Abraham Lincoln (18091865). Political Debates Between Lincoln and Douglas 1897.
refrain from interfering with the domestic institutions and regulations of other States, permit the Territories and new States to decide their institutions for themselves, as we did when we were in their condition; blot out these lines of North and South, and resort back to these lines of State boundaries which the Constitution has marked out, and engraved upon the face of the country; have no other dividing lines but these, and we will be one united, harmonious people, with fraternal feelings, and no discord or dissension.
These are my views, and these are the principles to which I have devoted all my energies since 1850, when I acted side by side with the immortal Clay and the god-like Webster in that memorable struggle in which Whigs and Democrats united upon a common platform of patriotism and the Constitution, throwing aside partisan feelings in order to restore peace and harmony to a distracted country. And when I stood beside the death-bed of Mr. Clay, and heard him refer with feelings and emotions of the deepest solicitude to the welfare of the country, and saw that he looked upon the principle embodied in the great Compromise measures of 1850, the principle of the Nebraska bill, the doctrine of leaving each State and Territory free to decide its institutions for itself, as the only means by which the peace of the country could be preserved and the Union perpetuated,I pledged him, on that death-bed of his, that so long as I lived my energies should be devoted to the vindication of that principle, and of his fame as connected with it. I gave the same pledge to the great expounder of the Constitution, he who has been called the god-like Webster. I looked up to Clay and him as a son would to a father, and I call upon the people of Illinois, and the people of the whole Union, to bear testimony, that never since the sod has been laid upon the graves of these eminent statesmen have I failed, on any occasion, to vindicate the principle with which the last great, crowning acts of their lives were identified, or to vindicate their names whenever they have been assailed; and now my life and energy are devoted to this great work as the means of preserving this Union. This Union can only be preserved by maintaining the fraternal feeling between the North and the South, the East and the West. If that good feeling can be preserved, the Union will be as perpetual