Friday, August 31, 2018

Rhyming History II: The Lincoln-Douglas Debates

Earlier this month I told you about a visit we made with our son to a school in northwest Illinois (Knox College) that happened to be the site of the fifth in the series of seven debates between  Steven Douglas and Abraham Lincoln. The year was 1858, and the two men were running against each other for the United States Senate seat at the time occupied by Douglas. Two years later both would run against each other again, along with two other candidates for president  The Lincoln-Douglas debates have been regarded as a watershed moment in the history of American rhetoric, as both men confronted each other with arguments that helped define the struggle that tore this country apart and ultimately resulted in the Civil War.

The building known as Old Main on the campus of Konx College in Galesburg, IL
It was the site of the fifth Lincoln-Douglas debate.

Douglas was already a well established figure in American politics, but the debates, the contents of which were published in newspapers all over the country, brought Lincoln national attention which helped him win the 1860 presidential attention. That noteriety which included Lincoln's neagtive views of slavery, did not go unnoticed in the South. As a result, seven states, (South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas) seceeded from the Union just before the March 4th, 1861 innauguration of the 16th president. After Rebel forces attacked the federal garrison, Fort Sumter in Charleston, SC on April 12th of that year, four more southern states, (Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia), joined the Confederacy.

Many have put forward the notion that the primary cause for the secessession of eleven states from the Union and the war that ensued, was not slavery at all, but rather a plethora of gripes with the federal government and each state's right to confront those gripes head on, even if it meant leaving the Union if it chose. But any honest study of the history of the conflict, shows that argument to be fallacious. Judging by the Lincoln-Douglas campaign alone, so profound was the struggle over slavery, that even in a local election in a free state, hardly any other issue was addressed.

Aside from the slave owners themselves who were in it for the money, essentially there were four schools of thought regarding slavery in the United States before the Civil War. On one extreme were the people who believed that slavery was part of the natural order; i.e.; they believed that certain races were naturally superior to others and had the divine right to master over their inferiors. At the other extreme were the Abolitioinists who believed that slavery was an unequivocal wrong that should be put to an end without hesitation. The Abolitionists were radicals, the Antifa of their day. Steven Douglas and Abraham Lincoln represented the two groups in the middle, as well as the opinions of the vast majority of Americans at the time.

The concept that Douglas put his heart and soul into was "the sacred right of self-government", or the term he coined, Popular Sovereignty, the idea that it was the natural right of the people to choose their own destiny. Of course by "the people", Douglas was referring to US citizens, a distinction which in his time excluded women and except for a very few exceptions, people of color. For Douglas and like minded people, slavery was not a significant issue, other than it caused a great deal of friction in the body politic of mid-nineteenth century America. For Douglas it was the division over slavery, which he correctly envisioned would lead to Civil War, not slavery itself that was the problem. It was his firm (and erroneous) belief that the only way to eliminate the bitter struggle was to let people on a state by state basis rather than the federal government, determine which states were to allow slavery and which would not.

The last school of thought about slavery in the United States was represented by Abraham Lincoln and the new Republicans, who were an offshoot of the old, fractured Whig Party. Like the Abolitionists, Lincoln believed that slavery was ethically and morally unacceptable. Yet being a prgmatist, he understood that outright abolition would cause great upheaval and grind the economy of the American South to a halt. Instead of abolishing slavery, Lincoln favored limiting the institution to where it already existed, while steadfastly opposing expanding slavery into territories that would eventually becaome US states. That way slavery would be allowed to die out on its own, as Lincoln believed was the intention of the forefathers.

The subject of the expansion of slavery into the territories was the heart and soul of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Naturally Douglas argued that the people in the terrirories had the right to decide for themselves in which direction their territories would go. For him it was of no consequence what the decision would be.

Unlike Douglas however, the expansion of slavery in the new territories meant a great deal to many of his fellow Democrats, especially those in the southern states, who were reasonably from their point of view, quite apprehensive of slave states losing ground to free states in terms of representation in Congress.

