The “Republican Cause” and Jefferson Davis

Now that the University of Texas has decided to remove the statue of Jefferson Davis from its campus, I thought it appropriate to share this “fragment” from Abraham Lincoln on those who opposed abolishing the slave trade:

Fragment on the Struggle Against Slavery [1] [c. July, 1858] I have never professed an indifference to the honors of official station; and were I to do so now, I should only make myself ridiculous. Yet I have never failed—do not now fail—to remember that in the republican cause there is a higher aim than that of mere office. I have not allowed myself to forget that the abolition of the Slave-trade by Great Brittain, was agitated a hundred years before it was a final success; that the measure had it’s open fire-eating opponents; it’s stealthy “dont care” opponents; it’s dollar and cent opponents; it’s inferior race opponents; its negro equality opponents; and its religion and good order opponents; that all these opponents got offices, and their adversaries got none. But I have also remembered that though they blazed, like tallow-candles for a century, at last they flickered in the socket, died out, stank in the dark for a brief season, and were remembered no more, even by the smell. School-boys know that Wilbe[r]force, and Granville Sharpe [sic], [2] helped that cause forward; but who can now name a single man who labored to retard it? Remembering these things I can not but regard it as possible that the higher object of this contest may not be completely attained within the term of my natural life. But I can not doubt either that it will come in due time. Even in this view, I am proud, in my passing speck of time, to contribute an humble mite to that glorious consummation, which my own poor eyes may not last to see. Annotation [1]   AD-F, ISLA, and Hertz, II, 705-706. The last two sentences are not in the facsimile. Probably this fragment is a portion of a speech manuscript prepared during the campaign, but separated from associated pages by Robert Todd Lincoln, who in presenting the fragment to the Duchess of St. Albans wrote on September 17, 1892, that “The MS. is a note made in preparing for one of the speeches in the joint-debate Campaign between Mr. Douglas & my father in 1858.” (Parke-Bernet Catalog No. 908, December 9, 1947, p. 126.) [2]   William Wilberforce and Granville Sharp.