Fragment on Slavery II by Abraham Lincoln


This small fragment shows Lincoln working through one of his more emotional arguments against slavery.


[1]  -dent truth. Made so plain by our good Father in Heaven, that all feel and understand it, even down to brutes and creeping insects. The ant, who has toiled and dragged a crumb to his nest, will furiously defend the fruit of his labor, against whatever robber assails him. So plain, that the most dumb and stupid slave that ever toiled for a master, does constantly know that he is wronged. So plain that no one, high or low, ever does mistake it, except in a plainly selfish way; for although volume upon volume is written to prove slavery a very good thing, we never hear of the man who wishes to take the good of it, by being a slave himself.

Most governments have been based, practically, on the denial of equal rights of men, as I have, in part, stated them; ours began, by affirming those rights. They said, some men are too ignorant, and vicious, to share in government. Possibly so, said we; and, by your system, you would always keep them ignorant, and vicious. We proposed to give all a chance; and we expected the weak to grow stronger, the ignorant, wiser; and all better, and happier together.

We made the experiment; and the fruit is before us. Look at it—think of it. Look at it, in it’s [sic] aggregate grandeur, of extent of country, and numbers of population—of ship, and steamboat, and rail- [2] 




[1] According to the Abraham Lincoln Association, it is probable that “this single page is part of a speech composed in 1858-1859. It may possibly have been part of the omitted portion in the speech at Cincinnati, September 17, 1859 (vide infra), or a portion of some one of several speeches in 1858 for which no report or manuscript has been found.”  For more information on the origins of this text, please visit the Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln.

[2] See also Fragment on Slavery by Abraham Lincoln in this archive. 

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