rest in the belief that it was in course of ultimate extinction ; that I believed from the organization of our Government, until a very recent period of time, the institution had been placed and continued upon such a basis; that we had had comparative peace upon that question through a portion of that period of time, only because the public mind rested in that belief in regard to it, and that when we returned to that position in relation to that matter, I supposed we should again have peace as we previously had. I assured him, as I now assure you, that I neither then had, nor have, or ever had, any purpose in any way of interfering with the institution of slavery, where it exists.
I believe we have no power, under the Constitution of the United States
; or rather under the form of Government under which we live, to interfere with the institution of slavery, or any other of the institutions of our sister States, be they free or slave States.
I declared then, and I now redeclare, that I have as little inclination to interfere with the institution of slavery where it now exists, through the instrumentality of the General Government
, or any other instrumentality, as I believe we have no power to do so. I accidentally used this expression : I had no purpose of entering into the slave States to disturb the institution of slavery!
So, upon the first occasion that Judge Douglas
got an opportunity to reply to me, he passed by the whole body of what I had said upon that subject, and seized upon the particular expression of mine, that I had no purpose of entering into the slave States to disturb the institution of slavery. “Oh, no,” said he, “he (Lincoln
) wont enter into the slave States to disturb the institution of slavery ; he is too prudent a man to do such a thing as that ; he only means that he will go on to the line between the free and slave States, and shoot over at them.
This is all he means to do. He means to do them all the harm he can, to disturb them all he can, in such a way as to keep his own hide in perfect safety.”
Well, now, I did not think, at that time, that that was either a very dignified or very logical argument; but so it was, I had to get along with it as well as I could.
It has occured to me here to-night, that if I ever do shoot over the line at the people on the other side of the line into a slave State, and purpose to do so, keeping my skin safe, that I have now about the best chance I shall ever have.
I should not wonder that there are some Kentuckians about this audience ; me are close to Kentucky
; and whether that be so or not, we are on elevated ground, and by speaking distinctly, I should not wonder if some of the Kentuckians would hear me on the other side of the river.
For that reason I propose to address a portion of what I have to say to the Kentuckians.
I say, then, in the first place, to the Kentuckians, that I am what they call, as I understand it, a “Black Republican.”
I think slavery is wrong, morally and politically.
I desire that it should be no further spread in these United States
, and I should not object if it should gradually terminate in the whole Union.
While I say this for myself, I say to you Kentuckians, that I understand you differ radically with me upon this proposition; that you believe slavery is a good thing; that slavery is right; that it ought to be extended and perpetuated in this Union.
Now, there being this broad difference between us, I do not pretend in addressing myself to you Kentuckians, to attempt proselyting you; that would be a vain effort.
I do not enter upon it. I only propose to try to show you that you ought to nominate for the next Presidency, at Charleston
, my distinguished friend, Judge Douglas
In all that there is a difference between you and him, I understand he is sincerely for you, and more wisely for you, than you are for yourselves.
I will try to demonstrate that proposition.
Understand now, I say that I believe he is as sincerely for you, and more wisely for you, than you are for yourselves.
What do you want more than anything else to make successful your views of slavery — to advance the outspread of it, and to secure and perpetuate the nationality of it?
What do you want more than any thing else?
What is needed absolutely?
What is indispensable to you?
Why! if I may be allowed to answer the question, it is to retain a hold upon the North
--it is to retain support and strength from the free States.
If you can get this support and strength from the free States you can