THE UNION TESTED AND PROVED
BEFORE THE SLAVERY ISSUE FLARED SO TRAGICALLY, any of a number of other subjects--the tariff, regulation of commerce, the national taxing power--had threatened to precipitate a showdown as to the nature of the Union. Indeed, dispute over each of these matters had more than once before carried the country to the brink of civil conflict. Lincoln himself recognized the real issue which underlay the slavery controversy. In his Peoria speech of October 16, 1854, he expressed the thought, later put in the familiar lines he wrote Horace Greeley:
My paramount object . . . is to save the Union. . . . If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could do it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because
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Publication information: Book title: In Quest of Freedom:American Political Thought and Practice. Contributors: Alpheus Thomas Mason McCormick - Author, Richard H. Leach - Author. Publisher: Prentice Hall. Place of publication: Englewood Cliffs, NJ. Publication year: 1959. Page number: 331.
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