Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Liberal Education

On Principle, v4n1

April 1996

by

Excerpts from Abraham Lincoln’s July 10, 1858 speech in Chicago:

This argument of the Judge (Democratic Senator Stephen Douglas) is the same old serpent that says you work I eat, you toil and I will enjoy the fruits of it. Turn it whatever way you will–whether it come from the mouth of a King, an excuse for enslaving the people of his country, or from the mouth of men of one race as the reason for enslaving the men of another race, it is all the same old serpent, and I hold that if that course of argumentation that is made for the purpose of convincing the human mind that we should not care about this, should be granted, it does not stop with the Negro.

I should like to know if taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle and making exceptions to it where it will stop. If one man says it does not mean a Negro, why may not another say that it does not mean some other man? If that Declaration is not the truth. Let us get the Statute book, in which we find it, and tear it out!

It is said in one of the admonitions of the Lord, “As your Father in Heaven is perfect, be yet also perfect.”… He set that up as a standard, and he who did most towards reaching that standard, attained the highest degree of moral perfection. So I say in relation to the principle that all men are created equal, let it be as nearly reached as we can. If we cannot give freedom to every creature, let us do nothing that will impose slavery on another creature. Let us then turn this government back into the channel in which the framers of the Constitution originally placed it.

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