"As I would not be a slave, so
I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever
differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy."
"In giving freedom to the slave,
we assure freedom to the free —honorable alike in what we give, and
what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best,
hope of earth."
"I have always thought that all
men should be free; but if any should be slaves, it should be first
those who desire it for themselves, and secondly, those who desire it
for others. When I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong
impulse to see it tried on him personally."
"The master not only governs the
slave without his consent, but he governs him by a set of rules altogether
different from those which he prescribes for himself. Allow all the
governed an equal voice in the government, and that, and that only,
"When the white man governs himself,
that is self-government; but when he governs himself and also governs
another man, that is more than self-government — that is despotism.
If the negro is a man, why then my ancient faith teaches me that "all
men are created equal," and that there can be no moral right in connection
with one man's making a slave of another."
"I am naturally anti-slavery. If
slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I can not remember when I did
not so think, and feel. And yet I have never understood that the Presidency
conferred upon me an unrestricted right to act officially upon this
judgment and feeling. It was in the oath I took that I would, to the
best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of
the United States. I could not take the office without taking the oath.
Nor was it my view that I might take an oath to get power, and break
the oath in using the power. I understood, too, that in ordinary civil
administration this oath even forbade me to practically indulge my primary
abstract judgment on the moral question of slavery. I had publicly declared
this many times, and in many ways. And I aver that, to this day, I have
done no official act in mere deference to my abstract judgment and feeling
"My paramount object in this struggle
is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery.
If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and
if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I
could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also
do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because
I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear
because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do
less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I
shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause.
I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt
new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views."
"Whereas, on the twenty-second
day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred
and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United
States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit: That
on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight
hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State
or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion
against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever
free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the
military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the
freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such
persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual