The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7

But let us, meanwhile, appeal to the sense and patriotism of the
people, and not to their prejudices; let us spread the floods of
enthusiasm here aroused all over these vast prairies, so
suggestive of freedom. Let us commence by electing the gallant
soldier Governor (Colonel) Bissell who stood for the honor of our
State alike on the plains and amidst the chaparral of Mexico and
on the floor of Congress, while he defied the Southern Hotspur;
and that will have a greater moral effect than all the border
ruffians can accomplish in all their raids on Kansas. There is
both a power and a magic in popular opinion. To that let us now
appeal; and while, in all probability, no resort to force will be
needed, our moderation and forbearance will stand US in good
GOD OF HOSTS! [Immense applause and a rush for the orator.]

One can realize with this ability to move people’s minds that the
Southern Conspiracy were right to hate this man. He, better than
any at the time was able to uncover their stratagems and tear
down their sophisms and contradictions.



SPRINGFIELD, July 9, 1856.

DEAR WHITNEY:–I now expect to go to Chicago 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

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

Yours very truly,





Your’s 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 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
Browning consents to visit you.

Your obedient servant,




You further charge us with being disunionists. If you mean that
it is our aim to dissolve the Union, I for myself 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

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 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 dissolve
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 latitude and longitude of those
States. In 1828 Andrew Jackson, of Tennessee, and John C.
Calhoun, of South Carolina, were elected President 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 danger. 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; therefore the charge may
be dismissed without further consideration.

No other specification is made, and the only 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 enforcement? 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
tribunal 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 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.




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 Buchanan. 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 Buchanan has alone 85,000, Fremont 78,000, and
Fillmore 21,000.

This gives B. the State by 7000 and leaves him in the minority of
the whole 14,000.

Fremont and Fillmore men being united on Bissell, as they already
are, he cannot be beaten. This is not a long letter, but it
contains the whole story.

Yours as ever,



SPRINGFIELD, Aug. 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 commencing here in Springfield, on the
11th 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,




SPRINGFIELD, September 8, 1856.

DEAR SIR:–I understand you are a Fillmore man. Let me prove to
you that every vote withheld 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 Kentucky; then Buchanan
is not elected; Fillmore goes into the House of Representatives,
and may be made President by a compromise. But suppose, again,
Fillmore’s friends throw away a few thousand votes on him in
Indiana and Illinois; it will inevitably give these States to
Buchanan, 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 possible 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 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 Fremont. Are not these newspapers a fair index of the
proportion of the votes? If not, tell me why.

Again, of these three or four Fillmore newspapers, 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,



Sept. 14, 1856.

Dr. R. BOAL, Lacon, Ill.

MY DEAR SIR:–Yours of the 8th inviting me to be with [you] at
Lacon on the 30th is received. 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 because I shall think my efforts
are now needed farther south.

Present my regards to Mrs. Boal, and believe [me], as ever,

Your friend,



SPRINGFIELD, Sept. 14, 1856.

DEAR SIR:–Yours, inviting me to attend a mass-meeting on the 23d
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 danger, and it is no time for us, when the battle
still rages, to pay holiday visits to Iowa. I am sure you will
excuse me for remaining in Illinois, where much hard work is
still to be done.

Yours very truly,




We have another annual Presidential message. Like a rejected
lover making merry at the wedding of his rival, the President
felicitates himself hugely over the late Presidential election.
He considers the result a signal triumph of good principles 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 perceive that the
“rebuke” may not be quite as durable as he seems to think–that
the majority may not choose to remain permanently rebuked by that

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 concrete, 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 peascod” [“That ‘s a
sheal’d peascod”).

So far as the President charges us “with a desire to change the
domestic institutions of existing States,” and of “doing
everything in our power to deprive the Constitution and the laws
of moral authority,” for the whole party on belief, and for
myself on knowledge, I pronounce the charge an unmixed and
unmitigated falsehood.

Our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change
public opinion can change the government practically just so
much. Public opinion, on any subject, always has a “central
idea,” from which all its minor thoughts radiate. That “central
idea” in our political public opinion 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 election 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 colors. Less than a year ago the Richmond Enquirer, an
avowed advocate of slavery, regardless of color, in order to
favor his views, invented the phrase “State equality,” and now
the President, in his message, adopts the Enquirer’s catch-
phrase, telling us the people “have asserted the constitutional
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 inaugurate it. To us it is
left to know that the majority of the people have not yet
declared for it, and to hope that they never will.

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