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The fact is, that civilization requires slaves. The Greeks were quite right there. Unless there are slaves to do the ugly, horrible, uninteresting work, culture and contemplation become almost impossible. Human slavery is wrong, insecure, and demoralizing. On mechanical slavery, on the slavery of the machine, the future of the world depends.
I say now, however, as I have all the while said, that on the territorial question - that is, the question of extending slavery under the national auspices, - I am inflexible. I am for no compromise which assists or permits the extension of the institution on soil owned by the nation.
Slavery is wrong in its effect upon white people and free labor; it is the only thing that threatens the Union. It makes what Senator Seward has been much abused for calling an 'irrepressible conflict'. When they get ready to settle it, we hope they will let us know. Public opinion settles every question here, any policy to be permanent must have public opinion at the bottom, something in accordance with the philosophy of the human mind as it is. The property basis will have its weight. The love of property and a consciousness of right or wrong have conflicting places in our organization, which often make a man's course seem crooks, his conduct a riddle.
In the way our Fathers originally left the slavery question, the institution was in the course of ultimate extinction, and the public mind rested in the belief that it was in the course of ultimate extinction.... All I have asked or desired anywhere, is that it should be placed back again upon the basis that the Fathers of our government originally placed it upon.
Human action can be modified to some extent, but human nature cannot be changed. There is a judgment and a feeling against slavery in this nation, which cast at least a million and a half of votes. You cannot destroy that judgment and feeling — that sentiment — by breaking up the political organization which rallies around it. You can scarcely scatter and disperse an army which has been formed into order in the face of your heaviest fire; but if you could, how much would you gain by forcing the sentiment which created it out of the peaceful channel of the ballot-box, into some other channel?
You have done nothing, and have protested that you have done nothing, to injure the South. And yet, to get back the shoe trade, you must leave off doing something that you are now doing. What is it? You must stop thinking slavery wrong! Let your institutions be wholly changed; let your State Constitutions be subverted, glorify slavery, and so you will get back the shoe trade — for what? You have brought owned labor with it to compete with your own labor, to underwork you, and to degrade you! Are you ready to get back the trade on those terms?
Man has his own inclinations and a natural will which, in his actions, by means of his free choice, he follows and directs. There can be nothing more dreadful than that the actions of one man should be subject to the will of another; hence no abhorrence can be more natural than that which a man has for slavery. And it is for this reason that a child cries and becomes embittered when he must do what others wish, when no one has taken the trouble to make it agreeable to him. He wants to be a man soon, so that he can do as he himself likes.
Man has an invincible inclination to allow himself to be deceived and is, as it were, enchanted with happiness when the rhapsodist tells him epic fables as if they were true, or when the actor in the theater acts more royally than any real king. So long as it is able to deceive without injuring, that master of deception, the intellect, is free; it is released from its former slavery and celebrates its Saturnalia. It is never more luxuriant, richer, prouder, more clever and more daring.
We've got to stay together and maintain unity. You know, whenever Pharaoh wanted to prolong the period of slavery in Egypt, he had a favorite, favorite formula for doing it. What was that? He kept the slaves fighting among themselves. But whenever the slaves get together, something happens in Pharaoh's court, and he cannot hold the slaves in slavery. When the slaves get together, that's the beginning of getting out of slavery. Now let us maintain unity.
He didn't pretend to be familiar with the subject of the shoe strike, probably knew as little about it as Senator Douglas himself. This strike has occurred as the Senator says, or it has not. Shall we stop making war upon the South? We never have made war upon them. If any one has, better go and hang himself and save Virginia the trouble. If you give up your convictions and call slavery right as they do, you let slavery in upon you, instead of white laborers who can strike, you'll soon have black laborers who can't strike.
I am not a 'democrat' only because 'humility' and equality are spiritual principles corrupted by the attempt to mechanize and formalize them, with the result that we get not universal smallness and humility, but universal greatness and pride, till some Orc gets hold of a ring of power—and then we get and are getting slavery.