Nonfiction > Abraham Lincoln > Political Debates Between Lincoln and Douglas > Page 86
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Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865).  Political Debates Between Lincoln and Douglas  1897.
 
Page 86
 
 
liberty throughout the world depend upon the perpetuity of the American Union. But while I believe that my mode of preserving the Union is a very different one from that of Mr. Lincoln, I believe that the Union can only be preserved by maintaining inviolate the Constitution of the United States as our fathers have made it. That Constitution guarantees to the people of every State the right to have slavery or not have it; to have negroes or not have them; to have Maine liquor laws or not have them; to have just such institutions as they choose, each State being left free to decide for itself. The framers of that Constitution never conceived the idea that uniformity in the domestic institutions of the different States was either desirable or possible. They well understood that the laws and institutions which would be well adapted to the granite hills of New Hampshire, would be unfit for the rice plantations of South Carolina; they well understood that each one of the thirteen States had distinct and separate interests, and required distinct and separate local laws and local institutions. And in view of that fact they provided that each State should retain its sovereign power within its own limits, with the right to make just such laws and just such institutions as it saw proper, under the belief that no two of them would be alike. If they had supposed that uniformity was desirable and possible, why did they provide for a separate Legislature for each State? Why did they not blot out State sovereignty and State Legislatures, and give all the power to Congress, in order that the laws might be uniform? For the very reason that uniformity, in their opinion, was neither desirable nor possible. We have increased from thirteen States to thirty-two States, and just in proportion as the number of States increases and our territory expands, there will be a still greater variety and dissimilarity of climate, of production and of interest, requiring a corresponding dissimilarity and variety in the local laws and institutions adapted thereto. The laws that are necessary in the mining regions of California, would be totally useless and vicious on the prairies of Illinois; the laws that would suit the lumber regions of Maine or of Minnesota, would be totally useless and valueless in the tobacco regions of Virginia and Kentucky; the laws which would suit the manufacturing districts of New England, would be
 

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