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From William H. Seward, "The Irrepressible Conflict" (1858)

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Our country is a theater, which exhibits in full operation, two radically different political systems; the one resting on the basis of servile or slave labor, the other on the basis of voluntary labor of freemen....The slave system is not only intolerant, unjust, and inhuman, toward the laborer...but is scarcely less severe upon the freeman....As a general truth, communities prosper and flourish or droop and decline in just the degree that they practice or neglect to practice the primary duties of justice and humanity. The free-labor system conforms to the divine law of equality....[It] educates all alike, and[opens] all the fields of industrial employment...to the unchecked and equal rivalry of all classes of men....The two systems are...incompatible. They have never permanently existed together in one country, and they never can....Increase of population, which is filling the states out to their borders, together with a new and extended network of railroads and other avenues, and an internal commerce which daily becomes more intimate, is rapidly bringing the states into a higher and more perfect social unity or consolidation. Thus, these antagonistic systems are continually coming into closer contact, and collision results. Shall I tell you what this collision means?...It is an irrepressible conflict between opposing and enduring forces, and it means that the United States must, and will, sooner or later, become either entirely a slaveholding nation, or entirely a free labor nation. Our country is a theater, which exhibits in full operation, two radically different political systems; the one resting on the basis of servile or slave labor, the other on the basis of voluntary labor of freemen....The slave system is not only intolerant, unjust, and inhuman, toward the laborer...but is scarcely less severe upon the freeman....As a general truth, communities prosper and flourish or droop and decline in just the degree that they practice or neglect to practice the primary duties of justice and humanity. The free-labor system conforms to the divine law of equality....[It] educates all alike, and[opens] all the fields of industrial employment...to the unchecked and equal rivalry of all classes of men....The two systems are...incompatible. They have never permanently existed together in one country, and they never can....Increase of population, which is filling the states out to their borders, together with a new and extended network of railroads and other avenues, and an internal commerce which daily becomes more intimate, is rapidly bringing the states into a higher and more perfect social unity or consolidation. Thus, these antagonistic systems are continually coming into closer contact, and collision results. Shall I tell you what this collision means?...It is an irrepressible conflict between opposing and enduring forces, and it means that the United States must, and will, sooner or later, become either entirely a slaveholding nation, or entirely a free labornation.