Douglas was instrumental in the passage of the act which would open the settlement of the land west of Iowa and Missouri, There was great concern down south over the status of these new territories as according to the terms of the Missouri Compromise of 1820, slavery there would have been prohibited. One provision of the Douglas sponsored Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, was to repeal the part of the Missouri Compromise that banned slavery north of the 36th parallel. The white, male inhabitants of both territories would then be responsible for deciding whether to permit slavery or not. Rather than settling the issue, popular sovereignty resulted in the Kansas territory being flooded by a barrage of settlers from all ends of the ideological spectrum, all with the specific intent of trying to influence the vote. This resulting chaos led to murder and mayhem during the period known as Bloody Kansas.

In 1857, a group of pro-slavery legislators met in the territorial capital Lecompton, to draft a pro-slavery state constitution which would contradict an earlier anti-slavry draft written in Topeka, two years earlier. The later draft gained favor with then president James Buchanan, a northerner with strong sympathies to the South. As the Lecompton Constitution was fraught with serious voting irregularrrities and outright fraud before leaving Kansas for Washington, it was strongly denounced by Douglas as he felt, correctly, that it did not reflect the majority opinion of the people of the state. This put Douglas at odds with the president and his fellow Deomcrats from the South. Meanwhile his bill's repeal of the Missouri Compromise's slavery ban, was tremendously unpopular in the north, especially in his home state of Illinois. This created a tremendous opportunity for the realatively unknown Lincoln in his effort to unseat the powerful senator. 

While claiming the institution of slavery always rubbed him the wrong way, Lincoln readily admitted that prior to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, it had not been a particularly important issue for him, assuming that it would be permanently restricted to the Deep South. With the repeal of the Missouri Compromise opening up the potential of expanding slavery to new territories,  Lincoln now understood that the wretched institution could be extended indefinitely, even into free states. That notion was confirmed by the notorious 1857 Supreme Court ruling in the case Dred Scott vs. Sandford. In a nutshell, Dred Scott, a slave, was taken by his owner into the free territory of Wisconsin whereupon Scott sued for his freedom. The case dragged on for 10 years and finally reached the nation's highest court which ruled that it had no jurisdiction over the rights of slaves as "Negroes, whether slaves or free, that is, men of the African race, are not citizens of the United States by the Constitution.”

In his acceptance speech in the state capital of Springfield upon his nomination for the Republican candidacy to unseat Steven Douglas, Abraham Lincoln gave one of the most important and controversial speeches of his career. In that speech Lincoln conflated the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Dred Scott ruling and the Lecompton Constitution as all being part of a massive government conspiracy to expand slavery in the United States. He lambasted Douglas's supposed indifference to the subject of slavery, suggesting it was a disingenuous attempt to lull the American public into tacitly accepting a practice that was inherently wrong. In doing so, whether justly or not, Lincon tied Douglas to the vast Democratic "dynasty" as part and parcel with the conspiracy. Thanks to that unholy trinity of government actions, Lincoln warned that free states like Illinois were one Supreme Court ruling away from becoming slave states:
In what cases the power of the states is so restrained by the U.S. Constitution, is left an open question, precisely as the same question, as to the restraint on the power of the territories was left open in the Nebraska act. Put that and that together, and we have another nice little niche, which we may, ere long, see filled with another Supreme Court decision, declaring that the Constitution of the United States does not permit a state to exclude slavery from its limits. 
And this may especially be expected if the doctrine of “care not whether slavery be voted down or voted up,” shall gain upon the public mind sufficiently to give promise that such a decision can be maintained when made. 
Such a decision is all that slavery now lacks of being alike lawful in all the States.
Welcome or unwelcome, such decision is probably coming, and will soon be upon us, unless the power of the present political dynasty shall be met and overthrown.
We shall lie down pleasantly dreaming that the people of Missouri are on the verge of making their State free; and we shall awake to the reality, instead, that the Supreme Court has made Illinois a slave State.
That bleak possibility drove Lincoln to declare at the beginning of his speech that rather than mollify the tensions regarding slavery, those actions of the government acting in the best interests of the slave owners, only exacerbated the tension. Quoting scripture he said:
A house divided against itself cannot stand.
I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. 
I do not expect the Union to be dissolved – I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it will cease to be divided. 
It will become all one thing, or all the other. 
Either the opponents of slavery, will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new – North as well as South.
Lincon's advisors were dead set against him delivering the speech as written, especially the parts about not enduring permanently half slave and half free  and overthrowing the dynasty, which seemed to indicate that their man  was one of them damned, dirty Abolitionists. Lincoln insisted that the rapacious actions of the government to push the agenda of expanding slavery in the territories, necessitated his harsh words.

