Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, v2 by Abraham Lincoln

Part 5 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

current sets; for the proposed law of 1817 was far less offensive
than the present one. In 1774 the Continental Congress pledged
itself, without a dissenting vote, to wholly discontinue the
slave trade, and to neither purchase nor import any slave; and
less than three months before the passage of the Declaration of
Independence, the same Congress which adopted that declaration
unanimously resolved "that no slave be imported into any of the
thirteen United Colonies." [Great applause.]

On the second day of July, 1776, the draft of a Declaration of
Independence was reported to Congress by the committee, and in it
the slave trade was characterized as "an execrable commerce," as
"a piratical warfare," as the "opprobrium of infidel powers," and
as "a cruel war against human nature." [Applause.] All agreed on
this except South Carolina and Georgia, and in order to preserve
harmony, and from the necessity of the case, these expressions
were omitted. Indeed, abolition societies existed as far south
as Virginia; and it is a well-known fact that Washington,
Jefferson, Madison, Lee, Henry, Mason, and Pendleton were
qualified abolitionists, and much more radical on that subject
than we of the Whig and Democratic parties claim to be to-day.
On March 1, 1784, Virginia ceded to the confederation all its
lands lying northwest of the Ohio River. Jefferson, Chase of
Maryland, and Howell of Rhode Island, as a committee on that and
territory thereafter to be ceded, reported that no slavery should
exist after the year 1800. Had this report been adopted, not
only the Northwest, but Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and
Mississippi also would have been free; but it required the assent
of nine States to ratify it. North Carolina was divided, and
thus its vote was lost; and Delaware, Georgia, and New Jersey
refused to vote. In point of fact, as it was, it was assented to
by six States. Three years later on a square vote to exclude
slavery from the Northwest, only one vote, and that from New
York, was against it. And yet, thirty-seven years later, five
thousand citizens of Illinois, out of a voting mass of less than
twelve thousand, deliberately, after a long and heated contest,
voted to introduce slavery in Illinois; and, to-day, a large
party in the free State of Illinois are willing to vote to fasten
the shackles of slavery on the fair domain of Kansas,
notwithstanding it received the dowry of freedom long before its
birth as a political community. I repeat, therefore, the
question: Is it not plain in what direction we are tending?
[Sensation.] In the colonial time, Mason, Pendleton, and
Jefferson were as hostile to slavery in Virginia as Otis, Ames,
and the Adamses were in Massachusetts; and Virginia made as
earnest an effort to get rid of it as old Massachusetts did. But
circumstances were against them and they failed; but not that the
good will of its leading men was lacking. Yet within less than
fifty years Virginia changed its tune, and made negro-breeding
for the cotton and sugar States one of its leading industries.
[Laughter and applause.]

In the Constitutional Convention, George Mason of Virginia made a
more violent abolition speech than my friends Lovejoy or Codding
would desire to make here to-day--a speech which could not be
safely repeated anywhere on Southern soil in this enlightened
year. But, while there were some differences of opinion on this
subject even then, discussion was allowed; but as you see by the
Kansas slave code, which, as you know, is the Missouri slave
code, merely ferried across the river, it is a felony to even
express an opinion hostile to that foul blot in the land of
Washington and the Declaration of Independence. [Sensation.]

In Kentucky--my State--in 1849, on a test vote, the mighty
influence of Henry Clay and many other good then there could not
get a symptom of expression in favor of gradual emancipation on a
plain issue of marching toward the light of civilization with
Ohio and Illinois; but the State of Boone and Hardin and Henry
Clay, with a nigger under each arm, took the black trail toward
the deadly swamps of barbarism. Is there--can there be--any
doubt about this thing? And is there any doubt that we must all
lay aside our prejudices and march, shoulder to shoulder, in the
great army of Freedom? [Applause.]

Every Fourth of July our young orators all proclaim this to be
"the land of the free and the home of the brave!" Well, now, when
you orators get that off next year, and, may be, this very year,
how would you like some old grizzled farmer to get up in the
grove and deny it? [Laughter.] How would you like that? But
suppose Kansas comes in as a slave State, and all the "border
ruffians" have barbecues about it, and free-State men come
trailing back to the dishonored North, like whipped dogs with
their tails between their legs, it is--ain't it ?--evident that
this is no more the "land of the free"; and if we let it go so,
we won't dare to say "home of the brave" out loud. [Sensation
and confusion.]

Can any man doubt that, even in spite of the people's will,
slavery will triumph through violence, unless that will be made
manifest and enforced? Even Governor Reeder claimed at the
outset that the contest in Kansas was to be fair, but he got his
eyes open at last; and I believe that, as a result of this moral
and physical violence, Kansas will soon apply for admission as a
slave State. And yet we can't mistake that the people don't want
it so, and that it is a land which is free both by natural and
political law. No law, is free law! Such is the understanding of
all Christendom. In the Somerset case, decided nearly a century
ago, the great Lord Mansfield held that slavery was of such a
nature that it must take its rise in positive (as distinguished
from natural) law; and that in no country or age could it be
traced back to any other source. Will some one please tell me
where is the positive law that establishes slavery in Kansas? [A
voice: "The bogus laws."] Aye, the bogus laws! And, on the same
principle, a gang of Missouri horse-thieves could come into
Illinois and declare horse-stealing to be legal [Laughter], and
it would be just as legal as slavery is in Kansas. But by
express statute, in the land of Washington and Jefferson, we may
soon be brought face to face with the discreditable fact of
showing to the world by our acts that we prefer slavery to
freedom--darkness to light! [Sensation.]

It is, I believe, a principle in law that when one party to a
contract violates it so grossly as to chiefly destroy the object
for which it is made, the other party may rescind it. I will ask
Browning if that ain't good law. [Voices: "Yes!"] Well, now if
that be right, I go for rescinding the whole, entire Missouri
Compromise and thus turning Missouri into a free State; and I
should like to know the difference--should like for any one to
point out the difference--between our making a free State of
Missouri and their making a slave State of Kansas. [Great
applause.] There ain't one bit of difference, except that our way
would be a great mercy to humanity. But I have never said, and
the Whig party has never said, and those who oppose the Nebraska
Bill do not as a body say, that they have any intention of
interfering with slavery in the slave States. Our platform says
just the contrary. We allow slavery to exist in the slave
States, not because slavery is right or good, but from the
necessities of our Union. We grant a fugitive slave law because
it is so "nominated in the bond"; because our fathers so
stipulated--had to--and we are bound to carry out this agreement.
But they did not agree to introduce slavery in regions where it
did not previously exist. On the contrary, they said by their
example and teachings that they did not deem it expedient--did
n't consider it right--to do so; and it is wise and
right to do just as they did about it. [Voices: "Good!"] And
that it what we propose--not to interfere with slavery where it
exists (we have never tried to do it), and to give them a
reasonable and efficient fugitive slave law. [A voice: "No!"] I
say YES! [Applause.] It was part of the bargain, and I 'm for
living up to it; but I go no further; I'm not bound to do more,
and I won't agree any further. [Great applause.]

We, here in Illinois, should feel especially proud of the
provision of the Missouri Compromise excluding slavery from what
is now Kansas; for an Illinois man, Jesse B. Thomas, was its
father. Henry Clay, who is credited with the authorship of the
Compromise in general terms, did not even vote for that
provision, but only advocated the ultimate admission by a second
compromise; and Thomas was, beyond all controversy, the real
author of the "slavery restriction" branch of the Compromise. To
show the generosity of the Northern members toward the Southern
side: on a test vote to exclude slavery from Missouri, ninety
voted not to exclude, and eighty-seven to exclude, every vote
from the slave States being ranged with the former and fourteen
votes from the free States, of whom seven were from New England
alone; while on a vote to exclude slavery from what is now
Kansas, the vote was one hundred and thirty-four for, to forty-
two against. The scheme, as a whole, was, of course, a Southern
triumph. It is idle to contend otherwise, as is now being done
by the Nebraskites; it was so shown by the votes and quite as
emphatically by the expressions of representative men. Mr.
Lowndes of South Carolina was never known to commit a political
mistake; his was the great judgment of that section; and he
declared that this measure "would restore tranquillity to the
country--a result demanded by every consideration of discretion,
of moderation, of wisdom, and of virtue." When the measure came
before President Monroe for his approval, he put to each member
of his cabinet this question: "Has Congress the constitutional
power to prohibit slavery in a Territory?" And John C. Calhoun
and William H. Crawford from the South, equally with John Quincy
Adams, Benjamin Rush, and Smith Thompson from the North, alike
answered, "Yes!" without qualification or equivocation; and this
measure, of so great consequence to the South, was passed; and
Missouri was, by means of it, finally enabled to knock at the
door of the Republic for an open passage to its brood of slaves.
And, in spite of this, Freedom's share is about to be taken by
violence--by the force of misrepresentative votes, not called for
by the popular will. What name can I, in common decency, give to
this wicked transaction? [Sensation.]

