In a letter to J. Speed, Lincoln denies he had sympathies with the Know-Nothing Party.
8/24/1855 ...I also acknowledge your rights and my obligations, under the constitution, in regard to your slaves. I confess I hate to see the poor creatures hunted down and caught and carried back to their stripes, and unrewarded toils; but I bite my lip and keep quiet.
In 1841 you and I had together a tedious low-water trip, on a steamboat from Louisville to the mouth of the Ohio there were, on board, ten or a dozen slaves, shackled together with irons. That sight was a continual torment to me; and I see something like it every time I touch the Ohio, or any other slave border. It is hardly fair for you to assume, that I have no interest in a thing which has, and continually exercises, the power of making me miserable. You ought rather to appreciate how much the great body of the Northern people do crucify their feelings, in order to maintain their loyalty to the constitution and the Union.
How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid... 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 hypocrisy. FT 34-7