Abraham Lincoln (18091865). Political Debates Between Lincoln and Douglas 1897.
negro their equal, and that he has a right to come and kill their vote by a negro vote, they have a right to think so, I suppose, and I have no disposition to interfere with them. Then, again, passing over to New York, we find in that State they have provided that a negro may vote provided he holds $250 worth of property, but that he shall not unless he does; that is to say, they will allow a negro to vote if he is rich, but a poor fellow they will not allow to vote. In New York they think a rich negro is equal to a white man. Well, that is a matter of taste with them. If they think so in that State, and do not carry the doctrine outside of it and propose to interfere with us, I have no quarrel to make with them. It is their business. There is a great deal of philosophy and good sense in a saying of Fridley of Kane. Fridley had a lawsuit before a justice of the peace, and the justice decided it against him. This he did not like, and standing up and looking at the justice for a moment, Well, Squire, said he, if a man chooses to make a darnation fool of himself I suppose there is no law against it. That is all I have to say about these negro regulations and this negro voting in other States where they have systems different from ours. If it is their wish to have it so, be it so. There is no cause to complain. Kentucky has decided that it is not consistent with her safety and her prosperity to allow a negro to have either political rights or his freedom, and hence she makes him a slave. That is her business, not mine. It is her right under the Constitution of the country. The sovereignty of Kentucky, and that alone, can decide that question, and when she decides it there is no power on earth to which you can appeal to reverse it. Therefore, leave Kentucky as the Constitution has left her, a sovereign, independent State, with the exclusive right to have slavery or not, as she chooses, and so long as I hold power I will maintain and defend her rights against any assaults from whatever quarter they may come.
I will never stop to inquire whether I approve or disapprove of the domestic institutions of a State. I maintain her sovereign rights. I defend her sovereignty from all assault, in the hope that she will join in defending us when we are assailed by any outside power. How are we to protect out sovereign rights to every other State to decide the question for itself. Let Kentucky,