The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7

It is thought they will do nothing if our folks nominate men who are
not very obnoxious to the charge of abolitionism. Please have your
eye upon this. Signs are looking pretty fair.

Yours very truly,



SPRINGFIELD, Aug. 5, 1858.


DEAR SIR:–Since we parted last evening no new thought has occurred
to [me] on the subject of which we talked most yesterday.

I have concluded, however, to speak at your town on Tuesday, August
31st, and have promised to have it so appear in the papers of
to-morrow. Judge Trumbull has not yet reached here.

Yours as ever,



SPRINGFIELD, Aug. 11, 1858.


DEAR SIR:–Yours of the 6th received. If life and health continue I
shall pretty likely be at Augusta on the 25th.

Things look reasonably well. Will tell you more fully when I see

Yours truly,



OTTAWA, August 22, 1858.


MY DEAR SIR:–Yours of the 18th, signed as secretary of the
Republican club, is received. In the matter of making speeches I am
a good deal pressed by invitations from almost all quarters, and
while I hope to be at Urbana some time during the canvass, I cannot
yet say when. Can you not see me at Monticello on the 6th of

Douglas and I, for the first time this canvass, crossed swords here
yesterday; the fire flew some, and I am glad to know I am yet alive.
There was a vast concourse of people–more than could get near enough
to hear.

Yours as ever,



August ??, 1858

As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This
expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the
extent of the difference, is no democracy.



SPRINGFIELD, August 2, 1858


MY DEAR SIR:–I have a letter from a very true friend, and
intelligent man, writing that there is a plan on foot in La Salle and
Bureau, to run Douglas Republican for Congress and for the
Legislature in those counties, if they can only get the encouragement
of our folks nominating pretty extreme abolitionists. It is thought
they will do nothing if our folks nominate men who are not very
[undecipherable word looks like “obnoxious”] to the charge of
abolitionism. Please have your eye upon this. Signs are looking
pretty fair.

Yours very truly,



BLOOMINGTON, Sept. 3, 1858

DEAR DOCTOR:–Yours of the 1st was received this morning, as also one
from Mr. Harmon, and one from Hiram Beckwith on the same subject.
You will see by the Journal that I have been appointed to speak at
Danville on the 22d of Sept.,–the day after Douglas speaks there.
My recent experience shows that speaking at the same place the next
day after D. is the very thing,–it is, in fact, a concluding speech
on him. Please show this to Messrs. Harmon and Beckwith; and tell
them they must excuse me from writing separate letters to them.

Yours as ever,


P. S.–Give full notice to all surrounding country.


SEPT. 8, 1858.

Let us inquire what Judge Douglas really invented when he introduced
the Nebraska Bill? He called it Popular Sovereignty. What does that
mean? It means the sovereignty of the people over their own affairs–
in other words, the right of the people to govern themselves. Did
Judge Douglas invent this? Not quite. The idea of popular
sovereignty was floating about several ages before the author of the
Nebraska Bill was born–indeed, before Columbus set foot on this
continent. In the year 1776 it took form in the noble words which
you are all familiar with: “We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men are created equal,” etc. Was not this the origin of
popular sovereignty as applied to the American people? Here we are
told that governments are instituted among men deriving their just
powers from the consent of the governed. If that is not popular
sovereignty, then I have no conception of the meaning of words. If
Judge Douglas did not invent this kind of popular sovereignty, let us
pursue the inquiry and find out what kind he did invent. Was it the
right of emigrants to Kansas and Nebraska to govern themselves, and a
lot of “niggers,” too, if they wanted them? Clearly this was no
invention of his because General Cass put forth the same doctrine in
1848 in his so called Nicholson letter, six years before Douglas
thought of such a thing. Then what was it that the “Little Giant”
invented? It never occurred to General Cass to call his discovery by
the odd name of popular sovereignty. He had not the face to say that
the right of the people to govern “niggers” was the right of the
people to govern themselves. His notions of the fitness of things
were not moulded to the brazenness of calling the right to put a
hundred “niggers” through under the lash in Nebraska a “sacred” right
of self-government. And here I submit to you was Judge Douglas’s
discovery, and the whole of it: He discovered that the right to breed
and flog negroes in Nebraska was popular sovereignty.


SEPTEMBER 8, 1858.

