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Abraham Lincoln, Volume I by John T. Morse

At Peoria he said If all earthly power were given me


was now noted with surprise,

for it was rare in the excited politics of those days. In this especial campaign both contestants honestly intended to refrain from personalities, but the difference between their ways of doing so was marked. Douglas, under the temptation of high ability in that line, held himself in check by an effort which was often obvious and not always entirely successful. But Lincoln never seemed moved by the desire. "All I have to ask," he said, "is that we talk reasonably and rationally;" and again: "I hope to deal in all things fairly with Judge Douglas." No innuendo, no artifice, in any speech, gave the lie to these protestations. Besides this, his denunciations were always against _slavery_, and never against _slaveholders_. The emphasis of condemnation, the intensity of feeling, were never expended against persons. By this course, unusual among the Abolitionists, he not only lost nothing in force and impressiveness, but, on the contrary, his attack seemed to gain in effectiveness by being directed against no personal object, but exclusively against a practice. His war was against slavery, not against the men and women of the South who owned slaves. At Ottawa he read from the Peoria speech of 1854: "I have no prejudice against the Southern people. They are just what we would [should] be in their situation. If slavery did not now exist among them, they would not introduce it. If it did now exist among us, we should not instantly give it up.... It does seem to me that systems of gradual
emancipation might be adopted; but for their tardiness in this, I will not undertake to judge our brethren of the South." Repeatedly he admitted the difficulty of the problem, and fastened no blame upon those Southerners who excused themselves for not expelling the evil on the ground that they did not know how to do so. At Peoria he said: "If all earthly power were given me, I should not know what to do as to the existing institution." He contributed some suggestions which certainly were nothing better than chimerical. Deportation to Africa was his favorite scheme; he also proposed that it would be "best for all concerned to have the colored population in a State by themselves." But he did not abuse men who declined to adopt his methods. Though he was dealing with a question which was arousing personal antagonisms as bitter as any that history records, yet he never condemned any one, nor ever passed judgment against his fellow men.

Diagnosis would perhaps show that the trait thus illustrated was mental rather than moral. This absence of animosity and reproach as towards individuals found its root not so much in human charity as in fairness of thinking. Lincoln's ways of mental working are not difficult to discover. He thought slowly, cautiously, profoundly, and with a most close accuracy; but above all else he _thought fairly_. This capacity far transcended, or, more correctly, differed from, what is ordinarily called the judicial habit of mind. Many men can weigh arguments without letting prejudice get into either scale; but Lincoln carried on the whole process of thinking, not only with an equal clearness of perception, but


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