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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

December 22, 1860

Lincoln Letter to Alexander Stephens Stating Protection of Slavery Where it Existed

President-elect Abraham Lincoln wrote a brief letter to his friend (at the time) Alexander Stephens, insisting that slavery where it then existed was in no danger from his administration:

To Alexander H. Stephens For your own eye only. Springfield, Ills. Dec. 22, 1860 Hon. A. H. Stephens– My dear Sir Your obliging answer to my short note is just received, and for which please accept my thanks. I fully appreciate the present peril the country is in, and the weight of responsibility on me. Do the people of the South really entertain fears that a Republican administration would, directly or indirectly, interfere with their slaves, or with them, about their slaves? If they do, I wish to assure you, as once a friend, and still, I hope, not an enemy, that there is no cause for such fears. The South would be in no more danger in this respect than it was in the days of Washington. I suppose, however, this does not meet the case. You think slavery is right and should be extended; while we think slavery is wrong and ought to be restricted. That I suppose is the rub. It certainly is the only substantial difference between us. Yours very truly A. Lincoln