My friends, I have endeavored to show you the logical consequences of
the Dred Scott decision, which holds that the people of a Territory
cannot prevent the establishment of slavery in their midst. I have
stated what cannot be gainsaid, that the grounds upon which this
decision is made are equally applicable to the free States as to the
free Territories, and that the peculiar reasons put forth by Judge
Douglas for indorsing this decision commit him, in advance, to the
next decision and to all other decisions corning from the same
source. And when, by all these means, you have succeeded in
dehumanizing the negro; when you have put him down and made it
impossible for him to be but as the beasts of the field; when you
have extinguished his soul in this world and placed him where the ray
of hope is blown out as in the darkness of the damned, are you quite
sure that the demon you have roused will not turn and rend you? What
constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is
not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea coasts, our army and
our navy. These are not our reliance against tyranny All of those
may be turned against us without making us weaker for the struggle.
Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in us.
Our defense is in the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of
all men, in all lands everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have
planted the seeds of despotism at your own doors. Familiarize
yourselves with the chains of bondage and you prepare your own limbs
to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you
have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit
subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you. And let me
tell you, that all these things are prepared for you by the teachings
of history, if the elections shall promise that the next Dred Scott
decision and all future decisions will be quietly acquiesced in by
VERSE TO “LINNIE ”
September 30?, 1858.
A sweet plaintive song did I hear
And I fancied that she was the singer.
May emotions as pure as that song set astir
Be the wont that the future shall bring her.
NEGROES ARE MEN
TO J. U. BROWN.
SPRINGFIELD, OCT 18, 1858
HON. J. U. BROWN.
MY DEAR SIR:–I do not perceive how I can express myself more plainly
than I have in the fore-going extracts. In four of them I have
expressly disclaimed all intention to bring about social and
political equality between the white and black races and in all the
rest I have done the same thing by clear implication.
I have made it equally plain that I think the negro is included in
the word “men” used in the Declaration of Independence.
I believe the declaration that “all men are created equal “is the
great fundamental principle upon which our free institutions rest;
that negro slavery is violative of that principle; but that, by our
frame of government, that principle has not been made one of legal
obligation; that by our frame of government, States which have
slavery are to retain it, or surrender it at their own pleasure; and
that all others–individuals, free States and national Government–
are constitutionally bound to leave them alone about it.
I believe our Government was thus framed because of the necessity
springing from the actual presence of slavery, when it was framed.
That such necessity does not exist in the Territories when slavery is
In his Mendenhall speech Mr. Clay says: “Now as an abstract principle
there is no doubt of the truth of that declaration (all men created
equal), and it is desirable, in the original construction of society,
to keep it in view as a great fundamental principle.”
Again, in the same speech Mr. Clay says: “If a state of nature
existed and we were about to lay the foundations of society, no man
would be more strongly opposed than I should to incorporate the
institution of slavery among its elements.”
Exactly so. In our new free Territories, a state of nature does
exist. In them Congress lays the foundations of society; and in
laying those foundations, I say, with Mr. Clay, it is desirable that
the declaration of the equality of all men shall be kept in view as a
great fundamental principle, and that Congress, which lays the
foundations of society, should, like Mr. Clay, be strongly opposed to
the incorporation of slavery and its elements.
But it does not follow that social and political equality between
whites and blacks must be incorporated because slavery must not. The
declaration does not so require.
Yours as ever,
A. LINCOLN[Newspaper cuttings of Lincoln’s speeches at Peoria, in 1854, at
Springfield, Ottawa, Chicago, and Charleston, in 1858. They were
pasted in a little book in which the above letter was also written.]
TO A. SYMPSON.
BLANDINSVILLE, Oct 26, 1858
A. SYMPSON, Esq.
DEAR SIR:–Since parting with you this morning I heard some things
which make me believe that Edmunds and Morrill will spend this week
among the National Democrats, trying to induce them to content
themselves by voting for Jake Davis, and then to vote for the Douglas
candidates for senator and representative. Have this headed off, if
you can. Call Wagley’s attention to it and have him and the National
Democrat for Rep. to counteract it as far as they can.
