
are still sticking to it, and drawing a loathsome 
sustenance from it, after he is dead. A fellow 
once advertised that he had made a discovery 
by which he could make a new man out of an 
old one, and have enough of the stuff left to 
make a little yellow dog. Just such a discovery 
has General Jackson's popularity been to you. 
You not only twice made President of him out 
of it, but you have had enough of the stuff left 
to make Presidents of several comparatively 
small men since; and it is your chief reliance 
now to make still another. 

Mr. Speaker, old horses and military coat- 
tails, or tails of any sort, are not figures of speech 
such as I would be the first to introduce into 
discussions here; but as the gentleman from 
Georgia has thought fit to introduce them, he 
and you are welcome to all you have made, or 
can make by them. If you have any more old 
horses, trot them out; any more tails, just cock 

74 Abraham Lincoln [July 27 

them and come at us. I repeat, I would not in- 
troduce this mode of discussion here; but I wish 
gentlemen on the other side to understand that 
the use of degrading figures is a game at which 
they may not find themselves able to take all the 
winnings. ["We give it up!"] Aye, you give 
it up, and well you may; but for a very different 
reason from that which you would have us un- 
derstand. The point — the power to hurt — of 
all figures consists in the truthfulness of their 
application; and, understanding this, you may 
well give it up. They are weapons which hit 
you, but miss us. 

Military Tail of the Great Michigander. 

But in my hurry I was very near closing this 
subject of military tails before I was done with 
it. There is one entire article of the sort I have 
not discussed yet, — I mean the military tail you 
Democrats are now engaged in dovetailing into 
the great Michigander. Yes, sir; all his biog- 
raphies (and they are legion) have him in 
hand, tying him to a military tail, like so many 
mischievous boys tying a dog to a bladder of 
beans. True the material they have is very lim- 
ited, but they drive at it might and main. He 
///vaded Canada without resistance, and he out- 
vaded it without pursuit. As he did both under 
orders, I suppose there was to him neither credit 

1848] Speech in Congress 75 

nor discredit in them; but they constitute a 
large part of the tail. He was not at Hull's 
surrender, but he was close by; he was volunteer 
aid to General Harrison on the day of the battle 
of the Thames; and as you said in 1840 Har- 
rison was picking huckleberries two miles off 
while the battle was fought, I suppose it is a just 
conclusion with you to say Cass was aiding Har- 
rison to pick huckleberries. This is about all, 
except the mooted question of the broken sword. 
Some authors say he broke it, some say he threw 
it away, and some others, who ought to know, 
say nothing about it. Perhaps it would be a fair 
historical compromise to say, if he did not break 
it, he did not do anything else with it. 

By the way, Mr. Speaker, did you know I 
am a military hero? Yes, sir; in the days of the 
Black Hawk war I fought, bled, and came away. 
Speaking of General Cass's career reminds me 
of my own. I was not at Stillman's defeat, but 
I was about as near it as Cass was to Hull's sur- 
render; and, like him, I saw the place very soon 
afterward. It is quite certain I did not break 
my sword, for I had none to break; but I bent 
a musket pretty badly on one occasion. If Cass 
broke his sword, the idea is he broke it in des- 
peration; I bent the musket by accident. If 
General Cass went in advance of me in picking 
huckleberries, I guess I surpassed him in charges 

y6 Abraham Lincoln [July 27 

upon the wild onions. If he saw any live, 
fighting Indians, it was more than I did; but I 
had a good many bloody struggles with the mos- 
quitoes, and although I never fainted from the 
loss of blood, I can truly say I was often very 
hungry. Mr. Speaker, if I should ever con- 
clude to doff whatever our Democratic friends 
may suppose there is of black-cockade feder- 
alism about me, and therefore they shall take 
me up as their candidate for the presidency, I 
protest they shall not make fun of me, as they 
have of General Cass, by attempting to write me 
into a military hero. 

Cass on the Wilmot Proviso. 

While I have General Cass in hand, I wish 
to say a word about his political principles. As 
a specimen, I take the record of his progress 
in the Wilmot proviso. In the Washington 
"Union" of March 2, 1847, there is a report of 
a speech of General Cass, made the day before 
in the Senate, on the Wilmot proviso, during the 
delivery of which Mr. Miller of New Jersey is 
reported to have interrupted him as follows, 

Mr. Miller expressed his great surprise at the 
change in the sentiments of the senator from Mich- 
igan, who had been regarded as the great champion 
oi freedom in the Northwest, of which he was a dis- 

1848] Speech in Congress yy 

tinguished ornament. Last year the senator from 
Michigan was understood to be decidedly in favor 
of the Wilmot proviso; and as no reason had been 
stated for the change, he [Mr. Miller] could not 
refrain from the expression of his extreme surprise. 

To this General Cass is reported to have re- 
plied as follows, to-wit: 

Mr. Cass said that the course of the senator from 
New Jerey was most extraordinary. Last year he 
[Mr. Cass] should have voted for the proposition, 
had it come up. But circumstances had altogether 
changed. The honorable senator then read several 
passages from the remarks, as given above, which 
he had committed to writing, in order to refute such 
a charge as that of the senator from New Jersey. 

In the "remarks above reduced to writing" is 
one numbered four, as follows, to-wit: 

Fourth. Legislation now would be wholly in- 
operative, because no territory hereafter to be ac- 
quired can be governed without an act of Congress 
providing for its government; and such an act, on its 
passage, would open the whole subject, and leave 
the Congress called on to pass it free to' exercise its 
own discretion, entirely uncontrolled by any declara- 
tion found on the statute-book. 

In "Niles's Register," Vol. LXXIIL, p. 293, 
there is a letter of General Cass to Nich- 

78 Abraham Lincoln [July 27 

olson, of Nashville, Tennessee, dated December 
24, 1847, from which the following are correct 

The Wilmot proviso has been before the country 
some time. It has been repeatedly discussed in Con- 
gress and by the public press. I am strongly im- 
pressed with the opinion that a great change has 
been going on in the public mind upon this subject 
— in my own as well as others' — and that doubts are 
resolving themselves into convictions that the prin- 
ciple it involves should be kept out of the national 
legislature, and left to the people of the confederacy 
in their respective local governments. 
Briefly, then, I am opposed to the exercise of any 
jurisdiction by Congress over this matter; and I am 
in favor of leaving the people of any territory which 
may be hereafter acquired the right to regulate it 
themselves, under the general principles of the Con- 
stitution. Because — 

First. I do not see in the Constitution any grant 
of the requisite power to Congress; and I am not 
disposed to extend a doubtful precedent beyond its 
necessity — the establishment of territorial gov- 
ernments when needed — leaving to the inhabitants 
all the right compatible with the relations they bear 
to the confederation. 

These extracts show that in 1846 General Cass 
was for the proviso at once ; that in March, 1 847, 
he was still for it, but not just then; and that in 

1848] Speech in Congress 79 

December, 1847, he was against it altogether. 
This is a true index to the whole man. When 
the question was raised in 1846, he was in a blus- 
tering hurry to take ground for it. He sought 
to be in advance, and to avoid the uninteresting 
position of a mere follower; but soon he began 
to see glimpses of the great Democratic ox-goad 
waving in his face, and to hear indistinctly a 
voice saying, "Back! Back, sir! Back a lit- 
tle!" He shakes his head, and bats his eyes, 
and blunders back to his position of March, 
1847; but still the goad waves, and the voice 
grows more distinct and sharper still, "Back, 
sir! Back, I say! Further back!" — and back 
he goes to the position of December, 1847, at 
which the goad is still, and the voice soothingly 
says, "So! Stand at that!" 

Have no fears, gentlemen, of your candidate. 
He exactly suits you, and we congratulate you 
upon it. However much you may be distressed 
about our candidate, you have all cause to be 
contented and happy with your own. If elected, 
he may not maintain all, or even any of his posi- 
tions previously taken; but he will be sure to 
do whatever the party exigency for the time be- 
ing may require; and that is precisely what you 
want. He and Van Buren are the same "man- 
ner of men" ; and, like Van Buren, he will never 
desert you till you first desert him, 

So Abraham Lincoln [July 27 

Cass on Working and Eating. 

Mr. Speaker, I adopt the suggestion of a 
friend, that General Cass is a general of splen- 
didly successful charges — charges to be sure, not 
upon the public enemy, but upon the public 
treasury. He was Governor of Michigan Ter- 
ritory, and ex-officio Superintendent of Indian 
Affairs, from the 9th of October, 1813, till the 
31st of July, 1 83 1 — a period of seventeen years, 
nine months, and twenty-two days. During this 
period he received from the United States treas- 
ury, for personal services and personal expenses, 
the aggregate sum of ninety-six thousand and 
twenty-eight dollars, being an average of four- 
teen dollars and seventy-nine cents per day for 
every day of the time. This large sum was 
reached by assuming that he was doing service 
at several different places, and in several differ- 
ent capacities in the same place, all at the same 
time. By a correct analysis of his accounts dur- 
ing that period, the following propositions may 
be deduced: 

First. He was paid in three different capaci- 
ties during the whole of the time; that is to say 
— (1) As governor's salary at the rate per year 
of $2,000. (2) As estimated for office, rent, 
clerk hire, fuel, etc., in superintendence of In- 
dian affairs in Michigan, at the rate per year of 
$1,500. (3) As compensation and expenses for 

1848] Speech in Congress 81 

various miscellaneous items of Indian service 
out of Michigan, an average per year of $625. 

Second. During part of the time — that is, 
from the 9th of October, 18 13, to the 29th of 
May, 1822 — he was paid in four different capac- 
ities; that is to say, the three as above, and, in 
addition thereto, the commutation of ten rations 
per day, amounting per year to $730. 

Third. During another part of the time — that 
is, from the beginning of 1822 to the 31st of July, 
1 83 1 — he was also paid in four different capaci- 
ties; that is to say, the first three, as above (the 
rations being dropped after the 29th of May, 
1822), and, in addition thereto, for superintend- 
ing Indian Agencies at Piqua, Ohio; Fort 
Wayne, Indiana; and Chicago, Illinois, at the 
rate per year of $1,500. It should be observed 
here that the last item, commencing at the be- 
ginning of 1822, and the item of rations, ending 
on the 29th of May, 1822, lap on each other dur- 
ing so much of the time as lies between those two 

Fourth. Still another part of the time — that 
is, from the 31st of October, 1821, to the 29th 
of May, 1822 — he was paid in six different 
capacities ; that is to say, the three first, as above ; 
the item of rations, as above; and, in addition 
thereto, another item of ten rations per day 
while at Washington settling his accounts, being 

Abraham Lincoln [July 27 

at the rate per year of $730; and also an allow- 
ance for expenses traveling to and from Wash- 
ington, and while there, of $1,022, being at the 
rate per year of $1,793. 

Fifth. And yet during the little portion of the 
time which lies between the 1st of January, 1822, 
and the 29th of May, 1822, he was paid in seven 
different capacities; that is to say, the six last 
mentioned, and also, at the rate of $1,500 per 
year, for the Piqua, Fort Wayne, and Chicago 
service, as mentioned above. 

These accounts have already been discussed 
some here; but when we are amongst them, as 
when we are in the Patent Office, we must peep 
about a good deal before we can see all the 
curiosities. I shall not be tedious with them. 
As to the large item of $1,500 per year — amount- 
ing in the aggregate to $26,715 — for office rent, 
clerk hire, fuel, etc., I barely wish to remark that 
so far as I can discover in the public documents, 
there is no evidence, by word or inference, either 
from any disinterested witness or of General 
Cass himself, that he ever rented or kept a sep- 
arate office, ever hired or kept a clerk, or even 
used any extra amount of fuel, etc., in conse- 
quence of his Indian services. Indeed, Gen- 
eral Cass's entire silence in regard to these items, 
in his two long letters urging his claims upon 
the government, is, to my mind, almost conclu- 

1848] Speech in Congress 83 

sive that no such claims had any real existence. 
But I have introduced General Cass's accounts 
here chiefly to show the wonderful physical 
capacities of the man. They show that he not 
only did the labor of several men at the same 
time, but that he often did it at several places, 
many hundreds of miles apart, at the same time. 
And at eating, too, his capacities are shown to 
be quite as wonderful. From October, 1821, to 
May, 1822, he eat ten rations a day in Michigan, 
ten rations a day here in Washington, and near 
five dollars' worth a day on the road between the 
two places! And then there is an important dis- 
covery in his example — the art of being paid for 
what one eats, instead of having to pay for it. 
Hereafter if any nice young man should owe a 
bill which he cannot pay in any other way, he 
can just board it out. Mr. Speaker, we have 
all heard of the animal standing in doubt be- 
tween two stacks of hay and starving to death. 
The like of that would never happen to General 
Cass. Place the stacks a thousand miles apart, 
he would stand stock-still midway between them, 
and eat them both at once, and the green grass 
along the line would be apt to suffer some, too, 
at the same time. By all means make him Presi- 
dent, gentlemen. He will feed you bounteously 
— if — if there is any left after he shall have 
helped himself. 

84 Abraham Lincoln [July 27 

The Whigs and the War. 
But, as General Taylor is par excellence, the 
hero of the Mexican War, and as you Democrats 
say we Whigs have always opposed the war, you 
think it must be very awkward and embarrassing 
for us to go for General Taylor. The declara- 
tion that we have always opposed the war is 
true or false, according as one may understand 
the term "oppose the war." If to say "the war 
was unnecessarily and unconstitutionally com- 
menced by the President" be opposing the war, 
then the Whigs have very generally opposed it. 
Whenever they have spoken at all, they have 
said this; and they have said it on what has 
appeared good reason to them. The marching 
an army into the midst of a peaceful Mexican 
settlement, frightening the inhabitants away, 
leaving their growing crops and other property 
to destruction, to you may appear a perfectly 
amiable, peaceful, unprovoking procedure; but 
it does not appear so to us. So to call such an 
act, to us appears no other than a naked, impu- 
dent absurdity, and we speak of it accordingly. 
But if, when the war had begun, and had be- 
come the cause of the country, the giving of our 
money and our blood, in common with yours, 
was support of the war, then it is not true that 
we have always opposed the war. With few 
individual exceptions, you have constantly had 

1848] Speech in Congress 85 

our votes here for all the necessary supplies. 
And, more than this, you have had the services, 
the blood, and the lives of our political brethren 
in every trial and on ever field. The beardless 
boy and the mature man, the humble and the 
distinguished — you have had them. Through 
suffering and death, by disease and in battle, they 
have endured and fought and fell with you. 
Clay and Webster each gave a son, never to be 
returned. From the State of my own residence, 
besides other worthy but less known Whig 
names, we sent Marshall, Morrison, Baker, and 
Hardin; they all fought, and one fell, and in 
the fall of that one we lost our best Whig man. 
Nor were the Whigs few in number, or laggard 
in the day of danger. In that fearful, bloody, 
breathless struggle at Buena Vista, where each 
man's hard task was to beat back five foes or die 
himself, of the five high officers who perished, 
four were Whigs. 

In speaking of this, I mean no odious compar- 
ison between the lion-hearted Whigs and the 
Democrats who fought there. On other oc- 
casions, and among the lower officers and pri- 
vates on that occasion, I doubt not the propor- 
tion was different. I wish to do justice to all. 
I think of all those brave men as Americans, in 
whose proud fame, as an American, I too have 
a share. Many of them, Whigs and Democrats, 

86 Abraham Lincoln [July 27 

arc my constituents and personal friends; and I 
thank them — more than thank them — one and 
all, for the high imperishable honor they have 
conferred on our common State. 

But the distinction between the cause of the 
President in beginning the war, and the cause of 
the country after it was begun, is a distinction 
which you cannot perceive. To you the Presi- 
dent and the country seem to be all one. You 
are interested to see no distinction between them ; 
and I venture to suggest that probably your in- 
terest blinds you a little. We see the distinc- 
tion, as we think, clearly enough ; and our friends 
who have fought in the war have no difficulty 
in seeing it also. What those who have fallen 
would say, were they alive and here, of course 
we can never know; but with those who have 
returned there is no difficulty. Colonel Has- 
kell and Major Gaines, members here, both 
fought in the war, and one of them underwent 
extraordinary perils and hardships; still they, 
like all other Whigs here, vote, on the record, 
that the war was unnecessarily and unconstitu- 
tionally commenced by the President. And 
even General Taylor himself, the noblest Roman 
of them all, has declared that as a citizen, and 
particularly as a soldier, it is sufficient for him 
to know that his country is at war with a for- 
eign nation, to do all in his power to bring it 

1848] Speech in Congress 87 

to a speedy and honorable termination by the 
most vigorous and energetic operations, without 
inquiry about its justice, or anything else con- 
nected with it. 

Mr. Speaker, let our Democratic friends be 
comforted with the assurance that we are con- 
tent with our position, content with our com- 
pany, and content with our candidate; and that 
although they, in their generous sympathy, think 
we ought to be miserable, we really are not, and 
that they may dismiss the great anxiety they have 
on our account. 

Mr. Speaker, I see I have but three minutes 
left, and this forces me to throw out one whole 
branch of my subject. A single word on still 
another. The Democrats are keen enough to 
frequently remind us that we have some dissen- 
sions in our ranks. Our good friend from Bal- 
timore immediately before me [Mr. McLane] 
expressed some doubt the other day as to which 
branch of our party General Taylor would ulti- 
mately fall into the hands of. That was a new 
idea to me. I knew we had dissenters, but I did 
not know they were trying to get our candidate 
away from us. I would like to say a word to 
our dissenters, but I have not the time. Some 
such we certainly have; have you none, gentle- 
men Democrats? Is it all union and harmony 
in your ranks? no bickerings? no divisions? If 

88 Abraham Lincoln [July 27 

there be doubt as to which of our divisions will 
get our candidate, is there no doubt as to which 
of your candidates will get your party? 

Divided Gangs of Hogs! 

I have heard some things from New York; 
and if they are true, one might well say of your 
party there, as a drunken fellow once said when 
he heard the reading of an indictment for hog- 
stealing. The clerk read on till he got to and 
through the words, "did steal, take, and carry 
away ten boars, ten sows, ten shoats, and ten 
pigs," at which he exclaimed, "Well, by golly, 
that is the most equally divided gang of hogs I 
ever did hear of!" If there is any other gang 
of hogs more equally divided than the Demo- 
crats of New York are about this time, I have 
not heard of it. 

The Life-Mask of Abraham Lincoln 

This bron/.e doth keep the very form and mold 
i )i our great martyr's face. "V es, this is he; 
That brow all wisdom, all benignity; 

That human, humorous mouth; those cheeks that 

Like some harsh landscape all the summer's gold; 
That spirit tit for sorrow, as the sea 
For storms to beat on; the lone agony 

Those silent, patient lips too well foretold. 

^ es, this is he who ruled a world of men 
As might some prophet of the elder day — 
Brooding above the tempest and the fray 

With deep-eyed thought and more than mortal ken. 
A power was his beyond the touch of art 
Or armed strength — his pure and mighty heart. 

tf'oot/ Engraving by Thoynas Johnson from the 
Original Life-Mask made by Leonard II'. folk 
in i860. 

1848J Worcester Speech 89 

*Report of Speech Delivered at Worcester, 
Mass., on Sept. 12, 1848 * 

From the Boston "Advertiser." 

MR. KELLOGG then introduced to the 
meeting the Hon. Abraham Lincoln, 
Whig member of Congress from Illi- 
nois, a representative of free soil. 

Mr. Lincoln has a very tall and thin figure, 
with an intellectual face, showing a searching 
mind, and a cool judgment. He spoke in a clear 
and cool, and very eloquent manner, for an hour 
and a half, carrying the audience with him in 
his able arguments and brilliant illustrations — 
only interrupted by warm and frequent ap- 
plause. He began by expressing a real feel- 
ing of modesty in addressing an audience "this 
side of the mountains," a part of the country 
where, in the opinion of the people of his sec- 
tion, everybody was supposed to be instructed 

1 It is to be regretted that none of Lincoln's speeches, made 
in his canvass of New England in 1848, are preserved as actu- 
ally delivered. He spoke in Boston, Cambridge, Dorchester, 
Chelsea and other places. Robert C. Winthrop, Jr., states that 
the most brilliant of these speeches was the one delivered at 
Worcester, the report of which is given here. 


Abraham Lincoln [Sept. 12 

and wise. But he had devoted his attention to 
the question of the coming presidential election, 
and was not unwilling to exchange with all 
whom he might the ideas to which he had ar- 
rived. He then began to show the fallacy of 
some of the arguments against General Taylor, 
making his chief theme the fashionable statement 
of all those who oppose him ("the old Loco- 
focos as well as the new"), that he has no prin- 
ciples, and that the Whig party have abandoned 
their principles by adopting him as their candi- 
date. He maintained that General Taylor oc- 
cupied a high and unexceptionable Whig 
ground, and took for his first instance and proof 
of this statement in the Allison letter — with re- 
gard to the Bank, Tariff, Rivers and Harbors, 
etc. — that the will of the people should produce 
its own results, without Executive influence. 
The principle that the people should do what 
■ — under the constitution — they please, is a Whig 
principle. All that General Taylor is not only 
to consent, but to appeal to the people to judge 
and act for themselves. And this was no new 
doctrine for Whigs. It was the "platform" on 
which they had fought all their battles, the 
resistance of Executive influence, and the prin- 
ciple of enabling the people to frame the gov- 
ernment according to their will. General 
Taylor consents to be the candidate, and to assist 

1848] Worcester Speech 91 

the people to do what they think to be their 
duty, and think to be best in their natural affairs, 
but because he don't want to tell what we ought 
to do, he is accused of having no principles. 
The Whigs have maintained for years that 
neither the influence, the duress, or the prohi- 
bition of the Executive should control the legiti- 
mately expressed will of the people; and now 
that on that very ground, General Taylor says 
that he should use the power given him by the 
people to do, to the best of his judgment, the 
will of the people, he is accused of want of prin- 
ciple, and of inconsistency in position. 

Mr. Lincoln proceeded to examine the ab- 
surdity of an attempt to make a platform or 
creed for a national party, to all parts of which 
all must consent and agree, when it was clearly 
the intention and the true philosophy of our 
government, that in Congress all opinions and 
principles should be represented, and that when 
the wisdom of all had been compared and united, 
the will of the majority should be carried out. 
On this ground he conceived (and the audience 
seemed to go with him) that General Taylor 
held correct, sound republican principles. 

Mr. Lincoln then passed to the subject of 
slavery in the states, saying that the people of 
Illinois agreed entirely with the people of Mas- 
sachusetts on this subject, except perhaps that 

92 Abraham Lincoln [Sept. 12 

they did not keep so constantly thinking about 
it. All agreed that slavery was an evil, but that 
we were not responsible for it and cannot affect 
it in states of this Union where we do not live. 
But, the question of the extension of slavery to 
new territories of this country, is a part of our 
responsibility and care, and is under our con- 
trol. In opposition to this Mr. L. believed that 
the self-named "Free Soil" party, was far be- 
hind the Whigs. Both parties opposed the ex- 
tension. As he understood it the new party 
had no principle except this opposition. If 
their platform held any other, it was in such a 
general way that it was like the pair of panta- 
loons the Yankee pedlar offered for sale, "large 
enough for any man, small enough for any boy." 
They therefore had taken a position calculated 
to break down their single important declared 
object. They were working for the election of 
either General Cass or General Taylor. The 
speaker then went on to show, clearly and elo- 
quently, the danger of extension of slavery, likely 
to result from the election of General Cass. To 
unite with those who annexed the new territory 
to prevent the extension of slavery in that terri- 
tory seemed to him to be in the highest degree 
absurd and ridiculous. Suppose these gentle- 
men succeed in electing Mr. Van Buren, they 
had no specific means to prevent the extension 

1848] Worcester Speech 93 

of slavery to New Mexico and California, and 
General Taylor, he confidently believed, would 
not encourage it, and would not prohibit its re- 
striction. But if General Cass was elected, he 
felt certain that the plans of farther extension 
of territory would be encouraged, and those of 
the extension of slavery would meet no check. 
The "Free Soil" men in claiming that name in- 
directly attempt a deception, by implying that 
Whigs were not Free Soil men. In declaring 
that they would "do their duty and leave the 
consequences to God," merely gave an excuse 
for taking a course they were not able to main- 
tain by a fair and full argument. To make this 
declaration did not show what their duty was. 
If it did we should have no use for judgment, 
we might as well be made without intellect, and 
when divine or human law does not clearly 
point out what is our duty, we have no means 
of finding out what it is by using our most in- 
telligent judgment of the consequences. If 
there were divine law, or human law for voting 
for Martin Van Buren, or if a fair examination 
of the consequences and first reasoning would 
show that voting for him would bring about the 
ends they pretended to wish — then he would 
give up the argument. But since there was no 
fixed law on the subject, and since the whole 
probable result of their action would be an assis- 


Abraham Lincoln [Sept. 12 

tance in electing General Cass, he must say that 
they were behind the Whigs in their advocacy 
of the freedom of the soil. 

Mr. Lincoln proceeded to rally the Buffalo 
Convention for forbearing to say anything — ■ 
after all the previous declarations of those mem- 
bers who were formerly Whigs — on the subject 
of the Mexican war, because the Van Burens 
had been known to have supported it. He de- 
clared that of all the parties asking the confi- 
dence of the country, this new one had less of 
principle than any other. 

He wondered whether it was still the opinion 
of these Free Soil gentlemen as declared in the 
"whereas" at Buffalo, that the Whig and Demo- 
cratic parties were both entirely dissolved and 
absorbed into their own body. Had the Ver- 
mont election given them any light? They had 
calculated on making as great an impression in 
that State as in any part of the Union, and there 
their attempts had been wholly ineffectual. 
Their failure there was a greater success than 
they would find in any other part of the Union. 

Mr. Lincoln went on to say that he honestly 
believed that all those who wished to keep up 
the character of the Union ; who did not believe 
in enlarging our field, but in keeping our fences 
where they are and cultivating our present pos- 
sessions, making it a garden, improving the 

1848] Worcester Speech 95 

morals and education of the people; devoting 
the administrations to this purpose; all real 
Whigs, friends of good honest government; — 
the race was ours. He had opportunities of 
hearing from almost every part of the Union 
from reliable sources and had not heard of a 
country in which we had not received accessions 
from other parties. If the true Whigs come 
forward and join these new friends, they need 
not have a doubt. We had a candidate whose 
personal character and principles he had already 
described, whom he could not eulogize if he 
would. General Taylor had been constantly, 
perseveringly, quietly standing up, doing his 
duty, and asking no praise or reward for it. He 
was and must be just the man to whom the inter- 
ests, principles and prosperity of the country 
might be safely intrusted. Fie had never failed 
in anything he had undertaken, although many 
of his duties had been considered almost im- 

Mr. Lincoln then went into a terse though 
rapid review of the origin of the Mexican war 
and the connection of the administration and 
General Taylor with it, from which he deduced 
a strong appeal to the Whigs present to do their 
duty in the support of General Taylor, and 
closed with the warmest aspirations for and con- 
fidence in a deserved success. 

96 Abraham Lincoln [Jan. 16 

At the close of this truly masterly and con- 
vincing speech, the audience gave three enthusi- 
astic cheers for Illinois, and three more for the 
eloquent Whig member from that State. 

Letter to Thomas Lincoln 

Washington, December 24, 1848. 

My Dear Father: Your letter of the 7th was 
received night before last. I very cheerfully 
send you the twenty dollars, which sum you say 
is necessary to save your land from sale. It is 
singular that you should have forgotten a judg- 
ment against you; and it is more singular that 
the plaintiff should have let you forget it so long, 
particularly as I suppose you always had prop- 
erty enough to satisfy a judgment of that 
amount. Before you pay it, it would be well 
to be sure you have not paid, or at least that you 
cannot prove that you have paid it. 

Give my love to mother and all the connec- 
tions. Affectionately your son, 

A. Lincoln. . 

Bill to Abolish Slavery in the District of 
Columbia, January 16, 1849 

On January 16, 1849, M r - Lincoln moved the 
following amendment in the House of Repre- 
sentatives in Congress, instructing the proper 

1849] Slavery Bill 97 

committee to report a bill for the abolition of 
slavery in the District of Columbia, with the 
consent of the voters of the District, and with 
compensation to owners: 

Resolved, That the Committee on the District of 
Columbia be instructed to report a bill in substance 
as follows: 

Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of 
Representatives of the United States, in Congress 
assembled, That no person not now within the Dis- 
trict of Columbia, nor now owned by any person or 
persons now resident within it, nor hereafter born 
within it, shall ever be held in slavery within said 

Sec. 2. That no person now within said District, 
or now owned by any person or persons now resident 
within the same, or hereafter born within it, shall 
ever be held in slavery without the limits of said Dis- 
trict: Provided, That officers of the Government of 
the United States, being citizens of the slaveholding 
States, coming into said District on public business, 
and remaining only so long as may be reasonably 
necessary for that object, may be attended into and 
out of said District, and while there, by the neces- 
sary servants of themselves and their families, with- 
out their right to hold such servants in service being 
thereby impaired. 

Sec. 3. That all children born of slave mothers 
within said District, on or after the first day of Jan- 
uary, in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and 

98 Abraham Lincoln [Jan. 16 

fifty, shall be free; but shall be reasonably supported 
and educated by the respective owners of their 
mothers, or by their heirs or representatives, and 
shall owe reasonable service as apprentices to such 
owners, heirs, or representatives, until they respec- 
tively arrive at the age of years, when they 

shall be entirely free; and the municipal authorities 
of Washington and Georgetown, within their re- 
spective jurisdictional limits, are hereby empowered 
and required to make all suitable and necessary pro- 
vision for enforcing obedience to this section, on the 
part of both masters and apprentices. 

Sec. 4. That all persons now within this Dis- 
trict, lawfully held as slaves, or now owned by any 
person or persons now resident within said District, 
shall remain such at the will of their respective own- 
ers, their heirs, and legal representatives: Provided, 
That such owner, or his legal representative, may 
at any time receive from the Treasury of the United 
States the full value of his or her slave, of the class 
in this section mentioned, upon which such slave 
shall be forthwith and forever free: And provided 
further, That the President of the United States, 
the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of the 
Treasury shall be a board for determining the value 
of such slaves as their owners may desire to emanci- 
pate under this section, and whose duty it shall be 
to hold a session for the purpose on the first Mon- 
day of each calendar month, tx> receive all applica- 
tions, and, on satisfactory evidence in each case that 
the person presented for valuation is a slave, and of 

1849] Slavery Bill 99 

the class in this section mentioned, and is owned by 
the applicant, shall value such slave at his or her full 
cash value, and give to the applicant an order on the 
Treasury for the amount, and also to such slave a 
certificate of freedom. 

Sec. 5. That the municipal authorities of Wash- 
ington and Georgetown, within their respective jur- 
isdictional limits, are hereby empowered and required 
to provide active and efficient means to arrest and 
deliver up to their owners all fugitive slaves escap- 
ing into said District. 

Sec. 6. That the election officers within said Dis- 
trict of Columbia are hereby empowered and re- 
quired to open polls, at all the usual places of hold- 
ing elections, on the first Monday of April next, 
and receive the vote of every free white male citizen 
above the age of twenty-one years, having resided 
within said District for the period of one year or 
more next preceding the time of such voting for or 
against this act, to proceed in taking said votes, in 
all respects not herein specified, as at elections under 
the municipal laws, and with as little delay as pos- 
sible to transmit correct stafements of the votes so 
cast to the President of the United States; and it 
shall be the duty of the President to canvass said 
votes immediately, and if a majority of them be 
found to be for this act, to forthwith issue his 
proclamation giving notice of the fact; and this act 
shall only be in full force and effect on and after 
the day of such proclamation. 

Sec. 7. That involuntary servitude for the pun- 


Abraham Lincoln [Feb. i 

ishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been 
duly convicted, shall in no wise be prohibited by 
this act. 

Sec. 8. That for all the purposes of this act, the 
jurisdictional limits of Washington are extended to 
all parts of the District of Columbia not now in- 
cluded within the present limits of Georgetown. 

Letter to William Schouler 

Washington, February 2, 1849. 

Friend Schouler: In these days of Cabinet 
making, we out West are awake as well as others. 
The accompanying article is from the "Illinois 
Journal," our leading Whig paper; and while 
it expresses what all the Whigs of the legisla- 
tures of Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin have ex- 
pressed — a preference for Colonel Baker — I 
think it is fair and magnanimous to the other 
Western aspirants; and, on the whole, shows by 
sound argument that the West is not only enti- 
tled to, but is in need of, one member of the 
Cabinet. Desiring to turn public attention in 
some measure to this point, I shall be obliged 
if you will give the article a place in your paper, 
with or without comments, according to your 
own sense of propriety. 

Our acquaintance, though short, has been very 
cordial, and I therefore venture to hope you will 
not consider my request presumptuous, whether 

1849] Remarks on Land Grants 101 

you shall or shall not think proper to grant it. 
This I intend as private and confidential. 

Yours truly, A. Lincoln. 

Remarks in the United States House of 
Representatives, February 13, 1849. 

On the Bill Granting Lands to the States to 
Make Railroads and Canals. 

Mr. Lincoln said he had not risen for the 
purpose of making a speech, but only for the 
purpose of meeting some of the objections to 
the bill. If he understood those objections, the 
first was that if the bill were to become a law, 
it would be used to lock large portions of the 
public lands from sale, without at least affect- 
ing the ostensible object of the bill — the con- 
struction of railroads in the new States; and sec- 
ondly, that Congress would be forced to the 
abandonment of large portions of the public 
lands to the States for which they might be 
reserved, without their paying for them. This 
he understood to be the substance of the objec- 
tions of the gentleman from Ohio to the pas- 
sage of the bill. 

If he could get the attention of the House 
for a few minutes, he would ask gentlemen to 
tell us what motive could induce any State leg- 
islature, or individual, or company of indi- 

102 Abraham Lincoln [Feb. 13 

viduals, of the new States, to expend money in 
surveying roads which they might know they 
could not make? [A voice: They are not re- 
quired to make the road.] 

Mr. Lincoln continued: That was not the 
case he was making. What motive would tempt 
any set of men to go into an extensive survey 
of a railroad which they did not intend to make? 
What good would it do? Did men act without 
motive? Did business men commonly go into 
an expenditure of money which could be of no 
account to them? He generally found that men 
who have money were disposed to hold on to it, 
unless they could see something to be made by 
its investment. He could not see what motive 
of advantage to the new States could be sub- 
served by merely keeping the public lands out 
of market, and preventing their settlement. As 
far as he could see, the new States were wholly 
without any motive to do such a thing. This, 
then, he took to be a good answer to the first 

In relation to the fact assumed, that after a 
while, the new States having got hold of the 
public lands to a certain extent, they would turn 
round and compel Congress to relinquish all 
claim to them, he had a word to say, by way of 
recurring to the history of the past. When was 
the time to come (he asked) when the States in 

1849] Remarks on Land Grants 103 

which the public lands were situated would com- 
pose a majority of the representation in Con- 
gress, or anything like it? A majority of 
Representatives would very soon reside west of 
the mountains, he admitted; but would they all 
come from States in which the public lands were 
situated? They certainly would not; for, as 
these Western States grew strong in Congress, 
the public lands passed away from them, and 
they got on the other side of the question; and 
the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Vinton] was an 
example attesting that fact. 

Mr. Vinton interrupted here to say that he 
had stood on this question just where he was 
now, for five and twenty years. 

Mr. Lincoln was not making an argument for 
the purpose of convicting the gentleman of any 
impropriety at all. He was speaking of a fact 
in history, of which his State was an example. 
He was referring to a plain principle in the 
nature of things. The State of Ohio had now 
grown to be a giant. She had a large delega- 
tion on that floor; but was she now in favor of 
granting lands to the new States, as she used to 
be? The New England States, New York, and 
the Old Thirteen were all rather quiet upon the 
subject; and it was seen just now that a member 
from one of the new States was the first man 
to rise up in, opposition. And so it would be 

104 Abraham Lincoln [Feb. 20 

with the history of this question for the future. 
There never would come a time when the people 
residing in the States embracing the public 
lands would have the entire control of this sub- 
ject; and so it was a matter of certainty that 
Congress would never do more in this respect 
than what would be dictated by a just liberality. 
The apprehension, therefore, that the public 
lands were in danger of being wrested from the 
General Government by the strength of the del- 
egation in Congress from the new States, was 
utterly futile. There never could be such a 
thing. If we take these lands (said he) it will 
not be without your consent. We can never 
outnumber you. The result is that all fear of 
the new States turning against the right of Con- 
gress to the public domain must be effectually 
quelled, as those who are opposed to that inter- 
est must always hold a vast majority here, and 
they will never surrender the whole or any part 
of the public lands unless they themselves choose 
to do so. That was all he desired to say. 

Letter to Joshua F. Speed 

February 20, 1849. 

My Dear Speed: ... I am flattered to 

learn that Mr. Crittenden has any recollection 

of me which is not unfavorable; and for the 

manifestation of your kindness toward me I sin- 

1849] Application for Office 105 

cerely thank you. Still there is nothing about 
me to authorize me to think of a first-class office, 
and a second-class one would not compensate my 
being sneered at by others who want it for them- 
selves. I believe that, so far as the Whigs in 
Congress are concerned, I could have the Gen- 
eral Land Office almost by common consent; but 
then Sweet and Don Morrison and Browning 
and Cyrus Edwards all want it, and what is 
worse, while I think I could easily take it myself, 
I fear I shall have trouble to get it for any other 
man in Illinois. The reason is that Mc- 
Gaughey, an Indiana ex-member of Congress, 
is here after it, and being personally known, he 
will be hard to beat by any one who is 
not. . . . 

Letter to the Secretary of the Treasury 

Washington, March 9, 1849. 
Hon. Secretary of the Treasury. 

Dear Sir: Colonel E. D. Baker and myself 
are the only Whig members of Congress from 
Illinois — I of the Thirtieth, and he of the 
Thirty-first. We have reason to think the 
Whigs of that State hold us responsible, to some 
extent, for the appointments which may be made 
of our citizens. We do not know you person- 
ally; and our efforts to see you have, so far, been 
unavailing. I therefore hope I am not obtru- 

106 Abraham Lincoln [Mar. 10 

sive in saying in this way, for him and myself, 
that when a citizen of Illinois is to be appointed 
in vour department, to an office either in or out 
of the State, we most respectfully ask to be 
heard. Your obedient servant, 

A. Lincoln. 

Letter to the Secretary of State. 

Washington, March 10, 1849. 
Hon. Secretary of State. 

Sir: There are several applicants for the office 
of United States Marshal for the District of 
Illinois, among the most prominent of whom are 

Benjamin Bond, Esq., of Carlyle, and 

Thomas, Esq., of Galena. Mr. Bond I know 
to be personally every way worthy of the. office ; 
and he is very numerously and most respectably 
recommended. His papers I send to you ; and I 
solicit for his claims a full and fair considera- 

Having said this much, I add that in my in- 
dividual judgment the appointment of Mr. 
Thomas would be the better. 

Your obedient servant, 

A. Lincoln. 
(Indorsed on Mr. Bond's papers.) 

In this and the accompanying envelop are the 
reoimmendations of about two hundred good 
citizens of all parts of Illinois, that Benjamin 

1849] Application for Office 107 

Bond be appointed marshal for that district. 
They include the names of nearly all our Whigs 
who now are, or have ever been, members of the 
State legislature, besides forty-six of the Demo- 
cratic members of the present legislature, and 
many other good citizens. I add that from per- 
sonal knowledge I consider Mr. Bond every 
way worthy of the office, and qualified to fill it. 
Holding the individual opinion that the ap- 
pointment of a different gentleman would be 
better, I ask especial attention and consideration 
for his claims, and for the opinions expressed 
in his favor by those over whom I can claim no 

A. Lincoln. 

Letter to the Secretary of the Interior 

Springfield, Illinois, April 7, 1849. 
Hon. Secretary of the Home Department. 

Dear Sir: I recommend that Walter Davis 
be appointed Receiver of the Land Office at this 
place, whenever there shall be a vacancy. I 
cannot say that Mr. Herndon, the present in- 
cumbent, has failed in the proper discharge of 
any of the duties of the office. He is a very 
warm partizan, and openly and actively opposed 
to the election of General Taylor. I also un- 
derstand that since General Taylor's election, 
he has received a reappointment from Mr. Polk, 

108 Abraham Lincoln [Apr. 7 

his old commission not having expired. Wheth- 
er this is true the records of the Department will 
show. I may add that the Whigs here almost 
universally desire his removal. 

I give no opinion of my own, but state the 
facts, and express the hope that the Department 
will act in this as in all other cases on some 
proper general rule. 

Your obedient servant, 

A. Lincoln. 

P. S. The land district to which this office 
belongs is very nearly if not entirely within my 
district; so that Colonel Baker, the other Whig 
representative, claims no voice in the appoint- 
ment. A. L. 

Letter to the Secretary of the Interior 

Springfield, Illinois, April 7, 1849. 
Hon. Secretary of the Home Department. 

Dear Sir: I recommend that Turner R. King, 
now of Pekin, Illinois, be appointed Register 
of the Land Office at this place whenever there 
shall be a vacancy. 

I do not know that Mr. Barret, the present in- 
cumbent, has failed in the proper discharge of 
any of his duties in the office. He is a decided 
partizan, and openly and actively opposed the 
election of General Taylor. I understand, too, 
that since the election of General Taylor, Mr. 