But even then the contest was not over; for when the Missouri
constitution came before Congress for its approval, it forbade
any free negro or mulatto from entering the State. In short, our
Illinois "black 1aws" were hidden away in their constitution
[Laughter], and the controversy was thus revived. Then it was
that Mr. Clay's talents shone out conspicuously, and the
controversy that shook the union to its foundation was finally
settled to the satisfaction of the conservative parties on both
sides of the line, though not to the extremists on either, and
Missouri was admitted by the small majority of six in the lower
House. How great a majority, do you think, would have been given
had Kansas also been secured for slavery? [A voice: "A majority
the other way."] "A majority the other way," is answered. Do you
think it would have been safe for a Northern man to have
confronted his constituents after having voted to consign both
Missouri and Kansas to hopeless slavery? And yet this man
Douglas, who misrepresents his constituents and who has exerted
his highest talents in that direction, will be carried in triumph
through the State and hailed with honor while applauding that
act. [Three groans for "Dug!"] And this shows whither we are
tending. This thing of slavery is more powerful than its
supporters--even than the high priests that minister at its
altar. It debauches even our greatest men. It gathers strength,
like a rolling snowball, by its own infamy. Monstrous crimes are
committed in its name by persons collectively which they would
not dare to commit as individuals. Its aggressions and
encroachments almost surpass belief. In a despotism, one might
not wonder to see slavery advance steadily and remorselessly into
new dominions; but is it not wonderful, is it not even alarming,
to see its steady advance in a land dedicated to the proposition
that "all men are created equal"? [Sensation.]

It yields nothing itself; it keeps all it has, and gets all it
can besides. It really came dangerously near securing Illinois
in 1824; it did get Missouri in 1821. The first proposition was
to admit what is now Arkansas and Missouri as one slave State.
But the territory was divided and Arkansas came in, without
serious question, as a slave State; and afterwards Missouri, not,
as a sort of equality, free, but also as a slave State. Then we
had Florida and Texas; and now Kansas is about to be forced into
the dismal procession. [Sensation.] And so it is wherever you
look. We have not forgotten--it is but six years since--how
dangerously near California came to being a slave State. Texas
is a slave State, and four other slave States may be carved from
its vast domain. And yet, in the year 1829, slavery was
abolished throughout that vast region by a royal decree of the
then sovereign of Mexico. Will you please tell me by what right
slavery exists in Texas to-day? By the same right as, and no
higher or greater than, slavery is seeking dominion in Kansas:
by political force--peaceful, if that will suffice; by the torch
(as in Kansas) and the bludgeon (as in the Senate chamber), if
required. And so history repeats itself; and even as slavery has
kept its course by craft, intimidation, and violence in the past,
so it will persist, in my judgment, until met and dominated by
the will of a people bent on its restriction.

We have, this very afternoon, heard bitter denunciations of
Brooks in Washington, and Titus, Stringfellow, Atchison, Jones,
and Shannon in Kansas--the battle-ground of slavery. I certainly
am not going to advocate or shield them; but they and their acts
are but the necessary outcome of the Nebraska law. We should
reserve our highest censure for the authors of the mischief, and
not for the catspaws which they use. I believe it was
Shakespeare who said, "Where the offence lies, there let the axe
fall"; and, in my opinion, this man Douglas and the Northern men
in Congress who advocate "Nebraska" are more guilty than a
thousand Joneses and Stringfellows, with all their murderous
practices, can be. [Applause.]

We have made a good beginning here to-day. As our Methodist
friends would say, "I feel it is good to be here." While
extremists may find some fault with the moderation of our
platform, they should recollect that "the battle is not always to
the strong, nor the race to the swift." In grave emergencies,
moderation is generally safer than radicalism; and as this
struggle is likely to be long and earnest, we must not, by our
action, repel any who are in sympathy with us in the main, but
rather win all that we can to our standard. We must not belittle
nor overlook the facts of our condition--that we are new and
comparatively weak, while our enemies are entrenched and
relatively strong. They have the administration and the
political power; and, right or wrong, at present they have the
numbers. Our friends who urge an appeal to arms with so much
force and eloquence should recollect that the government is
arrayed against us, and that the numbers are now arrayed against
us as well; or, to state it nearer to the truth, they are not yet
expressly and affirmatively for us; and we should repel friends
rather than gain them by anything savoring of revolutionary
methods. As it now stands, we must appeal to the sober sense and
patriotism of the people. We will make converts day by day; we
will grow strong by calmness and moderation; we will grow strong
by the violence and injustice of our adversaries. And, unless
truth be a mockery and justice a hollow lie, we will be in the
majority after a while, and then the revolution which we will
accomplish will be none the less radical from being the result of
pacific measures. The battle of freedom is to be fought out on
principle. Slavery is a violation of the eternal right. We have
temporized with it from the necessities of our condition; but as
sure as God reigns and school children read, THAT BLACK FOUL LIE
applause lasting some time.]

One of our greatest difficulties is, that men who know that
slavery is a detestable crime and ruinous to the nation are
compelled, by our peculiar condition and other circumstances, to
advocate it concretely, though damning it in the raw. Henry Clay
was a brilliant example of this tendency; others of our purest
statesmen are compelled to do so; and thus slavery secures actual
support from those who detest it at heart. Yet Henry Clay
perfected and forced through the compromise which secured to
slavery a great State as well as a political advantage. Not that
he hated slavery less, but that he loved the whole Union more.
As long as slavery profited by his great compromise, the hosts of
proslavery could not sufficiently cover him with praise; but now
that this compromise stands in their way-

"....they never mention him,
His name is never heard:
Their lips are now forbid to speak
That once familiar word."

They have slaughtered one of his most cherished measures, and his
ghost would arise to rebuke them. [Great applause.]

Now, let us harmonize, my friends, and appeal to the moderation
and patriotism of the people: to the sober second thought; to the
awakened public conscience. The repeal of the sacred Missouri
Compromise has installed the weapons of violence: the bludgeon,
the incendiary torch, the death-dealing rifle, the bristling
cannon--the weapons of kingcraft, of the inquisition, of
ignorance, of barbarism, of oppression. We see its fruits in the
dying bed of the heroic Sumner; in the ruins of the "Free State"
hotel; in the smoking embers of the Herald of Freedom; in the
free-State Governor of Kansas chained to a stake on freedom's
soil like a horse-thief, for the crime of freedom. [Applause.]
We see it in Christian statesmen, and Christian newspapers, and
Christian pulpits applauding the cowardly act of a low bully, WHO
BLOW. [Sensation and applause.] We note our political
demoralization in the catch-words that are coming into such
common use; on the one hand, "freedom-shriekers," and sometimes
"freedom-screechers" [Laughter], and, on the other hand, "border-
ruffians," and that fully deserved. And the significance of
catch-words cannot pass unheeded, for they constitute a sign of
the times. Everything in this world "jibes" in with everything
else, and all the fruits of this Nebraska Bill are like the
poisoned source from which they come. I will not say that we may
not sooner or later be compelled to meet force by force; but the
time has not yet come, and, if we are true to ourselves, may
never come. Do not mistake that the ballot is stronger than the
bullet. Therefore let the legions of slavery use bullets; but
let us wait patiently till November and fire ballots at them in
return; and by that peaceful policy I believe we shall ultimately
win. [Applause.]

