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OF THE UNION.
MANY of the utterances of Lin
coln, both public and private, before and after he became President, and many of his more important public acts, can be better understood after accepting his own repeated assertions of his singleness of purpose. The very breadth of his perception of the nation's need and the unswerving character of his own determination, prevented his resulting policy from being either comprehended or approved by a multitude composed of both his friends and his enemies. Eager and enthusiastic men, some of them of great ability, felt sure and freely declared that they would do differently, that
is, better, if they were in his place. It is interesting, therefore, at this distance of time, to look back and see how much of his success in contending with manifold obstacles, was due to the fact that he never allowed himself to lose sight, for a moment, of the one paramount duty imposed upon him, the perpetuation of American nationality in its integrity. To this all other things, including the lives of men, white or black, the accustomed forms of statutory law, and even the apparently rigid barriers of the written Constitution, must be regarded as secondary. It is now almost evident that if he had thought and acted otherwise, success would have been impossible. For instance, if he had allowed himself to place the abolition of slavery first, serving a part instead of the whole, then the whole would have been lost, slavery
would not have been abolished and the result of the civil war would not have been what it now is, a permanent and forever increasing good to the people of the entire Union, to the South even than to the North.
SPEECH AT SPRINGFIELD, ILLS., JUNE
17, 1858. “In my opinion it (the agitation of the slavery question) will not cease until a crisis has been reached and passed. 'A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this Government cannot endure permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved; I do not expect the house to fall; but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread
of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in process of ultimate extinction ; or its advocates will push it forward till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new, North as well as South."
REPLY TO MAYOR WOOD, NEW YORK,
“There is nothing that could ever bring me to consent—willingly to consent-to the destruction of this Union, unless it would be that thing for which the Union was made. I understand that the ship is made for the carrying and preservation of the cargo; and so long as the ship is safe, with the cargo, it shall not be abandoned. This Union shall never be abandoned, unless the possibility of its existence shall cease to exist, without the necessity of throwing the passengers and
cargo overboard. So long, then, as it is possible that the prosperity and liberties of this people can be preserved within this Union, it shall be my purpose at all times to preserve
INAUGURAL ADDRESS, 1861. “I hold that, in contemplation of universal law, and of the Constitution, the Union of these States is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all National Governments. It is safe to assert that no government proper ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination. Continue to execute all the express provisions of our National Government, and the Union will endure forever-it being impossible to destroy it, except by some action not provided for in the instrument itself."