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[255]

Speech of Hon. Abraham Lincoln, at Cincinnati, Ohio, Oh September, 1859.

My Fellow-Citizens of the State of Ohio: This is the first time in my life that I have appeared before an audience in so great a city as this. I therefore-though I am no longer a young man-make this appearance under some degree of embarrassment. But, I have found that when one is embarrassed, usually the shortest way to get through with it is to quit talking or thinking about it, and go at something else.

I understand that you have had recently with you my very distinguished friend, Judge Douglas, of Illinois, and I understand, without having had an opportunity (not greatly sought to be sure) of seeing a report of the speech that he made here, that he did me the honor to mention my humble name. I suppose that he did so for the purpose of making some objection to some sentiment at some time expressed by me. I should expect, it is true, that Judge Douglas had reminded you, or informed you, if you had never before heard it, that I had once in my life declared it as my opinion that this Government cannot “endure permanently half slave and half free; that a house divided against itself cannot stand,” and, as I had expressed it, I did not expect the house to fall; that I did not expect the Union to be dissolved ; but that I did expect that it would cease to be divided; that it would become all one thing or all the other; that either the opposition of slavery would arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind would rest in the belief that it was in the course of ultimate extinction ; or the friends of slavery will push it forward until it becomes alike lawful in all the States, old or new, free as well as slave. I did, fifteen months ago, express that opinion, and upon many occasions Judge Douglas has denounced it, and has greatly, intentionally or unintentionally, misrepresented my purpose in the expression of that opinion.

I presume, without having seen a report of his speech, that he did so here. I presume that he alluded also to that opinion in different language, having been expressed at a subsequent time by Governor Seward of New York, and that he took the two in a lump and denounced them; that he tried to point out that there was something couched in this opinion which led to the making of an entire uniformity of the local institutions of the various States of the Union, in utter disregard of the different States, which in their nature would seem to require a variety of institutions. and a variety of laws conforming to the differences in the nature of the different States Not only so; I presume he insisted that this was a declaration of war between the free and slave States--that it was the sounding to the onset of continual war between the different States, the slave and free States.

This charge, in this form, was made by Judge Douglas, on, I believe, the 9th of July, 1858, in Chicago, in my hearing. On the next evening, I made some reply to it I informed him that many of the inferences he drew from that expression of mine were altogether foreign to any purpose entertained by me, and in so far as he should ascribe these inferences to me, as my purpose, he was entirely mistaken ; and in so far as he might argue that whatever might be my purpose, actions, conforming to my views, would lead to these results, he might argue and establish if he could; but, so far as purposes were concerned, he was totally mistaken as to me.

When I made that reply to him-when I told him, on the question of declaring war between the different States of the Union, that I had not said that I did not expect any peace upon this question until slavery was exterminated ; that I had only said I expected peace when that institution was put where the public mind should

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