It was by that policy that here in Illinois the early fathers
fought the good fight and gained the victory. In 1824 the free
men of our State, led by Governor Coles (who was a native of
Maryland and President Madison's private secretary), determined
that those beautiful groves should never re-echo the dirge of one
who has no title to himself. By their resolute determination,
the winds that sweep across our broad prairies shall never cool
the parched brow, nor shall the unfettered streams that bring joy
and gladness to our free soil water the tired feet, of a slave;
but so long as those heavenly breezes and sparkling streams bless
the land, or the groves and their fragrance or memory remain, the
humanity to which they minister SHALL BE FOREVER FREE! [Great
applause] Palmer, Yates, Williams, Browning, and some more in
this convention came from Kentucky to Illinois (instead of going
to Missouri), not only to better their conditions, but also to
get away from slavery. They have said so to me, and it is
understood among us Kentuckians that we don't like it one bit.
Now, can we, mindful of the blessings of liberty which the early
men of Illinois left to us, refuse a like privilege to the free
men who seek to plant Freedom's banner on our Western outposts?
["No!" "No!"] Should we not stand by our neighbors who seek to
better their conditions in Kansas and Nebraska? ["Yes!" "Yes!"]
Can we as Christian men, and strong and free ourselves, wield the
sledge or hold the iron which is to manacle anew an already
oppressed race? ["No!" "No!"] "Woe unto them," it is written,
"that decree unrighteous decrees and that write grievousness
which they have prescribed." Can we afford to sin any more deeply
against human liberty? ["No!" "No!"]

One great trouble in the matter is, that slavery is an insidious
and crafty power, and gains equally by open violence of the
brutal as well as by sly management of the peaceful. Even after
the Ordinance of 1787, the settlers in Indiana and Illinois (it
was all one government then) tried to get Congress to allow
slavery temporarily, and petitions to that end were sent from
Kaskaskia, and General Harrison, the Governor, urged it from
Vincennes, the capital. If that had succeeded, good-bye to
liberty here. But John Randolph of Virginia made a vigorous
report against it; and although they persevered so well as to get
three favorable reports for it, yet the United States Senate,
with the aid of some slave States, finally squelched if for good.
[Applause.] And that is why this hall is to-day a temple for free
men instead of a negro livery-stable. [Great applause and
laughter.] Once let slavery get planted in a locality, by ever so
weak or doubtful a title, and in ever so small numbers, and it is
like the Canada thistle or Bermuda grass--you can't root it out.
You yourself may detest slavery; but your neighbor has five or
six slaves, and he is an excellent neighbor, or your son has
married his daughter, and they beg you to help save their
property, and you vote against your interests and principle to
accommodate a neighbor, hoping that your vote will be on the
losing side. And others do the same; and in those ways slavery
gets a sure foothold. And when that is done the whole mighty
Union--the force of the nation--is committed to its support. And
that very process is working in Kansas to-day. And you must
recollect that the slave property is worth a billion of dollars;
while free-State men must work for sentiment alone. Then there
are "blue lodges"--as they call them--everywhere doing their
secret and deadly work.

It is a very strange thing, and not solvable by any moral law
that I know of, that if a man loses his horse, the whole country
will turn out to help hang the thief; but if a man but a shade or
two darker than I am is himself stolen, the same crowd will hang
one who aids in restoring him to liberty. Such are the
inconsistencies of slavery, where a horse is more sacred than a
man; and the essence of squatter or popular sovereignty--I don't
care how you call it--is that if one man chooses to make a slave
of another, no third man shall be allowed to object. And if you
can do this in free Kansas, and it is allowed to stand, the next
thing you will see is shiploads of negroes from Africa at the
wharf at Charleston, for one thing is as truly lawful as the
other; and these are the bastard notions we have got to stamp
out, else they will stamp us out. [Sensation and applause.]

Two years ago, at Springfield, Judge Douglas avowed that Illinois
came into the Union as a slave State, and that slavery was weeded
out by the operation of his great, patent, everlasting principle
of "popular sovereignty." [Laughter.] Well, now, that argument
must be answered, for it has a little grain of truth at the
bottom. I do not mean that it is true in essence, as he would
have us believe. It could not be essentially true if the
Ordinance of '87 was valid. But, in point of fact, there were
some degraded beings called slaves in Kaskaskia and the other
French settlements when our first State constitution was adopted;
that is a fact, and I don't deny it. Slaves were brought here as
early as 1720, and were kept here in spite of the Ordinance of
1787 against it. But slavery did not thrive here. On the
contrary, under the influence of the ordinance the number
decreased fifty-one from 1810 to 1820; while under the influence
of squatter sovereignty, right across the river in Missouri, they
increased seven thousand two hundred and eleven in the same time;
and slavery finally faded out in Illinois, under the influence of
the law of freedom, while it grew stronger and stronger in
Missouri, under the law or practice of "popular sovereignty." In
point of fact there were but one hundred and seventeen slaves in
Illinois one year after its admission, or one to every four
hundred and seventy of its population; or, to state it in another
way, if Illinois was a slave State in 1820, so were New York and
New Jersey much greater slave States from having had greater
numbers, slavery having been established there in very early
times. But there is this vital difference between all these
States and the Judge's Kansas experiment: that they sought to
disestablish slavery which had been already established, while
the Judge seeks, so far as he can, to disestablish freedom, which
had been established there by the Missouri Compromise. [Voices:

The Union is under-going a fearful strain; but it is a stout old
ship, and has weathered many a hard blow, and "the stars in their
courses," aye, an invisible Power, greater than the puny efforts
of men, will fight for us. But we ourselves must not decline the
burden of responsibility, nor take counsel of unworthy passions.
Whatever duty urges us to do or to omit must be done or omitted;
and the recklessness with which our adversaries break the laws,
or counsel their violation, should afford no example for us.
Therefore, let us revere the Declaration of Independence; let us
continue to obey the Constitution and the laws; let us keep step
to the music of the Union. Let us draw a cordon, so to speak,
around the slave States, and the hateful institution, like a
reptile poisoning itself, will perish by its own infamy.

But we cannot be free men if this is, by our national choice, to
be a land of slavery. Those who deny freedom to others deserve
it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot
long retain
it.[Loud applause.]

Did you ever, my friends, seriously reflect upon the speed with
which we are tending downwards? Within the memory of men now
present the leading statesman of Virginia could make genuine,
red-hot abolitionist speeches in old Virginia! and, as I have
said, now even in "free Kansas" it is a crime to declare that it
is "free Kansas." The very sentiments that I and others have just
uttered would entitle us, and each of us, to the ignominy and
seclusion of a dungeon; and yet I suppose that, like Paul, we
were "free born." But if this thing is allowed to continue, it
will be but one step further to impress the same rule in
Illinois. [Sensation.]

The conclusion of all is, that we must restore the Missouri
Compromise. We must highly resolve that Kansas must be free!
[Great applause.] We must reinstate the birthday promise of the
Republic; we must reaffirm the Declaration of Independence; we
must make good in essence as well as in form Madison's avowal
that "the word slave ought not to appear in the Constitution";
and we must even go further, and decree that only local law, and
not that time-honored instrument, shall shelter a slaveholder.
We must make this a land of liberty in fact, as it is in name.
But in seeking to attain these results--so indispensable if the
liberty which is our pride and boast shall endure--we will be
loyal to the Constitution and to the "flag of our Union," and no
matter what our grievance--even though Kansas shall come in as a
slave State; and no matter what theirs--even if we shall restore

[This was the climax; the audience rose to its feet en masse,
applauded, stamped, waved handkerchiefs, threw hats in the air,
and ran riot for several minutes. The arch-enchanter who wrought
this transformation looked, meanwhile, like the personification
of political justice.]

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.

All of us who did not vote for Mr. Buchanan, taken together, are
a majority of four hundred thousand. But in the late contest we
were divided between Fremont and Fillmore. Can we not come
together for the future? Let every one who really believes and
is resolved that free society is not and shall not be a failure,
and who can conscientiously declare that in the last contest he
has done only what he thought best--let every such one have
charity to believe that every other one can say as much. Thus
let bygones be bygones; let past differences as nothing be; and
with steady eye on the real issue let us reinaugurate the good
old "central idea" of the republic. We can do it. The human
heart is with us; God is with us. We shall again be able, not to
declare that "all States as States are equal," nor yet that "all
citizens as citizens are equal," but to renew the broader, better
declaration, including both these and much more, that "all men
are created equal."


SPRINGFIELD, Dec. 25, 1856.

DEAR SIR:-When I was at Chicago two weeks ago I saw Mr. Arnold,
and from a remark of his I inferred he was thinking of the
speakership, though I think he was not anxious about it. He
seemed most anxious for harmony generally, and particularly that
the contested seats from Peoria and McDonough might be rightly
determined. Since I came home I had a talk with Cullom, one of
our American representatives here, and he says he is for you for
Speaker and also that he thinks all the Americans will be for
you, unless it be Gorin, of Macon, of whom he cannot speak. If
you would like to be Speaker go right up and see Arnold. He is
talented, a practised debater, and, I think, would do himself
more credit on the floor than in the Speaker's seat. Go and see
him; and if you think fit, show him this letter.

