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Causes of the Civil War Quotes

They Said It

"I hold it a paramount duty of us in the free States, due to the Union of the States, and perhaps to liberty itself (paradox though it may seem), to let the slavery of the other states alone; while, on the other hand, I hold it to be equally clear that we should never knowingly lend ourselves, directly or indirectly, to prevent that slavery from dying a natural death—to find new places for it to live in, when it can not longer exist in the old."

- A young Abraham Lincoln in a letter to an abolitionist supporter, 184548
"It is notorious that, whenever the demand for labor is much greater than the supply, or the wages of labor are much higher than the expenses of living, very many, even on the ordinary laboring class, are remarkable for indolence, and work no more than compelled by necessity."

- Radical proslavery advocate Edmund Ruffin on the disadvantages of capitalism, 185349
"Thou shalt not deliver unto the master his servant which has escaped from his master unto thee. He shall dwell with thee. Even among you in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates where it liketh him best. Thou shalt not oppress him."

- A passage from the Bible quoted in an abolitionist publication below a print entitled "Effects of the Fugitive-Slave-Law," 185050
"The two systems [slave and free-labor] are...incompatible. They have never permanently existed together in one country, and they never can."

- Republican Senator William H. Seward, from a speech entitled "On The Irrepressible Conflict," delivered in New York, 185851
"The question before us is, whether [people of African ancestry]...compose a portion of this people, and are constituent members of this sovereignty? We think they are not, and that they are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word 'citizens' in the Constitution, and can therefore claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United States."

- Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, presenting the opinion of the Supreme Court in Dred Scott v. Sandford, 185752
"I can not but hate [the prospect of slavery's expansion]. I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world—enables the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to taunt us as hypocrites—causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity."

- Abraham Lincoln, in a speech delivered in Peoria, Illinois, October 185453
"I confess I hate to see the poor creatures hunted down... but I bite my lip and keep quiet."

- Abraham Lincoln on the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law54
"I deny the right of Congress to force a slaveholding State upon an unwilling people. I deny their right to force a free State upon an unwilling people. I deny their right to force a good thing upon a people who are unwilling to receive it. The great principle is the right of every community to judge and decide for itself, whether a thing is right or wrong, whether it would be good or evil for them to adopt it; and the right of free action, the right of free thought, the right of free judgment upon the question is dearer to every true American than any other under a free government."

- Democratic Senator Stephen A. Douglas, in a speech delivered in Chicago, Illinois, July 185855
"I have always hated slavery, I think, as much as any Abolitionist."

- Abraham Lincoln in a campaign speech delivered in Chicago, Illinois, 10 July 185856
"I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races: that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people."

- Abraham Lincoln speaking in Charleston, Illinois during his fourth debate with Democrat Stephen Douglas, 185857
"Our agitation, you know, helps keep yours alive in the rank and file."

- Abolitionist Wendell Phillips to Republican Charles Sumner58
"I, John Brown, am quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood. I had, as I now think vainly, flattered myself that without very much bloodshed it might be done."

- Final written words of radical abolitionist John Brown, recorded on the day of his death, 2 December 185959
"If it is right to preclude or abolish slavery in a Territory, why should it be allowed to remain in the States?... In spite of all disclaimers and professions there can be but one end to the submission by the South to the rule of a sectional Antislavery Government at Washington; and that end, directly or indirectly, must be the emancipation of the slaves of the South....the people of the non-slaveholding North are not and cannot be safe associates of the slaveholding South under a common Government."

- Delegates at South Carolina's secession convention explain why the state should split from the Union, 186060
"There is very little moral mixture in the 'Antislavery' feeling of this country. A great deal is abstract philanthropy; part is hatred of slaveholders; a great part is jealousy for white labor, very little is consciousness of wrong done and the wish to right it."

- Abolitionist writer George William Curtis, 186161
"We are not one people. We are two peoples. We are a people for Freedom and a people for Slavery. Between the two, conflict is inevitable."

- New York Tribune publisher Horace Greeley on the Kansas-Nebraska Act, 185462

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