1849] Application for Office 109 

Barret has received a reappointment from Mr. 
Polk, his old commission not having expired. 
Whether this be true, the records of the De- 
partment will show. 

Whether he should be removed I give no 
opinion, but merely express the wish that the 
Department may act upon some proper general 
rule, and that Mr. Barret's case may not be made 
an exception to it. 

Your obedient servant, 

A. Lincoln. 

P. S. The land district to which this office 
belongs is very nearly if not entirely within my 
district; so that Colonel Baker, the other Whig 
representative, claims no voice in the appoint- 
ment. A. L. 

Letter to the Postmaster-General 

Springfield, Illinois, April 7, 1849. 
Hon. Postmaster-General. 

Dear Sir: I recommend that Abner Y. Ellis 
be appointed postmaster at this place, whenever 
there shall be a vacancy. J. R. Diller, the pres- 
ent incumbent, I cannot say has failed in the 
proper discharge of any of the duties of the 
office. He, however, has been an active parti- 
zan in opposition to us. 

Located at the seat of government of the State, 
he has been, for part if not the whole of the 


Abraham Lincoln [Apr. 7 

time he has held the office, a member of the 
Democratic State Central Committee, signing 
his name to their addresses and manifestos; and 
has been, as I understand, reappointed by Mr. 
Polk since General Taylor's election. These 
are the facts of the case as I understand them, 
and I give no opinion of mine as to whether he 
should or should not be removed. My wish is 
that the Department may adopt some proper 
general rule for such cases, and that Mr. Diller 
may not be made an exception to it, one way or 
the other. Your obedient servant, 

A. Lincoln. 
P. S. This office, with its delivery, is entire- 
ly within my district; so that Colonel Baker, the 
other Whig representative, claims no voice in 
the appointment. L. 

Letter to W. B. Warren and others * 

Springfield, Illinois, April 7, 1849. 
Gentlemen: In answer to your note concern- 
ing the General Land Office I have to say that, 
if the office could be secured to Illinois by my 

1 Early in 1849, after the dispassionate recommendation of 
a number of individuals for various offices under the new gov- 
ernment. Lincoln was petitioned by a half-dozen leading Whigs 
of the State, asking him to become an applicant for the place 
of Commissioner of the General Land Office. For the first and 
only time in his life he became an applicant for an appointment 
at the hand? of the President. Fortunately he failed to obtain 

1849] Letter to Warren in 

consent to accept it, and not otherwise, I give 
that consent. Some months since I gave my 
word to secure the appointment to that office of 
Mr. Cyrus Edwards, if in my power, in case of 
a vacancy; and more recently I stipulated with 
Colonel Baker that if Mr. Edwards and Colonel 
J. L. D. Morrison could arrange with each other 
for one of them to withdraw, we would jointly 
recommend the other. In relation to these 
pledges, I must not only be chaste, but above 
suspicion. If the office shall be tendered to me, 
I must be permitted to say: "Give it to Mr. 
Edwards or, if so agreed by them, to Colonel 
Morrison, and I decline it; if not, I accept." 
With this understanding you are at liberty to 
procure me the offer of the appointment if you 
can; and I shall feel complimented by your ef- 
fort, and still more by its success. It should not 
be overlooked that Colonel Baker's position en- 
titles him to a large share of control in this mat- 
ter; however, one of your number, Colonel War- 
ren, knows that Baker has at all times been ready 
to recommend me, if I would consent. It must 
also be understood that if at any time previous 
to an appointment being made I shall learn that 
Mr. Edwards and Colonel Morrison have 

the office, Justin Buttcrfield being the successful candidate. 
Later on in life Lincoln congratulated himself on escaping the 

ii2 Abraham Lincoln [Apr. 7 

agreed, I shall at once carry out my stipulation 
with Colonel Baker as above stated. 

Yours truly, 
A. Lincoln. 

Letter to the Secretary of the Interior 

Springfield, Illinois, April 7, 1849. 
Hon. Secretary of the Home Department. 

Dear Sir: I recommend that William Butler 
be appointed Pension Agent for the Illinois 
agency, when the place shall be vacant. Mr. 
Hurst, the present incumbent, I believe has per- 
formed the duties very well. He is a decided 
partizan, and, I believe, expects to be removed. 
Whether he shall, I submit to the Department. 
This office is not confined to my district, but 
pertains to the whole State; so that Colonel Ba- 
ker has an equal right with myself to be heard 
concerning it. 

However, the office is located here; and I 
think it is not probable that any one would de- 
sire to remove from a distance to take it. 
Your obedient servant, 

A. Lincoln. 

1849] Letter to Thompson 113 

Letter to Thompson 

Springfield, Illinois, April 25, 1849. 
Dear Thompson: A tirade is still kept up 
against me here for recommending T. R. King. 
This morning it is openly avowed that my sup- 
posed influence at Washington shall be broken 
down generally, and King's prospects defeated 
in particular. Now, what I have done in this 
matter I have done at the request of you and 
some other friends in Tazewell; and I therefore 
ask you to either admit it is wrong, or come for- 
ward and sustain me. If the truth will permit, 
I propose that you sustain me in the following 
manner: copy the inclosed scrap in your own 
handwriting, and get everybody (not three or 
four, but three or four hundred) to sign it, and 
then send it to me. Also have six, eight, or ten 
of our best-known Whig friends there to write 
me individual letters, stating the truth in this 
matter as they understand it. Don't neglect or 
delay in the matter. I understand information 
of an indictment having been found against him 
about three years ago, for gaming or keeping 
a gaming-house, has been sent to the Depart- 
ment. I shall try to take care of it at the De- 
partment till your action can be had and for- 
warded on. Yours, as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

1 14 Abraham Lincoln [Apr. 25 

Letter to J. M. Lucas 

Springfield, April 25, 1849. 

J. M. Lucas, Esq. 

Dear Sir: Your letter of the 15th is just re- 
ceived. Like you, I fear the Land Office is not 
going as it should; but I know nothing I can 
do. In my letter written three days ago, I told 
you the Department understands my wishes. 
As to Butterfield, he is my personal friend, and 
is qualified to do the duties of the office; but of 
the quite one hundred Illinoisans equally well 
qualified, I do not know one with less claims to 
it. In the first place, what you say about Lisle 
Smith is the first intimation I have had of any 
one man in Illinois desiring Butterfield to have 
any office. Now, I think if anything be given 
the State, it should be so given as to gratify our 
friends, and to stimulate them to future exer- 
tions. As to Mr. Clay having recommended 
him, that is quid pro quo. He fought for Mr. 
Clay against General Taylor to the bitter end, 
as I understand; and I do not believe I misun- 
derstand. Lisle Smith, too, was a Clay delegate 
at Philadelphia, and against my most ear- 
nest entreaties took the lead in filling two va- 
cancies from my own district with Clay men. 
It will now mortify me deeply if General Tay- 

1849] Land Office Letter 115 

lor's administration shall trample all my wishes 
in the dust merely to gratify these men. 
Yours, as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

Indorsement concerning Orville Paddock, 
May [1?], 1849 

I have already recommended W. S. Wallace 
for Pension Agent at this place. It is, how- 
ever, due the truth to say that Orville Paddock, 
above recommended, is every way qualified for 
the office, and that the persons recommending 
him are of our business men and best Whig 

Letter to the Secretary of the Interior 

Springfield, Illinois, May 10, 1849. 
Hon. Secretary of the Interior. 

Dear Sir: I regret troubling you so often in 
relation to the land offices here, but I hope you 
will perceive the necessity of it, and excuse me. 
On the 7th of April I wrote you recommending 
Turner R. King for Register, and Walter Davis 
for Receiver. Subsequently I wrote you that, 
for a private reason, I had concluded to trans- 
pose them. That private reason was the request 
of an old personal friend who himself desired 
to be Receiver, but whom I felt it my duty to 

u6 Abraham Lincoln [May 10 

refuse a recommendation. He said if I would 
transpose King and Davis he would be satisfied. 
I thought it a whim, but, anxious to oblige him, 
I consented. Immediately he commenced an 
assault upon King's character, intending, as I 
suppose, to defeat his appointment, and thereby 
secure another chance for himself. This double 
offense of bad faith to me and slander upon a 
good man is so totally outrageous that I now ask 
to have King and Davis placed as I originally 
recommended, — that is, King for Register and 
Davis for Receiver. 

An effort is being made now to have Mr. Bar- 
ret, the present Register, retained. I have al- 
ready said he has done the duties of the office 
well, and I now add he is a gentleman in the 
true sense. Still, he submits to be the instru- 
ment of his party to injure us. His high char- 
acter enables him to do it more effectually. Last 
year he presided at the convention which nomi- 
nated the Democratic candidate for Congress 
in this district, and afterward ran for the State 
Senate himself, not desiring the seat, but avow- 
edly to aid and strengthen his party. He made 
speech after speech with a degree of fierceness 
and coarseness against General Taylor not quite 
consistent with his habitually gentlemanly de- 
portment. At least one (and I think more) of 
those who are now trying to have him retained 

1849] Land Office Letter 117 

was himself an applicant for this very office, 
and, failing to get my recommendation, now" 
takes this turn. 

In writing you a third time in relation to 
these offices, I stated that I supposed charges 
had been forwarded to you against King, and 
that I would inquire into the truth of them. I 
now send you herewith what I suppose will be 
an ample defense against any such charges. I 
ask attention to all the papers, but particularly 
to the letters of Mr. David Mack, and the paper 
with the long list of names. There is no mis- 
take about King's being a good man. After the 
unjust assault upon him, and considering the 
just claims of Tazewell County, as indicated in 
the letters I inclose you, it would in my opinion 
be injustice, and withal a blunder, not to ap- 
point him, at least as soon as any one is appoint- 
ed to either of the offices here. 

Your obedient servant, 

A. Lincoln. 

n8 Abraham Lincoln [May 18 

Letter to Duff Green 

Springfield, Illinois, May 18, 1849. 

DEAR GENERAL : I learn from Wash- 
ington that a man by the name of 
Butterfield will probably be ap- 
pointed Commissioner of the General Land 
Office. This ought not to be. That is about 
the only crumb of patronage which Illinois ex- 
pects; and I am sure the mass of General Tay- 
lor's friends here would quite as lief see it go 
east of the Alleghanies, or west of the Rocky 
Mountains, as into that man's hands. They are 
already sore on the subject of his getting office. 
In the great contest of 1840 he was not seen or 
heard of; but when the victory came, three or 
four old drones, including him, got all the val- 
uable offices, through what influence no one has 
yet been able to tell. I believe the only time he 
has been very active was last spring a year ago, 
in opposition to General Taylor's nomination. 
Now, cannot you get the ear of General Tay- 
lor? Ewing is for Butterfield, and therefore 
he must be avoided. Preston, I think, will fa- 
vor you. Mr. Edwards has written me offering 
to decline, but I advised him not to do so. Some 

1849] Letter to Gillespie 119 

kind friends think I ought to be an applicant, 
but I am for Mr. Edwards. Try to defeat But- 
terfield, and in doing so use Mr. Edwards, J. L. 
D. Morrison, or myself, whichever you can to 
best advantage. Write me, and let this be con- 
fidential. Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln. 

*Letter to Joseph Gillespie 

Springfield, III., May 19, 1849. 
Dear Gillespie: Butterfield will be Commis- 
sioner of the Gen'l Land Office, unless prevented 
by strong and speedy efforts. Ewing is for him, 
and he is only not appointed yet because Old 
Zach. hangs fire. I have reliable information 
of this. Now, if you agree with me that his 
appointment would dissatisfy rather than gratify 
the Whigs of this State, that it would slacken 
their energies in future contests, that his ap- 
pointment in '41 is an old sore with them which 
they will not patiently have reopened, — in a 
word that his appointment now would be a fatal 
blunder to the administration and our political 
men, here in Illinois, write Mr. Crittenden to 
that effect. He can control the matter. Were 
you to write Ewing I fear the President would 
never hear of your letter. This may be a mere 
suspicion. You might [write] directly to Old 
Zach. You will be the best judge of the pro- 

120 Abraham Lincoln [May 22 

priety of that. Not a moment's time is to be 

Let this [be] confidential except with Mr. 
Edwards and a few others whom you know I 
would trust just as I do you. 

Yours as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

♦Application for a Patent [May 22, 1849?] 1 

What I claim as my invention, and desire to 
secure by letters patent, is the combination of 
expansible buoyant chambers placed at the sides 
of a vessel with the main shaft or shafts by 
means of the sliding spars, which pass down 
through the buoyant chambers and are made 
fast to their bottoms and the series of ropes and 
pulleys or their equivalents in such a manner 
that by turning the main shaft or shafts in one 
direction the buoyant chambers will be forced 
downwards into the water, and at the same time 
expanded and filled with air for buoying up 

1 The invention that Lincoln patented was an improvement 
for lifting vessels over shoals. The inscription above the model 
in the Patent Office states it was patented by Lincoln, May 22, 
1849. The apparatus consists of a bellows on either side of 
the hull of a craft just below the water line which is controlled 
by a simple and unique system of pulleys. These air reposi- 
tories are intended to buoy up the vessels when in danger of 
grounding on reef or other obstruction. The model is about 
eighteen or twenty inches in length and appears to have been 
whittled out of a shingle and a cigar box. 

1849] Letter to Embree 121 

the vessel by the displacement of water, and by 
turning the shafts in an opposite direction the 
buoyant chambers will be contracted into a small 
space and secured against injury. 

A. Lincoln 

Letter to E. Embree 

Springfield, Illinois, May 25, 1849. 

Hon. E. Embree. 

Dear Sir: I am about to ask a favor of you, — ■ 
one which I hope will not cost you much. I 
understand the General Land Office is about to 
be given to Illinois, and that Mr. Ewing desires 
Justin Butterfield, of Chicago, to be the man. 
I give you my word, the appointment of Mr. 
Butterfield will be an egregious political blun- 
der. It will give offense to the whole Whig 
party here, and be worse than a dead loss to the 
administration of so much of its patronage. 
Now, if you can conscientiously do so, I wish 
you to write General Taylor at once, saying that 
either I, or the man I recommend, should in 
your opinion be appointed to that office, if any 
one from Illinois shall be. I restrict my request 
to Illinois because you may have a man from 
your own State, and I do not ask to interfere 
with that. Your friend as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

122 Abraham Lincoln [June 5 

* Letter to the Secretary of the Interior 

Springfield, III., June 3, 1849. 
Hon. Secretary of Interior. 

Dear Sir: Vandalia, the Receiver's office at 
which place is the subject of the within, is not 
in my district; and I have been much perplexed 
to express any preference between Dr. Stapp 
and Mr. Remann. If any one man is better 
qualified for such an office than all others, Dr. 
Stapp is that man; still, I believe a large ma- 
jority of the Whigs of the District prefer Mr. 
Remann, who also is a good man. Perhaps the 
papers on file will enable you to judge better 
than I can. The writers of the within are good 
men, residing within the Land District. 
Your obedient servant, 

A. Lincoln. 

Letter to William H. Herndon 

Springfield, June 5, 1849. 
Dear William: Your two letters were re- 
ceived last night. I have a great many letters 
to write, and so cannot write very long ones. 
There must be some mistake about Walter Da- 
vis saying I promised him the post-office. I 
did not so promise him. I did tell him that if 
the distribution of the offices should fall into 
my hands, he should have something; and if I 

1849] Recommendation 123 

shall be convinced he has said any more than 
this, I shall be disappointed. I said this much 
to him because, as I understand, he is of good 
character, is one of the young men, is of the 
mechanics, and always faithful and never trou- 
blesome ; a Whig, and is poor, with the sup- 
port of a widow mother thrown almost exclu- 
sively on him by the death of his brother. If 
these are wrong reasons, then I have been wrong; 
but I have certainly not been selfish in it, be- 
cause in my greatest need of friends he was 
against me, and for Baker. 

Yours as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 
P. S. Let the above be confidential. 

Letter Asking a Recommendation 

Springfield, Illinois, June 5, 1849. 
Note. — In the files are a considerable number of 
replies transmitting indorsements, and reporting in- 
formation on the progress of the contest between 
Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Justin Butterfield for this ap- 
pointment. — N. and H. 

Dear Sir: Would you as soon I should have 
the General Land Office as any other Illinoisan? 
If you would, write me to that effect at Wash- 
ington, where I shall be soon. No time to lose. 

Yours in haste, 

A. Lincoln. 

124 Abraham Lincoln [July 13 

Letter to Nathaniel Pope 

Springfield, June 8, 1849. 

Hon. N. Pope. 

Dear Sir: I do not know that it would, but I 
can well enough conceive it might, embarrass 
you to now give a letter recommending me for 
the General Land Office. Could you not, how- 
ever, without embarrassment or any impropriety, 
so far vindicate the truth of history as to briefly 
state to me, in a letter, what you did say to me 
last spring, on my arrival here from Washing- 
ton, in relation to my becoming an applicant 
for that office? Having at last concluded to 
be an applicant, I have thought it is perhaps 
due me to be enabled to show the influences 
which brought me to the conclusion, and of 
which influences the wishes and opinions you 
expressed were not the least. 

Your obedient servant, 

A. Lincoln. 


Letter to Joseph Gillespie 

Springfield, July 13, 1849. 

J. Gillespie. 

Dear Gillespie: Mr. Edwards is unquestion- 
ably offended with me in connection with the 
matter of the General Land Office. He wrote 

1849] Letter to Gillespie 125 

a letter against me which was filed at the De- 

The better part of one's life consists of his 
friendships; and, of them, mine with Mr. Ed- 
wards was one of the most cherished. I have 
not been false to it. At a word I could have 
had the office any time before the Department 
was committed to Mr. Butterfield, — at least Mr. 
Ewing and the President say as much. That 
word I forbore to speak, partly for other rea- 
sons, but chiefly for Mr. Edwards' sake, — losing 
the office that he might gain it, I was always 
for; but to lose his friendship, by the effort for 
him, would oppress me very much, were I not 
sustained by the utmost consciousness of recti- 
tude. I first determined to be an applicant, 
unconditionally, on the 2nd of June; and I did 
so then upon being informed by a Telegraphic 
despatch that the question was narrowed down 
to Mr. B — and myself, and that the Cabinet 
had postponed the appointment, three weeks, 
for my benefit. Not doubting that Mr. Ed- 
wards was wholly out of the question I, never- 
theless, would not then have become an applicant 
had I supposed he would thereby be brought to 
suspect me of treachery to him. Two or three 
days afterward a conversation with Levi Davis 
convinced me Mr. Edwards was dissatisfied; but 
I was then too far in to get out. His own letter, 

126 Abraham Lincoln [July 13 

written on the 25th of April, after I had fully 
informed him of all that had passed up to within 
a few days of that time, gave assurance I had 
that entire confidence from him, which I felt 
my uniform and strong friendship for him en- 
titled me to. Among other things it says "what- 
ever course your judgment may dictate as proper 
to be pursued, shall never be excepted to by me." 
I also had had a letter from Washington, say- 
ing Chambers, of the Republic, had brought a 
rumor then, that Mr. E — had declined in my 
favor, which rumor I judged came from Mr. 
E — himself, as I had not then breathed of his 
letter to any living creature. In saying I had 
never, before the 22nd of June, determined to 
be an applicant, unconditionally, I mean to ad- 
mit that, before then, I had said substantially 
I would take the office rather than it should be 
lost to the State, or given to one in the State 
whom the Whigs did not want; but I aver that 
in every instance in w r hich I spoke of myself, I 
intended to keep, and now believe I did keep, 
Mr. E — above myself. Mr. Edwards' first 
suspicion was that I had allowed Baker to over- 
reach me, as his friend, in behalf of Don Mor- 
rison. I knew this was a mistake; and the re- 
sult has proved it. I understand his view now 
is, that if I had gone to open war with Baker 
I could have ridden him down, and had the 

1849] Resolutions 127 

thing all my own way. I believe no such thing. 
With Baker and some strong man from the Mili- 
tary tract, and elsewhere for Morrison; and we 
and some strong man from the Wabash and else- 
where for Mr. E — , it was not possible for either 
to succeed. I believed this in March, and I 
know it now. The only thing which gave either 
any chance was the very thing Baker and I pro- 
posed, — an adjustment with themselves. 

You may wish to know how Butterfield finally 
beat me. I cannot tell you particulars, now, 
but will, when I see you. In the meantime let 
it be understood I am not greatly dissatisfied, — 
I wish the offer had been so bestowed as to en- 
courage our friends in future contests, and I 
regret exceedingly Mr. Edwards' feelings to- 
wards me. These two things away, I should 
have no regrets, — at least I think I would not. 

Write me soon. 

Your friend, as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

Resolutions of Sympathy with the Cause 
of Hungarian Freedom, September [12?], 

At a meeting to express sympathy with the 
cause of Hungarian Freedom, Dr. Todd, Thos. 
Lewis, Hon. A. Lincoln, and Wm. Carpenter 
were appointed a committee to present appro- 

128 Abraham Lincoln [Sept. 14 

priate resolutions, which reported through Hon. 
A. Lincoln the following: 

Resolved, That in their present glorious strug- 
gle for liberty, the Hungarians command our 
highest admiration and have our warmest sym- 

Resolved, That they have our most ardent 
prayers for their speedy triumph and final suc- 

Resolved, That the Government of the United 
States should acknowledge the independence of 
Hungary as a nation of freemen at the very ear- 
liest moment consistent with our amicable rela- 
tions with the government against which they 
are contending. 

Resolved, That in the opinion of this meeting, 
the immediate acknowledgment of the independ- 
ence of Hungary by our government is due from 
American freemen to their struggling brethren, 
to the general cause of republican liberty, and 
not violative of the just rights of any nation or 

*Letter to Dr. William Fithian 

Springfield, Sept. 14, 1849. 
Dear Doctor: Your letter of the 9th was re- 
ceived a day or two ago. The notes and mort- 
gages you enclosed me were duly received. I 

1849] Letter to Addison 129 

also got the original Blanchard mortgage from 
Antrim Campbell, with whom Blanchard had 
left it for you. I got a decree of foreclosure on 
the whole; but owing to there being no redemp- 
tion on the sale to be under the Blanchard mort- 
gage, the court allowed Mobley till the first of 
March to pay the money, before advertising for 
sale. Stuart was empowered by Mobley to ap- 
pear for him, and I had to take such decree as 
he would consent to, or none at all. I cast the 
matter about in my mind and concluded that as 
I could not get a decree now w 7 ould put the ac- 
crued interest at interest, and thereby more than 
match the fact of throwing the Blanchard debt 
back from 12 to 6 per cent, it was better to do 
it. This is the present state of the case. 

I can well enough understand and appreciate 
your suggestions about the Land Office at Dan- 
ville; but in my present condition, I can do 
nothing. Yours, as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

Letter to John Addison 

Springfield Illinois, September 27, 1849. 
John Addison, Esq. 

My dear Sir: Your letter is received. I can 
not but be grateful to you and all other friends 
who have interested themselves in having the 
governorship of Oregon offered to me; but on 

130 Abraham Lincoln [Sept. 27 

as much reflection as I have had time to give 
the subject, I cannot consent to accept it. . I have 
an ever abiding wish to serve you; but as to the 
secretaryship, I have already recommended our 
friend Simeon Francis, of the "Journal." Please 
present my respects to G. T. M. Davis generally, 
and my thanks especially for his kindness in the 
Oregon matter. Yours as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

*Letter to J. M. Clayton 

Springfield, Illinois, September 27, 1849. 
Hon. J. M. Clayton, Secretary of State. 

Dear Sir: Your letter of the 17th inst., saying 
you had received no answer to yours informing 
me of my appointment as Secretary of Oregon, 
is received, and surprises me very much. I re- 
ceived that letter, accompanied by the commis- 
sion, in due course of mail, and answered it two 
days after, declining the office, and warmly rec- 
ommending Simeon Francis for it. I have also 
written you several letters since alluding to the 
same matter, all of which ought to have reached 
you before the date of your last letter. 
Your obedient servant, 

A. Lincoln. 

1849] Chicago Journal Letter 131 

Letter to the Editor of the "Chicago 

Springfield, November 21, 1849. 

Editor of the "Chicago Journal." 

Dear Sir: Some person, probably yourself, 
has sent me the number of your paper contain- 
ing an extract of a supposed speech of Mr. Lin- 
der, together with your editorial comments. As 
my name is mentioned both in the speech and in 
the comments, and as my attention is directed 
to the article by a special mark in the paper sent 
me, it is perhaps expected that I should take 
some notice of it. I have to say, then, that I 
was absent from before the commencement till 
after the close of the late session of the legisla- 
ture, and that the fact of such a speech having 
been delivered never came to my knowledge till 
I saw a notice of your article in the "Illinois 
Journal," one day before your paper reached 
me. Had the intention of any Whig to deliver 
such a speech been known to me, I should, to 
the utmost of my ability, have endeavored to 
prevent it. When Mr. Butterfield was appoint- 
ed Commissioner of the Land Office, I expected 
him to be an able and faithful officer, and noth- 
ing has since come to my knowledge disappoint- 
ing that expectation. As to Mr. Ewing, his 

132 Abraham Lincoln [Nov. 21 

position has been one of great difficulty. I be- 
lieve him, too, to be an able and faithful officer. 
A more intimate acquaintance with him would 
probably change the views of most of those who 
have complained of him. 

Your obedient servant, 

A. Lincoln. 

In the Illinois legislature, Mr. Linder said: 

. He should speak not as a disappointed 
politician, but as an independent working Whig, who 
had never applied for an office in his life; and the 
individual of whom he desired to speak was the 
Hon. Thomas Ewing, of Ohio, minister of the Home 
Department, — a man who was unsuited to wield the 
immense patronage placed in his hands, from the 
fact that he was hostile to all that was popular, 
having no sympathies with the people, and the peo- 
ple no sympathies with him; the man who disposed 
of the offices and honors at his disposal more like 
a prince than the minister and servant of a republi- 
can people. I speak plainly, sir, for I want what 
I say to be published, that it may reach the individ- 
ual for whom it is intended, — the man who could 
disregard the almost unanimous wish of the people 
— the Whig people of Illinois, — and overlook the 
claims of such men as Lincoln, Edwards, and Mor- 
rison, and appoint a man known as an anti-war fed- 
eralist of 18 12, and one who avails himself of every 
opportunity to express his contempt of the people — 
a man who could not, as against any one of his 

1849] Linder Speech Extract 133 

competitors, have obtained one twentieth of the 
votes of Illinois. (I refer, sir, to Justin Butterficld, 
Commissioner of the General Land Office.) Such 
a man as Ewing has no right to rule the cabinet of 
a republican president. He is universally odious, 
and stinks in the nostrils of the nation. He is as 
a lump of ice, an unfeeling, unsympathizing aristo- 
crat, a rough, imperious, uncouth, and unamiable 
man. Such a minister, in a four years' administra- 
tion, would ruin the popularity of forty presidents 
and as many heroes. Sir, is it wonderful that the 
popular elections are turning against us? I am not 
at all surprised at it. If General Taylor retains him 
two years longer in his cabinet, he will find him- 
self without a corporal's guard in the popular branch 
of our national legislature. 

Letter to 

Springfield, December 15, 1849. 
Dear Sir: On my return from Kentucky, I 
found your letter of the 7th of November, and 
have delayed answering it till now, for the rea- 
son I now briefly state. From the beginning of 
our acquaintance I have felt the greatest kind- 
ness for you, and had supposed it was recipro- 
cated on your part. Last summer, under cir- 
cumstances which I mentioned to you, I was 
painfully constrained to withhold a recom- 
mendation which you desired, and shortly after- 
ward I learned, in such a way as to believe ft, 

134 Abraham Lincoln [Jan. 29 

that you were indulging in open abuse of me. 
Of course my feelings were wounded. On re- 
ceiving your last letter, the question occurred 
whether you were attempting to use me at the 
same time you would injure me, or whether you 
might not have been misrepresented to me. If 
the former, I ought not to answer you; if the 
latter, I ought; and so I have remained in sus- 
pense. I now inclose you the letter, which you 
may use if you see fit. Yours, etc., 

A. Lincoln. 

*Letter to O. H. Browning 

Springfield, January 29, 1850. 
Dear Browning: Yours of the 26th was re- 
ceived last night. As you anticipate, I had al- 
ready recommended Judge Logan for District 
Judge; and more, I had already said all I could 
consistently with this, in favor of Judge Lock- 
wood. I certainly esteem Mr. Bushnell as be- 
ing every way worthy of such an office. In 
moral character, and legal attainments, he is en- 
tirely sound and sufficient. If you think this 
letter can be used to any advantage, you are at 
liberty to so use it. What I have to say, I say 
most cheerfully; and more I could not now say 
consistently. Yours as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

1850] Letter to Johnston 135 

Letter to John D. Johnston 

Springfield, February 23, 1850. 

Dear Brother: Your letter about a mail con- 
tract was received yesterday. 1 have made out 
a bid for you at $120, guaranteed it myself, got 
our P. M. here to certify it, and send it on. 
Your former letter, concerning some man's 
claim for a pension, was also received. I had 
the claim examined by those who are practised 
in such matters, and they decide he cannot get 
a pension. 

As you make no mention of it, I suppose you 
had not learned that we lost our little boy. He 
was sick fifteen days, and died in the morning 
of the first day of this month. It was not our 
first, but our second child. We miss him very 
much. Your brother, in haste, 

A. Lincoln. 

To John D. Johnston. 

Resolutions on the Death of Judge Na- 
thaniel Pope, June 3, 1850 

Circuit and District Court of the U. S. in and 
for the State and District of Illinois. Monday, 
June 3, 1850. 

. . . On the opening of the Court this 
morning, the Hon. A. Lincoln, a member of the 

136 Abraham Lincoln [June 3 

Bar of this Court, suggested the death of the 
Hon. Nathaniel Pope, late a judge of this Court, 
since the adjournment of the last term; where- 
upon, in token of respect for the memory of the 
deceased, it is ordered that the Court do now 
adjourn until to-morrow morning at ten 
o'clock. . . . 

The Hon. Stephen T. Logan, the Hon. Nor- 
man H. Purple, the Hon. David L. Gregg, the 
Hon. A. Lincoln, and George W. Meeker, Esq., 
were appointed a Committee to prepare resolu- 
tions. . . . Whereupon, the Hon. Stephen 
T. Logan, in behalf of the Committee, presented 
the following preamble and resolutions: 

Whereas the Hon. Nathaniel Pope, District 
Judge of the United States Court for the District 
of Illinois, having departed this life during the last 
vacation of said Court, and the members of the bar 
of said Court entertaining the highest veneration for 
his memory, a profound respect for his ability, great 
experience, and learning as a Judge, and cherishing 
for his many virtues, public and private, his earnest 
simplicity of character and unostentatious deport- 
ment both in his public and private relations, the 
most lively and affectionate recollections, have 

Resolved, That as a manifestation of their deep 
sense of the loss which has been sustained in his 
death, they will wear the usual badge of mourning 
during the residue of the term. 

1850] Resolutions 137 

Resolved, That the Chairman communicate to the 
family of the deceased a copy of these proceedings, 
with an assurance of our sincere condolence on ac- 
count of their heavy bereavement. 

Resolved, That the Hon. A. Williams, District 
Attorney of this Court, be requested in behalf of the 
meeting to present these proceedings to the Circuit 
Court, and respectfully to ask that they may be 
entered on the records. 

E. N. Powell, Sec'y. 

Samuel H. Treat, Ch'm. 

138 Abraham Lincoln [July 1 

Fragment. Notes for a Lecture [July 1, 


NIAGARA FALLS ! By what mysteri- 
ous power is it that millions and mil- 
lions are drawn from all parts of the 
world to gaze upon Niagara Falls? There is 
no mystery about the thing itself. Every ef- 
fect is just as any intelligent man, knowing 
the causes, would anticipate without seeing it. 
If the water moving onward in a great river 
reaches a point where there is a perpendicular 
jog of a hundred feet in descent in the bottom of 
the river, it is plain the water will have a vio- 
lent and continuous plunge at that point. It is 
also plain, the water, thus plunging, will foam 
and roar, and send up a mist continuously, in 
which last, during sunshine, there will be per- 
petual rainbows. The mere physical of Niag- 
ara Falls is only this. Yet this is really a very 
small part of that world's wonder. Its power 
to excite reflection and emotion is its great 
charm. The geologist will demonstrate that the 
plunge, or fall, was once at Lake Ontario, and 
has worn its way back to its present position ; he 
will ascertain how fast it is wearing now, and 

1850] Notes on Niagara 139 

so get a basis for determining how long it has 
been wearing back from Lake Ontario, and 
finally demonstrate by it that this world is at 
least fourteen thousand years old. A philoso- 
pher of a slightly different turn will say, "Ni- 
agara Falls is only the lip of the basin out of 
which pours all the surplus water which rains 
down on two or three hundred thousand square 
miles of the earth's surface." He will estimate 
with approximate accuracy that five hundred 
thousand tons of water fall with their full weight 
a distance of a hundred feet each minute — thus 
exerting a force equal to the lifting of the same 
weight, through the same space, in the same 
time. And then the further reflection comes 
that this vast amount of water, constantly pound- 
ing down, is supplied by an equal amount con- 
stantly lifted up, by the sun; and still he says, 
"If this much is lifted up for this one space of 
two or three hundred square miles, an equal 
amount must be lifted up for every other equal 
space;" and he is overwhelmed in the contem- 
plation of the vast power the sun is constantly 
exerting in the quiet noiseless operation of lift- 
ing water up to be rained down again. 

But still there is more. It calls up the in- 
definite past. When Columbus first sought this 
continent — when Christ suffered on the cross — 
when Moses led Israel through the Red Sea — 

140 Abraham Lincoln [July i 

nay, even when Adam first came from the hand 
of his Maker: then, as now, Niagara was roar- 
ing here. The eyes of that species of extinct 
giants whose bones fill the mounds of America 
have gazed on Niagara, as ours do now. Con- 
temporary with the first race of men, and older 
than the first man, Niagara is strong and fresh 
to-day as ten thousand years ago. The Mam- 
moth and Mastodon, so long dead that fragments 
of their monstrous bones alone testify that they 
ever lived, have gazed on Niagara — in that 
long, long time never still for a single moment 
[never dried], never froze, never slept, never 

Fragment. Notes for Law Lecture [July i, 
185c?] 1 

I am not an accomplished lawyer. I find 
quite as much material for a lecture in those 
points wherein I have failed, as in those wherein 
I have been moderately successful. The lead- 

1 While Lincoln was in the ill-fated partnership with Berry 
at store-keeping he began to study law. Ultimately with the help 
of Stuart, and more especially through Stephen Logan, Lincoln 
became a good lawyer. His first appearance at court was made 
in October, 1836. His fee for this case was three dollars. Of 
Lincoln's ability as a lawyer, Judge David Davis says: "In 
all the elements that constitute a great lawyer he had few 
equals. . . . He seized the strong points of a cause and pre- 
sented them with clearness and compactness. His mind was 
I and direct, and he did not indulge in extraneous dis- 

1850] Notes for Law Lecture 141 

ing rule for the lawyer, as for the man of every 
other calling, is diligence. Leave nothing for 
to-morrow which can be done to-day. Never 
let your correspondence fall behind. Whatever 
piece of business you have in hand, before stop- 
ping, do all the labor pertaining to it which can 
then be done. When you bring a common-law 
suit, if you have the facts for doing so, write the 
declaration at once. If a law point be involved, 
examine the books, and note the authority you 
rely on upon the declaration itself, where you 
are sure to find it when wanted. The same of 
defenses and pleas. In business not likely to be 
litigated, — ordinary collection cases, foreclos- 
ures, partitions, and the like, — make all exami- 
nations of titles, and note them, and even draft 
orders and decrees in advance. This course has 
a triple advantage; it avoids omissions and neg- 
lect, saves your labor when once done, performs 
the labor out of court when you have leisure, 
rather than in court when you have not. Ex- 
temporaneous speaking should be practised and 
cultivated. It is the lawyer's avenue to the pub- 
lic. However able and faithful he may be in 
other respects, people are slow to bring him 
business if he cannot make a speech. And yet 

cussion. . . . His power of comparison was large, and he 
rarely failed in a legal discussion to use that means of reason- 
ing. The framework of his mental and moral being was hon- 
esty, and a wrong cause was poorly defended by him." 

142 Abraham Lincoln [July 1 

there is not a more fatal error to young lawyers 
than relying too much on speech-making. If 
any one, upon his rare powers of speaking, shall 
claim an exemption from the drudgery of the 
law, his case is a failure in advance. 

Discourage litigation. Persuade your neigh- 
bors to compromise whenever you can. Point 
out to them how the nominal winner is often a 
real loser — in fees, expenses, and waste of time. 
As a peace-maker the lawyer has a superior op- 
portunity of being a good man. There will 
still be business enough. 

Never stir up litigation. A worse man can 
scarcely be found than one who does this. Who 
can be more nearly a fiend than he who habitual- 
ly overhauls the register of deeds in search of 
defects in titles, whereon to stir up strife, and 
put money in his pocket? A moral tone ought 
to be infused into the profession which should 
drive such men out of it. 

The matter of fees is important, far beyond 
the mere question of bread and butter involved. 
Properly attended to, fuller justice is done to 
both lawyer and client. An exorbitant fee 
should never be claimed. As a general rule 
never take your whole fee in advance, nor any 
more than a small retainer. When fully paid 
beforehand, you are more than a common mor- 
tal if you can feel the same interest in the case, 

1850] Notes for Law Lecture 143 

as if something was still in prospect for you, as 
well as for your client. And when you lack in- 
terest in the case the job will very likely lack 
skill and diligence in the performance. Settle 
the amount of fee and take a note in advance. 
Then you will feel that you are working for 
something, and you are sure to do your work 
faithfully and well. Never sell a fee note — at 
least not before the consideration service is per- 
formed. It leads to negligence and dishonesty 
— negligence by losing interest in the case, and 
dishonesty in refusing to refund when you have 
allowed the consideration to fail. 

There is a vague popular belief that lawyers 
are necessarily dishonest. I say vague, because 
when we consider to what extent confidence and 
honors are reposed in and conferred upon law- 
yers by the people, it appears improbable that 
their impression of dishonesty is very distinct 
and vivid. Yet the impression is common, al- 
most universal. Let no young man choosing the 
law for a calling for a n oment yield to the popu- 
lar belief — resolve to be honest at all events; 
and if in your own judgment you cannot be an 
honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without be- 
ing a lawyer. Choose some other occupation, 
rather than one in the choosing of which you do, 
in advance, consent to be a knave. 

144 Abraham Lincoln [Jan. 2 

Letter to John D. Johnston * 

January [2?], 185 1. 
Dear Johnston: Your request for eighty dol- 
lars I do not think it best to comply with now. 
At the various times when I have helped you a 
little you have said to me, "We can get along very 
well now;" but in a very short time I find you 
in the same difficulty again. Now, this can only 
happen by some defect in your conduct. What 
that defect is, I think I know. You are not 
lazy, and still you are an idler. I doubt wheth- 
er, since I saw you, you have done a good whole 
day's work in any one day. You do not very 
much dislike to work, and still you do not work 
much, merely because it does not seem to you 
that you could get much for it. This habit of 
uselessly wasting time is the whole difficulty; it 
is vastly important to you, and still more so to 
your children, that you should break the habit. 
It is more important to them, because they have 
longer to live, and can keep out of an idle habit 

1 Apropos of the correspondence with John D. Johnston, his 
step-mother's son, a well-meaning but shiftless fellow, Nicolay 
and Hay in their life of Lincoln, state that " a volume of dis- 
quisition could not put more clearly before the reader the dif- 
ference between Abraham Lincoln and the common run of 
Southern and Western rural laborers." Lincoln's good advice 
to his foster-brother and gentle guardianship of his step-mother, 
as evinced in these early letters, ever remain proof of his 
sterling character. 

1851] Letter to Johnston 145 

before they are in it, easier than they can get 
out after they are in. 

You are now in need of some money; and 
what I propose is, that you shall go to work, 
"tooth and nail," for somebody who will give 
you money for it. Let father and your boys 
take charge of your things at home, prepare for 
a crop, and make a crop, and you go to work for 
the best money wages, or in discharge of any 
debt you owe, that you can get; and, to secure 
you a fair reward for your labor, I now prom- 
ise you, that for every dollar you will, between 
this and the first of May, get for your own labor, 
either in money or as your own indebtedness, I 
will then give you one other dollar. By this, if 
you hire yourself at ten dollars a month, from 
me you will get ten more, making twenty dollars 
a month for your work. In this I do not mean 
you shall go off to St. Louis, or the lead mines, 
or the gold mines in California, but I mean for 
you to go at it for the best wages you can get 
close to home in Coles County. Now, if you 
will do this, you will be soon out of debt, and, 
what is better, you will have a habit that will 
keep you from getting in debt again. But, if 
I should now clear you out of debt, next year 
you would be just as deep in as ever. You say 
you would almost give your place in heaven for 
seventy or eighty dollars. Then you value your 

146 Abraham Lincoln [Jan. n 

place in heaven very cheap, for I am sure you 
can, with the offer I make, get the seventy or 
eighty dollars for four or five months' work. 
You say if I will furnish you the money you 
will deed me the land, and, if you don't pay the 
money back, you will deliver possession. Non- 
sense! If you can't now live with the land, how 
will you then live without it? You have always 
been kind to me, and I do not mean to be unkind 
to you. On the contrary, if you will but follow 
my advice, you will find it worth more than 
eighty times eighty dollars to you. 

