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 pretense of loving liberty --- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.
Abraham Lincoln, 1855
Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer, Fred Kaplan,