Your friend as ever,




SPRINGFIELD, ILL., February 10, 1857.

DEAR SIR:--Your note about the little paragraph in the Republican
was received yesterday, since which time I have been too unwell
to notice it. I had not supposed you wrote or approved it. The
whole originated in mistake. You know by the conversation with
me that I thought the establishment of the paper unfortunate, but
I always expected to throw no obstacle in its way, and to
patronize it to the extent of taking and paying for one copy.
When the paper was brought to my house, my wife said to me, "Now
are you going to take another worthless little paper?" I said to
her evasively, "I have not directed the paper to be left." From
this, in my absence, she sent the message to the carrier. This
is the whole story.

Yours truly,



JUNE 26, 1857.

FELLOW-CITIZENS:--I am here to-night partly by the invitation of
some of you, and partly by my own inclination. Two weeks ago
Judge Douglas spoke here on the several subjects of Kansas, the
Dred Scott decision, and Utah. I listened to the speech at the
time, and have the report of it since. It was intended to
controvert opinions which I think just, and to assail
(politically, not personally) those men who, in common with me,
entertain those opinions. For this reason I wished then, and
still wish, to make some answer to it, which I now take the
opportunity of doing.

I begin with Utah. If it prove to be true, as is probable, that
the people of Utah are in open rebellion to the United States,
then Judge Douglas is in favor of repealing their territorial
organization, and attaching them to the adjoining States for
judicial purposes. I say, too, if they are in rebellion, they
ought to be somehow coerced to obedience; and I am not now
prepared to admit or deny that the Judge's mode of coercing them
is not as good as any. The Republicans can fall in with it
without taking back anything they have ever said. To be sure, it
would be a considerable backing down by Judge Douglas from his
much-vaunted doctrine of self-government for the Territories; but
this is only additional proof of what was very plain from the
beginning, that that doctrine was a mere deceitful pretense for
the benefit of slavery. Those who could not see that much in the
Nebraska act itself, which forced governors, and secretaries, and
judges on the people of the Territories without their choice or
consent, could not be made to see, though one should rise from
the dead.

But in all this it is very plain the Judge evades the only
question the Republicans have ever pressed upon the Democracy in
regard to Utah. That question the Judge well knew to be this:
"If the people of Utah peacefully form a State constitution
tolerating polygamy, will the Democracy admit them into the
Union?" There is nothing in the United States Constitution or law
against polygamy; and why is it not a part of the Judge's "sacred
right of self-government" for the people to have it, or rather to
keep it, if they choose? These questions, so far as I know, the
Judge never answers. It might involve the Democracy to answer
them either way, and they go unanswered.

As to Kansas. The substance of the Judge's speech on Kansas is
an effort to put the free-State men in the wrong for not voting
at the election of delegates to the constitutional convention.
He says:

"There is every reason to hope and believe that the law will be
fairly interpreted and impartially executed, so as to insure to
every bona fide inhabitant the free and quiet exercise of the
elective franchise."

It appears extraordinary that Judge Douglas should make such a
statement. He knows that, by the law, no one can vote who has
not been registered; and he knows that the free-State men place
their refusal to vote on the ground that but few of them have
been registered. It is possible that this is not true, but Judge
Douglas knows it is asserted to be true in letters, newspapers,
and public speeches, and borne by every mail and blown by every
breeze to the eyes and ears of the world. He knows it is boldly
declared that the people of many whole counties, and many whole
neighborhoods in others, are left unregistered; yet he does not
venture to contradict the declaration, or to point out how they
can vote without being registered; but he just slips along, not
seeming to know there is any such question of fact, and
complacently declares:

"There is every reason to hope and believe that the law will be
fairly and impartially executed, so as to insure to every bona
fide inhabitant the free and quiet exercise of the elective

I readily agree that if all had a chance to vote they ought to
have voted. If, on the contrary, as they allege, and Judge
Douglas ventures not to particularly contradict, few only of the
free-State men had a chance to vote, they were perfectly right in
staying from the polls in a body.

By the way, since the Judge spoke, the Kansas election has come
off. The Judge expressed his confidence that all the Democrats
in Kansas would do their duty-including "free-State Democrats,"
of course. The returns received here as yet are very incomplete;
but so far as they go, they indicate that only about one sixth of
the registered voters have really voted; and this, too, when not
more, perhaps, than one half of the rightful voters have been
registered, thus showing the thing to have been altogether the
most exquisite farce ever enacted. I am watching with
considerable interest to ascertain what figure "the free-State
Democrats" cut in the concern. Of course they voted,--all
Democrats do their duty,--and of course they did not vote for
slave-State candidates. We soon shall know how many delegates
they elected, how many candidates they had pledged to a free
State, and how many votes were cast for them.

Allow me to barely whisper my suspicion that there were no such
things in Kansas as "free-State Democrats"--that they were
altogether mythical, good only to figure in newspapers and
speeches in the free States. If there should prove to be one
real living free-State Democrat in Kansas, I suggest that it
might be well to catch him, and stuff and preserve his skin as an
interesting specimen of that soon-to-be extinct variety of the
genus Democrat.

And now as to the Dred Scott decision. That decision declares
two propositions--first, that a negro cannot sue in the United
States courts; and secondly, that Congress cannot prohibit
slavery in the Territories. It was made by a divided court
dividing differently on the different points. Judge Douglas does
not discuss the merits of the decision, and in that respect I
shall follow his example, believing I could no more improve on
McLean and Curtis than he could on Taney.

He denounces all who question the correctness of that decision,
as offering violent resistance to it. But who resists it? Who
has, in spite of the decision, declared Dred Scott free, and
resisted the authority of his master over him?

Judicial decisions have two uses--first, to absolutely determine
the case decided, and secondly, to indicate to the public how
other similar cases will be decided when they arise. For the
latter use, they are called "precedents" and "authorities."

We believe as much as Judge Douglas (perhaps more) in obedience
to, and respect for, the judicial department of government. We
think its decisions on constitutional questions, when fully
settled, should control not only the particular cases decided,
but the general policy of the country, subject to be disturbed
only by amendments of the Constitution as provided in that
instrument itself. More than this would be revolution. But we
think the Dred Scott decision is erroneous. We know the court
that made it has often overruled its own decisions, and we shall
do what we can to have it to overrule this. We offer no
resistance to it.

Judicial decisions are of greater or less authority as precedents
according to circumstances. That this should be so accords both
with common sense and the customary understanding of the legal

If this important decision had been made by the unanimous
concurrence of the judges, and without any apparent partisan
bias, and in accordance with legal public expectation and with
the steady practice of the departments throughout our history,
and had been in no part based on assumed historical facts which
are not really true; or, if wanting in some of these, it had been
before the court more than once, and had there been affirmed and
reaffirmed through a course of years, it then might be, perhaps
would be, factious, nay, even revolutionary, not to acquiesce in
it as a precedent.

But when, as is true, we find it wanting in all these claims to
the public confidence, it is not resistance, it is not factious,
it is not even disrespectful, to treat it as not having yet quite
established a settled doctrine for the country. But Judge
Douglas considers this view awful. Hear him:

"The courts are the tribunals prescribed by the Constitution and
created by the authority of the people to determine, expound, and
enforce the law. Hence, whoever resists the final decision of
the highest judicial tribunal aims a deadly blow at our whole
republican system of government--a blow which, if successful,
would place all our rights and liberties at the mercy of passion,
anarchy, and violence. I repeat, therefore, that if resistance
to the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, in a
matter like the points decided in the Dred Scott case, clearly
within their jurisdiction as defined by the Constitution, shall
be forced upon the country as a political issue, it will become a
distinct and naked issue between the friends and enemies of the
Constitution--the friends and the enemies of the supremacy of the

Why, this same Supreme Court once decided a national bank to be
constitutional; but General Jackson, as President of the United
States, disregarded the decision, and vetoed a bill for a
recharter, partly on constitutional ground, declaring that each
public functionary must support the Constitution "as he
understands it." But hear the General's own words. Here they
are, taken from his veto message:

"It is maintained by the advocates of the bank that its
constitutionality, in all its features, ought to be considered as
settled by precedent, and by the decision of the Supreme Court.
To this conclusion I cannot assent. Mere precedent is a
dangerous source of authority, and should not be regarded as
deciding questions of constitutional power, except where the
acquiescence of the people and the States can be considered as
well settled. So far from this being the case on this subject,
an argument against the bank might be based on precedent. One
Congress, in 1791, decided in favor of a bank; another, in 1811,
decided against it. One Congress, in 1815, decided against a
bank; another, in 1816, decided in its favor. Prior to the
present Congress, therefore, the precedents drawn from that
course were equal. If we resort to the States, the expressions
of legislative, judicial, and executive opinions against the bank
have been probably to those in its favor as four to one. There
is nothing in precedent, therefore, which, if its authority were
admitted, ought to weigh in favor of the act before me."

