The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 5 by Abraham Lincoln
Address at Cleveland, Ohio, February 15, 1861
Mr. CHAIRMAN AND FELLOW-CITIZENS OF CLEVELAND:--We have been marching about two miles through snow, rain, and deep mud. The large numbers that have turned out under these circumstances testify that you are in earnest about something or other. But do I think so meanly of you as to suppose that that earnestness is about me personally? I would be doing you an injustice to suppose you did. You have assembled to testify your respect for the Union, the Constitution, and the laws; and here let me say that it is with you, the people, to advance the great cause of the Union and the Constitution, and not with any one man. It rests with you alone. This fact is strongly impressed upon my mind at present. In a community like this, whose appearance testifies to their intelligence, I am convinced that the cause of liberty and the Union can never be in danger. Frequent allusion is made to the excitement at present existing in our national politics, and it is as well that I should also allude to it here. I think that there is no occasion for any excitement. 'The crisis, as it is called, is altogether an artificial crisis. In all parts of the nation there are differences of opinion on politics. There are differences of opinion even here. You did not all vote for the person who now addresses you. What is happening now will not hurt those who are farther away from here. Have they not all their rights now as they ever have had? Do they not have their fugitive slaves returned now as ever? Have they not the same Constitution that they have lived under for seventy-odd years? Have they not a position as citizens of this common country, and have we any power to change that position? What, then, is the matter with them? Why all this excitement? Why all these complaints?
As I said before, this crisis is all artificial! It has no foundation in facts. It is not argued up, as the saying is, and cannot, therefore, be argued down. Let it alone and it will go down of itself.
[Mr. Lincoln then said that they must be content with a few words from him, as he was tired, etc. Having been given to understand that the crowd was not all Republican, but consisted of men of all parties, he continued:]
This is as it should be. If Judge Douglas had been elected and had been here on his way to Washington, as I am to-night, the Republicans should have joined his supporters in welcoming him, just as his friends have joined with mine tonight. If all do not join now to save the good old ship of the Union this voyage, nobody will have a chance to pilot her on another voyage.