Affectionately your brother, 

A. Lincoln. 

*Letter to Charles Hoyt 

Springfield, January 11, 1851. 

My Dear Sir: Our case is decided against us. 
The decision was announced this morning. Very 
sorry, but there is no help. The history of the 
case since it came here is this: On Friday 
morning last, Mr. Joy filed his papers, and en- 
tered his motion for a mandamus, and urged me 
to take up the motion as soon as possible. I 
already had the points, and authorities sent me, 
by you and by Mr. Goodrich but had not studied 
them. I began preparing as fast as possible. 

The evening of the same day I was again 
urged to take up the case. I refused on the 

1851] Letter to Johnston 147 

ground that I was not ready, and on which pica 
I also got off over Saturday. But on Monday 
(the 14th) I had to go into it. We occupied 
the whole day, I using the large part. I made 
every point and used every authority sent me 
by yourself and by Mr. Goodrich; and in addi- 
tion all the points I could think of and all the 
authorities I could find myself. When I closed 
the argument on my part, a large package was 
handed me, which proved to be the Plat you 
sent me. The court received it of me, but it 
was not different from the Plat already on the 
record. I do not think I could ever have argued 
the case better than I did. I did nothing else, 
but prepare to argue and argue this case, from 
Friday morning till Monday evening. Very 
sorry for the result; but I do not think it could 
have been prevented 

Your friend as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

Letter to John D. Johnston 

Springfield, January 12, 1851. 

Dear Brother: On the day before yesterday 
I received a letter from Harriet, written at 
Greenup. She says she has just returned from 
your house, and that father is very low and will 
hardly recover. She also says you have written 

148 Abraham Lincoln [Jan. 12 

me two letters, and that although you do not ex- 
pect me to come now, you wonder that I do not 

I received both your letters, and although I 
have not answered them, it is not because I have 
forgotten them, or been uninterested about them, 
but because it appeared to me that I could write 
nothing which would do any good. You al- 
ready know I desire that neither father nor 
mother shall be in want of any comfort, either 
in health or sickness, while they live; and I feel 
sure you have not failed to use my name, if neces- 
sary, to procure a doctor, or anything else for 
father in his present sickness. My business is 
such that I could hardly leave home now, if it 
was not as it is, that my own wife is sick-a-bed. 
(It is a case of baby-sickness, and I suppose is 
not dangerous.) I sincerely hope father may 
recover his health, but at all events, tell him to 
remember to call upon and confide in our great 
and good and merciful Maker, who will not 
turn away from him in any extremity. He 
notes the fall of a sparrow, and numbers the 
hairs of our heads, and He will not forget the 
dying man who puts his trust in Him. Say to 
him that if we could meet now it is doubtful 
whether it would not be more painful than pleas- 
ant, but that if it be his lot to go now, he will 
soon have a joyous meeting with many loved 

1851] Letter to Johnston 149 

ones gone before, and where the rest of us, 
through the help of God, hope ere long to join 

Write to me again when you receive this. 

A. Lincoln. 

*Letter to Messrs. Browning and Bush- 


Springfield, March 28, 1851. 

Messrs. Browning & Bushnell. 

Gentlemen: Your letter is received. I have 
made the arrangement to use the Hoyt evidence 
in the other cases. 

The new act of Congress provides that all 
cases begun here shall be tried here and not go 
to Chicago at all. All our Patent cases were 
begun here. It also fixes the summer term here 
in July, instead of June as heretofore. 

So no trouble is created in our Patent cases by 
the new law. In haste, 

Yours as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

Letter to John D. Johnston 

Springfield, August 31, 1851. 
Dear Brother: Inclosed is the deed for the 
land. We are all well, and have nothing in the 

150 Abraham Lincoln [Nov. 4 

way of news. We have had no cholera here for 
about two weeks. Give my love to all, and 
especially to mother. Yours as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

Letter to John D. Johnston 

Shelbyville, November 4, 185 1. 
Dear Brother: When I came into Charleston 
day before yesterday, I learned that you are 
anxious to sell the land where you live and move 
to Missouri. I have been thinking of this ever 
since, and cannot but think such a notion is ut- 
terly foolish. What can you do in Missouri 
better than here? Is the land any richer? Can 
you there, any more than here, raise corn and 
wheat and oats without work? Will anybody 
there, any more than here, do your work for you? 
If you intend to go to work, there is no better 
place than right where you are ; if you do not in- 
tend to go to work, you cannot get along any- 
where. Squirming and crawling about from 
place to place can do no good. You have 
raised no corn this year; and what you really 
want is to sell the land, get the money, and 
spend it. Part with the land you have, and, 
my life upon it, you will never after own a 
spot big enough to bury you in. Half you 
will get for the land you will spend in mov- 
ing to Missouri, and the other half you will 

1851] Letter to Johnston 151 

eat, drink, and wear out, and no foot 
of land will be bought. Now, I feel it my duty 
to have no hand in such a piece of foolery. I 
feel that it is so even on your own account, and 
particularly on mother's account. The eastern 
forty acres I intend to keep for mother while she 
lives; if you will not cultivate it, it will rent for 
enough to support her — at least, it will rent for 
something. Her dower in the other two forties 
she can let you have, and no thanks to me. 
Now, do not misunderstand this letter; I do not 
write it in any unkindness. I write it in order, 
if possible, to get you to face the truth, which 
truth is, you are destitute because you have idled 
away all your time. Your thousand pretenses 
for not getting along better are all nonsense; 
they deceive nobody but yourself. Go to work 
is the only cure for your case. 

\The Folloiving Paragraph is Addressed to his Step- 

A w r ord to mother. Chapman tells me he 
wants you to go and live with him. If I were 
you I would try it awhile. If you get tired of 
it (as I think you will not), you can return to 
your own home. Chapman feels very kindly to 
you, and I have no doubt he will make your sit- 
uation very pleasant. Sincerely your son, 

A. Lincoln. 

i $2 Abraham Lincoln [Nov. 25 

Letter to John D. Johnston 

Shelbyville, November 9, 1851. 

Dear Brother: When I wrote you before, I 
had not received your letter. I still think as I 
did, but if the land can be sold so that I get three 
hundred dollars to put to interest for mother, I 
will not object, if she does not. But before I 
will make a deed, the money must be had, or 
secured beyond all doubt, at ten per cent. 

As to Abram, I do not want him, on my own 
account; but I understand he wants to live with 
me, so that he can go to school and get a fair start 
in the world, which I very much wish him to 
have. When I reach home, if I can make it 
convenient to take, I will take him, provided 
there is no mistake between us as to the object 
and terms of my taking him. 

In haste, as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

*Letter to John D. Johnston 1 

Springfield, November 25, 1851. 
Dear Brother: Your letter of the 22d is just 
received. Your proposal about selling the east 

1 Lincoln's mother died when he was nine years old. Sally 
Bush Johnston, whom Thomas Lincoln took as his second wife, 
was a woman of intelligence. She recognized the fine qualities 
of her young step-son, Abraham, and encouraged him to the 
best of her ability. There ever existed a warm esteem between 

1851] Letter to Johnston 153 

forty acres of land is all that I want or could 
claim for myself ; but I am not satisfied with it 
on mothers account. I want her to have her 
living, and I feel that it is my duty, to some ex- 
tent, to see that she is not wronged. She had a 
right of dower (that is, the use of one-third for 
life) in the other two forties; but, it seems, she 
has already let you take that, hook and line. She 
now has the use of the whole of the east forty, 
as long as she lives; and if it be sold, of course 
she is entitled to the interest on all the money it 
brings, as long as she lives; but you propose to 
sell it for three hundred dollars, take one hun- 
dred away with you, and leave her two hundred 
at 8 per cent, making her the enormous sum of 
16 dollars a year. Now, if you are satisfied 
with treating her in that way, I am not. It is 
true, that you are to have that forty for two 
hundred dollars, at mother's death; but you are 
not to have it before. I am confident that land 
can be made to produce for mother at least $30 
a year, and I can not, to oblige any living person, 
consent that she shall be put on an allowance of 
sixteen dollars a year. Yours, etc., 

A. Lincoln. 

them. Shortly before her death she said : " I can truly say 
what scarcely one mother in one thousand can say, that Abra- 
ham Lincoln never gave me a cross word or look and never 
refused in fact or appearance to do anything I asked him." 


Abraham Lincoln [July 16 

Call for Whig Convention, December [4?], 


To the Whigs of Illinois 
The Whigs of the State of Illinois are respect- 
fully requested to meet in convention at Spring- 
field, on the fourth Monday of December next, 
to take into consideration such action as upon 
consultation and deliberation may be deemed 
necessary, proper, and effective for the best in- 
terests of the party, and to secure a more 
thorough organization of the Whig party at an 
early day. 

Abraham Lincoln, 
J. T. Stuart, 
J. C. Conkling, 
H. O. Merriman, 
Geo. W. Meeker, 
J. O. Norton, 
Churchill Coffing, 
Joseph Gillespie, 
Isaac Hardy, 
Horace Miller, 
E. B. Washburne, 
Henry Watterman, 

Ezra Griffith, 
Samuel Haller, 
Joseph T. Eccles, 
Jas. W. Singleton, 
O. H. Browning, 
C. W. Craig, 
J. L. Wilson, 
B. G. Wheeler, 
H. D. Risley, 
Levi Davis, 
B. S. Edwards, 
And many others. 

-'• ' 

Abraham Lincoln 

Reproduced from an Old Daguerreotype made about 

1S5S, and now in the possession of Major 

William II. Lambert, of Philadelphia. 

1852] Eulogy on Henry Clay 155 

Eulogy on Henry Clay Delivered in the 

State House at Springfield, Illinois, 

July 16, 1852 * 

ON THE fourth day of July, 1776, the peo- 
ple of a few feeble and oppressed colo- 
nies of Great Britain, inhabiting a por- 
tion of the Atlantic coast of North America, 
publicly declared their national independence, 
and made their appeal to the justice of their 
cause and to the God of battles for the mainte- 
nance of that declaration. That people were 
few in number and without resources, save only 
their wise heads and stout hearts. Within the 
first year of that declared independence, and 
while its maintenance was yet problematical, — 
while the bloody struggle between those resolute 
rebels and their haughty would-be masters was 
still waging, — of undistinguished parents and 
in an obscure district of one of those colonies 
Henry Clay was born. The infant nation and 
the infant child began the race of life together. 
For three quarters of a century they have trav- 

1 We are indebted for a copy of this speech to the courtesy 
of Major William H. Bailhache, formerly one of the proprietors 
of the " Illinois State Journal." — N. and H. 

156 Abraham Lincoln [July 16 

eled hand in hand. They have been com- 
panions ever. The nation has passed its perils, 
and it is free, prosperous, and powerful. The 
child has reached his manhood, his middle age, 
his old age, and is dead. In all that has con- 
cerned the nation the man ever sympathized; 
and now the nation mourns the man. 

The day after his death one of the public jour- 
nals, opposed to him politically, held the follow- 
ing pathetic and beautiful language, which I 
adopt partly because such high and exclusive 
eulogy, originating with a political friend, 
might offend good taste, but chiefly because I 
could not in any language of my own so well 
express my thoughts: 

Alas ! who can realize that Henry Clay is dead ! 
Who can realize that never again that majestic form 
shall rise in the council-chambers of his country to 
beat back the storms of anarchy which may threat- 
en, or pour the oil of peace upon the troubled bil- 
lows as they rage and menace around? Who can 
realize that the workings of that mighty mind have 
ceased, that the throbbings of that gallant heart 
are stilled, that the mighty sweep of that graceful 
arm will be felt no more, and the magic of that 
eloquent tongue, which spake as spake no other 
tongue besides, is hushed — hushed for ever! Who 
can realize that freedom's champion, the champion 
of a civilized world and of all tongues and kindreds 

1852] Eulogy on Henry Clay 157 

of people, has indeed fallen ! Alas, in those dark 
hours of peril and dread which our land has ex- 
perienced, and which she may be called to experience 
again, to whom now may her people look up for 
that counsel and advice which only wisdom and 
experience and patriotism can give, and which only 
the undoubting confidence of a nation will receive? 
Perchance in the whole circle of the great and 
gifted of our land there remains but one on whose 
shoulders the mighty mantle of the departed states- 
man may fall; one who while we now write is doubt- 
less pouring his tears over the bier of his brother 
and friend — brother, friend, ever, yet in political 
sentiment as far apart as party could make them. 
Ah, it is at times like these that the petty distinctions 
of mere party disappear. We see only the great, 
the grand, the noble features of the departed states- 
man; and we do not even beg permission to bow at 
his feet and mingle our tears with those who have 
ever been his political adherents — we do [not] beg 
this permission, we claim it as a right, though we 
feel it as a privilege. Henry Clay belonged to his 
country — to the world; mere party cannot claim men 
like him. His career has been national, his fame 
has filled the earth, his memory will endure to the 
last syllable of recorded time. 

Henry Clay is dead! He breathed his last on 
yesterday, at twenty minutes after eleven, in his 
chamber at Washington. To those who followed 
his lead in public affairs, it more appropriately be- 
longs to pronounce his eulogy and pay specific honors 

158 Abraham Lincoln [July 16 

to the memory of the illustrious dead. But all 
Americans may show the grief which his death in- 
spires, for his character and fame are national prop- 
erty. As on a question of liberty he knew no North, 
no South, no East, no West, but only the Union 
which held them all in its sacred circle, so now his 
countrymen will know no grief that is not as wide- 
spread as the bounds of the confederacy. The ca- 
reer of Henry Clay was a public career. From his 
youth he has been devoted to the public service, at 
a period, too, in the world's history justly regarded 
as a remarkable era in human affairs. He witnessed 
in the beginning the throes of the French Revolu- 
tion. He saw the rise and fall of Napoleon. He 
was called upon tx> legislate for America, and direct 
her policy when all Europe was the battle-field of 
contending dynasties, and when the struggle for 
supremacy imperiled the rights of all neutral nations. 
His voice spoke war and peace in the contest with 
Great Britain. 

When Greece rose against the Turks and struck 
for liberty, his name was mingled with the battle- 
cry of freedom. When South America threw off 
the thraldom of Spain, his speeches were read at the 
head of her armies by Bolivar. His name has been, 
and will continue to be, hallowed in two hemispheres, 
for it is 

" One of the few, the immortal names 
That were not born to die!" 

To the ardent patriot and profound statesman, 

1852] Eulogy on Henry Clay 159 

he added a quality possessed by few of the gifted 
on earth. His eloquence has not been surpassed. 
In the effective power to move the heart of man, 
Clay was without an equal, and the heaven-born 
endowment, in the spirit of its origin, has been most 
conspicuously exhibited against intestine feud. On 
at least three important occasions he has quelled our 
civil commotions by a power and influence which 
belonged to no other statesman of his age and times. 
And in our last internal discord, when this Union 
trembled to its center, in old age he left the shades 
of private life, and gave the death-blow to fraternal 
strife, with the vigor of his earlier years, in a series 
of senatorial efforts which in themselves would 
bring immortality by challenging comparison with 
the efforts of any statesman in any age. He exor- 
cised the demon which possessed the body politic, 
and gave peace to a distracted land. Alas! the 
achievement cost him his life. He sank day by day 
to the tomb — his pale but noble brow bound with 
a triple wreath, put there by a grateful country. 
May his ashes rest in peace, while his spirit goes 
to take its station among the great and good men 
who preceded him. 

While it is customary and proper upon occa- 
sions like the present to give a brief sketch of 
the life of the deceased, in the case of Mr. Clay 
it is less necessary than most others; for his 
biography has been written and rewritten, and 
read and reread, for the last twenty-five years; 

160 Abraham Lincoln [July 16 

so that, with the exception of a few of the latest 
incidents of his life, all is as well known as it 
can be. The short sketch which I give is, there- 
fore, merely to maintain the connection of this 

Henry Clay was born on the twelfth day of 
April, 1777, in Hanover County, Virginia. Of 
his father, who died in the fourth or fifth year 
of Henry's age, little seems to be known, except 
that he was a respectable man and a preacher of 
the Baptist persuasion. Mr. Clay's education 
to the end of life was comparatively limited. I 
say "to the end of life," because I have under- 
stood that from time to time he added something 
to his education during the greater part of his 
whole life. Mr. Clay's lack of a more perfect 
early education, however it may be regretted 
generally, teaches at least one profitable lesson: 
it teaches that in this country one can scarcely 
be so poor but that, if he will, he can acquire 
sufficient education to get through the world re- 
spectably. In his twenty- third year Mr. Clay 
was licensed to practise law, and emigrated to 
Lexington, Kentucky. Here he commenced and 
continued the practice till the year 1803, when 
he was first elected to the Kentucky legislature. 
By successive elections he was continued in the 
legislature till the latter part of 1806, when he 
was elected to fill a vacancy of a single session 

1852] Eulogy on Henry Clay 161 

in the United States Senate. In 1807 he was 
again elected to the Kentucky House of Repre- 
sentatives, and by that body chosen Speaker. In 

1808 Tie was reelected to the same body. In 

1809 he was again chosen to fill a vacancy of 
two years in the United States Senate. In 181 1 
he was elected to the United States House of 
Representatives, and on the first day of taking his 
seat in that body he was chosen its Speaker. In 
1 8 1 3 he was again elected Speaker. Early in 
1814, being the period of our last British war, 
Mr. Clay was sent as commissioner, with others, 
to negotiate a treaty of peace, which treaty was 
concluded in the latter part of the same year. 
On his return from Europe he was again elected 
to the lower branch of Congress, and on taking 
his seat in December, 1 8 1 5, was called to his old 
post — the Speaker's chair, a position in which 
he was retained by successive elections, with one 
brief intermission, till the inauguration of John 
Quincy Adams, in March, 1825. He was then 
appointed Secretary of State, and occupied that 
important station till the inauguration of Gen- 
eral Jackson, in March, 1829. After this he re- 
turned to Kentucky, resumed the practice of 
law, and continued it till the autumn of 1 83 1 , 
when he was by the legislature of Kentucky 
again placed in the United States Senate. By a 
reelection he was continued in the Senate till he 

1 62 Abraham Lincoln [July 16 

resigned his seat and retired, in March, 1848. 
In December, 1849, he again took his seat in the 
Senate, which he again resigned only a few 
months before his death. 

By the foregoing it is perceived that the 
period from the beginning of Mr. Clay's official 
life in 1803 to the end of 1852 is but one year 
short of half a century, and that the sum of all 
the intervals in it will not amount to ten years. 
But mere duration of time in office constitutes 
the smallest part of Mr. Clay's history. 
Throughout that long period he has constantly 
been the most loved and most implicitly followed 
by friends, and the most dreaded by opponents, 
of all living American politicians. In all the 
great questions which have agitated the country, 
and particularly in those fearful crises, the Mis- 
souri question, the nullification question, and the 
late slavery question, as connected with the new- 
ly acquired territory, involving and endanger- 
ing the stability of the Union, his has been the 
leading and most conspicuous part. In 1824 he 
was first a candidate for the Presidency, and was 
defeated; and although he was successively de- 
feated for the same office in 1832 and in 1844, 
there has never been a moment since 1824 till 
after 1848 when a very large portion of the 
American people did not cling to him with an 
enthusiastic hope and purpose of still elevating 

1852] Eulogy on Henry Clay [63 

him to the Presidency. With other men, to be 
defeated was to be forgotten; but with him de- 
feat was but a trifling incident, neither changing 
him nor the world's estimate of him. Even those 
of both political parties who have been pre- 
ferred to him for the highest office have run far 
briefer courses than he, and left him still shining 
high in the heavens of the political world. Jack- 
son, Van Buren, Harrison, Polk, and Taylor all 
rose after, and set long before him. The spell — 
the long-enduring spell — with which the souls 
of men were bound to him is a miracle. Who 
can compass it? It is probably true he owed his 
preeminence to no one quality, but to a fortunate 
combination of several. He was surpassingly 
eloquent; but many eloquent men fail utterly, 
and they are not, as a class, generally successful. 
His judgment was excellent; but many men of 
good judgment live and die unnoticed. His will 
was indomitable; but this quality often secures 
to its owner nothing better than a character for 
useless obstinacy. These, then, were Mr. Clay's 
leading qualities. No one of them is very un- 
common; but all together are rarely combined 
in a single individual, and this is probably the 
reason why such men as Henry Clay are so rare 
in the world. 

Mr. Clay's eloquence did not consist, as many 
fine specimens of eloquence do, of types and fig- 

164 Abraham Lincoln [July 16 

ures, of antithesis and elegant arrangement of 
words and sentences, but rather of that deeply 
earnest and impassioned tone and manner which 
can proceed only from great sincerity, and a 
thorough conviction in the speaker of the justice 
and importance of his cause. This it is that 
truly touches the chords of sympathy; and those 
who heard Mr. Clay never failed to be moved 
by it, or ever afterward forgot the impression. 
All his efforts were made for practical effect. 
He never spoke merely to be heard. He never 
delivered a Fourth of July oration, or a eulogy 
on an occasion like this. As a politician or 
statesman, no one was so habitually careful to 
avoid all sectional ground. Whatever he did 
he did for the whole country. In the construc- 
tion of his measures, he ever carefully surveyed 
every part of the field, and duly weighed every 
conflicting interest. Feeling as he did, and as 
the truth surely is, that the world's best hope de- 
pended on the continued Union of these States, 
he was ever jealous of and watchful for what- 
ever might have the slightest tendency to sepa- 
rate them. 

Mr. Clay's predominant sentiment, from first 
to last, was a deep devotion to the cause of hu- 
man liberty — a strong sympathy with the op- 
pressed everywhere, and an ardent wish for their 
elevation. With him this was a primary and 

1852] Eulogy on Henry Clay 165 

all-controlling passion. Subsidiary to this was 
the conduct of his whole life. He loved his 
country partly because it was his own country, 
and mostly because it was a free country; and he 
burned with a zeal for its advancement, pros- 
perity, and glory, because he saw in such the 
advancement, prosperity, and glory of human 
liberty, human right, and human nature. He 
desired the prosperity of his countrymen, partly 
because they were his countrymen, but chiefly 
to show to the world that free men could be pros- 

That his views and measures were always the 
wisest needs not to be affirmed; nor should it be 
on this occasion, where so many thinking differ- 
ently join in doing honor to his memory. A free 
people in times of peace and quiet — when press- 
ed by no common danger — naturally divide 
into parties. At such times the man who is of 
neither party is not, cannot be, of any conse- 
quence. Mr. Clay therefore was of a party. 
Taking a prominent part as he did, in all the 
great political questions of his country for the 
last half century, the wisdom of his course on 
many is doubted and denied by a large portion 
of his countrymen; and of such it is not now 
proper to speak particularly. But there are 
many others, about his course upon which there 
is little or no disagreement amongst intelligent 

1 66 Abraham Lincoln [July 16 

and patriotic Americans. Of these last are the 
war of 1812, the Missouri question, nullifica- 
tion, and the now recent compromise measures. 
In 1 81 2 Mr. Clay, though not unknown, was 
still a young man. Whether we should go to 
war with Great Britain being the question of 
the day, a minority opposed the declaration of 
war by Congress, while the majority, though 
apparently inclined to war, had for years wa- 
vered, and hesitated to act decisively. Meanwhile 
British aggressions multiplied, and grew more 
daring and aggravated. By Mr. Clay more than 
any other man the struggle was brought to a 
decision in Congress. The question, being now 
fully before Congress, came up in a variety of 
ways in rapid succession, on most of which occa- 
sions Mr. Clay spoke. Adding to all the logic of 
which the subject was susceptible that noble in- 
spiration which came to him as it came to no 
other, he aroused and nerved and inspired his 
friends, and confounded and bore down all op- 
position. Several of his speeches on these occa- 
sions were reported and are still extant, but the 
best of them all never was. During its delivery 
the reporters forgot their vocations, dropped 
their pens, and sat enchanted from near the be- 
ginning to quite the close. The speech now lives 
only in the memory of a few old men, and the 
enthusiasm with which they cherish their recol- 

1852] Eulogy on Henry Clay 167 

lection of it is absolutely astonishing. The pre- 
cise language of this speech we shall never know; 
but we do know — we cannot help knowing — 
that with deep pathos it pleaded the cause of the 
injured sailor, that it invoked the genius of the 
Revolution, that it apostrophized the names of 
Otis, of Henry, and of Washington, that it ap- 
pealed to the interest, the pride, the honor, and 
the glory of the nation, that it shamed and taunt- 
ed the timidity of friends, that it scorned and 
scouted and withered the temerity of domestic 
foes, that it bearded and defied the British lion, 
and, rising and swelling and maddening in its 
course, it sounded the onset, till the charge, the 
shock, the steady struggle, and the glorious vic- 
tory all passed in vivid review before the en- 
tranced hearers. 

Important and exciting as was the war ques- 
tion of 1812, it never so alarmed the sagacious 
statesmen of the country for the safety of the 
Republic as afterward did the Missouri ques- 
tion. This sprang from that unfortunate source 
of discord — negro slavery. When our Federal 
Constitution was adopted, we owned no territory 
beyond the limits or ownership of the States, 
except the territory northwest of the River Ohio 
and east of the Mississippi. What has since been 
formed into the States of Maine, Kentucky, and 
Tennessee, was, I believe, within the limits of or 

1 68 Abraham Lincoln [July 16 

owned by Massachusetts, Virginia, and North 
Carolina. As to the Northwestern Territory, 
provision had been made even before the adop- 
tion of the Constitution that slavery should never 
go there. On the admission of States into the 
Union, carved from the territory we owned be- 
fore the Constitution, no question, or at most no 
considerable question, arose about slavery — those 
which were within the limits of or owned by 
the old States following respectively the condi- 
tion of the parent State, and those within the 
Northwest Territory following the previously 
made provision. But in 1803 we purchased 
Louisiana of the French, and it included with 
much more what has since been formed into the 
State of Missouri. With regard to it, nothing 
had been done to forestall the question of slav- 
ery. When, therefore, in 1819, Missouri, hav- 
ing formed a State constitution, without exclud- 
ing slavery, and with slavery already actually 
existing within its limits, knocked at the door 
of the Union for admission, almost the entire 
representation of the non-slaveholding States 
objected. A fearful and angry struggle instant- 
ly followed. This alarmed thinking men more 
than any previous question, because, unlike all 
the former, it divided the country by geograph- 
ical lines. Other questions had their opposing 
partizans in all localities of the country and in 

1852] Eulogy on Henry Clay 169 

almost every family, so that no division of the 
Union could follow such without a separation of 
friends to quite as great an extent as that of op- 
ponents. Not so with the Missouri question. 
On this a geographical line could be traced, 
which in the main would separate opponents 
only. This was the danger. Mr. Jefferson, then 
in retirement, wrote: 

I had for a long time ceased to read newspapers 
or to pay any attention to public affairs, confident 
they were in good hands and content to be a passen- 
ger in our bark to the shore from which I am not 
distant. But this momentous question, like a fire- 
bell in the night, awakened and filled me with terror. 
I considered it at once as the knell of the Union. 
It is hushed, indeed, for the moment. But this is 
a reprieve only, not a final sentence. A geograph- 
ical line coinciding with a marked principle, moral 
and political, once conceived and held up to the 
angry passions of men, will never be obliterated, and 
every irritation will mark it deeper and deeper, f 
can say with conscious truth that there is not a man 
on earth who would sacrifice more than I would to 
relieve us from this heavy reproach in any practi- 
cable way. The cession of that kind of property — 
for it is so misnamed — is a bagatelle which would 
not cost me a second thought if in that way a general 
emancipation and expatriation could be effected, and 
gradually and with due sacrifices I think it might be. 
But as it is, we have the wolf by the ears, and we 

170 Abraham Lincoln [July 16 

can neither hold him nor safely let him go. Justice 
is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other. 

Mr. Clay was in Congress, and, perceiving the 
danger, at once engaged his whole energies to 
avert it. It began, as I have said, in 1819; and 
it did not terminate till 1821. Missouri would 
not yield the point; and Congress — that is, a 
majority in Congress — by repeated votes showed 
a determination not to admit the State unless it 
should yield. After several failures and great 
labor on the part of Mr. Clay to so present the 
question that a majority could consent to the 
admission, it was by a vote rejected, and as all 
seemed to think, finally. 'A sullen gloom hung 
over the nation. All felt that the rejection of 
Missouri was equivalent to a dissolution of the 
Union, because those States which already had 
what Missouri was rejected for refusing to re- 
linquish would go with Missouri. All depreca- 
ted and deplored this, but none saw how to avert 
it. For the judgment of members to be con- 
vinced of the necessity of yielding was not the 
whole difficulty; each had a constituency to meet 
and to answer to. Mr. Clay, though worn down 
and exhausted, was appealed to by members to 
renew his efforts at compromise. He did so, and 
by some judicious modifications of his plan, 
coupled with laborious efforts with individual 
members and his own overmastering eloquence 

1852] Eulogy on Henry Clay 171 

upon that floor, he finally secured the admission 
of the State. Brightly and captivatingly as it 
had previously shown, it was now perceived 
that his great eloquence was a mere embellish- 
ment, or at most but a helping hand to his in- 
ventive genius, and his devotion to his country 
in the day of her extreme peril. 

After the settlement of the Missouri question, 
although a portion of the American people have 
differed with Mr. Clay, and a majority even 
appear generally to have been opposed to him 
on questions of ordinary administration, he 
seems constantly to have been regarded by all 
as the man for a crisis. Accordingly, in the days 
of nullification, and more recently in the reap- 
pearance of the slavery question connected with 
our territory newly acquired of Mexico, the task 
of devising a mode of adjustment seems to have 
been cast upon Mr. Clay by common consent — 
and his performance of the task in each case was 
little else than a literal fulfilment of the public 
expectation. Mr. Clay's efforts in behalf of the 
South Americans, and afterward in behalf of the 
Greeks, in the times of their respective struggles 
for civil liberty, are among the finest on record, 
upon the noblest of all themes, and bear ample 
corroboration of what I have said was his ruling 
passion — a love of liberty and right, unselfishly, 
and for their own sakes. 

172 Abraham Lincoln [July 16 

Having been led to allude to domestic slavery 
so frequently already, I am unwilling to close 
without referring more particularly to Mr. 
Clay's views and conduct in regard to it. He 
ever was on principle and in feeling opposed to 
slavery. The very earliest, and one of the latest, 
public efforts of his life, separated by a period 
of more than fifty years, were both made in fa- 
vor of gradual emancipation. He did not per- 
ceive that on a question of human right the 
negroes were to be excepted from the human 
race. And yet Mr. Clay was the owner of 
slaves. Cast into life when slavery was already 
widely spread and deeply seated, he did not per- 
ceive, as I think no wise man has perceived, how 
it could be at once eradicated without producing 
a greater evil even to the cause of human liberty 
itself. His feeling and his judgment, therefore, 
ever led him to oppose both extremes of opinion 
on the subject. Those who would shiver into 
fragments the Union of these States, tear to tat- 
ters its now venerated Constitution, and even 
burn the last copy of the Bible, rather than slav- 
ery should continue a single hour, together with 
all their more halting sympathizers, have re- 
ceived, and are receiving, their just execration; 
and the name and opinions and influence of Mr. 
Clay are fully and, as I trust, effectually and 
enduringly arrayed against them. But I would 

1852] Eulogy on Henry Clay 173 

also, if I could, array his name, opinions, and 
influence against the opposite extreme — against 
a few but an increasing number of men who, for 
the sake of perpetuating slavery, are beginning 
to assail and to ridicule the white man's charter 
of freedom, the declaration that "all men are 
created free and equal." So far as I have 
learned, the first American of any note to do or 
attempt this was the late John C. Calhoun ; and 
if I mistake not, it soon after found its way into 
some of the messages of the Governor of South 
Carolina. We, however, look for and are not 
much shocked by political eccentricities and 
heresies in South Carolina. But only last year I 
saw with astonishment what purported to be a 
letter of a very distinguished and influential 
clergyman of Virginia, copied, with apparent 
approbation, into a St. Louis newspaper, con- 
taining the following to me very unsatisfactory 

I am fully aware that there is a text in some 
Bibles that is not in mine. Professional Abolition- 
ists have made more use of it than of any passage 
in the Bible. It came, however, as I trace it, from 
Saint Voltaire, and was baptized by Thomas Jef- 
ferson, and since almost universally regarded as 
canonical authority, "All men are born free and 

This is a genuine coin in the political currency of 

174 Abraham Lincoln [July 16 

our generation. I am sorry to say that I have never 
seen two men of whom it is true. But I must admit 
I never saw the Siamese Twins, and therefore will 
not dogmatically say that no man ever saw a proof 
of this sage aphorism. 

This sounds strangely in republican America. 
The like was not heard in the fresher days of the 
republic. Let us contrast with it the language 
of that truly national man whose life and death 
we now commemorate and lament. I quote from 
a speech of Mr. Clay delivered before the Amer- 
ican Colonization Society in 1827: 

We are reproached with doing mischief by the 
agitation of this question. The society goes into 
no household to disturb its domestic tranquillity. It 
addresses itself to no slaves to weaken their obliga- 
tions of obedience. It seeks to affect no man's prop- 
erty. It neither has the power nor the will to affect 
the property of any one contrary to his consent. 
The execution of its scheme would augment instead 
of diminishing the value of property left behind. 
The society, composed of free men, concerns itself 
only with the free. Collateral consequences we are 
not responsible for. It is not this society which has 
produced the great moral revolution which the age 
exhibits. What would they who thus reproach us 
have done? If they would repress all tendencies 
toward liberty 7 and ultimate emancipation, they must 
do more than put down the benevolent efforts of 

1852] Eulogy on Henry Clay 175 

society. They must go back to the era of our lib- 
erty and independence, and muzzle the cannon which 
thunders its annual joyous return. They must re- 
new the slave-trade, with all its train of atrocities. 
They must suppress the workings of British philan- 
thropy, seeking to meliorate the condition of the 
unfortunate West Indian slave. They must arrest 
the career of South American deliverance from 
thraldom. They must blow out the moral light 
around us and extinguish that greatest torch of all 
which America presents to a benighted world — 
pointing the way to their rights, their liberties, and 
their happiness. And when they have achieved all 
those purposes their work will be yet incomplete. 
They must penetrate the human soul, and eradicate 
the light of reason and the love of liberty. Then, 
and not till then, when universal darkness and de- 
spair prevail, can you perpetuate slavery and repress 
all sympathy and all humane and benevolent efforts 
among free men in behalf of the unhappy portion 
of our race doomed to bondage. 

The American Colonization Society was or- 
ganized in 1 8 16. Mr. Clay, though not its pro- 
jector, was one of its earliest members; and he 
died, as for many preceding years he had been, 
its president. It was one of the most cherished 
objects of his direct care and consideration, and 
the association of his name with it has probably 
been its very greatest collateral support. He 
considered it no demerit in the society that it 

176 Abraham Lincoln [July 16 

tended to relieve the slaveholders from the trou- 
blesome presence of the free negroes; but this 
was far from being its whole merit in his estima- 
tion. In the same speech from which we have 
quoted he says: 

There is a moral fitness in. the idea of returning 
to Africa her children, whose ancestors have been 
torn from her by the ruthless hand of fraud and 
violence. Transplanted in a foreign land, they will 
carry back to their native soil the rich fruits of re- 
ligion, civilization, law, and liberty. May it not be 
one of the great designs of the Ruler of the uni- 
verse, whose ways are often inscrutable by short- 
sighted mortals, thus to transform an original crime 
into a signal blessing to that most unfortunate por- 
tion of the globe? 

This suggestion of the possible ultimate re- 
demption of the African race and African con- 
tinent was made twenty-five years ago. Every 
succeeding year has added strength to the hope 
of its realization. May it indeed be realized. 
Pharaoh's country was cursed with plagues, and 
his hosts were lost in the Red Sea, for striving 
to retain a captive people who had already 
served them more than four hundred years. May 
like disasters never befall us! If, as the friends 
of colonization hope, the present and coming 
generations of our countrymen shall by any 

1852] Eulogy on Henry Clay 177 

means succeed in freeing our land from the dan- 
gerous presence of slavery, and at the same time 
in restoring a captive people to their long-lost 
fatherland with bright prospects for the future, 
and this too so gradually that neither races nor 
individuals shall have suffered by the change, 
it will indeed be a glorious consummation. And 
if to such a consummation the efforts of Mr. 
Clay shall have contributed, it will be what he- 
most ardently wished, and none of his labors 
will have been more valuable to his country and 
his kind. 

But Henry Clay is dead. His long and event- 
ful life is closed. Our country is prosperous 
and powerful; but could it have been quite all 
it has been, and is, and is to be, without Henry 
Clay? Such a man the times have demanded, 
and such in the providence of God was given us. 
But he is gone. Let us strive to deserve, as far as 
mortals may, the continued care of Divine Prov- 
idence, trusting that in future national emergen- 
cies He will not fail to provide us the instru- 
ments of safety and security. 

Opinion on the Illinois Election Law 

Challenged Voters. 

Springfield, November i, 1 8 s 2 . 
A leading article in the "Daily Register" of 

178 Abraham Lincoln [May 12 

this morning has induced some of our friends to 
request our opinion on the election laws as ap- 
plicable to challenged voters. We have exam- 
ined the present constitution of the State, the 
election law of 1849, and the unrepealed parts 
of the election law in the revised code of 1845; 
and we are of the opinion that any person taking 
the oath prescribed in the act of 1849 is entitled 
to vote unless counter-proof be made satisfactory 
to a majority of the judges that such oath is un- 
true; and that for the purpose of obtaining such 
counter-proof, the proposed voter may be asked 
questions in the way of cross-examination, and 
other independent testimony mav be received. 
We base our opinion as to receiving counter- 
proof upon the unrepealed section nineteen of 
the election law in the revised code. 

A. Lincoln, 

B. S. Edwards, 
S. T. Logan. 

I concur in the foregoing opinion, 

S. H. Treat. 

* Letter to Joshua R. Stanford 

Pekin, May 12, 1853. 
Sir: I hope the subject-matter of this letter 
will appear a sufficient apology to you for the 
liberty T, a total stranger, take in addressing 

1 853I Letter to Stanford 


you. The persons here holding two lots under 
a conveyance made by you, as the attorney of 
Daniel M. Baily, now nearly twenty-two years 
ago, are in great danger of losing the lots, and 
very much, perhaps all, is to depend on the tes- 
timony you give as to whether you did or did 
not account to Baily for the proceeds received 
by you on this sale of the lots. I, therefore, as 
one of the counsel, beg of you to fully refresh 
your recollection by any means in your power 
before the time you may be called on to testify. 
If persons should come about you, and show a 
disposition to pump you on the subject, it may 
be no more than prudent to remember that it 
may b~e possible they design to misrepresent you 
and embarrass the real testimony you may ulti- 
mately give. It may be six months or a year 
before you are called on to testify. 


A. Lincoln. 

Letter to M. Brayman 

Pekin, October 3, 1853. 
Dear Sir: Neither the county of McLean nor 
any one on its behalf has yet made any engage- 
ment with me in relation to its suit with the 
Illinois Central Railroad on the subject, of taxa- 
tion. I am now free to make an engagement 

180 Abraham Lincoln [Apr. i 

for the road, and if you think of it you may 
"count me in." Please write me on receipt of 
this. I shall be here at least ten days. 

Yours truly, A. LINCOLN. 

Letter to Jesse Lincoln 

Springfield, Illinois, April i, 1854. 
My Dear Sir: On yesterday I had the pleas- 
ure of receiving your letter of the 16th of March. 
From what you say there can be no doubt that 
you and I are of the same family. The history 
of your family, as you give it, is precisely what 
I have always heard, and partly know, of my 
own. As you have supposed, I am the grandson 
of your uncle Abraham; and the story of his 
death by the Indians, and of Uncle Mordecai, 
then fourteen years old, killing one of the In- 
dians, is the legend more strongly than all others 
imprinted upon my mind and memory. I am 
the son of grandfather's youngest son, Thomas. 
I have often heard my father speak of his uncle 
Isaac resfding at Watauga (I think), nearwhere 
the then States of Virginia, North Carolina, and 
Tennessee join, — you seem now to be some hun- 
dred miles or so west of that. I often saw Uncle 
Mordecai, and Uncle Josiah but once in my life ; 
but I never resided near either of them. Uncle 
Mordecai died in 183 1 or 2, in Hancock Coun- 

1854] Letter to Jesse Lincoln 181 

ty, Illinois, where he had then recently removed 
from Kentucky, and where his children had also 
removed, and still reside, as I understand. 
Whether Uncle Josiah is dead or living, I cannot 
tell, not having heard from him for more than 
twenty years. When I last heard of him he was 
living on Big Blue River, in Indiana (Harrison 
Co., I think), and where he had resided ever 
since before the beginning of my recollection. 
My father (Thomas) died the 17th of January, 
1851, in Coles County, Illinois, where he had 
resided twenty years. I am his only child. T 
have resided here, and hereabouts, twenty-three 
years. I am forty-five years of age, and have a 
wife and three children, the oldest eleven years. 
My wife was born and raised at Lexington, Ken- 
tucky; and my connection with her has some- 
times taken me there, where I have heard the 
older people of her relations speak of your uncle 
Thomas and his family. He is dead long ago, 
and his descendants have gone to some part of 
Missouri, as I recollect what I was told. When 
I was at Washington in 1848, I got up a corre- 
spondence w r ith David Lincoln, residing at Spar- 
ta, Rockingham County, Virginia, who, like 
yourself, was a first cousin of my father; but I 
forget, if he informed me, which of my grand- 
father's brothers was his father. With Col. Cro- 
zier, of" whom you speak, I formed quite an inti- 

1 82 Abraham Lincoln [July 1 

mate acquaintance, for a short one, while at 
Washington ; and when you meet him again I 
will thank you to present him my respects. Your 
present governor, Andrew Johnson, was also at 
Washington while I was ; and he told me of there 
being people of the name of Lincoln in Carter 
County, I think. I can no longer claim to be a 
young man myself; but I infer that, as you are 
of the same generation as my father, you are 
some older. I shall be very glad to hear from 
you again. 

