Mr. Lincoln--Mr. Seward's Speech
Louisville Daily Journal, August 22, 1860
There are in the non-slaveholding States a great many men, old Whigs and others, who, being moderate and conservative in their feelings, have stood aloof from both the Republican and Democratic organizations, and who, deeming perhaps that in their States the Union candidates for the Presidency and Vice Presidency lack strength, seem to be in doubt as to the course which it is their duty, as lovers of their country, to pursue in the present canvass and in the coming election. Calm and conscientious in their views and purposes, they have no other desire than to do what is best for the great interests of the Republic. To all such we would address an earnest exhortation that they do everything in their power to prevent the triumph of any mere sectional party, for such a triumph, we solemnly believe, would be a fearful if not a fatal calamity to the nation. No such triumph was ever achieved in our land, and God grant that none ever may be.
We have a favorable opinion of the personal and even the political integrity of Abraham Lincoln, but he is, as the whole nation knows, a sectional candidate and only a sectional candidate. He is recognized as such at the North, and he is justly denounced as such at the South. We all remember, that, in his great contest with Mr. Dougles in which he so ably sustained himself, he assumed and boldly enforced the position that the conflict between the sections must necessarily go on until the whole domain of the United States shall be free territory, or the whole slave territory. It was this doctrine, which Mr. Seward, sometime afterwards, enunciated in a modified and somewhat mitigated form in his famous Rochester speech, which created such a profound sensation throughout the Southern portion of the Republic. And there is reason to believe that Mr. Lincoln still entertains the views to which he gave such vehement utterance in 1858, and that they have probably been strengthened and rendered even more violent since by the wild and powerful and raging partizan influences by which he is now continually surrounded. Mr. Seward is universally recognized as the ablest expositor and most distinguished embodiment of the principles of the party that supports Mr. Lincoln as its candidate, and when he undertakes to state publicly Mr. L.'s position his statements may well be regarded as authentic. Well, here is a brief extract from a speech made in Boston by Mr. Seward on the 13th inst.:
What a commentary upon the wisdom of man is given in this single fact, that fifteen years only after the death of John Quincy Adams, the people of the United States, who hurled him from power and from place, are calling to the head of the nation, to the very seat from which he was expelled, Abraham Lincoln, whose claim to that seat is that he confesses the obligation of that higher law which the Sage of Quincy proclaimed, and that he avows himself, for weal or woe, for life or death, a soldier on the side of freedom in the irrepressible conflict between freedom and slavery. This, gentlemen, is my simple confession. I desire now only to say to you that you have arrived at the last stage of this conflict before you reach the triumph which is to inaugurate this great policy into the Government of the United States. You will bear yourselves manfully. It behooves you, solid men of Boston, if you are here—and if the solid men are not here, then the lighter men of Massachusetts —to bear onward and forward, first in the ranks, the flag of freedom.
We call upon the conservative men of the North, those who would have peace and harmony restored to this fearfully agitated Republic, to mark well these words of the great Free Soil Senator. The country is told that Mr. Lincoln's sole claim in the estimation of his supporters to the high seat he aspires to is that he confesses his obligation to "the higher law," that he holds himself bound by an anti-slavery law in his own soul above the laws and the constitution of the United States and independent of them, that he considers himself at liberty to trample all the statutes of the land and the decisions of all the tribunals of the land under his feet when they are at variance with his own private judgment and sense of right, and that he avows himself, for weal or woe, for life or death, a soldier, or in other words an active and professional fighter, in the conflict that must be kept up between freedom and slavery until the one or the other shall be annihilated throughout the country. If these views, publicly and boldly ascribed to Abraham Lincoln by his own and his party's greatest champion, and unquestionably in strict keeping with the doctrines put forth by him in his Illinois campaign, are entertained by him, as assuredly there is every reason to believe they are, we ask whether any conservative men of the North, any who have not yielded themselves utterly up to the control of sectional passion, any who look anxiously forward for brighter and better days for the Republic, can, under any circumstances or for any conceivable reasons, reconcile themselves to his support.
But Mr. Lincoln has not left to Mr. Seward or to any other distinguished friend or friends the whole work of speaking for him at the present time. No, he has very recently spoken for himself and he is probably ready to do so with his characteristic boldness upon all occasions. A few nights ago, when a great army of his political friends gathered before his house in the city of his residence, he made them a brief address, in which he said:
I am profoundly grateful for this manifestation of your feelings. I am grateful because it is a tribute which can be paid to no man. It is a testimony which, four years hence, you will pay to the next man who is the representative of the truth on. the questions which now agitate the public mind. (Cheers.) It is an evidence that you will fight for this cause then, as you now fight for it, and even stronger than you now fight, although I may be dead and gone. (Cheers.)
These in truth were words of fearful import. We have supposed that hundreds of thousands, if not a majority, of those who contemplate voting for Mr. Lincoln, look forward to his election as an event that may terminate the unhappy sectional strife that agitates the country, or at least contribute to its termination. We have hoped that few who are truly the friends of the Union, devoted to its permanence and its prosperity, are taking part in the agitation with the design or the expectation that it shall extend beyond the election and inauguration of the next President to disturb and threaten the peace of the nation at the end of another four years. But such, alas, is the expectation of the Republican candidate for the Presidency, and he proclaims it, not in a tone of sorrow and regret, but with a shout of unconcealed exultation, echoed back, by the triumphant shouts of his myriad hearers. He proclaims in the language of triumph, that, four years hence, the Black Republicans of the North, in the midst of such agitations as now convulse the public mind, will be gathering together to hail the next Black Republican candidate for the Presidency, and he predicts that years and years hence, when he himself may be dead and gone, they will fight on in the great sectional conflict with even more violence than they are fighting to-day.
We beseech, you, O ye conservative men of the North, to mark these things well. Ponder deeply the declarations of the Republican candidate for the Presidency and the declarations of his greatest champion, to say nothing of the declarations of the numberless fierce and intemperate organs and orators that support him. If you would have peace instead of strife and commotion reign throughout the land, if you would have a country worth living in and dying for, if you would not have the rage of brethren so protracted and exasperated that it can never be quenched but in the blood of brethren, we appeal to you to use every honorable and patriotic exertion to prevent the election of Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency of the United States.