Support the Troops! – Lincoln-Douglas Edition

Below is a selection from Abraham Lincoln’s response to Stephen A. Douglas in the first of their famous Lincoln-Douglas debates (this one occurred on August 21, 1858).  Mark LeBar, and other readers, may find it particularly interesting given his prior thoughts on supporting the troops.


And so I think my friend, the Judge, is equally at fault when he charges me at the time when I was in Congress of having opposed our soldiers who were fighting in the Mexican war. The Judge did not make his charge very distinctly but I can tell you what he can prove by referring to the record. You remember I was an old Whig, and whenever the Democratic party tried to get me to vote that the war had been righteously begun by the President, I would not do it. But whenever they asked for any money, or land warrants, or anything to pay the soldiers there, during all that time, I gave the same votes that Judge Douglas did. [Loud applause.] You can think as you please as to whether that was consistent. Such is the truth; and the Judge has the right to make all he can out of it. But when he, by a general charge, conveys the idea that I withheld supplies from the soldiers who were fighting in the Mexican war, or did anything else to hinder the soldiers, he is, to say the least, grossly and altogether mistaken, as a consultation of the records will prove to him.

One thought on “Support the Troops! – Lincoln-Douglas Edition

  1. That is interesting! So then the idea is that the wars are unjustified, but Lincoln votes appropriation to fund the soldiers who are fighting in them? Perhaps the idea is that terminating the Mexican war was not an option. Then is the thought: “well, given that we are doing something unjust, is it a further injustice to withhold payment from those engaging in the injustice?” I myself have no idea how to go about thinking such a question. In fact, I think it is a lost cause, at least on moral grounds.

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