Very truly your relative, A. LINCOLN. 

Fragment. On Government [July 1, 1854?] 

Government is a combination of the people 
of a country to effect certain objects by joint 
effort. The best framed and best administered 
governments are necessarily expensive; while by 
errors in frame and maladministration most of 
them are more onerous than they need be, and 
some of them very oppressive. Why, then, 
should we have government? Why not each 
individual take to himself the whole fruit of his 
labor, without having any of it taxed away, in 
services, corn, or money? Why not take just so 
much land as he can cultivate with his own 
hands, without buying it of any one? 

The legitimate object of government is "to do 

1854] On Government 183 

for the people what needs to be done, but which 
they can not, by individual effort, do at all, or do 
so well, for themselves." There are many such 
things — some of them exist independently of the 
injustice in the world. Making and maintaining 
roads, bridges, and the like; providing for the 
helpless young and afflicted; common schools; 
and disposing of deceased men's property, are in- 

But a far larger class of objects springs from 
the injustice of men. If one people will make 
war upon another, it is a necessity with that other 
to unite and cooperate for defense. Hence the 
military department. If some men will kill, or 
beat, or constrain others, or despoil them of 
property, by force, fraud, or noncompliance with 
contracts, it is a common object with peaceful 
and just men to prevent it. Hence the criminal 
and civil departments. 

Fragment. On Slavery [July 1, 1854?] 

The ant who has toiled and dragged a crumb 
to his nest will furiously defend the fruit of his 
labor against whatever robber assails him. So 
plain that the most dumb and stupid slave that 
ever toiled for a master does constantly know 
that he is wronged. So plain that no one, high 
or low, ever does mistake it, except in a plainly 

184 Abraham Lincoln [July 1 

selfish way; for although volume upon volume 
is written to prove slavery a very good thing, 
we never hear of the man who wishes to take the 
good of it by being a slave himself. 

Most governments have been based, practi- 
cally, on the denial of the equal rights of men, 
as I have, in part, stated them; ours began by 
affirming those rights. They said, some men are 
too ignorant and vicious to share in government. 
Possibly so, said we; and, by your system, you 
would always keep them ignorant and vicious. 
We proposed to give all a chance; and we ex- 
pected the weak to grow stronger, the ignorant 
wiser, and all better and happier together. 

We made the experiment, and the fruit is be- 
fore us. Look at it, think of it. Look at it in 
its aggregate grandeur, of extent of country, and 
numbers of population — of ship, and steamboat, 
and railroad. 

Fragment. On Slavery [July 1, 1854?] 

Equality in society alike beats inequality, 
whether the latter be of the British aristocratic 
sort or of the domestic slavery sort. We know 
Southern men declare that their slaves are better 
off than hired laborers amongst us. How little 
they know whereof they speak! There is no 
permanent class of hired laborers amongst us. 

1854] On Slavery 185 

Twenty- five years ago I was a hired laborer. 
The hired laborer of yesterday labors on his 
own account to-day, and will hire others to labor 
for him to-morrow. Advancement — improve- 
ment in condition — is the order of things in a 
society of equals. As labor is the common bur- 
den of our race, so the effort of some to shift 
their share of the burden onto the shoulders of 
others is the great durable curse of the race. 
Originally a curse for transgression upon the 
whole race, when, as by slavery, it is concentra- 
ted on a part only, it becomes the double-refined 
curse of God upon his creatures. 

Free labor has the inspiration of hope; pure 
slavery has no hope. The power of hope upon 
human exertion and happiness is wonderful. 
The slave-master himself has a conception of it, 
and hence the system of tasks among slaves. The 
slave whom you cannot drive with the lash to 
break seventy-five pounds of hemp in a day, if 
you will task him to break a hundred, and prom- 
ise him pay for all he does over, he will break 
you a hundred and fifty. You have substituted 
hope for the rod. And yet perhaps it does not 
occur to you that to the extent of your gain in the 
case, you have given up the slave system and 
adopted the free system of labor. 

1 86 Abraham Lincoln [July i 

Fragment. On Slavery [July i, 1854?] 

If A can prove, however conclusively, that he 
may of right enslave B, why may not B snatch 
the same argument and prove equally that he 
may enslave A? You say A is white and B is 
black. It is color, then; the lighter having the 
right to enslave the darker? Take care. By this 
rule you are to be slave to the first man you meet 
with a fairer skin than your own. You do not 
mean color exactly? You mean the whites are 
intellectually the superiors of the blacks, and 
therefore have the right to enslave them? Take 
care again. By this rule you are to be slave to 
the first man you meet with an intellect superior 
to your own. But, say you, it is a question of 
interest, and if you make it your interest you 
have the right to enslave another. Very well. 
And if he can make it his interest he has the right 
to enslave you. 

Fragment. On Government [July 1, 1854?] 

The legitimate object of government is to do 
for a community of people whatever they need 
to have done, but cannot do at all, or cannot so 
well do, for themselves, in their separate and 

1854] Letter to J. M. Palmer 187 

individual capacities. In all that the people 
can individually do as well for themselves, gov- 
ernment ought not to interfere. The desirahle 
things which the individuals of a people cannot 
do, or cannot well do, for themselves, fall into 
two classes: those which have relation to wrongs, 
and those which have not. Each of these branch 
off into an infinite variety of subdivisions. 

The first — that in relation to wrongs — em- 
braces all crimes, misdemeanors, and non-per- 
formance of contracts. The other embraces all 
which, in its nature, and without wrong, requires 
combined action, as public roads and highways, 
public schools, charities, pauperism, orphanage, 
estates of the deceased, and the machinery of 
government itself. 

From this it appears that if all men were just, 
there still would be some, though not so much, 
need of government. 

*Letter to J. M. Palmer 


Springfield, September 7, 1854. 

Dear Sir: You know how anxious I am that 
this Nebraska measure shall be rebuked and 
condemned everywhere. Of course I hope some- 

1 88 Abraham Lincoln [Sept. 7 

thing from your position; yet I do not expect 
you to do any thing which may be wrong in your 
own judgment; nor would I have you do any- 
thing personally injurious to yourself. You are, 
and always have been, honestly, and sincerely, a 
Democrat; and I know how painful it must be 
to an honest, sincere man, to be urged by his 
party to the support of a measure, which in his 
conscience he believes to be wrong. You have 
had a severe struggle with yourself, and you 
have determined not to swallow the wrong. Is 
it not just to yourself that you should, in a few 
public speeches, state your reasons, and thus jus- 
tify yourself? I wish you would; and yet I say 
"don't do it, if you think it will injure you." 
You may have given your word to vote for Ma- 
jor Harris; and if so, of course you will stick to 
it. But allow me to suggest that you should 
avoid speaking of this; for it probably would 
induce some of your friends, in like manner, to 
cast their votes. You understand. And now let 
me beg your pardon for obtruding this letter 
upon you, to whom I have ever been opposed in 
politics. Had your party omitted to make Ne- 
braska a test of party fidelity, you probably 
would have been the Democratic candidate for 
Congress in the district. You deserved it, and 
I believe it would have been given you. In that 

1 854] Letter to J. M. Palmer 189 

case I should have been quite happy that Ne- 
braska was to be rebuked at all events. I still 
should have voted for the Whig candidate; but 
I should have made no speeches, written no let- 
ters ; and you would have been elected by at least 
a thousand majority. Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln. 

190 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

Speech at Peoria, Illinois, in Reply to Sen- 
ator Douglas, October 16, 1854 1 

ON Monday, October 16, Senator Doug- 
las, by appointment, addressed a large 
audience at Peoria. When he closed 
he was greeted with six hearty cheers, and the 
band in attendance played a stirring air. The 
crowd then began to call for Lincoln, who, as 
Judge Douglas had announced, was by agree- 
ment to answer him. Mr. Lincoln took the stand 
and said: 

I do not rise to speak now, if I can stipulate 
with the audience to meet me here at half-past 
six or at seven o'clock. It is now several minutes 
past five, and Judge Douglas has spoken over 
three hours. If you hear me at all, I wish you 

1 This speech, together with one delivered twelve days before 
at Springfield, made Lincoln a power in national politics. He had 
had little to do with politics since the expiration of his term in 
Congress, but the repeal of the Missouri Compromise aroused 
him to instant action. This measure allowed slavery in Missouri 
but prohibited it in all territory west of Missouri or north of the 
line 36 30'. Its repeal in 1854 combined with Congressional in- 
sistence on the fugitive slave act wrought up public feeling to 
the highest pitch. When closely studied the Peoria speech reveals 
germs of many of the powerful arguments elaborated by Lincoln 
later in his career. 

1854] Speech at Peoria 191 

to hear me through. It will take me as long as 
it has taken him. That will carry us beyond 
eight o'clock at night. Now, every one of you 
who can remain that long can just as well gel 
his supper, meet me at seven, and remain an hour 
or two later. The judge has already informed 
you that he is to have an hour to reply to mc. 
I doubt not but you have been a little surprised 
to learn that I have consented to give one of his 
high reputation and known ability this advantage 
of me. Indeed, my consenting to it, though reluc- 
tant, was not wholly unselfish, for I suspected, 
if it were understood that the judge was entirely 
done, you Democrats would leave and not hear 
me; but by giving him the close, I felt confident 
you would stay for the fun of hearing him skin 

The audience signified their assent to the ar- 
rangement, and adjourned to seven o'clock P. M., 
at which time they reassembled, and Mr. Lin- 
coln spoke substantially as follows: 

The repeal of the Missouri Compromise, and 
the propriety of its restoration, constitute the 
subject of what I am about to say. As I desire 
to present my own connected view of this sub- 
ject, my remarks will not be specifically an an- 
swer to Judge Douglas; yet, as I proceed, the 
main points he has presented will arise, and will 
receive such respectful attention as I may be 

192 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

able to give them. I wish further to say that I 
do not propose to question the patriotism or to 
assail the motives of any man or class of men, 
but rather to confine myself strictly to the naked 
merits of the question. I also wish to be no less 
than national in all the positions I may take, and 
whenever I take ground which others have 
thought, or may think, narrow, sectional, and 
dangerous to the Union, I hope to give a reason 
which will appear sufficient, at least to some, 
why I think differently. 

And as this subject is no other than part and 
parcel of the larger general question of domestic 
slavery, I wish to make and to keep the distinc- 
tion between the existing institution and the ex- 
tension of it, so broad and so clear that no honest 
man can misunderstand me, and no dishonest 
one successfully misrepresent me. 

In order to a clear understanding of what the 
Missouri Compromise is, a short history of the 
preceding kindred subjects will perhaps be 

When we established our independence, we 
did not own or claim the country to which this 
compromise applies. Indeed, strictly speaking, 
the Confederacy then owned no country at all ; 
the States respectively owned the country within 
their limits, and some of them owned territory 
beyond their strict State limits. Virginia thus 

1854] Speech at Peoria 193 

owned the Northwestern Territory — the coun- 
try out of which the principal part of Ohio, all 
Indiana, all Illinois, all Michigan, and all Wis- 
consin have since been formed. She also owned 
(perhaps within her then limits) what has since 
been formed into the State of Kentucky. North 
Carolina thus owned what is now the State of 
Tennessee; and South Carolina and Georgia 
owned, in separate parts, what are now Missis- 
sippi and Alabama. Connecticut, I think, 
owned the little remaining part of Ohio, being 
the same where they now send Giddings to Con- 
gress, and beat all creation in making cheese. 

These territories, together with the States 
themselves, constitute all the country over which 
the Confederacy then claimed any sort of juris- 
diction. We were then living under the Arti- 
cles of Confederation, which were superseded 
by the Constitution several years afterward. 
The question of ceding the territories to the Gen- 
eral Government was set on foot. Mr. Jeffer- 
son, the author of the Declaration of Independ- 
ence, and otherwise a chief actor in the Revolu- 
tion; then a delegate in Congress; afterward, 
twice President; who was, is, and perhaps will 
continue to be, the most distinguished politician 
of our history; a Virginian by birth and con- 
tinued residence, and withal a slaveholder, — ■ 
conceived the idea of taking that occasion to 

i94 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

prevent slavery ever going into the Northwest- 
ern Territory. He prevailed on the Virginia 
legislature to adopt his views, and to cede the 
Territory, making the prohibition of slavery 
therein a condition of the deed. 1 Congress ac- 
cepted the cession with the condition; and the 
first ordinance (which the acts of Congress were 
then called) for the government of the Territory 
provided that slavery should never be permitted 
therein. This is the famed "Ordinance of '87," 
so often spoken of. 

Thenceforward for sixty-one years, and until, 
in 1848, the last scrap of this Territory came into 
the Union as the State of Wisconsin, all parties 
acted in quiet obedience to this ordinance. It is 
now what Jefferson foresaw and intended — the 
happy home of teeming millions of free, white, 
prosperous people, and no slave among them. 

Thus, with the author of the Declaration of 
Independence, the policy of prohibiting slavery 
in new territory originated. Thus, away back 
to the Constitution, in the pure, fresh, free breath 
of the Revolution, the State of Virginia and the 
National Congress put that policy into practice. 
Thus, through more than sixty of the best years 
of the republic, did that policy steadily work to 

1 Mr. Lincoln afterward authorized the correction of the error 
into which the report here falls, with regard to the prohibition 
being made a condition of the deed. It was not a condition. 
— N. and H. 

1854] Speech at Peoria 195 

its great and beneficent end. And thus, in those 
five States, and in five millions of free, enter- 
prising people, we have before us the rich fruits 
of this policy. 

But now new light breaks upon us. Now Con- 
gress declares this ought never to have been, and 
the like of it must never be again. The sacred 
right of self-government is grossly violated by it. 
We even find some men who drew their first 
breath — and every other breath of their lives — 
under this very restriction, now live in dread of 
absolute suffocation if they should be restricted 
in the "sacred right" of taking slaves to Nebras- 
ka. That perfect liberty they sigh for — the lib- 
erty of making slaves of other people — Jefferson 
never thought of, their own fathers never 
thought of, they never thought of themselves, a 
year ago. How fortunate for them they did not 
sooner become sensible of their great misery! 
Oh, how difficult it is to treat with respect such 
assaults upon all we have ever really held sacred! 

But to return to history. In 1803 we pur- 
chased what was then called Louisiana, of 
France. It included the present States of Loui- 
siana, Arkansas, Missouri, and Iowa ; also the 
Territory of Minnesota, and the present bone of 
contention, Kansas and Nebraska. Slavery al- 
ready existed among the French at New Orleans, 
and to some extent at St. Louis. In 181 2 Loui- 

196 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

siana came into the Union as a slave State, with- 
out controversy. In 1818 or '19, Missouri 
showed signs of a wish to come in with slavery. 
This was resisted by Northern members of Con- 
gress; and thus began the first great slavery 
agitation in the nation. This controversy lasted 
several months, and became very angry and ex- 
citing, — the House of Representatives voting 
steadily for the prohibition of slavery in Mis- 
souri, and the Senate voting as steadily against 
it. Threats of the breaking up of the Union 
were freely made, and the ablest public men of 
the day became seriously alarmed. At length a 
compromise was made, in which, as in all com- 
promises, both sides yielded something. It was 
a law, passed on the 6th of March, 1820, provid- 
ing that Missouri might come into the Union 
with slavery, but that in all the remaining part 
of the territory purchased of France, which lies 
north of thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes 
north latitude, slavery should never be permit- 
ted. This provision of law is the "Missouri 
Compromise." In excluding slavery north of 
the line, the same language is employed as in 
the ordinance of 1787. It directly applied to 
Iowa, Minnesota, and to the present bone of con- 
tention, Kansas and Nebraska. Whether there 
should or should not be slavery south of that 
line, nothing was said in the law. But Arkansas 

1854] Speech at Peoria 197 

constituted the principal remaining part south 
of the line; and it has since been admitted .1- a 
slave State, without serious controversy. More 
recently, Iowa, north of the line, came In as a 
free State without controversy. Still later, Min- 
nesota, north of the line, had a territorial organi- 
zation without controversy. Texas, principally 
south of the line, and west of Arkansas, though 
originally within the purchase from France, had, 
in 1 8 19, been traded off to Spain in our treaty 
for the acquisition of Florida. It had thus fee- 
come a part of Mexico. Mexico revolutionized 
and became independent of Spain. American 
citizens began settling rapidly with their slaves 
in the southern part of Texas. Soon they revo- 
lutionized against Mexico, and established an 
independent government of their own, adopting 
a constitution with slavery, strongly resembling 
the constitutions of our slaves States. By still 
another rapid move, Texas, claiming a boundary 
much further west than when we parted with 
her in 18 19, was brought back to the United 
States, and admitted into the Union as a slave 

Then there was little or no settlement in the 
northern part of Texas, a considerable por- 
tion of which lay north of the Missouri line; 
and in the resolutions admitting her into the 
Union, the Missouri restriction was expressly 

198 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

extended westward across her territory. This 
was in 1845, only nine years ago. 

Thus originated the Missouri Compromise; 
and thus has it been respected down to 1845. 
And even four years later, in 1849, our distin- 
guished senator, in a public address, held the 
following language in relation to it: 

The Missouri Compromise has been in practical 
operation for about a quarter of a century, and has 
received the sanction and approbation of men of all 
parties in every section of the Union. It has allayed 
all sectional jealousies and irritations growing out of 
this vexed question, and harmonized and tranquilized 
the whole country. It has given to Henry Clay, as 
its prominent champion, the proud sobriquet of the 
"Great Pacificator," and by that title, and for that 
service, his political friends had repeatedly appealed to 
the people to rally under his standard as a presidential 
candidate, as the man who had exhibited the patriot- 
ism and power to suppress an unholy and treasonable 
agitation, and preserve the Union. He was not 
aware that any man or any party, from any section 
of the Union, had ever urged as an objection to Mr. 
Clay that he was the great champion of the Missouri 
Compromise. On the contrary, the effort was made 
by the opponents of Mr. Clay to prove that he was 
not entitled to the exclusive merit of that great patri- 
otic measure; and that the honor was equally due to 
others, as well as to him, for securing its adoption — 
that it had its origin in the hearts of all patriotic 

1854] Speech at Peoria 199 

men, who desired to preserve run! perpetuate the 
blessings of our glorious Union — an origin akin to 
that of the Constitution of the United States, con- 
ceived in the same spirit of fraternal affection, and 
calculated to remove forever the only clanger which 
seemed to threaten, at some distant day, to sever the 
social bond of union. All the evidences of public 
opinion at that day seemed to indicate that this Com- 
promise had been canonized in the hearts of the 
American people, as a sacred thing which no ruthless 
hand would ever be reckless enough to disturb. 

I do not read this extract to involve Judge 
Douglas in an inconsistency. If he afterward 
thought he had been wrong, it was right for him 
to change. I bring this forward merely to show 
the high estimate placed on the Missouri Com- 
promise by all parties up to so late as the year 

But going back a little in point of time. Our 
war with Mexico broke out in 1846. When 
Congress was about adjourning that session, 
President Polk asked them to place two millions 
of dollars under his control, to be used by him 
in the recess, if found practicable and expedient, 
in negotiating a treaty of peace with Mexico, 
and acquiring some part of her territory. A 
bill was duly gotten up for the purpose, and was 
progressing swimmingly in the House of Repre- 
sentatives, when a member by the name of David 

200 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

Wilmot, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, moved 
as an amendment, "Provided, that in any terri- 
tory thus acquired there shall never be slavery." 
This is the origin of the far-famed Wilmot 
proviso. It createa a great flutter; but it stuck 
like wax, was voted into the bill, and the bill 
passed with it through the House. The Senate, 
however, adjourned without final action on it, 
and so both appropriation and proviso were lost 
for the time. The war continued, and at the 
next session the President renewed his request 
for the appropriation, enlarging the amount, I 
think, to three millions. Again came the pro- 
viso, and defeated the measure. Congress ad- 
journed again, and the war went on. In Decem- 
ber, 1847, the new Congress assembled. I was 
in the lower House that term. The Wilmot pro- 
viso, or the principle of it, was constantly com- 
ing up in some shape or other, and I think I may 
venture to say I voted for it at least forty times 
during the short time I was there. The Senate, 
however, held it in check, and it never became 
a law. In the spring of 1848 a treaty of peace 
was made with Mexico, by which we obtained 
that portion of her country which now consti- 
tutes the Territories of New Mexico and Utah, 
and the present State of California. By this 
treaty the Wilmot proviso was defeated, in so 
far as it was intended to be a condition of the 

1854] Speech at Peoria 201 

acquisition of territory. Its friends, however, 
were still determined to find some \va\ to re- 
strain slavery from getting into the new country. 
This new acquisition lay directly west of our old 
purchase from France, and extended west to the 
Pacific Ocean, and was so situated that if the 
Missouri line should be extended straight west, 
the new country would be divided by such ex- 
tended line, leaving some north and some south 
of it. On Judge Douglas's motion, a bill, or 
provision of a bill, passed the Senate to so extend 
the Missouri line. The proviso men in the 
House, including myself, voted it down, because, 
by implication, it gave up the southern part to 
slavery, while we were bent on having it all free. 
In the fall of 1848 the gold-mines were discov- 
ered in California. This attracted people to it 
with unprecedented rapidity, so that on, or soon 
after, the meeting of the new Congress in De- 
cember, 1849, she already had a poulation of 
nearly a hundred thousand, had called a conven- 
tion, formed a State Constitution excluding slav- 
ery, and was knocking for admission into the 
Union. The proviso men, of course, were for 
letting her in, but the Senate, always true to the 
other side, would not consent to her admission, 
and there California stood, kept out of the Union 
because she would not let slavery into her bor- 
ders. Under all the circumstances, perhaps, this 

202 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

was not wrong. There were other points of dis- 
pute connected with the general question of 
slavery, which equally needed adjustment. The 
South clamored for a more efficient fugitive- 
slave law. The North clamored for the abolition 
of a peculiar species of slave-trade in the District 
of Columbia, in connection with which, in view 
from the windows of the Capitol, a sort of negro 
livery-stable, where droves of negroes were col- 
lected, temporarily kept, and finally taken to 
Southern markets, precisely like droves of horses, 
had been openly maintained for fifty years. 
Utah and New Mexico needed territorial govern- 
ments ; and whether slavery should or should not 
be prohibited within them was another question. 
The indefinite western boundary of Texas was 
to be settled. She was a slave State, and conse- 
quently the farther west the slavery men could 
push her boundary, the more slave country they 
secured; and the farther east the slavery oppo- 
nents could thrust the boundary back, the less 
slave ground was secured. Thus this Was just as 
clearly a slavery question as any of the others. 
These points all needed adjustment, and they 
were held up, perhaps wisely, to make them help 
adjust one another. The Union now, as in 1820, 
was thought to be in danger, and devotion to the 
Union rightfully inclined men to yield some- 
what in points, where nothing else could have 

1854] Speech at Peoria 203 

so inclined them. A compromise was finally 
effected. The South got their new fugitive-slave 
law, and the North got California (by far the 
best part of our acquisition from Mexico) as a 
free State. The South got a provision that New 
Mexico and Utah, when admitted as States, may 
come in with or without slavery as they may then 
choose; and the North got the slave-trade abol- 
ished in the District of Columbia. The North 
got the western boundary of Texas thrown far- 
ther back eastward than the South desired; but, 
in turn, they gave Texas ten millions of dollars 
with which to pay her old debts. This is the 
compromise of 1850. 

Preceding the presidential election of 1852, 
each of the great political parties, Democrats 
and Whigs, met in convention and adopted reso- 
lutions indorsing the compromise of '50, as a 
"finality," a final settlement, so far as these par- 
ties could make it so, of all slavery agitation. 
Previous to this, in 1851, the Illinois legislature 
had indorsed it. 

During this long period of time, Nebraska 
had remained substantially an uninhabited 
country, but now emigration to and settlement 
within it began to take place. It is about one 
third as large as the present United States, and 
its importance, so long overlooked, begins to 
come into view. The restriction of slavery by 

204 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

the Missouri Compromise directly applies to it 
— in fact was first made, and has since been 
maintained, expressly for it. In 1853, a bill to 
give it a territorial government passed the House 
of Representatives, and, in the hands of Judge 
Douglas, failed of passing only for want of time. 
This bill contained no repeal of the Missouri 
Compromise. Indeed, when it was assailed be- 
cause it did not contain such repeal, Judge 
Douglas defended it in its existing form. On 
January 4, 1854, Judge Douglas introduces a 
new bill to give Nebraska territorial govern- 
ment. He accompanies this bill with a report, 
in which last he expressly recommends that the 
Missouri Compromise shall neither be affirmed 
nor repealed. Before long the bill is so modi- 
fied as to make two territories instead of one, 
calling the southern one Kansas. 

Also, about a month after the introduction of 
the bill, on the judge's own motion it is so 
amended as to declare the Missouri Compromise 
inoperative and void; and, substantially, that the 
people who go and settle there may establish 
slavery, or exclude it, as they may see fit. In 
this shape the bill passed both branches of Con- 
gress and became a law. 

This is the repeal of the Missouri Compro- 
mise. The foregoing history may not be pre- 
cisely accurate in every particular, but I am sure 

1854] Speech at Peoria 205 

it is sufficiently so for all the use T shall attempt 
to make of it, and in it we have before us the 
chief material enabling us to judge correctly 
whether the repeal of the Missouri Compromise 
is right or wrong. I think, and shall try to 
show, that it is wrong — wrong in its direct effect, 
letting slavery into Kansas and Nebraska, and 
wrong in its prospective principle, allowing it 
to spread to every other part of the wide world 
where men can be found inclined to take it. 

This declared indifference, but, as I must 
think, covert real zeal, for the spread of slavery, 
I cannot but hate. I hate it because of the mon- 
strous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it be- 
cause it deprives our republican example of its 
just influence in the world; enables the enemies 
of free institutions with plausibility to taunt us 
as hypocrites; causes the real friends of freedom 
to doubt our sincerity; and especially because it 
forces so many good men among ourselves into 
an open war with the very fundamental princi- 
ples of civil liberty, criticizing the Declaration 
of Independence, and insisting that there is no 
right principle of action but self-interest. 

Before proceeding let me say that I think I 
have no prejudice against the Southern people. 
They are just what we would be in their situa- 
tion. If slavery did not now exist among them, 
they would not introduce it. If it did now exist 

206 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

among us, we should not instantly give it up. 
This I believe of the masses North and South. 
Doubtless there are individuals on both sides 
who would not hold slaves under any cir- 
cumstances, and others who would gladly in- 
troduce slavery anew if it were out of existence. 
We know that some Southern men do free their 
slaves, go North and become tip-top Abolition- 
ists, while some Northern ones go South and be- 
come most cruel slave-masters. 

When Southern people tell us they are no 
more responsible for the origin of slavery than 
we are, I acknowledge the fact. When it is 
said that the institution exists, and that it is very 
difficult to get rid of it in any satisfactory way, 
I can understand and appreciate the saying. I 
surely will not blame them for not doing what I 
should not know how to do myself. If all earth- 
ly power were given me, I should not know 
what to do as to the existing institution. My 
first impulse would be to free all the slaves, and 
send them to Liberia, to their own native land. 
But a moment's reflection would convince me 
that whatever of high hope (as I think there is) 
there may be in this in the long run, its sudden 
execution is impossible. If they were all landed 
there in a day, they would all perish in the next 
ten days ; and there are not surplus shipping and 
surplus money enough to carry them there in 

1854] Speech at Peoria 207 

many times ten days. What then? Free tl 
all, and keep them among us as underlin 
it quite certain that this betters their condition? 
I think I would not hold one in slavery at any 
rate, yet the point is not clear enough for me t > 
denounce people upon. What next? Free them, 
and make them politically and socially our 
equals. My own feelings will not admit of this, 
and if mine would, we well know that those of 
the great mass of whites will not. Whether this 
feeling accords with justice and sound judgment 
is not the sole question, if indeed it is any part 
of it. A universal feeling, whether well or ill 
founded, cannot be safely disregarded. We can- 
not then make them equals. It does seem to me 
that systems of gradual emancipation might be 
adopted, but for their tardiness in this I will 
not undertake to judge our brethren of the 

When they remind us of their constitutional 
rights, I acknowledge them — not grudgingly, 
but fully and fairly; and I would give them any 
legislation for the reclaiming of their fugitives 
which should not in its stringency be more likclv 
to carry a free man into slavery than our ordi- 
nary criminal laws are to hang an innocent one. 

But all this, to my judgment, furnishes no 
more excuse for permitting slavery to go into 
our own free territory than it would for reviv- 

208 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

ing the African slave-trade by law. The law 
which forbids the bringing of slaves from Af- 
rica, and that which has so long forbidden the 
taking of them into Nebraska, can hardly be 
distinguished on any moral principle, and the 
repeal of the former could find quite as plausi- 
ble excuses as that of the latter. 

The arguments by which the repeal of the 
Missouri Compromise is sought to be justified 
are these: First. That the Nebraska country 
needed a territorial government. Second. That 
in various ways the public had repudiated that 
compromise and demanded the repeal, and 
therefore should not now complain of it. And, 
lastly, That the repeal establishes a principle 
which is intrinsically right. 

I will attempt an answer to each of them in its 
turn. First, then. If that country was in need 
of a territorial organization, could it not have 
had it as well without as with a repeal? Iowa 
and Minnesota, to both of which the Missouri 
restriction applied, had, without its repeal, each 
in succession, territorial organizations. And 
even the year before, a bill for Nebraska itself 
was within an ace of passing without the repeal- 
ing clause, and this in the hands of the same 
men who are now the champions of repeal. 
Why no necessity then for repeal? But still 
later, when this very bill was first brought in, 

1854] Speech at Peoria 


it contained no repeal. But, say they, because 
the people had demanded, or rather command- 
ed, the repeal, the repeal was to accompany the 
organization whenever that should occur. 

Now, I deny that the public ever demanded 
any such thing — ever repudiated the Missouri 
Compromise, ever commanded its repeal. I 
deny it, and call for the proof. It is not con- 
tended, I believe, that any such command has 
ever been given in express terms. It is only 
said that it was done in principle. The sup- 
port of the Wilmot proviso is the first fact men- 
tioned to prove that the Missouri restriction was 
repudiated in principle, and the second is the 
refusal to extend the Missouri line over the 
country acquired from Mexico. These are near 
enough alike to be treated together. The one 
was to exclude the chances of slavery from the 
whole new acquisition by the lump, and the 
other was to reject a division of it, by which 
one half was to be given up to those chances. 
Now, whether this was a repudiation of the Mis- 
souri line in principle depends upon whether 
the Missouri law contained any principle re- 
quiring the line to be extended over the coun- 
try acquired from Mexico. I contend it did 
not. I insist that it contained no general 
principle, but that it was, in every sense, specific. 
That its terms limit it to the country purchased 

210 Abraham Lincoln [° ct - l6 


from France is undenied and undeniable. It 
could have no principle beyond the intention of 
those who made it. They did not intend to 
extend the line to country which they did not 
own. If they intended to extend it in the event 
of acquiring additional territory, why did they 
not say so? It was just as easy to say that "in 
all the country west of the Mississippi which we 
now own, or may hereafter acquire, there shall 
never be slavery," as to say what they did say; 
and they would have said it if they had meant it. 
An intention to extend the law is not only not 
mentioned in the law, but is not mentioned in 
any contemporaneous history. Both the law 
itself, and the history of the times, are a blank 
as to any principle of extension; and by. neither 
the known rules of construing statutes and con- 
tracts, nor by common sense, can such principle 
be inferred. 

Another fact showing the specific character 
of the Missouri law — showing that it intended 
no more than it expressed, showing that the line 
was not intended as a universal dividing line 
between free and slave territory, present and 
prospective, north of which slavery could never 
go — is the fact that by that very law Missouri 
came in as a slave State, north of the line. If 
that law contained any prospective principle, 
the whole law must be looked to in order to 

1854] Speech at Peoria 211 

ascertain what the principle was. And by this 
rule the South could fairly contend that inas- 
much as they got one slave State north of the 
line at the inception of the law, they have the 
right to have another given them north of it 
occasionally, now and then, in the indefinite 
westward extension of the line. This demon- 
strates the absurdity of attempting to deduce a 
prospective principle from the Missouri Com- 
promise line. 

When we voted for the Wilmot proviso we 
were voting to keep slavery out of the whole 
Mexican acquisition, and little did we think 
we were thereby voting to let it into Nebraska, 
lying several hundred miles distant. When 
we voted against extending the Missouri 
line, little did we think we were voting to 
destroy the old line, then of near thirty years' 

To argue that we thus repudiated the Mis- 
souri Compromise is no less absurd than it would 
be to argue that because we have so far forborne 
to acquire Cuba, we have thereby, in principle, 
repudiated our former acquisitions and deter- 
mined to throw them out of the Union. No less 
absurd than it would be to say that because I 
may have refused to build an addition to my 
house, I thereby have decided to destroy the 
existing house! And if I catch you setting lire 

212 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

to my house, you will turn upon me and say I 
instructed you to do it! 

The most conclusive argument, however, that 
while for the Wilmot proviso, and while vot- 
ing against the extension of the Missouri line, 
we never thought of disturbing the original Mis- 
souri Compromise, is found in the fact that 
there was then, and still is, an unorganized tract 
of fine country, nearly as large as the State of 
Missouri, lying immediately west of Arkansas 
and south of the Missouri Compromise line, and 
that we never attempted to prohibit slavery as 
to it. I wish particular attention to this: It 
adjoins the original Missouri Compromise line 
by its northern boundary, and consequently is 
part of the country into which by implication 
slavery was permitted to go by that compromise. 
There it has lain open ever since, and there it 
still lies, and yet no effort has been made at any 
time to wrest it from the South. In all our 
struggles to prohibit slavery within our Mexi- 
can acquisitions, we never so much as lifted a 
finger to prohibit is as to this tract. Is not this 
entirely conclusive that at all times we have held 
the Missouri Compromise as a sacred thing, even 
when against ourselves as well as when for us? 

Senator Douglas sometimes says the Missouri 
line itself was in principle only an extension of 
the line of the ordinance of '87 — that is to say, 

1854] Speech at Peoria 213 

an extension of the Ohio River. I think this 
is weak enough on its face. I will remark, 
however, that, as a glance at the map will show, 
the Missouri line is a long way farther south 
than the Ohio, and that if our senator in propos- 
ing his extension had stuck to the principle of 
jogging southward, perhaps it might not have 
been voted down so readily. 

But next it is said that the compromises of 
'50, and the ratification of them by both political 
parties in '52, established a new principle which 
required the repeal of the Missouri Compro- 
mise. This again I deny. I deny it, and de- 
mand the proof. I have already stated fully 
what the compromises of '50 are. That partic- 
ular part of those measures from which the 
virtual repeal of the Missouri Compromise is 
sought to be inferred (for it is admitted they 
contain nothing about it in express terms) is the 
provision in the Utah and New Mexico laws 
which permits them when they seek admission 
into the Union as States to come in with or 
without slavery, as they shall then see fit. Now 
I insist this provision was made for Utah and 
New Mexico, and for no other place whatever. 
It had no more direct reference to Nebraska 
than it had to the territories of the moon. But, 
say they, it had reference to Nebraska in prin- 
ciple. Let us see. The North consented to this 

214 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

provision, not because they considered it right 
in itself, but because they were compensated — ■ 
paid for it. 

They at the same time got California into the 
Union as a free State. This was far the best 
part of all they had struggled for by the Wil- 
mot proviso. They also got the area of slavery 
somewhat narrowed in the settlement of the 
boundary of Texas. Also they got the slave- 
trade abolished in the District of Columbia. 

For all these desirable objects the North 
could afford to yield something; and they did 
yield to the South the Utah and New Mexico 
provision. I do not mean that the whole North, 
or even a majority, yielded, when the law pass- 
ed; but enough yielded, when added to the vote 
of the South, to carry the measure. Nor can 
it be pretended that the principle of this 
arrangement requires us to permit the same 
provision to be applied to Nebraska, with- 
out any equivalent at all. Give us another 
free State; press the boundary of Texas still 
further back; and give us another step to- 
ward the destruction of slavery in the Dis- 
trict, and you present us a similar case. But 
ask us not to repeat, for nothing, what you paid 
for in the first instance. If you wish the thing 
again, pay again. That is the principle of the 
compromises of '50, if, indeed, they had any 

1854] Speech at Peoria 215 

principles beyond their specific terms — it was 
the system of equivalents. 

Again, if Congress, at that time, intended that 
all future Territories, should, when admitted as 
States, come in with or without slavery, at their 
own option, why did it not say so? With such 
a universal provision, all know the bills could 
not have passed. Did they, then — could they 
— establish a principle contrary to their own 
intention? Still further, if they intended to es- 
tablish the principle that, whenever Congress 
had control, it should be left to the people to 
do as they thought fit with slavery, why did 
they not authorize the people of the District of 
Columbia, at their option, to abolish slavery 
within their limits? 

I personally know that this has not been left 
undone because it w r as unthought of. It was 
frequently spoken of by members of Congress, 
and by citizens of Washington, six years ago; 
and I heard no one express a doubt that a sys- 
tem of gradual emancipation, with compensa- 
tion to owners, would meet the approbation of 
a large majority of the white people of the Dis- 
trict. But without the action of Congress they 
could say nothing; and Congress said "No." 
In the measures of 1850, Congrcs- had the sub- 
ject of slavery in the District expressly on hand. 
If they were then establishing the principle of 

216 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

allowing the people to do as they please with 
slavery, why did they not apply the principle 
to that people? 

Again, it is claimed that by the resolutions of 
the Illinois legislature, passed in 1851, the re- 
peal of the Missouri Compromise was demand- 
ed. This I deny also. Whatever may be 
worked out by a criticism of the language of 
those resolutions, the people have never under- 
stood them as being any more than an indorse- 
ment of the compromises of 1850, and a release 
of our senators from voting for the Wilmot pro- 
viso. The whole people are living witnesses 
that this only was their view. Finally, it is 
asked, "If we did not mean to apply the Utah 
and New Mexico provision to all future terri- 
tories, what did we mean when we, in 1852, in- 
dorsed the compromises of 1850?" 

For myself I can answer this question most 
easily. I meant not to ask a repeal or modifica- 
tion of the fugitive-slave law. I meant not to 
ask for the abolition of slavery in the District 
of Columbia. I meant not to resist the admis- 
sion of Utah and New Mexico, even should they 
ask to come in as slave States. I meant nothing 
about additional Territories, because, as I un- 
derstood, we then had no Territory whose char- 
acter as to slavery was not already settled. As 
to Nebraska, I regarded its character as being 

1854] Speech at Peoria 217 

fixed by the Missouri Compromise for thirty 
years — as unalterably fixed as that of my own 
home in Illinois. As to new acquisitions, 1 said, 
"Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." 
When we make new acquisitions, we will, as 
heretofore, try to manage them somehow. That 
is my answer; that is what I meant and said; 
and I appeal to the people to say each for him- 
self, whether that is not also the universal mean- 
ing of the free States. 

And now, in turn, let me ask a few questions. 
If, by any or all these matters, the repeal of the 
Missouri Compromise was commanded, why 
was not the command sooner obeyed? Win- 
was the repeal omitted in the Nebraska bill of 
1853? Why was it omitted in the original bill 
of 1854? Why in the accompanying report was 
such a repeal characterized as a departure from 
the course pursued in 1850? and its continued 
omission recommended? 

I am aware Judge Douglas now argues that 
the subsequent express repeal is no substantial 
alteration of the bill. This argument seems 
wonderful to me. It is as if one should argue 
that white and black are not different. He ad- 
mits, however, that there is a literal change in 
the bill, and that he made the change in defer- 
ence to other senators who would not support 
the bill without. This proves that those other 

218 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

senators thought the change a substantial one, 
and that the judge thought their opinions worth 
deferring to. His own opinions, therefore, 
seem not to rest on a very firm basis, even in 
his own mind; and I suppose the world believes, 
and will continue to believe, that precisely on 
the substance of that change this whole agita- 
tion has arisen. 

I conclude, then, that the public never de- 
manded the repeal of the Missouri Compro- 

I now come to consider whether the appeal, 
with its avowed principles, is intrinsically right. 
I insist that it is not. Take the particular case. 
A controversy had arisen between the advocates 
and opponents of slavery, in relation to its es- 
tablishment within the country we had pur- 
chased of France. The southern, and then best, 
part of the purchase was already in as a slave 
State. The controversy was settled by also let- 
ting Missouri in as a slave State; but with the 
agreement that within all the remaining part of 
the purchase, north of a certain line, there 
should never be slavery. As to what was to be 
done with the remaining part south of the line, 
nothing was said; but perhaps the fair impli- 
cation was, it should come in with slavery if it 
should so choose. The southern part, except 
a portion heretofore mentioned, afterward did 

1854] Speech at Peoria 219 

come in with slavery, as the State of Arkansas. 
All these many years, since 1820, the northern 
part had remained a wilderness. At length set- 
tlements began in it also. In due course Iowa 
came in as a free State, and Minnesota was 
given a territorial government, without remov- 
ing the slavery restriction. Finally, the sole re- 
maining part north of the line — Kansas and 
Nebraska — was to be organized; and it is pro- 
posed, and carried, to blot out the old dividing 
line of thirty-four years' standing, and to open 
the whole of that country to the introduction of 
slavery. Now this, to my mind, is manifestly 
unjust. After an angry and dangerous contro- 
versy, the parties made friends by dividing the 
bone of contention. The one party first appro- 
priates her own share, beyond all power to be 
disturbed in the possession of it, and then seizes 
the share of the other party. It is as if two 
starving men had divided their only loaf; the 
one had hastily swallowed his half, and then 
grabbed the other's half just as he was putting 
it to his mouth. 

