Springfield, Aug: 24. 1855

Dear Speed:

You know what a poor correspondent
I am. Ever since I received your very agreea-
ble letter of the 22nd.of May I have been
intending to write you in answer to it.
You suggest that in political action now, you
and I would differ. I suppose we would;
not quite as 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 them
selves interested, you would see the Union
dissolved. I am not aware that any one
is bidding you to 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 constitu-
tion, 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 unrewarded toils; but I bite

my lip and keep quiet. In 1841 you and I
had together a tedious low-water trip, on a Steam
Boat from Louisville to St. Louis. You may re-
member, 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 some-
thing like it every time I touch the Ohio, or
any other slave-border. It is hardly fair for you
to assume, that I have no interest in a
thing which has, and continually exercises,
the power of making 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 Consti-
tution and the Union

I do oppose the extension of slavery, because my
judgment and feelings so prompt me; and
I am under no obligation to the contrary.
If for this you and I must differ, differ we
must. You say if you were President, you
would send an army and hang the leaders
of the Missouri outrages upon the Kansas elect-
ions; still, if Kansas fairly votes herself
a slave state, she must be admitted, or

the Union must be dissolved. But how if
she votes herself a slave State unfairly --
that is, by the very means for which you
say you would hang men? Must she still
be admitted, or the Union be dissolved?
That will be the phase of the question
when it first becomes a practical one.
In your assumption that there may be a fair
decision of the slavery question in Kansas, I
plainly see you and I would differ about
the Nebraska-law. I look upon that enact-
ment not as a law, but as violence from
the beginning. It was conceived in violence,
passed in violence, is maintained in vio-
lence, and is being executed in violence. I say it was conceived in violence,
because the destruction of the Missouri Com-
promise, under the circumstances, was nothing
less than violence. It was passed in viol-
ence, because it could not have passed at all
but for the votes of many members in viol-
ent disregard of the known will of their
constituents. It is maintained in violence
because the elections since, clearly demand
it's repeal, and this demand is openly dis-
regarded. You say men ought to be hung
for the way they are executing that law;
and I say the way it is being executed is quite as good as any of its antecedents.
It is being executed in the precise way
which was intended from the first; else
why does no Nebraska man express as-
tonishment or condemnation? Poor Reeder
is the only public man who has been
silly enough to believe that any thing
like fairness was ever intended; and
he has been bravely undeceived.

That Kansas will form a Slave Constitu-
tion, and, with it, will ask to be ad-
mitted into the Union, I take to be an
already settled question; and so set-
tled by the very means you so
pointedly condemn. By every prin-
ciple of law, ever held by any court,
North or South, every negro taken to Kan-
sas is free; yet, in utter disregard of this
-- in the spirit of violence merely -- that
beautiful Legislature gravely passes a
law to hang men who shall venture
to inform a negro of his legal rights.
This is the substance, and real object of
the law. If, like Haman, they should
hang upon the gallows of their own
building, I shall not be among the
mourners for their fate.

In my humble sphere, I shall advocate
the restoration of the Missouri Compro-
mise, so long as Kansas remains a terri-
tory; and when, by all these foul
means, it seeks to come into the Union
as a Slave-state, I shall oppose it.
I am very loth, in any case, to withhold
my assent to the enjoyment of property
acquired, or located, in good faith;
but I do not admit that good faith,
in taking a negro to Kansas, to be held
in slavery, is a possibility with any
man. Any man who has sense enough
to be the controller of his own property,
has too much sense to misunderstand
the outrageous character of this whole
Nebraska business. But I digress. In
my opposition to the admission of
Kansas I shall have some company;
but we may be beaten. If we are, I
shall not, on that account, attempt to
dissolve the Union. On the contrary,
if we succeed, there will be enough
of us to take care of the Union.
I think it probable, however, we shall
be beaten. Standing as a unit among
yourselves, you can, directly, and indirect-

ly, bribe enough of our men to carry the day -- as
you could on an open proposition to estab-
lish monarchy. Get hold of some man
in the North, whose position and ability
is such, that he can make the support
of your measure -- whatever it may be --
a democratic party necessity, and the
thing is done. Appropos of this, let me
tell you an anecdote. Douglas introduced
the Nebraska bill in January. In Febru-
ary afterwards, there was a call session
of the Illinois Legislature. Of the one hund-
red members composing the two branches
of that body, about seventy were dem-
ocrats. These latter held a caucus, in
which the Nebraska bill was talked of,
if not formally discussed. It was
thereby discovered that just three, and
no more, were in favor of the meas-
ure. In a day or two Douglas' orders
came on to have resolutions passed
approving the bill; and they were passed
by large majorities!!! The truth of this is
vouched for by a bolting democratic
member. The masses too, democratic
as well as whig, were even, nearer unan-
amous against it; but as soon as the party necessity of supporting it, became
apparent, the way the democracy began
to see the wisdom and justice of it,
was perfectly astonishing.

You say if Kansas fairly votes herself
a free state, as a Christian you will
rather rejoice at it. All decent slave-
holders talk that way; and I do not
doubt their candor. But they
never vote that way. Although in a
private letter, or conversation, you will ex-
press your preference that Kansas shall
be free, you would vote for no man
for Congress who would say the same
thing publicly. No such man could
be elected from any district in any
slave-state. You [?] think Stringfellow
& Co. ought to be hung; and yet, at
the next presidential election you will
vote for the exact type and repre-
sentative of Stringfellow. 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 master of your own negroes.

You inquire where I now stand. That
is a disputed point -- I think I am
a whig; but others say there are no
whigs, and that I am an abolitionist.
When I was at Washington I voted for
the Wilmot Proviso as good as forty
times, and I never heard of any one
attempting to unwhig me for that. I
now do no more than oppose the
extension of slavery.

I am not a Know-Nothing. That is cer-
tain. How could I be? How can any
one who abhors the oppression of negroes,
be in favor of degrading classes of white
people? Our progress in degeneracy ap-
pears to me to be pretty rapid. As a na-
tion, we began by declaring that "all men
are created equal." We now practically
read it "all men are created equal, except
negroes" When the Know-Nothings get con-
trol, it will read "all men are created
equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and
Catholics." When it comes to this I should
prefer emigrating to some country where they
make no pretence of loving liberty -- to Rus-
sia, for instance, where despotism can be
taken pure, and without the base alloy
of hypocracy.

Mary will probably pass a day or two in
Louisville in October. My kindest regards
to Mrs. Speed. On the leading subject of
this letter, I have more of her sympathy
than I have of yours. And yet let me say I am

Your friend forever
A. Lincoln

23.4 cm x 14.3 cm