Page images



[THE following speech is here republished, with the insertion of Mr. Lincoln's views upon labor, and the ability of the laborer to become an employer. These were omitted in the first report, and the passages are supplied by the reporter for the present work.]

MY FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE STATE OF OHIO: This is the first time in my life that I have appeared before an audience in so great a city as this. I therefore— though I am no longer a young man-make this appearance under some degree of embarrassment. But I have found that when one is embarrassed, usually the shortest way to get through with it is to quit talking or thinking about it, and go at something else.

I understand that you have had recently with you my very distinguished friend, Judge Douglas, of Illinois, and I understand, without having had an opportunity (not) greatly sought to be sure) of seeing a report of the speech that he made here, that he did me the honor to mention my humble name. I suppose that he did so for the purpose of making some objection to some sentiment at some time expressed by me. I should expect, I should expect, it is true, that Judge Douglas had reminded you, or informed you, if you had never before heard it, that I had once in my life

declared it as my opinion that this Government can not "endure permanently half slave and half free; that a house divided against itself can not stand," and, as I had expressed it, I did not expect the house to fall; that I did not expect the Union to be dissolved; but that I did expect that it would cease to be divided; that it would become all one thing or all the other; that either the opposition of slavery would arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind would rest in the belief that it was in the course of ultimate extinction; or the friends of slavery will push it forward until it becomes alike lawful in all the states, old or new, free as well as slave. I did, fifteen months ago, express that opinion, and upon many occasions Judge Douglas has denounced it, and has greatly, intentionally or unintentionally, misrepresented my purpose in the expression of that opinion.

I presume, without having seen a report of his speech, that he did so here. I presume that he alluded also to that opinion, in different language, having been expressed at a subsequent time by Governor Seward of New York, and that he took the two in a lump and denounced them; that he tried to point out that there was something couched in this opinion which led to the making of an entire uniformity of the local institutions of the various states of the Union, in utter disregard of the different states, which in their nature would seem to require a variety of institutions, and a variety of laws, conforming to the differences in the nature of the different states.

Not only so; I presume he insisted that this was a declaration of war between the free and slave statesthat it was the sounding to the onset of continual war between the different states, the slave and free states.

This charge, in this form, was made by Judge Doug

las on, I believe, the 9th of July, 1858, in Chicago, in my hearing. On the next evening, I made some reply to it. I informed him that many of the inferences he drew from that expression of mine were altogether foreign to any purpose entertained by me, and in so far as he should ascribe these inferences to me, as my purpose, he was entirely mistaken; and in so far as he might argue that whatever might be my purpose, actions conforming to my views would lead to these results, he might argue and establish if he could; but, so far as purposes were concerned, he was totally mistaken as to


When I made that reply to him-when I told him, on the question of declaring war between the different states. of the Union, that I had not said that I did not expect any peace upon this question until slavery was exterminated; that I had only said I expected peace when that institution was put where the public mind should rest in the belief that it was in course of ultimate extinction; that I believed from the organization of our Government, until a very recent period of time, the institution had been placed and continued upon such a basis; that we had had comparative peace upon that question through a portion of that period of time, only because the public mind rested in that belief in regard to it, and that when we returned to that position in relation to that matter, I supposed we should again have peace as we previously had. I assured him, as I now assure you, that I neither. then had, nor have, or ever had, any purpose in any way of interfering with the institution of slavery, where it exists. I believe we have no power, under the Constitution of the United States; or rather under the form of Government under which we live, to interfere with the institution of slavery, or any other of the institutions of

our sister states, be they free or slave states. I declared then, and I now redeclare, that I have as little inclination to interfere with the institution of slavery, where it now exists, through the instrumentality of the General Government, or any other instrumentality, as I believe we have no power to do so.

I accidentally used this expression: I had no purpose of entering into the slave states to disturb the institution of slavery! So, upon the first occasion that Judge Douglas got an opportunity to reply to me, he passed by the whole body of what I had said upon that subject, and seized upon the particular expression of mine, that I had no purpose of entering into the slave states to disturb the institution of slavery. "O, no," said he, "he (Lincoln) won't enter into the slave states to disturb the institution of slavery; he is too prudent a man to do such a thing as that; he only means that he will go on to the line between the free and slave states, and shoot over at them. This is all he means to do. He means to do them all the harm he can, to disturb them all he can, in such a way as to keep his own hide in perfect safety."

Well, now, I did not think, at that time, that that was either a very dignified or very logical argument; but so it was, I had to get along with it as well as I could.

It has occurred to me here to-night, that if I ever do shoot over the line at the people on the other side of the line into a slave state, and purpose to do so, keeping my skin safe, that I have now about the best chance I shall ever have. I should not wonder that there are some Kentuckians about this audience; we are close to Kentucky; and whether that be so or not, we are on elevated ground, and by speaking distinctly, I should not wonder

« PreviousContinue »