Let me here drop the main argument, to no- 
tice what I consider rather an inferior matter. 
It is argued that slavery will not go to Kansas 
and Nebraska, in any event. This is a pallia- 
tion, a lullaby. I have some hope that it will 
not; but let us not be too confident. As to cli- 

220 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

mate, a glance at the map shows that there are 
five slave States — Delaware, Maryland, Vir- 
ginia, Kentucky, and Missouri, and also the Dis- 
trict of Columbia, all north of the Missouri 
Compromise line. The census returns of 1850 
show that within these there are eight hundred 
and sixty-seven thousand two hundred and 
seventy-six slaves, being more than one fourth 
of all the slaves in the nation. 

It is not climate then, that will keep slavery 
out of these Territories. Is there anything in 
the peculiar nature of the country? Missouri 
adjoins these Territories by her entire western 
boundary, and slavery is already within every 
one of her western counties. I have even heard 
it said that there are more slaves in proportion 
to whites in the northwestern county of Mis- 
souri, than within any other county in the State. 
Slavery pressed entirely up to the old western 
boundary of the State, and when rather recently 
a part of that boundary at the northwest was 
moved out a little farther west, slavery followed 
on quite up to the new line. Now when the re- 
striction is removed, what is to prevent it from 
going still farther? Climate will not, no pe- 
culiarity of the country will, nothing in nature 
will. Will the disposition of the people pre- 
vent it? Those nearest the scene are all in favor 
of the extension. The Yankees who are op- 

1854] Speech at Peoria 221 

posed to it may be most numerous; but, in mili- 
tary phrase, the battle-field is too far from their 
base of operations. 

But it is said, there now is no law In Nebraska 
on the subject of slavery, and that, in such case, 
taking a slave there operates his freedom. That 
is good book-law, but is not the rule of actual 
practice. Whatever slavery is it has been first 
introduced without law. The oldest laws we 
find concerning it are not laws introducing it, 
but regulating it as an already existing thing. 
A white man takes his slave to Nebraska now. 
Who will inform the negro that he is free? 
Who will take him before court to test the ques- 
tion of his freedom? In ignorance of his legal 
emancipation he is kept chopping, splitting, and 
plowing. Others are brought, and move on in 
the same track. At last, if ever the time for 
voting comes on the question of slavery, the in- 
stitution already, in fact, exists in the country, 
and cannot well be removed. The fact of its 
presence, and the difficulty of its removal, will 
carry the vote in its favor. Keep it out until a 
vote is taken, and a vote in favor of it cannot be 
got in any population of forty thousand on earth, 
who have been drawn together by the ordinary 
motives of emigration and settlement. To get 
slaves into the Territory simultaneously with 
the whites in the incipient stages of settlement 

222 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

is the precise stake played for and won in this 
Nebraska measure. 

The question is asked us: "If slaves will go 
in notwithstanding the general principle of law 
liberates them, why would they not equally go 
in against positive statute law — go in, even if 
the Missouri restriction were maintained!" I 
answer, because it takes a much bolder man to 
venture in with his property in the latter case 
than in the former; because the positive congres- 
sional enactment is known to and respected by 
all, or nearly all, whereas the negative principle 
that no law is free law is not much known ex- 
cept among lawyers. We have some experience 
of this practical difference. In spite of the or- 
dinance of '87, a few negroes were brought into 
Illinois, and held in a state of quasi-slavery, not 
enough, however, to carry a vote of the people 
in favor of the institution when they came to 
form a constitution. But into the adjoining 
Missouri country, where there was no ordinance 
of '87 — was no restriction, they were carried ten 
times, nay, a hundred times, as fast, and actually 
made a slave State. This is fact — naked fact. 

Another lullaby argument is that taking slaves 
to new countries does not increase their number, 
does not make any one slave who would other- 
wise be free. There is some truth in this, and 
I am glad of it; but it is not wholly true. The 

1854] Speech at Peoria 223 

African slave-trade is not yet effectually sup- 
pressed; and if we make a reasonable deduct ion 
for the white people among us who are foreign- 
ers and the descendants of foreigners arriving 
here since 1808, we shall find the increase of the 
black population outrunning that of the white 
to an extent unaccountable, except by supposing 
that some of them, too, have been coming from 
Africa. If this be so, the opening of new coun- 
tries to the institution increases the demand for 
and augments the price of slaves, and so does, 
in fact, make slaves of freemen, by causing them 
to be brought from Africa and sold into bond- 

But however this may be, w r e know the open- 
ing of new countries to slavery tends to the per- 
petuation of the institution, and so does keep 
men in slavery who would otherwise be free. 
This result we do not feel like favoring, and we 
are under no legal obligation to suppress our 
feelings in this respect. 

Equal justice to the South, it is said, requires 
us to consent to the extension of slavery to new 
countries. That is to say, inasmuch as you do 
not object to my taking my hog to Nebraska, 
therefore I must not object to you taking your 
slave. Now, I admit that this is perfectly logic- 
al, if there is no difference between hogs and 
negroes. But while you thus require me to deny 

224 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

the humanity of the negro, I wish to ask whether 
you of the South, yourselves, have ever been 
willing to do as much? It is kindly provided 
that of all those who come into the world only 
a small percentage are natural tyrants. That 
percentage is no larger in the slave States than 
in the free. The great majority South, as well 
as North, have human sympathies, of which they 
can no more divest themselves than they can of 
their sensibility to physical pain. These sym- 
pathies in the bosoms of the Southern people 
manifest, in many ways, their sense of the wrong 
of slavery, and their consciousness that, after all, 
there is humanity in the negro. If they deny 
this, let me address them a few plain questions. 
In 1820 you joined the North, almost unani- 
mously, in declaring the African slave-trade 
piracy, and in annexing to it the punishment 
of death. Why did you do this? If you did 
not feel that it was wrong, why did you join in 
providing that men should be hung for it? The 
practice was no more than bringing wild negroes 
from Africa to such as would buy them. But 
you never thought of hanging men for catching 
and selling wild horses, wild buffaloes, or wild 

Again, you have among you a sneaking indi- 
vidual of the class of native tyrants known as 
the "Slave-Dealer." He watches your neces- 

1854] Speech at Peoria 225 

sities, and crawls up to buy your slave, at a spec 
ulating price. If you cannot help it, you sell 
to him; but if you can help it, you drive him 
from your door. You despise him utterly. 
You do not recognize him as a friend, or even 
as an honest man. Your children must not play 
with his; they may rollick freely with the little 
negroes, but not with the slave-dealer's children. 
If you are obliged to deal with him, you trv to 
get through the job without so much as touch- 
ing him. It is common with you to join hands 
with the men you meet, but with the slave- 
dealer you avoid the ceremony — instinctively 
shrinking from the snaky contact. If he grows 
rich and retires from business, you still remem- 
ber him, and still keep up the ban of non-inter- 
course upon him and his family. Now why is 
this? You do not so treat the man who deals 
in corn, cotton, or tobacco. 

And yet again. There are in the United 
States and Territories, including the District of 
Columbia, 433,643 free blacks. At five hun- 
dred dollars per head they are worth over two 
hundred millions of dollars. How comes this 
vast amount of property to be running about 
without owners? We do not see free horses or 
free cattle running at large. How is this? All 
these free blacks are the descendants of slaves, 
or have been slaves themselves; and they would 

226 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

be slaves now but for something which has oper- 
ated on their white owners, inducing them at 
vast pecuniary sacrifice to liberate them. What 
is that something? Is there any mistaking it? 
In all these cases it is your sense of justice and 
human sympathy continually telling you that 
the poor negro has some natural right to him- 
self — that those who deny it and make mere 
merchandise of him deserve kickings, contempt, 
and death. 

And now why will you ask us to deny the 
humanity of the slave, and estimate him as only 
the equal of the hog? Why ask us to do what 
you will not do yourselves? Why ask us to do 
for nothing what two hundred millions of dol- 
lars could not induce you to do? 

But one great argument in support of the re- 
peal of the Missouri Compromise is still to 
come. That argument is "the sacred right of 
self-government." It seems our distinguished 
senator has found great difficulty in getting his 
antagonists, even in the Senate, to meet him 
fairly on this argument. Some poet has said: 

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. 

At the hazard of being thought one of the fools 
of this quotation, I meet that argument — I rush 
in — I take that bull by the horns. I trust I un- 
derstand and truly estimate the right of self- 

1854] Speech at Peoria 227 

government. My faith in the proposition that 

each man should do precisely as he pleases with 
all which is exclusively his own lies at the foun- 
dation of the sense of justice there is in me. I 
extend the principle to communities of men as 
well as to individuals. I so extend it because 
it is politically wise, as well as naturally just: 
politically w r ise in saving us from broils about 
matters which do not concern us. Here, or at 
Washington, I would not trouble myself with 
the oyster laws of Virginia, or the cranberry 
law r s of Indiana. The doctrine of self-govern- 
ment is right, — absolutely and eternally right, — ■ 
but it has no just application as here attempted. 
Or perhaps I should rather say that whether it 
has such application depends upon whether a 
negro is not or is a man. If he is not a man, 
in that case he who is a man may as a matter of 
self-government do just what he pleases with 

But if the negro is a man, is it not to that 
extent a total destruction of self-government to 
say that he too shall not govern himself. When 
the white man governs himself, that is self-gov- 
ernment; but w r hen he governs himself and also 
governs another man, that is more than self- 
government — that is despotism. If the negro is 
a man, why then my ancient faith teaches me 
that "all men are created equal/' and that there 

228 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

can be no moral right in connection with one 
man's making a slave of another. 

Judge Douglas frequently, with bitter irony 
and sarcasm, paraphrases our argument by say- 
ing: "The white people of Nebraska are good 
enough to govern themselves, but they are not 
good enough to govern a few miserable ne- 

Well ! I doubt not that the people of Nebras- 
ka are and will continue to be as good as the 
average of people elsewhere. I do not say the 
contrary. What I do say is that no man is good 
enough to govern another man without that 
other's consent. I say this is the leading prin- 
ciple, the sheet-anchor of American republican- 
ism. Our Declaration of Independence says: 

We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all 
men are created equal; that they are endowed by their 
Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among 
these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 
That to secure these rights, governments are instituted 
among men, deriving their just powers from 


I have quoted so much at this time merely to 
show that, according to our ancient faith, the 
just powers of governments are derived from the 
consent of the governed. Now the relation of 
master and slave is pro tanto a total violation of 

1854] Speech at Peoria 229 

this principle. The master not only governs 
the slave without his consent, but he governs 
him by a set of rules altogether different from 
those which he prescribes for himself. Allow 
all the governed an equal voice in the govern- 
ment, and that, and that only, is self-government. 

Let it not be said I am contending for the es- 
tablishment of political and social equality be- 
tween the whites and blacks. I have already 
said the contrary. I am not combating the ar- 
gument of necessity, arising from the fact that 
the blacks are already among us; but I am com- 
bating what is set up as moral argument for 
allowing them to be taken where they have 
never yet been — arguing against the extension of 
a bad thing, which, where it already exists, we 
must of necessity manage as we best can. 

In support of his application of the doctrine 
of self-government, Senator Douglas has sought 
to bring to his aid the opinions and examples of 
our Revolutionary fathers. I am glad he has 
done this. I love the sentiments of those old- 
time men, and shall be most happy to abide by 
their opinions. He shows us that when it was 
in contemplation for the colonies to break off 
from Great Britain, and set up a new govern- 
ment for themselves, several of the States in- 
structed their delegates to go for the measure, 
provided each State should be allowed to regu- 

230 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

late its domestic concerns in its own way. I 
do not quote; but this is substance. This was 
right; I see nothing objectionable in it. I also 
think it probable that it had some reference to 
the existence of slavery among them. I will 
not deny that it had. But had it any reference 
to the carrying of slavery into new countries? 
That is the question, and we will let the fathers 
themselves answer it. 

This same generation of men, and mostly the 
same individuals of the generation who declared 
this principle, who declared independence, who 
fought the war of the Revolution through, who 
afterward made the Constitution under which 
we still live — these same men passed the ordi- 
nance of '87, declaring that slavery should never 
go to the Northwest Territory. I have no doubt 
Judge Douglas thinks they were very incon- 
sistent in this. It is a question of discrimina- 
tion between them and him. But there is not 
an inch of ground left for his claiming that their 
opinions, their example, their authority, are on 
his side in the controversy. 

Again, is not Nebraska, while a Territory, a 
part of us? Do we not own the country? And 
if we surrender the control of it, do we not sur- 
render the right of self-government? It is part 
of ourselves. If you say we shall not control it, 
because it is only part, the same is true of every 

1854] Speech at Peoria 231 

other part; and when all the parts are gone, 
what has become of the whole? What is then 
left of us? What use for the General Govern- 
ment, when there is nothing left for it to govern? 

But you say this question should be kit to the 
people of Nebraska, because they are more par- 
ticularly interested. If this be the rule, you 
must leave it to each individual to say tor him- 
self whether he will have slaves. W nat better 
moral right have thirty-one citizens of Ne- 
braska to say that the thirty-second shall not hold 
slaves than the people of the thirty-one States 
have to say that slavery shall not go into the 
thirty-second State at all? 

But if it is a sacred right for the people of 
Nebraska to take and hold slaves there, it is 
equally their sacred right to buy them where 
they can buy them cheapest; and that, undoubt- 
edly, will be on the coast of Africa, provided 
you will consent not to hang them for going 
there to buy them. You must remove this re- 
striction, too, from the sacred right of self-gov- 
ernment. I am aware, you say, that taking slaves 
from the States to Nebraska does not make slaves 
of freemen; but the African slave-trader can 
say just as much. He does not catch free ne- 
groes and bring them here. He finds them al- 
ready slaves in the hands of their black captors, 
and he honestly buys them at the rate of a red 

232 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

cotton handkerchief a head. This is very cheap, 
and it is a great abridgment of the sacred right 
of self-government to hang men for engaging in 
this profitable trade. 

Another important objection to this applica- 
tion of the right of self-government is that it 
enables the first few to deprive the succeeding 
many of a free exercise of the right of self-gov- 
ernment. The first few may get slavery in, and 
the subsequent many cannot easily get it out. 
How common is the remark now in the slave 
States, "If we were only clear of our slaves, how 
much better it would be for us." They are ac- 
tually deprived of the privilege of governing 
themselves as they would, by the action of a 
very few in the beginning. The same thing 
was true of the whole nation at the time our 
Constitution was formed. 

Whether slavery shall go into Nebraska, or 
other new Territories, is not a matter of exclu- 
sive concern to the people who may go there. 
The whole nation is interested that the best use 
shall be made of these Territories. We want 
them for homes of free white people. This they 
cannot be, to any considtrable extent, if slavery 
shall be planted within them. Slave States are 
places for poor white people to remove from, 
not to remove to. New free States are the places 
for poor people to go to, and better their con- 

1854] Speech at Peoria 233 

dition. For this use the nation needs these Ter- 

Still further: there are constitutional relations 
between the slave and free States which arc de- 
grading to the latter. We are under Legal obli- 
gations to catch and return their runaway slaves 
to them: a sort of dirty, disagreeable job, which, 
I believe, as a general rule, the slaveholders 
will not perform for one another. Then again, 
in the control of the government — the manage- 
ment of the partnership affairs — thev have 
greatly the advantage of us. By the Constitu- 
tion each State has two senators, each has a num- 
ber of representatives in proportion to the num- 
ber of its people, and each has a number of 
presidential electors equal to the whole number 
of its senators and representatives together. But 
in ascertaining the number of the people for this 
purpose, five slaves are counted as being equal 
to three whites. The slaves do not vote; they 
are only counted and so used as to swell the in- 
fluence of the white people's votes. The practi- 
cal effect of this is more aptly shown by a com- 
parison of the States of South Carolina and 
Maine. South Carolina has six representatives, 
and so has Maine; South Carolina has eight 
presidential electors, and so has Maine. This is 
precise equality so far; and of course they arc- 
equal in senators, each having two. Thus in the 

234 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

control of the government the two States are 
equals precisely. But how are they in the num- 
ber of their white people? Maine has 581,813, 
while South Carolina has 274,567; Maine has 
twice as many as South Carolina, and 32,679 
over. Thus, each white man in South Carolina 
is more than the double of any man in Maine. 
This is all because South Carolina, besides her 
free people, has 384,984 slaves. The South Car- 
olinian has precisely the same advantage over 
the white man in every other free State as well 
as in Maine. He is more than the double of 
any one of us in this crowd. The same advan- 
tage, but not to the same extent, is held by all 
the citizens of the slave States over those of the 
free; and it is an absolute truth, without an ex- 
ception, that there is no voter in any slave State, 
but who has more legal power in the govern- 
ment than any voter in any free State. There is 
no instance of exact equality; and the disadvan- 
tage is against us the whole chapter through. 
This principle, in the aggregate, gives the slave 
States in the present Congress twenty additional 
representatives, being seven more than the whole 
majority by which they passed the Nebraska 

Now all this is manifestly unfair; yet I do 
not mention it to complain of it, in so far as it 
is already settled. It is in the Constitution, and 

1854] Speech at Peoria 235 

I do not for that cause, or any other cause, pro- 
pose to destroy, or alter, or disregard the Con 
stitution. I stand to it, fairly, fully, and firmly 

But when I am told I must leave it altogether 
to other people to say whether new partners arc 
to be bred up and brought into the firm, on the 
same degrading terms against me, I respectfully 
demur. I insist that whether T shall be a whole 
man, or only the half of one, in comparison with 
others, is a question in which I am somewhat 
concerned, and one which no other man can 
have a sacred right of deciding for me. If I am 
wrong in this — if it really be a sacred right of 
self-government in the man who shall go to Ne- 
braska to decide whether he will be the equal 
of me or the double of me, then, after he shall 
have exercised that right, and thereby shall have 
reduced me to a still smaller fraction of a man 
than I already am, I should like for some gen- 
tleman, deeply skilled in the mysteries of sacred 
rights, to provide himself with a microscope, 
and peep about, and find out, if he can, what 
has become of my sacred rights. They will sure- 
ly be too small for detection with the naked eye. 

Finally, I insist that if there is anything which 
it is the duty of the whole people to never in- 
trust to any hands but their own, that thing is 
the preservation and perpetuity of their own lib- 
erties and institutions. Ami if they shall think, 

236 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

as I do, that the extension of slavery endangers 
them more than any or all other causes, how rec- 
reant to themselves if they submit the question, 
and with it the fate of their country, to a mere 
handful of men bent only on self-interest. If 
this question of slavery extension were an insig- 
nificant one — one having no power to do harm 
— it might be shuffled aside in this way; and 
being, as it is, the great Behemoth of danger, 
shall the strong grip of the nation be loosened 
upon him, to intrust him to the hands of such 
feeble keepers? 

I have done with this mighty argument of 
self-government. Go, sacred thing! Go in 

But Nebraska is urged as a great Union-sav- 
ing measure. Well, I too go for saving the 
Union. Much as I hate slavery, I would con- 
sent to the extension of it rather than see the 
Union dissolved, just as I would consent to any 
great evil to avoid a greater one. But when I 
go to Union-saving, I must believe, at least, 
that the means I employ have some adaptation 
to the end. To my mind, Nebraska has no such 

It hath no relish of salvation in it. 

It is an aggravation, rather, of the only one 
thing which ever endangers the Union. When 

1854] Speech at Peoria 237 

it came upon us, all was peace and quiet. The 
nation was looking to the forming of new bonds 
of union, and a long course of peace and pros- 
perity seemed to lie before us. In the whole 
range of possibility, there scarcely appears to 
me to have been anything out of which the slav- 
ery agitation could have been revived, except 
the very project of repealing the Missouri Com- 
promise. Every inch of territory we owned al- 
ready had a definite settlement of the slavery 
question, by which all parties were pledged to 
abide. Indeed, there was no uninhabited coun- 
try on the continent which we could acquire, if 
we except some extreme northern regions which 
are wholly out of the question. 

In this state of affairs the Genius of Discord 
himself could scarcely have invented a way of 
again setting us by the ears but by turning back 
and destroying the peace measures of the past. 
The counsels of that Genius seem to have pre- 
vailed. The Missouri Compromise was re- 
pealed; and here we are in the midst of a new- 
slavery agitation, such, I think, as we have never 
seen before. Who is responsible for this? Is it 
those who resist the measure, or those who cause- 
lessly brought it forward and pressed it through, 
having reason to know, and in fact know in 
must and would be so resisted? It could not 
but be expected by its author that it would be 

238 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

looked upon as a measure for the extension of 
slavery, aggravated by a gross breach of faith. 

Argue as you will and long as you will, this 
is the naked front and aspect of the measure. 
And in this aspect it could not but produce agi- 
tation. Slavery is founded in the selfishness of 
man's nature — opposition to it in his love of jus- 
tice. These principles are an eternal antago- 
nism, and when brought into collision so fiercely 
as slavery extension brings them, shocks and 
throes and convulsions must ceaselessly follow. 
Repeal the Missouri Compromise, repeal all 
compromises, repeal the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence, repeal all past history, you still can- 
not repeal human nature. It still will be the 
abundance of man's heart that slavery extension 
is wrong, and out of the abundance of his heart 
his mouth will continue to speak. 

The structure, too, of the Nebraska bill is 
very peculiar. The people are to decide the 
question of slavery for themselves; but when 
they are to decide, or how they are to decide, 
or whether, when the question is once decided, 
it is to remain so or is to be subject to an indefi- 
nite succession of new trials, the law does not 
say. Is it to be decided by the first dozen set- 
tlers who arrive there, or is it to await the arri- 
val of a hundred? Is it to be decided by a vote 
of the people or a vote of the legislature, or, 

1854] Speech at Peoria 239 

indeed, by a vote of any sort? To these ques- 
tions the law gives no answer. There is a mys- 
tery about this; for when a member proposed 
to give the legislature express authority to ex- 
clude slavery, it was hooted down by the friends 
of the bill. This fact is worth remembering. 
Some Yankees in the East arc sending emigrants 
to Nebraska to exclude slavery from it; and, so 
far as I can judge, they expect the question to 
be decided by voting in some way or other. But 
the Missourians are awake, too. They are with- 
in a stone's-throw of the contested ground. They 
hold meetings and pass resolutions, in which not 
the slightest allusion to voting is made. They 
resolve that slavery already exists in the Terri- 
tory; that more shall go there; that they, remain- 
ing in Missouri, will protect it, and that Aboli- 
tionists shall be hung or driven away. Through 
all this bowie-knives and six-shooters are seen 
plainly enough, but never a glimpse of the bal- 

And, really, what is the result of all this? 
Each party within having numerous and deter- 
mined backers without, is it not probable that 
the contest will come to blows and bloodshed? 
Could there be a more apt invention to bring 
about collision and violence on the slavery ques- 
tion than this Nebraska project is? [do not 
charge or believe that such was intended by 

240 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

Congress; but if they had literally formed a 
ring and placed champions within it to fight 
out the controversy, the fight could be no more 
likely to come off than it is. And if this fight 
should begin, is it likely to take a very peaceful, 
Union-saving turn? Will not the first drop of 
blood so shed be the real knell of the Union? 

The Missouri Compromise ought to be re- 
stored. For the sake of the Union, it ought to 
be restored. We ought to elect a House of Rep- 
resentatives which will vote its restoration. If 
by any means we omit to do this, what follows? 
Slavery may or may not be established in Ne- 
braska. But whether it be or not, we shall have 
repudiated — discarded from the councils of the 
nation — the spirit of compromise; for who, after 
this, will ever trust in a national compromise? 
The spirit of mutual concession — that spirit 
which first gave us the Constitution, and which 
has thrice saved the Union — we shall have stran- 
gled and cast from us forever. And what shall 
we have in lieu of it? The South flushed with 
triumph and tempted to excess; the North, be- 
trayed as they believe, brooding on wrong and 
burning for revenge. One side will provoke, 
the other resent. The one will taunt, the other 
defy; one aggresses, the other retaliates. Al- 
ready a few in the North defy all constitutional 
restraints, resist the execution of the fugitive- 

1854] Speech at Peoria 241 

slave law, and even menace the institution of 

slavery in the States where it exists. Already a 
few in the South claim the constitutional right 
to take and to hold slaves In the free States 
demand the revival of the slave-trade and de- 
mand a treaty with Great Britain by which fugi- 
tive slaves may be reclaimed from Canada. A.S 
yet they are but few on either side. It is a grave 
question for lovers of the Union, whether the 
final destruction of the Missouri Compromise, 
and with it the spirit of all compromise, will or 
will not embolden and embitter each of these, 
and fatally increase the number of both. 

But restore the compromise, and what then? 
We thereby restore the national faith, the na- 
tional confidence, the national feeling of broth- 
erhood. We thereby reinstate the spirit of 
concession and compromise, that spirit which 
has never failed us in past perils, and which 
may be safely trusted for all the future. The 
South ought to join in doing this. The peace of 
the nation is as dear to them as to us. In memo- 
ries of the past and hopes of the future, they 
share as largely as we. It would be on their 
a great act — great in its spirit, and great in its 
effect. It would be worth to the nation a hun- 
dred years' purchase of peace and prosperity. 
And what of sacrifice would they make? They 
only surrender to us what they gave us for a 

242 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

consideration long, long ago; what they have 
not now asked for, struggled or cared for; what 
has been thrust upon them, not less to their 
astonishment than to ours. 

But it is said we cannot restore it; that though 
we elect every member of the lower House, the 
Senate is still against us. It is quite true that 
of the senators who passed the Nebraska bill, a 
majority of the whole Senate will retain their 
seats in spite of the elections of this and the next 
year. But if at these elections their several con- 
stituencies shall clearly express their will 
against Nebraska, will these senators disregard 
their will? Will they neither obey nor make 
room for those who will? 

But even if we fail to technically restore the 
compromise, it is still a great point to carry a 
popular vote in favor of the restoration. The 
moral weight of such a vote cannot be estimated 
too highly. The authors of Nebraska are not at 
all satisfied with the destruction of the compro- 
mise — an indorsement of this principle they 
proclaim to be the great object. With them, 
Nebraska alone is a small matter — to establish 
a principle for future use is what they particu- 
larly desire. 

The future use is to be the planting of slavery 
wherever in the wide world local and unorgan- 
ized opposition cannot prevent it. Now, if you 

1854] Speech at Peoria 243 

wish to give them this indorsement, if von wi-li 
to establish this principle, do so. I shall regret 
it, but it is your right. On the contrary, if von 
are opposed to the principle, — intend to give it 
no such indorsement, — let no wheedling, no 
sophistry, divert you from throwing a direct 
vote against it. 

Some men, mostly Whigs, who condemn the 
repeal of the Missouri Compromise, neverthe- 
less hesitate to go for its restoration, lest they 
be thrown in company with the Abolitionists. 
Will they allow me, as an old Whig, to tell 
them, good-humoredly, that I think this is very 
silly? Stand with anybody that stands right. 
Stand with him while he is right, and part with 
him when he goes wrong. Stand with the Abo- 
litionist in restoring the Missouri Compromise, 
and stand against him when he attempts to re- 
peal the fugitive-slave law. In the latter case 
you stand with the Southern disunionist. What 
of that? you are still right. In both cases you 
are right. In both cases you expose the danger- 
ous extremes. In both you stand on middle 
ground, and hold the ship level and steady. In 
both you are national, and nothing less than na- 
tional. This is the good old Whig ground. To 
desert such ground because of any company, 
to be less than a Whig — less than a man — less 
than an American. 

244 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

I particularly object to the new position 
which the avowed principle of this Nebraska 
law gives to slavery in the body politic. I ob- 
ject to it because it assumes that there can be 
moral right in the enslaving of one man by an- 
other. I object to it as a dangerous dalliance 
for a free people — a sad evidence that, feeling 
prosperity, we forget right; that liberty, as a 
principle, we have ceased to revere. I object 
to it because the fathers of the republic eschewed 
and rejected it. The argument of "necessity" 
was the only argument they ever admitted in 
favor of slavery; and so far, and so far only, as 
it carried them did they ever go. They found 
the institution existing among us, which they 
could not help, and they cast blame upon the 
British king for having permitted its introduc- 
tion. Before the Constitution they prohibited 
its introduction into the Northwestern Terri- 
tory, the only country we owned then free from 
it. At the framing and adoption of the Consti- 
tution, they forbore to so much as mention the 
word "slave" or "slavery" in the whole instru- 
ment. In the provision for the recovery of fugi- 
tives, the slave is spoken of as a "person held to 
service or labor." In that prohibiting the aboli- 
tion of the African slave-trade for twenty years, 
that trade is spoken of as "the migration or im- 
portation of such persons as any of the States 

1854] Speech at Peoria 24$ 

now existing shall think proper to admit," eu . 
These are the only provisions alluding to slav- 
ery. Thus the thing is hid away in the Consti- 
tution, just as an afflicted man hides away a wen 
or cancer which he dares not cut out at once, 
lest he bleed to death, — with the promise, never- 
theless, that the cutting may begin at a certain 
time. Less than this our fathers could not do, 
and more they would not do. Necessity drove 
them so far, and further they would not go. But 
this is not all. The earliest Congress under the 
Constitution took the same view of slavery. 
They hedged and hemmed it in to the narrow- 
est limits of necessity. 

In 1794 they prohibited an outgoing slave- 
trade — that is, the taking of slaves from the 
United States to sell. In 1798 they prohibited 
the bringing of slaves from Africa into the Mis- 
sissippi Territory, this Territory then compris- 
ing what are now the States of Mississippi and 
Alabama. This was ten years before they had 
the authority to do the same thing as to the 
States existing at the adoption of the Constitu- 
tion. In 1800 they prohibited American citi- 
zens from trading in slaves between foreign 
countries, as, for instance, from Africa to Brazil. 
In 1803 they passed a law in aid of one or two 
slave-State laws, in restraint of the internal 
slave-trade. In 1807, in apparent hot haste, 

246 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

they passed the law, nearly a year in advance, — 
to take effect the first day of 1808, the very first 
day the Constitution would permit, — prohibit- 
ing the African slave-trade by heavy pecuniary 
and corporal penalties. In 1820, finding these 
provisions ineffectual, they declared the slave- 
trade piracy, and annexed to it the extreme pen- 
alty of death. While all this was passing in the 
General Government, five or six of the original 
slave States had adopted systems of gradual 
emancipation, by which the institution was rap- 
idly becoming extinct within their limits. Thus 
we see that the plain, unmistakable spirit of 
that age toward slavery was hostility to the prin- 
ciple and toleration only by necessity. 

But now it is to be transformed into a "sacred 
right." Nebraska brings it forth, places it on 
the highroad to extension and perpetuity, and 
with a pat on its back says to it, "Go, and God 
speed you." Henceforth it is to be the chief 
jewel of the nation — the very figurehead of the 
ship of state. Little by little, but steadily as 
man's march to the grave, we have been giving 
up the old for the new faith. Near eighty years 
ago we began by declaring that all men are 
created equal ; but now from that beginning we 
have run down to the other declaration, that for 
some men to enslave others is a "sacred right of 
self-government." These principles cannot 

1854] Speech at Peoria 247 

stand together. They are as opposite as God 
and Mammon; and whoever holds to the one 
must despise the other. When Pettit, in connec- 
tion with his support of the Nebraska bill, called 
the Declaration of Independence "a self-evident 
lie," he only did what consistency and candor 
require all other Nebraska men to do. Of the 
forty-odd Nebraska senators who sat present and 
heard him, no one rebuked him. Nor am 1 ap- 
prised that any Nebraska newspaper, or any 
Nebraska orator, in the whole nation has ever 
yet rebuked him. If this had been said among 
Marion's men, Southerners though they were, 
what would have become of the man who said 
it? If this had been said to the men who cap- 
tured Andre, the man who said it would prob- 
ably have been hung sooner than Andre was. 
If it had been said in old Independence Hall 
seventy-eight years ago, the very doorkeeper 
would have throttled the man and thrust him 
into the street. Let no one be deceived. The 
spirit of seventy-six and the spirit of Nebraska 
are utter antagonisms; and the former is being 
rapidly displaced by the latter. 

Fellow-countrymen, Americans, South as 
well as North, shall we make no effort to arrest 
this? Already the liberal party throughout the 
world express the apprehension "that the one 
retrograde institution in America is undermin- 

24S Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

ing the principles of progress, and fatally vio- 
lating the noblest political system the world ever 
saw." This is not the taunt of enemies, but the 
warning of friends. Is it quite safe to disregard 
it — to despise it? Is there no danger to liberty 
itself in discarding the earliest practice and first 
precept of our ancient faith? In our greedy 
chase to make profit of the negro, let us beware 
lest we "cancel and tear in pieces" even the white 
man's charter of freedom. 

Our republican robe is soiled and trailed in 
the dust. Let us repurify it. Let us turn and 
wash it white in the spirit, if not the blood, of 
the Revolution. Let us turn slavery from its 
claims of "moral right" back upon its existing 
legal rights and its arguments of "necessity." 
Let us return it to the position our fathers gave 
it, and there let it rest in peace. Let us readopt 
the Declaration of Independence, and with it 
the practices and policy which harmonize with 
it. Let North and South — let all Americans — 
let all lovers of liberty everywhere join in the 
great and good work. If we do this, we shall 
not only have saved the Union, but we shall 
have so saved it as to make and to keep it for- 
ever worthy of the saving. We shall have so 
saved it that the succeeding millions of free, 
happy people, the world over, shall rise up and 
call us blessed to the latest generations. 

1854J Speech at Peoria 249 

At Springfield, twelve days ago, where I had 
spoken substantially as 1 have here, fudge 
Douglas replied to me; and as he is to reply to 
me here, I shall attempt to anticipate him In- 
noticing some of the points he made there. I [e 
commenced by stating I had assumed all the 
way through that the principle of the Nebraska 
bill would have the effect of extending slavery. 
He denied that this was intended, or that this 
effect would follow. 

I will not reopen the argument upon this 
point. That such was the intention the world 
believed at the start, and will continue to be- 
lieve. This was the countenance of the thing, 
and both friends and enemies instantly recog- 
nized it as such. That countenance cannot now 
be changed by argument. You can as easily 
argue the color out of the negro's skin. Like 
the "bloody hand," you may wash it and wash 
it, the red witness of guilt still sticks and stare- 
horribly at you. 

Next he says that congressional intervention 
never prevented slavery anywhere; that it did 
not prevent it in the Northwestern Territory, 
nor in Illinois; that, in fact, Illinois came into 
the Union as a slave State; that the principle 
of the Nebraska bill expelled it from Illinois, 
from several old States, from everywhere. 

Now this is mere quibbling all the way 

250 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

through. If the ordinance of '87 did not keep 
slavery out of the Northwest Territory, how 
happens it that the northwest shore of the Ohio 
River is entirely free from it, while the south- 
east shore, less than a mile distant, along nearly 
the whole length of the river, is entirely covered 
with it? 

If that ordinance did not keep it out of Illi- 
nois, what was it that made the difference be- 
tween Illinois and Missouri? They lie side by 
side, the Mississippi River only dividing them 
while their early settlements were within the 
same latitude. Between 18 10 and 1820, the 
number of slaves in Missouri increased 721 I, 
while in Illinois in the same ten years they de- 
creased 51. This appears by the census returns. 
During nearly all of that ten years both were 
Territories, not States. During this time the 
ordinance forbade slavery to go into Illinois, 
and nothing forbade it to go into Missouri. It 
did go into Missouri, and did not go into Illi- 
nois. That is the fact. Can any one doubt as 
to the reason of it? But he says Illinois came 
into the Union as a slave State. Silence, per- 
haps, would be the best answer to this flat con- 
tradiction of the known history of the country. 
What are the facts upon which this bold asser- 
tion is based? When we first acquired the coun- 
try, as far back as 1787, there were some slaves 

1854] Speech at Peoria 251 

within it held by the French inhabitants of Kas 
kaskia. The territorial legislation admitted a 
few negroes from the slave States as indentured 
servants. One year after the adoption of tin- 
first State constitution, the whole number of 
them was — what do you think? Just one hun 
dred and seventeen, while the aggregate free 
population was 55,094 — about four hundred 
and seventy to one. Upon this state of facts the 
people framed their constitution prohibiting the 
further introduction of slavery, with a sort of 
guarantee to the owners of the few indentured 
servants, giving freedom to their children to be 
born thereafter, and making no mention what- 
ever of any supposed slave for life. Out of this 
small matter the judge manufactures his argu- 
ment that Illinois came into the Union as a slave 
State. Let the facts be the answer to the argu- 

The principles of the Nebraska bill, he says, 
expelled slavery from Illinois. The principle 
of that bill first planted it here — that is, it first 
came because there was no law to prevent it, 
first came before we owned the country; and 
finding it here, and having the ordinance of '87 
to prevent its increasing, our people struggled 
along, and finally got rid of it as best they could. 

But the principle of the Nebraska bill abol- 
ished slavery in several of the old States. Well, 

252 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

it is true that several of the old States, in the 
last quarter of the last century, did adopt sys- 
tems of gradual emancipation by which the in- 
stitution has finally become extinct within their 
limits; but it may or may not be true that the 
principle of the Nebraska bill was the cause 
that led to the adoption of these measures. It 
is now more than fifty years since the last of 
these States adopted its system of emancipation. 

If the Nebraska bill is the real author of the 
benevolent works, it is rather deplorable that it 
has for so long a time ceased working altogether. 
Is there not some reason to suspect that it was 
the principle of the Revolution, and not the 
principle of the Nebraska bill, that led to eman- 
cipation in these old States? Leave it to the 
people of these old emancipating States, and I 
am quite certain they will decide that neither 
that nor any other good thing ever did or ever 
will come of the Nebraska bill. 

In the course of my main argument, Judge 
Douglas interrupted me to say that the princi- 
ple of the Nebraska bill was very old; that it 
originated when God made man, and placed 
good and evil before him, allowing him to 
choose for himself, being responsible for the 
choice he should make. At the time I thought 
this was merely playful, and I answered it ac- 
cordingly. But in his reply to me he renewed 

1854] Speech at Peoria 

it as a serious argument. In seriousness, then, 

the facts of this proposition arc not true- as stated. 
God did not place good and evil before man, 
telling him to make his choice. On the contrary, 
he did tell him there was one tree of the fruit 
of which he should not eat, upon pain of certain 
death. I should scarcely wish so strong a pro- 
hibition against slavery in Nebraska. 

But this argument strikes me as not a little 
remarkable in another particular — in its strong 
resemblance to the old argument for the "divine- 
right of kings." By the latter, the king is to do 
just as he pleases with his white subjects being 
responsible to God alone. By the former, the 
white man is to do just as he pleases with his 
black slaves, being responsible to God alone. 
The two things are precisely alike, and it is but 
natural that they should find similar arguments 
to sustain them. 

I had argued that the application of the prin- 
ciple of self-government, as contended for, 
would require the revival of the African slave- 
trade; that no argument could be made in favor 
of a man's right to take slaves to Nebraska, 
which could not be equally well made in favor 
of his right to brin^ them from the coast of Af- 
rica. The judge replied that the Constitution 
requires the suppression of the foreign slave- 
trade, but does not require the prohibition of 

254 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

slavery in the Territories. That is a mistake in 
point of fact. The Constitution does not re- 
quire the action of Congress in either case, and 
it does authorize it in both. And so there is 
still no difference between the cases. 

In regard to what I have said of the advan- 
tage the slave States have over the free in the 
matter of representation, the judge replied that 
we in the free States count five free negroes as 
five white people, while in the slave States they 
count five slaves as three whites only; and that 
the advantage, at last, was on the side of the free 

Now, in the slave States they count free ne- 
groes just as we do; and it so happens that, be- 
sides their slaves, they have as many free negroes 
as we have, and thirty thousand over. Thus 
their free negroes more than balance ours; and 
their advantage over us, in consequence of their 
slaves, still remains as I stated it. 

In reply to my argument that the compromise 
measures of 1850 were a system of equivalents, 
and that the provisions of no one of them could 
fairly be carried to other subjects without its 
corresponding equivalent being carried with it, 
the judge denied outright that these measures 
had any connection with or dependence upon 
each other. This is mere desperation. If they 
had no connection, why are they always spoken 

1854] Speech at Peoria 25$ 

of in connection? Why has he so spoken of 
them a thousand times? Why has he constantly 
called them a series of measures? Why does 
everybody call them a compromise? Why was 
California kept out of the Union six or seven 
months, if it was not because of its connection 
with the other measures? Webster's leading 
definition of the verb "to compromise" is "to 
adjust and settle a difference, by mutual agree- 
ment, with concessions of claims by the parties." 
This conveys precisely the popular understand- 
ing of the word "compromise." 