Yours as ever,
SENATORIAL ELECTION LOST AND OUT OF MONEY
TO N. B. JUDD.
SPRINGFIELD, NOVEMBER 16, 1858
HON. N. B. JUDD
DEAR SIR:–Yours of the 15th is just received. I wrote you the same
day. As to the pecuniary matter, I am willing to pay according to my
ability; but I am the poorest hand living to get others to pay. I
have been on expenses so long without earning anything that I am
absolutely without money now for even household purposes. Still, if
you can put in two hundred and fifty dollars for me toward
discharging the debt of the committee, I will allow it when you and I
settle the private matter between us. This, with what I have already
paid, and with an outstanding note of mine, will exceed my
subscription of five hundred dollars. This, too, is exclusive of my
ordinary expenses during the campaign, all of which, being added to
my loss of time and business, bears pretty heavily upon one no better
off in [this] world’s goods than I; but as I had the post of honor,
it is not for me to be over nice. You are feeling badly,–“And this
too shall pass away,” never fear.
Yours as ever,
THE FIGHT MUST GO ON
TO H. ASBURY.
SPRINGFIELD, November 19, 1858.
HENRY ASBURY, Esq.
DEAR SIR:–Yours of the 13th was received some days ago. The fight
must go on. The cause of civil liberty must not be surrendered at
the end of one or even one hundred defeats. Douglas had the
ingenuity to be supported in the late contest both as the best means
to break down and to uphold the slave interest. No ingenuity can
keep these antagonistic elements in harmony long. Another explosion
will soon come.
REALIZATION THAT DEBATES MUST BE SAVED
TO C. H. RAY.
SPRINGFIELD, Nov.20, 1858
DR. C. H. RAY
MY DEAR SIR:–I wish to preserve a set of the late debates (if they
may be called so), between Douglas and myself. To enable me to do
so, please get two copies of each number of your paper containing the
whole, and send them to me by express; and I will pay you for the
papers and for your trouble. I wish the two sets in order to lay one
away in the [undecipherable word] and to put the other in a
scrapbook. Remember, if part of any debate is on both sides of the
sheet it will take two sets to make one scrap-book.
I believe, according to a letter of yours to Hatch, you are “feeling
like h-ll yet.” Quit that–you will soon feel better. Another “blow
up” is coming; and we shall have fun again. Douglas managed to be
supported both as the best instrument to down and to uphold the slave
power; but no ingenuity can long keep the antagonism in harmony.
Yours as ever,
TO H. C. WHITNEY.
SPRINGFIELD, November 30, 1858
H. C. WHITNEY, ESQ.
MY DEAR SIR :–Being desirous of preserving in some permanent form
the late joint discussion between Douglas and myself, ten days ago I
wrote to Dr. Ray, requesting him to forward to me by express two
sets of the numbers of the Tribune which contain the reports of those
discussions. Up to date I have no word from him on the subject.
Will you, if in your power, procure them and forward them to me by
express? If you will, I will pay all charges, and be greatly obliged,
to boot. Hoping to visit you before long, I remain
As ever your friend,
TO H. D. SHARPE.
SPRINGFIELD, Dec. 8, 1858.
H. D. SHARPE, Esq.
DEAR SIR:–Your very kind letter of Nov. 9th was duly received. I
do not know that you expected or desired an answer; but glancing over
the contents of yours again, I am prompted to say that, while I
desired the result of the late canvass to have been different, I
still regard it as an exceeding small matter. I think we have fairly
entered upon a durable struggle as to whether this nation is to
ultimately become all slave or all free, and though I fall early in
the contest, it is nothing if I shall have contributed, in the least
degree, to the final rightful result.
TO A. SYMPSON.
