Speech At Kalamazoo, Michigan:
Roughly two months after the first Republican National Convention, Lincoln campaigned in Kalamazoo, Michigan, for the newly nominated John C. Frémont against the Democratic nominee, James Buchanan. “The question of slavery,” explained Lincoln, “should be not only the greatest question, but very nearly the sole question.” He sought to focus public attention on one fundamental issue: should slavery be permitted to expand into the territories as allowed by Senator Douglas's Kansas-Nebraska Act? “This is the naked question.” But for Lincoln and his fellow Republicans, who carefully distanced themselves from abolitionism, the real issue appeared to be how to keep the territories open for “the homes of free white people.” Lincoln also singled out the Richmond Enquirer, a highly influential semiweekly newspaper founded by Democratic activist Thomas Ritchie in 1804. From 1855 to 1857, the Enquirer featured several editorials by the proslavery ideologue George Fitzhugh, some unsigned, justifying the institution of slavery regardless of color and suggesting that Southern slaves lived better than working-class whites in the North. Lincoln used Fitzhugh's writings as a warning to the North of “the Southern view of the Free States” and the ultimate tendency of a slave society.
August 27, 1856
Fellow countrymen:—Under the Constitution of the U.S.
another Presidential contest approaches us. All over this
land—that portion at least, of which I know much—the
people are assembling to consider the proper course to
be adopted by them. One of the first considerations is to
learn what the people differ about. If we ascertain what
we differ about, we shall be better able to decide. The