We knew, before the judge told us, that these 
measures passed separately, and in distinct bills, 
and that no two of them were passed by the votes 
of precisely the same members. But we also 
know, and so does he know, that no one of them 
could have passed both branches of Congress 
but for the understanding that the others were 
to pass also. Upon this understanding, each L, r <>t 
votes which it could have got in no other way. 
It is this fact which gives to the measure their 
true character; and it is the universal knowledge 
of this fact that has given them the name of 
"compromises," so expressive of that true char- 

I had asked "if, in carrying the Utah and 
New Mexico laws to Nebraska, you could clear 
away other objection, how could you leave Ne- 

256 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

braska 'perfectly free' to introduce slavery be- 
fore she forms a constitution during her terri- 
torial government, while the Utah and New 
Mexico laws only authorize it when they form 
constitutions and are admitted into the Union?" 
To this Judge Douglas answered that the Utah 
and New Mexico laws also authorized it be- 
fore; and to prove this he read from one of 
their laws, as follows: "That the legislative 
power of said territory shall extend to all right- 
ful subjects of legislation, consistent with the 
Constitution of the United States and the provi- 
sions of this act." 

Now it is perceived from the reading of this 
that there is nothing express upon this subject, 
but that the authority is sought to be implied 
merely for the general provision of "all rightful 
subjects of legislation." In reply to this I in- 
sist, as a legal rule of construction, as well as 
the plain, popular view of the matter, that the 
express provision for Utah and New Mexico 
coming in with slavery, if they choose, when 
they shall form constitutions, is an exclusion of 
all implied authority on the same subject; that 
Congress, having the subject distinctly in their 
minds when they made the express provision, 
they therein expressed their whole meaning on 
that subject. 

The judge rather insinuated that I had found 

1854] Speech at Peoria 

it convenient to forget the Washington territo 
rial law passed in 1853. This was a division of 
Oregon organizing the northern part as the Ter- 
ritory of Washington. He asserted that by this 
act the ordinance of '87, theretofore existing in 
Oregon, was repealed; that nearly all the mem- 
bers of Congress voted for it, beginning in the 
House of Representatives with Charles Allen 
of Massachusetts, and ending with Richard 
Yates of Illinois; and that he could not under- 
stand how those who now oppose the Nebraska 
bill so voted there, unless it was because it was 
then too soon after both the great political par- 
ties had ratified the compromises of 1850, and 
the ratification therefore was too fresh to be 
then repudiated. 

Now I had seen the Washington act before, 
and I have carefully examined it since; and 1 
aver that there is no repeal of the ordinance of 
'87, or of any prohibition of slavery, in it. In 
express terms, there is absolutely nothing in the 
whole law upon the subject — in fact, nothing to 
lead a reader to think of the subject To my 
judgment it is equally free from everything 
from which repeal can be legally implied; but 
however this may be, are men now to be en- 
trapped by a legal implication, extracted from 
covert language, introduced perhaps for the 
very purpose of entrapping them? I sincerely 

258 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

wish every man could read this law quite 
through, carefully watching every sentence and 
every line for a repeal of the ordinance of '87, 
or anything equivalent to it. 

Another point on the Washington act. If it 
was intended to be modeled after the Utah and 
New Mexico acts, as Judge Douglas insists, why 
was it not inserted in it, as in them, that Wash- 
ington was to come in with or without slavery 
as she may choose at the adoption of her consti- 
tution? It has no such provision in it; and I 
defy the ingenuity of man to give a reason for 
the omission, other than that it was not intended 
to follow the Utah and New Mexico laws in 
regard to the question of slavery. 

The Washington act not only differs vitally 
from the Utah and New Mexico acts, but the 
Nebraska act differs vitally from both. By the 
latter act the people are left "perfectly free" to 
regulate their own domestic concerns, etc.; but 
in all the former, all their laws are to be sub- 
mitted to Congress, and if disapproved are to 
be null. The Washington act goes even fur- 
ther; it absolutely prohibits the territorial legis- 
lature, by very strong and guarded language, 
from establishing banks or borrowing money on 
the faith of the Territory. Is this the sacred 
right of self-government we hear vaunted so 
much? No, sir; the Nebraska bill finds no 

1854] Speech at Peoria 259 

model in the acts of '50 or the Washington a< t. 
It finds no model in any law from Adam till 
to-day. As Phillips says of Napoleon, the Ne- 
braska act is grand, gloomy ami peculiar, 
wrapped in the solitude of its own originality, 
without a model and without a shadow upon the 

In the course of his reply Senator Douglas 
remarked in substance that he had always con- 
sidered this government was made for the white 
people and not for the negroes. Why, in point 
of mere fact, I think so too. But in this remark 
of the judge there is a significance which I think 
is the key to the great mistake (if there is any 
such mistake) which he has made in this Ne- 
braska measure. It shows that the judge has 
no very vivid impression that the negro is hu- 
man, and consequently has no idea that there 
can be any moral question in legislating about 
him. In his view the question of whether a new- 
country shall be slave or free, is a matter oi 
utter indifference as it is whether his neighbor 
shall plant his farm with tobacco or stock it 
with horned cattle. Now, whether this view is 
right or wrong, it is very certain that the great 
mass of mankind take a totally different view. 
They consider slavery a great moral wrong, and 
their feeling against it is not evanescent, but 
eternal. It lies at the very foundation of their 

2"6b Abraham Lincoln [Oct. 16 

sense of justice, and it cannot be trifled with. 
It is a great and durable element of popular 
action, and I think no statesman can safely dis- 
regard it. 

Our senator also objects that those who oppose 
him in this matter do not entirely agree with 
one another. He reminds me that in my firm 
adherence to the constitutional rights of the 
slave States, I differ widely from others who are 
cooperating with me in opposing the Nebraska 
bill, and he says it is not quite fair to oppose him 
in this variety of ways. He should remember 
that he took us by surprise — astounded us by 
this measure. We were thunderstruck and 
stunned, and we reeled and fell in utter confu- 
sion. But we rose, each fighting, grasping what- 
ever he could first reach — a scythe, a pitchfork, 
a chopping-ax, or a butcher's cleaver. We 
struck in the direction of the sound, and we were 
rapidly closing in upon him. He must not think 
to divert us from our purpose by showing us 
that our drill, our dress, and our weapons are 
not entirely perfect and uniform. When the 
storm shall be past he shall find us still Ameri- 
cans, no less devoted to the continued union and 
prosperity of the country than heretofore. 

Finally, the judge invokes against me the 
memory of Clay and Webster. They were great 
men, and men of great deeds. But where have I 

1854] Speech at Peoria 261 

assailed them? For what is it that their life- 
long enemy shall now make profit by assuming 
to defend them against me, their life-long 
friend? I go against the repeal of the Missouri 
Compromise; did they ever go for it? They 
went for the compromise of 1850; did I ever go 
against them? They were greatly devoted to the 
Union; to the small measure of my ability was 
I ever less so? Clay and Webster were dead 
before this question arose; by what authority 
shall our senator say they would espouse his 
side of it if alive? Mr. Clay was the leading 
spirit in making the Missouri Compromise; is 
it very credible that if now alive he would take 
the lead in the breaking of it? The truth is that 
some support from Whigs is now a necessity 
with the judge, and for this it is that the names 
of Clay and Webster are invoked. His old 
friends have deserted him in such numbers as 
to leave too few to live by. He came to his own, 
and his own received him not; and lo! he turns 
unto the Gentiles. 

A word now as to the judge's desperate as- 
sumption that the compromises of 1850 had no 
connection with one another; that Illinois came 
into the Union as a slave State, and some other 
similar ones. This is no other than a bold de- 
nial of the history of the country. If we do not 
know that the compromises of 1850 were de- 

262 Abraham Lincoln [Nov. 10 

pendent on each other; if we do not know that 
Illinois came into the Union as a free State, — ■ 
we do not know anything. If we do not know 
these things, we do not know that we ever had a 
Revolutionary war or such a chief as Washing- 
ton. To deny these things is to deny our na- 
tional axioms, — or dogmas, at least, — and it puts 
an end to all argument. If a man will stand up 
and assert, and repeat and reassert, that two and 
two do not make four, I know nothing in the 
power of argument that can stop him. I think 
I can answer trie judge so long as he sticks to 
the premises; but when he flies from them, I 
cannot work any argument into the consistency 
of a mental gag and actually close his mouth 
with it. In such a case I can only commend 
him to the seventy thousand answers just in from 
Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. 

*Letter to Charles Hoyt 

Clinton, De Witt Co., November 10, 1854. 
Dear Sir: You used to express a good deal of 
partiality for me, and if you are still so, now is 
the time. Some friends here are really for me, 
for the U. S. Senate, and I should be very grate- 
ful if you could make a mark for me among 
your members. Please write me at all events 
giving me the names, post-offices, and "political 

1854] Letter to Henderson 263 

position" of members round about you. Direct 
to Springfield. 

Let this be confidential. Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln. 

Letter to T. J. Henderson. 

Springfield, November 27, 1854. 
My Dear Sir: It has come round that a Whig 
may, by possibility, be elected to the United 
States Senate; and I want the chance of being 
the man. You are a member of the legislature, 
and have a vote to give. Think it over, and see 
whether you can do better than go for me. 
iWrite me at all events, and let this be confiden- 
tial. Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln. 

264 Abraham Lincoln [Nov. 27 

Letter to I. Codding 

Springfield, November 27, 1854 

DEAR SIR: Your note of the 13th re- 
questing my attendance on the Repub- 
lican State Central Committee, on the 
17th instant at Chicago, was, owing to my ab- 
sence from home, received on the evening of 
that day (17th) only. While I have pen in 
hand allow me to say I have been perplexed 
some to understand why my name was placed on 
that committee. I was not consulted on the 
subject, nor was I apprised of the appointment 
until I discovered it by accident two or three 
weeks afterward. I suppose my opposition to 
the principle of slavery is as strong as that of 
any member of the Republican party; but I 
have also supposed that the extent to which I 
feel authorized to carry that opposition, prac- 
tically, was not at all satisfactory to that party. 
The leading men who organized that party were 
present on the 4th of October at the discussion 
between Douglas an r d myself at Springfield, and 
had full opportunity to not misunderstand my 
position. Do I misunderstand them? Please 
write and inform me. Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln. 

Statue of Abraham Lincoln at Chicago 

Wood Engraving from a Photograph of the Statue 
by Augustus St. Gaudens. 

1854] Letter to Gillespie 265 

*Letter to Joseph Gillespie 

Springfield, December i, 1854. 

My Dear Sir: I have really got it into my 
head to try to be United States Senator, and, 
if I could have your support, my chances would 
be reasonably good. But I know, and acknowl- 
edge, that you have as just claims to the place 
as I have; and therefore I cannot ask you to 
yield to me, if you are thinking of becoming 
a candidate, yourself. If, however, you are 
not, then I should like to be remembered af- 
fectionately by you; and also to have you make 
a mark for me with the Anti-Nebraska mem- 
bers, down your way. 

If you know, and have no objection to tell, 
let me know whether Trumbull intends to 
make a push. If he does, I suppose the two 
men in St. Clair, and one, or both, in Madison, 
will be for him. We have the legislature, 
clearly enough, on joint ballot, but the Senate 
is very close, and Cullom told me to-day that 
the Nebraska men will stave off the election, 
if they can. Even if we get into joint vote, we 
shall have difficulty to unite our forces. Please 
write me, and let this be confidential. 

Your friend as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

266 Abraham Lincoln [Dec. n 

Letter to Justice John McLean 

Springfield, Illinois, December 6, 1854. 

Sir: I understand it is in contemplation to 
displace the present clerk, and appoint a new 
one, for the Circuit and District Courts of Illi- 
nois. I am very friendly to the present incum- 
bent, and both for his own sake and that of his 
family, I wish him to be retained so long as it 
is possible for the court to do so. In the con- 
tingency of his removal, however, I have rec- 
ommended William Butler as his successor, and 
I do not wish what I write now to be taken as 
any abatement of that recommendation. 

William J. Black is also an applicant for the 
appointment, and I write this at the solicita- 
tion of his friends to say that he is every way 
worthy of the office, and that I doubt not the 
conferring it upon him will give great satis- 
faction. Your obedient servant, 

A. Lincoln 

Letter to E. B. Washburne. 

Springfield, December 11, 1854. 
My Dear Sir: Your note of the 5th is just 
received. It is too true that by the official re- 
turns Allen beats Colonel Archer one vote. 
There is a report to-day that there is a mistake 

1854] Letter to Washburne 267 

in the returns from Clay County, giving Allen 
sixty votes more than he really has; but this, 
I fear, is itself a mistake. I have just examined 
the returns from that county at the secretary's 
office, and find that the aggregate vote for sher- 
iff only falls short by three votes of the aggre- 
gate, as reported, of Allen and Archer's vote. 
Our friends, however, are hot on the track, and 
will probe the matter to the bottom. As to my 
own matter, things continue to look reasonably 
well. I wrote your friend, George Gage; and 
three days ago had an answer from him, in 
which he talks out plainly, as your letter taught 
me to expect. To-day I had a letter from 
Turner. He says he is not committed, and will 
not be until he sees how most effectually to op- 
pose slavery extension. 

I have not ventured to write all the members 
in your district, lest some of them should be 
offended by the indelicacy of the thing — that 
is, coming from a total stranger. Could you 
not drop some of them a line? Very truly your 
friend, A. LINCOLN. 

Letter to E. B. Washburne 

Springfield, December 14, 1854. 
My Dear Sir: So far as I am concerned, there 
must be something wrong about United States 
senator at Chicago. My most intimate friends 

268 Abraham Lincoln [Dec. 15 

there do not answer my letters, and I cannot 
get a word from them. Wentworth has a 
knack of knowing things better than most men. 
I wish you would pump him, and write me 
what you get from him. Please do this as soon 
as you can, as the time is growing short. Don't 
let any one know I have written you this; for 
there may be those opposed to me nearer about 
you than you think. 

Very truly yours, etc., 

A. Lincoln. 

Letter to T. J. Henderson 

Springfield, December 15, 1854. 
Dear Sir: Yours of the 1 ith was received last 
night, and for which I thank you. Of course, 
I prefer myself to all others; yet it is neither 
in my heart nor my conscience to say I am any 
better man than Mr. Williams. We shall 
have a terrible struggle with our adversaries. 
They are desperate, and bent on desperate 
deeds. I accidentally learned of one of the 
leaders here writing to a member south of here, 
in about the following language: 

We are beaten. They have a clear majority of 
at least nine on joint ballot. They outnumber us, 
but we must outmanage them. Douglas must be sus- 
tained. We must elect the Speaker; and we must 

1 854] Letter to Washburne 269 

elect a Nebraska United States senator, or elect none 
at all. 

Similar letters, no doubt, are written to 
every Nebraska member. Be considering how 
we can best meet, and foil, and beat them. 

I send you by this mail a copy of my Peoria 
speech. You may have seen it before, or you 
may not think it worth seeing now. Do not 
speak of the Nebraska letter mentioned above ; 
I do not wish it to become public that I receive 
such information. Yours truly. 

A. Lincoln. 

Letter to E. B. Washburne 

Springfield, December 19, 1854. 
My Dear Sir: Yours of the 12th just receiv- 
ed. The objection of your friend at Winne- 
bago rather astonishes me. For a senator to be 
the impartial representative of his whole State is 
so plain a duty that I pledge myself to the ob- 
servance of it without hesitation, but not with- 
out some mortification that any one should sus- 
pect me of an inclination to the contrary. I 
was eight years a representative of Sangamon 
County in the legislature; and although in a 
conflict of interests between that and other 
counties it perhaps would have been my duty 
to stick to old Sangamon, yet it is not within 

270 Abraham Lincoln [Jan. 6 

my recollection that the northern members 
ever wanted my vote for any interest of theirs 
without getting it. My distinct recollection is 
that the northern members and Sangamon 
members were always on good terms, and al- 
ways cooperating on measures of policy. The 
canal was then the great northern measure, and 
it from first to last had our votes as readily 
as the votes of the north itself. Indeed, I shall 
be surprised if it can be pointed out that in any 
instance the north sought our aid and failed to 
get it. 

Again, I was a member of Congress one 
term — the term when Mr. Turner was the legal 
member and you were a lobby member from 
your then district. Now I think I might ap- 
peal to Mr. Turner and yourself, whether you 
did not always have my feeble service for the 
asking. In the case of conflict, I might with- 
out blame have preferred my own district. As 
a senator I should claim no right, as I should 
feel no inclination, to give the central portion 
of the State any preference over the north, or 
any other portion of it. 

[Very truly your friend, 

A. Lincoln. 

1855] Letter to Washburne 2 7 J 

Letter to E. B. Washburne 


Springfield, January 6, 1855. 
My Dear Sir: I telegraphed you as to the 
organization of the two houses. T. J. Turner 
elected Speaker, 40 to 24; House not full; Dr. 
Richmond of Schuyler was his opponent; Anti- 
Nebraska also elected all the other officers of 
the House of Representatives. In the Senate 
Anti-Nebraska elected George T. Brown, of 
the "Alton Courier," secretary; and Dr. Ray, 
of the "Galena Jeffersonian," one of the clerks. 
In fact they elected all the officers, but some of 
them were Nebraska men elected over the reg- 
ular Nebraska nominees. It is said that by 
this they get one or two Nebraska senators to 
go for bringing on the senatorial election. I 
cannot vouch for this. As to the senatorial 
election, I think very little more is known than 
was before the meeting of the legislature. Be- 
sides the ten or a dozen on our side who are 
willing to be known as candidates, I think there 
are fifty secretly watching for a chance. I do 
not know that it is much advantage to have the 
largest number of votes at the start. If I did 
know this to be an advantage, I should feel 
better, for I cannot doubt but I have more 

272 Abraham Lincoln [Jan. 6 

committals than any other man. Your district 
comes up tolerably well for me, but not unani- 
mously by any means. George Gage is for me, 
as you know. J. H. Adams is not committed 
to me, but I think will be for me. Mr. Talcott 
will not be for me as a first choice. Dr. Little 
and Mr. Sargent are openly for me. Professor 
Pinckney is for me, but wishes to be quiet. 
Dr. Whitney writes me that Rev. Mr. Law- 
rence will be for me, and his manner to me so 
indicates, but he has not spoken it out. Mr. 
Swan I have some slight hopes of. Turner says 
he is not committed, and I shall get him when- 
ever I can make it appear to be his interest to 
go for me. Dr. Lyman and old Mr. Dig- 
gins will never go for me as a first choice. M. 
P. Sweet is here as a candidate, and I under- 
stand he claims that he has twenty-two mem- 
bers committed to him. I think some part of 
his estimate must be based on insufficient evi- 
dence, as I cannot well see where they are to 
be found, and as I can learn the name of one 
only — Day of La Salle. Still it may be so. 
There are more than twenty-two Anti-Ne- 
braska members who are not committed to me. 
Tell Norton that Mr. Strunk and Mr. Wheeler 
come out plump for me, and for which I thank 
him. Judge Parks I have decided hopes of, 
but he says he is not committed. I understand 

1855] Letter to Washburne 273 

myself as having twenty-six committals, and I 
do not think any other one man has ten. May 
be mistaken, though. The whole legislature 

Senate A. N. 

House of Representatives. . " 


N. 12 


" 3i 






All here, but Kinney of St. Clair. 

Our special election here is plain enough 
when understood. Our adversaries pretended 
to be running no candidate, secretly notified all 
their men to be on hand, and, favored by a very 
rainy day, got a complete snap judgment on us. 
In November Sangamon gave Yates 2166 
votes. On the rainy day she gave our man only 
984, leaving him 82 votes behind. After all, 
the result is not of the least consequence. The 
Locos kept up a great chattering over it till the 
organization of the House of Representatives, 
since which they all seem to have forgotten it. 
G.'s letter to L., I think has not been received. 
Ask him if he sent it. Yours as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

274 Abraham Lincoln [Feb. 9 

Letter to E. B. Washburne 

Springfield, February 9, 1855. 
Y DEAR SIR: The agony is over at 
last, and the result you doubtless 
know. I write this only to give you 
some particulars to explain what might appear 
difficult of understanding. I began with 44 
votes, Shields 41, and Trumbull 5, — yet Trum- 
bull was elected. In fact, 47 different mem- 
bers voted for me, — getting three new ones on 
the second ballot, and losing four old ones. 
How came my 47 to yield to Trumbull's 5? 
It was Governor Matteson's work. He has 
been secretly a candidate ever since (before, 
even) the fall election. All the members 
round about the canal were Anti-Nebraska 
but were nevertheless nearly all Democrats 
and old personal friends of his. His plan was 
to privately impress them with the belief that 
he was as good Anti-Nebraska as any one else, 
— at least could be secured to be so by instruc- 
tions, which could be easily passed. In this 
way he got from four to six of that sort of men 
to really prefer his election to that of any other 
man — all sub rosa, of course. One notable in- 

1855] Letter to Washburne 27$ 

stance of this sort was with Mr. Strunk of Kan- 
kakee. At the beginning of the session he came 
a volunteer to tell me he was for me and would 
walk a hundred miles to elect me; but lo! it was 
not long before he leaked it out that he was 
going for me the first few ballots and then for 
Governor Matteson. 

The Nebraska men, of course, were not for 
Matteson; but when they found they could 
elect no avowed Nebraska man, they tardily de- 
termined to let him get whomever of our men 
he could, by whatever means he could, and ask 
him no questions. In the mean time Osgood, 
Don Morrison, and Trapp of St. Clair had 
openly gone over from us. With the united 
Nebraska force and their recruits, open and 
covert, it gave Matteson more than enough to 
elect him. We saw into it plainly ten days ago, 
but with every possible effort could not head it 
off. All that remained of the Anti-Nebraska 
force, excepting Judd, Cook, Palmer, Baker 
and Allen of Madison, and two or three of the 
secret Matteson men, would go into caucus, and 
I could get the nomination of that caucus. 
But the three senators and one of the two repre- 
sentatives above named "could never vote for 
a Whig," and this incensed some twenty Whigs 
to "think" they would never vote for the man 
of the five. So we stood, and so we went into 

276 Abraham Lincoln [Feb. 9 

the fight yesterday, — the Nebraska men very 
confident of the election of Matteson, though 
denying that he was a candidate, and we very 
much believing also that they would elect him. 
But they wanted first to make a show of good 
faith to Shields by voting for him a few times, 
and our secret Matteson men also wanted to 
make a show of good faith by voting with us 
a few times. So we led off. On the seventh 
ballot, I think, the signal was given to the Ne- 
braska men to turn to Matteson, which they 
acted on to a man, with one exception, my old 
friend Strunk going with them, giving him 44 

Next ballot the remaining Nebraska man 
and one pretended Anti went over to him, 
giving him 46. The next still another, giving 
him 47, wanting only three of an election. In 
the mean time our friends, with a view of de- 
taining our expected bolters, had been turning 
from me to Trumbull till he had risen to 35 
and I had been reduced to 15. These would 
never desert me except by my direction; but I 
became satisfied that if we could prevent Mat- 
teson's election one or two ballots more, we 
could not possibly do so a single ballot after my 
friends should begin to return to me from 
Trumbull. So I determined to strike at once, 
and accordingly advised my remaining friends 

1 855] Letter to Washburne 277 

to go for him, which they did and elected him 
on the tenth ballot. 

Such is the way the thing was done. I think 
you would have done the same under the cir- 
cumstances; though Judge Davis, who came 
down this morning, declares he never would 
have consented to the forty-seven men being 
controlled by the five. I regret my defeat mod- 
erately, but I am not nervous about it. I could 
have headed off every combination and been 
elected, had it not been for Matteson's double 
game — and his defeat now gives me more pleas- 
ure than my own gives me pain. On the whole, 
it is perhaps as well for our general cause that 
Trumbull is elected. The Nebraska men con- 
fess that they hate it worse than anything that 
could have happened. It is a great consola- 
tion to see them worse whipped than I am. I 
tell them it is their own fault — that they had 
abundant opportunity to choose between him 
and me, which they declined, and instead forced 
it on me to decide between him and Matteson. 

With my grateful acknowledgments for the 
kind, active, and continued interest you have 
taken for me in this matter, allow me to sub- 
scribe myself Yours forever, 

A. Lincoln. 

278 Abraham Lincoln [Aug. 15 

*Letter to Sanford, Porter and Striker 

Springfield, March ioth, 1855. 

Gentlemen: Yours of the 5th is received, 
as also was that of 15th December last, inclos- 
ing bond of Clift to Pray. When I received 
the bond I was dabbling in politics, and of 
course neglecting business. Having since been 
beaten out I have gone to work again. 

As I do not practice in Rushville I to-day 
open a correspondence with Henry E. Dum- 
mer, Esq., of Beardstown, Ills., with the view 
of getting the job into his hands. He is a good 
man if he will undertake it. Write me whether 
I shall do this or return the bond to you. 
Very respectfully, 

A. Lincoln. 

Letter to George Robertson ' 

Springfield, Illinois, August 15, 1855. 
My Dear Sir: The volume you left for me 
has been received. I am really grateful for the 
honor of your kind remembrance, as well as for 

1 In this letter to the Hon. George Robertson Lincoln sounds 
the note of his famous " house divided against itself " speech de- 
livered three years later. The reader will also note the almost 
prophetic asseveration in reference to the Czar of Russia and 
the " American masters." The " Autocrat of all the Russias " 
emancipated his serfs the day before Lincoln's first inauguration. 
Six weeks later the " American masters " began the Civil War. 

1855] Letter to Robertson 279 

the book. The partial reading I have already 
given it has afforded me much of both pleasure 
and instruction. It was new to me that the ex- 
act question which led to the Missouri Compro- 
mise had arisen before it arose in regard to 
Missouri, and that you had taken so prominent 
a part in it. Your short but able and patriotic 
speech upon that occasion; has not been im- 
proved upon since by those holding the same 
views, and, with all the lights you then had, 
the views you took appear to me as very reason- 

You are not a friend to slavery in the ab- 
stract. In that speech you spoke of "the peace- 
ful extinction of slavery," and used other ex- 
pressions indicating your belief that the thing 
was at some time to have an end. Since then 
we have had thirty-six years of experience; and 
this experience has demonstrated, I think, that 
there is no peaceful extinction of slavery; in 
prospect for us. The signal failure of Henry 
Clay and other good and great men, in 1849, 
to effect anything in favor of gradual emanci- 
pation in Kentucky, together with a thousand 
other signs, extinguished that hope utterly. On 
the question of liberty as a principle, we are 
not what we have been. When we were the 
political slaves of King George, and wanted to 
be free, we called the maxim that "all men are 

280 Abraham Lincoln [Aug. 24 

created equal" a self-evident truth, but now 
when we have grown fat, and have lost all dread 
of being slaves ourselves, we have become so 
greedy to be masters that we call the same 
maxim "a self-evident lie." The Fourth of 
July has not quite dwindled away; it is still a 
great day — for burning fire-crackers!!! 

That spirit which desired the peaceful ex- 
tinction of slavery has itself become extinct 
with the occasion and the men of the Revolu- 
tion. Under the impulse of that occasion, near- 
ly half the States adopted systems of emancipa- 
tion at once, and it is a significant fact that not 
a single State has done the like since. So far 
as peaceful voluntary emancipation is concern- 
ed, the condition of the negro slave in America, 
scarcely less terrible to the contemplation of 
a free mind, is now as fixed and hopeless of 
change for the better, as that of the lost souls 
of the finally impenitent. The Autocrat of all 
the Russias will resign his crown and proclaim 
his subjects free republicans sooner than will 
our American masters voluntarily give up their 

Our political problem now is, "Can we as a 
nation continue together permanently — forever 
— half slave and half free?" The problem is 
too mighty for me — may God, in his mercy, 

1855] Letter to J. F. Speed 281 

superintend the solution. Your much obliged 
friend and humble servant, 

A. Lincoln. 

Letter to Joshua F. Speed * 

Springfield, August 24, 1855. 
Dear Speed: You know what a poor cor- 
respondent I am. Ever since I received your 
very agreeable letter of the 22d of May I have 
been intending to write you an answer to it. You 
suggest that in political action, now, you and I 
would differ. I suppose we would; not quite as 
much, however, as you may think. You know I 
dislike slavery, and you fully admit the abstract 
wrong of it. So far there is no cause of differ- 
ence. But you say that sooner than yield 
your legal right to the slave, especially at 
the bidding of those who are not them- 
selves interested, you would see the Union dis- 

1 These views on slavery, so frankly expressed, have been fre- 
quently quoted. The state of affairs in Kansas precipitated by the 
Missouri Compromise deserved the name of " civil war " which 
it received. The committee appointed to investigate into the 
condition reported that the melee lasted from November 1855 
to December 1856 and that the loss of life was something under 
200. It further reported : 

Amount of crops destroyed $ 37.349- 01 

Number buildings burned 78 

Horses taken or destroyed 368 

Cattle taken or destroyed 533 

Property taken or destroyed by pro-slavery men $ 318,718.63 

Property taken or destroyed by free-state men $ 94,529.40 

282 Abraham Lincoln [Aug. 24 

solved. I am not aware that any one is bid- 
ding you yield that right; very certainly I am 
not. I leave that matter entirely to yourself. 
I also acknowledge your rights and my obliga- 
tions under the Constitution in regard to your 
slaves. I confess I hate to see the poor crea- 
tures hunted down and caught and carried back 
to their stripes and unrequited toil; but I bite 
my lips and keep quiet. In 1841 you and I 
had together a tedious low-water trip on a 
steamboat from Louisville to St. Louis. You 
may remember, as I well do, that from Louis- 
ville to the mouth of the Ohio there were on 
board ten or a dozen slaves shackled together 
with irons. That sight was a continued tor- 
ment to me, and I see something every 
time I touch the Ohio or any other slave bor- 
der. It is not fair for you to assume that I have 
no interest in a thing which has, and continually 
exercises, the power of making me miserable. 
You ought rather to appreciate how much the 
great body of the Northern people do crucify 
their feelings, in order to maintain their loyalty 
to the Constitution and the Union. I do op- 
pose the extension of slavery because my judg- 
ment and feeling so prompt me, and I am under 
no obligations to the contrary. If for this you 
and I must differ, differ we must. You say, if 
you were President, you would send an army 

i8 5 5] Letter to J. F. Speed 283 

and hang the leaders of the Missouri outrages 
upon the Kansas elections; still, if Kansas fairly 
votes herself a slave State she must be admitted, 
or the Union must be dissolved. But how if 
she votes herself a slave State unfairly, that is, 
by the very means for which you say you would 
hang men? Must she still be admitted, or the 
Union dissolved? That will be the phase of 
the question when it first becomes a practical 
one. In your assumption that there may be a 
fair decision of the slavery question in Kansas, 
I plainly see you and I would differ about the 
Nebraska law. I look upon that enactment 
not as a law, but as a violence from the begin- 
ning. It was conceived in violence, is main- 
tained in violence, and is being executed in 
violence. I say it was conceived in violence, 
because the destruction of the Missouri Compro- 
mise, under the circumstances, was nothing less 
than violence. It was passed in violence, be- 
cause it could not have passed at all but for the 
votes of many members in violence of the 
known will of their constituents. It is main- 
tained in violence, because the elections since 
clearly demand its repeal; and the demand is 
openly disregarded. 

You say men ought to be hung for the way 
they are executing the law; I say the way it is 
being executed is quite as good as any of its an- 

284 Abraham Lincoln [Aug. 24 

tecedents. It is being executed in the precise 
way which was intended from the first, else why 
does no Nebraska man express astonishment or 
condemnation? Poor Reeder is the only public 
man who has been silly enough to believe that 
anything like fairness was ever intended, and he 
has been bravely undeceived. 

That Kansas will form a slave constitution, 
and with it will ask to be admitted into the Un- 
ion, I take to be already a settled question, and 
so settled by the very means you so pointedly 
condemn. By every principle of law ever held 
by any court North or South, every negro taken 
to Kansas is free; yet, in utter disregard of 
this, — in the spirit of violence merely, — that 
beautiful legislature gravely passes a law to 
hang any man who shall venture to inform a ne- 
gro of his legal rights. This is the subject and 
real object of the law. If, like Haman, they 
should hang upon the gallows of their own 
building, I shall not be among the mourners 
for their fate. In my humble sphere, I shall 
advocate the restoration of the Missouri Com- 
promise so long as Kansas remains a Territory, 
and when, by all these foul means, it seeks to 
come into the Union as a slave State, I shall 
oppose it. I am very loath in any case to with- 
hold my assent to the enjoyment of property ac- 
quired or located in good faith; but I do not 

i8s5] Letter to J. F. Speed 285 

admit that good faith in taking a negro to Kan- 
sas to be held in slavery is a probability with 
any man. Any man who has sense enough to 
be the controller of his own property has too 
much sense to misunderstand the outrageous 
character of the whole Nebraska business. But 
I digress. In my opposition to the admission 
of Kansas I shall have some company, but we 
may be beaten. If we are, I shall not on that 
account attempt to dissolve the Union. I think 
it probable, however, we shall be beaten. 
Standing as a unit among yourselves, you can, 
directly and indirectly, bribe enough of our 
men to carry the day, as you could on the open 
proposition to establish a monarchy. Get hold 
of some man in the North whose position and 
ability is such that he can make the support of 
your measure, whatever it may be, a Demo- 
cratic party necessity, and the thing is done. 
Apropos of this, let me tell you an anecdote. 
Douglas introduced the Nebraska bill in Jan- 
uary. In February afterward there was a called 
session of the Illinois legislature. Of the one 
hundred members composing the two branches 
of that body, about seventy were Democrats. 
These latter held a caucus, in which the Ne- 
braska bill was talked of, if not formally dis- 
cussed. It was thereby discovered that just 
three, and no more, were in favor of the meas- 

286 Abraham Lincoln [Aug. 24 

ure. In a day or two Douglas's orders came on 
to have resolutions passed approving the bill; 
and they were passed by large majorities!!! 
The truth of this is vouched for by a bolting 
Democratic member. The masses, too, Demo- 
cratic as well as Whig, were even nearer unani- 
mous against it; but, as soon as the party neces- 
sity of supporting it became apparent, the way 
the Democrats began to see the wisdom and 
justice of it was perfectly astonishing. 

You say that if Kansas fairly votes herself a 
free State, as a Christian you will rejoice at it. 
All decent slaveholders talk that way, and I do 
not doubt their candor. But they never vote 
that way. Although in a private letter or con- 
versation you will express your preference that 
Kansas shall be free, you would vote for no man 
for Congress who would say the same thing 
publicly. No such man could be elected from 
any district in a slave State. You think String- 
fellow and company ought to be hung; and yet 
at the next presidential election you will vote 
for the exact type and representative of String- 
fellow. The slave-breeders and slave-traders 
are a small, odious, and detested class among 
you; and yet in politics they dictate the course 
of all of you, and are as completely your mas- 
ters as you are the master of your own negroes. 
You inquire where I now stand. That is a dis- 

1855] Letter to J. F. Speed 287 

puted point. I think I am a Whig; but others 
say there are no Whigs, and that I am an Aboli- 
tionist. When I was at Washington, I voted 
for the Wilmot proviso as good as forty times; 
and I never heard of any one attempting to un- 
whig me for that. I now do no more than op- 
pose the extension of slavery. I am not a 
Know-nothing; that is certain. How could I 
be? How can any one who abhors the oppres- 
sion of negroes be in favor of degrading classes 
of white people? Our progress in degeneracy 
appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation 
we began by declaring that "all men are created 
equal." We now practically read it "all men 
are created equal, except negroes." When the 
Know-nothings get control, it will read "all 
men are created equal, except negroes and for- 
eigners and Catholics." When it comes to this, 
I shall prefer emigrating to some country where 
they make no pretense of loving liberty, — to 
Russia, for instance, where despotism can be 
taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypoc- 

Mary will probably pass a day or two in 
Louisville in October. My kindest regards to 
Mrs. Speed. On the leading subject of this 
letter, I have more of her sympathy than I have 
of yours; and yet let me say I am 

Your friend forever, A. LINCOLN. 

288 Abraham Lincoln. [[June 27 
Letter to 

Dec. 13, 1855. 
Dear Sir: You will confer a favor on me, if 
you will send me the Congressional "Globe" 
during the present session. Please have it di- 
rected to me. 

I will pay for the same when you visit your 
family. Yours respectfully, 

A. Lincoln. 

Bill for Services Rendered the Illinois 
Central Railroad Company, December 

[15?], 1855 

The Illinois Central Railroad Company, 
To A. Lincoln Dr. 

To professional services in the case of 
the Illinois Central Railroad Com- 
pany against the County of McLean, 
argued in the Supreme Court of the 
State of Illinois at December term, 
1855 $5000.00 

We, the undersigned members of the Illinois 
Bar, understanding that the above entitled cause 
was twice argued in the Supreme Court, and 
that the judgment therein decided the question 
of the claim of counties and other minor mu- 

1 856] Letter to Van Dyke 289 

nicipal corporations to the property of said 
railroad company, and settled said question 
against said claim and in favor of said railroad 
company, are of opinion the sum above charged 
as a fee is not unreasonable. 

Grant Goodrich, N. H. Purple, 

N. B. Judd, O. H. Browning, 

Archibald Williams, R. S. Blackwell. 

*Letter to R. P. Morgan * 

Springfield, February 13, 1856. 

Dear Sir: Says Tom to John: "Here's 
your old rotten wheelbarrow. I've broke it, 
usin' on it. I wish you would mend it, case I 
shall want to borrow it this arter-noon." 

Acting on this as a precedent, I say, "Here's 
your old 'chalked hat.' I wish you would take 
it, and send me a new one; case I shall want 
to use it the first of March." 

Yours truly, A. Lincoln. 

Letter to John Van Dyke 

Springfield, Illinois, June 27, 1856. 

My Dear Sir: Allow me to thank you for 
your kind notice of me in the Philadelphia Con- 

When you meet Judge Dayton present my 

'A very characteristic letter in colloquial parlance from Lin- 
coln to a railroad official applying for a railroad pass. 

290 Abraham Lincoln [July 12 

respects, and tell him I think him a far better 
man than I for the position he is in, and that I 
shall support both him and Colonel Fremont 
most cordially. Present my best respects to 
Mrs. Van Dyke, and believe me. 

Yours truly, A. LINCOLN. 

Letter to Whitney 

Springfield, July 9, 1856. 

Dear Whitney: I now expect to go to Chi- 
cago on the 15th, and I probably shall remain 
there or thereabouts for about two weeks. 

It turned me blind when I first heard Swett 
was beaten and Lovejoy nominated; but, after 
much reflection, I really believe it is best to 
let it stand. This, of course, I wish to be con- 

Lamon did get your deeds. I went with him 
to the office, got them, and put them in his 
hands myself. Yours very truly, 

A. Lincoln. 

*Letter to William Grimes 

Springfield, Illinois, July 12, 1856. 
William Grimes. 

Yours of the 29th of June was duly received. 
I did not answer it because it plagued me. This 
morning I received another from Judd and 

1856] Letter to Grimes 291 

Peck, written by consultation with you. Now 
let me tell you why I am plagued: 

1. I can hardly spare the time. 

2. I am superstitious. I have scarcely 
known a party preceding an election to call in 
help from the neighboring States, but they lost 
the State. Last fall, our friends had Wade, of 
Ohio, and others, in Maine; and they lost the 
State. Last spring our adversaries had New 
Hampshire full of South Carolinians, and they 
lost the State. And so, generally, it seems to 
stir up more enemies than friends. 

Have, the enemy called in any foreign help? 
If they have a foreign champion there I should 
have no objection to drive a nail in his track. 
I shall reach Chicago on the night of the 15th, 
to attend to a little business in court. Consider 
the things I have suggested, and write me at 
Chicago. Especially write me whether Brown- 
ing consents to visit you. 

Your obedient servant, 

A. Lincoln. 

292 Abraham Lincoln [Aug. i 

Fragment of Speech at Galena, Illinois, 
in the Fremont Campaign, August [i?], 
1856 1 

YOU further charge us with being dis- 
unionists. If you mean that it is our 
aim to dissolve the Union, I for my- 
self answer that it is untrue; for those who act 
with me I answer that it is untrue. Have you 
heard us assert that as our aim? Do you really 
believe that such is our aim? Do you find it 
in our platform, our speeches, our conventions, 
or anywhere? If not, withdraw the charge. 

But you may say that though it is not our 
aim, it will be the result if we succeed, and that 
we are therefore disunionists in fact. This is 
a grave charge you make against us, and we 
certainly have a right to demand that you 
specify in what way we are to dissolve the 
Union. How are we to effect this? 

The only specification offered is volunteered 

1 In the campaign of 1856 Lincoln as the head of the Fre- 
mont electoral ticket for Illinois canvassed the counties of his 
State, delivering about fifty speeches. This fragment of an ad- 
dress made at Galena is most interesting for its refutation of 
the charge of " sectionalism," and especially for the closing 

1856] Speech at Galena 293 

by Mr. Fillmore in his Albany speech. His 
charge is that if we elect a President and Vice- 
President both from the free States, it will dis- 
solve the Union. This is open folly. The 
Constitution provides that the President and 
Vice-President of the United States shall be of 
different States; but says nothing as to the lati- 
tude and longitude of those States. In 1828 
Andrew Jackson, of Tennessee, and John C. 
Calhoun, of South Carolina, were elected Presi- 
dent and Vice-President, both from slave States; 
but no one thought of dissolving the Union then 
on that account. In 1840 Harrison, of Ohio, 
and Tyler, of Virginia, were elected. In 1841 
Harrison died and John Tyler succeeded to the 
presidency, and William R. King, of Alabama, 
was elected acting Vice-President by the Senate; 
but no one supposed that the Union was in dan- 
ger. In fact, at the very time Mr. Fillmore 
uttered this idle charge, the state of things in 
the United States disproved it. Mr. Pierce, of 
New Hampshire, and Mr. Bright, of Indiana, 
both from free States, are President and Vice- 
President, and the Union stands and will stand. 
You do not pretend that it ought to dissolve the 
Union, and the facts show that it won't; there- 
fore the charge may be dismissed without fur- 
ther consideration. 