The "House Divided Speech" would remain intact.

Douglas and Lincoln waged a tireless campaign, traveling from city to city bringing their case directly to the people. Typically the incumbent would show up in a town and his challenger would appear on the same dais a day or two later. The idea of the debates came from among others, Horace Greely, the publisher of the New York Tribune. Greely no doubt savored the idea of paper sales as thanks to the invention of the telegraph, the words of the debates featuring the well known maverick senator and his curious challenger could be wired directly to the east coast and appear in his paper almost immediately (by mid-nineteenth century standards) after they were uttered. One could say the debates marked the beginning of mass media coverage of American political campaigns. Lincoln's camp jumped at the idea of the debates as interest in a head-to-head dialog between the two candidates would bring their man national attention never dreamed of before. As for Douglas, he knew he had little to gain and everything to lose from such a confrontation. No one knows exatly why he agreed, but historian Allen G. Guelzo, the author of the book, Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates That Changed America, suggests that "The Little Giant" Douglas's nickname, was a natural gambler with an enormous ego, who never shied away from attention or a challenge.

That said, as the reluctant party, Douglas insisted on calling the shots. He set the locations, the dates, the number and the format of the debates. He would start off the first debate with one hour to state his case. That would be followed by Lincoln speaking for one and one half hour. The debate would conclude with a one half hour response from Douglas. That format would remain set throughout the seven debates with the exception of the candidates reversing the order of speakers each debate. 

The first meeting of the two candidates took place in the city of Ottawa, about 80 miles southwest of Chicago. As predicted by Lincoln's advisors, Douglas came out swinging, using the House Divided speech as evidence to portray Lincoln as a radical Abolitionist intent on wiping out slavery no matter the cost:
Mr. Lincoln, following the example and lead of all the little Abolition orators, who go around and lecture in the basements of schools and churches, reads from the Declaration of Independence, that all men were created equal, and then asks, how can you deprive a negro of that equality which God and the Declaration of Independence awards to him? ... Now, I hold that Illinois had a right to abolish and prohibit slavery as she did, and I hold that Kentucky has the same right to continue and protect slavery that Illinois had to abolish it. I hold that New York had as much right to abolish slavery as Virginia has to continue it, and that each and every State of this Union is a sovereign power, with the right to do as it pleases upon this question of slavery, and upon all its domestic institutions. ... And why can we not adhere to the great principle of self-government, upon which our institutions were originally based. I believe that this new doctrine preached by Mr. Lincoln and his party will dissolve the Union if it succeeds. They are trying to array all the Northern States in one body against the South, to excite a sectional war between the free States and the slave States, in order that the one or the other may be driven to the wall.
Taking his point further, Douglas goes on to, (in current parlance), play the race card.
Playing upon their fears, Douglas directly addressed the crowd (whose comments are in parenthesis) in what we would call today, a populist rant:
I ask you, are you in favor of conferring upon the negro the rights and privileges of citizenship? ("No, no.") Do you desire to strike out of our State Constitution that clause which keeps slaves and free negroes out of the State, and allow the free negroes to flow in, ("never,") and cover your prairies with black settlements? Do you desire to turn this beautiful State into a free negro colony, ("no, no,") in order that when Missouri abolishes slavery she can send one hundred thousand emancipated slaves into Illinois, to become citizens and voters, on an equality with yourselves? ("Never," "no.") If you desire negro citizenship, if you desire to allow them to come into the State and settle with the white man, if you desire them to vote on an equality with yourselves, and to make them eligible to office, to serve on juries, and to adjudge your rights, then support Mr. Lincoln and the Black Republican party, who are in favor of the citizenship of the negro. ("Never, never.") For one, I am opposed to negro citizenship in any and every form. (Cheers.) I believe this Government was made on the white basis. ("Good.") I believe it was made by white men for the benefit of white men and their posterity for ever, and I am in favor of confining citizenship to white men, men of European birth and descent, instead of conferring it upon negroes, Indians, and other inferior races. ("Good for you." "Douglas forever.")
Being put on the defensive from the outset of the debate, Abraham Lincoln equivocated:
...this is the true complexion of all I have ever said in regard to the institution of slavery and the black race. This is the whole of it, and anything that argues me into his idea of perfect social and political equality with the negro, is but a specious and fantastic arrangement of words, by which a man can prove a horse-chestnut to be a chestnut horse. (Laughter.) I will say here, while upon this subject, that I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and the black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position. 
I have never said anything to the contrary...
Needless to say you will not find those words inscribed on the walls of the Lincoln Memorial.
But he continues:
...I hold that, notwithstanding all this, there is no reason in the world why the negro is not entitled to all the natural rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence, the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. (Loud cheers.) I hold that he is as much entitled to these as the white man. I agree with Judge Douglas he is not my equal in many respects-certainly not in color, perhaps not in moral or intellectual endowment. But in the right to eat the bread, without the leave of anybody else, which his own hand earns, he is my equal and the equal of Judge Douglas, and the equal of every living man.(Great applause.)
Throughout the debates, Lincoln took pains to make a distinction between civil rights, (such as the right to vote), which may come and go, and natural rights such as those defined by the Declaration of Independence. Douglas time and again countered with the fact that the man who wrote the words, "all men are created equal', Thomas Jefferson, himself owned slaves. Therefore in Douglas's estimation, Jefferson, a rational being if there ever was one, certainly must not have included black people in his equation.