The questions are sometimes asked “What is all this fuss that is
being made about negroes? What does it amount to? And where will it
end?” These questions imply that those who ask them consider the
slavery question a very insignificant matter they think that it
amounts to little or nothing and that those who agitate it are
extremely foolish. Now it must be admitted that if the great
question which has caused so much trouble is insignificant, we are
very foolish to have anything to do with it–if it is of no
importance we had better throw it aside and busy ourselves with
something else. But let us inquire a little into this insignificant
matter, as it is called by some, and see if it is not important
enough to demand the close attention of every well-wisher of the
Union. In one of Douglas’s recent speeches, I find a reference to
one which was made by me in Springfield some time ago. The judge
makes one quotation from that speech that requires some little notice
from me at this time. I regret that I have not my Springfield speech
before me, but the judge has quoted one particular part of it so
often that I think I can recollect it. It runs I think as follows:

“We are now far into the fifth year since a policy was initiated with
the avowed object and confident promise of putting an end to slavery
agitation. Under the operation of that policy that agitation has not
only not ceased but has constantly augmented. In my opinion it will
not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and passed.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this
government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do
not expect the Union to be dissolved. I do not expect the house to
fall, but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become
all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will
arrest the further spread of it and place it where the public mind
shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate
extinction; or its advocates will push it forward till it shall
become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new, North as
well as South.”

Judge Douglas makes use of the above quotation, and finds a great
deal of fault with it. He deals unfairly with me, and tries to make
the people of this State believe that I advocated dangerous doctrines
in my Springfield speech. Let us see if that portion of my
Springfield speech of which Judge Douglas complains so bitterly, is
as objectionable to others as it is to him. We are, certainly, far
into the fifth year since a policy was initiated with the avowed
object and confident promise of putting an end to slavery agitation.
On the fourth day of January, 1854, Judge Douglas introduced the
Kansas-Nebraska bill. He initiated a new policy, and that policy, so
he says, was to put an end to the agitation of the slavery question.
Whether that was his object or not I will not stop to discuss, but at
all events some kind of a policy was initiated; and what has been the
result? Instead of the quiet and good feeling which were promised us
by the self-styled author of Popular Sovereignty, we have had nothing
but ill-feeling and agitation. According to Judge Douglas, the
passage of the Nebraska bill would tranquilize the whole country–
there would be no more slavery agitation in or out of Congress, and
the vexed question would be left entirely to the people of the
Territories. Such was the opinion of Judge Douglas, and such were
the opinions of the leading men of the Democratic Party. Even as
late as the spring of 1856 Mr. Buchanan said, a short time subsequent
to his nomination by the Cincinnati convention, that the territory of
Kansas would be tranquil in less than six weeks. Perhaps he thought
so, but Kansas has not been and is not tranquil, and it may be a long
time before she may be so.

We all know how fierce the agitation was in Congress last winter, and
what a narrow escape Kansas had from being admitted into the Union
with a constitution that was detested by ninety-nine hundredths of
her citizens. Did the angry debates which took place at Washington
during the last season of Congress lead you to suppose that the
slavery agitation was settled?

An election was held in Kansas in the month of August, and the
constitution which was submitted to the people was voted down by a
large majority. So Kansas is still out of the Union, and there is a
probability that she will remain out for some time. But Judge
Douglas says the slavery question is settled. He says the bill he
introduced into the Senate of the United States on the 4th day of
January, 1854, settled the slavery question forever! Perhaps he can
tell us how that bill settled the slavery question, for if he is able
to settle a question of such great magnitude he ought to be able to
explain the manner in which he does it. He knows and you know that
the question is not settled, and that his ill-timed experiment to
settle it has made it worse than it ever was before.

And now let me say a few words in regard to Douglas’s great hobby of
negro equality. He thinks–he says at least–that the Republican
party is in favor of allowing whites and blacks to intermarry, and
that a man can’t be a good Republican unless he is willing to elevate
black men to office and to associate with them on terms of perfect
equality. He knows that we advocate no such doctrines as these, but
he cares not how much he misrepresents us if he can gain a few votes
by so doing. To show you what my opinion of negro equality was in
times past, and to prove to you that I stand on that question where I
always stood, I will read you a few extracts from a speech that was
made by me in Peoria in 1854. It was made in reply to one of Judge
Douglas’s speeches.

(Mr. Lincoln then read a number of extracts which had the ring of the
true metal. We have rarely heard anything with which we have been
more pleased. And the audience after hearing the extracts read, and
comparing their conservative sentiments with those now advocated by
Mr. Lincoln, testified their approval by loud applause. How any
reasonable man can hear one of Mr. Lincoln’s speeches without being
converted to Republicanism is something that we can’t account for.