No other specification is made, and the only 

294 Abraham Lincoln [Aug. 4 

one that could be made is that the restoration 
of the restriction of 1820, making the United 
States territory free territory, would dissolve the 
Union. Gentlemen, it will require a decided 
majority to pass such an act. We, the majority, 
being able constitutionally to do all that we 
purpose, would have no desire to dissolve the 
Union. Do you say that such restriction of 
slavery would be unconstitutional, and that some 
of the States would not submit to its enforce- 
ment? I grant you that an unconstitutional 
act is not a law; but I do not ask and will not 
take your construction of the Constitution. The 
Supreme Court of the United States is the tribu- 
nal to decide such a question, and we will submit 
to its decisions; and if you do also, there will 
be an end of the matter. Will you? If not, 
who are the disunionists — you or we? We, the 
majority, would not strive to dissolve the Union; 
and if any attempt is made, it must be by you, 
who so loudly stigmatize us as disunionists. But 
the Union, in any event, will not be dissolved. 
We don't want to dissolve it, and if you attempt 
it we won't let you. With the purse and sword, 
the army and navy and treasury, in our hands 
and at our command, you could not do it. This 
government would be very weak indeed if a 
majority with a disciplined army and navy and 
a well-filled treasury could not preserve itself 

1856] Letter to Bennett 295 

when attacked by an unarmed, undisciplined, 
unorganized minority. All this talk about the 
dissolution of the Union is humbug, nothing but 
folly. We do not want to dissolve the Union; 
you shall not. 

*Letter to John Bennett 

Springfield, August 4, 1856. 

Dear Sir: I understand you are a Fillmore 
man. If, as between Fremont and Buchanan 
you really prefer the election of Buchanan, then 
burn this without reading a line further. But 
if you would like to defeat Buchanan and his 
gang, allow me a word with you. Does any one 
pretend that Fillmore can carry the vote of this 
State? I have not heard a single man pretend 
so. Every vote taken from Fremont and given 
to Fillmore is just so much in favor of Bu- 
chanan. The Buchanan men see this ; and hence 
their great anxiety in favor of the Fillmore 
movement. They know where the shoe pinches. 
They now greatly prefer having a man of your 
character go for Fillmore than for Buchanan 
because they expect several to go with you, who 
would go for Fremont, if you were to go directly 
for Buchanan. 

I think I now understand the relative strength 
of the three parties in this State as well as any 
one man does and my opinion is that to-day Bu- 

296 Abraham Lincoln [Aug. 19 

chanan has alone 85,000, Fremont 78,000 and 
Fillmore 21,000. This gives B. the State by 
7,000 and leaves him in the minority of the 
whole 14,000. 

Fremont and Fillmore men being united on 
Bissell as they already are, he can not be beaten. 
This is not a long letter, but it contains the whole 
story. Yours as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

*Letter to Jesse K. Dubois 

Springfield, August 19, 1856. 

Dear Dubois: Your letter on the same sheet 
with Mr. Miller's is just received. I have been 
absent four days. I do not know when your 
court sits. 

Trumbull has written the Committee here to 
have a set of appointments made for him com- 
mencing here in Springfield, on the nth of 
Sept., and to extend throughout the south half 
of the State. When he goes to Lawrenceville, 
as he will, I will strain every nerve to be with 
you and him. More than that I cannot promise 
now. Yours as truly as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

1856] Letter to Maltby 297 

Letter to Harrison Maltby 

Springfield, September 8, 1856. 

Dear Sir: I understand you are a Fillmore 
man. Let me prove to you that every vote with- 
held from Fremont and given to Fillmore in 
this State actually lessens Fillmore's chance of 
being President. Suppose Buchanan gets all 
the slave States and Pennsylvania, and any other 
one State besides; then he is elected, no matter 
who gets all the rest. But suppose Fillmore 
gets the two slave States of Maryland and Ken- 
tucky; then Buchanan is not elected; Fillmore 
goes into the House of Representatives, and may 
be made President by a compromise. But sup- 
pose, again, Fillmore's friends throw away a 
few thousand votes on him in Indiana and Illi- 
nois; it will inevitably give these States to Bu- 
chanan, which will more than compensate him 
for the loss of Maryland and Kentucky, will 
elect him, and leave Fillmore no chance in the 
House of Representatives or out of it. 

This is as plain as adding up the weight of 
three small hogs. As Mr. Fillmore has no pos- 
sible chance to carry Illinois for himself, it is 
plainly to his interest to let Fremont take it, and 
thus keep it out of the hands of Buchanan. Be 

298 Abraham Lincoln [Sept. 14 

not deceived. Buchanan is the hard horse to 
beat in this race. Let him have Illinois, and 
nothing can beat him; and he will get Illinois 
if men persist in throwing away votes upon Mr. 
Fillmore. Does some one persuade you that 
Mr. Fillmore can carry Illinois? Nonsense! 
There are over seventy newspapers in Illinois 
opposing Buchanan, only three or four of which 
support Mr. Fillmore, all the rest going for Fre- 
mont. Are not these newspapers a fair index 
of the proportion of the votes? If not, tell me 

Again, of these three or four Fillmore news- 
papers, two at least, are supported in part by the 
Buchanan men, as I understand. Do not they 
know where the shoe pinches? They know the 
Fillmore movement helps them, and therefore 
they help it. Do think these things over, and 
then act according to your judgment. 

Yours very truly, A. LINCOLN. 

♦Letter to Dr. R. Boal 

September 14, 1856. 
My Dear Sir: Yours of the 8th inviting me 
to be with [you] at Lacon on the 30th is re- 
ceived. I feel that I owe you and our friends 
of Marshall, a good deal; and I will come if 
I can; and if I do not get there, it will be be- 

1856] Letter to O'Conner 


cause I shall think my efforts are now needed 
further South. 

Present my regards to Mrs. Boal, and believe 
[me], as ever Your friend, 

A. Lincoln. 

*Letter to Henry O'Conner 

Springfield, September 14, 1856. 
Dear Sir: Yours, inviting me to attend a 
mass meeting on the 23rd inst. is received. It 
would be very pleasant to strike hands with the 
Fremonters of Iowa, who have led the van so 
splendidly, in this grand charge which we hope 
and believe will end in a most glorious victory 
— all thanks, all honor to Iowa!! But Iowa is 
out of all dangei, and it is no time for us, when 
the battle still rages, to pay holy-day visits to 
Iowa. I am sure you will excuse me for re- 
maining in Illinois, where much hard work is 
still to be done. Yours very truly, 

A. Lincoln. 

Fragment on Sectionalism, October i, 1856 

It is constantly objected to Fremont and 
Dayton, that they are supported by a sectional 
party, who by their sectionalism endanger the 
national Union. This objection, more than all 
others, causes men really opposed to slavery ex- 

3<x> Abraham Lincoln IOct. i 

tension to hesitate. Practically, it is the most 
difficult objection we have to meet. For this 
reason I now propose to examine it a little more 
carefully than I have heretofore done, or seen it 
done by others. First, then, what is the question 
between the parties respectively represented by 
Buchanan and Fremont? Simply this, "Shall 
slavery be allowed to extend into United States 
territories now legally free?" Buchanan says it 
shall, and Fremont says it shall not. 

That is the naked issue, and the whole of it. 
Lay the respective platforms side by side, and 
the difference between them will be found to 
amount to precisely that. True, each party 
charges upon the other designs much beyond 
what is involved in the issue as stated; but as 
these charges cannot be fully proved either way, 
it is probably better to reject them on both sides, 
and stick to the naked issue as it is clearly made 
up on the record. 

And now to restate the question, "Shall slav- 
ery be allowed to extend into United States ter- 
ritories now legally free?" I beg to know how 
one side of that question is more sectional than 
the other? Of course I expect to effect nothing 
with the man who makes the charge of section- 
alism without caring whether it is just or not. 
But of the candid, fair man who has been puz- 

1856] On Sectionalism 301 

zled with this charge, I do ask how is one side 
of this question more sectional than the other? 
I beg of him to consider well, and answer 

If one side be as sectional as the other, noth- 
ing is gained, as to sectionalism, by changing 
sides ; so that each must choose sides of the ques- 
tion on some other ground, as I should think, 
according as the one side or the other shall 
appear nearest right. If he shall really think 
slavery ought to be extended, let him go to 
Buchanan; if he think it ought not, let him go 
to Fremont. 

But Fremont and Dayton are both residents 
of the free States, and this fact has been vaunted 
in high places as excessive sectionalism. While 
interested individuals become indignant and ex- 
cited against this manifestation of sectionalism, 
I am very happy to know that the Constitution 
remains calm — keeps cool — upon the subject. 
It does say that President and Vice-President 
shall be residents of different States, but it does 
not say that one must live in a slave and the other 
in a free State. 

It has been a custom to take one from a slave 
and the other from a free State; but the custom 
has not at all been uniform. In 1828 General 
Jackson and Mr. Calhoun, both from slave 
States, were placed on the same ticket; and Mr. 

302 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. i 

Adams and Dr. Rush, both from free States, 
were pitted against them. General Jackson 
and Mr. Calhoun were elected, and qualified 
and served under the election, yet the whole 
thing never suggested the idea of sectionalism. 
In 1 841 the President, General Harrison, died, 
by which Mr. Tyler, the Vice-President and a 
slave-State man, became President. Mr. Man- 
gum, another slave-State man, was placed in the 
vice-presidential chair, served out the term, and 
no fuss about it, no sectionalism thought of. In 
1853 the present President came into office. He 
is a free-State man. Mr. King, the new Vice- 
President elect, was a slave-State man; but he 
died without entering on the duties of his office. 
At first his vacancy was filled by Atchison, an- 
other slave-State man; but he soon resigned, 
and the place was supplied by Bright, a free- 
State man. So that right now, and for the half 
year last past, our President and Vice-President 
are both actually free-State men. But it is said 
the friends of Fremont avow the purpose of 
electing him exclusively by free-State votes, and 
that this is unendurable sectionalism. 

This statement of fact is not exactly true. 
With the friends of Fremont it is an expected 
necessity, but it is not an "avowed purpose," to 
elect him, if at all, principally by free-State 
votes; but it is with equal intensity true that 

1856] On Sectionalism 303 

Buchanan's friends expect to elect him, if at all, 
chiefly by slave-State votes. Here, again, the 
sectionalism is just as much on one side as the 

The thing which gives most color to the 
charge of sectionalism, made against those who 
oppose the spread of slavery into free territory, 
is the fact that they can get no votes in the slave 
States, while their opponents get all, or nearly 
so, in the slave States, and also a large number 
in the free States. To state it in another way, 
the extensionists can get votes all over the na- 
tion, while the restrictionists can get them only 
in the free States. 

This being the fact, why is it so? It is not 
because one side of the question dividing them 
is more sectional than the other, nor because of 
any difference in the mental or moral structure 
of the people North and South. It is because 
in that question the people of the South have an 
immediate palpable and immensely great pe- 
cuniary interest, while with the people of the 
North it is merely an abstract question of moral 
right, with only slight and remote pecuniary 
interest added. 

The slaves of the South, at a moderate esti- 
mate, are worth a thousand millions of dollars. 
Let it be permanently settled that this property 
may extend to new territory without restraint, 

304 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. i 

and it greatly enhances, perhaps quite doubles, 
its value at once. This immense palpable pe- 
cuniary interest on the question of extending 
slavery unites the Southern people as one man. 
But it cannot be demonstrated that the North 
will gain a dollar by restricting it. Moral prin- 
ciple is all, or nearly all, that unites us of the 
North. Pity 't is, it is so, but this is a looser 
bond than pecuniary interest. Right here is 
the plain cause of their perfect union and our 
want of it. And see how it works. If a South- 
ern man aspires to be President, they choke him 
down instantly, in order that the glittering prize 
of the presidency may be held up on Southern 
terms to the greedy eyes of Northern ambition. 
With this they tempt us and break in upon us. 

The Democratic party in 1844 elected a 
Southern President. Since then they have 
neither had a Southern candidate for election 
nor nomination. Their conventions of 1848, 
1852 and 1856 have been struggles exclusively 
among Northern men, each vying to outbid the 
other for the Southern vote; the South standing 
calmly by to finally cry "Going, going, gone" 
to the highest bidder, and at the same time to 
make its power more distinctly seen, and thereby 
to secure a still higher bid at the next succeed- 
ing struggle. 

"Actions speak louder than words" is the 

i £56] On Sectionalism 30$ 

maxim, and if true the South now distinctly says 
to the North, "Give us the measures and you 
take the men." The total withdrawal of South- 
ern aspirants for the presidency multiplies the 
number of Northern ones. These last, in com- 
peting with each other, commit themselves to 
the utmost verge that, through their own greedi- 
ness, they have the least hope their Northern 
supporters will bear. Having got committed 
in a race of competition, necessity drives them 
into union to sustain themselves. Each at first 
secures all he can on personal attachments to 
him and through hopes resting on him person- 
ally. Next they unite with one another and 
with the perfectly banded South, to make the 
offensive position they have got into "a party 
measure." This done, large additional numbers 
are secured. 

When the repeal of the Missouri Compro- 
mise was first proposed, at the North there was 
literally "nobody" in favor of it. In February, 
1854, our legislature met in called, or extra, ses- 
sion. From them Douglas sought an indorse- 
ment of his then pending measure of repeal. In 
our legislature were about seventy Democrats 
to thirty Whigs. The former held a caucus, 
in which it was resolved to give Douglas the 
desired indorsement. Some of the members of 
the caucus bolted — would not stand it — and they 

306 Abraham Lincoln [Oct. i 

now divulge the secrets. They say that the 
caucus fairly confessed that the repeal was 
wrong, and they pleaded the determination to 
indorse it solely on the ground that it was neces- 
sary to sustain Douglas. Here we have the 
direct evidence of how the Nebraska bill ob- 
tained its strength in Illinois. It was given, not 
in a sense of right, but in the teeth of a sense of 
wrong, to sustain Douglas. So Illinois was di- 
vided. So New England for Pierce, Michigan 
for Cass, Pennsylvania for Buchanan, and all 
for the Democratic party. 

And when by such means they have got a large 
portion of the Northern people into a position 
contrary to their own honest impulses and sense 
of right, they have the impudence to turn upon 
those who do stand firm, and call them sectional. 
Were it not too serious a matter, this cool impu- 
dence would be laughable, to say the least. Re- 
curring to the question, "Shall slavery be 
allowed to extend into United States territory 
now legally free?" This is a sectional question 
— that is to say, it is a question in its nature cal- 
culated to divide the American people geo- 
graphically. Who is to blame for that? Who 
can help it? Either side can hold it; but how? 
Simply by yielding to the other side; there is 
no other way; in the whole range of possibility 
there is no other way. Then, which side shall 

1856] On Sectionalism 3°7 

yield? To this, again, there can be but one 
answer — the side which is in the wrong. True, 
we differ as to which side is wrong, and we 
boldly say, let all who really think slavery ought 
to be spread into free territory, openly go over 
against us ; there is where they rightfully belong. 
But why should any go who really think slavery 
ought not to spread? Do they really think the 
right ought to yield to the wrong? Are they 
afraid to stand by the right? Do they fear that 
the Constitution is too weak to sustain them in 
the right? Do they really think that by right 
surrendering to wrong the hopes of our Consti- 
tution, our Union, and our liberties can possibly 
be bettered? 

308 Abraham Lincoln {Dec 10 

Fragment of Speech at a Republican Ban- 
quet in Chicago, December 10, 1856 1 

WE HAVE another annual presidential 
message. Like a rejected lover mak- 
ing merry at the wedding of his 
rival, the President felicitates himself hugely 
over the late presidential election. He con- 
siders the result a signal triumph of good prin- 
ciples and good men, and a very pointed rebuke 
of bad ones. He says the people did it. 
He forgets that the "people," as he complacently 
calls only those who voted for Buchanan, are in 
a minority of the whole people by about four 
hundred thousand votes — one full tenth of all 
the votes. Remembering this, he might per- 
ceive that the "rebuke" may not be quite as dur- 
able as he seems to think — that the majority may 

1 The election of James Buchanan as President hy the Demo- 
crats, in 1856, was anything but encouraging to the newly 
formed Republican party. But this Chicago speech shows Lin- 
coln nothing daunted, and renewing hope in his defeated fol- 
lowers. It was during this campaign of 1856 that Lincoln de- 
livered his celebrated "lost speech" at Bloomington, on May 
29th. It has been almost unanimously agreed upon by reporters 
and others attending that convention that the magnificent ora- 
tory held them so spell-bound it was impossible to take notes. 
Henry C. Whitney, however, claimed to have taken sufficient 
memoranda at the time and place to afterward construct a re- 

1856] Chicago Banquet Speech 309 

not choose to remain permanently rebuked by 
that minority. 

The President thinks the great body of us 
Fremonters, being ardently attached to liberty, 
in the abstract, were duped by a few wicked 
and designing men. There is a slight difference 
of opinion on this. We think he, being ardently 
attached to the hope of a second term, in the con- 
crete, was duped by men who had liberty every 
way. He is the cat's-paw. By much dragging 
of chestnuts from the fire for others to eat, his 
claws are burnt off to the gristle, and he is 
thrown aside as unfit for further use. As the 
fool said of King Lear, when his daughters had 
turned him out of doors, "He's a shelled peas- 
cod" ["That 's a sheal'd peascod"]. 

So far as the President charges us "with a 
desire to change the domestic institutions of ex- 
isting States," and of "doing everything in our 

port of the speech which has been given wide circulation. The 
McLean County Historical Society commemorated the anni- 
versary of the 1856 convention, in 1900. A large number of the 
surviving delegates were present. After full investigation the 
society stated in its report of the meeting: "Lately there has 
been published a 'lost speech' made up from alleged notes. 
The McLean County Historical Society does not think it proper 
to send out a report of this reunion without stating that in this 
community, where many now living heard the great speech, 
and where Mr. Lincoln was so well known and loved, all of his 
friends consider the speech still lost. The society had hoped 
to recover from the memory of the still living hearers some 
portion of that speech, but found their efforts in vain." 

310 Abraham Lincoln [Dec. 10 

power to deprive the Constitution and the laws 
of moral authority," for the whole party on be- 
lief, and for myself on knowledge, I pronounce 
the charge an unmixed and unmitigated false- 

Our government rests in public opinion. 
Whoever can change public opinion can change 
the government practically just so much. Pub- 
lic opinion, on any subject, always has a "central 
idea," from which all its minor thoughts radiate. 
That "central idea" in our political public opin- 
ion at the beginning was, and until recently has 
continued to be, "the equality of men." And 
although it has always submitted patiently to 
whatever of inequality there seemed to be as 
matter of actual necessity, its constant working 
has been a steady progress toward the practical 
equality of all men. The late presidential elec- 
tion was a struggle by one party to discard that 
central idea and to substitute for it the opposite 
idea that slavery is right in the abstract, the 
workings of which as a central idea may be the 
perpetuity of human slavery and its extension 
to all countries and colorsj Less than a year 
ago the Richmond "Enquirer," an avowed ad- 
vocate of slavery, regardless of color, in order to 
favor his views, invented the phrase "State 
equality," and now the President, in his mes- 
sage, adopts the "Enquirer's" catch-phrase, tell- 

1856] Chicago Banquet Speech 311 

ing us the people "have asserted the constitu- 
tional equality of each and all of the States of 
the Union as States." The President flatters 
himself that the new central idea is completely 
inaugurated; and so indeed it is, so far as the 
mere fact of a presidential election can inaugu- 
rate it. To us it is left to know that the ma- 
jority of the people have not yet declared for 
it, and to hope that they never will. All of 
us who did not vote for Mr. Buchanan, taken 
together, are a majority of four hundred thou- 

But in the late contest we were divided 
between Fremont and Fillmore. Can we not 
come together for the future? Let every one 
who really believes, and is resolved, that free 
society is not and shall not be a failure, and 
who can conscientiously declare that in the 
past contest he has done only what he thought 
best — let every such one have charity to be- 
lieve that every other one can say as much. 
Thus let bygones be bygones; let past differ- 
ences as nothing be; and with steady eye on 
the real issue, let us reinaugurate the good 
old "central ideas" of the republic. We can do 
it. The human heart is with us; God is with 
us. We shall again be able not to declare that 
"all States as States are equal," nor yet that "all 
citizens as citizens are equal," but to renew the 

312 Abraham Lincoln [Feb. 20 

broader, better declaration, including both these 
and much more, that "all men are created 

*Letter to O. H. Browning 

Springfield, December 15, 1856. 

Dear Browning: Your letter requesting me 
to send you a document of John M. Walker, is 
received. I received it Saturday; and I took 
a long hunt for the paper yesterday; but could 
not find it. In fact I have no recollection of 
ever having had it. 

When I tried the case once with Mr. Wil- 
liams at Chicago in July, 1855, I wrote Mr. 
Walker a very full statement of the condition 
of the case, as I then understood it. If he still 
has the statement, it might be of some service. 

It has been suggested by some of our friends 
that during the session of the Legislature here 
this winter, the Republicans ought to get up a 
sort of party State address; and again it has 
been suggested that you could draw up such a 
thing as well if not better than any of us. Think 
about it. Yours as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

1857] Letter to Rosette 313 

*Letter to Dr. R. Boal 

Springfield, December 25, 1856. 
Dear Sir: When I was at Chicago two 
weeks ago I saw Mr. Arnold, and from a re- 
mark of his, I inferred he was thinking of the 
Speakership, though I think he was not anxious 
about it. He seemed most anxious for harmony 
generally, and particularly that the contested 
seats from Peoria and McDonough might be 
rightly determined. Since I came home I had 
a talk with Cullom, one of our American repre- 
sentatives here, and he says he is for you for 
Speaker, and also that he thinks all the Ameri- 
cans will be for you, unless it be Gorin, of 
Macon, of whom he cannot speak. If you 
would like to be Speaker go right up and see 
Arnold. He is talented, a practiced debater, 
and, I think, would do himself more credit on 
the floor than in the Speaker's seat. Go and 
see him; and if you think fit, show him this let- 
ter. Your friend as ever. 


*Letter to John E. Rosette 

Springfield, III., February 20, 1857. 
Dear Sir: Your note about the little para- 
graph in the "Republican" was received yester- 

3 H Abraham Lincoln [June 26 

day, since which time I have been too unwell to 
notice it. I had not supposed you wrote or 
approved it. The whole originated in mistake. 
You know by the conversation with me that I 
thought the establishment of the paper unfor- 
tunate, but I always expected to throw no obsta- 
cle in its way, and to patronize it to the extent 
of taking and paying for one copy. When the 
paper was brought to my house, my wife said 
to me, "Now are you going to take another 
worthless little paper?" I said to her evasively, 
"I have not directed the paper to be left." 
From this, in my absence, she sent the message 
to the carrier. This is the whole story. 
Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln. 

1857] Springfield Speech 315 

Speech in Springfield, Illinois, June 26, 

1857 1 

FELLOW-CITIZENS: I am here to- 
night, partly by the invitation of some 
of you, and partly by my own inclina- 
tion. Two weeks ago Judge Douglas spoke 
here on the several subjects of Kansas, the 
Dred Scott decision, and Utah. I listened to 
the speech at the time, and have the report of it 
since. It was intended to controvert opinions 
which I think just, and to assail (politically, 
not personally) those men who, in common with 
me, entertain those opinions. For this reason 
I wished then, and still wish, to make some an- 
swer to it, which I now take the opportunity of 

I begin with Utah. If it prove to be true, as 
is probable, that the people of Utah are in open 

^he Supreme Court delivered the famous Dred Scott deci- 
sion on March 6th, 1857, and immediately it became the ques- 
tion of the hour. Lincoln made it the main theme of his speech 
at Springfield, June 26, 1857. Following is a brief synopsis of 
this cause celcbre: Dred Scott, a negro, was taken by his 
master from Missouri to Illinois to live. Two years later he 
again transported him to what is now Minnesota. While there 
he sold Scott to a man named Sandford. Scott repudiated 
Sandford, asserting that his residence in a free State had given 

316 Abraham Lincoln [June 27 

rebellion to the United States, then Judge Doug- 
las is in favor of repealing their territorial or- 
ganization, and attaching them to the adjoining 
States for judicial purposes. I say, too, if they 
are in rebellion, they ought to be somehow 
coerced to obedience; and I am not now pre- 
pared to admit or deny that the judge's mode 
of coercing them is not as good as any. The 
Republicans can fall in with it without taking 
back anything they have ever said. To be sure, 
it would be a considerable backing down by 
Judge Douglas from his much-vaunted doctrine 
of self-government for the Territories; but this 
is only additional proof of what was very plain 
from the beginning, that that doctrine was a 
mere deceitful pretense for the benefit of slav- 
ery. Those who could not see that much in the 
Nebraska act itself, which forced governors, 
and secretaries, and judges on the people of the 
Territories without their choice or consent, 
could not be made to see, though one should rise 
from the dead. 

But in all this, it is very plain the judge 

him his liberty. The local court decided in favor of Scott, but 
the case was appealed to a higher court, which reversed the 
decision, then appealed to the Supreme Court. The tribunal 
handed down a decision on two points: (i) Is Dred Scott a 
citizen of the United States and as such entitled to bring suit in 
the United States Courts? (2) Did Scott's residence of two 
years on free soil make him free? The Supreme Court de- 
cided against Scott although there were dissenting voices. 

1857] Springfield Speech 317 

evades the only question the Republicans have 
ever pressed upon the Democracy in regard to 
Utah. That question the judge well knew to be 
this: "If the people of Utah shall peacefully 
form a State constitution tolerating polygamy, 
will the Democracy admit them into the 
Union?" There is nothing in the United 
States Constitution or law against polygamy; 
and why is it not a part of the judge's "sacred 
right of self-government" for the people to have 
it, or rather to keep it, if they choose? These 
questions, so far as I know, the judge never an- 
swers. It might involve the Democracy to 
answer them either way, and they go un- 

As to Kansas. The substance of the judge's 
speech on Kansas is an effort to put the free- 
State men in the wrong for not voting at the 
election of delegates to the constitutional con- 
vention. He says: "There is every reason to 
hope and believe that the law will be fairly 
interpreted and impartially executed, so as to 
insure to every bona fide inhabitant the free and 
quiet exercise of the elective franchise." 

It appears extraordinary that Judge Douglas 
should make such a statement. He knows that, 
by the law, no one can vote who has not been 
registered ; and he knows that the free-State men 
place their refusal to vote on the ground that 

318 Abraham Lincoln [June 27 

but few of them have been registered. It is pos- 
sible that this is not true, but Judge Douglas 
knows it is asserted to be true in letters, news- 
papers, and public speeches, and borne by every 
mail and blown by every breeze to the eyes and 
ears of the world. He knows it is boldly de- 
clared that the people of many whole counties, 
and many whole neighborhoods in others, are 
left unregistered; yet he does not venture to 
contradict the declaration, or to point out how 
they can vote without being registered; but he 
just slips along, not seeming to know there is 
any such question of fact, and complacently de- 
clares: "There is every reason to hope and 
believe that the law will be fairly and impar- 
tially executed, so as to insure to every bona fide 
inhabitant the free and quiet exercise of the elec- 
tive franchise." 

I readily agree that if all had a chance to 
vote, they ought to have voted. If, on the con- 
trary, as they allege, and Judge Douglas ven- 
tures not to particularly contradict, few only of 
the free-State men had a chance to vote, they 
were perfectly right in staying from the polls in 
a body. 

By the way, since the judge spoke, the Kansas 
election has come off. The judge expressed his 
confidence that all the Democrats in Kansas 
would do their duty — including "free-State 

1857] Springfield Speech 319 

Democrats," of course. The returns received 
here as yet are very incomplete; but so far as 
they go, they indicate that only about one-sixth 
of the registered voters have really voted; and 
this, too, when not more, perhaps, than one-half 
of the rightful voters have been registered, thus 
showing the thing to have been altogether the 
most exquisite farce ever enacted. I am watch- 
ing with considerable interest to ascertain what 
figure "the free-State Democrats" cut in the con- 
cern. Of course they voted — all Democrats do 
their duty — and of course they did not vote for 
slave-State candidates. We soon shall know 
how many delegates they elected, how many 
candidates they had pledged to a free State, and 
how many votes were cast for them. 

Allow me to barely whisper my suspicion that 
there were no such things in Kansas as "free- 
State Democrats" — that they were altogether 
mythical, good only to figure in newspapers and 
speeches in the free States. If there should 
prove to be one real living free-State Democrat 
in Kansas, I suggest that it might be well to 
catch him, and stuff and preserve his skin as an 
interesting specimen of that soon-to-be-extinct 
variety of the genus Democrat. 

And now as to the Dred Scott decision. That 
decision declares two propositions — first, that a 
negro cannot sue in the United States courts; 

320 Abraham Lincoln [June 27 

and secondly, that Congress cannot prohibit 
slavery in the Territories. It was made by a 
divided court — dividing differently on the dif- 
ferent points. Judge Douglas does not discuss 
the merits of the decision, and in that respect 
I shall follow his example, believing I could no 
more improve on McLean and Curtis than he 
could on Taney. 

He denounces all who question the correct- 
ness of that decision, as offering violent resist- 
ance to it. But who resists it? Who has, in 
spite of the decision, declared Dred Scott free, 
and resisted the authority of his master over 

Judicial decisions have two uses — first, to 
absolutely determine the case decided ; and sec- 
ondly, to indicate to the public how other sim- 
ilar cases will be decided when they arise. For 
the latter use, they are called "precedents" and 

We believe as much as Judge Douglas (per- 
haps more) in obedience to, and respect for, the 
judicial department of government. We think 
its decisions on constitutional questions, when 
fully settled, should control not only the partic- 
ular cases decided, but the general policy of the 
country, subject to be disturbed only by amend- 
ments of the Constitution as provided in that 
instrument itself. More than this would be 

*«57] Springfield Speech 3211 

revolution. But we think the Dred Scott de- 
cision is erroneous. We know the court that 
made it has often overruled its own decisions, 
and we shall do what we can to have it to over- 
rule this. We offer no resistance to it. 

Judicial decisions are of greater or less author- 
ity as precedents according to circumstances. 
That this should be so accords both with com- 
mon sense and the customary understanding of 
the legal profession. 

If this important decision had been made by 
the unanimous concurrence of the judges, and 
without any apparent partizan bias, and in ac- 
cordance with legal public expectation and with 
the steady practice of the departments through- 
out our history, and had been in no part based 
on assumed historical facts which are not really 
true ; or, if wanting in some of these, it had been 
before the court more than once, and had there 
been affirmed and reaffirmed through a course 
of years, it then might be, perhaps would be, 
factious, nay, even revolutionary, not to acqui- 
esce in it as a precedent. 

But when, as is true, we find it wanting in all 
these claims to the public confidence, it is not 
resistance, it is not factious, it is not even disre- 
spectful, to treat it as not having yet quite estab- 
lished a settled doctrine for the country. But 

322 Abraham Lincoln [June 27 

Judge Douglas considers this view awful. Hear 

The courts are the tribunals prescribed by the Con- 
stitution and created by the authority of the people 
to determine, expound, and enforce the law. Hence, 
whoever resists the final decision of the highest judi- 
cial tribunal aims a deadly blow at our whole repub- 
lican system of government — a blow which, if success- 
ful, would place all our rights and liberties at the 
mercy of passion, anarchy, and violence. I repeat, 
therefore, that if resistance to the decisions of the 
Supreme Court of the United States, in a matter like 
the points decided in the Dred Scott case, clearly 
within their jurisdiction as defined by the Constitution, 
shall be forced upon the country as a political issue, 
it will become a distinct and naked issue between the 
friends and enemies of the Constitution — the friends 
and the enemies of the supremacy of the laws. 

Why, this same Supreme Court once decided 
a national bank to be constitutional ; but General 
Jackson, as President of the United States, dis- 
regarded the decision, and vetoed a bill for a 
recharter, partly on constitutional ground de- 
claring that each public functionary must sup- 
port the Constitution, "as he understands it." 
But hear the general's own words. Here they 
are, taken from his veto message: 

It is maintained by the advocates of the bank, that 
its constitutionality, in all its features, ought to be 

i857] Springfield Speech 323 

considered as settled by precedent, and by the de- 
cision of the Supreme Court. To this conclusion I 
cannot assent. Mere precedent is a dangerous source 
of authority, and should not be regarded as deciding 
questions of constitutional power, except where the ac- 
quiescence of the people and the States can be consid- 
ered as well settled. So far from this being the case 
on this subject, an argument against the bank might be 
based on precedent. One Congress, in 1 791, decided in 
favor of a bank; another, in 181 1, decided against it. 
One Congress, in 18 15, decided against a bank; an- 
other, in 1 8 16, decided in its favor. Prior to the 
present Congress, therefore, the precedents drawn 
from that source were equal. If we resort to the 
States, the expressions of legislative, judicial, and 
executive opinions against the bank have been prob- 
ably to those in its favor as four to one. There is 
nothing in precedent, therefore, which, if its authority 
were admitted, ought to weigh in favor of the act 
before me. 

I drop the quotations merely to remark that 
all there ever was in the way of precedent up to 
the Dred Scott decision, on the points therein 
decided, had been against that decision. But 
hear General Jackson further: 

If the opinion of the Supreme Court covered the 
whole ground of this act, it ought not to control the 
coordinate authorities of this government. The 
Congress, the executive, and the court must, each for 

324 Abraham Lincoln [June 27 

itself, be guided by its own opinion of the Constitu- 
tion. Each public officer who takes an oath to sup- 
port the Constitution swears that he will support it 
as he understands it, and not as it is understood by 

Again and again have I heard Judge Doug- 
las denounce that bank decision and applaud 
General Jackson for disregarding it. It would 
be interesting for him to look over his recent 
speech, and see how exactly his fierce philippics 
against us for resisting Supreme Court deci- 
sions fall upon his own head. It will call to 
mind a long and fierce political war in this 
country, upon an issue which, in his own lan- 
guage, and, of course, in his own changeless esti- 
mation, was "a distinct issue between the friends 
and the enemies of the Constitution," and in 
which war he fought in the ranks of the enemies 
of the Constitution. 

I have said, in substance, that the Dred Scott 
decision was in part based on assumed historical 
facts which were not really true, and I ought 
not to leave the subject without giving some 
reasons for saying this ; I therefore give an in- 
stance or two, which I think fully sustains me. 
Chief Justice Taney, in delivering the opinion 
of the majority of the court, insists at great 
length that negroes were no part of the people 
who made, or for whom was made, the Declara- 

1857] Springfield Speech 325 

tion of Independence, or the Constitution of the 
United States. 

On the contrary, Judge Curtis, in his dissent- 
ing opinion, shows that in five of the then thir- 
teen States — to-wit, New Hampshire, Massa- 
chusetts, New York, New Jersey, and North 
Carolina — free negroes were voters, and in pro- 
portion to their numbers had the same part in 
making the Constitution that the white people 
had. He shows this with so much particularity 
as to leave no doubt of its truth; and as a sort 
of conclusion on that point, holds the following 

The Constitution was ordained and established by 
the people of the United States, through the action, 
in each State, of those persons who were qualified by 
its laws to act thereon in behalf of themselves and all 
other citizens of the State. In some of the States, 
as we have seen, colored persons were among those 
qualified by law to act on the subject. These colored 
persons were not only included in the body of "the 
people of the United States" by whom the Constitu- 
tion was ordained and established; but in at least five 
of the States they had the power to act, and doubtless 
did act, by their suffrages, upon the question of its 

Again, Chief Justice Taney says: 

It is difficult at this day to realize the state of public 
opinion, in relation to that unfortunate race, which 

326 Abraham Lincoln [June 27 

prevailed in the civilized and enlightened portions of 
the world at the time of the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence, and when the Constitution of the United 
States was framed and adopted. 

And again, after quoting from the Declara- 
tion, he says: 

The general words above quoted would seem to 
include the whole human family, and if they were 
used in a similar instrument at this day, would be so 

In these the Chief Justice does not directly 
assert, but plainly assumes, as a fact, that the 
public estimate of the black man is more favor- 
able now than it was in the days of the Revolu- 
tion. This assumption is a mistake. In some 
trifling particulars the condition of that race has 
been ameliorated ; but as a whole, in this coun- 
try, the change between then and now is decid- 
edly the other way; and their ultimate destiny 
has never appeared so hopeless as in the last 
three or four years. In two of the five States — ■ 
New Jersey and North Carolina — that then 
gave the free negro the right of voting, the right 
has since been taken away, and in a third — New 
York — it has been greatly abridged; while it 
has not been extended, so far as I know, to a sin- 
gle additional State, though the number of the 
States has more than doubled. In those days, 

1857] Springfield Speech 327 

as I understand, masters could, at their own 
pleasure, emancipate their slaves; but since then 
such legal restraints have been made upon eman- 
cipation as to amount almost to prohibition. In 
those days legislatures held the unquestioned 
power to abolish slavery in their respective 
States, but now it is becoming quite fashionable 
for State constitutions to withhold that power 
from the legislatures. In those days, by com- 
mon consent, the spread of the black man's bond- 
age to the new countries was prohibited, but 
now Congress decides that it will not continue 
the prohibition, and the Supreme Court decides 
that it could not if it would. In those days our 
Declaration of Independence was held sacred 
by all, and thought to include all ; but now, to 
aid in making the bondage of the negro uni- 
versal and eternal, it is assailed and sneered at 
and construed, and hawked at and torn, till, if 
its framers could rise from their graves, they 
could not at all recognize it. All the powers 
of earth seem rapidly combining against him. 
Mammon is after him, ambition follows, phi- 
losophy follows, and the theology of the day is 
fast joining the cry. They have him in his 
prison-house ; they have searched his person, and 
left no prying instrument with him. One after 
another they have closed the heavy iron doors 
upon him ; and now they have him, as it were, 

328 Abraham Lincoln [June 27 

bolted in with a lock of a hundred keys, which 
can never be unlocked without the concurrence 
of every key — the keys in the hands of a hun- 
dred different men, and they scattered to a 
hundred different and distant places; and they 
stand musing as to what invention, in all the 
dominions of mind and matter, can be produced 
to make the impossibility of his escape more 
complete than it is. 

It is grossly incorrect to say or assume that 
the public estimate of the negro is more favor- 
able now than it was at the origin of the govern- 

Three years and a half ago, Judge Douglas 
brought forward his famous Nebraska bill. 
The country was at once in a blaze. He scorned 
all opposition, and carried it through Congress. 
Since then he has seen himself superseded in a 
presidential nomination by one indorsing the 
general doctrine of his measure, but at the same 
time standing clear of the odium of its untimely 
agitation and its gross breach of national faith; 
and he has seen that successful rival constitu- 
tionally elected, not by the strength of friends, 
but by the division of adversaries, being in a 
popular minority of nearly four hundred thou- 
sand votes. He has seen his chief aids in his 
own State, Shields and Richardson, politically 
speaking, successively tried, convicted, and ex- 

1857] Springfield Speech 329 

ecuted for an offense not their own, but his. 
And now he sees his own case standing next on 
the docket for trial. 

There is a natural disgust in the minds of 
nearly all white people at the idea of an indis- 
criminate amalgamation of the white and black 
races; and Judge Douglas evidently is basing 
his chief hope upon the chances of his being 
able to appropriate the benefit of this disgust 
to himself. If he can, by much drumming and 
repeating, fasten the odium of that idea upon 
his adversaries, he thinks he can struggle 
through the storm. He therefore clings to this 
hope, as a drowning man to the last plank. He 
makes an occasion for lugging it in from the 
opposition of the Dred Scott decision. He 
finds the Republicans insisting that the Decla- 
ration of Independence includes all men, black 
as well as white, and forthwith he boldly denies 
that it includes negroes at all, and proceeds to 
argue gravely that all who contend it does do 
so only because they want to vote, and eat, and 
sleep, and marry with negroes! He will have 
it that they cannot be consistent else. Now I 
protest against the counterfeit logic which con- 
cludes that, because I do not want a black wo- 
man for a slave I must necessarily want her for 
a wife. I need not have her for either. I can 
just leave her alone. In some respects she cer- 

33° Abraham Lincoln '[June 27 

tainly is not my equal; but in her natural right 
to eat the bread she earns with her own hands 
without asking leave of any one else, she is my 
equal, and the equal of all others. 

Chief Justice Taney, in his opinion in the 
Dred Scott case, admits that the language of 
the Declaration is broad enough to include the 
whole human family, but he and Judge Douglas 
argue that the authors of that instrument did not 
intend to include negroes, by the fact that they 
did not at once actually place them on an equal- 
ity with the whites. Now this grave argument 
comes to just nothing at all, by the other fact 
that they did not at once, or ever afterward, 
actually place all white people on an equality 
with one another. And this is the staple argu- 
ment of both the chief justice and the senator for 
doing this obvious violence to the plain, unmis- 
takable language of the Declaration. 

