Political Life Case A

MS-1859.09.16 – Notes for a Speech in Columbus

Lincoln’s Speech Notes

By the fall of 1859, Abraham Lincoln was one of the most well-known and well-respected politicians America. Having almost bested Senator Stephan A. Douglas the previous year, Lincoln had risen to leadership in the maturing Republican Party and become a serious contender for the presidency.

Lincoln would cement that status with his Cooper Union Address in February 1860, but a few months earlier he honed his platform on a speaking tour of Ohio. That tour began with a September 16th speech in Columbus. These are Lincoln’s notes from that speech. They show how, at that point in his career, he only needed short talking points as signposts to navigate through attacks on Douglas’s popular sovereignty policy and the Dred Scott Decision. Also visible is Lincoln’s increasing commitment to the idea that slavery’s expansion posed a direct threat to American democracy and freedom.

Gift of the Heirs of David Davis III, 1984

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Transcription of artifact / document:

Notes for Speech at Columbus, Ohio, September 16, 1859

For Columbus


What it is.

Danger to.
What it is not.
What it is.

D. P. S.
What is genuine P. S.
What is D. P. S.

Copy right essay–
Minor points of
"Fatal heresy".
States in & States out.
Congress to say when.

Main points
Men of Revolution
History, as given
Waive inaccuracies
Admit as to real P. S.
Show they were vs. D. P. S.
Would any man but D,

Dred Scott
At Freeport "exclude"
Since then "control" &c[etc.]"
If &c. "protect"
If &c. "goes into states"
I told him so.
"Negative– not affirmative"

How D. P. S. is dangerous
Re-opens Slave Trade
Deludes & debaches–

Must treat as a "wrong."
Not to, yields all
U. S. not redeem all wrongs; but. . .
S. impairs & endangers general welfare.
Thou who do not think &c
We must think for selves–
S. where it is
Fugitive law.
But must prevent
Have to employ means.
Must be true to purpose.
If not, what.
Our principle will triumph.

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