Abraham Lincoln, Volume I eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 338 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume I.
or village, and secured an audience by his topic if not by his ability; every one who thought that he could write found some way to print what he had to say upon a subject of which readers never tired; and for whatever purpose two or three men were gathered together, they were not likely to separate without a few words about North and South, pro-slavery and anti-slavery.  Never was any matter more harried and ransacked by disputation.  Now to all the speaking and writing of the Republicans Lincoln’s condensed speeches were what a syllabus is to an elaborate discourse, what a lawyer’s brief is to his verbal argument.  Perhaps they may better be likened to an anti-slavery gospel; as the New Testament is supposed to cover the whole ground of Christian doctrines and Christian ethics, so that theologians and preachers innumerable have only been able to make elaborations or glosses upon the original text, so Lincoln’s speeches contain the whole basis of the anti-slavery cause as maintained by the Republican party.  They also set forth a considerable part of the Southern position, doubtless as fairly as the machinations of the Devil are set forth in Holy Writ.  They only rather gingerly refrain from speaking of the small body of ultra-Abolitionists,—­for while Lincoln was far from agreeing with these zealots, he felt that it was undesirable to widen by any excavation upon his side the chasm between them and the Republicans.  So the fact is that the whole doctrine of Republicanism, as it existed during the political campaign which resulted in the election of Lincoln, also all the historical facts supporting that doctrine, were clearly and accurately stated in these speeches.  Specific points were more elaborated by other persons; but every seed was to be found in this granary.

This being the case, it is worth noticing that both Lincoln and Douglas confined their disputation closely to the slavery question.  Disunion and secession were words familiar in every ear, yet Lincoln referred to these things only twice or thrice, and incidentally, while Douglas ignored them.  This fact is fraught with meaning.  American writers and American readers have always met upon the tacit understanding that the Union was the chief cause of, and the best justification for, the war.  An age may come when historians, treating our history as we treat that of Greece, stirred by no emotion at the sight of the “Stars and Stripes,” moved by no patriotism at the name of the United States of America, will seek a deeper philosophy to explain this obstinate, bloody, costly struggle.  Such writers may say that a rich, civilized multitude of human beings, possessors of the quarter of a continent, believing it best for their interests to set up an independent government for themselves, fell back upon the right of revolution, though they chose not to call it by that name.  Now, even if it be possible to go so far as to say that every nation has always a right to preserve by force, if it can,

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Abraham Lincoln, Volume I from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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