The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7

But the statement is not correct. You have not lost that trade;
orders were never better than now! Senator Mason, a Democrat, comes
into the Senate in homespun, a proof that the dissolution of the
Union has actually begun! but orders are the same. Your factories
have not struck work, neither those where they make anything for
coats, nor for pants nor for shirts, nor for ladies’ dresses. Mr.
Mason has not reached the manufacturers who ought to have made him a
coat and pants! To make his proof good for anything he should have
come into the Senate barefoot!

Another bushwhacking contrivance; simply that, nothing else! I find a
good many people who are very much concerned about the loss of
Southern trade. Now either these people are sincere or they are not.
I will speculate a little about that. If they are sincere, and are
moved by any real danger of the loss of Southern trade, they will
simply get their names on the white list, and then, instead of
persuading Republicans to do likewise, they will be glad to keep you
away! Don’t you see that they cut off competition? They would not be
whispering around to Republicans to come in and share the profits
with them. But if they are not sincere, and are merely trying to
fool Republicans out of their votes, they will grow very anxious
about your pecuniary prospects; they are afraid you are going to get
broken up and ruined; they do not care about Democratic votes, oh,
no, no, no! You must judge which class those belong to whom you meet:
I leave it to you to determine from the facts.

Let us notice some more of the stale charges against Republicans.
You say we are sectional. We deny it. That makes an issue; and the
burden of proof is upon you. You produce your proof; and what is it?
Why, that our party has no existence in your section–gets no votes
in your section. The fact is substantially true; but does it prove
the issue? If it does, then in case we should, without change of
principle, begin to get votes in your section, we should thereby
cease to be sectional. You cannot escape this conclusion; and yet,
are you willing to abide by it? If you are, you will probably soon
find that we have ceased to be sectional, for we shall get votes in
your section this very year. The fact that we get no votes in your
section is a fact of your making and not of ours. And if there be
fault in that fact, that fault is primarily yours, and remains so
until you show that we repel you by some wrong principle or practice.
If we do repel you by any wrong principle or practice, the fault is
ours; but this brings you to where you ought to have started–to a
discussion of the right or wrong of our principle. If our principle,
put in practice, would wrong your section for the benefit of ours, or
for any other object, then our principle, and we with it, are
sectional, and are justly opposed and denounced as such. Meet us,
then, on the question of whether our principle put in practice would
wrong your section; and so meet it as if it were possible that
something may be said on our side. Do you accept the challenge? No?
Then you really believe that the principle which our fathers who
framed the Government under which we live thought so clearly right as
to adopt it, and indorse it again and again, upon their official
oaths, is in fact so clearly wrong as to demand our condemnation
without a moment’s consideration. Some of you delight to flaunt in
our faces the warning against sectional parties given by Washington
in his Farewell Address. Less than eight years before Washington
gave that warning, he had, as President of the United States,
approved and signed an act of Congress enforcing the prohibition of
slavery in the Northwestern Territory, which act embodied the policy
of government upon that subject, up to and at the very moment he
penned that warning; and about one year after he penned it he wrote
La Fayette that he considered that prohibition a wise measure,
expressing in the same connection his hope that we should sometime
have a confederacy of free States.

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

But you say you are conservative–eminently conservative–while we
are revolutionary, destructive, or something of the sort. What is
conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the
new and untried? We stick to, contend for, the identical old policy
on the point in controversy which was adopted by our fathers who
framed the Government under which we live; while you with one accord
reject and scout and spit upon that old policy, and insist upon
substituting something new.

True, you disagree among yourselves as to what that substitute shall
be. You have considerable variety of new propositions and plans, but
you are unanimous in rejecting and denouncing the old policy of the
fathers. Some of you are for reviving the foreign slave-trade; some
for a congressional slave code for the Territories; some for Congress
forbidding the Territories to prohibit slavery within their limits;
some for maintaining slavery in the Territories through the
judiciary; some for the “gur-reat pur-rinciple” that if one man would
enslave another, no third man should object–fantastically called
“popular sovereignty.” But never a man among you in favor of
prohibition of slavery in Federal Territories, according to the
practice of our fathers who framed the Government under which we
live. Not one of all your various plans can show a precedent or an
advocate in the century within which our Government originated. And
yet you draw yourselves up and say, “We are eminently conservative.”

