We are reminded of Lincoln's letter to his friend Joshua Speed in 1855, a decade before the end of the civil war. Lincoln was wrestling with slavery and the union and the Missouri compromise and whether Kansas would be admitted to the union as a slave state.
This famous letter is remarkable for many things, and today it stands out for Lincoln's prescience for his interpretation of these most precious words upon which a great nation was founded: "All men are created equal":
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 or degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began 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 ..."
From Occupied America, where "Know Nothings" sit in our Oval Office, Fight the Power!