Not so said Lincoln, the founding fathers while having inherited the institution of slavery if not actual slaves themselves, understood the terrible wrong of human bondage, and did everything in their power to limit and quarantine it so that one day it would die a natural death, not be perpetuated indefinitely as Douglas and the Democrats proposed.

Relief plaques of Lincoln, left and Douglas, right mark the spot where the two men squared off in an open-air debate on  Octobr 7, 1858. The debate was originally planned for the town square a few blocks away, but gale force winds forced the organizers to move the event to the campus of Knox College which was more protected from the elements. The hastily prepared speakers platform was about five feet high and partially covered the front door of the building forcing the debators to enter it by climbing through the windows, This led the self-educated Lincoln to remark "This marks the first time I've actually gone thrugh college." 

No matter how much the issue of self government or constitutional law played into it, there was one over-riding principle that was in Lincoln's mind, the bottom line as far as determining the fate of slavery. Lincoln unequivocally hammered that point home throughout the debates, first in Ottawa:
This declared indifference, but, as I must think, covert real zeal for the spread of slavery, I cannot but hate. I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world—enables the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to taunt us as hypocrites—causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity, and especially because it forces so many really good men amongst ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty—criticizing the Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right principle of action but self-interest. 
In Galesburg:
I suppose that the real difference between Judge Douglas and his friends, and the Republicans on the contrary, is that the Judge is not in favor of making any difference between slavery and liberty...and consequently every sentiment he utters discards the idea that there is any wrong in slavery,... Judge Douglas declares that if any community wants slavery, they have a right to have it. He can say that, logically, if he says that there is no wrong in slavery; but if you admit that there is a wrong in it, he cannot logically say that anybody has a right to do wrong.”
And finally in Alton:
That is the real issue. That is the issue that will continue in this country when these poor tongues of Judge Douglas and myself shall be silent. It is the eternal struggle between these two principles -- right and wrong -- throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time, and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, "You work and toil and earn bread, and I'll eat it." No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle. 
In our own day of rancor and division, it is emboldening to read these words and look for parallels between the time in question, and our own. There are plenty of them, both big and small.

Here are two amusing coincidences between the 1858 Illinois Senate race and the 2016 presidential race. In both cases, the winning candidates received a last minute gift in the form of a revalation released to the public in the eleventh hour, that turned the tide of the election. We all remmeber FBI Director James Comey's last minute re-opening of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's email issues right?. In the case of the 1858 senate race, a letter written by John Crittenden, a very influential Whig, endorsing Douglas was made public just weeks before the election. Crittenden had a very tangential personal relationship with Lincoln, he was the best man at Mary Todd Lincoln's father's second wedding. (Doesn't get much more tangential than that does it?).  Anyway in the letter Crittenden proclaimed in no uncertain terms his support for Douglas, singing high praise for The Little Giant and numerous misgivings about Lincoln, mostly related to him being a damned Abolitionist, the House Divided Speech coming back to bite its author no doubt.

