Abraham Lincoln on the Freedom to be a Slave

We tend to think of Abraham Lincoln speaking in sentences Biblical in their complexity and beauty with a deep debt to the King James Version. But Lincoln could make a point acutely and with humor.

Consider his thoughts on slavery offered to some soldiers a month before his assassination:

While I have often said that all men ought to be free, yet I would allow those colored persons to be slaves who want to be; and next to them those white persons who argue in favor of making other people slaves. I am in favor of giving an opportunity to such white men to try it on for themselves.

Abraham Lincoln, “Speech To The 140th Indiana Regiment, March 17, 1865,” as reprinted in Abraham Lincoln: Speeches & Writings 1859-1865 (New York: Library of America, 1989), p. 690.