Sunday, August 14, 2005

Lincoln on Slavery

More from Carl Sandburg's Abraham Lincoln. Not surprisingly, Lincoln is at his best when he discusses the issue of slavery such in the fascinating reasoning below written sometime in the early 1850s in a private memorandum to himself.

"If A. can prove, however conclusively, that he may, of right, enslave B., why may not B. snatch the same argument, and prove equally, that he may enslave A.?--You say A. is white, and B. is black. It is color, then; the lighter, having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with a fairer skin than your own. You do not mean color exactly?--You mean the whites are intellectually the superiors of the blacks, and, therefore have the right to enslave them? Take care again. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with an intellect superior to your own. But, say you, it is a question of interest; and if you can make it your interest, you have the right to enslave another. Very well. And if he can make it his interest, he has the right to enslave you."

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