I drop the quotations merely to remark that all there ever was in
the way of precedent up to the Dred Scott decision, on the points
therein decided, had been against that decision. But hear
General Jackson further:

"If the opinion of the Supreme Court covered the whole ground of
this act, it ought not to control the coordinate authorities of
this government. The Congress, the executive, and the courts
must, each for itself, be guided by its own opinion of the
Constitution. Each public officer who takes an oath to support
the Constitution swears that he will support it as he understands
it, and not as it is understood by others."

Again and again have I heard Judge Douglas denounce that bank
decision and applaud General Jackson for disregarding it. It
would be interesting for him to look over his recent speech, and
see how exactly his fierce philippics against us for resisting
Supreme Court decisions fall upon his own head. It will call to
mind a long and fierce political war in this country, upon an
issue which, in his own language, and, of course, in his own
changeless estimation, "was a distinct issue between the friends
and the enemies of the Constitution," and in which war he fought
in the ranks of the enemies of the Constitution.

I have said, in substance, that the Dred Scott decision was in
part based on assumed historical facts which were not really
true, and I ought not to leave the subject without giving some
reasons for saying this; I therefore give an instance or two,
which I think fully sustain me. Chief Justice Taney, in
delivering the opinion of the majority of the court, insists at
great length that negroes were no part of the people who made, or
for whom was made, the Declaration of Independence, or the
Constitution of the United States.

On the contrary, Judge Curtis, in his dissenting opinion, shows
that in five of the then thirteen States--to wit, New Hampshire,
Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and North Carolina--free
negroes were voters, and in proportion to their numbers had the
same part in making the Constitution that the white people had.
He shows this with so much particularity as to leave no doubt of
its truth; and as a sort of conclusion on that point, holds the
following language:

"The Constitution was ordained and established by the people of
the United States, through the action, in each State, of those
persons who were qualified by its laws to act thereon in behalf
of themselves and all other citizens of the State. In some of
the States, as we have seen, colored persons were among those
qualified by law to act on the subject. These colored persons
were not only included in the body of 'the people of the United
States' by whom the Constitution was ordained and established;
but in at least five of the States they had the power to act, and
doubtless did act, by their suffrages, upon the question of its

Again, Chief Justice Taney says:

"It is difficult at this day to realize the state of public
opinion, in relation to that unfortunate race, which prevailed in
the civilized and enlightened portions of the world at the time
of the Declaration of Independence, and when the Constitution of
the United States was framed and adopted."

And again, after quoting from the Declaration, he says:

"The general words above quoted would seem to include the whole
human family, and if they were used in a similar instrument at
this day, would be so understood."

In these the Chief Justice does not directly assert, but plainly
assumes as a fact, that the public estimate of the black man is
more favorable now than it was in the days of the Revolution.
This assumption is a mistake. In some trifling particulars the
condition of that race has been ameliorated; but as a whole, in
this country, the change between then and now is decidedly the
other way, and their ultimate destiny has never appeared so
hopeless as in the last three or four years. In two of the five
States--New Jersey and North Carolina--that then gave the free
negro the right of voting, the right has since been taken away,
and in a third--New York--it has been greatly abridged; while it
has not been extended, so far as I know, to a single additional
State, though the number of the States has more than doubled. In
those days, as I understand, masters could, at their own
pleasure, emancipate their slaves; but since then such legal
restraints have been made upon emancipation as to amount almost
to prohibition. In those days Legislatures held the unquestioned
power to abolish slavery in their respective States, but now it
is becoming quite fashionable for State constitutions to withhold
that power from the Legislatures. In those days, by common
consent, the spread of the black man's bondage to the new
countries was prohibited, but now Congress decides that it will
not continue the prohibition, and the Supreme Court decides that
it could not if it would. In those days our Declaration of
Independence was held sacred by all, and thought to include all;
but now, to aid in making the bondage of the negro universal and
eternal, it is assailed and sneered at and construed and hawked
at and torn, till, if its framers could rise from
their graves, they could not at all recognize it. All the powers
of earth seem rapidly combining against him. Mammon is after
him, ambition follows, philosophy follows, and the theology of
the day fast joining the cry. They have him in his prison house;
they have searched his person, and left no prying instrument with
him. One after another they have closed the heavy iron doors
upon him; and now they have him, as it were, bolted in with a
lock of hundred keys, which can never be unlocked without the
concurrence of every key--the keys in the hands of a hundred
different men, and they scattered to hundred different and
distant places; and they stand musing as to what invention, in
all the dominions of mind and matter, can be produced to make the
impossibility of his escape more complete than it is.

It is grossly incorrect to say or assume that the public estimate
of the negro is more favorable now than it was at the origin of
the government.

Three years and a half ago, Judge Douglas brought forward his
famous Nebraska Bill. The country was at once in a blaze. He
scorned all opposition, and carried it through Congress. Since
then he has seen himself superseded in a Presidential nomination
by one indorsing the general doctrine of his measure, but at the
same time standing clear of the odium of its untimely agitation
and its gross breach of national faith; and he has seen that
successful rival constitutionally elected, not by the strength of
friends, but by the division of adversaries, being in a popular
minority of nearly four hundred thousand votes. He has seen his
chief aids in his own State, Shields and Richardson, politically
speaking, successively tried, convicted, and executed for an
offence not their own but his. And now he sees his own case
standing next on the docket for trial.

There is a natural disgust in the minds of nearly all white
people at the idea of an indiscriminate amalgamation of the white
and black races; and Judge Douglas evidently is basing his chief
hope upon the chances of his being able to appropriate the
benefit of this disgust to himself. If he can, by much drumming
and repeating, fasten the odium of that idea upon his
adversaries, he thinks he can struggle through the storm. He
therefore clings to this hope, as a drowning man to the last
plank. He makes an occasion for lugging it in from the
opposition to the Dred Scott decision. He finds the Republicans
insisting that the Declaration of Independence includes all men,
black as well as white, and forthwith he boldly denies that it
includes negroes at all, and proceeds to argue gravely that all
who contend it does, do so only because they want to vote, and
eat, and sleep, and marry with negoes. He will have it that they
cannot be consistent else. Now I protest against the counterfeit
logic which concludes that, because I do not want a black woman
for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. I need not
have her for either. I can just leave her alone. In some
respects she certainly is not my equal; but in her natural right
to eat the bread she earns with her own hands, without asking
leave of any one else, she is my equal and the equal of all

Chief Justice Taney, in his opinion in the Dred Scott case,
admits that the language of the Declaration is broad enough to
include the whole human family, but he and Judge Douglas argue
that the authors of that instrument did not intend to include
negroes, by the fact that they did not at once actually place
them on an equality with the whites. Now this grave argument
comes to just nothing at all, by the other fact that they did not
at once, or ever afterward, actually place all white people on an
equality with one another. And this is the staple argument of
both the Chief Justice and the Senator for doing this obvious
violence to the plain, unmistakable language of the Declaration.

I think the authors of that notable instrument intended to
include all men, but they did not intend to declare all men equal
in all respects. They did not mean to say all were equal in
color, size, intellect, moral developments, or social capacity.
They defined with tolerable distinctness in what respects they
did consider all men created equal--equal with "certain
inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness." This they said, and this they meant. They
did not mean to assert the obvious untruth that all were then
actually enjoying that equality, nor yet that they were about to
confer it immediately upon them. In fact, they had no power to
confer such a boon. They meant simply to declare the right, so
that enforcement of it might follow as fast as circumstances
should permit.

