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The partial reading I have already given it has afforded me much of both pleasure and instruction. It was new to me that the exact question which led to the Missouri Compromise had arisen before it arose in regard to Missouri, and that you had taken so prominent a part in it. Your short but able and patriotic speech on that occasion has not been improved upon since by those holding the same views; and with all the light you then had, the views you took appear to me as very reasonable.
You are not a friend of slavery in the abstract. In that speech you spoke of the "peaceful extinction of slavery," and used other expressions indicating your belief that the thing was, at some time, to have an end. Since then we have had thirty-six years of experience; and this experience has demonstrated, I think, that there is no peaceful extinction of slavery in prospect for us.
The signal failure of Henry Clay and other good and great men, in 1849, to effect anything in favor of a gradual emancipation in Kentucky, together with a thousand other signs, extinguished that hope utterly. On the question of liberty, as a principle, we are not what we have been.
When we were the political slaves of King George, and wanted to be free, we called the maxim that "all men are created equal" a self-evident truth, but now, when we have grown fat, and have lost all dread of being slaves ourselves, we have become so greedy to be masters that we call the same maxim a "self-evident lie." The Fourth of July has not quite dwindled away; it is still a great day for burning firecrackers!
That spirit which desired the peaceful extinction of
slavery has itself become extinct with the occasion and the men of the Revolution. Under the impulse of that occasion, nearly half the States adopted systems of emancipation at once; and it is a significant fact that not a single State has done the like since.
So far as peaceful, voluntary emancipation is concerned, the condition of the negro slave in America, scarcely less terrible to the contemplation of a free mind, is now as fixed and hopeless of change for the better as that of the lost souls of the finally impenitent. The Autocrat of all the Russians will resign his crown and proclaim his subjects free republicans sooner than will our American masters voluntarily give up their slaves.
Our political problem now is, "Can we, as a nation, continue together permanently-forever-half slave and half free?"
The problem is too mighty for me. May God, in His mercy, superintend the solution.
Your much obliged friend, and humble servant,
Springfield, Ill., April 6, 1859.
Gentlemen: Your kind note inviting me to attend a festival in Boston on the 13th instant, in honor of the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, was duly received. My engagements are such that I cannot attend.
The Democracy of to-day hold the liberty of one man to be absolutely nothing, when in conflict with another man's right of property. Republicans, on the contrary, are both for the man and the dollar, but, in case of conflict, the man before the dollar.
I remember once being much amused at seeing two partially intoxicated men engaged in a fight with their
great-coats on, which fight, after a long and rather harmless contest, ended in each having fought himself out of his own coat, and into that of the other. If the two leading parties of this day are really identical with the two in the days of Jefferson and Adams, they have performed the same feat as the two drunken men.
But, soberly, it is now no child's play to save the principles of Jefferson from total overthrow in this nation. . . This is a world of compensations; and he who would be no slave must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, cannot long retain it.
All honor to Jefferson; to a man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to embalm it there that to-day and in all coming days it shall be a rebuke and stumbling-block to the harbingers of reappearing tyranny and oppression. Your obedient servant,
Messrs. H. L. Pierce, and others, etc.
LINCOLN'S FIRST LETTER OF ACCEPTANCE.
Springfield, Ill., May 25, 1860. Hon. George Ashman, President of the Republican National Convention.
Sir: I accept the nomination tendered me by the Convention over which you preside, and of which I am formally apprised in the letter of yourself and others,
acting as a committee of the Convention for that purpose.
The declaration of principles and sentiments, which accompanies your letter, meets my approval; and it shall be my care not to violate or disregard it in any part. Imploring the assistance of Divine Providence, and with due regard to the views and feelings of all who were represented in the Convention; to the rights of all the States and Territories and people of the nation; to the inviolability of the Constitution; and the perpetual union, harmony and prosperity of all, I am now happy to co-operate for the practical success of the principles declared by the Convention. Your obliged friend, and fellow citizen,
MR. LINCOLN'S REPLY TO THE POET, BRYANT.
Springfield, Ill., June 28, 1860.
Please accept my thanks for the honor done me by your kind letter of the 16th. I appreciate the danger against which you would guard me; nor am I wanting in the purpose to avoid it. I thank you for the additional strength your words give me to maintain that purpose. Your friend and servant,
LETTER TO GENERAL DUFF GREEN.
Gen. Duff Green.
Springfield, Ill., Dec. 28, 1860.
My Dear Sir: I do not desire any amendment of the Constitution. Recognizing, however, that questions of such amendment rightfully belong to the American people, I should not feel justified nor inclined to with
hold from them, if I could, a fair opportunity of expressing their will thereon through either of the modes prescribed in the instrument.
In addition, I declare that the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each State, to order and control its own domestic institutions, according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to the balance of powers on which the per fection and endurance of our political fabric depend; and I denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter under what protest, as the gravest of crimes.
I am greatly averse to writing anything for the public at this time; and I consent to the publication of this only upon the condition that six of the twelve United States Senators for the States of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, and Texas shall sign their names to what is written on this sheet, below my name, and allow the whole to be published together. Yours truly,
MR. LINCOLN'S FIRST PUBLIC LETTER AFTER HIS
Springfield, Ill., Jan. 28, 1861. Messrs. R. A. Cameron, Walter Marsh, and D. C. Branham, Committee.
Gentlemen: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt by your hands of a copy of a joint resolution adopted by the Legislature of the State of Indiana, on the 15th instant, inviting me to visit that honorable body on my way to the Federal Capital.