Abraham Lincoln, a History — Volume 02 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 452 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, a History — Volume 02.
to the plain, unmistakable language of the Declaration.
I think the authors of that notable instrument intended to include all men; but they did not intend to declare all men equal in all respects.  They did not mean to say all were equal in color, size, intellect, moral development, or social capacity.  They defined with tolerable distinctness in what respects they did consider all men created equal—­equal with “certain inalienable rights, among which, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  This they said, and this they meant.  They did not mean to assert the obvious untruth that all were then actually enjoying that equality, nor yet that they were about to confer it immediately upon them.  In fact they had no power to confer such a boon.  They meant simply to declare the right, so that the enforcement of it might follow as fast as circumstances should permit.  They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society, which should be familiar to all, and revered by all; constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence and augmenting; the happiness and value of life to all people of all colors everywhere.  The assertion that “all men are created equal” was of no practical use in effecting our separation from Great Britain; and it was placed in the Declaration, not for that but for future use.  Its authors meant it to be, as, thank God, it is now proving itself, a stumbling-block to all those who in after times might seek to turn a free people back into the hateful paths of despotism.  They knew the proneness of prosperity to breed tyrants, and they meant when such should reappear in this fair land and commence their vocation, they should find left for them at least one hard nut to crack.
[1] The ownership of Dred Scott and his family passed by inheritance
to the family of a Massachusetts Republican member of Congress.  The
following telegram, copied from the “Providence Post” into the
“Washington Union,” shows the action of the new owner:  “St. Louis, May
26 [1857].  Dred Scott with his wife and two daughters were emancipated
to-day by Taylor Blow, Esq.  They had been conveyed to him by Mr.
Chaffee for that purpose.”



The year 1857 brings us to a decided change in the affairs of Kansas, but with occurrences no less remarkable.  Active civil war gradually ceased in the preceding autumn—­a result due to the vigorous and impartial administration of Governor Geary and the arrival of the inclement winter weather.

  [Sidenote] Geary to Marcy, Jan. 19, 1857.  Senate Ex.  Doc.  No. 17,
  1st Sess. 35th Cong.  Vol.  VI., p. 131.

  [Sidenote] Geary, Veto Message, Feb. 18, 1857.  Senate Ex.  Doc. 
  No. 17, 1st Sess. 35th Cong.  Vol.  VI., p. 167.

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Abraham Lincoln, a History — Volume 02 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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