They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society, which
should be familiar to all, and revered by all; constantly looked
to, constantly labored for, and, even though never perfectly
attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly
spreading and deepening its influence and augmenting the
happiness and value of life to all people of all colors
everywhere. The assertion that "all men are created equal" was
of no practical use in effecting our separation from Great
Britain; and it was placed in the Declaration not for that, but
for future use. Its authors meant it to be--as thank God, it is
now proving itself--stumbling-block to all those who in after
times might seek to turn a free people back into the hateful
paths of despotism. They knew the proneness of prosperity to
breed tyrants, and they meant when such should reappear in this
fair land and commence their vocation, they should find left for
them at least one hard nut to crack.

I have now briefly expressed my view of the meaning and object of
that part of the Declaration of Independence which declares that
"all men are created equal."

Now let us hear Judge Douglas's view of the same subject, as I
find it in the printed report of his late speech. Here it is:

"No man can vindicate the character, motives, and conduct of the
signers of the Declaration of Independence, except upon the
hypothesis that they referred to the white race alone, and not to
the African, when they declared all men to have been created
equal; that they were speaking of British subjects on this
continent being equal to British subjects born and residing in
Great Britain; that they were entitled to the same inalienable
rights, and among them were enumerated life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness. The Declaration was adopted for the
purpose of justifying the colonists in the eyes of the civilized
world in withdrawing their allegiance from the British crown, and
dissolving their connection with the mother country."

My good friends, read that carefully over some leisure hour, and
ponder well upon it; see what a mere wreck--mangled ruin--it
makes of our once glorious Declaration.

"They were speaking of British subjects on this continent being
equal to British subjects born and residing in Great Britain"!
Why, according to this, not only negroes but white people outside
of Great Britain and America were not spoken of in that
instrument. The English, Irish, and Scotch, along with white
Americans, were included, to be sure, but the French, Germans,
and other white people of the world are all gone to pot along
with the Judge's inferior races!

I had thought the Declaration promised something better than the
condition of British subjects; but no, it only meant that we
should be equal to them in their own oppressed and unequal
condition. According to that, it gave no promise that, having
kicked off the king and lords of Great Britain, we should not at
once be saddled with a king and lords of our own.

I had thought the Declaration contemplated the progressive
improvement in the condition of all men everywhere; but no, it
merely "was adopted for the purpose of justifying the colonists
in the eyes of the civilized world in withdrawing their
allegiance from the British crown, and dissolving their
connection with the mother country." Why, that object having been
effected some eighty years ago, the Declaration is of no
practical use now--mere rubbish--old wadding left to rot on the
battlefield after the victory is won.

I understand you are preparing to celebrate the "Fourth," to-
morrow week. What for? The doings of that day had no reference
to the present; and quite half of you are not even descendants of
those who were referred to at that day. But I suppose you will
celebrate, and will even go so far as to read the Declaration.
Suppose, after you read it once in the old-fashioned way, you
read it once more with Judge Douglas's version. It will then run

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all British
subjects who were on this continent eighty-one years ago were
created equal to all British subjects born and then residing in
Great Britain."

And now I appeal to all--to Democrats as well as others--are you
really willing that the Declaration shall thus be frittered away?
--thus left no more, at most, than an interesting memorial of
the dead past?--thus shorn of its vitality and practical value,
and left without the germ or even the suggestion of the
individual rights of man in it?

But Judge Douglas is especially horrified at the thought of the
mixing of blood by the white and black races. Agreed for once--a
thousand times agreed. There are white men enough to marry all
the white women and black men enough to many all the black women;
and so let them be married. On this point we fully agree with
the Judge, and when he shall show that his policy is better
adapted to prevent amalgamation than ours, we shall drop ours and
adopt his. Let us see. In 1850 there were in the United States
405,751 mulattoes. Very few of these are the offspring of whites
and free blacks; nearly all have sprung from black slaves and
white masters. A separation of the races is the only perfect
preventive of amalgamation; but as an immediate separation is
impossible, the next best thing is to keep them apart where they
are not already together. If white and black people never get
together in Kansas, they will never mix blood in Kansas. That is
at least one self-evident truth. A few free colored persons may
get into the free States, in any event; but their number is too
insignificant to amount to much in the way of mixing blood. In
1850 there were in the free States 56,649 mulattoes; but for the
most part they were not born there--they came from the slave
States, ready made up. In the same year the slave States had
348,874 mulattoes, all of home production. The proportion of
free mulattoes to free blacks--the only colored classes in the
free States is much greater in the slave than in the free States.
It is worthy of note, too, that among the free States those which
make the colored man the nearest equal to the white have
proportionably the fewest mulattoes, the least of amalgamation.
In New Hampshire, the State which goes farthest toward equality
between the races, there are just 184 mulattoes, while there are
in Virginia--how many do you think?--79,775, being 23,126 more
than in all the free States together.

These statistics show that slavery is the greatest source of
amalgamation, and next to it, not the elevation, but the
degradation of the free blacks. Yet Judge Douglas dreads the
slightest restraints on the spread of slavery, and the slightest
human recognition of the negro, as tending horribly to

The very Dred Scott case affords a strong test as to which party
most favors amalgamation, the Republicans or the dear Union-
saving Democracy. Dred Scott, his wife, and two daughters were
all involved in the suit. We desired the court to have held that
they were citizens so far at least as to entitle them to a
hearing as to whether they were free or not; and then, also, that
they were in fact and in law really free. Could we have had our
way, the chances of these black girls ever mixing their blood
with that of white people would have been diminished at least to
the extent that it could not have been without their consent.
But Judge Douglas is delighted to have them decided to be slaves,
and not human enough to have a hearing, even if they were free,
and thus left subject to the forced concubinage of their masters,
and liable to become the mothers of mulattoes in spite of
themselves: the very state of case that produces nine tenths of
all the mulattoes all the mixing of blood in the nation.

Of course, I state this case as an illustration only, not meaning
to say or intimate that the master of Dred Scott and his family,
or any more than a percentage of masters generally, are inclined
to exercise this particular power which they hold over their
female slaves.

I have said that the separation of the races is the only perfect
preventive of amalgamation. I have no right to say all the
members of the Republican party are in favor of this, nor to say
that as a party they are in favor of it. There is nothing in
their platform directly on the subject. But I can say a very
large proportion of its members are for it, and that the chief
plank in their platform--opposition to the spread of slavery--is
most favorable to that separation.

Such separation, if ever effected at all, must be effected by
colonization; and no political party, as such, is now doing
anything directly for colonization. Party operations at present
only favor or retard colonization incidentally. The enterprise
is a difficult one; but "where there is a will there is a way,"
and what colonization needs most is a hearty will. Will springs
from the two elements of moral sense and self-interest. Let us
be brought to believe it is morally right, and at the same time
favorable to, or at least not against, our interest to transfer
the African to his native clime, and we shall find a way to do
it, however great the task may be. The children of Israel, to
such numbers as to include four hundred thousand fighting men,
went out of Egyptian bondage in a body.

How differently the respective courses of the Democratic and
Republican parties incidentally, bear on the question of forming
a will--a public sentiment--for colonization, is easy to see.
The Republicans inculcate, with whatever of ability they can,
that the negro is a man, that his bondage is cruelly wrong, and
that the field of his oppression ought not to be enlarged. The
Democrats deny his manhood; deny, or dwarf to insignificance, the
wrong of his bondage; so far as possible crush all sympathy for
him, and cultivate and excite hatred and disgust against him;
compliment themselves as Union-savers for doing so; and call the
indefinite outspreading of his bondage "a sacred right of self-

The plainest print cannot be read through a gold eagle; and it
will be ever hard to find many men who will send a slave to
Liberia, and pay his passage, while they can send him to a new
country--Kansas, for instance--and sell him for fifteen hundred
dollars, and the rise.



DEAR SIR:--Yours of the 14th is received, and I am much obliged
for the legal information you give.

You can scarcely be more anxious than I that the next election in
Iowa should result in favor of the Republicans. I lost nearly
all the working part of last year, giving my time to the canvass;
and I am altogether too poor to lose two years together. I am
engaged in a suit in the United States Court at Chicago, in which
the Rock Island Bridge Company is a party. The trial is to
commence on the 8th of September, and probably will last two or
three weeks. During the trial it is not improbable that all
hands may come over and take a look at the bridge, and, if it
were possible to make it hit right, I could then speak at
Davenport. My courts go right on without cessation till late in
November. Write me again, pointing out the more striking points
of difference between your old and new constitutions, and also
whether Democratic and Republican party lines were drawn in the
adoption of it, and which were for and which were against it.
If, by possibility, I could get over among you it might be of
some advantage to know these things in advance.