Lincoln attributed his loss in the campaign at least in part to the release of the letter.

The other coincidence is that Lincoln won the popular vote of the state but managed to lose the election. Until the 17th amendment was ratified in 1913, US Senators were not elected directly by the people but rather by state representatives, much like the Electoral College is still the body that actually elects the president. Because of the particular apportionment of Illinois state representatives at the time, Douglas won the election by receiving more votes of representatives, while Lincoln received more votes of the people. Sound familiar?

There are far less trivial issues linking then and now, the following are a small helping of them.


That word hadn't been coined in the nineteenth century, probably because the idea that certain races were superior to others was almost universally accepted. As a means of calling out individuals, calling your typical nineteenth century person a racist probably makes as much sense as calling him an "air breather." Still as we've seen, there were degrees of racism back then. Abraham Lincoln's stated opinion that black people were not the intellectual or moral equals to white people, today would place him well in step with most of today's white supremacists. But his opinion that blacks were just as entitled to the natural rights of life, liberty and the persuit of happiness, led contrmporaries like Stephen Douglas to label him a Negro lover, (not the exact term he used). For Lincoln's day, he was viewed by many as a dangerous, progressive radical. Clearly we have come a long way since then. And as we've seen in the past two years, we still have a long way to go.

Was Abraham Lincoln a Radical Progressive, 150 years ahead of his time?


Some Americans of late have become shocked, shocked, that the sources where people derive their news could be biased and therefore not to be trusted. One current politician who shall remain nameless, has himself planted seeds of mistrust. This politician has reaped what he sowed, by taking advantage of that mistrust to convince his supporters that all news reports that portray him in a bad light are "fake news."

But he truth is, news reporting has always been biased. Here is an account from historian Allen Guelzo about the newspaper reporting of the Ottawa LinconDouglas debate:
At moments partisanship galloped so far ahead of reporting that it hardly seemed as though the papers were describing the same event. The (Republican) Tribune had Douglas "livid with passion and excitement" in his reply to Lincoln, his face "distorted with rage" and "a maniac in language and argument. " The (Democratic) Chicago Times had Lincoln so close to nervous collapse under Douglas's hammering that he could no longer stand up and had to be carried off the platform by his disheartened rescuers. 
As I mentioned above, technology was a boon to the news media in the middle nineteenth century. New technologies in the printing process made publishing available to people who a generation before could never have dreamed of owning their own newspaper, much like the internet today has given people the opportunity to broadcast their opinions to an audience never before thought imaginable. The main difference as Guelzo points out in his book is that only about five percent of American newspapers at the time of the Lincoln-Doulas debates were NOT affiliated with a political party.

Then as now, if an indiviual was truly interested in the complete picture of what was going on, he or she would have to be willing to get the news from multile sources with different points of view. My guess is that back then as now, most people were quite happy with only the news they wanted to hear.


We see division in this country running deeper than any time since the Civil War. There are differences to be sure between now and then, when two geographic regions of the country had a powerful, intractable, and seemingly uncompromisable gap over one controversial issue. The curious thing to me is why were so many Southerners,  the vast majority of whom did not own slaves, willing to risk everything in order to preserve an institution that everyone deep down in their hearts had to know was wrong.

My theory is that Abraham Lincoln was right when he described a conspiracy among the president, certain members of the Supreme Court including its Chief Justice, Roger Taney, and the interests of the slave owners, to expand slavery as far and wide as they possibly could. Preserving "the Southern way of Life" and its institutions (such as slavery), for these people was not a matter of principle as is so often depicted, it was all about the money. The institution of human bondage made slave owners incredibly rich. They understood that if slavery were limited  to the Deep South states, eventually their votes and interests would be vastly outnumbered in Congress by the new free states, and their way of life (in other words theur fortunes), would be doomed.

