Slavery is founded in the selfishness of man’s nature – opposition to it is his love of justice. These principles are an eternal antagonism; and when brought into collision so fiercely, as slavery extension brings them, shocks and throes and convulsions must ceaselessly follow.
That our government should have been maintained in its original form from its establishment until now is not much to be wondered at. It had many props to support it through that period, which now are decayed and crumbled away. Through that period, it was felt by all to be an undecided experiment; now, it is understood to be a successful one.
I go to assume a task more difficult than that which devolved upon Washington. Unless the great God, who assisted him, shall be with me and aid me, I must fail; but if the same omniscient mind and almighty arm that directed and protected him shall guide and support me, I shall not fail – I shall succeed.