Lincoln’s Yarns and Stories: The Negro and the Crocodile

In one of his political speeches, Judge Douglas made use of the following figure of speech: “As between the crocodile and the negro, I take the side of the negro; but as between the negro and the white man—I would go for the white man every time.”

Lincoln, at home, noted that; and afterwards, when he had occasion to refer to the remark, he said: “I believe that this is a sort of proposition in proportion, which may be stated thus: ‘As the negro is to the white man, so is the crocodile to the negro; and as the negro may rightfully treat the crocodile as a beast or reptile, so the white man may rightfully treat the negro as a beast or reptile.’”