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

Speech at Manchester, New Hampshire [1]

March 1, 1860

One of the best points of his speech, (and this was among the first,) was the answer to the question---What will satisfy the demands of the South upon the subject of Slavery?---Simply this, said the speaker, we must not only let them alone, but we must convince them that we do let them alone. This is no easy task. In all our speeches, resolutions and platforms, we have constantly protested our purpose to let them alone; but it has had no tendency to convince them. Alike unavailing to convince them is the fact that they have never detected a man of us in any attempt to disturb them.

These natural, and apparently adequate means, all failing, what will convince them? This, and this only; cease to call slavery wrong, and join with them in calling it right. And this must be done thoroughly---we must place ourselves avowedly with them. Douglas's new sedition law must be enacted and enforced, suppressing all declarations that slavery is wrong, whether made in politics, in presses, in pulpits, or in private. We must arrest and return their fugitive slaves with greedy pleasure; we must pull down our Free State Constitutions, inasmuch as they declare the wrong of slavery with more solemn emphasis than do all other sayings against it. If we throw open the Free Territories to them, they will not be satisfied; we know this from past experience, as well as from present controversy.

Another point considered was the charge that the Republican party is sectional. The democracy say we are sectional because our party has no existence in the South. The fact is substantially true; but does it prove the issue? If it does, then in case we should, without change of principle, begin to get votes in that section, we should thereby cease to be sectional. You will soon find that we have ceased to be sectional, for we shall have votes in the South in the glorious year of 1860. Some of you delight to flaunt in our faces the warning against sectional parties given by Washington in his Farewell Address. Yet, less than eight years before Washington gave that warning, he had, as President of the United States, approved and signed an act of Congress, enforcing the prohibition of slavery in the North Western Territory, which act embodied thePage  552 policy of the government upon that subject up to, and at the very moment he penned that warning.

Again; the speaker showed that every one of the exciting questions upon slavery now before the country were thrown upon us by those very men who taunt the Republicans as being radical and sectional. We stick to, and contend for, the identical old policy which was adopted by the fathers of the Republic; you reject, and scout, and spit upon that old policy, and insist upon substituting something new. Some of you are for reviving the African slave trade; some for a congressional Slave Code for the Territories; some for Congress forbidding the Territories to prohibit slavery within their limits; some for maintaining slavery in the Territories through the Judiciary; and some for Popular Sovereignty principle, which means, if one man would enslave another, no third man should object. Not one of these various plans can show a precedent or an advocate in the century within which our government originated. Consider, then, who is conservative, your party, or ours. The speaker said, let us not be slandered from our duty by the false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government, nor of dungeons to ourselves.

Annotation

[1]   Manchester Daily American, March 2, 1860. This is the most adequate report of the speech available. Lincoln spoke at Concord, New Hampshire, in the afternoon and at Manchester at night, but no available newspaper report gives even a summary of the speech at Concord.