They also understood that creating division among the masses, people who didn't really have that many differences to begin with, could help their cause. In other words, if they could get the average folks of the South (who didn't own slaves), to distrust and hate their brethren up north, (most of whom ddn't care much for black folks), heck, maybe they could get some of those poor fools to fight and die for their ignoble cause if it came to that. It just so happened that they won that battle but lost the war.

Today we don't have one towering issue that divids us, we have many. We always have had our differences yet never have we been so divided. Could there be some outside force that might benefit from our divisions?

I have my suspicions but I'll just wait for the report to come out before I comment on that.


Finally we get to the nitty gritty, the sine qua non of determining factors to settle the issues that would divide us. Some would argue that ethics and morality are all relative. They say that every culture has its own set of values and ideas about what is wrong, therefore there cannot be a universal standard of right and wrong. There's certainly a germ of truth to that but taken to its logical extreme, nothing could ever be wrong, not slavery, not rape, not even murder. Obviously the argument of moral relativity is flawed.

There certanly is a universal standard of ethical behavior that almost all of humanity can agree upon. We Christians call it the Golden Rule but truth be told, a version of the idea that you should not do anything to others that is displeasing to you, can be found in virtaully every human culture on the planet. Simply put, from an evolutionary standpoint, that is how human beings became the dominant species of life on this planet, this over-riding principle of being able to put ourselves into someone else's shoes, that enables us to form communities, work together and put aside our self-interest for the greater good. It hasn't always worked out perfectly, but it's the best we've got.

The slavery issue is an easy problem to solve as far as ethical problems go. If we subscribe to the Golden Rule or whatever you want to call it, it's not hard at all to argue that slavery is wrong because no, I would not choose to be a slave, neither would you, and neither would practically anybody else in the world. Therefore if we wouldn't want to be slaves ourselves, we should not make other people be slaves. What's more, slavery is wrong unconditionally. There are no excpetions.

Were all moral problem so easy. We grapple with many issues where there is more than one right answer, or two or more sides with conflicting "rights", such as the right of a sovereign nation to protect its borders versus the human rights of immigrants who are trying to flee oppression or are simply looking for a better life for their families. Or the rights of people to have affordable health care versus the rights of people to not have to pay for other people's health care. Or the rights of an unborn child to live versus the rights of its mother to do as she sees fit with her own body. Or the rights of a company to make a profit without the burden of unnecessary governmental regulations versus the rights of its employees to make a living wage and work in a safe environment, or the rights of the community as a whole to demand that companies do not pollute our air and our water.

Some of these issues for me are relatively easy problems, while others are heart breakingly difficult ethical dilemmas. For you, different issues may be easy or difficult. But ideally we come to solutions to these issues not out of malice, but out of  respect for one another as members of a community, and as citizens of this country and the world. As our Declaration of Independence states, there are indeed truths that are self-evident, ones that all people of good will should all be able to agree upon.

I think it is entirely approprite here to give the last word to Senator John McCain whom we lost this week. I often thought of him as a modern day Steven Douglas without the racist baggage. McCain was a fiery, passionate, cantankerous politician who like Douglas was a maverick, someone who was not afriad to challenge his party and especially its leadership when he felt it appropriate.

But earlier this year, when he realized his time on earth was short, he sat down and wrote his memoir and in the end, sounded much more like Abraham Lincoln.

Godspeed John McCain:
I'd like to see our politics begin to return to the purposes and practices that distinguish our history from the history of other nations. I'd like to see us recover our sense that we're more alike than different. We're citizens of a republic made of shared ideals, forged in a new world to replace the tribal enmities that tormented the old one. Even in times of political turmoil such as these, we share that awesome heritage and the responsibility to embrace it. Whether we think each other right or wrong in our views on the issues of the day, we owe each other our respect, as so long as our character merits respect and as long as we share for all our differences for all the rancorous debates that enliven and sometimes demean our politics, a mutual devotion to the ideals our nation was conceived to uphold, that all are created equal and liberty and equal justice are the natural rights of all. Those rights inhabit the human heart. And from there though they may be assailed, they can never be wrenched. I want to urge Americans for as long as I can to remember that this shared devotion to human rights is our truest heritage and our most important loyalty.

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