Daily Observations from the Civil War just blogged a letter from Lincoln to William Kellogg instructing him to hold firm against extension of slavery. Lincoln was marking a consistent position on just how far compromise could go, as we see here in a letter from Lincoln to Illinois Representative Elihu Washburne:
Springfield Ills. Dec. 13 1860
Hon. E. B. Washburne
My Dear Sir. Your long letter received. Prevent, as far as possible, any of our friends from demoralizing themselves, and our cause, by entertaining propositions for compromise of any sort, on “slaver extention.” there is no possible compromise upon it, but which puts us under again, and leaves all our work to do over again. Whether it be a Mo. Line, or Eli Thayer’s Pop. Sov. it is all the same. Let either be done, & immediately filibustering and extending slavery recommences. On that point hold firm, as with a chain of steel.
Yours as ever
Lincoln, and many Republicans, were concerned that any promise to extend slavery into southern territories would lead to “filibustering” — adventurers like William Walker attempting to acquire new lands for slavery. Many Southerners had advocated an expansion of American slave states into Mexico and the Caribbean.
Linden, G.M. Voices from the Gathering Storm: The coming of the American civil war. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, Inc., 2001. p. 184
By the way, Washburne’s brother Israel Washburn was governor of Maine. No, that’s not a typo; they spelled their last name differently.