Yours very truly,



(From the Daily Press of Chicago, Sept. 24, 1857.)

Hurd et al. vs Railroad Bridge Co.

United States Circuit Court,
Hon. John McLean, Presiding Judge.

13th day, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 1857.

Mr. A. Lincoln addressed the jury. He said he did not purpose to
assail anybody, that he expected to grow earnest as he proceeded
but not ill-natured. "There is some conflict of testimony in the
case," he said, "but one quarter of such a number of witnesses
seldom agree, and even if all were on one side some discrepancy
might be expected. We are to try and reconcile them, and to
believe that they are not intentionally erroneous as long as we
can." He had no prejudice, he said, against steamboats or
steamboat men nor any against St. Louis, for he supposed they
went about this matter as other people would do in their
situation. "St. Louis," he continued, "as a commercial place may
desire that this bridge should not stand, as it is adverse to her
commerce, diverting a portion of it from the river; and it may be
that she supposes that the additional cost of railroad
transportation upon the productions of Iowa will force them to go
to St. Louis if this bridge is removed. The meetings in St.
Louis are connected with this case only as some witnesses are in
it, and thus has some prejudice added color to their testimony."
The last thing that would be pleasing to him, Mr. Lincoln said,
would be to have one of these great channels, extending almost
from where it never freezes to where it never thaws, blocked up,
but there is a travel from east to west whose demands are not
less important than those of the river. It is growing larger and
larger, building up new countries with a rapidity never before
seen in the history of the world. He alluded to the astonishing
growth of Illinois, having grown within his memory to a
population of a million and a half; to Iowa and the other young
rising communities of the Northwest.

"This current of travel," said he, "has its rights as well as
that of north and south. If the river had not the advantage in
priority and legislation we could enter into free competition
with it and we could surpass it. This particular railroad line
has a great importance and the statement of its business during a
little less than a year shows this importance. It is in evidence
that from September 8, 1856, to August 8, 1857, 12,586 freight
cars and 74,179 passengers passed over this bridge. Navigation
was closed four days short of four months last year, and during
this time while the river was of no use this road and bridge were
valuable. There is, too, a considerable portion of time when
floating or thin ice makes the river useless while the bridge is
as useful as ever. This shows that this bridge must be treated
with respect in this court and is not to be kicked about with
contempt. The other day Judge Wead alluded to the strike of the
contending interest and even a dissolution of the Union. The
proper mode for all parties in this affair is to 'live and let
live,' and then we will find a cessation of this trouble about
the bridge. What mood were the steamboat men in when this bridge
was burned? Why, there was a shouting and ringing of bells and
whistling on all the boats as it fell. It was a jubilee, a
greater celebration than follows an excited election. The first
thing I will proceed to is the record of Mr. Gurney and the
complaint of Judge Wead that the record did not extend back over
all the time from the completion of the bridge. The principal
part of the navigation after the bridge was burned passed through
the span. When the bridge was repaired and the boats were a
second time confined to the draw it was provided that this record
should be kept. That is the simple history of that book.

"From April 19th, 1856, to May 6th--seventeen days--there were
twenty accidents and all the time since then there have been but
twenty hits, including seven accidents, so that the dangers of
this place are tapering off and as the boatmen get cool the
accidents get less. We may soon expect if this ratio is kept up
that there will be no accidents at all.

"Judge Wead said, while admitting that the floats went straight
through, there was a difference between a float and a boat, but I
do not remember that he indulged us with an argument in support
of this statement. Is it because there is a difference in size?
Will not a small body and a large one float the same way under
the same influence? True a flatboat will float faster than an
egg shell and the egg shell might be blown away by the wind, but
if under the same influence they would go the same way. Logs,
floats, boards, various things the witnesses say all show the
same current. Then is not this test reliable? At all depths too
the direction of the current is the same. A series of these
floats would make a line as long as a boat and would show any
influence upon any part and all parts of the boat.

"I will now speak of the angular position of the piers. What is
the amount of the angle? The course of the river is a curve and
the pier is straight. If a line is produced from the upper end
of the long pier straight with the pier to a distance of 350
feet, and a line is drawn from a point in the channel opposite
this point to the head of the pier, Colonel Nason says they will
form an angle of twenty degrees. But the angle if measured at
the pier is seven degrees; that is, we would have to move the
pier seven degrees to make it exactly straight with the current.
Would that make the navigation better or worse? The witnesses of
the plaintiff seem to think it was only necessary to say that the
pier formed an angle with the current and that settled the
matter. Our more careful and accurate witnesses say that, though
they had been accustomed to seeing the piers placed straight with
the current, yet they could see that here the current had been
made straight by us in having made this slight angle; that the
water now runs just right, that it is straight and cannot be
improved. They think that if the pier was changed the eddy would
be divided and the navigation improved.

"I am not now going to discuss the question what is a material
obstruction. We do not greatly differ about the law. The cases
produced here are, I suppose, proper to be taken into
consideration by the court in instructing a jury. Some of them I
think are not exactly in point, but I am still willing to trust
his honor, Judge McLean, and take his instructions as law. What
is reasonable skill and care? This is a thing of which the jury
are to judge. I differ from the other side when it says that
they are bound to exercise no more care than was taken before the
building of the bridge. If we are allowed by the Legislature to
build the bridge which will require them to do more than before,
when a pilot comes along, it is unreasonable for him to dash on
heedless of this structure which has been legally put there. The
Afton came there on the 5th and lay at Rock Island until next
morning. When a boat lies up the pilot has a holiday, and would
not any of these jurors have then gone around to the bridge and
gotten acquainted with the place? Pilot Parker has shown here
that he does not understand the draw. I heard him say that the
fall from the head to the foot of the pier was four feet; he
needs information. He could have gone there that day and seen
there was no such fall. He should have discarded passion and the
chances are that he would have had no disaster at all. He was
bound to make himself acquainted with the place.

"McCammon says that the current and the swell coming from the
long pier drove her against the long pier. In other words drove
her toward the very pier from which the current came! It is an
absurdity, an impossibility. The only recollection I can find
for this contradiction is in a current which White says strikes
out from the long pier and then like a ram's horn turns back, and
this might have acted somehow in this manner.

"It is agreed by all that the plaintiff's boat was destroyed and
that it was destroyed upon the head of the short pier; that she
moved from the channel where she was with her bow above the head
of the long pier, till she struck the short one, swung around
under the bridge and there was crowded and destroyed.

"I shall try to prove that the average velocity of the current
through the draw with the boat in it should be five and a half
miles an hour; that it is slowest at the head of the pier and
swiftest at the foot of the pier. Their lowest estimate in
evidence is six miles an hour, their highest twelve miles. This
was the testimony of men who had made no experiment, only
conjecture. We have adopted the most exact means. The water
runs swiftest in high water and we have taken the point of nine
feet above low water. The water when the Afton was lost was
seven feet above low water, or at least a foot lower than our
time. Brayton and his assistants timed the instruments, the best
instruments known in measuring currents. They timed them under
various circumstances and they found the current five miles an
hour and no more. They found that the water at the upper end ran
slower than five miles; that below it was swifter than five
miles, but that the average was five miles. Shall men who have
taken no care, who conjecture, some of whom speak of twenty miles
an hour, be believed against those who have had such a favorable.
and well improved opportunity? They should not even qualify the
result. Several men have given their opinion as to the distance
of the steamboat Carson, and I suppose if one should go and
measure that distance you would believe him in preference to all
of them.

"These measurements were made when the boat was not in the draw.
It has been ascertained what is the area of the cross section of
this stream and the area of the face of the piers, and the
engineers say that the piers being put there will increase the
current proportionally as the space is decreased. So with the
boat in the draw. The depth of the channel was twenty-two feet,
the width one hundred and sixteen feet; multiply these and you
have the square-feet across the water of the draw, viz.: 2552
feet. The Afton was 35 feet wide and drew 5 feet, making a
fourteenth of the sum. Now, one-fourteenth of five miles is
five-fourteenths of one mile--about one third of a mile--the
increase of the current. We will call the current five and a
half miles per hour. The next thing I will try to prove is that
the plaintiff's (?) boat had power to run six miles an hour in
that current. It had been testified that she was a strong, swift
boat, able to run eight miles an hour up stream in a current of
four miles an hour, and fifteen miles down stream. Strike the
average and you will find what is her average--about eleven and a
half miles. Take the five and a half miles which is the speed of
the current in the draw and it leaves the power of that boat in
that draw at six miles an hour, 528 feet per minute and 8 4/5
feet to the second.

