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Alexander Stephens speeches and thoughts

January 25, 1845, U.S. Congress

"This acquisition will give additional power to the south-western section in the national councils; and for this purpose I want it- not that I am desirous to see an extension of the "area of slavery," as some gentlemen have said its effects would be. I am no defender of slavery in the abstract. Liberty always had charms for me, and I would rejoice to see all the sons of Adam's family, in every land and clime, in the enjoyment of those rights which are set forth in our Declaration of Independence as "natural and inalienable," if a stern necessity, bearing the marks and impress of the hand of the Creator himself, did not, in some cases, interpose and prevent. Such is the case with the States where slavery now exists. But I have no wish to see it extended to other countries; and if the annexation of Texas were for the sole purpose of extendeing slavery where it does not now and would not otherwise exist, I should oppose it. This is not its object, nor will it be its effect. Salvery already exists in Texas, and will continue to exist there...." Alexander Stephens

Dec. 30th, 1860, Crawfordville, Georgia to Abraham Lincoln

"I will also add, that in my judgement the people of the South do NOT entertain any fears that a Republican Administration, or at least the one about to be inaugurated, would attempt to interfere directly and immediately with slavery in the States. Their apprehension and disquietude do not spring from that source. They do not arise from the fact of the known anti-slavery opinions of the President elect. Washington, Jefferson, and other Presidents are generally admitted to have been anti-slavery in sentiment. But in those days anti-slavery did not enter as an element into party organizations....The leading object seems to be simply, and wantonly, if you please, to put the institutions of nearly half the States under the ban of public opinion and national condemnation. This, upon general principles, is quite enough of itself to arouse a spirit not only of general indignation but of revolt on the part of the proscribed....We at the South do think African slavery, as it exists with us, both morally and politically right. This opinion is founded upon the inferiority of the black race. You, however, and perhaps a majority of the North, think it wrong. Admit the difference of opinion. The same difference of opinion existed to a more general extent arnongst those who formed the constitution... When parties or combinations of men, therefore, so form themselves, must it not be assumed to arise not from reason or any sense of justice, but from fanaticism. The motive can spring from no other source, and when men come under the influence of fanaticism, there is no telling where their impulses or passions may drive them. This is what creates our discontent and apprehension. You will also allow me to say, that it is neither unnatural or unreasonable, especially when we see the extent to which this reckless spirit has already gone. Such, for instance, as the avowed disregard and breach of the constitution, in the passage of the statutes in a number of the Northern States against the rendition of fugitives from service, and such exhibitions of madness as the John Brown raid into Virginia, which has received so much sympathy from many, and no open condemnation from any of the leading men of the present dominant party. For a very clear statement of the prevailing sentiment of the most moderate men of the South upon them, I refer you to the speech of Senator Nicholson, of Tennessee, which I inclose to you. Upon a review of the whole, who can say that the general discontent and apprehension prevailing is not well founded ?..." Alexander Stevens


Abraham Lincoln loved Alexander Stephens speech against secession and wrote him for a copy....

"Springfield, Ill. Nov. 30, 1860

Hon. A. Stephens

My dear Sir.

I have read, in the newspapers, your speech recently delivered (I think) before the Georgia Legislature or its assembled members. If you have revised it, as is probable, I shall be much obliged if you will send me a copy-

Yours very truly,
A. Lincoln."

"From Alexander H. Stephens to Abraham Lincoln, December 14, 1860

Crawfordsville Ga

14. Dec. 1860

My Dear Sir

Your short and polite note of the 30th ulto asking for a revised copy of the speech to which you refer &c was not received until last night-- The newspaper report of the speech has never been revised by me-- The notes of the reporter were submitted to me and corrected to some extent before being published but not so thoroughly as I could have wished. The report was substantially correct-- If I had had any idea that it would have been so extensively circulated as it has been and been republished in so many papers throughout the country as it has been I should have prepared a copy for the press in the first instance-- But I had no such thought and therefore let the report go as it did-- There are several verbal inaccuracies in it but the main points appear sufficiently clear for all practical purposes--

The Country is certainly in great peril and no man ever had heavier or greater responsibilities resting upon him than you have in this present momentous crisis--

Yours most respectfully

Alexander H. Stephens"

David Upton

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