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VERY soon after the outbreak of
the civil war, the entire American people discovered, with more or less individual astonishment, that their form of government contained powers not ordinarily exercised, the operation of which they had never before experienced. There was
a prompt and altogether righteous inquiry into the source and nature of these powers. Following this was a well founded and very general anxiety lest, after their temporary exercise in a war emergency, there might not be a perfect return to their old time quies
cent state, leaving the liberties of the people permanently unabridged
in time of peace.
There were stormy, acrimonious protests against every unaccustomed restriction of individual freedom, even for war purposes, and the political opposition to the Lincoln administration assumed a watchful censorship. On the other hand, Lincoln himself asserted his own position and purpose as the constitutionally appointed guardian of all the rights and liberties affected by the temporary exercise of the special powers in his hands. Not only his official acts but his repeated utterances were a sufficient preventive of injurious consequences which might otherwise have been produced. He watched against the supposed peril more jealously than did even his critics themselves, and, long before the end, the public mind rested,
satisfied that their treasure of personal liberty was safe in his keeping.
LECTURE, AT SPRINGFIELD, ILLS.,
JAN. 27, 1837. " I know the American people are much attached to their government. I know they would suffer much for its sake. I know they would endure evils, long and patiently, before they would ever think of changing it for another. Yet, notwithstanding all this, if the laws be continually despised and disregarded ; if their rights to be secure in their persons and property are held by no better tenure than the caprice of a mob, the alienation of their affections from the government is the natural consequence, and to that, sooner or later, it must
There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob. law."
SPEECH AT ALTON, ILLS., OCT. 15, 1858.
“It is a general declaration in the act announcing to the world the independence of the thirteen American Colonies, that all created equal.
Now, as an abstract principle, there is no doubt of the truth of that declaration; and it is desirable, in the original organization of society, and in organized societies, to keep it in view as a great, fundamental principle. But then, I apprehend that in no society that ever did exist, or ever shall be formed, was or can the equality asserted be practically enforced and carried out.”
SPEECH AT PEORIA, ILLS. OCT. 17, 1858.
“What I do say is, that no man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent."
SPEECH AT LEWISTON, AUG. 17, 1858.
“This (the Declaration of Independence) was their lofty and noble and wise understanding of the justice of the Creator to his creatures, -to all his creatures, to the whole, great family of man. In their enlightened belief, nothing stamped with the Divine image was sent into the world to be trodden degraded, and imbruted, by its fellows. They grasped not only the whole race of men then living, but they reached forward and seized upon the remotest posterity. So that no
man should hereafter dare to limit and circumscribe the great principles upon which the temple of liberty was being built."
SPEECH AT PEORIA, ILLS., OCT. 17, 1858.
“ That is the real issue. It is the eternal struggle between these two principles, - right and