I think the authors of that notable instrument 
intended to include all men, but they did not 
intend to declare all men equal in all respects. 
They did not mean to say all were equal in 
color, size, intellect, moral developments, or 
social capacity. They defined with tolerable 
distinctness in what respects they did consider 
all men created equal — equal with "certain in- 
alienable rights, among which are life, liberty, 
and the pursuit of happiness." This they said, 

H857] Springfield Speech 331 

and this they meant. They did not mean to 
assert the obvious untruth that all were then 
actually enjoying that equality, nor yet that they 
were about to confer it immediately upon them. 
In fact, they had no power to confer such a 
boon. They meant simply to declare the right, 
So that enforcement of it might follow as fast 
as circumstances should permit. 

They meant to set up a standard maxim for 
free society, which should be familiar to all, 
and revered by all; constantly looked to, con- 
stantly labored for, and even though never per- 
fectly attained, constantly approximated, and 
thereby constantly spreading and deepening its 
influence and augmenting the happiness and 
value of life to all people of all colors every- 
where. The assertion that "all men are created 
equal" was of no practical use in effecting our 
separation from Great Britain; and it was 
placed in the Declaration not for that, but for 
future use. Its authors meant it to be — as, 
thank God, it is now proving itself — a stum- 
bling-block to all those who in after times might 
seek to turn a free people back into the hate- 
ful paths of despotism. They knew the prone- 
ness of prosperity to breed tyrants, and they 
meant when such should reappear in this fair 
land and commence their vocation, they should 
find left for them at least one hard nut to crack. 

332 Abraham Lincoln [June 27 

I have now briefly expressed my view of the 
meaning and object of that part of the Declara- 
tion of Independence which declares that "all 
men are created equal." 

Now let us hear Judge Douglas's view of the 
same subject, as I find it in the printed report 
of his late speech. Here it is: 

No man can vindicate the character, motives, and 
conduct of the signers of the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence, except upon the hypothesis that they re- 
ferred to the white race alone, and not to the African, 
when they declared all men to have been created 
equal; that they were speaking of British subjects on 
this continent being equal to British subjects born and 
residing in Great Britain; that they were entitled to 
the same alienable rights, and among them were 
enumerated life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 
The Declaration was adopted for the purpose of 
justifying the colonists in the eyes of the civilized 
world in withdrawing their allegiance from the British 
crown, and dissolving their connection with the 
mother country. 

My good friends, read that carefully over 
some leisure hour, and ponder well upon it; 
see what a mere wreck — mangled ruin — it 
makes of our once glorious Declaration. 

"They were speaking of British subjects on 
this continent being equal to British subjects 
born and residing in Great Britain!" Why, ac- 

1857] Springfield Speech 333 

cording to this, not only negroes but white peo- 
ple outside of Great Britain and America were 
not spoken of in that instrument. The Eng- 
lish, Irish, and Scotch, along with white Amer- 
icans, were included, to be sure, but the French, 
Germans, and other white people of the world 
are all gone to pot along with the judge's in- 
ferior races! 

I had thought the Declaration promised 
something better than the condition of British 
subjects; but no, it only meant that we should 
be equal to them in their own oppressed and 
unequal condition. According to that, it gave 
no promise that, having kicked off the king and 
lords of Great Britain, we should not at once 
be saddled with a king and lords of our own. 

I had thought the Declaration contemplated 
the progressive improvement in the condition 
of all men everywhere; but no, it merely "was 
adopted for the purpose of justifying the colo- 
nists in the eyes of the civilized world in with- 
drawing their allegiance from the British 
crown, and dissolving their connection with the 
mother country." Why, that object having 
been effected some eighty years ago, the Decla- 
ration is of no practical use now — mere rubbish 
— old wadding left to rot on the battle-field 
after the victory is won. 

I understand you are preparing to celebrate 

334 Abraham Lincoln [June 27 

the "Fourth," to-morrow week. What for? 
The doings of that day had no reference to the 
present; and quite half of you are not even de- 
scendants of those who were referred to at that 
day. But I suppose you will celebrate, and 
will even go as far as to read the Declaration. 
Suppose, after you read it once in the old-fash- 
ioned way, you read it once more with Judge 
Douglas's version. It will then run thus: "We 
hold these truths to be self-evident, that all 
British subjects who were on this continent 
eighty-one years ago, were created equal to all 
British subjects born and then residing in Great 

And now I appeal to all — to Democrats as 
well as others — are you really willing that the 
Declaration shall thus be frittered away? — thus 
left no more, at most, than an interesting me- 
morial of the dead past? — thus shorn of its vital- 
ity and practical value, and left without the 
germ or even the suggestion of the individual 
rights of man in it? 

But Judge Douglas is especially horrified at 
the thought of the mixing of blood by the white 
and black races. Agreed for once — a thousand 
times agreed. There are white men enough to 
marry all the white women, and black men 
enough to marry all the black women ; and so let 
them be married. On this point we fully agree 

i857l Springfield Speech 335 

with the judge, and when he shall show that his 
policy is better adapted to prevent amalgamation 
than ours, we shall drop ours and adopt his. 
Let us see. In 1850 there were in the United 
States 405,751 mulattos. Very few of these are 
the offspring of whites and free blacks; nearly 
all have sprung from black slaves and white 
masters. A separation of the races is the only 
perfect preventive of amalgamation; but as an 
immediate separation is impossible, the next 
best thing is to keep them apart where they are 
not already together. If white and black peo- 
ple never get together in Kansas, they will never 
mix blood in Kansas. That is at least one self- 
evident truth. A few free colored persons may 
get into the free States, in any event; but their 
number is too insignificant to amount to much 
in the way of mixing blood. In 1850 there 
were in the free States 56,649 mulattos; but for 
the most part they were not born there — they 
came from the slave States, ready made up. In 
the same year the slave States had 348,874 mu- 
lattos, all of home production. The propor- 
tion of free mulattos to free blacks— the only 
colored classes in the free States— is much 
greater in the slave than in the free States. It 
is worthy of note, too, that among the free 
States those which make the colored man the 
nearest equal to the white have proportionably 

336 Abraham Lincoln [June 27 

the fewest mulattos, the least of amalgamation. 
In New Hampshire, the State which goes far- 
thest toward equality between the races, there are 
just 184 mulattos, while there are in Virginia — 
how many do you think? — 79,775, being 23,126 
more than in all the free States together. 

These statistics show that slavery is the great- 
est source of amalgamation, and next to it, not 
the elevation, but the degradation of the free 
blacks. Yet Judge Douglas dreads the slight- 
est restraints on the spread of slavery, and the 
slightest human recognition of the negro, as 
tending horribly to amalgamation. 

The very Dred Scott case affords a strong 
test as to which party most favors amalgama- 
tion, the Republicans or the dear Union-sav- 
ing Democracy. Dred Scott, his wife, and two 
daughters were all involved in the suit. We 
desired the court to have held that they were 
citizens so far at least as to entitle them to a 
hearing as to whether they were free or not; and 
then, also, that they were in fact and in law 
really free. Could we have had our way, the 
chances of these black girls ever mixing their 
blood with that of white people would have 
been diminished at least to the extent that it 
could not have been without their consent. But 
Judge Douglas is delighted to have them de- 
cided to be slaves, and not human enough to 

1857] Springfield Speech 337 

have a hearing, even if they were free, and thus 
left subject to the forced concubinage of their 
masters, and liable to become the mothers of 
mulattos in spite of themselves: the very state 
of case that produces nine tenths of all the mu- 
lattos — all the mixing of blood in the nation. 

Of course, I state this case as an illustration 
only, not meaning to say or intimate that the 
master of Dred Scott and his family, or any 
more than a percentage of masters generally, 
are inclined to exercise this particular power 
which they hold over their female slaves. 

I have said that the separation of the races 
is the only perfect preventive of amalgamation. 
I have no right to say all the members of the 
Republican party are in favor of this, nor to 
say that as a party they are in favor of it. There 
is nothing in their platform directly on the sub- 
ject. But I can say a very large proportion of 
its members are for it, and that the chief plank 
in their platform — opposition to the spread of 
slavery — is most favorable to that separation. 

Such separation, if ever effected at all, must 
be effected by colonization; and no political 
party, as such, is now doing anything directly 
for colonization. Party operations at present 
only favor or retard colonization incidentally. 
The enterprize is a difficult one; but "where 
there is a will there is a way," and what colon- 

338 Abraham Lincoln [June 27 

ization needs most is a hearty will. Will 
springs from the two elements of moral sense 
and self-interest. Let us be brought to believe 
it is morally right, and at the same time favor- 
able to, or at least not against, our interest to 
transfer the African to his native clime, and 
we shall find a way to do it, however great the 
task may be. The children of Israel, to such 
numbers as to include four hundred thousand 
fighting men, went out of Egyptian bondage in 
a body. 

How differently the respective courses of the 
Democratic and Republican parties incident- 
ally bear on the question of forming a will — a 
public sentiment — for colonization, is easy to 
see. The Republicans inculcate, with what- 
ever of ability they can, that the negro is a 
man, that his bondage is cruelly wrong, and 
that the field of his oppression ought not to He 
enlarged. The Democrats deny his manhood; 
deny, or dwarf to insignificance, the wrong of 
his bondage; so far as possible, crush all sym- 
pathy for him, and cultivate and excite hatred 
and disgust against him; compliment them- 
selves as Union-savers for doing so; and call 
the indefinite outspreading of his bondage "a 
sacred right of self-government." 

The plainest print cannot be read through a 
gold eagle; and it will be ever hard to find 

1857] Letter to Grimes 339 

many men who will send a slave to Liberia, and 
pay his passage, while they can send him to a 
new country — Kansas, for instance— and sell 
him for fifteen hundred dollars, and the rise. 

*Letter to William Grimes 

Springfield, Illinois, August, 1857. 

Dear Sir: Yours of the 14th is received, and 
I am much obliged for the legal information 
you give. 

You can scarcely be more anxious than I that 
the next election in Iowa should result in favor 
of the Republicans. I lost nearly all the work- 
ing-part of last year, giving my time to the can- 
vass; and I am altogether too poor to lose two 
years together. I am engaged in a suit in the 
United States Court at Chicago, in which the 
Rock Island Bridge Company is a party. The 
trial is to commence on the 8th of September, 
and probably will last two or three weeks. Dur- 
ing the trial it is not improbable that all hands 
may come over and take a look at the bridge, and 
if it were possible to make it hit right, I could 
then speak at Davenport. My courts go right 
on without cessation till late in November. 
Write me again, pointing out the more striking 
points of difference between your old and new 
constitutions, and also whether Democratic and 
Republican party lines were drawn in the adop- 

340 Abraham Lincoln [Sept. 22 

tion of it, and which were for and which were 
against it. If, by possibility, I could get over 
among you it might be of some advantage to 
know these things in advance. 

Yours very truly, A. LINCOLN. 

* Argument in The Rock Island Bridge 


From " The Daily Press "of Chicago, Sept. 24, 




Railroad Bridge Co. 

United States Circuit Court, 
Hon. John McClean, Presiding Judge. 
13th day, Tuesday, Sept. 22nd, 1857. 

Mr. A. Lincoln addressed the jury. He said 
he did not purpose to assail anybody, that he 
expected to grow earnest as he proceeded but 
not ill natured. "There is some conflict of tes- 
timony in the case," he said, "but one quarter 
of such a number of witnesses seldom agree and 
even if all were on one side, some discrepancy 
might be expected. We are to try and recon- 
cile them, and to believe that they are not in- 

1857] Law Argument 341 

tentionally erroneous as long as we can." He 
had no prejudice, he said, against steam boats 
or steamboatmen nor any against St. Louis, for 
he supposed they went about this matter as 
other people would do in their situation. "St. 
Louis," he continued, "as a commercial place 
may desire that this bridge should not stand as 
it is adverse to her commerce, diverting a por- 
tion of it from the river; and it may be that she 
supposes that the additional cost of railroad 
transportation upon the productions of Iowa 
will force them to go to St. Louis if this bridge 
is removed. The meetings in St. Louis are con- 
nected with this case only as some witnesses are 
in it and thus has some prejudice added color 
to their testimony." 

The last thing that would be pleasing to 
him, Mr. Lincoln said, would be to have 
one of these great channels extending almost 
from where it never freezes to where it never 
thaws blocked up but there is a travel from 
east to west whose demands are not less import- 
ant than that of those of the river. It is grow- 
ing larger and larger, building up new coun- 
tries with a rapidity never before seen in the 
history of the world. 

He alluded to the astonishing growth of 
Illinois having grown within his memory to a 
population of a million and a half; to Iowa and 

342 Abraham Lincoln [Sept. 22 

the other young rising communities of the 

"This current of travel," said he, "has its 
rights as well as that of north and south. If the 
river had not the advantage in priority and leg- 
islation we could enter into free competition 
with it and we could surpass it. This particular 
railroad line has a great importance and the 
statement of its business during a little less than 
a year shows this importance. It is in evidence 
that from September 8th, 1856, to August 8th, 
1857, 12,586 freight cars and 74,179 passengers 
passed over this bridge. Navigation was closed 
four days short of four months last year, and 
during this time while the river was of no use 
this road and bridge were valuable. There is 
too a considerable portion of time when float- 
ing or thin ice makes the river useless while the 
bridge is as useful as ever. This shows that 
this bridge must be treated with respect in this 
court and is not to be kicked about with con- 
tempt. The other day Judge Wead alluded to 
the strike of the contending interest and even 
a dissolution of the Union. The proper mode 
for all parties in this affair is to 'live and let 
live' and then we will find a cessation of this 
trouble about the bridge. What mood were the 
steamboat men in when this bridge w T as burned? 
Why there was a shouting and ringing of bells 

1 857I Law Argument 343 

and whistling on all the boats as it fell. It was 
a jubilee, a greater celebration than follows an 
excited election. The first thing I will proceed 
to is the record of Mr. Gurney and the com- 
plaint of Judge Wead that the record did not 
extend back over all the time from the comple- 
tion of the bridge. The principal part of the 
navigation after the bridge was burned passed 
through the span. When the bridge was re- 
paired and the boats were a second time con- 
fined to the draw it was provided that this rec- 
ord should be kept. That is the simple history 
of that book. 

"From April 19th, 1856, to May 6th — seven- 
teen days — there were twenty accidents and all 
the time since there have been but twenty hits, 
including seven accidents, so that the dangers 
of this place are tapering off and as the boat- 
men get cool the accidents get less. We may 
soon expect if this ratio is kept up that there 
will be no accidents at all. 

"Judge Wead said while admitting that the 
floats went straight through there was a differ- 
ence between a float and a boat, but I do not re- 
member that he indulged us with an argument 
in support of this statement. Is it because there 
is a difference in size? Will not a small body 
and a large one float the same way under the 
,same influence? True a flat boat will float 

344 Abraham Lincoln [Sept. 22 

faster than an egg shell and the egg shell might 
be blown away by the wind, but if under the 
same influence they would go the same way. 
Logs, floats, boards, various things the witnesses 
say all show the same current. Then is not this 
test reliable? At all depths too the direction 
of the current is the same. A series of these 
floats would make a line as long as a boat and 
would show any influence upon any part and 
all parts of the boat. 

"I will now speak of the angular position of 
the piers. What is the amount of the angle? 
The course of the river is a curve and the pier 
is straight. If a line is produced from the up- 
per end of the long pier straight with the pier 
to a distance of 350 feet and a line is drawn 
from a point in the channel opposite this point 
to the head of the pier, Colonel Nason says they 
will form an angle of twenty degrees. But the 
angle if measured at the pier is seven degrees, 
that is we would have to move the pier seven de- 
grees to make it exactly straight with the cur- 
rent. Would that make the navigation better 
or worse? The witnesses of the plaintiff seem 
to think it was only necessary to say that the 
pier formed an angle with the current and that 
settled the matter. Our more careful and ac- 
curate witnesses say that though they had been 
accustomed to seeing the piers placed straight 

1857] Law Argument 345 

with the current, yet they could see that here 
the current had been made straight by us in 
having made this slight angle; that the water 
now runs just right, that it is straight and can- 
not be improved. They think that if the pier 
was changed the eddy would be divided and 
the navigation improved. 

"I am not now going to discuss the question 
what is a material obstruction. We do not 
greatly differ about the law. The cases pro- 
duced here are I suppose proper to be taken 
into consideration by the court in instructing 
a jury. Some of them I think are not exactly 
in point, but I am still willing to trust his honor, 
Judge McClean, and take his instructions as 
law. What is reasonable skill and care? This 
is a thing of which the jury are to judge. I 
differ from the other side when it says that they 
are bound to exercise no more care than was 
taken before the building of the bridge. If we 
are allowed by the legislature to build the 
bridge which will require them to do more than 
before when a pilot comes along it is unreason- 
able for him to dash on heedless of this structure 
which has been legally put there. The Afton 
came there on the 5th and lay at Rock Island 
until next morning. When a boat lies up the 
pilot has a holiday, and would not any of these 
jurors have then gone around to the bridge and 

346 Abraham Lincoln [Sept. 22 

gotten acquainted with the place? Pilot Park- 
er has shown here that he does not understand 
the draw. I heard him say that the fall from 
the head to the foot of the pier was four feet; 
he needs information. He could have gone 
there that day and seen there was no such fall. 
He should have discarded passion and the 
chances are that he would have had no disaster 
at all. He was bound to make himself ac- 
quainted with the place. 

"McCammon says that the current and the 
swell coming from the long pier drove her 
against the long pier. In other words drove 
her toward the very pier from which the cur- 
rent came! It is an absurdity, an impossibil- 
ity. The only recollection I can find for this 
contradiction is in a current which White says 
strikes out from the long pier and then like a 
ram's horn turns hack and this might have acted 
somehow in this manner. 

"It is agreed by all that the plaintiff's boat 
was destroyed and that it was destroyed upon 
the head of the short pier; that she moved from 
the channel where she was with her bow above 
the head of the long pier; till she struck the 
short one, swung around under the bridge and 
there was crowded and destroyed. 

"I shall try to prove that the average velocity 
of the current through the draw with the boat 

1 857] Law Argument 347 

in it should be five and a half miles an hour; 
that it is slowest at the head of the pier and 
swiftest at the foot of the pier. Their lowest 
estimate in evidence is six miles an hour, their 
highest twelve miles. This was the testimony 
of men who had made no experiment, only con- 
jecture. We have adopted the most exact 
means. The water runs swiftest in high water 
and we have taken the point of nine feet above 
low water. The water when the Afton was 
lost was seven feet above low water, or at least 
a foot lower than our time. Brayton and his 
assistants timed the instrument. The best in- 
struments known in measuring currents. They 
timed them under various circumstances and 
they found the current five miles an hour and 
no more. They found that the water at the 
upper end ran slower than five miles; that be- 
low it was swifter than five miles, but that the 
average was five miles. Shall men who have 
taken no care, who 'conjecture, some of whom 
speak of twenty miles an hour, be believed 
against those who have had such a favorable and 
well improved opportunity? They should not 
even qualify the result. Several men have 
given their opinion as to the distance of the 
steamboat Carson and I suppose if one should 
go and measure that distance you would believe 
him in preference to all of them. 

348 Abraham Lincoln [Sept. 22 

"These measurements were made when the 
boat was not in the draw. It has been ascer- 
tained what is the area of the cross sec- 
tion of this stream and the area of the face of 
the piers and the engineers say that the piers 
being put there will increase the current pro- 
portionally as the space is decreased. So with 
the boat in the draw. 

The depth of the channel was twenty-two feet, 
the width one hundred and sixteen feet, multiply 
there and you have the square feet across the 
water of the draw, viz.: 2,552 feet. 

The Afton was 35 feet wide and drew 5 
feet, making a fourteenth of the sum. Now, 
one-fourteenth of five miles is five-four- 
teenths of one mile — about one-third of a mile 
— the increase of the current. We will call the 
current five and a half miles per hour. The 
next thing I will try to prove is that the plain- 
tiff's (?) boat had power to run six miles an 
hour in that current. It has been testified that 
she was a strong, swift boat, able to run eight 
miles an hour up stream in a current of four 
miles an hour and fifteen miles down stream. 
Strike the average and you will find what is 
her average — about eleven and a half miles. 
Take the five and a half miles which is the 
speed of the current in the draw and it leaves the 
power of that boat in that draw at six miles an 

1857] Law Argument 349 

hour, 528 feet per minute and 8 4-5 feet to the 

"Next I propose to show that there are no 
cross currents. I know their witnesses say that 
there are cross currents — that as one witness 
says there were three cross currents and two ed- 
dies ; so far as mere statement without experi- 
ment and mingled with mistakes can go they 
have proved. But can these men's testimony 
be compared with the nice, exact, thorough 
experiments of our witnesses? Can you believe 
that these floats go across the currents? It is 
inconceiveable that they could not have discov- 
ered every possible current. How do boats 
find currents that floats cannot discover? We 
assume the position then that those cross cur- 
rents are not there. My next proposition is that 
the Afton passed between the S. B. Carson and 
the Iowa shore. That is undisputed. 

"Next I shall show that she struck first the 
short pier, then the long pier, then the short one 
again and there she stopped." 

Mr. Lincoln then cited the testimony of eight- 
een witnesses on this point. 

"How did the boat strike when she went in? 
Here is an endless variety of opinion. But ten 
of them say what pier she struck; three of them 
testify that she struck first the short, then the 
long and then the short for the last time. None 

350 Abraham Lincoln [Sept. 23 

of the rest substantially contradict this. I as- 
sume that these men have got the truth because 
I believe it an established fact. My next prop- 
osition is that after she struck the short and 
long pier and before she got back to the short 
pier the boat got right with her bow up. So 
says the pilot Parker — 'that he got her through 
until her starboard heel passed the short pier.' 
This would make her head about even with the 
head of the long pier. He says her head was 
as high or higher than the head of the long pier. 
Other witnesses confirmed this one. The final 
stroke was in the splash door aft the wheel. 
Witnesses differ but the majority say that she 
struck thus." 

Court adjourned. 

14th day, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 1857. 
Mr. A. Lincoln resumed. He said he should 
conclude as soon as possible. He said the col- 
ored map of the plaintiff which was brought in 
during one stage of the trial showed itself that 
the cross currents alleged did not exist. That 
the current as represented would drive an as- 
cending boat to the long pier but not to the 
short pier, as they urge. He explained from a 
model of a boat where the splash door is just 
behind the wheel. The boat struck on the 
lower shoulder of the short pier as she swung 

1857] Law Argument 351 

around is the splash door, then as she went on 
around she struck the point or end of the pier 
where she rested. "Her engineers," said Mr. 
Lincoln, "say the starboard wheel then was 
rushing around rapidly. Then the boat must 
have struck the upper point of the pier so far 
back as not to disturb the wheel. It is forty 
feet from the stern of the Afton to the splash 
door and thus it appears that she had but forty 
feet to go to clear the pier. How was it that 
the Afton with all her power flanked over from 
the channel to the short pier without moving 
one foot ahead? Suppose she was in the mid- 
dle of the draw, her wheel would have been 31 
feet from the short pier. The reason she went 
over thus is her starboard wheel was not work- 
ing. I shall try to establish the fact that the 
wheel was not running and that after she struck 
the pier went ahead strong on this same wheel. 
Upon the last point the witnesses agree that the 
starboard wheel was running after she struck 
and no witnesses say that it was running while 
she was out in the draw flanking over." 

Mr. Lincoln read from the testimonies of 
various witnesses to prove that the starboard 
wheel was not working while the Afton was 
out in the stream. 

"Other witnesses show that the captain said 
something of the machinery of the wheel and 

352 Abraham Lincoln [Sept. 23 

the inference is that he knew the wheel was not 
working. The fact is undisputed that she did 
not move one inch ahead while she was moving 
this 31 feet sideways. There is evidence prov- 
ing that the current there is only five miles an 
hour and the only explanation is that her power 
was not all used — that only one wheel was work- 
ing. The pilot says he ordered the engineers 
to back her up. The engineers differ from him 
and said they kept on going ahead. The bow 
was so swung that the current pressed it over; 
the pilot pressed the stern over with the rudder 
though not so fast but that the bow gained on it 
and only one wheel being in motion the boat 
nearly stood still so far as motion up and down 
is concerned, and thus she was thrown upon this 
pier. The Afton came into the draw after she 
had just passed the Carson and as the Carson 
no doubt kept the true course the Afton going 
around her got out of the proper way, got across 
the current into the eddy which is west of a 
straight line drawn down from the long pier, 
was compelled to resort to these changes of 
wheels which she did not do with sufficient 
adroitness to save her. Was it not her own 
fault that she entered wrong, so far wrong that 
she never got right? Is the defense to blame for 

For several days we were entertained with 

1857] Law Argument 353 

depositions about boats 'smelling a bar.' Why 
did the Afton then after she had come up smell- 
ing so close to the long pier sheer off so strange- 
ly when she got to the center of the very nose 
she was smelling she seemed suddenly to have 
lost her sense of smell and to have flanked over 
to the short pier." 

Mr. Lincoln said there was no practicability 
in the project of building a tunnel under the 
river, for there "is not a tunnel that is a success- 
ful project in this world. A suspension bridge 
cannot be built so high but that the chimneys 
of the boats will grow up till they cannot pass. 
The steamboat men will take pains to make them 
grow. The cars of a railroad cannot without 
immense expense rise high enough to get even 
with a suspension bridge or go low enough to 
get through a tunnel; such expense is unrea- 

"The plaintiffs have to establish that the 
bridge is a material obstruction and that they 
have managed their boat with reasonable care 
and skill. As to the last point high winds have 
nothing to do with it, for it was not a windy 
day. They must show due skill and care. Dif- 
ficulties going down stream will not do for they 
were going up stream. Difficulties with barges 
in tow have nothing to do with the accident, 
for they had no barge." 

354 Abraham Lincoln [Jan. 19 

Mr. Lincoln said he had much more to say, 
many things he could suggest to the jury, but 
he wished to close to save time. 

*Letter to Jesse K. Dubois 

Bloomington, December 21, 1857. 

Dear Dubois: J. M. Douglas of the I. C. 
R. R. Co. is here and will carry this letter. He 
says they have a large sum (near $90,000) 
which they will pay into the treasury now, if 
they have an assurance that they shall not be 
sued before January 1859 — otherwise not. I 
really wish you would consent to this. Douglas 
says they can not pay more and I believe him. 

I do not write this as a lawyer seeking an ad- 
vantage for a client; but only as a friend, only 
urging you to do what I think I would do if 
I were in your situation. I mean this as pri- 
vate and confidential only, but I feel a good 
deal of anxiety about it. 

Yours, as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

*Letter to Joseph Gillespie 

Springfield, January 19, 1858. 
My Dear Sir: This morning Colonel Mc- 
Clernand showed me a petition for a manda- 
mus against the Secretary of State to compel 
him to certify the apportionment act of last ses- 

1858] Letter to E. G. Miner 355 

sion; and he says it will be presented to the 
court to-morrow morning. We shall be al- 
lowed three or four days to get up a return; 
and I, for one, want the benefit of consultation 
with you. 

Please come right up. 

Yours as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

*Letter to Joseph Gillespie 

Springfield, February 7, 1858. 
« My Dear Sir: Yesterday morning the court 
overruled the demurrer to Hatch's return in the 
mandamus case. McClernand was present; 
said nothing about pleading over; and so I sup- 
pose the matter is ended. The court gave no 
reason for the decision; but Peck tells me confi- 
dentially that they were unanimous in the opin- 
ion that even if the Governor had signed the 
bill purposely, he had the right to scratch his 
name off, so long as the bill remained in his 
custody and control. Yours as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

* Letter to Edward G. Miner 

Springfield, February 19, 1858. 
My Dear Sir: Mr. G. A. Sutton is an appli- 
cant for superintendent of the addition to the 

3 $8 Abraham Lincoln [Apr. 26 

Insane Asylum, and I understand it partly de- 
pends on you whether he gets it. 

Mr. Sutton is my fellow townsman and 
friend, and I therefore wish to say for him that 
he is a man of sterling integrity and as a master 
mechanic and builder not surpassed by any in 
our city, or any I have known anywhere as far 
as I can judge. 

I hope you will consider me as being really 
interested for Mr. Sutton and not as writing 
merely to relieve myself of importunity. 

Please show this to Colonel William Ross 
and let him consider it as much intended for 
him as for yourself. 

Your friend as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

'Letter to E. B. Washburne 

Urbana, Illinois, April 26, 1858. 
My Dear Sir: I am rather a poor cor- 
respondent, but I think perhaps I ought to write 
you a letter just now. I am here at this time, 
but I was at home during the sitting of the two 
Democratic conventions. The day before those 
conventions I received a letter from Chicago, 
having among other things on other subjects the 
following in it: 

A reliable Republican, but an old-line Whig lawyer, 
in this city told me to-day that he himself had seen 

1858] Letter to Washtmrne 357 

a letter from one of our Republican congressmen, 
advising us all to go for the reelection of Judge 
Douglas. He said he was enjoined to keep the 
author a secret, and he was going to do so. From 
him I learned that he was not an old-line Democrat 
or Abolitionist. This narrows the contest down to 
the congressmen from the Galena and Fulton districts. 

The above is a literal copy of all the letter 
contained on that subject. The morning of the 
conventions, Mr. Herndon showed me your let- 
ter of the 15th to him, which convinced me that 
the story in the letter from Chicago was based 
upon some mistake, misconstruction of lan- 
guage, or the like. Several of our friends were 
down from Chicago, and they had something 
of the same story amongst them, some half sus- 
pecting that you were inclined to favor Dou- 
glas, and others thinking there was an effort to 
wrong you. 

I thought neither was exactly the case; that 
the whole had originated in some misconstruc- 
tion coupled with a high degree of sensitiveness 
on the point, and that the whole matter was not 
worth another moment's consideration. 

Such is my opinion now, and I hope you will 
have no concern about it. I have written this 
because Charley Wilson told me he was writ- 
ing you, and because I expect Dr. Ray (who was 
a little excited about the matter) has also writ- 

358 Abraham Lincoln [May 10 

ten you; and because I think I, perhaps, have 
taken a calmer view of the thing than they may 
have done. I am satisfied you have done no 
wrong, and nobody has intended any wrong to 

A word about the conventions. The Democ- 
racy parted in not a very encouraged state of 
mind. On the contrary, our friends, a good 
many of whom were present, parted in high 
spirits. They think if we do not triumph, the 
fault will be our own, and so I really think. 
Your friend as ever, A. LINCOLN. 

Letter to J. M. Lucas 

Springfield, May 10, 1858. 
My Dear Sir: Your long and kind letter was 
received to-day. It came upon me as an agree- 
able old acquaintance. Politically speaking, 
there is a curious state of things here. The im- 
pulse of almost every Democrat is to stick to 
Douglas ; but it horrifies them to have to follow 
him out of the Democratic party. A good 
many are annoyed that he did not go for the 
English contrivance, and thus heal the breach. 
They begin to think there is a "negro in the 
fence," — that Douglas really wants to have a 
fuss with the President; — that sticks in their 
throats. Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln. 

^ *v * S 



This fold-out is being digitized, and will be inserted at 

future date. 


This fold-out is being digitized, and will be inserted at 

future date. 

1858] Letter to Washburne 359 

*Letter to E. B. Washburne 

Springfield, Illinois, May 10, 1858. 
My Dear Sir: I have just reached home from 
the circuit, and found your letter of the 2d, 
for which I thank you. My other letter to you 
was meant for nothing but to hedge against bad 
feeling being gotten up between those who ought 
to be friends, out of the incident mentioned in 
that letter. I sent you an extract from the Chi- 
cago letter in order to let you see that the writer 
did not profess to know anything himself; and 
I now add that his informant told me that he 
did tell him exactly what he wrote me — at least 
I distinctly so understood him. The informant 
is an exceedingly clever fellow; and I think he, 
having had a hasty glance at your letter to Char- 
ley Wilson, misconstrued it, and consequently 
misreported it to the writer of the letter to me. 
I must repeat that I think the thing did not orig- 
inate in malice to you, or to any one, and that 
the best way all round is to now forget it entire- 
ly. Will you not adjourn in time to be here at 
our State convention in June? 

Your friend as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

360 Abraham Lincoln [May 15 

Letter to E. B. Washburne 

Springfield, May 15, 1858. 

My Dear Sir: Yours of the 6th, accompanied 
by yours of April 12th to C. L. Wilson, was 
received day before yesterday. There certainly 
is nothing in the letter to Wilson which I in 
particular, or Republicans in general, could 
complain of. Of that I was quite satisfied 
before I saw the letter. I believe there has been 
no malicious intent to misrepresent you; I hope 
there is no longer any misunderstanding, and 
that the matter may drop. 

Eight or ten days ago I wrote Kellogg from 
Beardstown. Get him to show you the letter. 
It gave my view of the field as it appeared then. 
Nothing has occurred since, except that it grows 
more and more quiet since the passage of the 
English contrivance. 

The "State Register" here is evidently labor- 
ing to bring its old friends into what the doc- 
tors call the "comatose state," — that is, a sort of 
drowsy, dreamy condition, in which they may 
not perceive or remember that there has ever 
been, or is, any difference between Douglas and 
the President. This could be done if the Bu- 
chanan men would allow it — which, however, 
the latter seem determined not to do. 

I think our prospects gradually and steadily 

1858] Letter to Washburne 361 

grow better, though we are not yet clear out of 
the woods by a great deal. There is still some 
effort to make trouble out of "Americanism." 
If that were out of the way, for all the rest, I 
believe we should be "out of the woods." 
Yours very truly, 

A. Lincoln. 

Letter to E. B. Washburne 

Springfield, May 27, 1858. 
My Dear Sir: Yours requesting me to return 
you the now somewhat noted "Charley Wilson 
letter," is received, and I herewith return that 
letter. Political matters just now bear a very 
mixed and incongruous aspect. For several days 
the signs have been that Douglas and the Presi- 
dent have probably buried the hatchet, — Doug- 
las's friends at Washington going over to the 
President's side, and his friends here and South 
of here talking as if there never had been any 
serious difficulty, while the President himself 
does nothing for his own peculiar friends here. 
But this morning my partner, Mr. Herndon, 
receives a letter from Mr. Medill of the "Chi- 
cago Tribune," showing the writer to be in great 
alarm at the prospect North of Republicans go- 
ing over to Douglas, on the idea that Douglas 
is going to assume steep Free-soil ground, and 

362 Abraham Lincoln [June 1 

furiously assail the administration on the stump 
when he comes home. There certainly is a 
double game being played somehow. Possibly 
— even probably — Douglas is temporarily de- 
ceiving the President in order to crush out the 
8th of June convention here. Unless he plays 
his double game more successfully than we have 
often seen done, he cannot carry many Repub- 
licans North, without at the same time losing a 
larger number of his old friends South. Let 
this be confidential. Yours as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

Letter to Charles L. Wilson 

Springfield, June i, 1858. 

My Dear Sir: Yours of yesterday, with the 
inclosed newspaper slip, is received. I have 
never said or thought more, as to the inclination 
of some of our Eastern Republican friends to 
favor Douglas, than I expressed in your hearing 
on the evening of the 21st of April, at the State 
library in this place. I have believed — I do be- 
lieve now — that Greeley, for instance, would be 
rather pleased to see Douglas reelected over me 
or any other Republican; and yet I do not be- 
lieve it is so because of any secret arrangement 
with Douglas. It is because he thinks Douglas's 
superior position, reputation, experience, ability, 

1858] Letter to Wilson 363 

if you please, would more than compensate for 
his lack of a pure Republican position, and 
therefore his reelection do the general cause of 
Republicanism more good than would the elec- 
tion of any one of our better undistinguished 
pure Republicans. I do not know how you esti- 
mate Greeley, but I consider him incapable of 
corruption or falsehood. He denies that he di- 
rectly is taking part in favor of Douglas, and I 
believe him. Still his feeling constantly mani- 
fests itself in his paper, which, being so exten- 
sively read in Illinois, is, and will continue to be, 
a drag upon us. I have also thought that Gover- 
nor Seward, too, feels about as Greeley does, but 
not being a newspaper editor, his feeling in this 
respect is not much manifested. I have no idea 
that he is, by conversation or by letter, urging 
Illinois Republicans to vote for Douglas. 

As to myself, let me pledge you my word that 
neither I, nor any friend so far as I know, has 
been setting stake against Governor Seward. 
No combination has been made with me, or pro- 
posed to me, in relation to the next presidential 
candidate. The same thing is true in regard to 
the next governor of our State. I am not direct- 
ly or indirectly committed to any one, nor has 
any one made any advance to me upon the sub- 
ject. I have had many free conversations with 

364 Abraham Lincoln [June 1 

John Wentworth; but he never dropped a re- 
mark that led me to suspect that he wishes to be 
governor. Indeed, it is due to truth to say that 
while he has uniformly expressed himself for 
me, he has never hinted at any condition. 

The signs are that we shall have a good con- 
vention on the 16th and I think our prospects 
generally are improving some every day. I be- 
lieve we need nothing so much as to get rid of 
unjust suspicions of one another. 
Yours very truly, 

A. Lincoln. 

*Letter to S. A. Hurlbut 

Springfield, June 1, 1858. 

My Dear Sir: Yours of the 29th of May is 
just received. I suppose it is hardly necessary 
that any expression of preference for U. S. Sen- 
ator, should be given at the county, or other local 
conventions and meetings. When the Republi- 
cans of the whole State get together at the State 
Convention, the thing will then be thought of, 
and something will or will not be done, accord- 
ing as the united judgment may dictate. 

I do not find Republicans from the old Demo- 
cratic ranks more inclined to Douglas than those 
from the old Whig party — indeed I find very 
little of such inclination in either class; but of 
that little, the larger portion, falling under my 

1858] Letter to Lamon 36$ 

observation, has been among old Whigs. The 
Republicans from the old Democratic ranks, 
constantly say to me, "Take care of your old 
Whigs, and have no fears for us." I am much 
obliged to you for your letter; and shall be glad 
to see you at the convention. 

Yours very truly, A. Lincoln. 

*Letter to Ward H. Lamon 

Springfield, June n, 1858. 
My Dear Sir: Yours of the 9th written at 
Joliet is just received. Two or three days ago 
I learned that McLean had appointed delegates 
in favor of Lovejoy, and thenceforward I have 
considered his renomination a fixed fact. My 
opinion — if my opinion is of any consequence 
in this case, in which it is no business of mine 
to interfere — remains unchanged, that running 
an independent candidate against Lovejoy will 
not do; that it will result in nothing but disaster 
all around. In the first place, whoever so runs 
will be beaten and will be spotted for life; in 
the second place, while the race is in progress, 
he wili be under the strongest temptation to 
trade with the Democrats, and to favor the elec- 
tion of certain of their friends to the Legisla- 
ture; thirdly, I shall be held responsible for it, 
and Republican members of the Legislature, 
who are partial to Lovejoy, will for that pur- 

366 Abraham Lincoln [June 15 

pose oppose us; and, lastly, it will in the end 
lose us the District altogether. There is no 
safe way but a convention; and if in that con- 
vention, upon a common platform wmch all are 
willing to stand upon, one has been known as 
an Abolitionist, but who is now occupying none 
but common ground, can get the majority of 
the votes to which all look for an election, there 
is no safe way but to submit. 

As to the inclination of some Republicans to 
favor Douglas, that is one of the chances I have 
to run, and which I intend to run with patience. 

I write in the court room. Court has opened, 
and I must close. Yours as ever, 

A. Lincoln. 

Notes of Argument in Law Case, 
June 15, 1858 

Legislation and adjudication must follow and 
conform to the progress of society. The prog- 
ress of society now begins to produce cases of 
the transfer for debts of the entire property of 
railroad corporations; and to enable transferees 
to use and enjoy the transferred property, legis- 
lation and adjudication begin to be necessary. 
Shall this class of legislation just now beginning 
with us be general or special? Section ten of 
our Constitution requires that it should be gen- 
eral, if possible. [Read the section.] Special 

1858] Law Notes 367 

legislation always trenches upon the judicial de- 
partment, and in so far violates section two of 
the Constitution. [Read it] 

Just reasoning — policy — is in favor of general 
legislation, else the legislature will be loaded 
down with the investigation of smaller cases — a 
work which the courts ought to perform, and 
can perform much more perfectly. How can 
the legislature rightly decide the facts between 
P. and B. and S. C. and Co.? 

It is said that under a general law, whenever 
a railroad company gets tired of its debts it may 
transfer fraudulently to get rid of them. So 
they may — so may individuals; and which, the 
legislature or the courts, is best suited to try the 
question of fraud in either case? 

It is said, if a purchaser have acquired legal 
rights, let him not be robbed of them; but if he 
needs legislation, let him submit to just terms 
to obtain it. 

Let him, say we, have general law in advance 
(guarded in every possible way against fraud), 
so that when he acquires a legal right he will 
have no occasion to wait for additional legisla- 
tion; and if he has practised fraud, let the courts 
so decide. 

368 Abraham Lincoln 

Brief Autobiography June [15?], 1858 

The compiler of the "Dictionary of Congress" 
states that while preparing that work for publi- 
cation, in 1858, he sent to Mr. Lincoln the usual 
request for a sketch of his life, and received the 
following reply: 

Born, February 12, 1809, in Hardin County, 

Education defective. 

Profession, a lawyer. 

Have been a captain of volunteers in Black 
Hawk war. 

Postmaster at a very small office. 

Four times a member of the Illinois legisla- 
ture, and was a member of the lower house of 
Congress. Yours, etc., 

A. Lincoln. 



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