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

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

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

These natural and apparently adequate means all failing, what will
convince them? This, and this only: cease to call slavery wrong, and
join them in calling it right. And this must be done thoroughly–
done in acts as well as in words. Silence will not be tolerated–we
must place ourselves avowedly with them. Douglas’s new sedition law
must be enacted and enforced, suppressing all declarations that
slavery is wrong, whether made in politics, in presses, in pulpits,
or in private. We must arrest and return their fugitive slaves with
greedy pleasure. We must pull down our free State constitutions.
The whole atmosphere must be disinfected of all taint of opposition
to slavery, before they will cease to believe that all their troubles
proceed from us. So long as we call slavery wrong, whenever a slave
runs away they will overlook the obvious fact that be ran away
because he was oppressed, and declare he was stolen off. Whenever a
master cuts his slaves with a lash, and they cry out under it, he
will overlook the obvious fact that the negroes cry out because they
are hurt, and insist that they were put up to it by some rascally

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

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

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

Wrong as we think slavery is, we can yet afford to let it alone where
it is because that much is due to the necessity arising from its
actual presence m the nation; but can we, while our votes will
prevent it, allow it to spread into the national Territories, and to
overrun us here in these free States?

If our sense of duty forbids this, then let us stand by our duty,
fearlessly and effectively. Let us be diverted by none of those
sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied and
belabored–contrivances such as groping for some middle ground
between the right and the wrong, vain as the search for a man who
would be neither a living man nor a dead man–such as a policy of
“don’t care” on a question about which all free men do care–such as
Union appeals beseeching true Union men to yield to Disunionists,
reversing the divine rule, and caning, not the sinners, but the
righteous to repentance–such as invocations of Washington, imploring
men to unsay what Washington did.

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

[As Mr. Lincoln concluded his address, there was witnessed the
wildest scene of enthusiasm and excitement that has been in New Haven
for years. The Palladium editorially says: “We give up most of our
space to-day to a very full report of the eloquent speech of the HON.
Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, delivered last night at Union Hall.”]


TO ________________
March 16, 1860

As to your kind wishes for myself, allow me to say I cannot enter the
ring on the money basis–first, because in the main it is wrong; and
secondly, I have not and cannot get the money.

I say, in the main, the use of money is wrong; but for certain
objects in a political contest, the use of some is both right and
indispensable. With me, as with yourself, the long struggle has been
one of great pecuniary loss.

I now distinctly say this–if you shall be appointed a delegate to
Chicago, I will furnish one hundred dollars to bear the expenses of
the trip.

Your friend as ever,


[Extract from a letter to a Kansas delegate.]


SPRINGFIELD, March 17, 1860


DEAR SIR:–Reaching home three days ago, I found your letter of
February 26th. Considering your difficulty of hearing, I think you
had better settle in Chicago, if, as you say, a good man already in
fair practice there will take you into partnership. If you had not
that difficulty, I still should think it an even balance whether you
would not better remain in Chicago, with such a chance for

If I went west, I think I would go to Kansas, to Leavenworth or
Atchison. Both of them are and will continue to be fine growing

I believe I have said all I can, and I have said it with the deepest
interest for your welfare.

Yours truly,




SPRINGFIELD, April 6, 1860

C. F. MCNEIL, Esq.

DEAR SIR:–Reaching home yesterday, I found yours of the 23d March,
inclosing a slip from The Middleport Press. It is not true that I
ever charged anything for a political speech in my life; but this
much is true: Last October I was requested by letter to deliver some
sort of speech in Mr. Beecher’s church, in Brooklyn–two hundred
dollars being offered in the first letter. I wrote that I could do
it in February, provided they would take a political speech if I
could find time to get up no other. They agreed; and subsequently I
informed them the speech would have to be a political one. When I
reached New York, I for the first time learned that the place was
changed to “Cooper Institute.” I made the speech, and left for New
Hampshire, where I have a son at school, neither asking for pay nor
having any offered me. Three days after a check for two hundred
dollars was sent to me at New Hampshire; and I took it, and did not
know it was wrong. My understanding now is–though I knew nothing of
it at the time–that they did charge for admittance to the Cooper
Institute, and that they took in more than twice two hundred dollars.

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