Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 3.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

Second Speech at Leavenworth, Kansas [1]

December 5, 1859

Mr. Lincoln opened by reviewing the Territorial policy of our Government at the start, proving conclusively that it was in favor of liberty and was ever so exerted except in some of the Southern States where slavery existed by municipal law or was made a distinctive feature of the articles of cession. But where these causes were not there was freedom proclaimed.

The Fathers did not seek to interfere with slavery where it existed but to prevent its extension. This was the policy of the Republican party of to-day.

Page  503The divisions of sentiment in the Democratic party in regard to slavery were flimsy and immaterial. The most advanced element could boast of no higher sentiment than an indifference to the peculiar institution. No part of the Democracy ever declared slavery wrong in itself; and they reached a sublime height when they said they didn't care whether it was voted up or voted down.

This indifference was all the slave-power could ask. It was a virtual recognition of the right of slavery to universal extension.

If a house was on fire there could be but two parties. One in favor of putting out the fire. Another in favor of the house burning. But these popular sovereignty fellows would stand aloof and argue against interfering. The house must take care of itself subject only to the constitution and the conditions of fire and wood.

The speaker alluded, with much force and wit, to the great line (which we are assured by Senator Douglas was ordained of God) on one side of which slave-labor alone could be employed---on the other free-labor. Thought the Missouri River might be the line referred to. If the line was ordained of God it ought to be plain and palpable, but he had never been able to put his finger upon it.

The attempt to identify the Republican party with the John Brown business was an electioneering dodge. Was glad to know that the Democracy underrated the good sense of the people as the great Republican victories in New York, New Jersey, Minnesota and Iowa---where the argument was brought out with extraordinary emphasis---clearly demonstrated. In Brown's hatred of slavery the speaker sympathized with him. But Brown's insurrectionary attempt he emphatically denounced. He believed the old man insane, and had yet to find the first Republican who endorsed the proposed insurrection. If there was one he would advise him to step out of the ranks and correct his politics. But slavery was responsible for their uprisings. They were fostered by the institution. In 1830-31, the slaves themselves arose and killed fifty-eight whites in a single night. These servile upheavings must be continually occurring where slavery exists.

The democracy was constituted of two great elements. First. The original and unadulterated Democrats. Second. The Old line and eminently conservative Whigs. This incongruous party was ever charging the Republicans with favoring negro suffrage, sustaining this charge by instancing the two Republican States of Massachusetts and New Hampshire where negroes are allowed to vote. But it so happens that the law conferring this franchise was enacted by the Old Whigs in Massachusetts and the Democrats in New Hampshire. Kansas was the only State where the Republicans had thePage  504 framing of the organic law and here they confined the elective franchise to the white man alone.

Mr. Lincoln said that, in political arguments, the Democracy turned up their noses at ``amalgamation.'' But while there were only one hundred and seventy-nine mulattoes in the Republican State of New Hampshire, there were seventy-nine thousand in the good old Democratic State of Virginia---and the only notable instance of the amalgamation that occurred to him was in the case of a Democratic Vice President.

Mr. Lincoln wanted the races kept distinct. Because he did not wish to hold a negro woman as a slave it did not follow that he wanted her for a wife. Such flimsy diatribes were perpetrated by the Democracy to divert the public mind from the real issue---the extension or the non-extension of slavery---its localization or its nationalization.

Mr. Lincoln closed by a clear and forcible definition of the aims and the principles of the Republican party. He showed how they harmonized with the teachings of those by whom the Government was founded and how their predominance was ``essential to the proper development of our country---its progress and its glory---to the salvation of the Union and the perpetuity of Free Institutions.''

Annotation

[1]   Leavenworth Times, December 6, 1859.