The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7

In speaking of this, I mean no odious comparison between the
lion-hearted Whigs and the Democrats who fought there. On other
occasions, and among the lower officers and privates on that
occasion, I doubt not the proportion 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 are 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

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
President 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 interest blinds you a little. We see the
distinction, 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 Haskell and Major Gaines,
members here, both fought in the war, and both of them underwent
extraordinary perils and hardships; still they, like all other
Whigs here, vote, on the record, that the war was unnecessarily
and unconstitutionally 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
foreign nation, to do all in his power to bring it to a speedy
and honorable termination by the most vigorous and energetic
operations, without inquiry about its justice, or anything else
connected with it.

Mr. Speaker, let our Democratic friends be comforted with the
assurance that we are content with our position, content with our
company, 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 dissensions in our ranks. Our good
friend from Baltimore immediately before me [Mr. McLane] expressed some doubt the other day as to which branch of our
party General Taylor would ultimately 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, gentlemen
Democrats? Is it all union and harmony in your ranks? no
bickerings? no divisions? If 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? 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 Democrats of New York are about
this time, I have not heard of it.

SEPT. 12, 1848.

(From the Boston Advertiser.)

Mr. Kellogg then introduced to the meeting the Hon. Abram
Lincoln, Whig member of Congress from Illinois, 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
applause. He began by expressing a real feeling 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 section,
everybody was supposed to be instructed 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 arrived. He then began to show
the fallacy of some of the arguments against Gen. Taylor, making
his chief theme the fashionable statement of all those who oppose
him (“the old Locofocos as well as the new”) that he has no
principles, and that the Whig party have abandoned their
principles by adopting him as their candidate. He maintained
that Gen. Taylor occupied a high and unexceptionable Whig
ground, and took for his first instance and proof of this the
statement in the Allison letter–with regard 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-
-as they please, is a Whig principle. All that Gen. Taylor is not
only to consent to, but 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 principle of enabling
the people to frame the government according to their will. Gen.
Taylor consents to be the candidate, and to assist the people to
do what they think to be their duty, and think to be best in
their national affairs, but because he don’t want to tell what we
ought to do, he is accused of having no principles. The Whigs
here maintained for years that neither the influence, the duress,
or the prohibition of the executive should control the
legitimately expressed will of the people; and now that, on that
very ground, Gen. 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 principle, and of
inconsistency in position.

Mr. Lincoln proceeded to examine the absurdity 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 Gen.
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 Massachusetts on this subject, except perhaps that 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 control. In opposition to this Mr. L. believed that
the self-named “Free Soil” party was far behind the Whigs. Both
parties opposed the extension. 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 pantaloons 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
Gen. Cass or Gen. Taylor. The speaker then went on to show,
clearly and eloquently, the danger of extension of slavery,
likely to result from the election of Gen. Cass. To unite with
those who annexed the new territory to prevent the extension of
slavery in that territory seemed to him to be in the highest
degree absurd and ridiculous. Suppose these gentlemen succeed in
electing Mr. Van Buren, they had no specific means to prevent the
extension of slavery to New Mexico and California, and Gen.
Taylor, he confidently believed, would not encourage it, and
would not prohibit its restriction. But if Gen. 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” mart in claiming
that name indirectly attempts a deception, by implying that Whigs
were not Free Soil men. 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 maintain 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 but by using our most intelligent 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 just 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 assistance in electing Gen. 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 members who were formerly Whigs–on the subject of the
Mexican War, because the Van Burens had been known to have
supported it. He declared that of all the parties asking the
confidence 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 Democratic parties were both entirely dissolved and absorbed
into their own body. Had the Vermont 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 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 possessions, making it
a garden, improving the 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 county 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. Gen. 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
interests, principles, and prosperity of the country might be
safely intrusted. He had never failed in anything he had
undertaken, although many of his duties had been considered
almost impossible.

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 confidence in a deserved success.

At the close of his truly masterly and convincing speech, the
audience gave three enthusiastic cheers for Illinois, and three
more for the eloquent Whig member from the State.



WASHINGTON, Dec. 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 judgment 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 property 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 you have paid it.

Give my love to mother and all the connections. Affectionately
your son,




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 District 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 District: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 necessary servants of
themselves and their families, without 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 January, in the year of
our Lord eighteen hundred and 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 respectively arrive at the age of __
years, when they shall be entirely free; and the municipal
authorities of Washington and Georgetown, within their respective
jurisdictional limits, are hereby empowered and required to make
all suitable and necessary provision for enforcing obedience to
this section, on the part of both masters and apprentices.

«- Previous | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 | View All | Next -»