Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On March 22, 1848

On this day in 1848, Lincoln demonstrated his considerable debating skills and sharp logical reasoning in a response to one Usher F. Linder.

Linder had accused Lincoln of undermining the soldiers who fought in the Mexican war whenever he criticized the war itself and President Polk's handling of the war.

Lincoln answered every point masterfully, suggesting that Usher had fallen into "one of the artfully set traps of Locofocoism" (the Locofocos were a radical branch of the Democratic Party of that time.)

Amazing how some topics never lose their relevancy...

Washington, March 22 1848

Friend Linder:

Yours of the 15th. is just received, as was a day or two ago, one from Dunbar [2] on the same subject. Although I address this to you alone, I intend it for you [,] Dunbar, and Bishop, [3] and wish you to show it to them. In Dunbar's letter, and in Bishop's paper, it is assumed that Mr. Crittenden's [4] position on the war is correct. Well, so I think. Please wherein is my position different from his? Has he ever approved the President's conduct in the beginning of the war, or his mode or objects in prossecuting it? Never. He condemns both. True, he votes supplies, and so do I. What, then, is the difference, except that he is a great man and I am a small one?

Towards the close of your letter you ask three questions, the first of which is "Would it not have been just as easy to have elected Genl. Taylor without opposing the war as by opposing it?" I answer, I suppose it would, if we could do neither---could be silent on the question; but the Locofocos here will not let the whigs be silent. Their very first act in congress was to present a preamble declaring that war existed by the act of Mexico, and the whigs were obliged to vote on it---and this policy is followed up by them; so that they are compelled to speak and their only option is whether they will, when they do speak, tell the truth, or tell a foul, villainous, and bloody falsehood. But, while on this point, I protest against your calling the condemnation of Polk "opposing the war." In thus assuming that all must be opposed to the war, even though they vote supplies, who do not not [sic] endorse Polk, with due deference I say I think you fall into one of the artfully set traps of Locofocoism.

Your next question is "And suppose we could succeed in proving it a wicked and unconstitutional war, do we not thereby strip Taylor and Scott of more than half their laurels?'' Whether it would so strip them is not matter of demonstration, but of opinion only; and my opinion is that it would not; but as your opinion seems to be different, let us call in some others as umpire. There are in this H.R. some more than forty members who support Genl. Taylor for the Presidency, every one of whom has voted that the war was ``unnecessarily and unconstitutionally commenced by the President'' every one of whom has spoken to the same effect, who has spoken at all, and not one of whom supposes he thereby strips Genl. of any laurels. More than this; two of these, Col. Haskell [5] and Major Gaines, [6] themselves fought in Mexico; and yet they vote and speak just as the rest of us do, without ever dreaming that they ``strip'' themselves of any laurels. There may be others, but Capt. Bishop is the only intelligent whig who has been to Mexico, that I have heard of taking different ground.

Your third question is "And have we as a party, ever gained any thing, by falling in company with abolitionists?'' Yes. We gained our only national victory by falling in company with them in the election of Genl. Harrison. Not that we fell into abolition doctrines; but that we took up a man whose position induced them to join us in his election. But this question is not so significant as a question, as it is as a charge of abolitionism against those who have chosen to speak their minds against the President. As you and I perhaps would again differ as to the justice of this charge, let us once more call in our umpire. There are in this H.R. whigs from the slave states as follows: one from Louisiana, one from Mississippi, one from Florida, two from Alabama, four from Georgia, five from Tennessee, six from Kentucky, six from North Carolina, six from Virginia, four from Maryland and one from Delaware, making thirtyseven in all, and all slave-holders, every one of whom votes the commencement of the war "unnecessary and unconstitutional'' and so falls subject to your charge of abolitionism!

"En passant'' these are all Taylor men, except one in Tenn. two in Ky, one in N.C. and one in Va. Besides which we have one in Ills---two in Ia, three in Ohio, five in Penn. four in N.J. and one in Conn. While this is less than half the whigs of the H.R. it is three times as great as the strength of any other one candidate.

You are mistaken in your impression that any one has communicated expressions of yours and Bishop's to me. In my letter to Dunbar, I only spoke from the impression made by seeing in the paper that you and he were, "in the degree, though not in the extreme'' on the same tack with Latshaw. [7] Yours as ever



[1] ALS, IHi

[2] Alexander P. Dunbar.

[3] Captain William W. Bishop.

[4] Senator John J. Crittenden.

[5] Representative William T. Haskell of Tennessee.

[6] Representative John Pollard Gaines of Kentucky.

[7] William D. Latshaw of Coles County, Illinois.

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