1860, Abraham Lincoln’s Understanding of the Constitution, Part 2: The Importance Of The Union – Guest Essayist: David J. Shestokas

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“… if constitutionally we elect a President, and therefore you undertake to destroy the Union, it will be our duty to deal with you as old John Brown has been dealt with.”
– Abraham Lincoln, December 3, 1859

John Brown had been hanged for treason on December 2, 1859.  Brown had lead a raid on the federal arsenal in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia on October 16.  Brown and his group had intended to secure weapons to arm slaves for a revolt against their masters. The United States Marines, commanded by Colonel Robert E. Lee captured the raiders, foiling the plan. On November 2, Brown received his death sentence.

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1860, Stephen Douglas’ Understanding Of The Constitution – Guest Essayist: David J. Shestokas

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“Tell them to obey the laws and uphold the Constitution.”
Stephen A. Douglas, deathbed instructions for his sons, June 3, 1861[1]

Stephen Douglas’ instruction to his sons to uphold the Constitution should have been quite clear. He had spent three decades in public life, including 18 years in the United States Congress. He had given hundreds if not thousands of speeches on the critical constitutional issues of his day:  organization and admission of new states and the regulation of slavery in territories purchased from France and won in war with Mexico.

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