Joseph Medill to Abraham Lincoln, August 27, 1858

    Source citation
    Joseph Medill to Abraham Lincoln, August 27, 1858, Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress,
    Date Certainty
    Transcribed by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College, Galesburg, IL
    Adapted by Don Sailer, Dickinson College
    The following transcript has been adapted from the Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress.


    Friday Morning

    Friend Lincoln

    Last Evening Judd, Peck, Sweet, Hurlburt, Kriesman and myself had a consultation in regard to the debate of today. Perhaps Judd and Peck got to see you last night on their way to Springfield and perhaps not.

    The conclusions come to were --

    1st To answer Dug's new slave, states, Repeal of Fugitive Law, and acquisition of Slave territory belonging to other countries, briefly and quickly, yes to the first: go for amendments to the second, and oppose the purchase or conquest of Cuba for the purpose of making more slave holding, Spanish Mongrel Catholic States, as Cuba is the only territory on the American Continent to which the question can apply. And as to the abolition of slavery in Dis. Columbia treat it precisely as you did at Augusta but speak of the National shame and scandal lof having bond men and women in the Federal capital before the Representatives of the whole world.


    Put a few ugly questions at Douglas, as --
    -- Do you care whether slavery be voted up or down.
    -- Will you stand by the adjustment of the Kansas question on the basis of the English bill compromise.
    -- Having given your acquiescence and sanction to the Dred Scott decision that destroys popular sovereignty in the Territories will you acquiesce in the other half of that decision when it comes to be applied to the states, by the same court?

    What becomes of your vaunted popular Soveignty in Territories since the Dred Scott decision? W -- Ak him

    Do you claim to have discovered or invented the principle of self Government? If not, why are you gabbling about it?

    Put your questions in as sharp pointed and offensive a form as possible, and note down his replies, for your rejoinder.

    3d Dont let the foregoing occupy over half an hour. Employ your best hour in pitching into Dug. Make your assertions dogmatically and unqualifiedly. Be saucy with the "Catiline" and permit no browbeating -- in other words give him h - - l.

    Show that 5 years ago all was peace -- that agitation had almost ceased on the nigger question, that all our West territories were free, some by the Ordinance of '87: others by the Compromise of 1820, and the rest by the Mexican Law, and the election of Clay and Webster and Cass that slavery could only live by presitive law that without a living soul north or south asking for it he went to work and tore up the Compromise which himself had declared "akin to the Constitution" and "ruthless hand andc" and gave as an excuse that it was done to enlarge popular rights in the territories, called popular sovrignty. Then came the Dred Scott decision establishing Slavery by the Constitution in all territories, and destroying the principle of self government in the territories. Show as you did in Augusta that the people have less power now than before the Repeal
    Charge that he was playing for the Presidency, doing the dirty work of the oligarcy: that they cast him off and took Buck [Buchanan], that then out of revenge he turned upon his own tracks and smote the president and opposed his administration. Having put over his pet he is again doing the nasty treasonable work of the slave holders, betraying and humbugging Illinois, that he may stand a chance at Charleston in 1860.

    Give him fits about his insolence about "my place in the Senate."

    Dont act on the defensive at all. Dont refer to your past speeches or positions, -- but reserve that for farther south, but hold Dug up as a traitor and conspirator a proslavery, bamboozelling demagogue And wind up your last half hour after noting his replies with a peroration to the Declaration of Independence such as your Lewistown speech.

    J. Medill

    Above all things be bold, defiant and dogmatic. Give measure for measure and a great triumph awaits you.

    [ Enclosure by Joseph Medill:]

    (1) Friend Lincoln

    Dont forget to draw a strong picture of the tenacity with which Dug clings to the decission that deprives the people of the right of Self Government.

    Make short work of his nigger equality charges by telling him that he dont believe what he says, that the people dont believe it, that you dont believe it, and that it is humbug, slang and trash, uttered to deceive the ignorant and swindle foolish men out of their votes.

    Remember, that you have good backing to day, and the sauc more saucy the better you are the better. For once leave modesty aside. You are dealing with a bold, brazen, lying rascal and you must " fight the devil with fire."

    Give Dug a rip on his forging a state platform on you. He spent an hour at Galena trying to roll the blame of Charly Lamphere. Let him Consume his time chewing on the same cud.

    Dug claimed that the Republican members of the Legislature of 54-55 voted for no more slave states -- resolutions, Trumbull told Dug in the Senate that that was not the action of the party in the State which was not formed until May 28, 1856 at Bloomington, and no state platform has taken that position, because it would be a more offensive useless obstruction, Keep the territories clear and there will never be any more slave states, which is the same result, done by a proper method.

    How to Cite This Page: "Joseph Medill to Abraham Lincoln, August 27, 1858," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,