Abraham Lincoln (18091865). Political Debates Between Lincoln and Douglas 1897.
invites, by his proposition, a war of sections, a war between Illinois and Kentucky, a war between the Free States and the Slave States, a war between the North and the South, for the purpose of either exterminating slavery in every Southern State, or planting it in every Northern State. He tells you that the safety of this Republic, that the existence of this Union, depends upon that warfare being carried on until one section or the other shall be entirely subdued. The States must all be free or slave, for a house divided against itself cannot stand. That is Mr. Lincolns argument upon that question. My friends, is it possible to preserve peace between the North and the South if such a doctrine shall prevail in either section of the Union? Will you ever submit to a warfare waged by the Southern States to establish slavery in Illinois? What man in Illinois would not lose the last drop of his hearts blood before he would submit to the institution of slavery being forced upon us by the other States, against our will? And if that be true of us, what Southern man would not shed the last drop of his hearts blood to prevent Illinois, or any other Northern State, from interfering to abolish slavery in his State? Each of these States is sovereign under the Constitution; and if we wish to preserve our liberties, the reserved rights and sovereignty of each and every State must be maintained. I have said on a former occasion, and I here repeat, that it is neither desirable nor possible to establish uniformity in the local and domestic institutions of all the States of this confederacy. And why? Because the Constitution of the United States rests upon the right of every State to decide all its local and domestic institutions for itself. It is not possible, therefore, to make them conform to each other unless we subvert the Constitution of the United States. No, sir, that cannot be done. God forbid that any man should ever make the attempt. Let that Constitution ever be trodden under foot and destroyed, and there will not be wisdom and patriotism enough left to make another that will work half so well. Our safety, our liberty, depend upon preserving the Constitution of the United States as our fathers made it, inviolate, at the same time maintaining the reserved rights and the sovereignty of each State over its local and domestic institutions, against Federal authority, or any outside interference.