" Next I propose to show that there are no cross currents. I
know their witnesses say that there are cross currents--that, as
one witness says, there were three cross currents and two eddies;
so far as mere statement, without experiment, and mingled with
mistakes, can go, they have proved. But can these men's
testimony be compared with the nice, exact, thorough experiments
of our witnesses? Can you believe that these floats go across
the currents? It is inconceivable that they could not have
discovered every possible current. How do boats find currents
that floats cannot discover? We assume the position then that
those cross currents are not there. My next proposition is that
the Afton passed between the S. B. Carson and the Iowa shore.
That is undisputed.

"Next I shall show that she struck first the short pier, then the
long pier, then the short one again and there she stopped."
Mr. Lincoln then cited the testimony of eighteen witnesses on
this point.

"How did the boat strike when she went in? Here is an endless
variety of opinion. But ten of them say what pier she struck;
three of them testify that she struck first the short, then the
long and then the short for the last time. None of the rest
substantially contradict this. I assume that these men have got
the truth because I believe it an established fact. My next
proposition is that after she struck the short and long pier and
before she got back to the short pier the boat got right with her
bow up. So says the pilot Parker--that he got her through until
her starboard wheel passed the short pier. This would make her
head about even with the head of the long pier. He says her head
was as high or higher than the head of the long pier. Other
witnesses confirmed this one. The final stroke was in the splash
door aft the wheel. Witnesses differ, but the majority say that
she struck thus."

Court adjourned.

14th day, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 1857.

Mr. A. LINCOLN resumed. He said he should conclude as soon as
possible. He said the colored map of the plaintiff which was
brought in during one stage of the trial showed itself that the
cross currents alleged did not exist. That the current as
represented would drive an ascending boat to the long pier but
not to the short pier, as they urge. He explained from a model
of a boat where the splash door is, just behind the wheel. The
boat struck on the lower shoulder of the short pier as she swung
around in the splash door; then as she went on around she struck
the point or end of the pier, where she rested. "Her engineers,"
said Mr. Lincoln, "say the starboard wheel then was rushing
around rapidly. Then the boat must have struck the upper point
of the pier so far back as not to disturb the wheel. It is forty
feet from the stern of the Afton to the splash door, and thus it
appears that she had but forty feet to go to clear the pier. How
was it that the Afton with all her power flanked over from the
channel to the short pier without moving one foot ahead? Suppose
she was in the middle of the draw, her wheel would have been 31
feet from the short pier. The reason she went over thus is her
starboard wheel was not working. I shall try to establish the
fact that the wheel was not running and that after she struck she
went ahead strong on this same wheel. Upon the last point the
witnesses agree, that the starboard wheel was running after she
struck, and no witnesses say that it was running while she was
out in the draw flanking over."

Mr. Lincoln read from the testimonies of various witnesses to
prove that the starboard wheel was not working while the Afton
was out in the stream.

"Other witnesses show that the captain said something of the
machinery of the wheel, and the inference is that he knew the
wheel was not working. The fact is undisputed that she did not
move one inch ahead while she was moving this 31 feet sideways.
There is evidence proving that the current there is only five
miles an hour, and the only explanation is that her power was not
all used--that only one wheel was working. The pilot says he
ordered the engineers to back her up. The engineers differ from
him and said they kept on going ahead. The bow was so swung that
the current pressed it over; the pilot pressed the stern over
with the rudder, though not so fast but that the bow gained on
it, and only one wheel being in motion the boat nearly stood
still so far as motion up and down is concerned, and thus she was
thrown upon this pier. The Afton came into the draw after she
had just passed the Carson, and as the Carson no doubt kept the
true course the Afton going around her got out of the proper way,
got across the current into the eddy which is west of a straight
line drawn down from the long pier, was compelled to resort to
these changes of wheels, which she did not do with sufficient
adroitness to save her. Was it not her own fault that she
entered wrong, so far wrong that she never got right? Is the
defence to blame for that?

"For several days we were entertained with depositions about
boats 'smelling a bar.' Why did the Afton then, after she had
come up smelling so close to the long pier sheer off so
strangely. When she got to the centre of the very nose she was
smelling she seemed suddenly to have lost her sense of smell and
to have flanked over to the short pier."

Mr. Lincoln said there was no practicability in the project of
building a tunnel under the river, for there "is not a tunnel
that is a successful project in this world. A suspension bridge
cannot be built so high but that the chimneys of the boats will
grow up till they cannot pass. The steamboat men will take pains
to make them grow. The cars of a railroad cannot without immense
expense rise high enough to get even with a suspension bridge or
go low enough to get through a tunnel; such expense is

"The plaintiffs have to establish that the bridge is a material
obstruction and that they have managed their boat with reasonable
care and skill. As to the last point high winds have nothing to
do with it, for it was not a windy day. They must show due skill
and care. Difficulties going down stream will not do, for they
were going up stream. Difficulties with barges in tow have
nothing to do with the accident, for they had no barge. "Mr.
Lincoln said he had much more to say, many things he could
suggest to the jury, but he wished to close to save time.



BLOOMINGTON, Dec. 19, 1857.

J. M. Douglas of the I. C. R. R. Co. is here and will carry this
letter. He says they have a large sum (near $90,000) which they
will pay into the treasury now, if they have an assurance that
they shall not be sued before Jan., 1859--otherwise not.
I really wish you could consent to this. Douglas says they
cannot pay more, and I believe him.

I do not write this as a lawyer seeking an advantage for a
client; but only as a friend, only urging you to do what I think
I would do if I were in your situation. I mean this as private
and confidential only, but I feel a good deal of anxiety about

Yours as ever,



SPRINGFIELD, Jan. 19, 1858.

This morning Col. McClernand showed me a petition for a mandamus
against the Secretary of State to compel him to certify the
apportionment act of last session; and he says it will be
presented to the court to-morrow morning. We shall be allowed
three or four days to get up a return, and I, for one, want the
benefit of consultation with you.

Please come right up.

Yours as ever,



SPRINGFIELD, Feb 7, 1858

Yesterday morning the court overruled the demurrer to Hatches
return in the mandamus case. McClernand was present; said nothing
about pleading over; and so I suppose the matter is ended.

The court gave no reason for the decision; but Peck tells me
confidentially that they were unanimous in the opinion that even
if the Gov'r had signed the bill purposely, he had the right to
scratch his name off so long as the bill remained in his custody
and control.

Yours as ever,



SPRINGFIELD, December 18, 1857.


MY DEAR SIR:--Coming home from Bloomington last night I found
your letter of the 15th.

I know of no express statute or decisions as to what a J. P.
upon the expiration of his term shall do with his docket books,
papers, unfinished business, etc., but so far as I know, the
practice has been to hand over to the successor, and to cease to
do anything further whatever, in perfect analogo to Sections 110
and 112, and I have supposed and do suppose this is the law. I
think the successor may forthwith do whatever the retiring J. P.
might have done. As to the proviso to Section 114 I think it was
put in to cover possible cases, by way of caution, and not to
authorize the J. P. to go forward and finish up whatever might
have been begun by him.

The view I take, I believe, is the Common law principle, as to
retiring officers and their successors, to which I remember but
one exception, which is the case of Sheriff and ministerial
officers of that class.

I have not had time to examine this subject fully, but I have
great confidence I am right. You must not think of offering me
pay for this.

Mr. John O. Johnson is my friend; I gave your name to him. He is
doing the work of trying to get up a Republican organization. I
do not suppose "Long John" ever saw or heard of him. Let me say
to you confidentially, that I do not entirely appreciate what the
Republican papers of Chicago are so constantly saying against
"Long John." I consider those papers truly devoted to the
Republican cause, and not unfriendly to me; but I do think that
more of what they say against "Long John" is dictated by personal
malice than themselves are conscious of. We can not afford to
lose the services of "Long John" and I do believe the unrelenting
warfare made upon him is injuring our cause. I mean this to be

If you quietly co-operate with Mr. J. O. Johnson on getting up
an organization, I think it will be right.

Your friend as ever,





SPRINGFIELD, Feb.19, 1858.

Book of the day: