Lincoln on 'Negro Equality'
In his 1858 campaign notebook, Abraham Lincoln opens a revealing window onto his antebellum political thinking about emancipation, abolition, and black social and political equality. During the heat of his celebrated contest with Senator Stephen A. Douglas, Lincoln compiled a pocket memorandum book addressing not just slavery but "the substance of all I have ever said about 'negro equality'"—the issue of how blacks might fit into American society once freed. The resulting notebook consists of newspaper clippings that Lincoln selected from his speeches in response to the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854) and the Dred Scott decision (1857), and from the legendary debates themselves. Lincoln on "Negro Equality" provides a paragraph-by-paragraph commentary on the clippings, considering the content of the notebook within the political climate of the times, and it contrasts Lincoln's views on racial equality as a senatorial candidate for the new Republican Party in 1858 with his actions as Civil War president (1861-1865). Appendices provide the transcribed text of the clippings and Lincoln's handwritten summary of them; a guide to the contemporary sources for Lincoln's selected extracts that are available online; and a brief history of the physical notebook, housed in The Huntington Library.