This Government is expressly charged with the duty of providing for the general welfare. We believe that the spreading out and perpetuity of the institution of slavery impairs the general welfare. We believe—nay, we know, that this is the only thing that has ever threatened the perpetuity of the Union itself....
[Sidenote] Lincoln Cincinnati Speech,
Sept. 17, 1859. Debates, pp.
I say we must not interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists, because the Constitution forbids it, and the general welfare does not require us to do so. We must not withhold an efficient fugitive-slave law, because the Constitution requires us, as I understand it, not to withhold such a law. But we must prevent the outspreading of the institution, because neither the Constitution nor the general welfare requires us to extend it. We must prevent the revival of the African slave trade, and the enacting by Congress of a Territorial slave code. We must prevent each of these things being done by either congresses or courts. The people of these United States are the rightful masters of both congresses and courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.
[Sidenote] Parsons and others to Lincoln,
Dec. 7, 1859. Debates,
The Ohio Republicans gained a decided success at the October election. Ascribing this result in a large measure to the influence of Lincoln’s speeches, the State Executive Committee resolved to publish in cheap book form the full Illinois joint debates and the two Ohio addresses, to serve as campaign material for the ensuing year. “We regard them,” wrote the committee to Lincoln, “as luminous and triumphant expositions of the doctrines of the Republican party, successfully vindicated from the aspersions of its foes, and calculated to make a document of great practical service to the Republican party in the approaching Presidential contest.”
[Sidenote] Lincoln to Parsons and others, Dec. 19, 1859. Ibid.
Lincoln, thanking them for the flattering terms of their request, explained in his reply: “The copies I send you, are as reported and printed by the respective friends of Senator Douglas and myself at the time—that is, his by his friends, and mine by mine. It would be an unwarrantable liberty for us to change a word or a letter in his, and the changes I have made in mine, you perceive, are verbal only, and very few in number. I wish the reprint to be precisely as the copies I send, without any comment whatever.”