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THE WRONG OF SLAVERY
From Lincoln's opening speech in the debate with Douglas at Quincy, Illinois, October 13, 1858.
We keep up
We have in this nation the element of domestic slavery. It is a matter of absolute certainty that it is a disturbing element. It is the opinion of all the great men who have expressed an opinion upon it, that it is a dangerous element. a controversy in regard to it. That controversy necessarily springs from difference of opinion, and if we can learn exactly --can reduce to the lowest elements—what that difference of opinion is, we perhaps shall be better prepared for discussing
the different systems of likely that we would proposems of gard to that disturbing elegrad
I suggest that the differe unof opinion, reduced to its lowe est terms, is no other than ttudifference between the marwho think slavery a wrong anal those who do not think nd wrong. The Republican pat it. think it wrong-we think it il so moral, a social, and a politself. wrong. We think it is a w that not confining itself mereresent the persons or the States ve that it exists, but that it is a ve anywhich in its tendency, tusence the least, affects the exist thing of the whole nation. Bec:guarwe think it wrong, we propi a course of policy that shaott deal with it as a wrong.
We deal with it as with any other wrong, in so far as we can prevent its growing any larger, and so deal with it that
run of time there
be promise of an end to it. have a due regard to the sal presence of it amongst and the difficulties of getig rid of it in any satisfactory ay, and all the constitutional Eligations thrown about it. I toppose that in reference both
its actual existence in the W' 'on, and to our constitu
'al obligations, we have no is a
at all to disturb it in the that
s where it exists, and we It is
'ss that we have no more ation to disturb it than we
the right to do it. ger
ier than that: we don't proa & to disturb it where, in one
tance, we think the Constituson would permit us. We think the Constitution would permit us to disturb it in the District of Columbia. Still we do not propose to do that, unless it should be in terms which I don't sup
pose the nation is very likely soon to agree to— the terms of making the emancipation gradual and compensating the unwilling owners. Where suppose we have the constitutional right, we restrain ourselves in reference to the actual existence of the institution and the difficulties thrown about it. We also oppose it as an evil so far as it seeks to spread itself. We insist on the policy that shall restrict it to its present limits. We don't suppose
that in doing this we violate anything due to the actual presence of the institution, or anything due to the constitutional guaranties thrown around it.
We oppose the Dred Scott decision in a certain way, upon which I ought perhaps to address you in a few words. We do not propose that when Dred Scott has been decided to
be a slave by the court, we, as a mob, will decide him to be free. We do not propose
that, when any other one, or one thousand, shall be decided by that court to be slaves, we will in any violent
disturb the rights of property thus settled; but we nevertheless do oppose that decision as a political rule, which shall be binding on the voter to vote for nobody who thinks it wrong, which shall be binding on the members of Congress or the President to favor no measure that does not actually concur with the principles of that decision. We do not propose to be bound by it as a political rule in that way, because we think it lays the foundation not merely of enlarging and spreading out what we consider an evil, but it lays the foundation for spreading that evil into the States them