Abraham Lincoln (18091865). Political Debates Between Lincoln and Douglas 1897.
But I wish to invite your attention to the chief points at issue between Mr. Lincoln and myself in this discussion. Mr. Lincoln knowing that he was to be candidate of his party on account of the arrangement of which I have already spoken, knowing that he was to receive the nomination of the Convention for the United States Senate, had his speech, accepting that nomination, all written and committed to memory, ready to be delivered the moment the nomination was announced. Accordingly, when it was made, he was in readiness, and delivered his speech, a portion of which I will read, in order that I may state his political principles fairly, by repeating them in his own language:
We are now far into the fifth year since a policy was instituted for the avowed object and with the confident promise of putting an end to slavery agitation; under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only not ceased, but has constantly augmented. I believe it will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this Government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved, I do not expect the house to fall; but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction, or its advocates will push it forward until it shall become alike lawful in all the States, North as well as South.
There you have Mr. Lincolns first and main proposition, upon which he bases his claims, stated in his own language. He tells you that this Republic cannot endure permanently divided into Slave and Free States, as our fathers made it. He says that they must all become free or all become slave, that they must all be one thing or all be the other, or this Government cannot last. Why can it not last, if we will execute the Government in the same spirit and upon the same principles upon which it is founded? Lincoln, by his proposition, says to the South: If you desire to maintain your institutions as they are now, you must not be satisfied with minding your own business, but you must invade Illinois and all the other Northern States, establish slavery in them, and make it universal; and in the same language