“24 August, 1855.
“To JOSHUA SPEED.
“You know what a poor correspondent I am. Ever since I received your very agreeable letter of the 22nd I have been intending to write you an answer to it. You suggest that in political action, now, you and I would differ. I suppose we would; not quite so much, however, as you may think. You know I dislike slavery, and you fully admit the abstract wrong of it. So far there is no cause of difference. But you say that sooner than yield your legal right to the slave, especially at the bidding of those who are not themselves interested, you would see the Union dissolved. I am not aware that any one is bidding you yield that right; very certainly I am not. I leave that matter entirely to yourself. I also acknowledge your rights and my obligations under the Constitution in regard to your slaves. I confess I hate to see the poor creatures hunted down and caught and carried back to their stripes and unrequited toil; but I bite my lips and keep quiet. In 1841 you and I had together a tedious low-water trip on a steamboat from Louisville to St. Louis. You may remember, as I well do, that from Louisville to the mouth of the Ohio there were on board ten or a dozen slaves shackled together with irons. That sight was a continual torment to me, and I see something like it every time I touch the Ohio or any other slave border. It is not fair for you to assume that I have no interest in a thing which has, and continually exercises, the power to make me miserable. You ought rather to appreciate how much the great body of the Northern people do crucify their feelings, in order to maintain their loyalty to the Constitution and the Union. I do oppose the extension of slavery because my judgment and feelings so prompt me, and I am under no obligations to the contrary. If for this you and I must differ, differ we must. . . .
“You say that if Kansas fairly votes herself a free State, as a Christian you will rejoice at it. All decent slave holders talk that way and I do not doubt their candour. But they never vote that way. Although in a private letter or conversation you will express your preference that Kansas shall be free, you will vote for no man for Congress who would say the same thing publicly. No such man could be elected from any district in a slave State. . . . The slave breeders and slave traders are a small, odious and detested class among you; and yet in politics they dictate the course of all of you, and are as completely your masters as you are the masters of your own negroes.