SPRINGFIELD, Dec.12, 1858.
ALEXANDER SYMPSON, Esq.
MY DEAR SIR:–I expect the result of the election went hard with you.
So it did with me, too, perhaps not quite so hard as you may have
supposed. I have an abiding faith that we shall beat them in the
long run. Step by step the objects of the leaders will become too
plain for the people to stand them. I write merely to let you know
that I am neither dead nor dying. Please give my respects to your
good family, and all inquiring friends.
Yours as ever,
NOTES OF AN ARGUMENT.
December [?], 1858.
Legislation and adjudication must follow and conform to the progress
The progress 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,
1egislation and adjudication begin to be necessary.
Shall this class of legislation just now beginning with us be general
Section Ten of our Constitution requires that it should be general,
if possible. (Read the section.)
Special legislation always trenches upon the judicial department; and
in so far violates Section Two of the Constitution. (Read it.)
Just reasoning–policy–is in favor of general legis1ation–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. & B. and S.C.
It is said that under a general law, whenever a R. R. Co. 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 legislation; and if
he has practiced fraud let the courts so decide.
A LEGAL OPINION BY ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
The 11th Section of the Act of Congress, approved Feb. 11, 1805,
prescribing rules for the subdivision of sections of land within the
United States system of surveys, standing unrepealed, in my opinion,
is binding on the respective purchasers of different parts of the
same section, and furnishes the true rule for surveyors in
establishing lines between them. That law, being in force at the
time each became a purchaser, becomes a condition of the purchase.
And, by that law, I think the true rule for dividing into quarters
any interior section or sections, which is not fractional, is to run
straight lines through the section from the opposite quarter section
corners, fixing the point where such straight lines cross, or
intersect each other, as the middle or centre of the section.
Nearly, perhaps quite, all the original surveys are to some extent
erroneous, and in some of the sections, greatly so. In each of the
latter, it is obvious that a more equitable mode of division than the
above might be adopted; but as error is infinitely various perhaps no
better single rules can be prescribed.
At all events I think the above has been prescribed by the competent
SPRINGFIELD, Jany. 6, 1859.
TO M. W. DELAHAY.
SPRINGFIELD, March 4, 1859.
M. W. DELAHAY, Esq.
MY DEAR SIR: Your second letter in relation to my being with you at
your Republican convention was duly received. It is not at hand just
now, but I have the impression from it that the convention was to be
at Leavenworth; but day before yesterday a friend handed me a letter
from Judge M. F. Caraway, in which he also expresses a wish for me to
come, and he fixes the place at Ossawatomie. This I believe is off
of the river, and will require more time and labor to get to it. It
will push me hard to get there without injury to my own business; but
I shall try to do it, though I am not yet quite certain I shall
I should like to know before coming, that while some of you wish me
to come, there may not be others who would quite as lief I would stay
away. Write me again.
Yours as ever,
TO W. M. MORRIS.
SPRINGFIELD, March 28, 1859.
W. M. MORRIS, Esq.
DEAR SIR:–Your kind note inviting me to deliver a lecture at
Galesburg is received. I regret to say I cannot do so now; I must
stick to the courts awhile. I read a sort of lecture to three
different audiences during the last month and this; but I did so
under circumstances which made it a waste of no time whatever.
Yours very truly,
TO H. L. PIERCE AND OTHERS.
SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, April 6, 1859.
GENTLEMEN:–Your kind note inviting me to attend a festival in
Boston, on the 28th instant, in honor of the birthday of Thomas
Jefferson, was duly received. My engagements are such that I cannot
Bearing in mind that about seventy years ago two great political
parties were first formed in this country, that Thomas Jefferson was
the head of one of them and Boston the headquarters of the other, it
is both curious and interesting that those supposed to descend
politically from the party opposed to Jefferson should now be
celebrating his birthday in their own original seat of empire, while
those claiming political descent from him have nearly ceased to
breathe his name everywhere.
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