Nonfiction > Abraham Lincoln > Political Debates Between Lincoln and Douglas > Page 472
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Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865).  Political Debates Between Lincoln and Douglas  1897.
 
Page 472
 
 
position in relation to that matter, I supposed we should again have peace as we previously had. I assured him, as I now assure you, that I neither then had, nor have, or ever had, any purpose in any way of interfering with the institution of slavery, where it exists. I believe we have no power, under the Constitution of the United States, or rather under the form of Government under which we live, to interfere with the institution of slavery, or any other of the institutions of our sister States, be they Free or Slave States. I declared then, and I now redeclare, that I have as little inclination to interfere with the institution of slavery where it now exists, through the instrumentality of the General Government, or any other instrumentality, as I believe we have no power to do so. I accidentally used this expression: I had no purpose of entering into the Slave States to disturb the institution of slavery! So, upon the first occasion that Judge Douglas got an opportunity to reply to me, he passed by the whole body of what I had said upon that subject, and seized upon the particular expression of mine that I had no purpose of entering into the Slave States to disturb the institution of slavery. “Oh, no,” said he, “he [Lincoln] won’t enter into the Slave States to disturb the institution of slavery,—he is too prudent a man to do such a thing as that; he only means that he will go on to the line between the Free and Slave States, and shoot over at them. This is all he means to do. He means to do them all the harm he can, to disturb them all he can, in such a way as to keep his own hide in perfect safety.”  6
  Well, now, I did not think, at that time, that that was either a very dignified or very logical argument; but so it was, I had to get along with it as well as I could.  7
  It has occurred to me here to-night that if I ever do shoot over the line at the people on the other side of the line into a Slave State, and purpose to do so, keeping my skin safe, that I have now about the best chance I shall ever have. I should not wonder that there are some Kentuckians about this audience; we are close to Kentucky; and whether that be so or not, we are on elevated ground, and, by speaking distinctly, I should not wonder if some of the Kentuckians would hear me on the other side of the river. For that reason I propose to address a portion of what I have to say to the Kentuckians.  8
 

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