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

To Nathan Sargent [1]

Hon. Nathan Sargent. Springfield, Ills.
My dear Sir June 23, 1859

Your very acceptable letter of the 13th. was duly received. Of course I would be pleased to see all the elements of opposition united for the approaching contest of 1860; but I confess I have not much hope of seeing it. You state a platform for such union in these words ``Opposition to the opening of the Slave-trade; & eternal hostility to the rotten democracy.'' You add, by way of comment ``I say, if the republicans would be content with this, there will be no obstacle to a union of the opposition. But this should be distinctly understood, before Southern men are asked to join them in a National convention'' Well, I say such a platform, unanamously adopted by a National convention, with two of the best men living placed upon it as candidates, would probably carry Maryland, and would certainly not carry a single other state. It would gain nothing in the South, and lose every thing in the North. Mr. Goggin [2] has just been beaten in Virginia on just such a platform. Last year the Republicans of Illinois cast 125-000 votes; on such a platform as yours they can not cast as many by 50.000. You could not help perceiving this, if you would but reflect that the republican party is utterly pow[er]less everywhere, if it will, by any means, drive from it all those who came to it from the democracy for the solePage  388 object of preventing the spread, and nationalization of slavery. Whenever this object is waived by the organization, they will drop the organization; and the organization itself will dissolve into thin air. Your platform proposes to allow the spread, and nationalization of slavery to proceed without let or hindrance, save only that it shall not receive supplies directly from Africa. Surely you do not seriously believe the Republicans can come to any such terms.

From the passage of the Nebraska-bill up to date, the Southern opposition have constantly sought to gain an advantage over the rotten democcracy, by running ahead of them in extreme opposition to, and vilifacation and misrepresentation of black republicans. It will be a good deal, if we fail to remember this in malice, (as I hope we shall fail to remember it;) but it is altogether too much to ask us to try to stand with them on the platform which has proved altogether insufficient to sustain them alone.

If the rotten democracy shall be beaten in 1860, it has to be done by the North; no human invention can deprive them of the South. I do not deny that there are as good men in the South as the North; and I guess we will elect one of them if he will allow us to do so on Republican ground. I think there can be no other ground of Union. For my single self I would be willing to risk some Southern men without a platform; but I am satisfied that is not the case with the Republican party generally. Yours very truly



[1]   ALS-F, ISLA. Nathan Sargent was an old Whig at Washington, D.C., who had served as sergeant at arms of the House of Representatives during Lincoln's term in Congress.

[2]   William L. Goggin, Whig candidate for governor of Virginia.