Fragment: Notes for Speeches

Abraham Lincoln

October 01, 1858

But there is a larger issue than the mere question of whether the spread of negro slavery shall or shall not be prohibited by Congress. That larger issue is stated by the Richmond “Enquirer,” a Buchanan paper in the South, in the language I now read. It is also stated by the New York “Day—book,” a Buchanan paper in the North, in this language.— And in relation to indigent white children, the same Northern paper says. — In support of the Nebraska bill, on its first discussion in the Senate, Senator Pettit of Indiana declared the equality of men, as asserted in our Declaration of Independence, to be a “self—evident lie.” In his numerous speeches now being made in Illinois, Senator Douglas regularly argues against the doctrine of the equality of all men; and while he does not draw the conclusion that the superiors ought to enslave the inferiors, he evidently wishes his hearers to draw that conclusion. He shirks the responsibility of pulling the house down, but he digs under it that it may fall of its own weight. Now, it is impossible to not see that these newspapers and senators are laboring at a common objective, and in doing so are truly representing the controlling sentiment of their party.

It is equally important to not see that that common object is to subvert, in the public mind, and in practical administration, our old and only standard of free government, that “all men are created equal,” and to substitute for it some different standard. What that substitute is to be is not difficult to perceive. It is to deny the equality of men, and to assert the natural, moral, and religious right of one class to enslave another.

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