Slavery, continued Mr. Lincoln, is not a matter of little importance,
it overshadows every other question in which we are interested. It
has divided the Methodist and Presbyterian churches, and has sown
discord in the American Tract Society. The churches have split and
the society will follow their example before long. So it will be
seen that slavery is agitated in the religious as well as in the
political world.
Judge Douglas is very much afraid in the triumph that the Republican
party will lead to a general mixture of the white and black races.
Perhaps I am wrong in saying that he is afraid, so I will correct
myself by saying that he pretends to fear that the success of our
party will result in the amalgamation of the blacks and whites. I
think I can show plainly, from documents now before me, that Judge
Douglas’s fears are groundless. The census of 1800 tells us that in
that year there were over four hundred thousand mulattoes in the
United States. Now let us take what is called an Abolition State–
the Republican, slavery-hating State of New Hampshire–and see how
many mulattoes we can find within her borders. The number amounts to
just one hundred and eighty-four. In the Old Dominion–in the
Democratic and aristocratic State of Virginia–there were a few more
mulattoes than the Census-takers found in New Hampshire. How many do
you suppose there were? Seventy-nine thousand, seven hundred and
seventy-five–twenty-three thousand more than there were in all the
free States! In the slave States there were in 1800, three
hundred and forty-eight thousand mulattoes all of home production;
and in the free States there were less than sixty thousand mulattoes
–and a large number of them were imported from the South.


SEPT. 13, 1858.

I have been requested to give a concise statement of the difference,
as I understand it, between the Democratic and Republican parties, on
the leading issues of the campaign. This question has been put to me
by a gentleman whom I do not know. I do not even know whether he is
a friend of mine or a supporter of Judge Douglas in this contest, nor
does that make any difference. His question is a proper one. Lest I
should forget it, I will give you my answer before proceeding with
the line of argument I have marked out for this discussion.

The difference between the Republican and the Democratic parties on
the leading issues of this contest, as I understand it, is that the
former consider slavery a moral, social and political wrong, while
the latter do not consider it either a moral, a social or a political
wrong; and the action of each, as respects the growth of the country
and the expansion of our population, is squared to meet these views.
I will not affirm that the Democratic party consider slavery morally,
socially and politically right, though their tendency to that view
has, in my opinion, been constant and unmistakable for the past five
years. I prefer to take, as the accepted maxim of the party, the
idea put forth by Judge Douglas, that he don’t care whether slavery
is voted down or voted up.” I am quite willing to believe that many
Democrats would prefer that slavery should be always voted down, and
I know that some prefer that it be always voted up”; but I have a
right to insist that their action, especially if it be their constant
action, shall determine their ideas and preferences on this subject.
Every measure of the Democratic party of late years, bearing directly
or indirectly on the slavery question, has corresponded with this
notion of utter indifference whether slavery or freedom shall outrun
in the race of empire across to the Pacific–every measure, I say, up
to the Dred Scott decision, where, it seems to me, the idea is boldly
suggested that slavery is better than freedom. The Republican party,
on the contrary, hold that this government was instituted to secure
the blessings of freedom, and that slavery is an unqualified evil to
the negro, to the white man, to the soil, and to the State.
Regarding it as an evil, they will not molest it in the States where
it exists, they will not overlook the constitutional guards which our
fathers placed around it; they will do nothing that can give proper
offence to those who hold slaves by legal sanction; but they will use
every constitutional method to prevent the evil from becoming larger
and involving more negroes, more white men, more soil, and more
States in its deplorable consequences. They will, if possible, place
it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in
course of ultimate peaceable extinction in God’s own good time. And
to this end they will, if possible, restore the government to the
policy of the fathers, the policy of preserving the new Territories
from the baneful influence of human bondage, as the Northwestern
Territories were sought to be preserved by the Ordinance of 1787, and
the Compromise Act of 1820. They will oppose, in all its length and
breadth, the modern Democratic idea, that slavery is as good as
freedom, and ought to have room for expansion all over the continent,
if people can be found to carry it. All, or nearly all, of Judge
Douglas’s arguments are logical, if you admit that slavery is as good
and as right as freedom, and not one of them is worth a rush if you
deny it. This is the difference, as I understand it, between the
Republican and Democratic parties.

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