No Compromise on Slavery

December 10, 1860/2010
Volume 1, Issue 9 (9 Issues Since 15 October 2010)

No Compromise on Expansion of Slavery


Senator Lyman Trumbull

Senator Lyman Trumbull

December 10, 1860. President-elect Lincoln wrote to Illinois Senator Lyman Trumbull:

Springfield, Ills.
My dear Sir:

Let there be no compromise on the question of extending slavery. If there be, all our labor is lost, and, ere long, must be done again. The dangerous ground–that into which some of our friends have a hankering to run–is Pop[ular]. Sov[ereignty]. Have none of it. Stand firm. The tug has come, & better now, than any time hereafter. Yours as ever

– A. Lincoln

[Before and after Lincoln’s election, there were numerous efforts to craft a compromise that would cause

Abraham Lincoln, President Elect

Abraham Lincoln, President Elect

Southern states not to secede.

All those efforts were unsuccessful. In this letter Lincoln is referring to the fact that some people were prepared to accept Popular Sovereignty as a way to preserve the Union. Popular Sovereignty would have enabled the citizens in a state or territory to decide for themselves whether their state or territory would be free or slave.

Lincoln was willing to leave slavery alone where it existed, but he did not support any step that would permit it to expand to new territories or states. It was Illinois’s other senator, Democrat Stephen A. Douglas, who was the champion of Popular Sovereignty. Douglas had defeated Lincoln in 1858 in their race for the US Senate, following on their series of debates.

But on November 6, 1860, Lincoln defeated Douglas, who ran as the Northern Democratic Party nominee for the presidency. Having won the election, Lincoln was not about to embrace what he considered Douglas’s expedient but ill-considered approach to the dealing with slavery and the sectional crisis.]

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Filed under Civil War Book of Days: 1860

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