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Lincoln on the Know Nothing Party

August 24, 1855: Letter to Joshua F. Speed

The American or "Know Nothing Party" was an anti-immigrant political party of the 1850's.

I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we begin by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes." When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty-to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy.

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Mary Todd Lincoln

Mary Lincoln never returned to the family home in Springfield after the death of Abraham Lincoln. She instead lived in Chicago and in Europe until returning to her sister's house in Springfield later in life. Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Illinois